State of the City: January 2013


Hi Readers. It’s Friday yet again – the second Friday of 2013, of course, and I think it might be time for a status update. You know, I occupy a funny place as an indie writer. I consider this a job, and I take it very seriously, but there are times when I become tempted to think “well, I report to only myself (and possibly my wife), so who cares if I don’t do this or that?”

That’s the kind of threatening inertia that can take down a career before it even begins; I know, I’ve seen it happen with a few folks already. I want to avoid this kind of thinking, but it’s such a strange space to occupy that motivation beyond motivation “for its own sake” becomes a nebulous concept. At least, until I think about readers. That’s why I address so many of my updates to you readers directly. You’re the ones that (theoretically) pay my bills, and the ones who might possibly enjoy anything that I bring to market. In some respects, that makes you the ones to whom I report. And you know what? I’m pretty okay with that concept. Customers are king in my other business, and so customers must be king here. Thinking this way also helps when it comes to things that enrich my career, such as writers conferences or convention appearances.

Anyway, enough with the navel-gazing. It’s something that has been on my mind lately, and I just wanted to say something about it.

Now then, the good stuff: what’s going on? The answer is, a lot. Shadow Boxes, the short story collection, is still on the table. I had previously hoped for a February release, but a combination of factors (including aforementioned convention appearances) makes that highly unlikely. May might be a little more realistic, but we’ll see on that front. As I’ll explain in a bit, I’m currently very invested in City of the Dead and want to make that the highest priority. Still, Shadow Boxes is on my radar and will see the light of day in 2013, barring any major issues.

That brings me to the Among the Dead trilogy and, specifically, City of the Dead. I’m pleased to report that the first draft is at 64,000 words and counting. Forward progress is currently halted just short of the opening of Book 3 (which means I’m roughly 2/3rds of the way through) in order to return to the scene of the crime, as it were. I’ve gone back to page 1 and am revising from there forward.


This might sound a little clunky, but this is really an opportune time to do it as the stuff that’s yet to come revolves around some of the changes that I’m making. These include consolidating two of the new characters into a single character and removing an entire section of the novel. I’m not going to give away too much, but the cut section involved Matty ingesting a lot of drugs and then undergoing a ritual to find the entrance to the City of the Dead. This made sense in the original plot line and introduced an important character that had hands in both the past and the future. The thing is, as I approached the end of Book 2, something occurred that shook that original plan to the core, presenting a much stronger way for her to prepare for and find the City. It’s fantastic for the story, but rendered much of that section with the ritual redundant. Given the choice, I’d much rather have the second method of preparing her, so I decided to strike the ritual altogether.

Follow me so far? I know that’s a lot of words, so here’s the gist of it: originally Matty and her crew ended up in a forest, where she participated in a ritual that pointed her toward the City of the Dead. Something then happened at the end of Book 2 to render that entire section obsolete, also removing an important character; thus, I found it necessary to go back to the beginning and rewrite, condensing that cut character into another character.


So, what happens to that cut section, along with the original characters? It ends up in your hands. I’m going to present it on the site, complete, at the release of City, and it will likely end up in the supplemental material once the whole Among the Dead omnibus thing happens, sometime in 2014 or 2015. This will be the reader’s only chance to get to know Donael, the fledgling angel who believes fervently in the Chosen One. It’s a shame to have to cut her because I really like the character, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. The book is stronger for it.

I’m also working on making some appearances in the next few months but haven’t finalized anything yet. A few checks have been cashed, but I haven’t received all of the information yet. Once I have that in hand, I’ll share it with you and create a page with an evolving schedule. I can confirm that I’m currently looking to make about four to five appearances in the first half of the year, with at least one more appearance mapped out for August. Hey, what can I say, I liked the taste that I got of selling my books in person and I enjoyed it. I’d love to meet some of you folks out there on the road, too.

Anyway, that’s all for today. Hope your own endeavors are going well so far this year!

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  1. It’s great that you are willing to sacrifice whole scenes to better your book. Too many of us would struggle to make it all fit and not “waste” any precious words…to the detriment of the book.

    • I enjoy it when authors share the scenes they cut. It is like the Bonus Reel for movies: not strictly necessary or expected, but often illuminating and entertaining. As a storyteller, I like to see what got cut because cutting is a crucial and largely invisible part of the craft.

      • I absolutely feel the same. I like to hear demos and roughs of songs for the same reason – the creative process is endlessly fascinating, no matter who’s doing it.

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