In my previous blog, I spent some time looking back to 2016 and discussing what the year has meant for me. This week, I’ll discuss what I’ve planned for the year ahead.

First up, I’m working on ways to continue spreading the word and drawing in new readers. On January 19th, I’ll be hosting a signing at Caffé Aroma in downtown Bismarck. This coffee shop has a great story behind its success. In early 2015, owners Tina Wetzel and Emily Burrows purchased the café. They did a fantastic job revitalizing it, and last month they were fortunate enough to move into a new location on the corner of 4th and Broadway. Pairing a good book with a strong cup of coffee is one of life’s most simple yet enjoyable pleasures, and their new location is well worth checking out. If you haven’t had a chance to attend a signing yet, stop by anytime between 5 pm and 7 pm on the 19th!

Next, at the end of February I’ll have a table in the vendors’ room at Fargo-Moorhead Comic Con. Those of you who’ve been hoping for a Fargo signing, this is it! Not only can you stop by, it’s also an opportunity to check FMCC’s programming! You can view the event website here. Third, I’m making a trip to my alma mater, the University of Jamestown, at a TBD date and time in the spring semester. I enjoy talking about writing as much as I enjoy the process itself, and I hope to line up several opportunities for speaking at other local schools in North Dakota (and maybe some in Minnesota too!).                                                                                          

However, while I’ll devote time to signings and speaking events as able, my primary objective during the year is to create new content. Warrior of Light took over three years to publish, and I certainly hope to beat that timeline for my next novel. Generating new and consistent material is important for keeping one’s readership engaged. To this end, I have two projects in the works. The first project is a sequel to Warrior of Light, for which I currently have about 50,000 words complete. For reference, the initial draft of Warrior was just over 200,000 words, which I eventually cut down to 180,000 for publication (as a general rule, my finished works run about 90% of the originally drafted length). Since I expect the first draft of the sequel to run anywhere from 200,000 – 220,000 words, my current progress puts me at 20-25% completion. I started work on the sequel last July, but only between revisions and proofreads of Warrior. Now that Warrior is published, I will be able to devote my writing time exclusively to the current novel. My hope is to have the first draft completed by the end of the summer, with publication anticipated for late 2018. There are many factors that could alter this timetable, but that’s the current projection as it stands today.

I realize releasing one novel in 2016 and one in 2018 doesn’t exactly count as producing “new and consistent material”. Conventional wisdom says to write shorter books and release them more frequently—and this is certainly something I put serious thought into—but at the end of the day, that model didn’t fit the stories I wanted to tell. I like big, bold epics. There is something exquisite about building a large cast of characters, balancing parallel storylines, and then drawing all the threads together for an explosive finish. Yes, they take a longer time to write (and read), but I’ve always held that a little bit of effort pays off in the long run—so bigger books and larger timetables it is. That being said, I don’t want to throw conventional wisdom out the window. To compensate for longer publication windows, I will simultaneously work on short stories I can release in the interim. I’ll use these as an opportunity to explore a variety of genres (my novels, for the forseeable future, will continue to be epic fantasy, and the very next two will be direct sequels to Warrior of Light). My plan is to have a short story primed for an October release, most likely a haunted house/ghost story that can fit in well with the Halloween season.

Last, I’d like to add some variety to the blog. Maybe I’ll discuss a book I recently read and enjoyed, or a movie that I found entertaining. I’ll tell you about hunting trips in Alabama where I have to dodge gators and run away from bulls. I’ll share lessons on leadership and management learned from the workplace. To this end, if you’d like to subscribe via email to this blog, you can do so here.

In summation, the plan for 2016 is as follows:

  • Continue promoting Warrior of Light through book signings
  • Engage with writing classes at schools/libraries/book clubs
  • Draft Warrior of Light sequel, targeting a 2018 publication
  • Release a novella in October, likely Halloween-oriented
  • Continue posting regular blogs on a variety of topics
  • Date a supermodel

Just checking to see if you were still reading. But seriously …

In December, we’ll take a look back and see how I did. Thanks for reading, and happy New Year!

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