Last week, I had to turn on the heat in my house for the first time since May. I resisted as long as possible, because I didn’t want to go down as the guy who turned the heat on in August, but we were having a cold snap in good old Bismarck and I had to relent. This signaled that the days of summer are inevitably drawing to a close, that the frost will soon be upon us and the leaves will turn. I often poke fun at North Dakota—because I live here, and because I’m of the opinion that we should always laugh at themselves before laughing at anyone else—however, one thing I do appreciate about ND is the distinct nature of its four seasons. I like them all for different reasons (though I have no use for winter after about January 2nd); however, fall and summer are my two favorite seasons. Now, as summer ends and fall draws near, I’ve taken some time to evaluate what the next few months hold in store.
On the immediate horizon is an elk-hunting trip I’ve been preparing for with my father and brother. North Dakota allows a once-in-a-lifetime lottery draw tag each for elk, moose, and bighorn sheep; my dad got his elk tag this fall, so later this month we head to the Badlands to bag a big one. There are few landscapes like the Badlands of North and South Dakota, and some of the scenery in the forthcoming City of Darkness is very much Badlands-inspired. Regarding City of Darkness itself, I recently received the first round of line-and-content editing back from my editor. There will be one more round after this (a copy-edit), and after that I still need to do a proofread, so I’m going to be hard-pressed to make a November release, but will push like hell for it anyway. I’ll continue to provide updates. The exact date notwithstanding, I’m really proud of this story. I feel that I grew a lot as a writer during the process, and I’m excited to share it with folks.
As for the months of October and November, I’ll spend them stocking up on—that’s a euphemism for shooting—wild game to fill the freezer (I joke that if I didn’t hunt, I’d starve). In October, I hunt ducks and pheasants, and in November I hunt white-tailed deer. And of course, there’s Halloween, and if you want to see what I’ll dress up as this year, stay tuned on Instagram/Facebook. Ordinarily, during October I’d also attend my last comic convention of the calendar year (ValleyCon in Fargo), but because of my dad’s elk tag, all other commitments are on hold while we make our way into the wilderness in pursuit of the wily creature.
In November, I’ll turn thirty-two, which blows my mind as I feel like I was just writing about how I’d successfully checked off two of the top three items on my “bucket list” before turning thirty. Still, it’s been a damn good two years, and if they went by fast, it was only because I was experiencing adventures worth having. If luck holds, I’ll dedicate December to lining up a mini-release tour of City of Darkness, not to mention hanging up obnoxious Christmas decorations in my living room and spiking my hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps. But I’ll cease speculation there, otherwise in addition to turning the heat on in August, I’ll alsobe known as the guy who mentioned Christmas in a September blog (strictly for the purposes of mapping out the remainder of my calendar year).
Between my drafts of City of Darkness (when it’s been with my editor), I’ve been working on a short story. One draft is done, and though the story needs several rounds of polishing, I expect it will be publication-ready sometime in early 2019. While not a sequel to Malichon Manor per se, it’s part of the family—perhaps a cousin rather than an offspring. That’s strictly a down-time project, though: my first priority is getting City of Darkness out, even if that means I have to review drafts while huddling in the dark on a knoll, hunting elk in the Badlands at 5 AM on an October morning. And though it’s shaping up to be a busy fall, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The seasons are but chapters in the story of our lives, and we might as well make them good ones.
Until next time, be well, enjoy a good book, and don’t turn the furnace on unless you absolutely have too.