October 2020 Update

Phew, what a year it’s been! I’ve been so busy with everything that I didn’t have a chance to blog, and to be honest, I didn’t have anything exciting to report anyway. But now that we’re closing in on the end of the year, I figured it was time for an update.

Life

As I said in my last post, I’ve been trying to move away from freelance editing and into a more stable career. At the start of the year, I interviewed for several positions but, ultimately, nothing came of it. Then the COVID mess came.

New Zealand went into lockdown early, which I’m immensely grateful for. It didn’t help my job search, but it did save a lot of lives. I wrote and edited every single day (more on that later) and made a lot of progress on my next novel. During that time, I also had a fairly severe jaw issue where I couldn’t open my mouth more than a centimetre or two. I had difficulty eating and my jaw ached, but it wasn’t considered a medical emergency, so I just had to deal with it until the lockdown ended. Thankfully, the issue is resolved now.

Around the time of the second lockdown, I had a COVID scare too. Luckily, my test came back negative, and it turned out I just had a heavy cold + a pulled chest muscle. After recovering from that, I decided to resume my job search in earnest. I’m currently training up to enter the security industry and will most likely have to move to a bigger city to find a job. But that’s okay. I’m determined to make it work.

Untitled Dryad Novel

When quarantine started, I was nine chapters into the second draft of this novel. As of now, I’m 25 chapters into the fifth draft. I’m not going to lie: writing this book has been downright torturous at times. The third draft was particularly excruciating—right up until I penned the final chapter, I was convinced the whole thing was garbage and I’d have to delete it and start from scratch. Fortunately, I pushed through that feeling, and guess what? It wasn’t garbage. It wasn’t perfect either, but it gave me a solid base to work from.

The story makes sense now. The plot is exciting. The world building is cool. The word count is under 100k… just. The characters are still a bit flat, but if I re-add the 10k words I cut out, they’ll be great. 110k isn’t the ideal length for YA Fantasy, but it’s not dump-it-in-the-trash-without-reading length either, so I’ll do what’s best for the story. Overall, I’m happy with the progress I’ve made. Once this draft is done, I’ll start sending it to beta readers.

Short Stories

I’ve been writing a lot of short stories lately. In my writing folder, I’ve got 25+ drafts that I haven’t edited at all yet, five or so that are partially edited, one that I’m currently editing, and two that are newly out on submission. My main aim is to get published in the SFWA markets, so I’ve been working hard on improving my craft this year. I’ve learned a lot, and I think I’m closer to my goal than I was before. Time will tell!

Indie Book Review Project

Although it may not seem like it, I’ve made steady progress on my giant list of recommended books. I have a backlog of about six reviews that will (hopefully) go out over the next few weeks. Once those reviews are done, I will need to focus more on my own book for a few months to get it ready for beta readers. Then I’ll get stuck in to reading and reviewing the Kindle Unlimited books on my list.

Well, that’s all for this update. I hope you’ve all had a good year and that you’re healthy and safe. Let’s keep on keeping on, friends.

November 2019 Update

It’s November, and that means summer’s almost here. I can’t say I’m looking forward to the stifling heat—if you ask me, anything beyond 24°C is too hot. Fortunately, my portable air conditioner didn’t break down from the stress I put it through last year, and that means I can sit at my computer without melting. Hooray for small victories!

The Gloaming: Post-Release Thoughts

The Gloaming has been out for just over a month now. Although most of my review team vanished into thin air, I’m very grateful to the people who did take the time to post their thoughts on NetGalley and Goodreads. My number one fear was that I would either get negative reviews or no reviews at all; it was an immense relief to get past that hurdle. I’ve taken steps to attract more reviewers, so hopefully things will pick up over the next few months (especially on Amazon).

Author Events

Earlier this month, I had the honor of speaking at my first library event. It was a wonderful experience and everyone who attended was so friendly and welcoming. A huge thank you to everyone involved!
I’d love to do some more events in the future, either in libraries or community centers. Hopefully some schools would be interested in getting on board too. I have a lot of experience with teaching writing skills, so it could be fun to do a workshop (or a series of workshops) in addition to a general presentation.

Short Story Publication

My story, Marked for Life, was published in Aurealis this month! It’s a tale of snowbeasts, blood magic, and transformation—perfect for fantasy fans. The magazine is only $2.99, and you can read the first 20% for free by clicking one of the Sample buttons on this page. Stephen Higgins and Eric Del Caro also have stories in this issue, and they’re well worth a read.

“Rabbit in the Moon” Update

The third draft of The Rabbit in the Moon is well underway, and I’ve been trying out some ambitious changes. Three characters have received personality transplants (figuratively, not literally) and their back stories have changed. There have also been some major plot changes, which I can’t talk about at the moment because… spoilers. Still, the core of the plot is the same:

Time freezes before a giant asteroid can wipe out the planet. A ragtag group with no background in rocket science must destroy the asteroid if they want to see their families again.

In this rewrite, I’m bringing more YA elements into the story. In the previous version, the protagonist was the only teenager, and because she was surrounded by adults, she started acting like one too. That’s not a bad thing in itself, but it’s not what I was aiming for. With this latest rewrite, I’ve added another teen into the mix. Suddenly, there’s a lot more potential for both conflict and character growth—two elements crucial to any good story. It’s early days yet, but I think this could be the final draft before editing begins.

Untitled Dryad Novel Update

I haven’t made much progress on this novel since my last post. I drafted about ten chapters while I was recovering from surgery, but none of them are usable. I was still a bit loopy at the time, and my brain decided it would be a great idea to turn a high fantasy novel into a horror-heavy sci-fi. Needless to say, I’ll be re-drafting those chapters.

But re-drafting can wait for the time being. Very soon, I will be resuming my job search in earnest. As much as I love writing and editing and being my own boss, the uncertainty that comes with freelancing is less than ideal. I’m hoping to pick up a full-time role, but we’ll see what happens.

Have a great month, everyone!

Sincerely,
J.R. Schuyler

(P.S. Good luck to everyone participating in NaNoWriMo!)

October 2019 Update

After around 2500 hours of work, my first full novel has finally been released! If you (or someone you know) would be interested in an epic-length coming-of-age fantasy, you can check it out through the universal link here.

Release-Day Jitters

If you work on a project for a long time, you get attached to it. And when it’s time for that beloved project to go out into the world, it’s not unusual to experience a momentary surge of panic. What if the advance readers forget to post their reviews? What if the advance readers hated it and I get all one-star reviews? What if no one wants to buy it at all? What if a major error slipped past my 200+ rounds of editing?

Whatever happens, I love this book and nothing could make me regret writing it. The only thing I might regret in the future is how much time and money I spent trying to get it perfect. But for now, I’m content to enjoy the moment for what it is.

Indie Book Review Project

Last month, I decided to restart my indie book review project. I’ve been reading and rating my followers’ books since I joined Twitter, but I haven’t had a lot of time to write proper reviews. The friendly writing community gave me a list of over 300 recommendations, and I’ll be slowly working my way through about 130 of them. At the time of writing this post, I’ve published seven reviews, written another one for an ARC, and given private reviews to two writers who asked for feedback.

The reason I’m doing this is twofold. Firstly, I know what it feels like to be an indie author. I know how much work goes into writing a novel, and I know how amazing it feels when someone tells you they’ve read and enjoyed what you’ve written. If I can bring that joy to other authors, then that makes me happy too. Secondly, there are some FANTASTIC indie authors out there. It’s exciting to discover someone and be a part of their journey from the beginning, especially if they write better than some of the “big names.”

Current Writing Projects

The Rabbit in the Moon. Since my last update, I’ve finished the second draft of this book. It’s a bit of a disaster still, but it’s less of a disaster than it was before. I’m currently doing a lot of research on scuba diving and integrating it into the appropriate chapters.

Short Stories. I’ve written six short stories since my last update, all in varying stages of completion. I’m planning to workshop two of them with a professional writing coach next month. Hopefully, the feedback I get will guide me closer to the SFWA markets.

Untitled new project. I know, I know. I shouldn’t be working on any more projects when I already have so many on the go. But this one is all shiny and new, and it’s flowing onto the page so easily that I couldn’t very well ignore it, could I? My plan is to work on this novel and RITM at the same time, alternating whenever I get stuck.

That’s all the news I have for this month. I’ll be unavailable for the next week or so due to surgery, but I’ll respond to any emails after I recover. Have a great October, everyone.

Sincerely,

J.R. Schuyler

Sneak Preview of “The Gloaming”

Here’s a little taster to tide you over until the book is officially released. Enjoy!
       – J.R. Schuyler

Chapter One

It came with a strong wind on All Hallows’ Eve and again for a thousand moons thereafter. The lesser-educated among Morton’s citizens spun frightful tales of a shadow monster with crimson eyes and claws more than two feet in length. The scholars spurned their words, publicly declaring them to be nothing more than the fanciful imaginings of youth. But in the privacy of their homes, even the scholars tossed and turned and whimpered in their sleep, haunted by phantasms of a creature they knew was all too real.
Billy Porter shivered and burrowed deeper under his blankets as raindrops beat against the tin roof. He was ten years old today—quite old enough for his own room, thank you very much. After months of whining, his parents had finally, if reluctantly, granted his request. The small space only allowed for a wire-frame bed and a moth-eaten dresser, but he treasured it nonetheless.
“Don’t open the curtains after dusk,” his mother had warned, handing him a brass candelabra. “Light the candles if you need to, but don’t turn on the lights or go near the window under any circumstances.”
The candelabra stood on his dresser now, casting ghostly shadows across the bedroom. He’d lit the candles at nightfall, but the sullen flames were no match for the howling wind that seeped through the tiny gaps in the window sash. The light had flickered and died, but the faint odor of smoke lingered on.
I’ve got to be brave, Billy told himself firmly. He pulled the covers up to his eyes and peered into the all-encompassing darkness. I can’t go crying to Mom every time I hear a scary noise. I’m not a baby anymore.
If Mother Nature heard his thoughts, she interpreted them as a challenge. Wind whipped the house with increased intensity, lifting garden furniture and hurling it against the weatherboards. A child living in any other part of Kansas would assume a tornado was on its way and make haste for the storm cellar. Things were different in Morton. Here, the raging gales were a sign that something far worse was coming.
A faint snick met Billy’s ear, and he jumped out of his skin. Dark shapes flitted behind the curtain, performing an unnatural puppet show. He squeezed his eyes shut. I can’t do this. The monster’s right outside. It’s going to eat me, I just know it. I’ve got to get out!
The pressure in his chest grew until he realized he’d forgotten to keep breathing. The resulting inrush of air came as a bittersweet relief. Sweet because he was no longer on the verge of fainting; bitter because he still had to deal with whatever lay in wait.
Two minutes passed before Billy dared to make his move. He peeked out from under the blankets, wide eyes fixed on the silhouette at the window. Its jerky movements reminded him of the skydancer at Foley’s Gas Station. The accompanying squeal of claws on glass sounded like something out of a horror movie. He threw off the blankets and made a blind dash for the door. The metal handle struck the center of his palm, and he wrenched it open. He risked a glance over his shoulder, heart thudding. It’s gone. It must be looking for another way in.
Spurred into action, Billy tiptoed past the room he used to share with his two younger brothers. James and Hamish could sleep through anything, be it a thunderstorm or a rock concert, but he didn’t want to risk being the exception to the rule. As long as they stayed put, their boarded-up windows would keep them safe. In theory, anyway.
Billy shuffled into the kitchen without turning on the lights. His mother’s warnings echoed through his brain. The monster’s attracted to electric lights. It senses these things. It knows…
He shivered, rubbing his arms with both hands. Nightfall sent local temperatures plummeting by at least eighty degrees Fahrenheit, even at the height of summer. Mr. Graham, Morton Elementary’s science teacher, claimed it was due to climate change. Billy wanted to believe him, but his father insisted the whole thing was a load of rot. The real cause, he insisted, was “those demons from out East.” Confused, but too afraid to question him, Billy accepted the explanation and let the words rattle around his head when he couldn’t sleep.
“Where are the matches?” Billy whispered. Mom usually keeps them in the top drawer, but we used the last box to light my candles. There’s got to be spares somewhere.
He fumbled with the cupboard doors one by one and reached inside. Unable to see in the dark, he let his hands do the work. A stack of porcelain plates and a glass mixing bowl met his fingertips. He explored a bit farther, feeling along the shelf until he found a rectangular object. A mousetrap? He pulled back in alarm. Even with his quick reflexes, it nearly flayed the skin off his hand.
No matches here, he thought, wincing. Is it even worth finding them? If I relight the candles, the wind will just blow them out again.
Theoretically, he could block the gap in the window with an old T-shirt, but that would require going near the window in the first place—an action that, aside from being expressly forbidden, was too terrifying to even consider.
I’ll have to sleep on the sofa tonight, Billy decided, abandoning his search. I don’t want to go back to my room with that monster creeping around, and I’m too old to crawl into my parents’ bed. I’ll sneak back at dawn. Before my brothers get up.
The more he thought about it, the more confident he felt. He closed the cupboard doors and padded down the hallway, carefully avoiding the creaky floorboards outside his parents’ room. The lounge door was ajar, which gave Billy pause. His mother always closed it before she retired to bed. He tiptoed toward the door, fear creeping back into his chest. His parents’ hushed voices emanated from inside.
“I used to think Bowers was a respectable fella,” Mr. Porter rasped, his Texan drawl more pronounced than usual. Billy froze, not wanting to miss a word. “‘Course, now we know he’s one of them. Why else would he let those two devil spawn join the police? Answer me that one, eh?”
“You’re letting your imagination get away with you, Jerry,” Mrs. Porter replied. “If Chief Bowers thinks they can help, then maybe it’s for the best.”
“‘Course they can help! They’re in on it, aren’t they? We didn’t have no monsters before the wraiths came, and after they showed up, boom! Monsters. Their little pet is tearing this town apart. We oughta do something about it.”
“The monster?”
“The wraiths! If we kill ‘em all, maybe their pet will go away too.”
A coughing, spluttering fit came over Mr. Porter, followed by short, breathy wheezing. He’d developed a bad case of bronchitis the previous winter, and it never went away. Every time he got worked up about something, he coughed until his eyes watered, and his face grew redder than a tomato.
“You need to calm down,” Mrs. Porter said. “You’ll wake the children with the way you’re carrying on.”
“There’s too much excitement in this town,” he said between gasps. “I’ve got a rifle and a night vision scope in the gun safe. A couple hours’ hunting and we can live in peace again.”
Mrs. Porter’s voice hardened. “You want to murder innocent children?”
“Nothing innocent about ‘em. They’d do the same to us if we gave ‘em half a chance. Let me guess. You want to get a government man in to do everything nice and proper. Well, sweetheart, we’ve already tried that. Ol’ Winston sent a petition to the White House and you know what they gave us? A bunch of white coats. Head shrinks. To them, we’re nothing more than a bunch of superstitious backcountry hicks in league with the UFO nuts. They ain’t gonna do nothing to help us. Meanwhile, those things are terrorizing our neighborhood.”
“Jerry…”
“I mean, they’re not even human, are they?”
Another coughing fit seized his body, and this time, he kept spluttering for several minutes.
“You really need to get that cough checked out,” Mrs. Porter said, the frown evident in her voice. “What will happen to us if you come down with pneumonia?”
“It’s just… just bronchitis. Don’t you fuss over me.”
“If you say so. Where’s your inhaler?”
“I must have left it in the study. I don’t need it… I don’t want…”
“I’ll get it for you. If you keep this up, no one in this house will be able to sleep tonight.”
The sound of muted footsteps brought Billy rushing back to the present. She’s coming! I’ve got to hide! But where?
The clothes tree at the end of the hall looked promising. He dove behind his mother’s faux-fur coat mere seconds before the lady herself opened the lounge door. She passed him in a blur of pink, unlocked the study, and went in. Before he could so much as think about moving, she exited with the inhaler and returned to the lounge. Billy sighed in relief. She’d been too focused on her ailing husband to notice her eldest son’s presence.
Billy freed himself from the coat and crept over to the study. He’d been forbidden from entering without supervision, but a wild new idea took hold of him and he ignored the rule.
The gun safe…
Mrs. Porter had left the keys on the desk, right next to the keyboard. Easy pickings, as long as he didn’t get caught. Without hesitation, Billy unlocked the safe. LED strips lined the interior, illuminating the plethora of firearms crammed inside. Billy reached for a gleaming revolver, then paused, listening for any hint of danger. Other than his parents’ muted voices, he heard nothing.
Sucking in a deep breath, Billy took the revolver and hid it in the waistband of his pajama pants. His father wouldn’t miss it. He had two more exactly like it, and he preferred to use a rifle anyway. Now I just need some ammo. Dad usually keeps it in the other safe, but I don’t know the combination for the lock. Maybe I can find some lying around his office instead.
A few minutes of quiet searching turned up a handful of suitable bullets. Billy took them and crept down the hallway. His parents still occupied the lounge, but the gun gave him the courage to return to his room. If the monster dared to show its face, he’d take it down. I’ll be a hero! And Dad might give up on his plan to shoot the wraith kids!
None of the adults seemed to like the wraiths, but Billy couldn’t understand why. Sure, they looked a little strange, and they had funny names, but most of them minded their own business. If he could take out this monster, whatever it was, then things might settle down for a while. Life might return to a semblance of normalcy.
Taking a deep breath, Billy inched the door open to his room. He half-expected the monster to jump out at him, but the attack never came. He shuffled inside and shut the door with a quiet click. The bullets were heavy in his hands. I should have loaded the gun before I came in here. Heart racing, he found the courage to look at the window. The monster hadn’t returned.
It’s probably moved on to another house, Billy thought. That’s what it always does. I could turn on the light to bring it back, but Mom and Dad would have a fit if they noticed. I’ll lie down and see what happens. If it doesn’t come back, there’s always tomorrow.
He bundled himself into bed, grateful for the warmth his blankets provided. The chamber of the revolver popped open, and he placed the bullets inside. For a moment, he thought about cradling it in his arms as he slept so he’d be ready if the monster came back. Even through his drowsy fear, though, his father’s lecture on gun safety came back to him.
“You’ll blow your own head open if you keep it under your pillow,” he’d said. “Better to keep it on your nightstand with the safety on.”
Billy hadn’t expected to need the advice, but he was grateful for it now. He placed the gun on the dresser, keeping his eyes fixed on the curtains. Anxious seconds dragged into uneventful minutes, and as the minutes stretched into hours, he drifted into an uneasy sleep.

Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved.

Want to find out what happens next? Click here to pre-order today!

“The Gloaming” is Available for Pre-Order!

My debut fantasy novel, The Gloaming, is now available for pre-order! It will be released on October 13, 2019. E-books will be available from Amazon, Google Books, Apple Books, etc. Paperbacks will be available from Amazon and IngramSpark (which means you can ask your local bookstore or library to order it in for you).

  • The Gloaming follows the adventures of Billy Porter from the ages of ten to seventeen.
  • It is an intrusion/portal fantasy, split evenly between Earth and a secondary world. The characters travel back and forth between realms at will, and events in one realm can have dire effects on the other.
  • Extra-dimensional humanoid creatures called wraiths live in the secondary world, and some also inhabit Earth. Most humans despise them, but Billy manages to foster a few close friendships.
  • Over the course of the book, Billy encounters evil human scientists, a tyrannical wraith king, a magic-induced “natural” disaster, and more.
  • Overcoming prejudice and cultural expectations are important themes in the book.
  • There may or may not be a dragon at some point.

At 600-odd pages, The Gloaming is not a quick read. However, it is conveniently split into three parts. If you want to take a break in between, you can easily do that. But if you’re the kind of reader who likes to plow through a book in one sitting, you can do that too.

The Gloaming is a complete story with no cliffhangers. However, there are a few areas that I think would make for a good sequel. I’ve planned it out already, but I’m only going to write it if the demand is there. Books take a lot of time and effort to write, and once you factor in editing, book covers, formatting, and marketing, they can be expensive too. The time investment is not an issue because it’s a labor of love, but the money side of things is a bit more worrying. I don’t expect to get rich off of writing, but I would like to break even.

Not sure if The Gloaming is right for you? Want to start reading RIGHT NOW? You can check out the first chapter here for free.

July/August Update

I can’t believe it’s August already. The past few months have passed in a blur of editing and excessive chocolate consumption, but I’ve finally finished The Gloaming!

The release date will be announced very, very soon, and the cover reveal will take place at the same time. Pre-orders will also go up at that time, so if you’re really keen, you can get in ahead of the game and have it automatically delivered to your e-reading device on release day. I’ll post the link as soon as it’s available.

Blurb Writing

I’ve been working on the blurb for The Gloaming over the past month or so, and I’m finally happy with it. Well, mostly happy with it. Depending on reader feedback, I might make some more changes. But for now, it’s fine as it is.

Some of my wonderful Twitter followers helped me to make the blurb FAR better than it would have been otherwise, and I’m immensely grateful to them. While I couldn’t use all of their feedback for this particular project, I carefully considered every piece of advice and wrote it down for future reference.

Short Stories

While I was waiting for The Gloaming to come back from the editor, I took some time to start submitting my short stories again. I’m pleased to announce that Marked for Life was sold to Aurealis Magazine!

To be honest, I nearly passed out when I saw the news. I’d gotten really positive feedback from the slush readers (seriously, I almost cried because of how nice they were), but I still didn’t expect to actually get in. It seemed like an impossible dream. Now it’s a dream come true. 🙂

Beta Reading

Last month, I had the pleasure of beta reading an upcoming book by one of my favourite authors: Jeremy Bates. I would describe his earlier work as atmospheric horror, and while I don’t write horror, his ability to capture the essence of a scene has been strongly influential in my own writing. His new book, which is based on the Russian Sleep Experiment creepypasta, will be out on August 27. If that sounds like something you might be interested in, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Goal Update

  1. Publish The GloamingI’m on track to succeed with this one. The release date has been set and almost everything is in place. I just need to get the manuscript typeset (my formatting team is doing this right now), upload the final file to each site, and finish off the cover (i.e. change the spine width based on the final page count).
  2. Overcome my aversion to marketing. I’ve made definite progress on this one, too. I read a brilliant book about the subject, and it’s completely changed my perspective. I’m going to write a blog post about it at some point.
  3. Finish The Rabbit in the Moon & start querying. I haven’t made any more progress towards this goal. Will I finish it before the end of the year? Maybe. But I seriously doubt I will be ready to query, and I don’t want to rush things if it’s not up to par. We’ll see what happens.
  4. Sell 3+ short stories to SFWA-approved markets. To be honest, I think this goal was a little too ambitious. The rejections I’ve received so far have been positive and encouraging, but I think my writing skills are not quite good enough to crack the pro markets yet. Does that mean I’m giving up? Absolutely not. It’s important for writers to approach their craft fearlessly. After all, if you don’t try, you’ll never succeed. So with that in mind, I will keep submitting until I achieve this goal, whether it’s in a year, two years, or ten years.
  5. Get better at writing endings. While I haven’t mastered endings yet, I can definitely say that I’ve improved. The trick, I’ve found, is to plan the final lines early on (around the same time I plan the first few lines). I’m going to stay mindful of this in the future.

That’s all the news I have for now, but I’ll post again when pre-orders open for The Gloaming. And maybe before then if I don’t get insanely busy again.

Sincerely,

J.R. Schuyler

June 2019 Update

I’m back! It’s been a long six months, but I’m planning to put out regular content for the rest of the year. I hope you’re all having a happy, healthy, and productive 2019.

Life Update

My plan for the year was to write full-time until June and then get a normal non-writing job again. That plan didn’t end up happening. In January, I was offered my dream job as a writing tutor, and there was no way I could turn it down. Due to contract issues, the job didn’t work out in the long term, but I enjoyed it while it lasted. I love helping people to improve their work.

As a result of taking the job, I’ve had a lot less time to focus on my own writing this year. That being said, I’ve still made some major progress towards my goals.

Writing Goals for 2019

  • Publish “The Gloaming”
  • Overcome my aversion to marketing
  • Finish “The Rabbit in the Moon” & start querying
  • Sell 3+ short stories to SFWA-approved markets
  • Get better at writing endings

It may be difficult to achieve all of these goals now that my situation has changed, but I’ll try my best.

WIP Status Update

  • The Wereforest Academy: rewriting, 50% complete
  • The Rabbit in the Moon: rewriting, 50% complete
  • The Astral Entity: rewriting, 50% complete
  • The Gloaming: final edits, 95% complete

The Gloaming

After much thought, I have decided to self-publish “The Gloaming” instead of querying. Why? For several reasons.

Word count. No matter how many times I’ve tried to reduce the word count, it’s caused many more problems than it’s solved. Technically, I could eliminate the issue by splitting the book into three separate books. It’s already divided into three parts. However, Part 1 does not feel complete on its own, and I’m reluctant to force readers to buy multiple books to get the whole story. As a reader, I usually despise trilogies that rely on cliffhanger-style endings. I don’t want to put my readers through the same thing.

Passion. I have never been as passionate about a story as I have been about this one. I believe in it 100%, and because of that, I’m not embarrassed to market it. Which leads me to my next point.

Marketing. One of the two major reasons I wanted to go with a traditional publisher in the first place was the idea they’d help me with marketing—and by “help”, I mean I was hoping they’d do 99% of the work for me. In reality, that doesn’t happen. Authors these days are expected to be heavily involved in the marketing process, regardless of whether they choose trad or self publishing. If I sign this book to a traditional publisher, chances are high they will expect changes (especially RE: word count). If I have to make changes I don’t like, I will lose passion for the book. I will have no desire to market it. In that scenario, no one wins.

Economics. High printing costs are an unfortunate reality of publishing longer books. Having crunched the numbers, I can understand why publishers don’t take chances on longer books. On IngramSpark, you are usually expected to give retailers a 55% discount when buying your book. If I do that, the publisher and I would be fighting over less than twenty cents profit per book. I’m okay with that, but they won’t be, and that’s completely understandable. It wouldn’t be fair on anyone to go that route.

Prestige. To be honest, I don’t care about getting famous from my books. My only goal is to break even on production costs (covers, editing, printing, advertising, etc). Anything after that is a bonus. I would like to be able to say I got traditionally published one day, but I can do that with another book. I’ve got three WIPs that align much more closely with what traditional publishers are looking for, and ideas for dozens more. I don’t mind waiting for a better time.

I think I’ve rambled on for long enough, so I’m going to sign off here. Have a great month, everyone.

Sincerely,

J. R. Schuyler

Flash Fiction: A Love to Span Galaxies

The bullet missed, but it pierced his heart all the same. The desert sky painted constellations on John’s eyelids, coaxing his thoughts away from the mortal realm and drawing them inexorably closer to the cosmic foam beyond. He crested the sand dune and slid down the other side on the rubber soles of his boots.

“Alaya!”

The tiny alien girl gazed up at him with dusky eyes, kicking her feeble legs the way a gazelle does after being tackled by a lion. Showers of silver blood rained down to join the rapidly-widening pool at her side.

John’s knees gave way beneath him when he reached her, hitting the sand with a muffled thump. Thousands of tiny grains perforated his bare skin, but he scarcely noticed.

“Don’t be afraid,” Alaya said. “I’m not afraid.”

“You’re dying.”

She shook her head. “I’ll always be out there, among the stars. You’ll find me if you look hard enough.”

The rising sun sliced bright red wounds into the sky, scaring the night’s shadows back into their dens. Men in tailored suits zipped Alaya’s lifeless form into a body bag; John sat back and let them.

The evening news reported an explosion at Area 51 and the disappearance of a key scientific discovery. He dreamed of her that night—not dead-eyed and decaying but vibrantly alive, singing and dancing in the arms of infinite galaxies.

November/December 2018 Update

November was a bit of an odd month for writing. Real life interrupted me at every turn, so I decided to work on short stories instead of my novels-in-progress. I managed to complete three novelette-length works (two of which were aggressively edited down to 7000 words), as well as a couple of chapters on “The Wereforest Academy”.

Plans for December

  • Continue preparing “The Gloaming” for publication
  • Rewrite 14 chapters of “The Wereforest Academy”
  • Rewrite 2 chapters of “The Rabbit in the Moon”

I may need to modify these goals later, but I’m currently on track to achieve them.

For now, though, I’m going to get back to actually writing instead of just talking about it. Have a great month, everyone, and I’ll post another update in the new year.

Sincerely,

J. R. Schuyler

 

Why I’m Not Participating in NaNoWriMo

November is upon us again, which means Christmas is right around the corner. But first, we have National Novel Writing Month, an event that just about everyone in the writing community has heard of. For those of you who haven’t, NaNoWriMo is a month where people from all walks of life attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

In many ways, it’s a great event. It encourages people to get into the habit of writing every day, to start (or finish) projects they’ve been putting off, and even to forge connections within the writing community. So why am I not participating in such an awesome event? Here are a few reasons:

  1. The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to write a novel. I’ve already got four novels on the go. Drafts for all four are complete and in various stages of re-writing/editing. The last thing I need is for another project to distract me.
  2. The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to develop consistent writing habits. I already spend 40-80 hours a week writing and editing. When drafting a novel, I average 10,000 words a day. When re-writing/editing, I average 1,000 words a day (depending on the quality of the original work; sometimes I can edit up to 4,000). In short, my habits are solid.

Editing an existing novel is a perfectly acceptable project for NaNoWriMo but, while it’s possible I’ll edit 50,000 words during November, I don’t count that as “participating” because that’s basically just another month for me. And if I only reach 30,000 words edited, I won’t be disappointed because I’d rather get it right the first time than rush things and end up with a substandard series of edits just so I can say I “won” the challenge.