Sunday, September 29, 2013

Homecoming Complete, Plus the Calendar Ahead

First thing's first - my latest novel, Homecoming, is done!  Well, at least through the first draft.

I wanted the novel to come in somewhere between 80,000 and 85,000 words.  I met my coming in at 80,296 words.  It's thick enough to give it girth without being so large it will turn people off.  I'll have to start editing next, and I expect to cull between 8,000 and 12,000 words, but that part is months away.  For now, the manuscript will rest so I can look at it later with fresh eyes.

This one is different than anything I've ever written.  I did it in a journal format, where the narrator's notes from witnessing historic events form the structure of the story.  The main character isn't even essential to the novel - he's simply a vehicle through which the story can be told.  I tried to capture the emotion of the tale as it happened, all while knowing that future works created from the journal, in the narrator's world, would be more antiseptic than the raw power of what he'd just seen.

It's a historical tale, not an action novel.  Yes, there's action in the book, but don't think the outcome was ever in doubt.  Instead, the story is about the transformation of human naiveté to a more sobering and realistic view of the world.  Having been to war myself, I know that if we're distant from a conflict as a society, we tend to view war as some romantic notion that will be quick and clean.  Unfortunately, reality is never that way, and it changes us, even when the outcome is known.  The transformation that the characters in Homecoming go through is a reaction to the barbarities of war as they discover that even plans with the best of intentions can get twisted by the scourge of conflict.  It makes us do things we never thought we would in even our darkest moments, and it strips away the self-righteous notion that if we can just impose our will on someone else, everything will turn out just right.

As with other novels, things surprised me while writing this one.  First of all, those who are consistent readers of this blog, you know I had to start over after I was more than 10% of the way through.  That hurt and caused more consternation than anything, at least until I got back into a rhythm.  However, I'm certain it was the right decision - the first approach was choppy and didn't yield the feel I was going for.  Second, I was kind of surprised at the speed with which this one came off - I did 80,000 words in right at two months, and I could've done more if I hadn't taken several breaks.

Homecoming also ended in a way that sets up future works.  I honestly wasn't expecting that when I started, but it's nice to know there's a known universe for me to return to, one replete with stories that can still develop.  I don't know if I'll continue this format for future works set in that universe, but that's something I can worry about down the road.  For now, I'll just enjoy this one, along with the possibilities it sets up.

That makes four novels I've now done in less than two years.  I'm still a little ways off from publishing - gotta get back to the mainland of the USA first - but it's nice to know I'll have a well to dig into once I start.

So what now?  Well, the first thing I'm going to do is do the last edit on Wrongful Death.  I've decided to keep the title, and I've done the first two rounds of edits.  The final edit is all about reading it the same way I would any novel and making minor corrections.  I've grown more proud of Wrongful Death over time, and I think it'll do well with the target audience.  That edit should be complete by the middle of October.

Second, I need to do the first edit on Schism.  This one will be a complicated edit due to two factors - first, the format of the novel, with the interpositioning of blog sites and news reports to go with the story, as well as its focus on  the overall plot rather than a central character, makes it unlike anything I've written before; second, I wrote it in four parts, but the final part doesn't do justice to what America would be like in the aftermath of a new civil war, so I'm going to split it out into two parts(after expanding it).  That's going to take some finesse, but it's a challenge I'm looking forward to.  I expect the edit to be done by the first of December.

Third, I'm going to try and write a short story per week.  This will allow me to enter a few more contests, in addition to adding to a future work.  Either my 9th or 10th book in print will be a short story collection.  I've got 10 short stories so far, and my goal is to get 25-30 together before publishing it.  If I can do one a week between now and the end of the year, I'll have another 13 done without the pressure of writing a full-fledged novel.

The future looks bright, and I'm thrilled to be at the end of another novel.  A few housekeeping chores, plus some work to keep my creative focus sharp, is in the offing until January when I plan to start my next work - a true horror novel I've been thinking about for more than a decade.  Guess I'd better be up on how to do it.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Spitting Into The Face Of Doubters

For those of us who enjoy writing, we've all encountered doubters.  Most are passive doubters, those that will scoff and say things like, "You'll never make it," and then they'll move on.  It's easy to deal with those kinds of idiots.  Unfortunately, there are also a lot of very hateful people out there who will actively try to discourage you.

What brought this on was thoughts of a person I used to work with.  This person is a limited individual who rarely reads, and even then only reads a specific genre and claims that all others are "for pussies" when what's really going on is that he lacks the imagination to even understand, much less appreciate, anything outside of a narrow band.

When I went to work with him, I didn't discuss my hobby.  I knew early on that this person would mock my dreams, so it wasn't worth telling him about.  That doesn't mean that I didn't tell anyone at my work - several people were very well read and expressed interest in what I was writing about, so I let them have a few sample chapters.  When this guy found out, he was livid.

He's one of those people that believes work is everything in life.  If you aren't thinking about work, then you're a slacker.  That I did something different than work in my spare time when I was off the clock meant nothing to him.  "You need to stop this stupid shit and focus more on work instead of trying to write a damn book."  I was apoplectic.

Everything said about my novel, which has since turned into several, was negative.  Some people would have been discouraged by such taunting, but not me - I'm too stubborn.  All this person's inane prattling did was push me to become successful.  I promise to make it now just to spite him.

Thankfully, I no longer work in that environment.  My co-workers and I described that time as living with an abusive alcoholic stepfather.  The level of stress off my shoulders is gone, and I no longer wonder if people discussing something they liked that I produced when I wasn't at work will cause someone's head to explode.

How many people out there have encountered such hateful people?  I'll bet I'm not alone.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Plot Points

There are a lot of creative authors out there - they can weave a myriad of tales so intense that it will make your head spin.  They'll rope you in and string you along, making you think that you're wandering down one path, only to discover it was all a ruse.

However, writers also have to be careful of this in two regards - first, while complicated plots can be exciting, they can also turn off people if they become too hard to follow; second, readers might tolerate a main plot and one or two sub-plots, but too many different plots will confuse them and send them to someone else.

In regards to the complicated plots, there can be a level of excitement to it.  Most of us who read extensively decry the simplistic stories we've seen and beg for something more intellectually challenging.  Still, writers have to remember that this doesn't grant license to make something so intricate that no one can follow it.  A complicated plotline that is well delivered allows the reader to piece things together at the very end, or else find all those hidden nuggets they didn't find by going back and re-reading the story.  What it doesn't do is make it so that only the writer can follow it.  When someone doesn't get it after a reading or two, they usually toss the work aside in disgust.  That kind of disgust can hamper an author's reputation for a long time.

With numbers of plots, I've come to discover that a lot of writers want to demonstrate how brilliant they are by putting in a lot of varying plots in the same story.  I'm sorry, but this never works for me.  I'm a simpleton, and I like a main plot, along with a couple of sub-plots that depend on the larger narrative.  This lets me stay straight on what I'm reading.  If I want several main plots, I'll buy several books.

Maybe this is presumptuous, but I think most casual readers would be similarly turned off by so many stories crammed into one.  We can write for the one or two folks who might buy something like that, or we can write for more people to enjoy.  Yes, stay true to yourself, but be honest with how many will enjoy what you produce.  I'm not saying to totally dumb down what you write, but just remember the reading habits of the public.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Writing or Blogging?

I'm close.  I'm so close to finishing Homecoming that I can feel it.  The climactic scene is all that remains, and less than a week, at 2,000 words per day, would finish it.  And yet today I didn't do anything with it.

That's because it's Sunday late afternoon/evening, and one of my Sunday tasks is to update this blog.  I sat in my chair, staring at the screen, and thought, Do I blog or do I write?

In the end, I decided to blog.  "But Russ," you might say, "a writer must write.  You've always said you need a stash of novels before you start bringing them out, so why have you eschewed the genuine article for this blog?"  Well, because I recognize that the books are but one part of this business as a whole, and I need to do things besides write my latest novel in order to have a chance at success.

Of course the writing is important, but there is so much more.  One of those parts is that I've promised both my readers that I would update this blog three times a week.  I know, I know...I could skip a post or two and few people would notice.  However, consistency is important, as is keeping my word as to how this blog would run.  I need people to know that I keep my word, and if I just started skipping posts, what would that say?  People would begin to doubt other things like my release date and reader discounts for early ordering.  There are more than enough writers out there who they know will deliver that I can be easily brushed aside for those they can rely on.

It would also help if I could stay focused.  Sunday is football day, and even though my Carolina Panthers stink this year, Sundays are devoted to them in the fall.  Further, I got a new game for my birthday, and I made the mistake of playing it this weekend, thus adding to my distractions.  I need to set it aside until the end of September, by which time I can be certain Homecoming will be done(at least the first draft).

Yup, all of this is whining and excuse-making, but I'll bet I'm not the only writer who hits this dilemma.  Balancing this out and having priorities is the key to maintaining the right focus...but we all slip sometimes.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


I love Harry Turtledove.  His works of alternate history are among the best reading in the sci-fi world.  They're well thought out, plausible, and give us a wonderful insight into the world of "what if."  If I could write half as well as Turtledove, I would consider myself a master.

However, I can also use Turtledove to demonstrate a problem I call overcrowding.  His series called The Great War takes an alternate ending to the Civil War and brings it all the way through World War Two.  While a great concept for a novel, the series presents one major flaw - there are too many characters.

Characters are (usually) what our stories revolve around.  Readers want to care about those we bring to life, and they experience the story through the eyes of our people.  Unfortunately, the human attention span, being what it is, gets easily confused if there are too many characters.  We begin to get folks mixed up and lose track of who's important and who's throwaway.

The Great War saga by Turtledove demonstrates this point perfectly.  I remember several of the characters, from Jake Featherston to Irving Morrell to Cincinnatus, and they were integral to the story, but there were also dozens of other characters that were part of the story, and although I vaguely recall some of them and their roles, I'm not sure how many I could remember well without going back through the book.  This would be fine if they were supporting roles that depended on their interaction with a couple of main guys to advance the plot, but Turtledove spends whole chapters giving me insight into people I wonder why I'm learning about.

Eventually, I got to the point where when I came across one of these annoying little twits, I'd skim lightly, if at all, and move on to the folks I really gave a shit about.  The schmucks in between were annoyances, tolerated only because I liked Turtledove's story so much.

As writers, this is a point we need to keep in mind.  If we aren't careful, our imaginations can lead us into stories that seem to grow out of control, and we'll find ourselves adding too many people to what we've already mapped out.  Not only does this risk annoying the reader, but as time marches on, it makes our task so much more complex.  This has happened to me, and I've found myself flipping back through pages of completed text to see what I named someone who needed to make another appearance for the sake of some minor plot point the novel could probably do without.  I've edited things where I've discovered people switching names and personality traits, and it always elicits an "aw shit" since I now have to go back and change the landscape because of my own carelessness.  The biggest worry is that it will ripple through the story so much that I'll have to do a wholesale re-write.

I think the best writers focus on one or two main folks who are vital to the story(as Turtledove does in The Guns of the South).  We get invested in them and their well being, and we know those are the important guys.  Readers see this immediately, but we writers, in an effort to add realism and complexity to our worlds, sometimes forget and add too much.  Just like a cocktail party where we know almost nobody, it can make for an uncomfortable situation.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How Low Can You Go?

To make a good story, we have to build tension.  The villain must be truly evil, and we have to find ways to empathize with the hero.  The way we do that, obviously, is through the sharing of what's happening.  However, I wonder just how much we have to delve in to the situation, and how much we leave to imagination.
(Empathy is the key)
Just what can authors get away with when building tension?  We can kill the hero's wife, but what about his 9 month old child?  And if we can kill the baby, can we describe the gruesome details?  Would the audience allow us to talk about flesh bubbling as the kid was put in the microwave?  Would they want the villain dead, or would they want the author dead?

There's a revulsion factor when it comes to reading some things.  Alluding to a child-murdering rapist could help us hate him, but describing one of his crimes in detail would probably be crossing the line.  In other words, you have to build true tension and character empathy without crossing the line and make the reader focus more on you as the writer than the characters you describe.  When Salvation Day comes out, I want people to focus on the storyline, not whether what was written about Hell is verboten.

This is a subjective line, and our target audience will decide what's too far.  If they read something and don't like it, we'll be lucky to sell another book.  We want them enthralled, not disgusted.

What lines do you think exist?  Have you ever encountered them?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Resisting Temptation

Those who've been here for a while - both of you - know of my antipathy for the traditional publishing world.  Ever since becoming more educated about the disadvantages of getting an agent or trying to publish at the traditional level, I've grown increasingly disdainful for that world.  However, let's posit a scenario - could I legitimately resist the temptation of someone trying to sign me if it came out of the blue, without solicitation?

The answer is...I hope so.

Some of you will call me a mealy-mouthed coward who can't commit, but that's not the case at all.  Rather, it's a simple recognition of reality.  It's very easy for me to sit here behind my computer, no one trying to sign me, and declare that I would never fall into that trap.  However, a lot of married people say the same thing when sitting on their couch with their spouse, yet affairs are at an all time high.  I'm sure that some people out there are lying, but I also believe that most people who say that really mean it at the time.  Where it really matters is in the moment, where the rubber meets the road, and some of us aren't as true to our principles as we'd like to pretend.

Imagine that you're puttering along(yes, puttering...I'm getting old, so I've started to putter) and someone recognizes just how good you are.  At our core, we writers want people to love our stuff, to validate our talent.  And even though me might not want to admit it, one of those yearnings is to be validated by someone "in authority."  Agents and publishers are that authority in our world.  We may hate them and think they're stifling real books, but they're the folks the public gives credence to when it comes to quality.  If one of them came up to me and said, "Russ, I've read your work and think you're awesome.  I want to (represent you/offer you a multi-book contract)," the first thing I'd feel is extremely flattered.  The second thing I'd feel is tempted...sorely tempted.

I know the path I want to take.  I think it offers me more freedom to do what I want, but such a thing would give me a marker of success.  And since our emotions sometimes overwhelm our good sense, might such a moment overwhelm what it is we think we want?  Not only would the validation tempt us, but the pressure to not pass up such an opportunity would be enormous.

Again, it's easy to resist when you don't seek representation or a publishing contract, just like it's easy to resist not cheating when you don't go bar hopping.  It's another thing altogether if someone reads your stuff somehow and comes after you, kind of like that excited feeling you probably would get if an attractive person put an arm around you and told you they thought you were super-sexy.

At that moment, I hope my principles would hold, but not being in that situation, I can't say that with 100% certainty.  Would I succumb and scream like a ten year old girl?  Or could I muster the fortitude to tell them, nicely, to take a hike?  I hope so, but I won't know unless it happens.  The odds are slim, but that doesn't mean zero.

As great as our principles are, most of us never truly get tested.  If we were tempted more regularly, we'd really know just what kind of character we have versus the one we like to project.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Out Of Control Growth

I don't know if any of you have ever had the same problem I do with writing, but the biggest thing I've had to watch in so many of my novels is out of control growth.  Just like kudzu, a story can grow in wild directions and get into everything if I'm not careful.
(Small things can get overly large if not watched)
My current novel Homecoming is a perfect example of this.  As writers, we create whole new universes, and the universe I created in this book is very complex.  The backstory is so important to the story, and the races involved have their own way of reacting to things.  The possibilities are endless, and I've found myself having to prune my ambitions so that what I want to be an 80,000-85,000 word novel doesn't turn into a 250,000 word leviathan.

Homecoming is about a small part of war on an inter-galactic scale.  It's focused on Earth, but it's not confined to it.  When the humans try to figure out what they need to do to try and hold onto their reclaimed homeworld, the possibility of engaging with their tormentor on a universal level is countenanced.  The main enemy in the book, the Examen, control not just Earth, but several dozen galaxies.  Another species, the Traygar, through which we have to pass to reach Earth, is also colossal, and their part in any potential war can't be overlooked.

The problem, of course, is that the sheer scale of these potential events would require more room than any reader would put up with.  In order to adequately explain such a war, I'd have to write something that would rival the Bible or The Stand, and I just don't think readers would stick with me that long(or at least not yet).

Therefore, I've had to narrow my focus to what happens in and around Earth.  That's hard for me because my personality knows little between zero and 100 mph.  Some people do moderation well, but I'm not one of them.  Doing so requires exceptional effort on my part since my tendency is to let things grow into an all-or-nothing type of story.  I like to think big, but sometimes big can be too much.

So it's like pruning kudzu before it gets out of hand.  By staying vigilant, it's possible to deliver a focused story that readers can finish without wondering just where it will end.  If I can't do that, then I'm just another invasive species of writer.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Reminder To Sign Up Early

(Sign up while the gettin's good)
My current plan is to begin publishing in May of 2016, starting with Akeldama.  I will bring out a new novel every six months thereafter, and I expect to have a stash of at least nine novels ready to go at that point so I can focus for a little bit on marketing rather than sweat writing yet another novel while trying to sell the first few.

That said, anyone who signs up with me prior to the release date will get nearly 25% off of the list price for a hard copy of the book(my plan is for hard covers to sell for $12.95, and pre-orders will get them for $9.95; there will also be ebooks available, likely for $3.99, but those won't be discounted).  By signing up, you will get my newsletter, which will let everyone know where in the process we are.  As it gets closer to the release, those in the know will also get early looks at the cover, as well as sneak peaks at content.  Either sign up in the comments by giving me an email address, or contact me at

Thanks for all the support everyone has given me so far!  It means a lot.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The State Of Homecoming

A lot has happened in the last week or so with regards to my new novel.  Homecoming is right on schedule, and I expect it to be complete in the next couple of weeks.  I took a business trip to Alaska recently, and I got nearly three-quarters of the way done while there.

I spoke recently about getting behind and trying to find time to complete my work.  This novel will finish between 80,000 and 85,000 words, and that looked like a large chunk when taken all at once.  Therefore, I broke it into more manageable pieces.  Upon my return from Europe, I was at 43,000 words.  I left for Alaska at 45,000.  I now stand at just over 59,000 words, and I feel a hell of a lot better about where it's headed.

I do some of my best work on airplanes, and this was no exception.  I resolved to do 3,000 words each day while in Alaska - the town of Seward, where I stayed, isn't known for its nightlife, especially after the summer season - and another 5,000 on the plane ride back to Hawaii(the flight there was an overnight flight, so I knew I'd accomplish nothing there).  I wasn't even halfway into the trip back before I hit my goal.  As previously discussed, I stopped at that point to avoid burnout.

The final direction of the novel is exciting.  The narrator has a lot more personality than I'd originally planned, and his voice is coming out.  In fact, his transition from optimism and naïveté at the beginning to cynicism as we near the end is proving crucial to the overall story.  He has seen beyond the curtain, and what he saw shattered the worldview he once held.

I've also found an interesting trio of villains.  The novel is about mankind returning to Earth after 10,000 years to push out another alien species that drove us away.  In returning, we had to pass through a third species that was at least as powerful as the boogeyman that beat us in the first place.  Making the invaders, as well as that other powerful race, bad guys has proven easy.  However, it's the third villain that makes the story much more complex, especially from a moral standpoint.

I postulated that after we left Earth, a small portion of the population was left behind.  We assumed they'd be killed quickly, but several pockets of them survived by hiding from the invaders, and they hold a burning hatred of those that fled.  Their presence on Earth, and their interaction with those returning, has help give the novel moral dilemmas and created friction in unexpected places.  The fact that they view those who fled as cowards has made the narrator question the view he held of history.

I finally have an ending in mind - I rarely start a novel with the ending fully formed...sometimes I have no idea what it'll even be - and it comports with the complicated nature of war while still resolving the story in a satisfactory way.  It also leaves open offshoots that could lead to future novels in this universe.

My goal is to have this done in about two weeks by writing 2,000 words per day.  My outline is near the end, so just sitting my ass down and writing will be the most integral part.  I hope that by the time October rolls around, I can report Homecoming's completion, giving me time before Christmas to get to a few other projects.  It's an exciting time.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


I love a good surprise ending.  When I watched The 6th Sense, the ending blew me away.  I thought Wool provided a great ending that I wasn't expecting about the way the silos were in relation to the outside world.

The problem with this, however, is complicated on multiple levels.  The first issue comes from always trying to top yourself.  Each surprise has to be larger than the last one in order to have the same impact, similar to a heroin addict having to up his dose of smack each time he gets high.  Sooner or later, the author has nowhere else to go.

Further, if you always use the surprise ending, the technique becomes...well...less of a surprise.  M. Night Shamylan has become something of a running joke because he always has to include a surprise ending.  Everyone starts to look for it, and not only does it distract from the story, it becomes easier and easier to guess since people just ask themselves what the most outrageous thing to happen would be.  The swerve should be a rarely used tactic, like raising the pot in a poker game by $10,000 when you have nothing.  If you do it every time, no one believes you any longer.

The swerve should also be consistent with your work.  Something out of left field only works if the ending, no matter how big the surprise, seems plausible.  No matter how large a shock it would have been, The Raiders of the Lost Ark wouldn't have played well if Indiana Jones had, at the end, suddenly taken off his clothes and revealed himself to be a transgender hooker with glow in the dark tits.  When things are too out there, the audience not only tunes them out, but it can actually make them angry(as the ending to a bad film, the 2001 Planet of the Apes, did when it took the movie from bad to awful).  Although provoking thought and discussion is germane to being a good writer, we shouldn't be trying to piss them off.  Pissed off people rarely return to an artist, and they certainly don't plop down money to be pissed off.

None of this is to say we shouldn't reach and try to get to a place the audience has rarely seen, but we should take care when we want to surprise them.  Ask yourself if it enhances the story, or are you just trying to shock for the sake of shock?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Giving It Up For Free

When first starting out, one of the biggest issues we, as writers, run into is how to establish ourselves with a public that has no idea who the hell we are.  Stephen King and Stephanie Meyer can get by on name recognition - when they publish something, people will flock to what they've written simply by virtue of loving the previous work.  But how does an unknown do so if he or she doesn't have the budget for a large promotional campaign?

At the beginning, it's all about circulation, and one of the best and easiest ways to do that is by giving your stuff away for free.  Yes, we're in this business to make money - at least I am - but most people won't fork over copious amounts of cash on someone they haven't heard of.  The idea is to be prepared to give away now so that people will return to you in the future.

I'm not advocating not charging for your work at all, only providing free copies in select circumstances, as well as encouraging your work to be passed around.  Those who become a member of Amazon's KDP Select have the power to post their work for free for limited periods of time.  Amanda Hocking and a few others used this feature to get people to give their stuff a chance, and it paid off in spades.  For those that create paper books, scheduling give-aways at local bookstores and college campuses have the potential to get people interested without them writing you off as a hack because they have to pay to read an unknown.

I also think that we need to encourage others who do read our work to pass it around to their friends.  Too many get so caught up in payment at first that they forget a large number of book sales are generated through word of mouth.  If a friend of yours likes you book, encourage them to pass it to another friend, and don't pout about losing revenue.  At the early stage of the game, it's not about the money - that'll come later.

Of course, this is an anathema to lots of people, and those people fail.  Some will huff and puff that they deserve to be paid for whatever they produce, and good for them - they and their greed will be eating bologna sandwiches long after the rest of us are making a comfortable living.  Remember, you might think you're great, but not everyone knows that yet, and most of them are cheap.  If you can pull them in by promising them something for little to no risk monetarily, you have a greater chance of getting your foot in the door.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Homecoming Update

I began my most recent novel just over a month ago.  I was worried because I started over and hadn't reached any real level of success in regards to word count.  Therefore, I set a series of intermediate goals and decided to focus on that.  I'm happy to report that I've far exceeded what I wanted when I left for Germany a couple of weeks ago.

I more than doubled my current work.  My target was 40,000 words when I returned, and I now stand at over 45,000.  The book has started to take several interesting turns, and I think an idea of the ending is starting to take shape(yes, I sometimes...actually, a lot of the time...start a novel without knowing how it'll end).  The biggest thing that has surprised me is the level of involvement of the narrator.

I chose to write this in the format of a historian writing a journal so that I could get an inside look at the goings-on in our fight to retake Earth without having to make any one person central to the story.  The only character that was supposed to come closest to that was the Admiral in charge of the invasion fleet.  However, as the project has moved forward, the narrator has established more personality than I expected.  Shalliko Kai, the historian in question, has gone all over the place to document what's going on, and his personality is coming through loud and clear.  He started out very optimistic about the adventure, but he has recently begun to have doubts.  The complicated questions of our interaction with the alien races involved, as well as with several unexpected encounters with humans no one knew were still on Earth, has forced him to question the naive point of view that his government is always right.

One of the most important back stories of the novel involves the man who initially led humanity away from Earth as a race of alien invaders slaughtered us.  This man has always been seen as a flawless savior, and Kai holds him in the highest regard.  Missing pieces of history are floating in, and they don't always mesh with the narrative he has of the founding father.  This doubt is starting to come across in the work.

Given the massive progress I made while in Germany, I expect this book to be done by the end of September(the final product will be between 80,000-85,000 words).  I could have had it done by the middle of September, but one of the ways I'm able to write so much is by being bored on an airplane, and one of my business trips was just cancelled, so it'll hinder my progress a little.  The biggest problem I think I'll have will involve the scope of the book - I need to figure out just how epic I want the ending.  Am I going to go for a large scale event like war on an intergalactic scale, or will I narrow the focus and make the ending a little more muddled?  I haven't decided that yet, but I know it's coming soon.

Once this novel is finished, I have a few more things to do.  I plan to do the final edit on Wrongful Death, the first edit on Schism, and write a short story a week for my short story collection.  However, I first have to complete this book, and I don't want to be in such a hurry that the final product suffers(I think that's part of what happened in Canidae).

I'm excited to be working on this project.  I don't yet know where in the pantheon of books it'll be released, but it'll be nice to have another that can be in the queue.