2018: Wow that was weird

So it’s time for me to sit back and look at the year in review. And man, was this one weird.

We’ll start off with the good news: I walked away from the day job on February 24th of this year and have been working for Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) since then. I am now a Kept Man.

In simple terms, I get up, take a shower, feed myself, check the news and the mail, and then write for 3-5 hours, depending on what all needs to be accomplished with the rest of the day. (If I have the cat at my house, she gets fed first. Always.)

In 2017, I ended up writing 452,444 consumable words for the year. That’s fiction and blog posts like this, because they take time and are things that sell me to fans and prospective fans. Mind you, I had a full time job in 2017, working as a Business Intelligence developer and database architect for a legal services company in downtown Seattle. Good money.

Living out in the middle of nowhere, up against the Cascade Mountains, however, my days were complicated. Wake up at 4. (Alarm set to 410 and it went off every 2-3 months. Normally I’m awake at 330 and dozing.) Shower and out of the house by 425 to beat traffic downtown. Get into the office at 500 when the garage opens. Walk up 3 flights of stairs to the office. Fix breakfast and coffee and sit down to read my comics, the news, and eat. Start writing no later than 600 most days. Hit my desk at 800 and go to work. Drive home 60-100 minutes, depending on traffic.

On Mondays, I tended to write in the evening. Thursdays too. Gaming Tuesday. Fabulous Publisher Babe ™ Wednesday. (We don’t live together. Complicated story requiring you to buy the wine in order to hear.)

Still did nearly half a million words. And beat 2016, which ended at 415,000.

She sold her house on Capital Hill in Seattle in April and moved out to the farm. There was a lot of work to do to get her place ready and on the market in March and April, so I really didn’t hit my stride writing until then.

One of the things they tell you is that you will slow down, the first six months after you quit your day job. I assume the lack of structure and all this free time you have to fill, frequently by traveling down time sinks like social media or tv tropes. (Sorry not sorry.)

In April, I wrote 75,000 words. For comparison, in 2017, I averaged 37,000 per month. So straight up doubling. It also happens to be not that far from 84,000 words, which happens to be Pulp Speed One (1,000,000/year).

In May, we did a writing retreat in Lincoln City, OR. The goal for one of these is a 50,000 novel in 5-6 days. Did that. Awaken The Star Dragon.

In June, we went to CampCon, which is a writing retreat weekend in north central Oregon, where you sit down, shut up, and write. I also wanted to write a book about this new world of Pulp Speed Writing that I was at, as a way of showing other people that it was possible, and how they could get there. Wrote 14,000+ words on Saturday. And hit Pulp Speed Four for the month. (I could have hit Pulp Five, and specifically took three days off at the end of the month. Not tired, just not pushing.)

Suddenly, I was sustaining Pulp Speed Two. 100,000 words per month. And it works out to around 3400 words per day, as I tend to write everyday. That’s a pace I can sustain for extremely long stretches of time, if I need to. Okay, I can do this.

However, this is where things get interesting. The old definition of a novel most agreed to by the most people is 40,000 words. For many of my series, I come in 43-45k easy enough. But at 100,000 words per month, I’m writing two of those, plus other things.

Seriously, two novels a month. And short fiction, because I’m working on shorter projects and I have Boundary Shock Quarterly that I need to write for regularly.

Okay, I’m also writing Jessica Keller novels, and those get longer by their nature. But I needed to have several things I could rotate through, in order to not get bored by writing the same characters over and over for the next however many years.

So I took Gareth St. John Dankworth, Hero At Large, and turned him into a full series. Five novels in the first arc, with plans for a second five at a later date.

Good, but not sufficient.

Let the backbrain go for a while and came up with a whole new universe, where I could just have fun. Both Gareth and Jessica are epic SF. Every novel, the stories must get bigger. The risks greater. The rewards amazing. That’s the nature of epicness.

Not so with Valentinian and Dave. These are straight-up adventure SF stories. Self contained, but part of a larger arc. As with the Star Dragon, the goal with Valentinian is at least six in the first batch.

So 2018 was the year of production. Write like hell and build up a massive catalog of new novels I could drop rapidly, in a series, and then advertise the hell out of. We’re just now starting to come into what all that means.

In December I dropped St. Legier (Jessica Keller #7). As many of you are now aware, the story forks a little at the end, with Two Bottles of Wine With a War God coming out in January as a self-contained Yan Bedrov novella.

In Feb/Mar/Apr, you will get the CS-405 trilogy. Queen Anne’s Revenge, Packmule, Persephone. That leads us into May, when Winterhome (Jessica Keller #8) comes out. As I write this year end note, I’m just under 100,000 words in on book #9, and it feels like it will come in at around 160,000 maybe. Got a lot of ground to cover and a number of threads to wind up, so this can be the last Jessica Keller novel. (And yes, I have ideas for spin-offs, and they are on the list to get to. Never fear.)

Starting in June, the plan is to start dropping more Star Dragon novels every month, as well as possibly the Valentinian stories. (We’ve talked about possibly running an experiment where they go into Kindle Unlimited. Some people have said that is a great idea, and some have called me a moron. So about normal, all things considered.)

I have four of the Star Dragon novels done (1-4). Three of the Valentinian stories are also in the can. Once I finish the Ninth Jessica Keller, I’ll rotate back to those and finish off the bits I need to get to.

Partly, I actually have a deadline now, as we’re going to hire an audio artist to do 10-12 novels back to back. He’s giving us a good deal, and is quite excited to see where the stories go, now that he’s read the samples.

So lotsa audio coming, second half of the year. Mark your calendars.

Also, because the world has changed, I’m getting The Science Officer books translated into German. Big market for SF novellas in German, and I hope to draw in a whole cast of new fans. And if this works, I’ll get others things translated, too. (Found a really good translation crew to work with. Spendy, but professional and highly recommended by someone who should know.)

And now we’re at the end of the first year. I’ve written over a million words just this year, even with the late start to high speed. My goal next year is 1.3 million, or to sustain Pulp Speed Two across the entire year, if I can. Came close to failing in December, and I’m not 100% sure I’ll hit my 100,000, but I’m close enough to want to push, so I’ll have my butt at the keyboard tomorrow, bashing away at Jessica’s final missions.

Looking at my notes, here’s what my year looked like, in terms of writing projects. Some of the names won’t mean anything to you yet, as they are parts of later projects I wrote now, and will publish as part of something else. But there are a lot of things here.

FYI: Titles get repeated if the project crosses into a new month, so I remember what I wrote in each month, as opposed to what I started each month.

2018 Writing – Jan

– St. Legier – Jessica 7

– BSQ 1 Editorial

– Unintended Consequences – Carl & Deke 2

– RPG 2018

– Daddy’s Girl – Angus 1


– Unintended Consequences – Carl & Deke 2

– RPG 2018

– St Legier – Jessica 7


– St Legier – Jessica 7

– Strawberry Dragon – Fairchild

– Forgotten Paper Memories – Angus 2 (BSQ 005)


– Shirabyoshi – Kumiko 2

– Phantom of the Factory – Disappointment Patrol 1

– Two Bottles of Wine With the War God – Yan Bedrov

– Queen Anne’s Revenge – CS-405-1


– Patrol Cutter: Bellerophon! – Gareth Pulp 1

– Awaken The Star Dragon – Gareth 1

– Packmule – CS-405-2


– Packmule – CS-405-3

– Persephone – CS-405-3

– Flight of the Star Dragon – Gareth 2

– B4B – Pulp Speed


– Winterhome – Jessica

– Just Business – Kumiko 4

– Huntress – Kumiko 5


– Winterhome

– Rocker – Kumiko 6

– Second Cousins – Akahana 3

– Rescue – Kumiko 7

– Longshot Hypothesis – Dave 1


– Call of the Star Dragon – Gareth 3

– Hard Bargain – Dave 2


– Heroes – Shrike 2

– Can’t Shoot Straight Gang Returns – Handsome Rob 2

– Shadow Of The Star Dragon – Gareth 4


– Shadow Of The Star Dragon

– Assassin – Farouk 1

– Seeker – Alicia 2

– Tin Can Pirates – Gareth Pulp 2

– Outermost – Dave 3

– Witness – Farouk 2


– Petron – Jessica 9

So there you have it. One hell of a year.

In 2019, I’m hoping to write 20 novels. And a lot of short fiction. And the RPG project is moving towards a point where I will be able to start playtesting with a few groups in the spring, hopefully. With luck, that will make some money. At the very least, I’ll have to write some fiction set in the universe to help explain things and give people a feel for the place and the people.

Plus, I’ll turn 50 next summer, so I want to celebrate it by writing like hell and having a grand time doing it.

So Happy New Years to everyone, and I hope your world continues to get better every day.