I began writing the third novel in my Torth Empire series in January 2009. I completed it on June 1st. This first draft weighs in at 128,000 words (roughly 500 pages), and I hope to shave off a few thousand words on the second pass. But it was an absolute joy to write. I would have completed it much faster, if real life didn't keep me so busy. I poured in a few hours here, a few hours there, usually late at night. The characters showed up vibrant in my mind, ready to continue their story. It all came together nicely.
I'm still high from the experience of writing it, so don't trust my judgment ... but I think this is the best novel I've ever written.
Of course, that's not saying much, since this is the first NEW novel I've written in over seven years. I've improved as a writer and as a person since the early 2000s. But the experience has taught me that I am a writer at heart. It is in my blood. I enjoy it too much to deny it. I will write many more new novels in the coming years.
Book 3: City of the Dead picks up where Book 2: Caves and Canyons left off. The characters think they're escaping to safety, and then ... well, I can't dilvulge the details. You'll have to read to find out. And by the way, I am always interested in test readers. I welcome feedback, even criticism, and I will never pressure you to finish reading, so there is no obligation involved. Let me know if you'd like to test read!
Just for fun, here are a few out-of-context quotes from my new novel:
"My calculations would take an average genius weeks to work through. I did it in half an hour."
"You have free will. Now turn around once in a complete circle."
"I recommend that we fly into the sun and kill ourselves."
"They have a system called justice. I very much like the idea."
If you know my characters, you can probably guess who said each of those quotes.
And now I will begin to climb the mountain of marketing. I have plans to make an official author site for myself, which will include a high quality, interactive TORTH section. What do you think? The TORTH net will include an alien encyclopedia (with information about culture, physiology, and native habitat for each intelligent species), a guide to choosing your own spacecraft, a photo guide to Torth and their ranks, and either a web comic based on the Torth universe, or an interactive "Thomas Guide," where the user can view Thomas's childhood on Earth in a series of animated vignettes which Thomas comments upon. If you can suggest other ideas, please do so.
My time for marketing is now. I've come to the stunning realization that I can market my work before I get published. The science fiction book genre industry is a fickle business, and some of my newly discovered heroes among authors include Scott Sigler and Mark Jeffrey, who put a lot of effort into networking with fans and marketing their books, as well as honing their writing skills by welcoming feedback. I admire how they built their careers from the ground up, circumventing the traditional route of agent-editor-publisher. Like every other unpublished novelist, I want to go the traditional route, but in this economy and with the changing climate of publishing, there are no guarantees. so we'll see what happens. But I have confidence that someday, my Torth series will see the light of publication--and I hope that my readers, new and returning, will help me get there.