On Letting Go (and killing darlings)

[It’s really freaking hard to not have every blog post be OMG I AM HUGO FINALIST HEAR ME SQUEE! but I think that might get old.]

I got a “domain about to expire” email from my domain provider a few days ago, and I’ve let it sit for a while, trying to figure out what to do. It’s strange how we get tied to simple things.

heavennovel.com is up for renewal. And I don’t think I’m going to do it. This was a surprisingly difficult decision.

Background: Ten years ago, when I was publishing via podcast only, I wrote a bunch of novellas that got a very passionate fan base. I tried to combine them to become novel-length to sell them to a publisher, and didn’t get any interest. I finally decided after two agents and a bunch of rejections, that I would crowdfund to pay for a good ebook transfer so I could get it to the fans who had been asking for it for years. The kickstarter funded at almost 1000% and I created hard copies as well as ebooks. And the ebooks sold!

The popularity of the kickstarter got another agent interested in me. By now, I had edited the books so many times, to make them flow as novels, then to make them skew more YA, then to skew them back to adult when the YA version didn’t sell, that I was entirely sick of them. I told her I really didn’t want to work through them again, but she encouraged me. When she saw the edit she said, “Oh. You really don’t want to work through this again, do you?”

What gave you that idea?

Note that years are passing here. I’m becoming a better writer, I’m writing a new urban fantasy about monsters needing travel guides. I’m attending grad school. My agent had zero interest in my urban fantasy, so I sold it myself by networking at a con and sending my manuscript to an editor I had coffee with. Then my agent quit being an agent and passed me to her boss, a longtime veteran of publishing. This agent did not do SFF. She was not interested in the stuff I was currently writing and how I was growing. She called my new writing “brutal” more than once. She did not mean this in a good way. (I guess she hadn’t read Hunger Games.) 

Yes, the gentle Hunger Games.

Instead, new agent wanted me to revise the novellas. Again.

Or I could do this, which would be more productive.

I told her that I’d been down that road before and it was a dead end, and she said the market had changed and she thought it could be a breakthrough hit. I liked the idea of a hit. But then I thought about going back to what I was writing seven years before, and the anxiety and dread was similar to the feeling one gets coming home from vacation and realizing your cat sitter hadn’t scooped the litter once. I politely asked her if she had any interest in the stuff I was working on at the time, and she said no.

So we parted ways and I found an awesome agent who represents SFF and likes my stuff. As for The Afterlife Series, I’ve put it behind me. I love the fact that the books helped build my fanbase, and it was an important step I took toward the writer I am now, and heck, the ebook sales still trickle in, but I think it’s time to stop spending money on the domain for a project that makes me spike anxiety just to think about it. Still, it’s a tough step. It feels like killing a darling in a book.

Hey. Note that nowhere in this history of this failed series did I decide the world wasn’t ready for my genius and I should quit.

Afterlife paperbacks available!

In 2011 I did a Kickstarter for the ebooks and hardcovers for the Afterlife series. Now that time has passed, and I’ve written a sixth novella in the series (STONES), I’ve decided to release them as paperbacks from Lulu.

Heaven – $9.99

Hell – $9.99

Earth – $9.99

Wasteland – $9.99

War – $9.99

Stones – $9.99

If you would like signed copies, contact me directly. (mightymur at gmail)

Now Available: The Afterlife Series VI: Stones

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Cover art by Pablo Defendini

About (mumble) years ago, I ran a kickstarter campaign to self publish my Afterlife series, and said I would continue my series one more novella if we hit a stretch goal. *

Surprisingly, I did hit the goal, so I’ve been working on the final story in the interim years. A book deal and a graduate program kind of slowed me down, but it’s finally done. And here is the final Afterlife novella, Stones!

The Afterlife Series VI: Stones

Kate and Daniel are back for one final adventure! After giving up their powers to exist peacefully as the sun and moon, the couple are distressed to find that a cultish group of children have taken it upon themselves to search for the dead gods in a most disturbing way. The failed gods try to meddle once more, and find themselves on their most rewarding journey yet through The Reach, a new afterlife.

Available via ebook from the author.
(Smashwords) (Amz)

* This was not called a stretch goal at the time. Old school kickstarter.

Also, all of my ebooks are now available directly from me at Payhip. Find out more on my books page!

Afterlife VI: STONES is done!

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Cover Prototype, by Pablo Defendini

In 2011 I did a Kickstarter campaign to support the ebook design of The Afterlife Series. Multiple agents had tried to sell it, and it never caught an editor’s eye, despite being the most popular thing I had written at the time (for my listeners, anyway.) I put a high stretch goal on there, promising if someone pledged $1k I would write another novella in the series. I didn’t think it would actually go.

It did.

Life got complicated after that. Never mind that I had no idea what I was going to write. No spoilers, but at the end of Book 5: War, the fate of the characters was pretty well sealed. Then I got a deal to write two books for Orbit, and I got into an MFA program. So I blinked and three years had passed. GAH.

Long story short (shorter, anyway) this year I finally got down to writing the novella, then sent it off to a classmate for editing, then sat on the edits for a while. I just recently got through them all, and sent the book off to my designer. It’s done!

I emailed a PDF of the book to the Kickstarter supporters, and people who had supported me via Patreon (hint, if you support now you can get the free PDF long before it goes to the ebook stores!) So the book is out there to a select group, and it will be available via B&N, Smashwords, and Amazon as soon as the design is done.

But for my part, except for the ebook uploading and all that, The Afterlife Series VI: Stones is done.  And the relief I feel is monumental.


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I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo this year, again. I don’t have a good track record, but what the hell, it’s fun. I’m not sure what project I’m working on, but I have a couple of things going on right now so it won’t be hard to settle on one.

And again, if you are a Patreon supporter, you will get a daily NaNoWriMo audio file. NOTE: If you’re a supporter and don’t do NaNo and don’t want the files, you can temporarily change your support level to “no reward” and you won’t get the emails. You will still get your weekly mail from me, and you can change back in December. That said, if you are currently at No Reward and want the files, you need to change to at least the $1 reward.

The Afterlife Series gets a shine

I’ve hired a copyeditor to go over The Afterlife Series again, to shine it up real pretty-like, and I’ve made other changes as well.

I had totally forgotten (shame, shame) that part of the Kickstarter rewards had been Tuckerizations for some supporters. These names are now included in the books.

The end of War hosts a sneak peek of book 6 in the series: STONES. (previously it had a sneak peek of Playing for Keeps.)

As I prepare for the release of STONES, and of the Storium* world that will be built around The Afterlife Series, I’ve decided to change the Creative Commons license on the existing books. I’ve tried for nearly eight years to get this work on book shelves (meaning published by a trad. publisher). With STONES and the Storium world, I think I will be done. I’ve changed the license to BY-NC-SA, meaning you can create all you like in the world, fanfic, art, whatever, provided you

  1. Include my name on every file (BY- attribution)
  2. Do not sell what you create (NC- non commercial)
  3. And share the file with the same license as I have. (SA- share alike)

Lastly, in trying to upload the new files to Smashwords, I encountered a problem. My files had been grandfathered in when Smashwords made their changes to their cover guidelines, but apparently uploading new content (note, I didn’t change anything about the cover art) raises a red flag, and now my books are non-published on Smashwords until I get new cover versions from my designer, who’s a very busy dude. If you’re a Smashwords customer and want the new versions, all I can ask for is your patience.

I’m uploading to Amazon right now.

*Holy crap Storium crossed $100,000 in pledges recently!