I've taken most of the week off from writing after a horrific bout of grinding fatigue left me unable to string more than a few words together in a sentence on Tuesday. This happens from time to time, and the best thing to do for me is to ride it out by watching some movies and playing Halo (or something of that sort) so that's what I did. No, it didn't stop me from writing out notes and ideas for what I'm working on right now (Thy Father's Shadow, in case you're wondering) but it also gave me time to shuffle some ideas around in my mind and think about what needs to happen for the rest of this year.
So, I've been talking about this Southern Watch series for a while, giving mostly vague hints. I've written the first book, and was planning to release it sometime in September, but after a lot of thought, I've changed my mind. There's a couple reasons for this - 1) I'd rather have a couple books out so that you have the ability to go from one right to the next and 2) the first book I wrote isn't going to be the first in the series. That's honestly the main reason.
Now, let me explain. I love the book I wrote. It's fun, it's a great origin story, kind of details what's going on in the world, probably does a good job of keeping the reader reading from end to end. The one person who's read it basically told me not to change the plot in any way (it was a first draft, so there are a few details that are going to change, mostly surface level stuff). And I'm holding to that advice, because I think it's good.
My problem with this book is that it's the first book in a new series. You know that old saying about how you never get a second chance to make a first impression? I really believe that's doubly true in the world of books. So what I have here is a solid, straightforward adventure story that has good characters, a really good villain (IMO) and a cool story, it's just...a little too straightforward. It's a workhorse book that you'll enjoy, that will keep you reading (I think) but I want something a little twistier, that has more hooks, most turns, to introduce readers to this new universe. I want something that introduces the world in such a way that YOU MUST HAVE MORE. It's close with this one, but I think I can do better still.
The second book in the series (tentatively titled Depths) is that story (I think). It has a seriously curvy path ahead of it, with a compelling mystery that will likely take you on a winding road and keep you guessing if you're even going to make it around the next bend in one piece (he said, having not written it yet). I feel like it will simply be a better entry point, starting off from the gate without slowing things down in an origin story. I want to endear you to the characters and the plot by diving in media res (in the middle of things, in case you don't read Latin or want to go to Google) so I can let the backstory float out later, after you're already interested in what's going on (oh, how I hope!). So, that's the plan.
Some writer friends and I were talking this last week, and were discussing best practices for how to run a career. I don't think it's a huge secret that I'm a full time author doing pretty well for myself at this point. Last month was my lowest month of the year with 6,775 books sold, so I'm making it all right. Anyway, there was some discussion about how to vault up even higher than that, into the realm of tens of thousands of books a month, (I haven't broken the 10,000 mark yet. So close, in March, missed it by 162 books! I'll hit it soon, don't worry.) and the consensus was to stick to one series, preferably. Doing two is insanely difficult. Balancing three, it was concluded, might just be insane.
I'm probably insane, I'll admit it. I've even thought about adding a fourth and fifth series, because I want to write some other stuff. This is probably a bad idea, though, because fans expect more than one book per year in a series nowadays (and I like writing more than one book per series per year) so it seems likely any future projects I add will be with the understanding that they'll be one book per year projects at best until I can conclude a series and get it off my plate. Which may be a while, now that I've got three. And it would take a more disciplined (more evil?) guy than me to start telling fans, No, you're not going to see the next Sanctuary adventure or Sienna tale for another year because I really want to write ______________. (Fill in the blank with any of a hundred hare-brained ideas I have waiting on the back burner right now.)
So, anyway, I'll probably stick to my three for now. But I'm holding back Southern Watch for a couple months, and I'll release book 1 and 2 close to each other, so you won't have much wait. I'll try to have the third out this year, too, but we'll see. It might be a struggle.
Anyway, for those of you presently interested, here's the teaser/setup:
Archibald "Arch" Stan was a local cop in Midian, Tennessee that was good at his job, good at being a husband, and exceptionally good at hiding his disappointment at not being able to figure out what was missing in his life that made it all seem so empty.
Lafayette Hendricks looked like a drifter, a broken-down hitchhiker blown through Midian on the prevailing winds. When Arch catches him in a fight on the town square, though, things start to get weird, fast, because the guy he's fighting doesn't die when he gets shot. And Lafayette's carrying a sword.
Pretty soon, Arch's whole life is turned upside down by Lafayette's revelation that there's a secret world operating under the one he's been living in his whole life - one filled with demons, chaos, and unspeakable evils, one of which is already in town, stirring trouble. And if the two men don't band together to keep watch on the darkness falling on Midian, then this small town might just get swallowed up by the forces of evil - with the rest of the world to follow shortly behind.
Southern Watch Books 1 and 2 - coming Fall/Winter 2013.