Two weeks ago my laptop failed.
Everything was backed up, and will be restored. But the poor little laptop had to make its way via slow-moving trucks to Memphis, where it sat alone on Thanksgiving while the repair technicians ate turkey.
I finally have my (working!) laptop back, but this interruption means Lúnasa Days will be delayed.
I really want to release it before the holidays, but with only weeks to spare that may not be possible. The publication schedule depends not just on me, but on how quicky it can be edited and laid out.
However, I don’t want to leave you hanging. I know that many of you have become patrons of my novella and want to see it succeed. Plus, you want to read it!
So, as a special thank you to all of you and to make up for the delay, this Sunday I’m releasing a short story for all of my patrons.
If you’re already a patron, this story is totally free. It’ll arrive by noon Sunday.
If you’re not a patron, what are you waiting for? Patronage comes with a bunch of benefits, plus you help support a traveling writer who entertains you. And now there’s a bonus story!
The story is about a lonely girl, her flying castle, and a Very Bad Day.
Down below the castle would sit perfectly still for the first time since it was built. And the stillness would last only a minute, maybe three, till the beasts from the woods came loping out. They would swarm over its gardens and courtyards and verandas. They’d leap through its broken windows and hanging doors, and they would seek out anyone hiding inside and rip them to little pieces and eat them. And Una didn’t need to see that ever again.
Not until it was her turn.
Interested? Become a patron and you’ll get the whole story.
I don’t usually talk about finances.
It seems too personal, and for me it changes so often it’s hard to know what to say. But travel and adventure bloggers need to be honest about this topic. A lot of blogs exist just to convince you how easy it will be to travel the world—if you buy their product.
By policy, I no longer run affiliate links on Rogue Priest. I have no product for you.
I’ve worked on a freelance basis for over a year. I last had a full time job in August 2011. I don’t regret leaving my job, but it hasn’t been all mojitos and lattes, either.
The way I make money is by writing ad copy, PR pieces and press releases. This is surprisingly fun work. I’m fortunate to be able to do it.
But it’s not consistent.
A Penny a Word
When I started I was paid $4 per article. These were short articles, but still—you have to write a lot to make a living wage at that rate. I ate into my savings, chalked it up to “getting started” and soldiered on.
As my reputation grew, so did my pay. It’s not uncommon for me to earn $50-70 an hour. That sounds fantastic, but how many hours a week do I work? If clients slow down, maybe four. Maybe none.
While bicycling I set aside 2 – 3 days per week for writing. Often, people were amazed and impressed that I worked on the road. I guess they figured only wealthy people can travel like that. When they discovered I worked for a living, it changed their attitude toward me—sometimes substantially.
(I continue to find this unsettling, by the way. What if I was rich? I wouldn’t be worth talking to?)
During those 2 – 3 days I had to do client work, blog posts, columns, and work on my books and personal projects. My total income declined, but it wasn’t a problem: expenses were so low while living on a bicycle that I actually came out ahead.
Then came New Orleans.
I knew I’d need to work more to cover the cost of rent, groceries, utilities, and all the other realities of having a fixed home again. But while expenses rose sharply, my income hasn’t. It takes time to build up a strong client base, and some reliable clients are in a slow spell of their own. Is this is the life of a freelancer?
I think many travel bloggers find themselves in this circumstance. Most don’t talk about it, because it’s bad for business. They’re supposed to look successful and carefree. But whether they do freelance work of their own or promote product after product, it’s a tenuous and unstable line of income.
In this case, it’s landed me somewhere scary.
Clouds of Worry
November is one-half over. I have exactly one-half of what I need for monthly bills December 1. That is too close to the edge.
So this is what it means to arrive in a bohemian lifestyle. Adventure isn’t just travel. If adventure means facing fear—maybe this is it.
But an adventurer’s art is to overcome challenges, not just suffer them. One of my objectives for my time in New Orleans has to be smoothing out the business side of what I do: finding some combination of freelance and creative projects that will be reliable anywhere I go.
For the present I’m reaching out to more clients, feeling out local venues to sell my artwork, and working like mad on my novella. Want to help? You can become a patron of my work, which comes with some pretty cool benefits.
I feel like I’ve joined a long and storied lineage of writers who suffered for their art. It’s not something I chose, but it’s not something I’m afraid of either—not entirely. Amid the clouds of worry there are sometimes flashes of certainty, a strange certainty that it will all come together exactly as it should.
Is that crazy?
Or, more accurate, I should ask: is it rational?
I’m writing my first novella. The end of summer, a failing crop, the desperate touch of temporary lovers—and magic. Lúnasa Days.
Imagine knowing exactly what spirituality is.
Picture a world where it doesn’t come from scripture, church, or doctrine. A world where it doesn’t come from what your parents told you, or your pastor.
Imagine a version of yourself with a calm, self-assured confidence that comes from experiencing the sacred firsthand.
You can have that experience.
These words open my first ever ever book, Walk Like a God. They were written two months before I deployed.
Rich in photos, Walk Like a God expresses a way of spirituality that doesn’t follow religion. It roots the spiritual search in the act of challenging yourself, and the simple practice of walking.
It’s a love song to the natural world, to the human spirit, and to our ability to find our own way without doctrine.
And on Sunday, Walk Like a God will no longer be available.
In the paper-laden past, books went out of print. If all copies sold they became hard to find. Only a huge demand could conjure more.
In the digital realm authors can ride a product forever. But I don’t want to. I’m no longer the person who wrote Walk Like a God. My journey changes me, and I want my work to change too.
Digital publishing is supposed to free writers from a corporate mentality. So instead of selling and selling till the sales run dry, I’m taking it off the shelf.
I want to be clear: I still think Walk Like a God is a great book. I’m proud of it, and when I read back through it I still feel happy with what it teaches.
So you have a little time left.
Whether you’ve been putting it off, just heard of it, or simply want to have a “complete” Rogue Priest collection:
But only through 11/11. At the end of Sunday, it’s gone.
Many thanks to everyone who bought, read, enjoyed, or reviewed my first book. The big question is: what do you want in my next book on spirituality?
The past few weeks I’ve teased readers with excerpts from an upcoming novella, Lúnasa Days. (Here, here and here if you’re hankering.) The novella concerns a semi-fictional young man, his bike, and his unusual career of casting spells. Corn dies, wives stray and farmers load their shotguns.
I reached out to my readers with an appeal for patronage: help me fund the creation of this novella, and receive special credit in the book and a variety of benefits.
Quite a few of you answered the call.
I set goal of raising $200 in two weeks. This amount will allow me to take work days away from writing ad copy. I’m pleased and grateful to announce that this goal was met and exceeded. Patronage for Lúnasa Days came in with a total of $270.
This is a joyful experience for a writer. It means more to me than any book sale ever can, because it represents a powerful commitment from readers. By becoming patrons of this novella you’ve said you’re willing to invest to make sure it becomes a reality.
Thank you. I don’t know how else to say it, so just: thank you, so much. I expect a draft of the novella to be completed in November and will announce a release date from there.
I also want to invite everyone’s feedback. How do you feel about the patronage request?
- If you gave, what made you decide to give?
- If you didn’t give, was there something that put you off? Does the whole idea put you off?
- Were the levels priced right? Almost all the support came at the $20 level (which makes sense). If it was $20/30/50 instead of $20/50/75, would higher levels be more appealing?
- I offered a variety of perks at different levels. They included name recognition, an advance copy, a signed copy, an invitation to creative involvement, and a special art book version of a short story. Did any of these really grab you? Did any seem “meh”?
Patronage allows a writer to secure seed money for work they would otherwise do on faith alone. The world of self-publishing is risky, and this takes some risk out of it. I’d like to refine the process to make it deliver the most value for you, making it mutually beneficial. So please, comment and share your feelings.
(If you weren’t able to give before and feel like you missed out on the special perks, I’m still accepting patronage at the $20 and $50 levels. Click here to check out the benefits and sign up. The $75 level is no longer available.)
He fell into the garage. Hands fumbled on wall. The light came on.
Okay, okay. Everything was here. Not organized, but here. His legs felt weak.
He started to load things. His legs shook, he was wobbly. Was it the drinks? That was hours ago. No, a different cocktail. The highball of boner and fear.
The looks at dinner. Maybe she couldn’t tell she was doing it. But he noticed. And so did her husband.
A shelf crashed over, tools flew. Damn these legs. He held totally still. Listened.
Ten seconds. Thirty. No one stirred.
Okay, it would be a shitty night. But he would get out. He’d put the scroll on their table, steal exactly one breakfast, and ride out in the dark. He could make two hours by headlight and camp in the woods.
You need to change your spells, son.
Ready, that’s the last of it. Okay. Drop off the scroll. He turned toward the door.
It was open.
Blocked by a husband.
This teaser is from Lúnasa Days, the semi-fictional account of a young man on the road—who casts spells.
It doesn’t exist yet.
To finish this story I have to put aside client work that pays. That’s hard to do, since it’s my main source of income.
If you want to read Lúnasa Days, consider becoming its patron. I’ve put together some extra special perks, only for patrons who help support the work now in its infancy.
The final ebook will likely retail for less than $10. You can wait for it to come out and hold out for that price. Or, you can get it ahead of time, get some special benefits, and help me tell the stories of the road. Here’s how.
$20 – Advance Copy
By becoming a patron at the $20 level you will be guaranteed an advance copy in your preferred format before it hits the public. In addition, you’ll be thanked by name in the dedication page, as a patron of the arts (and my personal savior).
$50 – Autograph & Special Invitation
By supporting the book at the $50 level you get all the benefits above as well as some special perks. Your advance copy will bear a “digital autograph”—a personal handwritten message from yours truly, digitally transposed into the book. You’ll also get a sneak peak of the manuscript before it’s finalized, with an invitation to comment and give feedback. You can help shape the final version of the book.
$75 – Limited Edition Private Collection
Patrons who offer $75 will receive everything above, plus a special gift. Bundled with your autographed, advance copy of Lúnasa Days you’ll find a private collection version of my short story Opus for Laura. This story is never before released, and will be presented as a full-color digital art book. I’m doing all the artwork myself. This is a limited edition version; only patrons will receive it.
[This level no longer available.]
Donations in other amounts are welcome too, and each one helps drive the writing forward. You can donate by clicking here.
I’m planning my next writing sabbatical, so I’m setting a goal of $300 in patronage. If that goal is met in two weeks, Lúnasa Days goes to the top of the docket.
Lúnasa Days will be a novella of some 80 pages. It’ll be available for the Kindle on Amazon, or as a .pdf. If the patronage goal is met I’d like to release it by October.
I realize that not everyone can support an author’s work like this, and some of you want to help in other ways. Thank you! The very best way you can support the cause is to promote this post. Share it on Facebook and anywhere else you can, it means the world to me. You also help by buying the final book when it comes out, and leaving reviews on Amazon so more people hear about it.
This is your humble author, signing out. Please consider supporting, and thank you for all you do.
The sun’s dying. The corn doesn’t know. It grows tall and green. The human heart knows. It stirs and it stirs.
There’s a dwindling in August. Sadness. And a loner on the roads.
He doesn’t know why he left. His life wasn’t bad. Everyone said he was good at his job, even his boss.
But when he was young he knew something. He had a fate, a reason to exist. It was as real as the pollen that made him sneeze. He never quite found it, his fate, and every autumn it slipped further away.
He stopped one day for food. A gas station, like any other. But the man there was friendly. He was bored. And he liked the look of the young guy with his bike, and he asked him questions.
“Where you headed?” he asked.
It was a hard question.
“Well, what do you do?”
The young man chewed his food. Vagabond. Can you say vagabond? Is that a career?
He looked off in the distance.
“I cast spells,” he said.
And the old man had some work for him.
I’m planning a novella, Lúnasa Days.
It’s a semi-fictional account of a bike ride in August, and a young man who casts spells for the people he meets.
We sat in a café. Kaif leaned back in her chair.
“Well, I guess we’ll need money,” she said.
I got out a pad of paper. “Let’s see.”
We figured that if we made every sacrifice—lived somewhere shitty, split the rent, ate minimally, owned nothing and didn’t go out much—we could get by on a monthly income of $630.
This was before Milwaukee Stew. It was before Deployment. Actually, it was before I even quit my job.
A friend, fellow writer, and former student of mine, Kaif was interested. If I was going to quit my job and travel the world, she wanted in. For me it was a spiritual quest. I think it was for her, too.
It never worked out that way. Our plans would diverge within months, as plans do, and I haven’t seen her since that summer. But at the time, we intended to make our names.
When all the math was done, we looked at our monthly budget. Even a low-end part-time job would be enough.
“I think I can do that,” I said. “I can live lean if it’ll let me be a writer.”
She nodded. “We can be poor together.”
I raised my cuppa, cheers.
Thoughts came. A flame kind of burned up inside me. Everything I had been reading—about business, about self-publishing, about The Web—came tumbling through the fog. A sense of resolve. I looked up.
She raised an eyebrow.
“What if we’re not poor. What if we’re rich.”
The conversation took a new turn. We began to talk blogging, self promotion, long tail, how to make a living without a big publisher. We got excited. We got planful. I believed it.
Actually, I still do.
It’s not an easy road. I learned how to write SEO articles, ad copy, stuff that would pay. By September I started freelancing, one $4 article at a time.
Savings disappeared. I had enough to live in Thailand, not quite enough for Mexico City. By the time I got back to the US I had to spend weeks hunting new clients. Blissfully, for a few short months, I had so much work that money wasn’t a source of stress.
In all this, I put off the dream. I made a living writing, sure, but not my writing. Ad copy is a job. It’s not my art or my novel, not a treatise on adventure or occult philosophy.
This week I’m writing nonstop. Sabbatical in Wisconsin. I have a tough choice. Clients are dried up again, so I should spend the week chasing new ones and doing paid work. But this is the best opportunity I’ll have to put that stuff aside and finish real writing, real art.
It’s publish or bust. I choose publish.