Lúnasa Days, Writing

Why Won’t There Be a Sequel to Lúnasa Days?

Yesterday I detailed my writing plans for 2014, including announcing a new fiction project (with demons!). Several people have asked me if there will ever be a sequel to Lúnasa Days.

There will not be.

There are a number of reasons for this. The biggest is that Lúnasa Days was always planned as a stand-alone piece. I really don’t believe in taking a one-shot story and tacking on a sequel, even if the story is popular; I think too many bad sequels have been made that way. The finished novella would have looked very different if it was building up to a longer story arc. Instead, it ends on a purposefully open note with no implied next step for any of the characters. That was on purpose.

Another reason why I won’t create  a sequel is the nature of Lúnasa Days itself. I knew I was picking a difficult tale to tell. The main character is a polytheist on a bicycle, so I accepted that readers and critics would assume it was autobiographical no matter what. (It’s really not.) And since it’s a fairly humane, literary work I knew it would be painful to write and require many revisions. That also came true.

The result is that finishing that novella was very much a case of “art from adversity.” The book became personal and difficult to finish. I’d like to think that’s the sign of a good book, but it also means it reflects a moment in time which is now passed. Like all lost relationships, it’s best to move on.

Of course, I realize that this is little comfort to anyone who wanted more with the same characters. The only complaint I’ve heard about the book is that it leaves you wanting more. As a reader myself I can understand that pain, although for a literary work I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing.

So, as much as I like Bailey and eventually learned to like Emily, any future adventures of theirs—which would surely be separate and not together—must go unchronicled.

L Days cover_front only_half size

If you haven’t read it yet, Lúnasa Days is available in paperback and on Kindle. Get your copy here.

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Writing

What I’m Writing These Days

Having released Lúnasa Days, a few people have asked me what I’m working on next. The answer is “several things,” but until recently I wasn’t sure which ones were priorities. A big part of my sabbatical in Mexico is focusing on my writing, and over the last few weeks I’ve not only written but assembled a clearer plan. So, while definitely still subject to change, here’s a rough idea of what you can expect next.

Fiction

While I have both fiction and nonfiction projects in the works, fiction is my first priority. I have many ideas I’d love to develop, but I had to choose one to painstakingly outline, storyboard, write and publish.

So I chose the one I’m most excited about.

The book starts with one simple question: How bad would things have to get in Medieval Europe before the Pope authorized demonic magic?

The answer delves into the lives of knights who have lost their faith, friars who renounce their vows, virgin warriors of the Church, damned tomes of ancient spells, and a supernatural enemy devouring whole kingdoms.

The first chapter wipes Portugal completely off the map. Things get worse from there.

This story will be told as a series, with each episode following the arc of one character or group of characters as world-changing events unfold. The first tale follows an underpaid soldier as he’s dropped, by the dark arts, far behind enemy lines—knowing that he’ll go straight to Hell if he’s killed before he can find a priest to confess his sins.

I don’t have a title for this series yet, but I’m wide open to suggestions. I want to finish three whole episodes before I send any to press, which I hope will happen by mid-2014.

Nonfiction

Increasingly I want to take my work in the direction of serious philosophy and the effects of real life adventure. At present that involves two projects.

1. Philosophy of Adventure

Last fall, I released a preview of my long-requested book about adventure. I received extensive reader feedback on that preview version, including dozens of responses to an online survey that closed December 31. Thanks to that robust feedback, I’m reworking and expanding the book.

Originally, the book was titled Heart of Adventure. I was never totally in love with that title. It seemed better than a troped Art of Adventure, but somehow not quite right. Now I’m leaning more toward a plain, simple The Philosophy of Adventure.

Again, I’m open to title suggestions or your votes between those options.

2. My Own Story

The other nonfiction project is autobiographical. It was pointed out to me that just the first leg of my Journey–bicycling the Mississippi River–is a huge adventure by most people’s standards, and that I have dozens of stories from those hazy months. It got me really excited about writing the story of that first leg as a standalone tale, leaving it open to sequels as I reach new milestones. I can’t wait to start outlining.

But I plan to try something new with this one. Instead of indie publishing it, for the first time I’m going to pitch a book proposal to the big names. I’m interested in getting a literary agent—nothing drains me more than handling the business end of writing myself—and I think this would be the ideal project to shop to agents. An agent would then, in turn, pitch it to big publishing houses.

The time frame for the nonfiction projects is less certain than the fiction series. I would expect the tale of my bike ride to come out if and only if someone has interest in publishing it; and the Philosophy of Adventure book to come out around the end of 2014. Both are much lower priorities than the fiction work right now.

Becoming a Professional Writer

I’ve wanted to be a professional writer since I was a kid. Slowly, that dream has been becoming real. But it’s not something I’ve accomplished on my own.

After the initial success of Lúnasa Days I wrote that much of my success was because of my readers. Early on, readers encouraged me that the idea behind Lúnasa Days was a good one. A number of readers stepped up as patrons and helped finance the creation of the book, and stood by me patiently as I dealt with numerous roadblocks. I don’t think the book would have succeeded without all of the reader support.

So, to all of you reading this: thank you.

And if you don’t have it already, feel free to snag Lúnasa Days yourself:

L Days cover_front only_half size

Available on Kindle and in paperback. Get your copy here.

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Writing

Why I’m Removing Posts from My Blog

I’ve run over 400 posts on Rogue Priest. I’m about to prune that down to a much smaller number.

Like any writer, I don’t always love my earlier work. Some older articles remain important parts of my philosophy or tell part of my story—but many don’t. That’s why I’ve gone through everything from the beginning and tagged 75 posts for removal.

Just because a post is tagged for pruning doesn’t mean it’s a bad post or that I no longer agree with it. In some cases that’s true, but others promote products (which I no longer do) or take a tone I don’t like. My voice has, I’d like to believe, matured a lot since 2010.

But the majority of these posts will be pruned simply because they are completely off topic for the main themes of this blog, which are:

  • Living a life of adventure and travel
  • Becoming a writer
  • Exploring religious traditions
  • Practicing formal philosophy and making it applicable to real life
  • Heroism

Chances are, if an older post doesn’t directly relate to one of those five topics, I’ve decided to take it off the site.

None of the posts have been removed yet. I realize I have fans out there who might like some of these old posts more than I do, and I didn’t want to prune them off without warning.

Worried a favorite post of yours will disappear? You have 7 days to save it to your own computer. You can see all of the posts in question under the “Pruning” tag here: Posts to be Pruned

Although it may be more fun to see them oldest-first, which you can do by starting here.

All of those posts will disappear Sunday night.

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Writing

How did you promote your book so well?

Over the past four days I ran a promotion for my book Lúnasa Days that helped put it at the top of the Fantasy and Literary lists on the Amazon free store. Several people have asked me how I managed to do this.

Instead of writing a lengthy how-to, I’ll point you to some of the articles I used to learn the ropes:

The book that took #1 in Fantasy

Note that I perused significantly more articles than this; I’m focusing on these because they offer specific actionable steps, they do not have a “here is what a great author I am” tone and they aren’t just hooks for you to buy a how-to book. If you read these, you’ll know just about everything I know when it comes to making a Kindle Free Promotion work. It’s rather formulaic, actually.

However, there are two things I would emphasize that these articles don’t. The first is writing a book that’s actually good. If your book isn’t good—and if you don’t pay for a professional editor—then you’ll see poor results long term. When an indie author puts out a mediocre book, it makes all of us look bad (and, long term, it hurts your own sales). I’m very proud of Lúnasa Days and I had two different editors tear it apart before I dared to show it to any of you.

Secondly, talk to your readers first. I think a lot of the “how to win at Amazon” type blog posts focus entirely on the numbers and the tactics, and really don’t look at readers as human beings. If you hope to be an author then I assume you have a blog (if you don’t, you should start a blog). So you have a group of readers who are almost definitely going to buy your book the second it comes out. How involved are they in whatever happens after that? Do they feel like they were there with you as you struggled to produce this book? Did you reach out to them for their opinions as they read it?

I made a point to send a review copy to about 80 people, almost all of whom would have purchased the book had I not sent them one. That’s 80 sales I gave up, but it also meant I quickly got lots of reviews on Amazon—and that 80 of my best friends and readers knew their opinion matters to me, and were invited to talk to me about the book.

I also told my readers about the free promotion in advance, explaining why it was an important marketing step. Hopefully no one felt cheated that they’d already spent money on it.

The result was that when the promotion happened, I already had 21 reviews on Amazon and my readers cheered and Tweeted the book all the way to the top. So I really, really recommend being good to your readers… if not because it’s the right thing to do, then at least because everyone loves a non-douchepan.

(To be clear, this advice comes from someone who once stole a date’s car because I thought it would be “funny.” If I can manage not to be a douchepan, so can you.)

Are any of you writing a book? If you have a link to it, put a shameless plug in the comments (there is no shame in plugging). If it’s a work in progress, tell us about it!

Thank you 1,000,000 times to anyone who helped promote my book, left a review, bought a copy or downloaded a free one. If you missed it you can still grab it on Kindle or in paperback.

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Lúnasa Days, Writing

How does one begin casting spells?

My novella Lúnasa Days is FREE through Thursday only!

It’s currently the #1 book (!) in Fantasy on the Kindle free store, and #2 in Literary. If enough people download it could make the Top 100 overall and maybe even leap to being a bestseller. Please tell your friends to grab Lúnasa Days today… for free. 

This is an excerpt.

How does one begin casting spells? It’s different for every magician. Some find it in a book. Some learn from a teacher. Some seek it out, others have it shoved upon them.

Bailey tripped into it.

He’d wanted a book on the Greek gods. He didn’t know the one he grabbed was meant for practitioners. The woman at the counter appraised him. She sold him the book but said, in a kindly way: don’t use the dark stuff.

He read it all that night.

Reading does not make you a magician. It requires practice. Half of Bailey strained to try it; half of him sneered. It can’t work.

Can it?

He set about building a shrine. He hid this from his parents. Trinkets from junk shops. It looked baroque, ceremonial.

One night he cut a wand of willow under moonlight. He followed all the prescriptions, approached his shrine, chanted.

He felt foolish.

But he continued. He said the words and made the motions. At every step he expected that nothing would happen. Nothing, and he was stupid for trying.

Then something happened.

The world opened. Something was with him. His eyes went wide. He told himself it was his imagination. Then he bowed.

If there are gods, this was a god. He had called to Apollo, and Apollo answered.

There was no shower of sparks, no glowing fog or shaking earth. Bailey didn’t see anything. But it grabbed him. On his knees Bailey could hear his own pulse, galloping.

Why did Bailey chant that night? So he could make offerings and ask for something. Instead he held communion.

The thoughts in his head came from somewhere else. He received answers faster than he could form questions. The voice was neither kind nor cruel. It was direct.

His moment with Apollo was short. He came away knowing: if you’re going to do this, do it right. Otherwise quit.

Bailey did not quit.

In that moment, Bailey discovered both magic and religion. He still had his doubts—imagination?—but he couldn’t forget what he felt. As his deity ordered, he studied before he tried again. It was a long time before he did. But at his next ritual, he was prepared.

FREE BOOK

The Kindle version of Lúnasa Days is FREE right now. But only till Thursday! Grab your copy and tell your friends: get it now.

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Lúnasa Days, Spotlight, Writing

My book Lúnasa Days is FREE today

FREE BOOK

My book Lúnasa Days is now FREE today through Thursday!

This is the story of a man who casts spells—and doubts them. A reader explains:

Lunasa Days is a story about magic. But it’s a different kind of fantasy story. I love how the question of magic is treated. Actually it is more about the effect that magic and faith have on us.

The short, crisp, descriptive style makes the whole town come to life. We can feel the wind, the heat, the sweat. Even if the environment is far from perfect it feels strangely comfortable. The characters are not right or wrong but deeply human. It’s refreshing. Like you or me, they have doubts, they’re flawed, they have dreams.

Even if it is book of fiction I suspect some autobiographic themes infiltrated the book. And this is probably what makes it more realistic.

Who Loves This Book?

Will you like it? History tells me that:

  • If you are a Pagan or polytheist you will like it.
  • If you work magic, you will like it.
  • If you’re sick of troped fantasy and want something with more nutrition, you will like it a lot.
  • If you don’t like shorter books you will be left cursing my name and wishing for more.
  • The writing is direct and minimal, which my Mom hates and everyone else likes.
  • If you’re a lesbian, you will not like it. (Seriously, 3/3 so far! What!) I would love someone to prove me wrong.

Edit: Reader Kali J. Veach says she is a lesbian, and also says she liked my book. I have no reason to doubt either claim.

Lúnasa Days is professionally edited and formatted, and the reviews are stellar. So grab a copy for free while you can and see for yourself.

(You can also read an excerpt or another excerpt or this final excerpt if you like.) The free promotion only lasts through Thursday 2/6.

Please share and tell your friends. They like books too!

Thank you to everyone who helped make this book possible.

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Lúnasa Days, Writing

The Devil’s Balls

This is an excerpt from my book Lúnasa Days . It will be FREE for four days starting Monday. 

Emily had problems of her own.

It was a fine morning. Sunny. Dry.

She knew she had to go but she stared out the window. There were clouds—actual clouds. Clouds can bring rain. She had no hope for these clouds. They didn’t smell like rain.

They all heard the pitter-patter last night. Unlike anyone, she didn’t get up. She didn’t run outside. She didn’t sit nervous to know how much fell. She just listened to the sound, the comforting sound, and went back to sleep.

But the earth did not look dark and damp like coffee grounds. The grass was not matted nor dewed. It could have been a photograph of yesterday, or any day before.

And she really didn’t care anymore.

She did know, however, that something was going to break. And it would break hard.

She looked back at the cards in front of her. Every Sunday she drew her card. She read for the week ahead. Once it was daily, with a full spread. Then she fell in love, and it changed everything.

Love is not good for little girls. It is poison and intoxicant.

When Kore ate the seed she died for half a year. Real girls don’t die for half a year. Real girls die.

But this card had cock and balls on full display. And a grin. Red skin, princely horns, a lazy erection.

She looked out the window again. The face on the card kept smiling.

The Devil.

FREE BOOK

The Kindle version of Lúnasa Days will be FREE for four days: Monday, Feb. 3 — Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. I encourage you to grab a copy while you can! If you can’t wait or would rather have paperback, buy it now.

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