The time has come (finally) to take a moment, pause and reflect about what I've accomplished so far in this amazing adventure that my writing has become.
In this post, I'm looking back at the year 2021, which was a great year overall. First and foremost, in September, we welcomed our third child into our family; a healthy little girl who quickly charmed all of us, including her older brother and sister. Not surprisingly, family took a major portion of my time in 2021, and although it sometimes make finding the time or the energy to write more challenging, I would not have it any other way. The pandemic also played a significant role in our day-to-day activities. With young children and a baby on the way, we stayed home for most of the year. Still, I made significant progress on some of my stories and by the end of the summer, I even braved the world and met some readers face to face. Ah, I almost forgot. Early in the year, a baby dragon started nesting in our basement. As you can imagine, this had it's own unique series of distractions...
Like the other posts in this series, this will be a long one, so you can use the links below to go directly to the sections of interest:
The beginning of the year saw me immersed in The Stranger of Ul Darak, continuing the revision I had started back in November 2020 as part of NaNoWriMo. As most of you probably know, Stranger is the most challenging story I've worked on so far and it continued to cause me headaches in 2021. Mainly, I struggled with what to include and what to exclude. I also continuously fought with a lingering feeling that the story was not ready, that some things were missing, that it wasn't quite there. I removed chapters and wrote new ones, filling in gaps that I hadn't identified until this revision. I re-wrote large sections and created a chapter-by-chapter tracker for events and characters. It was hard work. The good news is that by the end, I had a story that I was happy with. Finally! This was the 26th revision and it took me until October 2021 to put a "Completed" stamp on it (I did take a pause to write a short story, see below).
Early in 2021, Allan Hudson of the South Branch Scribbler reached out to me and asked if I wanted to participate in an upcoming anthology with eight other authors. It was an opportunity I could not and did not want to pass. So, in March, I reluctantly put Stranger aside and started working on a short story for the anthology. I decided to go with a brand new text titled Red Stars. It is set in the System of Garadia and takes place a few years before the events in Deficiency. My intention was to complete the story in a little over one month and come back to Stranger. Surprise: it took me more than three months to complete it! More about the anthology below.
After labouring on Stranger from June to October, I decided to switch things for NaNoWriMo 2021 and came back to The Baneseeker Chronicles. I completed a full revision of the first story, then revised two other works (Dream and Kasaril), before jumping into the second instalment. At the end of the month, I had written or re-written more than 55,000 words, successfully reaching the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words.
In December, I put writing aside altogether. To be honest, by this point, my mind was fried. I needed a rest. If you are interested in statistics, I kept track of my progress in surprising details in 2021 (not so for 2022). At the end of the year, I had reviewed, written or re-written a total of 299,357 words! Although Stranger is about 115,000 words, I went over more than 205,000 words on that story alone (by starting over on some sections, etc.). Red Stars is around 8,000 words, but I wrote several drafts of it, and to get to its final version, I went over more than 40,000 words. Interesting, isn't it?
The only publication I can speak of for 2021 is the release of the anthology Autumn Paths. This was a true collaboration between 9 authors: Sandra Bunting, Pierre Arseneault, Chuck Bowie, Angela Wren, Monique Thébeau, Jeremy Thomas Gilmer, Allan Hudson, Angella Cormier, and myself. It was an amazing experience. Most of the exchanges were done by email. We agreed on a set of basic rules, wrote each story individually, and edited them between ourselves. Allan then put the stories in order and I completed the formatting. The cover was done by Donna Dean Designs. We published it in the fall and the initial feedback was positive.
My contribution to Autumn Paths is Red Stars, which follows Eltaya Ark as she tries to figure out what happened to her parents and family. As mentioned above, the story takes us back six years before the events in Deficiency.
After almost two years without any in-person events, I braved the world in the summer of 2021 and setup a table at a market organized at the beach where we are camped. I sold several books and was positively surprised by the support. Then, a month or so later, I did a book signing at the Chapters store in Moncton. Once again, the response was positive. The store is now carrying copies of each of my books. It's special to have my works there, because I lived in Moncton for many years and bought several books at that store. I never thought back then that one day, I would have my own books on those shelves, beside the likes of Steven Erikson, Neil Gaiman, and others.
If I'm honest, it felt weird to be back out in the world. It made me nervous. That said, there's nothing like meeting readers face to face, which is something I really missed.
My projects didn't vary much between 2020 and 2021. For that reason, I will only provide a short update for each. If you want more information, feel free to go back and read the post Eston in 2020.
This is a crazy big project, one that could easily span to six or eight or even ten books. I'm trying not to think about how ambitious it is, because it terrifies me. Thing is, it's also very exciting. There are things happening in this series that I haven't seen before and I can't wait to write it down, experience it, and share it with readers.
It all starts with The Stranger of Ul Darak, the first official instalment of the series. Last year, I mentioned that my plan was to complete the writing of Stranger in 2021, and publish it in 2022. This plan, at the end of 2021, was still on track (but I now know that it will most likely hit the shelves in 2023). In a perfect world, I'd like to publish a new book in this series every 2 or 3 years, but with everything else going on (including three children and a wide array of writing projects), it is huge order indeed.
In 2021, I completed a pretty solid draft of the first story in this new open-ended dark fantasy series taking place in The World of Arvelas, the same world as The Conclave. As mentioned above, I also made it halfway through the second instalment during NaNoWriMo 2021.
The series follows an elven warrior/wizard, Lyna di'Stavan, as she hunts down evil artefacts known as bane cores, while struggling with finding her place in the world and controlling a power to manipulate time that could very well be more a curse than a blessing.
My plans for this series haven't changed. I'd like to get readers involved early in the process, gather feedback, and build/re-align the series based on the comments and suggestions I receive. I know that Hugh Howey did something similar with his acclaimed Wool series, tweaking the development of each story based on the feedback he had collected so far. With The Baneseeker Chronicles, I'd like to take this one step further and involve readers even before the editing phase, which would allow me to include some of the feedback in the story BEFORE its publication. To keep things interesting, the final version of each story will include extra materials, never released before. The initial plan was to post and share the first story in 2022, but at the time of this writing, the goal is to share it early in 2023.
This untitled project is closely related to the Baneseeker Chronicles and The Conclave. In fact, the events taking place in the Baneseeker Chronicles, in The Conclave, and from one or two more series, will eventually converge toward an epic conclusion in this one huge book. I really don't know when I'll get to writing this immense story, but day-by-day and month-by-month, I continue to jolt down notes and details. It'll be quite interesting and exciting when the day come that I sit down and go through all the notes, bringing everything together in a single story. That said, at this point, it doesn't look like this book will see the light of day for many more years and I'll abstain from providing any more updates on it until something more concrete happens.
As covered above, I added one more story to the System of Garadia in 2021: Red Stars. I also worked on another short story, titled A Dream. A few more persons who read Deficiency asked me about a possible sequel. With all my other projects, I had no plan of working on a such a story, at least not in the short term. Yet, feedback from readers is a powerful thing and I found myself starting to think more seriously about writing such a book. Although I didn't make any progress on this front in 2021, who knows what will happen in next few years...
It is strange to write about the goals for 2022 when most of the year is already past. I can say that the main goal for 2022 was to complete The Stranger of Ul Darak and get it published in late-fall. I also knew at the beginning of 2022 that I'd have to write another short story for the anthology Winter Paths, the second collaboration of the same authors who produced Autumn Paths in 2021. I had also every intention of making the first story of The Baneseeker Chronicles available sometime in 2022.
As of now, I can confirm that the only one of these projects on track is the anthology Winter Paths. The others were delayed by a few months, a decision that I didn't want to make, but that was definitely the best choice, both for the projects themselves and for my own health and sanity. I'll cover all of this in more details in the next post in this series (to be hopefully posted early in the new year).
I often ponder about writing and its place in my life. In those moments, I sometimes find myself looking at other authors, comparing my progress or success to theirs. It's a dangerous and unhealthy thing to do, but also natural. In those instances, I also think about what it would be like if I was able to make writing a full-time occupation, how much progress I could make, how many books I could explore and publish.
Then, I shake my head and smile. That day might come, but for now, I have an amazing wife and children. I have good health and a reliable job. My days are filled with moments of happiness. It's not always easy, but it is a wonderful life and it has already given me much more than I could have hoped for. When I look at it from this angle, it becomes clear that writing is part of a much bigger picture for me. And you know what? That's all right by me.
Keywords: Life , Writing
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