First: No, I haven’t painted anything recently. In fact, I’ve only painted one thing since the first week of February, and that was the cover of Time, emiT, and Time Again. I’ve put some effort into reading through part of the correspondence art course, but I haven’t finished working through it and I haven’t done more than a few sketches. I don’t know whether I’ll be showing at the Art Walk in September or October, but at the current rate, if I do, it’ll be all “old” work. (Not that 99% of people at the Art Walk would know.) Now:
I’m working on Untrue Tales… Book Four. I know I mentioned it on Twitter/Facebook, but in case you haven’t been following me; I began writing Book Four while I was in Las Vegas recently. (During the day while we were there, my wife Mandy was at a teaching conference, so I had plenty of time to work. Evenings were for having fun.) I got about 5700 words written in Vegas, and haven’t added a word in the three weeks since. Actually, I’ve been pretty darn depressed lately -including the last three weeks, comicon, Vegas, and for quite some time before that. I’m a bit surprised I was able to write anything at all. Luckily, I’ve been working on feeling a bit better and in the last week or two, and while I haven’t managed to get any actual writing done (and have actually experienced stress to the level of physical pain the last two times I tried to sit down to work on Book Four), I have been working through the story quite a bit.
I’ve seen/remembered quite a bit of the rest of the story, and it looks like instead of 7 books (or more) as I recall originally envisioning, the story will be well told in 6 books. The first three are done, you can read them now. I should have Book Four done within a couple of months. (ie: before NaNoWriMo’10) Then maybe I’ll write Book Five for release in early 2011 and Book Six for release in mid- or late-2011. I am planning on keeping them all very close to the same length as each other and as the first three books. The writing may (or may not) go quickly through all 3 books, one after the other, but I’m beginning to get used to the idea of investing months per book for editing/preparation/recording in advance of an official release.
I’ve just looked at a calendar, and if Book Four is ready by October 8th & I start podcasting it on the Modern Evil Podcast that week (immediately after TeaTA finishes its run), then it’ll run out in mid-December… Two more books of the same length would be another 5 months of episodes, if posted back-to-back, which would put the release of Book Five in December 2010 or January 2011 and Book Six in March 2011. Which I suppose would be alright. The first three were released in 2004, 2005, and 2006. I somewhat wish I could release the next three in 2010, 2011, and 2012… but I also don’t like the idea of sitting on a finished book for a year or more… and I kinda want to get all three books written as quickly as possible.
Of course, pre-2008 I was only writing/publishing about one book per year.
Now, for the release, I’m thinking of doing a modified version of what I’ve been implementing with my more recent releases (though certainly in line with the current availability of the first three Untrue Tales… books). I’m thinking of releasing the individual books 4-6 as eBooks and audiobooks and not as individual paperback books, then putting out the second trilogy as a combined paperback after all three books are done. I brainstormed a variety of models for putting out various other combinations of paper/eBook/audio at various intervals, doing various fundraisers, even thought about limited hardback releases, but due to the expense of paper (and the miniscule interest I’ve seen over the years in the individual books in the series in paperback) I think this will be the most reasonable plan. Then, maybe, I’ll look into doing a limited hardback release encompassing the full series.
On the writing itself: (Possible spoilers ahead) I haven’t written -or been in the mindset that created- books in the Untrue Tales… series for over four years. Since then I’ve been through a variety of life changes, not the least of which was my marriage in 2007. Despite Trevor’s having been reunited with his wife at the end of Book Three, their being together for the remainder of the series, and Book Four being about their life together before his being exiled to Earth, my relationship with my wife actually distances me from the relationship Trevor has with his wife. Writing Book Four has been an emotional stumbling block since (perhaps) 2005, and is the primary reason I’ve not previously continued the series. It was supposed to be about Trev & Toni’s love story, which led directly to his exile on Earth… and writing the core of that story is one I may never be able to do.
Luckily, upon examining the way the story needs to be told and how events unfolded prior to Trevor’s exile, I discovered that the emotional core of and the how-they-met-and-fell-in-love part of Trev & Toni’s story doesn’t get told in Book Four or (probably) anywhere in the series. Book Four is still nearly-all-flashback to what led Trev into exile, as told by Toni, but she’s keeping a vital element secret. Something that won’t be revealed until the cliffhanger ending of Book Five. Something which, since she’s keeping it secret (for good reason), means she won’t be telling the story of how they met, fell in love, et cetera, either. This takes a huge weight off my back re: writing Book Four.
I’ve also discovered that the tall man, the closest thing to an antagonist in the first 3 books, figures into Trev & Toni’s backstory and into future books – would you believe he’s actually a complex, sympathetic, and manipulated character? His love story, I get to tell.
Most of the rest of what I have planned, I can’t tell you about here. It would give too much away. But it’s going to be awesome. The main battle sequence in Book Five is mind-blowing, and the twist at the end of Book Five… well, the main storyline has been planned from the beginning, it’s just a few details that have needed ironing out. Most of which happens in a process very similar to remembering something that happened to me long ago… or far into my future. It’s hard to tell the difference, sometimes.
It’s coming. If you want to get early access, you can volunteer to be a ‘Beta Reader’ – you’ll get to read the books before the general public does, in exchange for giving me feedback on them. You don’t have to be a professional editor, you just have to be an interested reader (and familiar with the first three books in the series). Email me, or comment below, if you’re interested.