Of Patterns and Projects

I’ve been writing a series of contemporary fantasy books for about nine years. Yep – nine years! During that time I’ve also written and published several nonfiction books. But the fiction has mostly stayed on the back burner.

Recently I’ve gotten inspired to change that. My new plan is to begin publishing the series next fall, in 2024. I thought I’d share a bit about the status of these novels, which were mostly written during National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo).

The series is called Patterns. The first book, Patterns in the Void, is pretty close to done. I’ve sent it out to a group of beta readers, who gave me lots of useful feedback. I’ve been gradually incorporating the feedback and editing the book. Currently it’s 118K words in length, which fits within the fantasy genre, if a bit on the long side.

Book two is called Patterns of Regret, though I might actually change the title, as the focus of the book shifted while I was writing it. Only a couple of people have read this one so far. It needs some more editing, and then I’ll be sending it out for beta readers. The length is currently about 120K words, and I’ll probably pare that down some as I do the next round of edits.

Book three is titled Patterns on the Sea. I’d written 30K words on it during NaNoWriMo 2019. I recently went back to it, as part of preparing for this year’s November writing marathon. Imagine my surprise when I found that I’d also written 50K words during NaNoWriMo 2020! I’d completely forgotten that fact. I guess I can blame the weirdness of that year in general, or just my sketchy memory (it’s not an aging thing – I’ve always been this way, which is one reason why I keep detailed journals).

Does it seem weird that I’d forget an entire swathe of one of my own novels? Yeah, it does to me too, but I’m rolling with it. So book 3 currently stands at 80K words, and is still in really rough draft form. The story isn’t finished yet, and that’s what I’m going to be writing this November.

I’ve been trying to decide whether to keep this to a trilogy, or if I want to write more books in the series. Right now I’m leaning towards adding more, as I really like the characters and their evolution, and it’s a fun world to write about.

One of the reasons I’ve been taking my time with fiction is that I learned that, when self-publishing a series of novels, it’s best to have more than one ready when you begin publishing them, so readers don’t have to wait long periods of time between books (more about the other reasons in a moment). This is my current plan: get all three of these books ready to release by next fall, then begin publishing them, with short spans of time between. One cool thing for me about doing things this way is that I can go back and add some foreshadowing to the earlier books, as I discover more about how the whole series is unfolding. I like the ability to hint subtly at what’s to come later.

I have three other reasons that it’s been taking so long. The first is kind of a true confession: I still have doubts about my ability to write good fiction. I don’t want to release adequate or boring stuff into the world. But I’m doing just what I tell my writing clients: becoming better at anything means practice, practice, practice.

Other reasons I’ve had this stuff on the back burner: the necessity of paying bills means that I’ve wanted to get my coaching business up and running, and solidly supporting me and my family, before devoting large amounts of time to this passion project. The business has been growing slowly and steadily, though with the usual entrepreneurial rollercoaster rides up and down. I feel like it’s time to bring more of my own creativity to the fore.

Finally, I know that promoting books isn’t my forte. I haven’t been able to afford a book publicist up until this point. I’m hopeful that 2024 is the year, and will begin looking for someone to hire. I want to make a big splash with the Patterns series!

That’s the update. Best of luck to all those who are getting ready to dive into NaNoWriMo! I’m right there with you.

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