If you missed my earlier announcement, I’m making a big shift in my writing this coming year. In short, I’m shelving the Theonite universe for now to focus on something hopefully better suited to my current writing style and readership.
First, I want to thank the absolutely staggering number of you (well over 100!) who filled out my survey asking what kind of books I should work on next. And an extra thank you to those of you who also took the time to write in personalized feedback or words of support. (Seriously, some responses were multiple paragraphs long and made me cry). I have no idea what I ever did to deserve a readership as supportive, insightful, and engaged as you guys, but I’m going to do everything I can to return that support in great books.
If you didn’t get a chance to fill out the survey, I’m still taking feedback here, but these are the results as of this writing…
As you can see above, we had by far the most votes for epic fantasy, with sci-fi a distant second, and military and historical fantasy basically tied for third, though we seem to have at least some interest in all the genres listed.
Target Age Demographic
Overwhelmingly, you guys want me to write adult fantasy. This works out great since a) this is what I was going to do anyway, or I might have been scared to ask and b) even those of you who started out with Theonite as kids are now older teenagers or reading way above your grade level, you nerds.
Among respondents who had opinions here, there was a split between long series, short series, and standalones, with short series having the edge. While almost no one expressed interest in serialized stories above, there was interest in the next question:
So, that’s confusing. But the nice thing about newsletter serials is that they can later be released as complete books (like The Sword of Kaigen) for those who prefer to read them that way.
So, the Tentative Plan…
As of right now, I’ve outlined one duology and one trilogy that take place concurrently in the same universe but can be read independently of one another.
If the Theonite universe borrowed liberally from Avatar: The Last Airbender, this one probably pulls most from my other high school favorite, Fullmetal Alchemist. I think the presence of gunpowder alongside the magic systems technically makes it flintlock fantasy, but we’ll see if that classification fits the final product.
- The trilogy follows four spies, each doing a different job for the matriarchal government of an ancient city-state. Lemurs are involved. It’s weird. Details later.
- The duology is a retooling of an f/f Mulan retelling I first attempted years ago. Fortunately, the thing that didn’t work about Attempt 1 was not the plot but the historical setting (which gets messy as soon as you start pulling from Mulan myths of different eras). So far, transplanting the same plot beats into a high fantasy setting has gone much better.
Of these two concepts, the one that writes faster may turn into a new newsletter serial while I take my time with the slower-going one. It’ll take some test writing to see if this is actually a good idea, so stand by and let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Mental health and productivity goals
I don’t usually blog about the way I handle my anxiety, depression, and focus issues because it’s not as fun as talking about my writing projects, but I thought posting the following goals might help keep me accountable. Since my mental health and my ability to write go hand-in-hand, these are some new things I’m going to try this year to improve both:
- Track my word count. Measuring productivity by word count has gone poorly for me in the past, resulting in scenes that go too long instead of getting finished faster, but that was a long time ago. I like to think I’ve become a smarter writer since my last NaNoWriMo and gamifying any task makes it more fun for me, so I think it’s worth a try. I’m going to make a spreadsheet!
- Spend WAY less time on social media. Something I learned in 2019 is that on the days I’m in a good mood, social media either doesn’t affect me or gives me an energy boost. On the other hand, on the days I’m already down, the smallest online thing will put me straight through the floor into depression (sometimes even positive attention online gives me anxiety, it’s so dumb). On those precarious days, I need to make sure I stay offline and busy with other things. So, if I vanish from Twitter for a week, it’s not because I’m dead or I don’t care about your thing; I’m just writing and probably still accessible by email if you really need me.
- More royalties to charity. I did a thing during December where I donated a portion of my royalties to the Against Malaria Foundation (more on that in this post). That December special ($1 per book sold) isn’t sustainable through a whole year, but I do want to continue donating 20 cents from each sale for the rest of 2020 (20 cents not just because it’s a cute ‘2020’ thing but because it’s easy for my dumb brain to track: 10 books = 1 mosquito net). I’m hoping this will make it easier for me to focus on writing and marketing when I’m gripped with otherwise impotent panic about the state of the world, which has sadly been a problem for me.
Hopefully, the master plan outlined above leads to more books and more happiness for all. Happy New Year and Happy New Decade!