Blog post Number 20 Written:06-06-2021 Uploaded 06-04-2022
I’ll try and keep this to a reasonable length, if I start talking about my book, sometimes I don’t stop. I’m very proud of it.
I started life as a fantasy fan. But later because of the influences of Orson Scott Card and BattleTech, I was converted to sci-fi. I really wanted to write my own sci-fi I have probably a half dozen false starts, books that I began, but then they fizzled out after twenty thousand words, looking back at them It’s because the characters and or the plot was too shallow, but that’s the point of this post. At the time, I worried I wasn’t cut out to write sci-fi, and I decided to go back to fantasy, and I never wrote any fantasy, I just spent a lot of time thinking about it, trying to develop something original, something that wasn’t orks, dwarfs, elves and dragons like everyone else. I never got any ideas I liked well enough to even start writing them. Then one day, the idea hit me with such force it was like a physical blow. I could write a book that was science/ fantasy. I couldn’t do one, or the other, so why not do both?
I wanted space ships and lasers and fancy tech, but still have monsters, dragons, and other races that were just inherently evil. I didn’t start writing yet though, I did more thinking, more character development, wrote an outline, planned the book out before I even tried writing it, and my story grew in length and my one book became a trilogy. But I sat back and looked at my outline, and it still felt like it was missing something. Maybe it was only two books? It didn’t feel like it had enough meat. I was worried about another false start, I didn’t want to waste my own time writing half a book only to have the idea die in the womb, or keep it on life support and write two or three books, but be forced to keep them on life support. The universe didn’t feel deep enough, not enough different kinds of aliens, not enough conflict or mortal terror to drive the characters and events.
Then I was hit with a second idea that also struck with such sudden force that it was almost a tangible impact. The only complete, full-length books I had written and finished were my BattleTech fanfic trilogy books I wrote in high school. I couldn’t publish those, but I could take the villains and plot from them. Boom, suddenly I had more than ten years of character development and conflict and plot built up. It was a mental cut and paste to yank them out of BattleTech and put them in The Descendant Universe. I might have cried a little bit. Why it took me so long to come up with the idea I’m not sure, but it was a good one. My universe suddenly had more conflict and aliens than it could handle. My outline swelled from three books to nine. I romanticized it as a trilogy of trilogies.
Then with gusto, I started writing. I had the first three books fleshed out and planned out well, and ideas for the other six. It was just a matter of sitting down at my old, cheap laptop while I was on my then girlfriend’s (now wife) couch because I was on night shift and she wasn’t. I’d go hang out at her apartment because she was 70 miles away. I wrote The Descendant, all 60,000 words in fourteen days, over seven consecutive weekends. After a two-hour break to watch some cringe music videos, I started working on the second book. I just kept hammering away. Right there, that moment when I had the idea to drag in the bad guys from my BattleTech fanfic. I knew this book was going to make it, that this was the one.
I reread it, I gave it a pass with the free version of Grammarly and the built-in Microsoft spellchecker, and finally, handing it over to my grandmother to help me edit it. I wrote it in August/September of 2017 did my editing in October, and went back to writing the second book, and then came back to it for another round of edits in January 2018 before giving it to my grandmother in February 2018. She helped me get through another draft. Then my father got in a motorcycle wreck and broke his leg. So he was laid up in bed for a while, and a couple months after that not able to get around real well, So I printed out a paper copy of The Descendant. That was wild, to hold a real physical copy of my book, for it to become a tangible thing, a stack of warm paper and the smell of hot ink, actually in my hands. That was a big moment for me.
Well, my dad was too busy being sorry for himself because he hurt his leg, and never finished reading the book, and my grandma and I kept pluggin’ away at it. She made it so much better, without her help, I never would have had the confidence in my own work to put it out there. Fast forward a couple of months further ahead and now it’s Feb 2019 and the Tucson Festival of books came around. A large event, that I had never heard of. One of the biggest in the country I guess. My grandmother had finished a round of edits and asked if I was going to take it to the festival. I didn’t want to miss an opportunity, so I spent almost all night rereading my book again, pouring over her edits, trying to make the book as good as I could in that one night, and the next morning, I put on a good button-up shirt, my tight jeans and took two USB sticks with electronic copies of the draft number seven of The Descendant and I walked into the festival of books. I talked to two different publishers, another author who also happened to bear the last name Randolph, I listened to a Q and A session with another author and then I found a nice lady who was chief editor for another publisher, her booth was in kind of an awkward location and wasn’t getting much traffic, so I went in and spent the next hour talking her ear off with my ideas, my book, my plot. She was impressed and took an electronic copy to submit into the publisher’s screening process then and there.
I left and ate lunch, by that point in time, the second book was either done or nearly so. Because I remember talking about the third book. I kept writing, kept editing and about six weeks later I heard back from them, and they wanted to print my book. So, middle of April 2019, in the same week I signed a deal to publish my first book, and I closed on my first house. That was a big moment for me. About six weeks later I proposed to my high school sweetheart, that was nice too. I didn’t hear from that published after that for some time, I was able to touch bases with the editor I had initially spoken to on a few occasions, but anyone else who worked with that publisher, who shall not be named for legal reasons, anyone else was hard or impossible to get ahold of. But eventually after another draft or two of my own, and lots of advertising, and the begging of my social media presence they got back to me. Things started to unravel, and I won’t name all the other little problems that made me uncomfortable besides their lack of communication, and after they waffled and then outright change their minds on my grandfathers glorious hand-painted watercolor art to be on the cover of my book after they had already approved it, and now they wanted some CGI bolshevik, I wasn’t having it. I decided that was the hill I was willing to die on and they decided to lie to me some more, and I pulled out of the contract. New year’s 2020 and my book was no longer getting published. Every single day of 2020 was dumb. The Descendant died…
But not all was lost… That unnamed publisher had made lots of people dissatisfied and their chief editor, who I had initially submitted my book to had also left the company, and we got in touch after the fact and Not only had she left the publishing company, she had started her own, and she offered to publish my book, again. We signed a new contract and started editing again. Because of other events in 2020, there were some delays, but we got it done, instead of the release date on 03-10-2020 as planned with the original publisher, the new publisher which I am proud to say is the Immerser helped me get my book to people and The Descendant became available 09-28-2020 sure it was a six-month delay to start over with a publisher that I trusted, but just about everything in 2020 was delayed by six months. In the meantime, I had finished writing the third book, and most of the fourth book. Chrismas eve 2020 I finished the first draft of the fourth book.
The current, as of this writing state of affairs are Draft number 14 of The Descendant got published by the Immerser, there’s a draft of the second book sitting on the editor’s desk, that I have agreed not to touch so that we both have exactly the same word documents and I don’t make changes they don’t get, the third book is with my grandmother to be combed over with her eyes, the fourth book has now been drafted a couple of times, and I have lots of notes and references to start work on book five, but because I am again on night shift, and I hate night shift, I am taking the time to crank out these blog posts ahead of time before I get back to writing in earnest. I’ve been doing some reading too, as I have a hard time writing while I am reading, or reading while I am writing. I just picked up a copy of Ferinheit 451 with a forward from Neil Gaiman, should have read that classic a long time ago, but… here we are…
So the Descendant saga continues.
P.S. since the writing of this, and the difficulties we have encountered with Covid, the second publisher that I worked with, the one who actually printed The Descendant for me, has been forced to throw in the towel, as the support staff has fallen off the grid and is no longer in communication. So work on the second book has been canceled and the rights for the first book have been returned to me, as they can no longer fulfill their obligations and I am again querying agents and looking for a press, the intention is to reprint a second, extended edition of the first book, before releasing the second book. Which is already done, as well as the third and fourth books. I am currently working on book five, and a horror tittles “The Feasting” that is also set in The Descendant universe. We’ll see how it goes.