It’s been a while.
I feel it necessary to apologize. I haven’t been very forthcoming with shorts, news on the third book, or news of any kind, really. I’m doing my fans a disservice through lack of communication and that’s not the kind of author I want to be. That being said, here’s what’s been happening.
Back at the beginning of June, I lost my day job.
It was the first time in my adult life that I have been unemployed. I was laid off due to cutbacks within the company for whom I was working. It came as quite a shock. I had a job which I never thought I would leave – at least, not until this writing stuff really takes off.
This hit very hard at first. Two days after my dismissal, I was at Sci-Fi Valley Con in Altoona. I was very much not in the mood to interact with people and spent most of the weekend at my booth quietly applying for unemployment benefits and searching through job listings. I was cool on the outside, but panicked on the inside.
After I got home from SFVC, I resolved myself more to working on my resume and applying for jobs. When I wasn’t doing that (which is, in PA, mandated by the state that you have to do), I was admittedly sitting around and feeling sorry for myself. I could have done a lot of writing. I should have done a lot of writing. Instead, I wound up moping around, playing video games, watching movies… anything to keep me from thinking about my current predicament.
I should have been writing this entire time. In fact, I tried. I started a short. It didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. I started it again. Same result. Crushing depression told me that I was a hack and it didn’t matter. I was reminded that I did have fans and that I did have an obligation to them and that consistent and transparent communication (as well as maybe a short) would be for the best.
I ignored this because I am stubborn.
It wasn’t until Steel City Con in August that I really understood that. I realized that my fans are real (no offense if you’re a fan and reading this, I know you exist, just, like, it’s hard to recognize that when you’re depressed). A lot of you were asking around about book three. I kept saying I was working on it. This was true at the time, I just wasn’t working hard.
I spent the last weeks of August agonizing over the outline for book three. There are still maybe two shorts I want to write before starting on the actual book but I needed to know where the story was going. This is especially significant after receiving some constructive criticism about book two from a fan at Sci-Fi Valley Con. They said they didn’t like The Obligatory Sequel as much as the first book because it wasn’t as funny and became more a traditional superhero ensemble drama rather than the action-comedy they liked. I could see that. Not as many jokes as there were in the first one in the interest of advancing the overall plot.
This had my head spinning as my original plan for book three spiraled out of control, getting into the drama of the plot, trying to come up with twists and reasons and lore. I was backtracking the story of certain characters wondering where their stories started and contemplating throwing in mind-blowing twists leading to massive crazy expositions and explanations of everything people might have been curious about. Filling in all the cracks and creating even bigger ones.
Then I realized that none of it was funny. Nothing I was putting down on paper was even necessary. Writing entire histories on certain characters was necessary only for me but wouldn’t really be necessary for the readers. I started over. I was rethinking the plot, the motives, the jokes… the direction I was going would have wound up focusing on one specific character and had no gravitas for the rest of the cast. It took me a while to figure out how to adjust it so that I could retain all the elements of the storyline I’d been working on and get the other characters more involved and invested. It took quite a while to get there but I finally did. I just wanted to be able to do all of this while still making you laugh and sparing you a lot of the long-winded details. If you know me personally you know that I love long-winded details so you can imagine how tough it was to self-edit in that aspect.
You’ll still wind up getting hints or even full explanations of some of the canon backstories I’ve written down (I know you’re all curious about Phalanx 81623 from the epilogue of book two, for instance) but a lot of the lore behind some of the things (specifically Project related lore) might not ever be revealed. You should know, though, that I have a bible just so I can keep things straight on my side.
The Tuesday after Labor Day, I got a job offer. I accepted and am now situating myself in a new office doing a similar job to that which I was doing previously.
As I started planning for the next step in my life, I found myself reinvigorated about the writing. On my last weekday of freedom, I churned out the majority of the outline for book three – revamped, retooled, prepped to be plot-driven while remaining pretty damn funny.
I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the working atmosphere. I have modes, I suppose, and when I was unemployed, my mind told me that I wasn’t in work mode. I had many ideal days over the summer in which to accomplish work; sitting on my porch with a jug of iced tea, my laptop, and a pack of smokes. Nothing of any consequence ever came out of it. I just couldn’t feel the rhythm.
I have been wanting to write this post for a while. I felt you deserved to know what was happening.
As soon as my work situation is stable and I am through being onboarded and trained, book three writing will begin. If you haven’t yet, I would recommend checking out the shorts that have already been posted. There are going to be some consequences to the actions taken in those shorts within the third book and I want you guys to be prepared.
I’m planning on releasing a U7 2.5 which is going to compile the shorts into a (very short) book. There will likely be at least two shorts exclusive to the print version, so make sure you pick it up when it is ready. I’ll be making announcements when that happens.
Thanks for continuing to read and bearing with me as my real life gets back on track.
Keep fighting the good fight.