My ambitions for 2021.
That being said, a plan is the what, and a schedule is the when. So this post is about the plan, and the schedule is “Try for 2021!”
Here’s the plan with attempted dates, and the only promise I’ll give you is that, I WILL TRY TO MEET THEM.
Satan’s Salesman 2 – This one is almost done! I have a little over 30,000 words and am aiming to finish typing it by March. Then it’ll be off to the publisher. In this one, Shane Lowe is back and being the head of the American division of Perdition Investments isn’t all it’s cut out to be. Not only is everyone out to devour you, but one of his contracts, the one that got him his job, is in jeopardy and now he has to defend his decisions in a court of demons and angels. Between that and his future wife returning from Hell just a little off. The world of Soul Sales is cut throat, and Shane is learning just how cut throat it really is.
Broken Nights 3 – Mike and I are only about a fifth of the way through this one, maybe a little less. We’ve got the plan though: Stella Bernard is finally in the stage in which she can enact her plans to the fullest. She spent book 1 created enhanced human beings. She spent book 2 testing the resistance they could come up against. In book 3, we discover that she has an entire organization that has been kidnapping and testing the enhanced. There’s an entire complex filled with them. A prison for supers and Jason finds himself locked inside.
The Esoteric Cavalry – This is a new one and a first for me. I’ll be writing about the wild west, but with a twist. This wild west takes place in the Andrew Doran universe. The Esoteric Cavalry is the only defense that the United States Government has put in place to protect its citizens from the denizens of the dark. The Civil War is over and the battle scarred Hiram Cartwright doesn’t know what to do with himself. That is, until his commanding officer lets him know that while the war his over, the battle rages on. Hiram and his brother Buford will lead a charge into the western territories to recruit new marshals for the Cavalry and take on the unknown horrors hidden in the still expanding United States.
2 more Mythos Anthologies – I’m working on another fun Mythos Crossover. You’ll learn more later.
Coven – I’ve talked about this before, but I have only been waiting to finish Broken Nights 3 before I start it. In Broken Nights: Strange Worlds, we introduced Coven, the witch with the minds of 8 friends in her head, lending her their power to make her the most powerful practitioner out there. This is going to be a step down from the Broken Nights kind of theme, and follow an idea that is more like the X-Files meets Warehouse 13. Hunting for magical items and people who are breaking the rules, while traveling with with a partner/cop for the magical world (Samuel Dolan, the werewolf P.I. from my short story “Guard Dog.”
No Monster! – My first attempt at a children’s book, based on the imaginary adventures of my 2 year old. Willow saw a pile of leaves once and started shouting “No Monster!” at it. Since then, she’s made it her battle cry whenever she’s mildly intimidated by something that she doesn’t understand. The children’s book will have her confronting each of these monsters and them deciding to join her and help protect her as she faces bigger monsters. A large part of this is me honing my own artistic talent until I’m happy with it. This could easily be the same project I’m working on in 2 years, but I’m hoping to get it finished this year. Here’s a sample idea for the cover and art style I am currently working with. I like the Willow design, although it needs more practice. The monster is replaceable.
Andrew Doran Omnibus (or a more exciting name, I’m still working on it) – The full collection of every Andrew Doran story up to and including Andrew Doran and the Scroll of Nightmares. Yes, they are already written, but there’s some work to do still. Putnam Finch is working on a really great cover and sent me this sketch as an idea of what he’s thinking of doing for it. This isn’t the actual work, but just his idea, and damn am I excited!
As most people are, I am harder on myself than is necessary. It’s probably what people do to drive themselves to work harder. If I’m disappointed in a little progress, perhaps I’ll push myself toward larger progress.
When it comes to my writing career, I tend to aim for the a goal and then land about a hundred yards short. This isn’t some big revelation, so much as it makes me think I’m just a normal guy. To put this into perspective, my usual annual goal is to write two novels. I tend to fall short, by at least one, and probably average out at 1.5 novels. Starting about 2 years ago, I started doing more anthology series, and that really throws off the “goal” because I start accusing myself of cheating. I ask myself if that even counts as one of my “novels.”
I decided to combat that type of negative thinking two ways. The first was to say yes, that counts. Why wouldn’t it? The goal of two novels really means two sellable products sent off to my Publisher. Stop beating yourself up, Davenport, you were successful this year!
The second way is to look at word count. This way makes me a little happier in that it feels more honest and still succeeds. My average novel length is around 55k. That makes my annual goal around 110,000 words. With my short stories and whatever novel was this year’s big push, that means I’m usually over my goal novel length for the year. While the previous way sounds like success, this thought-process actually feels like success.
Other things to remember (for you as well as me):
- 1.5 books a year is still great. A lot of people only ever put out one book or less per year. If you’re George R. R. Martin you put out even less than that. (And he’s got a tv show!)
- You set your own pace and any measure of success is pretty darn good!
- While number of novels published (or short stories) is a fun metric, it’s not an accurate for how much writing you have done this year. On a personal note, I spend a lot of my time starting new projects, world building, writing fan-fictions, reading and writing reviews, and collaborating with other authors on ideas. If I publish two novels, it still doesn’t illustrate how much other effort went into the year.
- It was 2020, you might have been stuck at home for a lot of it but that doesn’t mean you were writing. You still have a day job!
- A personal one: I’ve successfully (as of this writing) have written and/or published 10 novels and 6 anthologies. That’s pretty cool.
So, under the “don’t give yourself such a hard time” idea, here’s this year’s accomplishments.
- Time Troopers, by myself, David Hambling, Byron Craft, and John DeLaughter. – This one was a mythos anthology with each of the stories connected by Art, a time traveling individual fighting one of the great Time Wars against the evils of the universe. While Art wasn’t the main character, him and the time travel mechanism were an integral part of each story, connecting this vast universe of time lines and alternate futures.
- Andrew Doran and the Scroll of Nightmares by me. The third complete novel in the Andrew Doran series and long overdue. In this story, Andrew and Nancy discover the the coveted original manuscript of the Book of Eibon is actually a scroll held in place between universes. By moving it to Arkham and the Miskatonic University, they release an ancient Demi-God who plunges them into horrific scenarios from the recesses of their own minds. This story was a two year effort in world-building, as I wanted to do something a little less survivable for our adventurer. It originally started as an entirely different story, Andrew Doran and the Tomb of the Pharaoh. In that story, I was going to have Andrew accidentally ferried to ancient Egypt to locate the original Tomb of Ulthar. The story was going to be divided between then and “now” with Nancy trying to follow clues that Andrew left throughout time to help her bring him home. That one might still happen, but because of Scroll of Nightmares, it definitely is going to need some draft revisions. Besides, as I already mentioned in #1, I’ve already done a time travel story this year.
- The Book of Yig: Revelations of the Serpent, by Me, Mark Howard Jones, Peter Rawlik, and David Hambling. This book is completed and in pre-order status on Amazon. It comes out in April and follows a similar formula as my other Mythos related anthologies. Four stories all tied together by a common plot device. In this one, the Children of Yig are eternal, and are taking generations to attempt a coup over mankind. My story, Andrew Doran and the Journey to the Serpent Temple is in this one.
- Tales of Yog-Sothoth, by C.T. Phipps, David Niall Wilson, David Hambling, David J. West, and myself, the same team that brought you the Tales of the Al-Azif. This is obviously the mythos sequel to Tales of the Al-Azif, following the same formula and characters as we tackle the entity called Yog-Sothoth. Being a beast of time and space, we have a lot of fun crossover stuff in this one. Also, a bunch of parallel worlds, time travel, and mythos aliens! Andrew Doran and the Forever Gate is in this one.
- Not finished, but honorable mention, Satan’s Salesman 2: The Devil is in the Details, had a lot of work done this year as well. Thanks to some motivational plot work from C.T. Phipps and my need for NaNoWriMo fodder, I was able to add about 25k words to it before the year ended and got work started on the cover art with Putnam Finch.
Three Anthologies, one novel, and half of a novel brings this year’s word count to: about 135,000 words this year, not counting the first chapter of my upcoming weird western, The Esoteric Cavalry, or any of my fan-fics or book reviews. I’m calling it a successful 2020!
Upcoming projects that are at least started, include: The Esoteric Cavalry, Satan’s Salesman 2, Broken Nights 3, Coven Spinoff Novel, and a still-in-talks anthology. Esoteric Cavalry, Coven Spinoff, and Broken Nights 3 each have less than 10k written. Satan’s Salesman 2 is almost done. 2021 could easily have 3 novels published if I focus and don’t let myself get distracted…
But hey, even if I do get distracted, that’s ok. We’re all human. Do the best you can. After the 2020 we all went through, as long as you can say you did the best you could with what you had, that’s all you can ask for.
Let’s start off by calling this episode “A Whole Lot of Butt.”
Although the Smallville fan in me just wants to call this episode “Metamorphasis.”
This episode is awesome, but it also reminds me of a horror version of “The Nutty Professor.”
And this is the first episode that I am going to bring up something I should have mentioned much sooner: The soundtrack for this show is a work of art.
The show starts off with the transformation that we had expected in the last episode. Ruby wakes up white and afraid. Within seconds she sees the power over life and death that the white world has over the black world and she’s so terrified that she almost doesn’t save the boy who bumped into her. While we saw this coming, what I didn’t expect was the painful and gory transformation process when Ruby changes back. This isn’t a permanent transition, and when it wears off we get either Blondy (I forgot his name again) cutting her out of her “white persona” or the werewolf style of change. It’s painful and bloody and almost not worth the cost.
The best line I’ve heard from any tale lately – “I don’t know what’s more difficult: Being Colored, or being a woman.” I love that line for it’s sheer power.
Wait…her “Last Name” is Davenport when she’s white? Interesting. I’m finding more and more stories I follow lately put that last name in there. Have I become a generic name placeholder? That’s unfortunate.
As per any great episode, we’re treated to two tales and Atticus discovered that Montrose killed the Zombie Lady and destroyed the pages. He is livid and almost kills his father over it, scaring Leti in the process. Honestly, I was not sure if I wanted him to kill him or not. His father is obviously tortured about something, but the flat out murder of someone who wasn’t a threat, instead of communicating was just “not cool.”
It’s alright though, because Leti took pictures of the pages and then we get some more Butt Scenes.
And then we get a scene that let’s another puzzle piece fall into place. Mikey and I have been toying with theories regarding Tic’s lineage. We think we’ve got it all together (Tic is actually George’s son and Montrose only married Tic’s mother as a beard to hide his being gay). The confirmation is the very injured Tic deciding he needed a good lay with his boyfriend bar-owner from the first episode.
Ruby uses her white superpowers to get a job (thus me realizing the Davenport name) at that store she’s obsessed with. There’s no better way to see how horrible white people in the fifties are than to work in retail, I guess.
After her first day as the Assistant Manager, she gets to learn what all this white skin is going to cost her. She has to attend a party as Ruby for Christina (remembered her name). The party is filled with those asshole cops and is for the brotherhood that won’t let Ms. Braithwhite into it.
Christina just said his name is William. I’ll try not to forget again.
Woah, it turns out that the police captain tried to have William killed. So Ruby is going to use some piece of magic to help her get her revenge.
I love the weird connections and secret messages in this episode. Specifically, Tic even gets a dream after he falls asleep on the pictures of the pages. It’s pretty clear that if he goes down this “You’re a Wizard, Harry,” path that he’s going to burn up.
Additionally, the archaeologist in me is happy that the language of Adam isn’t just a code (with letters equalling other letters) but also needs to be transliterated before it can be translated.
Tic isn’t an idiot either, and he has to let Leti know that Montrose didn’t just let the witch lady go, but killed her. Unfortunately, Leti thinks the pages themselves are what made Montrose do it. While I’m sure she’s right in the scheme of the story, if I was a character in here I would think she’s crazy. Montrose is just wacky. He would have killed her anyway.
There are so many twists in this show that I’m constantly on the edge of my seat.
While Ruby is acting out her half of the plan she finds some poor bastard in the closet of the Sheriff’s office. Woah!!! And I just noticed that the Captain is some sort of Patchwork Man, sewn together from other bodies. That’s why he was friends with Hiram.
The constant discussion of butterflies and locusts and then we get a scene with Montrose’s gay friends dressing as women and it makes me wonder if the message in this is more than tranformation. The beginning of the episode had the new guy stating that the locusts would devour everything in their path after they transformed.
The worst transformation for Ruby is when she destroys the vial. Her skin just melts off and damn that was nasty.
We get some interesting revelations after that. Ruby’s boss trying to rape Tamara, Montrose willing to show his face in public with his boyfriend. These seem like two worlds opening their eyes for both Ruby and Montrose. Montrose is suddenly free to be who he is and Ruby is suddenly aware that it’s not worth the freedoms of being white if you have to give up your humanity.
Question: Why did it matter that Ruby broke the vial if she has another one? Is the spell tied to the vial and that’s why she broke it, so that she could end that instance of the spell?
Oh, and another great line, this time from Christina. “Who are you really, uninterrupted?”
And then we find out…
Holy crap, and then more butt. My stomach almost couldn’t handle that.
Next question: Does Hillary Davenport have the same shoe size as Ruby? I guess she must.
This episode is less about advancing the season’s plot and more about character development, and that’s not a bad thing. We’re seeing some characters that, until now, have been mostly minor, getting detailed personality developments that are going to help us in the future of the season. We’re seeing Montrose knowing who he is and that’s going to save him or maybe his family. We’re seeing how cold Ruby can be, and that’s going to come in handy when the monsters come knocking. And we’re seeing how monstrous Tic can be. He might not have PTSD, but he’s not afraid to be extremely violent with even family if they stand between him and his goals.
Holy shit, then we learn William’s truth. He did die, like Christina said, and Christina has been turning into him to get into the lodge and manipulate Ruby. Holy shit, that’s something I didn’t see coming.
Then we’re left with some sort of weird cliffhanger at the end with Tic and the pages. My theory is that Tic just discovered that Christina wasn’t lying about the fact that she can’t die.
This episode was great, of course, but it was also…shall I say it…transformational for the cast…
Additionally, we had another opportunity (Leti in the bath) to see more butt and after everything that we just sat through I was surprised that they didn’t take that chance.
Mikey’s thoughts: “Hang on folks, this is gonna be a long one.
Shock note: Ruby’s first transformation reminded me of something that Guillermo del Toro might have done.
Anger note: I don’t think Atticus could have beaten Montrose harder even if he knew that Montrose killed the native American.
Annoying note: I think that Ruby took the acceptance of magic in the world WAY too quickly and easily.
Cthulhu note: Every time Ruby changes and the things move under her skin, it makes me feel like tentacles are moving under her skin.
Horror note: The Ruby/Hillary transformation we see outside the bar on the West Side reminds me of the really good Werewolf transformations they did in the scary old movies.
Odd note: It was really odd to see Montrose happy for once while he was dancing. It’s sad how he has to hide himself from everyone.
Comicbook note: Jonathan Majors, the actor who plays Atticus, would be an amazing John Stewart. He would be a great architect and he does have a military build.
Ending note: the final “transformation” made me speechless.
Final note: What happened to George’s family? His wife and child were heading to the county where they Murder African Americans at night. They weren’t in this episode at all!”
A sales job or so ago, I had the wonderful chance to speak with a pastor, something that I don’t really ever have a chance to do in my normal life. He’s a friend, in a way, who I’ve sold to in multiple roles and our conversations, infrequent that they are, tend to go a little deep.
A little background on myself before we continue: I grew up in a religious household, went to church once in a while, but came from parents that believed in finding God in his works more than in the biased views of man. I don’t know that they’ve ever thought of it that way, but that’s how I interpreted their teaching. I’m not overtly religious, but I’m also not an athiest. I’m a person seeking to understand the human condition. This leads me down a path of belief with an open mind. During a conversation with my dad, I told him that it didn’t matter if my God was the God of Christianity or whatever, because at the end of the day, my God is the God of love. If your God is asking you to condemn, judge, or persecute someone than he isn’t mine.
That being said, I’m also a former archaeologist and anthropologist, so I believe in science, evolution. and evidence. A lot of my understandings tend to temper my beliefs. I’ve read history, and how religion has been used to bend the wills of people, start wars, and destroyed entire civilizations. I’m a realist that believes there’s something out there that wants me to be a decent human being but won’t go out of his way to make me one. That’s on me.
So, I don’t go to church, but I do pray once in a while. I don’t talk about religion unless asked. My religion is trying to live up to that being who wants me to be decent and better. That’s about it.
When I met with my pastor friend, we spoke about a few things. Of course, I was trying to convince him to buy something from me in my new role, but I also just wanted to catch up with him. We spoke about a few things, but of course, I couldn’t help but want to bring up politics to see where his opinion landed. I expected him to be on the far opposite side from myself, but what he said to me was a well thought out surprise.
He said that he wished people could have civil discourse again, like we supposedly once did. (I only say supposedly because, with all of my hopes of being a decent person, I can’t help but be a little cynical as well.) He then made a statement that shocked me only because it seemed to reveal an obvious truth of the world that I hadn’t noticed before.
“At some point in the last 20 years, we started associating our opinions with our sense of self. When a person does that, you can’t disagree with their opinion without disagreeing with who they are as a person, even if that’s not the case. That’s when all civil discussion goes out the window.”
That hit me hard because of how right it seemed. Just look at any social media posting that breaks down into an argument. People take the defense of their opinions so personally now. Opinions are meant to be discussed, learned from, changed, and then ignored when you know that you can’t be moved to agree with it. Instead, people fight until they’d rather cut off the person they were just having a conversation with. No longer can we say, “I respect your right to that opinion, but I’ll have to disagree.” Now it degrades to us calling each other names and taking a personal offense when you don’t agree with me.
How many times have you seen this, especially on the internet? How many arguments have you been a part of that could have ended with a simple nod at it just being an opinion, but instead it continued because people would rather validate their existence through your acceptance than admit that everyone has different views on such things?
Perhaps that’s the answer to everything wrong with the world. Maybe we just need to remember that we are all different, with different views and different experiences, and that it’s ok to accept that people have different opinions. We aren’t our opinions, and who knows, maybe their next opinion will be one you agree with.
As we go into 2020, coming out of a year of political strife and personal anxieties, try to remember that the person next to you with different politics and different religious views, is seeing the world differently. It’s not your job to change them. It’s ok to just accept them as different.
If you are, than good luck and keep me posted on your progress!
Normally, I make posts like the previous one (the declaration of writing again, not the review) and then get swept up in a new life thingy that makes me out to be a liar.
That is not the case this time. I have yet to nail down a solid writing schedule, but am happy to say that I’m at least writing again and using my beautiful writing corner in our new house!
My wife even said the words “I like hearing you typing again!”
My project list hasn’t changed, only my urgency.
Even though I have a total of 5 Andrew Doran stories (The Early Adventures of Andrew Doran, The Statement of Andrew Doran, Andrew Doran at the Mountains of Madness, Andrew Doran and the Crawling Chaos, and Andrew Doran and the Obsidian Key), there are only two complete novels. I think that finishing the Andrew Doran trilogy with my current Work-in-Progress will push me in a lot of ways. In the first, I think it’ll help bring more visibility to the Andrew Doran series. In another way, it’ll free me up to start on finishing another trilogy I need to get done. Once the big trilogies are out of the way, I feel like my mind will be a little more freer to play in other yards.
That’s not my way of saying that Andrew Doran is or the other series (Broken Nights) will be done after the trilogies are completed, that’s just me saying that once a completed trilogy is done, I won’t feel like those stories are obligations so much as they are fun universes that I can play in whenever I want to again. As I’ve explained to several fans in the past, Andrew Doran is my enjoyment writing. I don’t know that he’ll ever be done. As long as he can continue to take the punishment that is being doled out, I will continue to dole it.
This new Andrew Doran story takes place almost directly after Andrew Doran at the Mountains of Madness, only leaving enough time for the novella (Crawling Chaos) and the short story (Obsidian Key) to take place before diving directly into the adventure. Whereas previous titles have explored the Cthulhu Mythos lore provided mostly by Lovecraft himself, this novel touches on some aspects introduced by some of his inheritors. We’re seeing the mention Hyperborea and we’re exploring the backstory of Carol, Andrew’s administrative assistant.
Additionally, we’re exploring Andrew’s dynamic with his newest “Watson” and introducing more elements from the mythos that are going to change the way Andrew approaches the world entirely.
In the last year I’ve had a lot things to distract me from the progress on this book, but no more. They’ve all been excuses and now I’m pressing forward to complete this book and have another horrifying adventure under Andrew’s belt.
After that, I intend to tackle where we left off with the Broken Nights stories. Originally the title for that sequel was “Broken Nights: Endgame” and then Marvel overheard me and stole the title, so we’re still working on that. The story is more than started and we know where we want to take it (femme-fatale, prison fights, government conspiracies, and how a heart-broken AI can cope in a world where she’s the only one like herself out there.
Anyway, that’s my updates for now. If you’re not caught up on any of these stories, then get there, I’m on a roll and not slowing down for anyone.