Welcome to my worlds!

I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Choosing What Novel to Write Next: Part Three

Today's category are novels I have every intention of writing, but am reluctant to start for business reasons:

Soulless, Book Four of the Dragon Apocalypse: The novel opens twenty years after the events of Greatshadow. Tempest, the Dragon Lord of Hell, has unleashed an army of the damned upon the world. The primal dragons most aligned with humanity have fallen, and the ones hostile to mankind unleash waves of destruction. In a climatic final battle, Stagger, Primal Spirit of the Sun, falls to the forces of evil. As eternal darkness falls, Rott, the Dragon of Death, wakes for his final meal.

And that's the first chapter. Of course, we know from previous books that one person survives the end times--the Black Swan, who once more travels into the past in an effort to halt the apocalypse. This time, her plan to save the world centers on the daughter of Stagger and Infidel, a child conceived in the spirit world, who possesses vast powers. Of course, she also possesses a very opinionated, very protective mother, who's never much liked the Black Swan. Hijinks ensue. Also tragedies. Lots and lots of tragedies.

Meanwhile, Sorrow, Slate, and the Romers are still in hell, with the enigmatic Walker as their guide. Together, they must cross the surreal landscape of the netherworld in search of the soul of Lord Stark Tower, the man Slate is cloned from. Can Slate locate his missing soul and redeem it? In doing so, can he and the others find a path to lead them out of hell and back to the land of the living? And, if they do find the path, will there be a living world to return to if when the Black Swan fails once more?

If you haven't read the first three books of the Dragon Apocalypse, I imagine this synopsis just sounds like eye-glazing fantasy mumbo jumbo. If you have read the Dragon Apocalypse, you're probably thinking, "Yeah. I want that."

And I want to write it! But, here's the legal reality: Solaris still owns all rights to the first three books. There's a chance I can get the rights reverted to me around the end of this year... assuming the books don't see a spike in sales. Releasing a fourth book independently of Solaris might cause a spike that would cause Solaris to hold onto the rights longer. So, while I could write the book now, economically it makes more sense to hold out until the rights to the first three books are controlled by me again. Then I can release new ebook editions off all three books, make Greatshadow completely free and advertise the heck out of it to bring in new fans, and reap the full financial rewards of my efforts. While I hate, truly hate, leaving existing fans of this series hanging, the economics of publishing argue for me waiting at least another 8 months before I put my time and energy into this novel.

The Adventures of a Big Ape/Silent Seven: A sequel to Cut Up Girl. There's a human/chimp hybrid in the series named Harry who's Cut Up Girl's best friend through the first novel. He goes through several hero identities, first as Humanzee, then Monkey Boy, Monkey Man, Sock Monkey, and finally Big Ape, after a regenerative drug given to save his life causes him to grow bigger than a gorilla. Harry's an interesting character because his attitude is mostly optimistic through the first book despite his circumstances being much worse than Cut Up Girl's. He's never going to pass as human, but instead of being alienated and mopey about how alone he is, he throws himself with a whole heart into being a costumed crime fighter. At the end of Cut Up Girl, he has to quit his current super-team. This book would follow his adventures as he's recruited into the mysterious Silent Seven, a group of super humans with the somewhat sinister but socially necessary mission of uncovering the secrets of other costumed heroes. Just what these secrets are being used for isn't clear to Harry; he's just happy to once again have a job where he gets to punch people. But when the Silent Seven investigates one of his oldest friends, the hero known as Atomahawk, Harry discovers a dark secret that will change everything the world believes about its greatest heroes.

This is another book I feel like I could start typing tomorrow. I've got some really cool ideas, and if I wind up self publishing Cut Up Girl, I'd like to have the sequel ready to release quickly. But, there is an "if" in that sentence. Right now, my agent is considering whether or not he'll represent the book. If he does, and the book winds up in the hands of a publisher, I'd rather wait to see if there are things they want me to change about the first novel before I'm half way through the second. So, again, it's on the back burner.

There's one more reason I'm not going to write one of these novels next, a more important one than simple economics. Both of these books would be easy for me to write. At least, as easy as any book can be. I know the characters, I know the worlds, I've been thinking about the plot lines for a while. Of course, both books will present challenges. Once I get into them, I'll quickly run into logistical issues of trying to tie dozens of plot lines together within the constraints of my established continuity. But, these are challenges I'm comfortable handling. And, bluntly, while I'm not under contract, I think it's time for me to try a novel that makes me at least a little uncomfortable. I want to do something new, to push myself to write stuff I haven't tried before, so I can continue to hone my craft as a writer.

So, next up: The two books I'm actually going to choose between to write this summer.


Mr. Cavin said...

"I think it's time for me to try a novel that makes me at least a little uncomfortable."

Oh, I like the sound of that.

James Maxey said...

I hope I don't let you down.