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!

Monday, December 31, 2018

2019 Goals

2018 wasn't a bad year for me as an author. I released three new novels (The Lawless Series, available here), a collection of novellas (Dragonsgate: Preludes & Omens), oversaw the release of five audio books (you can see all my titles here) and did eighteen conventions in four states. I also wrote three novellas and two short stories that went out free to readers of my newsletter. (See the header above for the sign up link.) Foolishly, I didn't write down anywhere how many newsletter subscribers I had at the beginning of the year, but I think I've added roughly 150 new subscribers. I've also released four of my titles in hardcover.

All and all, between the novels, the hardcovers, the audiobooks, and Dragonsgate, I've got twelve new products to sell. Again, not a bad year... except for one kind of important aspect of being a writer. I've got no idea how many words I wrote in 2018. Only one of the Lawless books, Victory, was started in 2018. Big Ape did go through rewrites, and the Dragonsgate collection went through multiple drafts. My best estimate based on final word counts is that I wrote, plus the chapters I've written on my latest dragon novel, amount to about 180k of first draft material. Which is an underwhelming number. Under 3500 words a week. I quit my day job for this?

Back when I had a day job, I told people I could produce 10,000 words a week. Which I could, but only for a few months at a time. Then I'd take a break, and switch into editing mode. It's hard to keep 10,000 words of first draft coming out each week because the imagination runs dry. On the other hand, I've got no shortage of ideas. I frequently find myself staring at a blank screen while I'm working on my latest project while ideas for other books prance around before me. I normally shoo these uninvited ideas away and try to focus on the project at hand.

It's time to shake up my habits. My goal in 2019 is to master the art of working on multiple projects during the same week or even the same day. If one set of characters doesn't show up that day, I'll write whoever does show up.

Second, it's embarrassing that I don't have a precise word count of what I've written this year. That changes moving forward. For the rest of the year I'll be posting a weekly update of my word count for the year. My goal is still relatively modest: 10,000 words a week, with two weeks of vacation, to produce 500,000 words of new first draft this year. This is a huge leap past anything I've done before, or event attempted. I did 366,000 words a few years ago, but there I had an elaborate system of crediting myself fractional rates for second draft and third draft, and gave myself bonus points for releasing books or selling short stories. This time, the 500,000 is a goal only for fresh writing, though I will count blog posts and other non-fiction.

Wish me luck!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Best Photos of the Year: Up Close

This year I logged over 1850 miles biking, hiking and kayaking, usually with Cheryl at my side, at least once she recovered from knee surgery at the beginning of the year. These are some of our favorite photos from the year. As befits the category title "Up Close," there are a fair number of selfies. The next post will be "Big Picture," and we won't look quite as obsessed with ourselves in those shots.  

I've been to "the Point" at Garden City a dozen times, but this was the first time I was there when the tide was low enough I saw all the sea urchins. 

Yes, this is a zoom lens, but we were still very close to this gator. He lives in a pond near Myrtle Beach and people obviously feed him scraps despite signs saying not to. In any case, he doesn't mind being photographed. 

Technically, we didn't actually get close for this photo. Probably 200 feet away with a zoom lens. But we were in a kayak. Getting something to focus at maximum zoom while you're bobbing on moving water is a challenge. 

It was a good year for beautiful spiders. 

We didn't have to go out into the wild to find this buck. He was just munching on leaves in someone's front yard. 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

James Maxey Discovery Day 12-15-2018

I'm dismayed to report that there are still some people in the world who haven't read all my books. I sometimes wake in the night, covered in sweat, with the nagging feeling that I've failed humanity. We live in a troubled age. I can't help but think that if everyone was reading my books, many of the world's problems would seem less daunting. Yes, there's E coli in our salads, dysfunction at every level of government, and our oceans are filling up with plastic. On the bright side, unlike the characters in my novels, we're very unlikely to be eaten by a dragon today, or be crushed by a giant robot, or hunted by space-gorillas. Mine is an enduring message of hope! I feel compelled to share it with the world.

It's time to take action! Saturday, December 15, 2018, is hereby designated "James Maxey Discovery Day."

What is James Maxey Discover Day? That's the day I make it easy for you to download most of my ebooks for free or for drastically discounted prices. Some of the books will be free or discounted for a few days, but a few are for Saturday only, so get 'em fast! There's a little something here for everyone. Action! Humor! Romance! Mystery! Monkeys! Dragons! Robots! Pirates! Singing cowboys... oh, wait, sorry, no singing cowboys. Look, you can't have everything. But you can still have a lot of things. For free!

Here's the full list of free and discounted books for the promo:

FREE BOOKS for December 15, 2018

Who can save us? Nobody!

Exploding clones to the rescue!

Dark, funny, twisted short fiction!

War Zeppelins versus winged monkeys!

Bitterwood confronts his greatest enemy!

Available at 99 cents on December 15:

(Some don't change prices until 8:00am PST)

Post-apocalyptic science fiction dragon war! 

Dungeon-crawling, monster-stabbing, treasure-grabbing high adventure!

Man-ape battles robots and dinosaurs!

Aliens have stolen the moon!

Superheroes hounded by dark secrets!
*And, apparently for this title, I set the discount for the UK only and didn't discover the error until early Saturday morning when it's too late to fix it! My apologies to the rest of the world! But the book is only 2.99, so it's still a pretty good deal! 

Twelve tangled tales of suspense! 

Since the dragon collections each contain four novels, if you download everything on this page you'll wind up with 17 novels for less than you'd pay for a footlong sub. Grab 'em while they're hot! And, if you decide to buy the sub instead, tell them to hold the lettuce.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A Year of Conventions, Hardcovers

2018 was my busiest year ever for conventions. I did more events in 2018 as Piedmont Laureate, but those were mostly workshops, readings, and panels. While the workshops required a lot of advance work, for the most part the actual events only lasted an hour or two, and all events were confined to within an hour of my house. This year, I travelled as far away as Kentucky and many of the events were multi-day affairs like the Louisville Supercon, three days of sales, plus two days of travel. With 18 events under my belt for the year, I'm in a strange space between completely burned out and extremely invigorated. 

The burn out is obvious. I essentially run a travelling book store. Every event requires a lot of set up and breakdown, plus there's the accounting hassles of trying to keep up with sales taxes in different jurisdictions, keeping up with mileage and receipts, and the headache of keeping up with stock. As great as it would be to just order several hundred copies of each title I sell in one big order at the beginning of the year, the reality is that I only have so much space available for storage. Our spare bedroom is already stuffed with cases of books. I also can never be quite certain what's going to sell at a convention. At most events, my big dragon books are my best sellers, so I normally keep a stock level of at least two cases of each title. But, I've also done events where my dragon books get ignored while I sell out of superhero titles. If I had some crystal ball to know how much of each title to bring to an event, it would make my life a lot easier. It's depressing to cart home full cases of titles, and a little stressful wondering if I might have sold more if I hadn't run out of a title. 

While there's a lot of work and planning going into the events, I'm also invigorated by them. Today, online, I've sold about twenty books. This isn't bad, but it's happening in the background and doesn't carry a lot of emotional weight. But, at a convention if I sell twenty books in a day,it's a rush! My last sales day of the year, December 2 at Louisville Supercon, I sold 32 books, and probably interacted with close to a hundred people in order to make these sales. This much socializing really helps keep an introvert like me from withdrawing completely into my own head. 

Some of my favorite encounters at a con are with people who don't even buy my books. I keep little toy dragons at my table, plastic, about two inches long, and I give them free to little kids drawn to my booth by the colorful images. I gave one to a little girl maybe six years old at my last con and saw her walk back down the aisle an hour later holding the dragon in front of her swooping it up and down like it was flying. That made my day. I've also had very geeky conversations about obscure superheroes, gotten to talk with readers about books we had in common, and heard some terrible, terrible jokes. I was giving my pitch to a guy about Bad Wizard, my steampunk Oz novel that involves that essential steampunk mode of transport, the rigid airship. The guy asked, very deadpan, if I knew why Zeppelins were no longer economical to fly. I said I didn't know, and he said, still deadpan, "They're prone to inflation." 

This year has come with something of a learning curve. I've spent a lot of time tweaking marketing material like banners and business cards, and refreshed covers on a couple of books. I've also started adding hardcovers to my line up, and have definitely sold enough to make it worth the effort I put into getting them set up.

Right now, I've got the four titles above available in hardcover. The two dragon books were obvious choices to put out in this premium format. There is No Wheel is the least obvious choice here, since it's a slow seller online, but it actually sells quite well at conventions. Bad Wizard also does well at conventions, and it captures a lot of readers who are only marginally interested in science fiction and fantasy. Many of these readers like the hardcover format. 

Long term, I plan to do a superhero collection called The Complete Nobody, and another collecting my Lawless series. But, first, I need to write a fourth book for each series. I'll also probably do a Dragonsgate collection once I finish that series, and already have in mind a deluxe short story collection that would combine all the stories in There is No Wheel, the Jagged Gate, and new stories I've written since those were published. Some of these are likely to see life in 2019, some probably won't become reality until 2020. 

For now, though, if you want a great gift for the holidays, it's not too late to get your hands on these books! Just click on these links: There is No Wheel, Bad Wizard, Dragon Apocalypse: the Complete Collection, Bitterwood: The Complete Collection.

Or, come buy them from me personally next year! I've already got close to a dozen events lined up, most in North Carolina, but with Virginia and South Carolina getting visits as well, and I'll probably do at least one Tennessee event again as well. Want to know where I'll be and when I'll be there? Sign up for my newsletter!