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!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Week 21: 3300 word

As expected, the Hillsborough Comics Fair ate up most of my time this past week. No new fiction, most of what I'm counting as writing is a blog post and a lot of social media posts promoting the event. I normally count blogs posts, but don't count, say, a Facebook post, but these were fairly chunky posts hyping several features of the event like the cosplay contest. Oh, and I'm counting typing up the rules for the cosplay contest and creating an entry form and judges form.

Tomorrow I'm doing a 50ish mile bike ride from Anderson Point Park in Raleigh all the way back to near the Southpoint Mall in Durham, so that's going to chew up tomorrow. I'll probably be brain dead Tuesday after the ride, and Thursday I'll be packing up to head for ConCarolinas, so I won't get a lot of writing done this week either. Still, I'm optimistic that I'll be well over 200,000 words by the end of June, probably in the range of 230,000 words, which leaves me positioned to get back on track over the summer, when my cons aren't quite as stacked up as they've been in recent weeks (and won't be requiring quite as much travel).

It was totally worth it to take the time to plan the Comics Fair. Our best estimate is that over 200 people came to the event, and it might have been closer to 300 people. There were a lot of kids, which was exciting. A lot of the cons I go to are really focused on nerdy adults, which is great for me since that's my target reader. But, since this was a free event at the library, the proportion of younger kids was a real thrill. It felt good to contribute to the future nerds of America.

Luckily, my friend Calvin Powers came by and snapped some pics! Here's some of what you might have missed if you didn't make it yesterday!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Week 20: 4850 words

Last week I took a micro vacation on the way to Tidewater Comicon, spending two days biking in the Virginia beach area before the two day con. With Wednesday spent packing, this effectively gave me a work week of Monday and Tuesday night, and a count of 4850 words.

This week, I'm mainly doing last minute organizing on the Hillsborough Comicon, so probably another low word count week. Then, the following Monday, if plans hold, I'll be doing a 75 mile bike ride, then prepping for ConCarolinas, a three day con where I'm moderating panels, again giving me another short week. But, despite a hectic May (and early June), things should calm down considerably after HeroesCon, as I won't have any more multi-day cons on the books until the end of July for SuperCon/GalaxyCon.

Cons are a huge time and energy investment, and there's no question my busy travel schedule over the last few months have sapped my writing energy. Is it worth it? Yep! The more cons I do, the better I'm getting at selling my books. This year, I've earned four times what I'd earned between January 1 and May 20 last year. Part of it is just that I have more books to sell, since I didn't have all of my Lawless books out last year at this point, nor had I released Dragonsgate. I also didn't have hardcovers. I'm charging more for my books than I did last year, relying less on discounts to move products. I'm also travelling a bit further and doing more multiday events. I've revamped covers that weren't selling, and improved my table signs and banners to do more selling without me spending as much time doing pitches. Part of this means that I'm once again a part time writer... only now, instead of my energy being divided between a day job and writing, my energy is divided between writing and a career as a travelling salesman for my own books.

I'm not complaining at all about this, by the way. In my years working a "real" job, I spent countless hours selling products of dubious value, with my soul withering as the people who signed my checks kept inventing new ways to gouge customers with unnecessary add-ons. It turns out that selling a product I believe to be superior to other items of a comparable price is actually quite uplifting. I normally finish a con exhausted, but giddy at how many books I've sold. Hoorah for the intersection of creativity and capitalism!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to work!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Week 19: 7155 words

Another week where writing related activities devoured actual writing. I've been working behind the scenes on the Hillsborough Comics Fair most of the week. I also had to put together a newsletter, since I hadn't done one since March. To put out the newsletter, I had to do a few more edits of the DRAGONSGATE Sneak Peek, and make a temporary cover to go with it. I also listened to more audio chapters of Covenant, and booked hotel rooms for upcoming cons. I do give myself some "word count" for some of these activities, like the revisions and newsletter, but except for about half a chapter of Nobody Nowhere, I haven't produced much new fiction.

The upcoming weeks don't look much more promising for production. The Comics Fair is going to be taking a little bit of time every day through May 25. I also have the Tidewater Comicon in Virginia Beach next weekend, and we'll be doing some touristy stuff on the way up, so that will be four days on the road.

By the way, I'm not complaining about organizing the Comics Fair. I've taken part in several cons organized by libraries, so helping my own hometown library get one set up suits my particular skill set, and anything I can do to get more people to visit a library makes me feel like a responsible citizen helping to maintain civilization in good working order. I don't really have the skills I would need to find a cure for cancer, but getting comic books into the hands of kids and maybe instilling a life long love of a true American art form? That's right in my wheelhouse. Also, organizing the con helps me realize how much hard work other volunteers to for the cons I attend. I don't know if I can call what I'm doing paying it forward, but hopefully I'm at least paying it sideways.

Back to word counts: I'm already making time on my calendar later in the year for a few "writing retreats" later in the year, where I go to an undisclosed location to get away from distractions and spend days just typing for a full week. My goal this year of 10k words a week was always going to be about averages. I'm going to have a few weeks of 30k plus words. I've had weeks in the past where I've gotten out close to 60k words in a week. I admire writers who can follow the slow and steady route, but a lot of my favorite books were written when I just closed out the rest of the world for a few days and did a full immersion in a project.

In other news, a few weeks back I mentioned doing a guest blog. It was published this week, and here's the link. It's an essay about my own personal experiences of entering some of the dream worlds where my Dragon Apocalypse novels unfold, and the treasures that I found there.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Week 16: 7552 words

Finished a chapter and got a good start on another chapter of Nobody Nowhere. I also did some rewriting work on Dragonsgate! My goal is to send out a new newsletter by next weekend and include a sneak peek. I had some trouble picking the scene to rewrite. There's some good action scenes, but when I pulled them out of context I worried they felt like random violence once stripped of the story context. It might work for a movie sneak peek, but people read books for different experiences. In the end, I went with a scene of a conversation between Burke and Bitterwood that I think sets up the emotional stakes for both characters nicely. It's a quiet character moment that sets up all the mayhem and carnage that will follow. I'll do two more passes on it this week, then get it out in the newsletter. 

This week I also I did a fair amount of non-writing writing work. I set up a table at the Free Comic Book Day at Atomic Empire to sell books and help promote the upcoming Hillsborough Comic Con, As long I was heading out to make copies of the flyers to promote the con I figured it was time for new pricing signage for my books. My old signs didn't reflect the hardcovers, and I've raised the price of my short story bundle from $16 to $18. I've sold out of the sets three times this year, at SC Comicon, Raleigh Comicon, and Wilmington Geek Expo, so I'm probably way overdue in bumping up the price. Still, once I had the old signs open in Photoshop, of course I had to start tweaking fonts, and before I knew it, poof, there was an evening gone. But, it needed to be done, and it's done, and I won't need to mess with it again for a long time. 

Even though I'm keeping busy, I'm aware that I've had three weeks in a row where I failed to hit my target of 10k words. I'm going to need to start getting in some weeks above goal to break out of the hole I'm digging. Fortunately, there's still a lot of the year left. I'm not worried yet, which is probably the problem. It's too easy to procrastinate at this stage of the game. If the end of June rolls around with my word count for the year not near 250,000, then I'll worry.