Mage Errant is the Audible Daily Deal

The Mage Errant Publisher’s Pack is the Audible Daily Deal for January 5th! If you’re an Audible member, you can pick it up for just $5.95. It includes Into the Labyrinth and Jewel of the Endless Erg (books 1-2) narrated by the fantastic Ralph Lister.

Plus, the ebook compilation is on sale for $1.99!

And, of course, the audiobook for book 3 is currently available for preorder!

Told you I’d have some fun news soon!

Publisher's Pack Cover

2019 Year in Review, 2020 Plans

Dangit, Brandon Sanderson, you already took the “State of the Union” gag with your yearly update, and now I don’t know what to call mine. I’d like to name it something clever, but…

Anyhow, 2019 has been one hell of a year.

  • Released Jewel of the Endless Erg in February, and it immediately started doing spectacular. But, since it takes 60 days after the month I earn money in to get my royalties from Amazon, I had to keep working my terrible grocery store job for another couple months.
  • Signed an audiobook deal with Podium Publishing, which I’m still incredibly happy about.
  • So I just saved all my money, so I could quit my job as soon as possible- which ended up being the beginning of April. April was kind of a lean month, and I ate lots of beans and ramen, but I didn’t have to spend 40 hours a week as a grocery store greeter, and I could officially call myself a full time author.
  • The next few months were, to say the least, hectic ones. Had a close friend end our friendship because he couldn’t handle my success (financial and otherwise), spent a good chunk of the summer traveling (went to Israel on my free birthright trip, visited family), wrote A Traitor in Skyhold, and worked at preparing for life as a digital nomad.
  • On August 8th, I moved out of Portland, Oregon, and began life as a digital nomad. It’s something I’d wanted to do for several years, but never had enough in the way of stable remote income before to attempt. I spent the next few weeks visiting friends and family across the States, and releasing A Traitor in Skyhold during that time.
  • I started my Patreon, writing a monthly short story set in the Mage Errant universe. It’s been a lot of fun! There’s a deleted Alustin scene from book 3, the adventures of Talia’s brother Gram, Sabae’s grandmother solving mysteries, and adventures of past Librarians Errant, with much more planned for the future! (If Patreon’s not your thing, no worries, they’ll eventually be compiled into a short story collection!)
  • At the end of August, I flew to Chiang Mai, Thailand, and I’ve been living in SE Asia ever since. I’ve largely stayed in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, though I’ve moved around a good bit. It’s been awesome, but also a lot more difficult- it can be a very socially isolating lifestyle, and it’s certainly been highly disruptive to my writing. I’m starting to get a handle on how to deal with that and stay productive, however. (Coworking spaces are my friends there, on both counts.)
  • In November, finally feeling sufficiently financially stable for the first time in my life, I started doing something that I’d also wanted to do for years. Considering how much cheaper it is for me to travel full time than to live in Portland, I’m not only starting to pay back my student loans, I’ve been able to start donating part of my income to charity. (Minimum 10% a month, though sometimes more.) I’ve always felt a strong call to try and make the world a better place, and for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m in a position to actually make a difference. This was, in part, inspired by the Effective Altruism movement, though I disagree with several of their priorities and tactics. (Most notably, of course, their close affiliation with MIRI and the Rationalists.) I’ll probably do a longer post on this at some point soon.
    • With the royalty check I got at the end of November, I provided a $1,000 matching donation to Worldbuilders for their end of year fundraiser. I also donated ten copies of the first two Mage Errant books to their raffle. Worldbuilders has been important to me personally for years. Patrick Rothfuss is absolutely my role model for how to be a socially responsible novelist, and Worldbuilders is a great cause.
    • With the royalty check I got at the end of December, I split my donation between the fantastic Center for Investigative Reporting and the Ocean Conservancy. Now more than ever, we need high quality journalism, and the Center for Investigative Reporting has done in depth reporting with integrity for decades now. As for the Ocean Conservancy- I’m a passionate environmentalist, and I consider marine issues some of the most vital at the moment.
  • I flew my youngest brother out to visit me here in SE Asia for the a couple weeks, and had an absolute blast. We went to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, celebrated Hannukah on one of Thailand’s gorgeous tropical islands, then visited Bangkok for New Years. It was great to see him again, and definitely recharged my mental batteries.

2020 Plans

I have a TON planned for 2020.

  • Currently writing from Bangkok, and getting ready to go spend a few weeks finishing The Wrack on another one of Thailand’s beautiful tropical islands. This one has been really tough. I was experimenting with a Brandon Sanderson style taking a break between books in a series approach, and honestly, I don’t think it’s probably for me. I work best when I build up momentum, and I should have waited to write this one until I finished Mage Errant. You live and you learn.
  • Lots more travel, of course.
  • Mage Errant 4 should progress really quickly. It’s the most heavily planned out book in the series, and possibly the one I’m most excited for. I expect it to be out in late Spring or Early summer, followed by Mage Errant 5 in early fall. Of course, there’s always the risk of being over-ambitious, but I’ll keep you updated if I get set back.
  • I’ll be continuing the Patreon for the foreseeable future, as well.
  • When Mage Errant 6 is done (early 2021, most likely), I’ll be doing another standalone novel, followed by my next series, which I’m excited to show you all. (Spoiler alert- the covers are going to feature the color green quite heavily.) And, for those who haven’t guessed from the clues in Mage Errant (or who I haven’t just told), yes, I’m doing a shared multiverse similar to Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere or Will Wight’s… Williverse. Both my series and my standalone novels are all fitting into it. Mine’s called the Aetherverse, and I have big, big plans for it. (I’ve been foreshadowing things since Into the Labyrinth, some of which won’t even play out for 10 or more books into the future in different series!)
  • I also have a number of secret projects I’m working on! We’ll see what comes of them.

And keep your eyes peeled the next few days- I’ll have a few more fun announcements for you all!

The Wrack Progress Update

Things have been a little quiet on my end of things, sorry! Figured I’d best give you all some sort of progress update on what’s been going on here on my end of things.

So: Big question first: How far away is my next book, that epidemiological standalone I keep talking about?

Well… unfortunately, it’s a ways off. That’s partially due to me adjusting to a whole new lifestyle- traveling as a digital nomad is challenging in a lot of new ways for me. I’ve gotten sick a few times as my immune system adjusts, I’ve lost my debit card and had to have one mailed out to me, I threw out my back (it’s basically healed now, at least)… it’s been a crazy few months. Plus, all the adjustments to new cultures and locations- I’m traveling pretty slow, but it’s still pretty intense. It’s been really good, too, of course- more on that in another post soon.

The other big thing delaying The Wrack (pretty sure I’ve announced the title already, but if not, it’s called The Wrack! Definitely my favorite title for any of my books so far!) is the epidemiology. I’m very, very far from being any sort of stranger to epidemiology- it’s been a fascination of mine for years, and I’m a firm subscriber to the disease theory of history. (Essentially, the idea that disease has affected human history far more strongly than war or any other human activity.)

This is my first time trying to write a book centered around a plague, though. I had a pretty firmly laid out lifecycle and symptomology for my contagion, and had a good idea how it would interact with the civilizations in The Wrack, and how the plot would wrap around those pillars.

Turns out, not so much. I made some fundamental errors in planning out the disease that broke the story. They weren’t especially big problems on their own, but in the world of epidemiology, truly tiny changes in how an infectious disease spreads, how long its incubation period is, how lethal it is, etc, will produce massive differences when it reaches epidemic or even pandemic scale. Without spoiling anything, well… I either had to completely rework the plot of the Wrack, or redesign the disease.

I chose to do both, because of course I did.

I’m also doing a massive amount of epidemiological reading as well- partially for research and tone setting, partially, well, because I really like reading that sort of thing.

So when is The Wrack going to be out? Well, instead of in December like I’d been hoping, it’ll most likely be out in January at the earliest, but probably February.

And, not to worry, there shouldn’t be (knock on wood) any comparable major issues for Mage Errant book 4. It’s by far the book in the series I’ve had most heavily plotted out in my head since close to the beginning. It’s going to go fast, and it’s going to be a blast. (Ironically, it’s the only remaining book I haven’t settled on a title for.)

A Brief Disclaimer on Rationalism

I’ve noticed that my books have been listed as rational fiction in a few places (Goodreads, etc), which I’m fine with. It wasn’t necessarily my intention, but my books have obvious commonalities arising from similar interests and influences. Rational fiction, however big it ends up getting, is just having its time in the sun at the moment. I’m of the school of thought that believes genre shifts like this are more a product of the cultural environment around them than being driven directly by their authors- though not entirely so.

I want to point out, however, that I’m not associated with the Rationalist movement/ Less Wrong crowd, due to philosophical and pragmatic difference. (If you’re not familiar with the Rationalist movement… well, you’re looking at a lot of internet drama over a lot of years. You probably don’t need to go farther than “John’s not part of this very specific, rather contentious minor philosophical movement that most people won’t ever encounter.”)

Continue reading “A Brief Disclaimer on Rationalism”