Many Happy Returns

Finally, finally, FINALLY, I’ve gotten back to getting a full 10k+ words written in a week—and all on my current main project, too! Not on my side hustle that I can’t talk about yet, or my short stories that never go anywhere and end up being sent to the trunk of no return, or written sections that won’t ever make the book’s final cut. Actual. Concrete. Writing. Yay…

Which hasn’t been easy, let me tell you. When my choice of free time in the evening is between writing or watching Squid Game with the wife, it’s not always easy to commit to putting fingers to keyboard. Yet somehow I managed, and have solid progress to show for it.

Now if I can only do it again next week. And the week after that. And the week after that…

Well, the book will get done. I’m rapidly leaving the murky middle of it, the swamp where many writers lose their enthusiasm and vision. I’ve spent far more time treading those waters personally than I ever care to, yet with each new book I tread down, down, down into them again. Why? Sometimes I don’t even remember the reason. Then I start a new project full of life and vigor, and I remember ah yes, that, THAT is the reason why. The trick is holding on to that sensation long enough to reach the end of the project, or at least far enough that I’ve passed the point of no return and must soldier on, regardless.

With this evening’s work, I’m sitting at a solid 76,207 words. Probably this book will be closer to 150k than the 120-135 I originally imagined, but I’ve also packed a lot into it, a whole lot of angst and action that will hopefully be enjoyable to read. A smarter author would cut this thing into two books, but sadly I’m no such thing.

In other news, I realize I haven’t updated my TBR list for a while now. I actually have a few new titles to add to it (as well as many off-list books I’ve been working through on the side), but I’ve decided to just focus on the remaining list, and I’ll update and create this all new in January. That said, I know there are at least three books that aren’t on it that I intend to read before the year is out (Wight’s Reaper, Bancroft’s The Fall of Babel, and a third that I can’t mention name of until it’s officially published).

  1. Beneath a Brass Sky by Eli Steele
  2. Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
  3. A Star-Reckoner’s Lot by Darrel Drake
  4. Blood and Steel by Seymour Zeynalli (DNF)
  5. Six-Gun Tarot by RS Belcher (DNF)
  6. Volsyng by Set Sytes
  7. Dispel Illusion by Mark Lawrence
  8. Gunmetal Gods by Zamil Akhter
  9. The Brightest Shadow by Sarah Lin
  10. A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham
  11. The Lost Dawn by Dan Neil (DNF)
  12. Cowboy Necromancer by Harmon Cooper
  13. Tower Climber by Jacob Tanner
  14. Godchosen by TS Snow (DNF)
  15. Conquerer’s Blood by Zamil Akhter
  16. A Bad Rune at Angel’s Deep by Anthony Lowe
  17. Street Cultivation 2 by Sarah Lin
  18. Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence
  19. The Broken Heart of Arelium by Alex Robins
  20. Untolled by JP Valentine
  21. The Black Shriving by Phil Tucker

So five books remaining on this year’s TBR, along with 3 off-list. Eight books? Probably not doable in the 2 1/2 months remaining in the year, but I’m going to take my best stab at it.

Word Update

Progress continues on the rough draft of Conduit, and I’m definitely getting back up to speed here. Latest word count is now at 66,165, which is all the more impressive considering I spent a solid week since my last update lying in bed sick as a dog (non-COVID related, probably just a stomach bug of some sort). I’m still on the mend with that, but my goal is to start trying to hit around 2k words a day. If I can do that, I’ll have this book done by Thanksgiving.

Oh, and I got the hardbacks from Amazon that I alluded to in my last post. They were… okay, I guess. I’ll definitely need to play around with the formatting before they’d be ready for the general public. Might even need to go back to Jin and get him to resize the covers a bit to better suit them. Not entirely sure it’s worth the effort, since print sales of any kind account for less than 1% of the books I sell overall. Still, I like the idea of hardcovers. They’d look good on my personal shelf, if nothing else.

More Words and an Announcement(ish)

Work continues on Conduit, and I’ve now surpassed the 50k mark with 54,173. Still moving kinda slow, especially given this story should flow a little easier than Bulletproof Witch, but progress is progress. That said, I’m projecting an early 2022 release for it now, and if worst comes to worst, if I haven’t finished the first draft by Christmas I’ll be setting it aside so I can get started on book 6.

Adding further confusion, I’ve started work on another project that I’m thinking to post on RoyalRoad later this year. Not much to say about it just yet, other than its a viking-inspired mecha. With cultivation aspects. It sounds weird, I know, but I think it’ll work better in execution.

In other news, I just discovered I’ve finally been greenlit for Amazon’s hardcover program! I’m actually rather excited about this, since I’ve always figured if I’m going to have print editions I might as well have ones that last. Not that the paperbacks from Amazon are flimsy by any measure, but it would be nice to have a book that could also serve as a weapon during the impending zombie apocalypse.

So far I’ve got proofs for BW 1 & 5 submitted, so we’ll know in a few weeks if they translate to hardback nicely enough to warrant offering them to readers. Fatedancer isn’t in the cards, unfortunately, as that particular work surpasses the 550 page limit for hardback by a wide margin, and I don’t really feel like compromising the interior quality. Maybe someday they’ll increase it, but for now, no luck.

Beloved Book Sale!

Hey everyone! Fellow writer Noor Al-Shanti has organized a book sale with the theme that each book is recommended by one of the authors on the list. This is a great chance to grab some books that come with a little more quality assurance! Also, my books are all on this list too, but likely if you’re reading this, you already own them. If not, go check them out, they’re only $0.99 (which includes my book 1-4 collection, but not the latest book 5. Hard to pass up 4 books for less than a dollar)

Check out the link below for the sale!

https://www.talesfromthecircle.com/epicsale2021.html

Vacation

Just a heads up, I won’t be posting any word counts for a bit here, as I’ve hit a bit of a stumbling block with Conduit and decided to take a little vacation to work on something else (I know, not exactly the definition of a vacation, but whatever). Hopefully within a week or two I’ll be back at it.

In the meantime, I have another story I’m currently developing, one that I’m hoping to start posting on Royal Road later this year. We’ll see if it actually pans out once I start getting into it.

Word Count Check in

After a productive weekend, I’m up to 45,072 words on Conduit! Still not back to writing the weekly quantity I would like (about 10k) in order to meet certain self-imposed deadlines, but at least I’m making forward progress, and I’m past the icky section I didn’t want to write. Generally the more fun, actiony sequences flow a little faster.

Also, I did end up writing a couple thousand words on another project this week. What’s that project? If I told you it was book three of the Ascendant series, you’d probably think I was crazy. I mean, who starts writing book 3 before book 2 is even done. Hahaha…

A Few Words

Current wordcount for Conduit stands at 39,233. That’s about 2k more than this time last week, which… isn’t great, but also I knew I wasn’t going to be producing much with getting Episode 5 ready for publication. Now that the final is submitted and out of my hands, I’m intending to focus on getting the Fatedancer sequel done as quick as possible (since I really want to be writing book 6 of BW soon as I can!)

Book Five Preview

Hey! James here. Since we’re only a week out from the release of book 5 of Bulletproof Witch: Shadows and Revelations, I thought I’d give a little taste of what waits inside. I’m really excited to share this volume with everyone, as it has several events that I’ve literally been waiting three years finally get down on paper. I hope you enjoy the preview, and I hope you’ll also enjoy reading the rest when volume 5 releases on July 26th!

Chapter One

That’s the problem with reputations, Temperance mused to herself as she watched the men gathered across the table. Despite all our best efforts, they still have a bad habit of escaping one’s ability to control.

Take her current predicament. For so long she had been concerned about the attention her family name might bring her—and its association with her grandfather, the famous Brimstone—that it never even occurred to her to give her alias an equal consideration. Instead, she had continued blithely on, not realizing the name Alba was gaining its own brand of notoriety.

Thus, after she entered a dusty saloon in the town of Spooner Flats and offered this particular moniker, she had been caught more than a little flat-footed when it drew every eye in the building.

Shortly thereafter, Temperance found herself sitting across from not only the town’s sheriff and mayor, but also a dozen deputies, shop owners, miners, and ranchers—not to mention a few people whose place there she couldn’t have rightly said. They were all staring at her like they expected her to start flying. Or maybe grow an extra head.

The mayor especially was giving a look that didn’t bode well, no matter which way the wind ended up blowing.

“You really are Temperance Alba, the same as defeated the daemon wolf up north?”

“I am, though that wasn’t any daemon, it was a—” Temperance paused. “How do you know about that?”

“Hell, it was all over the papers weeks ago. Along with the story about how you single-handedly put down an uprising in Arkton. Saved us from another Pauper’s Rebellion, from the way I heard it!”

“You don’t say.” Temperance pressed a knuckle against her forehead, already feeling the start of a mighty fine headache building. Clearly her stance on avoiding anything to do with the world at large would need reconsideration.

Why do I suspect Uncle Stephen is behind this? Probably thought it was a good way to build up my reputation. He always did have my best interests in mind—although his attempts as of late seem to backfire more than they catch their mark.

“Miss Alba, I know this might seem rather sudden, but we were wondering—that is, I was wondering, if you might consider—”

“What exactly is your trouble?” Temperance cut in, already guessing where the man was leading to in his own stumbling way. “Train robbers? Horse thieves? Disgruntled miners causing mischief and mayhem?”

The mayor didn’t respond.

“Unusually large rodents?” Temperance tried. “Problems with the local gentry? I don’t charge for that last one.”

“Daemons.” The mayor’s voice was barely a whisper.

Temperance sighed. It figures. All the other problems already had an easy solution or two. No, the only reason for Temperance to deserve such an enrapt audience was for the sort of skills that were the purview and sole domain of one such as herself. A Pistol Warlock.

Or in her case, Witch.

“My services don’t come cheap, Mister . . . .”

“Hudson, although Jack will do just fine. As for payment, we’d be happy to provide you with room and board during your stay, along with provisions—”

“One hundred kos. Half now, half after I deal with your little problem. Sound square?”

“A hundred?” the mayor sputtered. “Surely you can’t . . . but even I don’t . . . isn’t that price a little high?”

“It’ll cost as much to replace the hexbullets I use to bring the creature to heel, Mister Hudson. Frankly, I’m only offering such a low price because you all seem like nice people.”

The Sheriff, who had been watching her silently this entire time, finally spoke up. “According to the stories, James Whiteoak never charged the towns and waystops who needed his services, no matter how dire their situation. What makes you think we won’t just find someone else to handle this matter, someone who isn’t dead set on robbing us blind?”

“If you couldn’t tell, Sheriff, I’m not the Brimstone, not by any measure of the imagination. As for finding someone else, well, I reckon if there was anybody willing to lend a hand out of the goodness of their heart, they would have done it already.”

That last comment elicited a grunt from the Sheriff, who leaned back to watch her but said nothing further. Mayor Hudson quickly filled in the space left behind. “We aren’t opposed to paying the asking price, Miss Alba, but how can we be certain you are who you say you are? Might be you heard about our troubles and thought to take advantage of us poor small-town folk.”

Temperance’s first instinct was to pull out her warlock soul symbol and toss it on the table. Only her quick memory and a bit of good fortune stopped her. These people thought she was an Alba, not a Whiteoak, and showing off that particular piece of jewelry would earn her a mess of additional problems she neither wanted nor needed.

Instead, she drew one of her revolvers.

The mayor’s eyes bulged out at the sight of the weapon. Next to him, the sheriff let out a curse and reached for his own firearm. Several deputies—all farmers’ sons, if Temperance had to guess, and newly sworn in from the way they held their weapons—made fumbling attempts to do the same.

Before they could even see fit to get halfway out of their holsters, Temperance flicked a hexbullet from her bandolier into the waiting chamber and took aim. Runes etched into the revolver’s wheel glowed with their own purple light.

Estalia Vos!

Everything in the room appeared to slow to a crawl as the bullet erupted from the barrel, leaving a line of silver hanging in the air, suspended there for a heartbeat that seemed to last days. Around her men dove for cover, their movements like swimming through honey, cries rumbling from their lips in rich baritone. A fly hovered before her, the slow beat of its wings even and melodic.

Then reality caught back up. The lance of quicksilver shot towards the ceiling where it embedded itself through a wooden beam, the force of the impact so strong it left a palpable tang in the air. Fleeing townsfolk froze to look up and gaze in wonder at the metal bar, which glowed dully under the light of the gas lamps.

Eyes slowly turned back to regard Temperance. She waited until she had their full attention. “Way I see it, don’t really matter if you think I’m the same Alba you read about in the papers. I’ve got hexbullets enough to take down a daemon, and the willingness to do the job. If that’s not enough, well, I’ll just be on my way.”

She made to stand. The mayor practically launched himself across the table to stop her. “Wait! I’m sure we can come to some sort of arrangement, Miss . . . Miss Alba.”

Temperance smiled and sat back down. “Why don’t you tell me more about this daemon, Mister Hudson?”

Read the rest on July 26, only on Amazon.