Well, perhaps it’s a bit much to say it’s been ‘reborn,’ given that I never formally shut Fennec Fox Press down. However, for a couple of years, I was on an unannounced (and unexpected) hiatus… and I couldn’t have even announced it on this blog, if I’d wanted to, because the blog wasn’t working. The blog broke a couple years ago, when my hosting provider ‘migrated’ my website to a different server, and it wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that I finally got things working again (by deleting the old blog and starting fresh).
This was on top of my computer having died unexpectedly (I believe my last post on the old blog, which was right before the migration that turned it ‘read only’ for the last two years, said that I lost very little from that computer failure; this has since proven to not be… entirely accurate), my laptop dying (and it’s replacement dying exactly two years and one month later — just weeks after the warranty ran out), various medical issues (both mine and others in my family), and, well, the whole Covid mess that turned the world on its edge. And that’s just the beginning — I’m not going to go into everything, now. This blog is going to be long enough, as it is.
So here’s a recap of what I’ve done these past few years, a discussion of what I’m doing right now, and a projection on what I hope to do in the future…
These Past Few Years
I’ve been extremely busy these past few years. Unfortunately, I don’t have much to show for it, in terms of my writing, as a lot of it involved doing work around the home, for family, etc…. but ‘not much’ does not mean ‘nothing.’
To begin with, it may not seem like much, but I’ve joined the National Association of the Self-Employed. Now, I doubt there’s anything to announce from that which any of you are likely to care about, but some of the resources I now have access to through this organization will be quite helpful for some of my future plans. More on that, below.
Also, on a VERY limited basis (I’ve only done it once, so far, and agreed in principle to do it a second time), I’ve started doing book design for other authors. I will not allow this to interfere with my writing, but if you’re interested in hiring someone to do this, contact me and we can discuss it.
Plus, I (and my brother; he’s been even more involved than me) have been helping my mother with her new Youtube show on quilting and fabric art. In the process of putting this show together, we (as a family) have acquired some decent sound equipment, editing software, and other things I may be able to use, myself, in the future (but more on that, later).
Now, as for published work, things have been sparse, but not nonexistent. First off, if you were around for my old blog, you may recall my occasional mention of an old computer game from my youth called “Starflight.” Well, by pure happenstance, I learned of an anthology being produced for that game which was soliciting short stories. I submitted my own story, and it got in. The result was Starflight: Tales from the Starport Lounge.
The publisher has said that this is only the first tie-in work he intends to produce for this game, so maybe one day I’ll have a chance to do even more on it, but for now you can see my first short in the Starflight universe, “Hiro of Arth,” wherein I tried to rectify differences between the various editions of the game (if you bought the game for IBM in 1986 and compared it to the version of the game produced for the Sega Genesis in 1991, the story and many game mechanics would be the same, but there were several distinct differences as well), provide an explanation for the canon in-game existence of the game’s hint book (which was written in a narrative format, like a novella, itself, and sold separately when the game first game out. The central conceit of the hint book was that it was was a ship’s log recovered from a wrecked ship, and you would have to search it for clues you could use in the game. My story deals, in part, with the recovery of that hint book from the wreckage of that ship), and tell an interesting story that led directly to the starting point of the game, if you were a player, as the Hiro — uh, I mean hero — of the Sega Genesis version of the game.
The book is currently available in eBook, paperback, hardback, and recently audiobook formats, and features stories written by the likes of Robert Silverberg, DJ Butler, and yours truly (as well as many others), with a total of seventeen stories and an introduction by the game’s original creator.
Plus — and this was nearing completion when I went on my unplanned hiatus, but still needed a bit of finishing, editing, and other production work done to it, all of which was delayed by, well, everything I mentioned above — the third book in my Law of Swords series, In Division Imperiled, was released. Hopefully, by now, you’ve read the first two books of that, and know what to expect from it.
Unfortunately, that’s all I have published, so far, from that hiatus… but it’s not everything I’ve done. Not by a long shot.
In The Works
The thing I’m sure most visitors to my blog want to hear about is the status of the sequel to The Merrimack Event. Well, that sequel, now entitled The Farragut Affair, is quite far along in the process. In fact, restoring this blog to full functionality became a priority because of how far along I am — I want to be able to let as many of the fans of the first book know that the sequel should be out later this year. Exactly when, I can’t yet say (there are little things like editing, cover art, etc. to be dealt with, plus I need to finish writing the *expletive deleted* thing, though that’s well in hand by this point), but this year is almost certain.
I’ve also got a story coming out in Worlds Enough: Fantastic Detectives. This story is set in the same universe as “A Gun for Shalla” from the previous Worlds Enough anthology, featuring the same setting and some of the more minor characters from that story, though stars a different set of main characters. The publisher just learned of a slight hiccup in the production, which likely will effect the originally intended release date, but I still expect it to be out some time in the next few months.
Finally, there’s the audiobook for the aforementioned “A Gun for Shalla.” During the hiatus, as a part of my mother’s Youtube show set-up, we acquired the audio equipment and software needed to do some first-rate audio recordings. I’d prepared a ‘script’ to read, including what I think of as an audiobook’s frontmatter, and had everything ready to go. I’d even found myself a soundproof recording studio I could use to record it in (for free! A service provided by my local library), and set an initial date to start recording.
And then Covid shut everything down, including the recording studio.
Everything is still ready to go, however, and now that the lockdowns are over and the library has opened its services back up, I intend to start recording as soon as the manuscript to “The Farragut Affair” is in my editor’s hands. With luck, I’ll have the audiobook ready to go before the editor gets his notes on that manuscript back to me. Not sure how long post-production will take (it’s my first time doing this sort of thing, after all), but I’m confident I’ll get it out before the end of the year, as well, assuming the recording studio doesn’t shut down on me again.
More Long-Term Plans
I don’t want the issues that caused this initial hiatus to happen again. Obviously, there’s nothing that I — personally — can do to prevent another worldwide pandemic from coming out of nowhere and disrupting my life and the lives of everyone around me, but there are other things that I can — and have — done to deal with some of the other issues that have arisen these past few years.
Much of this has been behind the scenes. Revamping how I back-up my computer (actually backing up BOTH hard drives in my computer, and not just the data drive, for instance), learning new software that I can keep up-to-date, etc. The software I was using to build my books, both print and eBook, could no longer be installed on my new computer, some of it could only be replaced with a ‘rental’ model (which I refuse to do), one piece of software was no longer necessary, and in at least one case the software was no longer being updated; so I’ve moved on. Scrivener 1.2 has been replaced with Scrivener 3, Adobe inDesign 6.0 by Quark Xpress, and I’ll be integrating Kindle Create throughout my book production process for the foreseeable future.
But I also have to do something about my website(s), re-focusing them so that, if there’s another issue in the future, they can be repaired easier without my relying on third party intervention. To that end, I intend to gradually move elements of the Fennec Fox Press website over to this one, with the ultimate goal of turning fennecfoxpress.com into a re-direct link to the appropriate page, here. It may seem counter-intuitive to switch my focus from the website that never broke to the one that did, but truth be told I don’t need two separate websites any more. When I first started, there were features that the website builder I was using for the Fennec Fox Press site offered which weren’t available here, and there were things I could do here that I couldn’t do on the Fennec Fox Press website, so it made sense to use both. However, everything I needed from the website builder (including some tools I always wanted to use but never did) is now available here, so having two different services no longer makes any sense. Plus, I’ve always found the website builder interface a bit wonky, so I’m rather happy to let it go.
Another part of the reason for this change is that, during the period I was on ‘hiatus,’ the internet changed. All websites now require an SSL certificate (a type of security feature), if you want to be listed on most modern search engines… and the “website builder” host that I was using for the Fennec Fox Press website does not support SSLs… or rather, it does, but you have to pay exorbitant amounts in order to add one, and you must buy it from them. This website’s host DOES support third party SSLs (well, it discourages them, but it’s allowed).
Having an SSL on this site will eventually allow me to add certain features I’ve always wanted to do, however — things like adding a store front that I can use to sell autographed copies of my print books, for example. So, while I’m currently focused on The Farragut Affair, I expect to make quite a few changes to this website, adding several things beyond this blog. I do have a deadline for some of this (I have to either cancel or renew the Fennec Fox Press website builder contract for another year by September), but adding features like the store will continue past that.
The first thing, which is already up, is moving over the “Recommended Reading” page. What I have here is a bit barebones, at the moment — I hope, in time, to be able to show covers of these books, explain why I’m recommending them, etc., but for the moment I’ve got the start of a list there, and I’ll be adding to it as I go on. I’ve also linked to all of my books (including the new ones), though in time I’ll likely separate my ‘recommendations’ page from ‘my books’ (not because I don’t recommend my books, mind you), but for the moment both pages are together.
Other things I hope to move over from the current Fennec Fox Press site will be my book cover gallery (if I can find a decent gallery plug-in that’ll work with ClassicPress), a links\resources page, a mailing list sign-up (though I probably have to replace the mailing list, too, as I believe that the provider went defunct during my hiatus) and contact form, an about page, etc., etc. What is currently on that page is somewhat out of date, and it’s not always easy to get in to update it, so hopefully moving things here will help me keep it more current.
Of course, you readers probably don’t care anything about that. You’d rather hear what’s in the writing pipeline for the future. Well, here goes…
To start with, I intend to continue both of my major series. The sequels to In Division Imperiled and The Farragut Affair are already planned. Which one will be the next written will depend on how well The Farragut Affair sells, but both will have priority over anything else.
Next, assuming the publisher does continue the tie-ins as planned, I might have more to write in the Starflight universe. That’s a more long-term plan, but I would like to revisit that world again, some day… especially now that there’s more material to write around.
Also, I’ve been doing a lot of research for a story some visitors of the old blog, here, might remember (or people who bought This Book Cannot Make Any Money, if you missed that blog) — the unfinished “Detective Hummer” story. This will be a cozy mystery in a science fiction setting where the detective is a malfunctioning burger-flipping robot with a deliberately bad French accent. I’ve decided to revamp and complete this story, turning it into a complete novel (possibly the first in a series… though the idea of starting ANOTHER series before I’ve finished my first is starting to feel insane), at some point in the future. I’ve been doing research for it, off and on, since before my unexpected hiatus even started; I’ve still got more to do, but my plans have gotten fairly solid for it by now. I just need the time to write it.
I STILL intend to write By Claw and Arrow, the sequel to The Kitsune Stratagem. I also intend to extend To the Rink of War to a full length novel. Both are fairly low-priority (mostly because both had lower-than-expected sales when they were released), but I still want to write them, so once I have an opportunity I intend to work on them.
I have a couple NON-fiction works in mind, as well. For example, I have ideas for various writing exercises to help other writers develop their fantasy world-building and plot-building skills. Now, I’ll be posting those exercises here on the blog, so if you follow along you’ll get them for free, but eventually — when I’ve put together enough of them — I’ll compile them all into a book, and put it up for sale.
Finally, there are plenty of other things either in the works or on my mind that I can’t discuss right now. Things like plans for a short story I could submit to a long-running series of anthologies. Plans for more things I can do on this blog or with this website. Possibly even plans to expand Fennec Fox Press enough to start publishing other authors (had it not been for the hiatus, I might have already done this, but with such a long gap I need to build myself back to where I was before I can add to the business some more).
There’s a lot I have in mind… but before I get to any of it, I have to finish The Farragut Affair. (Hm… let me go get onto that) Next blog, I hope to have the first of those fantasy worldbuilding exercises I was thinking about doing written up. Until then!