Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Shadow Wars - A Brief History


As of yesterday, 08.01.2017, I have finally returned The Shadow Wars to WattPad with the posting of the first chapter of DEAD ICE.

The series was finished back in December of 2016, marking the end of a three year plus journey of writing fifteen fucking novels, three novellas, and nine short stories. (Side Note: That's going to change. One of the novellas is becoming a full-length novel, I'm adding a novella, and two of the novels near the end are getting mashed together. Plus, I'm adding six more short stories onto the end.)

I've taken down and reposted the series more than once. Why?

Well, a little history. If you already know the history of The Shadow Wars, you can ignore this.

I'm honestly not sure when I first began working on what was the first incarnation of what would ultimately become Necropolis, the book that launched my writing career. Such as it is. In a way, I suppose the idea of fighting zombies in space has been floating in the cloud that is my brain for a long, long time, but the first incarnation of Necropolis, I think, came in the form of Survival, a Halo fan fiction I started writing. Although the initial opening featured a group of Marines investigating a derelict mining outpost, the few chapters I wrote afterward largely resemble the opening of Necropolis, and that was maybe in...I dunno, 2010? I took it down within five chapters when I realized that it was actually pretty cool and could be original.

I think that I wrote the first four or so chapters of Necropolis in late 2011. For awhile there I was toying around with all sorts of notions and ideas. My biggest problem was that I couldn't seem to write an entire novel, I could only create novellas and shorts. So I was thinking about releasing Necropolis piecemeal, in 20,000 word segments. I'm glad I didn't.

I worked on it a bit more in 2012, but ultimately put it away as my life got a little complicated. (I had to move across the country.) Then, in early 2013, someone mentioned this website called WattPad. I investigated, and on March 4th, 2013, I signed up.

I didn't have much to post at first. I put up a few things and got a few reads, not thinking much of it, not sure what to do. And then I decided to post up Necropolis. So I polished up the first five chapters I'd written and posted them.

Something happened. Necropolis caught on fire.

I started getting thousands of reads, comments, and votes. People were following me. You'd think I'd have the insight to actually get off my ass and start updating regularly, but no! For some reason, I'd update maybe once or twice a month.

Ultimately, this culminated in Necropolis being finished in September of 2013, getting a little over 250,000 reads, and hitting #1 on both Sci-Fi and Horror. (This was back when they let you choose more than one genre.)

That was kind of a breakthrough for me. I had finished a novel. A real, feature-length novel. I had never really done that before. So what did I do? I immediately unpublished it so that I could put it up on the Kindle and enroll it in the KDP Select, which granted me bonus abilities as a self-published author, but demanded exclusivity.

Then I got cracking on Necropolis 2. I hammered it out in less than two months, I think, and then got to work on Necropolis 3. The popularity began dying right away. Necropolis 2 topped off at 80,000 reads, Necropolis 3 55,000. The fourth novel, Absolute Zero, got maybe 20,000 I think. Of course, I wasn't doing much to help things. I kept taking the novels down, (it made sense at the time and was a sound investment, or I guess it would've been, had it paid off), and I couldn't seem to get my shit straight as 2014 hit. I spent weeks trying to figure out what to do after Necropolis 3 was finished. After nearly two months of indecisiveness, I finally started writing Absolute Zero, but it was a really bad time for me mentally, and that one took awhile to write. Longer than it needed to. I finally got it done, however, and then set to work on the fifth novel, Ceaseless.

Shortly after writing it, in June of 2014, I moved back across the country to Missouri again. From there on, things kind of sort of settled into a routine. For the next year, I wrote novels six, seven, seven and a half, eight, and nine. I also wrote Dead Ice during early 2014, during my indecisive time, in an attempt to help get more people involved in The Shadow Wars, and then I rewrote it later, after Ceaseless.

By the time the ninth novel, Countdown, was finished, I was ready for a break. It was July of 2015. I took a bit of time to hammer out Dead Skies, because I felt like Dead Ice needed a followup, and then I stopped for awhile. It was during that July that Amazon made a big change to its KDP Select policy that kind of chopped by income in half. So...that pissed me off. I ended up saying fuck it and pulled everything out of the Select.

I then spent the next three or so months editing and reposting everything I had written so far to WattPad. Then I got back to work, hammering out some short stories and the final six novels in The Shadow Wars. It was NOT easy. The final three novels, The Blind War, Into the Void, and Saturate were written under a lot of stress. I basically worked for five months straight to get them all done before 2017, while trying to buy my first home and also attempting some new psych meds.

But I got it done.

Now, a bit more on the KDP Select. In April of 2016, I decided to pull everything down off of WattPad again and re-enroll it in the Select. My reasoning for this was, and technically still is, sound. Basically, I was leaving money on the table. In theory. The Select allows some readers to 'borrow' your book for free. Well, for them its free, save a 10$ a month fee to access KindleUnlimited. Every page that gets read of your borrowed books earns you some money. Not a lot, but it adds up.

Well...it was nice in theory, but the fact that it really just didn't work out that way, combined with the fact that I'm going to be starting a second pen name, made me decide, you know what? Fuck it. I'm just going to give the people this entire series again. It will still be available for purchase, both as an ebook and as a paperback. And also not exclusive to Kindle anymore! I'll also be putting them up for the Nook, whatever Kobo uses, and a few other places.

So hopefully that'll help.

I hope you enjoy The Shadow Wars, and what comes next as well.

-Sean

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Why I Don't Drink. Ever.

Not all that long ago, a friend asked me why I don't ever drink.

That question is a little rare for me, but not unusual, as most of the people I know have figured it out by now and either aren't curious or I've already given them some kind of explanation. But I ended up not only explaining it, but kind of examining it as a whole.

Occasionally, it does occur to me that I'm missing out on possibly one of the most ubiquitous aspects of society. People have been drinking alcohol, everywhere, for millennia. And if I ever do become famous, I often think that I'll be known as the writer who doesn't drink.

So why don't I drink?

First, I'd like to knock a few reasons some people might assume off the list.

No, I don't drink because I think it's immoral.

No, I don't drink because I think it's unhealthy.

No, I don't drink for any kind of religious reason.

And no, I don't drink because I some kind of personal vendetta against alcohol.

Maybe it's unnecessary to cover this, but you'd be surprised. Besides the fact that I grew up with the knowledge that I should cover my bases and assume the worst, I also have had some people get slightly offended. Which, I suppose, is not an entirely unreasonable reaction. There's this weird aspect of society, whether perceived or actual, of implied insults, or, more specifically, implied superiority.

And given what assholes a lot of people are and the petty power struggles I see a lot of people get into, maybe it's actual more often than it's perceived. Or maybe that's just my perception. But I've never tried to hold my non-drinking ways over anyone. I sure as hell don't feel superior because of it.  Although I don't really feel superior to most people anyway.

The only thing I think is kind of stupid is when people intentionally drink to puking or black out. Like...come on, really? That can't be fun.

So, let's get started.

It cannot be said that alcohol was not a part of my life. My family likes to drink. In high school, there were some people I hung around who enjoyed it as well. Had I really wanted to, I could have gotten into it a long time ago.

The first time I ever actually tasted alcohol was accidental. I was eight. My grandmother sometimes drank a can before bed. One night, we were watching TV and I had a can of orange soda. I set it down next to her can and then grabbed hers by mistake. I didn't even swallow the beer. I ran to the sink and spat it out.

It tasted that horrendous.

I didn't really have any other experiences with it until after I'd turned twenty one. Sorry to say, there's no big story, no epic tale. I didn't get shitfaced and streak through a parking lot, or almost die from a godforsaken hangover, or blackout, or anything else. I tried some vodka one night, got buzzed, hated the feeling. I'm probably weird, but I don't like that feeling of being slightly dizzy, where my thoughts are easily scattered and everything seems to be very slow. It just doesn't sit well with me. After that, I drank a few more times, not enough to even get buzzed, and just decided I was done. By the time I was 23, I stopped trying at all.

Now, there are a few reasons I decided it wasn't for me.

The first is, like I said, I don't like the feeling of being buzzed or drunk.

The second is that it tastes horrible. All the stuff I've tried has tasted horrible. Now, I'm fully aware that there are ways to make it not taste horrible, as many, many people have told me. However, it doesn't stop there. I'll get to that in a moment.

The third reason is that it's really expensive to drink regularly, and I just don't have the money.

The fourth reason is that I already have enough bad habits. I'm already addicted to fast food and soda, and I already have a hard enough time trying to lose weight and minimize my unhealthiness. I don't need the help of booze making that shit even harder.

Now, the fifth and final reason, (that comes to mind at least), is probably the most important one. It wasn't quite so obvious back during my early twenties when I tried alcohol here and there, but it certainly became more prominent as the years went on: when I taste, or even smell alcohol, my body reacts violently, as if I just caught a whiff of poison or toxic waste. Note that it isn't my mind reacting this way, I don't have anything against alcohol, but my physical body violently rejecting it. Even if I catch a whiff of it nowadays my throat burns for awhile afterward.

Last time I really remember taking a drink was in 2014 or 2015. My wife had a drink she'd put together, something alcoholic and juice, and I took a drink of it, thinking it was just juice. I reacted pretty poorly, my throat closing up briefly, and according to my wife there wasn't all that much alcohol in it. So that really just sealed the notion that my body hates booze. Which I'm fine with.

I don't really talk about it much because it was never a struggle for me. It's not like I overcame alcohol. I was never really tempted to begin with. All the people in my life who drank were really cool about it when it came to my feelings towards it. Every now and then, they'd offer me some, and I'd decline, and that was it, no big deal.

And that's it. That's why I don't drink. I wouldn't even have written this because I don't think about it hardly at all, even though it's still in my life a lot. Most of the people in my social circle drink. My wife drinks. It's funny because some people find that really weird, that I don't ever drink but she does, like it might cause problems, but it's worked out pretty great so far. Plus, she always has a designated driver.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Let's Talk About The Shadow Wars

I started a new blog!

Under normal circumstances, I'd do a 'Welcome To The Blog' post, but honestly, it just seems like a waste of time, and you can read all that stuff about me in the Who Am I? section. Why did I start a new blog? This may sound kind of stupid, but it occurred to me very suddenly, about a week ago, that having my primary blog be named anything other than my name was probably not the best idea. So I figured we'd just get right into it.

Something I've wrestled with for my entire life is wanting to talk about my projects before they're actually done, or even started for that matter. I've gotten a lot better at it, but the problem is that even at the pace I set, novels still take awhile to write. Especially if you're really busy. Which I am. So, every now and then, I just need to get it out. I have to talk about my plans for the future. I mean, if movie studios get to announce that such-and-such movie is coming out three years from now, I think I can talk about the next year or so.

First of all, and I've said it before, but just in case you missed it, I will be bringing The Shadow Wars, in their entirety, to my S. A. Lusher WattPad profile.

The new, interesting piece of information, however, is that I will be editing and revising all of those titles. Some more than others. So what does that mean? Well, although the exact plans are in a bit of a state of flux, I'll give you a list of what I've come up with so far.

DEAD ICE: I'm fairly content with this one. I'll just read through it and do some edits and touch-ups where necessary.

DEAD SKIES: I've never been really satisfied with Dead Skies, and that is one of the reasons I am going to rewrite it. Although it won't be very dissimilar from the current version, I hope it to be better written, smoother, and more fleshed out.

DEAD RAIN: This is the other reason I'm rewriting Dead Skies. I want to extend the prequel arc into a trilogy, since I've always had a few ideas that I never got to get around to and won't really fit anywhere else. This will be about as long as the previous two entries. I plan on releasing the entire trilogy as a single pack on Amazon called Necropolis: Survival, but the individual titles will go up on WattPad.

NECROPOLIS: This one will mostly be left alone, just edited and touched up, but there are a few ideas I think I might insert. Think of it as an extended cut.

NECROPOLIS 2 - ENDURANCE: Same as Necropolis, basically.

NERVES OF STEEL: Just edits and touch-ups.

NECROPOLIS 3 - ANNIHILATION: Ditto.

ABSOLUTE ZERO: Ditto.

BLOOD & TEARS: Ditto.

CEASELESS: Ditto.

SYBERIAN SUNRISE: Ditto.

SNOWBLIND: Ditto.

QUARANTINE: Okay, this one is actually going to be rewritten and extended into a full novel. Part of the reason for this is because it's a very crucial part of the story, I believe, and I don't know how many people have missed out on it just because Amazon won't recognize 7.5 as part of a series. Plus, I just really liked writing that one and would be happy to revisit it and expand on some of the ideas in it.

ROGUE OPS RISING: While this will probably largely be touched up and edited, I might do some rewrites. It all depends on how I feel as I'm reading over it. I was never very satisfied with this one.

COUNTDOWN: Just touch-ups and edits.

WARM MEMORIES: Ditto.

LAID TO REST: Ditto.

NECROPOLIS 4 - TERMINAL: Ditto.

SIMPLE ACTS OF KINDNESS: Ditto.

EB-303: I want to do a full rewrite of this one. I really was under a time crunch when I wrote it and felt it could definitely be better. It certainly won't be a full novel, but it'll probably be at least somewhat longer.

ALONE?: Basically the same as above, although I don't think it will be much longer. I'm pretty happy with the ideas and the overall plot, but I think it could probably go a little smoother. We'll see how that goes, though.

STARCK'S LAMENT: Just touch-ups and edits.

DEATHLESS: Ditto.

OUTPOST 88: Ditto.

THE BLIND WAR/INTO THE VOID: Okay, this is going to be by far the biggest change. I was under probably the most stress I've ever been under in relation to writing when I wrote these two. I honestly feel like these are terrible and could have been way, way better. So this is what I'm going to do: I'm going to combine them and do a full rewrite, burning away all the extra stuff I stuck in there, making it all a lot smoother and also a lot better.

LETHAL CARGO: Just touch-ups and edits.

SATURATE: Ditto.

Now, on top of all of these changes, I'm going to pull down all of the existing versions of The Shadow Wars off of Amazon and publish brand new copies. I'm also going to try and have the covers redone a bit, since I've had a few more ideas since then.

Now, after everything has been updated and reposted, I plan on writing six brand new, original short stories. Each one will basically be a little snapshot of one of the six remaining protagonists in The Shadow Wars that takes place after Saturate. Kind of like an epilogue.

Although that's probably where I'll end it for a little bit and take another break, I do have more ideas, and I will briefly outline them.

In just the past few months, I've come up with an idea for a sequel series. It's based off of a handful of ideas that I have leftover that I never got around to using and I think would be really cool. This series will be told from the perspective of a single protagonist, a Spec Ops soldier who has never had any kind of paranormal or extraterrestrial encounter, and then encounters something crazy and gets inducted into Anomalous Ops, and it will take place ten years after the end of Saturate. So obviously the original cast are going to either cameo or become part of the series.

I think it would be cool to see everyone further down the line and from an outsider's perspective. It's still very early in the pre-production stages and I think it'll be about five books long. This one will be more for fun than anything else. There isn't going to be a super epic story or anything. Not that I won't take it seriously.

Now, even farther down the line, and this one I truly have no idea how long it will be, I do have an idea for an epic sequel series called Dark Corners of the Galaxy. I have an idea of how this one is going to go, but I haven't really planned any of it, since I know it's so far off.

In other news, I have a dark Sci-Fi/Horror trilogy set in the Shadow Wars universe planned that I really, really like. I also have a handful of stand-alone ideas for novels, one of which is Dawn's War. Some of you may remember that one. I also have an idea for a series of novellas that follows the horror and social exploits of a cargo-running technician who lives on a huge space ship, alone except for an artificial intelligence. If this sounds familiar, it's because this was the basis of my interpretation of Toonami in the Halo universe. It's basically an original version of that. I also have a vague idea for an action series featuring original characters, but it's also pretty distant.

And that's all I've got for now, at least in regards to The Shadow Wars.

Now, as consistently as I would post these stories when I was actually writing them, I won't be able to promise any kind of consistency with these new plans. I can't even begin this project until July at the earliest, because of the KDP Select, but I don't know where I'll be then.

So yeah, hopefully this makes people happy. One of the really nice things about shifting my primary focus to a second pen name is that it really takes the pressure off of this one. I can basically just write whatever.

-Sean