It's been a very, very busy month.
My latest Western novel, "Wood, Iron, and Blood" (first in a new series titled "The Annals of Ash") was published on January 11th.
As of the time of writing on January 31st, it's attracted 114 reviews and ratings, almost all very positive, and is selling steadily. Needless to say, I'm very grateful for that, and for all your support. It's still ranked as the #1 new release in Amazon's category "Classic Action & Adventure" after three weeks, which is very pleasing.
One of the infuriating things, though, is that negative ratings are so often left with no review to say what the reader found to be bad about the book. I actually take the time to read my reviews, so that I can improve future books where necessary. To get a one-star review with no comment at all means that I can't improve whatever the reader disliked. Then there are the reviews that have nothing to do with the book's content. For example, last week the new Western received this one-star review:
The third time it skipped pages, no idea how many, I gave up on this book - not bad writing and it was proofread. A rarity in these books.
Anyway, on to my current activities. As I mentioned recently, the sixth volume of the Maxwell Saga, "Venom Strike", was running into problems. Too much of it was wandering around, getting nowhere, losing focus. I therefore decided that surgery was required, and chopped out something like 22,000 words from the manuscript. The remaining "core" of 30,000-odd words was sound and in good shape, and I'm using that as a foundation on which to build a new approach.
As part of that re-focusing, I spent a couple of weeks re-editing and re-formatting the first five volumes of the Maxwell Saga. It was my first series, and some features (e.g. excessive use of the exclamation mark, some word repetition, etc.) could have been better done. With the benefit of greater experience and hindsight, I've tried to clean those up - not changing the story at all, just making the books read more smoothly and easily. I'll be reissuing them all during February, with new covers as well. Here, for example, is the new cover for "Take The Star Road":
Friend, artist and author Cedar Sanderson is designing the covers. You can read about her creative process and how she develops them in this article. It's been a lot of fun collaborating with her on the designs.
Doing all that editing (over 500,000 words of it!) on the Maxwell series helped to re-focus my mind on what's needed in its sixth book. At my wife's suggestion, I'm trying something different: narrating it from the perspective of a protagonist who isn't Steve Maxwell, but who travels with him and observes how he handles various situations. It'll bring in a few familiar characters from the past, including the attractive and intriguing reporter whom we met in "Stoke The Flames Higher". I hope you'll enjoy it.
I hope to have "Venom Strike" ready for publication during March. Thereafter I have lots more projects on the back burner. The first in a naval trilogy set during the Civil War era will hopefully be next (I published a short story based on its opening chapter in the recent anthology, "Tales Around The Supper Table Vol. 2"); then, the third and final novel in the Laredo War trilogy (also giving them new covers). After that will be the next Ames Archives Western novel, then I want to give some attention to a Viking-era fantasy novel and a brand-new science fiction story. Most of the books I've mentioned are already in progress, some with several tens of thousands of words written, so I hope to be able to produce them in fairly rapid succession.
So, that's the state of this author as of today. I'll do my best to keep you entertained!