David B. Coe: Taking Stock and Taking Risks

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200CoeJacksonAnother year, another New Year’s post. That’s not meant to sound like a complaint; I actually love to write them. I use the New Year’s holiday as an opportunity to take stock and assess my accomplishments for the year that’s ending, and also to wipe the slate clean and “start from scratch” on a new year.

This New Year’s in particular feels momentous for me in a professional sense. I have just completed the most productive writing year of my life. I wrote three complete novels in 2014, as well as two new short stories and more blog posts than I care to count. I also edited two books and proofed two others. I recently totalled it up, and I’m pretty certain that I wrote about 400,000 words this year. I had a new Thieftaker book come out (A Plunder of Souls), as well as three original short stories.

And looking forward to 2015, I have three novels coming out: Spell Blind, the first book in The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, comes out from Baen Books on January 6; Dead Man’s Reach, the fourth Thieftaker (and the last one currently under contract) comes out from Tor Books in July; and His Father’s Eyes, the second Justis Fearsson book will be out in August. The Fearsson books are my first releases as David B. Coe since 2011, and I’m pretty excited about that. And taken together the three releases represent, I believe, my finest work to date, and I’m VERY excited about that.

SpellBlind250But 2015 also promises to be exciting, as well as a bit frightening, for another reason. The three books I wrote in 2014 are the last ones I have contracted. I’m flying without a net again. And while I think that I would like to write more books in the Thieftaker and Fearsson universes at some point, I also have it in mind to start something completely new. What? you ask. I have no idea, and there’s the rub. I am, in a figurative and literal sense, staring at a blank screen. I have some thoughts as to what I might do with a new project, but they are no more than vague notions. There’s nothing concrete. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have a world in mind, and a few loose plot ideas, and several characters who have introduced themselves to me and then faded into the background again as I, by necessity, focused on the Fearsson and Thieftaker novels.

But I have not been this uncertain about what comes next in a number of years. The last time it happened, I was panicked, wondering if my career might be over. This time I’m thrilled. I have faith that I’ll come up with something I can write and sell, and if I don’t sell it traditionally, I’ll publish it myself. I’ve been doing this for long enough that I feel I can go the self-pub route and have some success.

That though is not really the point I wish to make with this post. My goals and ruminations on the coming year are not all that fascinating or original. I’m a writer; I intend to publish and promote and write. The larger point is that I want to use the coming year to take some chances, to force myself onto new creative avenues, to push and challenge myself to step out of the comfortable. I can write anything I want. I haven’t been in this position in years. I’ve loved writing about Ethan Kaille and Justis Fearsson, but for several years now I’ve HAD to write about one of them or the other. Not now. I’ve written traditional epic fantasy, historical urban fantasy, and contemporary urban fantasy, and I had a blast writing all three. I don’t know quite what I’ll be writing next, but I do know that it will be different. I want to take risks.

Quite often, as past New Year’s holidays have rolled around, I’ve set out specific goals for myself, and to some degree I’ll be doing that again this year. I want to maintain my level of commitment to my work — I have enjoyed being productive. And, of course, I intend to promote the hell out of my new books. But beyond that I’m going to stay away from specifics. I don’t know enough about what I’ll be writing to say how much I want to write or how soon I intend to get it done. I am standing at the boundary of a new creative world and I feel that I need to discover its terrain without any pre-conceived notions, without any expectations. I feel like an explorer setting out for points unknown. My pulse quickens at the thought of all I may find along the way.

What about you? Are you up for a creative risk this coming year? Do you have something new in mind to try out? Do you have a work-in-progress that you need to complete? Good for you. Best of luck in getting it done. But what lies beyond that project? What will you try next? Are you up for an adventure?

I will be coming back to the site periodically during the year, even after my January posts are done, to report back on my new endeavor. And I would love to hear now about your plans, and I would love it if you gave us updates as the year progresses.

Happy New Year to all of you. May 2015 be a year of success, prosperity, and creative discovery for all of us.

*****

David B. Coe is the award-winning author of more than fifteen fantasy novels. His newest series, a contemporary urban fantasy called The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, debuts with the January 2015 release from Baen Books of Spell Blind. The second book, His Father’s Eyes, will be out in the summer of 2015. Writing as D.B. Jackson, he is the author of the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and Dead Man’s Reach (also coming in the summer of 2015). He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

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11 comments to David B. Coe: Taking Stock and Taking Risks

  • […] and Taking Risks,” and it is about the closing of this year and some of my goals for 2015. You can find the post here. I hope you enjoy it, and I wish you all a wonderful New […]

  • I’ve got a lot of plans, but I shy away from “resolutions.” I just don’t like them that much.

    Last year was pretty good for me in terms of stuff.

    This next year, I’m going to rework my novel Grey Girl and try to get it in front of agents. (The first page was read at Con Carolinas this year and folks seemed to like it!)

    The beginning of the year, though, is all about the academic writing. I’m working on an article now, that I hope will be in a collection of essays. It needs to be done soon (Feb 1) and I came to the party late, so it’s a bit frantic. But it’s a lot of fun (and I’m squirreling away stuff I learn for my fiction too.) It’s on flaying in a medieval romance or two. So, here’s hoping that the NSA isn’t checking my searches. 🙂

    Next, I want to start another academic project–one I’ve been thinking about for a while, and that I was going to start this year, but the flaying article came up, so I did that. I’m moving out of my comfort zone for this, and so I’m hoping it works. But I think it will be fun. I’m hoping to have enough together to do a conference presentation late next year.

    I have one short story for sure I’m writing, soon, actually, and then who knows what else!

    In the world of editing:

    I’m editing the Weird Wild West (here’s our kickstarter!: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dackley-mcphail/tales-of-the-weird-wild-west ) with Misty Massey and Margaret McGraw.

    I’m hoping to do more blog posts, maybe even a couple with Sarah Adams, we’ll see.

    So, that’s it. A novel, a short story, an article, a new book-length academic project that will start out with a conference paper, some blogging, and some editing. I’m sure more stuff will come up–though this is what I see from here. I’ve also got other stuff going on with school, and I’d like to have the time to watch Shield, too. (And Peggy Carter).

  • Wow, Emily. That’s a lot. Not that I doubt you can do it all, but I’m impressed that you have so much going on. Best of luck with it all; I hope 2015 is even better than 2014!

  • David: I can’t wait to get my hands on your newest books. I’m so far behind, but I find it hard to make time to read when what drives me is the desire to write.

    In 2014, I aborted the plan I set at the start of the year, which was to finish an epic fantasy I started more than 10 years ago, and wrote another thriller, House Divided. (Available February 2nd.) I also postponed my goal of finding an agent as I decided that book needed to become available as soon as my editorial team got it ready to self-publish.

    House Divided is my best work thus far both in terms of the writing and the story. It gives me confidence to work on another thriller in 2015 (plot and protagonist already mapped out) and hopefully to get back to that fantasy. Perhaps, leaving the fantasy to ferment and another year of pen sharpening will be what I needed be able to bring that work to fruition.

    Best wishes for 2015!

  • Razziecat

    David, congratulations on a fantastic year! I’m looking forward to your books that are coming out in 2015. 🙂 For myself, it’s hard to set a specific goal; I have other things going on that are taking time away from writing. What I’d like to do is search out places to submit short stories (and possibly a poem or two) and see what happens, and revise/rework a couple of longer works. I’ve learned a lot in the last couple of years and I can see the difference in my writing. If I can get things organized and polished up, it’s time to find a beta and move on to the next step.

    Happy New Year, everybody!!

  • Xman, thank you. I think it’s great to set goals and make up one’s mind to work on certain things. But I also believe that we need to follow our creative instincts and write the stories/books that are clamoring to be written, just as you did. I hope that House Divided is a huge success for you, and I wish you the best in the coming year!

    Thanks so much, Razz. As you know I’m a big proponent of writing and submitting short fiction, so to me that sounds like a great plan. Hope 2015 brings great things for you!

  • David, congratulations on such a great year in 2014. Best wishes for 2015 and beyond. Looking forward to Spell Blind. I’m planning a one-day self retreat in a few weeks to lay out 2015. Happy New Year!

  • Alex Pendergrass

    Can’t wait to read all of your new novels, David!

    As for me, I’m completing my undergrad program this year. My final semester starts on Monday. This is huge for me and it means that, come May, I’ll be moving states for the first time ever to live with my lovely girlfriend while she completes graduate school. On that front, I’m planning on when and how to ask a certain question in 2015…

    Finishing school also means finishing my awful job managing a restaurant. I’m hoping to find a 9-5 that’s more accommodating for an aspiring author. I’ve got a manuscript to get back to that I’ve ignored for the past two years. 2015 will hopefully mean a return to writing full force.

    Happy New Year everyone!

  • Cindy

    Happy New Year to all.

    Spell Blind in kindle has been live since Dec 15. Wonderful book, I read it before Christmas. I like the Thieftaker novels a bit more but that’s personal taste. They are both great.

    I have a first draft to finish that I am really excited about. I also need to take a hard look at an epic novel which may need to be tossed.

  • Good year, brother, and exciting stuff on the horizon! 2014 was awful for me, both personally and professionally, but I pulled it together and got productive as the year wound down. 2015 looks to be amazing, with a new Black Knight Chronicles novel, a bunch of new Bubba short stories, a new Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter novella on January 20th, the release of Big Bad 2 sometime in January (we hope!) and the return of the furry redneck to Magical Words as I bring Literate Liquors over here to hang out with all y’all! Then there are short stories in Capes & Clockwork 2, Dreams of Steam 5, The Weird Western Anthology Emily mentioned, plus anything else people ask me to participate in. I’m also editing an anthology solo for the first time, more on that later, and co-editing a far-future intergalactic pro wrestling anthology with my buddy Jay Requard. I think when I totaled everything up, if I hit the marks I want to hit on productivity, then I’m looking at close to two dozen releases with my name in them somewhere in 2015. I might be considered ubiquitous this year. We’ll see if a writer really can outpace his readership! Best of luck, brother, and I’ll see you soon!

  • Vyton, many thanks for kind wishes, and best of luck to you with your plans for the year.

    Alex, thank you so much. Congratulations on finishing up and also on the imminent changes in your personal life. I hope you’re able to give the novel the attention it deserves this year.

    Cindy, thank you. Glad you enjoyed the book. I know that some folks will still like the Thieftaker novels more; others are glad they don’t have to slog through the history. As you say, personal taste. Good luck with your draft and the epic fantasy.

    John, I am so glad to hear that your year ended well and that you have such big plans for 2015. And your return to MW is good news for all concerned. Looking forward to your releases and to the publication of Big Bad II! Happy New Year, brother.