Working on multiple WIPs at the same time can be quite maddening for any writer

Frustrated? Overworked? Help is one the way . . .

So, I’m in the middle of a crisis at the moment. I have multiple ideas for stories, both ones I’m working on, new ones, and ones I haven’t even put down notes on yet. They’re all rattling through my head, begging for life. I try to work on what I can, but then my mind drifts elsewhere. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up at 3am with one of these stories nagging at me. Like I said, maddening. I wish I could get committed to an asylum just so I could sit quietly and write. I would take a vacation to work on them, but then I probably wouldn’t have a wife to come home to anymore. I mean, she puts up with me dragging her to conventions, art festivals, and book signings.

This is a dilemma, one every writer runs into from time to time. I know I’m not alone in this madness. The difference for me is that I am not looking through multiple storylines in one genre or story. I have a multitude of ideas streaming through my head like a Netflix playlist. From steampunk sky pirates to mercenary demon hunters, a wayward Magus, and knights of Avalon, I don’t know where to begin. Add to that the short stories I’m constantly plugging away at to ply my trade within the many opportunities available to the writing community.

Curious Corvid Publishing . . . Publishing a variety of gothic works that bring a voice to the darker side of life.

The one good thing I can say about these shenanigans is that I feel a sense of relief within this madness because I have a publisher now. Being one of the myriad of talented authors under Curious Corvid Publishing has given me pause in my madness . . . Well, partly. Having a publisher that supports me as a writer takes away the worry of frantically searching for someone to publish my stories. I have that support system under me so I can focus on writing and no worry about who’s going to publish my next fantasy trope. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be a part of this up-and-coming publishing house. Thank you Ravven!

I’ve been self-published for more than ten-plus years. As a side job, I know I’m still operating in the red. I spend more money on publishing, marketing, etc., than I earn from selling books. That’s the rub for any independent, self-published author. We do this because we love it, no matter what the cost. Not saying that I want to go bankrupt being a writer, I just want to tell my stories the easiest way I can. Just reading a good review or hearing someone say they liked my story is reward enough for me. The problem is getting the damn things out of my head.

For now, I need a calm mind and a cool head. That will get me through my writing dilemma. One thing at a time, maintaining my focus, and this will all work itself out. But maybe, just maybe, I do need to take a small vacation to push through all this frustration. Maybe I can talk my wife into a nice spot on the beach where she can catch some rays while I sit under the umbrella, tapping away on my laptop. There’s a compromise in there somewhere.

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy/steampunk novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available as a paperback/ebook at iUniverse Publishing,  Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series, is available as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart, is available through Lulu and other booksellers.

Get ready for The River of Souls fantasy novella, coming soon from Curious Corvid Publishing along with the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky PiratesThe Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are future installments of his current fantasy book series, plus so much more coming soon.

Something happened on the way to publishing…

So, got some bad news last week, something entirely unexpected. I was excited at the prospect of my first full-on steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates, being published this year by Revolutionary Press. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen anymore. In an email I received, Revolutionary Press decided, “Our previous focus has been more oriented towards for-profit purposes, and this is a goal that we no longer find sustainable. Effectively, we are shuttering all for-profit operations. Unfortunately, we cannot continue work on your book concerning the previous contract.”

The original cover of Forever Avalon from 2009, published by James A. Rock Publishing.

So, what’s an independent author to do now? This is not the first time this has happened to me. In 2009, I signed with James A. Rock Publishing to publish my first book, Forever Avalon. It was a small publishing house, originally from Rockville, Md., until they moved to Florence, S.C. It was a “vanity publisher,” but I didn’t know any better as a new author. Things were fine until, unfortunately, the publisher passed away. His wife tried to continue with the business but to no avail. They closed down, and my book was no longer available for sale. So, I took my manuscript, reformatted it, got a new cover and interior art, and republished it via Amazon. It was easy to do and get it back on the market. It even allowed me to keep the ISBN and reviews from the first publication. I still have James A. Rock listed as the publisher on the inside page of the book to honor his memory and remind me of who gave me my first chance at being a published author. That’s something I learned from my time in the U.S. Navy . . . Remember where you came from!

So the question is, now what? What do I do? Do I try to get another publisher to pick up Corsair, or do I go it alone and self-publish? Fortunately, to quote the great John “Hannibal” King of the A-Team . . . “I love it when a plan comes together!” And by a plan, I mean a murder of crows circling overhead, picking at the carcass of my former publisher to feast on the bones and bring the dead back to life.

Sorry for that graphic description, but you’ll soon understand the reason for my over-the-top metaphor. My current publisher, Curious Corvid Publishing, is a gothic press based in Ohio. They took me under their wing (literally) after picking up a novella I wrote, The River of Souls, that will be published in August 2022. And, as our CEO and publisher Ravven White said at our first meeting, “I am your publisher now.” There was no doubt what I would do, and when I talked to them about it, Ravven never hesitated. She said they would gladly add it to their calendar for publication.

That’s what I love about finally being with a publisher. I still consider myself an independent author, and I always will be. The difference is that, even though Curious Corvid is a small publisher, they are still a publisher. My books will be available in everything from online bookstores to “brick-and-mortar” stores. They are just getting their footing and having tons of success to build on with many talented authors and poets. I am grateful to be a part of that future. I will build on it with novels like Corsair and the Sky Pirates, the next installment of The Last Magus series, Dragonfire and Steel, and the fourth book in the Forever Avalon series, The Prometheus Engine. These, along with any other crazy stories that pop into my head, will be coming your way through Curious Corvid Publishing.

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy/steampunk novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers.

Get ready for The River of Souls fantasy novella, coming soon from Curious Corvid Publishing along with the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky PiratesThe Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are future installments of my current fantasy book series, coming soon.

Two more book signing events added to my calendar for 2022

I am geared up for the Watch City Steampunk Festival next weekend (May 7 at Waltham Commons, Waltham, Mass.) but I have a couple more book signing events on my calendar I wanted to mention.

First off is the Imaginarium Book Festival on Saturday, May 21, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. This is a local event for me and to be in such a prestigious building is an honor. The Imaginarium Book Festival was founded in 2018 “by two authors who seek to spotlight books and writers in the SFF, speculative fiction, and paranormal genres — realms of escapism. We welcome readers of all kinds to join us in the celebration of fantastical storytelling.” I have been waiting to be a part of this festival for two years, but due to the COVID pandemic, it was postponed as a “live, in-person” event. My wait is finally over! Tickets are FREE but you must register online to get them.

Next, I’ve just signed up for the Williamsburg Book Festival on Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Stryker Center in Williamsburg, Va. The Williamsburg Book Festival’s mission is “to promote and support the art of literary composition in the Williamsburg area and expose writers to the reading public. Our free event includes authors from various genres, speakers, illustrators, and publishers from Virginia and beyond.” I was supposed to attend this event last year, but due to scheduling conflicts with a previously rescheduled event in Fredericksburg, I was unable to attend. That won’t be happening this year. I’ll be there, and by that time, with my new book from Curious Corvid Publishing, The River of Souls.

I am looking to add some more over the summer, specifically the 2nd Sundays Williamsburg Music and Arts Festival (which happens every 2nd Sunday of the month) and hopefully some other book signings. Keep it tuned here or across my social media and I’ll keep you posted.

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy/steampunk novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers.

Get ready for the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates, coming soon from Revolutionary Press; and The River of Souls novella, coming soon from Curious Corvid PublishingThe Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are future installments of my current fantasy book series, coming soon.

I am in editing Hell and I don’t know how to escape

So, what happens when you write four books during a pandemic? I can tell you . . . You slowly descend into madness as you read, reread, and edit all four of them. Two sit on the back burner while you’re working diligently to get the other two edited to the conscriptions of the editors hounding your email inbox. At the same time, you mind swirls with stories that you’ve been writing (and want to continue writing) but had to stop to go into edit mode. Like I said . . . Hell!

You wouldn’t know it by looking at me but I am a dazed and frazzled man. I am staring at a computer for nearly 16 hours a day, half at my regular job and half at the job I want to do full time. At the same time, my wife starts me off on a new diet. Yes, I’ve lost weight (10 pounds in a week) but I’m on edge from the lack of sugar and pasta in my life. Celery sticks and sugar free popsicles to not satisfy the burgeoning mind of an author.

It’s hard to focus, especially since I want to make sure everything is right. It’s hard to do when you have multiple projects crossing over . . . different storylines, characters, even genres. I am an idiot for doing this to myself, but I didn’t expect everything to be overlapping like they are. Things happened so fast that I am scrambling to make sure all my bases are covered.

I think this is giving me a reason to retire and go writing full time. I wish that was possible but I’m still a young 58 (59 in August) so I’m at the edge but not there yet. Maybe if I win the lottery or come into some money, but that is not very likely. The idea is to just “pull up my bootstraps” and “buckle up” for a long few months.

I know I should slow down and focus on one thing at a time, but when the mind goes in twenty different directions, you have to go with it. When an idea pops into my head, it rolls around there, over and over again, until I start writing it down. It won’t let me go! If I don’t do something with it, it can be quite maddening.

Follow that up with my recent successes by signing with Revolutionary Press and Curious Corvid Publishing. I’m not complaining, believe me, this was the best thing to happen to me in the pandemic. It’s just the added responsibility to live up to the expectations of the publishers. You want to show them that by picking you, to be one of their published authors, it was worth their time and energy.

So, once again, sorry for the rant, but this is an author’s blog, so its to be expected. Just remember, for all you blossoming and budding independent authors out there, remember to make better time management a priority when it comes to editing. Don’t let the projects overlap. Learn from MY mistakes and you’ll do just fine. If not, prepare for the worst!

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy/steampunk novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers.

Get ready for the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates, coming soon from Revolutionary Press; and The River of Souls novella, coming soon from Curious Corvid PublishingThe Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are future installments of my current fantasy book series, coming soon.

Looking back at 2021 and ahead to 2022 with weary yet open-eyed optimism for the new year

I can honestly say I have mixed feelings about 2021. I think its one of those years I can’t wait to put behind me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no 2020. My God, that year will forever burn on the ash heap of life. I have a lot of memories of 2021, some good and some not so good.

First, the good . . .

I published my fourth book in 2021, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart, beginning a new fantasy/steampunk series under my pen (or rhetorical keyboard). Not only did I spend most of 2021 finishing this book, it was also the first work of mine where I hired and editor and a cover artist. This book means a lot to me, and winning first place in the 2021 Firebird Book Award for Steampunk was a big deal. Being recognized by your peers cemented my career as a writer.

Speaking of awards, The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon Series, won second place for fantasy in the 2021 Firebird Book Awards. Again, it was wonderful to be recognized by your peers and I really want to thank my publisher, Austin Macauley, for all their support in 2021. This book was released just as the COVID pandemic hit, so promoting it was next to impossible beyond social media. I’m just so happy they continue to work with me.

Williamsburg Arts and Music Festival, November 2021

The great thing about 2021 was that I was finally able to go out and meet people in public. I attended book fairs, book signings, comic-cons, and arts festivals, talking about my books to those interested and even selling a few along the way. Thanks to the Moravian Book Shop, Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival, Southern Maryland Comic-Con, and 2nd Sundays Williamsburg for their support. It was great that, after nearly two years in hibernation, I could tell my stories to anyone interested. I sold more books in 2021 at all these combined events than I did since my first book was published in 2009. That shows how much effort independent authors have to put in beyond social media! I am looking forward to doing even more events in 2022.

The last good event of 2021 was having my short stories published through The Publishing Room and being signed by two great independent publishers, Revolutionary Press and Curious Corvid Publishing. The Publishing Room published two of my short stories for their fantasy and horror anthologies, Of Distant Worlds and From Dark Corners. Revolutionary Press will be publishing my steampunk/historical fiction novel, Corsair and the Sky Pirates, in 2022. Curious Corvid will be publishing my fantasy novella, The River of Souls, which I wrote with poet Ashley Valitutto. I am looking forward to working with these publishers in the coming year and beyond!

Now for the bad . . .

I experienced some loss in 2021, especially here at the end. I’ve had friends and distant relatives die, but this year it hit close to home. My dog, Sully, died in July. He was only 13 and our family pet for all 13 years. If you want a great family pet, I highly recommend a West Highland Terrier. They are the best. And just a few days ago, my older sister, Trina, suddenly passed away. It was totally unexpected. She has been fighting illness of one type of another this past year, but she was fighting it so she could retire to Florida in 2022. It’s a terrible way to end the year, especially just days after Christmas. I never saw eye-to-eye with my sister on many things, but she was still my sister and I loved her no matter what. Her death has given me some perspective on my own mortality, to hopefully take better care of myself so I’m there for my family. No more snacking on Twinkies and Pop Tarts for me.

I guess a bad thing professionally would be my email inbox full of rejection letters from publishers and literary agents. I mean, I got two good ones in Curious Corvid and Revolutionary Press this year, but the constant flow of rejection is a little disheartening. It’s like that one bad review your book gets. It just gnaws at you even though its just one in a hundred. I’ve always done what’s best for me and file it away and just move on.

Looking ahead to 2022, there’s so much to look forward to. I’ll be publishing two new books and submitting two more for consideration (fingers crossed). You can find me at multiple conventions and festivals next year, starting off with Katsucon 2022 anime convention at the Gaylord Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland, February 18-20. It’s right in my area so this will be a blast. The only other confirmed event for me so far is the Imaginarium Fantasy Book Festival on Saturday, May 21, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. I’ve waited two years to be at this event so I can’t wait! You can keep up-to-date of my other appearances through my Events calendar.

So let’s end 2021 with this . . .

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of 365-page book. Write a good one.”

Brad Paisley

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy/steampunk novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers.

Get ready for the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates, coming soon from Revolutionary Press; and The River of Souls novella, coming soon from Curious Corvid PublishingThe Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are future installments of my current fantasy book series, coming soon.

As a writer, this has been my best month ever

The headline says it all. As a writer, this has been my best month EVER! I had three book signing events, where I did better than expected with sales, meeting people, and more! Then, I signed two book deals with Curious Corvid Publishing and Revolutionary Press to publish two of my latest manuscripts, The River of Souls and Corsair and the Sky Pirates respectfully. Like I said, BEST MONTH EVER!

Between the Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival, Southern Maryland Comic-Con, and 2nd Sundays Williamsburg Art and Music Festival, I’ve been meeting and talking to more people than ever before. After such a disappointing 2020, it’s such a thrill to actually being able to meet people in person than over a video chat.

It has been a long road since 2001 when I started writing my first novel, Forever Avalon, and then it wasn’t first published until 2009. To be able to not only talk about my books with people, face-to-face, but to see the interest on their faces when they pick up my book and read the synopsis was worth the long weekends away, the money invested into my second career, and the hours spent toiling away at these novels.

I really just want to thank my wife and my family for their love and support of my extended career. I wouldn’t be here without them. They are, and always will be, my inspirations as a writer. I have more stories I’m working on and I hope to have them out in short order, but that’s down the road. For now, I’, going to continue going out to these festivals and conventions to spread the word.

And if I don’t get to say it, I hope all of you have a very Happy Thanksgiving with your family and friends!

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy/steampunk novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers.

Get ready for the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates, coming soon from Revolutionary Press; and The River of Souls novella, coming soon from Curious Corvid PublishingThe Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are future installments of my current fantasy book series, coming soon.