You know, I look at this little blog that I started almost two years ago, and find it hard to believe that so much time has passed, and that so many of you have taken the time to read these (more or less) weekly musings of mine. I mean, right at 7400 page views - that equals about 75 per post, right? (We'll see how many views this week's entry gets!) Sometimes I open this page and I know exactly what I am going to put here, other times I sit here and stare at this glowing screen and think: What on earth do I have to say that anyone would want to read right now? What to write next is a constant dilemma for authors, I guess, on the large scale and the small. And that is the very question that is vexing me right now.
It's two years to the day since I did my first book signing for THE TESTIMONIUM (and thanks to a host of family and friends, I had a banner day - selling 47 books at Hastings and another dozen or so at GCS that night!). At the time that first novel was published, I had already finished THE REDEMPTION OF PONTIUS PILATE and sent it to my publisher. It came out in May of 2015, nine months after my first book, and has done very well. And, by the time it hit the shelves (virtual shelves, mostly, since brick and mortar stores seem to be dropping like flies of late!), I had already finished my next book, MATTHEW'S AUTOGRAPH. It was published in December of 2015 - so, in 18 months, I had three novels in print!
That was when I hit the wall my publisher warned me about. I was told that having multiple titles in print would actually be a drag on sales rather than a boost. I didn't really see that with THE TESTIMONIUM and REDEMPTION - for one thing, the cover my publisher and I came up with for the second book is so stinkin' awesome that REDEMPTION has equaled if not surpassed THE TESTIMONIUM in sales since both books became available. But poor MATTHEW'S AUTOGRAPH - my third book has sold a handful of copies by comparison since being issued last December. Not for lack of quality - it's earned nothing but five star reviews on Amazon - but people find out that it's the second book of a trilogy and nine times out of ten want to get the first book instead of buying this one.
So Jesse and Chris, my publishers, told me that it would probably be a good idea to wait a long time before publishing my fourth book, LOVER OF GOD. So it is scheduled to release in April of 2017 - sixteen months after MATTHEW'S AUTOGRAPH and eight months from right now. The idea is that, through LOTS AND LOTS of personal appearances and social media hype, I will "build my brand" so that people will know my name and want to get my next book the minute it is available. So I have spent a good part of this summer when I could have been hunting arrowheads hustling my buns off selling books at bookstores, civic groups, church engagements, and so on.
But writing is an addiction. I have already completed the final (?) volume in THE TESTIMONIUM trilogy (again, ?), THE GNOSTIC LIBRARY, and I sent it to my publishers last week. But I can guarantee it won't be released until early 2018 at the soonest. Do I really want to start another novel right now, when I know it won't be published until 2019, most likely? That is the question that is really bugging me. I have several ideas in my head, but the one I actually mentioned in the back of MATTHEW'S AUTOGRAPH (where I actually got to include a letter to my fans, ironic since that book has the least sales) is a third story set in ancient Rome during the formative years of the Christian Church. This one is going to be called THE EMPEROR AND THE APOSTLE, and it will juxtapose the final years of the Apostle John with the cruel reign of that warped Emperor, Domitian, who many said was actually Nero reborn.
It's going to be a good story - I love writing about the Roman Empire and the early church - but I have other ideas, too. Alternative history is a field I have always enjoyed, and I have a great idea for a novel about the second Abraham Lincoln administration, after his narrow escape from death at Ford's Theater. And this summer, I also went back and transcribed some horror stories that I wrote when I was in my twenties (hello, October blog posts! If you like spooky tales, stand by!), and I wrote several original stories of various genres - from a classic-style Sherlock Holmes story to a short vignette visiting the Capri Team about a year after the ending of THE GNOSTIC LIBRARY. Science fiction, horror, historical novels - there are so many genres, so many things I want to write, I don't know what to start next!
But a new school year is about to begin, and this fall is going to be very busy. So I think THE EMPEROR AND THE APOSTLE may have to wait until Christmas break, and in the meantime, perhaps another short story or two is in the offing. Who knows? I might even have enough for an anthology one of these days. At any rate, whatever I write, I hope that you, my faithful readers, will come along for the ride, checking out my weekly musings here, buying my books when you can, and offering me encouragement and support as I work towards my long-term goal of becoming a financially successful writer.
And, if you'd like to help with that in the short term, how about throwing a little love to MATTHEW'S AUTOGRAPH, my red-headed stepchild of a novel? It's really a nifty little Biblical archeology thriller, with many twists and turns from its innocuous beginnings to its thrilling climax in Israel's Negev desert! Check it out, buy a copy, and pull my Amazon sales rank out of the cellar!