Hello all, and welcome to another edition of my monthly ramblings! I'll try to keep the rambling brief this time, but I can make no promises. I'm feeling good – today's weather is in the mid-60s here in the Philadelphia region – and we've got a scattershot of topics to cover to kick off March. Let's dive right in, shall we?

To Burn All Belief Update

Picture...unrelated? Not exactly. I still can't share the cover art, so here's a drop from my reference images folder!

I'll get right to the point with the disappointing news – there hasn't been any movement on To Burn All Belief. My editor is still recovering, and I'm waiting on those revisions. I don't want to rush her at all – her health is the priority here. Luckily, we indie authors only have deadlines set by ourselves for the most part, and that's certainly the case here.

Rest assured I haven't forgotten about the book. Even if I don't hear from Stacey in March, I've got a number of things I can work on to make sure it's ready for your reading pleasure as soon as possible. Things like:

  • Lower priority edits that I didn't have time to implement before sending the second draft off.
  • Epigrams for each chapter
  • Commissioning chapter header art (if you've got a good artist in mind for this, leave a comment letting me know!)

Fun fact: You can see all of the edits I still have to make at my public Trello board, where things are lovingly vague to keep you all guessing 😜

Those edits and enhancements will be my top priority for writing this month.

Other Writing Updates

Well, why don't we get all of the disappointing news out of the way up front, eh? Here are my February entries in my writing metrics spreadsheet:

Whoops, did I say "entries"?

The Mathemelodian novella hasn't progressed beyond a few more notes (mostly ideas I had in the shower, naturally). So its Outline progress bar is still sitting at the 50% it was at last month.

Grave of the Waiting, I haven't touched at all.

I did some work on my AI article, which is sure to piss some people off regardless of if you're in the pro-AI or anti-AI camp. (You're all in one of those two camps, aren't you? I see you.) It wouldn't be a very interesting article otherwise, now would it? I'm on my third attempt at writing this article, but I think I've finally landed on a frame that will survive the rapid pace of acceleration in that tech (for better or worse).

And... that's it.

What happened to you, man?

Frontier Thinking: The Adaptive Valley – Dialektic Consulting

I know. It was a very unproductive month here at Archefire Publishing (hi, that's me! I'm our only employee.) Without getting too in-the-weeds, I've been going through something of an existential crisis lately. Much of February was spent in the adaptive valley, i.e. the low point that exists between the lifestyle I was living and the better way of living I'm aiming for.

It's painful being in that space – so many habits need to be broken, so many short-term sacrifices to be made for long-term wellbeing. And the toughest part is when you're in it, there's a murkiness that prevents you from seeing the peak you originally set out to conquer. New vices pull you from every which way and threaten to drag you deeper into the muck.

I'll still be in the valley for a while to come, but I'm pretty sure I'm at least pointing myself in the right direction now. Just like climbing a real hill, you start to feel the burn, and that's how you know it's working. The plan is to get back to writing much more consistently, something I've struggled with since...October. (That elipsis was me checking my writing spreadsheet. Geez, has it really been that long?)

You may have noticed my relative absence from social media. Or, more likely, you didn't – that's how these social media sites work. They keep you focused on what is there so effectively, you don't notice what isn't. Only by stepping back did I realize just how much unproductive time I've spent on them. Checking in to the conversation now, it feels sort of like I'm observing life on an alien planet. I've evidently missed about 6000 rounds of the drama cycle, and I feel the urge to doomscroll like a Benefactor's claws in my brain. It's hard to resist, but I always try to keep in mind:

Remember what's real or your head will be theirs.

Anywho... that's enough ahem... brief... rambling. I told you I could make no promises. As I haven't got much to report from my side, let's take a look at some cool stuff the community has been putting together.

Delilah Waan's SPFBO Quiz

Delilah put in a huge amount of work coordinating with all 46 of the SPFBO9 semi-finalists to create an interactive quiz that helps you find an interesting read from the competition. This was shared a few days ago, so I'm a bit late – but if you haven't seen it already, I encourage you to give it a try!

Thanks Delilah! You absolutely nailed it! 💯

Indie Fantasy Fund

Zack Argyle has announced his yearly Indie Fantasy Fund is now open for applications! This is the third year of the IFF, I believe, and I look forward to seeing who wins this year's grants to get an audiobook produced!

I have an audiobook already, thanks to the kind folks at Podium Audio, so I'll be donating to the patron fund this year. I don't know when they plan to open up donations, but keep an eye out on their site if you'd like to contribute yourself: https://www.indiefantasyfund.com/patrons

Monthly Giveaway

Last month, Joan Belda's illustration of Hand Sixty-Four found a new home in Z.B. Steele's office alongside some other great pieces of indie fantasy art!

Now, it's time to determine who will win a poster of Felix Ortiz's cover art for An Ocean of Others! Thank you all for letting me know what books you're reading – it was such a varied list, including lots of books I had never heard of, which was awesome to see! Now, may the odds be ever in your favor. (Don't worry, if you're picked, you don't have to fight in a battle royale with teenagers.)

Drumroll please...

And the winner is... Kimberly! Congratulations! 🥳 I'll be reaching out via email to check which version of the poster you want and where I'll be shipping this bad boy off to.

Which brings us, finally, to this month's giveaway:

No, not the dog. We still love him (even though he tore up a whole roll of toilet paper once). The t-shirt! Here's a better look at the front and back:

I'm still wearing it right now, and I can attest to it being super comfy. If you want one for yourself, you can stop by the JoshSE Store and pick one up right now – or you can answer this month's community question for a chance to win one:

What's one book or series that's had a big impact on your life? How so?

For me, the series that immediately springs to mind is A Song of Ice and Fire. I know I wouldn't be writing if I never stumbled across a pirated copy of the first episode of the show. I was so enthralled, I devoured all five books before season two and became obsessed with the idea of creating a world as lush as George RR Martin's. I've a ways to go before I ever come close to that accomplishment, but I'll keep chugging away at it! So although the series may never be finished, I have absolutely no regrets about reading the whole series (twice!).

Now I want to hear your stories!

And with that, we come to everybody's favorite segment of the newsletter.

Your Monthly Dose of Nazgul

Boy, oh boy. Where do we begin this month? You've already seen Nazgul in his cone because he was neutered on the first of February. Rest assured it didn't stop him from cuddling up and getting in the way of my ahem very important business. (Yes, I was playing Palworld, don't judge me.)

It was during this month that he found his new favorite spot to look out the window:

And he's become obsessed with all manner of chair- and sofa-top. They must be comfy.

They're a great spot to recuperate, which is good because he got sick and had a fever just a week after the cone came off. We think he ate something nasty because he was ill for five worrying days. He's had a rough go of it, but just today he got a clean bill of health from the vet, and he's got an excess of energy to prove it!

I'm glad he's feeling better – we love our little buddy, and it was tough seeing him look so defeated for a while. Here's to a much happier March for our boy. Fingers crossed! 💚

And... that's it! That's all I've got for you this month. If all goes well, I may actually have some progress to report in April. 😲 Wouldn't that be wild!

Until then, as always, thanks for reading!