Well, I said in last month's newsletter that this might be a short one, and it looks like that prediction has utterly failed to come true. Despite NaNoWriMo starting on the 1st of the month, and me being neck deep in drafting my sci-fi horror serial to hit my NaNo target, this newsletter ended up even longer than the last. The NaNoWriMo energy must be getting to me.

If you're unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, traditionally, the goal is to write 50,000 words in one month. It's a way to push authors to write more than they think they're capable of, and it's a great way to bring the community together. Knowing how busy I am, I planned for a slightly more reasonable 30,000. I'm currently on pace to hit 30,000 by the 16th of the month, so who knows? Maybe I'll reach 50,000 after all!

It's felt good writing a science fiction story so far. It seems to come easily, but maybe that's just because I haven't reached the horror part of the story yet. A part of me is excited to branch out into writing a new genre, but another part is already dreading the day I have to run these characters through the wringer. Not everyone is going to make it. 😢

Okay, so to jump into the writing news, I just wanted to give two updates this month. The first is some more details about this sci-fi horror project, and the second is my plans (and some questions) for publishing it.

Cover Art and Title

So far, I've been referring to this story as Grave World, but I've settled on a title and put together the cover I'll be using as I release this serial on my website. Here it is!

Now you may be thinking a few things. Grave of the Waiting sounds like kind of a weird title. This cover art wasn't professionally commissioned. That looks oddly similar to your band's first album art. And you're using your full name as an author?!? (That last one will likely be most surprising to those who know me in real life, since I literally never go by Joshua.)

Yes, this is all true.

It took me a while to get used to Grave of the Waiting, but I think once you read the story you'll find it makes sense with the story elements and themes I've written. I'll say no more for fear of spoiling some surprises.

And indeed, this artwork was done by me, not a professional illustrator, and it is quite similar to my band's first album art. I'd share it here, but strangely, that would also spoil some things. Look it up if you wish. But how can a band's album art spoil a book? That's a great question. You see, this book is going to tie in to the music we've written, albeit in a very loose-fitting, Easter eggy kind of way. It'll be like the Marvel Cinematic Universe of metal music, except none of it was planned out in advance and no one knows any of the characters. It's just something I've wanted to do for a few years now. If you know gravelord, then maybe you'll get a little something extra out of the book when you spot some connections. And if not, that shouldn't stop you from enjoying the story.

Last month, my only writing goal was to finish the outline for Grave of the Waiting. It was a tight deadline, but I managed to finish it on the 29th of October and snag a whole weekend of breaktime to recharge my batteries for NaNo. Now, I have a much better idea of what this story is about and what journey Ada Bryce, the main character, is going on. That's allowed me to update the Projects page with a new synopsis and progress bars. I'll save you a click and paste them here:


Humanity was still recovering from the last war when the next threat arrived. In 2103, an icy rogue planet from deep space released a massive, prolonged energy surge and settled into orbit beyond Jupiter. The interplanetary drones sent to investigate have all gone dark, but not before transmitting an anomalous signal. It takes a human presence to unravel the mysteries surrounding this planet.

Ada Bryce is one of five volunteers selected to travel to the rogue planet. She's haunted by tragic memories and disillusioned by humanity's failures, certain that extinction lies in their near future. But on this journey she'll discover that Earth is far from the worst place in the solar system, and it may be worth fighting for after all. She and her fellow crewmates may have stepped foot on a dead planet, but their presence awakens old life. One that can't help but reach out to claim Earth for its own.

/* Side Note: If you're keeping track, I predicted last month that my full outline would come to 24,000 words. In actuality, it ended up at 19,300 words. Time has now told how accurate my prediction was. I doubt anyone was wondering this, but I hate leaving a thread dangling. */

Serial Release Plans

It's still my intention to begin releasing this story before June next year, but there are a number of things I need to figure out ahead of that.

The biggest question is exactly how far ahead in my writing I need to be before posting the first chapters. In the progress bars image above, you can see I've got two empty ones: Drafted and Published. What percentage of the book needs to be Drafted before I feel comfortable going back, revising the first chapters, and effectively setting things in stone by publishing them here? I don't want any delays in publishing either – no months where I miss my deadline – so if you ever see the Published percent catch up to the Drafted percent, you'll know I'm in trouble. This depends on my writing speed to a large degree, so I'll dial this all in as I continue drafting between now and... whenever I decide to send out that first chapter, I suppose.

Next is how I'm going to be publishing the story. The easiest way will be for me to create posts just like this one and publish them. Simple enough. They'd be sent to your email, I can post links to them on social media sites, and I can create a page to serve as a table of contents somewhere on this site. The downside is that I have very little control over my formatting here. Okay, let me rephrase that: I have immaculate control over my formatting here, but only with painstaking effort s made to adjust the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files in the theme applied to my site. Even then, I'm skeptical I'd be able to achieve what I want in a reasonable time.

So I also want to release an eBook file that can be loaded onto your Kindle or whatever other reader you've got. There are some downsides to that too, such as how to actually distribute that file in a secure way. I'll keep working on this one, but if you have any ideas I'd love to hear them. And if you have any other formats you'd like to see the book in, please let me know! More than anything, I want to provide options so everyone can read however they're most comfortable.

Finally, there is the question of gating the content. I don't want to make anyone pay anything to read this story. However, I'll be transparent about the fact that I want to gain more subscribers to this website, and I'll use the serial however I can to do it. My plan right now is to publish the prologue and first three chapters for subscribers and non-subscribers alike. To get any further into the story, you have to sign up to the mailing list. Not as a paid subscriber, just as a free one. If you're seeing this newsletter in your email right now, then you're all set! You'll start getting chapters of Grave of the Waiting sent to you with no effort on your part.

Will this drive subscriptions? I guess that depends on many factors, but perhaps the biggest is whether or not I can write a killer story. If the story is bad, no amount of marketing and promotion will make people want to read it.

So with that, I'm back to writing it. Check in next month to see whether I've hit (or surpassed?) my NaNoWriMo target! And as always, thanks for reading!