Happy Halloween everyone!
In honor of the scariest of holidays, I’ve prepared a special gift for you that I hope you’ll enjoy.
I’ve felt bad about the fact that, just over a year after the end of my Tantalus Depths campaign, my many incredibly loyal supporters haven’t yet seen any return on their investments. The editing process moves much more slowly than I’d realized it would, and although I think taking the extra time will make for a much better book, I easily empathize with those of you who are growing impatient waiting for the book you paid for to materialize.
So, to tide you over while the development edits continue, I’m releasing a special treat: a new horror short story, written by yours truly, now available for you to read in its entirety for free right here. I first wrote The House of Chaos in 2012, and after a bit of polishing I feel it’s finally worth reading. As a traditional horror story, it’s very different from Tantalus Depths and Proteus in style and setting, but I’m confident some of you will enjoy it nonetheless.
This is NOT the Tantalus Depths prologue that I promised I’d write last year. That is still coming (believe it or not), it’s simply taken a back seat to the editing process for Tantalus Depths.
And in other news, as most of you know, next month is National Novel Writer’s Month! Many Inkshares authors will be working on different projects for NaNoWriMo, and I’ll be among them. For my purposes, though, I’m only working on existing projects this time. My first priority will be editing Tantalus Depths, and I plan to have the full development draft finished by the end of the month. Any time I have left after that’s done will be spent on Proteus.
I plan to send updates once a week during NaNoWriMo to keep you up to date on my progress. I hope to get a great deal accomplished next month, so prepare to be impressed.
Also, best of luck to my fellow authors who are working on their own projects next month. You can do it! We’re all in the same boat, so let’s do it together!
Good news everyone! Proteus has received the honor of its very first syndicate selection!
The Fantasy Syndicate has selected Proteus as their pick for the month of July. Why the Fantasy Syndicate? I...have no idea. Proteus is definitely science fiction, through and through. But I’m not going to question it! It’s a good thing! Plus, Proteus is an adaptation of Shakespeare, and Shakespeare goes hand in hand with fantasy, so...there. I found a connection!
Regardless of the reasoning, I am incredibly grateful and honored that the Fantasy Syndicate would consider Proteus a worthy selection, even from across genres. With the contribution of their support, we are within arms’ reach of the coveted 250 pre-order milestone: the one-third marker towards full funding.
More will come soon as I make more progress with Proteus, both in writing and campaigning. Stay tuned, and remember to keep telling everyone you know about Proteus. We’ve got a lot of ground yet to cover!
Now is the winter of our campaigningMade glorious summer by this contest’s end;And all the stress that lour’d upon our headsIn the deep bosom of the internets hid.Now are our books bound with the Nerdist imprint;Our bruised keyboards hung up for gaming;Our Facebook wall posts changed to memes and kittens,Our begging pitches to delightful “thank yous.”
But I, that am not shaped for placing third,Nor made to win at funding competitions;I, that am bad at sales, and worse at strategyTo get people to want to buy this book;I, that fell behind in this second contest,Beaten by authors with prevailing campaigns,Defeated, passed by, sent before my timeOut of these top three spots, scarce half caught up.
And therefore, since I cannot prove a winner,To entertain these fair post-contest days,I am determined to prove an authorAnd use the idle pleasures of these days.Plans have I laid, ideas dangerous,By half-mad ambitions, wishes and dreams,To keep my book Proteus on the siteTo fund the hard way like Tantalus Depths…
Well...we didn’t make it to the top three. I kind of knew that was going to be the outcome yesterday: all week, in spite of making significant gains in pre-orders, we simply could not close the gap with the competition. You might have noticed that we didn’t really move at all yesterday. I sensed the end, so I didn’t really try that hard to catch up.
Instead, I spent much of the day in thought about what to do next. I mentioned when I launched this campaign that my intention was to either win or let it end immediately after the contest. Even as of yesterday I still planned to let the campaign die after the contest’s end.
But I’ve thought better of that. As of right now, we have raised 224 pre-orders, in just three weeks. That’s crazy. When I entered the contest, I never thought I’d get that many; in fact, the only reason I entered at all is because it looked like the top three might not end up being more than a hundred orders. I thought it would be an easy win. Clearly, I was super wrong about that. But also, I was wrong about how well I could compete beyond the level I thought I’d have to. We got so much farther than I thought we would with our campaign, I had to re-evaluate my next step.
At 224 pre-orders, we could reach Inkshares’ Quill light publication deal with just 26 more pre-orders. I decided way back when I was campaigning Tantalus Depths that Quill wasn’t right for me, but the standard goal for full Inkshares publication (the goal we reached for Tantalus Depths) is 750. We are already almost a third of the way there! After just three weeks of campaigning, without any help from syndicates or people ordering extra copies.
So I’ve decided to extend my campaign. Heaven help me, I’m going to try and fund Proteus all the way to the 750 pre-orders mark, just like I did with Tantalus Depths.
I’m doing this very differently, though. I’ve extended my campaign enormously: the new deadline is now nine months from now. I have several reasons for this. The primary reason is because my last campaign nearly killed me. I found myself under so much stress towards the end it was seriously affecting my emotional, mental, and physical health. I sacrificed my entire social life and alienated myself from friends and family. So this time, in order to reduce the amount of pressure I’m under I’ve given myself a lot more time to gather the orders I’ll need. Whereas in my Tantalus Depths campaign my daily goal for pre-orders was seven a day, every day, this time it’s more like one or two. This will give me time to spend with family and friends and doing the things I enjoy without filling me with dread for falling behind in my campaign.
It will also give me time to focus on Tantalus Depths. Any time I have work that needs to be done during the production process for Tantalus Depths, that’s where my focus will be. I’m not going to let Proteus get in the way of the book I’ve already funded, and I intend to make as big of a splash with Tantalus Depths as I can. I am so excited to get into that process, I can’t even describe it. So do not worry, Tantalus Depths is going to be the number one priority until well after it’s come out.
Which, incidentally is another reason for the long Proteus campaign. Since I’ve set it for nine months, Proteus should still be funding by the time Tantalus Depths is released. That will give me a unique opportunity to cross promote the two. Any time I’m set up at a release event or book signing, I’ll have two books to offer instead of one. That was always the plan from the moment I decided to enter the contest, and by setting this campaign as long as I have, it’ll still be a possibility.
I realize that some of you may be frustrated that I’ve changed my mind about how I’ll conduct this campaign. I did say originally that if I did not win the contest, you would get your money back. If that is something you still wish to do, I entirely understand. If you would like to get a refund for Proteus, you can still get one. Simply send an email to the Inkshares staff at email@example.com asking to cancel your pre-order for Proteus. They are friendly and helpful people, and they will happily do that for you.
Otherwise, your support is still very useful! Keep telling your friends and family about Proteus. You can order another copy or two now, and it’ll help, if you’re so inclined. When we hit our ultimate goal, you will get the book you paid for; it’ll simply be a very long time in coming.
I’m not especially looking forward to the long road ahead, but I already know I can do it, so I might as well. Jacob Sicarius spent 75 years in stasis waiting for his time to come, so I figure I can handle nine months. If you choose to join me on this voyage, welcome. I promise you where we’re going, no one else has gone before...
This will be the last update I post before the contest ends.
Proteus remains in fourth place. We’ve been absolutely tenacious in keeping up with the top three. We’ve more than doubled our overall orders over the course of this week, and I have it on good authority that we’ve scared the pants off the competition. We are the charging bull. They are fleeing us.
They’re still probably going to win, but at least we’ve given them a really, really good chase.
It’s not impossible to win from where we stand. The last day of my Tantalus Depths campaign I brought in something like 80 pre-orders, so I know that’s a thing that can happen. But I’m also not going to sweat it if we don’t. The top three books have earned their spots, and I won’t be sorry to see any of them win. In any case, I’m already looking forward past the end of this contest. I didn’t get as far as I’ve gotten by not thinking several steps ahead.
Win or lose, I’m enormously grateful for all of you. You really came through in a big way, and I’m proud to have friends and supporters as loyal and enthusiastic as you are.
A few more hours remain in this contest. We might win, we might lose, but either way, let’s make them work for it.
Guys...this is it.
There’s only one day left in the Nerdist contest, and we are STILL in fourth place, despite seeing some absolutely remarkable support the past few days. Our competition is simply seeing as much success as we are, if not more. We were able to close the gap between our position and third place down to just twelve pre-orders...right now it’s climbed back up to 17 and still rising.
Remember: third place is as good as first for this contest. All three get the same prize: that coveted full publication deal. If we place in fourth, though...nothing. I could campaign the hard way and gather 750 pre-orders like I did for Tantalus Depths. But I won’t. I can’t. The last campaign was the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do by far, and I do not have the energy, stamina, or resources to do it again. My physical and mental health probably would not allow for it. Not any time soon. I knew that from the start when I entered the contest: I either make it, or I don’t.
It’s all or nothing, folks. I want to tell this story, but if we can’t place in the top three, it’s going back on the shelf indefinitely. You’ll get refunded, but the book won’t see the light of day for who knows how long.
So I’m appealing to you all one more time: if anything in Proteus seems interesting to you, please support it with a pre-order. If you already have, please get a friend or loved one to do the same. Remember, referrals will get you a commissioned art piece if you want it! Win or lose, I’ll honor that promise.
Thank you all, for everything you’ve done for this campaign so far.
Now cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war.
My friends, we’ve made another strong push for progress today. We’ve narrowed the gap between us and third place down to only 18, and I’m still pushing to reduce that further. As much progress as we’ve made today, though, a lot more remains. Our competition is still moving forward relentlessly, and I fully anticipate a last-minute surge. We are down to the last two days, so if anyone’s been holding out to the end, now is the time for reinforcements.
No long update today, because I’m honestly too busy trying to drag in pre-orders to write one, so here’s this instead. Share it with your friends! This is not a story about heroes. Nobody comes out of this one with clean hands. This is a story that deals in shades of monstrosity. If you’re ready to see some deeply messed-up characters deal with some even more messed-up situations, hop on board and pre-order this thing.
Well folks, I have news and I have news.None of it is very good, though.
We continue to fall behind in the contest. Right now we’re sitting at 22 pre-orders behind third place. On the plus side, we have been doing really surprisingly well with getting new orders in every day the past couple of days Everyone else has just been doing better than we have.
We all have good days and bad days, though. I’m hoping one of the next couple of days will be a bad one for them, and that all of mine are good ones. I lack the ability to quit, and I’m still way too close to the top three to seriously consider doing so, so I intend to proceed as if my victory is a given.
In other news, apparently Inkshares goofed and announced the wrong deadline. The contest ends not on the 25th, but on the 27th. So two extra days. Honestly, I would have preferred the closer deadline, but I can work with this too.
Please remember: I have absolutely zero hope of finishing this thing without your help. I’ll be honest here and say I am running out of people to ask, and I have nowhere near the time I’d like to find new ones before the end of this contest. I am heavily dependent on you who have already supported me this far bringing in your friends and families to help me. To that end, please remember I am running this promotion for anyone who successfully refers someone to pre-order. I like to think my art is at least passable enough as an incentive.
Press on, loyalists. Like the dedicated crew on The Somnambule, we are dedicated to one mission and one only: Always keep the ship moving forward.
My friends...our situation is grim. Our campaign has slowed to a crawl while our competition soars. We remain in fourth place, ten orders behind third, although by the end of the day that could turn into twenty orders if we can’t build up some momentum again.
Remember: the top three all win the full publishing deal. Fourth place gets nothing.
On the plus side, we’ve gathered 120 people to support Proteus so far, and I am extremely thankful to each and every one of you. I hate to ask even more of you who have already done so much, but picture this: what if everyone who already ordered a copy managed to convince one person each to order a copy for themselves? We would soar to 240 orders, and all but guarantee our place in the number one spot for the duration of the contest.
So let me ask once again: please, try to find one person you know will help. Ask your spouse, your child or parent. Ask your best friend, or a good friend who loves science fiction. Ask anyone. I know each of you must know at least one person who would do this if you asked.
Remember I’m still offering a promotion for new referrals: a hand-drawn portrait, done by yours truly, for anyone who has bought a copy and is able to refer just one person to do the same.
We can still do this. We can do this together.
Well, folks...this has been a rough week. We were holding on to third place pretty soundly all weekend, until a new dark horse showed up and blasted past us. We’re more or less keeping pace, but it’s been a rough road, and as of right now we’re back down to fourth place, by three pre-orders.
Less than four days are left in this contest, and we need to make every one of them count. People are going to be fighting tooth and claw over that third place position. I plan to get it, but I’m going to need all the help we can rally.
So it’s time to bring out the incentives.
You know the awesome character portraits I’ve been sharing lately? I drew those (except for the Shakespeare one, that was my amazingly talented sister.) In case you missed them, you can check them out here, here, and here, or just look at the new one below. Pretty cool, right? Well, if you like them, you’ll like this incentive:
From now until the end of the contest, anyone who successfully refers a new reader can have a personal portrait drawn by me, for free. I’ll do it in charcoal (like the ones featured so far) or pencil, your choice. I’ll do a portrait of you if you like, or your kid or girlfriend or whatever if you’d rather have that. If you’re a fellow writer who would like to have someone draw a portrait of one of your characters, I’ll happily do that. I’ll draw you as a cyborg, I’ll draw you as an elf, I’ll draw you as a mutant bullfrog if that’s what strikes your fancy. If you want two or three portraits and you can refer two or three people, they’re yours. The only conditions required for eligibility are as follows:
I can’t guarantee a time frame for fulfilling those commissions, other than "by the end of the summer." I’ll start working on them as soon as the contest wraps and do them on a first-come first-served basis.
I can’t promise they’ll be works of art, but I can promise they’ll be works from the heart. I take great pride in my work, just like our ship’s new head scientist, Dr. Elizabeth Marshall.(Am I killing it with these segues or what?
Dr. Elizabeth Marshall was one of the brightest and most promising members of her generation on The Somnambule. A third-generation crewman, Marshall was born and raised by parents who were themselves born and raised on the ship. Like everyone else born during the first 75 years of The Somnambule’s flight, Elizabeth knew her fate and function from birth. From the beginning, her education was keyed toward developing a skillset in her that would fill a necessary role among her crewmates. In her case, early childhood dispositional assessments led to her being trained as a medical specialist
While some children born on The Somnambule rebelled against their pre-determined roles in the ship’s hierarchy, or simply took to them with the smallest possible amount of enthusiasm, Elizabeth fully embraced her assigned profession from the very beginning. Learning about the inner workings of the human body fascinated her. She became especially interested in the field of applied cybernetics, and the various ways in which electronics could be used to improve the functionality of the human body.
Her interests and her dedication to learning quickly made her a favorite pupil of head scientist Marion Krieg, herself a brilliant cyberneticist. She worked closely with Krieg from adolescence to adulthood, and by the time Marshall had finished the ship’s most sophisticated medical education programs, it had become clear that Krieg was grooming her as a successor.
Elizabeth was involved in the development of Krieg’s new quantum cortical implant, though she did not volunteer to be implanted with one. Krieg claimed the implant could give its user the ability to view future events, and while Elizabeth did not actually believe this to be possible, she did believe the implant had the potential to significantly improve its user’s mental sharpness and processing speed. The first human test subjects made a compelling case for Krieg’s claims, but Elizabeth remained skeptical that they could actually see the future.
That is, until Krieg claimed to have perfected the implant. Wishing to be implanted with the new device herself, Krieg was unwilling to entrust the delicate operation with anyone but Marshall. Reluctantly, Dr. Marshal agreed, and implanted the new quantum computer into Krieg’s brain.
Immediately upon completion of the procedure, Krieg’s demeanor changed. She claimed to have seen terrible things in the mission’s future; a horrific cataclysm at journey’s end. She tried to convince the crew that the mission must be aborted at all costs, and began amassing a significant following among the crew.
When Krieg attempted to convince Marshall to join her resistance faction, Marshal refused. As much as she’d respected Krieg most of her life, she believed the woman had begun to finally grow senile in her old age, and suspected that something may have gone wrong with her operation. Beyond that, Marshall held on to the values that had been instilled in her as a child; her greatest calling in life was to preserve the mission and the lives of the colonists the ship carried. She would not play a part in mutiny.
Mutiny came, nonetheless. When Krieg made a play for taking over the ship, Marshall remained loyal to the captain and the ship’s mission. When Krieg’s initial attempt at an uprising failed and her rebels were pushed back to the lower decks, Marshall took Krieg’s place as the ship’s head scientist.
Krieg’s rebellion against The Somnambule’s mission felt like a personal betrayal to Marshall. The woman she’d looked up to as a mentor her entire life had betrayed the most important purpose any member of the crew could have. As heartbroken as Marshal was about Krieg’s uprising, she was determined to put all her skills to work in preserving the mission, the precious lives of the ship’s colonists, and the final defeat of Krieg’s insurrection.