G’day from Killarney,
It’s been a few weeks since my last newsletter, in which I said I was going to a monthly format. I think we’re going to have to play this by ear. Sometimes, the newsletter will come out weekly, sometimes fortnightly, sometimes monthly. I will aim for weekly, as I like the structure it imposes. Eventually, I hope to settle into a more regular rhythm, but right now, things are fairly chaotic and it’s all I can do to impose a little order.
Welcome to the first issue of The Order of Chaos newsletter, where I’ll be discussing the philosophical issues that underpin my books and that I’m wrestling with myself.
This ties in with the historical mystery/thriller series I’m currently writing, which features an order that is thousands of years old. This ancient brotherhood (The Order of Chaos) weaves its way through history, bringing order where there is too much chaos, and injecting a little chaos where there is too much order.
Their mission, like mine, is balance.
That is what this newsletter, or at least part of it, will be about going forward. It will bring you not only into my creative process and my physical travels, but also my philosophical struggles. This is partly tied to my creative process in that a lot of my ideas for books centre around weighty themes that I can’t stop mulling over. You can think of them like the engine that drives the story, or the foundation upon which it rests.
I also want to provide more value to you as a subscriber, which I aim to do by being as open and honest as I can about my own hardships. Maybe it’ll encourage you to open up a little. Maybe it’ll just help you feel a little less alone in this big, wide world.
The issue this week is loneliness.
Specifically, it’s the kind of loneliness that hasn’t really been much of an issue this past year. I’m talking about the kind where you feel like the entire world is off at some party you’re not at.
I say “not at” instead of “not invited to” because this state of extended isolation I’m in now is completely self-imposed. And if you’re in a country like the US or UK that is still very much locked-down, I doubt I’ll find much sympathy from you. I don’t expect to.
This is very much a first-world problem, but underlying it is something universal.
Travelling around Victoria in a caravan has been phenomenal in so many ways, but it’s also very isolating. I talk with people back home, and occasionally chat with people I meet here on the road, but it’s not the same as those intimate connections I’m used to.
I haven’t hugged anyone in 47 days.
Last year, no one was doing anything, so there was no reason to feel jealous. I’m also very aware that people back home are jealous of what I’m doing now. There is no easy answer. Each path has its upsides and its downsides. Loneliness, and some vague sense of jealousy, are simply a few of the downsides of living on the road. It’s something I’m still learning how to handle.
Mostly, it’s been a liberating experience. I’m trying to meet the challenges (and even enjoy them) as best I can.
What else is new?
Since we spoke last, I made my way south from Hawkesdale to Koroit and then across to Killarney, heading into Warrnambool and Port Fairy for supplies/to explore. It’s so nice being close to the sea; I don’t really want to head inland again. There’s something deeply soul-enriching about bodies of water. I don’t know what it is.
Otherwise, it’s been an admin-heavy couple of weeks:
I’ve uploaded new/edited covers to several books.
I’ve made all my books available in paperback.
I’ve added the final chapter to The New Old Testament – which I didn’t even realise was missing! – and added the audiobook (it’s so long I had to break it up into two sections). The paperback is a whopping 788 pages, almost running afoul of Amazon’s maximum length for physical books.
Not bad for a weird religious-satire epic…
I’m currently editing Broken Chariots (which is the knew – and final – title of what was previously Chariot Caper, and even more previously, Sword & Sandal). The way I edit is by using a text-to-speech program to read the manuscript back to me, so that I catch any errors my eyes might otherwise skim over.
It also allows me to create an audio version of the book – a rudimentary one, but the technology is getting better all the time. I use a charming British AI named George to create mine; you can check out the ones I’ve already done over at Payhip.
Until I can afford to produce audiobooks on my own (they start at around $2500), this will have to suffice. I wanted to make it available to readers like me, who prefer to read with their ears while they’re walking or driving.
I would be very interested to see if this is something you think I should keep doing. Write in and let me know!
In other news…
I submitted the cover brief for Broken Chariots, so I should have a cover to show you in the next newsletter. It’s always very exciting to get a cover back from the designer. It makes the book feel real. So much of what I do is intangible, but the cover somehow brings it into existence. That goes triple for a paperback.
I cannot tell you how incredible it was to hold one of my own books physically in my hand for the first time. Yet another reason to make all the books in the Starter Library available in physical form.
I intend to keep the Starter Library books (in digital form) free and exclusive to people who sign up for my newsletter, but I also wanted to give people who preferred physical books a way to get them.
A final reason was to give people a place to post reviews. If you’ve read any of the Starter Library books and were inclined to post a review, you’ll find the paperbacks on my Amazon profile page. Just be sure to include something like “I accepted a free copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving a review” to keep with Amazon’s Terms of Service.
From here, I’ll be heading inland to MacArthur. I’ve been procrastinating with editing. You may or may not be able to tell by the amount of time I spent doing paperback and audio stuff.
I admit it’s my least favourable part of the job, but it’s essential. I’m heading inland to finish the bloody book once and for all, and I won’t allow myself to see the ocean again until it’s done.
How’s that for motivation?
I know the procrastination isn’t a fear of failure. Failure, I’m used to. Failure is cosy and warm. It’s familiar. Success is terrifying. Success is the great unknown. Maybe I’ll discuss that more in the next newsletter.
To close out, I’ll be doing a lot of my book recommendations over at Bookbub from now on, which you can find my clicking the ‘BB’ link at the bottom. I’ll try to list them here as well.
The Virtues of War and A Man at Arms by Steven Pressfield were both fantastic. I think A Man at Arms is my favourite of his, which is saying something. I also read Blood of a Gladiator by Ashley Gardner, a fun historical mystery. Since I’m getting into that genre, I thought I’d better familiarise myself with it. I’m also reading SPQR by Mary Beard for historical research.
In the King James Bible, things have gotten a lot more interesting after Chronicles. Nehemiah, Esther and especially Job are captivating. Job is by far the most morally-complex tale of the Old Testament; I found it truly chilling in its depiction of a good man suffering for no reason at the hands of an apparently-indifferent God. More on this next time…
I’d love to know what you think about the new format, and if you think the text-to-speech audiobooks are a good idea/worth continuing to do. Would you listen to them? Write in and let me know.
Until next time…