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Eston in 2023

Posted: February 15, 2024

The time has come to slow things down and go over the past year. As with the previous posts in this series, it will be a long one and you can use the list below to jump directly to the sections that interest you the most.

2023 began with the birth of our fourth child. This brought the family to two boys and two girls, which is pretty amazing, right? Everyone has at least one brother and one sister. You could almost think that we planned it this way... At this point, you would think that we would be masters in the parenting department, but it turns out that for some reasons, having 4 children is a bit more challenging then 3, or 2. At least, for me, it is. I reached a new level of exhaustion over the past year that I didn't know existed. There is now a lot more juggling than before when trying to keep everything rolling. It's not always easy, but it's a pretty great life nonetheless. I'm so proud of my partner, Leigh, for giving me such a beautiful family. If you think of it, it's absolutely mind blowing everything women go through with pregnancy and giving birth. It's something I think about constantly as I spend time with the children and I'm in total admiration of my wife, and all the mothers out there. I'm also proud of our children for being so good and so smart (one can only hope they got some of this from their parents...). As challenging as some days can be, I'm taking in as much as I can, cherishing as many moments as I can. If you're not careful, you wake up one day, and the children are grown. I'm spending a LOT of energy making sure that doesn't happen to me. Still, it's already 2024 and our baby turned one a few weeks ago. Pretty crazy...

Even with life being so busy, writing was more than decent in 2023. I completed a short story, Erasing, which is included in Spring Paths: An Anthology. The biggest accomplishment, though, is the publication of my 4th book: The Stranger of Ul Darak, the first in my new high epic fantasy series The Lost Tyronian Archives. Not bad, right?

Learn more by visiting these sections:

Writing in 2023

My new book The Stranger of Ul Darak!In 2023, I wrote for about 42% of the year (yes, I keep a writing journal... as a motivation, but also because I'm obsessed, a little, with trackers...). Many days, I only wrote for a few minutes, which means I probably only put one or two sentences down. On days like those, little progress was made, but it still kept me close to the story I was writing at the time.

Of my time spent writing, almost half of the days went toward Erasing, my short story for Spring Paths: An Anthology. It's a story taking place a few years before the event in The Stranger of Ul Darak, introducing one of the main protagonists: Shéana. I'm quite proud of this one and I believe it's a great addition to The Lost Tyronian Archives. I'd recommend reading it before The Stranger of Ul Darak.

Another big chunk of my effort, about 30%, went on The Lost Tyronian Archives. I completed the final revision for The Stranger of Ul Darak and started on the second book in the series (although I only made it to chapter 2...). It's been quite a long journey to bring Stranger to publication, and one of my biggest achievements of the past several years. I'm so proud of the final book and I believe it's my best so far.

I didn't really complete NaNoWriMo 2023. I started, but quit after a few days. At that time, I decided that the little energy I had would be better spent in publishing Stranger. To be honest, our family have been sick, on and off, for most of the last 3 months of the year. I was trying very hard to do it all, the publication, the writing, the marketing, the parenting, but was failing at a lot of it... So, I'm glad I put a few things aside, mostly in relation with writing and different pieces I wanted to align with the launch. It reduced the pressure significantly, and although it wasn't the launch I had in mind, the book came out on schedule.

I also spent some time working on story 2 and 3 of The Baneseeker Chronicles. Story 1 was for the most part done in 2022. In late December, I also started writing a short story in this series, to be included in the next anthology of the paths series: Summer Paths. As always, you can keep up to date of this series here: Baneseeker Project main post.

In conclusion, some statistics: I wrote for 154 days in 2023 (compared to 160 in 2022). I spent 45% of my time on Erasing, 17% on The Stranger of Ul Darak, 13% on the 2nd book of The Lost Tyronian Archives, and around 25% on The Baneseeker Chronicles. I was most productive in the first few months of the year and slowed down drastically over the summer, not writing a single day in July. A good year overall.

Publications in 2023

The Stranger of Ul Darak Spring Paths: An Anthology In December of 2023, I finally published my fourth book, The Stranger of Ul Darak. What an adventure this book has been. I started working on it all the way back in 2003 and the road has been fraught with ups and downs (more ups, thankfully). The story grew significantly over the years, becoming a classic high and epic fantasy story, with many of the elements readers have come to expect of the genre. It is a slower read than some of my other books, because it is written as a grand story, with many characters and side stories. While working on the book, I kept reminiscing about my own favorite series like The Death Gate Cycle, The Lord of the Rings, The Stormlight Archives, The Wheel of Time, to name a few. Thinking of these series reminded me how magical it had been to loose myself in these stories and worlds, and it gave me the energy to continue and create my own epic series. I really poured a lot of myself in this book. If you haven't gotten your own copy yet, click here to visit the book's official page.

Against this year, I participated with the Seasonal Collective in putting together the 3rd book in the Paths anthology series: Spring Paths. My contribution was the story Erasing, a short piece that takes place a few years before the events in The Stranger of Ul Darak. Once again, it was a lot of fun to put the anthology together. Two of the authors left and we welcomed two great additions. I formatted the ebook and print book. Spring Paths came out at the end of October and you can learn more about it here.

Events in 2023

I didn't do anything for the first three quarters of the year. Then, in the fall, my good friend Allan Hudson contacted me and asked me if I wanted to take over a booth he had at the Fredericton Craft Market. I couldn't say no and it turned out to be a great day. At the time, my new book Stranger wasn't yet published. I mentioned as much to a mother and her daughter, who had bought my three other books. It was an amazing surprise in December when the mother contacted me, wanting to purchase Stranger as well, and add it to her daughter's presents for Christmas!

Allan and I also participated in Turner's Christmas at the Coliseum in Moncton. It is a three day event and it was our second time having a booth there. We had a great time and are planning on going back next year. It was a lot of fun to greet returning readers and meet new ones.

Finally, I did a book signing at Dog Eared Books, a charming little store in the near town of Oromocto. The owner, Emily, is a great supporter of local authors.

Updates on Projects

This is only a quick update of my current projects. If you want to stay informed, the best way is to subscribe to my newsletter: The Red Dragon Insider.

The Stranger of Ul DarakThe Lost Tyronian Archives

Although both The Stranger of Ul Darak and Erasing are now available, this is just the beginning of the humongous project and series that are The Lost Tyronian Archives. Already, I've started writing the second book and that work will continue in 2024. I can say that I now have an idea of some of the major events that will take place in the series, including how it will potentially end. Still, there is many unknown, including the number of books in the series (my best estimate at this time is between 8 and 10). Only time will tell exactly where the series will go.

The Baneseeker Chronicles

SurrenderAs already mentioned, I've made significant progress in this series by completing a draft of story 2 and a portion of story 3. I also have a list of preliminary ideas for book 4. My hope is to be able to publish stories 1 to 4 in fairly close succession, possibly in the next couple of years. I continue to accept feedback and comments about the story and about what readers would like to read in relation to the series. Already, I've included many of the comments sent my way in the first book, Surrender. At the moment of writing this, book 1 is with my alpha reader for one last review, after which it will be going to editing. So, things are moving along quite well.

As you may already know, I created a live post for this project, which you can access here: The Baneseeker Project. This post is updated regularly with my progress on the project. Alternatively, if you are subscribed to my newsletter, The Red Dragon Insider, I'll be sharing all the updates there as well.

Goals for 2024

It is obvious that by the end of 2023, I was putting quite a bit of pressure on myself, too much in fact. I had a detailed plan that spanned over several months for the publication of The Stranger of Ul Darak. The whole thing almost lead me to a break down. I had to take a step back, which was a difficult decision, but a good one. I am now at a point in my writing career where I have to make calculated and smart decisions about where I spend my energy and effort when it comes to writing. I need to balance what is important to me, like my wife and children and friends, with the effort required to write, and promote my books. For several years, I had the luxury of having very few boundaries, but now, as I'm slowly moving from what had initially been a hobby to a more long term and sustainable career, I need to adjust, and I need to do it in a healthy way.

Which is my plan for 2024. I want to prioritize writing, the actual act of putting words down, because I've come to realize that I need it in my life. It doesn't matter if I'm planning a publication, I still need to make time to write, which is an escape for me. Writing replenishes me. I am also planning on being less demanding with myself, while staying more focused, smarter with my time and effort. Or put another way, I'd like to find a new balance for my writing, an approach that is fun, but that is also organized and consistent enough that my writing development, as a whole, continues to grow.

Final Word

Last year, I included a few quotes about writing in this section. I'll continue the tradition, adding a few quotes about reading as well. Both, writing and reading, are amazing in so many ways. With each word I write and with each word I read, I grow, and I learn. What more is there?

"Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window."
-William Faulkner
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.”
- George R.R. Martin
"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."
-Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Keywords:  Life , Writing


Also in the Series: Yearly Update

  1. Eston in 2019 (July 15, 2020)
  2. Eston in 2020 (April 12, 2021)
  3. Eston in 2021 (October 6, 2022)
  4. Eston in 2022 (February 19, 2023)
  5. Eston in 2023 (February 15, 2024)

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