What to Work on Next

by wlancehunt in Self Publishing

I need some help. Yours.

Because I keep finding myself saying “I hate everything” or “I’m sooooo unhappy right now,” as I sit at my computer or walk the empty hall of my apartment.

Why? I’m not writing anymore.

Yeah, sure, copywriting is writing. So are writing proposals, and this blog, and emails, and updates, and Tweets and FB posts. But this kind of writing merely needs to be done.

None of it is the kind of writing I want to do.

The kind that made me want to write in the first place, that I’m increasingly desperate to write: fiction. Telling tales of made up people living in alternate worlds, or sometimes alternate lives in our world. I want—no need—to be a guide in the Interzone—excursions to The Way Thing Might Have Been or Could Yet Be.

So an effort to right a foundering ship I’m asking for help.


Right now.

I have many journeys I want to take people on here in the Interzone. Some short. Some long. Some still only outlines of voyages I’ve had glimpses of and exist sketched out on pads of paper, or in Word documents, Scrivener notes, or perhaps Evernote entries. Enough to keep me busy for decades.

But I need to know what to work on next, what journey to start narrating THIS weekend. And next week. Next Month. The rest of this year and even into the next.


What would you be most interested in reading?

I’ve listed what I have on hand by its readiness to go KDP (and possibly physical books, depending on readership). [KDP is Kindle Direct Publishing]

Mostly complete:

Working Title: When Alone Is Too Far: 4 Tales From The Edges Of Solitude

This collection of 4 short stories brings back reports from the far edges of solitude. Each features a man who has loved intensely, but who now stumbles through a wilderness of solitary, trying to find that right connection again. Men testing extremes to avoid being alone. Many using passion’s physical expression to punch through the walls of isolation. Sometimes explicit, these are intensely written, literary tales of broken love stories, of loneliness and the fierce yearning to be with someone. They move from lean Hemingwayesque to lush Rushdie like worlds.

The idea here is to go Kindle Short Reads. It’s about 48 pages.

The four stories are

  1. “Story of I” Her games pushed him to the limit. His game goes further. Tonight might end in jail.
  2. “La Fiesta de los Toros” He follows her to Mexico City, knowing it’s over. While watching the deadly dances of a bullfight, he finally sees their relationship clearly. (Esquire Magazine thought it very good, but “Too Hemingway” for them.)
  3. “Katja” Adrift and alone, he falls for a young junkie. Embracing this danger finally cuts through his numbness.
  4. “More things on Heaven and Earth” An adolescent romance feels like a religious rite that gets cut off before consummation. For decades, he seeks another nymph and finds her only when he meets his new wife’s sister. (Channels Rushdie)

All have been extensively edited and workshopped in grad school.

Genre: Literary Fiction (With Contemporary and Sensual Romance elements)

Comp titles (comparative books): Not clear. It is not a typical romance, and it’s definitely not erotica. But, it’s short. Inexpensive. A good introduction to what I have called hyperrealism: writing in which the words are the sound of the universe as it erupts in the mind of the narrator. (I recently discovered the term is used differently in the visual arts, but that is that.)

Complete Manuscript needing serious work

Title: Solitude of the Knight (Unpublished Master’s thesis)

The youngest Sheridan male has discovered a man named Merlin has been shaping his life since long before he was born. To find out who Merlin is before he is able to complete his plan, the Spice Magician Richard Lance Sheridan fakes his own death. By studying letters, diaries, cassette tapes, message boards, and twitter feeds, he unearths a plot to shape his life: Starting with his unmarried grandfather early in the 20th century. Following the lives of the Sheridan family, he works to discover the shape of this three-generation plot as it chronicles the American Century from the end of the Victorian era through the aftermath of 9-11.

As an added twist: it works better listened to rather than read. (It’s dense English, sounding more like Poetry than Prose: think Nabokov’s Ada. I.e., this will likely go straight to Audible with text sync. I as the narrator.)

Genre—Family Saga

Comp titles (comparative books): Moor’s Last Sigh; Like Water for Chocolate; The Blind Assassin

Big Concept idea with a lot of prep work done:

Working Title: Seizure Boy—Aka The Man with the Three Colored Hair: Doctor Who meets The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant with a dose Homeland, and dollops of magical realism and Greco-roman classicism.

A man with dirty blond hair, white eyebrows and red beard sometimes wakes up from an epileptic seizure in someone else’s body but with only scrambled memories of this new life and wisps of dream-like memories of who he had been before. These new lives can be anywhere, any time—including other universes.

We first meet the Man with the Three Colored Hair as Harold Hitchens, a reference librarian working in Manhattan. Like Harold, he has some vague memories of very intense, wild dreams of being other people in other worlds and is unaware of what he actually is—a Traveler—an elite member of The Order of The Way. This secret group is building a master Gloss of odd events occurring all the different universes to solve a catastrophic puzzle. There are only a few people in the whole multiverse who can bring information from one world to another: Travelers like Harold.

There are moments when he realizes parts of his nature and his place in The Order. Most of the time he’s a naif, struggling through whatever life he’s in. But always he is haunted by the idea that he must save a woman and a young boy from a fire: sometimes he feels they are his wife and son other times thinks they are strangers—what he does knows is that he must succeed in saving them.

This is intended as an open-ended collection of series, stand-alone books and short stories that can happen just about anywhere, any time, in a variety of storylines: The Doctor Who element. The first two lines of the adventures are blocked out below.

Genre—Alternate World Fantasy (with elements of Science Fantasy and High Fantasy)

Comp books (comparative books): The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Doctor Who (TV show), and His Dark Materials (the trilogy by Phillip Pullman)

Working Title of the first series (which introduces Harold): the Temple of Ack Nur

Beginning on Earth circa early 21st Century, Harold’s son has accidentally Facetimed him, and Harold watches as a fire starts in his apartment. Only a few blocks away, he rushes to save his family but has a seizure before he can reach them.

He wakes up as Harkul in Leesh—a High Fantasy world.  Full creation mythology, with epic, heroic and contemporary world notes and storylines in place, with some stories fairly fleshed out, including the Temple of Ack Nur. Includes questing, family struggles, war, politics and social upheaval as well as the Order of the Way.

Probably will take up 3-5 moderately sized books of ~60-80 words. (This is a rough guess.)

Genre—High Fantasy (with elements of Alternate World Fantasy)

Comp books (comparative books): A Song of Ice and Fire; The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever

Working Title of the second series: the Gloss of Zhenac—Origin story of the Gloss, and the Order of the Way compiling it, including the Travelers. Set in Leesh long before Harkul. Lots of backstories including why Zhenac, the Odysseus of the age, created the Gloss and the Order of the Way—something very evil entered the universe back when the Earth and the Sky were forming, and we must find out what it is to be able to stop its plan—whatever that is. Probably has the origin of the Man with the Three Colored hair.

Probably will take up 3-5 moderately sized books of ~60-80 words. (This is a rough guess.)

Genre—High Fantasy (with elements of Alternate World Fantasy)

Comp books (comparative books): Raven’s Shadow, The Rook, Lichgates: Book One of the Grimoire Saga

Ideas with some background done, including character sketches, plot elements and backstory in various stages of development

Working Title: New World Order

Divorced Brooklyn dad discovers his two adolescent kids have gotten entangled in an anti-government patriot/militia group conspiracy. These loosely aligned groups all fear that the UN will impose a world-wide communist New World Order. When trying to find his children, dad discovers the groups have secretly gathered in NYC to put an end to this imagined “deep-state conspiracy.”  By blowing up the UN General Assembly this weekend. He gets help from Kendall Hackett who has been working for years to take down the leaders of these groups.

Genre—Conspiracy Thriller  (with elements of Action Thriller)

Comp books (comparative books): Black Friday (James Patterson);


Working Title: Ballad of Kendall Hackett

Kendall is a teenager in a forgotten town in southern Ohio’s abandoned coal country. With nothing for him here, he’s making plans for where he’ll go after high school. Then a conspiracy-minded and well-armed Christian ministry shows up.  And they prey on the hopelessness around, converting townsman after townsman, including his brother and mother. He becomes afraid to leave home as the town and school have become like the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He and his father are the last two unconverted. His father is murdered. The State Police suspect him. Kendall must somehow outrun the group and the police if he is to see his next birthday. (The origin story of Kendall Hackett from A New World Order—the ultimate extremist hunter, and the man with three colored hair.)

Genre—Conspiracy Thriller  (with elements of Action & Psychological Thriller )

Comp books (comparative books): Latest seasons of Homeland (TV show), (elements of Invasion of the Body Snatchers movie)


Working Title: Secret World “Little did he know.”

A middle-aged man, with a decent job, reasonably good marriage and strained relationship with teenaged kid misses the excitement he felt when he was younger, reading books about secret worlds, hidden just behind the veneer of ordinary life. Then, he stumbles on just such a world. A war going on in another universe has started spilling over into ours again, and a secret group of guardians has been working for millennia to keep our world from harm: but this time it’s serious. They need more help than they have. Will our man be enough?

Genre—Urban/contemporary fantasy and Alternate World Fantasy

Comp books (comparative books): Neverwhere (kinda), His Dark Materials, Ricochet Joe (Kindle Single) by Dean Koontz

Working Title: Sister Salvation (this is little more than a few ideas sketched out on a sheet of paper)

He had it good: a stable lover, a job he like, but it was one that took him away from home. Too often. For, on one trip, he meets an exciting lover. Not like the one at home who will give him a family and be there for him, but one that dreams like he does. That yerns as he does. Which means they can never really be together, yet he has an affair. His stable lover leaves. His job vanishes. He’s got nothing when he runs into HER again. Will this tryst be his salvation or damnation?

Genre—Literary fiction, contemporary romance with a dose of sensual romance

Comp books (comparative books): don’t know that it exists at all.

This is a short story that got way out of hand when I was writing up character sketches and turned into a probable novella.

There are more, but they aren’t much more than a paragraph, or some very old notes that will take me a while to decipher.

Let me know which one you’d most want to read. (None is possible.) Or if there are a couple you’d like, let me know that too.

Know someone who might like one of these stories? Post it or Forward this email to let them in on it.

To join more Adventures in the Interzoneexcursions to the way things might have been or might yet be click here. 



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