As of writing this post, I have 9964 Twitter followers, which I find rather astounding. If my impromptu guess is correct, I’ll reach 10,000 followers within the next two days. I’m planning something awesome in celebration of the fact that ten thousand people give a shit about what I have to say. More on that in a bit. But first, an exercise in retrospect.
When I first started Twitter, I had about 200 followers off the bat. It took me another month or two to reach 500, and that was with me following random people until my thumbs bled. I figured getting 1000 followers would be a “stretch” goal, an accomplishment worthy of dousing myself in Gatorade and taking a bow. Maybe a parade and a homemade plaque to seal the deal, who knows?
Why 1000? Because it was some silly number I picked up from some guru who said authors needed a platform and nobody would take an author with less than 1000 followers seriously. I don’t know. I don’t remember. In fact, I don’t care. Because eventually, I stopped looking at the numbers and started looking at the people.
I got to know you guys.
And let me say that without a doubt, the Twitter writing community is fucking incredible. It’s full of genuine, funny, insightful, generous, thoughtful, kind, hardworking, supportive folks who make it almost impossible to put down my phone. Once I reached out and started connecting with people, my follower count exploded. Determined to satisfy that growing audience, I started doing book reviews and blog posts, because I wanted to give something back to those of you who decided I was worth a minute of your time.
In response to my revamped content, I received waves of engagement and encouragement. I poured my heart out in this post, and the amount of love and support from you all stunned me. I can’t believe so many people read the whole piece and took the time out of their day to give me a pat on the back or a kick in the ass (both equally welcome). While we’re on the subject, I’ll update you with my progress on that front after the coming announcement.
In the wake of that post, I received an offer to write an original short story for Writer Writer’s upcoming Dark Dominions fantasy anthology. I was given a general theme to work with, and after a bout of intense brainstorming, I drafted 8000 words, edited them, and polished them. I was damn proud. This story, Second Skin, was one of the best things I’d ever written. I knew it. I felt it in my blood. The project coordinators loved my story, and I was all set to finally appear in print.
Well, if I’m writing about it now, it probably didn’t happen, right? Yeah, another publishing deal fell through. They scrapped the entire project, for reasons outside the scope of this post. The bottom line? I was back to square one, and I didn’t know what to do with my story. I could send it off to contests, sure, but I didn’t feel like going back to the waiting game after being committed to this project for months.
Around this time, I was also mulling over my last giveaway (in celebration of 5000 followers.) I had promised to give out three free copies of Sundering, my debut novel, whenever it was eventually published. And though I fully intend to honor that promise (I’ve got the names and contact information written down, saved for when the day comes), I wanted to do something different this time around. Sundering, though I work on it as much as I can, is at least a year away, at the very minimum. Probably closer to two. I make no apology for that, because I value my work and I won’t sacrifice quality. Quality takes time to produce. Still, I understand that’s a long time to wait for a prize you’ve won.
This time, I wanted to give away something immediate, something everyone can enjoy, because you’re all part of the reason I’m doing this in the first place. I don’t want to reward three, five, or even ten lucky individuals with another promise of some future work. I want to reward ten thousand.
So I’m going to publish Second Skin as a short on Amazon, and I’m going to make it free to download for a limited time. I worked really hard on this story, and it deserves to be seen by more than the editors at one magazine or another. It deserves to be seen by you all, the people who gave me a platform, a voice, and a mountain of support. I remain as honored, humbled, and grateful as ever. I never imagined this, never dreamed this many people would be interested in my work. This is the only way I know how to adequately express my sincere gratitude, so from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Now, enough with the mush, let’s talk details.
“But Cal,” you say. “How do I even know if I want to read this story? You haven’t told me what it’s about.”
Well, it’s about love and murder.
Yeah, I’m a total delight. If you want to read the blurb, you’ll have to keep an eye out for the release on Twitter. Below is the official schedule.
Cover choices poll on Tuesday, April 16.
Blurb to be released on Tuesday, April 23.
Final cover choice announcement on Tuesday, April 30.
Second Skin will be available to download on Tuesday, May 7.
Be on the lookout for excerpts and teasers in between!
One last order of business: In the post I linked above, I said I would work my ass off to edit Sundering and make it even better. That wasn’t an empty promise. Here are some progress stats for Sundering and Sojourn (the sequel, which I’m drafting alongside my edits).
Sundering word count: 147,000 down to 136,955
Sundering pages edited: 94 out of 499
Sojourn word count: 45,301
Sojourn chapter count: 19 out of 64 planned
As you can see, I’m about 20% done with my edits and 25% done with my drafting of Sojourn. My progress is slow, especially on the editing front. I wish I could work faster, but with a 60-hour work week, an upcoming wedding, and the blog posts and book review, I’m lucky to be able to work on Sundering as much as I currently am. I’m not overworked, I’m not stretched thin, I’m not burnt out. I’m as motivated and centered as ever. I’m thrilled with the quality of the work I’ve edited, and I’ll hold the remaining 405 pages to the same standard. Whether that takes me another year or five years (ok, hopefully not that long), I don’t know. All I know is the final product will be one I’m proud to put in your hands.
I’m updating you on my progress because I want to hold myself accountable to what I say I’m going to do. I want to be transparent and honest about every aspect of my work, the positive and negative. It’s my hope that when Sundering is ready, you’ll know I didn’t cut any corners. And if the wait is killing you… There’s always Second Skin in the meantime.