At long last, LARPers, book 7 in the Milligan Creek Series is finally here! Here's a brief synopsis:
Epic fantasy meets real-life adventure! When Matt Taylor accidentally causes the untimely death of his friend Andrew Loewen’s beloved Mages & Monsters character, he attempts to make it up to him by launching a live-action role-playing (LARP) version of the game. While the players set out on an epic campaign to free Milligan Creek from a fictional curse, fantasy and reality come crashing together as outside forces become involved. Little do the kids realize it, but their little adventure could change the face of their small town forever!
Needless to say, after a five-month delay due to cancer treatment, I'm super excited to finally get this book out into the world. Like all the other Milligan Creek books, I had a blast writing it, and I can't wait to share it with fans of the series. Here's a look at the final version of the cover, illustrated by Hannah Doerksen.
Now that this book is done, I'm already 75 pages into a new non-fiction book on writing called No G.U.T.S., No Story. It's an adaptation of a screenwriting workshop I've been teaching for the past 16 years or so. I'm hoping to have that out by June. Then it's on to another book in the Uncanny Icons series before returning to Milligan Creek for another installment.
More cover progress for LARPers
Here's the sketch I sent to Hannah Doersksen, my talented artist, along with some instructions.
Here is her initial sketch.
Followed by another sketch with color.
We're still in the very early stages, but I'm already excited by what I'm seeing. Meanwhile, I'm about 20% into my edit, and I like what I'm seeing there too. A relief after not reading that part of the book for several weeks. Stay tuned!
And it's a whopping 68,822 words! To put that in perspective, Up the Creek, book 1 in the Milligan Creek Series, is just shy of 32,000 words. I don't know what went wrong--or right--about this book, but the story just kept growing and growing. However, I will point out that J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter books kept getting longer and longer too, so maybe I'm on the right track.
At any rate, I love how things turned out. This is always an exciting moment, a time to celebrate. Then it's back to the grindstone as I go back through the manuscript and edit. In truth, I've already done that a couple of times for a good chunk of the book, so it's only the last third that needs a thorough going over. I already have the uber-talented Hannah Doerksen working on the cover, so with any luck, the book will be available in March.
I've also been simultaneously working on another book, a non-fiction one this time, which I plan to release later on in the first half of this year as well. Stay tuned for more updates!
If one Milligan Creek book isn't enough for you, I've just bundled books 4 and 5 into a second volume, now available on Amazon and everywhere else you buy books. You can also buy books 1-3 as a single volume as well.
I'm deep into the throes of writing LARPers, book 7 in the Milligan Creek Series, which is about live action role-playing. Therefore, I'm deep into Dungeons & Dragons lore and resources. The purple thing to the left is the original D&D campaign I got when I was about thirteen years old. Then I also have the Player's Handbook and the Monster Manual open. I'm having so much fun with this!
Since 2016, it's been my tradition to release a new book in the Milligan Creek series every fall. Unfortunately, this year I ran into a bit of a snag: cancer. That's right, the big C.
I was diagnosed in mid-August, had my preliminary appointments from Sept. 3-12 and then entered treatment on Sept. 20, which lasted until Nov. 10. As you can imagine, not only the shock of the diagnosis but also the treatment itself rocked my world. I tried to write during treatment, but treatment was so difficult that I only managed to get out a chapter or two. I need to be in a positive, excited, happy headspace to write these books, and that's not at all how I would describe the process of undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.
Post treatment, I've had several difficult weeks of recovery during which eating, drinking, and sleeping have been difficult, but I'm finally back into a headspace and a place of physical health that I'm feeling the creative juices flowing again.
The good news is, not only has writing resumed on LARPers, book 7 in the series, my cancer prognosis is quite positive. The type of cancer I have has a 95% cure rate, and so far things are looking great. That means (hopefully), there'll be many more Milligan Creek books and other books in the years ahead. Stay tuned for updates!
I've just collected the first 3 Milligan Creek books into a single volume, available in paperback, hardcover, and ebook. It's not too late to order for Christmas! Volume 2 is coming soon!
As I wait for my beta readers to finish their review of Brooms (I'm getting positive feedback so far!), I've begun laying the groundwork for book 7 in the Milligan Creek Series, LARPers, which I hope to release before the end of the year. In case you don't know, LARP stands for "live action role playing." It's where people who normally play role-playing games (RPGs) like Dungeons & Dragons move their adventures from the gaming table to the real world. See the Marvel TV series Hawkeye for an example of LARPers in action (although I had the idea for this book long before that show, seeing as I actually engaged in LARPing when I was in my early teens).
Now that I'm seven books into the Milligan Creek series, I thought it would be fairly easy to write this novel, seeing as I don't have to create a whole new cast, fantasy backstory, and so forth as I have to do with each book in the Uncanny Icons Series. Wrong.
Little did I realize when I signed onto this project that before I can write the actual story of what happens (which I've already pretty much mapped out), I have to come up an entire fantasy story that forms the background of the campaign that the RPG characters will play out. Not only that, I have to flesh out each RPG character, including their backstory and how they became part of the campaign. I also have to work out the real-world identities for three new characters that I'm introducing to the Milligan Creek world.
All that to say, far more groundwork is required than I anticipated. The good news is, a couple of years ago I spent some time developing a character named Thurgil Bloodguard as part of an online D&D campaign. I bailed out after the first phase of that adventure, but I decided to use Thurgil as the centerpiece of this new story. Over the past week or so, I've spent more time fleshing out his backstory, and that unlocked pretty much all of the other characters as well. I'm excited to say that all of the main pieces are now in place, so I can finally get back to the "real" story. My goal is to start the first draft in July.
Welcome to My "Other" Office
These days I've been so busy editing other people's books that it's been difficult to find time to work on my own projects. So, like other authors I know who are in a similar situation, I took a look at my schedule in search of pockets of time that I could reclaim for my writing, and my thoughts led me to this place.
We are lucky enough to live in Kimberley, BC, a nice little town on the edge of the Rocky Mountains that just happens to have a ski hill right in town. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, I ski from about 9:00 - 11:00 (before the lineups get too long). During that time, I ski somewhere between 6-8 runs, which means I spend nearly half of that time on the chair lift. Seeing as I've mostly been riding alone due to COVID-19, I realized that gave me basically two hours each weekend to work on my books.
So, that's exactly what I've been doing for the past couple of months. Each day I set a different task for myself to accomplish, and then I record my thoughts on my phone as I sit there taking in the beautiful mountain views.
As a result, not only have I been able to work out virtually all of the story kinks for Brooms, book 2 in the Uncanny Icons Series, I've also done the same for LARPers, book 7 in the Milligan Creek Series.
All that to say, many people dream of writing a book, but most of those people never do it because they say they can't find the time. However, if you're serious about it, you will find a way, and it may be in a place that you least expect!
Brief thoughts and updates on writing, publishing, and life