Thursday, February 23, 2023

11 hours and 30 minutes left


The Esrahaddon Kickstarter will end in about 11 1/2 hours. It's been my most successful yet:

  • Fully funded in less than 5 minutes
  • Exceeded $100K in less than 1 hour
  • Exceeded my prior Kickstarters in less than 1 day
  • Currently the 7th most-funded fiction Kickstarter of all time
  • Currently the 10th most-backed fiction Kickstarter of all time
We can break a few more records in the next 11+ hours if we:

  • Another $1,219 will get us over $300,000K
  • Another 13 backers to move to #9th most backed
  • Another $5,107 will move us to the 6th most-funded fiction Kickstarter
Even if we don't make any of those goals, it's been a huge success, and we owe it to you. Thanks for being such great supporters.  And if you still want to pledge you can do so here.

Oh, and if you happen to miss the Kickstarter, you can come on in through a backdoor. Just tell us which reward level you are interested in and we'll do a "manual add" in our pledge manager software.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Esrahaddon Kickstarter Nearly Over

For those of you who might later be upset to discover that you missed this, the ESRAHADDON kickstarter is down to a matter of hours before it ends. Esrahaddon (the novel not the character) will be my thirty-third novel, my twentieth published book, and my nineteenth in the world of Elan. It completes the Rise and Fall trilogy and connects the Legend of the First Empire series with the Riyra Chronicles. So, if you want to get the book early or purchase a fancy limited edition version. Go here to learn more:  Esrahaddon Kickstarter You can even read the first chapter for free.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Does This Thing Still Work?

The last post here was over six months ago, and that was for a book contest. It’s been a while. I get that. 

What surprised me was when I started to see posts and even receive emails inquiring about my health. “Is everything all right?” and “What happened to MJS? Is he okay?” And yes, I’ve noticed people using my initials now, which I’d like to think is not merely for expedience but rather the first step toward becoming a one-name celebrity. It’s nice to know that if a foul smell was coming out of my house, or if I had been abducted by a woman who broke both my legs and kept me captive while insisting that I re-write the ending to my most recent novel, that there are people out there who would notice and do something. I furthermore hope that “the something” wouldn’t be to join forces with my captor.

The truth is I am alive, healthy, and I’ve been writing. You likely already guessed that much, given the recent launch of the Esrahaddon Kickstarter. So what’s with the dome of silence? The short answer is I’ve been busy. 

I have written novels in as little as thirty days (I wrote The Crown Conspiracy in September of 2004 and Avempartha in October of that same year, meaning I wrote all of Theft of Swords in sixty days.) Death of Dulgath, the runner-up in terms of time to completion) was finished in a famous 68 days. I’m not bragging. Writing at a fast pace isn’t a sign of skill or dedication. Those past feats came mostly from loneliness and boredom. I bring them up to set the stage for telling you that it took me two years to write Esrahaddon. I started in May 2020 and finished in December 2021. Yes, that’s actually nineteen months, but I rounded up to two years for the same reason people online use MJS instead of Michael J Sullivan. 

Two years. 

Am I getting old and unable to pound the keys the way I used to? Or worse still—for you, not so much for me—am I getting a life, leaving me less time and desire to seek shelter in other worlds? Is this the new normal? Does it now simply take me two years to write a single novel? This was a genuine concern. 

At least, it was until I checked the word count. 

You see, The Crown Conspiracy clocks in at 91,265 words. Admittedly, this is a little light given that the average length of a novel is between 70,000 and 120,000, which I will round up to 100,000 words for the same reason I said two years instead of nineteen months. My longest novel to date was 161,932 words (Percepliquis), which I always felt was a doorstop despite being a trifle compared to the works of some other fantasy authors. I’ve never been a fan of super long novels. They intimidated me. Who has the time to devote to something that massive? Especially when you have no idea what’s behind that pretty cover? It could be green fields that all roll downhill or, just as likely, a swamp with no map. 

Despite that, Esrahaddon (pre-edit) weighs in at a whopping 275,317 words. That’s more than three Crown Conspiracies. Looking at it that way, I wrote three novels in two years. Not bad for an old man. You’d think I’d be happy with that. But you need to understand this isn’t a movie I’m making. I don’t have a crew. People don’t show up to work daily, pour coffee, and reassure me that this will all be worth it. Granted, I also don’t have a studio complaining about the cost of a year’s delay, so there’s that. But the fact is, I work alone. It’s just me in my room typing and scribbling. I don’t share anything (except the title). Not even Robin has a clue what I’m doing. I keep her in the dark because I need her raw reaction to the finished work. I only get one shot at that. As a result, there was a pretty good chance I had just spent two years wasting my time by making a very big, incredibly awful mess that would need to be locked away from the public. The only way to find out was to finish it, hand it over to Robin, and wait. 

For those who don’t know (or can’t imagine I would do such a thing), I have spent years on novels that ended up in the trash. Anthesis is an example. I still see it pop up here and there on the Internet under books I wrote. I did write it, but it never survived the rough draft stage, meaning even Robin never saw it. Oh, and if you’re reading this and don’t know who Robin is—wow, I must have been gone longer than I thought. Anyway, it was a genuine fear that Esrahaddon, the two-year behemoth—for a Sullivan novel—might be headed for the same trash heap. 

You might have noticed that I wrote seven paragraphs ago that Esrahaddon’s rough draft was finished in December 2021. There were people on the Riyria Discord Server (I’ll get to that later) who swear they would have killed a puppy of my choosing for the chance to read it (Not that I would want them to kill a any dog young or old, nor would they want to—that's sort of the point). They were appalled to discover Robin hadn’t dug in.

I should mention here that there were holidays in 2021. Future generations might be surprised to read that sentence and probably think it’s a joke. (Look who thinks future generations will be reading my blog, score one for optimism!) These family events kept Robin busy being a mom. Afterward, we took a badly needed vacation. Surviving 2020 to 2022, I’m reasonably sure there wasn’t anyone who didn’t need one. This vacation wasn’t the lay-on-the-beach-and-read sort either. We did stuff. Why? Because we’re getting old, and it’s now or never. I can tell you’re already ahead of me in realizing she never had a chance to read it. Nor did she when we got back because my newest baby, Farilane, was about to be born. Last-minute editing, Kickstarter launching, beta and gamma reads, promotion, and audio coordination, and who knows what else she was doing, but it wasn’t reading Esrahaddon

She finally read it and had some concerns that led me to cut out about thirty thousand words, but Esrah would survive. 

I’ll admit Robin and I aren’t ancient, not by modern standards, but my tendency to round up doesn’t help. When I was twenty, people the age I am now were firmly in the “old” category. They rarely went out, complained about the weather, ate dinner at four, and went to bed at eight. They also faced retirement: that longed-for finish line that defined the era when people were free to enjoy life—but later discovered that they were too old to do most of the things they had dreamed of. Robin and I aren’t in that boat. We cleared our bucket lists in our thirties. But, like billionaires who spend a lifetime hoarding money only to realize they can’t take it with them (and thus begin looking for ways to give it back), we, too, faced such a dilemma. But our fortunes aren’t money. It’s knowledge.  

Robin started business projects mentoring the next generation on publishing. At the same time, I took on students and began weekly classes on writing. These activities, combined with creating and editing Esrahaddon, and our new exercise regime, which made it possible for two sixty-year-olds to climb out of the Grand Canyon this summer, kept us busier than usual. 

So, yeah. That’s what happened to MJS. 

It should be pointed out that I really was never all that active on social media. Sure, I made a home on Goodreads and Reddit, but my presence on Facebook and Twitter was always anemic at best. Times, however, have changed. The world is different, and I am getting older. My daily writing output has dropped a bit, and my online time has taken a hit. The good news is that I found out someone went to the trouble of building a Discord server exclusively for my books . . . and they invited me to visit. 

Maybe they didn’t think I would actually show up. But when I did, they were very welcoming—even built me my own room. It is the last chat room on the list, and it’s called “Ask Michael.” As I wanted to be respectful of people discussing my books, I mostly stay out of the other rooms. No one likes the author looking over their shoulder when complaining about something they hate. And half the fun of an ongoing series of anything is discussing it with others. Who doesn’t enjoy complaining about the death of beloved characters, parts that didn’t make sense, sections that are boring, and, of course, being able to speculate on what it all means and where it might be leading? It’d be a real pain if the author were to jump into that discussion. 

But in my room . . .people can expect a response. I often imagine it as a massive door at the end of a long scary corridor, where readers dare each other to go in. 

“Go on, ask him if you don’t believe me.”

“I’m not going in there. Look at it. What if he isn’t as nice as he sounds in the Author’s Notes.”

“It’s a Discord chat room. What are you scared of? Do you think he’ll belittle your punctuation?”

“You think he will?”

“I already do that now, and it clearly doesn’t matter to you.”

“Sure, but you’re not the creator of Royce and Hadrian.”

“What’s that mean? You think he’s going to send them after you?”

“Of course not. That’s silly.”

“That is silly.”

“I mean, it’s not like he based them on someone he personally knows or anything, right? He didn’t, right?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Okay, sure, but . . . well, he had to get them from somewhere, didn’t he?”

“What are you saying?”

“Maybe he’s, you know, like them, sort of at least. Maybe there’s a little Royce in him. Mild-mannered author by day, knife-wielding assassin at night. I don’t want to go in and ask a dumb question of Royce.”

“What about Myron? Would you be worried about asking Myron a question?”

“Huh? No.”

“Well, using your logic, he’d also be part Myron.”

“That’s true. And Myron wouldn’t mind if I asked a simple question, would he?”


“Okay. I’ll do it!”

. . .

“Well? Did you ask?”

“Yeah. I did.”

“I was right, wasn’t I?”

“You were, but I still don’t understand. What is Pie?”

This hypothetical dialog will likely only make sense to those on the Riyria Discord server, which is best because the idea was born there, which means it isn’t mine; it’s theirs. 

You can still expect me to visit and post on Reddit and Goodreads. I still love all of you. And I do try to reply to emails, but some of you who have received responses a year late know that a few fall through the cracks. I apologize for that, but I am far from perfect. I do occasionally glance at Twitter, but not often, and trying to contact me that way is not wise. Facebook is . . . well, I’m not even sure I remember my password. And then there’s this blog. 

I began making posts here fourteen years ago to try to draw attention to the existence of my books. My wife (and everyone with a brain) understands that every author needs a website. Blog posts were a way to get noticed. So, in the early years, I struggled to come up with anything entertaining. Some of them were pretty good. At least, I think so. But as success happened, I had less and less time to write blogs because I was spending more and more time writing novels. 

With the completion of Esrahaddon, I’ve come up for air. I find it a little sad to see the state of the ye old MJS site. The place is dusty beyond belief, one of the windows is broken, and now the place has become a home for spam posts. I’ve patched that window, and this is the first attempt at dusting off the old signal beacon. With the window sealed, I won’t be able to hear you, so hopefully, you’ll reach me by other means, if for no other reason than to let me know . . . Does this thing still work?