S.C. Barrus Progress Report

The state of S.C. Barrus – Updates on Discovering Aberration, The Gin Thief, Grim Curio & more

I’m juggling a lot of projects right now which is keeping me really busy. But from the perspective of an outsider, it may seem like I’ve been twiddling my thumbs.

Despite the void that is my recent releases, I’ve actually been progressing nicely on a number of projects. In the last year, I wrote a novel, edited another, began work an a novella, rebooted my newsletter, began a YouTube channel, and I even took some time to plan a surprise for you guys 🤫

In light of all this, today I’m taking a moment to share the status of nearly every single project I’m working on. So let’s get started.

Release Order

Before diving into the specifics, let’s take a look at the current order of releases any dates attached—because I don’t do that anymore 🧐.

  1. Super secret short story 😮
  2. Discovering Aberration: Revised Edition
  3. The Gin Thief: Ep 2
  4. The rest of The Gin Thief episodes.
  5. Grim Curio (perhaps released in the middle of Gin Thief episodes)
  6. Half-price Hitman (we’re talking at least two years out)

My goal here is to hit a cadence of at least one major release every year from here on out. The one caveat is The Gin Thief episodes. I consider 2-3 episodes to equal one major release.

When you want to move a freight train, it takes a while to build up steam, but the momentum carries it forward. So I guess my books are a freight train or something.

via GIPHY

Don’t be surprised if a short story or two get thrown into the mix. I’ve been contemplating starting a pattern of releasing a short story between each novel with a collection released every few years. Why not?

Ok, now on to the specifics.

Discovering Aberration: Revised Edtion

A few months ago I revealed I was fixing some issues that Discovering Aberration was facing. Technical errors and irregular pacing made it into the release, so I took it upon myself to clean it up and rerelease it before I strike out on this second stage of my publishing career.

I finished editing the book several weeks ago then passed it along to my editor. A few days later I heard back from her. “I’m so sorry,” she said, “But it lost a lot of the charm in the rewrite.” 😱

On the upside, she hardly found any errors. Sooooooo……. I guess that’s a win.

I overdid it, plain and simple. Now I need to go back through it with a lighter touch, so a second round of edits is in order. sigh.

via GIPHY

Together, we’ve come up with a strategy to address this nightmare. I’ll go into what we’re doing in another post, but we think we can keep the improvements and not lose any of the charm along the way.

It’s going to take some work. I suspect this pushes back the release a couple months. But I think we’ll still hit a 2018 release date. I mean, please let me hit this dateoccasionally one. Please? Fingers crossed.

The Gin Thief: Episodes

The delay of DA: RE is sadly going to affect the release of The Gin Thief: Ep. 2. 

I know….

Delays have this cascading effect that isn’t much fun. I really don’t know if Episode 2 is going to squeeze in 2018 anymore (didn’t I once promise it out by February 2018? See why I gave up on release dates), though I remain pessimistically hopeful.

I’m trying hard to make 2018 happen, but it may turn out to be an early 2019 release. Sorry. For real, sorry. But it’s coming.

After Episode 2 is released, I’m going to soldier on and draft all of the remaining episodes in one go. Then I’ll set them aside much like I did for Grim Curio, focus on finishing Grim Curio, then return to the episodes for a final round of edits.

Grim Curio

Grim Curio is currently in a state of hibernation. The draft is done, beta reads are done, editing round 1 is done. Now I have some rewrites to do before it goes through the editing process again, but I won’t start rewrites until after the release of The Gin Thief Episodes are all drafted.

I think this strategy will lead to a stronger novel while also keeping me on track to push out those episodes. It’s not easy to write this way, but I think it’ll be worth it in the long run.

Get it? Green Day? I’m taking the long view. Like the Green Day song. Wow that’s a stretch.

via GIPHY

Half-price Hitman

And at last, we come to Half-price Hitman. This one is just a small side project which isn’t actively being written. I’m using it as a way to demonstrate my writing process to patrons.

So occasionally I’ll document myself in one stage of the writing process or another using this as an example. It’ll eventually turn into a full-fledged project, but it has no release date in sight. If you become a patron you can see it evolve as I share everything behind the scenes.

As for the super secret short story…

Delay’s aren’t fun, and I need to get something new out there.

I thought I’d have Discovering Aberration: Revised Edition out within a couple of weeks, but since that’s no longer the case, I wracked my brain for a way to deliver something to you without a substantial time commitment on my part. It had to be something I’d already written, something good enough to see the light of day, something I could put out there and be proud of in less than 2 weeks.

Tall order. But I found it!!! Get this, it’s still super secret. I’ll tell you this, it’s a short story that has an indirect relation to both Discovering Aberration and Grim Curio but isn’t directly set in either universe. And it’ll be free to newsletter subscribers and patrons.

That’s all from me today. Hopefully there’s something in this list that you’re excited about. And if so, why not subscribe to my newsletter. There are some cool benefits nobody even knows about yet (plus you get a free copy of Discovering Aberration).

PNWA Novel Contest Results

Before we dive into the results of my PNWA novel contest entry, I’ve got a bit of an announcement. I’m making video content now! That’s one more way for you to get to know me. I may not be great at it yet, but I’m learning as I go. More videos to come.

So, the contest. 

About five or six months ago I submitted my manuscript for Grim Curio to the Pacific Northwest Writers Association novel contest. Recently I received the results of my entry, and unfortunately I didn’t win.

But I feel really great about it anyway. Why?

As part of the contest, I received two detailed critiques from literary agents who were judging the competition. These were rave critiques. In fact, they lead me to believe that I didn’t advance in the competition due to a technical error on my part. I was supposed to submit a synopsis of my novel, but I submitting something closer to a query letter.

In the video above I share a bit more about the process, some of the feedback I received, and talk about why this rejection has actually boosted my confidence. There’s always next year.

Why I joined Patreon & why you should too

Thanks to the advice of two books, Show Your Work by Austin Kleon (my review here) and Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins (still reading but highly recommend), I’ve launched a Patreon page.

First, let’s talk about what it is, then why I—or any other creative—might want to try it out.

What is Patreon

The creators of Patreon describe the platfom like this:

Patreon exists because when artists get paid, they can create more amazing things.

What is Patreon

Sounds pretty good right? It’s a platform for people like you to support the artists you love by pledging a monthly payment them. This enables artists to have a predictable income, and helps funds their projects. In return, you get cool exclusive stuff and peeks behind the scenes.

Why Patreon is important to creators

In Real Artists Don’t Starve, Jeff Goins share’s many arguments for why an artist needs a patron, or several. He explains that a patron can take many forms.

If you are going to create work that matters, you are going to need an advocate—a person who sees your potential and believes in your work. This isn’t just about money. You need someone to give you a chance, maybe even connect you to the right people. The publisher who pays an author’s book advance is a patron. The venture capitalist who funds a start-up in Silicon Valley is one too. But so is the church who gives a minister a salary or the donors who support nonprofit organizations around the world. Patrons do not just make the arts possible; they make the world we inhabit—and so often take for granted—possible.

Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

Back in the day, a patron of the arts would literally commission an artist full time in order to support them. But as times changed, patrons became rarer.

These days, artists need patrons to survive. Published authors are making less and less money, even while publishing is doing better than ever. If you want to make it in the arts, it’s not enough just to have a book that sells. You need someone, or a group of someones, who are willing to champion your work, and even give you a little cash to support it.

In the New Renaissance, patrons are not some elite class of influencers. They are all around us.

Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

Why join Patreon now?

I’ve had a plan for a long time to eventually join Patreon, but I was waiting for the right timing. I wanted to re-edit Discovering Aberration and wanted to release The Gin Thief: Episode Two, and then I thought the timing would be perfect.

But what I’ve come to learn lately is that if you want to make it as an artists, the timing is now! If you’re always waiting for the timing to be perfect, then you’re going to miss out on all kinds of opportunities.

When the Starving Artist waits to be noticed, the Thriving Artist finds a patron and shows that her work is worth investing in.

I

What you get by becoming my Patron

If you decide you want to support me by pledging $1 or more per month, you get several fun things in return. First, $1 get’s you all of my ebooks.

Right now you have access to Discovering Aberration and The Gin Thief: Episode one plus all future releases, and early access to upcoming releases like Grim Curio (the first 55 pages are available on Patreon now). In the coming days I’m adding short stories and some unpublished manuscripts.

Beyond this, I’m trying to cultivate a fun fan experience. First of which is our Christopher Nolan movie club where we watch and discuss every movie Christopher Nolan directed. We’re starting with Following and will end with Dunkirk.

There will be more fun stuff too. My patrons will have the chance to really get to know me, see exclusive behind the scenes material, and more. Should be a good time.

If all this sounds like something you want to support, all you need to do is visit my Patreon page and pledge $1 or more, and you’ll have access to all of this.

And if you’re a creator, now is probably the best time to cultivate your own patrons, because if you wait you’ll be missing out in the support your fans want to give you.

Announcing Discovering Aberration: Revised Edition (and how to get it for free)

Not long ago I announced I was done writing the first draft of Grim Curio. Now it’s time for me to switch gears while I give GC to beta readers and confidants for feedback. I’ll come back to it in a few months, but til then I have a few other projects lined up.

As many of you already know, the next project on my slate is writing the long overdue The Gin Thief: Episode 2. So long overdue, in fact, that I need a refresher on the subject material. So I’m rereading Discovering Aberration and The Gin Thief: E1. Which leads me to the meat of this post…

Discovering Aberration: Revised Edition coming soon!

That’s right. I’m giving DA some love this year. The biggest criticisms it received were around mistakes in proofreading. So while I read through it, I’m revising and re-releasing it. In fact, I’m already 20% of the way through it.

What is the goal with this revision?

My plan is to keep my touch as light as possible while addressing it’s issues. It wont turn into a full rewrite. The structure and plot will remain identical. Instead, my goal is to simply clean up sections that need it, trim some of the fat, and fix errors.

Why are you revising it?

Simple, it’s weaknesses are holding it back. Initially the novel released to pretty strong sales, but they have declined to a trickle. I’ve tried to diagnose the issues and believe they are as follows:

  • Reviews that focus on poor proofreading
  • A convoluted first scene in chapter 1
  • A cover that doesn’t match its genre (possibly, will know after I address the issues above)
  • My own hesitation to sell a book with known errors

I need to address these if I don’t want DA to end up holding my career back. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be better.

Will it get a new cover? 

I don’t know yet. I love Discovering Aberration‘s cover. The team at The Book Designers did a fantastic job. They followed all my instructions and created a work of art. I have no complaints about the cover itself or their work.

But…. I’ve now been in publishing for a few years, and I’ve learned a lot I didn’t know then. In this case, the cover I told them to make DA doesn’t look like other books in its genre and that may be affecting sales. It’s likely that a new cover which better matches steampunk best sellers will entice more readers to give it a chance.

It’s a tough question, and potentially one with an expensive answer. Not sure what I’m going to do anything with the cover, time will tell I guess.

Will this delay The Gin Thief: Episode 2?

Just a bit. But as I said, I’m keeping my touch light and in just over a week and a half I’m 20% through it. I’m not rewriting, I’m cleaning up. So the delay should be minimal. I need to read through the book anyway to immerse myself back into that universe, and in the end this will be the best thing for my writing career. TGT: E2 is coming, and this is part of the process.

When will the revised edition be released?

Don’t know. I’ve given up with release dates. I’ve never once made an accurate prediction, so I’m not trying anymore. It’ll be released as soon as it’s done, hopefully not long. My goal is to have both DA: RE and TGT: E2 out by the end of the year. Is that goal realistic? I don’t know, but it’s what I’m shooting for.


If you want to receive a FREE copy of Discovering Aberration: Revised Edition upon its release, sign up for my mailing list. When it’s out, I’ll be gifting every one of my mailing list subscribers a free digital copy.

Join the S.C. Barrus newsletter to receive a free copy of Discovering Aberration and exclusive monthly updates.

Grim Curio’s First Draft is Finished

via GIPHY

After roughly a year and a four months, I’ve finished drafting Grim Curio! I climbed the largest mountain on the road to publishing my next work, and I feel thrilled. This is easily my most ambitious project yet, and I’m really proud of it so far.

There’s still a lot of work ahead, but you’ve got to take time to celebrate every accomplishment or you’ll get burned out in this game. I’m celebrating by taking a couple of weeks off writing and playing God of War or something. I’ll probably get antsy before the break is up and start writing again, but that’s the plan anyway.

Fun Facts

In its current state, Grim Curio clocks in at 112,000 words. It has 3 parts consisting of 29 chapters. If I were to print it, double spaced sized 12 font, it would be 436 pages.

The first and last 5 chapters easily took up the bulk of the writing time. Beginnings and endings are hard, but beginnings have the advantage of fresh enthusiasm. There were several rewrites of the first 10 chapters before I got the feeling right, and one major revision midway through.

What now?

Now I’m going to put Grim Curio aside for a couple of months to let it rest. Then I’ll come back to it with fresh eyes and tons of notes from my beta readers. In the meantime, I’m already starting work on my next few projects. I’ll talk a bit more about them later, but they involve a t-shirt, another book, and possibly Patreon.

When will Grim Curio be published?

That’s a big question I get asked often. Unlike Discovering Aberration and The Gin Thief, I don’t plan on publishing Grim Curio myself. Instead I’ll query agents, get representation, find a publisher, then go through the traditional process. This process may take a year or two to complete. We’ll see.

In short, I don’t know when it’ll be published.

In the mean time…

I’ve got a lot of work on other projects ahead of me. I’ll continue to keep you posted on all of the comings and goings here, so stop by often. And sign up for my mailing list if you want to be notified when Grim Curio get’s published.

Join the S.C. Barrus newsletter to receive a free copy of Discovering Aberration and exclusive monthly updates.

My Roadmap: A flow chart of what I’m working on

Right now I’m working on so many projects, sometimes it’s hard for me to keep them straight. I imagine it might also be difficult for you to follow along. So to try to, eh, clarify, I created this flowchart.

The bar on the left measures a project’s level of completeness. The bar on the bottom signifies time. So the projects in the top right are nearly complete but way in the future. To be honest, I’m not sure how much it does clarify. Maybe I’ll take another crack at it sometime in the near future.

Writers Life

Think about 20 different ideas

Winnie the Pooh Thinks

Narrow it down to one.

Think some more.

Outline maybe… Or just start writing.

“We’ll, that idea sucks. Time to rewrite.”

Expand on everything!

Expand

Oops. Expanded too much. Cut it down.

Write! Write! Write!

Almost done, don’t get burned out.

The last chapter isn’t working. What did I do wrong?

More rewrites!

Share with beta readers. (quietly die inside)

Get their feedback.

editor

Rewrite some more. Does it never end!??!

Walk away from it for three months.

Read someone elses novel, feel inadequate.

die inside

Read it, see if it’s as good as you remember it (it isn’t).

Rewrites!

Editors, agents, proofers, publishers.

Promotion… nooooooooooo!

no

And start again.

The sweet sorrow of finishing a novel

I’ve nearly finished writing Grim Curio. 92,000 words written, and when it’s done it’ll be just shy of 100,000. That’s pretty damn close.

I’m a little sad to be at this point. Grim Curio has been a very rewarding book to write. I’ve expanded my skills and pushed myself as far as I can.

Even so, I’m ready finish. Writing Grim Curio has been exhausting. So while I’m sad to see the experience drawing to an end, I’m also relieved.

It's a Roller Coaster of Emotion in here

To celebrate this milestone, here’s three takeaways from my writing process.

I found my own voice

It seems to me that a writers voice is always evolving. But for the first time I feel the voice I’m writing in is my own.

While I enjoy the narration of Discovering Aberration and The Gin Thief, I think it’s fairly obvious that I was emulating the style of the Victorian Era (drawing heavily from Jules Verne).

With Grim Curio, it was just me. 

I improved my pacing

Pacing is critical. Bad pacing can cripple an otherwise great novel. I’ve struggled with pacing before, especially with Discovering Aberration‘s drawn out introduction and drastic shift in tone.

But with Grim Curio I feel like I nailed it. Beta readers seemed to agree. Now I’ve got to carry that structure to future works.

Layered Story

While my other novels are straight forward adventures without too much subtext to dive into, I feel like I’ve added a depth to Grim Curio I’ve never written before.

Grim Curio can be read as a straightforward post apocalyptic story, but there are layers and layers here that I weaved into the narrative. Some of my beta readers picked up on these deeper themes, others were content to read it at a surface level.

The fact that both were possible and both sets of readers reported high levels of enjoyment tell me I did something right there. Go me. Gotta pat myself on the back sometimes. God knows I pile on the criticism enough.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Lot’s more coming in the weeks ahead. I’m getting back into my regular blogging schedule again now that things are calming down. Keep an eye out, and if you want to be notified of any future releases, sign up for my mailing list.

Become a Beta Reader

Calling All Beta Readers – Read Grim Curio Before Anyone Else

Hello dear readers, it’s that time again. Beta readers, assemble! Who among you will rise to the challenge and beta read Grim Curio before it’s submitted to contests, agents, and publishers? To become a beta reader, follow the link below and fill out the short form.

Become a Beta Reader [link]

Become a Beta Reader

The beta reading period is quickly approaching, with a targeted date of Tuesday Jan 2nd for the first three chapters to be handed out. If you want to be a part of the process, sign up now! Beta readers will receive a free copy of Grim Curio upon release, and I’m going to try to come up with another way to thank you, maybe a t-shirt or something — I’m open to ideas.

About Grim Curio

The story of how the world ends begins on a near barren planet within the last and only city on earth, along a narrow empty street, dusk sunlight casting the toxic air in rainbow streaks of red, purple and green. This story begins and ends with James.

James is rogue veil researcher. He seeks evidence that will prove parallel realities exist, hoping to save humanity from the caustic, dying waste the earth has become. In order to make this discovery, he will cross paths with violent teenage nihilists, scientists attempting to cut a hole in the fabric of reality, a researcher hell bent on following the rules, a politician struggling to maintain order and stability, and many more strange and dangerous people.

When the fate of Refuge is at stake, can these disparate people with conflicting goals band together to survive or will their discord be their downfall?

What does a Beta Reader do?

A beta reader is one of the greatest people living on the face of the earth. They receive chapters from the Grim Curio manuscript, read it, answer questions and leave feedback, then return their notes to me. We’ll talk about the novel, about your opinions, and laugh at my stupid grammar mistakes. In the end, you’ll get a signed copy and another gift yet to be determined.

Do I have to read all of Grim Curio?

Nope. If life gets in the way, or if you just don’t want to keep on beta reading, you can drop out at any time. Beta reading is purely optional, but in order to receive any of the beta reader gifts, you must read and offer feedback for at least 85% of Grim Curio.

What if I’ve never edited anything before?

That’s fine! All you need to be is a passionate reader. If you live for science fiction and fantasy novels, then you’re the perfect candidate to become a beta reader.

How much feedback should beta readers give?

As much or as little as you’re willing to share. If you want to write a full-page critiquing each chapter, that’s great. If you only want to share a few sentences on how you feel about the material, that’s great too.

 

What is the process, in detail?

The process is pretty straight forward.

  • Receive 3 chapters starting with chapter 1
  • Read through, comment, and answer a few specific questions within a timely manner (3-5 days)
  • Return chapters and notes back
  • Receive next 3 chapters, etc.
  • Enjoy an occasional Skype call where I thank you profusely and we chat about the novel

Can I invite my friends to be beta readers too?

Please do. The more the merrier.

Falling down the deep hole that is Dungeons & Dragons

Lots has been happening lately. Between writing, family, and working on the remodel to get it ready for the move, my free time has been eaten up. So I thought, why not add another major time suck?

And I did! I’m now playing Dungeons and Dragons for the first time since high school. It’s a twisted path that got me back into this awesome RPG.

I’m a huge fan of the show Community, have been for years, and I love Rick and Morty. After the second or third time watching both of these, I realized they shared a creator, Dan Harmon.

I fell deep down the Harmon hole, watching interviews, a documentary, and a half ton of YouTube videos. Somewhere in this deep dive, I discovered another show he produces called HarmonQuest.

He and some friends, Jeff Bryan Davis, Erin McGathy, and their DM Spencer Crittenden, and a guest star all play DnD in front of a live audience and their adventure is then animated. Trust me, it’s hilarious.

After watching two seasons of this, I went out, bought all the books, watched some DnD videos, and discovered an entire sub culture of DnD Celebrities. All that was left was to invite a few friends to play DnD, and now I’m officially a dungeon master! Not an especially good one yet — there are a LOT of rules — but I can hold my own once I’ve thrown back a few beers.

That’s the latest in my life. Ok, time to put my head down and hammer out more pages in this novel. See ya!