I’ve lost faith in my ability to approximate how long it will take to finish a novel.  It goes without saying that any dates I had hoped to hit have been thrown out the window at this point.  That being said, readers are due some explanation as to what has been causing delays on my end.

The Biggest Offender By Far – New Ideas

During the revision process, better ideas come up. If the idea is powerful enough that you can’t ignore it then you do readers and yourself an injustice not acting on it. Now, sometimes this means entering a few lines of dialog into a section you’ve already written.

BUT…Other times it causes a ripple that requires you rewrite 40 pages.

It’s a love/hate relationship for me. Often, I’d be sitting on my porch thinking of how to fix some scene I didn’t feel was working, looking for an angle or something subtle, but then the realization comes:

“The scene doesn’t work because the story is missing [Insert Eureka Idea]!” T. Ellery said.  He smiled for a cathartic moment, then his face grew pained as he understood the full scope of  what he had just done to himself.


When you are trying to hit a date, and you imagine you’ll be done at a certain point, all the ‘life stuff’ you have scheduled after that point doesn’t go away. This can put a burden on a lot of the process.  For instance, I had always imagined that I would have the book to the editor before I went on a week long trip to visit my parents.  That didn’t happen, and I didn’t get much writing done during the visit. Then when I got back my family reminded me that we were headed to NorWesCon for the next 4 days. I had already committed to going with them.


Admittedly [shame] I hit a rough patch a few weeks ago after I got back from parental vacation and NorWesCon.  Before I left I had no trouble staying in my office for 6-8 hours a day. For one reason or another, I couldn’t get that to happen when I returned, was lucky to keep my butt in the seat for 1-2 hours. Only recently have I hit my normal groove again, but those weeks of fighting to get my focus back took their toll on the publication date.

Carpal Tunnel

This caught me completely off guard… because I’m an idiot.

For months I’ve woken up in the morning with that feeling I had slept on my arm wrong and it had caused my hands to go numb. I’ve always had poor circulation, and cold hands, so I more or less thought it was just a matter of getting older. It became a real problem recently, I started waking up every three hours with my hands both numb and yet my nerves telling me they had caught fire. Super annoying, probably because I love sleeping more then I should. Anyhow the only way to get the pain to stop was  waking up and moving around and after a few days of it my sleep cycles were completely off and I was running lower and lower on energy.

I raced to the internet to find that these were symptoms of carpal tunnel. Now, I guess I should have figured this would happen if I was going to write full time.  For now, I got some braces and I’m dealing with it until the sequel is finished, because I just got my groove back and don’t want to make any changes to my habits. After the sequel is handed over to the editor, I’ll look into some dictation software or other solutions for getting the finale done. Surgery if it gets bad enough.


Anyhow, I’m making progress again, hoping that no new ideas will push the finish line out now that I am finally closing the distance again. I’m confident though, I am running out of scenes that feel like they are missing something.

19 thoughts

  1. Take your time, I’m sure it’ll be worth my wait. Best wishes that you are able to stay in mode for hours at a time.

  2. I agree; quality over haste. The depth and honesty of events were what made Never Hero such a hit. Also, condolences (seems more appropriate than good luck with or feel better?) about the Carpel Tunnel. We eagerly await Paradox.

    You might consider creating a cache of event ideas to consider putting in a third book instead of editing everything into this one?

    1. Hi Tim,

      I don’t yet have an idea depository for the finale outside my head. Don’t worry though, I got the main events locked down in there. I found that the sequel was much easier to write then the first book because the foundation was already built. I think this will be even more true for the finale. Its one of those things where if you know the ending, the closer you get to it, the more the story writes itself.

  3. It is a problem that many (all?) authors have — managing the expectations of their readers regarding upcoming publications. As a reader, I find that the lack of information is more irritating than having to wait for a book that has been delayed but that I know is delayed (and have a new projected date): if a book is supposed to be released in six months and the author says it will now be a year, that is much better than if it is supposed to be today and I hear nothing and tomorrow and I hear nothing (I go into that whole “Are we there yet?” mode that makes it seem intolerable).

    My recommendation would be that, rather than specifying a release date, authors provide a range of dates: “I don’t think it will be out before mm/dd/yy, but I hope it will be out before mm/dd/yy” with a large enough padding built in that the second date doesn’t have to be pushed back often. Then just update the dates as circumstances change (always before the second date, but preferably before the first). Having whatever knowledge is available is much less frustrating for readers even if it changes — with no information, when the expected date passes, it seems it will always be the next day.

    1. Hi Mike,

      I’ve given up on dates while its in my control. Once I’ve handed it over to editor, I might risk giving a range.

      The truth is that I’m so close to finishing the final draft that I might hit a groove one night and have it done with in a week or two, or I might hit a rough patch that slows me down for a ridiculously long time.

      Currently I have two very important chapters that I am struggling to get on paper ‘just right.’ I have spent over 21 hours on one of them this week and I promise that if I showed it to you now, you would look at me and wonder what I was doing with the other 20 hours 🙂

      Thing is they are the nexus chapters… were all the details must come together. Those two are my last real overhauls, the rest are small detail. ie I changed “X” here so three chapters later I need to fix “Y.”

      That said, I try to keep the communication flowing with Steven Barnett, the audiobook narrator, because he needs to schedule his time for recording The Never Paradox once its finished. The system we worked out is like this: I have a white board above my computer that lists everything I want to add or revise in the book (plot related – not editing). I just counted and it currently has 28 items on it. I report to him each day how many items I checked off — 2 yesterday — That being said, its an organic list, I added three things to it yesterday as well.

      Hope this insight is helpful.

  4. Hm. I’m signed up on the mail email list for book release notifications but don’t see a way to sign up on the Insider list, if that’s a different list. Either way, I’d be interested in being a beta reader. I’ll still be getting the audiobook version once it comes out.

  5. When I was having trouble with carpal tunnel, I worked in manufacturing. The braces were difficult to wear in that environment, although I am sure that the work I was doing was the root cause of my issues. I found that sleeping with the braces on helped a great deal. Your milage may vary, but in any case I have felt your pain.

  6. For Carpal Tunnel, there are a few things that work very well without you having to use braces. Amber bracelets, magnetic ones, Flexacil(Which I’ve bought off amazon and know works) Look into the last one and use a few days straight and you should find a difference. Its not a pain killer that forces your body to ignore what’s wrong, but something that repairs damage causing the pain. As for the book? Still looking forward to the 2nd one! I hope my suggestion helps you as much as it’s helped me and my family vs expensive doctor visits and treatments that wont help you, but line their pockets. Try Flexacil and let me know if it helps you. I’ve added the link from amazon.


  7. i really enjoyed book one, and i regularly check for book 2. i only ask.. please don’t pull a Patrick Ruthfoss on us and keep provided new dates that are never hit. as a reader i would rather you be honest and say. i am working hard and it and want it it to be perfect and i am not close so don’t expect it anytime soon.

    i do hope you get better soon and would rather you in good health to write many books then to burn yourself out.

    1. Haven’t told anyone where I got the whole ‘nut up’ bit from.

      When I was in my early twenties I asked this ridiculously pretty girl out on a date. I don’t remember the minutia of our conversation in its entirety, but after a few drinks she said that just having the confidence to ask without making any attempt to protect my pride against rejection or be vague about my intentions was refreshing to her. At the time, she summed up her experience with other –I don’t know, would be suitors– as:

      “Come on dude, ‘nut up’ and ask me out already… I’m not a damn mind reader.”

      Anyhow, ten years later and remembering ‘how’ she said it still makes me smile. Don’t know if the book captured the essence of this as well as it could have, but I tried.

  8. So to hear you’ve bit hit with the carpal tunnel symptoms! I’m a software developer with 17 years of professional experience, and have contributed to many open source projects–so I’ve spent an exorbitant in front of the computer. I ran into these issues pretty early on, about 3 years into my professional career. I’d highly recommend a few things:

    * Make your workstation a little more ergonomic. There are a number of guides out there, but the thing that helped my most was getting a keyboard tray so that my arms would be at the correct angle. The guides will go into all kinds of stuff (chairs, monitor height, etc.), but the keyboard tray was the biggest help by far. One desks where I have a normal keyboard, I use this one: http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/shop/solution-keyboard-platform-system/.

    * Make sure to take break occasionally. Get up, think about your problem, and walk around a bit.

    * Consider a different keyboard. I’ve been using the Kinesis Advantage (http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/shop/advantage-for-pc-mac/) for 14 years now, and you’d have to pry the thing from my cold, dead hands–it’s easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s a little different at first, but you quickly adapt. I could list all the features and benefits here, but I’ll just say that it’s tremendously more comfortable to type with. A new version of the keyboard is arriving in August, so if you think you want to try it, I’d probably want until then. The new one is called the Advantage2. BTW, once people saw me using the keyboard at work, others wanted it too. So we now have like 14 of these keyboards, and the others love them too. The keyboard tray above will work with this too, but I do like the Humanscale 700 Diagonal Corner Keyboard tray I have with my desk at home since it’s a bit smaller, to match the keyboard.

    * The Advantage keyboard can be easily switched between Qwerty and Dvorak layouts. About 12 years ago, I decided that I’d give Dvorak a try because it seemed that most of my day-to-day typing would be much more comfortable. I was right–it was probably the second best decision that I’ve made. I still help manage servers, mentor folks, and other things that require typing on Qwerty keyboards, but I switch back and forth between the styles with no problems. It probably helps that I only type Dvorak on the Advantage and Qwerty on everything else, but I know several people who swap back and forth on the same style keyboard. My point is that it doesn’t have to diminish your use of computers elsewhere.

    I’m sure you’ve done lots of research of your own, but I thought it may be nice to hear from someone whose gone through this. The good news is that with the few changes that I made, I’ve avoided surgery and the pain. Hope you find the information useful!

  9. I am grateful that you are an author who feel you would like to keep your readers/fans posted about status, but more appreciative that you are sharing your storytelling talents with us at all. I have been told I’m an atypical sci-fi/comic fan, but having been so since early childhood and nearing 5 decades in, I am happy to wait for the story you want to tell. Life happens, just hope your physical maladies resolve easily.

    I have read a LOT in my life. These days, I start many books only to discard a few chapters in because they just don’t hold my attention. The Never Hero is a story that has stuck with me, and for your next book, you’ve given me the gift of anticipation. Grateful.

  10. DAMMIT, JIM!!! Just joking…hahahha!! My Google Calendar reminds me every few months to check if your sequel is out, and now I know to come to your website to see if there are any updates (rather than Amazon.) Please don’t stress yourself out too much…your health, both physical and mental, come FIRST! We’ll still be here patiently waiting on Mr. Tibbs’ sequel!

  11. Hello! Just want to say how much I enjoyed The Never Hero. I think you truly captured the practicality of how real people would act if called upon to be a hero, as opposed to typical “heroic” characters. I just want you to know the your readers support you as you take the time to make sure the sequel progresses the way you want it to.

    Also, I’m reaching out because I have chronic tendinitis in my hands and I’m currently writing this to you using Dragon NaturallySpeaking dictation software. It’s the best dictation software that I found and I definitely recommend you try it out. Though, it does changes the writing process and how you manage your workflow, so I totally understand you wanting to keep in your customary writing groove. What I really like about the software is that you can train it to recognize custom words and abbreviations which I think would be very useful to someone who’s writing a book where they’re creating names and terminology. Also, you can feed it other things you’ve written and it will learn your writing style to make predictions more accurate. Though, one thing I had to find out the hard way is that the software works a lot better on PC than it does on Mac :/

    Anyway, good luck in your process and it’s really cool that you’re so accessible to your audience!

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