[Update: The fundraiser is now closed. Thanks to your generosity, I've raised enough to cover all of the expenses below. I can't thank you all enough for your support and for all of the kind notes about what my writing has meant to you! And I can't wait to meet readers in Indianapolis and San Antonio!]
This is a difficult post to write.
A little over a year ago, I hit a very hard time in terms of my mental and financial health. In desperation, I broke a long, self-imposed silence about some of these issues, and posted a very public plea for help. To say that I was overwhelmed by the generous response would be an understatement. Readers, friends, colleagues, and total strangers came together for me. Within a few days I’d made a slew of new internet friends who understood what I was going through, and who offered crucial psychic support and help developing a strategy for reclaiming my mental health. People also donated over $7000 dollars of their hard-earned money, which still feels like a miracle when I think on it (more actually came in, but I returned all payments that came after the listed expenses were met).
The last year has, in some ways, been better than the one before it. Between the aid of others and my own hard work, I’ve been able to pay bills and attend a couple of conventions to meet readers. My novel, THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON, has been nominated for most of the genre’s major awards, and won the Locus Award for Best New Novel! For the first time in my near-40 years of life I’m undergoing treatment for anxiety. It’s true that the circus of different therapists and medications led me on a dark, half-year parade during which I was not able to take on much freelance editing work, and very little writing got done. But this long-term investment is beginning to pay off: I’ve got a good therapist, I’m on what feel like the right meds. I’m taking on clients again. And I’m **writing.** Regularly and, dare I say it, well. If all goes well, THE THOUSAND AND ONE, Book II of THE CRESCENT MOON KINGDOMS, will finally be done by year’s end, and out next year. I think you’re going to love it. (The first public teaser follows this post.)
I am writing now, however, because I am in trouble again. This may be baffling to those on the outside, who see a book being nominated for awards and reviewed by NPR and translated into Chinese, and, understandably, figure “That writer’s set.” But, as any midlist novelist can tell you, having one’s first novel published does not equal riches. And buzz does not equal a living wage. Despite lean living and taking on as much freelance work as I can find, I’ve a pretty grim half-year before me. Things already look better for next year, particularly after my next book is done. But for 2013 I find myself in the position – hardly unique among creative types in our culture – of trying to figure out how to help make ends meet without, in essence, giving up writing.
So I’m asking for your help to raise funds for two specific expenses:
Childcare: While my wife moves heaven and earth to provide for our family, I am often our ‘front line’ in caring for our three-year-old twins. In the last year or so they’ve been in daycare full-time, and it’s been an incredible blessing. I miss them every hour they’re gone, but if I’ve any hope of continuing to write books, the kids will need to stay in daycare. By 2014 I will be earning enough to ensure this myself (provided I can write in the meantime). But meeting this expense for the next several months is looking unlikely without some sort of outside assistance.
Convention travel: The organizers of GenCon, the world’s largest gaming convention, have invited me to be a part of their Writers Symposium. It blows my mind: Dungeons and Dragons was a hugely formative influence on me, and now the folks who MAKE Dungeons and Dragons want me to come and read my work and sign books at their enormous party! I’m excited to meet the many readers who’ve said they’ll be there. I’ll be doing this as cheaply as I can — driving and splitting a hotel room 3 ways. But things have been tight enough these past couple of month that even gas, cheap food, and 1/3rd a hotel room could prove prohibitive.
Even harder for me is that travel to WorldCon – which requires an expensive plane ticket and big ticket membership – may no longer be on the table for me. This breaks my heart, since THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON has been nominated for the Hugo Award for best novel, which will be awarded at WorldCon. It’s very likely this will be the only time I’m nominated, and I’d really hate to miss it, even I don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning. But in the epic battle of airfare versus phone bill, phone bill wins every time.
The challenges I’m dealing with here — anxiety, depression, childcare, the piecemeal economic life of a working writer — are not unique to me. Many, perhaps most, professional writers, are dealing with some version of the same thing. My case is not the most dire, and I’m not the best writer struggling with these things. But if you care for my fiction, my writing on fantasy, my silly tweets and such — or if you’ve just been in this position yourself — I’d appreciate any help you can offer.
I fear I have very little in terms of concrete perks to offer people, which is why I’m not doing this via Kickstarter or Indiegogo. I have, as an advance ‘thank you’ for your support, made my ebook collection ENGRAVED ON THE EYE available for free. You can download it in a bunch of different formats here: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/235678 . Please enjoy the stories, even if you’re not in a position to help!
I’m asking people to make paypal donations, which will all be kept anonymous unless requested otherwise, to email@example.com. This is also my personal email address, for those who might be inclined to write. Once the expenses detailed above have been met, I will make an announcement and return any additional donations.
With love and more thanks than words can express,
Oh, that teaser I promised!:
THE THOUSAND AND ONE: BOOK II OF THE CRESCENT MOON KINGDOMS
Revolution has come to Dhamsawaat. The Falcon Prince, whose coup had aimed to feed the city’s poor, now sits on the Throne of the Crescent Moon. But he quickly learns that stealing a kingdom is much easier than running one.
Doctor Adoulla Makhslood forces himself to ignore the political turmoil boiling around him as he prepares for his long-awaited wedding to Miri Almoussa. His old friends Dawoud and Litaz in turn prepare to travel back to their homeland in the Soo Republic, accompanied by the tribeswoman Zamia Banu Laith Badawi, who hopes to put distance between herself and memories of her dead kinsmen and the warrior dervish Raseed bas Raseed.
Meanwhile, Raseed has left Dhamsawaat and his apprenticeship to Adoulla to journey back to the Lodge of God, hoping to purify himself of religious doubts and his troubling attraction to Zamia, and in the course of his journey he crosses swords with the master assassin and disgraced dervish Red Layla.
But the heroes’ paths cross again when the enigmatic Queen of the djenn herself appears with a dire warning for the world of men, and Adoulla and his old friends again leave peace and happiness behind as they set out to make things right in a world gone wrong.