• Ricky Argenbright

Ricky's Writing Recap 2019


I’ve spent another year writing epic fantasy novels. Did I waste my time?


Of course not. That’s ridiculous.


If anything, I have a deeper rooted passion for it and have discovered that this is something I’d like to do for the rest of my life, for better or for worse. For richer or for poorer. In sickness and in health. And even in the correct context.


This post is coming later than I originally intended, but I can at least admit that I planned it that way once I figured out what I wanted to get done before the new year rolled in. December is the month that I feel I’d like to unwind a bit and tell anyone who’s interested what I’ve been up to during the year and what status those projects might be in for the coming year. However, with 2020 on the brink and no projects published, I felt that it was finally time to start breaking out. Not in pimples or hives, though. I seem to be good on both of those fronts right now. I’ll update you on that if it changes too.


With that said, let’s dig into it. And here’s 2019 if you wanted to reference the differences in progress from then to now. I changed the format as well, so hopefully it’s easier to understand and it flows better.



January


Still hadn’t finished that mega-sized-hamster-squashing book that I had spoken about when I first started writing. For those who don’t know, I wanted to write a massive epic fantasy volume as my first book. For several reasons that I won’t go into here, that isn’t a good idea for a debut. So instead I tore the epic into thirds that still add up to around 150,000–175,000 words each. If they tore into clean and concise chunks at perfect breaking points with all of the working parts in their proper places that would’ve been perfect. That’s not how it works, though. So I spent most of January drafting the third Luminous novel.


Interesting circumstances stretched that goal out a few months farther than I wanted, so I also decided to take a short interlude and plot map Luminous 4 and 5. I don’t have issues with any part of the writing process so far, but it sure was nice to switch off and take a break from drafting for a time. I had been drafting for almost a year at that point across the span of three stories with no other activity to break it up. Still enjoy it.


I took some time to dig into my short story collection that I’d like to put out some day before I die, called Tales Around the Mana Pool. I’ve mentioned it in the past but hadn’t put much typing to it. Decided to change it up and write 3/4 of one. Yup, didn’t even finish it. The ending needs work before I can move on. I decided to let it stew some more. Like a fine wine, I’ll look at it again in five to ten years.


My universe expanded in January too! I’m super excited about my stories being part of this overarching universe that I’m continuously weaving together. Added some more lore to the world vault for it. She be lookin’ goooood.


February


Spent some more time drafting Luminous 3. It’s my fault, really. I got distracted by plotting and short story-ing and lore-ing. I got into a good groove though, and for the first time I surpassed a soft goal of 3,000 words a day for three days straight! A superb achievement for having a day job and multiple ministries a week.


And then our family had another loss to match October of 2018: my grandfather passed away. Both grandparents on that side of the family have moved beyond the mortal realm. My writing slowed down for a time so my mental state could have time to catch up.


Fun fact: He finished a book and was working through edits. If I get time to figure out what exactly he was working on, I may have some things to say about that at some point. No promises.


March


Luminous 3 for month 3. Almost there.


I took some time to work on a different short story collection in March, tentatively named Nurturing Nature. Seems counterproductive that I would work on yet another different project, like I can’t let go of the shiny of other things. To be honest, it doesn’t really feel like that. I get the bulk of my word count done in my novels and sometimes other side projects sneak their way into the schedule for a small period of limelight. I think that’s fine. Maybe that’s fine with you too. Each time I do that it delays me getting published, but I like my sanity as well. We get along.


As far as updates for this collection, at the time I was working on it I had nothing. Now though… there are some sweet things being engaged. I won’t spoil it in case my collaborators aren’t ready for reveals. Secrets are fun.


April


April showers bring May flowers. They also bring more required word count towards Luminous 3. The ending was so satisfying to write, and was a good portion of the book if I’m being honest. I hope you might be as excited to read it someday in the future as I am now in writing it.


April was my first month ever attending conventions! What a noob! I mean, wahoo!

They were fun on a whole different level than I expected. Cons are enjoyable anyway, but I had the chance to network with artists and authors for most of the weekend at both cons. Too many to name here. They were all relationships that I would enjoy fostering in the future as I find my place in this amazing community.


For those who are curious, the two cons I attended were Planet Comicon in Kansas City and FanX in Salt Lake City. Both were great experiences! While I was on the road I had time to brainstorm some more ideas for my universe. I even figured out a magic system for a pirate novel that I want to write! Not sure when that will be. Don’t hold your breath.


May


Finally finished Luminous 3! I’m pretty sure I jumped up and did a jig that will never be seen by the public eye (as much as I can prevent it). Three epic novels drafted means that the next phase is oh no…


I spent most of the month going back over all three for consistency and clarity before starting the editing, which took a much longer time than I’d anticipated. I knew the editing process would be slow, but… 


Taking advantage of the break that the drafting gave me, I used the opportunity to write another little fiction bit on Medium. The Hypotharticles (hypothetical articles) are a fun twist on fan fiction that I really enjoyed. Changing major plot points based on differing character decisions is always an interesting deal and makes for good entertainment.


I updated my email system infrastructure! It took a week or so that I couldn’t write (or edit) and it feels much more professional than what I had in place before. Nothing is officially launched unless you participated in my beta reads that I dubbed alpha reads. The changes will become apparent over time as my first published work comes to light.


June


Most of this month, and my entire summer at that, was taken up by editing. First pass over all three books. One grueling, horrifying, painstakingly terrible word at a time. I noticed right away how much my writing knowledge of the building blocks of the process had developed over the year of drafting. The first book was far more awful than the other two. Significantly so. And if you’re wondering, I don’t use nearly this many adverbs in my prose. I do it here because I can get away with it.


I also decided to create my own font and unify my branding on social media. It seems a small thing, but I like how it looks. Even if the font might not get used in actual publishing scenarios, I enjoy having it for the time being. Check it out on my website if you haven’t yet. While you’re there, sneak in on the rest of the site and let me know what you think about it. Anything you find awesome or annoying that you redirect to me would be helpful. If you’re going to take the time to investigate what I have going on, I don’t want you to despise doing so. Twitter would be the easiest way to reach me if you want to give me a high five or a poop emoji. Or anything in between as well.


Started an Instagram account for some other fun diversity in interaction. Throughout the year I was testing a few things and haven’t been too consistent on it. I’ll figure something out. Perhaps I can get some artwork up or cover reveals after publishing things occur. Whenever that is.


July


Luminous 1 edits all month long. At this point in time, I expected many more months of it. Nice to take a break from my year of drafting though.


Surprise! I blew through the first pass on Luminous 1 and started Luminous 2. In the grand scheme of things, I still had a lot to do though. MOAR EDITS PLZ.


Iterated a second revision pass over my short story Shielded Deception. You may have heard of it, several times across the last year as I mentioned I was going to publish it on Medium several times and then promptly ignored that notion. My intention through this pass was instead to aim it at the Writers of the Future contest and see how it did. There was some legitimate fear there since I was training myself and had a passion for novels. What was the worst that could happen though? A rejection? Everyone gets those. I wanted practice submitting with a very minor chance and hope at success. There were good vibes going through that revision, I tell ya.


August


Major step of progress reached! I sent my first book, Luminous 1, to beta/alpha readers! Several people were excited to get their hands on whatever this thingy was that this one dude says he wrote. An interesting moment even for myself to be in such a position. People were actually going to read my writing.


Wait.


IS IT TOO LATE TO TAKE IT BACK?


I finished editing Luminous 2 in August as well. Things were moving along at a good pace that I couldn’t be too upset about. One more to go and I would have them all done!


Ricky’s Writing Recap became a thing for the first time this month. I wrote 2018 at a time that I felt like looking back at what I’d done thus far. It was in the middle of the year, but I had been writing prose for over a calendar year at that point. I didn’t (and still don’t upon the writing of this post) have any followers that don’t already know me in person, but who knows what people will want to look at in the future? It’s a pretty neat thing to see how far we’ve come as people. So in the interest of future you being interested in future me (greetings from the past, future and now present you), I posted the first of what I felt would be a fun way to reminisce.


And I plot mapped Luminous 6. I should stop.


September


Edited Luminous 3. That’s it, sorry.


October


My first reader experience of my book ended and I was getting in feedback on my writing for the first time. Interestingly enough, they all hated it! No, I’m kidding. they offered me some great pointers from a reader’s perspective that I wouldn’t have caught with ease as the writer. I implemented the changes that I felt were most important and realized at the same time that perfecting a project isn’t possible. Now I know what they mean when they say that you never finish a creative project. You only get to a point where you can accept letting it go unfinished.


I spent most of October editing Luminous 3 in the hopes that I could work on my next book. I was ready for drafting again.


October was the month that I decided to mail off my first contest submission ever! Shielded Deception traveled a couple miles down the road from my house to Writers of the Future’s doorstep in time for Q1 of the 2020 volume! Even at the time of writing this, it isn’t time to hear back yet. Still waiting on the proverbial pins and needles.


November


Edited Luminous 3. That’s it, sorry. <<< (I copy-pasted this.)


December


Aaaaaand… the first revision pass for Luminous 3 is done! I celebrated again I’m sure. I had always heard that things like that are great micro-rewards. A publishing deal is not the only time worthy of a pat on the back. So glad for that.


I started polishing Luminous 1 right away with a goal of submitting to agents in January 2020. The length of time it took me to first-pass edit all three books gave me time for my writing skill to increase again. Love that.


January


Wrote the Writing Recap for 2019 a month later than I was supposed to. More updates to come for January exactly one year from now.


And that’s that!


Next, I felt like I wanted to identify each individual project that I’m working on and what status each one is in. I try not to make any promises here and only state current statuses and predictions based on my interests and future desires right now.



The Luminous Archive


My epic fantasy mega project that spans the universe of my mental map. A massive series broken up into easy-to-consume trilogy projects based on each light tribe. Ideally, the trilogies will be able to be consumed in any order with a different cast of characters highlighted. That way, if there is a specific type of luminous magic or a color that you prefer, you can choose to start there. The timelines will not be chronological if you do, but my planned release order isn’t either.


Luminous 1, 2 and 3 have all been drafted and first pass revised, while Luminous 1 has had a second pass or polish. Can’t really say it’s a polish when it will probably be revised a bunch more times before the end of its cycle. I’ve submitted it to a literary agent that I would be ecstatic to work with, and she has the only copy of it right now so that I can give her time to look at it before I send to other agents. For the time being, it’s out of my hands and in better ones!


Luminous 4 is outlined, while 5 and 6 are plot-mapped. My plot maps are less detailed outlines that give me a loose guide while my mind brews the outline. For some reason, it works for me. I end up using the outline when I draft and the plot map during revision. Both documents are invaluable to my process.


Status: Luminous 1 being reviewed by my top agent!


Super Secret Project — we’ll code name it… ‘Silent Soul’


This is not the same as the ‘Secret Project’. That one got bumped a spot down by this new shiny. Both projects are very visible on my radar right now, but this one is likely to take the next drafting spot until I’m done with a draft and an edit pass.


What I’m willing to say about it right now is that it is set in my universe with the Luminous Archive and the outer space story dubbed ‘Secret Project’. It uses a totally different magic system and I will be approaching the storytelling with a few other tools that I wasn’t using in the Luminous Archive that I feel fit this story well.


Status: Draft in progress.


Secret Project [obviously a working title]


This one involves interaction on a galactic level. I know. That should be enough of a statement to convince any editor to say yes, akin to saying the word ‘dragon’ around a D&D table. It gets us all fired up! Unfortunately, that isn’t the case, though. The first novel of this series is fully outlined and even has a prologue in place. The problem I have is that it needs to be tested on readers already. I’m using some fun concepts in the storytelling and I want some feedback to make sure that what I’m looking for is coming across to the reader. We’ll see how it moves forward.


As much as I was gearing up for this one, ‘Silent Soul’ is taking the headstrong lead in drafting right now. This one will be hit with the draft-hammer next. That is, assuming Luminous 1 doesn’t get attention from agents.


Status: Outlined and ready.


Nurturing Nature [working title]


Also dubbed ‘Nature’s Storybook’ at one point, and might still be named that on my website. I need to be more firm with my social media department! (He’s a loon, always writing stories instead of hanging out online.)


Anyway. This project is a children’s book in the works with some collaborators from a new publisher, called Stone & Hearth Publishing House. Their first book release was recent and looks fantastic. I picked up my copy already and I found it totally fun and unique!


They asked what I had in the works and when I presented the idea to them they seemed equally as thrilled with the project as I am. There will be ten to twelve different stories about somewhat exotic animals and the natural trials that they have to deal with in their life cycles. Alongside these true-to-life details is a related moral trial that will be overcome by each animal as they endure their life situation. Four of them are written and the premise has been created for another five or six.


No spoilers yet. As we get more of the project done, we may release some teaser shots of it. Or not. I make no promises, except that it will be an interesting and exciting read. The artist has a very cute and fun style, filled with color and life! Check out her work here!


Status: Art and draft in progress.


Tales Around the Mana Pool


I have one story about 3/4 of the way completed and just waiting on a low simmer for a solid and relative ending. I’m using a frame story in it and I want to discover a good way to lead back to the main frame. I have most of it, but I need an excuse for why things are the way they are in the future. Nothing too complicated, but short fiction gets the short end of the stick from me almost all of the time.


A second story I’m writing for the Writers of the Future contest is in the works! It’s a fun one that relies heavily on a more comedic stance, something that I haven’t done yet. I have the beginning of it written and just need a time where I feel the need to take a break so that I can work on it some more. It’s a fun one!


Status: Slooooowly making progress. It seems that I might get into a trend of writing one of the stories for each contest quarter of the Writers of the Future. I also have a cover image in mind and just need to commission it. Where the entire project goes will become more clear as time goes on.


Short Fiction


Shielded Deception is sitting on someone’s desk at Writers of the Future right this second. Literally, it’s probably just sitting there, not being read. It’s like, 10pm on a Monday night. Haven’t heard back from the staff yet, but it isn’t time. When the announcement is made I’ll let you know. Or, you’ll already know because you’re following them too.


Status: At the Writers of the Future contest.


Codename Mana Boy is the next shorter piece I'm working on. It's a really fun and lighthearted story about this youngin' who's much too happy doing what he's doing. We'll find out what he's so happy about after I submit it to the contest.


Status: Draft ensuing.



I hope that was informative for you. If you made it this far, I appreciate your attention. There are many other things that both you and I could have been doing instead, but you chose to stay and hang out with me as I divulged my life’s work to you. That’s pretty cool. You’re all right in my book. Actually, you’re not in my book.


Be sure to follow me on Twitter, Instagram or here on Medium if you’d like to see things as they happen. Feel free to drop me a comment or ask questions as you think of them. Thanks again for your interest in my life and my stories. I hope they bring you as much entertainment as they brought me. Eventually. Publishing requires a great amount of patience and perseverance.


On a side note, I’ll be visiting far more cons this year, including the big ones in the SFF world. Maybe I’ll see you there? Let me know if you plan on going to any. If we’re at one of the same ones, come find me!


Thanks again for reading. Much respect. Stay connected and enjoy 2020!

© 2020 by Ricky Argenbright. All rights reserved.