June Updates

June 11, 2021 - 4:36 PM

The Illness of the Isle Illustration Hal
The Illness of the Isle Final Cover.png

There it is.

Beautiful, isn't it?

Perhaps I'm biased, but I could not be happier with Sam White's work on my book cover.

When I started this journey, I designed my own covers, and while those were certainly serviceable, they did very little to capture the true essence of what my story is about. The scene Sam White has composed encapsulates my book and all its quirks and mysticism and lore perfectly. We see it all: the great city of Aurora in the background; the grandiose desert that is the Granula Milea; the chilling silhouettes of the vayle (complete with twisting tendrils of bone); the two main protagonists fleeing from their predators; and, finally, the luminescent aereo.

These last are perhaps my favorite element of the book cover, and maybe that's because they are, likely, my favorite part of my book. I think they're very special creatures, and I've spent a lot of time thinking about their life cycles and perhaps more time thinking about what happens to them after they die. I think they're one of the many elements that help my novel to stand out amongst other entries in the fantasy genre. They're similar to sprites or spren (Sanderson) or even some real-life creatures, but they also feel like they're uniquely my own, and I have a ton of plans for them as the series progresses.

Sam was an absolute joy to work with. I highly recommend him. In my opinion, his work was worth every penny. I think this gorgeous cover will inspire a lot of people to give this series a chance, and I can only hope my writing draws them into the lives of each of my protagonists.

Now that the book cover is done, I can finally announce a release date. June 25th, 2021. That's when The Gatherers and the Illness of the Isle will be available for purchase. Out of the gate, the book will be available in paperback and as an e-book, and I have a special update this month to talk about future plans for this story.

Editing is nearly complete. I have only a few more line edits to finish, but I have no concerns that they'll hinder the book's release or cause any delays. I have to say that the editing process for this book was nearly as exhausting as writing it, and I believe that bodes well for this book. As I said before, with each of my edits, I could feel my writing gaining strength and clarity, and I hope that those efforts help the book to shine in the end.

I think the editing process I've fleshed out is really something to be proud of. With my next novel, I'm hoping to shrink the process a bit (in terms of overall time and the number of iterations I need to perform to reach the end). I think I've got the destination figured out, but I went the long way around to get there this time, and I'm hoping that, next time, I'll be able to reach my destination much more quickly. On one of my writing updates I plan to share everything I learned about editing. There are no magic formulas, and no editing "process" is ever going to guarantee that a story resonates with people in every way, but I feel good about the things I've discovered, and I'm looking forward to making the time to share them with other writers. Even if I'm wrong about every thing, I'm still excited to share my process, because I think others will only help me to improve it.

Last month, I started with personal updates and went into updates about writing. This month, I decided to do things the other way around.

My son arrived at the end of May. He came nearly nine weeks early.

Now, receiving Sam White's art gave me an amazing feeling of gratitude, and I have a few other things to be really excited  and grateful about, but none of that matters much in comparison to the arrival of my son.

It was an emotional few days. We knew he was coming, and we knew he was coming early. If you've never had a premature baby before, then you don't really know what it's like to sit there, inundated with all the information about what might happen and what may become of both your baby's life and your own. Would my son be able to breathe on his own? Would he even be moving when he arrived? The medical staff who helped my wife and I to understand everything did a fantastic job as assuaging our fears and keeping us informed, but there was still a lot of uncertainty. So many questions that nobody could answer until our son came.

Since my wife was being induced, she went onto the hospital before me. I waited at home with our daughters for our in-laws to come. My mother would take me be with my wife, while my mother-in-law would stay and take care of our daughters. On our way to the hospital, my mother played me that Trace Adkins song I Came Here to Live, which I had heard a million times before. I'm not much of a country fan myself (I appreciate the level of musicianship, but the lyrics, which are often about tractors and patriotism, usually don't entice me), but my parents went through a pretty extensive stint of country music fandom when I was growing up. So, I'd heard Adkins sing this chorus so many times: 'Cause I came here to live / I didn't come here to die.

This time, my mom urged me to listen to the words. When Adkins sang the following, I teared up, and I felt like laughing at the sheer absurdity of it all at once: Our little boy was due in September / But he came early in July / For eighteen days, all I remember / Was sitting there at his side / Saying, "Son, open up your eyes" / 'Cause you came here to live / You didn't come here to die.

 

For one thing, I couldn't believe my mom would play that song for me at that moment, but I'm glad she did, because I think there is a powerful feeling of unity in knowing that other people have suffered through the same things as you. It's nothing I would wish on anyone, and I know that many people have suffered through far worse when it comes to matters of birth and life, but knowing that Trace Adkins and his large cowboy hat made it through the struggle of a premature baby somehow helped me, too.

My wife's labor lasted through the night. By the morning, she was 8 centimeters dilated, and she knew it was time to push. They wheeled her bed from our labor and delivery room into an operating room, and our son was out before the operating room's automatic door even shut.

When our son arrived, he cried.

A single, big, loud cry that told us that he was full of life. He told us that he'd come here to live and not to die, and I was so grateful for that moment. At once he was rushed out of his mother's arms and into another room where doctors and nurses could check him and help him. I stayed with my wife a bit longer, and eventually, we made our way back to another room. In time, they came to get me to go see my son. Because of the pre-eclampsia, my wife had been intravenously taking magnesium, so she couldn't go see the baby herself at that point.

 

In the company of the nurses and doctors, I took my second look at my son, and, caparisoned in tubes and wires and an insulating blanket of plastic, he looked a lot different than any of my other newborns had ever looked. I cried for perhaps five minutes. Maybe ten. I don't know how long I cried, but the nurses let me cry, and they kept on doing their jobs around me. At last, I stopped crying, and I started talking to my son. There was some humor in it. "I'm sorry, buddy. I know you'd rather be looking at your beautiful mother. Sorry you have to look at your ugly Dad." And at this, the nurses assured me that at least I'd helped to make such a beautiful baby.

He's doing well now. Very well.

 

He's gained weight every day, and he came off of his breathing assistance (CPAP) pretty early on. He also finished with his photo-therapy (for jaundice). The only thing he needs to learn to do is coordinate the sucking, swallowing, and breathing motions that he needs to breastfeed, and he'll be able to come home with us. These weeks have been long, as I've been home with our daughters while my wife provides kangaroo care (skin-to-skin) for our son. Soon, our family will be able to slip back into its routine, and I know we're all eager to let things settle (my youngest daughter especially misses her Mommy). Despite some of these hardships, I am so thankful for my son's health and progress, and I look forward to welcoming him into his new home soon.

As always, thanks so much for reading this and being part of this site.