Jay Cantrell: Blog

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February 10, 2016
Posted at 1:30 pm


Hi all,

I've gotten several emails since "Unforgettable Weeks" concluded asking about the timetable for the next installment on the Regan and Andy series.

Surely I couldn't have really meant 2018!

Yes, I could (and don't call me Surely).

As with so many things in life, there is a long version and a short version to why it will be at least two years before "Unimaginable Lives" makes an appearance.

The short version: I'm a bit lazy and I have more important things to do when I'm not being lazy. (Nothing like the cold, hard truth, is there?)

Now the long version:

I am a father, a husband, a brother, an uncle, a friend and an employee. Each of those titles takes precedence over the title of writer. I compose these stories when I have exactly nothing else that requires my attention.

I write, on average, three to five hours each week. Even if I were to start today and keep that pace (which is unrealistic, since … see the paragraph above) it would be a year before I finished the story.

The final part of the trilogy is outlined at 150+ chapters. Those don't magically appear on my computer. I sent away for some "Writing Gremlins" that I saw advertised on the back of a match book but their only language was Sanskrit and … and they used too many adverbs for my taste.

Although it might not seem like it to the members of the Grammar Police and Pedant Society, each chapter that appears on SOL usually took four to five hours of somebody's labor to produce.

I usually spend 50 to 100 hours of research before I put the first sentence down. The research isn't just into locations or potential professions. It encompasses character personalities (how would Character A react, etc.) and plot progression.

I don't plan to start writing Unimaginable Lives for another six to eight weeks because I still have research to do. The writing will take anywhere from a year to 18 months to complete.

Some stories, such as Daze in the Valley, took three or four years to write (on top of another year of research into the subject matter). Even shorter stories such as Emerald Cove and Lifeline took six or nine months to write because of the intricate subject matter.

It takes time.

That's just the steps in the process that involve just little old me. The rest require input from others.

My editor, BlackIrish, is in high demand. I am not the only writer he works with and I'm not the best writer he works (if you haven't read G. Younger's stories, now is the time). I don't get preference on his time - and, as with me, he has other things to do in his life.

Our system lets him look at partially completed works and that helps but it will still take him time to cull through a long story, make corrections and send it back.

Usually his notes and ideas spur at least three more chapters or several lengthy rewrites (or, in the case of A Flawed Diamond, an entire story).

After BlackIrish has done his thing, I separate the story into chapters and get them formatted for SOL. This usually takes me about two weeks or more because this part is tedious and I don't like to do it.

I ship the individual chapters off to the proofreading crew. As with BlackIrish, this group works with other writers. As with everyone else in the process, they have other parts of their lives that come first.

I use a two-tiered proofing system. I sent the files off to one person - usually 10 or 15 chapters at a time. It takes about two weeks to get them turned around and then I send them off to a second proofer. They come back to me when they come back and not a minute sooner. My most recent proofers have been extremely quick but it still takes a month by the time the first set of files is back in my hands.

Only when I have 15-20 chapters in hand (and formatted) will I start to post. I dislike huge gaps in a story. Since I post in a serialized format, I won't leave the reader hanging for two months unless it is completely unavoidable.

The timeline for a story is usually the same:

One month to plot and outline;
Three to six months to research and change plot and outline;
Twelve to 18 months to write, correct and rewrite;
One to two months for top-to-bottom editing;
Two weeks to a month for additions or rewrites;
Two weeks to a month for formatting;
One month for proofreading.

I generally average two years from the time I start to write until the time I start to post on SOL on large stories (more than 50 chapters). I thought 2018 was a pretty generous estimate (because it doesn't factor in real-life constraints or that that I sometimes get so tired of writing about the same people that I walk away from them for a couple of months).

I included it so I wouldn't get a stream of emails from people asking when the next part is coming out.

So, to provide an answer to everybody that has asked, yes, 2018 is when I plan to release the next section of the story.

I will have other stories in the interim (stories I've been working on for the past three or four years while other stories have been posted).

I plan to post three novel-length stories between now and the time that Unimaginable Weeks rolls around.

I hope that explains the situation a little better.

Best wishes,
Jay C.