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2023 Recap

Happy New Year!


A little over five years ago, I set out to tell the story of a lowly half-orc mercenary with a secret. With Paladin Unbound having been well received, what was once a labor of love has taken on a life of its own. As many of you know, I did not start writing the Archives of Evelium (AoE) with the goal of becoming a published author. It was a personal project to see if I could complete the story of Umhra the Peacebreaker—a story left untold by a D&D campaign I was running for my three boys.


2023 saw the exciting continuation of the series, Mystic Reborn, published in April. As proud as I am of Paladin Unbound and all it has achieved, Mystic Reborn takes everything to another level. It’s a bigger story with higher stakes that dives deeper into Evelium and the world around it. It’s my Empire Strikes Back and I could not be happier with how it all came together.


During the year, I broadened distribution for my books, with the Paladin Unbound audiobook successfully launching on the Epic Fantasy Audiobooks YouTube channel (https://youtu.be/8HLkFXhLYyo?si=K8lCc1PDVxjc87et). This new venue is off to a fantastic start, with Paladin garnering over 64,000 views in five months. There’s a bunch of great stuff on the channel and its free to listeners if you don’t mind the occasional commercial. So, if you haven’t checked Paladin Unbound out yet, give it a listen to see if its for you. No risk, awesome reward.


The year was equally rewarding in terms of reading. One of the highlights was completing Zack Argyle’s Threadlight trilogy. I’m not saying this because Zack is a great friend and critiques my writing every four weeks in our writing group, but if you haven’t read Threadlight, you are missing out on one of the best fantasy trilogies in recent years. Zack’s books are also available on the Epic Fantasy Audiobooks YouTube channel if you prefer to listen.


I also had the privilege of providing a cover quote for John A. Douglas’ debut epic fantasy, The Black Crown. This was a very fun read reminiscent of classic fantasy but with a modern feel. It had so many twists and turns, I continually found myself on the edge of my seat. It was an honor to have the opportunity to read it before release and to be quoted on the back cover. The Black Crown’s main character is also a half-orc, so I knew I couldn’t go wrong. You can check out The Black Crown here: https://a.co/d/dRqf2kH.


A little different than my normal epic fantasy read, Bloodlines by Peter Hartog was a welcome change of pace. All I’m going to say is, urban fantasy crime thriller. Peter weaves together magic and technology in a near-future world as we follow gritty detective Tom “Doc” Holliday in a bid to solve a murder. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Pieces of Eight, and for Peter to publish the third book in the series later this year. You can find Peter's books here: https://a.co/d/bVtlhwo.


Plans for 2024


I am a serial monogamist. As Mystic Reborn was going through edits and publication, I dove into the finale of the first trilogy in the Archives of Evelium which will wrap up the current story arc. In December, I completed the first draft and I’m currently neck deep in edits before passing it along to my trusty alpha readers. I’m not sure on a publication date yet, but I’d love to bring book three to the world late in 2024. We’ll see if I can make that happen…it isn’t entirely up to me.


Once the book is out of my hands, I have to decide where to go next. There is still a lot to explore within Evelium and the rest of Tyveriel. As such, there are a few projects that have been biding their time until I had the mental space to give them further consideration. These projects could take on any number of forms. Some may warrant full-length novels. Some may be little more than short stories I would like to share. We’ll see. The world is my oyster.


I’m hoping to make Mystic Reborn available on the Epic Fantasy Audiobook YouTube channel early in the year. I have a few t’s to cross and i’s to dot to make that happen. There are a number of other distribution outlets I would also like to explore as the year progresses, so whether you like physical copies, ebooks, or audiobooks, I’ll have you covered.  


Beyond writing, I will once again be playing D&D for TBRCon in early January. I’m looking forward to bringing my stinky cheese loving rogue, Iggy Edam, back to the table for another adventure. Beyond the fun D&D streams, TBRCon is full of great panels for lovers of fantasy. Thanks to FanFiAddict for putting on such a great event to kick off the year.


Final Thoughts


My edits call me back to Evelium. I really want to wrap these up in the coming weeks. Admittedly, completing this initial trilogy is bittersweet. While I’m proud of the accomplishment and the story I’ve told, I’ve lived in Umhra’s head and he in mine for over five years. I’ve grown to know him as well as I know myself. I know that sounds funny when talking about a person that doesn’t actually exist, but you writers out there know what I’m talking about. The relationship between author and character is intimate. You can grow to love (or hate) someone that never existed outside of your mind. There’s a chunk of me in Umhra. A chunk I wasn’t always sure I would like to share with the rest of the world. Now that his journey is concluding, I’m a little sad that I’m done telling his tale.


I hope you all have a great 2024. I’m looking forward to what the year ahead brings.


May Vaila’s light shine upon you.


Jeff

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