Believe it or not, it’s been a year since launched. Whether you’re just finding the site today, or you’ve been with us since the very beginning (of time, all those billions of years ago), all of us here at IGC Publishing are glad you’re journeying with us. And by us, I mean me, because I’m still all there is to IGC Publishing, so when I say we, consider it something of a metaphor, or possibly just wishful thinking. Despite being a one person publishing and writing organization existing solely through this website, we’ve managed to accomplish quite a lot this year. And all of what we’ve been able to accomplish is really about you, the reader, without whom there would be no point in going through this exercise at all. I’d still write, but I want to be able to share my stories, and you make that possible by reading them. So, thank you. In return for a whole year of your support, and hopefully many years to come, I’ve put together a special post that should bring you up to speed on everything there is to know right now about the Intergalactic Coalition (the writing one, not the real one headquartered in Andromeda and overseeing relationships amongst sentient species in three major galaxies).

Year in Review

Since the site was created, a lot has happened. In just a single year, we’ve posted ten short stories, and by the end of 2020 we’ll have posted four more. If you haven’t already read them, you can find all of our currently released stories on the My Works page. The Grounds Warden was our first story ever published here on the site, originally for sale as a downloadable PDF, but it’s now available for free just be clicking on the link. I had originally written this story years ago, and it was one of the first stories on which I received feedback that really encouraged me to continue writing – it showed me that I was improving in my craft.

Then, we released a special for Halloween, a not-so-horrific story involving vampires and zombies, which we’ve very creatively titled Zombies. What it lacks in title originality, it makes up for in excitement: even people who tell me they don’t like to read because they lack the attention span have enjoyed this adventure through zombie-infested lands. Think of it like Stargate with zombies instead of aliens.

Beyond stories, we’ve also developed an increasingly robust catalog of book reviews here on the site. It might seem obvious now, but I hadn’t originally intended this to be a major part of IGC Publishing; I started posting a couple of book reviews because I was having trouble coming up with new and interesting content for the twice-weekly blog posts. As I wrote the first few, however, I realized that providing reviews of books that I’ve read and enjoyed would be a good way to spread the word about good books and encourage more people to read more, which is really what’s important here, whether you’re reading something from IGC Publishing or from somewhere else. So I started making book reviews a consistent part of the programming, which aside from encouraging me to be even more consistent and diligent with my reading than I usually am, have also turned into some of our most popular contributions. The book reviews consistently get more views and more interest than anything else we post here on the site, including our own stories.

Of course, the biggest news to present from IGC is Blood Magic, which we started to release back in January 2020. I debated for a long time whether to attempt this or not, and although it hasn’t always been easy to get the episodes written by the end of each month so that I can post them here on the site, I am really glad that I chose to take on the challenge of making Blood Magic a reality. If you’re not already familiar with it, Blood Magic is a series of episodic short stories, released at the end of each month, centered around a small cast of characters. It draws strongly from Arthurian legend and traditional fantasy tropes, is generally fairly lighthearted, and is modeled roughly after the older style of television programming, where each weekly episode would contain its own arc and essentially reset at the end, before the next episode, without a lot of serialization. I wanted to do the same sort of thing in short story form, which is exactly what Blood Magic is. The episodes have also been a great way for me to experiment with and practice my writing. Season one will wrap up with episode twelve at the end of December, in what I’m anticipating to be an exciting season finale (I’ve already started a draft), before we roll right into season two at the end of January 2021. At the moment, there are three seasons of Blood Magic planned.

The Year Ahead

Blood Magic will continue to be a major part of the programming for the website. I do still work on my other stories (yes, I will talk about Fo’Fonas soon). Where Season 1’s primary arc dealt with what Blood Magic is, and the relations within Merolate, Season 2 will begin expanding the world, with new nations, new peoples, and new challenges. Whenever I read the outline for the whole, three-season epic of Blood Magic, I am both excited, and daunted. There is, in my opinion, a lot of potential in these story ideas, and I only hope that I am able to follow through on the execution. That way, both I, and all of you, will be able to enjoy these stories in their best possible form. I know already that many of them are rough around the edges; I usually don’t have time to give them more than a quick read-through before I push them out to the public, and start work on the next episode. Eventually, I hope to go back and revise them, or at least give them a copy-edit, to clean them up and make them even stronger. However, I promise that I will continue to maintain their episodic nature, and any changes that I make will not compromise the integrity of the stories; changes would only be to the writing.

I had high hopes that I would be able to finish more writing this year, but writing Blood Magic has taken more time than I anticipated each month. I’m finally starting to pull slightly ahead in my production schedule of Blood Magic episodes, so I’ve been able to return to the worlds of stories like Gods and Men, Djinn, Impressions, and, of course, Fo’Fonas. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I have high hopes for at least a novella or two being published next year, in addition to the monthly Blood Magic episodes. However, I will not commit to a release date for these works until they are finished. I have had to make my peace with the unpolished nature of the Blood Magic episodes, but I intend other pieces to be better polished. This is why I suspect that I will not have a novel ready for publication this year.

That being said, I am making good progress on Fo’Fonas. A stand-alone novella entitled Verdon’s Tragedy is the most likely suspect for publication next year. I’ve also made significant progress on the first draft of book 2 in the main series. As I said on the page, it will be a long time yet before any of the mainline books are ready for publication, but the word count keeps ticking up, and that’s a good thing. I’ll continue keeping the Fo’Fonas page as up-to-date as possible. Supplemental to all of this writing, I’m exploring options for sharing more of my writing process: content like outlines, character sketches, brainstorming, and in-world supplements I create for myself. When I started getting more serious about my writing, I had a hard time identifying the best ways to organize my work, so my hope is that sharing some of this will be helpful to other aspiring authors. If nothing else, it should be interesting to those following my stories.

Generally, my weekly posts keep you pretty up-to-date on my writing progress, so I’ll now turn to some of the non-writing changes and steps I’m hoping to take in the site’s second year. As you saw from our Grounds Warden cover, and the Blood Magic symbol, all of the visual art for my works is done by me, and I am far from adept in that area. I’ve been considering for some time now making an exploratory offer to an artist to commission a new symbol for Blood Magic, with the thought that it could eventually lead to a cover artist for other IGC works, including Fo’Fonas. Such a relationship could also mean better maps in the future than my hand-drawn cartographic sketches.

In a related vein, I am also undertaking a review of the site’s design, with an eye towards changing the format and structure. One of the stumbling blocks this year has been getting Blood Magic in front of audiences. Although my posts are read fairly reliably, especially the book reviews and essays, there is much less traffic on the rest of the site. With that in mind, goals for a possible redesign would be to make the site more readable, more navigable, and to ensure that advertisements are only appearing where I deliberately put them (at chapter and section breaks). Rest assured that any changes I make will not result in removal of content, so you will still be able to go back and reference all of the old posts and pages.

We’ve been pretty steady with the two posts a week schedule, with Tuesday’s post for my essays, thoughts, updates, and other musings, and Thursday’s post reserved for book reviews. That schedule will continue for the foreseeable future. What might change is the content of the Tuesday posts. I’ve been thinking a lot recently, largely prompted by writing this post, about what I really want to accomplish with IGC Publishing. My intent when I set up the site was to create a small publishing apparatus through which I could publish and sell my own stories, because I was not (and still am not) in a position to pursue traditional publishing avenues. I have since converted from selling books on the site to posting them directly here, available for anyone to read, at least for the short stories. But where do I want this to go in the future? More and more, there is a part of me that wonders about building this into something bigger.

They say that entrepreneurship is all about seeing a need that isn’t being filled, and having the wherewithal to fill it. Oftentimes that’s something that the entrepreneur says “hey, I wish that blank existed,” and then they go out and make blank exist. Of course, it’s not quite so simple as that, but that is at least the impetus. For me, that gap is thorough, intellectual introspection. Don’t stop reading – I’m going to explain. Our world is increasingly fast-paced, and in some ways increasingly shallow. In the current draft of Gods and Men, I joke that “apocalypses sell good advertisements.” Since the novel is a post-apocalyptic novel, it’s an apt phrase, but it was actually inspired by my observations of our real world, and how media companies craft headlines. Does it ever feel like we bounce from one crisis to another? If you follow the news, the answer is probably yes, because those are the headlines that draw people in and get them to consume content. Take the COVID-19 pandemic: there are hundreds, maybe thousands of articles with titles like “xx thousands dead, xx millions confirmed cases,” but there are no headlines saying “xx million people successfully recovered from COVID-19.”

Unfortunately, those headlines tend to cover for a multitude of flaws. I read a book, before I started doing reviews consistently on the site, about logical fallacies: it detailed dozens of ways in which our brains play tricks on us. Even being aware of them, I still catch myself falling into those traps sometimes. There are a lot of other people out there who know about these fallacies, and they deliberately use that knowledge to create content that pulls people in and leads them to a desired conclusion. I’m not saying that this is new, but I do think it has become more prevalent, and more deliberate. The matters we discussed in Word Creation are part of this, too.

I’ve long had a passion for education, or perhaps more aptly for sharing knowledge and thoughts, which is where I see a need that IGC Publishing might be able to fill. I have a vision of a publishing apparatus that is lean and approachable, providing a forum for the kinds of content that tends not to get published in other mediums: material that is niche, intellectual, academic, or unpopular – in other words, the headlines that don’t draw in eyeballs the way apocalypses do. That can be fiction, non-fiction, philosophical, scientific – any genre, type, or style. All available here on IGC Publishing. It wouldn’t just be from me; this content would primarily be driven by outside contributors, some of them using the site for a single article, others becoming regular content contributors.

That vision, though, is a long way off. We’re not even ready to solicit guest contributors, although if one popped up perfectly suited for that vision we could probably make something happen. For this year, I’m going to start publishing some articles and essays that are less specific to writing, and are more about sharing information. These could be essays (we’ve done a couple of those already), or they could simply be me sharing an interesting scientific paper I happened to read. Or, I might decide to do an in-depth series on a particular topic (for instance, maybe I’ll do a series on space travel). These would either be in addition to, or take the place of, some of the Tuesday blog posts, at least initially. I simply don’t have the bandwidth at the moment to write each month’s Blood Magic, read a book every week, post two blog posts, write a detailed essay, work on my other stories, and work my “real” job. I know: I’m very lazy.

If you’ve borne with me all the way through to the end of this post, then I applaud you, and I thank you. I must have the most dedicated, literate, erudite readers on the internet. You should see movement on what I’ve mentioned in this post soon. Remember, you can keep up to date on IGC Publishing by following the blog, and if you have a specific question that’s not being answered or a subject that you would like to see, or any other inquiry, you can contact me. I look forward to another year with all of you.

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