Unless you’ve sent us an email or follow us on Facebook (more on that medium later), it’s been a criminally long time since you’ve heard from us. We owe you an explanation.
First off, we haven’t disappeared, though you’d be forgiven for suspecting such. We published our last novel March of last year, and we’ve sent precious few email memos in the intervening months. Our Typo Tuesday posts on the Facebook author page continued, but those were on an automated schedule we set up ahead of time.
It started with what was admittedly a bout of burn-out after finishing Ascending Mage 7: Prairie Poltergeist just (barely) in time for the pre-order deadline.
Then, there was the whole global Covid-19 fiasco and the demoralizing series of events to follow. We distracted ourselves by focusing on a desperate attempt to keep a new planting of 1,400 baby trees alive in record-breaking drought conditions. Sadly, most of them did not survive, despite many long days spent pumping water to them and weeding one tree at a time.
The release date for Ascending Mage 8 got pushed back twice. Eventually Amazon pulled our pre-orders for that title and barred us from offering pre-orders for a year. That was rather discouraging, even if deserving, considering we were the ones to drop the ball on that commitment to our most loyal readers.
By then it was September. Our neighbors across the street retired and decided to sell their house. The property was in poor condition and would need a lot of attention, but the layout is nicer than our home. An opportunity presented itself: we would offer them a cash deal for 55% of their asking price, but they would in turn need to do zero repair work, pay no real estate agent fees, and indeed not even clean the place up.
To two retirees, that sounded like music! They agreed on the spot to our offer.
And before you think we robbed a couple of old folks out of an asset, let me disclose to you: they were hoarders. And they lived there for 18 years, collecting…stuff. Stuff they left behind for us to contend with.
We hauled out literal tons of trash from the property, even before beginning the tasks of ripping out weathered carpet, old woodgrain paneling, and a hodgepodge of ancient plumbing, wiring, and fixtures. We had to jack the center beam of the house up as someone in generations past had opted to tear out a twelve-foot section of load bearing wall in the basement. Faulty sewer lines were discovered and had to be torn out, and we’re still dealing with flooding issues whenever it rains.
We bought ourselves a “project house” alright. In a future post we’ll share more about our ongoing money pit! But for now, let’s not deviate too far off topic.
This spring, RaeLea and I endured what would prove to be a blindingly painful death, with the loss of our little 12-year-old girl-cat to cancer. We don’t have human children, but our two cats filled the role as surrogate kids for us. When my daughter’s fuzzy body went limp and her tiny head dropped into my hand, never to raise again…that remains the single most heart-rending experience of my life, I can say that without a doubt.
Even as I write this, I know I’m not quite ready to go into further detail with you. The emotions are still too raw to re-live, if you’ll excuse me on that.
And then there’s Facebook.
In response to the increasingly volatile, belligerent tone on Facebook, both of us took a year-long break from the platform. We previously spent literally thousands of dollars in ad campaigns and untold numbers of hours cultivating our author brand, so the decision to back away was not one we took lightly. In addition to the polarizing echo chambers we observed among friends and family, seemingly every week there was (and continues to be) new revelations of Orwellian-level misinformation and outright censorship at the hands of Big Tech. We just cannot fathom contributing to that ugliness, even if it was largely profitable for us to do so.
As the old country song by Aaron Tippin goes, “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.” We stand for freedom of speech and individual rights, which means we cannot in good conscience continue falling for whatever it is social media offers. We were earning easy revenue, but at what cost?
We have not taken the final step of shutting down our Facebook group, but we intend to. It’ll be unfortunate to lose many of those followers, knowing that only a fraction of them subscribe to our email list. But even in that, there’s a silver lining: more opportunity to focus on fewer marketing channels.
We can’t (or won’t) make a promise to you just yet for when the next installment of the Ascending Mage series will be ready. We will promise you that we’re not going to let Ember Wright’s story end prematurely. Her story deserves to be told properly.
You can expect updates in the coming weeks.
To be clear: storytelling was never abandoned by us. Over the past year, we’ve written several short stories and we’ll be sharing those with you. We are also excited to talk about our endeavors in learning 3D modeling and animated filmmaking, and in turn what will become adaptations of some of the aforementioned short stories into an audio-visual medium.
There you have an abbreviated explanation of our hiatus from novel-writing. It’s been a long time coming and we’re delighted to be back! Thanks for sticking with us.
Not sure how I am the first to comment but I really appreciate the update. I have been looking for the 8th book for a while and was worrying that something happened to you. I look forward to it whenever it is released.
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!
Yeah, unfortunately, we’re massively delayed in writing Ascending Mage 8. We’ve got the rough outline, but it turns out the book doesn’t want to write itself! We still intend on a ten-book arc for Ember’s story.
Thanks for sticking with us!
Dear Raelea & Frank, for probably 3 years, I’ve been carrying around your business card invitation to download your free e=book, Fog Over Mandaree. Today, I ran across your card and finally stopped to download it. I look forward to reading a story set in local town & supporting ND authors.
Obviously, you’ve got a great deal of responsibilities that need immediate attention. That’s totally understandable. I’m sure your faithful readers will find you, without FB and Amazon.
Best of luck with your endeavors.
Thanks, Nancy, for the comment! Be sure to let us know what you think of the prequel novel. It was the first of our published stories so we like to think we’ve gotten “better” at storytelling since then, but it’s something we’re still proud to offer as an entry into our fictional world.
Thanks, too, for the well-wishes!
Happy Frankday! 🎂🎈🎁🎉🎊
I just learned that you’re a coauthor and downloaded Fog Over Mandaree. I have to admit I was hoping for an audiobook version as I like to body double. When I realized your books are based in small town ND, I began to hope that my boy would read them. This was about 15 minutes ago, so time will tell. Good luck in your future endeavors and please consider an audiobook platform 😎🤗
Thanks so much for the birthday wishes, that’s so thoughtful of you!
We do have audiobooks for our Ascending Mage series (on Audible and other audiobook platforms), but you’re right, we don’t have one for Fog Over Mandaree. We also have been doing a terrible job at promoting the existing audiobooks, for that matter!
Thanks for the suggestion. We hadn’t considered creating an audiobook version of FOM but that’s a great idea.
Great hearing from you!
Hello Squirrelly friends – it’s been a hot minute – so happy to read about you and what you’ve been doing.
Let’s catch up sometime!
Well hello Kelly! Yes indeed it’s been a while! So good to hear from you. We definitely need to catch up sometime soon.