It's so bright out here...

"WELCOME BACK, ME!" I said to myself as I started typing this sentence. I've been missing in action, blog-wise, for the last month or so, and I apologize for that. (Or, depending on how you feel about my blog posts, I apologize for returning. Reader's choice.) Back in September, I decided to really buckle down and finish the hell out of the second draft of my next novel, IF. If you're been following along, you know that's no mean feat, 'cause it's hovering around 160,000 words long.

So that's been taking some focus.

But good news, y'all! It's done! The second draft is officially complete, and now the manuscript is in the extremely capable hands of my editor, Mr. Steven Luna. So I'm back at the blog, and we'll see if we can keep this train a-chuggin'!

Here are a few things you may have missed while I was away:

Chicago Writers Conference

Self Publishing session by @claytonsaurus. #cwc2014

A photo posted by John Bryant (@wordtypes) on

This weekend, I presented a session on how to successfully self-publish at the Chicago Writers Conference, and holy cats, gang...it was a blast. The session went really well (slides are available here if you're into seeing that kind of thing), and I met a ton of enthusiastic and hard-working writers in various stages of their own self-publishing journeys. I also got to sit in on a handful of other great sessions on writing and publishing, and then I was invited to join a handful of other talented writers and read a bit of Apocalypticon at the Chicago Writers/Chicago Readers event that night to some lit lovers.

I also picked up a few new books by local authors and go the chance to meet Christine Sneed (who is terribly nice) and Ben Tanzer (who is also terribly nice, and with whom I had the opportunity to sit down and record an episode for his podcast, This Podcast Will Change Your Life, which will be available on iTunes on Friday). All in all, it was a whirlwind day of meeting and mind-melding with some incredibly talented people, and it was an honor to be a part of the programming. Thanks, Chicago Writers Conference! You're lovely!

Short Stories Abound!

I've got a handful of new short stories roaming around the Internet these days. "The Keyhole Heart," a fun little story about a questionable surgical procedure in the Old West, went up on Amazon earlier this month. You can get your hot little hands on it for just 99 cents. AHHHHH I KNOW!

On Halloween, I'll be publishing a short fairy tale called "The Boy Who Trucked With Crows" on Amazon. It's a tale that took place once upon a time in the faraway land of Brightsbane, where it was always nighttime, even at the height of day. This story will also be just 99 cents, which is pretty exciting to those of us who love spending less than a dollar on things. (Of course, if you'd rather just get things for free, you should click here and join my mailing list...join before the 31st, and you'll get "The Boy Who Trucked With Crows" for free!)

Oh, and speaking of Brightsbane...

National Novel Writing Month

It's officially official. I'm going to throw my hat in the NaNoWriMo ring for the fifth year, and this year's project is a doozy. The plan is to write a book called The Wizard Who Swallowed the Sun, which will be the first part of a three-part series that takes place in the dark fairytale land of Brightsbane. This first book will be the story of a young girl named Mabel who has to track down Brightsbane's evil wizard in order to find The Boneyard Compendium, a book of spells he stole from the elders. She'll need to seek out the three keys of bone that unlock the book before the wizard does; if she can't, she'll have to work to find the invisible entrance to his lair beneath the mountain and face him in his place of power. And that just sounds like all sorts of trouble.

Now, that in itself isn't so doozying. The doozy part comes with the decision to write a companion book for this first installment. I've decided to write The Boneyard Compendium so that when Mabel discovers its secrets, you can discover them, too. I'm hoping to release both in quick succession in autumn 2015, with the second and third installments of Mabel's adventure following within 12 months.

It's going to be quite a chore for someone with the attention span of a drunk chipmunk.

I've been planning and plotting the four-book collection over the last few weeks, which is terribly un-Claytonlike. And I've been penning a handful of Brightsbane short stories to get everyone, including myself, in the mood for the novels. I'm really loving the tales and the Tim Burton/Edward Gorey vibe they've taken on, and I can't wait to get them moving. It's so much fun, you guys!

And I think that's it for the big stuff. That's your official recap. Good night, and I love you dearly.