‘Everything’s fucked really, isn’t it? Except maybe it’s not quite.’

I’m not even going to guess at how many times I must have said that over the last four years. This time back in 2016, I was writing an application for a job that would get me back on the day-job career ladder if I got it. I did. It was only supposed to last four months, then it got extended for another four, then it became permanent. I’ve been doing it ever since, and it’s lasted four years. Now thanks to this fucking virus, it might not last another one.

It’s not endgame yet though. The organisation have only announced that redundancy is going to happen within the next year. When, who, how it’s decided…that stuff’s all yet to come. If it happens to me, I’ve got something of a cushion to land on in the package I’d get for having been there for four years. It’ll suck balls if I have to deal with looking for another job, but even at a time like this, I can come up with a workable plan.

Let’s not dwell on that though. I’m only bringing it up because it’s a situation that’s forced me to think a little differently, and one of the things I’ve ended up thinking is that it’s time I got back in the game with my real-name SF books in some way.

What I’ve just started with is making the two Carnathia’s Underground books, Fighter’s Mark and Fighter’s Defiance, free on all channels until the end of September. I’ve tried the former on permafree before, but never the two. Nobody’s bought one of my five real-name books in over a year, basically because they’ve all gone invisible due to lack of promotion on my part, so honestly what do I have to lose? Lockdown life has seen a whole load of authors give their stuff away for free to readers who need material. I joined that bandwagon with a couple of short stories under my pen-name, now lets do novels under my real one.

The Carnathia’s Underground books are a decent hook, and easier to read. The Talent Show follows on from them, and that’s for those who like this world enough to spend more time and get more deeply invested in it. They’re denser, more complex and in many ways more rewarding.

I’m starting small in that I’m not running paid promos for anything. All I’m asking is for people who like what they find here to spread the word, and doing the same on a couple of social media channels.

It’s odd that part of what’s inspired me to get these books out there again is that at the day job, we’re all talking about ‘re-opening’ and how we’re planning on coming out of lockdown stage by stage. It has the familiar ring of the self-pub business to me: start small, be realistic, see how results go. People just never really went for my SF books in a big way in the 4 years I was actively writing them and putting them out there. Those who did often liked what they found though, which tells me there’s still something worth trying for here.

Here’s something else I’ve been thinking too: there’s a life for me as an SF writer outside of this series. I’m starting to feel like retuning to Talent Show book 4, The Crystal Ship, and finally giving Shadow and Company’s story an ending, but what I keep remembering is that for NaNoWriMo 2017, I wrote a completely new SF book, Citizen Erased, which has nothing to do with my other five, and it’s been sitting there finished (or perhaps in need of one last edit) and doing nothing for nearly three years.

So what am I going to do with all this?

Something. That’s as much as I can really say for now. Writing a post on this blog already feels like emerging from an accidentally over-long hibernation. All I know is I feel like I want to get going again, like that neglected engine that’s actually perfectly serviceable and just got dusted off and oiled, ready to be tried out to see if it can still cut it.

Plus in writing terms, I haven’t been hibernating at all. The books I’ve written under the Todd Aldrington pen name have kept me pounding words into the keyboard and honing the craft, albeit in a completely different genre (and one that really only appeals to a sub-culture that you’re either into or you’re definitely not), but I’ve very much ‘still got it.’ It will be interesting to see how I feel like I’ve changed as a writer once I get back into the Talent Show books. I’m going to have to read through the entire series again because I’ve now got the curse of the writer who’s forgotten a shitload of his own details, and those books are intricate. They’ve all been damn difficult to write, actually, which was half the reason for me starting what became an unexpectedly fruitful side project in the first place: escape from making life to goddamn difficult for myself.

But hey, the world seems set to do that for me lately, so what the hell.

Here we go again. Welcome back.