Folks, it is finally here. Contaminant Six, the sixth (and final?) entry in the Free-Wrench saga. Pick it up wherever ebooks are sold!
This one was a doozy to write, but before I dig into that, here’s the blurb again:
The fug that poisoned the world has struck the Wind Breaker crew.
After years of daring escapes and dangerous capers, it was only a matter of time before Captain Mack’s crew felt the sting of the toxin that blankets their continent. They must split up, seek the aid of old rivals, and brave secret facilities to find the substance that may be the key to recovery.
Join Nita and her friends on what may well be their final adventure.
Contaminant Six is the sixth novel in the critically acclaimed Free-Wrench series of steampunk adventures.
Now, if you’ve been paying close attention, you’ll notice I typically include (and final?) every time I talk about this one. The purpose of the Year of Six was to close up shop on my three main series to make room in my schedule for something new. If you’ll forgive the talk about how the sausage is made for a moment, rare is the series that endures in popularity year after year. Typically, for each new entry in a book, there are at least a few readers who won’t follow along to pick it up. (We call this “decreased read-through”, for those of you interested in the lingo.) So each book tends to make just a bit less money than the one before. Add to that the fact that each new book is just a bit more difficult to write, thanks to growing lore and continuity that needs to be maintained, and a long series can be a real struggle for someone trying to make a living.
I hate that “profitability” has to be a part of the equation, but this is how I pay my bills, and it hasn’t been getting any easier.
BUT! I’d never rule out the possibility of more stories in the future. Short stuff on my Patreon is almost certain. And new novels could certainly come along. But those will be later. Once I’ve (hopefully) stabilized my income with some fresh blood.
The Bumpy Road
As long as we’re talking about finances and difficulties, buckle up while I talk to you about the journey this book took. To paraphrase a spooky lady from a horror movie, “The way this book walked was thorny, through no fault of its own.”
We’ll begin with COVID-19. This book was written entirely during the pandemic. Ostensibly, my job is one of the safest and least effected one could hope for. I sit in my office, typing away regardless of rain, snow, heat wave, or pandemic.
But I do not live alone.
I live with my brother, his wive, and his son. My brother Mike works for New Jersey Transit. He is considered essential (because he helps keep the trains running, and the trains get the other essential workers to work). He is a conductor/ticket collector, so he can’t very well work from home. My sister-in-law works from home, but she’s got meetings, she’s got phone calls. She can’t be taking care of the kid all that time. This means, at least a few hours a week, I’m taking care of the kid. And at any given moment, I might have to drop in for a few minutes. It’s a small, but non-zero distraction from the writing. But I budgeted my time and pressed on.
Because of the intense times we’re living in, I didn’t feel comfortable pushing this book into the hands of my full list of Beta Readers, so this one was lightly revised before heading to the editor.
Once I got the book back and got the excellent cover by Nick Deligaris, I put it up for pre-order and started the sale. Except… Amazon wasn’t really interested in showing the cover… For like 10 days. It turns out, when there’s no image on an Amazon Product listing, folks assume it’s broken and don’t click. Advertising is tricky enough to do well when your store link actually looks like it leads to a product. When it looks like it’s broken, it’s more or less a waste of money to run ads. So I lost two weeks of advertising time.
There were more problems. Personal problems behind the scenes which are ongoing. I’ll share the details when we learn how they’ll end. But things have been hard.
But we made it! The book is here! I hope you like it.
Now all that remains is Big Sigma 6… Then? Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.