Savvy Saturday: The Novelist’s Year in Review

This week marks the beginning of a new year. I know, it’s late August – it isn’t the Western New Year, or the Lunar New Year, or even the Jewish New Year. But at the University of Nebraska, the 2014-2015 School Year has begun, with its own rituals, traditions, and fresh faces appearing in one’s old classrooms. I’m now a second year PhD student, with more responsibilities and harder classes (yay?).

As I transition from one year to the next, then, I want to use this week’s post to look back at what I’ve done as a novelist since last August. I know I haven’t been able to share most of it with you, but I hope this is encouraging nonetheless – as one of my writer friends says, “Every piece of writing is practice for your next project.” As I’ve continued to write, my writing has improved (at least, so say my reviewers), which means that my next published work – whatever it may be – should be hopefully even more enjoyable than The Quest of the Unaligned.

So, without further ado, here’s What I Did Since August 20, 2013.

  1. Write 52 Savvy Saturday blog posts, updated every week! These have been on a variety of topics, such as:
  2. “How To’s,” including how to write combat, world-build, retell an old story, or write individualistic/collectivist characters
  3. Thoughts on random issues, such as an analysis of the sociological problems with Divergent or last year’s tongue-in-cheek anthropological exploration of football as a ritual as it might be described in a tribal fantasy world.
  4. Original works of fantasy, such as writing an “ancient fable” from Cadaeren about Kaltin the Fool, and my pun-filled four-part story about statistics.
  5. An original exploratory historical fiction piece for Good Friday (this work received the most hits of anything I wrote this past year)
  6. Be interviewed by INh online magazine, Anna del C. Dye, and Samantha La Fantasie
  7. Write a short story about Alaric’s childhood, “Black and White,” which was sent to fans as a Christmas present
    1. Length: 2,860 words
    2. First paragraph: Alaric trudged through the slushy streets of Tonzimmel, swinging his practice baton by its wrist strap. The sun was setting over the tops of the skyscrapers behind him, casting his shadow long and dark over the half-melted snow around him. Alaric kicked at a piece of ice; it bounced down the empty street. It was weird seeing the streets so deserted. On most days, they were full of grown-ups rushing to or from work, full of the buzz of conversation and the rumble and whine of hover-cars streaking overhead. But it was Near Year’s Day, and everyone was already off celebrating somewhere. What they weren’t doing was walking home after a grueling day of training. Unless they were apprentices in the Tonzimmel First Security Force, of course.
  8. Write a fantasy novelette as a gift for friends from college
    1. Length: 30,000 words
    2. Basic plot: A small group of superhero friends faces its most dangerous foe yet: themselves. When a smooth-talking poet with a god-complex and visions of utopia brainwashes one of their group, the others immediately seek a way to save her. They quickly discover, however, that succumbing to the mad poet’s brainwashing may be the only way to save the world – and their own lives.
  9. Write a novella set in the new fantasy world of Alepago
    1. Length: 42,000 words
    2. World-building: five distinct cultures, including three tribes of man, the mountain-dwelling Bohlridj who are made from and return to stone, and the glowing Kalatelena, descended from the stars.
    3. First paragraph: Grandfather was talking to himself again. Hida smiled sleepily at the familiar sound and pulled her buffalo skin blanket more tightly around her shoulders. Her older brothers were already asleep, their soft breaths blending with the crickets’ happy chirping outside. Grandfather thought she was asleep too. He never talked to himself when other people were awake except when he was in one of his trances, and that didn’t count.
  10. Co-author a chapter in the quasi-academic book The Economics of the Undead, titled “Where Oh Where Have the Vampires Gone? An Extension of the Tiebout Hypothesis to the Undead” (actually written last year, but published in Summer 2014)
    1. Fun fact: This is the first piece you’ll find in the field written by Phillips, Phillips, and Phillips. (I’m the first one, in case you were wondering.) Hopefully it won’t be the last!
    2. You can find the book available for sale on
    3. First paragraph: The question of where vampires and zombies can be found – where they unlive, that is – is of immense importance for Slayers and average Americans alike. There are two possible answers to this question: first, that the undead are distributed proportionally around the United States, meaning that anywhere you live, you are in equal danger of being turned in the night. Alternatively, the undead might be more concentrated in certain areas than others, leaving residents of some states in relative safety even as they threaten others. According to economic theory, the second is far more likely.

All in all, it’s been a productive year! As this next year starts, I’m looking forward to seeing where my pen takes me in 2014-2015. First up: a Cadaerian retelling of a classic fairy tale. After that? Who knows! There are many options, outlines, and ideas for new stories floating around in my head (and on my computer) – we’ll see which ones resonate with my muse.

As always, I want to finish off the old year and ring in the new by thanking you all for your continued reading and support. It’s been great interacting with you online and in person, and I look forward to sharing more stories and posts with you in the year to come. Thank you for being awesome!


2 thoughts on “Savvy Saturday: The Novelist’s Year in Review

  1. How soon until the Alepago books are available for purchase/reading? I’m drooling at the prospect of more Phillips!

    1. I’m glad you’re excited, Aeshdan! I am too. I’m afraid I don’t have a time-table for my Alepago novella…I can tell you that I’m taking steps to try to move it toward publication, but that’s all the definite information I can share at this stage. Rest assured, if/when I hear anything definite, I’ll be posting about it!

      In the meantime, keep checking back for more updates, and thank you for your support!

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