2016 in Review

2016 is rapidly coming to a close and since December is already shaping up to be a busy month, I thought it best to get this post out of the way. Last year I laid out my writing goals as:

2016 Writing Goals:

  1. Write two novels to completion.
  2. Start a third novel with a goal of having 75%+ done before the new year.
  3. Start publishing the Sunken City Capers novel series
  4. Read six fiction novels.

I’m not clear if I met #1 or not (heh). I finished two novels in 2016 (one was started in 2015) which is what I think I meant when I wrote that goal, but it’s not clear. For #2, I did start a third novel, but (if all goes according to plan) I will be about 67% of the way through by Jan 1st, not 75%. But that’s pretty close enough for me to declare victory considering the year I had health wise.

I started publishing Sunken City Capers as anticipated and on schedule. Everything is humming along there nicely with book 3 coming out next week (squee!).

Number 4 is where I really fell down. I only read 5 fiction novels to completion this year (I also read a number of non-fiction books and the internet, oh so very much of the internet). The kicker is, I read all five of those books by April. At that point, I thought I was going to read more than six, but alas, a number of things conspired against me. First, getting all three Sunken City Capers books ready to publish, organizing the ARC team, and learning about advertising and hundreds of other smaller things associated with a book launch really sucked down my time in a way I hadn’t anticipated. Second, I’ve had ongoing health issues since June that have really slowed me down, but I’m on the upswing!

So, not too shabby in hitting the 2016 goals. Launching Sunken City Capers was a bright spot this past year, but honestly, due to the health issues, 2016 sucked for me and I’m glad it’s going to be over soon. I’m not quite sure what 2017 is going to look yet in terms of goals, but I might start adding a rest/nap/sleep goal.

ETA 12/17/2016: I read a sixth book! Goal number 4 met!

Book 4 Progress

I started writing book 4 in the Sunken City Capers series at the end of October, which was a little behind my original schedule. I had hoped that working from an outline and having written three previous books in the series would mean that this one would right fast. I was wrong—sort of.

Truth is, I’ve been struggling to write book 4. I’m having a really hard time getting back into the flow of it. Not only are my daily/word counts down, but the individual writing sessions feel like pulling teeth while listening to someone scrape a fork and a knife over a plate. A big part of the problem is my health. Over the past few months, I’ve been dealing with ulcers and gastritis. It sucks. But among the biggest impacts is that the problems are most acute in the morning after I first wake up—which is when I historically get the majority of my writing done. So poof, the majority of my writing time is no longer available and when I do try and write, I’ve been generally pretty miserable.

The only real solution is to let the schedule slide to the right and prioritize getting healthy again, which is what I’m doing and I’m seeing some noticeable improvements. But I still couldn’t shake the feeling that writing book 4 was going slow, like slow down to the individual writing sessions. Fortunately, I keep track of my daily word counts, number of sessions, and total minutes spent writing. This lets me get at averages per writing session, words per hour, etc. Out of curiosity, I went back and computed my words per hour for writing book 3, which from my memory wrote fast: 754 words per hour. Then I calculated my words per hour for book 4 (I’m about 25% the way through): 760 words per hour. Boy was I surprised, book 4 is technically writing faster than book 3. The difference? The number of sessions and total number of minutes. It’s due to my health, which has impacted me across the board.

The result of this analysis, is that it restored my optimism for writing book 4. It’s not fundamentally different than writing book 3, it’s just I’m not able to have as many writing sessions as I used to, and that’s okay. Even if I were 100% healthy, I don’t think I’d be having as many writing sessions as I used to. Having this sustained dip in health has helped put a lot of things in perspective, but I think I’ll save that for another time.

The Elgin Deceptions is live!

The Elgin Deceptions: Sunken City Capers Book 2 released earlier this week!


I had such a blast writing this one. I had the good fortune to be able to take  a vacation with my spouse to England right as I was finishing The Solid-State Shuffle: Sunken City Capers Book 1 and we were able to spend several days in London touring around. It. Was. Awesome. That vacation absolutely influenced the writing of book 2. It was a lot of fun to tour various sites like The British Museum and Buckingham Palace and wonder what these places would like underwater and how an intrepid team of ne’er-do-wells would break in to loot them. A lot of that fun and mischievousness made it into The Elgin Deceptions.

Pick up a copy here!

The Solid-State Shuffle is live!

The Solid-State Shuffle: Sunken City Capers Book 1 went live last week! You can click here to check it out on Amazon.

It’s been a roller coaster of a ride. Initial sales have so far exceeded my expectations: strong and healthy. Initial reviews are positive (big collective sigh of relief there). In short, things are going well (woot!). It seems ridiculous, but even though the release of The Elgin Deceptions: Sunken City Capers Book 2 is less than three weeks away and Leverage: Sunken city Capers Book 3 is less than seven weeks away, I’m already impatient to share them with everyone. I personally feel like the books get stronger as they go on.

Unfortunately, Book 4 continues to get pushed back due to unexpected publishing tasks popping up, but I should start on it in earnest here in the next week. I’m hoping working from an outline and having gone through the publishing process three times before will help speed the process up. I hope, and yet a part of me doubts. I think book 4 may be on the longer side, similar to The Elgin Deceptions.

Many of you know my day job is as an ocean scientist, and I’ve just started to follow this blog about an acoustic experiment in the Arctic going on right now. Several of my colleagues are on this trip (including my wife) and they’re doing some really cool stuff. So, if you’re interested in ocean science at all, you should check it out!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Solid-State Shuffle by Jeffrey A. Ballard

The Solid-State Shuffle

by Jeffrey A. Ballard

Giveaway ends October 23, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Sunken City Caper Book 4 Progress

Happy October!

I’ve had it on my calendar since this past April that on Oct. 1 I would start writing book 4 of the Sunken City Capers series to be released in early 2017. You know what they say about the best laid plans. Unfortunately, prepping three books for rapid release sucks up quite a bit of time. But on the plus side I got to do this:


hold all three books of mine at once! There was a great sense of accomplishment in that moment. I’ve dreamed of writing books most of my life, having loved to read my entire life. And seeing the product of those dreams in reality was quite a feeling.

The silver lining in the delay is that having to read and prep the first three books, makes the story ideas fresh for book 4. I’m going to back to final proofreads of book 1 and having “ah-ha!” moments that will filter into books 4, 5, and 6. Also, it’s not like I haven’t been thinking about book 4—try telling my brain not to tell stories to itself (not possible).

I decided to try something different for writing book 4: outline! The first three books were pantsed, meaning I wrote them without any idea where they were going. This makes the writing process a little slower, and editing and revision  a horrid chore. Hopefully, working from an outline will speed up the writing process and reduce the amount of revision needed. We’ll see. I’ve already outlined the first 1/3-1/2 of book 4 and I’m excited to write it. But first, I need to finish prepping the first three books.

And, and, and The Solid-State Shuffle: Sunken City Capers Book 1 goes live next Tuesday, October 4. You can pre-order/order your copy here.

Free Sneak Peeks!

I’ve had the good fortune over the last few weeks to stumble upon Instafreebie. It’s a great platform for authors to upload free books and readers to download them easily.

I put a sneak peek of the first three chapters of The Solid-State Shuffle up on Instafreebie, which is currently featured alongside 20 (!) other sneak peek books at J.L. Hendricks blog on #FreebieFriday on #Instafreebie. You should definitely check out the blog and links to all the great sneak peaks on Instafreebie if your looking for great (free!) reads.

Countdown to Sunken City Capers Launch

There’s been several exciting developments over the past several weeks for the the Sunken City Capers series that’s officially launching in October.

First, the trade paperback for The Solid-State Shuffle: Sunken City Capers Book 1 is up and available for sale! Early reviews are in and they’re overwhelming positive (whew!). Second, the Kindle version is up for a special pre-order price of $0.99 (normal price of $2.99).

Finally, to celebrate the paperback version going live, I’m currently sponsoring a Goodreads giveaway of 10 signed copies. You can sign up below:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Solid-State Shuffle by Jeffrey A. Ballard

The Solid-State Shuffle

by Jeffrey A. Ballard

Giveaway ends September 11, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Cover Reveal for Sunken City Capers Book 2

Last time I wrote a bit about all the work that is going on behind the scenes to prepare for the October launch of Sunken City Capers and I wrote that I should share the covers for books 2 and 3, so here’s the cover for The Elgin Deceptions: Sunken City Capers Book 2. I love the way it came out; it matches the tone of the book perfectly.

elgin_fullI had a lot of fun writing The Elgin Deceptions, almost to the point that when I finished it, I wondered if I should start the series with book 2! Then I rolled directly into writing book 3, and had the same exact thought about book 3. Turns out that I tend to favor whichever book I just finished. I was relieved when I went back to edit book 1 that I felt that book 1 brings the awesome and kicks off the series nicely.

The Elgin Deceptions is special to the Sunken City Capers series (and me) in a unique way. It was in a pub in Bath, England that I finished drafting The Solid-State Shuffle: Sunken City Capers Book 1. It was also during that period that I conceived of The Elgin Deceptions while traveling around London with my spouse. My personal favorite of the trip was Buckingham Palace, which we were able to tour inside of. But my second favorite part was the British Museum. Both places make an appearance in The Elgin Deceptions.

IMG_0538  IMG_0531IMG_0577

The first two are the British Museum, specifically the south entrance and the King’s Library–an absolutely gorgeous place. The third picture is Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately, I don’t have any interior photos to share, but I loved it. It added a lot of fun to tour these amazing places and imagine them underwater and how they would be defended and broken into. You’ll have to read The Elgin Deceptions to find out how they’ve been incorporated into the novel!


Busy Busy

So I didn’t post the last scheduled time I was supposed to. A result of which was one part being busy, one part choosing to prioritize other work. I wrote last time about how the eARC for The Solid-State Shuffle is now available (sign up here) and that milestone has kicked off a very busy period for me getting ready for the upcoming October 4, release.

One of the tasks that occupied my time was laying out the print book. A tedious, but enjoyable, task that culminates in the always satisfying feeling of holding your book in your hand:


Pretty nifty, right! Easily one of my favorite parts of the process.

Other work has included final edits on book 2, The Elgin Deceptions (coming Nov. 1, 2016), and book 3, Leverage (coming Dec. 6, 2016) ready to go. Speaking of which, I should share those covers at some point, maybe next time. At the moment, I need to dive back into those final edits. I’m so close I can smell it! I’m also seriously itching to write book 4, but one thing at time.