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Book 3 — When the Goddess Wakes

I’ve been taking care of our baby ducks, which is necessity and also a pleasant distraction. Here, enjoy some duckling pictures!

While I’ll decorate this post with some ducks, you’re likely here because you’re a fan of my writing, so here’s some news on that front. Work continues on the third novel. I generally find that my drafting speed really slows down over the middle sections of a book and that I begin to pick up speed near the end of Act II and start of Act III, and that’s holding true for When the Goddess Wakes. As I close on the rough draft of the final sections of Act II, threads are tightening, a few surprises are bringing things into closer focus, and I’m getting more and more excited about the potential of what I’ve written.

Falling Fast

Two of my favorite restaurants aren’t answering the phone.

Two weeks ago we wanted to make sure we threw one of them some business. Iwataya, a sushi restaurant, has been part of the Evansville scene before we moved here some 15 years ago. When I walk in to pick up an order or to sit down for a meal the long-time employees greet me like an old friend. But they didn’t answer that evening, and they haven’t answered any evening since. I can’t know what’s happened. I fear the worst.

I’m almost certain the worst has happened to Bombay Spice. Not only are they not answering the phone, their web site is down. They opened only last year, and their Indian cuisine is excellent. Butter chicken dishes in London restaurants with five star reviews couldn’t touch the delicate blend of flavors in the butter chicken recipe from Bombay Spice here in a city most people never hear about, Evansville, Indiana. But I’m pretty sure, now, that they’re gone, and I don’t know what’s going to happen to their talented staff.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to my sister. She’s a nurse working in Arizona for a hospital that had no masks to give their nurses since the nation finally got serious a few weeks ago, and hasn’t had any other kind of protective gear for them either. Earlier this week she and the rest of the staff were triaging patients on the sidewalk in these conditions. Some patients arrived so weak they couldn’t climb from their cars under their own power, and my unmasked sister and her friends were reaching in to help them out.

Getting By

I hope all of my visitors are well. Here we’re doing alright. I know many of my writer friends are finding themselves with MORE time to write, but if anything my own time is a little more fragmented.

Still, work is progressing on the third book. I’m deep into Act II, which is usually my least favorite part of any book to write. An informal poll among writer friends over the years has revealed a lot of us feel the same way. In the middle is when your doubts like to gang up, when you’re not sure you’ve got your pacing right, when you’re not sure the characters are acting quite right, etc. But of course pacing trouble and wobbly characters are going to turn up in the first draft. As my buddy E.E. Knight likes to say, give yourself permission to let the first draft suck. You’ve just got to get the story down and do the finesse work in the next drafts.

I don’t have as many doubts as I used to, and I’m not feeling mopey about the work, in part because I’ve done this enough times that I know the routine and in part because out there in the real world a whole lot of people have far more serious things to worry about… As I’ve written there have been some surprises and some changes despite my outline, and I sense another change in what I originally planned may be coming down the pike once I start Act III. After that, the third and final act feels like it’s going to stay about the way I planned. I’m hoping I’ll have a fully working draft by the end of next month.

When The Goddess Wakes

The unofficial cover copy has been turned over for book three now, and it looks almost certainly like it’s going to be titled When the Goddess Wakes. I’m sure before the end that cover copy will be tweaked a bit, but it’s a milestone on the road to completion.

At this point the first act of the book is pretty solid and act two is getting there. I know what’s going to happen in act three, for the most part, although I’m still undecided about a few points, which means I’m still eager to see what happens to some of the characters. Maybe it’s just the way I work, but if I’m not a little curious to see how things work out I don’t write as well. I imagine that I’ll have a fully working rough no later than the end of April, and it may even be polished by May. I’m not sure what that bodes for the release day, because there can often be a long delay between completion and printing, but I can guarantee you won’t be waiting TOO long.

For those of you who are readers of the magazine I edit, Tales From the Magician’s Skull, issue 4 is in layout right now, and preliminary work is starting on issue 5. I’m also starting to draft material that will be required to open the magazine for submissions — dos and do nots, primers on what sword-and-sorcery is, that sort of thing.

I’ve been keeping my hand in writing more short stories over the last year, as I had hoped. I didn’t manage nearly as many as I had ambitiously planned, but I DID compose two new Dabir and Asim stories and wrote three new Hanuvar stories. I also plotted out even more Hanuvar tales and now know how I want to fill what I eventually hope will be the first of several collections featuring his wanderings. I have numerous ideas for his adventures in the future. As he’s one of my favorite characters, this pleases me. Hopefully fantasy fans and readers will begin to discover him.

Preliminary research and plotting has begun on the book that will follow the ring-sworn trilogy as well. All-in-all, the writing is advancing nicely!

A New Day Dawns

It’s been a busy few months. The daze of the promotions phase of the business is finally over and I’ve returned to drafting the third and final book of the new trilogy. I assume that if you’ve been following the blog, you know what trilogy that is! Progress should accelerate after the winter holidays, and I’m expecting completion of the rough draft by April of 2020 at the latest. So far it seems to be following the outline pretty closely, which is good news.

I’ve also started preliminary work on the, uh, work that will follow this one, after meeting with the illustrious Bob Mecoy, literary agent, to discuss what ought to be next, and somehow I’ve been drafting a few short stories and essays. I keep thinking I’ll get back here more often to blog, but that may be a little more rare these days. I’d like to keep up the writing pace, which means less time spent blogging. I do think I ought to check in a little more often than once  a month, though! If you’ve stuck with me this long, try checking in every Friday.

Hope you’re heading toward a good holiday season!

Book Trailer Debuts

With the release of Upon the Flight of the Queen just around the corner, it’s high time for the release of the book trailer. Here you go. Darian Jones, my first born child and the recent animation graduate, spent more than two months on it. I hope you like it as much as I do! And if you do, I hope you’ll share it!

It should open here.

Next week I’ll show some behind-the-scenes background sketches.

 

Conventions and Releases

Reviews for the next novel are starting to trickle in. Publisher’s Weekly released a glowing account of Upon the Flight of the Queen last month, and other reviews are coming in to Goodreads via Netgalley.

My first born has graduated college with a degree in animation, and I’ve hired him to create a book trailer for Upon the Flight of the Queen. Over the next two months I’ll be showing the occasional sneak peek.

Below, find some character design sketches of Kyrkenall.

Oh, and I will be turning up at Archon in St. Louis this year, the first weekend of October. I’ll be on at least four panels and circulating a lot, so I hope to see some of you there!

ARCs are Here! The New Book is REAL!

Yes indeed, here’s a shot of the ARCs that arrived for Upon the Flight of the Queen. If you’re a reviewer, I hope you’ll contact me here or drop me a line via e-mail or FB or Twitter, because I’ve got a bevy of copies of the newest book. This is, in fact, book 2 of the Ring-Sworn trilogy, the first of which, For the Killing of Kings, appeared in April. This is slated for November!

If you don’t see me here much that’s because I’m working hard on book 3, on some short stories, and on editing Tales From the Magician’s Skull, the third issue of which is back from the printer and should be headed your way shortly — providing you were wise enough to subscribe!

 

The Mystery of Todd McAulty, Part II

As I mentioned in my last post, I had begun suspecting that Black Gate’s well-reviewed and entirely absent Canadian (absent apart from a photo with a truly phenomenal beard) Todd McAulty was someone else writing under a pseudonym. There were a lot of familiar elements in his prose, so I deduced it had to be some modern author I was reading in other venues. Todd’s writing had the same energy and love of adventure as that talented bunch from Black Gate — but I couldn’t figure out WHY any of them would use a pseudonym.

I reluctantly checked in with John O’Neill but he, being Canadian himself, refused to acknowledge anything odd about the situation at all, and then got off the phone, claiming that he had left the stove on and had a dental appointment.

I had one more slim lead. Black Gate had published several author photos of McAulty, and I noticed that all were credited to the same person: Alice Dechene. I knew Alice – she’d written several fine reviews for us, including one which Neil Gaiman had proudly blurbed on the back of Stardust. She was also married to John.

Spread the Word

Joseph Goodman and I owe a collective thank-you to a few friends who helped promote the Kickstarter for Tales From the Magician’s Skull. Now we are returning the favor by bringing their projects to your attention. These are all publishers of fiction much like that which you find in Tales From The Magician’s Skull. (In fact, you may have seen their advertisements in the magazine.) We think you’ll enjoy their work. So without further ado, please check these out when you get a chance:

Cirsova Presents: 35th Anniversary Edition of Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars Books

Cirsova Publishing is teaming up once again with Michael Tierney to publish his all new SFF time-travel adventure set in his Wild Stars universe, Wild Star Rising! You can back their Indiegogo here.  Plus, to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of Wild Stars, Cirsova will be releasing all-new premium magazine-style editions of the Wild Stars graphic novel, Book of Circles, and the hybrid comic/novel, Force Majeure. They’ll also be reprinting a new 2019 edition of last year’s Kickstarter-exclusive illustrated novella, Time Warmageddon.

Sword-and-sorcery from DMR

DMR has just released a free e-book, The Infernal Bargain and Other Stories, which you can download simply by signing up for their mailing list. Check out this page for more info!

DMR has also just released a sword-and-sorcery compilation titled Death Dealers & Diabolists. This anthology will take you from fifth-century Constantinople to Dark Age Finland to places beyond imagining. You will encounter a former gladiatrix in the employ of demon summoners, an overly ambitious barbarian chieftain, a doddering pyromancer, and incarnations of holy warriors of India.

Death Dealers & Diabolists contains eight exciting tales of swords and sorcery by an assortment of talented authors, including Buzz Dixon (writer for the Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Thundarr the Barbarian cartoons) and Keith Taylor (author of the Bard series). You can read an interview with author Buzz Dixon here. And you can purchase the book at the DMR site!