Things Just Got Real

My publisher just sent me a big stack of bound manuscripts of my upcoming novel. Here they are. These aren’t advanced reader copies, or ARCs, as they’re known in the industry, which are intended for reviewers so they can (hopefully) say wonderful things about your work to anyone who will listen. Bound manuscripts precede even that, and are to be used to obtain (again, hopefully) blurbs from well-known authors extolling the work.

Promotion is my least favorite part of this whole business because it’s hard to know if your hard work is paying off… but I’m a little more experienced now with this kind of thing, and I have a great deal of faith in this book. My God, but I’ve been working on it for a long time. The question is, how long? It’s hard to be sure. What stage do I count? Three of the principal characters have been trying to get me to tell stories about them for at least a quarter century, but those early efforts never reached the finish line. Fifteen years ago I completed multiple drafts of a first book, and even most of the draft of a second, that contained those characters, secondary characters that carried forward, and included many concepts I decided to keep.

But I wasn’t quite skilled enough to get it right. I started in earnest on THIS version some time in 2014, but it’s required a lot of tinkering. I yanked out an entire sub-plot from the initial draft after my editor and chief alpha reader expressed little interest in it. And I had to keep experimenting to get the feel right — a longer book (one hundred fifty thousand words) so that it felt more like the epic size people seem to want, but one that pleased me because it quickly built up to freight train pacing, and didn’t have padding.

Until now it existed only as pixels on my screen, or, occasionally as a lengthy print out on 8 1/2 by 11 sheets of a paper. For the first time it looks like a book.

Man, I hope people like this one. I hope they buy it in droves. I love these characters. Maybe readers will too.

This weekend I’ll head out and buy proper sized shipping envelopes. Monday I start sending them away.

As for what it’s about, I’ll be blathering on that incessantly soon enough. The elevator pitch remains “Chronicles of Amber crossed with The Three Musketeers” and the official back cover copy reads as follows. I’m going to paste it below and then go get to work revising book 2:

Their peace was a fragile thing, but it had endured for seven years, mostly because the people of Darassus and the king of the Naor hordes believed his doom was foretold upon the edge of the great sword hung in the hall of champions. Unruly Naor clans might raid across the border, but the king himself would never lead his people to war so long as the blade remained in the hands of his enemies.

But when squire Elenai’s aging mentor uncovers evidence that the sword in their hall is a forgery she’s forced to flee Darassus for her life, her only ally the reckless, disillusioned Kyrkenall the archer. Framed for murder and treason, pursued by the greatest heroes of the realm, they race to recover the real sword, only to stumble into a conspiracy that leads all the way back to the Darassan queen and her secretive advisors. They must find a way to clear their names and set things right, all while dodging friends determined to kill them – and the Naor hordes, invading at last with a new and deadly weapon.

Howard Andrew Jones’ powerful world-building brings this epic fantasy to life in this first book of his new adventure-filled trilogy. You can pre-order it here.