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Status Update - September 2021

The Free Novella

I'll be honest with you: it seems like it's taking forever to get this novella done.

I had a sit-down with my second beta reader recently. It was a meeting at a restaurant over braised beef short ribs while I guzzled beer after beer. Overall, her impressions of the book were good. She loved my use of language, my descriptiveness and thought the story was engaging. She highlighted issues with a couple of chapters, confirming something I already knew. My wife had raised the same issues with the very same chapters.

The last few weeks I've been going back over the manuscript and polishing the language. I have to admit that my initial "polish passes" before I sent it to beta readers - this time around - weren't so polished. The earlier chapters suffered the most, I think. I've probably done five passes on the manuscript since then, which I think was probably one pass too many. I've discovered that I know when I'm done revising a manuscript. Because when I'm nearing the end, I dread looking at it again. The editor will have their go at it, and then I'll probably go over it two more times before we get to proofreading.

Many of the later chapters read very well, a tweak here or there being required. I also added a little bit of lore to the story, which I hope came out pretty well. It's funny the things you miss the first three times you read something.

The reason for my initial haste was the fact that both my wife and the second beta reader work in the public school system. Their "spare time," was officially when late August / early September rolled around. Normally, I would have done a better job with the prose but my main concern was having someone give me their impressions of the overall story. Likewise, I have done a few things, story-wise, that I haven't done before. While the narrative and prose are very important, they sort of took a back seat to whether the story was exciting, or the cure for insomnia...

With the polishing done, it now goes to the editor. The final pre-edit manuscript is just 300 words shy of 40,000 words - which is the minimum word count for a novel. Add 300 words, you say? Well, I have no doubt that the editor may shave off 10% of my novel with suggestions and deletions. Adding 300 words seems a little pointless.

Why don't I edit the book myself? Pffth! If you've been following my blog posts, you'll quickly realize that editing is not in my wheelhouse.

I've also contacted an artist for cover art and some supplemental work. Nothing has been done yet, but I've sent my ideas off for his consideration. I'll have a reveal of the art at a later date.

Lastly, I think I've settled on a title for the book: The Revenant and the Tomb.

My Next Book

I've restarted the development on the "O" book. I've pounded out four or five more chapters of the book and estimate another ten will be required before it is finished. I'm targeting the completion of the rough work before the end of January 2022.

When I came up with the concept of having one of my works be a loss-leader (meaning, something I provide as an incentive to sign up to my email list), I originally considered using the "O" book for this purpose. After careful consideration, I rejected this, and pursued writing another book instead. The prime reason for this was the fact that the "O" book has a strong story with lots of action, tension, interesting characters and some interesting twists. I felt it was too good to not sell. So, I pounded out the Halsedric book instead.

(Halsedric is the main character of The Revenant and the Tomb.)

After the reaction I received from my wife after she read the initial drafts of The Revenant and the Tomb, I began to question the wisdom of giving it away for free. Sometimes I just can't win.

But it was more than just my wife's reaction to the novella. As I started plunging back into this new book, I found myself struggling with the main character, as well as some of the events leading up to the climax of the book. I felt that the main character wasn't carrying the weight of the story. His personality, I felt, didn't have a large enough presence to drive the reader to the final confrontation.

That was until last weekend, when I wrote most of Chapter 15. The chapter started strong, but then my creative streak ran out of gas. I picked up again, and hammered out the end of the chapter. When I was done, a doorway opened. The next chapter came quickly to mind. The path to the end of the book became very, very clear.

The thing is that, while side characters can be a little on the two-dimensional side, the main character or characters MUST have depth. Up until Chapter 15, my main character sort of lacked a strong showing in the narrative. Part of the problem is that he is very bookish and uncertain, which does not give him an overabundance of personality. Now, however, I have something that I can work with.

I hate being vague about this sort of stuff, but I don't want to spoil things for my audience.

The other reason why I began to doubt my decision on pursuing the completion of the "O" book was that, while finishing The Revenant and the Tomb, I came up with another story that features Halsedric. And in my head, it's shaping up to be a pretty fair adventure.

In the current novella, there is an exchange between Halsedric and a guide as to some of Halsedric's past actions. It was an engaging discussion that I wanted to delve further into but, to be honest, it just didn't feel right for this book. What I'm planning to write, however, backfills some of this missing detail.

There is a history to all of this that, I think, needs explaining.

If you've followed the history of my first book, you'll know that there was a long period of time between the first attempt to publish the book and now. In that time, I started to write another story that occurred much earlier in my literary world's timeline - sort of a starting point in an overall literary arc. The book never got finished, though I did pull a few characters and concepts from it to include in my Frankie Falawell series.

That "lost book," has a whole history that I've since tapped for various things (including the origins of the Hakan, which will be the subject of a future video). It lays out a lot of foundational stuff - most of it is hidden secretly in my head - that brings us, eventually, to Frankie Falawell. While I may rewrite, and build upon, this "origin" story, there are large swaths of this "hidden" history that remains in my head. This is intentional, so as to allow the reader to connect dots on their own.

In my literary world, there is a mountain range called the Dragonspires, that runs north / south, and basically divides the continent. My focus since Frankie Falawell was always on the western side of this world, given that's where some of the major stories occur. However, in my lore, much of what plagues the West starts in the East - what the story I mentioned seeks to explain.

This got me to thinking, "What if I use Halsedric as a vehicle for some of this hidden history?" After all, what I have plotted in my head is some pretty interesting stuff, in my opinion.

Initially, I never saw much of a future for Halsedric. I considered him a "prototype," for another character I had buzzing about in my head. Part of that was due to my first attempt at the free novella, which I eventually abandoned. In his early incarnation, Halsedric isn't a bundle of personality. This one factor was a real problem with my first attempt - the characters surrounding him were way more interesting than he was.

However, The Revenant and the Tomb takes place at a much later time. This gives Halsedric a lot of lived experience and thoughtfulness that didn't exist in his origin story. This time-earned wisdom and insight is really what gives the character depth. That depth comes in handy, because some of the places he goes is pretty dark. Then again, dark places is where a holy warrior truly needs to go. His capabilities suit the stories, very much in the same way Frankie's capabilities (or lack thereof) suit his series. Two vastly different characters, two different approaches, the same enemy. You'll see what I time.

I think I have until April of 2022 to figure out which direction I'm going to go. And, as always, I'll keep you posted as things unfold.

Other Stuff

Since my last status update, I've updated my site to allow for people to subscribe to my newsletter. Likewise, I've also set up and activated what I call The LORE FORGE (cue dramatic music). These are all steps to start building a fanbase outside of my deft and witty comments on Twitter. The LORE FORGE is pretty important to me, as I will be using that as a means to build a paid subscriber base.

Why Locals? Well, after watching other content creators deal with ideological clashes with other social media outlets - namely, Twitter, YouTube, Patreon, and Facebook - I've decided to spin up my platform on a site where I won't have to deal with this kind of stuff. Not that I'm a hugely controversial guy. I just find it's easier to avoid potential problems by simply going in different directions from the outset.

Plus, when it comes to video content, Locals has a site host that I can set up for a subscription service without having to jump through the hoops that YouTube requires. I'd rather have a platform prepared for free / paid content at the outset, then have to vault over some arbitrary number before that happens.

I've already got a couple of videos in the works. Keep an eye out for them in the near future.

TTFN. Ta-ta for now.

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