Exposition Position

Excitement is afoot in Arlam!

First off, some big names are currently reading A Sea Sought in Song. Saying more would be imprudent at this point, but hopefully I’ll have positive news to report soon. Anything could happen.

Secondly, Book Three passed 55K words this past week, and continues to climb. A few months ago I realized that an encounter I’d begun describing carried more ramifications than I’d anticipated, and required additional setup. So I skipped back several chapters to insert several thousand words’ worth of character development, and have been working my way toward my last point of departure ever since. It’s going great. This section of the book involves a ton of exposition (at last, the answers you seek!), and it’s required my full attention to keep it from degenerating into a perfunctory data dump. But fear not: some of the revelations in Part One of Book Three count as the most thrilling stuff I’ve written to date, at least to me.

And yet I can’t wait for the upcoming scenes in Part Two. As characters begin to converge and subplots to commingle, this tale’s gonna blow wide open—slowing my progress with exponentially-expanding complexity.

But I did go ahead and write its epilogue already. That’s the second one of those I’ve tapped out on my phone whilst wedged into a seat on a crosscountry flight, so I guess that makes for a tradition. The strange, freefloating mental state engendered by being alone in a crowd at 30,000 feet has leant itself to the task of epilogue-writing, since the last two have been set so completely outside the normal parameters of the narrative.

I do feel similarly about my publication prospects at the moment. Things are happening, quite swiftly in some cases, but I can’t see out the windshield to anticipate what’s next. Instead I must content myself with awkward glances over a stranger’s shoulder at the unfamiliar terrain flowing past me far below. But such is life.

Milestones and Setbacks #342b

Time for an update!

First off, Book Three passed the 50K-word milestone a few weeks ago. It continues to expand and coalesce into something that not only excites, but also moves me in unexpectedly deep ways. I’m juggling more locations, interwoven subplots, and POV characters than ever before. I’d expected this book to run to roughly the same length as its predecessors, but now I think it may have to go longer. It definitely hasn’t reached the halfway point yet.

Secondly, it is with great ambivalence that I report Ilina’s failure to woo David Farland. That’s right—my follow-up entry to Writers of the Future didn’t so much as place. Which is perplexing to me, as I consider it a much stronger story than the one which netted me an honorable mention earlier this year. But be that as it may: neither entry was written to win a contest. They were merely the most self-contained excerpts I was able to extract from the much larger “Seed of Glory Sown in Sorrow” narrative.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any other such excerpts up my sleeve. The rewriting that’d be necessary to detach another chapter from its contextual matrix would require more time and effort than I’m willing to invest in something that wouldn’t directly serve the story I’m telling. So I hereby abandon my pursuit of WOTF glamour. FutileFistShakeAtSky.gif

Onward!

Pretty Paper

My WOTF certificate from the first quarter of 2019 arrived by mail today. It certainly looks legit. Though L. Ron’s ginormous gilt endorsement has been posthumously appended, the signature of David Farland appears real enough.

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So now that Hugh has been honorably mentioned, we’ll see how Ilina fares. An episode from her backstory is currently charging the Great Farland Wall. For those of you interested, it appears—with minor adjustments—among the first four chapters of A Sea Sought in Song. And if you’d like to see what it was that convinced David Farland to sign such a pretty paper, The Pull is available here.

Delay of Gratification

So at the end of December, on the final day before the quarterly deadline, I submitted the “Overture” chapter from Book Two to the famous Writers of the Future contest. I imagine everyone who enters WotF entertains delusions of Rothfussian grandeur, and I may or may not have been no exception. I was told to expect results around mid-March. Well, March came and went, and I heard nothing, so I shrugged, resigned myself to continued obscurity, and dispatched a bevy of queries and submissions to agents and publishers.

Then, two nights ago, I was notified that my entry had received an honorable mention.

*epic fantasy facepalm*

It’s not like I actually won or anything, but I’m still quite pleased. The chapter was never intended as a contest entry, and barely contained any fantastical content. I submitted it because it—as a flashback episode from Hugh Conrad’s past—was able to stand on its own as a self-contained narrative. That it received any recognition at all is quite gratifying. I only wish I’d restrained my horde of solicitous missives a tad longer.

And now, a treat: the honorably-mentioned story, on the house to readers of this blog! It’s spoiler-free for the same reason it worked as a contest entry, so those inclined may indulge without regret.

Flying Monkeys See the Forest

Wow, has it really been only two months since my last progress report? Seems like longer. A lot has happened.

First and foremost, Book Two is now complete. I finished those two additional chapters I mentioned last time, and a new prologue, as well as various minor insertions throughout the preexisting manuscript, juuuuust eking it over my 100k-word target. These efforts deepened some of my characters’ motivations and fleshed out a key subplot, firming up the novel’s narrative arc by shifting its emotional emphasis slightly. (Dear reader, you’ll have to forgive all the abstraction for now. This is a spoiler-free blog, after all!)

So with Book Two behind me, I updated my generic query letter accordingly and turned to my Book One synopsis. I hadn’t revised it since the Big Split, and knew it needed some finessing beyond simple subtraction before I could feel comfortable dispatching it.

However, it quickly became apparent to me that Book One, in its then-current state, simply couldn’t support a good synopsis. I found I kept having to provide supplemental information. I’d finally climbed high enough above the treeline to see that parts of the forest were missing. Fortunately, fixing these omissions proved easier than replanting timberland. All it took was a few surgical insertions here and there, followed up by a continuity sweep.

So now I have two completed novels—the first at 115,000 words, the second at 101,000 words. The first half of my tetralogy could theoretically hit the presses tomorrow.

Of course, that part’s not up to me.

So now I must loose another swarm of queries and manuscript submissions upon an unsuspecting publishing industry. Fly, my pretties, fly!

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Arc de Omphe

Neither this blog nor the forthcoming fantasy series to which it’s dedicated are dead!

Much inspire, amirite?

After this summer’s writing conference failed to net me a publisher, I’ve returned to the grindstone. Book Two (the sequel formerly known as Part Two of Book One) is nearing completion as I fatten it up into a fully-fledged novel. Over the latter half of 2017 I wrote its Overture (a standalone novelette detailing an event from Hugh Conrad’s past, which I subsequently submitted to the Writers of the Future contest) and its Cadenza (a deliciously ominous vignette). Currently, I’m crafting two additional chapters for insertion in the central narrative flow. They are “breather” chapters that delve into character development and allow the reader to pause and reflect on events while the protagonists transition between tentpole action scenes.

I’m glad of the opportunity provided by my New Structure. The conclusion of Old Book One always felt rushed to me, but I convinced myself that momentum covered a multitude of omissions. Now that I’ve freed up space for various dropped subplots, however, I think their inclusion is a net-positive development for the story as a whole.

Of course, every chapter needs a plot arc to justify its existence, and “character development” doesn’t count as an arc. So that’s why it’s slow going: I need to surgically splice new sub-arcs into the existing overarching arc while preserving a sense of integral continuity. The new chapters need to be distinct enough not to feel like filler, but not so distinct that they become episodic detours. That’s a difficult balance to strike, which is why it’ll probably take me another few months to finish.

During which time I’ll have to studiously mortify my urge to leapfrog straight into Book Three (the sequel formerly known as Part One of Book Two), because I left that novel in such an exciting place.