So I finished the first draft of book 1, Burden’s Edge, from the as-yet upcoming unnamed trilogy that follows our trio’s exploits after The Arinthian Line. It clocked in at around 156,000 words (for comparison, Arcane was 98,000 or so). I’m not going to spoil the plot as it might still change in editing, not to mention I have to write a blurb for it anyhow.
In the meantime, here’s what my floor looks like in preparation for book 2 (untitled). In the upper right-hand corner is a fresh batch of tea; in the lower-right the cat, Buddha. On the small table is a slew of index cards of active characters in Burden’s Edge. These aren’t all my notes; there’s still all those manila folders-worth of plot notes I have factor in. It’s a bit of a process, but it works for me. Anyway, if you were ever wondering what my plotting structure looks like, well, here you are:
Thank you for your patience; expect Burden’s Edge to come out late this year. And thank you so much for your amazing support of my work, and all of your beautiful letters. The Arinthian Line series has done well enough to allow me to do this full-time for nearly two years now. I only wish I was a faster writer, so that you would not have to wait as long. Though I suppose it could be worse (think of George RR Martin!).
This is what it looks like after an afternoon figuring everything out and putting all notes in the right place. This is how book 2 starts, essentially. (That open binder is full of old notes that have been archived). Note the pile of crumpled notes beside it. Having a glass of wine to celebrate finishing book 1. (Spoiler sheets have been left off photo).
Imagine a spell that can age you a lifetime in heartbeats, turn loved ones into enemies, and set demons upon your soul…and imagine having to use it to save the kingdom…
Battle-tested Augum, Bridget and Leera prepare for a final confrontation with the increasingly vicious Lord of the Legion. To face him, they must master a hopelessly complex spell they can only learn from their legendary mentor, Anna Atticus Stone. But with a kingdom hurtling toward annihilation, Anna Stone’s health failing, and relationships crumbling under the stress, the trio face the most painful decisions of their lives. For the slim chance of victory, they’ll risk everything on a daring plan—one that, whether it triumphs or fails, will exact a terrible price.
This is it! We are days away from the launch of Legend! It just returned from proofing and has now entered the formatting stage. And to further tickle your imagination, I included a brief excerpt from Chapter 1 below.
Yours in excitement,
A brief excerpt from Chapter 1:
Rather than a rabbit, it was death that had ensnared itself in one of Augum Stone’s traps.
“Well that’s certainly bigger than a raccoon,” Augum muttered, hands resting on the top of his bow. “Second one in a tenday.”
“Third,” Leera Jones corrected.
Right, one had fallen down a pit trap south of town. A hunter found it impaled and writhing on a spike. Walkers were turning up everywhere now, not just near their village. It was a worrying trend.
With cocked heads, the two of them stared at the creature that had begun wildly flailing the moment it had spotted them through the sparse evergreens.
“Looks freshly raised,” Augum noted. The skin hadn’t turned black yet and the clothes weren’t torn to strips.
Leera nodded slowly. “Doesn’t even look like it’s been buried.”
“Think it’s a man?” It was hard to tell. Faces changed after being raised. Some go sallow, some widen, some get a stretched waxy look. And that’s when they’re still fresh, like this one. With every passing day, the rot only hastened … as did the smell.
“It’s wearing a dress, Aug.”
“Could be a robe.”
“And the pink hair ribbon?”
He sighed, adjusting his stance on the spongy moss. “I must be tired.” Unnoticed details could get them killed. He had pushed himself in training that morning and probably should have stopped hunting earlier. Except people were starving from the famine and depended on them, for the villagers could not defend themselves against the walkers like the trio could.
He glanced into the sack at his side. Two rabbits and a possum. Not even enough to feed their own household.
Leera elbowed him. “I think she likes you.”
“Look. Her eyes are saying, ‘Augum, come close so I can munch on your sweet flesh’. I’m actually getting a little jealous.”
Augum stared into the walker’s blood-black eyes, eyes that were hungry and vicious. He gave Leera a skeptical look. “I think you need some sleep too.”
“What, you mean joking about a deadly live corpse isn’t normal?”
He said nothing as the creature furiously swiped at the air, its jaws clacking.
She gave an exasperated sigh that blew strands of hair away from her face. “It’s called gallows humor. You should be used to it by now.”
He was. “Looks about three days old.”
“How can you tell?”
He flicked his fingers idly. “Clothes are soggy from the rain. Lack of bloating. All the hair is there. No bones peeking. And she’s only lost a few teeth so far.”
“Maybe she lost those before she was raised.”
The gaunt walker bared its remaining teeth as it strained against the snare, never ceasing its vicious swipes. Yet the rope around its ankle held firm. Augum wasn’t worried. As fast as the walker was, if the rope snapped, he still had a couple heartbeats to obliterate it into smithereens—one heartbeat to focus the First Offensive, and another to smack his wrists together and cast the spell. Less if he was particularly sharp.
Since they began learning the legendary spell Annocronomus Tempusari—otherwise known as Cron—he measured everything in heartbeats. Not that he had successfully cast Cron yet. None of the trio had, not once in the entire four months since their return from the Antioc Classic warlock tournament. Four months of grueling, disheartening and harrowing training. All of them looked forward to seeing what it would be like to reverse time, even if it was for only a few heartbeats. But once success did come, each heartbeat lost in the confines of the spell would result in their bodies aging, and who knew what other side effects. Exactly how much they aged was the great question.
Hence, details were vital.
Leera ran a hand through unkempt raven hair that hung just past her chin. “Don’t waste an arrow.”
“But I’m good at wasting arrows.” Augum massaged his sore left elbow, its slightly crooked bend a permanent reminder of his narrow escape from the Antioc Classic warlock tournament. No healer had been able to repair it properly, but it was a small price to pay considering they now had the divining rod, an artifact that the Lord of the Legion had specially created to track down the scions. He had used that rod to chase Mrs. Stone around Sithesia … until Augum brazenly stole it at the tournament.
“Maybe if you could learn to move on instead of clinging to the past.” Leera nodded at the bow. “You don’t need that thing anyway. You never will again. You’re a warlock. Embrace it. Besides, Bridget’s an arcane archer now.”
Augum hooked the bow over one shoulder. True, his damaged elbow hardly affected anything else. He could continue to set snares, or if he felt the need for hunting, there was always Telekinesis. Perhaps he was being a little stubborn. And yes, Bridget was turning out to be quite the good shot with her summonable earthen bow.
“Besides, you can’t kill it with just an ordinary arrow.”
“I don’t know …”
She punched his shoulder. “Sarcastic jerk.”
He gave her a crooked smile. “Fair’s fair.”
She returned the smile. “Oh, fair’s fair?”
She sighed and leaned up against him, watching the walker struggle. “Could have been us.”
I’m super excited to report that the first draft of LEGEND (The Arinthian Line, book 5) has been completed this morning. It clocks in around 234,000 words (about 15% longer than CLASH).
The next stage is editing, followed by prep and launch. If all goes well, you should have the final installment in The Arinthian Line by Christmas.
It’s been an emotional ride with this book. Years of work came to a head, and somehow, it all resolved in a way that made me feel personally content as someone living in that world five days a week (could you imagine?). Yet in many ways I feel like one of the luckiest people alive; I get to adventure alongside Augum, Bridget and Leera for a living.
If you want to receive an email notice when LEGEND launches, simply click here. I don’t email often, as my subscribers can attest. I’ll still keep you posted though.
Email / msg me anytime, I love hearing from readers. All my best,
I’m very excited to announce the release of CLASH (The Arinthian Line, Book 4). It’s over 700 pages long in paperback, almost 100 pages larger than Riven. Happy to report that the Thursday soft launch got the book up the charts on Amazon, cracking the top 1000 (out of over 4 million books). As well, CLASH is currently #1 on the Hot New Release list in its genre. Felt good to take screenshots competing against Harry Potter and Golden Compass. The paperback will link to the Amazon store page within a couple days. Only one more to go in the series!
Warlocks Augum, Bridget and Leera are finally able to relax after a grueling ordeal in Bahbell. Now their fugitive mentor has a dangerous new quest–sneak into an ancient library and research an artifact that could devastate the Legion.
Their substitute mentor Leopold Harvus, however, is an obsessive and petty man with a distaste for anything untoward, particularly Augum and Leera’s affections for each other. As their studies suffer from his meddling, one brazen act of rebellion plunges the trio and their quest into mortal peril, for Harvus quickly proves he is not a man to be trifled with.
Warlocks Augum, Bridget and Leera are finally able to relax after a grueling ordeal in Bahbell. Their substitute mentor Leopold Harvus, however, isn’t at all like the legendary Anna Atticus Stone. He’s manipulative and petty with a distaste for anything
untoward—particularly Augum and Leera’s affections for each other.
As their studies suffer from his oppressive meddling, Anna Stone—on the run
from the Legion—tasks the trio with a dangerous new quest that could turn the
tide in the war. But when Harvus pushes Augum too far, a brazen act of
rebellion plunges everyone into mortal peril…
A letter from a distant land … (The following is an excerpt from the coming book four in The Arinthian Line series)
The trio watched as their infamy steadily grew in the Herald; as armies continued to amass on the Nodian border; as excitement grew for the coming warlock tournament; and yet there still came no news of Mrs. Stone … until the morning of the tenth day, when a grizzled, mud-splattered courier arrived to hand Mr. Okeke a letter at his cabin.Jengo did not even raise his head from eating his porridge. “Another demand from the Legion for tax moneys, Father?”
Mr. Okeke tipped the courier, thanked him, and closed the door. “Not sure,” he said, breaking the wax seal on the weathered yellow parchment. He began pacing as he read. Suddenly, he froze. “It’s from Mrs. Stone—”
The trio bolted from the table, knocking over dishes, scrambling to gather around the parchment.
Leera was breathless. “What’s it say?”
Mr. Okeke cleared his throat and began reading aloud. His slight Sierran accent gave the words a distant slant. “ ‘My dears, I hope this letter finds you as I am very far away in a strange land I have never been to before, with even stranger people. Regretfully, I lost the pearl somewhere in southern Tiberra in a battle. I had forgotten to enchant it so I could find it again. Alas, my memory is not as it once was.’ ”
Bridget placed a hand over her mouth, eyes welling up. Leera laid her head on Bridget’s shoulder while giving Augum’s hand a tight squeeze. It was a difficult letter to listen to. Augum’s heart squeezed. He missed Nana so much.
Mr. Okeke swallowed and continued reading. “ ‘The spell has been an onerous undertaking under the circumstances, especially as I am already quite old. It is taking its toll. I have developed a bit of a cough, and my spectacles have become inadequate. I have eluded the Legion thus far, but there have been many close calls. The tracking party’s prowess has made it impossible for me to visit you at this time. They have proved to be formidable opponents especially well-equipped to thwart me. My days are spent on the road. My feet and bones hurt and I am always tired. I fear I cannot keep this up for much longer. It seems there is never enough time now, for time has become a most precious thing indeed. It seems eons ago since I have laid eyes upon you. I yearn for the simple things most—clean linens, a quiet fire, a good book, a warm meal, pleasant company, and above all, watching you grow before my eyes.’ ”
Haylee gave a sniffle as she drew Leland close. “Oh, Mrs. Stone,” she whispered.
“ ‘How are your studies coming along? I trust you have been working very hard and pushing yourselves. I trust Mr. Harvus has been a good and thoughtful mentor. Have you discovered anything about the artifact in question yet? Perhaps you will have received this letter before your departure.’ ”
Mr. Okeke took a deep breath before reading the last portion. “ ‘I sign off hoping you are all together, that you are warm, safe, in good health and high spirits. Please know that you are in my thoughts often. As for me, my greatest challenge awaits, and that is mastering this formidable spell, and somehow teaching it to you. I only hope to live long enough to accomplish this last act. Remember, my dears, that you are strongest together, that life is precious and short, and that all things must pass. With love and deep affection for you all, AAS.’ ”
Mr. Okeke stared at the parchment before gently folding it up and handing it to Augum, who held the wrinkled letter close, finger tracing over the broken wax seal. For a long time, nobody spoke.
The above is an excerpt from The Arinthian Line, Book 4 (title, cover and blurb preview to be released soon). Expect the book to be released within the coming three weeks or so. I’m working as hard as I can to get it to you as soon as possible though.
I’m extremely proud of this work. It’s my best writing. Augum, Bridget, Leera and the supporting cast grow a tremendous amount in this book. They face new challenges, not just personally, but physically. It’s also the longest book, clocking in at about 190,000 words, which is about 10% longer than Riven. You’re going to get your money’s worth ;)
A grand adventure awaits, my friends, I really cannot wait for you to read it!
Questions? Comments? Just hit reply and email me back here.
All my best to you and those you love,
P.S. Thank you all so much for your patience. ART team: you’ll hear from me very soon! :)
How was everyone’s new year? Let’s kick things off on my end with something new–my first public podcast interview! Aldus Baker celebrates his 50th Fantasy podcast by interviewing me.
UPDATE ON BOOK 4:
Book 4 of The Arinthian Line has just undergone another major edit, and is on track to be released within about a month’s time. I wanted to sincerely thank each and everyone of you for your kind patience.
And for the Advance Reader Team: you’ll be receiving an email from me soon, hang in there! :)
I could have updated you guys more, but I’ve been very busy with book 4. It’s the largest one yet, completely packed with story and adventure. It has quite the emotional ending, leading nicely into book 5, which I’ll be starting next ASAP. I’m very proud of this work, and can’t wait for you to read it!
A year ago today a simple story forever changed my life. When Arcane was released, I didn’t know what to expect. I hoped to hit the top 100 in my genre in five years’ time. Instead, it rocketed up to the #1 spot in the fantasy coming of age genre on Amazon within three weeks of release.
Since then, The Arinthian Line has sold around 20,000 copies; a Grammy winner narrated Arcane’s audiobook; and over 1000 people joined my mailing list. The series has found a diverse audience, from young children all the way to retirees, and I get mail from all over the world.
Oh, and I quit my day job. I can’t believe I am a professional author, writing full time. It’s a dream come true, a dream I owe to you, the reader. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart :)
FOR THE LOVE OF THE UNNAMEABLES, WHAT’S GOING ON WITH BOOK 4?!
Guess what — it’s finished! Next step is editing. Book 4 was an emotional roller coaster. I did not expect to get so attached to the characters. Now that I’m a full time author, I kind of live in Sithesia with Augum, Bridget, Leera and Mrs. Stone. I watch over them, worry about them. I get scared when they get scared; emotional in poignant moments; luckily, I also get to experience their triumphs.
Anyway, book 4 is packed with adventure. There’s a greedy and controlling mentor, an ancient library, and an epic warlock tournament. I am currently expecting it to be ready for January :)
CONTEST WINNER (this small portion is for mailing list subscribers only)
Remember that Name a New Character Contest I held a while back ? A winner has been selected. His name is Michael and he’s from the United Kingdom. The character he came up with is named Caireen Lavo, and she’s already written into book 4. But Michael really went all out — Caireen Lavo is also an anagram! Can you figure out what the name spells?
As soon as the fourth book is printed, I’ll be mailing Michael a signed copy. His name will also be mentioned in the back of the book.
There will be another contest, so don’t worry if you missed this one.
AND FINALLY …
Thank you for reading The Arinthian Line; thank you to those who have taken the time to review the books on Amazon and Goodreads; and thank you to those who have joined my Advance Reader Team.
Book 4 of The Arinthian Line is coming along. First draft might even be done this weekend. I like this screenshot — an even 160,000 words, and projecting 180-190,000, before serious editing kicks in.
In this book, Augum, Bridget and Leera bond unlike ever before, but they also face their greatest challenges. This book is something. It’s packed with adventure–a greedy mentor, an ancient library, and a warlock tournament. I can’t wait to get it out there, but quality comes first, so bear with me :)
Know someone who you think would enjoy Arcane? Let them know that this is their chance to snag it for nothing (usually costs $3.99). This is the first time ever it’s free, and only for a short while (until Monday, October 19th, 2015), as part of a special promotional campaign.
Apprentice warlocks Augum, Bridget and Leera have reunited with their legendary mentor, Anna Atticus Stone. But her epic battle with the diabolical Lord of the Legion has taken a toll, and now she suffers from a deadly arcane fever. To revive her, Augum will have to earn the respect of a warrior people … by facing his childhood tormentors.
Meanwhile, Augum and Leera’s feelings for each other are complicated by the upcoming Star Feast, a magical midnight dance to mark Endyear. Their revelry will have to be short-lived, however, for a perilous quest beckons—the trio must infiltrate an ancient castle that will pit them against enemies old and new, while testing every ounce of their skill and courage
Title:To be announced, (The Arinthian Line, Book 3) Cover and blurb reveal date: To be announced (subscribe to get a notice of release as well as a 24 hour window to purchase book 3 at a steep discount) Release date: To be announced
Author’s thoughts: Who releases a book with a winter cover in the middle of summer? I know, crazy, but I figure you’d want it sooner than later. This one is packed with adventure; Augum, Bridget and Leera are tested unlike ever before. I’m ultra excited, and I really can’t wait to get it to you. Not long to wait now!
Thank you to each and every single one of you for your amazing support. It means so much to me :)
It gives me great pleasure to introduce an up-and-comer, David Neth:
The Differences Between Indie Publishing and Traditional Publishing, by David Neth
Lately the publishing industry has been divided between authors going the indie route and those still pursuing the traditional route. As someone who has received his master’s degree in publishing in NYC (whose teachers worked at some of the largest publishing houses in the world), it might come as a surprise that I’m choosing the independent route to publish my work. Confused? Let me explain…
Throughout the time I spent learning (and discovering) the publishing industry, I found out that self-publishing was a force to be reckoned with. Fifty Shades of Grey had just been picked up by Random House at the time and was blowing up the bestseller lists. My teachers (the traditional publishers) were discussing how they were looking into other self-published titles for the next hit.
Fast forward to that following summer, when I first decided to try out the self-publishing route, I discovered Joe Konrath’s blog and was obsessed. This guy had been traditionally published and switched to self-publishing in its infancy and was making bank. Way more than he was when he was traditionally published. My publishing education was expanded further as I embraced self-publishing.
Previously I had been shocked and dismayed that the publishers on Fifth Avenue were so dismissive to authors. Not all of them, but the vibe I got from the classes was that the authors spit out the first draft and then let the publishers take it from there without any input from the author on the cover design or style changes. That wasn’t the way I wanted my books to be handled. Not only that, but we had several entrepreneurs and innovators that came to guest speak in my classes and they inspired me. I wanted to forge my own path, my own way. I wanted to carve out a lifestyle that would work for me and would enable me to do what I loved to do.
It’s important to note that indie publishing isn’t all bubblegum and rainbows. Equally, traditional publishing isn’t a horrible route to take. It just wasn’t going to work for me. I wanted to make a career as a novelist. That just wasn’t possible with traditional publishing. I knew my book wasn’t a runaway hit like Harry Potter, but it was at least publishable. I knew I enjoyed it and someone else must, even if it was a midlist book. The problem with midlist books is that they don’t make traditional publishers a lot of money. In fact, they cost publishers money. It’s a business risk they don’t want to take so understandably they’re picky with their selections. If they don’t think it might be a hit, it’s rejected. No matter how well-written it is.
With indie publishing, I’m the one taking the risk on my own book. Since it’s my baby, I have the passion and enthusiasm behind it to push it to its best. Traditional publishing houses don’t always carry the same enthusiasm, especially if they feel your book is only going to land on the midlist.
Whether you choose to publish independently or pursue the traditional paths to publication, you need to weigh the pros and cons of each. Here are some key points about the differences between indie publishing and traditional publishing:
With indie publishing you handle everything, unless you decide to outsource it, but that costs you your own money. With traditional publishing, they handle everything and you anxiously await the final proofs and product. This is different for each person. While it would be nice to have complete creative control over the final product with indie publishing, you may lack the skills necessary to make it a stellar product comparable with a traditionally published book. Likewise, while you lose your complete creative control over the final product (publishers may consult with you throughout the process, but they get the final say), the product is designed by professionals who have been working in the field for years and years. Not only that, but the bill is footed by the publisher.
Again, with this it depends on the publisher if you decide to go traditional. If they view you as a midlister, your advertising and marketing dollars drop significantly. You might as well be self-published and on your own with the budget they give you for advertising and marketing. However, if they think your book is the best thing since sliced bread, you’re going to be all over the place. You’re going to be the center of creative marketing and interviewed by newspapers, blogs, and magazines without having to ask. The publisher will take care of that for you. With indie publishing, you need to discover and beg, plead, and steal to get any sort of free promotion. In the end, hopefully your hard work (and possibly money) pays off since you’re also battling the stigma of self-published authors.
– Publishing Schedule:
The traditional publishing cycle, from acquisition to publication, is 18 months at the fastest. That’s a new book every year and a half. While that time is good for building hype and having a massive release day, it’s still a long time between each book. This is where indie publishing shines through. When you self-publish, you put out a book as fast as you can produce it. However, be mindful of the frequency at which you’re putting books out. Readers will come to expect it and then abandon you when you eventually burn out and miss your typical publication date. Conversely, they may abandon you if you saturate them too much. Think about it when all your favorite musicians decide to put out new albums around the same time. You either go broke or you pick and choose which ones you can’t live without.
Fortunately, neither path is the end-all-be-all. There are successful hybrid authors putting out books independently and traditionally. If you’re good at it, this might be the sweet spot. You get the attention and free promotion on your traditionally published books and those eyes will be led to your self-published books. It’s a win-win.
This post avoids the most obvious difference between indie publishing and traditional publishing: the royalty rate. Indies earn 60-70% royalty on their titles while traditionally published authors see 20%, which then needs to be split with their agent (since you can’t get a book deal without a literary agent). This is also something to consider when deciding which path to choose, but it’s certainly not the only thing. Create a list for yourself and determine what’s important to you. Are you looking to create a career or fulfill a hobby? Do your research and make a decision for yourself. Which path will you choose?