It’s been a long time since I last posted here, I know. Here’s what’s been going on the last few months.
Aelathia: Weaving and Musings of Essencers is undergoing some of the last steps before I begin querying agents. One of those is a revision to the first chapter, where I’ve synergized advice from genre experts and beta readers to hone that vital introduction to a fine blade of steel. I’ve also been advised to adjust the title, so I’ll keep you posted when and if that happens. The sequel, A Rose By Any Other Thorn, is currently on hold, but the current draft is so far along I’m not worried about it at all.
Thorns of Salvation‘s first draft is just shy of 27,000 words out of the projected 75,000, meaning about 36% completed. I’m seriously loving this urban fantasy apocalyptic novel. Recently, the characters totally took over the story, utterly obliterating my outline. To me, any time the characters determine the path of the story, it means that tale is alive and breathing of its own volition.
What I love about both of these series–and yes, Thorns of Salvation has become a series now, though it may be the title of the first book, a new title for the series has yet to make itself clear, replacing Tselmnasa–is how much I can play with a magic system. What are the boundaries and how can I stretch those? How does science play a part? Meanwhile, what are the various factions and worldviews the characters have? Whose really calling the shots? I enjoy political intrigue, conspiracies, espionage, and emotional angst. I’m very thankful my characters are willing to put up with me for everything I put them through.
On another note, there’s a few other projects simmering on the stove top of my imagination: a science fiction/fantasy series and a standalone epic apocalyptic fantasy. Though I have notes, I haven’t proceeded to work on those. I’m also toying with a few short story ideas for contests, but so far nothing’s manifested itself. I think I’m just too busy to let those fly on their own, including a complete renovation of A’banna’s Tome.
Finally, there’s a few projects directly related to both Aelathia and Thorns of Salvation that have been partially developed. It’s certainly a chance roll of the dice when they’ll see fruition, but the projects have come fairly far along and I have some excellent beta…hmm…friends willing to assist. There’s just some legalities to finalize before these projects move forward and I give you more than teasers.
I’ve been writing heavily for the blog Geek2Geek, but I’m soon going to have a lot more time to return here. You may even see some posts from that blog make their way here over the next few months. As for things directly related to Aelathia, I’ve got some fun posts planned, including revisiting the Interview With series, exploring more of the world of Aelathia from the eyes of certain characters–yet with a modern journalism feel.
Also, I’ve launched a new blog, Christian in Chaos, which focuses primarily on what it means when we have faith and suffer. It covers a lot of issues, most recently dealing with the LRA operating in central Africa and the #bordercrisis influx of refugees or immigrant children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador into both the United States and South American countries. This will probably be one of the few times I mention that blog here, as I like to keep them separate.
These two blogs have consumed a lot of my time, but I’m really looking forward to revitalizing and restructuring this blog and looking into an author website. Lot’s of plans.
I’m still exceptionally busy on Twitter. As always, you can follow my feed on the right side of the page.
Here’s the kicker, pun intended. #Spinalmyoclonus has been an interesting companion. Often times, it continues to lay me out flat for a few days. It continues to be quite painful, abrupt, and intrusive to life. The specialists still aren’t certain why the seizure-like conditions remain after the virus supposedly worked its way through my system (and spine). So even though I’m not officially teaching, I’m still teaching medical professionals. Oh, the pleasure. Any online absence on my part is likely due to one of two rasons: 1) I’m focused heavily on my books and can’t spare the time, or 2) the weaving #myoclonus. As I’ve written before, I refuse to let myoclonus stop the writer in me. It will be done.
Even for a disabled writer, there’s a lot happening, and I’m excited to share even this much with you. As things progress, you’ll start to see changes to this blog, hear more about the novels, and keep up to date with so much. Cheers, and happy harvest!
For those of us who write fantasy and science fiction, there’s always the fine-art of world building. That’s the designing of the setting and everything that accompanies it in which the characters move, breathe, have their conflict, the plot develops, and the characters impact. After spending over a decade on world-building for the Aelathia Chronicles, I am always profoundly interested by the skill and penmanship of authors already published–especially those who have fashioned unique worlds.
Let me name a few: Robin Hobb’s finely built world in The Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies; Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera which features elemental impact on a Roman society set in a fantasy world with multiple races; the infamous Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, detailed and beautiful; Christopher Paolini’s detailed world featured in the Inheritance Saga; or the high-fantasy realm of Middle Earth featured in praised J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Let’s not forget, even though they may not top my favorite list, such authors as C.S. Lewis, George R.R. Martin, Terry Brooks, Terry Goodkind, J.K. Rowling, Chuck Black, Stephen Lawhead, etc.
No series, no world has profoundly impacted me as an author than the works of Brandon Sanderson, particularly in the Mistborn series and The Stormlight Archive (currently consisting of The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance tomes). I indeed consider him a master craftsman. This is the man who was selected and completed Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. His characters, plots, and worlds are profound, creative, and detailed. If out of any of these authors, you need to select one to read, let me encourage you to read Brandon Sanderson’s works. (Then followed by Jim Butcher, Robert Jordan, Robin Hobb, Christopher Paolini, Tolkien, and so on and so forth.)
To that end, both as an emphasis on world building and to promote my favorite author’s work, let me point you to a recent post Tor.com, “Brandon Sanderson Answers Your Questions About The Way of Kings“. Please, take some time, read through it. Learn from him on how to construct a world. It’s in the tradition of The Stormlight Archive that I’m now fashioning that new world, the standalone novel you may read me referencing from time to time. The Archive is so far removed from the mileau of traditional fantasy we’ve become so familiar with, it’s refreshing. Like all of his works, also very challenging and eye-opening. Follow the link below, and happy reading.
Thank you to all of our men and women who have and do serve in the military, and have given their lives and times. We appreciate you, are thankful for you, and remember you often. God bless you.
Joshua P. Smith
Today I took a Writer’s Digest Webinar, Writing and Selling Science Fiction and Fantasy, presented by author and editor Philip Athans.
This was a marvelous opportunity and an informative webinar. Philip answered several questions I posed in my previous post.
Before I answer those though, a comment on word count/book length is necessary. In Philip’s experience, 90,000 words is roughly a good length for a first fantasy novel. This count differs from what I’ve heard in the past by about 10,000-25,000 words–which range Weaving and Musings of Essencers‘ word count falls into. My first reaction was: yikes! Then I calmed myself down, reminded myself that I’ve heard differing word counts by various agents and editors, so I really won’t know until I take that leap of faith and begin promoting my book. He also mentioned that the book should be as long as the story needs it to be, which is exactly what happened with Weaving. The characters and story needed those extra 13,000 words to really flesh out and bring things to a completion.
So, I’m not going to worry about it now. Rather, unless advised otherwise, I want to ask some professionals about the book’s length and content, see what, if anything, could be cut before it’s finally sent to the printer (or internet, etc). Besides, I never stop learning, nor should I. There’s always nuggets of wisdom to be found, perhaps just around the corner or the next webinar or writer’s conference. I am an educator at heart, I love to teach as much as I love to learn.
Now, onto the question: “Should I wait to write the sequel before seeing the results of the first book?” Philip Athans’ answer: “YES!”
It’s safer to wait on the book’s results: Does an agent want to represent it? Does a publisher want to sell it? Does it sell? Though these might be taboo questions, they’re honest and realistic questions. Of course I love Weaving and Musings of Essencers. Of course, it’s my dream world. Of course, I believe in it wholeheartedly. What this essentially boils down to is not wasting time. I can work on the Tselmnasa novels now. It’s very easy to lighten the connection between Thorns of Salvation and the Aelathia Chronicle, A Rose By Any Other Thorn. In fact, there’s some other ideas that I can explore as a writer as I query and begin this arduous but adventurous road.
So to answer my question–and maybe one other authors have asked but haven’t had answered–is it’s better to wait on the sequel until after seeing results for the first book. The good news? Weaving and Musings of Essencers does carry with it a standalone quality. The main plot and several subplots are all resolved by the end of the book. So it is a standalone novel with series potential. Six books, to be exact. Plus connections with loads of others.
Am I worried? No, not really. Weaving can stand on its own two feet. And if it can’t, it will someday.
Thanks for following and looking forward to connecting with you again soon! As always, you can follow me on Twitter @AelathiaNovels.