Projects Update — July 2017
It’s been a long, long while since I’ve posted any public progress updates (for a number of reasons that will become clear shortly), or, indeed, posted anything at all.
This strikes me as a little bit incredibly lame. Total radio silence is a common thing for writers, but it sucks for everybody on the reading end. So, in the spirit of my betters, here’s the first issue of a (hopefully) biannual update on where my time is going and what’s happening in my world(s).
The Alliance of Liars (Teranis, Book 2)
Seeking to understand Ashes’ unique magic, Ashes and Jack steal the journal of a long-dead scholar who studied Artificers. The journal contains far more than they expected — including tantalizing hints about how to regain the lost magic of the Artisans. But their theft has drawn attention from the greatest powers in Teranis: the Guild of Artificers, the Queens, and an ancient power that has slept beneath the city for millennia…
Also in this book:
- Ashes seeks answers about rasa, Ravagers, and the ephemeral magic in his blood.
- Blimey, armed with stolen magic, sneaks inside the greatest library in the world.
- Synder breaks laws both municipal and physical.
- Candlestick Jack tests his nerve against the entire Guild of Artificers.
- Teranis is menaced by a grim serial killer with a penchant for crushing skulls.
Status: 15% completed
Project on hold
The good news first: the second Ashes book is all drawn up. Character arcs are plotted. Twists are blueprinted. Reveals and secrets and challenges are set in place. All that’s missing is the text — and, frankly, I’m quite a fast typist. I could bang out a draft of this in six months. Less, even, if my wife gets tired of having me around.
The other good news: I’m extremely excited about it. There are scenes and characters in here that I’ve wanted to put out in the world for years. There’s also quite a lot of stuff that was distinctly missing from The Facefaker’s Game: answers, or at least more interesting questions, about witches, and what’s in the sewers, and Ravagers, and the Queens who are the Kindly Ones who are the Furies.
I’m excited because, though The Facefaker’s Game stands just fine on its own, in my head it has always been a prequel story. It is aimed unerringly at this book.
The bad news is that, as of right now, The Facefaker’s Game has not reached sufficient sales goals for my publisher to pick up a sequel.
This is a major bummer, but not a full-on tragedy. The book is in a complicated position. In one sense, it’s at the mercy of the free market: a good run of sales could make Book 2 a reality right quick. Of course, the inverse is also true: unimpressive sales means my publisher won’t pick it up ever, and it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to shop it around to other publishers.
That doesn’t mean you’ll never see it.
This book means a lot to me. It’s something I really, really want to write. It’s something I’m going to write, whether I’m paid for it or not. And even if a publisher can’t afford to pick it up, they’re not the only game in town anymore; it’s very, very possible for someone like me to distribute an ebook.
The trouble is that I can’t really afford to let grass grow under my feet, so I’m working on other projects that I could theoretically sell to a publisher. This is time that I can’t spend on Liars, so it’s delayed for the time being. But it’s going to happen…
If you would like someday to be sooner (and if you would prefer Book 2 to exist as a physical book rather than just an electronic one), here are three things you can do to make that happen:
- Review it. Amazon loves reviews. It particularly loves to have them frequently and in huge quantities. They don’t have to be long, or beautifully written; they don’t even have to be positive — even a low-star review will give Game a little more traction in the most important modern marketplace. Every little bit counts. (Notably, it counts for just a little bit more if you bought your copy from Amazon. Conveniently, they’re selling it for real cheap right now — and that’s a good thing! I get one more sale, and you get a book for less than the price of a Big Mac. Everybody wins!)
- Share it. Mention it on Facebook or Twitter. Something as simple as “I enjoyed this, you should read it if you like [Victorian London/smarmy con men/audacious clever people who get in way over their heads]” with a link to the Goodreads or Amazon page can make a real difference.
- Talk about it. Books, like viruses, spread best in person. 97% of my favorite books are books my friends told me about. If you know anyone who likes fantasy, or sci-fi, or books about scrappy little nobodies getting by on nothing but their wits and nerve, tell them about this great little book you know about. Live into your hipster calling.
The Empire of Bridges
The world of Saethe is restless — and broken. Jagged lines of magic have carved the land into thousands of self-contained Territories. Polar wastes lie beside arid deserts; mountains are cut perfectly in half. And at any moment, without warning, the Territories could shift, traversing thousands of miles in an instant. Its people are scattered across an ever-changing landscape, trapped within their Territories, and plagued by a curse that transforms them — and their children — into bloodthirsty monsters.
It is a treacherous, terrifying place.
And it has just kidnapped four human teenagers.
Status: 5% completed
The Empire of Bridges is a very tentative title, but I definitely can’t use the title it has in my head. I could get in some copyright trouble if I named a book The Breakfast Club Goes to Narnia.
I am all kinds of excited about this project. I’m also pretty nervous about the ways it could go wrong — and there’s a lot of ways it could go wrong. Empire is the most ambitious thing I’ve ever tried. It’s a big, varied, complex world; the characters in it are drastic departures from the smarmy liars of Game; and it’s already taken me about eight tries to put down a beginning I like. It’s also talking about some tricky, complex topics that have been eating up my brain the last several months for, um, reasons.
Bottom line: I have next to no idea what I’m doing. But I know what needs to be done.
Expect more updates as I figure this book out. Target completion date is the end of this year.
A reclusive wizard is assigned to mentor the Chosen One.
The Chosen One is a horrible whiny brat.
Status: 1%. Literally just an idea.
But a fun idea.
The last six months have been…weird.
I found out in March that Simon & Schuster wouldn’t be picking up Liars, which threw me for a loop; the book had built up so much momentum in my head, and then it had nowhere to go. It was like trying to stop a train with your bare hands.
Predictably, I crashed.
Not a big surprise, really. Between the crazy stuff that has been going on this year, and the bad news about Liars, and the obsessive-workaholic/distracted-couch-potato rhythm of my creativity, some kind of crash was inevitable. It’s been half a year since I’ve written anything substantial.
The last time this inertia hit me, it was because my life was on fire. I’d lost my first job; I was under deadline pressure; I spent 90% of my time either worrying or trying to distract myself from the things I was worried about. It sucked.
This time couldn’t be more different. Life has been kind to me. I have a steady job that I enjoy. My wife and I bought a house. My little sister had a baby. Everything has been really outstanding.
I’m not going to say anything about those links right here, because frankly it isn’t productive to talk about our national orangutan or the smorgasbord of horrible he represents.
But I will say that it’s hard to think clearly when you’re constantly furious. It’s hard to be productive when it seems like nothing ever changes — like every good thing has ultimately come to nothing, and the strong will always eat the weak.
There’s nothing to do except the next right thing.
For me, for now, that’s channeling my fury and confusion and fear into something honest, and hopeful, and worthwhile.
And it’s high time I got to work.
Originally published at chandlerjbirch.com on June 30, 2017.