Realms of Light: Progress Report Twenty-Six

Okay, the first draft is written, though I’m going to go back and revise a little before I let anyone else see it.

It runs twenty chapters — well, nineteen and a half, really, because Chapter Twenty is just a couple of pages long. It’s 60,300 words. That means the final draft will probably be pretty close to the same length as the original Nightside City.

I’ll be sending donors who asked to receive the chapters as they’re written a single file of Chapters Sixteen through Twenty some time this week. I’ll also be sending them a small file of the notes I’ve written to myself about what needs to get done in rewrite, as a sort of extra glimpse into the project.

There are two obvious questions about where we go from here: What’s going to happen with the web serial? What’s the schedule for the finished book?

The web serial will continue as money continues to trickle in; I have some hope that it will be completed eventually. I’m about halfway to posting Chapter Thirteen. Chapter Twenty will be a freebie, included with Chapter Nineteen; it’s too short to require full price. That means my total take for the serial will be about $4,500 gross; since I need to pay for copies for donors out of that, the net will be much less. This is why serials are a relatively low priority for me; it’s just not a cost-effective use of my writing time.

If the serial is never completed, well, that’s just too bad.

As for turning the first draft into a finished book, it’s going to be a spare-time project for me, but I will get a final draft done some time in 2010. FoxAcre Press intends to publish it, though we don’t actually have a signed contract yet — we have a fairly detailed verbal agreement. I can’t speak for FoxAcre as to when the finished book will be available, but I can and do promise that it will be printed and mailed to donors before it’s offered to the general public, and that if I do put together an accompanying pamphlet about designing the Eta Cassiopeia system, it will only be available to donors to the serial.

It’s been suggested that FoxAcre might do a combined edition of Nightside City and Realms of Light in a single volume; the publisher has turned that idea down. However, donors who don’t already have a copy of Nightside City and want one should contact me by e-mail; we can arrange something, though it won’t be an omnibus volume.

Now, regarding future serials: I’ll start a new Ethshar story sometime in 2010. I don’t know when. It will probably be The Final Calling, but that’s not 100% certain — if I develop a sudden wild enthusiasm for The Sorcerer’s Widow or Azraya of Ethshar or A Feather from Her Wing or At the Sign of the Crimson Wolf, I’ll do that instead. (I don’t think there are any contenders other than those five.)

If it is The Final Calling, it will start with a short story, “The Warlock’s Refuge,” which will be posted as a teaser instead of Chapter One — the story will eventually be either a prologue or Chapter One, but it will also a complete story in its own right. No, I haven’t written it yet; it’s just an outline so far.

There may be other, non-Ethshar serials as well, depending how my career is going elsewhere and how productive my writing time is, but I’m not going to try doing any more sequels to twenty-year-old novels. This means The Exile and the Empire is not going to happen. Probably just as well, as the outline’s awfully skimpy and I’ve forgotten a lot of stuff I never bothered to write down. Silver Stars is right out, too.

I don’t expect to do much of anything on any serials for the last two months of 2009; I need to focus on more lucrative work for awhile, and of course the holidays are a big distraction.

So — there you go. Comments and questions are very welcome.

Realms of Light: Progress Report Twenty-Five

Still a long way to go before I have enough money to post Chapter Thirteen, but there’s been some progress.

On the writing end, I’m midway through Chapter Eighteen. I’m estimating the first draft will run twenty chapters, 60,000 words, which means the final draft won’t be as short as I’d feared; it might be as long as the original Nightside City, which ran 68,000 words.

A lot of the wordage I’ll be adding in the second draft (and subsequent drafts) will be atmospherics — details of the setting that I didn’t bother with the first time through, because the first time through writing anything I focus on plot and character. I’m getting to the point in the story where I’m starting to make mental notes about what I need to add or change when I get into rewriting it. Usually, some of these mental notes then get typed up as reminders to myself that I refer to as I work. This time, I’m thinking I’ll make those notes available to donors in a password-protected webpage, so that if they’re interested they can get a look at my process. Not sure when I’ll get that up; when I do I’ll e-mail the donors with the URL and password.

So far, the most urgent note to myself amounts to a reminder to include details of the climate and weather on Prometheus.

With the Ethshar serials, donors who got the finished book also had the option of getting a chapbook of a short story as a bonus. I haven’t written any short stories about Carlisle Hsing, or set in Nightside City, so I can’t do that this time, but I am planning to put together something about how Dr. Sheridan Simon and I (mostly Dr. Simon) designed the Eta Cassiopeia system. I hope that will do.

I’m into the stage of the writing that I think of as the endgame, where everything feels inevitable and is rushing toward its conclusion. That’s good, in that it means the first draft will get finished and probably get finished soon, but it also means I don’t want to be distracted by stuff like mailing out Chapters Sixteen and Seventeen, or putting up webpages, or having a life. It also means these last few chapters are a bit sketchier than the earlier chapters, because I’m writing them in a hurry, which I’ll mostly fix in subsequent drafts, but which is another reason I’m not in a big rush to mail them out.

I’ll get to all that other stuff eventually, I promise.

Realms of Light: Progress Report Twenty-Three

Here’s where we stand:

Eleven chapters have been posted to the web. No money has been contributed toward Chapter Twelve; in fact, I’m still $2.00 short for Chapter Eleven.

Fourteen chapters have been e-mailed to donors.

I’ve finished writing Chapter Fifteen, and just started Chapter Sixteen.

However, at the end of Chapter Fifteen Carlisle Hsing figured out a big chunk of the mystery — she had to, if I didn’t want her to look stupid — and now I’m thinking I could maybe wrap this up in about eighteen to twenty chapters, rather than the twenty-five I’d previously estimated. That would make for a pretty short novel, though of course it would get longer in rewrite.

I know a lot of authors cut stuff in rewrite, but I almost never do; instead I fill in details I’d skipped over. It’s not unusual for me to add as much as 25,000 words to a 100,000-word novel.

In this case, the first draft might come in as short as 55,000 words — about the length of a typical Ace Double, nowhere near the modern norm.

The up side is that it would be done sooner; the down side is that I’d feel as if I was cheating folks who paid $25.00 for a book that short. If it comes to that, I’ll want to think of some way to make up the difference for donors.

Not to mention whatever standards FoxAcre Press may have; I haven’t yet discussed the matter there.

But of course, it may not come to that at all; I’ve grossly misjudged how long a story needs to be before. The folk-tales in Among the Powers were originally added because the novel was below Avon’s minimum length, and Dragon Weather ran 20,000 words longer than I’d intended.

So I’m going to keep writing it, and see what happens. If it comes out too short, well… the first draft may turn out to not be the entire story.

Realms of Light: Progress Report Twenty-Two

Oh, dear.  I’ve been neglecting this.  I can’t do that much longer, though, as I’m only seven dollars short of having to post Chapter Eleven.

I still haven’t finished writing Chapter Fourteen; I got busy with other projects, household concerns, and health issues.  (Nothing serious on that last, not to worry.)  I’ll get back to it soon; I just need to finish up a report I’m writing that was due today, and then Realms of Light will go back to the top of the queue.

I haven’t written that piece on going back to a story after a twenty-year hiatus, either.  I should do that.

I’ve received a couple of inquiries recently regarding Ethshar serials.  I’m planning to launch one (probably The Final Calling) pretty much as soon as Realms of Light is written, unless Tor or some other high-paying publisher presents me with a serious deadline of some sort.  I can’t make any solid guess when that will be, though.

Thanks for bearing with me.