Yes, it took three years. But they’re in the mail! And up on Amazon.
If you’ve been following my progress with Book Two, you’ll notice the working title, THE KNAVE OF SOULS, did not make the final cut.
I fully thought book two would go to press with that title
But a couple months before publication, I was at Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference in Denver, and a good writer friend of mine, Heather Webb, commented, “Isn’t the knave the same card as the jack? And isn’t the title of your first book, The Jack of Souls? By naming the second book The Knave of Souls you’d be naming it the same as the first book, but in different words.
And I had to admit she was right.
But I didn’t. I resisted.
I explained to her that I was using an older meaning of “knave,” meaning “foolish person,” but even as I said it I knew it was a poor excuse, and that she was right. Damn it. Plus, another large fraction of my readers might not be familiar with the term “knave” at all., which would also be a problem. Double damn.
I had actually loved The Knave of Souls.
But I faced the music, and when I did, I was stuck for a title.
So I went round and round on it, noodling for a new title for months as I finalized the manuscript and got the cover going. The title crisis came to a head when I was three weeks out, and still had nothing.
The Fool of Souls was the next closes thing, but it didn’t have a ring to it. Heather had liked The Ace of Souls, which I agreed was cool, and had a ring to it, but which felt too modern, to me., Apprentice of Souls (meh), Squire of Souls, (meh).
So I switched suits. “Souls” was the suit that referred to the Unseen Moon, the moon that controls the magic of the spirit world and dreams. Since the Mad Moon is the moon controlling entropy and the magic of destruction, I’d imagined the Mad Moon’s suit would be “Fires” or “Flames” or something like that, but it hadn’t come up yet in the books, so I hadn’t settled one. After much deliberation, I eventually landed on, The Jack of Flames, but I wasn’t excited about it. Finally, my good friend Mark said, “How about The Jack of Ruin?” and it stuck.
Thematically, it’s actually a better title. But the change means, of course, that the third book needs to be start with “The Jack of…”, so in that respect I’ve painted myself into a corner. Still, I have lots of time to figure that out.
It’s been three years since the release of The Jack of Souls, but I am proud to announce that this Sunday I will send Book Two, The Knave of Souls, to the editor! Look for it on Amazon at the end of the month or in early December.
The Knave of Souls weighs in at 185,000 words, which is a better length for epic fantasy, in my opinion, and which makes it 140 pages longer. I like to think that makes up for some of the wait. Can’t wait to hear what you think of it.
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Summer is a season of imaginative recharge for me. A time when the muses grow strong and the furies of duty fall away. It is a time of family, hiking, hammocking, playgoing, and geekery.
Historically, it’s also been a time of hardcore writing binges. And this summer would have been the same, except for two things: 1) broke my ankle; 2) I’ve been waiting for my last beta readers; 3) I am a cinder.
1) BROKEN ANKLE
“So what?” I hear someone say. “Broken ankle is a perfect excuse to sit and write.” I myself thought that, at first. Then I learned what a time-sucking, buzz-pinching frustration fest it is to perform even the smallest tasks.
Normally effortless things like rising to pee, fetch ice for my leg, return the ice pack to the freezer, or search for one of the myriad things I set down or misplaced on one of these interruptions becomes a sweaty and awkward epic crap wagon.
And it was depressing. The one time I optimistically sat in a cafe for my usual six hour stint, my foot swelled up like a throbbing red meat balloon.
But that didn’t stop me from trying. I’ve been waiting for the last of my beta readers, including the Closer (though maybe I should call him the Cleaner?), my blood brother in writing, Craig Holt–aka Ivuk Ivukson, whose kickass “jungle noir” novel, Hard Dog to Kill comes out this fall. Craig delivered his notes last week. I had begged him to make his comments on paper so I could revise on paper, a task much easier to do than on computer when one one’s leg is elevated above the heart. I await only one more beta reader.
COULDN’T I START REVISIONS BASED ON CRAIG’S COMMENTS?
Yes. I am now walking on my ankle boot. Things are much easier. But…
3) HONESTLY, I’M BURNT OUT
Too much Knave for too long, and my imagination feels like a wrung-out sponge. My body too, is a shambles, and not just the ankle. I sacrificed exercise time to writing time. Very. Bad. Idea.
THE POINT IS
I haven’t written much this summer, and that’s going to have to be okay. Instead, I have made it a Summer of Imaginative & Salubrious Recharge. While I wait for betas and healing, I’ve let my Four Muses have rein–the four muses of Family, Nature, Shakespeare, and Dreaming. Plus, I have returned to exercise.
And guess what? I revised and polished two chapters, wrote two new chapters (including the last), and completed the draft!
Better than that, 90% is ready for the copy editor, and the rest just needs the usual critique and development.
Thanks to Jeff Weaver for this quote from The Return of the King.
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Samwise saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
Wednesday at Fiore…6 hours logged.
Today begins a string of all-day writes.
Goal: Complete Beta draft to 85%, and send it to Beta Readers. While they read, I finish the last 15%. BOOM!
Notice the headphones: Thanks to the inestimable Martin Shoemaker (a 2015 Writers of the Future winner) for showing me that Instead of typing or writing at a desk, I can dictate passages while I hike or walk.
So often it seems I face the choice between writing and exercise, but thanks to Martin’s revelation, I need not always face that choice. Today I will transcribe* two “foreshadowing” passages that I composed on a walk I took while waiting for a ferry in Fauntleroy .
*Martin actually pays a service to transcribe for him. He composed a novel this year commuting in his car to his day job. Kevin J. Anderson also composes this way.
Some of my “Foul Papers”
Late start at fiore today for 3.5 hours. Another 3.5 tonight at Cafe Racer. Had to swap out the caffeine.