Podium Audio, my audio publisher, just released a book trailer for Arcane Ascension. It’s mostly targeted toward new potential readers, but I thought fans might want to see it, too! You can see the trailer here.

Diamantine is now out on the US Audible store. Other regions may be delayed, depending on their time zone.

You can get it here: https://www.audible.com/pd/Diamantine-Audiobook/1774243032

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Hey everyone,

Just a reminder that Diamantine, the sequel to Six Sacred Swords, is out in audio book format tomorrow, July 7th. You can get it here.

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I’ll have some other updates soon!

Hey all,

First off, updates.

AA3 has come a long way, but it’s also still a long way from being done. My current best guess is that I’ll have a first draft around August to September and a final version ready to launch around November. This would still meet my original goal of releasing the book in 2020, if only barely.

This one has been a real challenge, both due to the burden of expectations from readers and the fact that it’s a weird style of book from a narrative standpoint. AA1 and 2 are both largely magical academy novels – this one is basically a “winter break” novel. I’m trying very hard to make sure that it’s still engaging – I don’t want this to be a filler or side story book, especially given the two year wait between releases – but structurally, it can’t be the same as the previous two. It’s in a different locale, doesn’t have all the usual cast members, and takes place in a much shorter time period than the previous two.

I don’t want this to feel like a book that only serves to set up for the next book(s) in the series, so a *lot* is going on in this novel in a very short period of time. Overall, I think that currently makes it feel somewhat different than the previous two AA books, which I have some mixed feelings about. I anticipate there being a strong possibility that beta readers will not like the direction of some of the stylistic differences, and I’ll have to evaluate that and see if I want to make changes.

It also means that I’ll probably move on to AA4 more quickly after this one than I did with AA3. I’m not going to commit to that, but I think it may be necessary, since I suspect fans will be eager to get back into a more “conventional” AA book after this one ends.

Either way, W&W3 will be next after AA3. I’m still working on that when I’m in the mood for it, and I think finishing it up will be easy once AA3 is done. I expect it to be done and released sometime early next year. I’d love to get it out in December to do a back-to-back release with AA3, but I think that’s currently unlikely.

I have several other projects in the works, but most of them are much further off, and I’m going to de-prioritize them to focus exclusively on AA and W&W for a while. That mean people who are waiting for Wrynn’s story will have to wait a little longer, sorry. It also means no sequels to How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps any time soon.

Speaking of How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps, it’s doing very well, but there’s also been some confusion in the reviews and discussion.

Originally, I’d planned to record myself reading the Acknowledgements section at the back of the book, since those usually don’t get recorded by the narrator. With everything happening with COVID-19, I didn’t get a chance to go into Audible’s recording studio to do that as planned. The original acknowledgements section will still be in the Kindle version, but that’ll be around November, and I’d like to talk a bit about the origins of this story.

Most of the people reading this blog know that I’m a huge fan of JRPGs. It reflects in all my works, and it was pretty in-your-face already in Six Sacred Swords.

How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps is even more on-the-nose; it’s a deliberate parody and deconstruction of games like Dragon Quest, Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Ys. Mostly the NES-era ones, but with some other references here and there, like some Job Class System stuff, d20-system derived leveling with more Elder Scrollsish skill grinding, Ocarina of Time jokes, etc.

I think some people went into this story expecting me to play those tropes a little straighter, more like with my other books, and got disappointed at the number of things that feel tropey or unoriginal. I want to make it clear that the tropey and referential nature is a deliberate part of the parody process. My main inspirations, aside from the games themselves, were series like Yuusha Yoshihiko, Endro!, Superior, and Maoyuu, all of which play with JRPG tropes in various ways.

The characters being archetypical and largely one-dimensional is 100% intentional. For those of you who aren’t aware, “Yui Shaw” is a joke name – it’s based on “Yuusha”, which is a character archetype popularized by Dragon Quest. It’s usually the main character’s character class. (It translates to something like “brave one”, and it’s basically what we’d call a “chosen one” archetype in western works.) Similarly, Ken Sei (or “kensei”) literally means “Sword Saint”. This style was borrowed directly from three of the works above – Endro!, Superior, and Maoyuu all primarily refer to their main characters by archetype names. This is both for comedy value and for the audience to give the audience an instant, easily recognizable name that helps them know where the character fits in with the story.

…Except that last one relies on a knowledge of Japanese tropes that didn’t work quite as well for a wider, English-speaking audience. Oops.

(I, for one, regret that I didn’t have a chance to include one of my favorite characters built in this fashion – “Lance Rival”. Maybe in the sequel or another similar book.)

Anyway, I think the story still largely worked as intended – most of the fans of my other works probably found it funny, and I know I’ve got some new readers who recognized how I was parodying the tropes and enjoyed it. I learned some good lessons here in terms of advertising, though, since I really should have pushed Audible to advertise it up-front as being a parody, just to set expectations. A lot of the jokes in the story don’t land if readers think I’m just being unimaginative, rather than deliberately making fun of specific tropes and characters. I’ll have to be a little clearer about the genre when it gets to be time for the Kindle release.

And if you did like this style of humor, I strongly recommend going to check out Yuusha Yoshihiko and the Demon King’s Castle, which was one of my bigger inspirations for the parody style of this work. You can see an example of the style of humor here. (I also recommend Maoyu, but that one is more serious.)

Hope everyone is staying safe in this difficult time. Take care, and I’ll plan to post another update next month.

Hey all,

How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps is available now!

It’s an Audible Original, so if you’re eligible for Original Member Benefits, it should be free right now (and cheap if you’re not a member – $7.99 in most regions).

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This book is my loving and comedic homage to NES games like the original Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Dragon Quest. You’ve seen a lot of those influences in my previous works, but this one gets more into parody territory. It’s a lighthearted LitRPG with a lot of references to those works, as well as some gamier stuff that may feel a little more D&Dish. It plays with a lot of the tropes those stories created, similar to works like Maoyuu Maou Yuusha or Rokka no Yuusha.

This is a novella, not a full novel, so don’t expect the kind of length of my usual works.

I hope people enjoy it!

Hey everyone!

For several months, I’ve been teasing a secret project – and it’s finally time to reveal it!

Behold, my Audible Original LitRPG novella: How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps, coming April 30th!

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(The amazing artwork is by LuluSeason, by the way.)

So, what’s this story about?

Here’s the quick blurb:

For thousands of years, there has been a cycle: a Demon King rises and conquers, and a Hero is reborn a hundred years later to defeat him. Each time, civilizations are ground to dust beneath the Demon King’s hordes, but humanity has remained secure in the belief that a Hero of legend will always save them. There’s just one slight problem. It’s only been 23 years since the Demon King’s latest rise, and this time, he’s already conquered more than half the world. If humanity simply waits for the Hero’s return, there may be no world left for him to save.

And so, Yui Shaw sets out with an ambitious plan. A 10-step plan.

She’ll find a way to obtain the Hero’s legendary sword. She’ll earn obscure classes, gain levels, and increase her skills. She’ll travel to the meticulously-crafted dungeons that seem designed for one specific Hero to complete. And, if she’s truly (un)fortunate, she might even find a fairy.

She might not be a Hero – but if she can fake it long enough, she might still be able to save the world.

 

In the synopsis and the artwork, I’m sure some of you already can see that I’m drawing heavily from JRPG tropes here again – and perhaps even more directly than usual. This story is a very clear homage to Zelda and Dragon Quest, but with our protagonist dealing with a difficult problem: How does one save the world when it’s been rigged to be saved by someone else at a later time?

Anyone who enjoy my usual dungeon crawling and lateral thinking antics will probably enjoy this one, especially if you like the more comedic elements of my work. This is a sillier story, more akin to Six Sacred Swords than any of my other works.

Oh, also probably important to mention – if you’re an Audible subscriber, it’s free for the first few days after launch (starting 4/30) as an Audible Original. So, if you’re not already using your Audible Original slots, pick it up while it’s free! It’ll be cheap for other people as well ($7.95, I believe), but you can’t beat the price of free.

To answer some other inevitable questions:

  • No, it’s not in the Arcane Ascension universe. This is brand new.
  • This is a novella, not a full novel. It’s about 46,000 words, or about five hours of recorded time.
  • It’s mostly a stand alone, but I may do more with it if people like it enough. We’ll see.
  • It’s an Audible exclusive for a certain period of time; I’ll do other formats when the publisher allows it.
  • Yes, Arcane Ascension 3 is still in progress and the main thing on my plate. I wrote this quite a while ago, it’s just taken a long time to come out. No, I don’t have a release date for AA3.

Thanks, everyone, and I hope you enjoy the book!

Hey everyone!

Just letting you know that Defying Destiny is finally out on audible! You can get it here.

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As I mentioned earlier, there’s a gigantic book sale going on for Coronavirus relief. The sales are up now, and you can find the main page listing the available books on Reddit here:https://www.reddit.com/r/Fantasy/comments/frp5dw/its_time_62_authors_144_books_all_at_099099_with/

Hey everyone,

I’d like to give everyone an update on my current situation.

First off, I’m safe and still writing. Isolation has been a little maddening, but I’ve been very productive. I’ll get into the details of that productivity in a bit, but I’d like to begin by talking about some sales and deals.

Six Sacred Swords goes on sale at 8AM today for 0.99 on the US and UK Kindle stores. This is my part of a much larger effort by a huge group of authors organized by Bryce O’ Connor. This week, something like a hundred authors are putting books on sale to raise money for Coronavirus relief, and I’ll be doing my part on that and donating a portion of the income from this sale to that cause. I would strongly encourage anyone who can afford to do so to check out the books that are on sale and pick some up – it’s for a good cause.

Next, the Kindle edition of Forging Divinity – the first book in my War of Broken Mirrors series – is free right now, for the first time ever.

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This is both to give some free reading to people dealing with the social isolation and as a way of getting people ready for the release of the audio book for Defying Destiny, which comes out tomorrow. I’m super excited it’s finally getting an audio release, and I can’t wait to hear what people think of Nick’s rendition of it.

Now, back to what I’ve been up to.

First off, Spider Climb. If any of you missed my previous announcements, I’m running a Quest right now, which is a type of web serial/forum RPG hybrid thing. I put in a huge amount of work on this for the first week and a half or so, but it was slowing down my other writing too much, so I’m easing up on my pace a little. (There’s already a full novella worth of content in there. Phew.)

In spite of spending a ton of time on Spider Climb, I’ve still made some steady progress on my other books.

Arcane Ascension 3 is at around 30% completed at this point. I’ve made some good progress, but the dark and interpersonal nature of some of the plot points have been difficult for me to write during this epidemic, and it’s been tricky getting in the right head space for it. I’ve finished the first major “act” of the story at this part, and now I’m getting into territory I’m hoping will be somewhat smoother to write – but we’ll see as the months progress.

Soulbrand, the third Weapons and Wielders book, is making steady progress as well. I still probably plan to release AA3 first, but this book is just so much easier to write that there’s a growing chance I might finish the first draft of it first. It’s not that I’m making it a higher priority; writing it just flows more easily, since it’s a more linear book with a lighter narrative voice and fewer things for me to worry about. I tried just focusing on AA3 for a while, but that just resulted in dead days where I wasn’t getting any work done – bouncing between projects is much better for staying productive and mentally healthy.

One of my secret projects (which was already finished being written last year) should be out soonish, but I’m not the one who gets to announce it. I can’t wait to hear what people think of it, though – and the cover. I absolutely love the cover for it.

Maybe by the end of next month, I’ll be able to show it to you.

Hey everyone,

Given the number of people who are currently in isolation, I thought it might be fun to do something with some interaction.

As such, I’ve started a “Quest” over on Sufficient Velocity.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, Quests are a form of online fiction where the author gives readers a set of options at the end of each chapter. This is similar to a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but rather than all the options being written out, the reader base as a whole votes to determine what the character in the story does next – and that’s it. The other branches aren’t written out.

So, you can think of it as being something of a mix between a novel (or, really, a web serial) and a role-playing game.

This particular quest takes place in between Weapons and Wielders and Arcane Ascension. For the moment, readers will be reading and “playing” as Keras.

You can find the intro here: https://forums.sufficientvelocity.com/threads/spider-climb-a-jrpg-style-dungeon-crawl-in-the-arcane-ascension-weapons-and-wielders-universe.63681/

Before anyone asks, I’m still writing my other Books (AA3 and Weapons and Wielders 3) at the same time. They’re both still several months out, however.

Rather than using this as a substitute for my normal writing, I’m doing this in place of some of my usual social media time. It’s possible this will cut into my writing time a little, but I think it’s going to be worth the time investment, since user interaction tends to help motivate me to write more.

I hope anyone who decides to participate enjoys the quest!