Arcane Ascension 4 has been sent off to my audio publisher, Podium, for recording. This is earlier in the process than usual and we’re hoping to get the audio out faster than usual for this one, but it’s too soon to give a definitive date.
With the text complete, we’re approaching the point where I’ll be able to release the Kindle edition soon. At this point, the primary wait is on getting the graphic design done for the cover art. (This isn’t on the artist – it’s on me for procrastinating too long before getting the art set up. The artists I work with have always been fantastic and professional.) My hope is that we’ll get this squared away very soon, then I’ll be able to get the Kindle launch going, and the paperback shortly thereafter.
I’m excited to say that I finally get to announce one of the biggest ones I’ve been working on…and that announcement is in AA4 itself, after the end of the book. I’ll make an announcement on the blog as well at some point, but for the moment, there’ll be a fun surprise for those people who pick up the book and read it soon after it launches.
As for what is next for my own writing, I’m currently working on editing for that secret project, editing for the sequel to Crystal Awakening, and also writing three books concurrently: AA5, W&W4, Edge of the Woods. Edge of the Woods is the closest to completion, but I might actually hold off on finishing that for a while — or finish it and sit on it — because it may be more interesting to readers once they have some insights about what is going on that will come from reading W&W4-5…but we’ll see.
As for other projects that are further down the line, there are a few major projects I still intend to work on in over the next few years. More W&W and AA, of course, but beyond that, there’s still a War of Broken Mirrors sequel on the horizon (which may or may not be considered WOBM4 — the style is somewhat different), Carefully Worded Wishes (a Wrynn Jaden book that may or may not be the start of a series), and some adaptations of current tabletop games I’m running. The first of these tabletop games overlaps with the War of Broken Mirrors sequel (it’s concurrent, from different perspectives), and the second is on the same continent as Edge of the Woods at a slightly later time period. Notably, EOTW and the tabletop in the same setting are the purest “progression fantasy” stories that I’ve written, so if people are really interested in that style of narrative, it might be something to get excited about.
Now, what am I reading lately?
My two favorites in recent history have been Soul Relic by Samuel Hinton and The Menocht Loop by Lorne Ryburn/caerulux.
Soul Relic is a rare cultivation-style progression fantasy with a female protagonist. (For those who aren’t familiar with the term, “cultivation” here refers to a specific type of magic system drawn from a fantasy version of Taoism, where characters can gain physical and magical improvements through a combination of physical, mental, and spiritual tasks. For western readers, Cradle is the most obvious example of books that were inspired by this subgenre, and books like Forge of Destiny are more closely related to the Chinese roots of the style.)
Much like many heroes of the genre, Raysha is born with a disadvantage that prevents her from effectively using magic in the same way as typical people from her culture. She works hard to offset this disadvantage and turn it into a strength. One of the things I really enjoyed about this particular book is that there are wholesome and supportive cast members, both from her family and outsiders, which is extremely rare in the generally-cutthroat subset of novels that draw from cultivation roots. It has a strong cast, good action, and fun world building.
The Menocht Loop series starts off in a time loop, which hooked me from the start — I’m a sucker for time loops, and I’ve recommended some other ones before, like Mother of Learning. This story takes a refreshing and unusual approach — rather than going through the whole process of showing the character discovering that he’s in a time loop, our protagonist, Ian, has already been stuck in a loop for a significant time when the story begins. This allows the author to skip the preamble that has been seen in hundreds of other time loop stories and jump straight into the problem solving and action.
Ian is an unusual protagonist, both in terms of his skill set — an offshoot of traditional fantasy necromancy called decimancy — and his approaches to problem solving. The story itself is as focused on Ian’s internal journey as his external one, which is also a shift from many of the stories in the progression fantasy space, which often focus more on “get stronger, punch thing harder”, even if they do sometimes involve internal revelations for progression. This has more emotional and ethical exploration than you tend to see in the subgenre, especially in the later books, and I enjoy that sort of style.
There’s less clear progression in this book than in Soul Relic — rather, the protagonist is very powerful from the start of the story and only gets stronger, rather than it being a “weak to strong” arc. So, think less like Arcane Ascension and more like Weapons & Wielders in that regard. There are points in the story where getting more powerful is necessary, training arcs, and all that — but most of the clearest progression is in books 2 and beyond, whereas Book 1 is more about figuring out the nature of the situation the protagonist is stuck in.
Book 4 in this series just came out, so the first book is currently on sale — it’s a great time to check it out.
That’s it for my update, but I’m hoping to have preorders up for AA4 soon – just need to get the cover finalized. I’m incredibly excited to share this part of the story with everyone. There are elements in this book that took multiple books to set up for, and I think it’ll be very satisfying for many readers to see if their predictions came true.