Hello, everyone. I hope that the holiday season is treating you well.
Today, I’m going to talk a little bit about the overall universe(s) I’m writing in and plans for the future. I’m going to try to avoid spoiling anything too much, but if you prefer to go into reading things without any form of spoilers, it may be worth skipping this blog.
First off, let’s talk a bit about Arcane Ascension 3, The Torch that Ignites the Stars.
The Kindle edition is already out and available here.
As I’m writing this blog, I’m uploading the paperback version. My hope is that, presuming that the files go through properly and there aren’t any mistakes, we’ll see the paperback version on sale within the next few days. This is not a guarantee: there’s always the chance that there will be problems with the cover file, the manuscript, etc. As per usual, I’ll plan to post when the paperback is online.
The manuscript has been delivered to Podium Publishing, my audio publisher, but you should still expect the audio book version to take a while longer. As I mentioned in a previous, more in-depth post, getting the audio out usually takes at least a few months after the manuscript is finished. I’m hoping that we’ll see the book out in audio before mid-year, but I can’t make any promises. I’ll plan to update people when I have a release date and/or when preorders go up.
After that, I have a number of plans to discuss for the next year, as well as years beyond that.
First off, let’s start by discussing the scope of the setting and some of my goals.
As many of you already know, most my books are written in the same universe. That universe originated from games that I used to run in tabletop and live-action formats. The stories themselves are not retellings of those games; they’re set far in the past, effectively elaborating on the backstory for the setting that I used as a game designer.
My original intent was to write a series of books to set up for a major, setting-changing event, which would be the focus of one or more books on its own. After that, I would proceed into the timeline of the role-playing games and tell other stories in that time frame, since I felt that a direct retelling of the RPG would not make for a well-constructed story.
Notably, a portion of this still reflects on my overall writing philosophy for my setting: I’m not here to tell just one story. Many of my stories have overarching elements that tie them together, like shared characters and locations, but ultimately, my principal goal is to tell the story of people living in this universe, rather than just a single quest or arc. To give you a comparison, my writing is less like a Wheel of Time style epic that focuses on a single central plot, and much more like the Forgotten Realms or Star Trek. There’s a wide universe to explore and different characters will explore different parts of it in different ways.
Because of the foundations of the setting as a RPG, I already had a tremendous amount of setting information to draw from – things like the world, the locations, the magic, major characters, and all that. Many elements of the story itself, however, were more fluid; I knew major “beats” of the story that had to happen, but the specific details were less defined, and I had a lot of room to work with.
The War of Broken Mirrors was written to start leading up toward the aforementioned setting-changing event. As such, you can consider those books to be the “main plot” as I originally envisioned it.
Arcane Ascension was born from filling in the blanks. I knew that at the end of the War of Broken Mirrors, one of my characters would be leaving for another continent. In fact, I’d already written that book: Marks of Iron, where that character travels to Tyrenia. (I’m being vague on purpose here, to avoid spoiling things for people who haven’t read the War of Broken Mirrors yet.)
By the time I’d written Stealing Sorcery, however, I realized that Marks of Iron didn’t suit my longer-term narrative goals as well as it could have. Revising it was an option, but I felt that my writing skills had improved to the point where writing something fresh and exciting was a better move. Moreover, Marks of Iron still featured our traveler as the main perspective character, and I wanted to take a shot at exploring a new protagonist and different themes, rather than just doing a “stranger in a strange land” story to introduce the new continent.
So, I wrote Arcane Ascension. Our traveler ended up on Kaldwyn, rather than on Tyrenia, and in a different role rather than as the perspective character.
But Arcane Ascension was a side story. It was there to fill in a time period during which our traveler needed to be absent from their homeland, in order for significant events to occur in that character’s absence.
I never expected the level of enthusiasm that I got for Arcane Ascension as a story. Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled by it, and I’m very happy to continue writing Arcane Ascension books. But there’s a perception that all of the other books in the “Arcane Ascension Universe” are secondary, since Arcane Ascension is the most popular series…when, in terms of main story, Arcane Ascension is the spin-off.
This is why Arcane Ascension feels more like a slice-of-life story, and why it isn’t as heavily focused on a single major world-changing event. It’s more about Corin Cadence’s life, his family, and his relationships. Now, don’t take that to mean that there isn’t a long-term plan: I planned the series for six books, and I expect it to go on for at least that many. Probably more, given how the series has evolved. But I do want people to understand that the idea Arcane Ascension was never intended to the sort of centerpiece story for the narrative arc of the setting:
We haven’t even gotten to that book yet. But we will. And we’re getting much closer.
The Weapons and Wielders books are what pick up the main plot for our traveler after the end of the War of Broken Mirrors, more like how I’d originally envisioned Marks of Iron to work. And at the ending of Diamantine, readers get the first major hint of what we’ve been leading up to all along. (Please don’t spoil that ending in the comments; this is just here to emphasize how significant that moment is for people who have read it. If you want to discuss it, I recommend going to spoiler discussions on the Climber’s Court Discord and/or reddit.)
Without saying too much, that leads me to my next upcoming book release: Soulbrand, the third Weapons and Wielders book. This picks up right where Diamantine left off, and our protagonist, much like our readers, has a lot of questions. Some will get answers right away, but others are going to take some searching. And eventually, they’ll lead toward what I’ve been setting up since Forging Divinity. A game-changer for the universe, and one that will have impacts on every story to come.
That particular game-changer will get a book (or more) of its own. That’s probably not going to happen this year, but it’s on the agenda for somewhere around 2022-2023.
But that’s not to say that I’m only planning one release in 2021. Far from it, if I play my cards right.
So, let’s talk about other upcoming works.
First off, let’s talk about what most readers care about the most: Arcane Ascension 4.
I’m already working on it. I’ve actually got a pretty good head start, but I’m swapping back to Weapons & Wielders 3 to try to finish the first draft of that up within the next few months. My goal is to launch W&W3 before mid-year, then primarily switch back to AA4.
Style wise, Arcane Ascension 4 is going to feel much more like AA1&2 than AA3. There’s a lot more to say on that subject, but I’m not going to get into discussing the writing style of AA3 in too much detail until it is out in all formats. I don’t want the blog to spoil anyone on the events of the story. (So, please don’t post comments spoiling it, either.)
Notably, I should be clear that AA4 isn’t the last AA book, and there are more planned for after that. Probably still at least six. I may do one “set”, take a break, and then do another “set” a couple years later.
My goal is to get both W&W3 and AA4 out next year, as well as a couple smaller things.
First off, I’m writing a short story for a charity anthology. I’ve done this before, contributing a story to the Art of War Anthology, and I don’t expect it to be a major time sink. Short stories usually only take me a few days, maybe a week or so.
Aside from that, I have a second Audible Original to finish. This one is a story I started years ago, and it’s already partially written. It’s also planned to be a shorter novella (much shorter than How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps), so I don’t expect this to take very long, either – maybe a month, if that. This isn’t a sequel to Demon King: I may do that eventually, but this is a completely different project that I’ve had sitting unfinished for a long time. It’s also extremely niche: it’s targeted more toward people with a game development background like my own, but I’m hoping to make it at least somewhat fun for other readers.
Aside from that, I’d like to talk about some of my other projects that may be further off. I expect that I will probably end up trying to finish AA4 before I finish any of these, but that may change.
First off, Carefully Worded Wishes. I’ve talked about this several times: it’s a Wrynn Jaden prequel. This is roughly a quarter written already and it’s an easy one. It’s going to be fun showing off the continent of Artinia to people for the first time. It’s also a little more cultivation-esque, which I expect some readers to enjoy. And, importantly, Wrynn is a very different style of perspective character. If you’re annoyed by Keras trying to talk to every opponent…well, expect differences here. Probably won’t see this in 2021, but maybe toward the end or early 2022.
Next, I have a story that I’m just going to say I’m comparing to “xianixa Peter Pan”. It’s actually a retelling of one of the first things I ever wrote, and it’s very different from my usual style, but it’s also one of my favorite projects. I expect this to land around 2022-2023ish. I may wait longer than strictly necessary to make sure that it launches at the right time to coincide properly with some of the things happening in other books.
Finally, Spider Climb. I don’t know if and when I’m going to resume this. At the moment, it’s a low priority, and I don’t think I’m going to do anything with it until the W&W story gets closer to the start of Spider Climb itself…which would be around W&W5. So, we’ll see what happens.
I have a lot of other smaller projects in the works, but those are the “active” ones right now. Most of my LitRPG and GameLit projects have been temporarily shelved in favor of more titles in the Arcane Ascension universe.
I know a lot of people wonder why I keep working on side projects when I could be writing more Arcane Ascension: breaks between projects keep me engaged with my work and my imagination sharp. Arcane Ascension itself was a side project. If I didn’t take breaks and just stuck with the War of Broken Mirrors, Arcane Ascension wouldn’t exist at all.
So, please be patient. More Arcane Ascension is coming. More Weapons and Wielders books are coming.
Something I think you’ll find even more exciting.
I hope you enjoy that when it arrives, but in the meantime…I hope you enjoy the journey.
Thanks, everyone. Hope you have a fantastic rest of the year and an even better 2021.