Updates and Recommendations

Hello everyone, and I hope you’re having a good October so far.

I’ve spent most of the last month working on edits to Book 3 of Arcane Ascension. It’s out with my Alpha readers – the very first people who get a look at it – and I’ll be sending out the next revision to Beta readers shortly. After that, I’ll parse through the beta feedback and get to the professional editing stage in time for a release in December. It’s going to be difficult to get everything done in that time frame, but I don’t plan to delay the launch.

Speaking of launches, Will Wight’s Wintersteel is out today. If you’re not already following the Cradle series, it’s one of my own personal favorites, and I highly recommend it if you’re in the mood for some martial arts fantasy.

If you missed the previous updates, we have a release date for AA3 – December 6th – and the book is up for preorder. The book also finally has a title – The Torch that Ignites the Stars.

We’re also less than a month out from the Kindle release of How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps.

In terms of other things I’ve been working on, my next book release is going to be the third Weapons & Wielders book – Soulbrand. I’m a long way into that, but I barely touched it last month: edits have simply been taking up too much of my time.

I have several other projects slated for the next year or two that I’ve already started on in small ways. Arcane Ascension 4 is already in the planning stages, and I’ve written the first scene of it. (For those of you who don’t know already, Arcane Ascension isn’t a trilogy; it was planned for 6-7 books, although I may still end it on a different number, depending on what it takes for the story to feel complete.)

I’ve also been continuing to work on planning for Wrynn Jaden’s novel: Carefully Worded Wishes. I think a lot of people are going to enjoy this one.

I have a few other projects I’ve been dabbling with, including a LitRPG parody and a couple different xianxia-style novel experiments. I’m not sure when any of those will see the light of day.

I’m hoping to get back into blogging a little more frequently and posting things with more substance, such as preview chapters and deleted content, but we’ll have to see if time permits.

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a great October!

Free Books and an Announcement

Hello, everyone!

It’s my birthday, and I’ve decided to celebrate this year with a few gifts for my readers.

Today, the first books for each of my book series are free on Kindle in most regions (Amazon controls the regions, unfortunately, so I don’t know which ones are affected).

For those of you who aren’t familiar with each series, some quick series descriptions:

  • Arcane Ascension has a heavy focus on learning and exploring how magic works and how it can be exploited. It follows Corin Cadence, the younger son of House Cadence, as he attempts to learn magic in an effort to follow the footsteps of his brother, Tristan, who disappeared into the colossal Serpent Spire five years before.
    • The first book is Sufficiently Advanced Magic.
    • This series is the most popular starting point, in spite of taking place last in the chronological order. Don’t worry – you can start here without any trouble understanding it if you want to.
    • This series has a mix of magical school content and dungeon crawling. If you like magical schools, read this one first. If you don’t, consider one of the other series.
    • This is a heavily JRPG and anime inspired narrative. Some inspirations for this series include Final Fantasy, Azure Dreams, Ys, Tower of Druaga, The Legend of Heroes, Tower of God, Bravely Default, Lufia and the Fortress of Doom, SaGa, and Hunter x Hunter.
  • The War of Broken Mirrors is the most serious, and it’s written from a third-person limited perspective with multiple perspective characters. It has more political intrigue and subterfuge than the other books.
    • The first book is Forging Divinity.
    • Some inspirations for this series include Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker and the many various Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance novels. It’s generally a very “D&Dish” book series.
    • The heroes are:
      • Lydia, a paladin of a goddess of magic who has infiltrated the government of Orlyn, a city that claims to be able to raise mortals into gods.
      • Taelien, a powerful young swordman who bears a legendary sword he cannot properly control.
      • Jonan, an agent of the legendary Lady of Thieves with a talent for illusions.
      • A fourth perspective is introduced in the second book, but telling you who they are would be a spoiler.
  • Weapons and Wielders is the most straightforward and lighthearted series, focusing on action, comedy, and adventure. It follows Keras Selyrian, a powerful swordsman, as he searches for the Six Sacred Swords – and gets a lot more than he bargained for in the process.
    • The first book is Six Sacred Swords.
    • Some of the main inspirations for this series are The Legend of Zelda, Dragon Quest, and Ys. Much like Arcane Ascension, this is JRPG inspired in general, but you can think of this as being more like my action RPG franchise. It’s lighter and faster paced.
    • This is the series go for if you’re looking for a character that’s powerful from the start of the story, and if you like things like tournament arcs.

I hope people enjoy the free books, but I also know what most people have been waiting for:

Arcane Ascension 3 has a title, a cover, a launch date, and it’s up for preorder.

The launch date is December 6th, 2020, so exactly three months from today. Note that this launch date is for the Kindle edition; other versions will be following later.

Thanks to Daniel Kamarudin for the fantastic cover art and Shawn T. King for the graphic design work. You’re both fantastic.

Thank you to all my fans for their patience with this book – I hope you love seeing the next stage in Corin’s adventures.

May Updates and Demon King Commentary

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.

How to Defeat a Demon King is Available Now on Audible

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).

OR_ORIG_000764 How To Defeat A Demon King FULL BADGE

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!

How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps

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!

OR_ORIG_000764 How To Defeat A Demon King FULL BADGE

(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!