Hey everyone,

I was planning to do an update tomorrow, but then I realized everyone was just going to think it was an April Fools joke. Which, in fairness, it probably would have been.

But I’m going to restrain myself and give you an actual status update instead.

The edits for the sequel to Sufficiently Advanced Magic have been taking much longer than expected.

This is, in large part, because I had 20 beta readers this time instead of the 10 that I had for Sufficiently Advanced Magic. Moreover, some of these beta readers really went into depth. A couple of them sent me close to a thousand comments each.

I’m extremely grateful to my beta readers for this level of analysis, and I think it’s helping me improve the final product. But it’s taking a while.

The good news is that I’ve finished going through the comments of 17/20 of the beta readers.

The bad news is that some of the remaining ones are some of the most extensive.

Because of this, I’m *probably* going to do a few things I hadn’t planned on.

  • I’m currently planning to send this manuscript to my professional editor before I finish all my beta reader edits, most likely within the next few days. I’m just waiting until I finish all the major content changes (e.g. adding or removing whole sections) before sending it to him.
  • I’m then going to continue working on the last of the beta reader edits while my editor is also looking at the manuscript.
  • When the editor gets their version back to me, I will use their version as the master document, but merge the changes I’ve made in the meantime into it. (Word has a “compare” feature that makes this relatively easy.)

This isn’t the most efficient approach in terms of work for me – that would be for me to finish the beta edits before sending it over, and avoid having to do the merge. It will, however, get the manuscript ready for publication a couple weeks faster.

I may still change my mind on this.

Even with taking that approach, I expect it to be a good month before the book is ready. My book is extremely long by traditional novel standards – it’s about 240,000 words at this point, which is about 10% longer than Sufficiently Advanced Magic, and more than double the length of Forging Divinity.

Thus, I expect it will take some time for my editor to go through it, and then some time for me to go through all of the editor’s changes, approve or reject them, and do the merge.

This is not an ideal process.

For my next novel, I plan to take the advice of one of my beta readers and have my readers collaborate on editing a single file, rather than sending me twenty different documents to read through. I expect this will probably be a massive efficiency improvement, because right now a lot of my time is taken up by dealing with checking comments and edits for errors that ten other people caught.

That process does have disadvantages. Most collaborative editing programs are going to have their own slowdowns, and may not work on all reading devices. This is likely to be inconvenient or impossible for some readers, and I expect to still get some notes that are in different formats. But if I could cut it down to having to read through 5 files instead of 20, that would still be a huge improvement.

I know many of you are eager to see the next book, and I hope you understand that the reason I’m taking extra time is to improve the quality of the product. It’d be easy to just hit publish with what I have, but I’d rather put out quality products over quantity.

Hopefully with those process improvements, I’ll be able to manage both quality and quantity in the future.

For those of you who are wondering about the audio book version, I expect that will take at least a few more months after the Kindle edition is released. It takes time for the narrator to find time in their schedule, record the book, and then send it to the publisher for formatting and such. I’ll provide an clearer estimate as soon as I have a better idea of when it might come out, but for now my best guess is that it will be at least August or September.

I still haven’t settled on a title. I know that’s absurd because it’s this close to publication, but Wish Upon a Scar doesn’t quite feel right, and neither do the many other titles I’ve tinkered with.

Thus far, the closest alternate suggestions have been Risk vs. Reward and On the Shoulders of Giants.

Risk vs. Reward is a commonly used term in MMORPG design (and game design in general), generally in reference to providing sufficient rewards for completing challenges. It is, however, much better known as as a term for financial investments, and as such I don’t think it’s going to invoke the right idea for most readers.

On the Shoulders of GiantsĀ is probably my favorite, since this whole series has such a focus on magical research, but it’s also the exact title of one of Steven Hawking’s books. And while I *have* been tempted to use a Steven Hawking quote or title as a reference, I’m not going to use one of his book titles directly. I may still consider using a variant on this one, because I like it a lot, but probably not this exact title.

My titles for the Arcane Ascension series in general are going to continue to be references to famous quotes, most likely all from deceased authors or famous historical figures. (The “deceased” rule is part of why I’m not referencing something like Sanderson’s Laws, for example, which would be otherwise a very obvious route to go.)

I’ll continue to read suggestions, but please don’t be offended if I don’t go with your ideas. I’ve gone through dozens, maybe hundreds, of title options at this point. I’m being very picky.

Thanks to everyone for the support and interest! I’ll plan to post another update when the book is off to the editor, which I hope to be soon.

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Hey all,

Some quick updates on the status of the sequel.

Most of my beta readers have now finished reading the book, and they’ve sent me a lot of notes. I have about twice as many beta readers as last time, and that’s making responding to their feedback and edits a bit more time consuming than I expected.

On the plus side, no one has absolutely hated the book yet. On the minus side, I think the readers are about a 50/50 split on whether or not they liked it more or less than SAM, and I’d like to do more to improve that ratio.

There are some clear places that need improvement. The intro doesn’t adequately reintroduce some of the elements of the first book (like characters and politics), so people who haven’t read SAM recently are getting a little lost at times.

People also generally find the pacing at the beginning of the book a little slow; this is fairly common in my books in general, but I might see what I can do to smooth it over.

Most people seem to like the middle section of the book the most.

Opinions on the end of the book are mixed, but there are a number of people who found it rushed and want more added to specific scenes. I can do this.

I don’t think it’s possible for a sequel to please everyone, especially considering that SAM is inherently a bit of an odd duck in terms of style. If I put in mostly magical school content, the audience that is reading it for dungeon crawling might be disappointed, and vice versa.

Some people want the book to have a more linear and focused plot, with everything happening to support that plot. Others prefer the style of SAM, where it’s more about Corin learning about how magic works and developing his relationships.

Some people want Corin to have more romance with Jin. Some people want Corin to have more romance with Marissa. Some people are shipping him with Cecily, even though no one has any idea who Cecily is yet. =D

I’d like to try to make sure everyone enjoys the experience of the sequel, and I’m going to be making some changes to the book to improve it. I still think there are always going to be people who won’t get what they wanted out of the book, though. Hopefully if Book 2 doesn’t work for someone, they’ll still enjoy it enough to read on to Book 3.

In terms of my schedule, I’d say I’m probably about a week behind where I wanted to be. Maybe two weeks. This is largely because I have so many more notes to go through than last time, since there are more beta readers. Making the beta reader changes is going to delay me from getting the book to the editor as quickly as I wanted to, and thus it will push back the whole schedule a bit.

At the moment, my best guess is that the book will be pushed back a few weeks from what I’d estimated. That means probably April instead of March.

There are still a couple more readers who haven’t finished, but I don’t anticipate their notes delaying me much further than that.

Thanks for all your patience. I truly hope that my readers end up enjoying the sequel.

 

A couple quick updates!

The first draft of the sequel to Sufficiently Advanced Magic is completed.

This draft is 214,500 words, which is just a smidgen shorter than the final version of SAM (which is 218,000). This could get longer or shorter based on beta reader feedback, but I suspect it’ll stay somewhere in the same range.

I’d expected this to be a much shorter book, which is part of why it took a bit longer than I expected. For the future, I’m just going to plan around all my sequels being this same length.

The current working title is Wish Upon a Scar, but I’m still debating if I’ll go with that as the final title or not.

I’m currently doing a little bit of self-editing. After that’s done, I plan to send out copies to beta readers on Sunday. I’ll be giving my beta readers a few weeks to read it and send me notes, then it’ll be off to my professional editor.

I’m still aiming for a release in paperback and Kindle formats in March or April. At this point, I’m guessing it’ll be late March, but it really depends on how many notes I get from beta readers and the editor.

 

For those of you who are curious about my writing pace and process:

The writing on this took me roughly 10 months (from approximately March of last year to now). I did some other writing during that time frame as well – about 20,000 words on Defying Destiny, and a little less than that on a Keras spin-off (tentatively titled Six Sacred Swords) and a LitRPG.

I also wrote a short story for the Art of War anthology, which is out next month. I strongly recommend checking it out – it has some other great writers involved, and the proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders.

All in all, I probably wrote about 280,000 words between March and now, which puts me at just under 1,000 words a day (assuming writing seven days a week). That’s not a terribly fast pace if you look at it in terms of daily word count, but the actual writing output is good enough that it would translate to about three “standard” length novels.

I also have a tendency to accelerate toward the end of a project. Of those roughly 280,000 words, I wrote about 70,000 of them during December. This was partially because I was close to finishing the book, and partially because I shut myself off from all my outside distractions.

I also wrote quite a bit for non-novel projects, which slowed my pace a bit in ways that are harder to quantify.

For example, I’ve written about 30,000 words for a rules set for a War of Broken Mirrors tabletop game, and a greater amount for an Arcane Ascension LARP rules set. The LARP is harder to quantify, because a lot of it is updating rules and lore documents that I’d already written, but I’d ballpark the range at somewhere around 100,000 words of work on it.

So, that’s basically another novel worth of work. Maybe more, if I’m being honest. I consider that time worthwhile, though, and not only because it’s fun. Working on the tabletop and LARP rules helps me flesh out my settings and systems further.

For example, working on the games gave me the chance to flesh out all the foreign attunements, make the runes for each of the levels of each attunement in advance, and write up a formal timeline of events for everything that happens in between the War of Broken Mirrors and Arcane Ascension books.

That’s just a small fraction of it – it’s basically another novel or two that’s entirely world and system building. And I make use of that in the books. Not every game mechanic translates into novel format, of course, but things like schools of magic, major historical events, factions and organizations, and that sort of thing absolutely do.

 

Stabby Award Update:

I won the Stabby Award for Best Self-Published Author. It still feels surreal.

This is my first writing award, and it means a great deal to me.

There were numerous times when I was collecting rejection letters from agents and publishers with my earlier books that I considered quitting. I pushed through that sadness and self-doubt, but it wasn’t easy.

Sufficiently Advanced Magic is the eighth book that I’ve written. The first five were never published. It’s taken a lot of work to get to this point.

But it’s been worth it.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me, either through voting, just reading my books, or giving me words of support over the years. I’m extremely grateful.

I’m hoping to make the next book even better.

Happy New Year, everyone!
First, some news. I’m at 195,000 words into the sequel to Sufficiently Advanced Magic. It’s not *quite* done yet. My expectations were that it would be shorter than Sufficiently Advanced Magic, but it turns out it’ll probably be about the same length.
With the first draft almost done, I’m expecting a release around March. I’ll be working on finishing my third War of Broken Mirrors book, Defying Destiny, after that.
Sufficiently Advanced Magic has been nominated for Best Self-Published Novel in this year’s Stabby awards on Reddit’s /r/fantasy.
If you read Sufficiently Advanced Magic and enjoyed it, please consider voting for it!
If you want to vote for the book, all you have to do is upvote (click the up arrow) for Sufficiently Advanced Magic. (This requires a Reddit account.)
How to Upvote
There are a ton of great competitors this year, both in this category and otherwise, so you may want to check those out as well!

Someone asked me on Goodreads earlier how I got into writing, and I figured I’d copy and paste my answer over here in case anyone was interested.

***

When I was in elementary school, I read the Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. I also played a bunch of Dungeons and Dragons. Those inspired me to write my own little stories when I was a child.

I also got started on my earliest attempts at game development in elementary school (through a program called Unlimited Adventures, based on SSI’s Gold Box D&D games).

By middle school, I was running D&D campaigns, and eventually playing in live-action role-playing games.

In college, I responded to an open call for submissions by White Wolf. I submitted a couple monster ideas which made it into one of the Scarred Lands RPG books. That helped me make a connection with White Wolf. After that, I ended up writing for their World of Warcraft tabletop RPG line.

From there, it was a jump over to working directly for Blizzard. While I wasn’t in the writing department, I let them know that I’d done some writing for the setting before, and Micky Neilson tapped me to do a few writing jobs here and there. Micky was a huge inspiration and a great mentor.

I eventually decided I wanted to write full-time, so I left Blizzard and wrote a couple books. I submitted these books to agents and accrued *hundreds* of rejections.

I went back to working in the gaming industry, having failed to publish anything. But I kept writing.

I worked at a couple more companies after that. While I was at Obsidian, I finally decided I was done trying to go through the traditional agent and publisher route. I self-published Forging Divinity, and it was a great success (by first time self-published novel standards). It wasn’t enough to make a living on, though, so I kept working in gaming.

Sufficiently Advanced Magic is my third published novel – but it’s the eighth book I’ve written. It took me eight books to get to the point where I’m finally writing full-time. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s ultimately been very rewarding.

Just a mini-update.

The sequel to Sufficiently Advanced Magic is now up to 115,000 words. My current target for finishing it is about 165,000 words (roughly the same length as Stealing Sorcery, and a good bit shorter than Sufficiently Advanced Magic).

No guarantees it’ll actually end up at that length – there’s still a lot of room for variation depending on how the “endgame” portion of the story goes. I’m just ramping up to that, and I’m excited about it.

I think the story is shaping up pretty well so far. There’s a lot more of a focus on character interaction than in the previous book, which I think some readers will enjoy more than others.

Hey all!

In case you haven’t picked it up already, Sufficiently Advanced Magic is a Kindle Daily Deal. That means it’s on sale for 99 cents on the US Kindle store.

You can find it here!

Hey everyone,

Last week, I received the final version of the map of Kaldwyn, the continent where Sufficiently Advanced Magic takes place.

I’m planning to include this map in either a revised version of Sufficiently Advanced Magic, the sequel, or both – I’m not sure just yet. But in the meantime, you can take a look right here!

kaldwyn final sma

The map was drawn by KarlĀ Vesterberg from traditionalmaps.com, and I was very pleased with the results.

If you want to see it in a larger size, click on this link.

Hello everyone,

Just a quick status update for those of you who aren’t on my mailing list yet.

I’m about 35% of the way into the sequel to Sufficiently Advanced Magic (roughly 70,000 words). It slowed down a little bit because I decided to cut out a portion of content that I felt was too early in the story, which also required spending some time making adjustments to other parts of the book to keep it consistent. I may end up re-inserting some or all of that cut content later, but I’m not sure.

I’m also about 20,000 words into Defying Destiny, the third book in the War of Broken Mirrors.

Finally, I’ve been dabbling with some other side stories as the mood strikes me, such as a spin-off for Keras and a few ideas for more traditional “LitRPG” style stories. I’m not sure if these other stories will end up going all the way to publication or not – time will tell.

I’m still targeting early 2018 for the sequel to Sufficiently Advanced Magic. Defying Destiny will most likely end up coming after that at this rate, given how much I’ve switched my focus. I still intend to continue working on Defying Destiny gradually, however, so hopefully it will be quick to finish after the next sequel.

After that, it’s going to be a bit trickier – there are parts in the third Arcane Ascension book that were going to be tied into the fourth (and most likely final) War of Broken Mirrors book, so I might end up doing two War of Broken Mirrors books back-to-back. It’s still too soon to say for certain.

Hello everyone!

I’m proud to announce that Sufficiently Advanced Magic is finally available in audio format, narrated by the amazing Nick Podehl.

For those of you who are interested in status updates, here’s some new information!

  • The sequel to Sufficiently Advanced Magic is about 25% written, at about 50,000 words so far. That’s close to half the length of Forging Divinity, so it’s going to be another big one.
  • The third book of the War of Broken Mirrors series is also in progress, at about 15,000 words. This has been a tougher story for me to write, but I’m making gradual progress.
  • I also have some side projects in progress, such as a more “trapped in a MMORPG’ style novel and a Sufficiently Advanced Magic prequel from Keras Selyrian’s perspective.

I’ll be updating my mailing list shortly with some preview content, so if you’re on the mailing list, stay tuned!

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