Akiniwazisaga: Reissue & The Name is….!

First the big news.  Book 2 is with the proofreaders.  (One because I need someone to pick over the grammar and the other to pick over the proper use of Scandinavian languages to make sure I didn’t botch something really big.)  So next stop format city.  This seems to mean (barring any new disasters) that a January is likely now that real world concerns are out of the way.  What real world concerns?  Well, I’m not quite self sufficient on my writing earnings, so that means you get these books less frequently, and that means I have a real world job.  This last month I switched companies in a process that was a diagonal move upward.  Different company, similar position, but up the process chain.  On the positive notes, it means that I no longer have large chunks of time that I can’t write.  But it means I can’t edit at work like the previous position allowed.  So it’s an overall improvement in that regard.  It is also an overall improvement to my quality of life.

That’s what’s been going on in the life for me.  You can imagine what kind of toll it’s taken on my ability to focus on this work.  Don’t worry, I’ll get better as time goes by and I settle into the new position.

With that said… it’s time for the big reveal!

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As you know Book 2 is a much more sprawling novel as it is the first part of a trilogy story arc.  Yeah, couldn’t pack all that goodness into just one book, unless you wanted a 1200-1500 page monstrosity I can’t afford to print nor you to buy in one bite.  I do toy with the idea of making an “Omnibus” in the future that will be just that for the real collector.  We shall see.

 

I can hear you shouting “get on with it!” from the cheap seats.  Okay, okay!!!

Titles are not easy for me.  (Well, Book 3 was.  It practically handed itself to me on a silver platter, which is super rare.)  So after much consultation, thought, doubt and prayer, I found the name I think really fits, sticking with my convention of modifying Bible verses that speak to the character of the book.  In this case, it comes from the following:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

 

Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

 

And with that, Book 2 is officially christened!

 

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Cover by Paganus

 

Look at that!  Finn and Bergamot!  Had to put em in for you, because I know so many of you wanted to see Bergie.  😀  Wait till you meet the other two!

Other news:

I am also going to be experimenting with Kindle and books 2 – 4 will not be released wide, just on Amazon.  Book 1 will remain wide though, so don’t fret that way.  I’m just going to see if the advantages of being in the Kindle Unlimited are worth it.  If it ain’t, I’m going back and putting the books wide again.

The re-editing for the reissue of ALRDW has begun.  Slowly, but surely.  I do not expect it to take as much time as Inheritance Thieves, since it’s already in those final states and now I have a good process to use.

What is changing? The language is being brought up to snuff, the Encyclopedia (glossary for those not in the know) will be updated accordingly) and some technical typos will be fixed.  Many things that will help the ease of reading.  You’ll like it, trust me.

Anyway, Merry Christmas to you all.

 

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Sometimes You Must Go Back To Go Forward

After a great meeting with my editor, I realized that I had to restore a subplot I cut out of the book.  I figured it was going to end up being in book 3 instead, before I realized that its original intent was going to work.  So… 5 new (old) chapters were put back in the book near the beginning.  In fact, one of them is now the new first chapter.

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But as for moving forward, I had gotten stuck on several points on my last chapter, and it just… blech!  It wasn’t working.  Too overwrought and loaded down with purple prose that was muddying even my understanding of what was going on.  The good news is that now that I have worked through a serious scientific problem, I can also see that this book is living up to my hopes and has the potential to being a real awesome adventure when I discussed my plans with my editor.  She was so good at just letting me vent ideas.  Still not sure on a few simple points, but mmmm boy…. this ending, thanks to the solution brought back by the restored subplot got so much better.

It was a sub-plot that originated from characters from A Light Rises in a Dark World, so some favorites are returning and having an impact on what’s going on.  This also will end up creating more of a tie-in to book 3 that I hoped.

I also have the timeline more squared away.  Having to start writing chapters that will be inserted earlier into the book because I’m writing this chronologically forces that issue.

I’m seeing the ending far more clearly, now, and that makes me happy.  But I have to start thinking of what to title this thing.  Even a working title would be good.

Stats

Pages 407
Words 135970

As you can see, a significant jump in word count too.

New (Restored chapters and locations)

1. The Hunt

3. A Desire For Home

5. Confession & Revelation

7. An Interrupted Meal

8. Breaking Bread With New Friends

And the new chapters since last with their new position:

57: Rewards, Conundrums & Disappointments

58: The Drowned Forest

59: The Valley That Drives Away Evil With Light

60: Temple To An Unknown God

61: The Weight of Sin

I guess it has been a while since I’ve given you a chapter update.  So as a mea culpa and désolé, here’s an excerpt from the new opening chapter

 

The Hunt

 

The beast had come across the ice that winter.  Tracks left in the snowpack frozen by spray from a storm haunted Aske’s mind.  The prints were startling along the beach of Neinnvanbjarg as it had wandered along for a short while, looking for evidence of food, found it, then went into the trees and vanished. Perhaps the beast would just pass on to another island looking for better fare, but that was not to be.  A week later, an team of oxen were killed.  Their kusk escaped with his life by the grace of God.  Something needed to be done now for this beast was there to feast.

Early March had created a world without horizon.  For days on end, the air was warm and thick with fog.  Heavy coats were laid aside, and most timberjacks went about with only light oilskins normally for rain over their autumn clothing.  Aske and his men slogged through the mud and wet snow of the spring melt.  Near the beaches the crunch and hiss of ice shoves were a disquieting din as the winds and waves pushed floes and bergs all the way to the treeline.  Sometimes the piles reached over forty feet high.  But among the trees the sound of dripping water and sighing boughs was all that could be heard.  The birds refused to sing, not even the chickadees or cardinals, for they knew a killer lurked among the pillars of nature’s cathedral.  The beast made it easy to follow by dragging the dead oxen back to its cave in the rotted limestone cliffs that made the northeastern end of the island. Ten of them came with Aske while the rest protected the woodyard and the logging camp.  The track may have been there, but it might be still on the prowl.  None the less, Aske’s knowledge of nature told him to expect a full it  inside.

The plan was simple.  They would go in as many men abreast as possible and when they came across across their quarry, pin it in place with the first rank of spears, then the second rank would stab the trapped creature till it stopped moving.  The hide might be ruined, but this was not about another fur, this was about survival.  Of all the choices for hunting the beast, this was the safest and fastest.

The cave was a small alcove set back a few dozen yards from the beach and elevated in the rock about the height of a man with talus of rotted rock scattered at its base.  The smell of feces came strong on the stirring breeze outside the mouth of the lair.  A deer’s ribcage poked out obscenely from the melting snow telling that the oxen were not this beast’s first kill.  Even in the full light of the foggy day, the shadows inside were deep enough that the men could not see more than a few feet into the short cave.

Aske took the middle of the first rank, was flanked by his two strongest men, and began entering the dark.  The cave was not too deep, maybe a hundred feet or less, but it took a bend to the left, which concealed the deeper chamber of the cave.  Behind him, a rank of men held torches high.  The flames sizzled in the spiderwebs and burned the rock lice.  Unstable slabs of loose rock clunked under their feet and the stink was overwhelming.  The torches were now their only light.  Ahead, soft breathing could be heard.  Would they be so fortunate as to catch their prey still sleeping?

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Feel free to comment and ciao for now!

Sanitized For Your Protection?

With the book in final review stage, waiting on the cover to go, I’ve been picking at it, finding little stray hairs of errors and cleaning up the glossary of things I should have caught long before.   Then, I had something come to light that forced me to look hard at my creation.

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The Prodigal Son by James Tissiot

One of my reviewers, whom I thank for taking up the task, let me know that the book was inappropriate because of something that happened in it.  Now I bring this up not to bash, nor to seek to shame or take to task, but to help myself and others understand my work.  I keep the book relatively clean.  There are only a couple points where the language gets ‘blue’, but there apparently is one thing in here that someone found unforgivable.  It was put to me the challenge of whether or not I should remove the phrase from the book to make it ‘safe for a Christian audience’.  That caused me to think about it over the course of a day on what was the purpose of the use of the offensive/blasphemous oath.

I asked myself about the phrase.  Was it gratuitous or unnecessary?  No to both.  What the phrase did was set the tone for the kind of environment the characters were about to enter.  It was not a completely safe place and not everyone there were good citizens or Christians.  They were complex fallible people who sinned, but also gives a hint to several things deeper in the future and serves as a warning sign to the reader that not everything is as it seems.  Yes the phrase is blasphemous if you want to strictly adhere to the law violating taking God’s name in vain.  Something that we in modern times are often guilty of dozens if not hundreds of times a day.  But for a sailor in the 16th century… this is right in line with the speech and attitude many had despite being a faithful person.

What I then realized is that the reviewer’s statement was not going to be uncommon.  There will be thousands if not tens of thousands of Christian readers who will see this one statement get very offended and ban the book from their own libraries and possibly others.  I was heartbroken about this realization.  I did not foresee it.  But I also saw the solution.  Remove or soften the phrase.  Now, I’ve done this once before already, and I’m still troubled by it being the right choice.  Is leaving this phrase in the book a hill I want to die on?

I finally realized yes.  It is going to stay and here is why.

Although I want this book to be edifying and uplifting to Christians, they are not my target audience.  It is not primarily for legalists and purists of the faith.  I will be ecstatic if they read the book, get something out of it and love it none the less.  I really hope they do.  If my beta readers and some of my reviewers are good indicators, this will be the case.

The main audience I hope to gain with this book is not just nerdy Christians who have been in the faith all their lives and have never been outside God’s grace like I had been.  This is a book aimed at nerds who have never been exposed to Christianity in this way.  Who don’t want to be preached to.  Those who do not want to hear a sermon and talked down to like they are the sinner and must be saved.  I think I accomplished that even though the characters in it live their faith out loud.  You are talking a monk dealing with ecclesiastical problems who is being punished by his superiors for failing to toe the line and is caught in a crux of the plans of others.

I want those people to find a book that is entertaining… scratch that… I want them to be THRILLED by the book!  I want those Christians who are slipping or doubting their faith or wondering if they are good enough for God to be encouraged by what they find.  I want them to see characters who are not perfect Christians and fail and sin and are hot messes but God loves them and is with them inspite of themselves, while others who seem pious and in God’s good graces to have to take a step back and realize that is not all sunshine they’re standing in.

I want them to the little heresies of life to be evident, because it might inspire someone to look at their lives in a new way.  Under all the entertainment, that is what I want them to find if they look for it.  I want those who have never seen Christianity in the same ‘cool’ lighting and stagecraft before like we so often see paganism, pantheism, atheism and other occult philosophies.  How often have we read fantasy novels or even Sci Fi novels that are chock full of “ancient weapons and hokey religions” and nobody blinks an eye at it being preached and praised?  That’s what I am doing with Christianity.  “Azeroth Metrion Xinthos…” see nobody bats an eye at something that although made up, it stands in for praise of something occult when you boil everything away.  Change that to “In the name of Jesus, demon come out!” and you get the point.

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This also speaks to the other reason I am leaving the blasphemous oath in.  I have a hard time reading most Christian fiction because everything seems to be… sanitized.  Even the villains seem to be only Disney Channel level of menace.  Even demons seem that way at times, but people are sanitized the most.  Nothing that could besmirch the squeaky clean image of the Mouse is there.  A lacquered Jesus that doesn’t even get dusty.  Never do we see the real challenging aspects of faith in a mud and blood spattered mess that is mankind.  I mean even JRR Tolkien is grittier than them and he never cusses or deals deeply about crisis of faith in any of his books, but the people there feel more real than the glossy clean brand image you’d expect with people’s Easter Sunday behavior.  This is what I hope to avoid as a writer, because I want these characters you root for to be relatable because they walked in situations like you have and do on a daily basis sometimes because being a faithful Christian can be hard and we fail over and over again, which necessitates God’s forgiveness more and more.

On the other hand, you can completely gloss over the Christianity and just treat it from a historical POV slapped into a fantasy setting like you would if you watched the movie “Kingdom of Heaven” or “The Name of the Rose” (Nobody but crazy literary people and scholars actually read Umberto Eco do they?  I love the movie though!)  The rest you can treat as typical low/historical fantasy with heavy steampunk elements thrown in on top.  Nobody will fault you for it and honestly, if you don’t care about the spiritual stuff, just enjoy the story.  So I pray what I put together actually stands up that way and does not rely on faith and sermonizing to work.  It’s part of the setting and historical context, but I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m evangelizing them deliberately.

That means I now realize even more than ever this book is in God’s hands.  Hell, this whole SERIES will be in His hands!  He’s gonna do with it as He sees fit.  But then again, when doesn’t He?  ;c)

Lastly, I also realized two things that form a viscous worrisome stew in my head.

1. I realized that if this book somehow only ends up on the shelves or pages of Christian Bookstores or online retailers, I will have failed in my mission to deliver something good for nerds and fantasy geeks.  I will have missed my intended audience and gotten my secondary one.  That’s not bad, mind you, but it will go against my hopes.  And I refer back to “God’s gonna God”.

2. I’m probably going to get hate mail from multiple sides over religious purists who will not like my handling of the faith, spiritual warfare or history, despite this is a fantasy and fantasy twist that comes from a historical basis.  It is biased to my understanding and is not perfect as theologians may say.  In fact, I deliberately have mistakes in it because it’s part of the setting and/or based on historical precedents of the medieval Catholic Church and monastic system.  This will piss off legalists who will come up with a laundry list of reasons to hate this.  Ultimately I will unashamedly refer to “It’s fantasy and welcome to the liberal use of Handwavium.” if I must.

But you know what?  I am going to have to learn to deal with it.  I wrote all this because I really felt it appropriate in the book itself.  This novel is what I felt God wanted me to write, and so I’m going to do it the way my understanding guides me and let see what happens.

Just like I cannot pick my fans (thanks artists who demanded Ivanka Trump remove their art from her walls for teaching me that… but did not offer to buy it back.)  I just need to say, “Thank you.  I am grateful that you love my work.” and respect the fact that I touched someone I didn’t intend.  But God knows what He’s doing, and that is what I’m going to have to rely on.

Thank you for reading.