Retcon advisement (Darkness Rising & Sea of Storms)

Good afternoon everyone!

If there is a word that no one likes to hear when it comes to published work it is retcon. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it means to alter an already published work. This is not something that I will ever do after I retail publish a work. When readers pay out of their pocket for a novel, I do not want to change something after-the-fact, leaving you with an out of date, and canonically useless tome. I am only doing this because my works are not yet final.

So here is the spoiler warning. I am about to discuss the ending to both Darkness Rising and Sea of Storms.

OK. First, I am going to discuss  what is currently in place, and after that I will delve into what is being changed and why.

At the end of Darkness Rising, Rafael Azail sacrifices himself to shut the way to the Nether, and, in his mind, slay Aleksander, foiling Mordred’s plans. In the epilogue, the Deathsworn come and take away three individuals in litters: Eldred, Aleksander, and Rafael.

In the epilogue to Sea of Storms, we learn that Jophiel had somehow ensnared Rafael’s conciousness and locked him inside the Unseen World — for all purposes dead, until the Heart of the Sand gives him new life. Which occurs in the closing moments of that book.

What is being retconned is Rafael’s fate. I do not want to go full spoiler here (as after the retail publish, some new readers may find this blog). Although what I feel is really important to current readers is that Rafael does not receive the Heart of the Sand in the end events of Sea of Storms — in fact Rafael will not appear at all.

This is a brief synopsis for what will be eventually written into Sea of Storms’ epilogue. When Jophiel and Hamad delve deeper into the Unseen World, they do not venture into the Prison of Souls, but instead to another unnamed area (I would like readers to guess where it is from vague descriptions). They will meet with another First Born and give him the Heart of the Sand — the selfsame who warned Amos in the prologue that the Emperor will hear of this during Aerona’s hallucination / nightmare. This individual is named Reuven. This is a perspective character in Heart of the Sand. The epilogue will then bridge the two works by introducing a new, important character, and give readers a better perspective on where this character stands.

So why am I doing this?

To put it in a philosophical, structurally context, Rafael Azail is not working with the larger narrative of Heart of the Sand. I think it is in the best interest of the work to write him out of the story and focus on a smaller cast of characters, as well as give a more logical progression for Jophiel’s character. In my original plans for Heart of the Sand, Rafael and Jophiel were very much entwined, and largely segregated from the other characters. Thus I can remove Rafael’s arc, make some minor changes to Jophiel’s arc, and the story will more or less read as the same. The more important, plot progressing elements of Rafael’s character are being merged to other characters. I think the results are much better.

One of the other reasons I’m doing this is because I am writing Heart of the Sand (and later revising Darkness Rising and Sea of Storms) to be more grounded than they were. Rafael’s arc involved a lot of supernatural and high mystical elements that I felt were very out of touch with the rest of the narrative. In an effort to give the work a more consistent tone, those elements needed to be removed. I will instead focus on what you could call low-level mysticism. I want the conflicts and events to be about a very raw, insightful human experience — where even the immortals are very much human — and add the mysticism as a means of changing things up, and presenting new challenges.

A very positive consequence of this change is that it brings down the word count substantially. Instead of being a work that was roughly 20% larger than the preceding two books, all three stories should clock in at the same length. My aim has always been to write these stories between 90,000 and 100,000 words. As I sit here today, they should fall between 96,000 and 98,000 words. It seems to be a sweet spot.

If you are going to be reading Heart of the Sand in 4 weeks (hard to believe it will be this soon) I do hope you read this blog post. I will make another post closer to January 5th that reinforces the change that I made.

Happy reading!

HotS & prose evolution

Every time that I write a new story, there are subtle and pronounced improvements to my prose. I think everyone goes through this, whether they are a writer or a student tackling essay’s for the first time. I always get very excited when I see my prose improve from work to work, but I believe I have made a significant jump in quality; so much so that I would like to share a small sample now, instead of waiting for January 5th.

Here is a non-spoiler short excerpt from the first chapter in Heart of the Sand: The Last Retreat:

“Those Trechtians do not know the sea as well as they think,” Jeremy put in. A diminutive commoner who rose to great heights under Daniel’s command. He rowed from the stern. Jeremy risked much when Davat became Commander in Daniel’s place. It was a wonder he remained alive. “A little trust for the Commander, if you will.”

Not a Commander not anymore. Just a sellsword, like you and I. No different.

“Trust?” Ashleigh bristled. “We were supposed to return to Dale – now we are further away than ever.”

“We would have been dead if we heeded that prophet.” Daniel spat the word out as if he chewed it and disliked the taste. “Alive we can do much, but not even our proud Isilian knight can do naught while dead.”

“You saw him, what he did to you, to me, to Aerona. No one could have stopped what unfolded. I would have taken my chances against the Dalians, the Trechtians be damned.”

“Your chance will come soon enough. ‘Til then, be grateful that you are still alive.”

If you have been reading my work from the beginning, you will likely spot the improvements right away. I think the dialogue is tighter and I have fully fleshed out description and actions between quotes and speakers. It’s something that seems so obvious, but it’s harder to master than you might think.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the snippet. Back to work!


Writing (production!) begins for Heart of the Sand.

Mark the date down: December 3 / 2015. Today I begin writing the story for Heart of the Sand with the prologue: The Cleaver Prince (wonder who could that be?). We are one month out from the Wattpad publication date of January 5 / 2016. I will be taking a brief break for Christmas (who doesn’t?) but I will be working on the story over much of the holiday. That should put me at eight chapters completed by the time all of you see the prologue and chapter one. We are on track and ready to go!

It keeps piling on and HotS length

Heart of the Sand is immense. No joking. It is so much larger and grander than Darkness Rising and Sea of Storms — perhaps combined. I am finishing up my detailed chapter outlines, and I have had no choice but to add four additional chapters. There is simply so much going on, so many threads to tie up, that it will be the longest work by far. When I wrote the first two stories, I aimed for 90,000 words and the first drafts finished at 91,000 and 97,000 respectively. Heart of the Sand will likely crest 120,000 words! There is a lot of story to tell in so little time.

I want to be able to share more, but I cannot right now. Simply getting to a point where I can begin the writing process is such a tall order. The weekend looks like it will be very busy, so if I do start writing, it will be towards the end of next week. Do not worry though, the publication dates are not changing.

I’ll post a picture next week, but it looks like I’ll have over 75 pages of notes when I start writing.

Just to give you all an idea.

Have a great weekend.

Pre-writing rough draft complete & character perspective changes

Hello everybody!

I have just completed my thirty-odd pages of notes that constitutes my pre-writing rough draft plan for Heart of the Sand. What this includes is a list of and detailed descriptions (including speech patterns) for all characters in the novella and brief outlines / summaries for subsequent chapters. There is still a considerable amount of work to do prior to the writing process (the ever so fun detailed chapter outlines that will be at least another 30 pages). What this does mean, however, is that I will be able to start writing shortly (the week of November 30th, if all goes well). When I start publishing chapters on January 5th, I will have over a third of the novella complete. It’s good to be on track.

With that preliminary work done, barring massive changes (which I doubt will occur, it rarely does once I have the ideas down), I wish to make some revisions to character perspectives that I commented on last week. Once again, there are no spoilers here, but these are the number of chapters each of the aforementioned ‘main’ characters will receive: Rafael (5), Aerona (3), Daniel (3), and Lutessa (3). If you contrast to Sea of Storms, I had five perspectives: Aerona, Daniel, Lutessa, Ashleigh, and Stephen, each having five chapters each. I have done away with that with the exception of Rafael (him mostly due to the fact we did not see much of him in Sea of Storms and, well, plot). So why talk about this, why share it? Well, just to let you all know there are a slew of one and two off perspectives coming. I really think you will enjoy seeing more perspectives instead of forcing ‘main’ character perspectives who do not really need it. There is a lot of plot that I am covering in Heart of the Sand (things move much quicker than in Sea of Storms) and I think you’ll find it works out rather well.

I will be very interested to see the feedback as the novellas are published as it relates to how the perspectives are divied up.

Heart of the Sand character teases and release schedule

Weekly Heart of the Sand update for the second week of November. Today I want to share some character and plot teases that I have locked down. None of these are spoilers.

In Sea of Storms there was a very real, raw conflict between High Priestess Lutessa and her Counsel of Faith, Father Stephen Francis. There was certainly a sense of unresolved issues between the characters towards the end of the novella — that will change in the coming months. It will not simply be a matter of one or the other finally acting against their rival. The threat of Trecht and a First Born hovers above them, and these forces will push one or both of them into action. This may be the climax or pushed towards the end of the story (I am undecided on this point). Suffice to say, the internal conflicts of Dalia will be a significant plot point, especially now that the Protectorate of the Faith must unfurl. Oh, and even though I did announce last week that Lutessa will remain a main perspective character (and Stephen will not), I caution not to read into that. I am not afraid to lay a blow to a main perspective character (see: Aldan Durand and Johnathan Falenir in Darkness Rising).

The other tease I would like to bring up is Jophiel and Amos. In Darkness Rising, the two of them had a conflict and Jophiel was certainly on the losing end of it. In fact, one of my favourite scenes from that work was when Amos appeared in the Temple of the Ancients and dominated his brother. The animosity betwixt the characters will be much more on screen (or on page if you will) and it will certainly be much deeper. These are two very, very important characters — arguably the most important characters in the Vessels of Power trilogy — and their decisions, judgements and actions will be on full display.

Now for a bit of bad news. The planning / pre-writing phase of Heart of the Sand is taking longer than expected. It mostly has to do with how many characters I have, the stories they need to tell, and the complexities of the narrative that will spawn from it. What this means is that I will not be pushing Heart of the Sand chapters to Wattpad before November is out. My original plan was to have six weeks of content published before Christmas rolled around (that would have been 12 out of 26 chapters). That target is unrealistic unless I rush (which I’m sure no one wants). Instead, if I started publishing in December, I would only be able to get out 6 chapters at most before Christmas. I do not think anyone wants to see a quarter of Heart of the Sand before the break. Instead, I will begin to publish in early January.

Here is the schedule.

The prologue will be published on Tuesday, January 5 / 2016 and the epilogue will come out on Thursday, March 31 / 2016.

Just like with Sea of Storms, I will publish a new chapter every Tuesday and Thursday.


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