The Writing Life — Episode: No One is Counting

Many things have wrapped up, and many more are still up in the air. It’s difficult to know what’s going on for writers from the outside, so I thought I’d take a moment to peel back the curtain and talk about where my various projects stand and what I’m doing on a daily basis to bring you more Akersian Weirdness (not a trademark, but I *do* like capitalizing things).

I’ve spent the last few months finishing the first draft of Valhellions, which is the second installment of the Knight Watch series. This is a book that I made good progress on last spring, then kind of stalled out over the summer because I was working on finishing revisions to Wraithbound. I started in on it again in the fall and had a lot of trouble getting back into the project. This was further interrupted by hernia surgery in February which took me longer to recover from than I hoped. My initial goal was to have the first draft done by the end of March, giving me April for revisions and then another two weeks of scheduled padding before the due date of May 15th. In reality, I finished near the end of April and sent it to my agent and some beta readers. Feedback was positive with minimal changes needed, so I spent a week on those and then sent it my editors at Baen about a week ago. So that’s done, until I get edits back from Baen, which may be at any time or not for a long while. The book is scheduled to come out next April.

The second I finished Valhellions, I started working on a novella that’s been kicking around my head for the last few months. It arose from a conversation on twitter that I won’t get into, but at the time I was working on Valhellions so all I could do was write up some notes about the inspiration, outline a couple scenes that spoke to me, and put it aside. When I came back to it, it was incredibly easy to just dive in and work. The story ended up at 20k words, which is too long for most markets. I’ll be passing that around my writing group in a couple weeks. After that, who knows?

Just to catch you up on Wraithbound, the book is still out for submission. The first round of submissions included fifteen publishers, including Baen, who have the right of first refusal on the project. They also got a couple months head start on the submission queue. We haven’t heard back from them yet, so it might end up there, or it might not. That’s the joy of publishing. We’ve gotten five rejections back, some quickly, some slowly. The manuscript has been out for almost four months now. That feels like a long time, but this is a pretty typical rate in trad publishing, and the pandemic/WFH thing has thrown a lot of schedules off.

So what am I working on now? Good question. It’s not worth developing a pitch for Knight Watch 3 at this point. Wraithbound is meant to be the first book in a new series, and I have a general idea of what’s coming next, but it’s certainly not worth starting book two until book one sells. So what does a writer do?

I could take a break. Sit around and paint miniatures and play video games and read books. That would be nice. But this business is about always moving forward, and none of those things move me forward professionally. So instead I’ve started a new book. It’s tangentially related to Wraithbound, so if WB sells you can market it as being in the same universe, but if it doesn’t then no big deal, here’s something new. It’s tentatively called The Language of Swords, and follows the adventures of a deergirl whose brother is kidnapped by a red-eyed mage. She has to infiltrate the mysterious cabal of mages to learn his identity, etc, et al, darkness and light, romance, weird things floating in the sky. And yes, the magic system is based entirely on sword forms and dueling and those weird things floating in the sky. The whole thing started with a card game that I’ll probably never make and kind of rolled out from there.

Speaking of games, I’ve casually started making the D&D killer I’ve always wanted to design. Not that I’m actually going to kill D&D. I just want to make a ruleset that pleases me, and maybe it will please other folks as well. Because RPGs are my life, friends. And games could be so much better than HPs and spell slots and so forth.

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