Fall 2015 Update

It’s been a while since my last post about the status of my writing projects, so I thought it was time to offer a quick update.

As of this morning the word count on Dawn of Chaos, the first full-length novel in the Sanctum of the Archmage Saga, stands at eighty-eight thousand, six hundred and seventy one (88,671) words. After some chapter and scene restructuring that I realized was needed to not rush the climax, that puts me in the middle of Chapter 17 out of 24, with fifteen out of a planned total of sixty-one scenes left to write. Since the chapters and scenes tend to shorten as the story moves into the climax, I’m estimating that this will probably involve another twenty to twenty five thousand words, with the final manuscript ending up somewhere in the range of a hundred and twelve thousand.

Another item of good news is that some of the unfortunate work-related distractions that were taking my focus away from writing are continuing on a path toward… well, not doing that quite so much anymore. I finally managed to complete a career change this summer into a position working in Data Science. As I settle in to that, I expect to be able to devote more of my spare time once again to my writing projects.

As for when Dawn of Chaos should be ready for publication: I think it’s likely now to be sometime early next year. On the one hand I’ve gotten much better at writing quickly and well, and can probably turn out at least a scene a week going forward. On the other I’m recognizing a need as the story evolves not to rush the climax, and I still have to figure out how to provide for a final editing of the book. I’ve gotten very good at being my own editor, but I’m not certain I should trust myself to do the full job on my own.

As for my modding work: I’m still planning to finish the v4 remake of The Quest (formerly The Miracle Worker, part I) after Dawn of Chaos is complete. Sadly, though, I think that will have to be my last foray into modding the story, at least for some time.

Free on the First – Update Today!

(Updated 11/1) Until further notice, Sanctum of the Archmage: Prologue to Chaos , can be downloaded for free on the first of every month. The next “Free on the First” promotion will be:

  • Sunday, November 1st
  • Tuesday, December 1st
  • Friday, January 1st

Amazon also gives me a couple of extra days each quarter to make Prologue to Chaos a free download, in addition to my regular “Free on the First” promotions. I’ll announce them here when they are scheduled.

If you have an old copy of the prologue, this is a great opportunity to download the new and re-titled third edition. Just go to the “Manage your content and devices” link in Amazon under “Your Account,” and select “Actions… Delete” on your pre-3rd edition copy. (This should have the old title “Dawn of Chaos,” and the book’s old B&W cover with red borders.) Then visit the link below to download the 3rd edition, which features a new title and cover, as well as a full stylistic re-edit. :)

Chapter Fourteen is Done

Chapter Fourteen is finally complete. As of now, the manuscript for Dawn of Chaos stands at just over seventy five thousand words.

This was a particularly difficult scene to write, because I wasn’t actually certain I could make the idea that I had for it work. I think the end result turned out to be very successful, although a bit longer than I had expected.

Chapter fifteen starts the buildup to the climax of the novel in chapters seventeen and eighteen. The good news is that I have a very clear idea of what happens in that part of the story, so — time permitting — writing the rest of it should go much faster. Once again my writing is picking up momentum, and I’m very excited about it.

Prologue to Chaos Available

I’m very pleased to announce that Prologue to Chaos, the re-titled third edition of the Introduction to the Sanctum of the Archmage Saga, is now available from the Amazon Kindle store:

I hope you all like the new cover. I think it looks great and I’m very excited about it.

The third edition features a new title as well as a new cover, and a full stylistic re-edit. The title change will let me use Dawn of Chaos for the first full-length novel to be released later this year. I think it works better and is a much better choice for it than The End of the Beginning, which I’m still going to use for the chapter that ends the story’s climax. I’m also very pleased with the re-edit, which I think significantly improves the quality and flow of the prose. I’ve learned a lot about writing over the last year while working on the first novel, and I think that the new edit shows it.

I expect to be able to pick up my writing pace in Dawn of Chaos again, now that the re-release of the prologue and another flare-up of crazy at work seem to be behind me. I’m beginning to get into the part of the story that builds up to the climax, which is especially exciting to write.

I also hope you all like the new look of the site. I thought it was time for a change of theme. I still have some tweaking to do, but I like the way it turned out. I also now have an email list that anyone interested in the saga and its progress can subscribe to, at:


Prologue to Chaos: Cover

I expect to be able to re-release the prologue to the (upcoming) Sanctum of the Archmage novels sometime in the next few weeks. Aside from a re-edit to improve the writing, it will feature a new title and cover illustration. And here they are:


I hope you like the new cover as much as I do. The title change from Dawn of Chaos to Prologue to Chaos will let me use Dawn of Chaos as the title of the first of the Sanctum novels.

Several very talented individuals helped make the new cover possible. They are my friend and illustrator, Charles Imbro, who did the original drawing; my friend and fellow fantasy author, Michael Layne, who did an excellent job of colorizing it; and my brother Michael Donadio, who did the title work. Many thanks to each of them!

Some New Decisions

It’s been a while, and well past time for me to post for a brief note for anyone interested in the saga’s progress. There’s all kinds of news to go around: some good, some bad, and some probably good, but definitely “new.”

First the bad news. Thanks to the latest bout of crazy at work and a nasty chest flu that took over a month to recover from, progress on my projects (particularly the first full-length Sanctum novel) has been slower than I would have preferred.

The good news is that I’m finally feeling better. Moreover (and thanks to a new assignment there), the crazy at work not only seems to be ending, but looks like it’s likely to remain manageable from now on. As a result, my writing is building momentum again. I managed to complete about three chapters in the last month, and I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be able to maintain at least that pace going forward.

The “new” news centers mostly around some decisions I’ve made about how to organize the saga, and how to prepare to promote it.

First (and as I suggested I was considering in previous posts), I’ve decided to use “Dawn of Chaos” as the title of the upcoming (full-length) novel. I’ve also decided not to include the existing prologue in it. Instead the prologue will be edited and re-released, remaining available as a short, inexpensive, and standalone lead-in to the series. The two works will be titled:

Prologue to Chaos
Introduction to the Sanctum of the Archmage Saga

Dawn of Chaos
Book One of the Sanctum of the Archmage Saga

The re-release of Prologue to Chaos will include writing and editing improvements, as well as a re-designed cover. I’ve been doing a lot of research recently into the craft of e-publishing, and everything I’ve read stresses the importance of having a professional looking cover design. My own amateurish first attempt (hacked together while teaching myself how to use Gimp) didn’t do justice to Charles’ fantastic illustration work, and I’m looking into ways to improve it.

Not counting the Prologue, Dawn of Chaos now stands just shy of seventy thousand words. The prologue is about seven thousand, and the expanded appendix (more on that below) another five thousand or so. Dawn has kept expanding in length and scope as I’ve progressed, but it’s currently scoped out for twenty chapters and something over one hundred thousand words (or a bit over 300 “paperback equivalent pages”).

I’m just finishing chapter 13 right now. In a chapter or two it will be starting into the climax. I have a very clear idea how that part of the story will progress, so I actually expect it to write more quickly and easily than the rest. I’m really looking forward to that.

As for the expanded appendix: it’s a brief introduction to the history and culture of the land of Kalara. Basically, it describes — mostly in high-level, overview style terms — what happened to The Children during the ten thousand or so years between the Legend of the Great War, and the “modern times” in which the saga actually takes place. Rather than putting it up on Amazon, I’m considering just making it a PDF that fans can get for free for subscribing to my email list. The list isn’t available yet, but it’s another thing that I’m in the process of beginning to set up. :)

November 2014 Update

Here’s a quick update on the status of my upcoming book, tentatively titled The End of the Beginning: Book One, Part I of the Sanctum of the Archmage Saga. Although some (fortunately temporary) craziness at work has once again managed to derail my writing focus, I’m nevertheless making good progress toward a planned release sometime early next year.

  1. Scope and chapter re-structuring. I’ve done a lot of work recently in revising the scope of the first Sanctum novel, and the structure of its chapters and events. My original plan to write a novella-length work with six chapters and a prologue proved to be much too limited. I’ve restructured and firmed up the outline to sixteen shorter chapters, plus a prologue and an appendix.
  2. Progress. As of now I’ve completed the first nine chapters, plus the prologue and the appendix. I’m currently writing chapter 10, the first scene of which is also complete. As of yesterday all of them have been given a thorough editing pass with some re-writing. As a result, none of what I’ve written is any longer in “first draft” status.
  3. Projected Length. As of today’s word count, the book comes in at exactly 65,000 words, or about 185 “paperback equivalent pages.” (My writing software actually estimates this for me, and it agrees nicely with my own ad-hoc calculations as well.) Based on my current and revised outline, this puts it at about 64% complete — with a final projected length of about 100,000 words and just shy of 300 pages.
  4. Title. As I hinted in a previous post, I’m giving serious consideration to publishing the first book under the name Dawn of Chaos. I think this is a stronger title than The End of the Beginning, and I’m regretting having used it for the prologue that I already published on Amazon. If decide to I go that route, I’d probably just re-publish the existing Kindle with the new, full content of the first book. I’d be very interested in feedback from anyone with thoughts or recommendations about the title.
  5. Alpha/Beta Readers. A colleague who e-publishes fantasy fiction recommended that I consider seeking out “alpha readers.” Like alpha (and beta) testers for software, these are people who read books (or parts of books) that are in the process of being written, to provide feedback to the author. I do have a couple of these now (including my wife and my illustrator), and have had play-testers for the Sanctum game modules in the past. I’m considering his suggestion, so if anyone might be interested being an alpha reader for my book, feel free to let me know. :)

It’s a Novel

I just finished the first scene of chapter 5 of the first Sanctum of the Archmage novel. Checking the word count, it now stands at over forty (and slightly under forty one) thousand words. By the guidelines of the Science Fiction Writers of America, that officially puts it over the line from a novella and into a novel.

In a follow-up to my last post, I’m still considering what to do about naming the first book. I’m now considering the idea of publishing it under the name I used for the prologue: Dawn of Chaos. I like that idea because in hindsight, it’s unquestionably the best title for the first book as a whole. If I go that route it would mean merging it with the prologue, and publishing it as a (much longer) new version.