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. :)

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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. :)
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October Kindle Promotion

It’s time again for the Dawn of Chaos : Free on the 1st promotion! This month, however, I’m extending it for an additional two days. From October 1st thru the 3rd, the Prologue to the Sanctum of the Archmage Saga can be purchased from Amazon Kindle for the very reasonable price of $0.00. So get your copy today!


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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.

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Half-Way Mark

I am now officially halfway through writing the first of the Sanctum of the Archmage novels. I finished chapter 4 (out of eight planned) this morning, and have started on chapter 5. The current count stands at a bit over thirty seven thousand words, or a little over 100 “paperback equivalent pages.” One more scene and it should officially cross the line from “novella” to “novel” length.

I’ve solidified the outline and my struggling with the earlier chapters is gone now. The story is flowing out really well, and at an accelerating pace. If I can keep it up (fingers crossed), then the first draft should be complete sometime this fall.

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Sanctum Summer Novel Update

It’s been quite a while since my last comment on the status of the first Sanctum novel, so I thought that now might be a good time to post an update.

The less good news is that I was sidetracked from working on it for much of the first half of the year by two other important projects. The first was to teach myself how to develop and publish e-books, and to test that knowledge with a short work by actually going through the process of releasing one. As you likely know if you’re reading this, that project was successful, and resulted in the publication this spring of Dawn of Chaos: Prologue to the Sanctum of the Archmage Saga, now available on Amazon Kindle.

The second involved an ongoing attempt to try to “fix” my day-job career as a computer scientist, which had been in a bit of a rut for the last several years. Until recently, this had been consuming an inordinate amount of my time and mental energy. Fortunately, and after several frustrating false starts, I think I’ve finally managed to plot a new and stable career path, and one that will even allow me to work with new game technologies such as Unity and VR development. (I just got a new Oculus Rift headset for that purpose last week, and it is very cool. :))

These accomplishments have finally allowed me the time and mental energy to resume work on first novel again in earnest. My recent writing has been picking up speed and momentum as a result, adding about ten thousand words over the last month for a total of about thirty thousand so far. I just finished a long passage last night that included a very challenging death scene, and have so much new material that I’m actually having to restructure the outline. Chapter 3 turned out to be nearly as long as chapters 1 and 2 combined, so I had to split it into two; I’ll be doing the same with a later chapter as well, bringing the planned total up to eight. The end result should be at least seventy thousand words, or 200 “paperback equivalent pages.” And now that I’ve “got my stride,” I’m expecting the rest of the book to come much faster.

One final thing that I’m debating (and would welcome feedback on) is my approach to structuring the series. My plan had been to write three short novels, of which this would be the first, and then to collect them as parts into a longer book when they were all finished. I’d still like to have the option of doing that, especially if I decide later on to pursue publishing the series as paper books as well. I’m concerned, though, that this approach may be overly complicated for readers.

I’m also considering using the title Crucible of Heroes for the first book, rather than saving it for the possible later collection. The End of the Beginning does capture the idea of what happens in the first book: Carlissa on the cusp of a renaissance, with that beginning brought to an end by the demon invasion. But I don’t think there’s any denying that Crucible of Heroes is a catchier title, and I think that for a first novel, it would probably be a good idea to take advantage of that.

So what do you think? Keep the planned structure of parts and books, or just write a sequence of shorter books? Use Crucible of Heroes for the first book, or stick with The End of the Beginning? Any feedback is welcome. :)

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Dawn of Chaos: Free on the 1st

I’ve scheduled a recurring promotion for Dawn of Chaos on the Amazon Kindle Store to run on the first of each month. Starting on Friday, August 1st and until further notice (continuing at the very least into the fall), you can purchase the Prologue to the Sanctum of the Archmage Saga for the very reasonable price of $0.00. :)

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Dawn of Chaos: Free Promotion!

Dawn of Chaos: Prologue to the Sanctum of the Archmage Saga, is scheduled for a free promotion all weekend from July 4th through July 6th! During that time you’ll be able to purchase the book for no cost at

DawnSmallAvailable on scr2555-proj697-a-kindle-logo-rgb-lg

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Work on the Game Modules is Suspended Indefinitely

Dale just asked (on my 2011 post of the opening scene) whether there was any news on Sanctum 3. Since my comments on the status of the game modules is probably somewhat scattered throughout my blog over the last couple of years, I thought I should probably clarify the situation here. I added the following about this last year on the main modules page:

*As of summer 2013, further work on the game modules has been suspended until further notice, in order to work on completing and releasing the initial Sanctum of the Archmage novels. This includes the unfinished v4.2 update of Chapter 1 and remake of Chapter 2, as well as completion of Chapter 3 and work on Chapters 4-7.

Since there’s not a great deal of work left to do on the Sanctum 2 v4.2 remake, I do expect to be able to release it early next year. That will probably be just after I publish the first of the Sanctum novels, The End of the Beginning.

At this point, however, I’m afraid I have to admit that it’s not clear to me when or even if I’ll be able to complete Sanctum 3 (much less the rest of the series), in module form. I very much want to do it, and if it were my only project I’m confident that I would be able to. Unfortunately, though, it’s not. As I wrote in the post when I announced that I was resuming work on the novels,

I’ve also had to take a hard look at my somewhat ambitious plans for the module series, given a realistic assessment of my other goals and the amount of time I actually have to work on it. My “real life” career as a computer scientist demands most of my time and attention, and I have plans for developing it further that will require additional focus on learning certain new technologies. Both writing and modding are things that I can only afford to do in my (unfortunately, not especially plentiful) spare time — which I need to be more hard-nosed about rationing. Some reflection has consequently forced me to the conclusion that while I’m not quite ready to give up on Sanctum as a modding project just yet, that I need to make more time in my schedule for other efforts as well.

I haven’t yet cancelled work on the modules. They remain in my mind as projects that I want to find time to get back to, when and if I can. At this point in my life, however, I simply have no choice but to put other priorities ahead of them. And at the present time, those have to be the demands of my career (and of striving to remain employable in today’s dysfunctional economy), and publishing Sanctum of the Archmage as a series of novels.

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Dawn of Chaos on Kindle

Dawn of Chaos : Prologue to the Sanctum of the Archmage Saga is now available from the Amazon Kindle Store!

DawnSmallAvailable on scr2555-proj697-a-kindle-logo-rgb-lg

If you’re interested in checking it out but don’t have a Kindle, don’t let that stop you! There are several easy ways to read a Kindle book without one:

  • Use the Kindle Cloud Reader to read Kindle books right in your web browser.
  • You can install a free Kindle Reader App if you have an iPad, iPhone, Android phone or tablet, PC, Mac, etc. — there’s one for just about every platform. :)

The land of Carlissa stood on the cusp of a renaissance. Even as King Danor planned reforms to usher in a new era of enlightenment, however, other forces were threatening to lead the kingdom toward a very different future. That future began to take shape in a fateful confrontation that occurred at the Dawn of Chaos.

The Dawn of Chaos is a short prologue introducing the world and story for an upcoming epic fantasy series. It will be continued in Crucible of Heroes: The End of the Beginning, the first novel in the Sanctum of the Archmage Saga.

UPDATE (May 10, 2014): I’ve just published a second edition of Dawn of Chaos, which contains some improvements based on lessons learned from my first run. Charles’ full illustration is now included in-line with the text, and I’ve made some minor editorial changes (mainly to include some additional descriptive passages and to improve the book’s formatting).

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