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 Amazon.com.

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 later this year. That will probably be in the fall after publishing 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.

Posted in 2 - The Quest, 3 - Mission to Rayche, Sanctum: The Modules | 5 Comments

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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‘Dawn of Chaos’ is Complete

My upcoming Kindle book is now complete! I’ve given it a new title, prepared the cover using Charles’ final version of the illustration, and built the Kindle file for upload. The only thing remaining is to go through the process of submitting the files to the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) system. I should be doing that this weekend, and it should be available in the Kindle store a few days later. Here’s what the title page looks like:

Dawn of Chaos

Prologue to the Sanctum of the Archmage Saga

by Tony Donadio

Cover Art by Charles Imbro

Charles really outdid himself, because the final version of the cover looks amazing. Here’s the “dust jacket” description:

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.

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.

Dawn of Chaos is a short work at about 8100 words, easily read in one sitting. In addition to Charles’ fantastic cover illustration, it also features a brief appendix including a painstakingly remade and fully zoomable map of Kalara (by yours truly), and a brief preview excerpt from The End of the Beginning, Chapter 1: The City of Rainbows.

The next step, of course, is to get back to finishing the first novel, which I hope to get out by August at the latest. But taking the time to publish Dawn of Chaos, however short, was an invaluable experience. It helped Charles and I to work out all of the logistic issues, and the production and publishing details, involved in collaborating to produce what I think has turned out to be quite a professional-looking work. I hope you’ll think so, too. :)

Posted in Dawn of Chaos, Sanctum: The Novels | 2 Comments

Prologue – Draft Cover

This isn’t the final version, just a draft done with Charles’ preliminary sketch for the cover art. However, I thought readers might find it interesting. Charles is finishing the cover illustration now, and I’m doing the final proofreading. It should be ready to go not long after that. I’m still looking at a Kindle release by the end of the month.

Two Princes - Draft Cover

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The Two Princes

I thought I’d share a brief update on how my work on the novels is going. Some issues in “real life” have been slowing my progress, but fortunately, some of that now seems to be starting to sort itself out. I’m also (albeit too slowly for my own taste) learning better how not to waste time pursuing dead ends in my writing, which is a very good thing.

As of yesterday, I’ve finished a draft version of the teaser that I want to release for the first Sanctum book. My working title for it is “The Two Princes,” and it consists mainly of the prologue to the first novel. It’s short (20 pdf pages, including frontmatter), and it’ll feature a pen & ink cover illustration by my art collaborator, Charles Imbro. It will also include a brief appendix about Kalara, the world in which the saga takes place, and my completely re-worked version of the map, which I think readers will really like.

I’ve also finished a draft of the history of Kalara that I mentioned in my last post, and which I’ve spent most of my time over the last month working out in extensive detail. Those efforts weren’t wasted, and will be extremely useful in guiding my writing and in constructing and fleshing out the story going forward. Unfortunately, though, after looking at it critically last night, I’ve been forced to conclude that it simply doesn’t work as an appendix to the teaser, and thus to cut it.

I expect “The Two Princes” to be available on Kindle by the end of April. I’m also aiming (and have now given myself a deadline) to get the first novel out on Kindle before the last week of August. As for why I’m tentatively aiming for that particular deadline: stay tuned. :)

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Update #2: E-Pub, Map, and Teaser Release

Work on The End of the Beginning continues in the time I’ve had available after my other commitments. I’ve been working recently on studying the technical details of e-book publishing, migrating my writing efforts from where I started them in MS Word to a new set of tools, giving a serious and long overdue update to the Map of Kalara, and preparing a short “teaser intro” to the Sanctum saga for an upcoming Kindle release.

I’m very pleased with the results of my recent research into e-book publishing, which have led me to start using a writing tool called Scrivener. Scrivener is a bit like a software development environment, with projects and resources that one can include in “compiles” of portions of a book for export to different formats. I’ve also started using an e-pub editor called Sigil, which allows me to fine-tune the files produced by Scrivener. Together they provide a great deal of flexibility and control over the writing and formatting, which I expect to result in a better quality result when the books are finally published.

The improvements to the Map of Kalara involving some long overdue scanning, merging, and extensive image editing of the now obsolete hand-drawn maps that I’ve been working from until now. It took quite a while, especially given that it also included the time required to teach myself how to use the GIMP image editor. I’m extremely pleased with the result, however, and I think that readers will be as well.

Another development since my last post is that I’ve decided that the first e-book will actually be a short “teaser,” consisting of the prologue to the first novel and an appendix. The appendix will feature the new, larger, and vastly improved map, as well as brief introductory overviews to the history, geography and culture of Kalara. My working title for it is The Two Princes, though I won’t spoil any more about it just yet. If all goes well I should be able to finish the appendix shortly, and get the teaser ready for a Kindle release sometime in April.

I’m also pleased to announce (or re-announce, since I think I mentioned it in a previous post) that Charles Imbro will be collaborating with me to produce pen and ink illustrations for the series — beginning with cover art for The Two Princes. Charles is an extremely talented artist, and I think you’ll really enjoy his work.

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The End of the Beginning – Update #1

Since it’s coming near to the end of 2013, I thought I should give readers an update on the current status of my first book. As I said in a previous post, it will be titled The End of the Beginning, and it will be the first of three parts of Crucible of Heroes, the first novel in the Sanctum of the Archmage series.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been struggling with how to resolve an issue that’s become increasingly apparent to me: how to better establish the necessary context for later events. The Warlord Zomoran, in particular, really needs to at least be introduced to the reader before those events unfold. The book needed a Prologue, I concluded, and I resolved to add one before continuing on with my work on Chapter 3.

But how to write it, without turning the early part of the book into a tedious exercise in exposition? My first attempt turned out to be a disaster. After writing myself into a hole from which there ended up being no escape, I had to simply throw away about 3000 words and start again from scratch. My second attempt, fortunately, turned out to be much more successful.

I finally finished the Prologue today, and at just shy of 6000 words, I’m very happy with the results. Not only did I manage to do what I needed in a way that readers are unlikely to find “tedious,” but I managed to add a bit of action into the early part of the book as well. The first two chapters were already more “exposition-heavy” than I liked, and adding a bit of excitement to the Prologue will better help to break that up.

The best part, though, is that I managed to do it in a way that also allowed me to flesh out two other characters at the same time. As it turns out they also stood to benefit from an extended introduction, and adding the prologue allowed me to really flesh out their personalities. By the time I was done I was coming to find them quite engaging, and I hope that you will too. :) And now that the Prologue is complete, I’m ready to go back to continue working on Chapter 3.

As of now, The End of the Beginning is about 22,000 words long, which should equate to roughly 63 pages in a typical paperback printing. Based on my current progress and estimate that should make it about 45% complete. The final version should end up between 48 and 50 thousand words, or about 140 paperback-equivalent pages — which, by SWFA standards, should make it a short novel in its own right.

 

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