So, I mean, we all know there was supposed to be another book by now. The crickets that used to hang around A Curse of Venom & Scales have either died or moved along to chirp in some other tardy writer’s office. 😅
And I’m lucky to have a really supportive group of readers, who seriously want this third book, but are so polite (and gentle about my mental health) when they ask me about it. I love you guys so damn much!
So this is the deal. ACOVAS is technically done.
If you’ve been around the blog, you’ll know how much I struggled with this book. It was weird to so desperately want to finish writing while also feeling so completely detached from the project. Looking back now, though, I know the struggles were partially because of the pandemic and everything that entailed, but also because of the health issues I mentioned in the last post.
And then, the third thing. I didn’t plan A Study of Ash & Smoke at all. This is something I’ve been really open about on the blog, so it might also not be news to you. It was a debut and I learned about the story (and writing in general) as it progressed. And though I didn’t plan A Trial of Sparks & Kindling in set-in-stone detail, I did have a better understanding of where the story had to go, which plot points were crucial, and what made the world/characters tick. I’d learned, you know?
By the end of ATOSAK, I knew I couldn’t write without a plan again. So, I settled down with the alphas in a bunch of EXTREME brainstorming sessions, and we bounced around ideas until I’d formed a really ironclad plan for book 3, a solid map for book 4, and the general idea of book 5. I was super-duper proud and excited to dive back into the world.
I also always do this thing where I re-read the previous books in the series before I start writing whatever comes next. And maybe that was what caused all the initial drama, because I wrote 5 partial drafts of book 3 before I realised something was seriously wrong. There was this niggling in the back of my mind, so I returned to Ash & Smoke and realised the lack of planning in book 1 had caused a problem that altered the plans for book 3. I couldn’t write the story I’d wanted to write.
So, in the 11th hour, I recalculated everything. The new plan had its merits, but a part of my heart mourned the scenes and story arcs I’d been fangirling about from the old plan. Scenes and story arcs that would never make it into the story with the changes.
Still, I finished the sixth draft around October last year. It’s a beast of like 220k words, ten million four-letter words muttered at the ceiling, and a gallon of tears. I’m not being dramatic when I say I cried for a week after I’d typed the last words.
Of course, whatever relief I’d felt couldn’t last. Beta feedback dribbled in, all saying more or less the same thing. The story was good, certain scenes were solid crowd pleasers, they liked the new characters overall, but *this thing here* made no sense. And boom, I realised in all the shifting plans, I’d forgotten to include a pivotal story arc.
Initially, I thought I’d just rewrite a few scenes and include the stuff I’d forgotten. Quick work, probably only a few weeks, and the thing would be off to the editor. But the more I thought about it, the more the original plan screamed at me. If I was going to rewrite anyway, couldn’t I find a way to include the cool stuff from the old plan? And so, in hours’ worth of voice notes and video calls, the alphas helped me find a way to incorporate the two plans into something I’m sincerely excited about for the first time in 2 years.
But I haven’t written a word of it.
Yeah, I know. 😑
I’ve tried, believe me, but I cannot for the life of me get myself to sit and write A Curse of Venom & Scales. (Maybe I shouldn’t have picked a title with the word curse, eh?)
I have this mental block going and whenever I think about this book, I freeze up. And I know my health situation heavily impacts the whole writing thing, so I’m trying to be kind to myself and allow some time for healing, but it’s difficult when I feel guilty for not working on this series.
So, in an attempt to not make myself hate Fall of the Mantle, I’m working on something else. It’s a rework of something I wrote many years ago, is also gaslamp fantasy, and is set in a jungle. I’m hoping to be able to talk about it a bit more soon, so check back for updates from time to time. 😊 I will say this, though, if all goes according to plan, I should have at least one new title out by early 2023.
And that’s the update!
Thanks for reading, friends. It was good to catch up.