Work-in-Progress Update: Fly, little bird. Fly.

Photo by Sebastien Gabriel on Unsplash
Photo by Sebastien Gabriel on Unsplash

Last November, I posted about the completion of the first draft of The Rose and Honey Soul, my gothic-post apocalyptic-funguspunk-fantasy set in an eternally dark world. It was the culmination of over two years of work, and I was really proud of the draft—but also recognized that it needed a lot of work. But, I also needed some space—so, I set aside some time to break ground on my novel, The Thousand Shattered Gods. That went swimmingly, and I quickly fell in love with the world and characters I was meeting. Once I had a good foundation of work for the novel, I returned to The Rose and Honey Soul at the beginning of the new year, and started work on what turned out to be an extensive revision.

And, now, I’m done.

Yesterday, I finished the latest draft of The Rose and Honey Soul, dotted some I’s, crossed some T’s, set the ink, and sent the manuscript to an agent who requested a copy. Now, I wait. And hope my fingernails survive my nervous nibbling.

Whatever happens next, I’m immensely proud of the work that’s gone into The Rose and Honey Soul and believe it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written.

Here’s a quick and dirty pitch:

Teoh is an Asher, a member of a guild that explores the dangerous, desolate ash barrens beyond the safety of the great city of Vancoo, one of the last known human settlements in a world of eternal darkness ruled over by the dragon-god Nocturne. When Teoh’s partner Jenn goes missing, she takes the first steps on a journey that will lead her to answers that will change the world.

Today, I’m sitting at the coffee shop where I wrote most of The Rose and Honey Soul, and sort of drifting. Nearly every work day for the past eight or nine months, I’ve arrived early and, before starting my day job, cracked open Scrivener to work on The Rose and Honey Soul. I poured myself into Nocturne’s dark world, felt Sol’s light on my neck, and followed Teoh in her desperate, dangerous search for Jenn. And now, for a while at least, I move on. I set aside that constant thrumming in the back of my head that was my subconscious working through the plot, story, characters, and problems to fix. I’ve got a million projects to work on, but… today feels a bit empty.

I first started conceptualizing The Rose and Honey Soul in March, 2016—when it started life as an idea for a short story. Obviously, I was wrong about that, but now, for the first time, I have a draft that feels like the story I wanted to tell way back when. I had this image in my head of a bonfire from Dark Souls, and a beautiful glowing stone nestled in the surrounding ash. What was that stone? Why did it glow? How did it get into the bonfire? The story has changed a lot since those early days, of course, but those questions remain at its heart.

This draft clocked in at about 65k words—20k words longer than the first draft. As they say, it grew in the telling. But, it’s a much more robust and complete book now, edging toward novel territory (technically it is a novel, but I’m not sure it would be sold that way in the SFF world), and with a lot of potential for expanding the story. There’s still a lot of work to come before this book ever sees the light of day—not least of which includes successfully querying an agent, selling it to an editor, and all the revisions those steps entail—but it’s in a really good place right now.

I want to specifically thank my beta readers, Ty Schalter and John Wiswell, who poured a lot of care, attention, time, and wisdom into the story, and helped me understand where the issues lurked and how they could be resolved. Their fingerprints are all over this story.

For the first time in a long time, I can set The Rose and Honey Soul aside and focus fully on some of my other projects, and, despite being a bit lost today, that’s a damn good feeling.

With any luck, there’ll be good news in the near future.

Quick Hits: What’s Next?

  • A bunch of essays—I’ve been pitching long-form essays to various publications, and a couple of them have found homes. More on those soon.
  • Untitled Short Story—A fun twist on a classic trope that could be a short story, or the seed of a full-fledged novel. (Is this becoming a trend for me…?)
  • Untitled YA/MG Pitch—Set in the same world as The Thousand Shattered Gods (but a completely unrelated region), this follows two students at a magic school who together must face separation from everything they know, love, and rely upon on a perilous adventure far from the comfort of their school.
  • The Thousand Shattered Gods—Between drafts of The Rose and Honey Soul, I completed ~25k words of The Thousand Shattered Gods, and looooooove it dearly. It was difficult to put it down at the time, and I can’t wait to get back to it. This’ll be my main area of focus for the time being. If you’re interested, you can find out more about The Thousand Shattered Gods here.