Free Story – Forgotten

As I mentioned last week, this month’s story takes place in the Undying Empire, in Ythis itself.

Undead are fun to write about, and so I decided to use a character who was mentioned in passing in chapter 13 of The Tower of Dust. Just another way to tie it all together and make Ythis a living, breathing city (figuratively, of course, since we’re talking about the undead).

And this is another story that just begs for a sequel. I keep doing this to myself, but I love setting up situations in stories and then leaving them for a while before revisiting them again. So you can expect that I’ll be coming back to these characters at some point.

Click here to read Forgotten, and I hope you enjoy.

The Witch’s Path Update

The first draft of The Witch’s Path is finished!

The final story turned out quite different than I had originally planned, but I think it will be much stronger than my initial idea. But the change in focus also necessitated a change in the cover image, so if you were one of the winners of a signed copy of The Severed Oath back in December, the picture of The Witch’s Path cover at the back of that book won’t match the version that will be released this summer.

But I think the new cover is much better than the previous version, and really gives a better sense of the focus and tone of the book.

So what happens now?

Well, first I will be doing a complete read-through of The Witch’s Path manuscript, doing bits of rewriting as I go. Once that is complete, I will send the manuscript off to my trusted readers for their opinions. When I receive their feedback, I will review their comments and make any necessary changes. And then a final editing pass is done before the files are sent to the online book stores and to the printers.

At this point, I’m aiming for a late-June release. Please keep in mind that this is still a tentative timeframe – there are any number of issues which may delay the release. I will post a more definitive date once we get closer.

For those on Goodreads, I will once again hold a contest to give away some signed copies of The Witch’s Path, just like I did with The Severed Oath back in December. So stay tuned on Goodreads for information about the contest.

The Severed Oath – Update

The manuscript for The Severed Oath is finished! It took a lot longer than I intended, but sometimes life gets in the way and derails the best-laid plans. Regardless, it will shortly be off for editing. Keep an eye out here for the announcement when the ebook and print version are available from the usual retailers, most likely in mid-September.

In the meantime, I’m working on a couple of short stories before leaping back into the fray with the next novel set in Ythis, The Broken Trail. More details to come soon.

Fantasy Cities

Lankhmar, Sanctuary, Darujhistan, Tanelorn, Bas Lang…

I love fantasy cities. As settings go, there’s something about an interesting fantasy city that just sets my imagination running. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy fantasy stories set outside an urban environment. However, few non-urban settings can carry so many different, complete stories in such close proximity and still retain some semblance of verisimilitude.

That’s what I want to do with Ythis. There are dozens of stories I want to tell in Ythis, involving the Five, the Church, the criminal guilds, the Tsojim, the Ksathash, the noble families, the movers and shakers, the wheelers and dealers, and the innocent victims caught up in events beyond their control. The Tower of Dust is only the first such story, and the Severed Oath will soon follow.

I do intend to set some stories in other parts of the Empire, and even outside the land controlled by that horrid government, but Ythis is the focus for me, and will be the setting for many of the stories I want to tell. Some will feed off of events in previous novels, and some will set some events in motion, but generally each story will be self-contained yet part of a larger tapestry.

So how much planning have I done around Ythis and its inhabitants?

In truth, I want Ythis to grow dynamically. The Tower of Dust does not contain a map of Ythis, and in large part this is because I have defined only those parts of the city that were essential to tell Borolt Zale’s story. I have a general feel for the rest of Ythis; some of the neighborhoods, some other landmarks that weren’t part of the first novel, some characters who will appear in future books, and the way some organizations are run.

But Ythis is still partly a blank canvas, and I want to leave it that way until it must be filled. The creation of a city like this should be dynamic and raw, and should take me – and my readers – through unexpected twists and turns. Defining too much of the city before it becomes essential locks it down, makes it static in ways that you can feel when reading about the city as a setting.

Like an old map of a region with “Here there be dragons” marked in unexplored areas, I want Ythis to surprise me, to feel dangerous, to remain unknown and unknowable in its entirety. It won’t remain that way forever, of course. But I hope that Ythis becomes more than just a backdrop to individual stories, that it takes on a life of its own, and that readers get a chance to explore new nooks and crannies with a sense of excitement and a little touch of fear.

Will there ever be a map of Ythis? I’m sure I will create one at some point, if only to help to keep the various areas straight and ensure I don’t contradict myself in a future book. But it won’t be a map you can ever trust, should you find yourself on a dark street some night, caught between the Temple and the Tower of Dust…