If you’ve checked out my About Me page, you’ll know I write books. Likewise, if you’ve checked out my Books page, you’ll know I write books. Hell, if you recognize you’re on an author’s website, you’ll know I write books. More importantly, if you know me personally, follow me on Twitter or Instagram, or just Google my name, you’ll know I write books.
The question is: Where are they?
Well, there’s one out and three in the process, but let me just break down where I’m at with them.
You may have noticed there is the First Edition which is yours free when you subscribe to my mailing list, and a Second Edition in the works.
The First Edition of Immortality Awaits, which has already undergone an ample amount of revisions, is still not ready.
I published it in May of 2014, just shy of my 25th birthday. At the time, I had worked on it for seven years, and a lot of friends and family kept asking me where it was. I got it to the point where I felt confident sharing it with them, and anyone else who got word of it, and I decided to self-publish.
The problem was… I didn’t really believe in it. At all. I was too scared to push it because I knew it would never be able to stand on its own without the other books in the series backing it up. In my opinion, Immortality Awaits was always the “book you have to get through to get to Tides of Darkness.” Tides is the best thing I’ve ever written, but I’ll get there.
It isn’t fair to anyone, most importantly the reader, to have a half-assed book released. I slaved over it, poured endless hours into it, and got it to the point where I was comfortable sharing it with friends and family, but I didn’t really believe in it. As a book in and of itself, I didn’t think it could withstand any competition. To push myself through, I’d tell myself, “As long as people ‘make it through’ this one to the second one, you’re fine.”
I was young, and (just a bit) naive. I didn’t think I could move on to the second book until I’d completely finished the first, and treated the series as something I’ll “get to” when I “get there.”
This is not a good mindset to have when you want to be taken as a serious author.
Do I regret self-publishing? No. Am I going to continue doing it? Probably, but that’s also because a couple of the problems I’ve encountered.
The first problem was some of the professional opinions I received, wherein their main concern is word count before anything, then how well it would sell. Not believing 100% in this book, I can say I understand the “selling” aspect. As far as the length, however, especially it being my first book, I was consistently told it was too long, and cutting it down as I was told to do it justice.
The original word count of Immortality Awaits was around 140,000 words. I was 18 when I wrote it, and I wanted to write some huge, epic fantasy series that had fans lining up to buy them, blah blah.
A lot of it was fluff.
So I cut out a bunch.
After edits, I got it down to around 120,000 words. I crafted the storyline exactly as I wanted it, and included everything I wanted with it. However, again, I was told it was too long. I was told to cut out a main character, to make the beginning faster, to do this, to do that. If I’d have listened to every suggestion, it would have ended up their story instead of mine.
Listening to some advice but ignoring the rest, I cut it down to 106,000 words (still “too long,” as an author’s first book shouldn’t really be over 100,000).
Once I published, the biggest complaint I get from readers is that it moves too quick, the story doesn’t have enough time to develop, and I’m cramming too much information into too short of spaces and forcing the story to happen instead of spending more time developing it.
With that, comes the revision.
The second problem I had was I was too focused on book one, and that was it. I never thought about book two until I’d already hit the publish button.
I then learned the hard way that all of the questions the readers have scratched their heads over were the exact same questions I had while writing it. The only difference was, I still hadn’t gotten around to thinking out the answers.
The questions therefore got improperly mulled about in the reader’s brain. I hadn’t yet thought of clever ways to layer things in so when the series was over people could ask, “Did you know that the whole time?” I didn’t think about any of that until book two, and realized there were some continuity errors that weren’t going to work for anybody reading the edition that’s out now.
Thus, time to revise.
The third problem I had was I focused too much on the story. Sounds kinda weird, I know, but the truth is, I’m creating a world here. Fantasy is not an easy genre to write, and die-hard fantasy fans want a world that’s realistic, that transports them to it, that makes them feel they aren’t in their own reality anymore.
At least, that’s what I look for when I read a fantasy book, so why should I not deliver the same?
I’ve introduced the world, obviously, but it’s very black-and-white, not very dimensional, and very introductory without actually having any feeling to it. I’ve since done a lot of work on the world for the second (and third) books, and I no longer have any questions. Now that I know all of the answers, I’ve focused on developing the world instead of just the characters in Immortality Awaits. When this revision wraps, I believe it will truly bring the book where I want it to be, where it holds its rightful place in this series.
This time, I’m a lot more focused. I’m not an amateur writer who thinks he’s above certain rules. I’ll still more than likely choose to self-publish, but this time I take everything much more seriously. This is the series I hope will come to define me as a writer. I’m learning and growing as I do it, and even though the currently-released edition of Immortality Awaits doesn’t show the growth I’ve produced since its first publication, I believe now my strengths will lead me to the ability to produce the kinds of novels I want to achieve.
Tides of Darkness
Moving on to the sequel.
For anyone who has written a series, or is a fan of a series, or knows anything about writing a series, they know that the writer has some pressure releasing the follow-up. Especially after you’ve re-released the previous one. Think of how stressed out J.K. Rowling must have been by The Deathly Hollows. Literally having the world on your back and saying, “This better be good.” Think about how Adele feels. Or Stephen King. Or Beyonce.
You get the picture.
Writing a sequel is hard.
There’s always an immense amount of pressure on the writer to make sure it’s better than the first one.
Well, since I considered this, “The book you’ll have to get to,” I knew I needed to make damn sure it turned out right. (It hasn’t yet, obviously, as it’s still forthcoming, but it’s coming, and trust me — it’s good.)
Here’s the thing:
I tried to write my first book when I was eight years old. I was reading before I even entered kindergarten. While my classmates learned the alphabet, I had my nose stuck in chapter books. My second grade teacher told me I was the first student she’d ever had in her thirty-odd years of teaching who grasped the concept of a paragraph on the first try.
I say this because I’ve been writing…for a long time. Since forever, my childhood dream was to be a big novelist, and that was before I’d ever heard of The Lord of the Rings and before Harry Potter even came out.
Tides of Darkness is the book I feel like I’ve worked toward my whole life. Way before it was ever written, I had it floating around in my head. I still have a floppy disk titled “Tides of Darkness” via 8-year-old Andrew, circa ’97/’98.
I could never pinpoint why I felt this way until I got there, but the ride that book has taken me on has been something else. It is by far the most insane thing I’ve ever written, and I’m reaching an almost desperate stage to get it done to share it with the world.
In essence, I feel about this book the way I should have felt about Immortality.
If you know me or follow me on any kind of social media, you’re probably aware of my year-long stint in New Zealand.
In regards to that trip, a lot of people always ask me, “Why?”
“Why New Zealand?”
“What’s wrong with California?”
“Why would you ever want to leave America?”
Here’s the truth, plain and simple:
I went there to write this book.
I felt like I needed to put myself into my characters’ shoes, to really understand what they were going through. Plucked out of their lives, thrown out of their world, and landing in the middle of a war that had been brewing since the dawn of time. They no longer had family, or other outside friends, and no means of contacting them. They’re alone, scared, and in a completely foreign world learning how to survive on their own.
I needed the same challenge.
Of course, there’s differences in my storyline verses the one in the book, but the simple fact is, I needed this challenge. I sold everything. I said goodbye to everyone. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made, but I did it to follow my dream.
In so many ways, this book has almost become the death of me. In many other ways, it’s just made everything about my life and path clear. I believe in this book, and I believe that once it’s ready, the response will be overwhelming.
I’m only taking forever because I want to make sure this thing is pristine before I send it out there.
The Rest of the Series
Tides of Darkness and Immortality Awaits are the only books written. The third one, however, is plotted out, and I know what happens in the fourth.
I’ve just got to get there.
In the meantime, I continue to let travel act as my biggest inspiration. If you’re curious to see how travel impacts this story, head over to Life in Another World. There, you can travel around the world with me, and see this series come to light.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. So far, it’s been long, but there are many windy paths ahead. Perhaps we shall walk them together.