Buck Island from Poŝtmarkoj el Esperantujo

When the fall semester ended, I decided to immerse myself in writing fiction. I had a number of ideas that I was interested in pursuing. But I couldn’t get Revin out of my head. Basically, even before The Third Time’s the Charm had been published, I had already started working on the sequel.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, I wrote most of For the Favor of a Lady and, although it was still pretty rough, I already knew what I wanted to have happen next. And so, as soon as I got my fall grades posted in December, I started outlining the next installment, Storm Clouds Gather, while I finished making revisions to Favor.

Early in January, I met with the editor of Water Dragon Publishing to talk about where the stories were going. We had a productive conversation. I wondered if he was going to suggest that I should just write the book already. Most publishers are reluctant to consider serialized fiction these days. But Water Dragon is a special place and treats our relationship as a partnership. So, when I said I wanted to write serialized fiction, he just said, “How often?” And we identified a schedule for releases. We also came up with a title for the series: Revin’s Heart.

By January 2, once I was sure I knew where Storm Clouds ended, I started sketching out the ideas for the next, tentatively entitled Crossing the Streams. And, two weeks later, when it was done, I was ready to start outlining the next and — with a couple of marathon writing days — I finished The End of His Rope. I hadn’t imagined I would get it finished by the end of the intersession. But I did.

They’re still rough. But they’ve been making their way through my early readers.

Since I started writing Revin’s Heart, I’ve noticed a change in the kinds of comments I get from my early readers. Up to now I’ve mostly been having people read stand alone manuscripts. But now, people are reading multiple sequels about the same characters. And the comments I get are qualitatively different.

Part of the difference may be simply that my writing is changing — i.e. getting better. And I do think my writing has gotten better. But I don’t think that’s the whole explanation.

The comments I was getting on my short fiction frequently identified problems with the premise or world building. But I think that because these stories are a series, readers have already suspended belief, so those questions don’t arise so much anymore.

One surprise to me is how little I’ve felt the need to go back and change things in the earlier chapters. Oh, I’m made minor tweaks here and there. One example: I had wondered whether or not there should be a moon. I hadn’t mentioned it one way or another. As I understand it, moons like “the moon” are actually pretty rare, cosmologically — common enough around gas giants, but much less common around rocky, earth-like planets. And Revin’s Heart is pretty clearly not any historical earth, although I consciously decided to use the names of Terran flora and fauna (that is I don’t call rabbits “smeerps”). But then I realized that in Favor I had mentioned tides. Oops. So there was a moon. But then Phil pointed out that perhaps there were just solar tides. Ooh! So there wasn’t a moon after all. But I did adjust the timing just a bit in order to be more conformant with the idea that the tides were solar, rather than lunar.

So I’m now working on the next installment — that’s number six, if you’re still counting — tentatively entitled Then They Fight You. With the beginning of the spring semester, I’m expecting only slow progress. But that’s not really a problem, as this one won’t be due to the publisher until around this time next year.

There will need to be at least one more after this one. Probably two, to wrap up the arc fully. And I’ve also committed to writing two side stories. These will be stories about characters other than Revin.

There are certainly other things I want to write but, for the moment, I’m having a wonderful time with these stories. And I look forward to sharing them with all of you.

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