The last three weeks ended up being focused on Rutejìmo series, which is a three book series starting with Sand and Blood, continuing into Sand and Ash, and concluding with Sand and Bone. I started working on this three years ago (Feburary 2012) while waiting for Harper Voyager to look at Flight of the Scions.

My original intent was to write a quick, twenty-thousand word piece to develop a bit of the world that Kanéko lived in (main character of Flight). It ended up being a lot more, mainly because I thought it was a compelling story. It also help solidify my thoughts on R5-D4 Plots.

Sand and Blood

Let's start with the first book in the series, which I published earlier this year. I got my first serious review of the book by Jefferson Smith. His premise of the reviews is pretty interesting: he gets on a treadmill for forty minutes and reads until he encounters something that breaks him out of immersion. The cool part is that he is very detailed in the flaws that break him out and why. Plus, he is definitely a data fan since he is also charting his reasons every fifty or so books.

The data blog post came out a day before he finally got to mine. I'll admit, I was nervous as hell. I created the best book I could and kept working on it until I couldn't see any flaws. And then, kept finding readers until they stopped finding issues.

And I apparently missed a lot of them. This was, to say the least, a humiliating experience because I felt that I had avoided the small print problem is poorly edited pieces. I had a solid story, good characters, and actually paid for editors to work on it.

And he still found them in the first five chapters. And they were painfully obvious once I looked where he highlighted.

If I didn't make those mistakes, I would have gotten to the forty minute mark.

Now, I'm not really one to wallow in self-misery for long. There were two things I could do, either just ignore it or fix it. Since this is the first book in the series, if I ignored it, it probably would have damned the entire series even if I took more effort to ensure the problems wouldn't show up in the future.

You can probably guess what I did from that paragraph. I found a copy editor. While I was on vacation last week, she went through and found all of the ones Mr. Smith found plus a bunch more. I'm going to process her edits and put out version 1.1.0 of the book. I won't change anything structural with the book but going to clean up the little mistakes that I somehow missed… repeatedly.

For those who bought it via Amazon or Smashwords, they'll be able to get a new version. Amazon will send out an email, Smashwords won't but I'll announce when they are uploaded.

For the print, that's a harder one. This is a point of pride and I made a mistake. So, I'll replace printed versions of the book at my cost for anyone who wants one. There aren't many sales, but even if there were, it is the right thing to do.

Now, one good thing that did come out of Mr. Smith's review is the two kudos. If you look back through his reviews, and he is brutal about his opinions, but he also hasn't given two kudos on a book that failed before this point. So, I really feel that if I fix these mistakes, I will have something I can be proud of.

I love the cultural richness of the opening scene, in which our stealthy hero is caught trying to steal the ashes of his great-grandfather in a ritualized “prove you are a man” prank. It’s odd, and something I haven’t seen before, but at the same time it feels very real.

Sand and Ash

So, moving on to considerably more cheerful topics. I'm still hoping to get Ash done by the end of the year. After talking to my editor, we've come up with a new plan so I have a chance of making this happen. It's just a matter of juggling a few things, but I have both a development/line and a copy editor lined up to work on it. And at least three beta readers will to give me feedback.

I also commissioned the cover for the book from Dan Howard. If all goes well, it will be of Mikáryo for those who have read the first book. Yeah, Rutejìmo's favorite terrifying woman has a much larger part in this book.

Now, there is a good chance that the book will only be preorder by the end of the year, but I'm really pushing to have it “done” and lined up for sale come December 31.

Sadly, this means I won't have it available for ICON this year, which is a bummer. I really wanted to be able to have two books out there. I won't be selling the books myself, but Tyree Campbell of Alban Lake has offered to throw my books on a table. He is an awesome guy and one I'm thankful to have as a friend.

Sand and Bone

Yesterday, I completed the first draft of Sand and Bone. I wasn't planning on doing this until later in the year, but SMWM gave me two weekends alone to write and I had a choice of either working on Author Intrusion or the novel. I decided that writing was more important and so now I have a draft.

I'm also scheduled to start running it through the writing group over the next few months. If it works out, I'll have the third draft done by the end of the year also, which would get it ready in time for WisCon.

You never know, it might show up as a reference comment in one of the panels. That would be a cool egoboo.