Chronicles of Ghadid Trilogy, The Impossible Contract (Book 2), The Perfect Assassin (Book 1)

Two out of Three

Between holidays and travel and dayjob and a baby quickly becoming a toddler, I somehow managed to finish the edits on the Impossible Contract aka Book Two. For those keeping score, that means I now have two out of three books done* in this trilogy, and book one isn’t set to be out for, oh, another year.

It’s quickly shaping up that I’ll be finished with Book Three before One’s pub date, as well, which is astounding. I doubt I’ll ever have that sort of luxury again, and I doubt few others have. It’s a strange place to be in; for one, I won’t have to worry about reader reactions messing with plot. But for another, I’ll have completely moved on to a new and entirely different project by then.

Looking back through my blog posts, I realized I never really explained how I got here. Here being: having written the second book first. Here being: still another year to publication, even though I signed the contract over a year ago. Here being: planning on having three books done before the first ever sees the light of day.

I didn’t plan to write the second book first. I set out to write a standalone. And I did. So thoroughly that I’d never intended to write a sequel, let alone several sequels. Which, in retrospect, was a bit silly of me, but I was still reacting to being blindsided by a cliffhanger in a book I’d thought was standalone years back (*tiny fist of rage*). So.

So I intentionally did a Thing in the plot that pretty much negated the possibility of a sequel. And then I got an agent. And then my agent suggested I come up with some sequel ideas.

Cue panic.

Eventually, I did come up with an Idea, but it would only get me through another novel. With some gentle nudging from my agent, I came up with a few prequel ideas as well. Fast-forward to Tor asking for a trilogy and me being severely sleep-deprived from life with a newborn, and I asked – nay, insisted – that I give them a prequel and a sequel.

They thought this was a fine idea. And lo, the Impossible Contract became Book Two and I was on the hook for writing Book One, and yesterday. My potential publication date was pushed from 2018 to 2019, which is reasonable since the book didn’t exist yet.

But despite a bit of teeth gnashing and grumbling impatience on my part, I am so, so glad things fell the way they did. I got to go back and really dig in and understand the world in book one, and doing so only made book two that much stronger. I also got to lay the groundwork for a lot of the things that happen in book two (and eventually book three), which was decidedly satisfying. And it will probably make me look like a wizard, not gonna lie. Plus, future readers will get two** standalone books that nevertheless play off each other and are stronger for it.

Phew.

So if you like book one and Amastan, the historian turned assassin turned detective who is really tired of this shit, you’ll probably like book two and Thana, the overly ambitious assassin who regrets helping the man she’s supposed to kill and is really tired of all these undead camels.

To continue a tradition I started when I turned in Book One the first time, here’re the

Ending Stats for Book Two

Started writing: June 1, 2014
First Query Sent: April, 2015
Heavily-edited “final” manuscript sent: January 15, 2018
Number of rewrites: Two
Number of rounds of revision/edits: Six
Number of edits just to cut words: Three
Original Wordcount: 130,000
Current Wordcount: 104,000
Number of times I’ve hated this book: Twenty-seven
Number of times I’ve loved it: Thirty-six
Number of mug cakes eaten in celebration: 1
Expected pub date: Late autumn 2019

* Technically, book two isn’t done done, but the next round of revisions won’t require a total rewrite nor take three months. Unless I seriously miscalculated somewhere along the line. Which is possible! But doubtful.

** Book Three is technically also a standalone, but boy will it spoil you on the first two. Not even gonna try not to, there.

Draft Zero, Writing

Quiet. Too Quiet.

I’ve been much quieter these past few weeks for a number of reasons, the first and foremost being that our lives have been completely turned upside down. But in a good way! It’s just made for some chaotic and non-writing times.

And they’re not going to be over any time in the immediate future. I made the analogy to a friend the other day that it feels like we have just thrown all of our cards into the air and we’re waiting for them to come down. Well, amazingly, two just did. I hope that I can talk about one (or both!) very soon, but it’s not quite time yet. Suffice to say, one involves my wife’s dreams, and the other involves mine.

In the meantime, I have 30k left on this draft zero and 10k+ to cut from the final draft of my other book, so I have plenty to keep me busy and distracted until we know more!!

 

Querying, Writing

Stasis

I.E.: the brief reprieve that comes between large projects.

It’s an interesting time when you’ve just finished one big project, but you can’t quite start the next one. Part of this is because I’ve come to learn that when I need to query, I can’t be focused on another story. I’ve tried that before and I always end up working on that new and shiny story instead of putting my energy into querying.

Querying takes a surprising amount of time. You’d think you could just write up your generic query letter, maybe a full on synopsis, and send that out to any agent you find interesting – and that’s what I did when I first started querying, way back in the day. But I’ve learned that that method is: a) a waste of your time, and b) a waste of their time. As someone who has seen the sheer volume of queries that arrive in an agent’s mailbox on a daily basis, the last thing I want to do is waste their time with fantasy when all they rep is sci-fi.

You have to research the agents, look at their clients, their web presence, and everything else to see if they’re a good fit. Sometimes this is easy, especially when they’re explicit about what they want on their bios. Sometimes, it’s not so easy, and you can lose an hour (or two [or three]) simply trying to figure out if an agent is a good fit. Then there’s crafting the query itself – yes, you can use a catch-all query letter and hope for the best, or you can tailor them to the specific agent. And again – having seen what fills up an agent’s mailbox, sometimes just taking that extra time to not only follow the submission requirements, but also make it obvious you’ve actually looked at that agent and know who they are, can make a reeeaally big difference.

That’s all to say: querying takes a lot of time. It takes focus and research and effort. The same exact things a new novel would demand. With a fulltime job, I simply cannot do both simultaneously. I’m not complaining – I can pay my bills! – but it does leave me in a liminal state, teetering between projects.

I want to move forward, start research on the next one, but I also want to give this one the time and energy it deserves. I feel like I’m just on the edge, so very ready to take the next step. Nobody likes querying, nobody likes waiting, but it’s still necessary.

In the meantime, during all those moments where I would usually squeeze in some writing, I’d better get back to reading. I am woefully behind.