Across the Void is Available Now!

Across the Void is Available Now!

I used to read series filled with 500 page books and marvel. How could anyone fill the pages with such dense story that 500 pages never felt like a slog? That I would devote my time, over and over, to the next installment to find out more about the exciting lives of my characters?

I’ve been telling stories since high school, and my early attempts to pen epic sagas were less than stellar. Compared to the elegant tapestries of the books I read, my attempts felt shallow.

Then I wrote Symphony of the Stars. As I’ve mentioned before, in many ways, this is the book that taught me how to write.

The first version of the story looked very different from its final incarnation. It was slimmer, faster. One might say it was lacking. The more I thought about the story, the more plot threads I wove into my existing tapestry.

That’s when it hit me! No one sits down and writes that epic saga in the perfect order the first way through. There are just too many moving pieces to keep track of all at once.

Epic sagas are written in layers.

A Strong Foundation

When I released The End of All Things, the first installment of the Celestial Serenade, I spoke about the history of the story. How it came to me in a dream. That I wrote most of the first draft while I was working full time.

When I started working, I had a clear idea of the beginning, middle and end. Three solid installments in the story following the lives of specific characters. As I wrote the story, the pieces seemed to fall into place. It was as if they were floating in the air. All I had to do was catch them and splash them on the page.

I knew from research that the average word count for a science-fiction or fantasy epic is around 120,000 words. So I set that as my goal. After all, I wanted to traditionally publish these books, and I read that agents are skittish about accepting manuscripts over 150,000 words from new writers. The reason is that new writers tend to be wordy. Agents want polished manuscripts, and bloated word counts can be an indication of inexperience.

So I fought to keep the story down to its bare bones, eliminating anything that felt remotely like fluff. This left me with a really solid foundation for an epic story, the ribs you might say. But there wasn’t much flesh on those bones. I worried that would make it impossible to identify with my characters. And since space opera focuses heavily on inter-character relationships and drama, I needed readers to be able to identify with my characters.

So when I decided that self-publishing was my route, I took another look at the story I built. And as I mentioned in my last post, I decided it was worth fully exploring all the story threads.

Delicious Icing

The more I hemmed and hawed over the missing pieces of the Celestial Serenade, the more I became convinced that I had content for more than 3 books. In fact, I felt each of the 3 books in my head could be split into a trilogy.

Suddenly I understood how a 9 book series could be born.

If you’ve already read The End of All Things, it might surprise you to hear that the entire human plot was new. The first time I wrote this story, Gaia wasn’t introduced until Part 2 – a third of the way into the story.

I worried about this. Waiting that long to introduce an entire set of major characters felt like a dangerous gamble. Usually you want your readers to connect with your main characters as quickly as possible.

And the more I thought about, the more I found missing pieces of the story. Gaia’s original entry into the story (which now appears in the series’ second installment), skipped a significant portion of her story. It meant that much of the struggle experienced by her and her companions took place off camera.

Splitting the books gave me a chance to tell those portions of the story that needed to be skipped when word counts were my focus.

The End of All Things wasn’t the only book that gained a brand new plotline either. Across the Void, book 2 of the Celestial Serenade, also gained a plot that I had to cut to save space. That plot features an AI in search of its purpose – one of my favorite characters.

The Final Hurdle

Splitting the Celestial Serenade wasn’t as easy as it initially seemed. While I had more than enough plot for each of the installations, sometimes the cutting points weren’t clean. Some installments had better ending points than others. And since middle books tend to serve as bridges, my new middles needed a lot of attention.

Luckily, when I decided to split the series, I hadn’t yet written the original book 3 (Soul of the Sun). That allowed me to plot the book as three separate installments and catch my weak points earlier.

For Symphony of the Stars and Song of the Spheres, I faced some tricky transitions. I wanted to make sure that each portion of the story felt like a satisfying installment on its own. This sometimes meant changing the order things happened in.

Across the Void was probably the most challenging installment of the Celestial Serenade overall. I must have written the ending for this book 5 different times. And if it weren’t for my beta readers, I would never have realized how badly it needed attention.

I didn’t want this book to feel like nothing but a bridge though. (We call it middle book syndrome.) So I kept at it, chipping away and re-sculpting, until it felt like I found my sweet spot.

Did I succeed? Well… you’ll have to tell me!

Across the Void is Available Now!

It’s been ten years since the dragon appeared in the skies over Earth, driving humanity underground.

From beneath the ice in Antarctica, Gaia and her team scan the skies in search of the dragon’s masters or another advanced civilization willing to aid their struggle against the alien weapon. Gaia believes she may have located a perfect candidate, a savior that will answer her desperate summons.

But she only has one chance to send a message without drawing the dragon’s wrath, and her only proof this would-be savior exists is a series of vivid dreams she can’t dismiss.

It’s been ten thousand years since the Caltaran empire fled the ruin of their homeworld to start again among the stars.

Using cold sleep technology designed to traverse the empty distance between solar systems, Anten and Salis have survived the ages. Salis is still a lost soul, a mere shadow of his former self, and Anten has his own inescapable demons. Despite the protests of the Council and his old friends, some force drives him to relentlessly search the cosmos in the vein hope his late wife’s final prediction might yet be fulfilled.

The very last thing he expects is to receive a message from a woman bearing his dead wife’s face…

Grab your copy now!

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