An Aruvalia Chronicles Project Update

An Aruvalia Chronicles Project Update

Time is a slippery thing these days. It feels like every time I blink, a couple months slide through my fingers before I notice. That means some of my regular updates have fallen by the wayside, though that was never my intention. For example, I haven’t written a proper Aruvalia Chronicles update since March of 2020. And I haven’t mentioned how the project is going since October of 2021.

Since I finished major edits on Soul of the Sun, the final trilogy in the Celestial Serenade, Aruvalia Chronicles has become my biggest project. It’s where I spend the bulk of my time. So it fills my thoughts a lot, even when I’m devoting some focus to other things. I don’t expect the first book to release until 2024, but I’ve already started thinking about how I’d like to format my covers. Not to mention some of the other behind the scenes things involved in putting a book release together.

You’d think since it was first and foremost on my mind that I would already have written several dozen updates. But in truth, I’ve been so busy yammering away about tea and New Year goals, project updates have slipped my mind. So let’s rectify that situation presently.

Book 1: Once Upon a Dream

I devoted a significant amount of 2021 to editing the first draft of Once Upon a Dream, the first installment in the Aruvalia Chronicles. I haven’t actually worked on these three books since I last wrote a project update. But I have spent a lot of time talking about it with my beta readers.

With each new project I tackle, I try to push my limits as a writer. I do this in a lot of ways. Sometimes it’s the subject matter I choose to write about. Sometimes it’s the complexity of the story. Or it’s the sheer amount of moving parts I need to keep track of (as is the case with this particular series). And while I try to be as thorough as possible with each pass of my work, sometimes I miss things.

This highlights the importance of beta reader feedback. They catch tons of things I miss.

Case in point, I seem to have scaled back a particular subplot in Once Upon a Dream to the point where it’s almost non-existent. (Whoops!) I distinctly recall feeling like I over-wrote it, so I must have been a little over keen when I combed back through those scenes on the first pass. After a lot of back and forth with my betas, I’ve found a few ways to not just restore this subplot but enhance it.

Seriously, I love my betas! I’m in the process of gathering those notes into my outline and will hopefully be able to polish this first trilogy off in August of this year. (Fingers crossed!)

Book 2: The Beast’s Wicked Gleam

The rough draft for this book has been simmering in its own juices for most of a year now. I penned the final chapter in February of 2021. But since I write in trilogies, I actually finished the first book sometime in November of 2020.

I had some trouble with the writing of this book, namely that I missed a bunch of subplots that felt important in retrospect. A lot of my side characters vanish for long portions of the story, but show up with important contributions later. Given the wide-reaching consequences of some of these characters’ decisions and actions, it feels pertinent to keep up with them throughout the story. (I don’t like it when it seems like characters are only around for the sake of convenience.)

I planted a lot of seeds with the first draft of this novel, and now that they’ve had a year to grow, I’m ready to weave the new growth into the old. I’m fairly sure I’ve figured out how to fill in most of the story’s holes. And the good news is, this book doesn’t feel like nearly as much of a disaster as it did when I first wrote it – a welcome relief!

Of course, it’s early days still. I’ve really only fixed the opening chapters, and I haven’t even begun to comb through the dreaded middle. I’m bracing for the inevitable sense of hopelessness that tends to set in around the time I hit the midpoint of a draft. My biggest saving grace for getting through this draft is the fact that I’ve already written the book that comes after this one, and I’m so excited about what’s happening in this series that I’m determined to see it through no matter what.

Book 3: Visions Unlike they Seem

This was a monster of a story, and it needs to be hacked to bits and rebuilt. But that’s pretty normal, so I’m not overly worried.

Possibly the most interesting development during the writing of this book was that I started streaming some of my writing sessions. At first I was skeptical that anyone would show up, but I have lots of supportive visitors. Some come for the keyboard ASMR, some come to share the work session. And some come to distract me with tea chat. All are, of course, welcome!

My second biggest concern when I started streaming my writing sessions was spoilers. I’m getting pretty late in the series, and I wasn’t sure I wanted people absorbing the story as it comes out of my fingers, before it ever has a chance to get polished. Luckily, I’ve learned most people don’t pay attention to the words I’m writing when they visit my streams. It also helps that the VODs disappear into the void, taking the spoilers with them.

I started streaming my writing sessions during NaNoWriMo 2021, which means about two-thirds of this novel was written at least partially on stream. This has had a significant impact on my writing habits. The biggest is that I now use the Pomodoro technique even when I’m writing off stream. (I also learned that when I focus I can write 1,000 words in roughly 20 minutes – holy cow!)

My biggest worry about this one is that the middle portion is about 30,000 words longer than the other installments in this trilogy. I haven’t decided yet if that means the pacing needs shuffling, because I’m sure there are details I missed.

I finished this one (on stream!) on February 28th, and it’s going on the shelf for a little while now.

Book 4: Beyond the Moon’s Beams

This installment is still a bunch of vague, nebulous concepts in my head. I’m working hard to pull them all together so that I can pen my first outline for this book. I’d like to start writing it sometime in September. But there’s a lot to get through before then, so we’ll see what happens.

The more I think about this series and how it’s developed, the more I realize it is, by far, the most ambitious project I have ever undertaken. It has a lot of moving parts, far more than any of my other series (even the Celestial Serenade). And as it expands, I’ve been able to see how the story branches and connects with other ideas that are meant to form other series on other worlds.

I didn’t intend for my stories to form an interconnected multiverse, but they had other plans. And in many ways, Aruvalia Chronicles is the hub of that web, the place from which all the other stories spiral outward. Which adds a lot of extra moving pieces to balance, and makes the series that much more of a challenge.

But the greatest challenges are the themes and subject matter the story tackles. They are a lot more serious and relevant than any of my previous projects. This constantly challenges me to step outside my comfort zone, to learn more about the issues the world is facing and to do justice to stories I’m trying to tell. Some days I’m convinced I’ll never be a good enough writer to pull it off, but most days I convince myself I have to find a way.

Despite that (or perhaps because of it), I’m excited to see where this series ends up going. Hopefully I’ll be back in a few months with another proper update!

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