Is it finished? No. Well, the first draft is. Which is great as far as that goes, but let’s face it: it’s not worth a serious reader’s time and attention in its present form. And that’s okay, because now I’ve got to the end, I have a much better idea how make it so it is. I’m currently outlining the second draft, and I anticipate having it done around the end of summer.
So what’s the story about, you ask? Here’s a stab I made at some back-cover teaser copy:
Once upon a time, magic powered a civilization so advanced they made their gods themselves manifest. Then came the Wars of Avaree, which destroyed all they’d built. Centuries later, magic is the province of the powerful, looked on with suspicion and distrust by common folk.
Brenaea is a young woman with a quick mind and a talent for magic. When her father catches her practicing it, he casts her out, leaving her to wander the forest of the Greenswath with only her dog, Lively, for company. When she learns of the Celestere Academy, a school of magic rumored to accept women as students, Brenaea resolves to journey there, leaving behind everything she’s ever known.
The road is long, but the dangers Brenaea faces along the way pale in comparison to those she’ll face once she arrives. The Celestere Academy lies at the heart of a fragile political balance, one Brenaea threatens to upset. It will take all of Brenaea’s skill and determination to navigate its intrigues, along with help from a brilliant highborn student named Kian and a foul-mouthed tavern-keep named Marinie. The only question is whether she’ll be in more danger if she fails, or if she succeeds.
The novel’s working title is Neither Threat Nor Prey. It’s book one of a three-to-four book fantasy series chronicling Brenaea’s unlikely rise to power and prominence during a time of personal and political upheaval, which will change the course of history. It’s got magic, adventure, romance, intrigue. The whole project started life as a short story about two and a half years ago, but the characters weren’t satisfied with that, and the world just kept getting bigger and the story longer and I’ve just been running with it, trying to keep up.
I’m really excited about this revised draft. I’ve done a lot of thinking about how to structure it, and I did an intensive workshop with Paul Park and some other great writers that really helped clarify some of the changes I need to make.
I’d really like you to read it. But there’s a catch. It’s going to cost you five bucks.
The money’s not for me. It’s for the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, which I attended in 2010. The intensive six-week program is often compared to a boot camp for writers, and the comparison is apt. While you’re there, you and seventeen other writers spend your time writing, critiquing, learning from longstanding industry professionals, and getting into the occasional watergun fight. It’s a transformative experience for a writer. It was for me, at least.
It’s not cheap, running a thing like that every year, and so every year they hold the Clarion Write-a-thon. Running parallel to the six weeks of the workshop, writers and graduates set goals, secure pledges from fans and friends, and get to work.
I hope you’ll click the link at the end of this sentence and sponsor me. As a reward for your generosity, you’ll be one of the first people ever to get a look at this thing I’ve poured heart and soul into going on three years now. I promise I’ll do all I can to make it worth your while.