I have been dreading making this post for some time, which is why I haven’t written it until now. Ever since The Apprentice to Zdrell was released, the number one question from readers was, “when is the next volume coming out?” I delayed releasing Apprentice for years, because I didn’t want people to have to wait years between each volume. I didn’t release it until I had the rough draft for Journeyman done. It still took me over a year from the release of Apprentice to have Journeyman ready to release.
Now that I had two volumes out, I had a real push to get the final book done. The problem was that I had written very little of Master when Journeyman released. Not only that, but while I knew how the series would end, I didn’t have a solid outline of the plot and story all elements necessary to end the series in a satisfying manner. Worse, I knew that Master would be a much more complex and bigger story than those that had preceded it.
Nevertheless, I pushed ahead and in February of 2021 I had a mostly (I thought) completed first draft for Master. I knew that it was still missing some elements, but I felt I needed someone else to look at it and give me a response. I sent it to a friend who is quite literate in the genre and asked him to give me a no-holds-barred critique. He delivered, and I’ve been dealing with aftermath ever since.
To put it bluntly, he told me what I half suspected, but didn’t want to admit. Even though I had written over 120,000 words, the book was missing nearly half of what it needed to be a complete satisfying end to the story I’d set out to tell. He also pointed out several significant plot holes. Even though his feedback was exactly what I’d asked for and needed, it was hard to take. Thinking that you’re nearly done with something and being told that you’re still leagues away from you goal is painful.
Not long after I got this critique, for entirely unrelated reasons, my family and I decided to move out of California. This meant I had even less time to work on writing as my day job and move preparations began to consume all my time. It didn’t help that I was dreading what I needed to do to make Master what it needed to be. I knew I needed to do major structural work on what I had written, re-write much of what was there, as well as write probably in the neighborhood of another 100,000 words of new material. It was daunting, and so I put it off, which was easy to do with all the other things going on in my life.
Still, every now and then, I would get a letter from a reader asking, “when will we see Master?” It was embarrassing, to say the least, when I didn’t have a good answer to the question. To be truthful, I still don’t have a solid answer. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that, in spite of the pain, I’m working on the project again. I have broken apart the material I’ve written and have analyzed it piece by piece. I moved the entire project onto a new writing platform that lets me categorize and manipulate the elements of the story with much greater ease. The writing process on this novel has already been very different than the first two. It is going to be even more different as I now move forward with the re-write and expansion needed to finish this book and the series.
For the month of November (and hopefully beyond) I’ve committed to working on the book six days a week. That work may be updating existing work, or adding new. I don’t know exactly what I’ll do each day, but I’ve committed to do something, including writing posts like this to keep you all informed of my progress, such as it is.
Bottom line, if you were hoping to have a copy of The Master of Zdrell in your hands in 2021, I’m sorry to disappoint, but that isn’t a possibility. I am very hopeful that sometime in 2022, you will have a book you can read, and I’m even more hopeful that the book you read will be genuinely worth the wait.