I’d like to write “I’m finished!” as my current novel update for Book 2 of the Cryptid Series (Man and Brother). I’m not, and I have a lot of work to go to complete the redraft of Man and Brother.
So I decided to offer up a comprehensive novel update explaining why I didn’t get Man and Brother out in October as I had originally planned. I’ve talked about it here-and-there, on Twitter to some and in person to others.
So without further ado, I present the reasons that Man and Brother was not released with the crop of amazing indie offerings in October.
Reason 1: It’s two books.
The second installment of the Cryptid Series is Book 2 (Man) and Book 2.5 (Brother). Each is approximately the same length as ‘Til Undeath Do Us Part. That’s why it’s taking the scenic route to release–I am writing two novels which will be released in one wrapper.
The very first draft of the book was lean. It focused on Kalyani Sharma and Majka Deochi (Maggie Glass) and a new character. As the scope of the series expanded, I realized that Man and Brother had two full story arcs within it which connected too strongly to break it into Books 2 and 3. It had one star cryptid throughout and sets up the entire Cryptid Series to come.
The price of the digital version will not reflect this, but the print version will. More dead tree used to produce an indie novel means that I can’t drop below the printer’s base cost.
Reason 2: I had more research to do.
This summer, I took a road trip to the setting. I had an idea, but that idea was based on my memory of a summer family trip taken in 1977. The area grew up a lot since then, and the weather was nearly nothing like I remember it being. I also was fortunate enough to trip over an indie bookstore with some great books which helped me to get my sense of the novel’s star cryptid solidified.
Reason 3: I burned out. I still am burnt out.
I have been developing Man and Brother for over a year, since its working title was His Brother’s Keeper. The novel, which started as a moderately dopey and simplistic tale, needed to be broadened if I wanted it to remain in the science fiction genre. I set down an outline, and the outline was good.
Unfortunately, I have trouble writing from outlines. It’s restrictive, and it feels like I am writing a research paper instead of scripting a fun romp into the realm of creativity. I fought with the story-as-outlined, and I lost. If it weren’t for readers offering such wonderful feedback on Til Undeath Do Us Part and showing interest in the Cryptid Series, I don’t think I would finish Man and Brother.
I am grinding away despite being burned out; however, I am doing my best to bring to publication an interesting and entertaining continuation of the Cryptid Series.
Reason 4: I took a side trip through grammar nerdiness and came out worse for wear.
I am author, developmental editor, substantive editor, line editor, and proofreader. After putting out a draft that I believed was strong, I felt out-of-control of the entire project when my front-line beta reader pointed out that I had applied an unlikable personality to a likable character. To make everything work, I have to do a massive developmental rewrite of Man even as I continue to prepare Brother.
That lack of control made me turn toward what I could control: grammar and clarity. In my writing space right now, I have nearly a dozen printed pages taped to the wall. Each of these has sentence structure and grammar rules. Deliberating every sentence has become a slog through a bog of writing rules.
Why would I do this to myself? It comes down to a review of my first novel that hit me harder than it should have. I have a feeling it’s harmed my writing style. I know it’s contributed to the burnout.
Reason 6: The scope of the Cryptid Series expanded.
Man and Brother, as I wrote above, was once a dopey and simplistic tale. Under its working title, His Brother’s Keeper, it was more paranormal romance than cryptid science fiction. Based on reviews and listening to and reading readers’ reactions to elements in ‘Til Undeath Do Us Part, I discovered (with help from my front-line beta reader) that the world I wanted to write needed to reflect that science fiction foundation. When I first conceived of the Cryptid Series, I chose to adhere to a particular question: “How would the modern world react if the paranormal and supernatural suddenly became part of the normal, natural world?”
That question demands I consider a broader effect on the world than I examined in the initial draft of Book 2 in the Cryptid Series. ‘Til Undeath Do Us Part is an introductory novel; its finale creates the stage for the series’s core question to be examined and developed. Man and Brother begins to examine the effects of the events set at the end of ‘Til Undeath Do Us Part. Subsequent novels continue that examination.
* SPOILER WARNING: Below is a section that can be mouse-over highlighted for people who’ve already read ‘Til Undeath Do Us Part and are hungry for a hint of what’s to come. *
Initially, the entire series focused only on the minor conflict between the Sanctuary Initiative trinity (Kalyani Sharma, Majka Deochi/Maggie Glass, and Edward Case) and the secret society (the Citadel) that is working counter to the Sanctuary Initiative trinity’s efforts. Instead of the series continuing as a Sanctuary-versus-Citadel battle hidden within a vague social penumbra, the Cryptid Series now deals with a world facing physical and social evolutionary pressures brought on by the Awakening.
Book 2 starts a year after Book 1 ends, so the world has existed in the Awakened Age for 12 months. Savoyard would not eternally have a monopoly on scientific investigation and “preservation” (exploitation) of the strange; in time, normal corporations would discover and exploit cryptozoological, supernatural, and paranormal resources. Competition for those resources–from cryptid flora and fauna to individuals who were affected by the events at the end of Book 1–must grow as the world gets weirder. And it will get much weirder.
As for those mysterious arches that landed on Earth at the apex of Majka’s/Maggie’s ritual? They’re integral to the entire Cryptid Series. Though they weren’t part of Book 2’s initial draft, the stone arches play an important part in the current Man and Brother manuscript.
* End SPOILER section. *
So, there it is.
I am pleased to say that I have made real progress on Man and Brother, and I believe that the developmental changes should strengthen the entire series. I draft quickly, but I redraft and edit and polish slowly. I hope that my best effort on Man and Brother will be worth the wait, and I appreciate so much that people are being patient with me.
Thank you, and I’ll leave you with Brian’s review: