Believe it or not, we’ve been running IGC Publishing together now for two whole years. Earth years, that is, and not accounting for any possible relativistic effects. Provided that you have been living on this isolated backwater of a planet in a rural arm of the Milky Way, and have not experienced near lightspeed travel, nor very intense gravity wells, that should be two years for you, too. The second anniversary of IGC Publishing means that it’s time for me to submit another report to my leadership at the headquarters of the Intergalactic Coalition, over in Andromeda, and what follows is that report.
Before we dive into the year in review, the updates on current works, and the projections for the year ahead, I do want to take the time to thank all of you who take the time out of your lives to read what IGC Publishing has to offer. I write because I enjoy telling stories, but I maintain the site and post my stories here because I want to be able to share those stories with a broader audience – you. It is no exaggeration to say that this site exists for you, my readers. Whether you are a long-time reader who has been with the site since the beginning and reads every post, book review, short story, and novella we post, a new arrival, a reader just here for the book reviews who wishes I wouldn’t spend so much time talking about exoplanets and the photoelectric effect, or anyone else who thinks this blog adds some amount of value to your days, I am thrilled to be able to share my writing with you.
Year in Review
A lot has happened in the past year. We’ve posted a novel’s worth of blog posts and book reviews. We’ve toured the ancient world through translations of period texts, like Herodotus’s Histories, The Story of Burnt Njal, the Babur Nama, and Bhagavad Gita. Reluctantly, and with great difficulties, we’ve established a social media presence. Granted, that’s only through GoodReads, for the moment, but it’s a (painful) start. If you’re tired of reading my book reviews here on the site, you can also find them posted on GoodReads, along with a list of books I’m intending to read, and a progress bar for books I’m currently reading.
Last year, we started trying to improve the reader experience. That involved a transition away from the dark theme we had before, to the current, lighter theme with dark text. It eventually led to new branding, with an internally designed symbol a little more distinctive than the generic picture of a galaxy that served last year. That symbol came in handy when I finally decided to do away with advertisements on the site, and needed a section break that wasn’t a “commercial.” You can see that section break on all of our newly released stories.
I had lofty goals for the writing I would get done this year, only some of which have actually come to fruition. Most disappointing is that I was unable to finish Verdon’s Tragedy, a stand-alone novella set in the Fo’Fonas world. I am still excited about this story, and have every intention of it being the first Fo’Fonas work released to the public, but for a variety of reasons that did not happen this year. We’ll talk more about that when we go through some updates on current works.
Despite the setbacks with Verdon, we were able to get a couple of other short stories and novellas published this year, including Nevia’s Curse, a somewhat dark story that I wrote to explore some thoughts I was having about the nature of prophecies and oracles, and The Hunt, an…odd novella based on a particularly vivid dream that I had. Both of them have some very interesting elements, and if you haven’t already, I encourage you to give them a read.
Of course, the big topic of discussion here, and what has occupied the majority of my time working on the site, is Blood Magic. Since last year, we finished the first season, including with some very strong episodes in Who’s Afraid of the Dark?, and Cracks in the Ice. We’re also deep into the second season, having recently released the eighth episode. That leaves just two more episodes for season two before we start the two-part season finale, but more on that, and the future of Blood Magic, in the following two sections of this post. Aside from the new episodes going live at the end of each month for season two, we’ve also been posting revised episodes from season one on the fifteenth of every month. Although I haven’t subjected these to the new, thorough revision process I described in my recent post about rocketry, I have cleaned up the grammar and typos, smoothed out some continuity issues, and in several cases improved the narrative. If you haven’t been keeping up with Blood Magic, or if you’re new to the site, I highly encourage you to give these a try. As I’ve gone back and re-read them for revisions, I’ve been overall very pleased, and even more excited for where the series is going.
When I write it all down like this, it seems like we haven’t done a lot, which is not how it feels. Between new Blood Magic episodes, and revisions of the old ones, plus writing blog posts and book reviews, I think we’ve written about the equivalent of two novels this year. The average post (including the book reviews) is about a thousand words, so at two posts per week, fifty two weeks per year, that’s about a hundred thousand words. Then each new Blood Magic episode is averaging about ten thousand words, so over twelve months, that’s another one hundred and twenty thousand words. It’s harder to quantify the revisions, especially since they can vary so much from one episode to another. The point of this is neither to complain, nor to brag, but rather to give you some context, especially if you are also an aspiring writer. I often wanted to know how much writing I would need to do on a weekly basis (for instance) to keep up a good pace as an author, and this year has really helped me pin down what that looks like.
Updates on Current Works
Since there is by far the most to say about it, we’re going to save Blood Magic for last, and start with Fo’Fonas. I know that so far on the site Fo’Fonas is all talk and no action, and I apologize for that. As you may recall, I finished the (very) rough draft of the first novel (my first complete novel, actually) about two and a half years ago (I think), and shared it around with a few friends and colleagues. The reaction was something along the lines of “you should quit your job, stop eating, drinking, or sleeping, and spend all of your time finishing the rest of the series.” Unfortunately, that was not practical on multiple levels. I did make good progress on the second novel in the series for some time, until I eventually ran into a problem of continuity – I was spending so much time referencing the first novel, trying to remember what was happening and all of the world-building elements I had introduced that I was barely spending any time writing.
With that in mind, I took a step back from Fo’Fonas, and started working on filling out a world bible for it, so that I could easily search and reference that, instead of reading back through the whole text. That is part of why progress on this series has been all but nonexistent in terms of raw word counts. The amount of time Blood Magic has been taking is also a major factor, especially in not finishing Verdon’s Tragedy this year. Even when I do have a little extra writing time around Blood Magic, it’s not the focused blocks of time that I would need to make progress on something as immense as Fo’Fonas.
Plus, I’ve been struggling with some of the world-building elements, and irreversible decisions that I would need to make if I take Verdon’s Tragedy (or anything else set in the world) live on the site. Things like the nature and origin of the magic system, and how elevated I want to make certain world-building elements, and even the scope of the world are all currently in flux as I evaluate the status of the series as it exists now, and where I want it to go in the future. For instance: I currently have the magic system doing some pretty tailored, powerful things, and I might want to put some more better limits upon it, or at least make it more difficult to employ.
However, I did have a plotting breakthrough. Although it took me until the end of the first book, I eventually realized that the main thread connecting all of the different characters, plots, and places together in the series would be a geopolitical one, mostly focused on the dynamic between Caous and the Rezzixin Empire. That let a lot of things fall into place, but there was still a missing element. That missing element, I realized this year (which was the referenced breakthrough) was a conflict within the magic system. To be more specific, but without giving away any spoilers, the “magic system,” if you will, has its own goals of sorts, which may not always align with those of the characters. That concept will be incorporated into the drafting going forward, and will be inserted when I do revisions on the first novel.
Going forward, I also intend to make some changes to some of the characters, and the nation-states involved. Fo’Fonas has a strong element of geopolitical intrigue, but the way I had it set up previously was somewhat anachronistic. Based on my reading about, for instance, the Greco-Persian Wars, and other, historic works, I would like to make certain aspects of the world feel more in-line with their rough equivalent in the cultural development of our own Earth. Granted, there are significant reasons why there should be some major differences and divergences, but since I’m not sure I ever want those reasons to become known outside of my own head, I had to balance that very carefully.
The Legend of Thorskgold the Bold
I’ve made vague references to another project I’ve been working on, so I am now pleased to formally announce that I’ve been working on a stand-alone novel inspired by the historical world literature I’ve been reading so much of this past year. Tentatively titled The Legend of Thorskgold the Bold, you can perhaps best think of it as being a little like The Lord of the Rings crossed with The Story of Burnt Njal, with elements of Xenophon’s works and the Babur Nama thrown in for good measure. Although written to follow the mode of a classic, travelogue-style fantasy, I pull in a lot of historical elements: my goal is to actually make this feel a little like it could have come from a place in time like 400 BCE.
This is a great example of something that would probably never be published by a mainstream publisher, but that we get to put up here on the site. I’ve been seeking in this novel to replicate the language and sentence structures of writings (or at least translations of writings) from hundreds and thousands of years ago in human history, which means that it’s about as far from what Brandon Sanderson calls transparent prose as it is possible to be, without going into poetry or lyricism ala The Name of the Wind. To the modern eye, these sentence structures can seem backwards or twisted, and the vocabulary can seem archaic and obscure – think words like busked, boun, quiddity, and oriflamme. Yet I think taking the time and effort to craft the story in this form is an integral part of making the story work in the way I want it to work.
Because it is a standalone novel, with a relatively small cast, and intentionally lean world-building that looks very similar to Earth in most ways, I would not be terribly surprised if this becomes the first, full-length novel that we take live on the site. When I finish it, I intend to post it here on the site as a free-to-download PDF. At the moment, I’m roughly sixty thousand words into the first draft (although I already know I need to add significantly in revisions). My rough estimate is that puts me within ten to twenty thousand words of being a third of the way through the first draft, so expect the finished novel to clock in somewhere around two hundred and forty thousand words. For reference, that’s about half the length of a Stormlight book, which Sanderson says clock in at about half a million words.
Another unique aspect of this story: I’m writing the entire first draft by hand. This has nothing to do with a writing experiment, or with trying to be authentic to the historical style I’m attempting to utilize – it’s not like I’m writing it in cuneiform on clay tablets – and everything to do with convenience. Over the past year (and for the foreseeable future), I’ve had significant blocks of time wherein I can write, but do not have access to a computer. So I might as well write in a notebook, and not let all of that time go to waste.
I have some hope that this story might be finished in the next year, but I am cautious to make such a promise, especially with the first draft still incomplete. I’ve also never attempted to apply the full staged revision process to a novel-length piece, so I don’t have a good gauge of how long that might take. Plus, there’s more to do to prepare the piece for publication on the site than just finish the writing. I’ll have to create supporting infrastructure on the site, summary pages, register it for an ISBN number, format the finished manuscript, create cover art (and you all know my artistic skills are severely lacking), and run a publicity campaign so that you all will know when and where to look for it (if you doubt this last is necessary, look at the difference in performance of Blood Magic episodes between last year, and this year when I started doing posts for each release). Thinking all of that through now, I would say late 2022 is the absolute earliest this will be ready. I know, I’m terribly slow about getting out new content, but please remember that I do have a “real” job that I do, too.
Long story short, I think this is a unique, interesting piece, written honestly more for myself than for public consumption, but that I intend to share here in case you would also find it interesting.
Near the beginning of the year, I posted about some stories I had decided to mash together into an amalgamation that I thought would mutually patch the holes each individual piece had in it. We even put together a map, and posted a prologue. This is the kind of story that has been brewing for many years, and will need to continue to percolate for a few more. I might work on it here and there, but there are so many world-building and character elements, not to mention a complicated plot, that progress on this will be slow as long as it is not the main thing I’m working on – in other words, don’t expect much progress on this one until at least after Blood Magic.
There might be a few other projects that I’ve mentioned here and there, and there are definitely other projects that I have in various states of development, but I think those three cover the major pieces that you are likely to see more about in the near future. The big one, though, and what is currently the centerpiece and crown jewel of this entire publishing apparatus, is, of course, Blood Magic.
By now, you’re probably all aware of what Blood Magic is all about, and if you’re not, then I would like to direct you to the immense volume of resources that I’ve posted on the site about our flagship series. We’re now well into season two, along with the concomitant revisions of season one’s episodes. If you haven’t been following along, the season finale will be a two part episode released between November and December, and you won’t want to miss it. Remember, new Blood Magic episodes come out on the last day of each month, and revised episodes come out on the fifteenth of every month.
There will be a separate post coming out later this calendar year with details about a possible, upcoming season three, so I will avoid stealing my own thunder here, but suffice to say that Blood Magic is coming along nicely, and I’m very pleased with the direction the series is taking. After finally getting through Contaminant, I’m again excited to be writing these episodes and building out the series further. August’s episode was especially enjoyable to write, with its vignette exploring some of Lufilna’s ancient history (from before the fall of Heart City). I will say that you will be finally getting some answers to at least a few of these deep, historical mysteries before the end of season two, so look forward to that. We’ll also be posting about what might come after we finish Blood Magic (and asking for your input on that topic), so be sure to look out for that post in a couple of months.
The Year Ahead
As I alluded to in the last section, we will soon be announcing Blood Magic’s third season, and the concomitant revisions to season two. They will all be released on the same schedule as this past year, with revisions on the fifteenth of each month, and new episodes on the last day of each month. My goal is to have the third season episodes go live in a state where they will not require further revisions, but that will depend on my writing schedule.
I have a couple of short novellas/long short stories that are nearly ready to be published on the site. One should be up before the end of the calendar year, with the other probably being released sometime in the spring of 2022. One is called Destiny of Kings, and is about the coming of a prophesied king who does not believe in his own destiny. The other is entitled Rogue Star, and explores the Aristotelian/Ptolemaic crystalline sphere model of cosmology – I promise that it is more exciting than it sounds.
At the risk of sounding redundant, I will again make it a goal to finish, revise, and publish Verdon’s Tragedy in 2022. Even if that happens, however, it may take place later in calendar year 2022, and not before the third of these annual update posts. There’s also a (slim) chance that I will finish The Legend of Thorskgold the Bold in time to take it live before the end of 2022, but definitely don’t hold your breath on that one.
If the past two years are any guide, there should also be one or two additional novellas or long short stories posted throughout the next year, but I have no secret information on those at this point; it depends on what strikes me as interesting to write and if I need a break from writing more involved pieces, like Blood Magic and Fo’Fonas.
Aside from new fiction, we will continue posting weekly book reviews each Thursday, and whatever you want to call the Tuesday blog posts. The Tuesday posts should continue to be a good mix of educational content, thoughts on writing, and random reflections or other topics that I decide I want to explore in a post.
IGC Publishing had a good year. We’re not growing by leaps and bounds, but we’ve generated a significant quantity of new content, and our readership has been growing slowly and steadily. Perhaps most importantly, I believe my writing skills have been consistently improving, in large part thanks to the efforts that I put into the site. Thank you very much for being a part of this journey, and I hope you’ll continue to explore, through writing, the frontiers of space and time with us in the year ahead.