The Temple of Saturn, located in the Roman Forum. (Image credit: Julian Elliott Photography/Getty Images)
Well, here we are. The first book of The Apostate Saint is now fully released on this site. I delivered a chapter once per week in a similar way to that of my first book – the novelization of The Oro Goro, that some of you may remember. I am happy with how the story is unfolding, and I am also pleased with the way that my writing structure has adapted to the weekly installments.
The choice to deliver weekly chapters was made in a stark difference to how I wrote Pancho’s Fall, the book I like to think of as the first one in my “main series” of storytelling in the World of El Tor. When I started writing Pancho’s Fall, it was with very little worldbuilding created, and I had a concrete structure in mind. My first effort was in the creation of the outline for that book, which is no easy thing to do. When I wrote the first draft of that book, I knew right away what I was missing and I also fell into traps that many “outliner” writers do. My characters felt flat, unrealistic and it was like they were simply there to get the plot moving. Along with that, my worldbuilding needed much work. Draft two of Pancho’s Fall, I knew it, was going to be a full rewrite, but I also needed to figure out who my characters really were as well as what was so special about the world in which they lived.
The worldbuilding was done to a level which I was able to help Pancho’s Fall feel “lived in,” but the story of the Ten Saints and this mythical “El Hijo” (the Son) character that I had created as part of the worldbuilding, felt like something I really wanted to explore more. As I was working on the outline of the sequel to Pancho’s Fall, it dawned on me that I wanted to continue delivering something to the few amazing people who read my work. Enter The Apostate Saint.
The way I delivered the story was different, of course, than Pancho’s Fall, for which I still am shopping around trying to find an agent. Each week I delivered my promised chapter on Friday at 8pm Eastern, rain or shine, vacation or not. I delivered 33 chapters, of which I am pretty proud of how they turned out, especially since I didn’t allow myself the luxury of completely rewriting them after the first complete telling was written. And, you know what? I liked the way I did it.
I liked setting my goal posts, knowing roughly where I wanted the main characters to end up when I started, and allowing my characters to explore the world on their own, at their own pace. I enjoyed learning that I wanted to make Art and Valoricus POV characters. I enjoyed writing about the demons, of course, but I also enjoyed discovering motivations for my characters that fit nicely with the narrative. Would I change anything in a re-write? Perhaps. But, what’s the next steps for this story?
Well, I reached out to my good friend James Whealan, someone whom I’ve always respected and appreciated his writing skill. He has always been an inspiration to me, for how adept he is at his own storytelling, and I still count him as one of my best friends even though we parted ways after college. Jim has agreed to help edit the story, and from there, once it’s as strong as it can be, we will go forward with possibly monetizing it.
Right now, that probably means self-publishing and potentially a podcast-style, multiple day a week single chapter entry of the audiobook telling of the story. I want people to tune in daily for a few months, so they can hear the story in shorter, manageable sittings. I don’t think that has been done to great success in the past, so there’s probably not a lot of money in it, but I think it would be a neat way to get my work out there. I’ve got someone in mind for the reading, as well, and I’ve already reached out to her. We will see where it all ends up.
The story is, obviously, not done yet. It all ended up as I was hoping it would, with the Fellowship broken up, our heroes scattered and beaten, and most things not going so well. If this were a tv show, it would be the kind of ending I like to see at the end of a first season. Just, everything has gone to hell in a hand basket after it seemed like things were going to be just fine. Sure, there were some casualties, but it will all be worth it in the end. Or not. The story is following a classical tragic route, after all.
With all that said, things are still up in the air. I created this blog as a way for me to stop starting and start finishing all the ideas in my head, so I make sure now to focus on one thing at a time and see it to its completion. Now that I’m done with the first book, I’m excited for the next steps in my own life, and that next step involves a trip to Europe.
As part of my research for this book, I listened to the entirety of the History of Rome podcast by Mike Duncan (spotify / itunes / Mike’s blog). If you haven’t hear of it, its an absolutely great podcast, and perhaps the best way I could find to fit Roman history into my life. Much of the work for the Apostate Saint book was derived from things I learned about Roman history. The fact that the opportunity for me to actually visit Rome came up as a possibility, only made me saying YES that much easier.
So – expect some small updates on this blog as I share some of the things I see and learn on the ground in Europe. I’ll share pictures when available, as well. When I get back, and after the holidays, I should know what the next big thing is for me, creatively speaking. Until then, I’ll share the occasional thoughts, but otherwise I’ll be focusing on making sure we’re ready to go on the trip.
Thank you so much, everyone who reads this blog. Most especially, thank you to Jenny and Mom, both of whom I know read it. If anyone else has been reading these chapters, let me know! I want to thank you, as well. I mean it when I say that all I need is one or two people to read my work, for all of this to be worthwhile to me. For giving me that, I thank you so very much.