So, I wanted to give a brief update on the progress being made toward the sequel to Pancho’s Fall, as well as the current progress for trying to get the book out there to publishers. I just wanted to highlight the current state of everything and a few of my additional thoughts, in order to clue you in a bit on the process. And, as everything worth doing is, it’s definitely a process. But through processes that work, we can achieve anything.
Feedback on Book One
So, first of all I want to give credit to those people who have supported me by reading the “finally ready for other people’s eyes” draft of Pancho’s Fall. Thank you to my mother Mary Miller who finished the book and enjoyed it even though fantasy is NOT her thing. There was some great research that my mom provided me prior to finishing the best draft of the book for helping shape and create memorable characters loosely based on people in her mother and father’s lives. Because of her input, I rewrote the character of Marquessa and made her significantly better and far more impactful to the Ofelia’s story. My mom also did a great job discussing the book after she finished and still reads these blog posts. So thanks, Mom!
Secondly, I want to give big thanks to my sister Jenny who also is not a fantasy book reader but still read it and really enjoyed it. That was my goal with this book – make something that appeals to everyone, a call back to heroic stories of long ago. Jenny not only provided me great feedback, she has already inspired me to do more with one of her favorite characters who I had slated for the chopping block early in Book Two. I can’t say who it is, but I’ve already conveyed to Jenny that because she likes the character, I’ve decided to let her story continue in surprising ways. I think the book will be better for it.
Also – thank you to Joey, Jenny’s son and my nephew. Joey read the story upon Jenny’s recommendation and has had great questions. He’s also volunteered to help keep me on track for Book Two and wants to be one of the first to read the book as well when it’s ready. Unfortunately it won’t be for several months as I’m certain I’ll have to completely rewrite it like I did for Pancho’s Fall, once I finish draft one. But that’s standard operating procedure in the writing world.
Thank you to Zach, my brother, who really put the book to the test by reading it as a bedtime story to his daughter. My goal is to continue allowing the stories to be as accessible to as many audiences as possible and anything I’ve ever made I’ve tried to keep in mind that little eyes might be watching and little ears might be listening. I hope that the rather darker backstory, namely in Bernaldo’s and Eva’s past wasn’t too much. I did leave that in though, as a way to reach out to anyone who had awful things happen to them in their childhood. I just hope I got it right.
Thank you at last to my wife, Jodie. You support me and although asking you to read my book made it feel like an assignment and harder to enjoy, you did it and you had great input. It meant a lot to me that the book passed your “it’s good” test, as you’re an avid reader and you know a good story when you read one. I’m particularly happy that you didn’t fully predict the ending, because you always predict ridiculously early on how stories will end. I knew that I made the ending harder to predict, but I wasn’t sure if it would elude you. I’m glad that it did. Thank you for your continued love and support.
Getting the Book Published
Finding the right agent to bring a story to the right publisher is daunting. Agents get so many unsolicited query letters every day, and they all have different requirements for submission and different wants and needs in manuscripts. Think about trying to maintain an email box where every submission says “QUERY:” on it, and you have to really read through the entire email before you as an agent can say yes or no. The vast majority of the queries that agents get, especially unsolicited, are going to go right to the “reject” pile, and I don’t blame them for that.
With that said, I’ve ramped up my search for agents substantially. I am doing my best to find agents who would treat my manuscript with respect and who are just as passionate about fantasy novels as I am, but not every agent is equipped to handle a manuscript like mine. It’s definitely a needle in a haystack type of equation here. Even if my book is the best book in the world (of course I’m not that egotistical to believe that), getting the right agent to actually read the pitch and manuscript portion and be sold on it is not an easy feat.
I’m going to give it my best shot. If in six months I’m still unsuccessful I’ll probably start scoping out more literary conventions to attend where I can get face to face with agents and pitch my book that way. One way or another, I believe in this book and the subsequent books I’ll write for the world, and I’m not going to stop trying to get it out there to real publishers. I won’t self-publish.
Progress on Book Two and Next Steps
As I mentioned, Book Two is currently in progress. I’ve already outlined each chapter, now it’s just a matter of actually writing it all out. A first draft is so much harder to write than the subsequent drafts because you’re really learning a lot about your characters as you write and that will often force you to change many aspects about the story you’ve outlined. That’s also great as a writer, because as soon as you do that, you start thinking of ways you can better set up these changes in the next draft. But you have to get through the first draft first.
I’m a few chapters into my writing and I’m already changing much of the structure of what I set out in the initial outline. That’s completely normal though. An outline is just a conversation starter you have with your story, NOT the end all be all backbone. It becomes extremely apparent in writing when you stick strictly to an outline because characters act like plot vehicles and not actual people with their own goals and needs and wants. So, I’m letting it happen naturally as I write and veering off course for the benefit of doing justice to my already established characters is part of the excitement – and a big part of the challenge.
I promised Joey I’d get the book fully done by the end of the year but that’s going to be tough. I’ll hold myself to it, however, and still aim for a readable draft by Christmas. If I fall short, at least I’ll have a good amount done on the first draft. Second drafts come way quicker for me, so it’s still possible. Maybe I’ll put on my Scrum hat and work in two week sprints and try and keep myself organized through a Kanban board. That could be fun, I suppose. I’ve always said you can do any project using Scrum and Agile principles.
Along with everything else, I’ve already identified areas of improvement for my worldbuilding. Primarily, I need to flesh out the Saibhrean Isles so I can continue moving the story in that direction as the next books will feature them heavily. I’d love to further flesh out my timeline with exact dates for everything to further provide structure to the world. I’d also love to get family trees made for every major Gifted lineage from El Hijo onward, but that takes a lot of time and dedication. Still, I think that would be pretty cool. All of these things will be considered as I work toward my next books.
It’s all about just finding a good time to sit and do it every day, and with a full time job that I love that keeps me busy and being a father of a highly active three year old and everything else, that puts the pressure on. I did it once, though, and I can do it again.