It's been a while, so I thought I'd give you an update on my Reaper progress! There's only so much I can say without spoilers, so I'll be giving you as much information as I can without saying anything that will get me in trouble.
First off, I've finished the first draft and am working on storyline changes/improvements for the next one. The book right now is about 120,000 words, which I don't expect to change too much over the rest of the process. I'll be adding some things, but I'll be cutting others, so it normally evens out at this point.
That makes it a comfortable runner-up in length to Wintersteel, since WS is 144k words and the current silver medalist, Blackflame, is about 110k.
MOST MINOR OF SPOILERS, PROBABLY NOT EVEN A SPOILER, I JUST DON'T WANT YOU TO COMPLAIN:
Structurally, I'd say it's more similar to Blackflame, as the main reason Wintersteel was so long is that I had a full plot for both Lindon and Yerin. This time--while I of course do have some sub-plots--the majority of the book follows one storyline.
END "SPOILERS" THAT ARE ACTUALLY JUST ABOUT GENERAL STORY STRUCTURE
As for the release date, I can't comment. Learned my lesson on that years ago. I know when I think it will be done, but if I make that guess and then don't meet it, I will be whipped endlessly by gangs of stalkers wielding cat-o-nine-tails.
Cats-o-nine-tails? I'm not sure what the plural for that would be.
Here's the most I can commit to: we certainly plan to release Reaper in 2021.*
Finally, I really wanted to call this blog post "A Peeper for the Reaper." This is a Peeper. Play Subnautica.
*What? No, not the year 2021. We're releasing it in Dimension 2021, home of the Sentient Octopus ruling class. All hail Chancellor Skwirgle.
You all know what it means when I don't post for a while. It means I have gone into The Cave and hacked out hundreds more pages using my mystical typewriter.
But I know that when I go silent for too long, the speculation ripens. Is Will still writing? Does he have writer's block? Has he angered an ancient cabal of assassins who are after his life?
Therefore, I check in when I can to reassure you. I am always writing unless I tell you otherwise, I never have writer's block, and I anger some new ancient cabal every week or two. It's part of the curse.
The Reaper draft is currently longer than every Cradle book except Wintersteel, and I'm not finished with it yet, so it'll most likely end up Wintersteel-sized or a little shorter. Or so I expect. The beta readers might slap me upside the head and tell me I need to cut half the book.
That's never happened before, but you know. Could happen.
I don't know what that means in terms of release date--I haven't finished the book yet, after all, and more words means longer editing time--but I'll let you know when I have something concrete!
Until then, remember that when I go to my quiet place, it is always to write.
Or to hide from a cabal.
After I dug myself out of the avalanche of recommendations that came in after my last blog post, I spent some time sorting them.
I started responding, and I realized two things: first, if I responded to all of them I would never get another book out. And second, that a lot of my responses were going to be "I read/watched/injected that already, and here's what I thought."
I like talking about fiction. I like it a lot. Way too much.
So to avoid getting trapped in that never-ending maze, I had to curb my comments. But I did read every single suggestion!
I probably spent more time doing that than I did reading fiction this week.
So that brings us to the cutthroat competition, and the incredible prizes I have in store.
Third place, the one who has earned a half-used Krispy Kreme coupon that I can't seem to locate at the moment: Way for recommending Steins;Gate.
You're only in third place because I've already played Steins;Gate, but you earn that coveted theoretical coupon because it's a great game. And also a really good anime.
Now, in second place are the hordes of people who recommended me something that I'm definitely going to read but haven't yet: He Who Fights With Monsters.
Pretty sure a million and one people recommended this. I haven't read it, but I will read it. I'm going to, I swear. With this many recommendations, it deserves my full attention.
Now, I don't have that many dragon eggs to go around, so I feel like we'll just split the one I do have into pieces and divide it evenly. Watch for a minuscule fragment of dragon shell to manifest mystically on your desk at some point in the next 4-6 astral weeks.
And first place, the winner of my R E S P E C T, and the person who gave the recommendation I actually took...
...was, unfortunately, not a blog comment.
A guy named Jon (or who CLAIMED to be named Jon...) messaged me and pitched me Star Odyssey on www.WuxiaWorld.com. Well, I read a lot on that website, so I tried that.
I really liked it. It's space fantasy, which I've long wanted to write myself, and it's a Chinese cultivation novel with a focus on one thing and one thing alone: fighting to get stronger.
That's it. Very straightforward and streamlined. Definitely my cup of tea.
Jon, you can pick up your wheelbarrow full of respect outside your nearest home depot.
Now for the HONORABLE MENTIONS!
Daniel Larman for recommending me 86: Eighty-Six on Crunchyroll! I haven't watched it yet, or you would have gotten that delicious Respect Wheelbarrow, but I absolutely will. And thank you for not recommending me an anime I've definitely already seen.
Speaking of which...
Everyone who recommended me anime gets a secondary mention here. You were all barking up the right tree, which I appreciate. And you recommended me some really great shows.
However, you also reminded me that I apparently need to talk more about anime, because other than Daniel's recommendation, I had seen...yes, I think every single other show recommended.
From about 2005-2013 or so, I watched literally everything that got animated. There were some shows I dropped here and there, but I at least gave everything the three-episode test.
Some might say I spent too much of my time on anime, but who had an anime-inspired book on the New York Times list last month? THIS GUY!
Let that be a lesson to you, young people: you're not "wasting time," you're doing research for your future career.
I've been much busier since then, what with books and all, so I have replaced watching every anime with reading every manga. It's a lot faster. These days I only watch the anime if I already know it's going to be good.
Like with Jujutsu Kaisen, which was indeed great. I've been reading since the first chapter was released, and as soon as Gojo appeared I knew I was along for the ride.
Josh S., for recommending The Black Company. I really love The Black Company, and I recommend anyone interested in bleak morally gray fiction to give the first collection a shot, if you haven't already. It's a classic for a reason.
Tiberius Arelius, for recommending Second Coming of Gluttony. It's in contention for my favorite web novel of all time. The main character changes over time and has a very distinct personality, the magic and system are consistent and fun to read, the characters are memorable...it's genuinely great.
The only warning I have when I recommend it to people is that it does contain some harem nonsense. But if you can't pick around harem nonsense like you're picking tomatoes out of a salad then I don't know how you watched much anime.
Zuben for recommending Kenshi. But not because I like Kenshi. AH-HA, TWIST! I used to have the most helpful negative review of Kenshi on the Steam store.
It's such a great concept, and I'm sure a great game, but I spent thirty hours pickaxing a rock in isometric top-down view with no clue of what to do and never got any indication of what I could or should do that would be fun.
I have no doubt that it is fun, because people have racked up thousands of hours in Kenshi. But that remains as one of my most vivid gaming experiences because I kept thinking "Everybody says you should push on...maybe a few more hours."
And by the end of it I was still like "No, I don't get it."
So you definitely found something in that game that I didn't, but I want you to know that I really, really tried.
All the people who recommended the Red Rising series. I love that series. Initially, when it was a trilogy, I loved the first and second books, but wasn't a big fan of the third.
Now that there are more, I feel like the author has really fleshed out a lot of the characters and brought this mythic fantasy-esque scope to a sci-fi story, and I'm here for it.
Fragrant Bacon, for saying this: "Will usually takes the approach to others in his own genre: if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."
I also like to stay silent when I have mixed criticism, or really anything other than overwhelming praise. That's why I don't recommend things very often here. Even when I say five positive things and one thing that I think is a fair criticism, people tend to focus on that.
And I don't want to bring people negative attention. I want to bring them positive attention!
Anyone who told me to go outside and play:
I'm always in an awkward position at this point in the writing process, because the book isn't far enough along for me to mention, and I can't talk about my many secret projects lest I lose my government contracts.
So since I can't discuss work, I turn to you: how should I waste my non-work time nowadays?
I haven't read a new book in a while, so I'm open to suggestions on that front. I have books piling up on my Kindle waiting to read, but I'm always willing to make that list longer.
I've also heard good things about Resident Evil: Village and Returnal, but I haven't checked them out myself yet. Subnautica: Below Zero was so good that I kept playing it after beating the story, which by the way had a fantastic ending. In case I hadn't recommended that enough recently.
I also watched through Ted Lasso, which I enjoyed despite knowing literally nothing about soccer. I was pretty sure it was played in a rink.
I'll let you know next week what I end up consuming in the limited amount of time I'm allowed to stop typing. Whoever makes the winning recommendation will have earned my undying respect.
Second place gets an actual dragon egg.
Third? A half-punched Krispy Kreme frequent customer card.
If that's not enough motivation, I don't know what is.
...nobody's asked me if I've played the new Subnautica: Below Zero yet.
Maybe it's because the answer is obvious. I definitely have. I took a day off last week because it was coming out.
I know a lot of fans have some nitpicks, especially compared to the first game, but you know I love Subnautica. And does it have that Subnautica spirit? It does, so I loved it. Big fan.
Anyway, in news you'll be more excited to hear, I've been working on planning out Reaper the last couple of weeks. I'm planning to start writing Monday.
In fact, I've been doing some planning work on the next three books.
This is probably the most fun part of the writing process, but it's nerve-wracking, especially when you're preparing to wrap up a series. Lots of pressure.
And you know where else has lots of pressure?
The bottom of the ocean.
Hey now, look what hit #13 on the month's New York Time's Audio Best Seller list: it's Bloodline!
That was a pretty cool surprise to hear about randomly. I had no expectation that we were going to hit any NYT Best Seller list--or even that we could, since ebooks sold exclusively through Amazon don't count toward the NYT's list.
I had to be summoned out of Cradle to hear the news. I was feverishly trying to take notes as Little Blue recapped everything they'd been up to since I last visited when all of a sudden a ring of glowing runes appeared around me. I struggled to stay, but Lindon didn't want to interfere with the summoning ritual, because he was too busy memorizing the script for his own use.
I was cast back into the disused missile silo where I live, and there I found a bunch of unread emails telling me we'd made the New York Times Best Seller list.
I have to say, that's one of the better reasons to use up a dimensional summoning scroll.
In all honesty, "New York Times Bestseller" was never a title I thought about, not even when I was daydreaming as a kid. I don't think about titles or lists or awards or anything like that.
I dream about stories, and about people enjoying those stories. Everything else is just busy work.
...but having said that, it's still pretty cool. Because reaching lists like these, and especially hitting #1 on Amazon, means that there are a lot of you out there enjoying the stories. I get to tell the stories I want to tell, and people like reading them. A lot of people.
Awards or no awards, I get to do everything I dreamed about.
So thanks for making that dream come true!
I know you always want to know exactly when the next book is coming out, but I'm allergic to commitment, so how about a rough plan instead?
Now that Bloodline has been tossed out into the wilds of Amazon to fend for itself, I'll be working on Cradle 10. I can't be sure when I'll finish that, because the Parrot Who Sees the Future will no longer speak to me, but typically Cradle books tend to come out about 6-7 months after the last one.
That's not a commitment on my part, just an observation. Don't mark your calendars just yet.
After that, depending on how much time Cradle 10 took me, I'll either immediately dive into Cradle 11 or start something shiny and new.
It's been five years since I've written a new series, and I'm looking forward to it!
Either way, it's looking like Cradle 12 will be the endpoint, after which we abandon Lindon and company to their own devices. I'd like to have a new series begun before then, but if that doesn't work, oh well.
If the "new thing" is the second Traveler's Gate trilogy, then great! Whatever I begin after that will be more original.
If it isn't, then I'll go back to Traveler's Gate afterwards.
...at least, that's the plan.
But without the divine support of the Parrot Who Sees the Future, how secure can any mortal plans be?
First, I just want to thank all of you that have already picked up Bloodline. And there are a LOT of you!
It feels like just yesterday that we were watching House of Blades sell a few copies, hovering over our calculators and saying "Okay, if we can manage to sell a few books every day, maybe I can actually write full-time. But how long can we keep that up?"
Well, I'm pleased to report that we haven't run out of new readers yet.
We hit #1 on the Kindle Store again, for the second time this book, and we stayed there for an entire day*. Even now, we've only "fallen" to #2. That's...incredible. I never know what to say to that.
*Correction: two entire days.
I will say that all these people devouring the book, and discussing it online, really fires me up to work on the next book. I'm refreshed and revived, and excited to get writing!
And that'll probably last until about halfway through the next manuscript, at which point I'll have my regularly scheduled panic attack.
But such is writing.
Once again, thanks so much for putting up with me all this time! I can't wait to see where we go from here!
In case you've missed it somehow, Bloodline's coming out tomorrow!
Well, April 6th. And it's April 6th in some places very soon.
The paperback is up for pre-order in most places, but I guess not everywhere? I'm not sure, Amazon rollouts are weird. It's supposed to be up everywhere.
Tonight at 9 PM Eastern, I'll be doing another traditional release stream as I play some slow-paced game and answer questions. Check it out at <twitch.tv/willwight> if you're interested! If you're not interested, check anything else out instead.
And now, as is tradition for all releases, I get to stew in my nerves until the book comes out. Usually for a few days after, too. Let the emotional distress begin!
There aren't too many deleted scenes from Bloodline, but this small scene was cut pretty early in the process because it didn't make much sense. But even though it's both unedited and declared unworthy, I still thought you might enjoy reading it!
But before we get to that, a couple of reminders!
First off, in case you didn't know, Bloodline (Cradle #9) is going to be released this Tuesday, April 6th! It's supposed to be available at midnight in your time zone, but apparently that's unreliable, and it can sometimes be minutes or even hours later.
Amazon is a fickle mistress.
Second, I'll be streaming on Twitch to kick off Bloodline's release from 9 PM - 12 AM (EST) on April 5th, just like I did for the last couple of books. Check out Twitch.tv/willwight when the time is right if you want to see me answering questions while halfheartedly playing some random game. Probably Valheim this time.
Aaaaannnd that's about it! Without further ado, here's the tiny little micro-scene that might have blossomed into one of the first scenes of Bloodline, if I hadn't pruned it away with my relentless shears of judgment.
Eithan eased his broken, bruised, and blood-caked body down to sit on a chunk of rubble. His tender wounds and spinning head aside, he was feeling rather good.
Not far away, Lindon was straining his will to exercise his newfound authority, and that was going to be the fastest way out of this crumbling tower. Sophara’s body was still warm outside—he knew from experience that it took dragon corpses entirely too long to cool—and the Blood Sage had scuttled off.
But that didn’t mean the tower was clear of enemies.
Rubble shifted next to him, and Yan Shoumei crawled out from beneath a pile of timbers, coughing dust. Eithan instinctively shifted to the side, only for his ribs to scream protest. Gritty gray clouds landed on his robes.
Trying to stay clean was like sweeping sand at this point. The only thing that kept his robes decent was his blood sticking them together.
The girl leaned on Eithan’s chunk of masonry for support, still hacking her lungs up, black hair powdered gray-brown from her time in the rubble.
Even weak as she was, she could have burst forth in a show of power. She could have used her sacred arts to protect herself, and made her life a lot easier.
Instead, she had wrapped herself in layer after layer of veils. She was thoroughly cocooned, having wisely deduced that using blood madra here would draw attention far more than filling the halls with hacking coughs.
She was wise. His students were so preoccupied with their situation that they hadn’t done more than a cursory sweep with their perception. They had overlooked her.
He corrected himself when he saw a pair of red eyes, all the way across the other side of the tower, locked on his location. Yerin should only see blank stone in front of her, but she was frowning and looking straight at him, her scarlet blade-arms flexing.
Well, one of his students was too preoccupied to make a proper search.
“I’m impressed,” Eithan said to Yan Shoumei, and the Redmoon artist stumbled away from him in shock.
Her spiritual sense was completely deafened by her veils, and her eyes were still gummed shut with blood and grime. He had assumed she would have at least noticed his presence, but from the way she rapidly blinked and swiped at her eyes, she’d had no idea anyone was there until he spoke.
He smiled brightly at her. Surprises were always fun, as long as you were the one doing the surprising.
She froze, and he could practically see the thoughts crawling across her mud-caked face. Should she run? No, he’d catch her. Should she fight while he was injured and weak? No, he was too advanced. Should she scan him to see if he was too injured to fight? Maybe unleash her Blood Shadow? What if that drew Lindon and Yerin down on her?
While she was paralyzed between fight and flight, he gave her a gentle wave. “I mean it, I’m impressed. I know how hard it is to keep yourself restricted when you’re in danger. It was the right call.”
Yan Shoumei’s voice scraped out, even more dry and ghostly than usual. “Don’t toy with me.”
“Why not? Isn’t that better than killing you? I hope you realize that you were part of an assassination attempt against a Monarch’s children. The survival rate for such a failed operation is…not high.”
“Then kill me.”
That time, her voice shook. There was something of a quiver to it, so it came out more like a plea.
He read danger in that tone. Not danger to him, but danger nonetheless. If he left this situation alone, she would draw a blade and lunge at him, trying to force him to kill her.
She knew better than to be caught by Malice.
Maybe light banter hadn’t been the best approach.
Eithan frantically shook his head. “No no, I’m sorry, this is a bad time for jokes. I do apologize.”
She stared at him as though she couldn’t believe he’d just used the word “joke.”
“Yes, I see that I have failed to uphold the gravity of this situation. Let me cut to the bone: you should run away. I will cover for you with the Monarch.”
She crept warily a few steps closer to the entrance. “Why?”
“Because if I chased down everyone who was bullied or bought into doing Reigan Shen’s bidding, I would be a grim black-clad specter of vengeance rather than the bright, fresh-faced soul you see before you.”
He spoke more gently, now that he didn’t have to worry about a suicide rush. “You had no choice. I know that’s the coward’s favorite defense, but in this case it is literally true. You had to choose between killing and dying, which is no choice at all. Go home.”
With an underhand toss, he threw her a void key.
Not his, of course. He’d scavenged this one from a Redmoon Overlord, and there was nothing interesting inside.
“I don’t know what’s in your key, but in that one has several weeks’ worth of rations, scales, and other supplies. Keep your veil on, your head down, and your Blood Shadow quiet until you’re out of Akura territory. You can make it.”
She stared at the void key in her hand until a tiny whisper of her spiritual perception leaked out of her veil, so she could sense inside the storage and verify his words.
He had responses prepared for her distrust, for her gratitude, and—most likely of all—for another expression of stunned disbelief.
So he was caught with his mouth open and no idea how to respond when she said, “Come with me.”
There was an awkward moment of silence before she filled the silence herself. “You’re not the son of a Monarch. You can walk away.”
“I really, really can’t.” He gave her his best smile. “But I am truly flattered by the offer. Alas, it is the curse of the truly gorgeous; I can never escape attention from anyone who sees me shirtless.”
He expected rolled eyes.
But she nodded sadly, wearily, as though he had told her he planned to work himself to death in an iron mine. He suspected she might be reading too much into his words, but all she said was, “Thank you.”
In a sudden flurry of motion, she dashed off, leaving Eithan alone with his thoughts.
For a moment.
Yerin appeared next to him in a flash of white light from her Moonlight Bridge. “Letting her leave, are you?”
“She’s not our enemy, really, and if you’ll—”
Eithan had prepared himself for a lecture on the foolishness of leaving his enemies alive. Once again, he was left wrong-footed.
“…I have been surprised by young ladies too often in too short a time. I’m not certain my heart can handle it.”
Her brow creased in a frown. “Don’t talk like you’re three days from dead. Archlords can live a thousand years. You’re not much more than a screaming baby.”
“I hear that a lot. And I admire your optimism in assuming we won’t be murdered tomorrow.”
“You know me, all bright and shiny,” she muttered. “Now let’s go. Back of my neck itches when you’re not where I can see you.”
Level 84 Gengar
100% 2nd-to-Wintersteel draft
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