I’ve recently finished a long series on my newsletter on the mythology of The Golden Rule duology (A Bright Power Rising/The Unconquered Sun). I wrote the original Book of Seven Lights when I was fourteen and revised it countless times over the years. You can check it out HERE.
I feel like a pirate lowering my flag of convenience and hoisting the Jolly Roger! Below are the two new covers for A Bright Power Rising and The Unconquered Sun. They have a much more epic fantasy feel!
The ebooks are already available on Amazon and Kobo with the new versions appearing on the other stores in a couple of days. The paperbacks are to follow soon.
I’m sending this as a warning for those who have the paperbacks of A Bright Power Rising and maybe want to complete the set or like the old covers but never got around to buying them.
Those covers will be changing (I like to think for the better). I’ll reveal them soon, but in the meantime, you have only have until 23rd October to buy paperbacks with the old covers guaranteed. After that, the paperbacks won’t be available at all on Amazon for several days while the new covers go through the review process for the new versions.
The Golden Rule novels and associated short story, The Parting Gift, are now available on Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and other stores. The Parting Gift, which is a standalone set in the same world, will be free until further notice, so this is your chance to dip your toe in the water so to speak if you haven’t done so already.
A Bright Power Rising:
The Unconquered Sun:
The Parting Gift:
The Unconquered Sun has finally been released! To celebrate, until 15th February, the mobi versions of A Bright Power Rising and The Parting Gift will be free. The Unconquered Sun will be available also at $0,99 or equivalent.
The net effect of this is that you can get the two novels and a short story for the princely sum of $0.99!
When I started back on The Unconquered Sun, I already had a fully written draft. I thought it would be easy to knock it into shape. I simply had to apply the lessons learned from A Bright Power Rising. It did turn out to be a bit easier but it wasn’t easy. It certainly took longer than I expected.
As I reread the draft, my heart sank the way it does when you reach the top of a ridge on a mountain only to find another, steeper one ahead. I had gotten used to the lovely edited prose in A Bright Power Rising. The Unconquered Sun seemed a mess in comparison. But I had already finished a book once and I could do it again. I plowed on.
The most urgent issue was the start. I had to pick up the threads from the first book, but in a way that The Unconquered Sun felt like a complete book, not merely the second part of a serial. I had to summarize the key information from the first book without (a) an actual summary or (b) long indigestible paragraphs of explanation stuffed into the story.
Complicating this further was the re-introduction of NoName (AscendantSun’s twin) into the book. When we last saw him he was going on his not-exactly-merry way to Sunset. There were a few nervous days when excluding his thread from the first book felt like a mistake but in the end it clicked into place. It took a great deal of effort to balance his thread with AscendantSun’s, given the latter also contained the POV’s of Grael and Garscap.
A second ‘hangover’ from the first book was a secret about AscendantSun’s past. It’s hinted at in a couple of places in A Bright Power Rising, but as far as I know nobody has yet put the clues together. After some deliberation. I dealt with it in the first chapter, knowing there were of plenty of twists to come later in the novel. .
The book turned out longer than A Bright Power Rising by about ten thousand words. But there was a lot of winnowing of POV’s both before and during the editing process. Excluding the prologue, there were ten POV’s in A Bright Power Rising, several of whom were only used for specific scenes where the three main characters weren’t present. Quite a few didn’t didn’t survive the first book. In The Unconquered Sun, there are only six POV’s. They all don’t survive either.
By the time The Unconquered Sun had finished editing, I had about fifty-seven thousand words of cut material. Most of it was fairly well written but no longer fitted. Separate to this chunk was a flashback chapter I chopped early on. This became the basis of The Parting Gift, a short story providing a little of the history of the eponymous object that plays a vital role in The Unconquered Sun. The story is set in the early days after the Light War when the Ors were the Sables’ slaves. Originally the first Auctor played a significant role in it, but I chose a different Or, Certamen to be the main character. I did this to inject uncertainty into the main character’s fate (A Bright Power Rising confirms Auctors are still around an Or millennium later) and to avoid Shrinking Universe Syndrome (where the same characters play a significant role in every major event till their imaginary world feels tiny). I think the story will surprise readers of A Bright Power Rising, as it shows a new facet to the Ors’ history.
One contentious issue was raised about The Unconquered Sun. I had always intended that The Golden Rule duology would be just that–two books. I outlined my reasons in a previous post. It was suggested that I should break The Unconquered Sun into two books. I gave the matter a lot of consideration, but in the end I decided to stick to the original plan. I worried I would end up adding unnecessary filler material and the story would lose the momentum. The ends of my stories are often set up in the beginnings so they become (a least in my mind) a ring. I wanted to keep that wholeness. Was it the right decision? I’ll only know for sure after The Unconquered Sun is released on 11th February 2016.
The best thing about not knowing what you’re doing is you are willing to attempt feats you would realize were difficult to almost impossible.
In 2004, I started the first draft of what would become The Golden Rule Duology. Back then, it had the snappy title of The Two-Thumbed Hand. (I don’t know why I changed it.) The story concentrated on the Ors, one of the five races in the Photocosm setting I’d created. Up till then, the Sables (the myrmidons of the Dark Light) had been the focus of my efforts, but the Ors captured my imagination so much, I had to write about them.
The book originally began at the start of the second section of A Bright Power Rising. My original plan was to see the entire story through the viewpoint of AscendantSun and NoName (who were DayRise and SunSet back then) but their interactions with the (human) Mixies became quickly unwieldy to write. The Ors were alien to the reader, while the Mixies were alien to the Ors. Explaining things became quickly convoluted. The story quickly became an onion of aliening. I cried every time I had to cut through the layers.
The problem with writing the alien is you are merely three letters short of alienate. While readers might enjoy the alien perspective, emotional resonance takes time to establish. The readers need ‘rules’. They need analogies. They need to relate the Ors’ reactions to their own emotions.
To ease the reader into this world, the Mixies’ role was expanded into what became the first section of A Bright Power Rising. The Mixies’ society became fleshed out. In some ways, they, too, are alien but they are recognizably human.
The Two-Thumbed Hand eventually became The Golden Rule. It was so long, a printed copy filled two thick ring binders. My initial readers came back with three clear issues. It was too long, it wasn’t long enough, but the ending was really good. Basically, I needed to slow down the pace to give people time to adjust to what was going on, and at the same time not inflict an excessively long story on them. I needed to split it into two volumes.
The initial problem was how to end the first volume. I wanted to tell a complete story, but I had to do so in a way that readers would want to read the next book. The third part of A Bright Power Rising was the result.
My beta readers loved it so I was soon off to get it edited. The first problem was where to get an editor. I must have looked at about thirty to forty different options. It’s an expensive decision, not simply in the initial financial outlay, but in time and morale. Picking the wrong editor can set you back. I wanted someone who knew what they were doing and would be brutally honest with the book’s issues. Fortunately, I lucked out by finding Finish The Story and Claire Ashgrove in particular.
I worked very hard through the editing process. I wanted the book to be ‘right,’ Ultimately, while it was at times painful, I learned an immense amount and the book improved beyond all recognition,
I had the book proofread a couple of times by Finish The Story and by Proofed to Perfection. One of the things always missed in the debates about errors in self-published books is that one proofreader is not enough to guarantee errors are minimized. My understanding is the big publishers use multiple proofreaders per book. Whenever I read a proofreader claim to never miss a mistake, I raise an eyebrow.
Everyone I’ve read talks of publishing for the first time as exciting. It is, but it is also nerve-racking. If I had to do it all over again, I would have first published a short story first to get familiar with the publishing process on Amazon, etc.
I was very happy with the final product. During editing, I weirdly get less satisfied with them when I haven’t read them a while, but when I reread them and get back into the story, my confidence in them returns. Fortunately, once they are published (unless some typo/error crops up), I just let them go as my brain starts work on the next book. It’ll be interesting to reread A Bright Power Rising in a couple of years. What will I think of it then?
The one issue I would change in a perfect world would be the pronouns for the Ors, given their genderless nature. I would have liked to use something like xe/xem/xyr for them. But as an unknown self-publishing my own book, I decided this would create a barrier for readers who were unfamiliar with the terminology. I couldn’t afford to come off as being willfully obscure.
NEXT WEEK: THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE UNCONQUERED SUN & THE PARTING GIFT.
I am delighted to announce that The Unconquered Sun will be released on 11th February 2016. It is now available for pre-order on Amazon HERE.
Ever wish you were someone else? AscendantSun is about to…
He is beset by foes. The Harbinger’s legions threaten the people he strives to defend. Critics among his own followers undermine him. The ambitions of his unreliable ally, Garscap Torp, endanger him at every turn. Worse, the blood-thirsty god he spurned is about to return. However, the greatest enemy he must face is himself.
The riddle set for him on the Crooked Stair will be answered on the bloody fields of Cliffringden. But will he survive it?
The following cover design by Paula Becattini.
I am indebted to everyone who voted in the poll. As thanks I’ve included anyone who left their names in the Acknowledgements.
The mobi version of the Parting Gift will be published on Amazon on 6th November.