Song of the Mysteries Status Updates

Thanks so much, Walt and Jeff, for your votes of confidence. Means a lot.

Update: whelp, Chapter V's revised sequence is ON FIRE! It has now taken off like a rocket, thrown grappling hooks into stuff in All directions, has plenty of edge of your seat tensions, ramped up plenty, and - ah, yes - the slam dunk of a punch line I wanted.

I could barely keep up on the keyboard, fitting all the bits into their place - essential to get the entire sequence tagged together while it is hot. Have that draft in place, now…what's left is to finesse it, re-check from the start to be sure it plays smoothly (no artifacts from where it was revised) and to smooth out and sharpen the (existing) scene at the finish…with a decision to make regarding Where to break the action off - in full, with a LOOOONG main chapter, or spin it into a sub chapter finish that will set up the (already started) scene of the next subchapter.

What a bonus, a FUN Day of writing high, after weeks of pulling teeth.

I will dig back in if eye strain will allow/into the evening, and at some point soon, reassess for a page count.

Worth The Struggle.

originally posted by Judy

I, for one, am more than willing to wait as long as the creator deems necessary in order to get story that meets or exceeds what went before. Too many multi-book series seem to turn into, as Yogurt would say, "the quest for more money." TWOLAS ain't such a beast and I love it for that. It's a constantly evolving and growing character piece within an intriguing world that also changes as a result of our characters' actions. I impatiently want more but understand it takes time. I'll wait.

Re the update. I can guess who the "pissed" individual is and can't wait to see what he (my guess) does. I wouldn't want him truly angry at me!

originally posted by Laneth Sffarlenn

It must be said that your dedication not only to your craft but to your forum here is nothing short of incredible.

That you would clarify your process to such a degree so that we have such an intimate understanding - despite many of us here having stuck with you for so very long now and have seen it unfold with your updates and such - just goes above and beyond.

Since discovering Mistwraith around the same time that I left home, some twenty years ago now, your craft has been an absolute favourite - far eclipsing your contemporaries and other authors of time gone.

The intricacy and efficiency with which you craft your narrative, the layered and long-reaching threads that oft aren't revealed in their true light for entire volumes; the deftness that you employ to strike at the heart of the reader, grappling and leading them on a journey so vast it spins the mind - it's awe inspiring.

Surely not for everyone, but folk need to understand that you can simply not like something and move on without the need to express vitriolic opinion or tear others down to sate your desire for some misplaced and imagined personal slight.

As others have said, countless times, one is beyond content to await your own satisfaction with the text - especially when one remembers that you are indeed also a human being.

Thank you again for sharing Janny, you honour us all.

I read that other thread and winced when it started to get heated. The fact that the "too slow" post came from someone who clearly loved the series highlights a problem with how the Internet and author accessibility have changed our expectations. It's at the point where trying to make people understand the logistics of writing is a full-time job itself, and authors can either spend all day correcting misconceptions on the Internet or let them slide and write something that proves itself worth the wait.

No matter how often you explain why the publishing industry has churned, why you can no longer write as a full-time vocation, or why each chapter requires perfection (and you have explained all of this, in spades, in many venues at many different times!), the word will not reach every single reader. There are simply too many communications channels available, and even with helpful fans as your ambassadors (like the ones who tempered the conversation in the "too slow" thread), it's impossible to establish a shared understanding across the entire audience. I almost think we need a highly compressed (3 - 4 paragraph) FAQ page that captures these nuances, distilled from all of your posts on the subject(s). At least that way, your ambassadors in other forums can easily point people to the info when a misconception rears its head.

On a separate note, let us know if there are tangible things we can do to support your work beyond cheerleading. I've bought book copies for friends before and do what I can when WoLaS-related threads appear in forums I frequent (when it makes organic sense, so I don't appear to be a shill). I would also totally chip in a few bucks to rainy day / sick horse fund if it gave you more control over your writing!

originally posted by Clansman

I agree with all of my colleagues above, Janny. You have trained us to expect nothing less. Too many series started out with great expectations, and then the lure of regular publication and the profits to be made resulted in poor character development, big plot holes, and series bloat. When Brandon Sanderson took over WoT, he had to be brutal with a number of story lines that did not add to the story, and he brought them to sudden and brutal ends to focus the story (Masema knifed in the heart by Faile, ending his storyline "like a sitcom character", or the whole Whitecloaks story just petering out, etc.). WoT is a perfect example of what can happen when the author just lets creativity run wild, and doesn't spend the corresponding amount of time editing the story to ensure it works.

A long time ago Janny, I read how you completely separate the creative process from the editing process, and it is a method that I have employed myself in my professional writing (for those who don't know, I'm a lawyer and mediator). It works exceptionally well because, as Janny puts it, the two processes are diametrically opposed. In teaching my daughter how to write university papers, as she was agonizing over each sentence of each paragraph, I stopped her cold, and said "just BARF it out on the page! Get some kind of information down, and just keep going until there's none left in your notes, then STOP. Go for a walk, have coffee with a friend, etc. then edit the chaos you have created. Better still, finish your BARF a week before the paper is due, let it sit for 24 hours while you do other stuff, and then edit. Then BARF more, then edit, tune, refine."

A number of authors just BARF, having a technicolour story that is chaotic with good bits, bad bits, and some really awful bits. Or, they just give up, and stop producing the real story while HBO scripts take it over. 8 years since ADWD, George. 8. Just be honest and say it will never happen.

Janny, seeing your process explained shows how refined it is. To refine gold, it must be fired at high temperatures in a crucible to remove the impurities. That takes time and intense heat. I for one am more than happy to wait so you have time, because I know you have the determination to bring the heat necessary to make this story second to none, the pure 24K gold we have come to expect from you.

I believe I speak for the entire congregation when I say "thank you, Tailspinner, for your dedication to your craft, your characters, and your fans". We know you won't let us down.

Thank you Judy, Llaneth, Brian, Clansman - everyone who's commented here. I definitely know this post was not written for those of you who understand this series in its fullness and entirety. I was providing ammo, actually - so IF you see someone saying something without complete understanding - my process can be made transparent.

You are all free to quote this post (it is public) in any way you see fit.

What can be done, meantime? I can try to post here more often/say, I have to paint for 30 days, or, this section is going slow (or this one is a breeze). Not every chapter is difficult. But as the series closes down, every single chapter has to be brutally precise/and the low hanging fruit (the obvious devices and reveals) have already been done before, so the invention demand gets higher. (Why some long series bog - it gets HARDER).

What else can be done?
The publisher is running in the UK (and some other countries, just not US/CAnada) this promotional sale for Mistwraith, and availability for KU. Get the word out WITH a description of what the series entails - because many will download it/and not bother to read it and just as many COULD download it with expectation of a simpler story and hit the wall. Posts that prepare them, reviews that prepare them - that refine the perception right now WILL change the algorithm and make the series a lot more visible. If the algorithm shifts, more publicity will happen while I am only writing. Even if you only star rate this series, ALL THE BOOKS - there are 'some' people who won't read a book beneath a certain 'star' average - won't even LOOK at it - they won't bother to look at the graph (more readers satisfied, few one stars pulling the average) - so just clicking a star rating helps so much. Some sites don't even HAVE any feedback for these books at all - particularly the later volumes (everything after Peril's Gate) - the further along the series, the LESS coverage the books have. Crowd sourced help can re-balance that. Some readers do drop off in a series - but if there are so few reviews and ratings, it looks like it's the book's flawed (on the surface take, that is). But many rule their decisions by that surface take.

Update any forum posts you know of - one particular forum has a dedicated thread, and NOBODY has posted there since 2018. The Gallant, Black Bargain, and The Decoy are all available in ebook at Paravia - no updates for them/hence no visibility.

Any announcement of this 'sale' opportunity - which is temporary/time limited.

Any appreciation threads, any rating, ANY review, any discussion thread on public forums feeds visibility. Right now, while there is no book shelf presence in the chain stores - internet visibility is critical…until the algorithm catches up and starts matching this book with others of similar caliber, it is Not Seen. What I notice is that, a great comment/review/momentary mention DOES push the stats, but, they die back. It takes constant presence. I don't like to ask this of ANYONE, but it truly makes a HUGE difference.

And book sales add up to ME not having to scramble so hard to pay the bills. A more relaxed frame of mind means better quality writing time.

I should add: I am fiscally responsible, I do not live past my means, I DO have a cushion (was able to pay the vet costs when the horse went down)/we own our house and cars/paid off all loans when times were good. I don't need to do a patreon and I don't need to plead for folks to chip in.

I do need help with the visibility thing, because that I cannot do myself; and there are limits to what the publisher will do before the next volume comes out, and What they do then will depend on the new reader sales we can accrue NOW.

There is a run up time to make this happen, while I work on this draft.

You are ALL a great help, the fact some of you knew where 'that' post was and were willing to contribute, this is huge, and I thank you.

Brian: if you think something in the FAQ would help (about process) then copy the posts you think are relevant, and it may be that this page can be added. (I can't code, I have to ask for help with that/want this draft pretty well DONE before I tackle finding a person to redesign this site top to bottom).

It's lovely to see turnout here in my support. I did notice that some threads are not allowing posts - may be they have to be manually tweaked. If you are noticing this/wanted to add something but couldn't, feedback please.

It is entirely typical that the high profile writers who are not producing fast enough to satisfy their readership DO tar the pot across the boards. So I expect a certain number of people to bitch, just because they LOVE THE FIELD and are disappointed. It is their unhappiness and impatience speaking, not their malice, I truly believe.

It only gets maddening when there's an opportunity to MOVE this series' awareness forward, and a dissatisfied post colors the momentum right at the start of what could be a HUGE boost.

So yeah, I don't need to engage and correct the internet; but I did feel the need to provide you here with material that could flesh out the picture, where it crops up.

You are empowered by that, and therefore, so am I.

Thank you.

Janny, I will take on the task of putting together a brief FAQ summary with reference links to your longer public posts. Once you bless the text, I can put it on the Song of the Mysteries page in the Paravia Wiki – this avoids any manual website coding, makes it easy to update as you progress, and provides an easy-to-link page for people to paste in other convos. It also has the side effect of being the first thing new visitors will see when they reach the Song of the Mysteries page from Google (traffic on that front has modestly increased over the past year, with some visitors eventually discovering this forum).

Wow, Brian, thank you - you deserve a medal! And hearing that thereis an uptick on the Song of the Mysteries page is encouraging! Great to hear.

Today's update - draft was cooking along; I am still melting together the old and the new bits, and did a lot of work on the subsequent subchapter to mesh it together. More to go on that front, but the map is solid, just integrating and cleaning up the raw transitions. There is actually a solid stride forward in the page count I am happy with, too.

Today's update:

I am working on the finishing scene of the revised Chapter 5 set, which got longish. So either it will get trimmed/or - perked up with a spike or two of new insight, and then, torn off this main chapter and attached to the following subchapter, which has also been revised to take this bit and bridge it to the final subchapter…so I'm at work simultaneously on the finish of Main V, the Opening of Subchapter 5a, and its finish, and directly connecting that to the opening of 5b which is a game changer.

Chinese number puzzle in progress.

I will have a page count update when all this stuff settles out and the draft is 100 percent satisfactory for test read. (for draft; polish comes later/when the manuscript is complete).

Update today - another day finished. I had to pause to feed animals; run; dinner's in the oven, and my eyes (since 5 PM) are so strained from the screen I can barely see.

But: I have Chapter V main and the first subchapter nailed down - that's fifty pages of contiguous writing, revised and connected together. There are rough patches, yet, that need tinkering, but everything (old and new and inspired) at last lines up. It's in the barrel.

I will work on a little finessing tomorrow, and then it's straight up into the next subchapter.

Don was a white knight - he did the shopping today to refill the fridge.

I have been writing (except for animal feeding and a quick jog) nonstop since this morning.

Where am I?

Finishing the very last section of Set V.

The intensive overhaul of 75 pages is behind, now, (I was burning midnight oil for more than two weeks to get it all ironed out) and the way is clear to move forward. This section has a MAJOR surprise, brace for it…!

Page count is 332/of the material that is airtight. The major explosions (you may think there were some in the wind up, but oh man) are about to POP. Which means the opening bits are finally slotted to gether and ready to roll.

Did I ever mention I HATE the first third of a manuscript like this - ? Getting it right is a monumental, nitpicking crazy grind, but here we are.

originally posted by Danielle Tilley

Thanks for the update Janny!

I love following along and hearing your insights into how the book is being written. It makes me appreciate the end result so much more.

originally posted by DarthJazy

I love and hate your updates. always a pleasure to see your writing process but it makes the wait so much longer.

I nailed the first scene/opening of the next subchapter. Yay.

originally posted by Laneth Sffarlenn

That's the best news! Take that opening scene, you had no chance!

Where am I now?

Rounding up the last scenes of V set. I am currently thrashing out detail - choosing which of two POVs to break an enormous reveal…and not sure this moment which (or both) will deliver the most punch. So it's another game of 'on page' experimentation. Also, fitting out the timeline - is this reveal going to be Quick or run out over a time span…and how much of the repercussions will ride over the one line snapshots I've already figured in, one of which is probably dated/that info was already delivered more emphatically in the revised 75 pages, which leaves room for…yup, get the picture?

In the timeline of how much time I was away from my desk since Feb 1:

Don just left for a MAJOR, week long art and antiques show down in Palm Beach, which required loud music in here to drown out the swearing while packing huge paintings - and a few trips away from the desk to lend muscle. Artists in action gets real…the crates to go into the truck were HUGE and very heavy and nobody wants a crushed finger. If I had a crater for every F bomb in the process, we'd have a moonscape. The good news: mission accomplished. Anybody who thinks a painting career is for wimps…guess again.

I had two search call outs, both of which took out a day, however, I made that time up working late and straight across weekends.

One day required me outside, dealing with a load of fill to fix the erosion around the barn, which we desperately needed done, and the arrangements (ongoing since last summer's wet season forced a cancellation) fell into our laps/no choice of timing.

I also had a phone call (scheduled) from my London Editor.

Every other day saw me at the desk, WRITING well into the late evenings, but for one night I had a lecture presentation for the Sarasota Fiction Writers' group.

Books are hard work…I am now pushing to complete this last scene - most of the subchapter's laid down and written solid, but getting the finale and one liners wrapped tight requires the meshing of the ideas…and that is the stupid bit I cannot predict. Let's see where I wind up at the end of the day.

End of day status update - ideas flowed nicely, there's a good spark to the scene, and I expect I'll have it completed very soon. The gist is down, it's now in the final stage of smoothing it out and cleaning up the rough spots.

Last subchapter in 5 set is all laid down. Just have to flesh out the one line snapshots. Puts the page count to 348.

originally posted by Annette

Thanks for all the background detail Janny. :smiley:

originally posted by Laneth Sffarlenn

Hopefully Don made it to the show safely and had a fun and successful time!

Your updates are so thorough, and are definitely appreciated; thank you Janny.