Fracture (The Machinists, Book 1)

Allyn Kaplan’s life is anything but magical. As a first year associate at a prestigious Portland law firm, his professional life is on the rise. All that is turned upside-down by a mysterious attack on his life by strange people with stranger abilities. Thrust into an underground world of magic where rival Families are on the brink of war, Allyn wants only to return to his normal life and thriving career.

But distancing himself from this new reality is nearly impossible. Haunted by the attack and questioning why he was targeted to begin with, Allyn's questions only deepen with the sudden disappearance of his sister. The only place to turn for answers, and for help, is a Magi Family whose agenda he wants no part of. Yet with his sister's life on the line, he may have no choice but to pick a side.

June Writing Update

June Writing Update:

I’m alive! To be completely honest, this update is long overdue. I had originally wanted to provide an update every month, but looking back now I realize that idea is not only impossible, but overkill. That’s not to say I don’t want to provide updates, I do, but these larger sized updates take time and planning which takes away from my writing time–and as someone who works full-time, is married with two small boys, my writing time is limited as it is. So as a compromise, I want to put these larger updates out on a quarterly basis, while giving smaller ones every month or so.

That said, what’s been going on?

Well, Splinter has been out for six months, and continues to sell consistently. This is huge for me, because I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew how many copies of Fracture we had sold and I knew it was pretty well received, but I didn’t know what kind of appetite there was for a sequel. To my surprise, Splinter shot out of the gate, vaulting up the Amazon Bestseller lists in Urban and Contemporary Fantasy and stayed there for several weeks. Like Fracture, it seems to be pretty well received, and that’s really all I could ever ask for. For those that have read Splinter you know that there is a third book coming out titled, Martyr, but before I get to that I want to take a step back and talk about the series as a whole.

The Machinists series was always intended to be a multi-volume series. I’m not pulling a Jim Butcher or Kim Harrison and writing a 10-20 book series, but I think five or six books is a healthy size for this story. Five, because I like the way it lends itself to story structure; six, for…other reasons. Knowing this, I started to flesh out the series outline, highlighting key moments, key conflicts, and turning points before I began working on Martyr. I want to make sure we’re moving the story to a satisfying conclusion, while laying the groundwork for the exciting things that will happen in later books. So when I started working on Martyr I was already in outlining mode and decided I wanted to try something new. I wanted to write a detailed outline of the book too.

See, I’m a discovery writer (or what George R.R. Martin calls a Gardner). I don’t start writing until I know my entire first act (I’m a firm believer in story structure), but beyond that I only have a fuzzy idea of how the rest of the book will play out. I typically know my ending, or at least, an ending, and a couple key moments between it and the beginning, but it’s all very loose and can change if I want it to. It’s like knowing I want to drive from Portland to New York. I know I’m headed East, I know I’ll stop in Denver to visit my wife’s family, and probably catch a Cubs game at Wrigley, but beyond that, I have no idea. I don’t know where I’m getting gas, I don’t know where I’m eating, I don’t know who I’ll meet along the way. But I know I’m ending in New York. Well, with Martyr I wanted to try and build a solid outline hoping that it would quicken the actual writing process.

It didn’t.

Or, I should say, it hasn’t. I’m no longer discovering the story as I write it. I know it. It’s like re-watching a movie you just saw yesterday. It’s not as fun, and your more prone to distraction. I’m no longer like a reader, driven by the need to know what happens next, or how our heroes escape to become victorious. I already know all that, and it’s just not as cool. Having said that, and potentially having revealed too much, I’m incredibly proud and very confident in the story I’ve built. It’s going to be a good one! Martyr is bigger, we’re introduced to new characters and new settings (our conflict is going global!), and coolest of all, new villains. The stakes are bigger, the internal battles more personal, and above all, long held magi secrets will be revealed. If you like the first two books in The Machinists, I really think you’ll like this one.

Right now, I’m only about 20% of the way through my first draft–like I said, it’s been a slow process. But of that 20%, I don’t see any large scale story problems and hope that the rewriting and editing process will be shorter than my first two books (one of the benefits of outlining, right?). My tentative goal right now is to complete the first draft by November, and have the book ready by March of 2016. If I get into a good rhythm that could change. Ideally, as you can likely imagine, I’d like to get the book out in December like the first two, but right now that’s a pretty big stretch and I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep.

So… There we are. Fracture and Splinter continue to exceed my expectations, the entire Machinists series will be five or six books and has a loose outline to keep me on track, and Martyr is in the works and will likely be released in early 2016. I hope you enjoy these peeks behind the curtain, and understand my process.

As always, thank you for reading, and taking this journey with me. I’m forever grateful for every one of you.

Until next time…

Take care,

-Craig

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