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The Rubber Hits the Road

Having now finished the revisions of the second novel in The Ido Chronicles series, so that the manuscript is ready for submission for publication (with Untimely Books), I am proceeding into the revisions for the third novel. The second novel is called Messioph : The First Book of Ido. Attentive readers may note that this is not a sequel to Plenum, but a parallel story. This has to do with the nature of the series as a whole. The Ido Chronicles encompasses five parallel trilogies, each recounting the life of a distinct individual. The lives of all five of these individuals intersect in important ways, driving forward the story of the Chronicles as a whole. Roughly speaking, the three books that make up each trilogy occur in similar time segments as the corresponding book in the other trilogies. Therefore, it makes more sense to tell the five stories in parallel, than to unveil one trilogy and then move to the next. There will necessarily be spoilers in doing that, since each of the five trilogies recounts the same set of events. However, the trilogies are designed to provide sometimes startlingly different perceptions of these common events, so that reading pleasure will not be degraded when comparing the stories recounted in the different trilogies.

The sigils for the Five Factions in The Ido Chronicles - DeoFax, UmaFax, EngFax, EcoFax, IdoFax

Messioph : The First Book of Ido, that is, the second book of the Chronicles slated to go into print, concerns the early life of protagonist Grolier Desius (whereas Plenum dealt with the youth of protagonist Vanu Francoeur). Grolier becomes an active proponent of the faction called IdoFax, which views the evolution of human society to be organized in terms of understanding and managing paradox. Messioph concerns a series of catastrophic events that take place in a remote community of the nomads called grats. The decisions he makes during that period will, of course, cast their shadows across everything else he ends up doing later in life. Messioph, like Plenum before it, is a kind of space opera (a term used to describe stories involving space ships, although usually this means fleets and wars - in this case, although there are battles, the focus is very different, oriented towards human-scale issues such as family, interspecies communication, and issues of abuse).

The third book is called Pinnacle : The First Book of Eng. It concerns yet another protagonist, Oreph Sodenheim, although in this case the story interweaves Oreph's tale with that of another character, Relliana Sapuro. Relliana begins the story as a young woman, but over the course of the novel becomes someone, or something, different. Although I am revising the novel, there are aspects of the new version that are still coming into being, so I would prefer not to say too much about the overall shape of the story at this point.

What I did want to highlight, however, is that writing and publishing a project of this scale is a hugely daunting proposition. It has taken nine years from the initial set of ideas to get to this point, with one book in press, one book ready to submit and a third undergoing revisions. To move forward in the project requires considerable organization and a kind of artistry that needs to become confident. Even as recently as last year I lacked that confidence, but the last six months have seen me grow as a writer, no, as an author, in great strides. The difference between a writer and an author is often assumed to be the idea that the author is someone who has successfully mastered the publication process. They don't just write stuff, they publish it. The process of taking a raw manuscript and getting it ready for publication requires a whole set of skills that are largely different from those required to produce the manuscript in the first place.

I now feel, therefore, confident that the "rubber has hit the road", that the skill sets required, the collaboration infrastructure (from beta readers to editorial help and onto cover design and aspects of marketing), and the ability to ride herd over the whole exercise (okay, I mixed my metaphors!) have reached a level of maturity that the project should move forward more smoothly, at least for a while. Finishing the publication of the first books of each trilogy will complete the first stage of this work. The second books of each trilogy involve additional challenges which may require further adjustments, but with the experience I have already gained I am confident that the work will not exceed current expectations of difficulty. In general, the second books are substantially longer than the first books - they are more complex in terms of story-telling. They must also function as stand-alone books even though they follow from the first books, which presents its own challenges. And I'll worry about the third books when I get there - they present even more challenges, since their writing style is more experimental in general.

I really have the sense that this outlandishly ambitious project is now solidly underway and that delivery of the whole is within the realm of possibility. This is a big change from earlier times. And the road ahead also has its pleasures. Writing is an extraordinarily enriching process, and projects of this scope only enhance the pleasure. And hopefully, soon, I'll have readers to share the enjoyment.

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