Everything Old is New Again

So now that I’m on the downhill slope of releasing The Bonds of Osteria: Book Four of the Osteria Chronicles, I’m sure you’ve been kept up at night wondering what my next project might be. Sorry, I need a break from the series, so it’s not going to be book five. However, fans of the world of Osteria, shouldn’t dismay because there’s a whole heap of Osteria coming your way (ooh, that’s almost poetic).

The Never-Ending Project

My current work-in-progress has been “in progress” for about six years. Okay, I haven’t actually been working on it for six years, but I did pen the first word of it way back in 2012 when I was still fumbling around trying to write a book I felt good enough about to release. From the various colors of ink that have made their mark on the manuscript, it’s obvious I’ve come back time and time again to this book but kept getting tossed off its track to completion.

And what was derailing me each time? Research.

Why do you refuse to become a novel!!!???

This pesky project was a historical novel set in one of my favorite time periods: Ancient Rome (on which many aspects of Osterian life are based). Unfortunately, I’m no Roman scholar and there were some aspects of Roman life, politics, and history that I simply couldn’t nail down (for example, a huge chunk of time during which the biographies of one of the characters offers little information).

There were non-research related bits of this work that needed help such as my perpetual habit of “losing” characters in the narrative or not nailing down character motivation, but those are issues that would have been easy to work out if only I could get around that damned lack of information. Even though I loved the overall story line of this work, my inability to satisfy my need for accurate details meant I kept setting the manuscript aside.

Fantasy Fiction to the Rescue!

Anyone who is familiar with the Song of Ice & Fire series (aka “Game of Thrones”) and with English history will have realized that much of Martin’s war plot line stems from the War of the Roses and England’s other dynastic battles. Ever since realizing this myself, that old manuscript has been making noises from its spot in my closet.

Keep in mind my series The Osteria Chronicles is based on Greek mythology (plot lines), Roman history (settings, clothing, etc.), and my own twist to put the myths into a new setting (a very-distant future Pacific Northwest). Since my research-anemic historical novel was set in Ancient Rome, it didn’t take too big of a leap to think this old manuscript could be made into something new, something Osterian.

And the best part…it would require no additional research. As Sherlock (the Cumberbatchian version) would say, “The game is on.”

So What’s the Story??

The basic tale of this new work is that of Julia Domna, wife to Emperor Septimius Severus and mother to the Emperor Caracalla (he of ginormous baths fame). I’ll go more into what drew me to this story in a later post, but suffice it to say, her life and that of her sons had some serious drama–and potential for drama if you have a writer’s imagination–going on that really captured my interest.

Julia Domna striking a pose in Ostia Antica just outside of Rome.

For those of you familiar with The Osteria Chronicles, this new series is set quite a bit before events start shaping up for old Herc in book one. It centers on a time just when Osteria splits from being one cohesive realm (“empire”)into the twelve poli with the gods taking a stronger role in the affairs of his or her own individual polis.

So far, the book is fitting marvelously into the world of Osteria with a few tweaks to place and character names, adding in some centaurs and satyrs, and pulling in some oracles at just the right moments.

Septimius Severus, rome
Septimius Severus looking pensive at Rome’s Musei Capitolini.

The rewrite isn’t simply changing out a few names, though. First off, there’s those messy plot points to tidy up and the overall book needs a huge dose of tension thrown in. Because I’m not constrained by the history and get to put things into a fantastical setting, I’m able to play around with my characters far more than I could have, which has been loads of fun! For example, my vaguely threatening character from the historical novel is getting to become really creepy in the rewrite.

Serial Killer? Killer Serial!!

Even before I started rewriting the book in late February, this was a LONG manuscript – something like 150,000 words. However, I originally wrote it in three parts, with one part being long enough to split in two.

With it already divided up like this, my plan is to release the book in serialized form (like Stephen King did with The Green Mile and old timey writers used to do for magazines). This also has some marketing strategy behind it, which is also a topic for a future post.

Planning for Fall and Looking for Thoughts

As it stands now, I hope to have the first part of the serialization out in ebook format in the fall, probably sometime in October.

For you paperback fans out there, I’m toying with the idea of whether to release the book in one big tome or in the same serial format as the ebooks, so feel free to shout any input you have on that. And in case you’re wondering, sometime next year, I do plan to make an ebook box set of the series.

Writers, do you have any experience with releasing serialized fiction? How did it work out? Readers, how does a serialized book sound to you? How long in between the releases would you want to wait? And of course, what has everyone been up to this week? I’ll be back Saturday with A St. Patrick’s Day special with Finn McSpool!!

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13 thoughts on “Everything Old is New Again

  1. Some people prefer long tomes. Others of us prefer they’re broken down into separate books. I’m reading a really long novel for my book club now, and I’m starting to lose patience because I want to move onto something else. It’s really about the individual reader, so it’s hard to know the best approach. I think with the genre you write, however, people would be fine with a long book.

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    1. Hi Carrie, I’m the same way…I start getting itchy to read something new after about 300 pages or so.

      I am set on splitting this for the ebook just to get a steady stream of releases for those pesky Amazon algorithms, but am still tossing around the idea of releasing the full book as a paperback before the ebook serialization is complete. My idea is that this strategy would give my print readers a little bonus by not making them wait, and might lure a few ebook folks to the print book. It’ll be an interesting experiment, regardless.

      I do know some epic fantasy works are realllllly long, but since this is more historical fantasy/mythological fantasy, I have a little leeway with shorter books.

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  2. Oh wow, it’s like your old book finally crawled out of its cocoon and became a butterfly! And not only do you get to publish this story at last, a prequel means that we as readers get an insight into how the world of Osteria came to be. Genius! As for the paperback question, I think one long tome or a maximum of two shorter ones (if the single book really is massive). I’m not opposed to the idea of many short books released regularly, but from a practical point of view, one book means only paying for postage once, and only one lot of packaging. And of course, I’m definitely ok with the whole of the story being available to book readers before the e-book crowd get their hands on it! 😜

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    1. Well, “butterfly” might be a bit strong…maybe more like a drab little moth. As for the paperback, I’ll have to see how long it ends up being but I am hoping to go with the single “special release” option just after the second ebook serial comes out in November-ish. Sort of using that “don’t wait for the rest of the series, get it all NOW” marketing angle. Late night infomercial coming soon!😂😂😜

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      1. Not yet…it’s always been my dream to have an Osterian line of crappy products you’ll use for a week and then never touch again. 😜😂😜

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  3. Ohhh how exciting!!! What a great idea – I’m so glad you have been able to incorporate it into Osteria, and we’ll get to experience a bit more of the history. There’s no point in slaving over a manuscript if you’re not enjoying it, and your angst to get over the research stumbling blocks probably would have shown in the final product. But this alternative version sounds great! Hmmmm as for to tome or not to tome…. I suppose I would probably prefer the paperback version to be one long book. But how very Dickensian of you to serialise the ebooks! 🙂

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    1. It is nice to finally be enjoying this manuscript rather than dreading it and the lack of historical constraints is really adding to the story line, even if some of the history is tripping me up as I try to twist it into something Osterian. And wait, did you just compare me to Dickens? I’m just like Dickens, you said it!! Success!!!

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      1. Haha yes, I said it, you’re following in Dickens’s footsteps!!! You’re Dickens!!!! One day Herc will be your Pickwick Papers!!!! But no, really, you two do appear to map out elaborate story lines in the same way and keep people on the edge of their seats! I pronounce success!

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      2. That’s it, I’m changing the tagline on my website to something like, “Said to be a modern-day Dickens” or “Pretty much just like Dickens…if he was an American woman with an Irish monster.”

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