Fork—Road! And excerpt: the evil one

Isa's worktable potions

A multi-book series like The Sun Child Chronicles is a big project, with a lot of content to complete and coordinate, and a lot of tasks outside of writing. I’ve of course been working on content right along. But this week I also turned my desk lamp toward one of those outside tasks—answering the big question: How will I publish this?


A four-tine fork in the road Literally, the cliché fork in the road

The options are limited, of course. I can tick them off on the fingers of one hand, not even using my thumb. (And yes, that image is cliché. But I couldn’t resist.)

  • Get an agent and let them handle selling my book to a big, traditional publishing house, brokering a deal worth thousands.
  • Flag down a busy acquiring editor from one of those publishers and hook them on my book.
  • Find interested mid-sized or small publishers. These are called “indie” (for independent), but it’s still considered “traditional” publishing.
  • Publish the series myself. This gives me all the control over when and how, aesthetic and content. And it carries with it a whole new set of choices I won’t go into here.


Let me break that down, as they say

Honestly, I’d love to go with choice one—a great agent who loves my book who sells it to a publisher who loves my book… But it’s not that easy. I think I’d have a good chance if I were touting a brand-new book, standalone with the potential to become a series. After all, I have credentials as a traditionally published author, experience in the process, and so forth. But a little research has yet to yield any agent who’s likely to look at a the previously published, revised four books of a series, even though it brings along plenty of new writing including book five now and more to come.

Option two is similar. Dream-come-true potential, but also difficult to find. And working directly with such an editor puts negotiation on my plate, and I can’t say I’ve got great skill in that arena. The only time I ever proved to be great at bargaining was one summer long ago when I sold fireworks on the rez. A book deal is slightly more complex.

Option three… Been there, done that. It ended with me having to reclaim my rights because of that publisher’s behavior. Still, I won’t rule a small to mid-size publisher out, but it would have to be really attractive terms with a solid future. I’m not sure that animal still exists in the wild.


Which way is the wind blowing?

So, bottom line: even though my mind is not made up and I’m staying open to all the great maybes, the wind is blowing my land yacht steadily toward self-publishing.


Why could that be a good thing for readers?

Because I can focus on getting content ready to publish and then release on my own timeline, self-publishing could mean more book availability, sooner. And I’d be free to set discounts and giveaways, and maybe even a perma-free book. Generally, publishers don’t like that sort of thing, and they keep it under their control.

If I self-publish, I will continue to finish up book 5, but focus also on getting book one ready and released sooner rather than later. It’s a bit of work—I’m revising, polishing, updating it to make it an irresistible read. (Yes, you’re right, I should add “I hope” to that. But really, I’m certain it will be a fun read that will draw you right into Lucky’s life, and the troubles of the strange twin worlds he inhabits. Because there are “bad guys.”)


Speaking of the bad guys

So far I’ve introduced you to wizards, a warrior, and of course The Sun Child. But some of the people you’ll meet in the series are not the sort you’d want to invite over for brunch. Let me introduce you to Isa, the Witch-Mortaine, and Mordred Brede. He’s: evil, arrogant, and altogether unpleasant, and I’ve yet to decide if he has any redeeming qualities. On the other hand, Isa—the true twisted one in Key of Behliseth—has a tragic backstory.


Isa's worktable potionsIsa sat at the glass worktable in her chamber, surrounded by potions and powders and horrid things pickled in brine. Pale blue fire lit the room beyond, sending tints and shadows to dance over her pallid hands. Exhausted, she raised a steel chalice to her cracked lips with shaking hands.

She had delivered Mordred to Mahl, as she had promised. Time had been short, so rather than drag him along the usual twisting path to sorcery, she’d sustained him with her own tainted blood and drilled him nonstop. When he’d learned enough Dark Chant, when he’d gained the skills necessary to stifle and bend the mind of a preconditioned mob, then she judged him ready to meet his Master.

She’d nurtured Mordred’s cold heart, fed his quest for dark knowledge, bequeathed to him the core of her morbid sorceries. All that remained was to give him power. That he would get from the Ice-Lord, just as she had long ago.

For the last hour, she’d watched him writhe while the Master possessed him, infected him with the power of the void, the essence of Naught. As it ended, his tortured body arched painfully and collapsed, falling hard on the stone floor. A long, smoky breath escaped his lungs. Then, for a moment, nothing… until a gasp started him breathing again.

His eyes had been as deep and richly black as raven stones. Now, he looked back at her from discs of blue ice, shallow, pale eyes that mirrored her own.

“Mordred,” she called.

Mahl had forced him, she knew, to the very brink of death. When she beckoned, he struggled to stand, but couldn’t. In the end he crawled, a show of obedience she was pleased to see. If he had not obeyed, if he had thought to challenge her, she would have had to destroy him, and then all the energy she’d spent on him would have bought her nothing but Mahl’s wrath.


Lucky and his allies face a new round of opponents and problems with each book, but never fear. There is also love. Maybe next week we’ll talk about romance.

Thanks for reading! Comments always welcome.

Visit my page at And I tweet: @Lou Hoffmann.





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