Farisa’s Crossing blurb (as of Sept. 21, 2017).

Farisa’s Crossing is the first novel in a series (“The Antipodes”) featuring a strong female protagonist, circa-1895 (“steampunk”) technology, and mysterious sorcery. It’s undergoing heavy revision and improvement, and I’ll likely be publishing it between October 1, 2018 and November 30, 2020.

The Antipodes

It’s too hot. An ancient calamity has left the tropics uninhabitable, and impassible. Civilization thrives near the North Pole, where temperate climates exist; but the equatorial ocean reaches 47°C (117°F), generating hurricanes that last for months. Deserts broil. Jungles are full of strange creatures like skrums, ghouls, and the squibbani, who seem to have order and civilization of their own.

The hemispheres have been out of contact for at least 2,000 years. While rumors exist of a high-altitude path– the Mountain Road– between the two worlds, no one has ever crossed it and returned. The path, as well as is known, goes through dangerous cities, cursed caves, and deserts that can cook a man whole… and then vanishes, still more than a thousand miles from the equator.

State of the World

In the known world, humans have won. Dragons, orcs, and elves have been pushed to the margins, while the human population exceeds 1 billion. Technological marvels like steamships, telegraphs, and machine guns dominate the world. Trains achieve a blistering pace of 25 miles per hour. Plank turnpikes, supporting ornate horse-drawn carriages, connect the cities. Yet, all is not well. The industrial economy is in decline. Age-old ethnic hatreds are broiling. Cryptic graffiti on city walls indicates danger, while refugees pour into and out of continents. Economic inequality is tearing civil society apart, while threatening changes in climate suggest a terrifying future.

The Global Company

Fifty years ago, Alcazar Detective Agency was a private, corporate army that busted unions, rigged elections, and occasionally hunted down a witch or sorcerer. Now it’s the Global Company. It used to work for businesses; now it is the only business that matters. Alcohol, fuel oil, railroads, espionage and murder-for-hire; it does everything it can, and controls 70 percent of the known world’s economy. It hasn’t lost its taste for mayhem, and it’s running out of world to conquer. An executive includes a grisly murder in a corporate presentation– and his career thrives for it. Mysterious suicides by high-ranking officials mount. Atrocities are committed by (and within) the Company that even its patriarch, Hampus Bell, cannot prevent.

Though the largest stakeholder by far, and the world’s only trillionaire, Bell isn’t even safe from his own firm. He faces internal intrigue, bureaucratic incompetence, and the mysterious syr Konklava. Moreover, he seems to be losing his mind, advocating restraint and notably eschewing profanity one moment, and advocating cannibalism in the next.

The Blue Marquessa

Magic’s real. No one doubts that. However, mages suffer from a terrible disease known as “the Blue Marquessa”. Every spell has a cost; in this world, everything has a consequence. A mage must be careful; the practice has led many to insanity or early death. It’s considered rare for one to live past the age of thirty.

The Heroine

Farisa is “from everywhere and nowhere”, a refugee who managed to get a teaching gig at the most prestigious university in the world. She’s a brown-skinned girl in a snow-white land, a bookish erudite in a dumb war, and a lover in a world where hate thrives. When she loses her job, when her house is burned down, when she’s accused of a crime that she could not possibly have committed, and when ancient monsters begin crawling out of hell, she’s forced to rely on her wits… and her magic, for all the dangers that come along with it.

26 April ’94

It’s two o’clock in the morning. It’s humid, but the sky glows red. Something awful happened. Farisa remembers only vague details. She fought something, and she won, and now she’s got to the hell out of danger. Barefoot, in ill-fitting clothing, having run for twenty or more miles already, she hurls herself into the declining industrial city, Exmore. Danger finds her before she’s in town for five minutes, and promises to follow her up to (and, maybe, past) the edge of the world.

The two most powerful people in the world are drawn into a conflict that neither of them wants to fight. Farisa must avoid Hampus Bell (and his spies) to survive. Hampus must find Farisa, or he’ll face danger within his own company. The only safe place left for Farisa is… the Antipodes. But she’s not the only person who wants to go there. Ongoing wars are pushing refugees to the South, while the Global Company runs out of world to conquer, and its grandest aspirations require more “living space” than the known world has. The stakes get higher and higher with every mile, and soon it’s not only Farisa’s fate that hangs in the balance… if the worlds are joined again, the planet itself stands at risk.

Farisa meets a gun-toting steam-era knight in a leather jacket, a beautiful resistance fighter with a secret past, and one of the most dangerous spies in the world. She purchases Jakhob’s Gun, a trash novel believed to hold coded messages. She fights orcs and ghouls and dragons and even other mages. Her skills develop; her wits sharpen. She finds love and friendship. At the same time, her memories of that awful night– the night her world fell apart, the night the monsters spilled out of hell– return, and she realizes not only who she is but who she was, and that might be the most dangerous thing of all.

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7 thoughts on “Farisa’s Crossing blurb (as of Sept. 21, 2017).

  1. Nice blurb. It would have been better and more concise as comics.

    > It’s undergoing heavy revision and improvement, and I’ll likely be publishing it between October 1, 2018 and November 30, 2020.

    Why does it take so long to finalize the first book? I thought you were almost done. Do emergencies make you delay the writing?

    • Good question. So, no emergencies. I just kept discovering ways to make the book better. I spent five months closing up plot holes, accentuating character definitions, resolving contradictions and so on.

      After studying story structure and writing styles intensely (which was easier now that I’d actually written something big, so the ideas stuck and were relevant to something I had just done) I realized there were so many ways I could turn the 6-ish book I’d written into an 8, maybe a 9… maybe even a 9-point-something.

      First-draft writing isn’t the limiting factor. There are writers who only do first drafts and then toss it off to underpaid teams to make the prose and story actually work– certain millionaire best-sellers come to mind– but I refuse to take that lazy attitude. In terms of first-draft speed, I can write 1500 words per hour of coherent prose. So, I could theoretically crank out a first draft in a week or so, if I didn’t do anything else. What I’ve learned, though, is that that’s rarely the most productive way to write. You need time for ideas to percolate and life experience (seemingly unrelated to writing) to transmute into inspiration. If you write for 15 hours per day (which I can’t do, because I have a job) then you never get those out-of-the-blue inspiration moments (in the shower, or at work, or talking to someone about something unrelated) that solve three problems at once.

      Timetable, from where I sit now… if I wrote the first draft, then did each revision pass (I have many– one for plot, one for characters, a line edit, one for scene structure) in turn, I’d get the first draft done by November. But I already know how the story goes, so I’m in no rush, and I have a staggered schedule that mixes polishing and writing (so I can send half-decent batches to beta readers). The whole block of work– initial writing, revision and editing, incorporating reader feedback– should be done around June 2018 at my current pace. That seems to be the right speed for this sort of thing. If I rush, I’ll be able to “finish the job” more quickly, but it won’t be as good as it can be.

      Then I have to get it professionally edited. Yes, I’m qualified as a professional-level editor. But, just as lawyers hire other lawyers and doctors see other doctors, smart writers hire editors. The reason George R. R. Martin’s recent books have been terrible is that he seems to have stopped listening to his editors (if he didn’t outright fire them) after Game of Thrones. That adds another 6 weeks at least, which puts us to the end of July.

      If I self-publish, I’d like to get it out by October 1, 2018. I’d have to discover something seriously wrong with the book (and I think I’ve worked out the kinks) for it to go more than 3 months beyond that.

      However, I want to look into trade publishing. I think every writer should give that a shot, even if it’s time-consuming and involves detrimental personalities. It’s not about the advance– who cares about that, given that it only matters if someone STB and your book doesn’t sell?– it’s about the intangibles, like getting your publisher to get you reviewed and say “next call is from my boss to your boss” if people don’t do the right thing. That only happens if you get a lead title deal– and otherwise, TP is unambiguously not worth it– but it’s worth seeing if the fish bite. Ad dollars don’t drive book sales, but social proof does, and that’s derived from benefits like a New York Times review that come down to relationships (they aren’t based on merit, but you can’t buy them; that’s why you need an arm-twisting power agent and a trade publisher who’ll make the “next call is from my boss to your boss” and “if you don’t do the right thing here, your kid never gets into [prestigious Manhattan preschool]” calls to make sure you get reviewed and that your book gets put in a highly-trafficked section of the store).

      If I’m going with TP, then I need to get an agent, which means I need to play their fucking obnoxious, time-consuming, imbecilic query game, which is full of months-long status waits that serve no purpose. (Actually, the purpose they serve is to make writers feel like they work for their agents, as opposed to the reverse.) So, change that to “no *beneficial* purpose”. Then, the publishing process itself takes time, and some of that is waste and negging (in publishing, everyone tries to neg authors into taking shitty deals… which is why most books get no promotion and rot on the shelves… and publishing’s favorite way to neg people is to make them wait for things that can actually be done instantaneously) although some of the delay is worth it. Even if you self-publish, making a great book takes time. Just for a start, you have cover design, getting reviews, putting the word out, copyediting, and even proof-level details like typesetting.

      So, yeah. Oct. 1, 2018 likely if I decide to self-publish. If I go through trade publishing, closer to 2019-2020… which is a big part of why I won’t even touch TP unless I get a lead title deal. “Regular” publishing deals are basically VIT, Vanity-In-Trade; you give up the rights (including e-book rights, which hold a lot of long-term value) in exchange for a pathetic advance and no publicity, just to have a physical book that’ll end up in boxes in your garage.

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