Series Poll

Looking to after Halls of Power and the Ancient Dreams trilogy, I’m putting this up to show people what sort of stories I have in mind, and let people give me their opinions on which ones they’d be interested in seeing next.

I’m going to be up front and state that these are simply the stories I’m interested in writing after I finish Halls of Power and Before the Godsrage (if you’ve missed it, this will be an anthology giving background on several characters). These will not be coming out necessarily quickly. The ‘Completion’ is to give a guess of how much I already have done on a story for the first draft. Also, I’m listing them in alphabetical order, not by order of preference! Oh, and the titles are not all set in stone, they’re working titles.

Also, my wife has pointed out that it might be best for me to do a standalone book before diving into another series, just to take a breather. This is a possibility as well.

Born a Queen: This is an alternate earth superhuman setting, set in the year 2030, thirty years after superpowers truly emerged in the world. This is a lesbian romance of sorts, though in ways this is even darker than Ancient Ruins (all in segments I’m going to shy away from, but implications will be there). Tentative sequel titles: Down with the Queen and Off with Her Head.
Main Character: Lilith Carpenter is the masterpiece of the villain known as Shadowmind. Created from using DNA samples from hundreds of heroes, Shadowmind once intended to transfer her mind to the newly cloned body, only to have a sudden twinge of motherly compassion overwhelm her. Lilith was going to be her ‘daughter’, but Shadowmind was captured, and Lilith emerged alone and confused, to be given directions by the villains AI system. Far more than a normal human, her body idealized in many ways to what Shadowmind wanted for herself, Lilith nonetheless seems to have no superpowers, and is simply out to find a place for herself in the world.
Plot Overview: Lilith eventually moves to San Francisco, well after Shadowmind is incarcerated under sedation. There she has several chance encounters with one of the heroines who captured Shadowmind, and finds herself drawn into a conflict between the heroes of San Francisco and multiple factions of villains. Much of the book ends up being slice of life, however.
Overall Length: This could be a stand-alone book, though I have the material to create a trilogy in mind, or possibly even more.
Completion: 75%. Technically this story is finished, with approximately 75,000 words (Ancient Ruins is 117,000 words, by comparison). However, based on what I’m remembering of it and likely rewrites, I believe I’ll have to rewrite a quarter of the book and expand sections to make the story more fleshed out. This story is the closest to true completion.

Dreams of White: Yes, I know this is very similar to the Ancient Dreams trilogy title. This one came first. Unlike every other story idea I’ve had, this one is all about the adventure, not about the relationships between characters. Dreams of White was conceptualized as a seven-part Pathfinder RPG adventure path to take characters from nigh unto the lowest levels of the game to the greatest heights of power… but I only finished writing the first two parts of this. This is a High Fantasy/Epic Fantasy Quest, with multiple twists. Part 2 is dark enough to give me the slight creeps.
Main Characters: We have two characters, Michael Lighthand, a healer who is outraged by recent hobgoblin raids and who possesses a hint of wanderlust, and Jaine Forest, a half-elf traveling to where her elven mother is said to live in the western forests of the Elder Woods (which would probably be renamed). Both are young and plucky, but will be joined by a manipulative noblewoman and a dwarf determined to reclaim his mother’s honor. I’ve only got basic profiles for each, as this was not originally intended as a novel series, but as something for a game.
Plot Overview: Things begin in the foothills of the Iron Peaks, a mountain range that cuts off the trade roads of the Golden Way from the lush lands of the Elder Woods. A group of hobgoblins have blockaded the pass through the mountains and are raiding the surrounding lands for slaves. Jaine and Michael team up to succeed where the caravan mercenaries have failed, only to find that not everything is as it seems. A shadowy figure has cast their shadow over the region, and plans centuries in the making are moving once more, plans that involve the legendary White Queen of the Fey.
Overall Length: This will depend a lot on how long the books actually take. I haven’t written anything on them, but at a guess, this would end up being a seven-book series, which I find somewhat daunting. The story twists and turns, but I have the full plot already worked out, and have plenty of notes to work off of for the first two parts out of seven.
Completion: 0% (60% for the background notes for everything? Game stats are weird, but it gives me a LOT to work with).

Sisters of Radiance: I’m terrified of even addressing this one in many ways. The beginning is nuts, and I often feel that the rest of the story doesn’t fit the opening. This is a lesbian fantasy romance, with elements of high fantasy. A lot of it is worldbuilding, and the stranger in a strange world.
Main Characters: There are two main characters, Lady Anar, and Noctis. Lady Anar is one of the derran, a demon-descended race who dominate a large continents next to the vampire-like Vorpir Kingdoms. Descended of the Imperial line, Anar possesses the gift or curse of perfect foresight, but with significant limits. Save in rare situations when a situation is apocalyptic enough to trigger a vision, she has to set a specific goal, and her Gift tells her whether a given decision is good or bad for the purpose. Using her Gift, Anar chose to step down from her position as she searched for the route to find her true love, and has spent nearly fifty years in her search, becoming one of the most skilled artificers in the Derran Empire.
Noctis is a newly minted knight of the Sisters of Radiance, devotees of the Goddess of Swords of another universe that dies in the prologue. The last resistance against the onslaught of darkness in their universe, she is incredibly powerful by the standards of the Derran Empire, but she has grown trusting of others who don’t radiate the taint of darkness. Thus, with her faith shaking due to a perceived failure of her goddess, the young elf trusts a group of derran without question when she arrives, only to find herself beaten and captured to be sold as an exotic slave, where she is found by Anar.
Plot Overview: The relationship between Anar and Noctis is not guaranteed. This began as a serial story of sorts, and thus has evolved over time. There are dark undercurrents in the Derran Empire, and though Anar wishes the best for Noctis, she has blind faith in her Gift that sometimes leads to hardships. Yet worst of all, not just those who followed Light escaped Noctis’ previous world. This has large sections of world-building, due to Noctis being clueless about where she ended up.
Overall Length: This would likely be a book and its sequel, possibly expanding to a trilogy. I’m not sure how long it would actually go, but there you go.
Completion: 60-70%. I have approximately 62,000 words complete on Sisters of Radiance, and I’m not sure exactly how long it’ll end up, but I generally aim for 90k-100k words for a book.

Through the Fire: A Young Adult High Fantasy Lesbian Romance, this would be perhaps the mildest of the books I had in mind, with the least potentially creepy content… but even it has some, I’ll admit it. It’s set in the same overall world as Sisters of Radiance, on the opposite side of the globe.
Main Character: Ruethwyn Sylaris, an elven commoner from the village of Mellesyn, is the only survivor after a dragon attacks the town and abducts the vast majority of other women in the village. She’s crippled by the soul-burning fire of the dragon, one of her arms burnt away and severe burns across half her body, but somehow she survived. Despite it also nearly crippling, her magic, Ruethwyn goes to the Tyrness academy, still determined to make her teacher proud and find away to rescue those who had been stolen from her. She is a prodigy for her age, able to cast spells like most master spellcasters, but far from the peak of her potential, especially since her magic was crippled. Still, she doesn’t give up.
Plot Overview: Enraged by an attempt by a bordering human nation to kill him, the dragon Shadowgrave expanded his borders and razed the human and elven villages inside the new territory, taking the comely women within as his prizes, leaving behind only a handful of survivors, including Ruethwyn. The story will encompass her adventures at the Tyrness Academy of Magic, until she eventually leaves to find a way to heal her body, and finally to rescue those kidnapped by Shadowgrave. To be clear, she has no chance of defeating the dragon in direct battle, and such is not the story I am looking at telling.
Overall Length: This would be a trilogy, full-stop, though I could see a sequel trilogy as well. I have Plans for this one. Who knows if they’ll come to fruition.
Completion: 20-30%. I have approximately 30,000 words complete, but it would need heavy re-writing due to a writing style I have since abandoned.

These are the four ideas that are most tempting to me, and I would like it if people could let me know which they feel are their favorites among them.

24 thoughts on “Series Poll

  1. I’m torn between Born A Queen and Through The Fire, but Born just about wins on the basis of superhero stuff is fun. And/or disturbing depending on how dark you go on the villainy front.

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    1. I am desperately trying to control my instincts as a GM of making the bad guys as horrifying as possible. I don’t know that I’ll succeed, but the one in question is a misogynistic, psychotic jerk with access to biotech. He’s a piece of work.

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  2. Personally I’m really hoping for the dreams of white series, although I’ll read any of those mentioned if they are on KU. My reason for suggesting the dreams of white series is that if you are looking to really do something different from ancient dreams, despite the name similarity I think writing a litrpg book would be the most refreshing and radically different. Also think litrpg is really doing well on amazon right now so it might get you more attention on the site.
    P.S. Ive had a litrpg craving for a little and there is not much good stuff out there, so there is my admitted bias.

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    1. Unfortunately, Dreams of White wouldn’t be a LitRPG story. Yes, I’m using Pathfinder/D&D for inspiration for it (I started writing it for those systems, after all), but it wouldn’t be limited to game mechanics. Amusingly, the main characters were support characters I put into the story… but that’s a different subject entirely.

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  3. I think it has to be Through the Fire for me. Protagonists overcoming/dealing with some type of disability I always find interesting to read (it’s often a bit troublesome with fantasy settings that have powerful magic, but it just feels wrong to have heroes go through a dozen near-death situations and they come out of them all with barely a scratch, if you know what I mean). I’m a bit skeptical about making her special-powerful, even if only in theory (is that really necessary? Maybe it’s more her determination or cleverness that gets her ahead of others…) and it seems rather unclear to me why a dragon would bother with abducting women, but eh (can we do a twist and have him abduct men for a change? ;p )

    I’ll just list what didn’t convince me about the others, make of that what you will:
    Born a Queen: would probably be my second choice so I don’t mind how the vote is going 😉 However, lacks some sort of interest-hook, for me, and the set-up seems a bit random (sudden mother instincts for a clone project thing? Seems pretty weak)

    Dreams of White: sounds like a fairly stereotypical fantasy story. Naw.

    Sisters of Radiance: again, the setup sounds kinda random (she’s super-strong but gets defeated by some random slavers?). Not sure about that “true love” thing either. Might otherwise be interesting, but dunno.

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    1. I have the issue of liking all of them. Through the Fire has gone through several iterations, mostly me trying to figure out how to start the story. Originally it began in the aftermath of the dragon attack, but it was too… slow, for lack of a better term. And while I say she’s a prodigy, she’s not that far ahead of her peers. The difficulty of advancing a character’s knowledge of magic grows almost exponentially in the setting with each rank (she’s 3-5 out of 10, depending on which school, and most mages never get past 7-8. Her classmates are 2-3, and have the talent to catch up). Also, Shadowgrave has a reason for kidnapping women, but I’ve decided to back it off to simply using them as trophies to torment the surrounding nations, and pretty things to look at. And changing his gender to a female and/or changing to abducting males would screw up my entire plotline, since I only write lesbian main relationships. >_>

      Born a Queen: In all honesty, I’m simplifying the situation a lot to avoid giving out too many spoilers. It’s more that Shadowmind wondered how the individual would react if they were their own person, and changed her mind about possessing the body. She can always make another one, after all.

      Dreams of White: It does sound like sterotypical fantasy, doesn’t it? It isn’t, but it has a lot of the same elements and buildup. Nothing is entirely as it seems, though.

      Sisters of Radiance: Only so much you can do when you eat drugged food and then get ambushed with clubs while napping. She’s personally very strong, but she just became a knight so is among the weakest of her order. Anar… yeah. This entire story is problematic in places, and I’m trying to figure out what I need to adjust to make it more appealing. I’ll think on it and figure it out.

      Honestly, I probably will write all of them, save maybe Dreams of White, eventually. It’s a question of priorities to me.

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  4. Born a Queen and Through the Fire are about equal for me, but I voted for Born a Queen because you already have a full draft and only need to rewrite. Your wife pointed out that a standalone story would be a good breather, and I think that starting a book that not only has a trilogy but sequel trilogy attached is the opposite of that desire. Nonetheless, Through the Fire is the book that’s the most compelling out of all the ones you listed. I may not have voted for it (the poll doesn’t allow more than one vote), but I’d be eager to read it.

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  5. So my clear preference would be Born a Queen. I like superhero novels, both the kind where everything is idealized and the kind where the authors try to see how dark the wrold would get when individuals are able to destroy cities. It sounds like you plan on this being the latter.

    I have the same feeling as Pyoro when it comes to Dreams of White, sounds like a Pathfinder campaign. Which is fine but in that event I feel like the characters need to do the heavy lifting. I cared about Drizzt more than the fight scenes Drizzt was in, y’know?

    Sisters of Radiance I worry about the problematic elements. More than anything, sex/romance within an unequal power structure is just icky and there isn’t a more unequal power structure than master/slave (of the non-consentual, non-BDSM kind).

    And while Through the Fire could be interesting (side note, why the hell would a dragon have the same beauty standards as humans/elves and/or a preference for women?) I’m worried about ablest elements when you’re dealing with magically fixing your body. If you went this route I’d strongly recommend talking to those who are disabled, be they from birth or veterans, just to get a feel for their stories and the problems they have adapting to society.

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    1. Born a Queen: This is a mixture of Gritty and Idealized, as it were. There are unwritten rules about what’s allowed between heroes and villains, and those who step across the line tend to be put in graves, rather than jail. I also have a very solid cap on power levels that I determined over a year ago.

      Dreams of White: Plot is solidly created, but I’m afraid that the characters are still being conceptualized. I realized that this was an actual possibility a few days ago and have been churning over it slowly, pondering if it was workable. Could be, I could screw it up. Fully understand if it isn’t the cup of tea of some people. There’s a reason why this is the least likely to be written, as much as I adore some of the storyline.

      Sisters of Radiance: You’re right. And I can say, with utmost authority, that such will not happen. Realize, all Anar knows is that buying Noctis will lead her to her soul mate. It isn’t a guarantee that it’s her, or anything else. Anar hopes, but… honestly, she’d free Noctis if she ever thought such would occur. Other love interests, politics, and other stuff going on. It’s a mess, and I stalled out at a party scene. Have I mentioned that I hate parties?

      Through the Fire: Dragons in this setting can naturally shapeshift into a human form. Also, classic dragon-legends. A friend of mine (Joe the cleric!) is blind in one eye, so I’ve asked his advice. As to magically fixing her body… that’s actually not possible in-setting based on what happened to Ruethwyn. She literally needs to essentially be reborn, which is why ‘book 2’ would be mostly devoted to this.

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  6. I’m not entirely sold on dreams of white, but the other three sound pretty great, with born a queen being the most interesting sounding imo. That said, I feel like I could read stories in ancient dreams’ world til the end of time and not get bored.

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    1. Totally understand. I’ve got several other ideas stewing around my head, and there’s a not-insignificant part of me wondering if I shouldn’t just transport most of the world I’ve created into the world of Ancient Dreams… but that’s another subject entirely.

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      1. Given you’ve said before that the Ancient Dreams world was a sort of prototype for another world (or am I misremembering?). That would imply that in theory it shouldn’t be excessively painful to transfer things over. Especially since just with the two books set therein so far you’ve already given yourself literally thousands of years, both pre- and post-Godsrage, to play with without really causing continuity issues.

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      2. Ancient Ruins, and the basics of the world, were based off another world of mine. I don’t know if I ever named it, but I’d worked out the basics of the five major continents and a huge amount of the cosmology and how mana and the world tree interacted. A large number of the aspects of each world are different, though, especially with the World Tree. Some of the ideas would easily be lifted, others… not so much. I’m going to have to think a lot.

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  7. The one that I am the most interested in would be Through the Fire, followed by Sisters of Radience. For TTF I think the idea of a disabled MC could be great if you do it with tact and also make it part of the tale instead of just a character trait if you know what I mean.
    I just really like the idea of SOR and I think that finding out what happens to a god when her remaining follower is transported to an entirely new universe and things like that.
    I like the idea of BAQ, but I personally think that as a standalone book it might be best as something that gets worked on on the side and is released in between the books in a series to hold fans over. I don’t know how you like to write and concentrate though so this idea might sound like hell lol. idk
    For DOW I am not that interested, but I feel like I could get into it if I knew a bit more. Not as nearly as interesting to me as the others though.
    Thank you for listening! Good luck!

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    1. Assuming that voting goes the way it has so far (things could change!), I intend to take each story/series in order, which is BAQ, TTF, then SOR, as you put it. The nice thing about BAQ is that it wouldn’t take too long to finish the story, though it’ll take a decent amount of rewriting.

      That being said, thank you for your opinions!

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  8. I’m down for Born a Queen! The superhero/supervillains shtick seems fairly populated in novels by now, but given what you’ve accomplished with Ancient Ruins (which was a refreshing read among other books of the LitRPG/dungeon variety specifically because of its unique protagonist and relationships), I’d love to see your take on superpowers.

    Also helps that the excerpt of the first chapter you’ve posted has gotten me hooked. I initially thought that this was going to be more action/adventure-oriented with Lilith discovering her abilities and eventually rescuing her sort-of mother. But, honestly? Slice of life in a superpowers setting sounds brilliant. Gives room for the narrative to focus on the characters themselves and their dynamics, which I found to be a particular strength of your previous books.

    I don’t suppose you’d be able to provide longer previews of the stories to help cement the choice?

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    1. As a writer, it’s the relationships between characters that are generally the most important things to me. Usually the rest of the story is a dramatic backdrop to what I consider the primary part of things. That being said, there is going to be weird, bad crap going on in the background of Born a Queen. To change that would require rewriting the entire plot, which while possible, would be painful.

      My only concern with longer previews of each of the stories is that I suspect most of those segments are going to be re-written… but I may. I just may.

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      1. Oh, yeah. I have to agree – sometimes a book can have a riveting plot and fantastic narrative voice, and with those alone I can fully enjoy the ride, but I find that the stories which really stick with me are always those with characters I get invested in.

        And hey, having an overarching plot is great! And it’d be pretty interesting to see the contrast between Lilith having to deal with more mundane concerns and the horrifying shit happening “outside”.

        As for the longer previews, I understand where you’re coming from. But personally speaking, I am totally up to reading sections subject to future revision if it meant better insight on what direction the story is moving towards. That’s just me as a reader though, I know authors might feel differently about sharing unfinalised work.

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      2. Incidentally, yesterday I revised the entire section of Born a Queen that I originally shared. It was a… rather painful bit, that. There’s a lot of things that I ended up changing, bits I added, and other such. I’m mostly doing it to unwind after a week of writing, and it’s an interesting time, seeing how my writing style has evolved over only a few years, and especially after publishing and working with an editor. I’m far more likely to share longer segments post-revision, considering how painful that was to read.

        That being said, I’m also pondering putting up the basic background of the setting that I worked up a long time ago. First I need to come up with a name for the setting, though…

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  9. By the by, I have to admit at least a quarter of my interest in Born A Queen is seeing how much you butcher my home town of San Francisco. 🙂

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    1. I’ve visited once, and I intend to keep it as vague as is reasonable.

      Plus, it’s an alternate history, starting around World War 2. When I wrote it, I remember doing my best to at least put buildings and such in logical areas, and looking at google maps to make sure I got most of the streets I named right.

      Even so, I expect to screw it up. Not as badly as my own state capital got screwed up, though. Salt Lake City got the equivalent of a nuke going off downtown. >_>

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  10. If the timeline branched, for lack of a better term, during WW2… there’s a pretty easy out on totally messing up San Francisco’s layout. The Japanese sent a bunch of firebombs suspended by balloons towards the states through ’44/’45, so just have a few of them land in SF and torch the place. Historically none of them did pretty much any damage, and I don’t think any went to SF, but the option is there?

    Or just mention that at some point a supervillain levelled the place and they had to rebuild. Superheroes and alternate timelines give you all sorts of fun outs for screwing up the layout of a city 😀

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    1. Those are definite possibilities, that’s for certain. I just haven’t decided how I wanted to go with things, yet. I put a lot of detail into odd things… (I made certain that the lunar cycle matched perfectly to what it’ll actually be in the particular years).

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