Tomorrow is release day of the Song of Octa novella – or Book “5.5” of the Song of Britain – “The Song of the Tides“. The entire story takes place in Armorica – today’s Brittany.
Today’s the day of another release in the Song of Britain saga – Book 5, “The Wrath of the Iutes” !
The long way back just got longer….
They were supposed to return home as heroes, basking in the glory and plunder of the victory at Trever… But fate decided otherwise for Octa and his band of Iutes. Chasing after Ursula’s captor, the renegade Haesta, they venture deep into the unfamiliar land of Armorica, where they unexpectedly discover an old ally seeking their help against a threat of invasion…
On their quest to help defend Britannia Prima, a province still ruled by the remnants of the old Roman power, Octa and his warriors will meet new friends, face new enemies and discover ancient mysteries, in this long-awaited second chapter of the Song of Octa: The Wrath of the Iutes.
It’s time for another of the “locations” post – I like to think of my books as much as a travelogue as action novels, and the travels of my characters in Book 5 take them to the very north-western edges of the Empire: from Armorica to Northern Wales.
“The Wrath of the Iutes” is released on July 1st – pre-order now!
ROTOMAG – Rotomagus, Rouen
A major harbour on the River Seine, once the second most important city in Gallia Lugdunensis, now capital of Normandy.
REDONES – Condate Redonum, Roazhon, Rennes
Worgium – Vorgium, Karaez, Carhaix
Cair Wortigern – Craig Gwrtheyrn
The Forks – Tre’r Ceiri
An enormous, spectacular hill fort on Llyn Peninsula, used up to 5th century. The valley below, Nant Gwrtheyrn, is another place associated with Vortigern, who is said to have been buried somewhere in the area.
Hrodha’s Fort – Caer Gybi, Holyhead
A small Roman fortlet at the very end of the Mona road – the last harbour before Hibernia, the Edge of the Empire.
Silurian Isca – Isca Augusta, Caerleon
As I delve into the editing stage of the draft manuscript of “The Wrath of the Iutes“, I thought I’ll reveal a little bit of the draft writing and editing steps I take to create one of my novels. It took me nearly a decade to hone the method, from the early days when “The Shadow of Black Wings” took 14 drafts and two years to write, to now, when an average novel in the “Song of Britain” series takes me little less than six months from plot outline to publishing.
Step 1: Plot Outline and chapter structure
I start with writing down the general plot; for convenience and speed, already at this step I will have the plot divided roughly into chapters, though most of them will not have titles. I tend to make this outline vague enough so that I can keep to it throughout the entire manuscript without changing too much. The biggest change that may occur between this step and the finished manuscript is splitting the novel into more parts than originally envisioned, as the story grows.
Step 2: Draft_0 – rough draft
What others call “First Draft” I keep in the file named Draft_0. This is the first version of the complete story, from start to finish, but with gaps in between. These are scenes, or sometimes whole chapters, that would bog me down too much if I tried to write them down at this stage, or that I haven’t yet fully invented. I leave brief comments in the outline, in places where I intend to go back in future drafts and fill the gaps out.
For a novel of about 100,000 words, it takes me about 3 months to outline the plot and finish this first draft. At this point I also have a rough estimate of the wordcount and chapter titles.
Step 3: Draft_0.5 to Draft_1 – fleshing out
By the time I reach Draft_1 – sometimes with a preliminary stage of Draft_0.5 – all the gaps are filled in. The new set of comments refers to things I picked up during the first re-write of Draft_0: scenes that need buffing up, plot points that need expanding upon, characters that need fleshing out, and plot holes and mistakes that need fixing. The end of Draft_1 is the stage at which nothing else needs to be added to the plot and character development.
This stage takes about 4-6 weeks, and is probably the slowest in terms of value added for time taken – but then, this is the bit where the rough stone turns into something resembling a diamond!
Step 4: Draft_2 to Draft_4 – text-to-speech rewrites
For the final couple of rewrites, I use a neat little free Word add-on called WordTalk. It uses Windows text-to-speech library to read the text in Word, using a selected voice – I prefer Hazel. In essence, it turns manuscript into an audiobook, which I find the best way to spot any roughness, errors and typoes in the text. I usually do two run-throughs like this, unless I feel things are still looking harsh enough to warrant a third one.
This stage shouldn’t take me more than a month, if I properly sit down to it.
Step 5: Draft_5 – Spellcheck, grammar check and PerfectIt
The very final stage of drafting is running the manuscript through Word’s checks and another plugin called PerfectIt – I had this one recommended by my copy editor, and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s not free, and not very cheap, though if your editor charges by the hour, it will pay for itself in no time, since it saves a lot of mundane work in checking things like spelling consistency, punctuation, and house style.
This stage takes less than a week – shouldn’t take more than a good weekend, really.
Draft_5 is the one I sent to my copy editor for the final read-through, and Draft_6 – with all of the editor’s corrections applied – is the one used to generate the actual ebook file for Kindle.
So there you have it – six months from start to finish, which means that “The Wrath of the Iutes” will be on your Kindles in the summer, and should be followed in winter by “The Crown of the Iutes”, the last part of Song of Octa trilogy.
With everything that’s been going on in the world – and personal life – it’s hard to believe I managed to keep to the 2020 publishing schedule I set for myself a couple of years ago. It helped that I had to quit my previous day job just in time for the pandemic, and after a short while I finally resolved to stick to writing full-time.
It’s going to be a bit less crazy next year. The schedule for 2021 includes only two books in the Song of Britain: The Wrath of Iutes and The Crown of Iutes – and a short novella set between them.
11 December 2019
The Song of Ash, Book 1: The Saxon Spears
23 January 2020
The Song of Ash, Book 2: The Saxon Knives
15 May 2020
The Song of Ash, Book 3: The Saxon Might
15 December 2020
The Song of Octa, Book 1: The Blood of the Iutes
“The Saxon Spears” got a nice review in this month’s Historical Novels Review – Historical Novel Society.
The book is well-written, and the story gains in interest as Ash matures (…) The action grows swift and tense as the plot develops, and Ash is a dimensional, relatable character (…) an intriguing, textured world that readers will want to explore further.
In “The Blood of the Iutes” the action moves from Britannia to northern Gaul and Germania, introducing a slew of new locations in what is now Belgium, northern France and western Germany.
TORNAC – Tornacum, Tournai
One of the oldest towns in Belgium, the first capital of the Salian Franks.
TRAIECT – Trajectum ad Mosam, Maastricht
Ancient crossing town on the Meuse River.
AKE – Aquae Grani, Aachen
Hot springs resort town, popular with the Legionnaires stationed at the Rhine. Later, capital of the Frankish Empire.
COLN – Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, Cologne
Capital of the Germania Inferior province, the greatest city on the Roman Rhine.
TOLBIAC – Tolbiacum, Zulpich
A small crossroads town, with roads leading to every corner of Gaul. Place of many famous battles.
ICORIG – Icorgium, Junkerath
A small fortress, guarding an important pass into the Eifel Mountains.
TREVIR – Augusta Treverorum, Trier
The capital of all Gaul, seat of the Emperors.
Here it is – the first line of the first draft of “The Wrath of the Iutes”.
Hoping to keep up the current pace. If all goes well, Book 2 of The Song of Octa might be ready in mid-2021.
It’s not easy being the son of a king.
Octa never wanted to be a mighty warrior, or a great ruler of men – he’d much rather be a clerk or a priest – but he’s resigned to his destiny as the son and heir of the first king of the Iutes. There is only one problem: under his father’s peaceful reign, there aren’t many opportunities for a youth to gain experience in combat and leadership.
So when a Roman legate arrives in Britannia, for the first time in a generation, bringing dire news from across the Narrow Sea and requesting help in the coming clash between rival Imperators, Octa jumps on the chance to prove himself before his friends and his father – no matter the consequences…
THE BLOOD OF THE IUTES – BOOK ONE OF THE SONG OF OCTA – IS SCHEDULED FOR RELEASE ON DECEMBER 15TH!
I’m all but done with the first draft of the new book – should be another week or so. The Blood of Iutes is the first volume in the new Song of Octa trilogy, and the fourth in the overall saga of post-roman Britannia (I haven’t decided on the name yet!).
The story picks up some five years after the end of The Saxon Might, and focuses on a certain young man called Octa – no spoilers for those who haven’t read the previous books! (although if you know your early history of the Kingdom of Kent, you may have had some spoilers already…)
Soon, the preorder should go up on Amazon, but before then, here’s a peak at the cover: