That’s it. The final word count of my latest book, Age of Aenya. After six long years, I am done with it.

Normally, I like to put more thought into these posts, but tonight I wanted to throw my feelings out into the world raw and unedited. My immediate emotion is relief—this book has been like a thorn in my brain. The names, the plot points, the dialogues; they’ve all been rummaging around in my skull as I took pizza orders or changed diapers. Getting out on paper is a catharsis.

I hesitate to call this book a rewrite. It may have started out that way after the devastating failure of my self-published book The Dark Age of Enya. But so much has changed in the rewrite, I doubt you could even find a single sentence intact from the old. The only things that have really remained the same is the world and the characters, which is good because that’s why I didn’t want to let the old book go: Xandr and Thelana and Emma are my friends, are parts of me—they’ve evolved through me as I’ve lived. Xandr is everything from my childhood that made me love fiction and fantasy, parts He-Man, Conan, Odysseus. Thelana is my passion for naturism; she is carpe diem; she is eternal youth—the girl running naked through the woods teasing me with her superior laughter mocking my adolescent mind. And Emma . . . Emma is the bookworm, the writer, the friendless high schooler vying for the love of parent and daydreaming of friendships. How could I simply abandon these people, which I worked so hard to give birth to, in search of other peoples’ stories to tell? So I am glad that I could, at least, give new life to the children of my brain.

Looking back, I don’t feel that The Dark Age of Enya was a bad book; it is, on the surface, your basic adventure story. My inspirations for it was an odd mix of He-Man, H.P. Lovecraft and Homer. When the book got panned, I realized that Lovecraft does not make for good novels—his stories are plot driven, not character driven, and it’s difficult for people to wade through six hundred pages or so without truly caring about the characters. As for Homer, he is an acquired taste, loved more by history buffs than readers of fiction. For six years, as I struggled to make a home, raise a family, be a good husband and run a business in tough economic times, I devoured every book I could find, anything to make me a better writer. I wanted to expand the scope of my work—to make it accessible to all. I never wished to cater to the fantasy buff alone—to players of World of Warcraft or Dungeons & Dragons; I have no desire to mine further into tales of elves and dragons and dwarves—but to become a Stephen King for those who don’t necessarily adore horror, a J.K. Rowling to those who aren’t fixated with the occult. I read George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame, Scott Bakker, Dan Simmons, R.A. Salvatore, Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, as well as the less orthodox authors such as J.D. Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut, Albert Camus, Neil Gaiman and the king of the unorthodox, Joseph Heller. Whatever I could learn from them, without losing my own voice and strength of narrative, I did. The end result is a book that, I believe, is leaps and bounds beyond the original, deeper, richer, more complex and far more meaningful. I wrote it to be published, of course, by the big publishers—but even if rejected, I am proud of this one like I never was with the old; I am more confident that it is worthy of shelf space. Believing in oneself is the greatest challenge any writer can deal with, especially in the face of criticism. I think I have achieved that, and if I have to go on the road, hit every bookstore from here to California to prove it, I will.

Next week, I will begin work on a summary to send to those with the power to decide my fate. And then, maybe, just maybe, I’ll post the new prologue. For those of you who have supported me all these years, directly or indirectly, you have my eternal gratitude.


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