Hello, dear readers! It’s been a while, I know—since I’ve appeared on social media, or posted on this much-neglected blog, or, most importantly since Ninth City Burning hit the shelves. I’m still here, I promise: I have not been hit by a bus, or black-bagged by some shady organization, or wandered into a temporal rift (despite rumors that my next book is set to be published in 2035). I have been working hard, dear readers, and WORKING FOR YOU!—only most of what’s been happening has been between me and my trusty laptop, so mostly invisible to everyone except close friends and family, and the wonderful folks at Ace, my publisher (and also the guy who delivers my bibimbap on Thursday evenings). But no more, readers! 

Over the past few months I’ve received a number of inquiries from you (the overwhelming majority of them very polite!) asking where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to, and particularly about when we’ll see a sequel to Ninth City Burning. I’ve done my best to keep up with these, but as they’ve been increasing in frequency—and because I’ve got a little more free time (see below)—I though I’d take the opportunity to revive this old blog and tell you all what’s up. So welcome back, dear readers, and please, read on!

First off, I should be clear that I do not yet have a release date for Book Two. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a release date somewhere, only that no one has told me what it is. Some of you will have noticed that the sequel to NCB was originally set to come out sometime in February 2018 (this, indeed, has been the top subject of inquiry thus far, with variations on “are you dead?” being a distant second; third, for some reason, is “who would win in a fight: George Washington or Queen Elizabeth II’s corgis?”, which is a complex subject best left for another day). Those of you with access to an updated calendar will know that February 2018 has come and gone, and still no book. (Except, mysteriously, in Canada, where people claim to have seen Book Two on sale. Is this the work of a government conspiracy? Time travel? Both? I have no answers, readers, but I intend to find them.) So what gives?

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Here’s one thing I can tell you: the delay is pretty much entirely my fault. Writing books is hard, as I’ve been discovering, and I wanted to make sure the next one would live up to Ninth City Burning. The good people at Ace have been doing their best to move the process along, but they can’t write the book for me, and at some point it just comes down to me and the characters and the story and getting them all to play nicely with each other. If you’ve read Ninth City Burning, you’ll know it had quite the cast of characters, and several different interweaving stories. Well, the next installment has even more—more characters, more plot, more action—and I needed to make sure they all were in there and working together. You know, without also being twenty million pages long.

Another thing I can tell you for sure: the latest draft of Book Two is IN. (There have been other drafts, none of them as good as this one. This one’s pretty good, readers—or anyway, I like it.) There will no doubt be more editing, and a bit of rewriting, and possibly the cutting of a few to a few million pages, true, but this is progress, readers. It might not be as swift as you or I had been hoping, but we're on our way.

Oh, and as far as I know, the title of Book Two is still Under Seven Skies. I announced this way back last year, and to my knowledge it hasn’t changed (no skies were subtracted or added in subsequent drafts, in any case). To my Canadian readers, with your temporally scrambled or possibly alternate-reality copies: do feel free to let us know what title eventually made it to press—just no spoilers, please!

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And that, readers, is about where things stand at the moment—again, to my knowledge. There might well be powerful individuals at Ace Books, or Berkeley, or Penguin Random House, who know things I don’t. Also sundry physicists, engineers, and field agents at whatever secret Canadian facilities are conducting the experiments that resulted in Under Seven Skies entering circulation before it was actually completely written—and who are, presumably, keeping it secret from me to avoid upsetting the flow of time or the nature of reality.

I know that isn’t what you’d been hoping to hear, dear readers. I’ve had some really wonderful letters from people excited for Under Seven Skies, and I’m pretty bummed that I couldn’t have something ready for you sooner (and thank you for the letters, by the way!). Please believe me when I say that I am as eager as anyone to get Book Two into the hands and tablets of the reading public. There are few things I would like better than to deliver you a copy right now, then stay on a bit to discuss speculative literature over tea. Unfortunately, readers, this is not currently within my power. I can’t even say for sure when you’ll be able to get the book for yourself. But I’m still WORKING FOR YOU, and I’ve been thinking of ways to make that a little more, well, obvious. So here are a few things I can (and intend) to do:

TELL YOU WHAT I DO KNOW. This is how I got started on today's post, readers. I’ve brought you up to date on the state of things (unless you skipped to the middle for some reason, in which case, go back and start from the beginning—this isn’t some fancy avant-garde hypertext story!), and in the future, I’ll be as forthcoming as time and obligations to my publishers allow. This includes letting you know as soon as I have a solid release date for Book Two. Maybe you won’t be the first to know, readers, but you’ll know as soon as possible, and won’t have to listen to rumors disseminated by men in dark suits with French Canadian accents.

KEEP IN TOUCH. More generally, I’ll be making an effort to reach out a bit (or a lot) more frequently, dear readers. My recent radio silence has had a lot to do with the fact that I’ve been working like a madman to get this latest draft ready, but now that it’s in, I intend to be more conscientious about keeping up with you. Internet sharing is not among my foremost skills, but I’m learning. And hey, if I screw it up horrendously, who’s going to notice? I trust you to forgive my foibles, dear readers, and it isn’t like there are all that many people paying attention to this old Internet thing anyway, right?

BE AS ENTERTAINING AS I CAN. If I can’t get a printing-press-warm copy of Under Seven Skies into your hands this very instant, well, I’ll try and amuse you in other ways. For one, I’ll see about posting some stuff from the book itself (though this will be dependent on permission from my publisher; I know there are a lot of behind-the-scenes considerations that go into when and where and how preview chapters are released). Beyond that, I intend to post regularly on this blog—on Tuesdays, shall we say? Do Tuesdays work for you, dear readers? I’m not exactly sure what I will be blogging about, but I’ll do my best to make it worth your while. If nothing else, we can talk about books I like (of which there are many).

DRAW YOU SOME PICTURES. You’ll have noticed a few doodles illustrating some of this post’s more important concepts (unless I bungled the upload or otherwise mucked up the code, that is). Readers, I’m proud to say that I drew them just for you. The original plan was to have a big, impressive piece of art, sort of a propaganda poster-style deal expressing how hard I’m “WORKING FOR YOU!”, but I contacted like twenty different artists trying to commission something like that and none of them got back to be about it. So guess what? I did it myself. I’ve got a tablet computer and some free art software, and I can draw pictures too. They might not be the world’s most magnificent pictures, or even in the top ten, but I had fun drawing them. So I’ll do a few more, and hopefully some of that fun will transfer to you, dear readers. 

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That’s about what I’ve got for now. If you have suggestions or ideas for things you’d like to see on this site, by all means, get in touch! Even if you don’t, I’d love to hear from you. Anyway, I’ll leave you now with a doodle of Frances the Fancy Caterpillar and a promise to write again next week. Feel free to berate me in harsh language if I fail to deliver on that account. Until then, readers, may your books be crisp and you’re your lattes flavorful. Cheerio!

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