Updates

Progress updates for James' books can be found below, which are updated approximately once every three months. To be e-mailed about release information for upcoming books, please click here.

Hierarchy, Book 2 - The Strength of the Few

As at 03/2024

A healthy and productive few months of writing to start 2024, I’m happy to say! With the only frustration being that there was just... still a lot more to do than I thought, after the last update. So, while December’s estimate turned out to be overly optimistic, I will say that The Strength of the Few continues to shape up well and is now almost done!

As far as the details go - I’ve finished an initial pass of the final draft, which is sitting at 255k words (about 15k more than The Will of the Many), and am currently working my way through a long list of notes on it. Once those tweaks are complete, I’ll spend a couple of weeks polishing everything, do a final run through, and then hand in to my publisher for edits.

At this stage, that all means I anticipate I’ll be handing in the manuscript sometime in May. And even if I end up off base again like last update, it’s already so close to done now that I genuinely can’t imagine a further delay costing me more than a week or two.

So in short: thanks for your patience, things are going well, and the finish line is very much in sight now!



As at 12/2023

Probably one of the roughest runs I’ve had in a while to finish off this year: almost a full month of various illnesses, followed by a fractured ankle last month and a rather badly injured back a couple of weeks ago that is still lingering. It has been, shall we say, less than ideal conditions for writing...

Still! Progress on The Strength of the Few has been slow but by no means catastrophic. I’m 140k words into my current draft, which will be the last major one, and what has been done is feeling very complete. Some things will still need tweaking and cleaning up once this draft is finished (as expected), but I don’t see any more wholesale rewriting of scenes being necessary. Given the surrounding circumstances, I’m actually pretty upbeat about where it’s at.

So the timeline: in my last update I thought I’d probably be submitting in early 2024, and that relatively vague statement still holds true. I expect – barring any significant external factors - to have this in to the publisher, on track, before my next update in March.

Anyway, I think that’s about it for 2023... it’s been a big year! Wishing everyone a fantastic Christmas and holiday season!



As at 09/2023

I’m pleased to say it’s been another productive few months, with the second draft of The Strength of the Few now complete at 245,000 words!

The good news is that this is roughly where I expected to be at this point – there haven’t been any major disruptions or delays, and everything continues to come together well. However. There is, I think, more to do in the third draft than I originally expected: a couple of threads in particular need revisiting, and it may take more than minor tweaks to get to where I want them to be. It’s nothing too unusual for my writing process, but does have the potential to be unpredictably time-consuming, especially as I deal with any knock-on consequences from changing key sequences.

So right now, while the best case scenario remains me submitting it to the publisher in December - and that’s still what I’ll be pushing for - I think a more realistic timeline is finishing early next year. Any delays should be minor though, and I expect that December’s update will (at the least) be able to provide a more concrete timeline for the rest of the process.

Regardless, getting close to the finish line now!



As at 06/2023

A busy few months! The Will of the Many is finally out, and I’ve been delighted with the reception to it thus far. The launch has taken up a fair portion of my time and head space over the past six weeks, of course, but I’m pleased to say I’m now back to regularly working on the second draft of The Strength of the Few.

And as far as that’s concerned, things are largely going well: I’m about 110,000 words in, and it’s going quite smoothly. The aim is to complete this draft by the end of September (i.e. by next update), which would then give me a couple of months to fine tune, polish and submit the third and final draft for December.

While (as always) this timeline’s subject to change, it feels realistic – barring unforeseen circumstances, I think I can keep to it. So hopefully in September’s update, I won’t be too far from the finish line!



As at 03/2023

A productive beginning to the year, with the first draft of The Strength of the Few now complete at around 235,000 words!

I’m very pleased to be moving on to the next phase of this book comparatively early in the year, after what was definitely a slower-than-usual 2022. With that being said, I have to emphasize that this draft is still in incredibly rough shape (as all my first drafts tend to be): a good chunk of what’s there needs to be scrapped or completely rewritten, and I continue to have plenty of scenes which exist only as a loose collection of notes. So it’s not by any stretch of the imagination close to done, but it is definitely progressing well.

Even better news is that from this point, the work should become a lot less variable in nature: there’s a lot less figuring out how to make things fit together, and a lot more actual writing. I’m still inclined to say that my previous target of August is ambitious, and that the end of the year feels a lot more realistic as a submission estimate. Plus, with the launch of The Will of the Many (May 23!) coming up fast, there will be other things vying for my attention over the next couple of months...

Regardless, with the first draft done I'm feeling good about where things are at - and either way, I should have a much better idea of my submission timeline by my next update in June!



As at 12/2022

A solid end to 2022 means the first draft of The Strength of the Few is now at 160k words. While certainly not as far along as I’d anticipated at the beginning of this year, I still feel like it’s in a pretty good state heading into 2023… in fact, take away the speed (or relative lack thereof) at which the writing’s getting done, and I’m quite excited with how the book’s coming together! I’m just crossing my fingers that things will fall into place easily / quickly over subsequent drafts, and the timeline proceeds to even out a bit next year.

Incidentally, in September’s update, I said I was hoping to submit the manuscript in mid-2023: that’s still the target, but I should emphasize that it’s a relatively ambitious one. If I hit it, it’s likely to be closer to August than May. Particularly as at least some of my attention will be on the publication of The Will of the Many, which – barring unforeseen circumstances – will release on May 23, 2023. For preorder links, see my most recent update for it below!

Anyway, in the short term, the aim is to finish this first draft by next update (the end of March). For now, though, I’m off to spend time with family over the end of year break – wishing everyone a fantastic Christmas and holidays!



As at 09/2022

I’m currently up to 110,000 words for the current draft of The Strength of the Few: not amazing progress, but given that the last three months were quite stop-start between holidays and copyedits and various other obligations, it certainly could have been worse.

This year as a whole has been a strange one thus far, where I’ve only written about half of what I planned to – but I am very happy with the state of what’s actually on paper, probably more so than usual at this early draft stage. I’m hopeful that will translate into subsequent drafts needing less work than they have in the past, and thus a shortening of the end of the process. My target is still to be ready to submit for editing mid next year, around when The Will of the Many is released… as always, though, we’ll see how we go.

The good news is that, at least as things currently stand, the remainder of this year feels relatively clear. If I can reach 150k-160k words by December, I’ll feel like I’m in a pretty good position entering 2023!



As at 06/2022

The first draft for The Strength of the Few is now up to 95k words… less than I’d hoped for a few months ago, but that’s largely due to some major cuts I’ve made in the meantime. While I usually leave cuts like this for the second draft – I’m prone to getting into revision loops, otherwise – these significantly affected the remainder of the story, and I had to see how they played out before proceeding. The good news is that the start of the book is a lot tighter now, with a storyline I wasn’t happy with completely excised. I honestly don’t think there will be a heap of work to do on subsequent drafts, either, at least for the section that’s been written. So overall, good progress!

The next three months are a bit of an unknown, as I have a month away, and there are still copyedits to complete on The Will of the Many as well. But my aim remains to have the vast majority of the first draft written by the end of this year, and – ultimately – the manuscript submitted for editing by the time the first book is due to come out mid-next year.



As at 03/2022

The first draft is now up to around 75k words - not as much progress as I’d hoped for during the first quarter of this year, though I am pleased with the direction of the book thus far.

The lower-than-expected word count is at least partly due to some unforeseeable delays in getting my edits back for The Will of the Many. I didn’t expect to be so deep into this draft before knowing whether I’d have to change anything from the first book, and so it’s simply been more challenging to forge ahead than expected. Nobody’s fault and nothing disastrous, just the way it’s worked out.

The good news is that I am expecting my edits back within the next few days, and so progress should be more substantial after those are complete. Allowing a month for edits, the aim is to be at around 125k words by the next update in June.



As at 12/2021

The first draft of The Strength of the Few is underway!

I’m currently 30k words in; while that’s not a lot (and admittedly, ideally, I would be further along), there was some time-consuming planning that needed to be done before I started. It’s hard to explain why without spoiling The Will of the Many, but this is going to be a challenging book to write… more so, I think, than any of the Licanius books were. That’s not a bad thing – it just means this series is appropriately ambitious, something of a natural step up from what I’ve done thus far. I’m looking forward to stretching myself a bit with it next year.

My very rough goals are to write 25k words per month in 2022, meaning – assuming this book ends up approximately the same length as The Will of the Many – I should finish this first draft around September. If I can hit that mark, there’s a good chance I could be submitting in 2023 before The Will of the Many is even published! But again, these are just goals; whether reality allows them to be achieved remains to be seen.

If nothing else, I should have a better idea of how the timeline is shaping up in March, when I’ll post another update here. That’s it for now - hoping you all have a fantastic Christmas and holiday break!

Hierarchy, Book 1 - The Will of the Many

As at 03/2023

Release is locked for May 23rd, 2023 - only a couple of months to go!

There's not a lot to add to what was written in my last update, except that the audiobook preorder link is also now available (officially releasing on the same day as the print and ebook versions):

Audible - The Will of the Many (May 23, 2023)

The voice for this series will be Euan Morton, a fantastic narrator who's also an experienced stage actor (he's currently on Broadway playing King George in the musical Hamilton). I couldn't be happier with this casting - after listening to a lot of candidates, he was far and away my first choice.

(I know I'll get asked this a lot, so for those wondering: I did chat with the good folks at Audible about potentially getting Michael Kramer, who did such a brilliant job with Licanius, on board. However this series is stylistically different - it's written from the first-person perspective of a seventeen year old - and we eventually came to the conclusion that Michael's voice, as great as it is, simply wasn't the right fit for that sort of role.)

It's early days and so the audiobook length isn't known just yet, but the print book's word count is roughly on par with that of An Echo of Things to Come, which turned out to be a touch over 26 hours in audio. I'd expect something similar for The Will of the Many.

Finally, some lovely early reviews for the book have been coming in over the past couple of weeks. I've linked to a few below, for those interested - I'm sure more will be popping up soon, particularly over on the Goodreads page.


Novel Notions (or Petrik's video review here)

Publishers Weekly

Out Of This World SFF

Fantology

Birdie's Book Nook


Feels strange after so many years now, but this will be my last update here for The Will of the Many - by my next progress report in June, I trust, many of you will actually be reading it! Thanks for following along, and hope to see everyone enjoying the new release in a couple of months!



As at 12/2022

Release date: May 23, 2023!

Final review of the text is done and, largely, my part of the process is now complete. There are still some minor tweaks to the cover and blurb as they are currently - for example, the series is currently listed as 'The Hierarchy Trilogy', whereas the actual series name is simply 'Hierarchy' (it may or may not be a trilogy, at this point!) - but those details should soon be updated.

If you're keen to get this on release day, here are some links to preorder from the major online sites - though of course as always, if you have a local bookstore you want to support, please do preorder through them instead!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Apple Books

IndieBound

Target

The Audible version should release on the same day, but there's no link for it yet. I'll update here as soon as one is available.

That's about it for now - I can't overstate how much I'm looking forward to (finally) getting this into everyone's hands in May!!



As at 09/2022

A very short one here: copyediting is complete, we’re zeroing in on the final cover design and ARCs are in the works. Very excited by how it’s all coming along. Expect a proper reveal and release date before the end of the year!


As at 06/2022

Aside from copyediting, edits are (finally) complete! The word count has been slimmed down to around 240k – the cuts have really helped focus the last couple of areas that needed tightening up – and it’s all really come together well. Discussions around the book cover are underway, and everything is moving forward. Hoping to have an official release date to share very soon!


As at 03/2022

Once again a very minor update, as delays have meant I’m still awaiting my first round of edits! I’m expecting them back very soon now (within the next few days, hopefully), but obviously the lack of progress means there’s just not a lot to tell.

It’s possible the release date may end up being Summer (US) 2023 because of this, now, but as always I’ll update as soon as I have something definitive to share on that front. Hopefully more news soon!



As at 12/2021

A bit of a non-update here, I’m afraid! Because there’s been a bit of a backlog at the publisher, I don’t have edits back for The Will of the Many as of yet. That’s not a big deal at all – I expect they will come in fairly soon, and the publication date is still more than a year away. It’s simply meant that I’ve spent the last few months getting a head start on Hierarchy #2, instead.

We’re still aiming for a Spring (US) 2023 release; otherwise, I imagine I’ll have more news to share come the next update in a few months. I’m definitely happy with the overall progress made on Hierarchy this year, anyway – I continue to be really excited about this series, and I’m looking forward to tackling The Strength of the Few in depth next year!



As at 09/2021

The Will of the Many has been submitted to my editor! Even pre-edits, I’m extremely pleased with the shape it’s in. I can’t wait for everyone to read it.

On that front - we’re looking at a Spring (US) 2023 release. That’s... a long way away, I know. It’s primarily for marketing / scheduling reasons, which honestly I don't mind, because I’m excited about this series and want to make sure it has the best launch possible. But on a practical level I’m also quietly pleased, as I’ll be writing The Strength of the Few (Hierarchy #2) in the interim – which means there should be much less of a wait for its publication after #1 comes out. More breathing room for me, and less waiting around between books in a series for you. I think it’s a good outcome, all up.

Of course, having said all that, I am sorry the launch is so far away... especially as a few months back I was thinking it could be arriving much earlier. My fault for groundlessly speculating! Regardless, I’m hoping you’ll all feel it was worth the wait when it does arrive.

I expect there will be one final update for The Will of the Many around Christmas, when editing should, fingers crossed, be complete. After that, I’ll start switching my progress reports to The Strength of the Few!



As at 06/2021

Good news for this update – the past few months have gone very well, and The Will of the Many is almost ready for submission to the publisher!

The current word count stands at 255k, and I expect - barring significant changes in editing - that this is where it will stay. That puts it squarely between Echo and Light in terms of length (i.e. it’s going to be a long book!). The submission draft is locked in as far as the story goes, and I’m down to the last step of working on prose and making sure the worldbuilding is consistent. I anticipate that will all be done by early August.

As for what happens from there? I’m always hopeful editing won’t turn up anything significant, but you never really know: after two years of working on something, it can be hard to step back and spot problems. Assuming there aren’t months and months of changes, though, it seems like a mid-2022 release is on the cards. I can’t imagine a specific date getting locked in before my next update in September, but of course if one does, I’ll post it here!



As at 03/2021

Draft 2 is now up to 230,000 words – it’s been a solid run since Christmas! For reference, that’s already a touch longer than The Shadow of What Was Lost.

Unfortunately, I still have 20k-30k words to go on this draft... despite originally thinking that 230k words would comfortably be the size of the entire novel. I haven’t added anything extra beyond what was planned: I just misestimated how my outline would translate to word count, pure and simple. Everything still feels like it earns its place, though, so I’m confident the final length will be justified.

The down side of this is really only that ‘longer’ means ‘more time to complete’. As well as the extra initial writing, it’s effectively adding more work than expected to every editing pass I do from here on out. Editing itself is also shaping up to be a more significant process than I’d hoped – no major story beats need to change, but there’s a lot of fine-tuning to do. That’s mostly come about because I’m introducing a new world for this book, as opposed to working within the already heavily defined one of Licanius.

So my original hope of being finished by June is, I think at this stage, unlikely – it may only take me a month or two longer, but all things considered, September feels like a safer bet. Either way, my next update will be in June, so I expect the end will at least be in sight by then!



As at 12/2020

As the year comes to a close, I’m continuing to feel fairly upbeat about my progress on the second draft of The Will of the Many, which is now up to 120k words (in my estimation at, or maybe a bit over, half way to complete). While – as always! – things are not quite as far along as my ideal projections, this is still progress at what I’d consider a very respectable pace.

The good news is that this draft continues to shape up well, too. In the past, my second drafts have required substantial story adjustments and rewrites. There’s still a long way to go in this one, but I’m increasingly confident that there will only be polishing and minor tweaks remaining for Draft 3 (which would be a significantly shorter and easier process).

So what does my timeline look like, given that? After taking a few weeks off over Christmas to spend with family, I have a clear schedule in 2021 to get everything finished. If I can have this draft complete by April - a realistic goal, I think – then the aim would be to submit to my publisher around June. Especially given the external distractions of this year, two years all up to write what is going to be a large epic fantasy novel – particularly one that introduces an entirely new world – is a result I’d be very pleased with.

That’s about all there is to tell, for now: long story short, things are still moving along well. Wishing everyone a great Christmas, and I’ll aim to post another update around March 2021!



As at 09/2020

The main news first: I’m now 40k words (~15%-20%) into the second draft of The Will of the Many. That’s not quite where I’d hoped to be at this point in time, but I’m delighted at the progress given everything else that’s been going on. For reference, the first draft - which will have major additions and cuts, so its size could change significantly in either direction – came out at 215k words.

Outside factors have played a big part in slowing things down over the past few months: living under ‘Stage 4’ lockdown here in Victoria has certainly been disruptive, and in the midst of it all, my family and I also had to move house. We’ve finally settled in, though, and the lockdown - as of right now, at least - appears set to ease in the next few weeks. So while there’s still a lot to do, I’m optimistic that the months between now and Christmas will see some solid headway.

I’m also very happy with the state of this draft: there should only be one more major pass after this one, and I don’t expect that to take anywhere near as long. So while I’m no longer hoping to submit by the end of this year, finishing up in early 2021 is definitely not out of the question. I'll have a much firmer idea of a timeline by my next update, which should be shortly before Christmas!



As at 06/2020

Apologies once again for the long wait in between updates! It’s of course been a strange few months and I’ve been putting this off somewhat, as everyone will no doubt have had more important things to focus on.

Progress on the first draft of The Will of the Many is moving along reasonably well, with the word count up to 140k. The final word count will probably be closer to 200k now, so there’s still some way to go. Second and third (major) drafts should be progressively easier to complete, and I’m hoping to avoid the need for a fourth altogether.

On the more subjective side of things, I’m very happy with where everything’s at currently. It’s been challenging writing a story set in a new world—a big adjustment after writing Licanius for so long—but things have started to feel like they’ve really come together over the past month or so.

Currently, my best case scenario for finishing this book (submitting to publisher, not including edits) is the end of this year, which means it could be possible for it to see publication sometime in late 2021. It’s also fair to say that even if I hit my personal targets, I have no idea whether there will be delays related to the pandemic. So while everything’s definitely still coming along, don’t expect to see the book scheduled for release in the very near future.

Anyway, I’ll update here sooner if anything significant happens, otherwise I’ll aim to post again in a few months!



As at 02/2020

Sorry to all those who have been waiting on this update—it’s come a little later than anticipated!

I’m now 70,000 words into my first draft of The Will of the Many (Hierarchy #1), with the target being somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000. My aim with this book is to write fewer but higher-quality drafts; this means the word count will generally go up slower than it did with Licanius, but the overall process should be completed quicker. It’s an experiment that I’ve been wanting to try for a while, but I think only makes sense to attempt for the first book in a series—if it turns out that this method actually slows me down, at least nobody’s left stuck waiting for sequels as a result. I feel like it’s proceeding well at this point, regardless, but we’ll see how it goes over the course of this year.

Otherwise, there’s still not a lot else I want to reveal about this new series yet, I’m afraid. As I’ve said previously, it will be set in an entirely new world from Licanius, and (to my mind, at least) is already feeling quite distinct from that trilogy. I’ll rush to assure everyone that it’s also still very much epic fantasy, though, and I completely expect it to appeal to anyone who enjoyed the Licanius books.

When there’s an official announcement regarding Hierarchy from my publisher, I’ll update this page with the appropriate link. In the meantime, at this very early stage, I would say you can expect to see The Will of the Many published late next year (2021) or early the following. While I know that’s quite a while away, the plan is for me to make a solid start on book two before book one is released, which in turn should allow us to publish without a multiple-year wait between instalments. So hopefully, the initial wait for book one will pay off in less time waiting for sequels.

That’s about it for now. I’ll attempt to post updates here once every month or two from now on!



As at 10/2019

My new project! Beyond the title, and the fact I'm now working on it, there's not much I want to say at this point. It's set in a new world, and will very likely be another trilogy (but I'm being smarter this time and not locking myself in by putting that in the name, just in case). Once Licanius #3 is out, I'll start updating in more detail with word count progress, estimated time to completion, etc. So look for more information here in January!

The Licanius Trilogy, Book 3 - The Light of All That Falls

As at 09/2019

Complete! Due to be released December 10, 2019. Archived updates can be found here.

The Licanius Trilogy, Book 2 - An Echo of Things To Come

As at 03/2017

Complete! Released August 22, 2017. Archived updates can be found here.

Untitled Side Project

As at 09/2019

Is now my main project, 'Hierarchy' - look for any significant updates under that heading. Archived this section for posterity here.

Other Projects

As at 10/2019

I have two (currently) smaller projects that I'm occasionally working on in my spare time - one in the world of Licanius, the other in an entirely new setting. The Hierarchy series is now my main focus, though. I'll update here if/when any of these shorter stories reach a publishable state.