Photo by Keith Luke on Unsplash

BIG news: on Saturday, July 10, I finished the first draft of Until All The Stars Fall, the fourth and final book in the Heart of Fire series. This is it. The end. The completion of the saga that started when I first sat down to write in June, 2017. While I still have months ahead of rewriting, editing, and proofing before publication, this still qualifies as a major milestone.

When I started the Heart of Fire series, I thought, like the tradition, it would be a trilogy. But as I neared the end of the first book, and began mapping out what was yet to come, I realized it would probably take four books. I didn’t make a firm decision on it until I was well into writing book two, and knew for sure it would not fit in three books.

I didn’t keep track, but I can make a rough estimate that I spent at least 750 hours writing these four books. Maybe double that for all the time spent rewriting, editing, proofing, formatting, and so on. That’s a lot. When you spend that much time with people, even fictional people, you come to know them very well. Marshal, Seri, and their supporting cast, have all become real to me. I know them so much more than I did four years ago. Some of them, like Dravid, surprised me with how significant they became to the story.

And so, as I wrote “The End” on Saturday, I had quite a mixture of feelings. 

I’m happy that I’ve finished this epic undertaking. I’ve wanted to write an epic fantasy since around fifth grade, and now I have. I’m ecstatic that it’s complete.

I’m relieved that it’s over. There were a few times, especially after the release of book two, that I despaired, wondering if it was even worth it to finish. Would anyone other than friends and relatives read it?

I’m excited to finish it up with the editing and so forth, so it can get out there for you to read! I’m also excited to see what happens with the cover. I have a good idea of what I want on it, but we’ll see what the cover artist thinks.

I’m depressed that it’s over. It’s a big letdown from an emotional high. And I’m sad that this may be the last time I write these characters. (Or is it?)

One word I’ve seen other writers use is bittersweet. It’s a great word, and quite possibly the best word for this particular situation, for all the reasons I just listed.

So where do I go from here?

First of all, the Dragontek Lore series needs some love. Incarnadine is coming in a couple of months, and I need to finish up the editing and proofing of it. I’ve gotten behind on that while focusing on Until All The Stars Fall.

I’ve already written the first scene for Auric, the third book in the Dragontek Lore series. I have writing goals for 2021, and I need to keep going. That’s the next book I have in the pipeline.

Once it’s done… I’m not entirely sure. But I’ll need to make a decision in a couple of months. I could easily launch into the fourth book of Dragontek Lore (the title of which is a major spoiler). Or I could start something new. But what?

I have rough ideas for several books. One is a fantasy adventure series, not as epic as Heart of Fire, but in a similar vein. I’m still musing over a truly massive epic fantasy that I want to write, but I know that I’m not ready for it yet. I need to do a lot of research and preparation for that one.

And then there’s the other possibility. Am I really done with Antises? With the characters of the Heart of Fire series? There is plenty of room for new stories in that world. I even laid the groundwork for some of them. But is it enough to carry a new series? For some of these characters that I love so much, do I really want to put them through more trouble? Don’t they deserve a happy ending?

All heavy questions to ask. Honestly, I suppose the answer will come from the readers. If the series continues to sell well, and the demand is there… a return to Antises becomes much more likely. We’ll have to wait and see.

As always, thanks for reading!