About this project
Free Sample Chapters:
Want to read the beginning of the book I'm asking you to back? Chapter One of THE WAY INTO CHAOS is posted right here on my blog.
A Strange Beginning:
If you've watched the video you know this trilogy started as a homeschool project for my son and me. I introduced a language arts unit that had him planning, writing, and revising a fantasy "novel." Because there was no way he would tackle such a big project on his own, I agreed to do one along with him.
For him, the end result was a 10,000-word comic fantasy that I published on my website (and I paid him a penny a word for the privilege). For me, the end result was a planned 120,000-word novel that ballooned into a 350,000-word trilogy.
Epic fantasy, go figure.
This is an adventure fantasy written for adults, full of chases, cliffhangers, fight scenes, weird magic, and the threat of human extinction. At the same time, it's a story I would not hesitate to hand to my own pre-teen son.
An Empire At Its Peak:
One of the long-standing tropes of epic fantasy is the Fallen Empire: a nation that once ruled most of the known world but has since vanished, leaving only scattered ruins (and a common language for the characters to speak). Essentially: Rome. I thought it would be interesting to write about the fall of one of those fantasy empires, especially since it would give me the chance to show just how awful they could be.
The capital is Peradain, a city that controls a very specific trade route: every generation a portal opens and the Peradaini are visited by a delegation from a race of powerful, ageless beings called The Evening People. The royal family puts on a huge festival with feasting and music, theater and acrobatics... anything that might please their guests. In exchange, before the delegation returns home, they teach the humans a single magic spell.
The Peradaini empire was built with this monopoly on magic.
The Story Opens:
The first book opens on the morning of the next Festival. Food has been laid out, musicians and other performers await their turn on the stage, and the royal family is dressed in their finest clothes at the front of the dais. Everyone is nervous and excited, hoping they will impress their guests and receive a really powerful spell.
Then the portal opens and, instead of the expected delegation, monsters charge through.
The king and queen are killed in moments. The city falls in a day. As the empire collapses into civil war, the otherworldly invaders spread across the continent, destroying every human they can find.
Were these monsters unleashed on Peradain accidentally or was it a deliberate attack by The Evening People? And how can they be stopped before they wipe out human beings entirely?
What do you get when you pledge?
With all the unlocked stretch goals, there are additional pledge reward that are not listed in the sidebar on the right. Let me run down them quickly:
Everyone who pledges at $12 or higher will get ebook copies of three extra books. Two are novels and one is a short fiction collection. See Stretch Goal: Text and Stretch Goal: Mask for more details.
Everyone who pledges at $30 or higher will get a second FATE Core game supplement, for the urban fantasy novel A KEY, AN EGG, AN UNFORTUNATE REMARK, which is one of the unlocked stretch goal novels.
Everyone who pledged at any level will get desktop wallpaper art mentioned in Stretch Goal: Monitor and the music offered in Stretch Goal: You.
There are other prizes in Stretch Goal: You that have yet to be unlocked. Check them out.
Added: New Reward Levels:
Per your requests, I've added new pledge levels below for people who want to receive the entire trilogy in trade paperback. Now you can get the whole series signed or pristine, depending on your preference.
Stretch Goal: You
That's it! We've unlocked all the stretch goals I can swing. However, maybe there's a stretch goal you would like to create? A piece of art, or music, or fiction that you would like to share with the backers? Check out Update 14 for more details.
- An expanded Voidcallers (aka Twenty Palaces) role playing game using the FATE system
- Music (UNLOCKED!)
- Audio fiction
- A Voidcallers/Twenty Palaces writeup for a game set during Napoleon's invasion of Egypt
- Another one set during WWI, w/ possible Pathfinder stats, too!
- another novel
- three Twenty Palaces fanfic short stories
There might be even more since I posted this. Check them out and maybe add your own!
Stretch Goal: Image (Unlocked)
Goal reached! We reached the target of $34,000. The books will have Christian McGrath covers!
I've already managed to convince artist Priscilla Spencer, who has created maps for Jim Butcher, Saladin Ahmed, Kevin Hearne, and Myke Cole, to create a map for this project. So I know the inside of the books will look just as good as the outside.
There's a little more detail in Update 4.
Stretch Goal: Text (Unlocked)
Goal Reached! Everyone who pledged at the SPEAR level or higher gets the extra books described below!
If we reach 50 new backers counting from Monday morning, September 30th, all backers at the SPEAR OF THE EMPIRE level and above will receive DRM-free ebook copies of:
TWENTY PALACES, the prequel to the series I published with Del Rey
THE TWIN SWORDS OF ZORDAIN, the short, funny comic fantasy that my son wrote for his part of the homeschool project that started this whole thing. I have managed to convince the wonderful fine artist and children's book illustrator Kathleen Kuchera to do the cover.
A KEY, AN EGG, AN UNFORTUNATE REMARK, my pacifist urban fantasy with the working title "The Auntie Mame Files." Artist Duncan Eagleson has agreed to do the cover, but I'll talk more about about the book in a future update.
For more about this stretch goal--and which new backers count toward the total--check Update 5.
Stretch Goal: Key (Unlocked)
Goal reached! Everyone who pledged at $30 and above will receive a second FATE Core supplement!
If we reach 850 backers total, everyone who pledged at $30 level or higher will receive a FATE Core supplement for the setting of A KEY, AN EGG, AN UNFORTUNATE REMARK, the pacifist urban fantasy promised in Stretch Goal: Text.
Stretch Goal: Monitor (Unlocked)
Goal reached! We passed 925 backers so everyone is getting desktop wallpaper of the cover and map art!
If we reach 925 backers, everyone who pledges at the $12 level or higher will receive the Chris McGrath cover art for all three books as desktop wallpaper, and also the map that Priscilla Spencer is creating (here's a map she created for Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series) and also the cover art created for my son's novella by fine artist and children's book illustrator Kathleen Kuchera.
Stretch Goal: Mask (Unlocked)
Goal reached! We passed 1,000 backers with 33 hours left to go, so everyone who pledged at $12 or above will get an ebook copy of my upcoming short fiction collection.
If we reach 1,000 backers, everyone who pledges at the $12 level or higher will receive an ebook copy of my upcoming short story collection, which will include the Twenty Palaces short story "The Homemade Mask" (along with other unreleased fiction).
Stretch Goal Art:
This project started as a homeschool unit and it continues to be one. My son made this artwork to show the progress of the stretch goals.
Your support will help bring this project to life. Your pledges will pay for cover art, interior art (an epic fantasy needs a map!), copy editing, typesetting, ISBNs, and more. That will make the difference between a book created by a guy who only real skill is telling stories and a book that has clearly been prepared by a team of professionals.
Plus, you get to read my new book before anyone else.
Thank you very much.
Risks and challenges
As I mentioned in the video, the first draft of the entire trilogy is written. I need to do a revision of my own, then turn it over to an editor and designer. Short of an EMP event near my home or a bus fender with my name on it, I can't foresee anything that would prevent the delivery of the books.
The real challenge here is the timing. Three-hundred and fifty thousand words is a lot to revise, and it's not something that can be rushed. I've selected a generous delivery date with the expectation that I'll deliver early, but this work takes time. Also, this is my first Kickstarter so I may come up against unexpected difficulties.
However! As I mentioned, the trilogy is already complete. All that's left is honing the story and making it pretty. As soon as it's ready, I'll share it with you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Yes, but two of them will be in electronic form.
I juggled some of the names of the reward levels around at the last minute, and of course I missed that. The SCHOLAR OF THE TOWER level should read "Everything at the Bow level, plus..." Backers who choose that reward level will definitely be included in the dedication.
The SONG and MONUMENT levels were added later for people who wanted both the omnibus edition and the trade paperbacks. Kickstarter (wisely) will not allow me to edit already existing reward levels, but anyone who backs at THE BLESSING level or higher has the option to receive either the trade paperback set, the omnibus, or both.
I'm sorry, but I need to turn these offers down. I only recommend Kickstarter projects if the creator is someone I know or know of. I hope you understand.
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