It’s always exciting when a writer can type these last two words of a manuscript.

That happened for me yesterday.

I started writing the sequel to “99 Days” and “The Blood King” in November 2016. Since then I’ve plugged away more or less steadily, writing at least 4-5 days a week, and often more than that. I didn’t always write a lot, but I did try to write very consistently.

The book has gone through several name changes since then, as I couldn’t get a handle on what it should be called. Then, about two months ago, the perfect name came to me: “The Anointed.” It stuck, and I couldn’t be happier with it.

So, does that mean the book’s ready to publish? No — not even close. In this sense, “THE END” is just the beginning. I have a draft of the manuscript, and it feels very solid. But I’ve learned a lot about my characters and settings and societies through the course of writing the book. Now I need to go back and fill in and revise, based on what I know now that I didn’t know then.

Then I need to edit for typos, errors with names or places or timeline, etc. Then I need to get beta readers on it to give me feedback. Then there’s getting a cover made, marketing/publicity, and so on and so on…

Yup, it’s a lot of work. But the meat of the project — that first draft — is finally finished. It’s been nine months of grinding away to produce a book that, in paperback form, I anticipate will be in the vicinity of 550 pages. It’s been frustrating at times and exhilarating at others. As I’ve said before, writing epic fantasy has special challenges when it comes to world creation, since none of it exists in reality. When they visit an inn, I have to create everything about it. The rules of this society are completely my creation. The magic system, too — all of it comes from my imagination.

But now it does exist, and I think it’s wonderful. Now comes the polishing, the rearranging, the “how did I miss *that*!” moments, and more. It’s all fun, but the initial writing is probably the most fun. I’ll miss that for the next few months as I prep the book for release.

In another way, it’s a huge relief to be done. Writing the first draft takes so much focus and concentration, much more (at least for me) than any other stage. The pressure is off, so to speak, since I feel really good about the general plot, structure, characters, etc. They certainly need tweaking, but the feel of the book itself holds together well. That’s the big part, the nerve-wracking part — you don’t want to get to “THE END” and realize your novel stinks.

So, onward to editing! Stay tuned for more updates.