As of today, the rough draft is complete.
It stands at 447 document pages (as opposed to Book 1’s 300 pages and Book 3’s 650, holy crow), and isn’t liable to flux much either way. I have a few scenes to add, but then I’ll be trimming a lot, no doubt, so overall I expect the page count to drop. Word count is 312k, with 30 chapters and the usual end-cap.
Cover art hasn’t started yet; my artist was sick for a while, then had vital family obligations, then was sick again. She’s coming to an upswing though, she thinks, so hopefully we’ll have some progress soon. The banner above is to my own mock-up for the cover, featuring Enforcer Ardent and Captain Sarovy.
As for the ETA… This is all later than I’d wanted it to be, because I experienced a kind of motivational collapse for most of December, January and February. Part of it was from the holidays, which always disrupt me, but another part was from some huge vagaries in the plot. The previous three books had already been through at least half a draft before I got to them for real — Book 1 had drafts spanning ten years, Book 2 had five years of them, and Book 3 had two. But I’d never gotten past Book 3’s plots before — just a ton of notes, which I’ve had to portion out for books 4-6 and push/pull subplots around to try to fit the flow of the story. Thus I wasted a lot of time on starting certain subplots that I then decided should be pushed to Book 5 or even Book 6. It was a lot of frustration, and will require a lot of editing to remove any residual threads of those shifted storylines.
In fact, the climactic subplot I finally went with was one I’d initially planned for here, then pushed to mid Book 5, then pulled back when I realized that what I had left in 4 wouldn’t be sufficiently impactful. Needless to say, I’ve been pulling my hair out a bit, but I’m pretty satisfied with this book’s arc now and I know where I’m going with the final two.
Still a lot of work to do. I have seven pages of editing notes to go through before I fling the draft to beta readers for content analysis, then a full edit/rewrite to get everything up to snuff. Then another beta read? I won’t be doing the full Parallel Rewrite this time, I don’t think, but I need to unbraid at least one of the threads to work on it in isolation. And I’ll be away for a few weeks in June, so I think the best ETA I can give is ‘by September’.
Whew. At least the hard part’s done!