Going back to the beginning: The Staff & the Blade

The synopsis for the book is now available! As is a preview of the prologue of the first book, Dreams. The Pinterest board for the Irin Chronicles is here if you want to check out setting and character inspiration.

Warning: Looooong blog post ahead.


via Wikimedia Commons

The Staff & the Blade is the next novel in the Irin Chronicles. As I’ve mentioned other places, this story will be Damien and Sari’s. As I’ve also mentioned, it’s giving me headaches. WHY is it giving me headaches, you may ask?


It is a universally acknowledged truth (at least by me) that when you’re writing a fantasy series, the first book is slow-going. Any time you have to build a fictional world, you’re going to have to plan. Some of that planning will happen before you ever start writing, but a lot of that planning will happen as you write because you often don’t know something is going to be an issue until it comes up in the manuscript.

So you stop and start on the first book, as you write and research and make stuff up (cause that’s what we do!), hoping that you’re not inadvertently world-building yourself into a corner you can’t see because that particular fictional room hasn’t been built yet.

Is this making any sense to you guys? It makes sense in my head.


via Wikimeda Commons

ANYWAY, the first book always takes a long time. One of the reasons I enjoy working in the Elemental series is because there are so many rules already established that it’s easy to navigate where I’m going.

The Irin world? Not so much. It’s really complex and has an inner mythology that’s far more detailed than any of my other series. I love it and I hate it a little, too. Cause hard stuff is hard.

I thought about where I wanted to go after Ava and Malachi’s story. I thought and I thought and I thought some more. Then I drank. Then I thought. And I kept coming back to Damien and Sari. I love them. They’re crazy cool. They’re important. I WANTED to tell their story. It’s an important story, not only for their relationship, but for the series as a whole.


I couldn’t tell their story only going forward. I had to go back.


via Wikimedia commons

That meant going back to the Crusades. Back to Orkney, where they first met. Back before the Rending. I can’t tell you how their story ends unless you know how it starts. It just doesn’t make sense any other way.

That also means that I am essentially writing another first book, because The Staff & the Blade starts before everything in the Irin world fractured. It shows what Irin families were like (good and bad) before the Grigori butchered half the population. It shows the world that a (relatively innocent) Sari grew up in, and the world that a (very not innocent) Damien sacrificed a lot to protect.

I’m writing that world, and then I’m writing the Rending and how it all fell to pieces. And then I’m writing why Damien & Sari separated and how they found their way back to each other. The final part of the book will show the way forward for both them and the Irin world.


via Wikimedia Commons

It’s not one book. It’s kind of four. But I don’t want to write another four book series! That’s too much. It’s more like four novellas. Four novellas/one LONG book. It all goes together, but there are major leaps in time and place that would be awkward in one continuous novel.

That’s how I know it needs to be written. That’s how I’ve planned it. The first “book” is already written. I’m starting on the next part now. The part that’s really giving me headaches is how I’m going to publish it.

And I want to hear from you. I’m going to write the book the way I want to write it. That’s not going to change. But I am genuinely curious how you guys would like to read. Do you want to read it in parts and get those parts sooner, or do you want me to wait and publish it in one massive volume at the end?

(Heads up, this book is going to be around 150K words by my estimate, so it’s going to be well over my usual $4.99 price point simply because of editing costs.)

I’m writing the novellas back to back, so it’s not like this decision is going to make me write faster or slower. Think of it as mini-series vs. long movie. And yes, I’ll be publishing a combined volume at the end, either way. Mainly, this decision will effect price point, cover art, marketing, stuff like that.

SO we come to our poll. Let me hear what you think and I’ll enable comments if you want to add anything.

UPDATED TO ADD: I think a lot of readers are worried that I’m going to change the way I WRITE the story based on what is most popular with readers, and please do not worry about that. (Cause I’m pretty opinionated about the way I write and I love you guys and all, but not that much. <3 ) The story will be written the way I’ve stated above (four linked novellas that tell the course of Damien and Sari’s whole relationship) I am simply curious how you guys would prefer to READ it. I can publish it either way, so that’s why I was curious about your preferences.

Posted in Irin Chronicles, Writing and tagged , , , .


  1. Ok, not fair to put “chocolate” in the voting choices, because I had a very strong opinion about my preference as to how the book/novellas should be published, but chocolate clearly overrides that. Unless you are going to send me chocolate. In which case, I withdraw my complaint.

  2. Okay, so… Really? Chocolate?? Here’s the thing– for those of us who buy every one of your books, and shamelessly crave each new installment from that secret room in your author’s brain… Waiting is hard. Chocolate is essential. Therefore I always keep my own supply. Novellas are good… My chocolate will help me wait between installments.

  3. For me, I’ll take the book(s) any way I can get it, but from a purely practical sleep/work balance perspective, a shorter novella is easier to finish in one sitting so that I get enough sleep to function at work :-). A longer book will be harder to put down and thus harder to avoid missing sleep :-). Of course, I can learn to put the books down after a few chapters, I suppose :-).

  4. Chocolate, anytime, anywhere, on or in anything. That being said I’ll take your writing any which way you want to do it. Two of my favorite things-chocolate and your books. Yeah!

  5. Excited for Orkney to be in the story – I just visited in October 🙂
    I’m stuck on the question though …. Whether it’s novella or novel the books are always over too soon. Having said that I try my absolute best to save your stories for holiday time so I can relax in my beloved Scotland and really enjoy them – so for me, the long read!

  6. I rather would like to have it all. Could you publish the novellas one by one as ebooks and then when you are through publish the whole book as a hard copy? I would like to have the chocolate as well.

    • Oh, good comment! I will actually be doing exactly that. IF I publish the novellas as I write, then I’d only do ebook and wait until the end to do one large paperback. So no paperback until the end.

  7. I actually enjoy the torturous wait for the entire book, and as for price…woman I would GLADLY pay MUCHO dineros for you novels…

  8. Because of the price, I like four two-dollar books rather than one eight dollar book. But I like reading the whole thing right away (one book four parts). Since I buy all of your books as soon as they are available and always sort them to the front of my reading queue, I guess it doesn’t really matter. There is always Part 1 @ 2 release and then Part 3 @ 4.

  9. Hard choice!! I like the Novellas since I have very hard time putting your books down once I’ve started reading. One long book is good too since I have no problem not putting your books down once I start reading. Sorry, I’m no help ;b

  10. Its just I hate to have to wait for “parts” of a story so thats why I love loonng stories but I am confident no matter how you publish your work it always comes out great and excellent! I will take whatever way works for you!

  11. I’m going to need each novella as it comes but would love to have one book at the end that I could buy because long books are awesome. So excited for this story!

  12. I have run in to novellas a lot and for me personally, I like a longer book. I like novellas that give glimpes into a story after the main story…or possibly a side note. Just my thought. Read a lot of books that should have been called short stories and they fell flat. Your world building is wonderfully detailed and I’m not sure a short story would do it justice. That said, obviously, I’ll read it in whatever format you put it out in. Happy writing.

  13. Elizabeth,
    One, either way you write it is the way it should be written- take heart. It will be fantastic either way. That being said, I love your novella format- it works and it is totally you. So the better question is, “How does the story want to be written?” You’ve been at this long enough to know that some stories just do not fit convention. Go with it. Let the beast out of its cage and see where it takes you.
    Love to you,
    S.L. Buckley

    P.S. Chocolate

    • Oh, I’ll be writing the story in the format I mentioned. That will not change at all. (Never fear! I’ll do what I want. 😉 ) Four novella length stories linked together into one larger volume. I was curious about how you guys would like to READ them since I can publish either way. It’s more work to publish the novellas separately and then publish an omnibus, but I’m open to the possibility if readers are really enthusiastic about that format. If there’s not as much enthusiasm and readers would just like the final book, I’ll do it that way.

  14. I agree with Ellen. The Novellas on EBooks, with the entire compilation in a paperback. Though, I will take “em however I can get ’em! If you provide the chocolate, I’ll provide the wine!

  15. I love your work and I will enjoy it in whatever form it takes. I LOVE longs books and am patient on this one as I know it will take some time. But again, if its in smaller increments then I will love that too. Your work is truly in the top five of my authors of all time. We will love whatever you do!

  16. I’d like it either as novellas or as one big book, but I’d prefer it to come out at once. I like the continuity and it’s easier to remember the details of the world. If I have to wait between novellas, I’m sure my aged brain will forget a character or two.

  17. I’m fine with paying $7.99 for a large book that has four distinct sections. Four actually feels very natural – akin to a book of the year with a thick section for each season. And thick books are not scary – think of Galbadon’s. What’s scarier to me is having to go back and re-read each past section to recall the story so far whenever another novella comes up. Because as a heavy reader, I don’t remember. And I don’t put spoilers in my reviews, so GR is not much help.

  18. if you are writing them at the same time, i am happy to wait for the bundled novella set at the end, patience is a virtue and all that jazz <3
    p.s. they met in orkney? yay scotland <3

  19. My opinion is …

    Those of us who already enjoy your writing and the worlds you create are always eager to get our hands on your stories as rapidly as we can.

    However – you know that there will be grief from the casual readers over novellas that are later combined into single volume (I think you once mentioned somewhere being irritated by people complaining about novellas).

    So – do what will bring you the most happiness.

    And why wasn’t wine an option? Oh – wine AND chocolate.

  20. I agree with a few of the other readers that you should do what works and is best for you. We will get our hands on this book however it comes. Personally I don’t mind novellas so either receiving one novella at a time or one big volume with them all is fine by me. I will say I think you spoil your readers some times giving us chapters every week. That’s cool and we love it but it also makes us want and want from you all the time. So just publish Damien and Sari however is easiest for you. BTW I can’t wait to hear more about Damien and Sari’s history and the Irin’s history.

  21. Oooh, your books, wine, and chocolate! I love your writing in any format and your posse is awesome! I will purchase the short stories and the whole thing together when it comes out as one. And I will end up reading it that way as well. Although now that the series is getting a bit longer it a takes a while for me to read them all together in order, but it’s well worth it? I love your gift and am so happy that you share it.

  22. I answered that I wanted to read the novellas as soon as possible, then I realized I had a caveat. If they will be complete novellas with most ends tied up and no major cliffhangers (like the Ben/Tenzin novellas have been) then I stand by my answer. But if there are major cliffhangers that will leave me anxious over characters for months, then no, I’ll wait and read it all at once, thanks.

  23. Chocolate?
    Irin Chocolate?
    I want to read it all. At one time. I want Zachary Webber to read it to me. I want to add the paperback version (if there is one to my Irin Chronicles keeper shelf).
    And I want chocolate. 🙂

  24. I love your full novels, but I have to say I have fallen equally in love with your novellas! I feel like it would work as four seperate novellas. After all have been released for a bit you can do a box set option, but honestly I will be happy any way it happens as long as it happens! Sari was one of my favorite characters from thr Irin Chronicals so I am beyond ready to learn more about her.

  25. Wine and Chocolate please. I want it all! Personally, I prefer the boxed sets. I’ll wait patiently for whatever you decide

  26. Although this is quite unusual for me, I would choose the novellas. It’s probably the chocolate option distracting me since I didn’t get any for Valentine’s Day. Hmm, nope. Just found some chocolate and it’s still the novellas!

  27. The problem with novellas is that as wonderful as they are, they always leave you hanging and wanting more. So, although I would want to read the story quickly, I’d rather wait and have the full story to enjoy. I also agree with most of the comments above – no fair adding chocolate into the equation! How funny though how many of your readers also like chocolate. Hmmmm.

  28. chocolate,mmmmm, but for me i would prefer to read the four as a book so willing to wait. only because i can stay up late and just read read read

  29. i wouldnt want to make a quick visit to the irin world, i would like to go there and spend as much time as possible there – i will patiently wait for the full story and escape…..

  30. I feel so torn…as I can’t wait to get back into the Irin World again, but once there I want to immerse myself in the story. So the Novella’s frustrate me as they usually leave me wanting more. I can see where the chocolate would come in handy here. I wouldn’t mind reading them in Novella form if all 4 were released at close intervals, but if I’d have to wait a long time then I would probably go back to the first one and reread it, then go on to the second and so forth and so on. For me….I guess I’d prefer one long…long story. But I’ll have the Hershey Kisses hidden beside my bed just incase you release them and decide torture me….

  31. While I *adore* reading your novellas as you publish the chapters, in this instance I would prefer the full novel. From what you’ve written, I perceive that each of the four novellas has an individual arc, with an overarching story arc. With the amazing depth of the Irin world, and your world-building talent, I feel like a single release would do better justice to Damien and Sari.

    As a major consumer of books, I regularly pay up to $9.99 for eBooks, with the occasional foray into $12.99 and $15.99. I still buy paper and hardback books as well. So the thought of a higher price point for the quality of the books that you write doesn’t scare me off at all.

  32. From what we already know of Damien and Sari’s history we know that some of this story is going to be heart breaking. I really don’t like the idea of reading it as novellas getting to a really sad part then having to wait for the next novella. Please print as one book.

  33. I personally do not mind novellas, but I much rather sit down with a nice long book. I tend to go through books quite quickly and then have to wait (not so patiently) for the next. Either way, the format in which the story is released will not affect my reading it. I have been waiting to hear this story since we first got a glimpse of Damien and Sari, so I’m definitely reading this!!!

  34. If it were up to me, i would love to have a huge book so that i can spend some extensive time back in the irin world. But every time you release a novella I’m freaking out and having heart palpitations over them, so those make me happy too. Would you be willing to do just one part as a novella and then put the last 3 together? That way we get a little taste of whats to come, but then we still get a pretty significant book to look forward to? I am happy to have whatever you write, whenever, and however it comes. That’s just the idea that popped into my head 😉 Happy writing!

  35. Not knowing what cover art costs, I guess what I would like to know is whether you want to go thru the process of developing and paying for 4 covers versus 1, even if it’s just for the ebooks. I say go for the one large book tho. Keeps the story neatly together and remove any confusion regarding reading order.

  36. So here is my problem…no matter how you release them I will still crave more. If you publish four novellas and release them each as they are complete, I will want a fifth. IF you release them all as one large book, I will want another after. Either way, just like chocolate, I want more. – no pressure.

  37. I tend to like long & wordy, especially if the language itself is intellectually sexy. You have a delish vocabulary. I really want the whole enchilada.
    I rarely eat chocolate, unless it’s really, really good stuff & I don’t get to my favorite pusher often enough. ????
    If you decide to publish both ways, that’s fine, too.
    Just as long as those sexy parts of speech show up soonest!

Leave a Reply