Howdy and yeehaw, everyone! Welcome to a special Fourth of July edition of the Archefire Newsletter. It's the same as a standard edition but with more references to our storied history as a nation scattered throughout the text. They're going to be fairly well hidden, so see if you can spot them!

Ready? Let's go!

To Burn All Belief

Four score and seven years ago, To Burn All Belief was released! What's that? It hasn't been that long? Four score is how many years!?

Ahem...

One month ago, To Burn All Belief was released! More than 50 of you bought the book in its first month – several being signed copies from the Archefire Store (that's right, we're rebranding! So long, JoshSE Store). Many thanks to everyone who picked up a copy. I hope you're enjoying the journey through the wider Bright Empire!

There was also a big uptick in sales of An Ocean of Others last month, so it was nice to see book two driving some interest in book one. Here's my obligatory reminder that reviews are a tremendous help! An Ocean of Others has been sitting at 49 reviews on Goodreads for a while now – it sure would be nice to round it out to 50. 😎

Reviews for To Burn All Belief have been slowly dripping in, but the first one showed up just a day after its release! I couldn't ask for a more thoughtful review than the one Graham left:

Thanks Graham! Read the rest here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/6482589544

I know some of you are probably waiting for the audiobook of To Burn All Belief. I know I'm excited to hear Danny Gavigan's masterful narration once again. I don't yet have any news about a release date, but the manuscript and story notes are in Podium Entertainment's hands (they rebranded too!) so the gears are in motion.

Others may be waiting on a giveaway copy. I promised quite a few of those, didn't I? Not to fear, you haven't been forgotten. Those will be shipping out this week. As is tradition, Amazon delivered the paperbacks ordered by regular customers before sending me my author copies, so I didn't receive them until just a few days before going on vacation. I prioritized shipping signed copies to those who ordered them first, and since getting home from our quiet week in the Hudson Valley, I'll admit I've been a bit distracted by the new Elden Ring expansion.

Pay no attention to the several-hour-long streams of my Level 1 playthrough occurring every day on YouTube and X.

Okay...I've been more than a bit distracted. But books will be sent out and writing must continue. And it has! (I've been listening to the Elden Ring soundtrack while writing on the train to sate my withdraw-like symptoms.)

Real, actual Grave of the Waiting news!

I have a dream, that one day this sci-fi horror book will be judged not by the length of its delay but by the quality of its characters. At any rate, this is the month Grave of the Waiting's hiatus comes to an end! In fact, it already has.

Indeed, Chapter 17 - Exothermic is available to read at this very moment! And that's just the beginning. The plan is to get the entire second draft (the version that will always remain available for free on the website) finished and published before next month's newsletter. A lofty goal - but I've given myself a hard deadline, which always helps my process along.

The deadline is that I've commissioned a talented editor to help me polish up the third draft, which will then be revised, formatted, proofread, yada yada yada. All the usual steps toward publication. I'll leave who the editor is as a surprise for August's newsletter, but have you any guess who it is? If you're active on BookTwit (BookX?) then you're likely familiar with her work.

Needless to say, I'm excited to work with her on Grave, but that means I've got to get the book ready to turn in ASAP! I'm confident I'll hit the deadline though. I revised all of To Burn All Belief 2.0 in one month, and Grave is already 62% done. Easy peasy. I'll be keeping the site's progress bars updated to reflect the status if you want to follow along.


A Tournament of Others enters the semifinals

Unlike in America, where we hold this truth to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, in the lands of the Sibling Suns, some people are a cut above the rest. A Tournament of Others exists to separate the wheat from the chaff. And thanks to you, these remaining characters are all wheat. Whole grain. Organically grown.

But you are the scythe. Who has survived the reaping this month?

https://challonge.com/r0tpxwxe

Bengard has outranked Inac to move on to the semifinals against Reed, who overcame Ulken in a close contest. Sentyx, surprising nobody, defeated Lomin in a blowout and will face off against Grim, who let's be honest, stands no chance. How does that affect the standings?

At long last, the Author's Prediction jumps up to second place. Unfortunately, my arch-nemesis of the tournament, Reed em and weep, has reassumed the top spot. There are only two votes left until a winner is chosen. Cast your vote below to decide who will go head-to-head in the finals.


Monthly Giveaway

Last month's newsletter was looooooooong, so I forgive you for not answering the monthly giveaway question. However, I should say that the number of comments on each newsletter is my only key performance indicator, and my boss is going to be really upset with me if we don't boost these numbers.

Oh god, he's glaring right at me! (I'm looking in a mirror making an angry face right now 😠)

Of course, I've got to thank Boe and Alice for predicting who is going to die in To Burn All Belief. I especially enjoyed Alice's description of Jacquin as Ed Sheeran. Spot on, really. But you need to impress the Wheel if you want to win a game of favoritism, and the Wheel is as pitiless as Washington wielding his ax against a cherry tree.

Alright, that one was pretty forced, and I'm not certain that event really happened. Time to spin!

And the winner is...

Congratulations, Alice! Looks like the Wheel was impressed after all. That's one signed copy and one poster coming your way.

For this month, in the spirit of me and my wife preparing for our baby boy, this month's prize is a Lorelay head baby onesie!

And the question to answer is an easy one:

What baby books do you recommend?

Books for the baby himself or parenting books for me and Rachel, either is fine! Give us your recommendations in the comments below, and you'll be in the running for a one-of-a-kind piece of clothing for the baby you may or may not have!


Nazgul

Of course, I couldn't sign off without giving you another look at our boy, Nazgul. He's back (and to the left)!

I must begin with the birthday gift my sister sent me:

Nazgul has finally learned of his destiny. I expect to wake up every day to find him training in the art of the blade. Instead, I usually find him like this.

Surely, he's just meditating on his future greatness.

And stretching to stay limber and prepared for combat.

Go Phils!

Or maybe he's just a goober and has no plans to become a true knight. Either way, we still love him.


That's it for this month! How many US history references did you spot? No worries if you missed them – they were extremely well hidden, I know. If you're in the US, I hope you're enjoying your freedom and blowing up some rockets (and not your fingers) this Independence Day! And if you're not in the US, do you want to trade places?

Unless you're in Britain.

As of today, it's 248 us - 0 you. But who's keeping score?

I'll see you back here next month with more news about Grave of the Waiting! As always, thanks for reading!

β€” Josh