We’re not willing to write anything at Realm & Sands unless we know the process will be fun, even if fun also means grueling.
The first season of The Beam was difficult. Like the best of our work, fun but grueling. There was a previous version of the series before the Realm & Sands version. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good enough to publish.
The first Beam was an experiment to see if my production model would work. It did, but The Beam (or theBEAM as it was called back then) was a giant story, and had to be told right.
Shelving the original was one of my best creative decisions, and I’m lucky that Johnny wanted to write this second version together.
Even if we have a hard time copping to a favorite project (we really love Unicorn Western), neither of us would be able to deny that The Beam is our most important work. Unicorn Western is wonderful, and we couldn’t love her more than we do, but our first serious followup is smart, ambitious, and like nothing we’ve written (or read), even though it’s influenced by plenty.
We launched the Realm & Sands blog early this year, hoping to bond with you better. We’d spent an entire year writing tons of stories, but little time connecting with our readers outside of those tales. We dedicated 2014 to changing that.
So we started the year with what we referred to as “Epic Posts.”
All of our stories, as seemingly stupid as they can appear on the surface, have as many things to say as we do. We thought it would be a cool way to run the blog, writing posts that were almost like author’s notes to our stories — deeper explorations of the questions asked in our stories.
In The Beam we are constantly asking what controls us, so of course we wrote the post, “What Controls You?”
But it wasn’t enough.
Johnny and I don’t just overdo everything, we want to do everything right. If we take on a project we want it to be the best that we can possibly produce, and make it somewhat future proof, meaning that people who find it years from now will think it’s just as awesome as people who read it today.
The Epics did that. Each of our posts is more than 3,000 words. They’re smart. They have depth. They don’t just scratch our topic’s surface, they’re deep enough to ask probing questions and make you think long after you left your comment, tweeted the link, or sent our thoughts to your friend.
But we didn’t just write those epic posts so we could slowly assemble another set of authors notes. We wrote them to better connect with you, our reader. And while it seemed like the Epics were connecting with many, that connection wasn’t as deep or as we wanted. More importantly, the connection was scattershot, and not as deep as you clearly deserved.
After finishing The Beam’s second season rough draft, we had time to pivot our attention back to the blog. We’d spent the first three months of the year launching it, feeling things out, and finding our ideal rhythm. Now we know exactly what to do, and can finally nail it.
For the next month (pretty much every day) we’ll be telling you all there is to know about The Beam S2. Each day we’ll publish another nugget of awesome from The Beam world in general, or from our second season specifically.
S2 has surpassed S1 in every way. The creative process has been fantastic, and has left Johnny and me with plenty to share with you. We’re eager to blab (or write) about it all. This season has so many surprises, and we know you’ll love them because they caught us off guard as well. When they did, we couldn’t stop smiling.
The Beam world was big already, then we added Plugged and The Future of Sex. Between those projects, the new season, and the planned followups, there’s little doubt that this isn’t just Realm & Sand’s biggest world, it’s bigger than all of our worlds put together.
Plenty of people told us we were crazy for writing Plugged. It was one of those projects we announced on our Self-Publishing Podcast only to receive scads of well meaning emails from listeners trying to save us from ourselves.
They argued that it was silly to write a faux nonfiction book detailing an artificial history of a world that didn’t exist. There was no money there, the audience was too small. Fake nonfiction?!? REALLY?
Everything they said was right, but we still weren’t wrong.
But we had to write Plugged. We said at the time that it was an important piece of work, and that we would have written it for free. Because we didn’t write Plugged to make money (of course, everything is part of our master library and we do expect to profit). We wrote it for fans of The Beam, and (maybe even more importantly) for ourselves, so that we could understand our world that much better before attempting to dive back inside it.
Now that we’ve finished the second season, I can’t tell you how happy we are that we did. Plugged was instrumental in helping to crystalize our knowledge of The Beam and get us into the headspace required to write the best possible followup to a first season that ended up bigger and better in so many ways than we imagined. We already have “Sterling Gibson’s” followup planned. As with the first in our faux series, it will be an unofficial .5 season, and will help to string many ideas together.
More on that later in the month, along with everything else.
If you loved The Beam’s first season, you’re going to really enjoy the next few weeks until The Beam S2 is officially published on May 1. We prepared all of this preview content mostly for you.
If you’ve never read The Beam, this is your chance to find out what all the fuss is about. You won’t be disappointed. The Beam is sci-fi for people who think they don’t like sci-fi (it’s really about you right now as much as it is about your inevitable tomorrow).
As we’ve said, the month will be packed. Rather than once a week, we’ll have something new (and awesome) to read every day from now until May 1. We have plenty of surprises, and are super excited for the rest of this month. We’re grateful you’re here with us.
If you’ve not yet read The Beam, now is your chance. You have a month to read it before the second season comes out, and you will want to.
Fortunately, there’s no reason not to try. Episode One is 100% FREE. You can get it here:
We’ve also put the first season on sale, and are going to leave it on sale (Amazon only) for Beam Month here at the blog to A) encourage you to pick it up if you haven’t and B) share it with any friends who you think might enjoy it.
If you’ve already read the first season and haven’t reviewed it, please do. Johnny and I will greatly appreciate it. The reviews so far have been great, better than anything that we’ve written, but we’d love to gather some more in the next month. The number of reviews a title has directly affects its performance, and we’d love to see it hit at least a 100 total reviews before we launch the second season on May 1.
We will be sending out some advance review copies of S2, but they will only be available to S1 reviewers.
So if you liked The Beam, please review. If you’ve already left your review, or would like to leave one now, please click on the link below (after you left your review) and paste your link. We’ll send you a free review copy of Plugged.
That’s it for now. Thanks so much for reading, and for being here.
Thanks so much for helping us to make our dreams come true one story at a time.
We couldn’t do this without you.
Stay tuned for a recap of everything that happened in Beam S1!
Want to explore the world of The Beam before Season Two launches on May 1st? Get Season One now while it’s on sale for 20% off… or try it for free!