Good news is that so far February is off to a rocket-like pace. I finished up the first draft on KH Short 6, which I'm probably going to call "Meet the Bonnies." It's 50 pages or 13k words long, equal in size to the Welf novelette "Second Take." I want to do one more edit on it before I give it over to the beta readers, but it looks like it should come out at the end of February or the start of March.
I also did a complete readthrough edit on FM5, fixing some problems that had arisen with characters needs versus plot needs, adding in some flesh on those first draft bones and the like. I ended up adding about 5k words to the whole book just with that, which isn't out of the ordinary. Generally, I always figure on adding about 10% to my first draft word count on my first look through it, since my first drafts are usually dialogue heavy.
Since then I've also finished a new chapter and am halfway through the next one. Although I had to split the last chapter...so we're up to 23 chapters total now...so...it all about evens out.
I've updated the estimation on the length of the novel to 160k words. Which means it's a big one by my previous standards. Way bigger than I thought it would be. I always knew we would get to this point where the mainline wanted to be it's own novel and then the school timeline was added to it, making for some big books, I just thought we would make it to FM6 before that happened. But no! FM5 wants to be a big boy too!
Which is fine. I'm very happy with the novel as it is at the moment. It is probably the most "bridge" novel in the series, showing the results of choices in FM4 and leading up to big problems in FM6 and beyond, but it also has a lot of big events in it and sees a ton of characters introduced into the mainline from the school timeline. It could also be the funniest book I've written, since Drunk King Henry is best King Henry.
Anyway, I'm done torturing you for now. Take away is that I'm writing as fast as I ever have, it's just a big book and we'll get there soon. I'm purposely staying off the net to focus, so it might be another month until I respond to any questions, but don't hesitate to ask as always!