Apr 05

Lost Story Found

Posted: under Collections, Contents, Good News, the writing life.
Tags: ,  April 5th, 2024

Just a couple of days ago, while organizing some of the stacks of paper, old notebooks, etc. in one of the rooms, my Organizer in Chief found a print-out of a story I hadn’t been able to find on any current storage unit…since last fall’s demise of the flash drive which had held the backup of the hard drive that self-destructed a year ago.   It was one I had planned to use the next short-fiction collection, and a hard loss, since unlike some stories, it was difficult to write and would be very difficult to *rewrite* in a way that I’d like.  I’d tried.

So Kate’s finding it  was a huge boost to my mood.   It was a photocopy of an earlier version with a lot of editing marks on it (scratch-outs, inserted words, scribbles between lines, etc.)  but it was essentially whole.  We scanned it into the computer, then took the .pdf and converted it (not without some problems…the conversion process did not like my handwritten marks!!) to a .docx version.   I’ve spent quite a few hours trying to make Word behave (!!!! to Microsoft designers of that annoying software!) and retain the instructions (double-space…not single, not multiple, just plain old double-space.  Using the font I want, not the font Word wants.  With no added space between paragraphs, an indented first line ONLY, and no sudden lurches into centered text, right-justified text, etc. etc. etc.)     It’s going to take multiple corrective runs, but at least I’ve got it.

It’s from Old Aare, when the Sandlord’s great drought was just beginning to cause social/economic upheaval and the shift of populations across the continent.  And it *will* be in the new collection and I will be glad of it.   The other “Old Aare” story in that group is the previously published “My Princess” from the DAW anthology Warrior Princesses.   Also in the new collection is “Judgment” from The Dragon Quintet, and the story “Destinies” which is a follow-on to the story “Consequences” in the previous collection Deeds of Youth.  And another one or two, whatever will fit into the word count.

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Mar 16

Are Stories Moles to be Whacked?

Posted: under Life beyond writing, Progress, the writing life.
 March 16th, 2024

In the limbo of “book ms with editor” and while working to get the house in more order (it’s working; it’s not done yet) , I’ve now finished grooming two stories….and instead of working on another known-but-needing-to-be-recovered-mentally since the computer problems, a NEW one popped up yesterday. Totally knew.  Strange.  I told it “I’ll take notes, but you’re down the list.  You’ll need to wait for a full treatment.”  Story grabbed my brain and dragged it down the rabbit hole of Storyland.

So now “Flawed Swords” is a Thing.  Not a finished Thing, but a Thing with a title and several pages and a lot of emotional Baggage.

It better cooperate and turn out to be a decent story, or I may institute a “whack-a-mole” policy for intrusive story ideas.  (As if that would work!)

The finished stories, in the new folder of Paksworld stories, are “Bank Transfer” and “Destinies.”  The latter follows “Consequences” in DEEDS OF YOUTH.

This coming weekend (3/22 to 3/24)  I’ll be traveling to Dallas to meet with my sabre fencing coach to clear up some things I didn’t get solid during his workshop here on March 2.  I have always been slow to learn footwork (in dance and in fencing) and got very mixed up that day.  Russ said (in both video and person) that difficulties often do arise when previous training crosses current training, and definitely the rapier footwork keeps invading my brain while I’m trying to do the sabre footwork.   Because the train schedule is what it is, the trip will take up 3 days, with two nights in a hotel.  Kate, my tech and organizational person, is coming along, so it should be fun in more than one way.   (Ten years ago, I could’ve driven up.  But even then driving into Dallas and back from here was an exhausting trip…now it’s impossible.  Vision, and the mental effects of concussion…can’t concentrate that long, at the level needed for driving on I-35.)  So the train.


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Feb 07

Reader Help Wanted

Posted: under Reader Help.
Tags:  February 7th, 2024

One of my upcoming shorter stories (short-ER, not necessarily short; I don’t know how long it will be) was up for discussion in the writing group I’m now in.   Discussion got a big confused at some points so I can’t remember who mentioned that I had covered the same incident in the first Paks series, probably in Sheepfarmer’s Daughter.   I have no idea where it is in there; my old mass market paperback of Paks I is yellowing badly and has been chewed on by things that chew on the covers of paperbacks and the binding is ready to crack.   And it was told from a different point of view. So I’m asking people with time to spare to find it for me, in whichever volume it is.   I won’t warp the current story to match it exactly (apparently it was told by someone who wasn’t at the scene (whew–!)  but maybe not.

The incident concerns Kieri’s first independent command and the Pargunese attack on the Tsaian camp, in which the Crown Prince was killed, Duke Marrakai fatally wounded, and Kieri took command and saved the lot of them.  The story I’m writing is the continuation & completion of the story in DEEDS OF YOUTH about Kieri and Selis Marrakai, the young man who was “corrected” by the Prince and told to give his horse to Kieri.

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Jan 25

A Very Big Thank You

Posted: under Reader Help, the writing life.
Tags:  January 25th, 2024

…to everyone who has stuck with this blog (and Universes) through the almost six years since the last book came out and since the Day of Concussion.   To be Texan about it,  ALL y’all have been a steady, reliable support that I needed, through the many trials and disappointments as I struggled to overcome the effects of brain damage.  I’m still not 100% (multi-tasking the way I used to?  No. More distractible, more difficulty maintaining focus through a writing session?  Yes.)

But you have stuck it out with me, encouraging, showing interest at the least progress, and I am more grateful for that than I can easily express.   Should any of you be unlucky enough to get your own heads smacked hard enough (or often enough) to cause serious loss of function…I hope you have as supportive a bunch of cheerleaders as you yourselves have been.  Don’t give up on each other, or on family members, either.  Sometimes the magic works.

Thanks again, and always.



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Jan 23

Half the News You’ve Been Waiting For….

Posted: under Horngard, Submitting, the writing life.
Tags:  January 23rd, 2024

Horngard I has been shipped off to my editor at Del Rey.

The next news we want to hear is “yes” but that’s probably months away, if that’s what Anne decides.  Keep your fingers crossed.   I’ll tell you what I know as soon as I know it.

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Jan 12

Working on the Book

Posted: under Characters, Craft, Horngard, Progress, the writing life.
Tags: , , , ,  January 12th, 2024

The first chapter of Horngard I is now tighter, cleaner, more direct, less allusive.  Starts in POV of major character.  Sets out the initial situation directly.  Introduces second POV character, hours later than the original start.   Better, in other words.  I’m now charging through the other chapters (agent had a copy I’d sent him in October; I’d lost my copies here, as you know, so it was seeing it very fresh indeed.)    Every place that my eyelids sag (before midnight; sagging at midnight is normal.  Right now I’m waiting for the dryer to finish with a load of wash that suddenly had to be done at about 10:30 pm.)

For instance, Gwennothlin Marrakai is taking her youngest brother Julyan on a trip and includes moving some horses from the Marrakai estate somewhere else.  I had, in the previous file, a sketch map of the journey, a timeline, a note of every horse, its name, its breeding, its color, its size.   Today I was reading along, early in that journey and they stopped for lunch and then…I spent most of a paragraph on the horses.  Not interesting stuff about the horses, not enlivening details that also show I know what I’m describing, but…she helps Julyan get on the horse she wants him to ride that afternoon, and in the process of that tells the reader (only some of whom will care) the horse’s name, breeding, color, and size.  Does any of this matter at any point in the story?  No. Does Julyan care?  No.  I found myself mentally staring at the 11 year old kid, who darn well ought to be able to mount that horse without help, and at the horse (which is not going to DO anything remarkable at any point!) and erased a paragraph.  After lunch they started off upstream on the trail.   It’s not about a mare named Daisy.  It IS about one of the horses in particular, but right now they’re going to ride south, upstream, day after day until they’re….never mind.  Lips are sealed.  THAT bit has details that matter.

More of that section–the travel–will also come out because it’s a separate sort of sequence that ties into the main sequence down the line.   “The Chainsaw of Correction…” is snarling in my ear.

On the other hand, I’m still very happy with the battle scenes.  Gritty.

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Jan 07


Posted: under Life beyond writing, snippet, the writing life.
Tags: ,  January 7th, 2024

The sabre and I….I’m working on it.  Getting advice online and by email, looking at videos, doing daily practice and trying to correct errors made earlier before they’re baked hard into my muscles.  Sabre practice (and research and watching videos ) takes time. I’m enjoying it.  I am learning; I’m stronger than I was the day I unwrapped Joyeux (she has a name now) , and weekly increasing the work.  That takes time.

The writing.  Trying to recapture and rewrite one of the stories from last summer, the sequel to “Consequences” in DEEDS OF YOUTH, last year’s short fiction collection.   It’s slid in and out of focus, because I’m trying to write it “whole and fresh” as if I were first-drafting.  Vague shadows of what the story was before wander across my mind, as I work on it.  This takes time.

The Real World.  Every year I prepare a report for the local county tax assessor’s office on our Wildlife Management project, as required to maintain our ag exemption.  The report includes both a required form from Texas Parks & Wildlife, to be filled out, and additional information to substantiate the report.  There are seven specific types of activities that “count” toward meeting the state standards for wildlife management, and we must be doing three of them or more every year.  I usually include 15+ pages-often 20+, of text and photographs of what we’ve done that year.  That takes a LOT of time.

And of course there’s tax stuff, and the *other* tax stuff, and the horse care, and the State of the House…

January is the month in which deadlines land like hammers on an anvil, beating on my poor befuddled brain.

However, January is also the month that my Tech & Organization specialist will be back to help for a week or so.   YAY.  And if nothing else gets in the way, toward the end of January or at least by mid-Feb, I’ll be up in Irving  by train for one night (maybe two, depending on Stuff) to meet with my sabre instructor/coach/biomechanics person,  and get homework.  Double YAY.  February 2 is Vet Day…Laci will be hauling my boys over to the vet hospital for shots,  Coggins test, dental work.

Herewith a snippet from the untitled (so far) story.   If you haven’t read “Consequences,”  these two stories are set decades before DEED of PAKSENARRION,  when Kieri Phelan gets his first independent command from the Crown Prince of Tsaia to travel with the Tsaian army to drive out Pargunese invaders in NE Tsaia.  Kieri has at this time only one cohort and has been hiring out as an auxiliary to larger merc companies in Aarenis.   Aliam Halveric put the Crown Prince in touch with Kieri.  “Consequences” is about Kieri’s interaction with the son and heir of one of the noblemen who’s brought his own levy of troops.  Duke Marrakai’s son and heir (Selis) is considered too young to fight in the coming battles, and is at the start kind of a spoiled brat teenager who thinks he’s most skilled than he is.  THIS story is about a Pargunese attack on the Tsaian headquarters…but much more about the relationships between Kieri and others, as they will develop into the future.  First, though, Selis and his father.


Selis Kirgan Marrakai checked his appearance in the mirror again, tightened his sword belt, and smoothed the fall of his short green cape with its red braid around the margin.

“Selis!” His father the Duke’s voice broke into his worry that something—a hanging thread, a tiny spot—was wrong with his attire.  “It’s time.  Come on.”

A final glance, a final pass of the comb through his hair.  “Coming, Father.”  He left his small chamber in the tent and found his father just hanging his sword, wider and longer than Selis’s, on its belt hooks.  His father looked at him, his usual hard gaze softening into a smile.

“You look very well, Selis” his father said.  “Quite soldierly, I may say. You’ve grown up a lot on this trip; I’m proud of you.”


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Jan 05

New piece at Universes blog

Posted: under Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  January 5th, 2024

There’s a new post up at Universes on the main site,  Writing: From Character to Plot.   I may mirror it here later, but for now it’s at http://elizabethmoon.com/blog/   Hope you find it useful.  I’m in the usual January hurry, working on both the story I’m recovering by re-imagining it (see blog post) and the annual Wildlife Management report for the county tax office AND another required report, AND getting ready for the return of the Kate the Organizer who’s going to help me get more done here AND Sabre practice AND everything else.  EEEEeeeeeKKKKK!

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Dec 13

When Bad Things Happen…

Posted: under the writing life.
Tags:  December 13th, 2023

Short version:  All my files are gone.

Longer version:   That includes: books, short fiction, poetry, letters, nonfiction, addresses, etc.  Character lists for each piece of fiction (for continuity, very handy to have organized lists for another book or story set in the same universe–by organization, by location, by genealogy, by status (for those who die in the course of  a book) , etc.   Place names, locations, descriptions.   For some, salient physical and historical notes:  age at marriage, age at birth of children, age at which significant injury/illness occurs.  Etc.

Gone. All of it.  Things in print are still there, of course, but as stories, not as organized files where I had been able to look up things like how old Character A was when their younger sibling was born or an older sister died, things that affect characters’ growth & development, deep motivations, reactions, etc.

How it happened doesn’t really matter, except to me and my tech assistant, trying to be sure it never happens again.  A lof it is not recoverable at all, given my aging brain with its memory holes here and there.  Not without stopping writing new stuff to try to rebuild the research library of the old files.  Hours of work spread over nearly 40 years built the accumulated mass,  which  went way beyond what was obviously in the books.

So I have the complete printout of one of last summer’s short stories, and a printout of part of another.   I’m working this week to get them back into digital form, into multiple forms of storage, one of which I hope will still work in 5 or 10 years.   I know people who have whole or partial drafts of others.   I’m not dwelling on how bad this is, but focusing (narrowly for now) on what I can do, which is work from paper to digital, rebuild a file structure, start filling, and at the same time produce clean texts for publication when the next collection should be out.  Not going into gory details because they make my head hurt and take time.  Takeaway: Bad break, but writer is not sitting around moaning…writer is, and will be, at work.

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Dec 02

Writer Sees Squirrels…and Sabers

Posted: under Life beyond writing, Research.
Tags: ,  December 2nd, 2023

I’ve often enjoyed a blog tittled “Scientist Sees Sq1irrels” by Stephen Heard, a Canadian scientist who has just retired from his university faculty position.  Always interesting essays, sometimes about science, sometimes about other things.  So I’m half-stealing his title for this post, because I, too, “see squirrels” in the sense that I’m easily distracted by new topics, new data, something I never heard of or thought about before.   My mother the engineer, who could multi-track like nobody’s business, did not like my doing that.   Obviously, giving the length of books & book groups I’ve written, I can stick to a project for years at a time.   But in the fine detail of those months and years, I will also spend time nosing out  things new to me, *some* of which may show up in the current project.

The saber continues to fascinate and challenge me.  Yes, I’m getting slowly (annoyingly slowly) stronger and better.  This week I started working with it twice a day, not just once a day.  Exercises that would be boring if I had some other exercise object in my hand, but with a saber…the mindset is different.   I want to have a name for it, but did people ever name their saber?  Oh.  Wait.  It just named itself.  Joyeux.   That fits perfectly.

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