Oct 02

Stage 2 and Stage 3 Revision: update

Posted: under Uncategorized.
 October 2nd, 2022

This is mostly echoed from the Universes blog, so no use going there for more.

Stage Three overlaps Stage Two, because–especially this time–there’s no reason to ignore 3rd level problems while reading aloud to someone from the computer screen (there is no print-out yet.)    So if I find an entire paragraph that’s now redundant (a Stage Two problem) I just delete it,  or a temporal-sequence problem,  I mark that section in red and fix it when through reading, and if I find a typo (and boyoboy do I find typoes!)  I fix it.  Same with “infelicitous phrasing,”  doubled doubled words, and so on.

Every book *should* have (can easily have if you don’t have a submission deadline)  at least three full length revisions: structural, constructional, surface polish.  And also at least three readings: one of them voiced, out loud, two by readers with somewhat different ages/backgrounds, etc.  This time my original first-reader (Rancherfriend Ellen) can no longer read, because of severe macular degeneration, so I’ve been calling her up every day and reading a chapter or two to her, as I’ve finished that part’s stage two (or think I have.  She was a superb first reader, and she notices even hearing the book that “you said that already last time–we don’t need that bit.”   This has been good for both of us.

DRW (Readerfriend DavidW)  is another first reader, and I’m about to go to R-, who has been busy with other things while I worked on it, and combines well as a stage 2 and stage 3 reader because he picks nits like nobody’s business as well as spotting deeper problems.  He doesn’t read as fast anymore, though.    I’ve also had another first-reader take sporadic looks at it, but she’s got a busy schedule otherwise: she edits, writes, and teaches workshops.

I had wanted to be here two weeks ago, and would have been if not for the tooth problems and a few other complications in our lives, but I’m here now, and the book WILL go off to my agent this week (unless I croak.  Always a consideration when over 75.)   The book is now sitting at 167, 273 words,  and wandering up and down a few at every pass as I fill holes and trim off excess.  Probably will go in to agent close to 170,000.

Farrier comes today, in a couple of hours most likely, so this is just a quick update.

Dedicated Paksworld readers (you never look at Universes blog…<G>)   This one has really stretched my abilities in managing complex sequential and tactical (in the military bits, of which there are quite a few)  stuff.  I’m happy with the outcomes, esp. young Gwenno Marrakai’s particular approaches to dealing with her enemies.    The Marrakai younger generation is able to show that they’re not quite “all one brew, and that a heady one.”   as was said of them years back.   Juris, the king’s best friend, and Gwenno, his younger sister, and Temris *her* younger sister (not to mention Aris, who was Prince Camwyn’s best friend) have–while I was ignoring them writing the two later Vatta books–grown into very individual people.  Even the two youngest, though they’re not that prominent in this book.   (Well, you will meet Julyan and find out why he’s “different.”)

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Sep 27

It Keeps Going…and GOING…and GOING!!!

Posted: under Progress, the writing life.
Tags: ,  September 27th, 2022

Besides the outside stuff that’s happened. the book has decided that it needs more in it.  Like “How DOES Gwennothlin get a dozen horses from here to there without being robbed or killed?” and “Yes, but what about those two cohorts of Fox and quarter cohort of Golden…you can just have them pop up like mushrooms in the middle of the battle!!” and “If Vladi has been to Horngard in the past–distant past–back when it was occupied by the former kings (one or more of them) shouldn’t HE know where the lower entrance is?  Wouldn’t he tell the people he’s traveling with?”  and “Who’s behind the sudden problems in the Royal Couriers?  WHY are they abusing their horses and dropping like flies in the past year or so.  Who made these bad decisions?” and “What’s with Dragon??”

That’s why I *thought* it was slotting nicely into the 150-155,000 word size until the past several days.  Tonight it ran right over the 160,000 barrier as if it wasn’t there.  And there are several thousand more to go.

It’s after midnight and I need sleep badly and am making typos every other word, so I’ll have to come back when I can and add snippets and more explanation.  Apologies for brevity.

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Sep 17

Snippets

Posted: under Contents, Craft, Editing, Progress, Revisions, snippet, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,  September 17th, 2022

Time for some snippets, yeah?

This one will not be in the final book….it is the original start of the book:

Camwyn had no memories of his childhood, only those begun in a dark cave, when he woke from grievous injuries.  He knew of his past only what he’d been told by Dragon.

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

This was followed by pages of past-history stuff and landscape descriptions that (aside from describing  a gorgeous view of the Vale of Valdaire and a good opening shot for the movie, maybe)  have nothing to do with the story because he’s never there again.   Also, there’s no tension.  People who’ve read the Paladin’s Legacy group know who Cam is, what his injuries were, and that he’s lost his memory.  People who haven’t will be thinking ‘How many pages of infodump before I have a reason to care about this character?”

Worse, the next person being shown is thinking about how disappointed he is that on his last trip over the mountains, there’s fog and he can’t see his favorite view.   Interior monologue with nothing happening but the fog lifting and a horse whinnying.  Ho-hum, ho-hum, the starting point is dumb…and then it goes into pages more of trivia that’s interesting to ME, because I was working back into this invented world, checking that Fenis Kavarthin & Sons were still in the building they’d been in that previous book, that this and that were in the right place and the right kinds of interactions were going on. Fine, for a book on the economics of merchant-run late-medieval cities, but this is supposed to be a story.

………………………………………………………………………………………..

So now we have the result of a complete mental reset:  When the problem is a static passage, nothing really going on, AND it’s in the POV of a known character who’s a protagonist…don’t whittle away at it hoping for something better.  Take a big leap.

The blade lay lightly, but dangerously, on his neck, just under the side of his jaw.  “You haven’t paid your bill,” said the voice in the dark.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

The next sentence tells you who “he” is…Ilantides Balentos.   Those who’ve read the short story “Mercenary’s Honor”  may have a vague memory of an Ilanz Balentos who was Aesil M’dierra’s uncle and the reason she became a merc commander.   Ilanz in that story is a middle-aged merc commander who helps a village win independence from its greedy neighbor city, and when that city hires a much younger Aliam Halveric to attack, and Aliam sends out his squires to a recon mission, Ilanz meets Kieri Phelan for the first time.   Between then and now is a story of the young Aesil M’dierra and how she met Aliam and Kieri in dire circumstances–unfinished, still.  Maybe now I can write it.  Ilanz left his company (and some money) to M’dierra when he died.

This isn’t Ilanz; this is Ilanz’s much younger relative (and thus, more distantly, M’dierra’s relative.)  You don’t yet know who the other person, the voice in the dark,  is (and won’t, thanks to, ummm, errr, mmph, and mumble-mumble-writers-keep-secrets.)   But you know, every one of you, that you do not want that voice in the dark in YOUR bedroom, and you already suspect Ilantides may have a shady side.   You also want to know if the guy gets his throat cut and what happens next.

Does this 13 page segment connect to anything else in the book?  Yes, it does.  It foreshadows events already written some chapters later (and thus was easy to think of and write) that make other connections…and so on.   So when mmmrff happens, readers (the more astute ones) will be thinking “It’s those Balentoses!” while at the same time wondering if fffnnf can possibly make it out and can vlkksr get there in time.

………………………………………………………………………………………………

But remember the entire first chapter had problems of insufficient forward motion and insufficient tension.  Yet certain precursor things had to happen before other things could.  A had to meet B.  B had to not meet C.   D had to misjudge a situation.  And so on.  So what should come after that 13 pages that makes it clear the initial engine is putting tension on the same overall plot, getting the whole thing rolling?   Who gets the next POV slot, and why, and what do they do with it?

To keep the tension on, the next logical POV will be either the other conspirator or…another potential victim. The other conspirator has no further appearance in this book, as who he is, at least.  Readers are free to think he took part in a certain nefarious deed, or to think he was in another part of the same organization.  Doesn’t matter.  Another potential victim is already in the book, several chapters ahead, and was going to be in chapter 1 anyway, but from a different angle.  Well, then…make the next POV that of that potential victim’s POV and take a first look at Protagonist through that potential victim’s eyes…and at Balentos through that victim’s eyes as well.    Another big leap.

So the next POV is Aesil M’dierra’s but not in an exciting moment, though exciting moments are referenced, and a Significant Moment occurs in that POV segment when she walks into The Golden Fish and sees an obvious newcomer.

…………………………………………………………………………………………

She noticed a striking young man at the front window table, richly dressed in yellow and black over mail and–her experienced eye recognized the way the cloth laid over it–breast and back plate.

……………………………………………………………………………………….

Other necessary nubbins have been dispensed in this POV section before this moment, relating to the matters her cousins have kept bubbling on the legal stove, adding to the tension of *that* plotline, but this is where another and major plotline’s rubber hits the road.  The naive reader (the one who hasn’t read the previous volumes) doesn’t know who he is, and even the experienced reader–though perhaps guessing correctly–isn’t sure either.  The last black and yellow colors shown so prominently down here were–as far as readers know–on Siniava, the Honeycat.  Who IS this fellow?  Why hasn’t he doffed his heavy-weight armor, or taken the coif off his head?  M’dierra (experienced readers will know) knows every merc commander in Valdaire…this isn’t one of them.  So who and what is he, and what is he up to?   That’s revealed in their conversation, or the part of their conversation that’s shown, so the main direction of that plotline seems to be clear and straightforward.  The book is going to visit a place none of the previous books have shown, but that’s been mentioned a few times.

Another POV section is coming, which introduces two well-known characters from previous books but in different roles, and foreshadows (obscurely) a major road-block in the major plotline that’s just been shown, though the actual roadblock isn’t at all clear.  One of those two is the second, co-equal protagonist.  And Dragon, who, though a plot-mover, isn’t a protagonist, and gives readers the chance to question Dragon’s good will, sanity and, um, “wisdom.”   If humans have holes in their logic, and gaps in their knowledge, how is it possible for a creature of such length of age and vast experience and desire for all to be wiser…to be so blind to certain things?  Why isn’t Dragon the perfect deus ex machina, instead of…well…fallible?  Or are the humans just misunderstanding the nature of the beast, so to speak?

But that would be telling, not showing, says the mischievous writer, running off to work on other chapters.

 

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Sep 12

First Draft: Done. First Revision Draft: Done

Posted: under Craft, Editing, Life beyond writing, Progress, the writing life.
Tags: , , , ,  September 12th, 2022

NewBook isn’t *finished*, but it is complete in the sense of beginning, end, middle untangled so the segments are in the right order, some major side issues that belong in the long arc but not this volume sequestered for the next (or after that), and sufficient interior notes to do the next stage.

So…what are we looking at?  It starts the day the two major characters look down from adjoining mountains, one facing east, one looking south.   Everyone in it–whom I thought I knew from the previous books–surprised me at least once and sometimes more than once in the course of the book.  They showed up not when I expected them to, but when they just did.,..they were different than when I saw them last in Crown of Renewal.  Stuff has gone on behind my back, so to speak.  Because of characters’ physical separation, while each character’s plot line is briskly going on about its business, there was “braiding” to be done in this first, structural, revision draft.  Some of that may still be revised in the next revision draft.  But most of the characters are people that veterans of Paksworld, especially the Paladin’s Legacy group, will know, will have seen before…just 5-6 years on from where they were in age, experiences, locations in some cases.

From here–as fast as I can make it happen–NewBook will get its second revision draft, which will deal with remaining structural issues (a few gaps, now clearly marked on the first revision draft) , and its first “construction” revision (where something needs to be built better, so to speak…design is fine but that bit right there is crooked or unsound)  and then its third revision draft, which will deal with its more surface issues: the polishing part.  Third draft should be ready to submit, after a final run past some readers.  If the dental stuff hadn’t slowed me down, I’d be sure it would be done by Oct 1, but now I’m not…this dental thing is supposed to take several more days in the chair, I’ve been warned, and if they break the molar it will have to come out.  Last time I had one pulled it cost me 4-5 days of misery & no work on anything.  However, the later drafts usually (used to) go faster than the first revision, the structural one.

Once it’s clean enough to satisfy me, it goes to my agent, and if it passes him it goes out wherever he sends it (to start with, Del Rey, we’ve already decided) and I start the next one.  Then the decisions are up to someone else, and I’ll just work on what’s next and hope for the best.  It WILL come out in some form or other, if not from a trad publisher then Indie.   It’s certainly not perfect at this point, but it’s complete enough that I’m convinced it’s a real, and satisfying, story.    Right now I’m also having problems with my regular email but I can still access Earthlink’s WebMail, though the book is very close to its size limit on attachments, while Thunderbird was gulping it right down.  Another thing to fix when I have time.  No snippets today–apologies–but I have to feed horses, dress, etc. and get to the dentist this morning.

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Aug 24

150,000 And Bouncing

Posted: under Good News, Life beyond writing, Progress, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  August 24th, 2022

Yes, this afternoon I reached 150,000 words-and-a-bit, which is the “about right” length for a Paksworld book.   Was so gleeful I made a batch of fudge brownies (forgetting that with a temporary crown on one tooth, fudge is not the best idea…)  Celebration time.  We had fried chicken for supper,  brownie with ice cream to follow.  It’s not all done…one major component needs to be written, and a dull boring blob of a beginning needs to be ripped off and replaced with a crisp, sparkling, start, but…it’ll be a much easier balancing act with 150,000 *mostly* right words keeping it on track and zipping along.

Today’s snippet is also posted in the elizabethmoon.com blog, so you needn’t look there for extras today.

……………………………………………………………………………

By dark, he had achieved, he thought, the ugliest point ever put on the end of a pole, but it would hurt if it hit you right, and it didn’t fall off or break when he jabbed at a tree section with it.

…………………………………………………………………………

This is Aris, the not yet qualified blacksmith, king’s friend, duke’s third son, horse trainer, and former squire to Duke Arcolin until a series of unfortunate events sent him….well, you’ll have to find out in the book itself.

 

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Aug 22

Kicking the Last Furlong!

Posted: under Good News, Progress, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,  August 22nd, 2022

Yes, this book has a home stretch kick, accelerating to the finish.   Current length at 2:45 in the afternoon of Monday, it sits at 141,201, which is 15,182 more than last Monday.   That’s despite deleting at least 3500 words (a scene I’d saved to see if it fit in later; it didn’t so I booted it out late in the week.)   So the week came out at something over 18,580 words for the week and averaging something over 2650 words/day.

What’s happened in that week?  Lots.  This volume’s clearly coming to *its* end, but there’s more to go on with.  This is just the volume arc plot elements merging into one coherent braid.   I can see the end of this volume more clearly now, but not the far end of “everything” that belongs in this storyline.  For those who’ve ever read Caesar’s Gallic Wars, especially in the short chunks offered to Latin students in a second year Latin book I had in high school (and still have “somewhere” but not in easy reach) you’ll remember the almost magical appearance of Labienus and the Xth Legion which got Caesar out of a lot of tough spots in various campaigns.   At the time I had also watched Rin Tin  Tin on TV, when Rinty appeared handily to save the day, and once startled our Latin teacher by saying that the Xth Legion was Caesar’s Rin Tin Tin.  The Xth was always “in” or “through” or “behind” the woods  or the hill that screened them so they could come out unexpectedly…or over or around a hill.  Sometimes even across a river, though moving an entire Legion rapidly across/through a river is no quick answer to immediate peril.

Until the most recent concussion, I had a clear memory of the battles in Gallic Wars that I’d diagrammed for my Latin project one semester.   One of them is in Sheepfarmer’s Daughter but I don’t now remember which “barbarian” tribe it was against.  I do remember that back when movie-makers were making movies of such things (way back, B&W I think)  my mother was watching TV late one night and one such came on–a costume historical, with Romans in their helmets and short uniforms, Caesar on a white horse (??), barbarians half in loose trousers and boots.   I heard the shouting and clash of swords & spears (always an attraction at that age) and left my homework to come around to her room.  Took one look and said “Oh, that’s the battle of such  and so and that’s got to be [barbarian leader’s name, and tribe’s name]…and it looks like it’s about time for the Tenth Legion to show up.”  Sure enough.  My mother said “How on earth did you know that?”   “Reading Caesar’s Gallic Wars,” I said, very likely with all the disgusting smugness a HS junior could produce.   “See, what Caesar’s doing…”    “NEVER MIND.”   I really enjoyed Caesar.   When I tried taking Latin III and had to read Cicero, not so much.

Anyway, there’s a not-really-equivalent but good surprise about to fall on Our Side toward the end of this book.  Maybe even being a good reason to close the book with it.  We shall see, sometime in the next 5-10 days of writing.

Also along with 0.6 inch rains in the past few days (the first rain for  a couple of brutally hot months that were already “dryer than normal”  we got another 0.7 inches today and right now it’s raining very lightly…soaking-in type rain.  Cracks in the soil aren’t closed yet but the ground is notably softer.  YAY!!!

And the big rain-collection tanks we have are getting some input instead of just emptying out.   Horses are enjoying the cooler weather (not really cool, just not 95-109.)

Three snippets to hint at things….

  1.   Fox Company captain on the gnome-controlled pass over the Dwarfmounts to Valdaire:

Captain Talvan stopped beside the post and tapped it with the provided hammer.  “Law is Law,” he said in gnomish.  Within seconds two gnomes in armor, bearing pikes appeared as if from the rock itself.

“Law is Law,” one said.  “Is it that it is that Prince Arcolinfulk has message for Prince Aldonfulk?”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

2) Captain Burek of Fox Company to a young man who had marched with them about one and a third campaign seasons:

“I saw a horse rather like yours earlier today, except instead of solid bay it had some white on the face, graying in the mane and tail, two socks in front–uneven–and a stocking behind, on the near side.  Same Marrakai conformation.  Ridden by a youth dressed like a groom, and a gaggle of mares of various sorts.  Not quite the usual kind being driven over the mountains to sell here, but I can’t think what else he’d be doing with them…”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

3) Fenis Kavarthin, Senior Master of the Moneychangers’ Guild in Valdaire, to a client (about to be former client):

“I am not permitted to hold the account of a criminal; it violates the rules of our Guild.  You admit to a crime that could have been punished by death.  I cannot be your banker.  I cannot offer you any services, give you advice, or do anything but restore to you your earlier deposits after you swear that none of them were obtained by criminal activity; you will have to swear before a Judicar, whom I shall send for in a few moments.”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

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Aug 15

Home Stretch: Horse Runs Strong, Jockey’s Hands Tiring

Posted: under Good News, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  August 15th, 2022

In other words, as of this time, 8:41, Monday, August 15, the word count is 126,019.   The yarn is flying off the yarn-winder, the thread off the spool, the story out of my head and onto the computer drive as fast as I can type.  It’s literally coming fast enough that I can’t keep up and am writing well  over 2000 words/day.   (In the last 9 days, if my notes are right, approaching 3000.)   2000 is really all my arthritic hand joints tolerate well, and 9 straight days of 2800+ is…amazing, wonderful, and painful.

If this book is considered as a horse race in the US, think of Secretariat’s Belmont Stakes run.  (Or, OK, just think of the Belmont,period.  Big oval track, big round curves.  Last week I felt I was past the straight part of the backstretch, into the second curve.  Now I know I’m in the home stretch, in the final drive for the end.   Some horses have a final “kick” for the home stretch and some don’t.  This book came out of the gate fast, charged past the stands into the lead, extended itself to the 2000/day and stayed there through much of the backstretch.  Then sped up again.  And again.  And again.

So from what I can see now, I know pretty much where this volume will end, and that there will (God willin’ and the crick don’t rise, or a piece of space debris land on us) be more story in another volume or several to come.

A snippet from yesterday’s writing:   Dowager Lady Marrakai (her husband recently died) and Juris Marrakai, her eldest son, the King of Tsaia’s best friend and now Duke Marrakai, having succeeded to his father’s title. Those who’ve read the Paladin’s Legacy books will remember Juris from early in Oath of Fealty, when a courier arrives with word of the Verrakai family having attacked Kieri on the way to Lyonya, and Mikeli is still the crown prince.

And here he is again, older and still the king’s best friend, having told his mother that his oldest sister Gwenno (two steps down the sibling ladder from him, formerly Dorrin’s squire before Dorrin had to leave to save the world) has joined a merc company.  He expects her to be horrified.

………………………………………………………………………………..

His mother laughed.  “That girl! Woman, I mean.  I knew she’d run away eventually.  Over the mountains seems a bit extreme, but she never was temperate.”  She looked at him, her eyes alight with humor as they hadn’t been since his father died.  “Actually, none of you children has been temperate.”

“Mother!  I’ve been the calm one, the quiet one!”

“Juris, you were an inveterate sneak and probably still are.  You had to know everything. You bored holes in half the walls of this house trying to find out what everyone else was up to.  Do you really think I didn’t know about it?”

……………………………………………………………………………….

For those horrified to find a Marrakai eavesdropping,  it’s a valuable to a king to have a personable friend who is completely reliable (both to eavesdrop and to report it to the king accurately.)   Juris no longer bores holes in walls and he never spies on the king.  If holes need to be bored, he knows who to persuade.

 

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Aug 06

One Hundred Thousand (and 688)

Posted: under Contents, snippet, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  August 6th, 2022

Words, that is.   I hit one hundred thousand words on the new Paksworld book just after 1 am yesterday morning.   Celebratory snippets follow (not the same snippets as in the Universes blog on the main site, BTW.)

1) Camwyn, who has forgotten his past before the injuries that required healing by Dragon, has a great deal more to learn about the world.

Camwyn rode back to the city thinking about what she’d said.  Dragon had said nothing about a Company of Camwyn, about “dragonkin,” but M’dierra did not feel like a liar.  He wished he knew exactly what she meant, who they were, what their rules were.  Paks and his other tutors had taught him about beliefs, about familiar heroes: Gird, Falk, Torre.  They had not mentioned a Camwyn, though if Dragon’s name was also Camwyn…but Dragon had said his name, his real name, was too long for humans to say and known only to the high gods.  “In my disguise as a man,” Dragon had said, “I use Sir Camwyn, but very seldom.”  He’d liked it–liked it now, in fact–that the name Dragon had given him was kin to that name.

2) Aris Marrakai, meeting a Royal Courier from Tsaia on the bridle path of the Guild League Road between Foss and Ifoss.  The courier asked Aris if he was the third son of Duke Marrakai, for whom he was carrying a message from the king, as well as messages to Duke Arcolin.

“Yes,” Aris said, immediately thinking of his father. Had he died, then?  “Your horse won’t make it to Ifoss faster than a walk, in this heat.  I can ride faster and have a mount sent back for you.”

“No!  You give me your horse! ”  The courier sneered at him, rage and contempt in every line of his face, his voice loud.  “Of course it’s hot! It’s the summer, it’s the gods-blasted South!  But the king expects his couriers to travel at a gallop.   I have the king’s authority to requisition horses from any Tsaian.   Hurry up and get off.  You can pamper this lazy nag all the way to Ifoss at a creeping walk if you want to.   I don’t have the time.” From the corner of his eye, Aris saw heads turn on the Guild League road itself.

“This isn’t my horse to lend,” Aris said, keeping his voice level with an effort.  “It’s Duke Arcolin’s, one of his own chargers. There may be one on the road over there you could hire.  Some caravans–”

“I don’t care whose horse it is! I order you, in the King’s name!  Get off that horse and give it to me!”

3) Gwennothlin Marrakai, now a member of the Bells and just resigned from service in the Royal Guard because of her father’s ill health (and her own boredom), demonstrates her investigative talent faced with the reluctance of the king and her own older brother to tell her why Juris’s marriage may be delayed and what is really going on.

“Thank you,” Gwenno said.  “Now that you are no longer my commander, but still are my liege, and in consideration of the family emergency I mentioned which has to do with–very likely–the succession to duke of my brother here, and thus the status of everyone in the family, I ask you to tell me truly what you and Juris are talking about.  I am quite capable of keeping secrets, as Juris knows from the secrets I kept for him.  I’m sure he remembers.”

Juris flushed a deep red.  “Gwenno!”

 

Keep in mind that all these are in first-draft status, which means that the wording of incidents, as well as incidents themselves, could–and likely will–change a little by the time the book’s finished and the revisions are done.  But all three of these (and the incidents in the snippets on http://elizabethmoon.com/blog/ should be in the final book in some form.  I think.

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Jul 26

Milestones Whizzing Past…

Posted: under Background, Contents, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,  July 26th, 2022

The New Book is now at 82,000+ words and still going strong.   It’s feeling like a “long” book, more like other Paks-world books and less like the SF books, which usually finished up around 120,000 to 130,000.   The Paksworld books, as y’all know, run 150,000-plus.   I can’t tell yet if it’s actually going to be multi-volume or not, but it keeps gaining “weight” (and so am I as I write it…which isn’t good, but I’m not going to strangle this book for the sake of dropping a size of jeans! )   Minor characters are acquiring the kind of backstory that could mean they’ll be more important in a subsequent book.   Locations are waving signs at me saying “Important things happen here!  Right here!  Look at this terrain–you’re going to need it!”  There’s another pregnant woman in this story and it’s summer and she’s uncomfortable because she may (or may not) deliver by the end of her husband’s part in this book.   She’s not major (yet; she has potential)  but her husband is a plot-mover by position;  he’s also just a wee bit OCD about some things (they don’t have OCD in their vocabulary but you know what I mean.  He wants to get everything exactly, precisely, to the nth degree right.)  There’s a horse with a problem, a family with several problems, a Marshal Judicar who remarkably learned some humility between the last book he was in and this one (he, like everyone else, is older, but I didn’t expect him to do that; I thought he’d be crustier.)  I will admit that my own once-broken ribs ached in sympathy with those of  a character hanging over a pit,  and that childhood experience in crawling along a ditch under thick vegetation plus seeing real hedges in England resulted in someone having to crawl along close under a hedge while enemies were searching for them on the other side.

So far there’s not enough food in the story (may be why I keep eating while writing??)    There are horses and a few dogs, a fire in a hay barn, weaponry including hay forks, lances, poles, sticks and stones, swords, daggers, crossbows (no longbows yet), and chamber pots.  Blame a little book in Fondren Library at Rice U., which I checked out over and over; Welsh Ballads ed. Ernst Rhys had a poem about a medieval wife who defended the home fort when her husband was out raiding, driving off the intruding force with the amount of stuff she and the other women threw down on the attackers.  It ends with a little praise of the husband’s fighting skills, and then says:  “but better still than Ievan, Ievan’s wife!”  Cities, yes.  Towns, yes.   Places where villages were, but haven’t been for years.  Ruins. Locations known by what used to be there (still common in rural areas–we were once given directions to someone’s house that included “turn onto the road just past that pasture where [name if person who used to live there] had that big paint bull.”  Roads in several Texas counties weren’t given numbers for decades, even now some are known by the name of the ranch at the end of the road (Greenwood Valley Ranch, for instance, in Real County.  That’s ree-AL County, and it means “royal.”)   That road wanders through two other ranches before it gets to Greenwood Valley where there’s a little airstrip in the narrow valley and hills all around.  Anyway, Old Forge had a forge once, and was a village, but now it’s a wide spot in a grass-and-dirt road where the Woods Way ends.  More-or-less south of Old Forge, the road meanders on, and eventually through, Serrostin lands, and more-or-less north it crosses the River Road between Verella and Fin Panir.

So far, the story’s working toward the second meeting of two characters, and this volume may end with that.   But there are floating loose ends that may bump into one another and lock on.   Where’s Dorrin, these days?   Is Torfinn still king of Pargun or did he die, and if so did his youngest son inherit or….?  Ganlin of Kostandan married the king of Tsaia’s cousin Rothlin Mahieran,  but what about Elis of Pargun?  Arcolin’s adopted son Jamis has turned out to have a gift for languages, and speaks gnomish better than Arcolin…and has also learned the horse nomads’ language…ability like that doesn’t exist for nothing; he’s going to have an interesting life one way or another, besides inheriting his father’s lands.  Will he also become a gnome prince?  Or…um…find a horse nomad girlfriend?    In the back corners of my brain, where the shadows are and shy little mouse-like ideas come out at night to see if they can find some cheese and grow bigger, there’ve been some high-pitched squeaky discussions of Old Aare, which isn’t just barren sands and heat anymore.   People are starting to sail over to take a look; some ships (not the largest) even dare to venture into the great bowl that was a shelter for multiple harbors at one time, and look at the plants now growing in the shores and the wild animals and think about moving in.

Meanwhile…it’s late and I need to write more tomorrow.

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Jul 16

Zipping Along

Posted: under the writing life.
Tags: ,  July 16th, 2022

NewBook is now at 65,000 words, and still moving briskly.  It’s nudging me all the time to write faster…which is a lot more fun than the other way around when I’m pleading with a book to please wake up and move *that* direction.

The backbrain, though it doesn’t feel exactly like it did before, is functioning the same way.  It’s a help that it’s been over 100F every day but one, and there’s been no rain, so the heat and over-brightness outside is a reason to stay in here and work on the book.  I still make mistakes (besides the typos)…I launched into one scene that I really liked and it was going well until…oh.  It’s winter (it had to be winter, because Character A was in mmph doing fmrmuffm),  but the outcome of the scene was supposed to be A traveling somewhere that can’t be traveled in winter.  Absolute limit established in earlier books.  Not only is the snow too deep in the pass at that time of year, but the gnomes (who are less susceptible) don’t *let* humans cross over then, even if the humans can make it.  So that 2000+ words are archived in a separate file because I think I want to use a particular description of something, and it may fit in another winter in another mountain range.   (Sometimes you don’t kill your darlings, you just put them in the closet for awhile and then decide if they’re worth dragging out.  The answer is usually no, but occasionally yes.)

At 65,000, the book feels as if it might “want” to be a 130K book, a little smaller than previous Paksworld books.  But since it’s still generating new complications, it could end up in the usual range, or it could trim itself down.  I’ll find out by finishing it.  Everything is rough-draft right now, which is normal for me.  I don’t polish in first draft at all; I’m trying to get the story down.  It’s readable (an alpha reader’s already on it) but it’s not, as she said, “true to voice” yet.   Even more, I’m sure, since I haven’t written in Paksworld for six or more years.

 

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