Progress Report: Paksworld Short Fiction

Posted: March 16th, 2014 under Collections, E-books, the writing life.
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Rancherfriend-E, recruited as my editorial assistant on this project,  took far less time than I would have to act like a Sorting Hat and divvy up the stories-so-far between the two proposed collections.   I made one change about the time she was emailing me “You could do this instead…” and her this and my that were the same.   Then I threw a couple of other things into the first group (partly because I wanted to and partly because it would even up the wordage between the two) and she said “Good idea.  I think I’ll take a nap now.”

Rancherfriend-E was a third grader in my elementary school when I was a first-grader and she is now, she reminds me, at the age where you are required to take money out of an IRA.   Which means she is allowed to take a nap whenever she wants to.   Also she has grandchildren, and is expected to be on-call whenever the parents of said grandchildren have conflicts in their own work schedule.   So it may be another day or so before the two final items find their place.

But the main structure’s there for the first one: six stories (two never-before-published) and two legends.   I’m also considering subtitles: a group title for all the short-fiction Paksworld collections,  and a subtitle for each.    This one would be  “In the Margins” as all the stories relate to events within the current group of books and deal with characters you’ve already met.

And of course there are the other two new Paksworld stories, which will be appearing in anthologies:  one in late 2014 and one in early 2015.

My agent is moving his office this week (the area his present-for-one-more-day office is in having become attractive to developers for expensive condos–buildings around the older one he’s in turning to rubble and then new ones) so I will continue to proofread the texts and start tinkering with the cover design until they’re settled into the new place and the more serious work can start.  (You know that thing I keep saying about how many clean-up runs it takes to eliminate every error.    I found two in one of the new stories I’d been through at least 20 times.   Urgh.)




  • Comment by Nadine Barter Bowlus — March 16, 2014 @ 11:07 pm


    Better to find them now, Elizabeth, than after the book is published. I was prone to inserting new boo boos while cleaning up. Hope you are not!

    Last week, I delved into “Lunar Activities” and “Moon Flights” finding all the Paksworld stories in those collections. Found the Mirabel Stonefist stories again, too. Gotta go back and read them once more. She’s great.

  • Comment by GinnyW — March 17, 2014 @ 10:19 am


    Does publishing as an e-book first allow for easier editing? At least for consistent spelling of names and other details?

    I am looking forward to legends from Paksworld. I find myself wondering about Torre’s Ride since my 72-days-is-too-long-to-wait coping strategy is to reread Deed again. I have gotten to Paks’ first encounter with the High Lord’s hall in Fin Panir, and was relating the windows to the legends.

    I hope the rejected-as-prologue piece about the guardians finds a place somewhere. I really enjoyed it.

    The story collections sound fascinating, and I am really glad that I will have something to continue to look forward to, even after I get my greedy hands on Crown!

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 18, 2014 @ 8:04 am


    I agree that finding errors before a story goes public is the ideal. It’s just annoying to find errors left by previous attempts to clean them all out. “How many times must an author go through…before all the errors are gone? Yes, and how many times must proofreader mark…?”

    As for easier editing by doing an e-book first…I don’t think so. More different eyes on a piece will find more errors than one pair of eyes more times. Publishing your own work requires skipping some days between runs, so the brain is more alert and doesn’t “read for sense” and miss the error. And you’re still more likely to miss something, just because it’s so familiar. Of course you can pay for a proofreader/copyeditor.

    The perfect text comes from repeated passes, and more different people making them, with time to work on 20-30 pages, break, another chunk, break. You need some true nitpickers in the bunch, people who enjoy nitpicking and are not easily sucked into the story. I am not a perfect nitpicker for fiction, because I very easily fall right into the story. I find story-logic problems easily, and characters-out-of-character easily, and certain kinds of “meaning” mistakes easily, but I won’t catch a lot of mistakes a nitpicker would. In nonfiction, OTOH, I’m a good nitpicker and logic checker both.

  • Comment by Fred — March 18, 2014 @ 9:05 am


    “How many times must an author go through…before all the errors are gone? Yes, and how many times must proofreader mark…?”

    [F starts singing along, heartily]

    “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind…”

    Overcoming the blindness that results from knowing your intent in writing is an amazingly difficult task. While computers help in some ways (“the the” errors, for example), they open up huge vistas of new errors (“cut-and-paste” is responsible for so many tense, case, and logic sequence errors that a writer would never have made before).

    And of course, any errors “jump right out” just after they cannot be fixed… (“Print” or “Send”, these days).

  • Comment by Nadine Barter Bowlus — March 18, 2014 @ 10:20 pm


    So very true, Fred.

  • Comment by genko — March 20, 2014 @ 9:48 am


    Hmmm… I went to “how much wood must a wood-chuck chuck before he up-chucks wood?”

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 21, 2014 @ 9:36 am


    I’m still nitpicking the stories. “Last Lesson” is pretty clean. “Parrion of Cooking” has tons of errors still. The two legends, taken from the blogsite and messed with a bit, are refusing to be returned to normal Word formatting, so are going to have to take a trip through .txt land to strip off their unnecessary coding and try again. Two days this week had to be spent in the city for various reasons.

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 21, 2014 @ 9:40 am


    Oh–forgot to say–on the short fiction front, Baen Books’ license to distribute the e-book of MOON FLIGHTS–which has “Gifts” and “Judgment” in it–ran out and they did not renew in time. We’re planning to unpack that suitcase and put out collections that are strictly Paksworld, and others that are strictly SF. Aside from Anne McCaffrey’s lovely introduction, I never was wild about the arrangement in that book, and it has not sold particularly well. And I love the Vatta’s War universe story (“Say Cheese”) and hope to write more short stuff in that world.

    Do not fear, though: everything in it–and more–will show up in collections I put out.

  • Comment by Richard — March 22, 2014 @ 12:50 am


    Trip through .txt – I’d already been through that myself for my scrapbook copy, so e-mailing you an extract (as .doc). Sorry if I’ve been too slow on the draw – might at least save you a few minutes with the next collection.

    “Say Cheese” – good fun, I’m in two minds whether to class it as a shaggy dog story.

    Are the Mirabel Stonefist stories enough words, with other not-specifically-Paksworld fantasy from elsewhere (such as “The Happy Frog”) for their own e-volume?

  • Comment by Susan Malcolm — March 23, 2014 @ 10:49 pm


    I’m so happy to hear that you may write more Vatta stories, since I just finished the series. Among others, I would love to hear more about Master Sergeant Pitt!

  • Comment by Richard — March 24, 2014 @ 12:19 pm


    I’ve been reading the first two Vatta books. Can I hold out until my birthday (months after Crown) before continuing?

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 24, 2014 @ 1:45 pm


    Susan: The way I write, the characters have to agree to have a story and want it written before I can tag along. I definitely want more MSgt Pitt, but I’m not getting enough feedback there from the source. I’m glad to get “Say Cheese” back into my control, because I can now let the backbrain interview those characters to see if anything will deign to pop loose. But I suspect I have to empty the tank of all the Paksworld stuff before I can get to the Vatta stuff again.

    Richard: Can you? I dunno. Should you? There’s a chance CROWN will keep your mind busy enough, going back over it, to fill in the time (depends how many months, too…)

  • Comment by Susan Malcolm — March 24, 2014 @ 5:27 pm


    That’s okay; if the Master Sergeant doesn’t want to cooperate, I’ll be more than happy with whatever you come up with! Thank you so very much for these wonderful stories!

  • Comment by GinnyW — March 24, 2014 @ 5:32 pm


    Richard, I don’t know how well you hold out, but I think the months after Crown of Renewal will be easier (for a while, anyway) than the months before.

    I just reread Judgment in Moon Flights for the first time in many years. It is an entirely different story now than when I first read it.

  • Comment by Richard — March 26, 2014 @ 6:33 am


    Well, yes, I came to Judgment in the middle of the current series. Will it be one of the four already-published stories going into the marginalia collection?

  • Comment by elizabeth — March 26, 2014 @ 8:16 am


    Both “Judgment” and “Gifts” are being deferred to a later collection. The first “in the margins” will be stories that connect directly to the last part of the Deed and to the current series. Only one has been anthologized before; that and others have been online, but in ways that limited exposure…on blog sites that soon buried the work behind others, as blogs do. The ones posted online have had another going over and there are some changes from what was put up, though nothing major. “Those Who Walk in Darkness,” though it has been in previous collections, is included because of its relationship to one of the new stories. I expect everyone here to catch the reference, though it’s not critical to appreciation of the new story. But it’s fitting, and for those who do catch it, it will be a welcome small surprise and another answer to “Whatever happened to…?”

    The second collection will include the stories from deep history, as presently planned. “Judgment,” “Gifts,” “My Princess,” “Dream’s Quarry,” and a new story that’s both long and unwieldy (still in work.) “My Princess” and the new story are both from Old Aare before the evacuation. “Bargains” may be in that collection, or may be replaced by the story of the Severance.

    The third, assuming there is a third (I think that’s likely) would then have only new stuff, since I’ll have used up all the older stories by then. I’ve got the start of a several stories set in the “near past” (some characters the same as in the Deed, but decades before the start of that), sort of “character prequels”. Also some stories not time-bound to the existing long works, but in the same area–what other people were doing while a paladin and a bunch of “important people” were ruling and fighting and saving the world. Ordinary life goes on, often unaware of all that. There’s the knitting controversy, for instance: top-down or toe-up? And, if the timing works out right, the two stories that will appear in anthologies late this year and early in 2015.

  • Comment by GinnyW — March 26, 2014 @ 1:36 pm


    A smorgasbord for us readers! It will be a real treat to have some of the side stories, especially once we have Crown to complete the main story line.

  • Comment by Nadine Barter Bowlus — March 26, 2014 @ 2:35 pm


    I agree with GinnyW.
    Am currently working on an example of the kind of patchwork items I would look for if ever invited into a home in Paksworld. Will send a picture to Elizabeth when it is finished.

  • Comment by Ellen McLean — March 29, 2014 @ 11:19 pm


    Fun to read and sort. These anthologies are a treat. Not too many typos.

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