Milestones Whizzing Past…

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


  • Comment by Gareth — July 27, 2022 @ 2:32 am


    Ooh this is exciting. Sounds like the story is getting quite demanding to be told, don’t forget to look after yourself while the story drives you… but whoopee enjoy the ride while its galloping along.

  • Comment by Michele — July 27, 2022 @ 7:03 am


    Lovely! And I bet you’re typing this while sitting in the AC. What a summer we are having. With your next Paksworld please note your rainfall accumulation.
    I am so excited for more. I got a bit of a tingle when I read some of those character names. Where is Dorrin?

  • Comment by Eowyn — July 27, 2022 @ 11:00 am


    Sounds like you are having fun. When 911 went statewide here (Maryland) one of the rules was that all roads had to have a name and everyone living on the road had to agree to the name. There are some boring names but there are some fun ones. Teddy Bear’s Picnic Place is one that I found fun.

    The directions to go past the [old name] farm that used to have the paint bull (who presumably isn’t there anymore) reminds me of getting directions in Florida to go to the top of the hill and turn left. What they called a hill was about the height (though much wider) of a speedbump.

  • Comment by Gus Hinrich — July 27, 2022 @ 7:40 pm


    Oh, this sounds fun!!

  • Comment by Linda Hay — July 27, 2022 @ 8:24 pm


    There is a road in Concord MA called ORNAC … which translates to Old Road to Nine Acres Corner.. Some times they use the abbreviation and other times the whole thing gets written out. Seems odd for the home of Thoreau, Alcott, and Emerson, not to mention the “shot heard round the world, etc.

  • Comment by Patricia — July 29, 2022 @ 8:21 am


    This is as tantalising as the mouth-watering smell of the rotisserie chicken I bought yesterday! The aroma filled the car as I drove back,making me want to eat the whole thing myself straight away, not wait 2 hours til lunchtime. And we’ll be waiting 1-2 years for the book in published form… Do please keep encouraging us with snippets and chat.

    Real hedges in England – my first reaction was: don’t you have thick hedges in USA? Or are you afraid they’ll harbour snakes? In Kitale Kenya, our back garden hedge once became the hideaway of a LARGE python escaped from the local snake park. There was major excitement until the keepers found a big enough container to hold it, and eventually take it away. I never felt the same about 8 ft high hedges after that.

    Here in Ireland thick hedges with tall trees growing out of them are mostly the norm (except in horse country, where they are machine-trimmed beech hedges or fences). Of course the West has dry stone walls; you have to put the rocks out of the fields somewhere…

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 30, 2022 @ 6:06 pm


    Gareth: Yes, the story is pushing me hard. Topped 90K words today. I’m in TX summer mode (sleep in the hottest part of the day, sleep after midnight until it’s light enough to see outside, work outside until about 10 am, then inside until about 2pm, then nap.)

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 30, 2022 @ 6:10 pm


    Eowyn: Definitely having fun. My mother told me, when I was a child, about her father taking her way out in the brush country of S. Texas to learn to drive (Model T, dirt roads). Directions given by locals, quoted to her by her father, included one that had “And look for the gate painted red. Go up to the gate; don’t go THROUGH the gate but turn right and go on until you see…{whatever it was}.” The “Paint Bull that they used to have *also* involved a gate to notice but not go through… I don’t know if “drive to the [described] gate but don’t go through” is a purely Texas thing or not.

  • Comment by elizabeth — August 15, 2022 @ 7:30 pm


    Patricia: Hedges….No, there are few real hedges, and few people who know how to make and maintain them. I’ve read about it; we thought about trying to hedge this place. But the climate is not suitable; only a few of the native plants *could* be used (would accept being partially cut down and laid over each other, etc.) What passes for hedges are landscaped short hedges out of boxwood or something similar–ornamental hedges, often quite narrow, in carefully maintained beds. Some early settlers planted wild rose and osage orange to hold in livestock, but did not know they had to maintain it, and these thorny natives simply grew out into the fields.

  • Comment by elizabeth — August 15, 2022 @ 7:33 pm


    Linda: I like that name. Texas if full of older roads (now often blocked or torn u) called things like “Old San Antonio Road” and “Old Burnet Road. When we left Austin for San Antonio years ago, we drove back and forth on Old San Antonio Road, a narrow country road, twisty and turny, and bordered with fences covered in wild grapes (and bar ditches covered in tall grass covered with chiggers. Worst case of chiggers I ever got!!! But really good grape jelly out of mustang grapes.

  • Comment by elizabeth — August 15, 2022 @ 7:37 pm


    Gus: Thank you–I’m definitely having fun. Had a scene last night that I read to my husband and we were both laughing out loud. It’s not a funny book, overall, but it has its moments.

  • Comment by elizabeth — August 15, 2022 @ 7:39 pm


    Michele: Thank you! Yes, I am typing in a house with AC and very glad that we have enough solar panels now to export a little to the grid rather than depend on it. So far (8/15) rainfall accumulation is less than a half inch. Leaves falling fast off even the trees we can afford to water.

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