Finished, Sort Of

Posted: October 5th, 2022 under Editing, Revisions, snippet, the writing life.
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NewBook is now complete, where complete means the story makes sense end to end, the plot and subplots are correctly articulated (in the sense of how a skeleton is articulated), there are causes for effects, and effects from causes, and the motivations of POV characters, in particular are shown through behavior, not just chit-chat.  Though frankly I think any female person will know *exactly* why Gwenno was bored with the Royal Guard.

It is a proper Paksworld book in size  (a bit under 170,000 words)  and geographic scope (smaller than some, but covering locations from northern Tsaia, in Arcolin’s domain to well south and west of Valdaire in Aarenis.)  Chronologically it’s a spring/summer/fall book, even though there’s a blizzard in it.  It’s an *early* blizzard and melts back into a cold nasty wet period.  The gap between this book and the last previous Paksworld book is about 5 years, so the page who woke up, ran upstairs when everyone else was spelled, and pulled the non-working rope that wakes the Bells of Verella only in real disasters ….is now a late teenager  and considered a young man.  The prince with no memory is 20 or 21.  An 18 year old squire of Duke Verrakai is 23.  And so on, including the people who were hale and healthy five years ago and now…aren’t.  Some of them.

It also has horses, swords, spears, lances, thieves (not nice ones), brigands (ditto), pirates (ditto) ,  bad relatives, good relatives, an overprotected little boy who isn’t that little or shouldn’t be, a birth, some deaths, and–because it involves the Matter of Horngard–Dragon.  Several assumptions about eldest girls in a family.  But also politics, economics, history, psychology, and such things.  Oh, and a song.    Sung in an ordinary way and people who also make weird scary noises some other way.

Someone on a Twitter writing group asked people who were writing things  “What is your book about?”  and I always draw a blank on that because I think my books (and most books) are about more than one thing, and different readers will fix on one or more of the possibilities.  But this book–still untitled, though its “barn name” is Horngard, name of the place in which a lot of important things happen–is a story about friendships as people grow up, trauma, memory, honor, personality, politics (et al) from the above list, and so on.   The “lead” characters are two boys (in the Paladin’s Legacy books) who became friends, were separated by violence,  and their meeting again 5 years later.   One has lost all memory of his past due to a traumatic brain injury.  The other temporarily loses the memory of having seen his friend again, for the first time in five years because someone else thinks it’s the wrong time for them to be together again.  Now the boys are men.

The loss of memory, whether temporary or permanent, has profound effects on them.   It interferes with “agency”–that capacity to make things happen, to not be just an object swept along, but to make decisions that work, that move other objects.   If you do not know–if you have no story of–your past, it’s a mental amputation of the information most of us use to make decisions and act from.   I remember the first time I was lifted up to sit on a horse; I remember how wonderful it was to be up there, able to see so far,  to not be blocked in by the legs of older children and adults.  That memory starts the chain of my understanding of how I feel about horses.  I remember being in an open boat out in the Gulf of Mexico and peering over the side into the green depths…seeing something large rising out of the dimness far below and come up closer, closer, and reveal a mouthful of very sharp teeth.  That memory starts the chain of my understanding my relationship to deep water.   Horses are wonderful, they’re freedom, they’re lifting me out of limitations.  Deep water is scary, dangerous, limiting me to less vision, less freedom, less opportunity.  These are not “facts” about horses or deep water, but the memories are at the roots of my attitudes, my deepest feelings.

Soo…what about a snippet, then?  And a test on it?

Here are the words of a song (translated into English because I write in English) which can be sung to the tune of one of my favorite songs.  The song itself was not, originally, English.   Can you figure out from reading the words what the music is?  (Don’t go looking over in the Universes blog because it’s listed there.)   These words appear in this book (unless an editor rules them out) and I hope to write some music to sing it to *other* than the one I know.

Dragonkin we stand before you

Dragon’s iron wings fly o’er you

Dragon’s iron teeth will score you

We will stand for all


Though we tire, though we hunger

Though we grow not any younger

We will stand as stone in thunder

All will stand for all


Men of Horngard ready

We will all stand steady

Taste the iron of our spears

Your swords will never wake our fears


Our hearts lighten, our eyes brighten

Blood or death, they do not frighten

We of Horngard, Dragon’s kin,we!

Never will we yield.


If you do catch on quickly, just answer with “Got it” or something like, until others have a chance to answer.

I can’t find on YouTube the version I like of the original, which was a capella, not over-enhanced with orchestra  or even piano accompaniment.  It doesn’t NEED that.  It does need a good stout choir.


  • Comment by Larry Lennhoff — October 5, 2022 @ 11:09 pm


    I think I got it. Where may I find the Universe blog in order to check?

  • Comment by Richard Simpkin — October 6, 2022 @ 12:07 am


    Got it.

    (Except for lines 11 and 12 not fitting the metre of what I’m thinking of. The original tune rather takes off there.)

  • Comment by Mike Andrews — October 6, 2022 @ 12:55 am


    Absolutely got it.

  • Comment by Kathleen — October 6, 2022 @ 5:38 am


    I have no idea. I look forward to the answer.

  • Comment by Wesley — October 6, 2022 @ 11:30 am


    Got it.

  • Comment by Brenda — October 6, 2022 @ 12:33 pm


    Pretty sure I have it. What a cool song to use!
    Looking forward to this book!

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 6, 2022 @ 4:25 pm


    For those who want to check the Universe blog for the original song title:

    It appeared in a movie, but gussied up with sound effects. All the current You Tube versions of it are accompanied. The best way to hear it (I wish I could find my old record of it) is sung in its original language by a good male choir w/o any accompaniment, no soloist, just the voices…you can practically see them marching through the mountain valleys, the passes. I wish I could find “my” record on You Tube so I could send the link for that.

    I can sing my filked version, and agree that in lines 11 & 12 you have to pick the version you listen to…there are some variations in the lines there; I’m sticking to the old one.

    There’s a fairly decent “military band” setting that really plays havoc with lines 11/12 (lots of extraneous tootling) and one of the choral versions gets all operatic about there, too.

    If I ever find a version that’s true to how I first heard it, I”ll post it.

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 6, 2022 @ 4:26 pm


    Oh, and it’s flown the nest now…it’s with my agent (not the song: the whole blinkin’ book. Sent, received, acknowledged.

    Now comes waiting.

    And starting the next.

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 6, 2022 @ 10:42 pm


    Found one: sung in English only, but unaccompanied male choir. See if this gets you there. In Welsh, there’s usually a slight difference in the 11/12 lines to accommodate the different syllable count, and I think my words go with the Welsh language variation better, but…it can work.

    “Men of Harlech”

  • Comment by Richard Simpkin — October 7, 2022 @ 12:19 am


    So did I pass the test despite knowing the music only in its less authentic variation?

  • Comment by Jennifer — October 7, 2022 @ 6:46 pm


    It took me a while to remember the name of the song; I’m good at remembering words, and good at remembering clips of music, but not great at remembering them together. Oddly, the first youtube result that popped up for me was unaccompanied male choir, although in English.

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 9, 2022 @ 6:59 pm


    Yes, you did. There appear to be multiple English word versions…two main ones…and given the Welsh original that kinda makes sense.

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 9, 2022 @ 7:05 pm


    I was walking home from spray-painting T-post tops purple and singing it to myself yesterday. Today I was too busy fighting my way through greenbriar, hackberry, a peculiarly shaped Mexican plum *with plums on it!” (not however delicious in any way!!!!) to sing it. It is a superb marching along on natural land song I now have almost the entire north property line “empurpled” with Krylon’s “No Hunting” purple paint, because I also sprayed the pipes R- used on the line braces. He builds good fence. Some of our neighbors who have goats (it was not build as a goat-proof fnce because it was built for cattle which is what former neighbors had was cattle) have tied into it with their so-called inadequete goat fences. Real goat fences are hellish expensive to build and always at risk of failure. Because, as was told to me once, “Sheep are born looking for a way to die, horses are born looking for a way to get hurt, and goats are born looking for a way out and usually find it.”

  • Comment by elizabeth — October 9, 2022 @ 7:09 pm


    “Men of Harlech” Welsh. The oldest translation I’ve found of the words, mentions that the alarm was by fire on the hills/mountains…a la the LORD OF THE RINGS part III movie. Beacons.

    At least I think that’s the oldest, because the rest sounds least like modern stuff to me..

  • Comment by Jace — October 10, 2022 @ 10:17 am


    “Men has become a serious ear worm for me since I tapped on your site several days ago. Can’t really remember many of those words but I plug in my own nonsense lines that fit the tune.

  • Comment by Jenny Larsén — October 10, 2022 @ 2:49 pm


    “Sheep are born looking for a way to die”- unless you get one of those “jumping ewes” that you always find at the other side of the fence from their flock, and they teach their young ones too…

  • Comment by Nadine Bowlus — October 15, 2022 @ 9:45 pm


    My brain came up with a tune that works. Don’t know if it is the same as yours.

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 28, 2023 @ 10:17 pm


    I was never told about the jumping ewes! I know about jumping goats and jumping horses, and a friend had a very naughty heifer whose mother was not a jumping cow, but the heifer went far abroad and enticed someone else’s bull to escape.

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 28, 2023 @ 10:21 pm


    Years and years ago, as a kid, I used to make up verses and then often found music they could be sung to. Essentially I was filking, in the SF sense, and didn’t know it was a thing. Plugging lines into existing music is addictive. So is plugging overheard phrases (from friends & family or heard elsewhere) that suddenly sparks a “That belongs in a country-western song” or “Broadway musical” followed by a short-lived invention of same. NOthing great, just having fun.

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