Yesterday’s Event…

Posted: January 6th, 2023 under Craft, Horngard, Life beyond writing, Submitting, the writing life.
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…was sending NewBook, Horngard I, back to my  agent in the hopes he doesn’t find I’ve left a large chunk of orange text (or even one orange word) in it so it can go straight on to a potential publisher.   (Orange, I’ve found, is what will catch my attention and remind me that I had doubts or concerns about a passage.)

It’s down to 175,026 words, 802 pages from its greatest length (which I think was north of 185,000.)  And it’s a lot better since my agent Said Things and sent it back twice for more work.   In the sheer glee of being able to write fiction again at all, and trying out the new Plot Thing (which isn’t the Plot Daemon I had before–feels completely different) , I let it run very freely.  So it acquired a lot of–attached bits, as on a ship that’s been at sea a long time–and while some of the barnacles were interesting in themselves, they were slowing down the story too.   My agent didn’t tell me to cut it–in fact, said “Don’t worry about length,” but I knew it was kind of baggy or shaggy in spots and needed trimming.  In the final version, having gotten some problems fixed, I was able to be firm with myself: “Does the reader need to know this stuff *right now* ?  Prove it.  No?  Chuck it out.”  Running alongside that was the internal command to cut one word per page (or more, but at least one.)

I rediscovered all those techniques I hadn’t needed to use for five years (mid-February will be the 5 year anniversary of the latest concussion)  to cut wordage without cutting meaning.  Of course, the familiar “cut extra modifiers,  cut “there is/are” phrases, change inactive to active verbs where possible” cuts, always useful.   But also the sneaky versions of weakening verbs: progressive tenses (“He was beginning to think…” vs. “He thought” or “She was running as fast as she could” vs “She ran as fast as she could.” ), subjunctive voice (not always a problem but it isn’t always needed when it shows up), any time you see a “helping verb”…question it.

Today is gray, chilly, gloomy.  Yesterday was a glorious sunny, clear, just cool enough day.  So as soon as I sent it off, I went out for a walk on the land.  Without binoculars or camera, just walking (and resting a couple of times) for almost 2 hours.   I’m going out again this morning, but probably not as long.

In the “always longer than I want” sequence from writing to seeing a book printed and on shelves, where are we now?  Into the realm of conjecture and the unknown:   it’s out of my hands at this point (unless of course agent sends it back, but I don’t *think* he will for more than “typo on page 497, line 18” kind of thing.)   It’s Agent’s job to find it a home with a publisher or declare he can’t.  This finding it a home can take anywhere from a week (if someone’s panting in the wings, eager to grab it) to months (if everyone’s attitude is “She uses to write some decent books, but our list is full and we don’t know when we’ll have an opening and anyway she’s probably lost her following and she’s old and it may not be that good…”

If  one of my former publishers wants it, then it’s “always longer than I want” for it to go through the steps of publication:  assignment of an editor for that book and tentative scheduling,  Editor’s editing, my changes to satisfy Editor,  the cover art discussion, etc, etc,  shift to Production, where it will get on the formal production schedule  (the one that is “hard” as opposed to “sorta squidgy), a copyeditor, and then I’ll get the copy-edited version to check over and return, then the Production questions if any, then it goes to the printer, and then to the binder where it’s married to its cover and shoved into boxes and then the release date comes.  Whoopee.

If one of my former publishers doesn’t want it, and neither does anyone else, then the decision comes down to further discussion and…dunno yet.




  • Comment by Kathleen — January 6, 2023 @ 10:54 am


    I can’t imagine that one of your previous publishers don’t want it. Here’s to a one week pick up!

  • Comment by Alea — January 6, 2023 @ 11:04 am


    IF it doesn’t find a publisher, especially since it seems this will be a series, take a look at Michelle West (also writing under Michelle Sagara). She has a wonderful, enormous world that is waiting on the _last_ series to wrap things up. But her publisher can’t take them on anymore (books are too big for one). So she set up a Patreon which is bringing in enough funds from interested readers for her to write the last series without a publisher.

  • Comment by AJLR — January 6, 2023 @ 1:20 pm


    I have every finger crossed. I really want to read this story! 🙂

    Glad you were able to get out for some fresh air and movement. I was going to walk the 300 metres down to the sea this morning but life/chores got in the way. Tomorrow though…

  • Comment by Nadine Bowlus — January 6, 2023 @ 4:47 pm


    Would it help Agent to have testimonials from your loyal followers stating how much we are anticipating more Paksworld books, Horngard 1 in particular?

  • Comment by Michele — January 6, 2023 @ 8:13 pm


    Oh my. I wrote a bunch of advice and then realized I don’t really know anything. I just buy the book and let the magic unfold. Good luck dear. It’s gonna be great!

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 7, 2023 @ 11:49 am


    No…he’s not the real bottleneck in the system, IMO. Thank you for the offer. Though *possibly* it would help to have you write the publisher…let me see what my agent thinks. The publisher’s going to be thinking “Can’t possibly come out until after a six year gap, and she wasn’t bestseller level anyway…and we’ve got a bunch of new writers since then…what chance she’ll have any followers left after six years? Is it worth the risk, and can she follow up with another book the next year? Hmmm. My agent has a closer eye on how the publishers are thinking so I’ll ask if he thinks it would be a help and if so when.

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 7, 2023 @ 11:52 am


    I know authors who’ve had success with that but I have a feeling I wouldn’t…largely because some of the things people do with a patreon take time and organizational skills I just don’t have. R- isn’t capable of that kind of thing either.

  • Comment by Linda — January 7, 2023 @ 8:27 pm


    I started following your books from the point when you wrote some with Anne McCaffrey. I bought every one of hers over the years. And now I have most of yours. although I did read a few from the library … and if I decide I need to re-read those I will get the Kindle version.

    I would gladly write to any of your publishers you think appropriate. Heck, I even have British and American editions of the omnibus Deeds of Paksenarrion.

    By the way, my concussions seem to have stolen some of my ability to write. I’m having a hard time with spelling, fine points of grammar, usage, spelling etc. Language therapist is working with the memory docs.

    Failing help from them, I will spend three times as long proofreading as I do writing. Even these comments. Doesn’t sound as if you face that.

    All the best!

  • Comment by Moira — January 8, 2023 @ 1:45 am


    I’ll chime in & add that I, too, would gladly tell any & all publishers to quit being the hind quarter of a four-footed equine and snaffle New Book & subsequent volumes asap!

    Fingers crossed at least one of them comes to their senses.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — January 9, 2023 @ 3:05 pm


    … and there are those interviews with the people about … when I TTRPG this is how I think paladins should be played … type people.

    I think you might be able to work up some PR from a few of your previous engagements like that if you asked them.

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 10, 2023 @ 9:50 pm


    Linda, concussions definitely affect reading/writing–mine certainly did. Word choice–part of my vocabulary (or the search engine for it, the mental thesaurus) disappeared. Grammar itself didn’t utterly disappear but the ability to read complex prose did, for months, and I had to start over with children’s books. Short term memory for directions was another problem (even something as simple as making box brownies…what was the oven temperature again? Again? Again? I have to proofread every thing I type. Part of it’s the physical coordination of fingers (especially the one that twitches at times and adds letters) but some is cognitive-to-physical: I may wan to type cognition and type commission instead. Or get the right letters in the wrong order. Some words do NOT stay in my head now, even after I look them up and use them. I just had to use (again) one of the weird workarounds I came up with: I have known the word “caltrop” for years. Decades. Knew it, used it in speech and writing. Then it went into the deeps. I’d ask R- or D- by the definition, and they’d all me, and then 5 minutes later it was gone again. (Meanwhile I have never lost antidisestablishmentarianism. Which I have said maybe 3 times in my life, written rarely–less than once a year–but there it is…) I can now retrieve “caltrop” because I hooked it to a word I don’t need (in Texas) that has enough of the same letters in the same order to let me retrieve it. I use CALTRANS. If I have the CALTR, and it’s a real word, and almost the same length…caltrop pops right up. I usually think “caltron” first and then get the /p/.

    The most devastating thing to my writing, though, was losing the ability to form a plot. I read books about plotting, made diagrams from the diagrams..nothing worked.

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 10, 2023 @ 9:52 pm


    Let’s not beat up on them yet. Maybe, if I just wish on the right star, they’ll immediately grab the book and run with it (simultaneously tossing me money…) Haven’t heard back from Agent; he hasn’t had it as long as a week and he is, after all, a busy man. He’s got the agency to run and they’re moving from one floor in the building to another, too.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — January 11, 2023 @ 9:09 am



    I wasn’t. I did it to pin it here as a reminder in case it was needed later (while I remembered it).

  • Comment by Linda — January 13, 2023 @ 9:47 pm


    Dear Elizabeth, your comments on concussions and writing are golden! I will share them with the language therapist, as they are far more coherent than I have managed. After 3 kinds of brain scan and one of my neck and 4 hours of neuro-psych testing I have finally been told I do not have dementia or Alzheimer’s … sigh, but only a few clues of other things to investigate.

    The cooking challenge has me standing over a bowl of flour wondering if I actually put in the baking powder? salt? baking soda? I’m ready to have little bowls with the ingredients measured out like the cooking shows.

    Thank goodness I am trying to write history. The plot is already there. And I have recognized the sermon from 1816 in a dusty box full of odds and ends in which a most remarkable minister finally tells his parishioners that he is a Unitarian, admitting that he figured they would listen to him more carefully if he refused to be pigeonholed.

    As rioters in England had threatened to burn his church, home, and farm etc. before he fled with his family to Vermont, it is little wonder he didn’t want to rile the sectarian impulse.

    Bravery comes in many forms. The story goes that when the rioters, not knowing him by sight asked directions to his home, he led them to a public house and got them drunker than they already were and he hired someone to load them in their cart and drive them back to the city.


  • Comment by Eowyn — January 17, 2023 @ 1:21 pm


    Fingers crossed that the book finds a good home and that you continue to enjoy exploring that world and sharing it with us.

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 23, 2023 @ 8:37 pm


    Wow, that’s fascinating, Linda. Absolute brilliance of taking the rioters to a public house and getting them drunk(er) and then hiring someone to take them away. Have a feeling that wouldn’t work these days, with people undoubtedly able to find a photo of ANYONE online.

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