Sweeping Through Horngard

Posted: September 22nd, 2023 under Editing, Life beyond writing, Revisions, the writing life.

Among the Horngard progress notes:  finding the good picture of the mountain (one of three mountains–now I can’t find the images of the other two…they were on the old computer with the dead drive)  on which the site of Horngard is based.  I had tried to reproduce something like it myself, but my sketch looked like a pair of upside down funnels or cooling towers.  When I found the picture of Mountain #2, and was able to enlarge it on the screen, I realized *WAY* later than I should have, that a computer monitor makes a really good light table.  Yes, you don’t want to put a lot of pressure on it, but it doesn’t take much, and a gel pen doesn’t leak through ordinary printer paper.  Why do I need a visual?  Because, as a major location for much of the action in this book and at least one more, it needs to make sense, and real mountains involve real curves, real roughness, real rock characteristics.  This image will be edited to bring both horns of Horngard into closer height, and then I’ll bring in another part of the same general area to back it with other mountains and add a connecting ridge.  I looked at many other glacial valleys of different widths and depths in the same mountain ranges for comparison before making even light dotted-line ideas of where to go next.

In the story itself, and thanks to the comments received in a Discord writing group I’ve joined, I’ve made substantial changes to the front end, especially with the goal of being more inviting to people who haven’t plowed through the previous ten Paksworld novels and multiple shorter works.   Now I’m on cleanup….no fossils should be left when I’m done but there sure are fossils to find.  In one, someone who cannot be there IS there…and then ISN’T there again.  No, Paksworld does not include teleportation.  No, M’dierra is NOT with Camwyn on his first arrival at Horngard.   She has no magery.   (The ellven transfer patterns aren’t teleportation, really and they’ve mostly been disabled and nobody in this story is an elf anyway.)   Even Dragon *flies*, albeit in his own air, from place to place.   Large lumps of infodump have been scraped off the actual muscle and bone (wish I could do it that fast and easily with the fat, but…such is life.)

There’s a lot of family drama, now that I’ve written fiction covering three generations of some families and two of some others…at that point interactions are inevitable and motivations for doing/not doing things, and cooperation/competition, reveal their personal roots at times.  Some of this I find amusing (the eldest Marrakai, whose mother proves to know more about him than he knew she knew) and some annoying (Beclan Mahieran/Verrakai still prickly and very far from humble) , and some just lovely (to me anyway.  King Mikeli’s wife removing all the stuffy rose and burgundy velvet and lace and crowded heavy furniture in the Queen’s quarters, so that Mikeli and she have a lovely, serene, space that doesn’t remind him of his overbearing mother.  The young sprouts are now adults, the older sprouts are older,  the children are young sprouts (or at least older) and the world is about to change for a lot of people who thought, once again, they had it all laid out properly and the carpets nailed down.  Surely, THIS TIME all the energy spent will result in a stable setting for reasonable people.  Bwah-ha-ha, says the writer.

The family stuff underlies the characters but they’re living in a world with political machinations, religious difficulties, economic waves, and cultural differences that can often lead to disruption and even wars.   In the no good deed goes unpunished category, the return of stolen water (to make jewels) that occurred in Crown of Renewal is great for areas of drought, but allows those who live south of the desert in Aarenis to move back north and some of them are…difficult.

Anyway, as soon as I get M’dierra out of the chapters where she doesn’t belong, and anyone else who’s sneaked in while my back was turned, forward momentum will return.  Cleaned up two other chapters today.

Or…I think so.


  • Comment by Jonathan Schor — September 23, 2023 @ 5:49 am


    Hi – So you finally got King Mikeli a spouse. I always thought that his need for a wife should have been paramount for his kingdom. And while M’dierra might not belong everywhere, how she came to run a mercenary company would make a nice tale. But it is good to see progress and your slavering fans await the new volume.

    Stay well and stay sane.

  • Comment by Gus Hinrich — September 23, 2023 @ 12:06 pm


    Wonderful!! Glad to see progress.
    I know it won’t be soon, but I REALLY want to read this!!

  • Comment by Nadine Bowlus — September 23, 2023 @ 12:52 pm


    I’m with Jonathan Schhor and Gus Hinrich with regards to slavering anticipation for Hornguard.

    Have you ever seen picturess of the Lauterbrunen Valley
    in Switzerland? It is a lush, green, glacial valley with the Eiger and Schilthorrn peaks keeping watch.

  • Comment by Linda — September 23, 2023 @ 1:51 pm


    Eager for whatever tale you will spin … although your description of the grand sweep of what is to come has me a bit anxious for my favorites.

  • Comment by Marcy — September 23, 2023 @ 3:57 pm


    I can’t wait to read this one and fine out what all the characters are up to next. Interested to see what kind of spouse Mikeli ends up with.

  • Comment by Asher — September 23, 2023 @ 5:59 pm


    Like everyone else, I am beyond excited for this part of the journey! I wondered how M’dierra was doing!

    On an unrelated note, I have an odd questions for you. I am in the process of changing my legal name, and I was wondering how you would feel about me taking a name from one of your characters as my middle name? I don’t want to be presumptuous and do so without asking first. But your characters all feel like family to me, and I’d be honored if you’d let me.

  • Comment by William — September 24, 2023 @ 9:12 am


    It’s great to see an update, and even better to hear of writing progress. Those of us in distant climes may tend to worry a bit otherwise. You’ve had computer glitches, spills, and other demands on your time, so even a post that just says “Rags, Tigger, M___, R___, and I survived the latest drought, flood, or power outage unscathed” and nothing more is quite welcome.

    I hope Texas is out of blast furnace weather, and that you’ll get reasonable and useful amounts of precipitation in due course.

    All the best,

    Up in the Pacific NW, where fall has definitely arrived.

  • Comment by elizabeth — September 25, 2023 @ 7:54 pm


    NOT like his mother, is the most obvious thing about her. I try to be fair to his mother, who after all was widowed fairly young, shortly after the birth of her second living child and with her older child still well below majority. But she was had control issues. She managed to combine over-protecting, over-controlling and emotional distance/coldness toward her children. I sort of accidentally gave her some of my worst faults, which I’m convinced I got from my mother’s mother’s mother, whom I never met. Calvinist, controlling to the point her adult children didn’t want her around for more than a week at a time. She’d been widowed while pregnant with her fifth child, so again…an excuse, because she had to find a way to support herself and those children. But still. Anyway, Mikeli’s mother insisted that NOTHING COULD BE CHANGED in the royal quarters even after she died. Mikeli’s wife has now made changes.

  • Comment by elizabeth — September 25, 2023 @ 8:17 pm


    M’dierra is having a difficult year…the lung fever over the winter was slow to yield, the…um…spoiler tent around details…what happened on the way to Pliuni did not exactly convince her she was just as tough as she used to be…her long-term friendship with Jandelir Arcolin is not as close because Arcolin’s decided to spend more time up north, and not return to the South every campaign season. There’s a point in age (different for different people) when they recognize that their play is in the last act, and that act is about X time span long. X highly variable. But there’s a shift in emphasis. “Can I finish what I planned in X, or should I shift to finish something I can accomplish in X?” For the fortunate, maybe, “My work is done, finished off neatly, I can just coast awhile…” For the unfortunate, “There’s no way I can finish what I need to–I can’t get it done by then–those I love will suffer for it.” Some people decide to pass on a legacy (activity, resource, organization), some don’t. I think it’s a bit too much spoiler right now to say what she’s going to do.

    Name changes are very important. For me, there’s a…reluctance to yield on a few of the names, so can we discuss that in email, perhaps? From experience with changing my own regularly-used name, I know some pitfalls to consider, and from making up names for the books and watching what happens to them in reviews and social posts, I found some more. Many forms have limited space or letters for each part of a name and having the name truncated is annoying (to the user, not the writer.) Also pick one of the names that’s easy to pronounce and teach others to pronounce. You would be surprised (maybe) to discover how bad some people are at pronouncing an unfamiliar word even when you’ve tried to make it obvious. Anyway, there’s an email form on the website…the elizabethmoon.com one.

  • Comment by elizabeth — September 25, 2023 @ 8:21 pm


    The latest power outage appears to be over on this end of town (yes, the power was out for awhile today, but we were very glad to have the solar panels soaking up the sun because it was hot and humid after last night’s rain and hail.) We’re surviving. Stuff’s died, though, that I very much liked having around.

  • Comment by elizabeth — September 25, 2023 @ 8:22 pm


    Um…I hope your anxiety is not warranted but some people, me included, are getting older and older.

  • Comment by elizabeth — September 25, 2023 @ 8:31 pm


    I may have but I’m not sure. I’ll try to find pics. I’ve looked at a lot of glacial valleys on various continents. Pause for search. OK, found it. It’s gorgeous, for sure. Wrong scale for Horngard, though.

  • Comment by Asher Rudnick — September 26, 2023 @ 3:46 pm


    Thank you! I sent an email over.

  • Comment by elizabeth — September 27, 2023 @ 10:18 am


    Got it, answered.

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