Yet More Surprises

Posted: December 11th, 2010 under Contents, Craft, Editing, the writing life.
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This book…I’ll swear this book wants to drive its writer crazy.   Where did this new character come from?   And why, once she arrived, didn’t she behave like a normal character (if Kuakkgani are ever normal, that is?)    Not only do I now know a lot more about how someone becomes a Kuakgan (some of it I knew years ago, but I’ve learned more in the past couple of years) but I just found out what can happen to a young (in experience) Kuakgan during his/her first spring out in the world.

“The green blood is strong in this one…”

The cause of all this turmoil and surprise is one of my best friends in the world, Rancherfriend-E (married to Rancherfriend-J).   Rancherfriend-E was my first alpha reader ever, when I was writing the original Paks books and had never sold any fiction.   It’s thanks to E- that you didn’t have to slog through yet more mud (or, more likely, that my first editor didn’t have to slog through that much mud, throw up her hands, and reject the book.)

E- is a voracious reader, well-educated, intelligent, and likes cows.    We have pitched hay together.   We have helped each other entertain.   We have laughed and cried and shared a lot of things.  I thought of her while writing Estil Halveric, and she is the reason I made so few mistakes with cows when writing Gird’s book.

Anyway.  E- has been lobbying for more Kuakkgani in the current group of books.  She really, really, REALLY liked Master Oakhallow in the original group.   Yesterday I was over at the ranch…she was indoors and I was on the porch, because she has a bad cold, but it was warm enough to have the door open, and so we could talk without risking the transfer of germs (we had the proper airflow–the wind at my back, blowing toward her.)    I was complaining about  scene that wasn’t going well and she was once more bringing up Kuakkgani and saying they would be very useful in that scene and…yes.  Yes, of course.

But I had already written the scene with something else.  Someone else.  Some other kind of someone, that is.   Today I tackled it again, and of course it went all weird on me.    Where did this short, stout, emphatic young Kuakgan come from, I was wondering, just as her first spring as  a Kuakgan overtook her.   My, my, my.   C-29 is now very different.

Meanwhile, there’s K-.    K- is a friend discovered later, also a superb alpha reader but often too busy to be a quick responder.    However, K- came through with something else yesterday and today, and I also tried to work on that.   Something nobody had mentioned yet was a continuity problem between C- 7 and C-25 (yes, people do often make mistakes in relating what happened, but in this instance readers need to imagine the character being honest and making few mistakes–and here were big differences between what happened (related in B’s POV) and what B said happened…OK if B were lying, but he’s not.

C-25’s version was initially more dramatic…but it was wrong.  That’s not what happened.  And the drama was mostly physical, but the real drama here is psychological…it’s the emotional change that’s going to drive other things down the line.  So C-7 and C-8…and C-25 and C-26…had to be reworked, and back-checked to see that all is now matching.

Meanwhile C-29 isn’t done, but it’s after midnight and I’m wiped.


  • Comment by David Watson — December 11, 2010 @ 11:45 am


    A Young Kuakgan? Oh dear, I think I know this person. Oh dear, oh dear, the earth trembles…. DRW

  • Comment by elizabeth — December 11, 2010 @ 1:05 pm


    It trembles indeed. And this situation required a consultation today with my friend the Latvian speaker (there are some Latvian roots scattered through the languages, and I needed terms a Kuakgan would use for relationships with other Kuakkgani.)

  • Comment by Vikki W — December 11, 2010 @ 1:51 pm


    Intriguing; very, very intriguing! And I already did not want to wait 1+ years for this next book. Argh! I need patience…NOW!

  • Comment by elizabeth — December 12, 2010 @ 1:35 am


    I wish I could write as fast as you want to read, but that’s just not possible. I’m writing as fast as I can, and still do a good job (or, I hope it’s a good job.)

  • Comment by Jenn — December 12, 2010 @ 8:18 am


    This is very exciting and horribly tantalizing.

    It makes me think that we are over due for another snippet.

    Happy character discovery.

  • Comment by Adam Baker — December 12, 2010 @ 5:49 pm


    Very cool. The Kuakgan played such a large roll in Deed, but so little was told about Master Oakhollow in particular, or Kuakganni in general, so getting a chance to see more about them is definitely something worht looking forward to.

    Is this an entirely new character, or is she someone that has been in the books before?

  • Comment by elizabeth — December 12, 2010 @ 7:07 pm


    The Kuakkgani in Book III are all new. There are both settled Kuakkgani (each in his/her grove) and peripatetic Kuakkgani (either wandering around looking for the right place to have a grove or just…wandering.)

    The elves don’t like Kuakkgani (as mentioned in DEED, somewhere) and so they’re not really welcome in Lyonya (some humans would just as soon have them, but the elves wouldn’t) but there are some…but not, as far as I know at this time, any groves.

    Also in Book III, Dorrin meets a peripatetic Kuakgan fairly early in the book–and I learned some new things about them and their abilities. You may remember that Master Oakhallow’s grove was not a safe place for people to wander around in, and the paths did not stay fixed. Well, even peripatetic Kuakkgani can create confusion with trails and traps with trees.

  • Comment by patrick — December 12, 2010 @ 9:03 pm


    I’m willing to wait for your revisions until you are satisfied. When waiting becomes too much, I pull out Oath of Fealty or choose a passage from the earlier series. That works because you worked hard on the craftsmanship of those stories as well. Excellent story-telling plus excellent craftsmanship makes for stories worthy of rereading and retelling. Thank you.

    – patrick

  • Comment by Vikki W — December 12, 2010 @ 10:30 pm


    I will happily wait until you get each book just right. And your books are always well worth the wait. It is just that I have recently re-read everything I have of Paksworld & had a real hankering for more.

  • Comment by Kip Colegrove — December 13, 2010 @ 9:18 am


    I have long suspected that the Elves dislike the Kuakganni because they stepped in with the First Tree when the Elves were by way of making some sort of huge mistake, or at least not doing a complete job–being Elvishly parochial in some way. But I too have always wanted to know more; the hints were tantalizing, and the wise reader lets his or her imagination both rove free and be constrained by authorial intention.

  • Comment by Sara — December 16, 2010 @ 11:46 am


    Looks like Rancherfriend-E in some way is a friend of mine too… I’m indebted to her if she was the cause for the Kuakkgani to re-enter the story. As Adam Baker put it, not much have been told of Master Oakhallow and the Kuakkgani, but it sure made me want to know more.

  • Comment by elizabeth — December 16, 2010 @ 12:10 pm


    Rancherfriend-E is an amazing person. Years and years ago, she went to a function (I forget whether it was even remotely connected to ranching, like a cattlemen’s association annual meeting, or something political like an inaugural function for Ann Richards or something else) in an apple-green ball gown and dark red cowboy boots. Understand that she’s near six feet tall, and at the time had gorgeous jet-black hair (now about half gray) and a grin as wide as Texas. It was stunning in a good way. She really, really, REALLY likes Master Oakhallow. (So do I.) So now she’s “godmother” to the new Kuakkgani.

  • Comment by Pagesofplato — December 19, 2010 @ 11:43 am


    I can not begin to say how delighted I am that there will be more Kaukkgani in the future. -blushes- My Paks books, my omnibus, naturally falls open to the Oakhollow pages as they have been read so much. Do we learn ever how Kolya and Master Oakhollow are connected. I will be patient, your work is worth it.

  • Comment by elizabeth — December 20, 2010 @ 12:01 am


    Well, that I can tell without any spoilers. Kolya had grown up near another Kuakgan, and that Kuakgan had told her she should become one…but instead Kolya chose soldiering. After the deaths of Kieri’s family, she like all those then stationed in the north felt guilty–even though they weren’t–and the next campaign year a combination of grief and shame made her reckless, and she lost her arm…and was naturally depressed and miserable. A Kuakgan (not the one she known before and I think not Oakhallow) met her (not entirely sure where–maybe on the way back north, maybe in the north) and recommended that she try orchardry…and through the Kuakkgani grapevine, Oakhallow began to send her trees, as there were no apples nearby then. They corresponded, and she visited his grove once or twice while she was still quite young.

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