Jun 03

Nose to Tail Revision (and Snippets)

Posted: under Craft, Editing, Horngard, Progress, snippet, the writing life.
Tags: , , , , ,  June 3rd, 2024

“As you know…” I’ve been working on, and re-working on, and re-RE-working on Horngard I.  Recovering the ability to write fiction has not meant (alas!!) recovering the ability to do two or three layers of revision at once.  Revision has been a fairly arduous process of fixing this bit, then that bit, than then this other bit, one at a time, even when the things to be fixed were in the same sentence or paragraph.   It is getting better, but not as fast as I want.

But–on the bright side–Horngard I has a new first chapter that is MUCH better than the previous one in multiple ways (characterization, plot, etc.)  AND a new ending section that solves a problem several people who’d seen it had noted.

Even so both of these fragments had to be rewritten several times in several days.  But to celebrate the completion (I hope) of the first chapter and the last, here are a few snippets

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

From Chapter One:

Where: near or in Valdaire, in Aarenis, morning.  Who: Camwyn, 21 yo, formerly Camwyn Mahieran, crown prince of Tsaia

Camwyn resented Dragon ignoring his own wishes, and “not wise yet” didn’t help. Someday, he would find out where he had come from.  Someday he would find out if his family still wanted him.  Grateful as he was, he would not give up that hope for Dragon’s dream.

Where: coming down from the mountain pass from Tsaia to Aarenis, midday.  Who: Aris Marrakai, 18 yo, one of four squires to Duke Arcolin

He let himself drift into the hope he’d clung to for years, and hidden from his disapproving father: finding his best friend, Prince Camwyn, missing for more than five years.  Have time and freedom for his search.  Thus: be a courier, carrying messages for the Duke   from city to city on a fast, tireless horse, ridden by a young man of good breeding and impeccable reputation, the squire who never got into trouble.

Where: lunchtime at The Golden Fish, Valdaire.  Who: Aesil M’dierra, Golden Company owner/commander

She noticed a handsome dark-eyed stranger, a young man she’d never seen before, at the front window table, richly dressed in bold yellow and black over mail. A visiting princeling from the north?  Or perhaps from Fallo or one of the Immerhoft ports?  A padded coif on his head hid his hair.

Where: later lunchtime at The Golden Fish    Who: Aesil M’dierra,   Gurtnor Sartanits, Blue Company owner/commander

She recognized Gurtnor Sartanits, owner and commander of Blue Company, mail under his blue surcoat, tall boots folded to knee height, a dagger hilt showing in each, sword  on one side and a wide-bladed short sword on the other.  He strode in as if he owned the inn. Behind him were two of his captains, also wearing mail, spurred boots, and ample weaponry.

Sartanits’ smile, when he spotted her, had no friendliness in it, and his voice oozed condescension.  “Commander M’dierra!  Fancy meeting you here without your faithful Arcolin.  Found someone less ancient, have you?…”

One of these four will be dead by the end of the book, one accused of murder and under presumed sentence of death, one very badly wounded, one about to announce retirement.

To avoid spoilers, you’ll have to wait to see a snippet from the end, if I can find one that doesn’t reveal too much.  Chapter One, after a last change this morning, should be stable from here on.

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Apr 28

Another Lost Sheep Comes Bleating In…

Posted: under Collections, Contents, Conventions, Editing, Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,  April 28th, 2024

I was working on the story collection this past week, among other chores, and suddenly wondered if one of last summer’s that I really wanted in, but had seemed gone for good due to a careless deletion, might have been attached to an email I sent to a friend last fall before the flash drive crashed.   And lo! there it was.  An earlier draft but there.  And in working it over again, a better ending came to me.

Until I’ve talked to Lisa, at my agent’s office, I won’t know if this is the *final* set of works in the new collection, or the final draft of the previously unpublished ones,  or if they’ll be in the same order.  (The order makes sense to me, but…not an editor.)

Final Honor.   A late sequel to “Mercenary’s Honor” (set 7-10 years after the first story) in one of the previous collections,  originally in SHATTERED SHIELDS.

Destinies.   A close sequel to “Consequences” in last year’s DEEDS OF YOUTH.

Judgment.  Longish novella, originally included in THE DRAGON QUINTET, and I think the first story that included a dragon (let alone *that* Dragon) in Paksworld.

My Princess.  A story out of deep Paksworld history, from Old Aare before the disasters there.

Valley of Death. Also an Old Aare story, but the Sandlord’s advance was already going on.

Bargains.  Very short, and my first fiction sale.

The total wordage of these is a little short, but there will be intros, and if I can find or come up with something more in the 2000 words range, I’ll add that.

But mostly I’ll be concentrating on the Horngard book.

Meanwhile, in the “out and about” section, I expect to be on the *virtual* programming list for NASFiC this year.  It’s in Buffalo, NY, in July, but I’ll be here in Texas instead.    Not yet up for that long a trip, and I’ve had a couple more falls, both apparently related to sudden dives of blood pressure.   Need to get steadier.  I also expect to be at ArmadilloCon in Austin, in early September.   More on both later.   Austin’s familiar enough that I don’t need to worry too much about falling over.

 

 

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Apr 05

Lost Story Found

Posted: under Collections, Contents, Good News, the writing life.
Tags: ,  April 5th, 2024

Just a couple of days ago, while organizing some of the stacks of paper, old notebooks, etc. in one of the rooms, my Organizer in Chief found a print-out of a story I hadn’t been able to find on any current storage unit…since last fall’s demise of the flash drive which had held the backup of the hard drive that self-destructed a year ago.   It was one I had planned to use the next short-fiction collection, and a hard loss, since unlike some stories, it was difficult to write and would be very difficult to *rewrite* in a way that I’d like.  I’d tried.

So Kate’s finding it  was a huge boost to my mood.   It was a photocopy of an earlier version with a lot of editing marks on it (scratch-outs, inserted words, scribbles between lines, etc.)  but it was essentially whole.  We scanned it into the computer, then took the .pdf and converted it (not without some problems…the conversion process did not like my handwritten marks!!) to a .docx version.   I’ve spent quite a few hours trying to make Word behave (!!!! to Microsoft designers of that annoying software!) and retain the instructions (double-space…not single, not multiple, just plain old double-space.  Using the font I want, not the font Word wants.  With no added space between paragraphs, an indented first line ONLY, and no sudden lurches into centered text, right-justified text, etc. etc. etc.)     It’s going to take multiple corrective runs, but at least I’ve got it.

It’s from Old Aare, when the Sandlord’s great drought was just beginning to cause social/economic upheaval and the shift of populations across the continent.  And it *will* be in the new collection and I will be glad of it.   The other “Old Aare” story in that group is the previously published “My Princess” from the DAW anthology Warrior Princesses.   Also in the new collection is “Judgment” from The Dragon Quintet, and the story “Destinies” which is a follow-on to the story “Consequences” in the previous collection Deeds of Youth.  And another one or two, whatever will fit into the word count.

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Jan 25

A Very Big Thank You

Posted: under Reader Help, the writing life.
Tags:  January 25th, 2024

…to everyone who has stuck with this blog (and Universes) through the almost six years since the last book came out and since the Day of Concussion.   To be Texan about it,  ALL y’all have been a steady, reliable support that I needed, through the many trials and disappointments as I struggled to overcome the effects of brain damage.  I’m still not 100% (multi-tasking the way I used to?  No. More distractible, more difficulty maintaining focus through a writing session?  Yes.)

But you have stuck it out with me, encouraging, showing interest at the least progress, and I am more grateful for that than I can easily express.   Should any of you be unlucky enough to get your own heads smacked hard enough (or often enough) to cause serious loss of function…I hope you have as supportive a bunch of cheerleaders as you yourselves have been.  Don’t give up on each other, or on family members, either.  Sometimes the magic works.

Thanks again, and always.

E.

 

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Jan 23

Half the News You’ve Been Waiting For….

Posted: under Horngard, Submitting, the writing life.
Tags:  January 23rd, 2024

Horngard I has been shipped off to my editor at Del Rey.

The next news we want to hear is “yes” but that’s probably months away, if that’s what Anne decides.  Keep your fingers crossed.   I’ll tell you what I know as soon as I know it.

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Jan 12

Working on the Book

Posted: under Characters, Craft, Horngard, Progress, the writing life.
Tags: , , , ,  January 12th, 2024

The first chapter of Horngard I is now tighter, cleaner, more direct, less allusive.  Starts in POV of major character.  Sets out the initial situation directly.  Introduces second POV character, hours later than the original start.   Better, in other words.  I’m now charging through the other chapters (agent had a copy I’d sent him in October; I’d lost my copies here, as you know, so it was seeing it very fresh indeed.)    Every place that my eyelids sag (before midnight; sagging at midnight is normal.  Right now I’m waiting for the dryer to finish with a load of wash that suddenly had to be done at about 10:30 pm.)

For instance, Gwennothlin Marrakai is taking her youngest brother Julyan on a trip and includes moving some horses from the Marrakai estate somewhere else.  I had, in the previous file, a sketch map of the journey, a timeline, a note of every horse, its name, its breeding, its color, its size.   Today I was reading along, early in that journey and they stopped for lunch and then…I spent most of a paragraph on the horses.  Not interesting stuff about the horses, not enlivening details that also show I know what I’m describing, but…she helps Julyan get on the horse she wants him to ride that afternoon, and in the process of that tells the reader (only some of whom will care) the horse’s name, breeding, color, and size.  Does any of this matter at any point in the story?  No. Does Julyan care?  No.  I found myself mentally staring at the 11 year old kid, who darn well ought to be able to mount that horse without help, and at the horse (which is not going to DO anything remarkable at any point!) and erased a paragraph.  After lunch they started off upstream on the trail.   It’s not about a mare named Daisy.  It IS about one of the horses in particular, but right now they’re going to ride south, upstream, day after day until they’re….never mind.  Lips are sealed.  THAT bit has details that matter.

More of that section–the travel–will also come out because it’s a separate sort of sequence that ties into the main sequence down the line.   “The Chainsaw of Correction…” is snarling in my ear.

On the other hand, I’m still very happy with the battle scenes.  Gritty.

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Jan 07

Intersections

Posted: under Life beyond writing, snippet, the writing life.
Tags: ,  January 7th, 2024

The sabre and I….I’m working on it.  Getting advice online and by email, looking at videos, doing daily practice and trying to correct errors made earlier before they’re baked hard into my muscles.  Sabre practice (and research and watching videos ) takes time. I’m enjoying it.  I am learning; I’m stronger than I was the day I unwrapped Joyeux (she has a name now) , and weekly increasing the work.  That takes time.

The writing.  Trying to recapture and rewrite one of the stories from last summer, the sequel to “Consequences” in DEEDS OF YOUTH, last year’s short fiction collection.   It’s slid in and out of focus, because I’m trying to write it “whole and fresh” as if I were first-drafting.  Vague shadows of what the story was before wander across my mind, as I work on it.  This takes time.

The Real World.  Every year I prepare a report for the local county tax assessor’s office on our Wildlife Management project, as required to maintain our ag exemption.  The report includes both a required form from Texas Parks & Wildlife, to be filled out, and additional information to substantiate the report.  There are seven specific types of activities that “count” toward meeting the state standards for wildlife management, and we must be doing three of them or more every year.  I usually include 15+ pages-often 20+, of text and photographs of what we’ve done that year.  That takes a LOT of time.

And of course there’s tax stuff, and the *other* tax stuff, and the horse care, and the State of the House…

January is the month in which deadlines land like hammers on an anvil, beating on my poor befuddled brain.

However, January is also the month that my Tech & Organization specialist will be back to help for a week or so.   YAY.  And if nothing else gets in the way, toward the end of January or at least by mid-Feb, I’ll be up in Irving  by train for one night (maybe two, depending on Stuff) to meet with my sabre instructor/coach/biomechanics person,  and get homework.  Double YAY.  February 2 is Vet Day…Laci will be hauling my boys over to the vet hospital for shots,  Coggins test, dental work.

Herewith a snippet from the untitled (so far) story.   If you haven’t read “Consequences,”  these two stories are set decades before DEED of PAKSENARRION,  when Kieri Phelan gets his first independent command from the Crown Prince of Tsaia to travel with the Tsaian army to drive out Pargunese invaders in NE Tsaia.  Kieri has at this time only one cohort and has been hiring out as an auxiliary to larger merc companies in Aarenis.   Aliam Halveric put the Crown Prince in touch with Kieri.  “Consequences” is about Kieri’s interaction with the son and heir of one of the noblemen who’s brought his own levy of troops.  Duke Marrakai’s son and heir (Selis) is considered too young to fight in the coming battles, and is at the start kind of a spoiled brat teenager who thinks he’s most skilled than he is.  THIS story is about a Pargunese attack on the Tsaian headquarters…but much more about the relationships between Kieri and others, as they will develop into the future.  First, though, Selis and his father.

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Selis Kirgan Marrakai checked his appearance in the mirror again, tightened his sword belt, and smoothed the fall of his short green cape with its red braid around the margin.

“Selis!” His father the Duke’s voice broke into his worry that something—a hanging thread, a tiny spot—was wrong with his attire.  “It’s time.  Come on.”

A final glance, a final pass of the comb through his hair.  “Coming, Father.”  He left his small chamber in the tent and found his father just hanging his sword, wider and longer than Selis’s, on its belt hooks.  His father looked at him, his usual hard gaze softening into a smile.

“You look very well, Selis” his father said.  “Quite soldierly, I may say. You’ve grown up a lot on this trip; I’m proud of you.”

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Jan 05

New piece at Universes blog

Posted: under Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  January 5th, 2024

There’s a new post up at Universes on the main site,  Writing: From Character to Plot.   I may mirror it here later, but for now it’s at http://elizabethmoon.com/blog/   Hope you find it useful.  I’m in the usual January hurry, working on both the story I’m recovering by re-imagining it (see blog post) and the annual Wildlife Management report for the county tax office AND another required report, AND getting ready for the return of the Kate the Organizer who’s going to help me get more done here AND Sabre practice AND everything else.  EEEEeeeeeKKKKK!

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Dec 13

When Bad Things Happen…

Posted: under the writing life.
Tags:  December 13th, 2023

Short version:  All my files are gone.

Longer version:   That includes: books, short fiction, poetry, letters, nonfiction, addresses, etc.  Character lists for each piece of fiction (for continuity, very handy to have organized lists for another book or story set in the same universe–by organization, by location, by genealogy, by status (for those who die in the course of  a book) , etc.   Place names, locations, descriptions.   For some, salient physical and historical notes:  age at marriage, age at birth of children, age at which significant injury/illness occurs.  Etc.

Gone. All of it.  Things in print are still there, of course, but as stories, not as organized files where I had been able to look up things like how old Character A was when their younger sibling was born or an older sister died, things that affect characters’ growth & development, deep motivations, reactions, etc.

How it happened doesn’t really matter, except to me and my tech assistant, trying to be sure it never happens again.  A lof it is not recoverable at all, given my aging brain with its memory holes here and there.  Not without stopping writing new stuff to try to rebuild the research library of the old files.  Hours of work spread over nearly 40 years built the accumulated mass,  which  went way beyond what was obviously in the books.

So I have the complete printout of one of last summer’s short stories, and a printout of part of another.   I’m working this week to get them back into digital form, into multiple forms of storage, one of which I hope will still work in 5 or 10 years.   I know people who have whole or partial drafts of others.   I’m not dwelling on how bad this is, but focusing (narrowly for now) on what I can do, which is work from paper to digital, rebuild a file structure, start filling, and at the same time produce clean texts for publication when the next collection should be out.  Not going into gory details because they make my head hurt and take time.  Takeaway: Bad break, but writer is not sitting around moaning…writer is, and will be, at work.

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Nov 26

Problems, Progress, Problems

Posted: under Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: ,  November 26th, 2023

Writing is not like a box of chocolates.   Writing is a hike through a wood that seems familiar (especially Paksworld) interspersed with time spent in the present tense, and the interaction of these two universes in ways that (after this many books and stories) might be expected to be familiar though I know it won’t be.  Paksworld waits for me to enter it.  This world shoves itself in my face when I’m trying to follow a faint trail in Paksworld…forced me out of it, and into this, usually with something unpleasant, but sometimes with sounds or sights or people that are sheer delight.

Before I forget to mention a useful one from today: I had gone down for a brief rest in the afternoon, suddenly felt “It’s time to get up NOW” and got up, put on more warm stuff, and went out to feed horses.  Richard came with me to make sure the water got done.   I put out their feed, opened the gate, let them into the barn where they went peacefully (no pinned ears, no hoisted hind hoofs) into their respective stalls and started eating.  Richard had brought in several more buckets of decomposed granite.  I felt energized by the rest enough to bring in four more.  Dark clouds had shown to the south, obviously headed this way.  Got the fourth bucket in and poured, stamped it down, put the shovel and bucket away.  Tigger indicated he’d like a cookie or several.  I gave him several, petting him between them,which he tolerated.  Rags looked on with envy but kept eating his hay.  We left the barn; the rain started, very lightly.

OK, so problem.  4843 word chapter in Horngard II that–temporally speaking–belonged in Horngard I but did not fit it well.  For one thing its setting is in southern Fintha…MC is Arvid, others are his mentee, Jakard, whom none of you have met yet, Arvid’s son Arvi,  and (very briefly) the yeoman marshal of Arvid’s grange.  So it’s a long way from the main line of action; the only overlap is Gwenno Marrakai when she (mumble-mumble-mumble not to spoiler the book.)   Gwenno encounters Arvid & Jakard once, briefly.   She’s on the main line of the plot; they aren’t.  Clearly, that puzzle piece of 4843 words did not belong in Horngard I.  Horngard II?  It was originally the second chapter of H-2. It got pushed sideways along the tracks, with more of the immediate outcome of H-1 shoving in quite reasonably.  H-2 continued to grow, skipping over Arvid and Jakard.   I should have pulled it out right then, but it was a compelling chapter, with some really powerful bits in it.  Meanwhile its story got more and more out of both place and time with H-2…it’s written contemporaneous to about 2/3–3/4 of the way through H-1, still in late summer, and now, in H-2, it’s winter.   And it’s still not main plotline for H-2.  So I was going to pull it out right after Thanksgiving.  Yesterday, Friday, having forgotten about an earlier problem I had with the new Word and Copy/Paste, I marked it off carefully from the rest and attempted the Copy/Paste.

WORD HAS ENCOUNTERED A PROBLEM   No hint of what the problem was (other than long, and THEN I remembered I’ve had problems with this new word not wanting to do a simple copy/paste even within a file at times.  Sometimes I can copy/paste an image into Word and sometimes I can’t. )   It was late by then because I had goofed off watching videos of saber exercises from several sources on You Tube, so I put it away to argue with today.  Today it still would not copy paste that chapter.   WORD HAS ENCOUNTERED A PROBLEM.  Checked all the steps, tried again.  WORD HAS ENCOUNTERED A PROBLEM.   Infuriating.  No information about WHAT problem.  Or WHAT to do about it.  Or link to more information.

Word used to copy paste smoothly…any length.  Now it doesn’t.   Why would they change something that useful?  Why had they changed the equally useful Cut/Paste?  I imagined trying to copy/paste maybe 10 words at a time…how long that would take, what a waste of my time.    So I posted a query on Facebook–this is my problem, is there any easy fix?  One person suggested one.  I went back to Word to see if it would work…and the selected words, all 4843 of them…disappeared.   I didn’t have time to follow the instructions I’d been given.  What did I do?  I have no idea.  Moreover, I knew (because most of the chapter had been written several months ago) that I could no longer expect to rewrite it easily, even though I read it yesterday as I was selecting the text.  I know the story (who did what to whom and what a different who thinks about that) but the details, the small things that made the passage come vividly alive…are gone.

As this had begun to turn on me, as some stories do, I will probably take this opportunity to grab it by its collar, shake firmly, and say “Nobody wants a grimdarkdepressing story in the midst of the grimdarkdepressing crap we’re all living through so…let’s see what horribles will fall out of your pockets and turn this into a serious *but bearable* story.   A story in which Jakard just may survive.

And now for Sword Talk.   Here are a few of the websites I’ve been looking into. 1)  Schola Gladiatoria, Matt Easton owner I’ve mentioned before.  Deals in antique weapons, is involved in historical re-enactment events in UK, runs a HEMA club in London, teaches a variety of historical weapons, enjoys sparring with light sabers as well as synthetic and steel swords of various kinds.  Background in history, archaeology, and more.   Big site, plenty to learn.  Frequently co-sponsors a video with Tod’s Workshop (Tod makes replica weapons and also does research on how they function.  2) The Winged Sabre Historical Fencing Channel, Russ Mitchell, owner.  Discovered this week while looking for more beginner saber exercises.   His background includes human anatomy in relation to movement and conditioning.  I’m very impressed with his “clean practice” approach and his approach to “the anxious fencer.”   (Clean practice means doing every movement precisely correct, so that in an emergency you do it much closer to right than you would if you practiced “slapdash” moves.  You don’t practice until you can to it right…you practice until you can’t do it wrong (or hardly ever.  Those of you were hoping to snicker about “dirty practice” in another direction…go stand in a corner.)  His Hungarian Hussar Saber warmups will be my next set of things to work on.  I already have a lifetime of injuries of various kinds, so, as mentioned before, taking this slow.   More later…long after midnight due to othr stuff.

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