Jun 29

Another Paksworld Story…Bank Transfer

Posted: under Background, Characters, Life beyond writing, Story, the writing life.
Tags: , , , ,  June 29th, 2023

This week I finished (for now, anyway) a Paksworld story that does not involve any swords, any fighting, anything (as some would say) exciting.    But Paksworld, though founded on adventures of the military sort, is a bigger world than that.  Behind every military society is its nourishing civilian root system.   Even the nomadic tribes of Central Asia, even the ones who trained girls as warriors and considered a young woman marriageable only when she proved brave enough to kill, had a civilian root that kept the warriors alive from birth until they qualified, and fed them and clothed them afterward.  Somebody cared for the herds, trained the horses, tanned the hides that made the leather armor, made the saddles and bridles and bits.  Somebody milked the mares and sheep or cattle, made the cheese, ground the grain for meal or flour to make the noodles or dumplings.

The big civilizations in our world depended on agriculture, yes…but also on trade.  No one place had every useful mineral:to make bronze, you need copper and tin both.  Traders came to ancient Britain for tin.  So in Paksworld, resources are distributed unevenly…and as a result expertise is distributed unevenly.  A maritime culture must have an abundant source of wood…and something you can make sails from…the kind of sail material affects the sails you can make from it, how heavy they are (and thus how they stress the wood they’re hung from.)   A horse-using culture must have an abundance of grass nutritious for horses and terrain they an run on.  If you want a society that uses wheels, be sure you provide them with what it takes to make useful wheels in both simple and more advanced forms.

In this story, “Bank Transfer,” the setting is in the most advanced human culture that invented world has: Aarenis.  It has cities and towns with quite competent stone and wood buildings.  It knows how to mine, refine, and fashion tools and weapons of steel (though stone blades are not unknown, just always considered old and rare.)   Its trade networks span much of the continent, with regular movement of food, raw materials, manufactured goods from place to place, and local manufacture of goods in most towns and cities.   Its monetary system is unified across Aarenis by the Guild League, the association of most occupational guilds to form a strong political and economic force, and intersects with other monetary systems by clearly understood exchanges under the authority of the Moneychangers Guild.  For the registered members, paper exchange has been replacing  (at least for short terms) the movement of physical coinage.   A letter of credit between a bank in the South and one in the North allows a loosening of supply during the winter, when no physical travel is possible.  In the near term and close by, a banker can issue a draught–a letter–to one of its depositors, and it functions like one of our paper checks used to…the bank and the gulld its member bank belongs to guarantees payment.  The process itself is different: a draught for, say, 100 natas (a large sum)  is carried by the bank customer, and will be annotated with the amounts due to as many merchants as it takes to use up the amount, with their signature.  It’s normal for a draught to be in use only within a set time (1-3 days is common)  and for a set number of recipients, within one city.  It saved the customer having to walk around with a large, thief-tempting, amount of coinage.   And it’s useless to thieves, unless they’ve killed the customer and stolen their seal, which is stamped on each annotation on the draught, as well as the merchant who collects from the bank.

So in this story a woman in her early thirties is a trader–a sutler, a supplier to the military, any military.  She’s near the bottom of the sutler hierarchy: she has only one wagon, she’s not as busy as she wants.  Her father was a one-wagon trader; her grandfather came to Valdaire with a pushcart, selling whatever he could, often rags.  She and her blind sister live in a building she inherited, along with the business, about 12 years ago when her father died.  She and her sister live in one room of that building (she has rented out the rest, except for part of the ground floor and cellar, where she stores what she sells and the horses that pull the wagon)  and her life is tightly constrained by her responsibilities and the effect of a theft shortly after her father died.  She’s working hard, but not making progress toward an easier life.  When opportunity appears, she must not only choose between risk and opportunity, but convince her banker–and others–that she is capable of turning opportunity into actual profit.  (It is not an accident that I see her in her early thirties…my mother was thirty-two when she fled from an unsafe marriage and traveled almost 2000 miles (it may have been more, given the old roads back then) and started a new life as a mother, after I was born.  Grethna isn’t pregnant, has never been married, but the journey she undertakes has distinct echoes, to me.)  What Grethna has is the stolid kind of courage that persists and persists and persists.  How will she deal with her banker, who still thinks of her as a mere girl?   How will she deal with this opportunity that beckons but demands abilities she’s not sure she has?

The story has major spoilers for the book that’s Horngard I (I hope someday in reality!)  and thus can’t reasonably be published until I find out whether Horngard I will be published, and wait out its birthing.  Meanwhile I’ll be thinking about whether Grethan is thickening into character who might generate enough plot for a full book, or a longer piece.  Why not just write that?  Because Horngard I needs to come first.  I started this story right after the faceplant, when I had the quite reasonable fear that this new head injury might permanently put me back to “no longer able to write.”  I knew I wouldn’t know the full extent of the concussion’s damage for at least two months, maybe more, because that’s how long it takes to assess  a repeat concussion.  What you get the week right after isn’t the full story….things could get worse or better.  So I started a story intended to be fairly simple and short, as a test: can I still “round” a plot to a conclusion, and tighten it into a good solid, satisfying knot.  After the 2018 concussion, I couldn’t.  Not for years.  I’ve done that now, and my two best first-readers agree.

However, it was not an easy task, and  I can tell the concussion has left residual damage.  It will take longer to work it all out and see how much, but…at least I can write a short, relatively simple, piece.   Now to write another, about something else.  I wouldn’t mind being stuck in Paksworld for the rest of my life, but I’d like the ability to switch back to SF occasionally if I can.  The two types seemed to generate stories for each other 20 years ago.   Only way to know is to start something short there, too.

However again, when it’s not past bedtime on a hot summer night in Texas, I will hunt up a snippet of Horngard I  as soon as I can.  You deserve it.

Third However….Sharon Lee & Steve Miller have a new book Liaden Universe book coming out, SALVAGE RIGHT, and it’s a fast-moving fascinating book.   Science Fiction with autonomous self-aware ships and space stations, characters that include many-times-reborn not-exactly clones, Liadens, Terrans, persons not easily defined, spies embedded in rescue organizations, wheels with wheels within weirdness, the Uncle’s unsociable sister, mysterious holdovers from a previous universe, a norbear, instances of Korval’s Tree, and much, much, more.  We finally see the end (I hope!) of the old Tinsori Light, but not the end of the Lyre Institute for Exceptional Children, alas.

 

 

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May 31

Lost Is Found

Posted: under Good News, Life beyond writing, Songs and Verses, the writing life.
Tags: ,  May 31st, 2023

On the last workday of the work on my office, I found a large 3 ring binder, blue in color, that proved to contain much (not all) that I’d thought permanently lost of the background material for Paks.  Including the story of the shepherd who tried to rob Dort the Master Shepherd of some strands of wool from Dort’s sheep, who all have golden fleeces.  That story will come out later.   There are two versions of Torre’s tale, and two of Falk,  and more verses to the songs mentioned and sometimes partly quoted in the books, and so on. A story about the great bardic festival and the division for “martial music” performed by mercenaries.  About the way the Mother of Unicorns regained her sight after her eyes were stolen, about a young yeoman marshal’s mistakes and the justice of Gird

Why had I not found it years ago, before the Great Mess reached its height?  Well…memory was that those things had been put in a BLACK 3-ring binder.  And this one was BLUE.  So apparently, I didn’t look at the blue binder when searching for those lost things.  Only at the black binders.  One black binder did contain good stuff…printouts of my earliest-published stories, as submitted, from “Bargains” through to “Gut Feelings”.  Might be time to consider a collection of the early SF stories.

The study as it looks now, about 99% of the reorganization is finished.

But in the meantime and right now, a present for you:

Fair Were the Towers (C) 1985

Fair were the towers whose stones lie scattered,

White in the sun those ramparts rose.

Sweet were the flowers that twined in the gardens,

Then came the storms to them.

 

Fair were the princes whose bones lie scattered,

White in the sun their helmets gleamed.

Sweet were the ladies who bloomed for their pleasure,

Then came the wars to them.

 

Mikeli Vanyn the fair-spoken singer,

Bright harper of dances, will dance no more

Kevye the swordsman and Argalt his brother

Gannis and Torhal have died in the war.

 

Princes of Aare, their bones are all scattered,

The towers have fallen that called to the sky.

The Sandlord has taken them, Liart’s bane gnawed them,

All the fair gardens are withered and dry.

 

From notes:  This is the original version, said to be sung after the destruction of Old Aare by a singer called “The Black Harper”.  It became a favorite funeral song, with changes in the words as necessary: commonly the insertion of the names of the dead instead of the Aarean princes’ names, and a different final quartet.

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May 16

Last Stitch On The Lip…

Posted: under Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: ,  May 16th, 2023

…is hanging on like the last leaf on a tree in the fall.  “No, I still have juice, I’m not ready….”

I’m ready.  Next to last stitch came out this morning.  Last part of scab came off, too, so the furrow in my nose…shows.   Feels interesting, looks a bit like someone who had an accident (yes!) but not horrible.   A few places still have a dull sort of ache, where though the skin was only scraped, the bone under it was bruised.  But it’s not bad.

Along with that,  more horse feed sacks full papers and old magazines have gone out.  The supply of empty and *whole* (not rat-holed)  feed sacks from the feed room is WAAAY down.    We both have computers up and running our familiar software (well, sort of familiar, mostly familiar) .   I have learned to text images taken with the phone camera: a selfie of post-injury face the day after, and one of the much improved face (minus scabs, the sold row of stitches on the upper lip, etc.)   Still haven’t learned how to get the images in the camera into the computer.  Hmph.  But the new Paint Shop Pro is close enough to the old (aside from not letting me put several images into the work space to compare side by side) that I can certainly enjoy it.

The new Paksworld material (Horngard related) is coming along, over 3000 words, though I don’t know if they’re the *right* words yet.   I like the main character, Mardet DiAnzo.   And the journeyman baker.   And so on.

Important wildlife bit of the day:  the first yellow-billed cuckoo call  at our place this afternoon while feeding the horses.   Sun’s down and a cardinal started singing…no, not a mocker mocking a cardinal, the cardinal.  Sometimes in May birds just sing any old time.

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May 13

Progress In Multiple Dimensions

Posted: under Life beyond writing, Progress, the writing life.
Tags: ,  May 13th, 2023

Recovery from fall…much better.  Some stitches out, others will be soon.  Only one scab chunk left, but it’s starting to itch.

Both R- and I have new machines that are up and running;  new headphones that are more comfortable with better sound (so we can each enjoy our own favorite music, You Tube sites, etc.) without bothering the other.)  (Yes, it’s luxury.)   The complete tech overhaul is well along; there’s still some more stuff (I still don’t have a new printer; the Faure Requiem is still stuck in old machine’s CD drive, the RAM upgrade wasn’t accepted by new machine, data recovery will, I hope, pull all the old photos off old machine’s disk, but we’ll see.  But the improvement so far is MAJOR.

I’m working on some new material related to Horngard I, still uncertain if it will fit in Horngard II or be pulled out into a separate story/novella.  Happy with the feel.   I didn’t lose consciousness, even momentarily, in the faceplant, but I hit hard enough to be stunned (still sore places on bones that met the sidewalk) and there were little blinks of “not there” time from the 4 hours in the hospital, which after the effect of the 2018 concussion had me worried.  Not now.  I’ve read some seriously technical material  in two different journals and understood it fully and the writing itself tells me the brain’s healthy…or at least functional.  2018-2022 showed me I can’t write coherent, hangs-together fiction if the brain is seriously upset.  In fact, in 2018, I could barely write a coherent paragraph describing a current activity at first…so being able to write about merchants on a journey is reassuring.

Now it’s feed time for the critters.  We had an inch of rain we very much needed last night.

 

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Apr 11

Good News

Posted: under Good News, Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: ,  April 11th, 2023

Having acquired the hub with an SD card slot,  I finally got brave and put my working “fiction” SD card in  (not easy as it requires me to put it in upside down…it wouldn’t go in at all first, either way, but finally did work.  I had the camera card for testing.  I still don’t have my favorite photo software on this machine, so that’s next…getting the writing straightened out is primary.

So I put that card in this morning, mental fingers crossed…and yes, both Horngard I and Horngard II are in there, apparently unharmed.  I had also saved the Paksworld stories folder, and the specific “Deeds of…” folders before the wreckage started, so I have those files again.  The stories I least wanted to have to type in from the books they were in, and  the unfinished ones and some notes.  And some others of serious interest, including some passwords.  Also realized that I’d made a continuity error in Horngard I (from Limits of Power, which I was re-reading to check up on something for Horngard II.  Ha!  Porfur was Marshal in Ifoss, not Fossnir (as I foolishly wrote in Horngard I.)   In fact, I’d conflated the layout of Fossnir to be more like Ifoss…so I’ve got to deal with all that and redraw some town plans (did not have the old town plans anywhere I could find.  SIGH.

How could I be that careless, you ask?  Well…time and concussions will mess things up.  Alone or together.  Gwennothlin, Aris’s older sister, spends some time in Fossnir, which is closer to the Andressat border than Ifoss.   Aris visits Fossnir a few times as a courier earlier in Horngard I, but there’s no interaction there (readers know he’s come from there on one assignment, but not anything he did while there.  Gwenno, OTOH, has a reason to be there and interact with people.  (Wait, you say, what is Gwenno doing in Aarenis at all?  Well.  That’s a long story. Patience.)

Turned in the letter for the annexation today, too, so I hope the city accepts it.  Probably not before the May council meeting.  Otherwise, I need to make another trip to a bigger town (with a Target store…)   SIGH.

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Apr 09

Brain Fog, Thunderstorms, and Plot Bombs

Posted: under Characters, Life beyond writing, Limits of Power, the writing life.
Tags: , , , ,  April 9th, 2023

Too many days without sunlight and my brain starts daydreaming about sleeping the clock around and waking to a sunny morning.  Kicking it out of bed is necessary, even when it tells me the balance mechanism is sub-par.  We had several days of heavy cloud with occasional thunder “somewhere” and not much actual water from the sky.  Finally however we got an inch over about 18 hours, including in a last 15 minute thunder on the roof at 1 am Saturday morning (it wasn’t the rain but a big BOOM!! overhead that woke me.)

No sun, though.  Easter Eve is a traditional time for Hispanic families in Texas to have big “end of Lent” parties, and our neighbors did.  You can tell when the pinata goes up by the squeals of the younger children and the “thwack-thwack” of whatever stick they’re hitting it with.  [drat this touchpad.  I just deleted the rest of that paragraph, with the incident of soccer ball recovery…grr.)

Skipping ahead.  Plot bomb burst in my head this morning and there’s a little over 2000 words of something new.  You may remember that in Limits of Power, Stammel dies delaying some pirates coming to the village where he’s been living.   After that, when the people return from the caves where they hid, they decide to honor him by naming children in his memory:  Matthis for the boys and Paksen for the girls (they’re not literate and never got Paks’s full name because he talked a little about having trained Paks in Fox Company.  Stammel stayed with Cadlin in that vill, so Cadlin’s next children carry Stammel’s family name as well:  Matthis Stammel and Paksen Stammel.  Everyone else names them as usual with the parent’s name: Matthis Volson, Telson, Rortson, etc and Paksen Voldotir, Rortdotir, Arndotir, etc.  This so Stammel’s name never dies out.

The children grow up knowing why they carry these unusual (for that region) names, and they…get ideas.  To live up to Stammel’s memory, shouldn’t they figure out a way to protect not just their village but the whole island?  Grownups tell them it’s impossible.  But…Matthis and Paksen Stammel are now (where I’m writing) meeting with Meddthal Andressat in the South Marches headquarters…and there’s this younger Lord Marrakai there, too.  They have a Fox Company ring…I know (I looked it up and sure enough) that Dragon took Stammel’s ring up to the Duke’s Stronghold with Stammel’s body.  But nobody would say Dragon couldn’t reproduce a copy for the village, esp. given that Dragon will certainly hear about the decision to name a boy and a girl in each family for Stammel and Paksen.  And the vill does not know Dragon took the ring to give Arcolin, so they don’t wonder when Cadlin finds it on the beam in his workshop where the sack of crossbow bolts hung.

The young folk now have a net of acquaintances between the vills–not just with the next one over but all the way around.  They’ve chosen lookout points to watch for pirates.   Pirates have come back several times, but now more vills empty ahead of invasion.  The adults are beginning to realize something might be done, though none of them have clue of what, or how, or where to find the resources.  Pirates being pirates, they decide to let that island alone for awhile to recover some stuff worth stealing and be less watchful.  Meanwhile Matthis and Paksen Stammel  travel to the mainland in one of the fishing boats to find someone who knows where Fox soldiers are.  Hence they’re in Cha…and meet someone who met Stammel (back in Siniava’s War and later) and someone who knew Paksenarrion when he was a boy in the far north (which these young people have never heard of.   That there is a mainland…but they imagine it as a really big island.)

But certainly word will go quickly to Fox Company that people who knew Stammel on this island have come to Cha…and from there to the north, to Arcolin. The right music for some of the writing is Elgar’s Engima Variations, esp. the Nimrod section.  (Earlier part went fine to Chopin Nocturnes.)

Oh, you want a snippet?   But of course.  Except they may get cluttered up with Word Sekrit Decoder Stuff.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………….(And yes the Enigma Variations “Nimrod” fits this particular passage.  Esp. toward the end where the soldier realizes…this is a story he’s heard before, years ago.

The two stood looking for a long moment, then walked forward.  Without actually looking at them, the two soldiers blocked their way to the door with the crossed staves of their weapons.  “Halt,” said one, and “State your business,” said the other.

“We need to see the Andressat lord,” said Paksen.

“Who are you?  Where from?”

“I’m Paksen Stammel.  From the island out there in the big ocean.”

“Which island?”

She had no idea how to tell him.  The island was just ‘the island’ or ‘our island’ to the islanders.   “It’s where we live; I don’t know what other people call it.”

The soldiers looked at each other.  The one to her heart side tapped the haft of his weapon on the stone step three times.  “Wait,” he said.  “Someone will come.  Not the lord, someone who will know what to do with you.  Do you have a letter or a word from someone Andressat might know?”

“We have his-someone’s ring.”

“You will need to show it.”

Matthis pulled it out of his shirt on its thong, just as another man in a long robe of yellow edged with white came to the door.  “What’s going on?” he asked the soldiers.

“These two.  Fisherfolk, I suspect, from an island.  Say they want to see the Andressat lord and that one’s got a ring.”

“An island…plenty of islands…name?”

Paksen shook her head.  “We don’t know what other people call it,” she said again.  “It’s just our island to us.  Matthis and me aren’t fisherfolk; we live up the mountain.”

“Name?” the man asked.

“Paksen Stammel,” she said.

He blinked.  “Stammel. That’s not an island name…your father?”

“No, Blind Stammel,” Matthis said.  “He lived on our island a short time and saved us—well, the olders, we hadn’t been born yet—from pirates.  He said he was a soldier somewhere else.”

“Sergeant,” the man in the robe said to one of the soldiers.  “Could that be–?”

“Let me see that ring, young man,” the soldier said.  “And your name?”

“Matthis Stammel.”  He took the thong off over his head and handed the ring to the soldier, who looked, and took in a sudden breath.

“By the Dragon, it is!  Fox Company ring.  Must be three hands of years at least since he was blinded, more like four.  I was up in Valdaire when I’d heard the rumor and then saw him riding past with the Duke.” The soldier looked hard at Matthis.  “And you’re named for him?  But not his body-son?”

“No.  Cadlin’s my father.  Blind Stammel lived in our house on the island.  That’s why my sister and I have his last name.”

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

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Apr 07

It Would Be a Cover Reveal, Except…

Posted: under Collections, Deeds of Youth, E-books, Life beyond writing, Progress, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  April 7th, 2023

…I don’t yet have permission to reveal it, and I can’t figure out how to make it show up in an email (did a test with a friend…got the link but it did not work)  and clicking on the image itself, with this computer, doesn’t yield the “copy image” choice.  It just enlarges or goes back to the other size.

What cover? you ask.  The cover for Deeds of Youth.  Tara, the designer, found a really good green-leather background for it, that will go with the dark red of Deeds of Honor.  Cover uses the same font for the title, the gold stuff is all gold just as it was, and between the change of title and a II  added to the line “paksenarrion world stories” people should not confuse I and II.  When I get permission to share, and when I have loaded Paint Shop Pro into this computer so I can play with images in the software, I’ll post it.  I like it a lot!

Meanwhile, the busy (but not organized) brain has worked out why King Mikeli’s being so stubborn about something in Horngard I, and who can unstick him a couple of weeks earlier, thus not having a long, long stretch that my agent thinks is dull for readers rather than tedious for one of teh characters.  Of course Dragon’s quick idea to mmph the ;ukmph into the xzllz is still a bit of a problem….and creates other problems, which is always good for the plot unless it convinces readers it’s totally impossibly stupid and a creature like Dragon would never think of it.  (Oh, yes he would.  Did.)

Will there be other exciting news over the next few weeks?  Probably not, but not *certainly* not.  Agent is headed for the London Book Fair later this month for a couple of weeks of connecting with his foreign (to us) fellow agents in Europe and getting their input.  He’ll be at the Nebulas in Anaheim not long after he gets back.   I’ll be working on that little blobby bit  in Horngard I and also posting more.

 

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Feb 18

Deeds of Youth: Off to NYC

Posted: under Collections, Deeds of Youth, Life beyond writing, Progress, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  February 18th, 2023

The seven stories of Deeds of Youth have been combed over and checked again and again; the two that were serialized here have had a few minor changes made.  One has never been “out in public” yet.  Those three (two seen in the blog, one never) will get a professional polish from a copy editor; the other four, suppposedly (I HOPE!) clean enough copies are as they appeared in the anthologies.  I’m hoping Agent agrees to use the same basic cover design with the new title and the background in green “antique-leather) behind the gold lettering.  I do not yet have a release date, but I expect to have the date within a few weeks (that’s how it happened last time) and it should be out this year for sure.

Back to working on Horngard I.

Between the ice storm, the aftermath of the ice storm (heavy rain onto the melted ice) , some power outages and a total failure of plumbing, the past few weeks have been hectic and requiered a lot of “adjustment” to daily life.   Having both toilets nonfunctional for a week + days, and the septic tank having to be pumped, and such…not the most fun in the world.  But we’re lucky that it’s now back together and functioning.

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Jan 23

Tomorrow…..Became Today

Posted: under Revisions, the writing life.
Tags: ,  January 23rd, 2023

Yesterday I was going to write a post saying I’d be talking to agent tomorrow.   Never hit SEND.   This is it:  “Another chat with Agent.  You will get a report.   As for Horngard II, it creepeth onward (it doesn’t want to cooperate unless I’ll give it all day…this splitting time with the County Tax Office’s deadline-looming Wildlife Management report doesn’t suit Paksworld, which thinks-since I’m back in it now–it owns my brain.  Does, mostly, at the moment.  But I’ve misplaced the Kieri’s First Command store I found I could work on in short snatched, which makes me hate Word’s misnamed “search” function all the more. Search INSIDE a file fine.  FIND a file (actually Microsoft’s FIND function for files is the problem–apparently it won’t look inside folders, and Word never lists the path while you’re IN a file so you can take notes.  The memory thing of TBIs kicks in when I try to remember which folder that file is in…I’ve looked in the Paksworld Stories and Stories folders, both of them, for a hint, but no.  On both drives it might be on (Data, under D: in the computer, and Data under the (folder) that replicated the D: drive on the card, F:/”

Today had the chat.  Still another draft to do.  SIGH.   As he said, and I also agree (but hadn’t agreed *in time*) , when you are first fixing a flawed ms. every fix can make it better but open up new views of what’s not that good yet.  The goal, of course, is to have it equally good from start to finish (whatever level of “good” is reached.)   Or at least a “smoothed out” reading experience so it’s not four good chapters, a boring chapter, two OK chapters, two good chapters, two real stinkers…etc.   He was encouraged because it’s definitely better overall…except….where it isn’t.  SIGH again.   He pointed out that since I hadn’t been able to write even remotely publishable book-length fiction for over 4 years, I could expect to have lost some skills, and since the cause of not writing was the brain injury…it’s more remarkable that I can now…with more revision…than it would be if I couldn’t.   I remind myself that the original Paks books had three full-length drafts before I submitted it (when I’d had only one concussion) and then the estimable Betsy Mitchell worked them over…so I’m still within the envelope.  Fast first draft, multiple revisions.  Because I don’t know the whole story, haven’t sorted out what “really” happened and thus can’t critique the whole story structure.   I’ve muttered before and say it again:  using Michelangelo’s analogy, my method seems to be to create the block of marble first and *then* cut away everything that isn’t the final statue…except that the creating of the stone and the cutting away occur multiple times.  Very messy process.  Chips of marble all over my mental and physical floors (in the form of sheets of paper covereed with notes to self, notes from agent or first readers, pages of ms. in the trash.  Only right now I can’t print any of the ms, so…grrr.

ANYway, I was working on the next little collection of Paksworld stories, trying to decide how to group them.    Several would fit into a group of “young people as protagonists”:  “Dream’s Quarry” from Horse Fantastic, a horse nomad story, “First Blood,” from Shattered Shields,  maybe “Mercenary’s Honor” from OperationArcana, because Aliam is still a young man and Kieri is in it as a squire, “Gifts” from Masters of Fantasy,   “The Dun Mare’s Foal,”  serialized here,  or       “A Bad Day at Duke’s East” (a story never published–Arcolin’s adopted son Jamis is in it.)   The story now called “Kieri’s First Command” could be retitled for its main POV character, that Marrakai kid, if there’s enough room.  It’s the first half of the longer story (which was written back when, and both file (in WS) and printout lost over the years)  that ends with Kieri  saving the Tsaian force and pushing the Pargunese back into Pargun.   Duke Marrakai is badly wounded and (IIRC) died on the way home; the Crown Prince is killed.  Kirgan Marrakai lives.

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Jan 06

Yesterday’s Event…

Posted: under Craft, Horngard, Life beyond writing, Submitting, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  January 6th, 2023

…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.

 

 

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