Work in Progress: George Pinkerton and the Plague of Zombies

I’m transferring this from my old SFF Net newsgroup, but it’s still technically the current report on this project. You will notice that I haven’t worked on this story in well over nine years. I’m not sure I’ll ever do anything more with it. The theory at the time was that I would expand some of the George Pinkerton stories into a series of books for middle-graders; I no longer think that’s a good idea.

Progress report:

Last time looked at: 9/29/07

Last actual wordage added: 9/29/07

Pages added 9/29/07: 1

Current page count: 15

Estimated final page count: 150

Deadline: None. Purely speculative.

Comments: I just did a first pass, filling in some obvious bits. I haven’t really gotten serious about it yet.

Status report: Summer of 2017

Got a bunch of stuff that I hope will be out this summer.

First off, Stone Unturned is at Wildside and they said they wanted to get it out ASAP. I have no details, though.

Tom Derringer in the Tunnels of TerrorTom Derringer in the Tunnels of Terror has been edited; I’m not quite halfway through incorporating (or overruling) the editorial changes. I spoke to the illustrator yesterday; she says she has the pencils done for the frontispiece, but hasn’t inked them yet. I’d guess it should all be done soon and should be out in July if all goes well.

The audiobook of Dragon Weather, which was originally scheduled for Christmas 2016 but got delayed, is now entirely recorded, but still being edited. I haven’t yet listened to it to give it final approval.

My short story “The Lady of Shadow Guard” will be in the Roger Zelazny tribute anthology Shadows and Reflections, which is scheduled for next month.Shadows and Reflections

(I have two other new stories in upcoming anthologies, but they won’t be out this summer. One’s scheduled for October, the other for August 2018.)

There’s this anthology with a June 1st deadline that I was invited to submit to. I had an unfinished story called “Fearless” that I thought might be a good fit; I dug it out, looked at it, re-read the anthology guidelines, and decided no, that wouldn’t work.

So I got out another unfinished story called “The Dancing Teacher,” and worked on it off and on for months, and kept being unhappy with how it was going. I repeatedly backed up, throwing out several pages each time, to try different approaches, and eventually decided that the problem was that the story I had set out to write years ago did not want to be forced to fit the anthology guidelines. It wasn’t a good match after all.

So I put that story aside, and started an all-new one that’s now on its third title, “Sorcery of the Heart,” which was designed from the start to fit the anthology guidelines. I’m on page 8 of an estimated 25-30. I haven’t had to back up, really, but I did revise the lead character’s backstory pretty drastically. With less than ten days left, I don’t know whether I’ll meet that June 1st deadline or not, but it’s what I’m working on right now.

Work in Progress: “The Dancing Teacher”

Progress report:

Last time looked at: 4/17/17

Last actual wordage added: 4/17/17

Pages added, 4/17/17: 2

Current page count: 12 (see below)

Current word count: 2,950

Estimated final page count: 20-30?

Deadline: June 1, 2017 (anthology)

Comments: Yes, it got shorter again.

A few days ago I looked at what I had and once again threw part of it out. The story had once again gone in the wrong direction; I had over-thought the background, and had too much internal monologue.

This time, though, it finally feels as if I’ve got it right.

I had cut it back to about nine pages, but not all the stuff I removed came from the end — I cut a chunk out of the middle, too.

Anyway, it seems to be finally going in the right direction, with my protagonist not doing anything stupid or reckless (at least, not yet). Progress has been slow, however; I’m not sure exactly why. I’ve been feeling a bit sluggish; maybe it’s just the weather.

Today I finally wrote two full pages, and got things moving a little better. The antagonist has gotten his first lines of dialogue. Still not quite sure how my protagonist will get into the confrontation I want, or how the resolution will play out, but it’s coming together.

Work in Progress: “The Dancing Teacher”

Progress report:

Last time looked at: 4/9/17

Last actual wordage added: 4/9/17

Pages added, 4/9/17: 3, more or less

Current page count: 13 (see below)

Current word count: 3,405

Estimated final page count: 20-30?

Deadline: June 1, 2017 (anthology)

Comments: Yes, it got shorter.

A few days ago, shortly after my last progress report, I looked back over what I’d written, and considered where the story was going, and said, “That sucks.” I could have finished the story, and it might have been publishable, but I wouldn’t be happy with it, and as the author, my opinion counts.

So I threw out eleven of the eighteen pages I’d written at that point. (I said in a tweet I threw out twelve, but I realized almost immediately that I’d gone a page further than necessary, so I put one back.) I decided I was going to find a plot that didn’t require the protagonist to do something totally boneheaded, and had the antagonist and his family react in a way that vaguely resembled actual human behavior. (Many writers don’t bother with this, and many readers don’t seem to mind, but I usually prefer characters who bear some similarity to reasonably intelligent people.)

I have now come up with that new plot. I think. We’ll see whether it works once I write it all down. And I’ve added more to the story, including some bits salvaged from the discarded material, but mostly new.

The protagonist still does something reckless, but it’s not completely stupid.

Work in Progress: Tom Derringer and the Steam-Powered Saurians

Progress report: Tom Derringer & the Steam-Powered Saurians

Last time looked at: 4/7/17

Last actual wordage added: 4/7/17

Pages added, 4/7/17: 2

Current page count: 55

Estimated final page count: 250

Current word count: 13,931

Deadline: None. Will be self-published.

Comments: Third in the Tom Derringer series. I’m writing Chapter Six, where Tom is being briefed on the job he’s agreed to undertake. He’s in Ogden, Utah, and it’s March 24, 1884. I’ve been reading up on Mormons, paleontology, geography, etc.

Work in Progress: Charming Sharra

Progress report:

Last time looked at: 4/1/17

Last actual wordage added: 4/1/17

Pages added, 4/1/17: 4

Current page count: 16

Estimated final page count: 300? I don’t really have any idea.

Deadline: None. Purely speculative.

Comments: The story is continuing. Sharra has gone to her mother looking for sympathy.

Word-count is 3,926.

Work in Progress: “The Dancing Teacher”

Progress report:

Last time looked at: 4/1/17

Last actual wordage added: 4/1/17

Pages added, 4/1/17: 2

Current page count: 17

Current word count: 4,506

Estimated final page count: 20-30?

Deadline: June 1, 2017 (anthology)

Comments: Hmm… I haven’t always posted about this one.

I’m writing this for a specific anthology I got invited to, so it needs to fit a particular set of parameters. As originally planned, I’m not sure it did, but then I didn’t have all of it planned out. I had the set-up, and I knew how I wanted it to end, but the stuff in between was very vague.

As a result, I’ve backtracked a couple of times. The most recent one was tonight — sort of. I decided I needed to do a drastic rewrite, so I saved what I had in a separate file and looked at what to cut, and wound up not cutting anything. I just picked up where I’d left off and added a couple of pages. I may yet wind up reworking it, but I think I want to finish this version first, just to see whether I can get to my planned ending from where I was.

I did make a few changes; originally the viewpoint character didn’t have a name, and then on page 11 he absolutely needed to have a name because he’s being formally announced, so he acquired one. Tonight one of things I did was go back and insert his name right in the first paragraph.

Also, which of the Cousins serves as the setting has changed. Originally it was set in Skarl, which I realize means nothing to most of you, but Skarl has been mentioned in previous stories both published and un-, and the place I’m describing in this story is clearly smaller, poorer, and more backward than the Skarl described elsewhere. I could have moved it backward in time a couple of centuries, but it was just as easy to change the kingdom’s name to Korza and leave Skarl out of it entirely.

Anyway, it’s coming along; I’ve set everything in place and the climactic fight should start in a couple of paragraphs.

Work in Progress: Charming Sharra (formerly Sharra the Petty)

Progress report:

Last time looked at: 3/30/17

Last actual wordage added: 3/30/17

Pages added, 3/30/17: 3

Current page count: 12

Estimated final page count: 300? I don’t really have any idea.

Deadline: None. Purely speculative.

Comments: For those who haven’t seen this discussed elsewhere, this is an Ethshar story that spun off from Stone Unturned. Sharra was a very minor character in that one, but I gave her just enough backstory that I got interested in her and decided she deserved her own book.

I originally called her Sharra the Petty, and that is in fact her name, but since I realized during revisions that she introduced herself and she would never, ever call herself that, she became “Sharra the Charming,” and I changed the title of her story from Sharra the Petty to Charming Sharra to take advantage of multiple meanings of “charm.”

I’m into Chapter Two; Chapter One is quite short. The story opened with her husband walking out on her; now she’s on her own and trying to deal with that.

Ethshar is usually very easy for me to write, and this one’s no exception. It’s (mostly) set in Ethshar of the Sands, which is not quite as familiar as Ethshar of the Spices, but I know it pretty well. And I know about three-quarters of the plot of this story, but not how it eventually ends (though I’m anticipating a scene right near the end where a couple of other characters from Stone Unturned will show up briefly). I’ll need to work out an ending eventually. For now, though, it’s rattling along smoothly.

Word-count is 3,003.

Status Report: Lots going on!

Above His Proper Station in paperbackAbove His Proper Station is now out in paperback, from Tor — but I haven’t actually seen a copy yet. I’m supposed to get a box of ’em, but it hasn’t yet arrived.

The Lawrence Watt-Evans Fantasy MegapackThe Lawrence Watt-Evans Fantasy Megapack is scheduled for Monday, March 27.

I spent most of 2016 working on three different novels, and I’ve finished all three of them since New Year’s:

The novel I’ve always referred to by the name of the protagonist, Bravo Foxtrot, was delivered and paid for in January. I have no idea what the eventual title will be, or when (or if!) it will be published. It’s a game tie-in, so I don’t think it’ll be out until the game is, and last I heard that was still some time away.

Stone Unturned, referred to for years as “the Big Fat Ethshar novel,” is complete at 140,000 words and sold to Wildside. The contracts are signed and countersigned. The actual text hasn’t been delivered yet because Wildside was backlogged and asked me to hold off, but I’ll be sending it Monday or Tuesday.

Tom Derringer in the Tunnels of Terror, the second Tom Derringer novel, is finished at 72,000 words and has been sent to the editor, who says she should have her work on it done around the end of April. I’ll be self-publishing this one (and the entire Tom Derringer series) through Misenchanted Press.

My short story, “The Lady of Shadow Guard,” will be in the Roger Zelazny tribute anthology Shadows and Reflections, edited by Trent Zelazny & Warren Lapine; the book is tentatively scheduled for June of this year.

And “The Prisoner of Shalott” will be in By the Light of Camelot, an Arthurian anthology scheduled for August 2018.

The next Ethshar novel will probably be Charming Sharra (formerly Sharra the Petty); I’m several pages into writing it. I haven’t yet worked out the entire ending, so it’s possible it’ll bog down, or it may not reach novel length, but right now I expect it to be a short novel like The Sorcerer’s Widow.

Tom Derringer and the Steam-Powered SauriansThe third Tom Derringer novel will be Tom Derringer & the Steam-Powered Saurians; I’m fifty pages into writing it. My current plan is for at least three more after that: Tom Derringer & the Electric Empire, Tom Derringer & the Floating Fortress, and Tom Derringer & the Misplaced Metropolis. (That last title is subject to change.) I’ve also set things up so that I can insert some shorter stories in the summer of 1883, when Tom spent a couple of months visiting New England; that’s during Chapter Two of Tom Derringer in the Tunnels of Terror. Those would be solo; Betsy Vanderhart wouldn’t appear. The only one I’ve plotted is “Tom Derringer & the Monster of the Mills.”

I have two pending anthology invitations. I’m working on a story called “Double Agent” aimed at one with an April 30 deadline, and a story called “The Dancing Teacher” aimed at one with a June 1 deadline.

Since we’re planning to move in a couple of years, I’ve also been putting some effort into finding somewhere I could donate all my professional papers. I think I’ve found a suitable university library, but until it’s official I prefer not to be more specific than that.

And finally, my agent has a proposal of mine for a science fiction novel that we’re hoping will interest Tor.

So I’m keeping busy, and there’s definitely stuff on the way.

Work in Progress: Tom Derringer in the Tunnels of Terror

Progress report:cover

Last time looked at: 3/20/17

Last actual wordage added: 3/20/17

Pages added, 3/18-20/17: 3

Current page count: 270

Estimated final page count: 270

Current word count: 71,199

Deadline: None. Will be self-published.

Comments: Done! And I don’t see a need for a third draft.

I want every Tom Derringer book to have a double frontispiece, so I’ve sent the mss. to my daughter with a couple of options for illustrations. I’m trying to get hold of my preferred freelance editor — I probably shouldn’t have left that until the last minute like this.

So it’s pretty much done, unless either Kiri or my editor says otherwise. (Kiri is my beta reader, as well as my illustrator.)