Status Report

Okay, every piece of short fiction I had out to market has now sold. “Sorcery of the Heart,” to Lace and Blade 4, was the last.

Tom Derringer in the Tunnels of Terror is complete and ready to go except for a second illustration. I want it to have a pair of frontispieces, same as Tom Derringer and the Aluminum Airship. One is in hand and looks good, but the other is running slightly late. I talked to the artist (my daughter Kiri) on Sunday and said I could get by with one if she didn’t want to bother with a second, but she says she’s got it half finished and does want to get it done for me. As soon as I get that, I’ll get the book into print ASAP. Meanwhile, I made a non-illustrated “advance reading copy” ebook available to my supporters on my Patreon page.

Stone Unturned is in the queue at Wildside, but they do all their accounting in June and January so they won’t be working on it until July.

With all those out of the way I have finally hauled Charming Sharra and Tom Derringer and the Steam-Powered Saurians back to active status and have added a page to each in the past fortnight — not enough to rate individual progress reports, but enough to prompt this post.

I’m doing a lot of traveling this summer, some of it cropping up unexpectedly. We already visited Tennessee and New England this spring, but I still have trips to Hanoi, Athens, Pittsburgh, and Hawaii coming up — I leave for Hanoi first thing Friday morning. (They’re all for business except Hawaii, which is our long-planned celebration of our fortieth wedding anniversary.) This will cut into my writing time, and my posting here, too, but I’ll try to get at least some done.

Work in Progress: “Fearless”

From a newsgroup post dated July 4, 2009:

Progress report:

Last time looked at: 7/3/09

Last actual wordage added: 7/3/09

Pages added 7/3/09: 1

Current page count: 4

Estimated final page count: No idea, really. 30, maybe?

Deadline: August 1

Comments: Linzi is trying to account for Prince Sharal’s presence.

==

Update, June 17, 2017: I didn’t make that August 1 deadline. I never got any further than page 4. Life got in the way.

But I did pull this out and look at it a few months ago, with the idea I might submit it to a then-open anthology, and realized I’d forgotten part of the plot. Which isn’t a big deal, really; I can just make up a new one. But it means the “Last time looked at” above is wrong.

One more thing — I’m pretty sure that if I do ever write it, there’s no way it’ll only be thirty pages.

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

NEW!

Progress report: Tom Derringer & the Steam-Powered SauriansTom Derringer & the Steam-Powered Saurians

Last time looked at: 6/15/17

Last actual wordage added: 6/15/17

Pages added, 6/15/17: .2

Current page count: 55

Estimated final page count: 250

Current word count: 13,991

Deadline: None. Will be self-published.

Comments: Still much the same: 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. But the point here is that I’m getting back to work on it after two months of neglect; I read through the entire text up to this point, did some light editing, and added a paragraph.

And why was it neglected? Well, partly travel, with the trip to New England last month and the trip to Vietnam coming up, but largely because I was focused on getting short fiction delivered to various places, and getting Tom Derringer in the Tunnels of Terror done and ready to go to press. That one is now waiting on illustrations; everything else is done.

Work in Progress: A Hero of the People

From a newsgroup post dated April 22, 2009, but still basically correct:

Progress report:

Last time looked at: 4/21/09

Last actual wordage added: 4/21/09

Pages added 4/21/09: 1

Current page count: 2

Estimated final page count: Probably about 400. Maybe more.

Deadline: None yet, but Tor has the proposal. No, they don’t. At least, not officially, thought they may have hung onto it.

Comments: Have I mentioned this one yet? I’m pretty sure I have.

This is a novel that follows a bunch of the secondary characters from Above His Proper Station after the protagonist departs the vicinity. The hero of this one is Argandos Galibier, though the title doesn’t necessarily refer to him.

He disappeared from Above His Proper Station in Chapter Nine, and A Hero of the People picks up during Chapter Ten, but following Argandos instead of Anrel.

Having sent Tor the proposal, I figured I should probably go ahead and write the opening.

But alas, it went no further, because Tor turned it down, as my editor, Brian Thomsen, had died suddenly and his successor wasn’t interested in the series. I do hope to write it someday.

Progress Report: “Sorcery of the Heart”

Remember the anthology I wanted to submit “The Dancing Teacher” to? The one with a June 1 deadline?

I decided that “The Dancing Teacher” didn’t really suit it after all. Instead I wrote a new story entitled “Sorcery of the Heart,” set in the northwestern part of the Walasian Empire roughly sixty years before A Young Man Without Magic.

I didn’t finish it by the deadline, but the editor extended it two weeks. Which should work.

I have the first draft of “Sorcery of the Heart” written — 30 pages, 8,000 words. Which technically makes it a novelet, not a short story, and it may get longer in rewrite. Editor says that’s okay, so… we’ll see what happens.

Samples

In which I collect all the work-in-progress samples from my late, lamented newsgroup:

FETCH (posted June 27, 2008):

Jerry sighed. “Fine. We have any pending business, so I don’t waste a trip?”
“As a matter of fact, we do,” Abby said. “Unpaid, just a favor for a friend, but if you’re crossing over anyway you might as well give it a shot. Daughter of one of my neighbors died in a wreck out on 128 last month, her mother wants to know she’s okay.”
“She’s not okay,” Rudy objected. “She’s dead.”
“You know what she means, Rudy,” Jerry said. “She wants to know her little girl isn’t suffering.”
“Jerry, we aren’t going to tell her anything bad even if the girl’s thoroughly damned, you know that. We could just lie, because if the kid really is suffering, we’ll lie anyway. Why not skip the middle step and go straight to the lie — tell her we looked and her daughter’s Little Miss Happy Sunshine?”

MIRRORS AND SHADOWS (posted August 1, 2009):

Alicia awoke coughing.
She was sitting up in bed, coughing uncontrollably, before she opened her eyes and saw the smoke. Her eyes widened, and she called, “Mom!”
She didn’t wait for an answer; she rolled out of bed and stooped down, trying to stay below the smoke, the way they had taught in safety class back in grade school. She pulled open a bureau drawer and grabbed a pair of panties, then hesitated.
Those long-ago lectures had said that the first priority was to get out, get out of the house before the heat and smoke could overcome you. Don’t stop for anything — get outdoors!
But she really didn’t want to wind up standing on her mother’s lawn in nothing but black lace panties and an old Nirvana T-shirt.

MYTH AMERICA (posted December 17, 2009):

“I’m Will Stuart,” I said, and I looked at the woman expectantly.
It was Al who spoke, though.
“Will, allow me to present Her Imperial Highness, Princess Susan Norton.”
I sat there for several seconds, mentally cursing Al. The woman looked like a nut, but I hadn’t expected her to be that nutty. I’d hoped for nothing worse than a psychic advisor.
“Princess of what?” I asked, half expecting him to reply, “Mars.”
“America,” he said, and that might have been worse than Mars, I wasn’t sure.

ON A FIELD SABLE (posted August 20, 2012):

She also felt a certain uneasiness at the idea of visiting Ondine — Ondine, the legendary Quandish capital. She had heard stories about Ondine as a girl, stories about how rich it was, and how sordid, and how dangerous. She had heard that monsters stalked the streets openly.
But then, she had heard that Quand was all fogs and swamps, that the Quandish were a bunch of barbarians who made a habit of bashing in each other’s skulls, and after a season at Blackfield Hall she now knew that those stories were nonsense. Ondine was probably no more dangerous than Lume — indeed, given the latest news from Lume, Ondine was probably far less dangerous at the moment. As for monsters in the streets, she had taken a few walks with Old Toz during her stay at Blackfield Hall, and had been introduced to a villager named Five-Finger Stiv who had also suffered a magical mishap in the overseas colonies.
Five-Finger Stiv was called that because he did indeed have five fingers — if you counted both hands, and if you considered tentacles a sort of finger. He was an avid gardener; Mareet had learned the Quandish names for several herbs and varieties of produce from her visit with Stiv.
As for Old Toz, he had an endless supply of stories to tell — some funny, some thrilling, and some that were really quite unsuitable for mixed company, but which he had told to Mareet anyway. He spoke not just Quandish and Walasian, but two dialects of Ermetian and a variety of other tongues.
If Ondine was home to monsters like Toz and Stiv, that was nothing to fear.
“I would be happy to go to Ondine,” she said.

STONE UNTURNED: The Petrified Prince (posted August 23, 2012):

The prince suddenly smiled, the grimness vanishing. “Good!” he said. “Now that that’s out of the way, I’m Prince Marek, fifth son of King Terren of Melitha. I don’t believe I got your name.” He held out his hand.
“Uh…” Caught off-guard by the abrupt change in demeanor, Darissa stared stupidly at the hand.
His smile broadened. “I doubt even the most eccentric parents would name a daughter Uh, and it’s hardly a good name to attract business. I know witches don’t go in for the fancy names wizards prefer, Domididulus the Over-Endowed or whatever, but Uh?”
“Darissa,” she managed. “I’m Darissa the Witch’s Apprentice, your highness.”

STONE UNTURNED: The Demon’s Master (posted August 23, 2012):

“Perhaps we should introduce ourselves,” Hakin said, as he, too, turned.
“I am Tarker the Unrelenting, a demon of the First Circle, of the original ordering. You are Hakin, called Hakin of the Hundred-Foot Field, son of Nerra the Skinny Whore and Chend the Navigator.”
“I… what?” Hakin, who had taken a single step, stumbled. “How did you know that?”
“I have your scent,” the demon said, as it walked toward Wall Street.
“You know who my father was?” Hakin said, running to catch up.
“Yes. Chend the Navigator.” Tarker marched on as it spoke.
“But I didn’t know that! My mother said she didn’t know that!”
“I am a demon of the First Circle. I have your scent.”
“But that… that… I didn’t know demons could do that!”
“We can.”

STONE UNTURNED: Lord Landessin’s Gallery (posted August 23, 2012):

Morvash watched him go, then turned back to the statue of the demonologist. He frowned, then crossed to the windows and pushed back the brocade drapes, letting as much light into the room as he could. He went so far as to hook the draperies over nearby furniture or statuary, to expose as much glass as possible. Then he slowly and carefully approached the granite figure, studying it closely. A horrible suspicion was growing in him.
The statue’s face was unbelievably realistic. The nostrils went so deep into the stone that Morvash could not see their end, even with the additional light provided by a quick fire spell. The hair was flawlessly accurate in its texture. A small pimple was half-hidden by the hairline.
No sculptor carved in such detail. Morvash knew the truth even before he drew the silver dagger from his belt and touched the enchanted blade to the demonologist’s cheek, but the faint blue glow that indicated the presence of residual magic confirmed his fears.
This wasn’t a true statue. This was a living woman who had been turned to stone. Morvash had no idea who it was, or why she had been petrified, or when, or by whom, but this was a real person.

THE INNKEEPER’S DAUGHTER (posted January 29, 2013):

“Don’t you know the prophecy game?”
Dremm and Aloran both stopped arranging tinder, and turned to stare at her. “Game?” Aloran asked.
“They don’t play it in Meloria? I thought Meloria was supposed to be full of magic!”
“Not that magic,” Dremm said. “At least, not by that name. How does it work?”
“Oh, well, you take a board and a piece of chalk, or charcoal — something you can write or draw with, but it’s better if it’s something soft, not a pen, because it can get messy and you don’t want ink all over your clothes. You swallow a leaf of sage — you can chew it first, but some people think it’s easier to just wad it up and gulp. Then you sit in a circle of white stones and chant the spell under your breath, and if you’ve done it right — which I never could — you go into a trance, and then your friends ask you three questions, and your hand will move and write a message or draw a picture, and that’s supposed to be a prophecy to answer the three questions. Half the time it doesn’t make any sense at all, and sometimes you can’t figure out what it means until after it’s come true, but sometimes it’ll tell you what you want to know. It’s never just plain wrong.”
For a moment none of the three men spoke; then Fandrel said, “Isn’t that…”
He let the sentence trail off, but Dremm completed it. “The Ritual of Foresight,” he said. “It’s a game here? Something everyone knows?”
“Well, yes,” Marga said.
“In Meloria,” Dremm said, “it’s a closely guarded secret in certain families, passed down from parent to child.”
“Here in Karak-Bar,” Marga replied, “no one’s that good at keeping secrets. My grandmother said it was still sort of supposed to be secret when she was a girl, but everyone knew it.”

THE INNKEEPER’S DAUGHTER (posted February 20, 2013):

“Ah.” She stared at the magic sword. “Does it have a name?”
For the first time, Aloran hesitated before responding. “I have not yet settled on the best way to answer that question,” he said.
She looked up at him. “What? Why?”
“This is called the Nameless Sword.”
“But… oh, wait. You mean… oh.”
“Yes. It is called the Nameless Sword. The Nameless Sword.”
“That’s just… who came up with that?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s been called that for generations, and no one I’ve spoken to will admit to knowing why.”

Work in Progress: “Gargoyle”

June 24, 2008:

Progress report:

Last time looked at: 6/23/08

Last actual wordage added: 6/23/08

Pages added 6/23/08: 1

Current page count: 3

Estimated final page count: Probably about 12

Deadline: None. Speculative.

Comments: I started this story back in the 1980s but didn’t get past the opening; it got shelved indefinitely. At the 2004 Worldcon a picture in the art show prompted me to haul it out and take another shot at it, which brought it up to page 2.

Tonight I’m going through old progress reports, and there it is, so I wrote the next page. The unnamed protagonist is trying to pry the gargoyle off its perch.

And now, almost nine years later, I’m still on page 3.

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.