Settling in in an unsettled world: Summer 2020

Just a quick note to assure you I’m still alive and well.

We moved into our new home on Bainbridge Island, across Puget Sound from Seattle, on March 25. We like it here a lot. Unfortunately, the pandemic made it difficult to really get to know the place, and to furnish the house, as we had disposed of about half of our furniture before we left Maryland. There are still two major items on order, though one is scheduled for delivery later today.

It took awhile to get the computers sorted out, too. Both my desktop machines had issues from spending so long in storage. That’s been dealt with, and Chloe, my primary computer, is once again up to date and fully functional.

Anyway, with all this going on I haven’t been writing very much. The final draft of Tom Derringer & the Steam-Powered Saurians is finished and just waiting for the two illustrations I commissioned. I’ve made a little progress (not much) on Tom Derringer & the Electrical Empire and Charming Sharra, and have started a couple of new stories, “The Bone Wheel” and “I Didn’t See You.” Two new Ethshar stories have been started as well, “The Almoner” and Dancing with Wizards (not the final title)

The audiobook of Touched by the Gods is done, and we’re just waiting for ACX/Audible to clear it for release; apparently they’re backlogged.

I’ve been working on getting my website up to date again. Finished all the easy stuff, still dealing with the more complicated bits.

And that’s about all, for now.

Back to work at last!

Okay, so we’re back in the U.S., living in Seattle — not our permanent home, just a rental while we house-hunt, but more settled than we’ve been all year. After weeks of taking care of address changes, opening new accounts, and so on I have finally gotten back to work. I spent most of today working on Tom Derringer — reviewing Tom Derringer in the Tunnels of Terror (#2 in the series), revising the first fifty pages of Tom Derringer and the Steam-Powered Saurians (#3), and working out some plot elements in Tom Derringer and the Electrical Empire (#4), which is only up to page 7.

It’s a start.

Status Report: Winter 2019

I’ve been neglecting my blogs because I’ve been busy with travel and other time-consuming things, but I think it’s time I said something here.

We sold our house in October, and after some extensive travel we’re currently living in Spain; I don’t expect to be back to the U.S. until November or December. My main computer is in storage; I’m getting by with my handy little Surface Pro 3. This limits my ability to work effectively, due to the small screen and keyboard, but I’m managing.

Short stories: Release the Virgins, featuring “Valedictory,” is out. Lace and Blade Vol. 5, containing “An Interrupted Betrothal,” should be out on Valentine’s Day. “How I Found Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers” is scheduled for the March/April issue of Asimov’s. “Personal Space” is scheduled for the October issue of Asimov’s. I have two invitations to submit short stories, both with May 1 deadlines; I’ve started writing one story but don’t even have an idea yet for the other.

Novels: I have four novels I’m keeping as active files and theoretically working on, but the only one that’s actually making much progress is Tom Derringer and the Steam-Powered Saurians, which is up to page 146. The other three are Elfshot, Stormchildren, and Charming Sharra, which are on pages (respectively) 18, 13, and 51.

Audiobooks: The audiobook of Dragon Venom is complete and should be appearing on Amazon and Audible any day now. I have an agreement for Shawn Saavedra to do Touched by the Gods, as well. I opened Tom Derringer and the Aluminum Airship for auditions, but am having second thoughts about it.

And that’s about it.

Status Report: Summer of 2018

A few quick notes:Tom Derringer & the Steam-Powered Saurians

“Harry’s Toaster” is in the first issue of the revived Amazing; I believe it’s just out, but I haven’t yet seen a copy.

“An Interrupted Betrothal” was delivered to Lace and Blade Vol. 5, accepted, and paid for, and I’ve corrected the proofs. It’ll be out on Valentine’s Day, 2019.Tom Derringer & the Steam-Powered Saurians

I sold “How I Found Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers” to Asimov’s; proofs have come and gone, and it’ll be in the March/April 2019 issue.

I have delivered a short story called “Valedictory” (title still subject to change) to an anthology called Release the Virgins. They haven’t read it yet.

I have not done any novel-writing in months until today. We were getting our house ready to sell, which meant clearing up nine years of accumulated clutter, selling off surplus furniture, putting half my library in storage, etc. That did not leave much writing time. The house hasn’t sold yet.Tom Derringer & the Steam-Powered Saurians

I did finally get back to work on Tom Derringer and the Steam-Powered Saurians today, as explained in the previous post.

That’s about it.

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

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

Last time looked at: 8/31/18

Last actual wordage added: 8/31/18

Pages added, 8/31/18: 1

Current page count: 81

Estimated final page count: 250

Current word count: 20,417

Deadline: None. Will be self-published.

Comments: Oh boy. My last report on this one was on New Year’s Eve?

The astute observer (should one exist here) will notice that this got 13 pages/3,000 words shorter. That happened several months ago, actually; I decided the plot had taken a wrong turn and backed up to fix it. Almost immediately thereafter I got busy getting our house ready to sell, and I haven’t gotten any writing done on this since. (I did write two short stories, but no novel writing.) That was partly because I knew my old path was wrong, but didn’t necessarily know the right one.

Well, the house has been on the market about six weeks now (and I wish someone would buy it already) and I’m pretty much caught up on other stuff, so I decided it was time to get back to this, and I think I know where the story goes next, so here we are.

Work in Progress: The Whispering Bandit/An Interrupted Betrothal

Progress report:

Last time looked at: 5/31/18

Last actual wordage added: 5/31/18

Pages added, 5/31/18: 2

Current page count: 17 or 16, depending.

Estimated final page count: 16 for “An Interrupted Betrothal,” don’t know for “The Whispering Bandit.”

Original Deadline: June 1.

Comments: So here’s what happened.

I looked at how “The Whispering Bandit” was going, and at the 9,000-word maximum for the anthology I was aiming at, and saw a pretty severe mismatch. Four thousand words in I hadn’t even gotten to the cat-and-mouse romance at the heart of the story — hadn’t even brought the male lead on stage, though he’d been mentioned. This was just not going to work. Oh, the story is still viable, but it apparently wants to be a novella, or possibly even a short novel, and I had a June 1 anthology deadline with a 9,000-word maximum.

So I re-thought the entire thing, and started over, compressing the plot, stripping it down to its core.

It was moved from the Bound Lands setting to a new, not very detailed one, allowing me to ignore pre-established geography and use magic that doesn’t fit the Bound Land rules. Lady Malzin became Riassa ter-Vallez. Errilsa became Lady Avinna. Two male characters were collapsed into one and brought on stage on page 1, instead of later. The ambush sequence was transformed, moved from a highway to an audience chamber and changed from an actual ambush to a staged confrontation, and it was made the new opening. The old opening scene was eliminated, its essential elements now either implied rather than explicit, or provided in flashback. Multiple subplots vanished. And since there were no longer any bandits in it, whispering or otherwise, I gave it the utterly generic working title “The Edge of the Blade.”

This simplified, compacted version actually worked just fine, arguably better than the original — Riassa doesn’t make some of Lady Malzin’s mistakes, for one thing; she has a much better endgame planned, though her plans go wrong and it doesn’t happen.

I was able to finish it by June 1, at about 4,200 words. I sent it off to the anthology last night, and the editor has acknowledged receipt. The present title (which may well change again before publication) is “An Interrupted Betrothal.”

And the thing is, it wound up so different that I can still finish “The Whispering Bandit” and pretend it’s an unrelated story. There are a few core elements that remain in both and may draw suspicion (spoiler, highlight if you want to know: a well-born female dresses up as a man to get her cousin out of an unwanted marriage) but pretty much everything else has changed.

But there’s no rush about finishing it; the deadline has been met.

Word-count for “The Whispering Bandit” is 4,327. Final word-count for “An Interrupted Betrothal” is 4,132.

Work in Progress: The Whispering Bandit

Progress report:

Last time looked at: 4/12/18

Last actual wordage added: 4/12/18

Pages added, 4/12/18: 2

Current page count: 17

Estimated final page count: 30? 40? I don’t know.

Deadline: June 1.

Comments: I skipped a progress report or two, in which I went back, reworked some stuff, and added a page.

Famiris has been renamed Errilsa. Lady Malzin is still named Malzin.

Errilsa is hiding. Malzin is listening to her father and uncle make somewhat alarming plans. (He wasn’t originally her uncle; that was part of the reworking.)

Don’t know if I can get this done within the anthology’s word limit. It may wind up going elsewhere and I’ll write something else for the antho.

(All character names are still subject to change.)

Word-count is 4,228.

Work in Progress: Stormchildren

Progress Report: Stormchildren

Last time looked at: 4/12/18

Last actual wordage added: 4/12/18

Pages added, 4/12/18: 1

Current page count: 13

Estimated final page count: I have no idea. I still don’t know for sure whether it’s a novella, a novel, or a series, or whether it’s YA.

Deadline: None. Purely speculative.

Word count: 2,951

Comments: Skipped some progress reports; sorry about that.

I’ve just moved the break between Chapter One and Chapter Two; I decided Chapter One was pretty short, and I didn’t have enough to make a complete chapter of Chapter Two at all, so I merged them. Chapter One went from nine pages to twelve. Chapter Two now starts a few days later, when Darris, Rell, Lesma, and Arrith are at the port preparing to book passage to the mainland.

Work in Progress: Elfshot

Progress report:

Last time looked at: 4/12/18

Last actual wordage added: 4/12/18

Pages added, 4/12/18: 2

Current page count: 17

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

Deadline: None. Purely speculative.

Word count: 3,951

Comments: I skipped a couple of updates, I’m afraid. Sorry about that.

Anyway, the body’s been taken to the Watch House and Hyacinth is rejoining Lily.

For those coming in late: This is a murder mystery in a vaguely Tolkienian setting. Our protagonist, Hyacinth Undercliff, is one of the Folk, small, delicate humanoids who live in a community called the Vale. To the north of the Vale is a riverside highway elves use; to the south are cliffs, and atop the cliffs is human territory. North of the highway is forest which has its own mysterious inhabitants, and under the cliffs to the west is the underground home of the delvers.

Hyacinth is granddaughter and heir to Poplar Forestedge, the town’s hereditary librarian and historian, but alas, Poplar is no longer able to carry out his duties, so Hyacinth does the job.

Linden Watchhouse is the Vale’s constable, aided by his wife Marigold.

The story opened with young Lily Riverbend finding the body of her murdered boyfriend Mulberry Thicket, and Hyacinth hearing her screams and coming to her aid.

And here we are.

Work in Progress: The Whispering Bandit

Progress report:

Last time looked at: 2/22/18

Last actual wordage added: 2/22/18

Pages added, 2/22/18: 1

Current page count: 14

Estimated final page count: 30? 40? I don’t know.

Deadline: June 1.

Comments: This is a short story/novelet for an anthology I’ve been invited to submit to. It’s set in the Cousins, east of the Walasian Empire, in the same world as A Young Man Without Magic and the other Bound Lands stories. I’m hoping to keep it down to about 8,000 words, but fear it may get away from me.

Anyway, Lady Malzin has realized her scheme was not very well thought out and is trying to improve upon it.

(All character names are subject to change, especially Lady Malzin and Famiris.)

Word-count is 3,378.