“This ends the third book of the Tales of The Four Part Land.” 180,550 words down, and I finally write ‘The End’. Sad, like waving goodbye to well known friends, but good to see Laeccan Waters finished after two and a half years of work.
And a new personal record for the length of a chapter (which I hate using, for whatever reason). 40,485 words. I don’t have any novellas as long as that chapter. Hell, the definition of a novel starts at 50,000.
Current totals for my novel writing is ~475,000 words of first draft material, and only eighteen chapters in use. I guess they just annoy me somehow.
Yes, we all know how that particular saying ends. And like almost every time it is employed, it’s true. I am not dead, and I have certainly not given up on writing. I just appear to have given up on blog posting for some time, although I can say the holidays and then a long ski trip had something to do with the matter. However, I am now back in the lab, and have a series of projects coming out over the next several months.
Chloddio: The second book of The Four Part Land arrives in April, and follows the exploits of the ex-safety engineer Chloddio as he joins the army, and then finds himself embroiled in subterfuge, revolution, and hidden societies. Around him swirl a cast of characters and soldiers based out of the city of Tri-Hauwcerton, together marking the beginning of the second trilogy set in The Four Part Land. And for those of you wondering what happened to Tarranau, don’t worry, he’ll return in Læccan Waters.
Wolven Kindred: A standalone ebook, Wolven Kindred follows Nietan, a human skirmisher and mercenary, and Ær, his bonded wolven companion, as they seek to rescue their failing mercenary group. Holy berserkers, undead priests, and howling barbarians become unlikely allies and implacable enemies as the Wolven Kindred engage in a desperate hunt for coin, and for their long forgotten honour. Wolven Kindred will appear in March.
Splintered Lands: Volume One: Yes, the first book of the long overdue Splintered Lands series will appear shortly, containing a trio of short stories entitled Into the Swamp, Kingdoms in Conflict, and A Baron’s Return. Together, they detail the arc of the southwestern lands, and the great swamp that dominates that tip of the continent. Lands rise and fall, struggling against the ever-present devastation of the Breaking. And yet somehow, there is hope, if distant and faded. Look for this ebook in April.
Ancient New: An anthology I am the editor of, Ancient New is a Deepwood Publishing book exploring the world of alternate history, of a Victorian Internet and an Aztec empire beyond the stars. Comprised of fifteen short stories written by rising stars from the fantasy and science fiction universe, it will capture the strange beauty of future technology, and the lost nobility of the past, and sweep them together into a tremendous mixture that delights and endears. Ancient New will appear at the end of March.
And if you’re curious what else is on my plate and underway, well, there is Læccan Waters, which sees the return of Tarranau as he heads north over the mountains beyond Tri-Hauwcerton, Splintered Lands: Volume Two, following the exploits of terrible thieves and long forgotten wizards, and an unannounced short project.
Finally, later this week, you should expect to see excerpts from the various stories start to appear, little teasers to whet the appetite before the tales go online.
As before, this is an excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel, so there are some spoilers lurking.
They arrived at the edge of the docks to find them strangely empty, although there was one small boat beginning to row out into the harbour, and it was stuffed full of Áðexe.
Tarranau muttered, and made a slapping motion against the water, the others watching as a wave suddenly appeared out of nowhere and flipped the boat, dumping all the Áðexe over the side. Being excellent swimmers, once they had got their bearings they ignored the boat and continued towards the vessels in the harbour.
The watermage cursed. “Well, that was a bloody stupid thing to do, wasn’t it?”
“You had better fix it before Á?ðan finds out. He’s going to be very unhappy if we lose some of the boats.”
“No, he’ll just say something about life being interesting, then hiss a lot.”
“Well, there is that too.”
Tarranau waved them to silence, and then began skipping razored discs of ice across the water, slicing them in at head height. One after another, crimson stains began to bloom in the water, and with it the increasingly frantic motions of the sailors trying to reach their craft. But none ever did, although the last had been within touching distance of the bow line before Tarranau had been able to slay the creature.
As he turned his back on the sea, he could hear the fish biting and chewing at the corpses as they floated. Life, at its end.
“Sawwaed, what’s your nose smelling?” Bwyell had his helmet off and was sniffing the air.
“Blood, death, broken things. The usual after battle…” He paused. “And smoke. There’s smoke somewhere.”
Atyniadol looked at them both. “We’re in a town, why would the smell of cook fires be that strange in the morning?”
“I don’t think it’s a cooking fire.” Bwyell glanced up and down the docks, then began trotting off to his right.
The others followed, somewhat bemused by his antics. He was certainly convinced, wherever he was going.
After a few minutes of searching, Tarranau waved at Bwyell. “Are you sure there’s anything?”
“I know I smelt wood smoke back there, wood smoke with the tinge of varnish and the like. Not the kind you’d toss on a fire.”
“Well, there’s doesn’t seem to be any.”
Ceinder pointed to the farthest end of the docks, which they could now see. “Tarranau, Bwyell was right.”
Flames leapt from one of the seashore warehouses, and were quickly moving to engulf one of the others next along. Áðexe ran from the flames, but some of those running carried burning brands.
“Some bright officer is burning down the harbour before we can use it. Atyniadol, Sawwaed, can you stop them? Bwyell too. Ceinder and I will deal with the fires.”
Sawwaed nodded, and set off in a jangle of armour, the others close behind.
As the mages ran, Ceinder glanced over at her husband. “How are we going to put out a fire that’s already that big?”
“A lot of water and a lot of dust and earth. Unless you have a better idea.”
“I was hoping you did. Your intellect isn’t impressing me right now.”
“Well, it’s a little stressed out.”
“Why? It’s only a battle.”
This is an excerpt from the new material written for NaNoWriMo, and is a short scene between Tarranau and his wife, Ceinder. Also, as always, SPOILERS ABOUND.
The work of cutting through the forest went on unabated, day by slow day, as the army of Hálsiend dragged itself closer to the seashore and to Hádsw?pa, the small town from which Þracian’s assault had been launched. There was little in the way of entertainment, and at any one time perhaps a tenth of the army was engaged in hunting, foraging, and scouting. The humans and the airmages regularly lead those excursions, as their ability to pierce the trees with their magical sight allowed them unique advantages when hunting for game. As did their ability to bring down the game at a great distance. Still, it was dull, tiring work when it came down to it, and they would return to their tents at the end of a day to find they had moved but a mile or two, still in terrain that was beaten muddy by the passage of so many claws.
Tarranau was busy cleaning his armour, as best he could in the circumstances, when Ceinder came to sit by his side. They remained quiet for some time, until the watermage broke the silence.
“I still wonder about Ddif and Fyn. About whether I could have saved one of them, or both. I don’t think I’ll ever stop wondering, either. I think it’ll be one of those memories that just stays around, all through my life.” He paused, before continuing. “Have you ever noticed how our failures dog our steps, and our successes flit away on the wind? It’s like that damn incident at the mines. I killed miners, innocents, but I saved you, saved my friends. But I never remember that, I just remember the faces of those I killed, the aftermath of my actions.”
“Tarranau, if you’re going to turn into that mopey sot who nearly got murdered because he was too drunk to defend himself, I’m going to kick your ass from one end of the campground to the other.”
Despite his mood, the watermage chuckled. “No, no, I’m well beyond that. I hope, anyway. I just wish my successes were what came to the fore when I thought about something, rather than my failures. I have to live with the absence of my friends every day, knowing I can never see them again. I don’t want to dream about it as well.”
“Then don’t. You’re worrying about one of the things you can change. Why do you think Á?ðan is compulsively happy all the time? Because of his perspective on life, on his view that everything, no matter how trivial or dangerous, is a new adventure for him to explore. There’s always something over that horizon, and it’s rushing up to meet him. He’s looking to the future. You’re looking to the past. The past is dead and gone, immutable. You can’t unsay words, undo actions, so give them a rude gesture and turn towards the rising sun.”
“You know, you always have the right things to say to cheer me up.” Tarranau wrapped an arm around his wife’s shoulders.
“Yes, I also remember having to tell you to marry me.”
“Hey now, I asked you.”
“After I’d given you the kind of hints even a toddler could understand.”
“The kind of hints that involved the words ‘I’m coming with you’. You didn’t really go for subtly, dear.”
“I didn’t want to have to wait the rest of my life.”
“I’m so glad you treasure my intellect.”
“Your intellect, yes. Your common sense wandered off when you were a small boy and never came back.”
“And yours didn’t? I at least have the excuse I was being forced to come over the mountains to Læccan. You volunteered for it.”
“I had my reasons. Even if most of them involved an oaf.”
“There you go with the flattery again.”
“If you like, I have a whole list stored away against those times I might need it.”
“I think I could do without you trying to sweet talk me any more, my dear.”
“Good, because I think there are other things to do aside from talk.” So saying, Ceinder pulled her husband to her feet and led him away.
A quick update for those on how NaNo is trundling along – fairly well, I’d say. I’ve managed to put together 11,000 words in 5 days (yesterday I had other matters to attend to), pushing the total length of the manuscript to about 128,000 words. A good length, but still shorter than the first drafts of Tarranau and Chloddio.
It’s that time of year again – November, when National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo) becomes the focus of a great many writers. Including me. And I’ll be working on Laeccan Waters, a name that might be a little bit familiar to people around these parts. Yes, it’s the same story as the last time (two years ago), because it’s still not done and still needs at least 50,000 words. Even though it’s already at 117,000. Apparently, I tend to write long books.
I’ve just finished rereading all of the material I’ve got in place for my story, and I’m sort of hoping today is a really really long day. Like the rest of my life long. For some reason the nerves are quite bad with this whole picking a story back up thing. With luck, it’s just anticipation being a pain in the ass. Either way, we find out tomorrow.
I’ve finished the rewrite. The story now clocks in just a shade under 104,000 words. And it’s a hell of a lot better than it was before this whole process started. For the first time in a while, I’m looking forward to editing it and getting it out the door, because now I think I have a story that’s worth publishing. Of course, I’m sure I’ll turn into a pessimist as soon as I go back for another round of edits, but that’s a long way off.
For now, I’m just going to spend the weekend basking in the fact I’ve ‘finished’ another novel. But before I go, here’s the opening page.
Chloddio’s hammer crashed against the shield of his instructor, a muffled thud as the training weapon impacted solid metal. Chloddio followed with a sweeping strike, coming in high and from the right, aimed at the side of Cavrel’s head. The instructor’s shield rose as he ducked slightly, and the blow glanced away, momentum carrying the warhammer above his helmet. Chloddio threw his strength into reversing the strike, pulling it into a backhand aimed at Cavrel’s skull. A frown spread across the instructor’s features as his weapon came across, the cloth-swathed head slamming into the haft of Chloddio’s weapon, knocking it flying.
“You are a dead man Chloddio. Again. A sweeping side-arm blow with a warhammer? I could have stepped inside and gutted you. I just chose to knock it high and then disarm you. It’s flashier, and it proves a point. Either way, you’re dead. You use great swinging strikes, building from your shoulder. I’m not a rock, and will not meekly stand still while you mine me. Those spikes” Cavrel pointed at the top of Chloddio’s weapon, lying on the dirt. “are not simply for decoration. Use them to thrust or backhand, a change of direction, anything aside from your continual hammering. Subtlety in combat will save your life.”
Cavrel paused, looking at the warhammer on the ground, then back at Chloddio. “Another thing: This is a battle, not a show. You flourish. You wave your weapon above your head as if that will inflict damage. It’s costing you here in the training ring, and it will cost you more when someone doesn’t fight fair and kicks you in the groin. At least you wear armour reasonably well. Means you’ll last a few moments more in a fight, but only a few moments.”
“Gather your gear, put it back in the armoury and go home.” Cavrel sighed. “I’ll get nothing further from you today. Remember to be here by sun-up tomorrow, we’re working on squad tactics and marching.”
“Yes sir. By sun-up.” Picking up his hammer from the ground and shouldering his shield, Chloddio jogged to the armoury, handing the tools of his new trade to the weaponsmith who prepared them each morning. Two assistants helped Chloddio out of the heavy practice armour, thick padding overlaid with metal and stone layers, added weight to make real armour feel light and free.
One of them tapped the cuirass. “You should be more careful with this, you know. It’s getting more costly to repair it or replace it.”
“More costly? Why so?”
“Well, you hear there’s been a mine collapse or two? Seems that with those mines shut down, the price of ore and the ironstone we use to make the armour is going up. Quite a bit.”
Chloddio knew the mine collapses all too well. He had been the lead safety engineer at the first, tasked with examining the tunnels and caverns for collapse, and shoring them up when there was any danger. And he’d failed. A large fall had sealed the entire mine, and killed everyone in it, despite all that he could do. And only two weeks after that failing, another mine had shut down. Owned by a friend of Joestin Hogof, the man who had once employed Chloddio.
“But that’s only two mines. There’s dozens all around Tri-Hauwcerton.”
“You say that, but it turns out most of those other mines don’t produce consistent enough quality for our blacksmiths to buy from them. There’s only six that the quartermaster approves, and two of those six are closed for months. I’m even hearing rumours one of them would be closed permanently, that the collapse fractured an underground river.”
“Which one is that?”
“Can’t tell you. Rumour doesn’t say.”
The recruit shook his head. “Well, its not me you should be worrying about. It’s all those veterans who take delight in knocking me on my ass.”
“You’re the one with the shield sweetie. Use it.”
“It’s not that easy.”
“Kid, I’ve been caring for this armour for twenty years. I know exactly how easy it is. And you just better start learning, otherwise you’ll be going out in armour that’s going to crumble. We’re using up all our repair budget keeping the real suits together. Practice armour’s at the bottom of our list.”
“Okay, okay, I’ll do my best.”
“From the looks of this, you need to do a lot better than that.”
“Enough already. I get ground down by Cavrel as it is.”
“Cavrel, eh? He’ll get you into shape. Either that, or he’ll kill you trying.”
“He can kill me as long as he doesn’t dent the armour, right?”
“You got it, kid.”
Chloddio has passed over the 100,000 word mark, as of this morning. Or, I should say, passed it again. The first draft of the novel was 106,000 words long, but after a long round of edits, I cut it back to 68,000 and have been writing new material to better flesh out the story.
It’s been a long process getting to this point, but the story feels a lot better for it. Beforehand, there were stretches of writing that described beautiful scenery, and left the plot mired in a sand trap. Those are all gone (or almost all), and the story is now much tighter, and with a lot more action in it.
The changes are going to necessitate another heavy round of edits, this time to make sure the old material merges in well with the new, but there are already readers going through the material to see if they can catch continuity mistakes. Hopefully, I haven’t written in too many.
So, now that I’ve added in over 30,000 in new material, where does the story go from here? Well, it gets an ending. A new one that suits all the new material. That will take another 10-20,000 of new material, but I’m sure I can do it before the end of April. And boy will that be a good feeling. Even if it means I need to start editing again.
Despite the rather long silence on the blog recently, I’m not quite dead, nor have I stopped writing. I’m actually under 13,000 words from the end of Chloddio, which is the next novel in The Four Part Land. The novel in question currently stands around 95,000 words written, and has been going through a fairly intensive editing process. Originally, it was 106,000 words when I finished the first draft. After two editing passes, it was 68,000.
Yes, there was a lot of useless cruft that had to be chopped and removed. Most of it describing the scenery, and day to day life. There was a lot of day to day life, and it was boring and dull. So it’s gone.
Since that second editing pass, I’ve been replotting and adding large segments to the story, and now I’m close to done. Another two weeks or so should bring me to the end of the writing pass, and then I can go back and see how much this draft needs to be edited down and rebuilt. Hopefully, not too much, because I’d like to get the book out this summer.
And, well, the other reason for my silence looked like this:
And yes, it’s still free, and will be for a little while longer. Until Bloodaxe arrives, probably.