Update: Finished! Moving on! Yay!

Okay, so, finally finished the draft of “Hokino’s Knife,” which turned out to be 37,000 words. We’ll see how much it changes, but that’s a decent length.

I’m not sure it’s ever taking me that long to write 37,000 words before. [Probably, but I don’t remember.] So many adorable little distractions running about! I am now losing the little distractions, which is a bit distracting in a different way. Always difficult to let the little ones go, as you can imagine. That’s true even though it’s great to have fewer trips up and down the stairs, and it’s more true when the puppies are practically housetrained, as they are very little trouble at that point, obviously.

Here is Morgan’s Tricolor Boy, Anara Don Quixote, and yes, I have to keep looking up how to spell that. I forget what his new person is calling him, but this is the picture she sent me this morning. He has a new Blenheim “sibling,” they are already playing a little and I bet they will be buddies by this evening. I hear he slept through the night last night, always a great thing for the new owner.

Anara Don Quixote in his new home

Morgan’s Blen Boy — now Anara Quintessential Bodhisattva, by the way, and yes, I have to keep looking up how to spell that as well. I wanted a Q name, the children in his new family wanted Bodhisattva, so sure, no problem, there you go. Anyway, he will be leaving me this coming Wednesday. Just two days! That’s really hard to believe. He joined me and the big dogs downstairs last night, as I never leave a puppy all alone. He might have gone in with the four littler ones, but I thought he’d be fine downstairs with the rest of us and he was. He slept through the night too. Very good puppy, and usually my babies do sleep through the night by the time they’re nine weeks old, which these two puppies are today, as it happens. Oh, by the way, if you get a new puppy and it cries when you put it in the crate at night, no problem! Take the puppy into the bed with you and let him settle down and go to sleep in the bed. When he is asleep, pick him up and put him in the crate, preferably in the bedroom with you, of course. He will go back to sleep and there you go, all settled. This is by far the best way to settle a new puppy at night. I’m sure it doesn’t ALWAYS work, but it basically always works for me, and I’ve settled a lot of puppies into a new situation. In a week or so, probably the puppy will be fine in a crate — or else, I guess, you’ll be fine with the puppy on the bed!

Anara Quintessential Bodhisattva (say that three times fast) with 14-year-old Elli. She does not appreciate puppies, but she does love her dog bed, so she is reluctantly sharing.

I’m putting together an unusual puppy package for his new people. I have a (very) extensive library of books about dog training, books about dog breeding, books about dog genetics, books about dog breeds. I pulled out a couple good training books that emphasize positive training and are written in a simple, chatty style, and I’m giving those to Bo’s new family, along with all the copies of health certificates and whatever. I really ought to give away a lot of those books, as I basically memorized them many years ago and don’t actually look at them very often any more. I could donate a lot of them to the next CKCSC auction or something. I’m giving them a drying coat as well. This is a mesh coat you put on the dog after a bath to hold the coat flat and straight while he dries. Like anti-curlers. If they do show Bo in the breed ring, they will find it helpful. Drying coats aren’t that easy to find, I bought mine at CKCSC shows, I’m not sure they’re available elsewhere, and since I have extras, why not.

I can’t believe I’m losing him Wednesday! Well, that does kind of go with the territory.

I’ll be losing most of the little ones around the end of the month. Elli, too. Here’s Leda’s Boy Two, looking quizzical. You know, “Quizzical” would also be a great Q name! But I didn’t think of that, and this boy belongs to my R litter. I can’t remember right now whether I’ve mentioned that to all the new families. I had better come up with R names in a hurry so I have some to propose.

Boy 2 wonders whether I might have a cookie tucked away somewhere. (I do.)

Here’s Girl 1. This is the puppy I’m keeping for now. She is completely adorable despite the mark on her face. She has a very sweet, feminine head and expression. Heads do change and change again; bites correct and go off and correct again; one never quite knows what one has until the puppy has had time to actually grow up. For some, by the way, there’s an ugly duckling stage at around five months and you just look away and wait, because usually the puppy comes back together as it matures. Whatever structure you see at eight weeks, usually that is the structure you’re going to see again in the adult. I haven’t actually stacked these little ones up to look at them, they are not quite eight weeks, but I know Boy 2 has very nice structure. I think they are all nice. I know they all have pretty heads.

Girl 1 is a pretty, gentle, slightly timid puppy

I’m going to have to brace myself to lose all but Girl 1. Morgan will probably be happy to have Girl 1 around too. Not that Morgan isn’t aware that the big ones are hers, but I’m sure she will find having a little one around comforting. She gets playful with puppies as soon as they are old enough to be teased into chasing her. Leda, by the way, does not care. She is almost completely uninterested in the puppies. She does take a (very) slightly protective stance toward them, but that’s basically it. I’ll be working with Girl 1 to ease her into the world so she becomes confident and outgoing. We are, incidentally, seeing A LOT of shyness in the backyard bred and puppy mill Cavaliers. Some of that is how they are raised, but some is genetic. If you read in a breed book that Cavaliers are very outgoing, you had better add the note: well-bred Cavaliers, because you can get any kind of weird temperament in a badly bred puppy, and, as I say, we are seeing a lot of shyness in that population. Some aggression as well, which is unspeakably bad and incorrect for the breed.

Regardless, the main socialization window is CLOSING at 12 weeks. If the puppy is not socialized at that point, everything you do is remedial and nothing works very well. That puppy is likely to be timid forever. This is important because vaccinations are not complete until 16 weeks, but if you wait until 16 weeks to begin socialization, you have left it too long and your puppy may be permanently shy. That’s not a problem for a puppy like Bodhisattva, who was born socialized — both those puppies were born socialized — and Girl 2 from Leda’s litter as well. Not sure about Leda’s boys, but Girl 1 was not “born socialized.” I am therefore going to socialize her carefully and make sure she grows into herself properly.


In the other part of my life, I’m now picking up INVICTUS, again, and I honestly think I may be able to whip through the final revisions by … probably not June 1. But almost certainly before June 15. This is not, I’m pretty sure, going to be a big revision. Of course, once beta readers get a chance to read it, I expect I will have a little more revision to do. I hope not a BIG revision at that point either! I will probably be bored to tears with this story by the time proofreading is underway, but thankfully I’m not starting bored.

Oh, on that note, let me add that I’m so very happy about the early reviews and star rating for NO FOREIGN SKY. It’s going up and down a bit, as expected. Ratings are volatile when there are so few ratings and reviews. 25 ratings, 77% five stars, one two-star, but you aren’t going to please every single reader, something I accepted long ago. I made a firm mental commitment ages and ages ago, a resolve to accept that no book is going to be universally beloved by all readers, that every single book is going to fail to appeal to some readers who ordinarily like my books, that it’s perfectly fine if a reader doesn’t like a book. I absolutely do not hold it against any reader if they do not like a particular book. You know what helps with that? Reminding myself that I could not finish CJCs Russian trilogy, that I hated Barbara Hambly’s Nazi duology, that I thought, and still think, that Patricia McKillip’s book Solstice Wood reaches back in time to ruin Winter Rose and should never have been written. And so on. There are basically no authors who have written more than ten books where I cannot point at one I dislike, sometimes absolutely loathe. And this is absolutely fine. I expect NFS to settle down at about 4.6 stars plus or minus a tenth of a star, and that will be excellent.

Thank you all if you’ve left a review, and you know what? I am very suggestable! The moment I see these positive reviews, I’m instantly less bored … un-bored? de-bored? with this story and this universe. All the tedium of endless revision and proofreading vanishes into the past, poof! You know what I did last night? Sat down and kicked around ideas for the direct sequel with my brother. Worked out what the uut are like and why they are so vicious. Thought about where to start the sequel and you know, here is a great idea for an additional pov character.

So I’m feeling a lot more (A LOT MORE) like I will probably write that sequel next year. I’m not sure that this will happen. But I am definitely sure that I feel a lot more enthusiastic about the possibility. That gives me a lot to work on next year. I want to definitely write two TUYO-world stories, one of which will certainly be a novel and the other I hope a long novella but who knows. That is the Lau story with the bodyguard and the Sinowa & Marag story, respectively. Then maybe this NFS sequel. Maybe the final book of The Floating Islands trilogy, and who knows, maybe if I write every single week requesting that RH reverts the rights to the first book to me, possibly they might do it? A novella-length epilogue for the Black Dog series, presuming Silver Circle gets written this year (still the plan!). What else? Oh, my mother would like me to go on with the Death’s Lady series sooner rather than later. There’s no end.

Meanwhile, I’m also chugging along with the Tuyo World Companion.

Aargh, alphabetizing the list of characters and places! I’m telling you, AARGH. I’m writing little comments for most characters and places, but that’s not the hard part — that’s the fun part. I’m not trying to avoid spoilers for TUYO, as absolutely everyone who buys the World Companion is of course going to have read TUYO. I’m being more careful about the other books and also providing little hooky comments with no spoilers for TASMAKAT. This is all, as I say, fun to do.

The hard part is just tediously scrolling up and down to put names in order in the list. I’m doing the Ugaro characters alphabetically by tribe BUT without the “in-” prefix. That is, inGara is alphabetized by “G.” That prevents the letter “i” from being too insanely long. I’m putting in the Lau characters by last name first, but I don’t expect anybody to remember Geras’ last name, or even what letter it starts with (Does anybody remember Geras’ last name? No? Right, there you go), so I’m putting an entry in under “Geras” that says “See Karenasen, Geras Lan.” And so forth. “Lorellan” is a county name, not a family or personal name, so “Lorellan, county of” is one entry, while “Lorellan, lord of” is a different entry, with the two different lords of this county given by last name so that someone can scroll to them.

I’m not putting in EVERY SINGLE NAMED CHARACTER because quite a lot of named characters are entirely unimportant and I absolutely do not have the patience to track all the names down and put them in this list when the character only appeared in passing. Just getting the characters who have more than a line of dialogue is hard enough.

Anyway, not sure what else will happen with the World Companion. I sent the story off to beta readers and I hope they have time to read it. I wrote this story very slowly, with lots of interruptions and distractions, and although I think it is now coherent, I’m not sure. I usually hold a whole novel or a very big chunk of a novel in my head quite well as I write it, so it’s no problem to scroll up and down and fiddle with details and add foreshadowing and so on. I actually feel that I held all of TASMAKAT in my head that way, and it is almost exactly as long as three ordinary novels put together. But it seems to me I still held it all as a whole thing in my head while I was working on it. When I am writing a story too slowly, it turns out this is more difficult, even if the story is short. Short-ish. “Hokino’s Knife” is about 37,000 words right now, just 12% the length of TASMAKAT, and yet there I am, wondering if I might have lost bits of it here and there even when I read it from front to back.

Well, over to beta readers and then we will see.

Meanwhile! I thought you might enjoy these roses, which poured in great abundance over my gazebo last week. Picture this as you stand looking up at the top of a gazebo. I’m sorry I don’t recall the name of this rose, but I can tell you, it was a polyantha hybrid and it was supposedly a shrub rather than a climber. It is, I assure you, a climber.

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5 thoughts on “Update: Finished! Moving on! Yay!”

  1. Quixote is a very handsome boy!
    It’s spelled like quixotic (or the other way around.)

  2. SPOILERS FOR TARASHANA – don’t read this comment if you haven’t read that book

    I love the world of Tuyo. (I haven’t tried anything else yet.) But I do have a rather burning question… you told me in reply to another comment I made on your blog that “mad sorcerers are the worst”. Absolutely agreed. But I’ve found myself wondering…

    Look, Aras definitely isn’t a mad sorcerer, but against his will and all his training, he’s starting to slip. Was Aras ever approached by someone else with the gift/curse of sorcery, someone desperate, someone slightly further down the slipped path, who DIDN’T WANT to be a mad sorcerer? As in, “I don’t want to die but I can’t control it and I can feel it twisting everyone around me, PLEASE help!!!” (Or I guess Tasmakat could also help, but she’d be a bit more difficult to approach than Aras. I don’t think a desperate and slipping sorcerer could make it into the king’s palace without doing something illegal enough to warrant death, and that would very much negate the whole point of trying to see her at all.)

    Anyway. Yeah… that question’s been lurking since Aras started slipping. Although even if this did happen at some point… I’m also not entirely sure that he wouldn’t convince this sorcerer to sleep, and kill him/her gently and fast, like the Ugaro almost did to him.

  3. Rachel Neumeier

    Heather, I don’t know, but this is a fabulous idea and it is now just about certain to happen on the page in some future novel. At that point, maybe we can find out how Aras has handled this situation in the past as well!

  4. Congratulations on finishing the short story! The puppies all have fabulous registered names and beautiful heads.

  5. Ooooooh. I’m really glad you think my idea’s good! Looking forward to finding out what happens!!!

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