Update: Progress! In an Unexpected Direction!

Okay, so as you know, I finished MARAG earlier this month (yes, it was even faster than TANO; yes, it sets a new record for me) and sent it off to beta readers this past Wednesday.

Last Thursday was a wicked, evil day in which I drove to St L and back in the rain, in rush hour, with an important set of stoplights blinking red and no way to completely avoid the problem, apparently, as Waze only detoured me around part of the resultant traffic jam. The whole last hour of the drive home was dark as well as rainy. Oh, I guess I should add, I was taking Morgan to the ophthalmologist for an eye check and she was fine, so I mean, the day wasn’t totally without redeeming features. But we got home way after our proper dinner time and if Morgan wasn’t as grumpy as I was, I don’t know why not.

Friday, I read part of a book I’m beta reading, including the very fun action climax. But I also felt weird because MARAG was out of my hands and I felt strange not working on something. I don’t want to start RIHASI until I’m prepared to be serious about it. I trust this will happen in February, when I’m down to proofing MARAG, but I don’t want to point my attention in that direction right now.

So I thought, you know what, I think I’ll write the first chapter of UNTITLED: TANO II. I’ve had that chapter in my head practically forever, and it’s in a familiar voice, and it’ll be fun, and I can write one chapter and set it aside, which works very well for me a lot of the time, by the way. I wrote the first bit of MARAG about a year ago.

So I opened my laptop and gazed thoughtfully at a blank Word document for about ten minutes (this is a long time for me). I typed one sentence and gazed at the screen some more, and finally thought, maybe I should start with a brief, active scene that presents a problem and lets Tano show off a little. I mean, a scene that reminds readers that Tano is insecure, but in a crisis, he thinks and moves very, very fast. Of course he has taken a big step up as far as the insecurity goes, that was the the point of TANO, but this story opens right after TASMAKAT closes, so it hasn’t been that long and he is still struggling somewhat because getting through something like that is obviously going to take time. And yes, at first I meant to jump ahead ten years and start when he’d really found his feet, but I didn’t wind up doing that, so here he is, this is Tano pretty much as he’s shown in “Returning Hokino’s Knife.”

So I mused for a bit about what kind of brief, short, quick, unimportant scene I might start with and then I wrote a wholly unexpected first chapter of about 10,000 words, thus bringing back a couple of characters we haven’t seen for a while (and that I didn’t expect to see here), plus introducing a couple of characters who I think might turn out to be important secondary characters for UNTITLED: TANO II.

That was Saturday.

On Sunday, I finally wrote the chapter I had in mind at the beginning. This is a very intense conversation that sets up the broad situation and also incidentally clears a whole lot of important characters out of the way, giving them things to do elsewhere, so that Tano can take center stage for the journey back to the starlit lands and eventually to the sunless sea. This was another 10,000 words. What can I say? It was an unexpectedly immersive weekend.

Until I wrote the first chapter, I thought most likely I would skip through the entire journey from the river to the mountains by saying, in effect, “Sixty days later, we finally came to the roots of the great northern mountains.” But … now I have these neat new characters. I mean, I don’t have to bring them into the main story. They could stay just in the first chapter. But they’re right there! And I’m chuckling about how they’d interact with Tano and Raga and everyone! And I can see potential for bringing back some characters we meet in MARAG, and then those characters will need to be established properly as well.

So we’ll see. Depending on which characters move forward, we may see at least a little of that journey. I realize we’ve seen the winter country already. I would have to handle this journey in a way that prevents readers from getting bored with that. I definitely wouldn’t want to spent the whole book in the winter country! Lots to do in the starlit lands! I barely know anything about that part, but I’m sure there will be a lot to do!

The next scenes I have very clear in my mind are almost certain to take place in the subsequent book. I mean, it depends on how fast this story moves, but it would be pretty remarkable if it moves fast enough to get to the part where a Saa’arii becomes an important character.

Oh, I know more about the Saa’arii now! Not a lot, but something! And more about the Tarashana, too, though again, not a lot.

However, I don’t think I’ll tell you anything about Saa’arii castes or Tarashana pronouns just yet. Instead, let me show you the first paragraphs of UNTITLED: TANO II.

***

Raga spoke darau almost as well as I did, but he did not understand Lau as well as he spoke their tongue. The problem came from that.

Also, many Lau think they understand Ugaro better than they truly understand us. They are especially likely to make this mistake if one of our people speaks to them in their own language. The problem definitely came from that.

***

There you go. Then we have a few paragraphs of setup, and then the problem occurs and Tano steps up without even thinking about it. I sort of hope I will actually write this book in time to release it this year. RIHASI first, though. And the last part of SILVER CIRCLE. And at least part of a NO FOREIGN SKY sequel.

I would order a cover for Tano’s new book right now, though, if I had the faintest idea what the title was going to be. Maybe I should pick a word and make that word important later. That’s actually a pretty keen idea; maybe that’s exactly what I’ll do.

Meanwhile! The first couple of early readers have already gotten back to me about MARAG, and while there will be a bit of revision — as always, I’m startled by how I missed some very obvious weaknesses — I do think this will be something I can do quickly. I will probably do a fast round of revision in the next few days, then make a print proofing copy for my mother to read and tell the artist how many pages I think the paperback will be and start proofing seriously, on the theory that I probably won’t be doing so much more revision that the page number changes dramatically.

My best guess is, I will probably be putting the preorder for MARAG up on Amazon for April 2, on the theory that I should be able to drop an epub at my Patreon at least two weeks before that, probably more. If everything happens later that that, I hope it won’t be much later. I also hope I will make that decision by this time next week, but a couple things in my life might still interfere, so we’ll see.

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