Coming up for 2022

In case you’re interested:

Here is my schedule of stuff to do during the first half of 2022:

1) Hit publish on Keraunani. I have seen a draft of the cover and expect to approve the final cover soon, probably this week. I will post it here, of course! As soon as a final cover is available, I will hit publish.

I’ve scheduled a sale for Tuyo and the whole series starting January 29, with the main sale going for five days. Keranauni should be up before that sale begins, barely. I will set the price low at first to try to capitalize on the series promotion, so you should all definitely pick it up when it drops. I’ll be putting prices for all the books back up, I don’t know, maybe not till the end of February. I hear the KU boost can last longer if you hold the prices down for a while.

2) Final revision of the Black Dog novellas and, simultaneously, first proofing.

3) Second proofread of the Black Dog novellas.

4) Put the 4th Black Dog collection, plus the paper version that collects III and IV together in one volume, both up for preorder.

5) Final proofread of the Black Dog novellas (this is when a couple of you will get the request to proofread).

Black Dog and that whole series will be on sale starting February 26th, and again, that sale will go for five days. Whether the 4th collection is up for preorder before that sale depends almost entirely on my ability to get the final revisions completed in a timely fashion; eg, preferably in the next few days. But most likely I will have it up for preorder well before that sale begins and set it to publish as the sale starts.

6) Revise Suelen, the Tuyo-world story about the Lau surgeon who goes into the winter country. Send that out to first readers. It’s in good shape right now, so I see no reason I can’t have this done quite soon. Then no doubt further revision, then proofing. I should have the cover in April, so I am thinking of May as the probable publication month.

7) Send Kuomat out to first readers. That should also be very soon, but as above, I expect I will be doing further revision when I get critiques back, and then of course proofing, plus I don’t want to overlap with Suelen, so publication perhaps in June. I better get the cover going here as well to make sure there isn’t a delay for that.

Here is my much more tentative schedule for later in 2022:

I hope I will be working on Invictus well before every item above gets checked off. My tentative goal is to have a draft finished before the end of this semester, which means in May. That is by no means a plan; that’s a goal and a hope. But if I can do that, this one would be finished and out for first readers, clearing the way for me to work on Tasmakat. Depending on how obsessive that one gets, it might not take too direly long to write, but summer is a very good time for me to focus on a demanding project.

After Tasmakat, I will think about Silver Circle.

But also, after Tasmakat, if I haven’t already done so, I will probably take a break.

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Dirge without music

It’s actually more old age to which I’m not resigned, but this is a beautiful poem; thanks to Kim for pointing it out to me.

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.  Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,—
They are gone.  They are gone to feed the roses.  Elegant and curled
Is the blossom.  Fragrant is the blossom.  I know.  But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know.  But I do not approve.  And I am not resigned.

–Edna St Vincent Millay

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Progress Report: What I Did Over Christmas Break

Ah, here we are, now solidly back in the real world after the Christmas Break.

I know, I know, undoubtedly most of you said that way before January 18th. However, as I schedule myself off at the end of the Fall semester and don’t reappear at work until the beginning of the Spring semester, I generally get that whole month off. I cherish this month because as a rule it’s a fantastic writing time for me. That turned out to be true this year as well, despite everything, as one of my coping mechanisms is, yes, to write.

My goal at the beginning of Christmas Break:

a) Get all the Black Dog novellas revised before Christmas Day (except the one that went out for comments really late).

b) Finish something else, some shorter work or maybe that SF novel, Invictus, that’s 80,000 words right now.

I’m glad to say that I made those goals. Those of you who particularly like the Death’s Lady trilogy will be pleased to know that (b) turned out to be the Death’s Lady novella. I’m sure none of you will be surprised to learn that it’s longer than I expected.

I wrote almost 50 pages of this novella really fast after finishing the, um, the first final draft, let us say, of the Death’s Lady trilogy. That was, hmm, let’s just say ten years ago because I don’t remember exactly and ten is a nice round number. Anyway, the obsession with this world wore itself out about then and I quit with that story unfinished. Obviously reworking the Death’s Lady trilogy one more time last year brought this novella back to my attention. The nice comments some of you made about the trilogy also made me want to go on with this story and finish it. So did the awareness that it should be short (shortish) and that I could therefore probably get it finished during Christmas Break.

The hardest part was deciding where to stop: BEFORE revealing who Kuomat is or AFTER making that revelation? Which would require a lot more length plus require me to deal with the aftermath of that revelation in a way that works for this story and also sets up a potential next book. I eventually chose the latter.

So, KUOMAT (not the real title) is from Kuomat’s point of view. Both Jenna and Daniel make appearances, among a lot of other continuing characters, but their on-stage presence is limited and nothing is from their point of view.

The story picks up only a few weeks or a month after the end of the trilogy. As I said, the part I had already sitting here was about 50 pages long. The draft I have now is 238 pages long, so I am a little surprised I got it finished before the end of break, especially as I consider this a finished draft, ready for critique, and then we’ll see whether I cut or expand various scenes.

At this point, nobody but me knows who Kuomat used to be. I’ll be very interested in whether first readers figure this out during the story and if so, when.

Should I later go on with another novel, it will not be from Kuomat’s pov. It will be from Jenna’s and Daniel’s points of view. Kuomat will be important and may well be the central protagonist, but, as with Tenai previously, we won’t ever look inside his head directly.

I do know something about the plot and more about the character arcs of this potential novel, but there is zero chance I will work on any other Death’s Lady story this year. That may never happen and certainly won’t be more than a gleam in my eye for a good while.

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Final (?) Back Cover Copy for Keraunani

I went back to all your suggestions, then revised. So, what do you all think of this:

Esau Karuma never expected to marry — he’s really not the type.

But when he hears about a girl who’s got to get married immediately or else she’ll be crushed under a whole mountain of trouble, Esau doesn’t hesitate to volunteer. He’ll whisk her out of the way of disaster, marry her real quick, get her settled someplace she’ll be comfortable, and that will be that. No reason in the world either of them should be too much of a nuisance to the other.

Given his whole life so far, he should have known that plan might be a little too optimistic …

Also, opinion poll: There are nineteen chapters. All the odd-numbered chapters are “present day” and involve Keraunani. All the even-numbered chapters take place eight years before and involve a variety of other characters and situations that serve to show some of the experiences that made Esau the kind of man he is. I used a slightly different font for the two different narratives.

Normally I don’t do anything at all for chapter names. I just put in a list of numbers, clickable for the ebook and with page numbers for the paper edition, and that’s it. What do you think of putting “current day” and “previously” into the table of contents? Just repeating whichever is appropriate next to each chapter number? Would that be helpful, unnecessary, distracting, something else?

This is a real novel, though not exceptionally long. It’s 365 pp (paper edition) or about 6000 units (ebook, and I have no clue what those units actually represent).

I’ve also included about 15 pages of the beginning of Tasmakat, but, warning! Since that draft is far (far!) from completed, I really do not know whether those pages will in fact comprise the beginning of the final book. On the one hand, I don’t dramatically change the beginning too often, plus I am using the journey back from the winter country for important foreshadowing that would be difficult to include elsewhere, so it would be hard to cut. On the other hand, this is not a guarantee that I won’t change my mind. So, while I hope you enjoy the teaser, it might not be the actual beginning of the real book.

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Thank you All–

For expressing your kind thoughts regarding my father’s passing.

When selecting poems for the past ten days, I encountered several I’d never heard before and found touching and meaningful. I particularly liked “I am Standing Upon the Seashore.” That one truly expressed the feeling I wanted.

For me, though, it’s hard to beat “Crossing the Bar.” Oddly, the stanza that has kept running through my mind through all these days is this one:

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
      Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
      Turns again home.

Something about the rhythm … or the meaning … or both. But whenever I wasn’t thinking about something else, these lines came back to me. They’re still running through my mind today.

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High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

–John Gillespie Magee

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From Hope and Fear Set Free

Here, where the world is quiet;
         Here, where all trouble seems
Dead winds’ and spent waves’ riot
         In doubtful dreams of dreams;
I watch the green field growing
For reaping folk and sowing,
For harvest-time and mowing,
         A sleepy world of streams.

I am tired of tears and laughter,
         And men that laugh and weep;
Of what may come hereafter
         For men that sow to reap:
I am weary of days and hours,
Blown buds of barren flowers,
Desires and dreams and powers
         And everything but sleep.

Here life has death for neighbour,
         And far from eye or ear
Wan waves and wet winds labour,
         Weak ships and spirits steer;
They drive adrift, and whither
They wot not who make thither;
But no such winds blow hither,
         And no such things grow here.

No growth of moor or coppice,
         No heather-flower or vine,
But bloomless buds of poppies,
         Green grapes of Proserpine,
Pale beds of blowing rushes
Where no leaf blooms or blushes
Save this whereout she crushes
         For dead men deadly wine.

Pale, without name or number,
         In fruitless fields of corn,
They bow themselves and slumber
         All night till light is born;
And like a soul belated,
In hell and heaven unmated,
By cloud and mist abated
         Comes out of darkness morn.

Though one were strong as seven,
         He too with death shall dwell,
Nor wake with wings in heaven,
         Nor weep for pains in hell;
Though one were fair as roses,
His beauty clouds and closes;
And well though love reposes,
         In the end it is not well.

Pale, beyond porch and portal,
         Crowned with calm leaves, she stands
Who gathers all things mortal
         With cold immortal hands;
Her languid lips are sweeter
Than love’s who fears to greet her
To men that mix and meet her
         From many times and lands.

She waits for each and other,
         She waits for all men born;
Forgets the earth her mother,
            The life of fruits and corn;
And spring and seed and swallow
Take wing for her and follow
Where summer song rings hollow
         And flowers are put to scorn.

There go the loves that wither,
         The old loves with wearier wings;
And all dead years draw thither,
         And all disastrous things;
Dead dreams of days forsaken,
Blind buds that snows have shaken,
Wild leaves that winds have taken,
         Red strays of ruined springs.

We are not sure of sorrow,
         And joy was never sure;
To-day will die to-morrow;
         Time stoops to no man’s lure;
And love, grown faint and fretful,
With lips but half regretful
Sighs, and with eyes forgetful
         Weeps that no loves endure.

From too much love of living,
         From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
         Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
         Winds somewhere safe to sea.

Then star nor sun shall waken,
         Nor any change of light:
Nor sound of waters shaken,
         Nor any sound or sight:
Nor wintry leaves nor vernal,
Nor days nor things diurnal;
Only the sleep eternal
         In an eternal night.

— Swinburne

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Death, Be Not Proud

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

— John Donne

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Choosing a Title

Here’s a post at Jane Friedman’s blog: Choose the Perfect Title for Your Novel or Memoir: 7 Authors Offer Tips

Oooooh yes, we are all familiar with the traumatic process of choosing a title! Here’s how this post begins:

Heather Young, author of literary murder mysteries, loved her initial titles, but her publisher asked her to change them—a very common experience.

 “I pitched my first novel with the title White Earth, but the marketing department said it sounded like an alien invasion novel,” explained Young. “My agent recommended that I go through the book and find a phrase that leaped out at me. I found ‘once we were light’ and I pitched it, but they said it sounded like a weight loss book. Finally, the publisher suggested The Lost Girl. My contribution was, ‘Let’s make it plural,’ so the title The Lost Girls came by committee, between me, my publisher and the marketers.”

And who knows, maybe the marketing people were correct, but as far as I’m concerned “Once We Were Light” does not sound a bit like a weight-loss book and DOES sound like a great title. It sounds far better to me than “The Lost Girls” — which sounds like mystery or true-crime to me, or actually, no, you know what that sounds like? A take-off on the Lost Boys from Peter Pan! This sounds like some sort of Peter-Pan-adjacent story, maybe a retelling or something! Now that I’ve thought of that, I’m really certain that “Once We Were Light” would have been better.

Anyway, what about the idea of going through the novel and finding a phrase that leaps out at you? That’s not a bad idea.

Another good tip: Once you settle on a title, go back and fit that title into your novel. In this post, one author describes adding a stanza of poetry to one or two scenes in her novel in order to justify a phrase from that poem as the title. That’s a good idea. I retrofitted a line into The Mountain of Kept Memory in much the same way — I added the phrase “kept memory” into the book occasionally, and at least once “the mountain of kept memory,” after coming up with the title, not before.

But I created that title … let me see if I can remember … there was a post about coming up with titles, but alas, I can’t remember and now I can’t find it. After all, there are a zillion posts on this topic. It was about picking evocative words … no, I really can’t remember, sorry.

Mostly, when it comes to fantasy novels, everyone seems to default to The Noun of the Noun or the Adjective Noun. Or else to the name of the main character. Certainly I’ve done both. That can work perfectly well.

Here’s another post about creating titles: Book Titles Made Easy(-ish). That’s certainly a good title for the post! Made me click through. Let’s take a look at the advice offered here …

… Ah, the power of one! One-word titles, she means. Often that does work well. She’s thinking about books other than fantasy, but it doesn’t matter, one-word titles still work well. A single word can be powerful. She points to a book called Blink, which immediately makes me think Don’t Even Blink, which would actually be a great title, as long as you wanted to evoke that specific Dr Who episode as well as suggest something about your novel.

Also, one-word titles are easy to remember, which is no small advantage.

Oh, here’s an interesting suggestion — verbing your title. That is, starting the title with a verb. Bury the Chains. Finding Narnia. It’s never occurred to me to use a verb like that.

Her last suggestion: Numbers. Well, maybe, BUT, I strongly recommend against titles like 2312. I can NEVER remember that particular number. I had to look it up just now. I always have to look it up. It’s also just … what is the term for the opposite of evocative? Meaningless? That’s not quite what I want, because of course the title does convey meaning. But in an important sense, that title just sits there, doing nothing.

Or maybe that’s me. What do you all think of 2312 as a title?

My personal favorite book titles … let me see …

Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandi Nelson — and while I didn’t care for the first book on this list and haven’t read the others, this is a beautiful book about grief and recovery. Contemporary. Here, let me link it for you — there. I don’t believe I’ve ever reviewed it; I don’t seem to find a review when I poke around. Well, it’s lovely and I highly recommend it, but it is about grief and recovery, so you need to have a box of tissues handy.

If you’ve got a favorite title, drop it in the comments! You needn’t like the book or have read the book, this is just about titles.

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Just Round the Corner

Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.

Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.

All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

— Henry Scott Holland

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