A Fast… By Many Definitions

Fast as a noun and fast as an adjective.

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Much like how I started writing “A Light Rises in a Dark World”, Book 2 is now being written during a fast.  I have sworn off gaming for the next month and a half to focus exclusively on book 2.  There is a good chance I’m over half done, and if I can keep up this pace of a chapter every writing day (which is on average 3.5 days a week, plus a week’s vacation this and next month),  and an output between 1500-3000 words, I will be done before Christmas.  It’s getting thrilling, let me tell you that, despite being a lot bigger and harder to produce, it’s been worth it.

What’s also been thrilling is seeing how book 3 which now I’d call 60% written, thanks to how it came into being the first time is going to be much stronger thanks to all of what I learned about my own setting.  The mystery and mystique of the setting has grown.  The complications and politics have really taken on vast new dimensions and I can’t wait to share it with you all!

The last month of writing has been a real struggle, even after a month and a half writer’s block.  I’m so happy to be moving forward and listening to the story the characters have to tell me, which helps when you start trusting your creations.  But I’m past it now, and hopefully nothing but smooth sailing to come.

To help myself when I’ve been feeling stuck I’ve been going to other comfort writers and listening to classic literature on my phone.  “Around the World in 80 Days,” “The Count of Monte Cristo”, I tried to get into the “Gulag Archepelago”, but nope… not there yet.  I’ve also been looking at good fantasy… aka seeing how JRR did things in “The Hobbit”, because some of the concepts bear some similarity of a travel adventure.  I also like to refer to “On Basilisk Station” by David Weber, because I really enjoy how he handles larger casts and for the most part has an excellent narrative style.  So the two have taught me a few things here and there.  Mostly though I want to stick to reading books that are over 50 years… if not 200 years old because it is more toward the voice I enjoy and gives my writing more of a feeling of timeless feeling.

So maybe I’m deluding myself, I dunno, but I’m having fun doing it so… thppt.

Anyhoo… this is what’s been happening.  The new chapters with current names go as follows:

40.  Oaths, Threats & Honor

41. A Racket in the Treetops

42. Placing a Bit in the Mouth of the Wild  (Its new location which fixes a timeline issue)

43. Quid Pro Quo

 

Chapter 38 has been re-titled to “Fracturing the Keystone”.

Current Stats:

Pages 306
Words 98923

I think this is going to break 450 pages and 150k words.  But we shall see.

Oh… by the way…

And in another case of guilt inspired “you haven’t been posting much lately” fun, here’s another teaser from the chapter 18. “Missing Passengers”.  Enjoy!  (As always, it’s the first draft so… don’t worry.  This is like a construction site, and you’re seeing the foundation and rough framing laid.  Beware of random nails.  ;c)

“Solveig?  Mirjam?” she called softly.  “Are you awake?”

No answer came.

She knocked again, louder.

The door to her stateroom opened and the Minister of the Wardrobe peaked out.

“Ah!  Have you seen the Kronadottirs?”  the Visedronning asked.

“No, my Tign.  I have not seen them.”

“Did you check their stateroom when you came on board?”

“Jah, my Tign, directly after making sure everything was in order for yours.  No one was there.”

“Perhaps they arrived after you did.”

“It is possible, but unlikely for I arrived very shortly before you did and did not see them on the pier nor in my inspection of the ship, my Tign.”

The Visedronning frowned, and opened the door to her daughter’s stateroom while knocking.

“Solveig?  Mirjam?”

The room was empty.  In fact, there was no evidence that they had ever been there.  The beds were empty and still made.  She opened the wardrobe and found their clothing still there.

“The wardrobe was empty when I arrived, so I had the servants quickly fill it with any appropriate changes they might need for the cruise, my Tign,” the minister replied before she could even ask the question.  The concern was quickly rising.

“I watched them go to the ship, so they must be on board.  “Oh this must be Mirjam’s idea of a joke,” she said her brow furrowing as the words left her mouth.  It would be just like that girl to play games on an important day like this, but why would Solveig agree to such a prank?  She was never like this before.

“Search the ship.  Quietly and report back to me here.  Do not enlist anyone else.”

“Immediately, my Tign!” the Minister said and vanished.  He did not run, but seemed to glide rapidly down the hall with a poise most women would be jealous of.

The Visedronning sat on the bed and looked around the room.  For now, it was a rest from having to deal with drunken guests she must humor for the moment.  Solveig did look ill after all.  But why were they both missing?  She rose and opened the dressing table’s jewelry box.  Everything was there.  But the cosmetics box was empty.  That was odd.  Her daughters always kept some minor essentials there in case of emergencies.  All of it was gone, but the jewelry stayed behind.

A soft knock was heard on the door and it opened.

“The Minister said you were in here,” Gregor said as he entered in and closed the door without a sound.

“Jah, and I am taking a moment to get away from the throng.”

“I was able to do the same thanks to the message you sent.”

“I did not send one.”

“Then he must have seen the look on my face and provided me an excuse to get away from that sweaty pack of panderers.  I wonder what it is like to have a friend that does not expect to get something from you?”  The Visekonge wondered out loud.  His wife smiled and walked over to him, draped her arms around his shoulders and gave him a quick intimate kiss.

“Well, I want nothing more from you, so you always have me.”

“Ahhh…”  Gregor smiled at her.  “A sated wife is a blessing indeed.”  He embraced her lovingly.

“Why are we in here other than to escape that herd of steaming social animals?”

“Mirjam is playing one of her tricks again.  I swear to you, my Tign, she will be the death of me some day.”

“But where is Solveig then?”

“I have not the faintest.  Dare I even suspect Mirjam finally started enlisting her help in her pranks?”

“Marianne, you know she loves it when you react so strongly.  This time, let us try to ignore what plot she has in mind and make the best of it.  She will come out sooner or later and expect a big fuss over her jest.  If we give it to her, she will have succeeded.”  Gregor soothed.  Mirjam’s pranks were something that always tickled his fancy, but had to keep secret lest his marriage became a lot more combative and his willful daughter turn her cleverness on him and drive him to distraction too.

Marianne sighed at the wisdom of her husband, but inside, she roiled at not punishing her daughter with something appropriate.

“I will try, my love.  Particularly with the politics what they are.”

“That is my little sapphire,” he said and kissed her on the forehead making her smile.

A quickie glossary

Visedronning –  The Vice Queen.  Highest title for a woman in Akiniwazi.  Married to the Visekonge (Vice King).

Kronadottirs – The Crown Daughters.  Aka, princesses.

Tign – Honorific for the Crown Family only.  Means roughly “Lord, Master, Sire”.

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Following the Plan-ts

Writing is sometimes a breeze and others a struggle.  You authors in the crowd get what I mean.  What’s horrifying is when the story wants to flow, but the actual work is hard.  Five chapters into my Middle Build, I’m feeling just that.  The big storyline is now shaped up, the antagonists are well defined, they know their Macguffins, the twists are pre-planned, the betrayals ready to go, the thrills and spills all lined up for their qualifying heats.  I mean it’s just mmm-mmm-tasty!

But the work to lay it out?  Oh man… just shoot me.  I’m still trying to figure out my real methodology, but I’m coming closer to understanding it.  I write much like how I used to run RPGs.  Some light planning up front, decide what events were going to happen whether the PCs had a say in it or not, and then figuratively kick the anthill and see what scurries out.

I’ve kicked the anthill and fireants have come scurrying out making me question my life choices at times.

So I’m basically a “Plantser”  I plan some, start the ball rolling then react, react, react to what the characters tell me they’d do.  Several times, I’ve discovered the characters take an action I never expected, but yet there it is.  I can’t ignore it, because the character WOULD do that.  This now alters the plan somewhat, but the same events are still going to be on course.  For the most part.

I’ve been really stretching myself with seven way conversations.  I mean, how do you write a meeting of many people?  All of whom have something to say because although they are minor players, they need to be there to flesh out the event.  Ensemble writing is tough!  At least in one case, I was able to strip out characters and decide on the four I wanted involved, laid out their positions on the subject and went from there.  The other… Ummm… errr…. Not so much yet.  And they all share the same title, because they’re peers of the Hird.  So the honorifics get them ‘echoes’ started pretty bad.  Hopefully, it will not turn people off too badly, but I got to feeling a lot like this:

But, as slow as it has been going, I’m really happy with the story so far.  My small team of alpha readers has been keeping me on course and the immediate rewrites (yes I’ve had to redo chapters and parts of scenes a few times before moving forward) have been enthusiastic and constantly wanting the next chapter ASAP.  A good sign I’d hope.  May this transfer well to the rest of my readers when it hits the websites.

Not sure when its going to get done yet.  This is a far bigger book than anticipated with the multiple storylines now converging and the final chapters yet to plan out in more detail  (Something that always gets clearer the closer I get to putting fingers to keyboard.), but I’m very optimistic.  Ultimately this will make book 3 in line for a bigger rewrite than I thought.  I wish I could focus more on writing, but lots of distractions going on (mainly job related).  Hopefully I can get some of that to change for the better and clear my mind up from all that stress.  I know I know some people do far faster projects with ten times the distractions, but that’s them and this is me.  We’ll make it work.

That then begs another question.  Should I break up the release into three sections?  I easily could do 3 novellas, then release the novel in hardcover/paperback.  I dunno.  I wanted to do that with book 1 for the ebook too.  Say make it 99 cents for each part (with the first one for free).  How does that grab you all?

So I shall leave you with a little surprise.  Here is an excerpt from the first draft of one of the chapters titled “Bedtime Stories”, so mind the dust and splinters.  It is just the first draft.

Enjoy!

Bedtime Stories

 

“…and without another word, Saint Ragnar slew the evil Draugr, sending the manitou to hell, and saving the village from its evil, forever.  The end.” the Visekonge said, finishing up his son’s bedtime story.  

Compared to the problems of the crown, the nightly ritual for his son was one of his daily joys.  His simple son looked up at him with his bright slanted eyes, his broad moon face glowing and clapped with the end of the triumphant saga.  He always enjoyed the sagas of Saint Ragnar and his fight against the Skaerslinger and the Draugr, and knew when even a single detail had been changed and always reminded his father.

“Pader?  May I have another story?”

“No my son.  No.  It is time for bed, and I must also go.  My crown is busy tonight.”

“Awww,” Olivr whined.

The Visekonge suffered his son’s disapproval in silence with a smile.  The time he spent sitting on the edge of his young son’s bed was one of the few places where he found solace from his troubled kingdom.  Where he could talk about great men who had already solved greater problems than the ones he faced.  The ritual helped center him again and reminded him what it was he loved most.  The petty infighting of the Statsraad was such a terrible drain at times.

“Will you say prayers with me, Pader?”  Olivr asked again.

“Of course,” The Visekonge said, and then began for his son, “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust…”  

Olivr picked up where he trailed off.

“Let me never be ashamed and deliver me in thy righteousness,” The boy continued.  His father raised his eyebrows and mouthed along with him.

“Bow down thine ear to me.  Deliver me speedily and be thou my strong rock, and castle to save me.”  Olivr said smiling at his father’s mock serious faces.

“For thou art my rock and my fortress, therefore for thy namesake, lead me and guide me.  Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me, for Thou art my strength.”  He giggled a moment, before his father’s face got serious again and encouraged.  

“Into thine hands…?”

“Into thine hands, I commit my spirit.  Thou hast redeemed me, Oh Lord, God of Truth,” Olivr continued, refocused on the words.

“Amen,” Gregor whispered.

“Amen,” Olivr agreed.

The Visekonge leaned over and kissed his golden haired boy on the cheek.

“I love you, my son.”

“Love you too, Pader.”  The boy rose up a little to rub his nose against his father’s in a side to side motion.

Pages 197
Words 59188