Crawling to Victory

I have about 23,000 words at NaNo, it says here. That’s neither true nor false. What I have is about 75,000 words written on A Child of Great Promise. Of that, maybe 15% is notes and alternate takes on a scene–stuff, iow, that will be thrown out. Another 15% will need heavy editing, mainly for continuity. For example, a number of scenes aren’t going to take place *there* involving *those* people, but will take place *here* involving *these* people. Same scene, but the dialog will have to change, setting descriptions, all of it.

So, how do I translate this activity into NaNo’s paradigm of how many words did you write today. The answer is, I don’t. I’m just plugging in a number. If it’s a day where I’m writing new stuff, I’ll get a word count on that. But if it’s a day when I’m doing that heavy editing, I take the full count of the chapter and call it good. And where it’s light editing, I really do just invent a number.

This round of NaNo is really about keeping my tender nose to the whirling grindstone of time. My task is really about getting chapters to the point where I can present them to an editor. Some of those will involve much writing; others, not so much. Any way you figure it, come November 30, I’ll be done.

To be sure of hitting the target, just shoot. Whatever you hit, call that the target.

New reviews at Amazon

The reviews continue to trickle in! It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality, right? That’s what it says here in the Guide to Feeling Good About Reviews. Page 19.

I’m delighted by the positive reviews and grateful for their thoughtfulness. Now it’s time to get back to A Child of Great Promise.

Origin: Carrotfinger Man

Where do you get your ideas? From history, of course!

This story has a specific origin: the Carrotfinger Man is a figure from legend. While I was still in graduate school, I read a book by Eugen Weber entitled Peasants Into Frenchmen. It’s a marvelous book with rich material for the historical novelist. Its subject is the transformation of France from a place with a wide diversity of local communities into a single nation. This transformation did not happen, as is so often presented, as part of the “rise of the nation-state” in the 17th and 18th centuries, but occurred in the 19th century as a result of economic shifts and was not completed until the crisis of the First World War. I recommend the read to anyone interested in the period, but that’s not why we’re here.

We’re here for the monster.

Somewhere in those pages (my copy of the book disappeared ages ago), Weber tells the story of a Breton legend. Brittany is up in the northwest corner of France and has always been quite separate from the rest of the country. Its people are Celtic and for a very long time they spoke an entirely different language from French. One of the points Weber makes is how scary the world was beyond the confines of the village, and this legend is but one of many told at the time (19th century).

If you were out walking at night in the empty lands between villages, and you came to a bridge, you must be wary, for a monstrous creature roamed. He was tall and thin, with long arms and long fingers and toes. These were in the shape of carrots, though he was strong and quick, and he would drag away the lone wanderer, to throttle and eat them.

It was only a few lines in the book, just one of numerous examples Weber supplies, but it stuck. The Carrotfinger Man stood there at the back of my mind, long arms folded, waiting for me to tell his story. Finally, in 2016, I did, just to make the guy go away. I had no plot, just the core idea of someone encountering the Carrotfinger Man, and that it must take place in Bretagne (Brittany).

Then came the dwarves.

I used two because I wanted opportunity for dialog. I used dwarves because I had not yet written a story with dwarves in it. It was a happy selection because the story takes place in a forest and that’s not the natural habitat for dwarves, so this gave me a reason for them to be on the move. By making them blade smiths, they could have weapons with them.

Then came the pixies.

I don’t quite remember how the idea arrived, but as soon as I thought of them, I knew they had to be in the story. I could foreshadow the monster while providing some comic relief. Interplay between fright and funny is often a good choice. To make their creation tall enough, they had to be three in number, which gave more opportunity for dialog.

Then came the monster.

Weber didn’t give me much, which I suppose is a good thing. Its physical attributes and behaviors are largely my own, aimed mainly at creating a decent sense of horror. The reader will judge my success at that. I knew I didn’t want it to speak.

That’s all there is to it. The rest is just the dreary, difficult work of writing. I hope you enjoy(ed) it!


How to Cross a River

I have an article published at Mythic Scribes entitled “How to Cross a River.” Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

This is the first in a series I’ll be publishing at Mythic Scribes, appearing roughly every other month. Each article provides some historical background for writers (and readers) of fantasy.

This one talks about the pragmatic considerations of getting across a river–on foot, on horseback, or by wagon. It’s trickier than you might think.

Have a look and leave a comment at the end of the article. I’d love to hear from you!



Of Goblins and Gates

The novel is published. It’s been finished for a couple of months, but a dozen other things had to happen first and they have all finally happened. Goblins at the Gates is officially for sale.

Which means I can return to A Child of Great Promise. I’m about 50k into that one, wrestling with what Jim Butcher calls the Great Swampy Middle.


Boise Book Fest

I’ll be at the third annual Boise Book Fest this Saturday. It’s an all-day event, so come early and stay late! Author panels in the morning, workshops in the afternoon, socializing in the evening. I could not get Goblins ready in time, but if you see me there, say hi!


Boise Book Fest




Site makeover!

A completely new design for Altearth, with new content as well. Have a look around, folks.