Time for a new weekly writer’s roundup of my works-in-progress and those ready to read!
I finished the first draft of The Old Man of the Elder Trees on Saturday morning. Huzzah! Weighing in at seventy-eight hundred words, it gave me the hardest time as I tried to craft its ending. Right up until the last pages, I had planned to end the story in a different style than I did: I wanted to say a little more and give an epilogue of sorts. However, that plan just wasn’t working and the rhythm of the story needed a quicker wrap-up. That didn’t stop me from trying to shoe-horn what I wanted, however… and getting frustrated when it didn’t work.
Finally, I listened to my instincts and ended the story where it needed to end. The other stuff I plotted out wasn’t so much a better ending, but an opening of a door to further adventures with the characters. And that’s fine: I think that readers will want more of these characters! But I need to use my additional ideas to open a new story, and not close this one. As soon as I made peace with that, things moved right along.
And I’m glad I did it that way, because initial feedback from its first alpha-read was glowing. It seems like I hit all the folkloric and fairy-tale notes I was aiming for without any structural problems. The characters all have good, distinct voices, and the plot and action rolls right along with a lot of excitement. My reader actually made a point of saying how the story ended on the perfect note… without prior knowledge of my struggles with it. That felt very vindicating! :-)
I’ve worked in edits from their feedback and sent the draft to my second trusted alpha reader. I hope she likes it as much as the first one did!
Okay, announcement time! :-D
This Saturday I will post the first chapter of A Contract in Azure and Indigo on Aethereal Engines! For those of you that follow my blog regularly, you’ve probably seen me talking about this story previously and may even be curious about it. ;-) Contract has four chapters in total, and like The Brynesmark, I’ll be posting one a week in serial installments until it has finished its run.
Although set in the same world of Burus as Brynesmark, its heroes and villains aren’t your typical fantasy archetypes. Far from being wizards or warriors, they’re regular folks whose concerns over the farm outweigh those over monsters. But the world, and magic, has a way of intruding sometimes… Until what begins with an air of mystery reaches a moment of choice. A choice that, once made, insures nothing will be the same again.
Here is an excerpt of the first page. :-)
Ama pushed a lock of grey hair into her prim bun. “Any sign of him yet, Bean?”
The young man working in her cottage yard stood straight, wiping sweat from his brow with thick, callused fingers. “No, Mame Ama. He isn’t there… just like the ten times before.”
She flapped the apron at her waist and dispersed the chickens before her, tired eyes still focused on the lonely road. “I’m sorry, Bean… This whole affair must have me more flustered than I’ve realized.”
Bean watched the tall and lanky woman turn her attention back to the hens, then finish shooing them away from the troughs alongside the cottage. “You, of all people, needn’t apologize to me today, Mame Ama!”
Ama nodded squatting down to collect the exposed eggs in the straw. “A fair point, Bean… But I know it weighs heavy upon you too.”
The stout young man shook his head and looked down to the uncut pile of wood to his side.
Ama finished collecting the eggs into the basin her apron and ankle-length skirt formed between long thighs. She rose and winced, then straightened herself slowly.
Raising his hatchet, Bean split a log. “I should try my hand at building you a rope-bed, Mame. I bet it’s far gentler than your mattress alone.”
“That’s very kind of you, but what I have is better than the table I was used to,” Ama said in a voice that retained a young sweetness while her pained expression faded. “Let’s see how I feel about the idea after everything is concluded… Or, if I… still feel anything at all.”
Bean looked up sad-eyed, having tossed the split log into the pile of cut wood to his right. Watching Ama stride with practical grace, her worn hands then gently transferred the eggs from a gathered apron into a small basket sitting on the trough.
Alright, time for me to stop blogging and get back to writing some more fiction! Take care!