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Month: February 2016

Rabbit (um, marmot) stew

Posted in Mistress of Animals, Research, and The Chained Adept

Bort -- thin strips of meat drying at the top of the yurt.
Borts — thin strips of meat drying at the top of the yurt.

You never know what you might find when you do research.

It's a cliché in fantasies that characters tend to go off into the woods and live off rabbits (one of the four food groups in FantasyLand™, namely — bread, cheese, stew, and rabbit).

Much of the culture of Zannib, in the Chained Adept series, has analogue roots in the culture of Mongolia (with some rather significant differences, such as wizards). So when it's time for me to lovingly dwell on some particular activity, I start by looking at Mongolia to see what they might have to say about it.

Right now, in Mistress of Animals, our heroes and their friends/enemies are traveling and about to be snowed in by a blizzard, and two of them have just come back to camp from a hunt for fresh meat. Antelope and marmot suggested themselves as appropriate catches, and now we have to butcher and cook them, preserving what meat we can.

Well, I know how an animal is butchered, but I thought I'd just look to see what the Mongolians do with meat preservation. In particular, I was wondering how they dry thin strips of it under shelter in wet weather while traveling, since that can take several days.

Read More Rabbit (um, marmot) stew

Maps are your friend

Posted in Artwork, Mistress of Animals, Plot, Setting, and The Chained Adept

One hemisphere of the world of the Chained Adept
One hemisphere of the world of the Chained Adept

There's nothing like a good map to keep you honest as you tell your story.

When you want to know if someone can ride from point A to B in one long day, without being mounted on SuperHorse™, then you need to know how close those two points are, and how much terrain a horse can cover in a day.

If you want to create a caravan that will make a regular circuit of more than a thousand miles of territory, better work on your mileage-per-day/days-per-market/days-lost-to-maintenance tables. Not to mention your fodder/grain/grazing capacities on the route vs the needs of the freight-carrying animals.

National or sub-national boundaries typically feature mountains or water hazards, not arbitrary straight lines (the mid-Western and Mountain states of the United States not withstanding).

Now, most of us use scraps of paper with just the bare minimum of information and illegible commentary, but I am cursed with the desire for reusability and just enough computer obsessiveness to want to make a “real” map, with real landscapes, for my fantasy series.

Besides, I can't draw worth a damn anyway, so it might as well be computer-generated.

Read More Maps are your friend

Mistress of Animals – the beginnings

Posted in Mistress of Animals, and The Chained Adept

book-sculpture-guy-laramee-1
Building imaginary worlds in books

In the past, when I finished a book, it usually took me a couple of weeks to finish all the revisions, proofread, format, and distribute it, along with all the initial announcements.

It happened this time, too, for The Chained Adept, but the difference was, I kept right on at the same time with my daily writing for the next book, Mistress of Animals, the second book in the Chained Adept series.

You see, I like to include the first chapter of the next book in the back of the prior book, and I can only do that if I've written that first chapter, and that means that I need a title, and a good idea about the plot, and so forth. So, when I got my obligatory first chapter done I just… kept on going, instead of stuttering to a stop to focus on the release. Write in the morning, other stuff afterwards.

All of a sudden, I've got a quarter of the next book done, even though the last was just released this week. I like doing things that way.

I'm even ahead of my cover artist, but he's already sent me his first conceptual sketch (approved!) and I can't wait to see what's next. Of course, this only works because I've already written the scene that became the obvious choice for the cover. At the moment I'm on track to get this one done in two to three months (keeping my fingers crossed), so he still has enough time for his part.

Keeping the plot a secret
Keeping the plot a secret

My fastest book so far (The Ways of Winter) took less than two months for 360 pages, and I'm still happy with it. Don't know quite how I did it, but I'm working on making that lightning strike again.

Can't talk too much about the plot, yet, lest I give some things away. You'll have to wait a little while for that.

Need more fuel

Posted in A Writer's Desk, and Plot

So, it's like this, see…

There's this scene that has to be written next, and you kinda know how it's gonna work. This person's gonna do this thing, and that other person, he's gonna do that thing, and then someone's gonna find the whatsis and then…

So you go to sleep on it and your good old subconscious cranks away and, wouldja believe it… when you wake up, the scene in your head's got all sorts a details it didn't have before.

So you write it all down, and it's all good, and you reread it, and you're happy.

And then you look at the word count. One scene, not even a thousand words. And your daily goal is a thousand, hell, two thousand or three sometimes. So you need at least another scene, maybe two, even. And you're all outta puff.

So whaddaya gonna do? Go take another nap and get some more material?

Richard Dadd - the Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke (detail)
Richard Dadd – the Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke (detail)

The Chained Adept has been released

Posted in Fantasy, Release, and The Chained Adept

The Chained Adept - Full Front Cover - 297x459
A STRONG WIZARD WITH UNANSWERED QUESTIONS AND A CHAIN AROUND HER NECK.

Penrys’s past is unknown, but she’s got a better grip on her future: find out where she came from, discover what happened to her, and figure out how the unremovable chain around her neck makes her different from other wizards.

What any of this has to do with the renewal of an ugly war between neighboring countries, half a world away, is just something she’ll have to sort out, along with the rumors of wizards where they don’t belong.

Assuming, of course, that no one removes her as a threat before she can find her footing.

All she wants is a firm foundation for the rest of her life, with a side helping of retribution, and if she has to fix things along the way, well, so be it.

Order direct from the author, or see the publisher for retail sites.