Visit Homepage
Skip to content

HollowLands Posts

Cutting a Christmas Tree (among the fae)

Posted in The Hounds of Annwn, and The Ways of Winter

Just in time for the holidays, here's an excerpt from The Ways of Winter (due for release in January).

For those of you who haven't read the first adventure in the Hounds of Annwn series (To Carry the Horn), our hero George has moved to the fae otherworld overlaid on his human home in the Virginia Piedmont. Newly married, he wants to start a Xmas tree tradition for his new family. There's just one problem: the fae aren't Christians and they have no idea what he's doing. Nor do the smaller folk, the lutins and korrigans.

No matter. It's a nice snowy day and everyone's delighted to go have a good time.


George mounted the sledge behind the manor and picked up the long reins looped around the pole on the front boards, waist high, standing with his legs braced. There were three or four inches of snow under the runners even here in front of the stables, and he gave an experimental cluck to the two heavy draft horses to see what they made of the weight and the whole contraption. They leaned forward into the harness and easily moved it a few feet before George stopped them again.

The head groom who’d found the old stone boat for him nodded with satisfaction. “I think this’ll do fine, sir. With the snow under it, they should have no difficulty bringing that a couple of miles, even if you carry a person or two. Folk don’t weigh like stones, after all.”

He’d spent much of the morning after the hound walking trying to arrange a means of transport for getting to the nearby woods for his tree. This sledge, a bit larger than a single bed, would carry his tools and the small barrel end he would use for the tree itself, with the tree in it on the way back. In the deep snow, the runners reduced the friction and made it easier to draw.

The word had spread at lunch, and he’d found a couple dozen people mounted and loitering when he’d emerged, asking to come along for a break from staying indoors. It wasn’t a complete surprise since he’d invited several of them himself, but at the sight of so many, he ducked back into the manor and begged a large sack of apples from one of the cooks. He’d carry that out in the barrel end.

After his experiment with the full harness, he looped the reins around the pole and stepped down to face the gathering.

“Glad to see you all. I’m just headed to the woods to bring back a tree for the winter solstice, but I thought we could make a party of it since the snow has eased off again. We’ll be going down to the manor gates, then up the nearby slope to the edge of the woods, maybe a total of a mile and a half each way.

“The snow’s too deep for walking, but the distance is short enough that you could ride double with some of the kids, maybe. I can take a couple of the small folk, but it could be dangerous without side rails. I don’t want to try it with children. And coming back, with a tree, it’ll get crowded.

“So, sort yourselves out. Who wants to come with me?”

The local folk, all mounted, stood off to the side. Eurig and Brynach were joking with each other, their cheeks already red in the cold, and Rhian joined them. Ceridwen had introduced him to her colleague Eluned at lunch, and the two women were sitting together astride their horses, well-wrapped against the chill.

Benitoe had persuaded Maëlys to come, mounted. George overheard him explaining that her pony could hardly run away in such deep snow. Kennel-man Tanguy had fetched Armelle, his betrothed, and now the two lutins came forward to join George on the sledge, neither one having learned to ride.

Only Broch and Tiernoc among the korrigans came along, on their ponies, but Cydifor and many of the other traveling fae had decided that this promised some fun, especially for the kids. The older children were mounted, and a few younger ones sat in front of a parent, wide-eyed.

George looked over the group and nodded. Before he turned to step up to the stone boat again, he caught sight of Cadugan walking by with Ifor, headed to a meeting with Gwyn. Cadugan was shaking his head at the spectacle, but smiling, too.

Nearing the end of The Ways of Winter

Posted in Plot, Production, and The Ways of Winter

I can hardly believe it but I'm almost there.

The first book in the series took from mid-April to early-September to complete, and then I spent a good bit of time on the learning curve of how to publish to 9 primary channels, which distribute to 36 retail channels, in 3 formats of ebook, and of course the trade paperback edition. I've only just started the process of contacting 700 independent bookstores, to add a few dozen (hopefully) to my list of local bookstores who've been kind enough to carry it.

I started the new book in early October, just as I officially released the first one. I was looking forward, in a somewhat leisurely fashion, to being much more efficient this time around in producing the versions for distribution, but I'm going to find out in a hurry, because this puppy is likely to be released in the first week or two of January.

First draft: Will complete this week. Total: 2 months. I'm stunned. (Keep in mind, I have a day job.) Heck, the editorial reviews for the first book are still drifting in, and will be for a month or more. My first drafts are near-final, so I expect to wrap this up with lots of polishing and proofreading roundabout Xmas. Give myself a week or two to format it into the editions, and off it will go.

I blame the 10-hour drive (each way) I did as I started the plot work, giving me uninterrupted time to really chew over the basic plot. Hurricane Sandy helped, too — a day without power let me concentrate on finishing the more detailed plot outline for the middle just when I needed to.

Won't be like this for the next book, though. That one will be longer and more complicated. I'm just chewing over the plot ideas now, but I can tell you one thing: much of it will take place in Gwyn ap Nudd's father's court, in the old world.

If you haven't finished reading your copy of To Carry the Horn yet, better hurry up! You wouldn't want me to write them faster than you can read them, would you?

Stay Tuned — There's a scene in The Ways of Winter that I'll post as a Xmas story. Our hero wants to cut himself a Christmas Tree, but no one in the fae otherworld has any idea what he's talking about.

I met my reader today

Posted in Readers

What I mean is, I met an embodiment of the person for whom my books are written.

Oh, I've followed the advice of other authors who say to make up a person of a certain demographic and set of opinions, the better to target a marketing message at. That never worked very well for me as a concept.

My reader was excited to spend time with an author, in depth, discussing a book not yet read. We ranged all over the conceptual landscape discovering common opinions about how a plot should work, how worlds should be built, how characters should be, what makes a hero. We were someplace where we had the time to do that.

The whole time, I was at least as excited to meet the sort of person with whom my kind of story connects, to feel our mutual enthusiasm.

THAT'S why I'm writing, not just because I can.

Ah, the wonders of fiction

Posted in Characters, Heroes, The Hounds of Annwn, The Ways of Winter, and Works

This morning I got up at 6:15 to do my daily writing. I reflected, as I sat down at my keyboard, on what a wonderful thing fiction was, that I had gotten up early out of a warm bed (and ultimately missed foxhunting later that morning) to write a scene from the point of view of a fifty thousand year old rock elemental, because she had opinions worth hearing about regarding the plot twists of the current book.

Anywhere else, they'd lock you up for that.

The trade paperback version is now available

Posted in Publishing, Release, The Hounds of Annwn, To Carry the Horn, and Works

I'm happy to announce that To Carry the Horn is now available in paperback. See the link to order.

I'm still having difficulty with Google Play and may have to give up on that channel even if I finally get it working properly, because I understand that their propensity to discount ebooks arbitrarily may trigger the same behavior from Amazon to match the price, and I can't have a book seller making that decision for me; discounting needs to be my decision..

To Carry the Horn – available to buy

Posted in Publishing, and Release

You can now buy the Kindle version of To Carry the Horn on Amazon, and the other retailers will clock in as soon as they approve the uploaded files. Got my first customer already! Thank you very much, whoever you are.

UPDATED – I'm live on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, too. The proof of the trade paperback version arrived yesterday, so as soon as the Library of Congress gets its act together and sends me the CIP (Cataloging in Publication) data for the copyright page, that should become available in about two weeks.

Also got my first review, from a stranger, on Smashwords. 5 stars from a satisfied reader! Whoo-hoo!

To Carry the Horn (excerpt) – Chapter 1

Posted in The Hounds of Annwn, To Carry the Horn, and Works

ToCarryTheHorn - Full Front Cover Widget

CHAPTER 1

Prologue
I did it! He’s finally gone, dead, finished. A few snicks and snecks, and there he was on the ground, wasn’t he, throat twitching. And they just stood around, didn’t they, deluded like fools by the spell, that wonderful spell he gave me, he was right about it, all those hounds and nothing they could do.

The mighty prince. Ha. One less for you. I remember how he helped you hold him down before you cut him open…

Hush, hush, no, don’t think about that.