When THE END is just the beginning

The first draft of the third book in the Gordath Wood series is done. It comes in at around 98,000 words. I’ve left trails of breadcrumbs of things to fix, along with several pages of notes of where I need to massage the text. I’m going to let it rest for a few days before tackling edits, but that’s where it gets tricky — let it go too long and I will lose momentum. Try to edit too soon, and I don’t have enough perspective. You’d think I’d have it down now, but no.

Here’s another tidbit (without giving too much away):

Kate sat down in Lady Terrick’s private office, facing her, Torvan, and Maksin. Her stomach clenched and she tried to stay calm. The little package in her pocket was a guilty lump.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, she said to Lady Terrick. I don’t understand what I did wrong.”
Lady Terrick looked tired and worn out, but she smiled kindly at Kate.
“Kett, child, it’s just that – as a foster daughter of Terrick, you are just as if you were one of our children. And what you do is as important to our family as it is to yours. If Colar–when Colar was in your home, I’m sure your parents were as concerned for his reputation as we are for yours. ”
Oh shit. Samar must have looked in the package. But then, why the hell were Torvan and Maksin here, glowering at her with suspicious triumph? Kate struggled for calm, even as she felt her face redden, just proving her guilt. If only I knew what I’m guilty of.
” Lady Terrick, if I’ve offended anyone or done anything wrong, it was by accident, I promise,” she said, striving to keep her voice from shaking.
” How did you know Yare was to be found at the river?” Maksin growled.      Kate stared at him, confused.
” What? ”
” How could you have known about the river? How did you know Yare would be there? ”
” Thani said that she saw Kate and the young heir come home from a ride, and both of them were quite damp, ” Torvan put in. He threw a glance at Kate and added slyly, “Thani said that the girl’s hair was wet and covered to hide it. She touched her clothes later to make sure, and her outlandish clothes were damp though the girl changed into more modest clothing ever since. ”
Thani had gone into her room and felt her clothes. That bitch. Kate burned with rage. That stupid little bitch. When I am Lady Terrick she’ll be scrubbing floors in the outhouse.
” I couldn’t figure out how the girl could have ridden straight to where those men were, Lady,” Maksin said, back to harping on Kate’s other sin. “She knew about the river, and she must have known the men would be there. She was in league with them, ma’am. That’s the only way she could have known. ”
Torvan threw him an angry look. “She knew about the river because she and the young lord went a-trysting there.”
Kate laughed out loud and brought both hands to her mouth to hold it back. “Lady Terrick,” she said, and for the first time a wobble entered her voice. She focused on Colar’s mother. “Ma’am, you know that’s not true. ”
Lady Terrick lifted a tired hand. “I know, child. Of course. But you see, householders are talking, and no one knows how you found Yare so quickly. As for the other, I suppose that was, well, Colar should have known better, although I wonder at your upbringing, child… ”
” She is bringing down the reputation of this House with her lewdness and unbecoming manners ” Torvan said. ” And just now, where was she? In the pasture with the crow ”
“I helped him walk two of the horses to the village for shoeing,” Kate cried.
” And how did she know the boy was there!” Maksin put in, almost whining.
This time Lady Terrick help up both hands to simmer them all down. “Kett, please tell us. How did you know? ”
Kate felt herself pale. She licked her lips. ” Lady Terrick, it was a guess. I thought of all the places Yare might hide, the swimming hole would be likely. There’s a rope swing, so I knew the kids played there. That’s all. A lucky guess. ”
” A lucky guess,” Torvan sneered.
” Only the soldier’s god gives that kind of luck,” said Maksin.
Lady Terrick pinched the bridge of her nose. “All right. Torvan and Maksin, back to your duties. Kett – please see to Eri. She’s missed you all day and has pined for you. ”
The men stood and bowed, and Kate curtsied, still awkward. As they pushed their way past her, Torvan turned and threw her a malicious glance. When they were gone, Kate tried one more time.
” Ma’am, ” she said, a catch in her voice.
” Go now, child. Eri waits. ”

Into the greenwood

The writing life — sundry and various

Have you been following the brouhaha over the Cooks Source plagiarism case?  Just so everyone is clear on copyright law: just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s public domain. Seems the Cooks Source editor was unclear on the concept.

In other news, work on Kate’s book is coming along nicely. Word count stands at about 86,000 words. I’m in the end game. Plus, I almost know how it’s going to end. At least I have it in broad strokes, but I’ve been surprised before. This is why I don’t understand people who outline everything.  I know that it works for them, and probably they have the same feeling of everything clicking that I do when I wing it, but still — if you know how it’s going to go, why bother writing?

Jim C. Hines, author of several fine fantasies, has a serious blog post about sexual harassment at World Fantasy Con. This is sad and disturbing, because the alleged perpetrator is someone using his power imbalance (he’s an editor) to prey on writers and aspiring writers. This is not someone who is clueless about social mores, as the stereotype of the science fiction community goes. He knows very well what he’s doing, who to victimize, and how to get away with it.

I love science fiction and fantasy, love what I do, and love meeting the smart people who come to science fiction conventions. When a city hosts a big convention, the collective IQ of the metropolitan statistical area rises by at least 20 points for the weekend.

But — it’s also an antiquated, insular, and sexist community, and has been ever since the halcyon days of fandom (either the 1930s through the 1960s, or the age of 12, depending on who you talk to).  Add in the fact that you have a convention that is part social gathering and part professional conference, and you have a chaotic, schizophrenic situation. With LARPing.

I hope that the editor has been made to understand that people are on to his game and he cuts it out. I’d like it better for someone to kick him in the balls, but I’ll take him stopping.

On another note, my sister sent me this article from The Wall Street Journal:

Does Her Face Foretell Her Fate

This beautiful compelling photo, one of the most famous of the photographic work done during the Depression by Walker Evans and others, shows a young girl, age 10, and her determined, open, guileless mien. She clearly made an impression on Evans and you can’t turn away from her gaze from 70 or so years ago. Once again, she reminds me that you can’t make up people as good as the real thing.  Strive for reality and your fantasy will come alive.

Finally, I rode tonight! And jumped! It’s been around a year since I began riding after a very long hiatus. It wasn’t too many months ago that I couldn’t consistently nail a canter depart, to my chagrin (I finally had to go onto Wikipedia and read the instructions. Yes, even though my instructor had been telling me over and over the correct cues, I had to read them before I could get it down. I think we know how I learn things.).

It’s been exciting, and I always come home in a lighter, happier mood. There’s nothing like hanging around with horses to make me happy.

Do what makes you happy!


Gordath Wood Book III

forest pathOne by one Adhar and his brothers turned to look at her as she came up the road to the forge, leading Hotshot, saddled and bridled, her pack of provisions tied tightly behind the compact English saddle and herself dressed for a journey in her sturdy jeans, heavy hiking boots, and long riding cloak, her head bare and her hair braided. It was not the best saddle for a long ride; an Aeritan saddle, which was built more like an American stock saddle, would have been better. The English jumping seat would have to do, though she probably could have bought one with the money she got from Mitain for Allegra. He had been generous – no, she told herself firmly. He had been fair. He would make a ton of money selling Allegra’s foals. It had been hard saying good-bye to the mare, who treated her with her usual disdain, laying back her ears. Allegra hated emotion but Kate had hugged her neck tightly anyway, and the mare put up with it, which for her was an expression of love.

Harder was saying good-bye to the family. She had bowed to Lord and Lady Terrick, giving thanks for their hospitality as coldly as she knew how. She thought at first that they would ask her to stay, would apologize to her, would beg to let them make it up to her. Instead, they merely nodded as if she was a stranger they had given mere traveler’s aid to.

To Aevin she held out her hand and he clasped it, as if they were comrades, and flushed earnestly.

“Be good, Aevin,” she told him. “You are a good soldier – I would want you on my side in any battle.”

He tried to scoff – what girl would he ever be in battle with?– but she could tell he was pleased.

Yare she high-fived, which he loved, and then she caught him for a hug. While he howled and struggled, she tickled him, and when she let him go, he was laughing.

“Stay out of trouble, okay, scamp?”

He stuck his tongue out at her, and as if he couldn’t stand it anymore, he darted off. Well, if he went to ride Allegra, that was Mitain’s problem now.

She faced Erinya last. The little girl hung back by her mother, tears welling. Kate went to her knees and held out her arms, and Eri flung herself at her.

“Don’t go, Kett, please don’t go!” she sobbed. Kate hugged her and shushed her.

“Eri, you are learning how to read, right?” Eri nodded, rubbing snot and tears into Kate’s cloak. “When I get settled, I’ll write to you and tell you everything that is happening to me. It’ll be as if you’re right there. I’ll send my letter so that it comes to Erinya Terrick, at Terrick House, Terrick, Aeritan. It won’t even need a ZIP code, it will fly right to you. And you can write to me, because by then I’ll have my own address too.”

Eri sniffled and looked up at her. “But Kett. You don’t have a House.”

Kate smiled. “Not yet, Eri, but I will.”

The five brothers had prepared for their own journey, their horses more expertly packed. She carried little compared to them, but she squared her shoulders. She had plenty of money to pay her way, not that she was going to tell them that. Not if they were crows. And anyway, you idiot, there’s nothing from stopping them from knocking you on the head the first night. Or…doing other things.

But she didn’t think they would, not even Balafray, strange, frightening Balafray. Not Adhar.

The morning was overcast and the air was wet, threatening a late season snow. The road was thick with mud, and it was already well over Hotshot’s fetlocks. She hoped Eldar’s shoeing would hold.

When she was in the war camp, her very first day, she had asserted her right to exist by walking up to the ostlers and demanding her place at their campfire, sharing their food. With the same bravado, she walked up to the brothers. They turned to look at Adhar and then at her, then Adhar again. He looked her and Hotshot over.

“Good. You packed light.” He threw her two sacks tied in the middle. She caught them with an oof–they were heavy, filled with grain for the horses. She draped them over Hotshot’s withers, securing them to the D rings at the front of the saddle.

That was all that was said. Without a word, they all mounted up and headed down the road, its tall elms slightly dusted with green, away from Terrick and the life she had thought was hers.


Winter came early to Trieve and spring came late. The highland House was deep in the grip of the cold, and drowsed under the darkness and the stars. On clear nights the aurora danced, a flaming crown for the grass god, the god of death and rebirth. Crae never tired of watching it. He saw the aurora rarely in his homeland of Wessen, for it was too far south, and never when he was captain in the forest holding of Red Gold Bridge. Damned forest, he remembered now, wrapped in his cloak and heavy furs, staring up at the sky. Everything so close together, so that a man couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of him for the underbrush.

The Trieve sky was big, the way a sky should be. Here, at the top of the hill that rose up over the house like a protective spirit, Crae could see the headlands of the great river that was still iced over. It threaded its way along to the south, and led to Brythern and to the sea.

crae's view

The wind blew incessantly, sharp and biting despite his wool and fur, and he knew he’d have to go soon. He liked to walk up here when the weather was clear, because the hill gave him the best view of the land. It made it even better when he went back home, back to the warmth of his hearth and to his family.

The cold finally drove him back down the hill, past the cairn of the crow, crusted over with snow and hardly recognizable as anything more than one of the many weathered rocks on the top of the hill. His eyes watered as he made his way down the slick trail, made more difficult by his lame leg. Crae managed with his stick and was sweating by the time he got inside, closing the door to the house behind him with a heave of relief.

Jessamy was sitting at her desk in the great hall, a small fire merrily blazing away, and a pot of vesh steaming at her side. She looked up from her papers as he came in, and he could tell at once something was wrong.

“What is it?” he said sharply, stumping his way over to her.

She threw the papers at him and he caught them one handed against his chest, crumpling them in his haste.

“Favor,” she said sharply. “I’m such a fool, Crae. I should have seen it at once. Terrick is after Favor.”