Post-It Note

For those not on the Reader’s List*, and just so you know, First in the Laws of Power Series,The Long Look, is having a special for the next five days, wherein it is completely free. This should be the case for all markets, but my login doesn’t let me verify whether it’s set properly for the UK, Canada, and Elsewhere. It should be, and I’ve queried Amazon to check.

For those who already own the book, I’ll try to make it up to you somehow. Probably by finally finishing the last book in the series as soon as possible.

*What I’m calling the mail list, because it’s what I’m hoping is a more accurate description of its intent and function…and if you’re not on it, why not?

Oh, So THAT’S Why…

I think some people believe the hardest part of writing a novel (or, come to that a short story) is figuring out what happens.

Hah.

Well, to be fair I can only speak from my own experience. I generally know what happens, as in, I know the end, and sometimes I know it before I’ve written the first paragraph. I know the events as they unfold, even if I couldn’t write a plot outline to save my life. I even start writing scenes from the end in my head before I’m anywhere near the end. Now, true, I don’t usually know how to get there. Figuring that out is the hard grunt work of actually writing the book.

However…

There’s a point of progress even more crucial than knowing WHAT or HOW. I have to know WHY.

Why is essential . Knowing ‘why’ informs everything I write in the book from there on. More, it explains to me how what I’ve already written fits into the WHY. And if, for some reason, the previous material doesn’t fit into the why, it has to go, and time to start over. Fortunately, for me that rarely happens. It usually seems that my subconscious is smarter than I am and has already figured out WHY and is only waiting for me to catch up. Good thing, too, otherwise I’d write even slower than I do already.

I was reminded of this in a scene I just finished for The Seventh Law of Power. I already knew the How and What. Now I finally know Why.

Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January

The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow, Hachette Book Group, 2019.

January Scaller is a young girl living in the mansion of the insanely wealthy William Cornelius Locke, a mansion packed with valuable collectables from all over the world…and some that apparently don’t belong in this one.  Her father, Julian, is an employee of Mr. Locke charged with traveling the world in search of said wondrous objects, so he isn’t home very much. Sometimes Mr. Locke has to travel himself, and sometimes he takes January with him as a treat or distraction.

On one such trip, January finds a doorway between worlds. So much for plot summary, because what happens doesn’t actually tell you what’s happening. That’s a separate issue altogether. Suffice to say there are more doors where that one came from and January’s discovery of them leads into all kinds of trouble, and not just for her.

I picked this one up on the recommendation of people whose taste and judgment I trust. I’m also a sucker for portal fantasies, probably ever since I came across George R.R. Martin’s “The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr” in Fantastic Stories years ago. This is one of the best ones I’ve ever read. From the first page I knew I was in for a treat, for it was clear the author was a person in love with language, specifically language in the service of story. A sentence might be as long as it needs to be, and sometimes it may be convoluted, but it’s never clumsy. A sort of wordy precision which is almost but not quite a contradiction in terms, and so rare to find.

I don’t think I’m giving too much away to note that January isn’t quite what she seems, but then neither are most of the rest of Harrow’s cast. Of course their secrets are tied to the existence of the doors and the astute reader will winkle most of it out before book’s end, and that’s half the fun. There are elements that wouldn’t be out of place in a horror novel, but this isn’t one. There’s contemplation of the nature of story itself and its role in the world. Not to mention one adventure after another, which are all part of the same adventure: growing up, and self discovery.

Recommended. Heartily.

Monday After Monday After Morning After

Is it the End of the World as We Know it? Do we feel fine?

I can’t say I do. This whole year has been a dumpster fire that just will not go out. Most of it preventable, or at least the embers tamped down. Yet the people in charge can’t do anything and the people who could aren’t in charge. Sort of a perfect storm of SNAFU. I don’t feel fine. But I’m enduring, which feels like a win.

 

When the book’s finished I’ll likely put together some kind of price promotion for the first in the series, The Long Look. In the meantime, here’s a snippet of the The Seventh Law of Power, submitted with absolutely no context nor explanation. You’re welcome.

 

“I admit you’ve lost servants in a short order before,” Bonetapper said, once he was back in his raven body. “But you outdid yourself this time.”

“She was never my servant,” Marta said. “Not really. I thought I was acting according to the precepts of the Arrow Path, but I never felt the connection, the bond. Now I think it was no more than our interests coincided for a while.”

What can’t be taken, can be given. The Second Law. So perhaps according to the Laws, but not the Path?

Marta hadn’t thought of it in those terms before, but it was clear to her now that the Laws and the Arrow Path were not the same. The latter was simply a map to the first. If anything, her time with Dessera had proven that.

“Whatever else she intended, Dessera did me a favor. I’m beginning to understand something now that I did not before.”

“So am I, or I never would have realized the nature of my curse. You did me a favor, too.”

Dessera stood before them once more, a ghostly shimmer in the firelight.

Marta smiled a wistful smile. “I never expected to see you again.”

The ghost sighed. “Nor I you. Toban apparently had no questions about his next course. I’m embarrassed to admit I have no idea what should come next for me. I don’t feel imprisoned in this place now or indeed any other, yet I do not know what stage of existence or oblivion awaits me.”

“True of most of us,” Bonetapper offered. “Yet we assume, when the time comes, we’ll know.”

“I cannot help you with that,” Marta said. “I honestly wish I could.”

“I know. But would you mind if I traveled with you a while longer? I can be useful, and perhaps it would help me sort the matter out,” the ghost said.

Marta thought about it. It wouldn’t be the first time someone traveled with her as a companion rather than a servant; she rather missed it. And Dessera wasn’t formally asking for her help as would fall under the Arrow Path strictures, after all. She was simply asking a favor, as one person to another.

What can’t be taken, can be given. I believe this too is covered by the Second Law.

“I have no objection,” Marta said. “What about you, Bonetapper?”

The raven looked startled. “What? I actually have a say in this?”

Marta demurred. “Say rather you are free to express your opinion, as you always do. Just as I am free to ignore it.”

“That’s what I thought you meant. Fine. Just try not to get us killed.”

“Always,” Marta said.

 

More Progress

Chapter 4 of The Seventh Law of Power is in the can, or would be if it was a movie from thirty years ago. Everything’s digital and the can is a metaphor. Chapter 5 is begun. Only about 11,000 words in and Marta has already discovered the 6th Law of Power.

Frankly, I hadn’t expected this to happen so soon. But as the end of Chapter 4 came into view and I reviewed the seven laws, I realized I’d set  it up perfectly. Which would have been very clever of me if I’d realized this was what I was doing, but of course I didn’t. Neil Gaiman once said something to the effect that the real purpose of a rewrite/edit was to go back and fix the details so it looked like you knew what you were doing all along.There’s a lot of truth in that. Even so, I like it better when I get it right in the first draft.

Even if I didn’t realize this was what I was doing.

Still plenty of time to get things wrong. And I’m certain beyond a reasonable doubt it’s going to take Marta the rest of the book to find the 7th Law. Would be even more of a surprise if this particular event happened sooner. As with the discovery of the 6th Law, Marta and I are always open for surprises.