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.

Confession Time

I am a writer, so it should go without saying that I’m a reader. Show me a writer who didn’t start as a reader and I’ll show you someone painting by numbers and connecting the dots.

On the other hand, or foot, or whatever—there’s more than one kind of reader. Most true readers start as the voracious sort, and I certainly did. Once I learned that those black ink spots meant something, there was no stopping me. Storybooks, philosophy, cereal boxes, whatever. Put it in front of me and I’d read it. I wouldn’t always understand it, mind, but at the time this hardly mattered.

That’s fairly common among readers. Later, after that initial insane rush, we start to specialize…or drift, depending on your point of view. We start to recognize that certain forms “speak” to us more. It may be a phase, it may be lifelong. I started with books and later moved to an intense affair with comics when I had a bit more discretionary income and could, you know, acquire things that weren’t already in the family library. I came into that about the time Jack Kirby moved to DC and started the New Gods series. But all good and bad things come to an end, and if you’re lucky, new good things appear (and bad, whether  you’re lucky or not) and by college I was back to books. LOTR and The Earthsea (at the time) Trilogy. Fritz Leiber, Clark Ashton Smith and those echoes of the pulp era. HPL, REH.

And then…well, my true bent manifested. Turns out I am a butterfly. I go to whatever catches my attention. I am not focused. Some readers make it a point to, say, read the Romantics and ignore everything else until they’re done, then move on. I can’t do that. I go back, I go forward. I read collections and novels by current writers. I go back to things I’ve missed. Bear in mind, this is for pleasure. There’s also writerly research, which is another subject entirely. It can be and often is pleasurable, but that’s not the reason you go there. You need to know about something and try to find out what you don’t know. You go where you think that information is.

Just another way of saying I am haphazard in the extreme. For instance, I’ve managed to read ULYSSES, but not FINNEGAN’S WAKE. I’ve read Eddison’s THE WORM OUROBOROS but not Morris’ THE WELL AT WORLD’S END. You get the idea.

So the confession part. I, a fantasist, have never read George Macdonald. At all. This is something I feel a sharp need to address. So I’ve acquired copies of THE GOLDEN KEY and PHANTASTES.

Which, at the very minimum, will tell me what, if anything I’ve missed. Other than, you know, almost everything.

Progress Report and Some Minor Rebranding

Since one or two of you expressed interest, I’ll start off with a brief progress report on the 4th (and I think final) book in the Laws of Power series, working title The Seventh Law of Power. I mean, there are seven laws total and Marta’s looking for number 6 and 7. Once she finds the 7th, well, the point of the whole thing will finally be made manifest. And there will be a point, I promise. That’s the plan. A lot is going to depend on how the next few sections go. As it stands, I’m approaching the end of Chapter 3. Marta’s getting a new servant with a lot of baggage. About 200 years of it.

And Tymon the Black is coming out of the retirement he was never really in.

I still plan to post at least a few opening chapters along the way, but not until I’m far enough along that I know I won’t be doing major cuts/rethinks to the first few.

Other Business.

I really don’t like the word “rebranding,” as it implies I’m a brand. Which I’m not, for yay or alas. But every now and then revisions must be made, and not just in stories. One of my earlier books, The Ghost War, only has one review, and it’s a crappy one, mostly because the reader looked at the cover, assumed it was something in my Yamada series, and was disappointed. While a quick scan of the description should have knocked that idea down, to be fair I see the point. While I think it was a very nice and evocative cover, some of the armor being worn certainly shows a far east influence. Here was the original cover:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I changed it to something which still fit the story (the main character soul-casts into a raven’s body at several points) but couldn’t possibly be mistaken for a Yamada story at first glance, like so. This isn’t about which cover any of us might prefer. The point is if the cover was misleading anyone, it needed changing, so I did. Here’s the new one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problem, if not solved, perhaps prevented from propagating. Here’s the thing though—I’m still showing what I still think is a pretty decent book (while I was cleaning up the text for the re-release, I read a few scenes I didn’t even remember writing, and thought “Dang, this guy can write. Ego? A little.). And yet here it sits with one 2 star review. Not very enticing.

So here’s the request: Anyone who’s read the book but never left a review, would you consider it? I’m not asking for anything more than an honest review, but at least this time let it not be about the cover. That would be a pleasant change.

MS Word is a Tool

In the Realm of Legend

Oh, the joys. After moaning and complaining ever since MS Word announced my version was no longer supported, I’ve been dreading this day. I know I could go with what I had for the foreseeable future, but not forever, and sometimes you just want to get something you know is going to be unpleasant over and done with.

So today I upgraded to MS 365.

Short version? Not as bad as I’d feared. Some new features might even be useful. Still miffed about it, though. Why? Because—and I don’t think I’m unique about this among writers and even otherwise normal folk—I am a creature of habit. When I sit down to (attempt) to write something, the last thing I want to have to think about is the tool I’m using to do it. And new software forces you, at least for a while, to do exactly that. Can I format a paragraph like I always do? Underlining, italics, bold? How about shifting the margins? Headers? Widows and orphans? Of course I care about widows and orphans…oh, that’s the spacing issue. No. I don’t care about that at all, and I especially don’t care in a rough draft. And yes, I know you don’t know what a rough draft is. And for pity’s sake stop lecturing me about standard usage. Standard usage is the last thing I want. When I use a word or phrase it’s my word or phrase, and it’ll do what I darn well tell it to.

Ahem. Where was I?

Yeah, complaining. Hell, I’m still pissed about having to drop WordPerfect years ago, knowing there are still a few folk around still mad about WordStar. Yes, I know George R.R. Martin supposedly still uses it. Which sorta makes my point. Creatures of habit. I liked WP. It did what I wanted and otherwise got out of the way. But file exports to Word weren’t so great, and the editors by then had all switched to MS Word, mostly because of corporate dictates. So here we are. I’ve learned not to hate MS Word, and most of my best stuff was written on it. Once I get used to the new version, I’m sure it’ll be fine.

That is, until the next version.

I know it’s a tool. But does it have to be such a tool?

The Changeling, Part 2

As promised/threatened last week, here’s the second part of The Changeling flash narrative. Not the second part of the story, necessarily, since part 1 stood on its own. But rather “what happened next.”

There’s always something next, regardless of the story, unless of course everybody dies, then it’s simply someone else’s story. Nothing complicated about it.

 

 

 

The Changeling, Part 2

When I finally got up the courage and the means to leave, I was an old woman.

My sister was waiting for me, sitting on a park bench, looking the way I thought I looked, until she handed me a mirror.

That is, my changeling sister. She’s the one they left in my place when the fae took me. I was angry, at first. She was still young, and what had she lost, compared to me? I yelled. I screamed at her. She just waited until I wore myself out.

“Feel better?” she asked.

“No.”

That was all either of us said for a while. I thought of leaving, but I was tired and had nowhere to go. “When did you find out?” I asked finally.

“Probably about the same time you did. Our lives are parallels in so many ways.”

“And how do you figure that? Look at me!”

“I’m just as old as you are,” she said. “And I can’t go back either.”

“What do you mean? Of course you can go back, and I am back.”

She sighed. “Are you? You don’t know how to live in the human world any more than I know how to live under the hill. You don’t know what it means to be human. And me? My family threw me away like old clothes! Now tell me what ferry crosses either of those rivers.”

“You were waiting for me. All this time you knew where I was!”

She nodded. “True, but I couldn’t reach you. I just hoped you’d find a way out.”

That stopped me. “You’re one of the fae. What do you mean, you couldn’t reach me?”

“I was raised human, remember? The way under the hill is secret, and hardly anyone comes out now. I would have seen them. How did you find it?”

“An old fae took pity….”

She shook her head. “We both know the fae don’t feel pity. If they told you, there was another reason.”

Time to face the truth. “He was the one I thought was my father. He was just tired of me.”

She looked thoughtful. “Why did they do it? I’ve always wondered.”

“Because, among the fae, having children is a rare privilege which brings great honor. I think they were afraid of losing it.”

“So instead they robbed us both,” she said.

“Both?! My life was a lie, and my true life ends before it even begins! You’ll go on—“

She nodded again. “Yes. And on and on. Not belonging anywhere, with anyone. Tell me again who got the worst of that deal.”

I didn’t have an answer for her, only a question. “What happens now?”

“If you want, we can belong together for a little while.”

“And then?”

She smiled a sad smile. “And then I’ll remember you.”

I’d just met my sister, but in that moment I knew I both loved and pitied her.

Which was as close to human as I was going to get.

-The End-

 

©2020 by Richard Parks. All Rights Reserved.