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.

In the Palace of the Jade Lion

While we’re all waiting on larger matters, I decided to do a solo issue of a novelette of mine, In the Palace of the Jade Lion ,  which originally appeared in BCS some years ago.

This one isn’t part of any series or ever will be. The story was complete in itself. Even now as I reread it for the formatting and final edit, I realize it is a very hopeful, optimistic story. While that’s usually my attitude, any particular work is going to go the way it needs to go, and things don’t always work out. This one needed to go exactly as it did, and considering how everything else is going at the moment, it’s more than a little refreshing.

Regardless, it’s on pre-order as we speak, going live on June 15th. This is the online description:

It’s normal to fear a ghost. What’s not normal is marrying one.

Xu Jian is just a poor scholar. An official post in the north of the country is a great opportunity. It is also a great danger. The road north is infested with bandits, and worse, it winds through a land of spirits.

Ghosts crave a human’s life force like the thirsty are drawn to water. When he inadvertently trespasses on the tomb of the beautiful Lady Green Willow and her servants, he is doomed.

Or, perhaps not.

Lady Green Willow is a gentle spirit who does not want to harm Xu Jian, yet her nature as a ghost doesn’t leave any option.

Until he offers her one: marry him. Take his life force only in small doses which he can replenish, until the balance of her yin and yang energy is restored.

In short, make her human again.

A wild plan, but will it work?

Even if it does, how will they survive the attention of a greedy king who wants the only possession Lady Green Willow retains from her past life, the one and only thing she cannot give up without being utterly destroyed?

Perhaps a smart ghost and a smart human, together, might find a way. Maybe.”

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.

Tote That Barge

Today I’m posting an excerpt from The Seventh Law of Power (working title) which, if everything works out as I expect, will form Book 4 and finish the Laws of Power series. When I’m far enough along to keep up I’ll likely post draft chapters weekly as I did with Power’s Shadow, but that’s still a little ways off yet.

Oh, and absolutely no context provided. It is what it is:

 

 

 

Tymon, sat on a broken stalagmite studying a stalactite. While he understood, in terms of geologic era, practically no time at all had passed since he had taken up residence and looking for infinitesimal differences was profoundly silly, he still felt the compulsion to do just that.

Then again, five hundred years living in a cave could have that effect on a person.

“Five hundred years a hermit? I expected you to go insane. Instead you’re as focused and dramatic as ever.”

Tymon had been expecting the manifestation. The cool air in the cave had been almost charged with anticipation for the last three days. When a Power’s attention was focused on a person, that attention always revealed itself, if one knew how to look. Now Amaet perched on a broken stalagmite, looking beguiling. One would think she was nothing more than a winsome young woman, if one didn’t already know she was neither young nor a woman, and she didn’t glow like a newborn ember. Tymon knew she chose her appearances carefully for the effect she wanted. The current manifestation was designed to keep him both beguiled and off-balance. There was a time, half a millennium gone, when it might have worked.

“Amaet. To what do I owe this honor? Or rather, what do you want?”

“How do you know you’re not already giving it to me? Oh, honestly. I’ve so missed teasing you.”

“Then why did you leave me in peace all this time?”

“I’d have left you in peace now, save that you’re becoming interested in the world again.  That is, you’re combining interest with action.”

“Because you removed your curse of immortality and replaced it with the curse of knowledge, and thus I am twice punished. The Long Look. I see the future. Again.”

“Not so grandiose, spellcaster. One possible future.”

“One I have to prevent. You knew what I would do.”

She looked at him. “Of course I did, silly. What I don’t know is why.”

Tymon took a slow breath. “If I can prevent disaster and choose not to act, the lives destroyed belong to me. I cannot escape that. Now, the real question is, why did you give me the Long Look again?”

“Because I knew what you would do. Isn’t this fun?”

“Fun? To save what little remains of my humanity, you force me to serve you again?”

Amaet scowled. “Serve me willingly and you could avoid all that.”

“’You only worship a god. With a Power, you negotiate’ as a wise woman once said. I prefer to keep our relationship the way it is.”

“Fair exchange then. I get what I want, you get what you need. Why do I want it? Aren’t you even a little curious?”

“I’m curious about many things, Amaet. First there’s the Long Look, which, whatever else it may do, serves your purposes, not mine. Then there’s the Arrow Path, far more structured and yet every much as goal-oriented as my own curse which, I think it’s safe to say, did not give you everything you wanted yet or why give it back? Nor apparently, has the Arrow Path itself. I do wonder how Marta fits into it all.”

“There are many Arrow Path witches, Tymon.”

“I know. Yet none save for her mother, Black Kath, progressed so far as she has. I do know of your special interest in Marta so don’t bother denying it. I also know what she seeks, but your ultimate goal? Yes, it’s fair to say I am very curious about that.”

“You have had a lot of time to think about this, haven’t you? Still no closer to an answer?”

“I do know, whatever you do, it isn’t out of kindness.” Tymon met the beautiful, terrible creature’s gaze. “I really hate you, you know.”

“I know. And that serves me as well.”

Amaet vanished, and Tymon the Black, the most evil wizard of all time, shrugged. “I was happy when the world forgot about me. Now I have to remind them.”

©2020 by Richard Parks. All Rights reserved.