Foods on the Writing Plate

It’s interesting what the change from one month to the next can bring.  Up until the end of March, my writing for 2012 consisted mainly of one particular project, but now with the onset of April and some preset deadlines for other projects, I find myself with three different projects going at once, which in my opinion is great, because while working on one book can certainly be enough to drive the writer each and every day, sometimes he or she isn’t feeling it and needs to work on something else, which is why it’s good to have — to use a cliche — a number of irons in the fire.  Here are my three irons going right now . . . all heating at various temperatures, some glowing with great heat, others just beginning to warm up; in the burning fires of my imagination . . . sorry, had to do that.

Iron #1: Wyrd:  This is the historical fiction manuscript that I’ve been playing around with for a long time now . . . by next year it will have been ten years since I started thinking about it and do some initial writings.  I’ve been seriously working on it, writing it, for the last two years and it’s currently over 83,000 words, and while on my word count meter this shows as over halfway, I honestly don’t actually think I’ve reached that point yet.  This is the book that’s been my sole project so far this year, and my goal is at least to make it to page 500, and I’m currently a handful of pages away from 400, so on target there.

Iron #2: In That Quiet Earth: Some time in April — right now I’m tentatively saying April 17th — I will release my second collection of short stories, called In That Quiet Earth.  Like Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers, it will also be ten stories and feature the first two sample chapters to two of my novels.  I do have the cover now which my wife it working on titling and once that’s all set I’ll be releasing that for people to see.  And hopefully the ebook will be available April 17th, but we shall see.  Also, like Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers is now, In That Quiet Earth will also be offered as a free ebook to entice readers to check out some of my work.

Iron #3: White Horse (or Sunil’s Bane): In November of last year I finished up my manuscript that I was calling White Horse, though it will eventually get a new title, once I find the right one.  With each novel that I finish I like to give it at least 3-4 months to stew so that I can firstly start working on something else, secondly allow myself to forget about it, and thirdly start my brain thinking about how I’m going to make it better when I start revising it.  It’s now been over five months and all these things have happened and I’m looking forward to beginning the revision process.  I’m going to be writing and documenting my process as I do this, updates of which can be found here, to kind of show my method, but also to lay it out in detail for me as this will be one of the biggest and most through rewrites I’ve attempted on a novel.  Up until now I’d really just been reading through and rewriting a number of times until I felt it was right; now I’m employing a more methodical process to make it the best story it can possibly be.

And that’s what I’ve got going on right now.  Plus a couple of short story ideas floating around in my mind that I’m going to start soon, and weekly writing exercises to keep me in shape!  I’ve also come up with the book I’m going to write if I do Nanowrimo this year.  I’m planning to and last night worked out what I was going to write, but that will be for another post.

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NIAA Progress Report #6 – It’s Done!

Yep, it’s done. The manuscript is as edited and finished as it’s going to get, and so we come to the end of the editing/”finishing touches” stage of the novel, and now on to the next big stage: submissions! I’ll begin with a barrage of simultaneous submissions to every agent I can find who is looking for mystery/thriller, as well as any publishers accepting unagented manuscripts to begin with. We’ll see how it goes . . .

For now, it feels great to be finally done with this manuscript I’ve been wrestling with for the last couple of years.  And now it’ll be back to working on and writing my other two manuscripts: the science fiction White Horse, and historical fantasy Wyrd.

And the final word count:    wordage

“Wyrd” Progress Report XV

WORDS WRITTEN:945 words

TOTAL WORDS: 26,198

REASON FOR STOPPING: Finished scene

WORDS FOR THE WEEK: 3054

Another chunk of words done tonight in a relatively short time, and another week of hitting and beating the word count goal, with a full day ahead of schedule.  And that’ll be it for the writing for this week with regard to the Wyrd project so I can put some time in for editing Nothing is an Accident, but feeling good I hit the goal.  Also finished a good scene and looking forward to writing the next big one in a week or so when I return to Wyrd.

For now, this scene with everyone pretty much getting some, even the main character who took me a little while to realize is gay.  Yes, they were a dark haired, blue-eyed handsome Briton who found him in the early hours and took him back to his tent.  A nice change on the classic warrior character who isn’t just looking to get the girl.

And now for some words in progress . . .

“You look like you might be in need of some aid in getting to your tent?” the man asked.

Artorus couldn’t help smiling, then laughed.

“Normally I would demand you take you hands off me and let me stand on my own two legs,” he said, trying his best not to slur and failing miserably.  “But it seems that on this night I have become somewhat reckless in the consumption of mead.”

“Indeed, dear Artorus,” the man said.


wordage

Across the Pond Part 2: Aquae Sulis

Bath is a very old place, beginning with Celtic roots, then becoming a popular city during Roman times under the name of Aquae Sulis, which means “waters of Sulis.”  Sulis was a Celtic goddess.  Bath was renowned for its natural, healing springs, which the Romans turned into baths that were sought after by many.   These famed baths are still in usable condition today, though they are more for viewing than enjoying the healing waters.  [There are separate baths available for the public.]

Roman Baths of Bath

In the book, Wyrd, which I am currently working on, the city of Bath will play a relatively important role.  Wyrd is a work of historical fiction set in the fifth century, during the Anglo-Saxon invasions, approximately 450-500.  I received the inspiration and story idea for this book from the medieval poem called “The Ruin,” which is partly about a person discovering this old ruin and wondering what could’ve possibly created it; the person thinks it might’ve been giants.  It is believed that the ruin mentioned in the poem could very likely be that of Bath.  Below is the poem and translation from the Wiki page:

Because of technical limitations, some web browsers may not display some special characters in this section.
Original Old English Modern English[1]
Wrætlic is þes wealstan, wyrde gebræcon;
burgstede burston, brosnað enta geweorc.
Hrofas sind gehrorene, hreorge torras,
hrungeat berofen, hrim on lime,
scearde scurbeorge scorene, gedrorene,
ældo undereotone. Eorðgrap hafað
waldend wyrhtan forweorone, geleorene,
heardgripe hrusan, oþ hund cnea
werþeoda gewitan. Oft þæs wag gebad
ræghar ond readfah rice æfter oþrum,
ofstonden under stormum; steap geap gedreas.
Wonað giet se …num geheapen,
fel on
grimme gegrunden
scan heo…
…g orþonc ærsceaft
…g lamrindum beag
mod mo… …yne swiftne gebrægd
hwætred in hringas, hygerof gebond
weallwalan wirum wundrum togædre.
Beorht wæron burgræced, burnsele monige,
heah horngestreon, heresweg micel,
meodoheall monig mondreama full,
oþþæt þæt onwende wyrd seo swiþe.
Crungon walo wide, cwoman woldagas,
swylt eall fornom secgrofra wera;
wurdon hyra wigsteal westen staþolas,
brosnade burgsteall. Betend crungon
hergas to hrusan. Forþon þas hofu dreorgiað,
ond þæs teaforgeapa tigelum sceadeð
hrostbeages hrof. Hryre wong gecrong
gebrocen to beorgum, þær iu beorn monig
glædmod ond goldbeorht gleoma gefrætwed,
wlonc ond wingal wighyrstum scan;
seah on sinc, on sylfor, on searogimmas,
on ead, on æht, on eorcanstan,
on þas beorhtan burg bradan rices.
Stanhofu stodan, stream hate wearp
widan wylme; weal eall befeng
beorhtan bosme, þær þa baþu wæron,
hat on hreþre. þæt wæs hyðelic.
Leton þonne geotan
ofer harne stan hate streamas
un…
…þþæt hringmere hate
þær þa baþu wæron.
þonne is
…re; þæt is cynelic þing,
huse …… burg….
This masonry is wondrous; fates broke it
courtyard pavements were smashed; the work of giants is decaying.
Roofs are fallen, ruinous towers,
the frosty gate with frost on cement is ravaged,
chipped roofs are torn, fallen,
undermined by old age. The grasp of the earth possesses
the mighty builders, perished and fallen,
the hard grasp of earth, until a hundred generations
of people have departed. Often this wall,
lichen-grey and stained with red, experienced one reign after another,
remained standing under storms; the high wide gate has collapsed.
Still the masonry endures in winds cut down
persisted on__________________
fiercely sharpened________ _________
______________ she shone_________
_____________g skill ancient work_________
_____________g of crusts of mud turned away
spirit mo________yne put together keen-counselled
a quick design in rings, a most intelligent one bound
the wall with wire brace wondrously together.
Bright were the castle buildings, many the bathing-halls,
high the abundance of gables, great the noise of the multitude,
many a meadhall full of festivity,
until Fate the mighty changed that.
Far and wide the slain perished, days of pestilence came,
death took all the brave men away;
their places of war became deserted places,
the city decayed. The rebuilders perished,
the armies to earth. And so these buildings grow desolate,
and this red-curved roof parts from its tiles
of the ceiling-vault. The ruin has fallen to the ground
broken into mounds, where at one time many a warrior,
joyous and ornamented with gold-bright splendour,
proud and flushed with wine shone in war-trappings;
looked at treasure, at silver, at precious stones,
at wealth, at prosperity, at jewellery,
at this bright castle of a broad kingdom.
The stone buildings stood, a stream threw up heat
in wide surge; the wall enclosed all
in its bright bosom, where the baths were,
hot in the heart. That was convenient.
Then they let pour_______________
hot streams over grey stone.
un___________ _____________
until the ringed sea (circular pool?) hot
_____________where the baths were.
Then is_______________________
__________re, that is a noble thing,
to the house__________ castle_______

The poem hints at the theme of creation and destruction, and the significance of a person’s footprint in this world, and what remains after he or she is gone.  Essentially it all boils down to something to the effect of: what is the point of it all?

That’s what I’m hoping my character is going to find out.  It also delves into an issue I’m pretty much always addressing or exploring in some way in my own writing.  I intend to do a more exploratory post on this particular subject, but a year or two ago I discovered, much to my surprise, that I often had characters who either were complete strangers in a new world, or felt like they didn’t belong in their own particular world, or felt alienated in some way.  As someone who now lives very far from their original home, it’s certainly an interesting subject to talk about.  Even more so considering I was originally unaware that I was writing these characters in my short stories and novels.  Then I noticed it in one piece and proceeded to go through all my writings and was quite shocked at the result.  As I said, this will be discussed and explored further in a future post.

While at the famed baths of Bath, I was also able to try some of the warm waters, for a nominal fee of 50p.  I didn’t find it that horrid of a taste, warm and metallic, kind of like the water that comes out of a hose at first on a summer’s day.  I was also able to pick up a great guide/history book on Bath and the baths for a good price, which will help me in my research.

For anyone thinking of visiting Bath, I’d recommend it in a heartbeat.  I traveled from London and was able to reach it in a couple of hours; there is also a train service available.  Throughout the day there are a number of free tours offered that last about two hours and take you all over the town, and often to places you might not have discovered or thought to visit on your own.

Bath is filled with beautiful works of architecture in the form of churches and buildings:

church

Bath Building
Bath building

And then of course there’s the river and the view looking down upon it:

Bath river
Bath river

5/6 On the Bookshelf . . . “Templar Knight,” “Test,” “By Fire, By Water,” “The History of the Early Medieval Siege,” & “Life After Death”

Templar Knight

After reviewing the first in the trilogy from Swedish author Jan Guillou, The Road to Jerusalem, I’m looking forward to this next installment.  Though this new cover style seems to be trying to catch people’s eyes as compared to the first book:

Road to Jerusalem

I’m a relatively recent William Sleator fan, after having him recommended by my wife who read him a lot when she was younger.  I’ve started with some of his older books, but he’s still churning them out, and am looking forward to his latest, Test:

Test

By Fire, By Water

Don’t quite remember where I caught sight of this book, By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan, but it’s his debut novel set in 15th-century Spain about the Inquisition, so very much my type of book.

The History of the Medieval Siege

The next tome in my medieval readings: A History of the Early Medieval Siege, c. 450-1200 (which isn’t due out until October), which will certainly be a fascinating read for me, and serve as some important research for my medieval historical fiction novel, Wyrd.

Life After Death

Last but not least is Life After Death by Alan F. Segal, which I’ve had my eye on for literally years, since its publication in 2004.  The subtitle is: A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion.  I simply haven’t been willing to spend the $40 cover price for it, and just this last week received an alert from Powells for a used copy (which looks like new to me) for $15, so snatched it up immediately.  The book will prove to be an interesting read, as well as research for a future book, however, I don’t expect to be reading this one anytime soon, but am happy to finally have it on my shelf.

03/24 On the Bookshelf . . .

Subterranean

Originally published in 1999, Subterranean was James Rollins first novel, now released for the first time in hardcover with additional material, after hearing how much Rollins had to cut from it in the BookBanter interview, I’m looking forward to reading it.

Empires and Barbarians

Another release in a growing sub-genre of up to date and more factually accurate books on the fall of Rome, the beginning of Europe, and putting an end to the cursed term “Dark Ages.”  Other examples (already reviewed) include: The Inheritance of Rome and Barbarians to Angels.  Of course, this means more time spent reading Empires and Barbarians once I get done with the History of the Medieval World, which also means more time spent researching and less time working on Wyrd.

“The Last Kingdom” by Bernard Cornwell (Harpercollins, 2005)

The Last Kingdomstarstarstar

I’ve been working on a novel for the last four years or so that’s been going pretty slowly. I’ve been doing it in chunks, mainly because it’s historical fiction and involves a lot of research and I’ve essentially been getting stuck at some point and needing to research more before I can get started writing again.  Now I’m at a point where I need to read a few books to complete the current research.  The book was called The Ruin, though I recently changed the title to Wyrd, which is Anglo-Saxon for destiny.  While the book is set in the fifth century in England and has characters that may turn out to be Arthurian (I’m not sure yet), the intention of the novel is to encompass the feel and texture of the Early Middle Ages, at a time when society was essentially beginning anew for this forgotten island.

When I started reading The Last Kingdom by one of my favorite authors I got the chilling feeling that Cornwell had done what I was trying to do with my book.  And after finishing it, there’s a lot in it that I can see coming out in my novel, and yet Wyrd will go in different directions and achieve different goals.  Nevertheless, The Last Kingdom was a great book for anyone wanting to get a feel of the ninth century and what it was like for the Anglo-Saxons living there and having to deal with the invading Vikings who were trying to settle and do essentially what the Anglo-Saxons had done a couple of centuries before to the Britons.  While the main character, Uhtred, is but a boy at the beginning and the narrator, our hero is Alfred the Great (the only British king ever to be called “the Great”) and while I’m not sure how long the series is going to be, the reader will see Alfred grow up and become the great king that earned him the title.  I’m quite familiar with Alfred’s history and life and how he emulated Charlemagne in a lot of ways, and it’s really enjoyable to see this fictionalized account from a great author, which has been well researched, and to see these historical characteristics in the fictionalized characters.

I will freely admit that Bernard Cornwell isn’t exactly the most in depth and complex of historical fiction writers, and his characters aren’t always the fully developed real people they should be, but he still does the job well and gets his point across in giving the reader a look into this life, just as he did with his Grail series set in the Later Middle Ages, and his Arthurian series.  It’s also the kind of book that anyone can pick up and get fully sucked into without getting confused or lost along the way with heavy history and jargon.  Cornwell is also sure to point out as much of the native languages as he can, with plenty of translations, to clarify it all.

Next I have The Pale Horseman to read in the series, with Lords of the North to come in January.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on September 15th, 2006 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Bernard Cornwell check out BookBanter Episode 5.