Works in Progress

I decided it was past time I organized my various works in progress, so I gathered together all the incomplete story files I could find on my computer. I didn’t do anything about hardcopy stuff, only files on the computer.

I initially found 388, but a surprising number of them were actually alternate names — that is, I’d have the same story filed under two or three different titles. There were also several that were finished and sold and therefore no longer “in progress,” and some that were additional material for projects in another file.

And then there were titles I had listed where I couldn’t actually find any story — more on that below.

There were also some I turned up elsewhere that weren’t in the 388.

Anyway, after sorting, removing duplicate or otherwise irrelevant files, and generally getting them in order, I have 337 “work in progress” files.

222 files are now labeled short fiction, though in several cases they could easily turn into novels or entire series. Four of these are George Pinkerton stories, and three of those four are effectively complete — complete enough that I’ve posted them to my Patreon page and the subscriber-only portion of my website. The fourth (which had existed under two different titles) is woefully incomplete, and is based on a bedtime story Julie told the kids when I was traveling.

There are five non-fiction projects in various stages of development, about genre fiction, horror comics, trivia, music (that one’s probably just a short article, not a book or even close), and Christmas traditions.

There are eighty-six novels, ranging from a few vague notes to a 60,000-word fragment. Eight of them are Ethshar stories, ten are set in or around the Bound Lands, three continue the Tom Derringer series, one is about Tom’s son Johnny Derringer, two are sequels to Vika’s Avenger, one’s a sequel to “The Lords of Dus,” and one’s set in the same world as the Lords of Dus but takes place elsewhere at the same time Garth is having his adventures.

I haven’t counted how many are fantasy, how many are SF, how many are horror, how many are mysteries, or how many are romances, but I do have all those genres represented, and probably others.

There are three proposals for comic book series. One of them was originally planned as a collaboration with Kurt Busiek, but we both got busy and it never happened, and it’s based on public-domain stuff so we can each write our own versions without conflict. Another is a superhero project that will probably never go anywhere. And the third… well, it’s sort of cheating, because there’s a chapter and a half of the same story as a novel in another file.

I actually had a fourth comic book proposal… well, no. I actually had a couple of other proposals that I decided would work better as novels, so that’s where they wound up. In fact, all three of these might yet wind up as prose. I’m better at prose than at comics.

And there’s a computer game, except it was originally designed for 1980s tech, mostly text with 8-bit graphics. The premise of the game could still be fun, but I’d need to upgrade it a lot.

There are two plays. One of them exists as a complete detailed outline but no actual text; it’s a Shakespearean comedy, and uses several of his favorite gimmicks (cross-dressing characters, mistaken identity, people turning up after having been lost for years, etc.), and honestly, I think it could be a fun show. The title is “A Maid’s Merry Measures, or, Modesty Mislaid.”

The other play is a thought experiment, not anything that could ever go anywhere — a collaboration between William Shakespeare and J.R.R. Tolkien.

There are four works in verse — I hesitate to call all of them poems. I didn’t bother including any of my limericks, which all seem to be either very fannish or very obscene. (Oddly, never both.)

There are four descriptions for settings or concepts that don’t yet have stories to go with them, though I could easily come up with some.

There’s a single file for an entire series of short stories, two of which have been written and published — “The Hole Above the Parking Lot,” which gave me “An Infinity of Karen” and “Revised Edition.”

There are six titles that have concepts, but no real stories, to go with them.

There’s a list of literally hundreds more titles that don’t have stories attached, and that I didn’t feel deserved individual files yet. Twelve of these were included on some of my lists of unfinished stories, but I can’t find any record of what the stories were supposed to be, and I don’t remember them. One such title is the very appropriate “Gone Missing.”

And finally, there’s a compilation of stuff that had previously been recorded as “untitled story idea” or “opening fragment” or “two SF ideas” or whatever. This is five single-spaced pages of small print; I haven’t counted how many ideas are on the list. Some of them may have been incorporated elsewhere.

I can think of at least two stories I started that I can’t find anywhere, and I suspect it’s because they date back before I computerized. One of them I know dates back to the 1970s; the other I thought was much more recent, but I still can’t find it.

This is what I’ve accumulated since I got my first computer in August, 1984. When you think about it, I’m only generating about ten a year, which seems very reasonable, but they do add up after all this time.

Ear Candy

Awhile back I noticed that I still controlled the audio rights to some of my books — specifically, the Obsidian Chronicles. And someone pointed me at ACX, where I could self-publish audiobooks.
audiobook of Dragon Weather

So in 2016 I decided to give it a shot, and signed up to produce an audiobook of Dragon Weather. I held auditions and found a guy named Shawn Saavedra who seemed to do a fine job, and while it took longer than I’d expected, the audiobook of Dragon Weather came out last summer, and has done better than I expected.

So of course I signed Shawn up to continue the series. The Dragon Society has just been completed and delivered to ACX/Audible, and should be available for purchase in a week or two.

And now we’ve just contracted for Dragon Venom — not sure how long it’ll take, but it’s under way.
audiobook of The Dragon Society

For all three, Bob Eggleton was kind enough to let me use the original cover art for a modest fee, which made it possible to put together some decent covers.

Anyway, that will finish the series — so what’s next?

I already knew I controlled the audio rights to Touched by the Gods, which I think would be a good fit for Shawn’s voice and style; he says he’d be interested in tackling it, but not immediately after the current series. So that’s a long-term prospect.

But tonight a thought struck me, and I checked some contracts, and discovered I also control Night of Madness. I’ve had people asking for more Ethshar, and while Wildside Press controls most of the series and is very gradually releasing them (The Misenchanted Sword and The Vondish Ambassador are available, and With A Single Spell is allegedly in the works), I could do Night of Madness myself.
audiobook of Dragon Venom

I also still have the rights to the Annals of the Chosen. That might be interesting.

So would those be worth doing?

P.S. …and today I realize I still have the audio rights to everything published by FoxAcre Press, too.

About Story Settings

From two newsgroup posts both titled “Work in Progress: Bait (title will probably change),” and both dated April 21, 2013; I retitled it because (a) “Bait” did change titles, and (b) it isn’t really about that story in the first place.

“Bait” is now Veran the Fair and the Thieves of Borgran, and it still isn’t finished.

Today I got thinking about the setting, and realized I’ve been inventing too many backgrounds from whole cloth lately, instead of fitting stories into existing settings. Because of the way its magic works, Bait doesn’t work in Ethshar…

Setting of twelve novels and eleven short stories so far, beginning with The Misenchanted Sword. Many more planned, some begun. Multiple forms of magic with fixed rules, but none of them fit Bait.

… or the Bound Lands…

Setting for A Young Man Without Magic and Above His Proper Station. Unwritten/partially written stories in this setting include On A Field Sable, Assassin in Waiting, Swordsmen of the Fallen Empire, Untrue Names, The Prince’s Return, etc. Magic… well, there are actually three kinds, something the characters themselves don’t realize. I know the rules of sorcery (as do many of the characters), but there’s also wizardry and chaos magic.

You know, I could maybe make Bait work set in the Cousins. Hmm. But I’d need to rework some of the magic, because sorcery does everything through wardings and bindings, and that doesn’t allow for the teleportation spell I need in Bait, and it does allow for
transformations…

Naaah.

…it would be a tough fit for Barokan…

Setting for the Annals of the Chosen: The Wizard Lord, The Ninth Talisman, The Summer Palace. No further stories contemplated. Magic is derived entirely from spirits, which doesn’t fit.

…or the Lands of Man…

Setting for the Obsidian Chronicles: Dragon Weather, The Dragon Society, Dragon Venom. No further stories planned, really, though a prequel called Lord Dragon was discussed a few years back. Magic
is vaguely defined, subtle, and complicated, and neither the magic nor the geography matches what I need in Bait.

…and it would only fit the Restored Lands if we go back the Great Pollution, probably before the Final War.

The Restored Lands (name subject to change) are the setting for The Dragon’s Price, an unfinished novel intended to be first of a series called The Signs of Power. Wizards are extinct; magic now takes specific forms indicated by specific birthmarks on the few people who can use it, and is strictly regulated by a theocratic regime.

(Though that’s maybe an interesting idea, that it is the Restored Lands long before they needed restoration.)

That could work, but would add theological complications, as there are real gods who can intervene in the mortal world in the Restored Lands, and I don’t want divine interference in Bait.

I don’t even remember what I called the setting for “Arms and the Woman” and Meant for Each Other, but it doesn’t work there unless, once again, it’s set in the distant past, before the Extinction.

“Arms and the Woman” is a published short story; Meant for Each Other is an unfinished YA novel. I like their setting and hope to re-use it elsewhere, eventually — it’s a world where (once again) wizards are extinct, but lots of their leftover magic is still cluttering up the landscape. But no wizards means no Bait.

I don’t think it’s really a good match for Meloria or the Inner Lands, from The Innkeeper’s Daughter, either, though that could maybe be made to work.

I’d need to rewrite what I have of The Innkeeper’s Daughter, I think, to make the magic match up better. The Inner Lands are ruled by the evil Lord Gorzoth, and a prophesied hero from Meloria is coming to try to kill him. Magic is complicated, poorly understood, widely but erratically distributed — not a good fit.

But on the other hand, I realized that it could fit the setting for an unwritten story called Home is Where the Heart Is. In fact, using that setting works really well.

Home Is Where The Heart Is consists of one page of notes and a lot of stuff in my head, I hadn’t actually started writing it yet, and until today I had no intention of ever using its setting for anything else, but it would work great for Bait, so there we go.

The working name for that setting is now The Wizardly Desmesnes. It’ll probably change.

The Muse Plagues Me

From a newsgroup post dated March 26, 2009, and oddly relevant now as explained below:

I got invited to write a story for the next “Lace and Blade” anthology, and I’m giving it serious consideration because it looks like an ideal venue for a story set in the Bound Lands.

Except I didn’t actually have a short story planned. The Ermetian Jar isn’t going to be that short, and besides, it’s not really suited to the anthology.

I started thinking about possible tie-ins to the story of Anrel Murau, but nothing leapt to mind. I didn’t want to tell the story of how his parents died, and I didn’t think of a story set during his student days until right now. I wondered about maybe a story about the Burgrave of Lume, but didn’t have anything obvious to work with.

And then I realized that this might be the place to tell the tale of the murder of Lady Arissa Taline, which is referred to several times but never explained in detail (though there’s a brief, biased account in On A Field Sable).

Now, I’ve known for over a year how Lady Arissa died. I’ve known for months who killed her, and more or less why. I know how Lord Blackfield was involved. I didn’t, however, actually have it in my head as a story; it was just a nasty scandal that ended badly a year or two before the start of A Young Man Without Magic.

But once I had the idea of making it a short story, it started accumulating details. A LOT of details, very quickly. I now know exactly why Lady Arissa was killed, and why it happened the way it did, and what’s more I suddenly have a whole lot of backstory on Empress Annineia, and her childhood in Ermetia, and why she hired necromancers from the Cousins, and who the current King of Ermetia is, and why Prince Sharal behaved so badly, and why the murder was never investigated properly, and why the birth of Lurias XIII was such a big deal, and where the demons in Above His Proper Station came from…

The trick is going to be turning this into a short story.

===

June 12, 2017: And in the end, I couldn’t make it a short story. I got distracted, didn’t finish it, and missed the anthology deadline. It still isn’t finished, eight years later. The working title is “Fearless,” and I’ve forgotten a lot of stuff I talk about having thought out above.

I never did submit anything to Lace and Blade 2.

But last year I got an invitation for Lace and Blade 4, and was determined not to miss out this time. I dug out “Fearless,” looked at it, and couldn’t see any way to keep it to a reasonable length or include all the elements I thought the “Lace and Blade” series should have. If I ever do finish it, it could well wind up novella length.

So I dug out another unfinished story I thought might work, “The Dancing Teacher,” and labored on it for months before concluding that it wasn’t going to work, either.

And finally I started a new one, “Sorcery of the Heart,” which wound up a novelet, 8,500 words, but which did get finished and submitted. No idea whether it’ll be accepted; we’ll see.

All three stories, incidentally, were set in the Bound Lands. “Sorcery of the Heart” and “Fearless” are set in the Walasian Empire, while “The Dancing Teacher” takes place in the Cousins.

Some of the Novels in My “Works in Progress” Folder

This list was originally posted September 24, 2005. I debated whether to put it here or in The Serial Box, but eventually decided on here; the Box is only for new stuff, not these salvaged old posts.

I’m going to annotate this in italics — anything italicized has been added in March 2017. Anything after this sentence that’s not italicized is from 2005.

Sorted a little:

Mystery:
>A Blast from the Past
(Haven’t touched this in years, and the plot’s a little out of date now.)

Fantasy:
Traditional:
>A Handful of Gold (spin-off from The Lords of Dus)
>Assassin in Waiting (I’ve worked on this one a little.)
>Manda’s Magic
>Meant for Each Other
>Power of the People (I don’t recognize this at all; no idea what it is.)
>Putting on Heirs (sequel to Split Heirs)
>Rain
>The Dragon’s Price (This one has gotten a little further.)
>The Third Mage (a trilogy, really) (I’ve changed the setting to a contemporary setting and started it over.)
Urban:
>Myth America
>The Gates of Faerie
>Yard Sale Mystic (This one got converted to a comic book script, and has been hanging fire for years because the artist has yet to start on it.)

Science fiction:
>Cultural Attache (Retitled first The Partial Observer, then The Research Agent.)
>Dark Bodies
>Earthright
>Escort Duty
>Fast Times
>One Hundred Suns
>Realms of Light (sequel to Nightside City) Written and published.
>Refugee Planet
>Technoplague
>The Ghost Takers
>The Terran Zone
>The Three of Us
>Trumpets of the Sky

Western:
>Jones and the Preacher

Horror:
>One-Eyed Jack Written and published.
>Queen Vampire
>Something Wrong
>The Bride
>The Undine

Romance:
>Rakehell’s Daughter

Historical:
>SPQR

Hard to classify:
>Pentagram Squadron
>Triumvirate
>Vika’s Avenger Written and published.

Y’know, I’d really like to write all of these eventually, but I
probably won’t — I come up with new ones faster than I finish the old
ones.

I’ve come up with many more, and made progress on a few of the above, but I’ve also flat-out forgotten or abandoned some of these.

Megapack, Assemble!

The contracts are signed, so I can now safely brag about the upcoming Lawrence Watt-Evans Fantasy Megapack that Wildside will be publishing. It’s a 99-cent e-book (though a trade paperback version is also possible) collecting two dozen of my old short fantasy stories, intended to lure readers in to buy lots of my other Wildside books.

I don’t know when it’ll be available; that’s up to Wildside, which tends to operate on a “When we get around to it” basis. Could be days, could be months.

Someone on Twitter asked about the table of contents, so here are the twenty-four stories that will be included:

“The Temple of Life”
“Mehitabel Goodwin”
“Heart of Stone”
“The Final Challenge”
“Beth’s Unicorn”
“The Bride of Bigfoot”
“Keeping Up Appearances”
“Dropping Hints”
“The Bogle in the Basement”
“The Man for the Job”
“Chaperone”
“Out of the Woods”
“Ghost Stories”
“The Frog Wizard”
“Horsing Around”
“Spirit Dump”
“Arms and the Woman”
“Mittens and Hotfoot” (originally published as by Walter Vance Awsten)
“Just Perfect”
“Trixie”
“In Re: Nephelegeretes”
“In for A Pound”
“Something to Grin About”
“Best Present Ever!”

Productivity

I feel odd right now. I’ve been very, very productive lately, more so than pretty much any time in the last twenty years.

So far in 2016 I’ve written 565 pages, on five different novels and a short story. (I may have written other short stuff as well, but I don’t have records of anything else.) That’s good for me, and happened despite a trip to China and many other distractions. The last few weeks have been particularly good — something like half that total got written in the last sixty days. And I think that’s partly because of where I am on all my most current projects.

I’ve always sped up after a certain point in whatever novel I’m working on — exactly what point, and sped up how much, will vary, but it always happens. I get to a stage where everything important is worked out in my head and it’s mostly just typing it out. I wrote the final third of Nightside City in five days, which was my previous record.

(This only refers to first drafts. Rewriting is a whole different thing.)

Sometimes there would be enough momentum in that rush to finish a novel that I would then surge rapidly through the opening chapters of a new novel.

Well, what happened this time is that after doing little writing for months because I was too damn busy with other stuff, when I got back to it I had three novels near their respective tipping points at the same time. I hit my stride on Tom Derringer in the Tunnels of Terror and rolled directly into Tom Derringer and the Steam-Powered Saurians, and when that started to slow I hit the tipping point in Stone Unturned, and I think I’m about at the tipping point for Bravo Foxtrot, as well. (Have I ever made it explicit that Bravo Foxtrot is the protagonist’s name but not necessarily the title? Because that’s the case.)

Three novels at once hit the “hurry through” stage. That’s never happened before, and it feels strange.

Anyway, I’ve been in “finish the novel” mode for the last month and a half, but I still have around three or four hundred pages to go on two different novels, so I don’t know whether I can sustain it for the entire run.

And there’s also the “start a new project” aspect. That’s a real thing for me. Now that the part of my brain that builds the underlying story is finished with Stone Unturned and Bravo Foxtrot, it’s looking for something new to do, and it’s hopping from one idea to the next, sometimes developing unfinished old projects, sometimes coming up with new ones, and it’s distracting. Right now it really, really wants me to start work on an untitled novel about two sisters where one has a magical talent but it’s the other one who has a magical destiny, but I know if I do that I’ll lose my momentum on Stone and Bravo.

(At least I pried it off Tom Derringer and the Steam-Powered Saurians and Tom Derringer and the Electric Empire for now. Yes, I want to write those, but I want to get other stuff done first, and I know those aren’t really ready for serious focus yet. And that two-sisters story is going to be so cool when I have time to work on it. And I’ve also been involuntarily working out more of The Dragon’s Price and The Siege of Vair. I was even thinking about One Hundred Suns the other day, and that’s been largely abandoned since the 1980s.)

What I’m worried about is burning out, or getting distracted. I don’t think I can keep this up forever. There was a stretch of really high productivity in the early 1990s (half of which wasn’t obvious because it was by Nathan Archer), but it didn’t last. This one probably won’t, either.

Why is there Webbing?

Okay, I have updated the pages for The Cyborg and the Sorcerers and The Wizard and the War Machines

Still don’t have the other two (artists and directory) done.

Haven’t done anything more with those new placeholders, either.

The next chunk, chronologically, is five files dated November 6, 2007. They’re all for novels — Split Heirs, The Lure of the Basilisk, The Rebirth of Wonder, Touched by the Gods, and Worlds of Shadow.

Yeah, fine, that last one’s a series, rather than a single novel.

Anyway, I don’t know how much work they need, but I’ve loaded them into my web editor.