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.

Webbing On!

I still haven’t finished with updates for The Cyborg and the Sorcerers or The Wizard and the War Machine, or two others — one I decided was just too much for now and put the placeholder back up with a few minor changes, and the other (about cover artists) is progressing bit by bit.

But I skipped ahead and did several more files. Except for those four, I’m now up to November 6, 2007. In the last three months of 2007, ending December 16, I did a pretty major update, so there’s plenty to do — but once I’m through this chunk things should speed up, at least for awhile.

I’ve spawned four new placeholders I’ll need to fill in eventually, for Nathan Archer, the Bound Lands, Carlisle Hsing, and Tom Derringer.

Webbing Winds On

Workin’ on October 2007.

You know what I hate? When I realize I missed something obvious from a recent update. For example, I updated The Chromosomal Code and The Spartacus File earlier this week and only just now realized that I hadn’t added a link to Realms of Light to either of them — and even stupider, I had added links to Vika’s
Avenger
and Tom Derringer and the Aluminum Airship to the page for The Chromosomal Code, but not to the one for The Spartacus File that I did two days later.

Well, they’re fixed now.

I’m working on The Cyborg and the Sorcerers and The Wizard & the War Machine. They needed some work. There’s no mention of the Wildside reprints…

Why Webbing?

Updating my website is addictive. I keep trying to tell myself, “That’s enough for now, focus on something else,” and then think, “Oh, just one more…”

This is because I spent three years wading through all the placeholder files I put up on March 7, 2005. File after file, tracking down where a story had first been published and saying something about it — and then suddenly, on December 7, 2014, they were done, and I was updating existing stuff and talking about all sorts of different things and there were never more than maybe four or five files in a day, and I could just tear through months at a time.

Exhilarating!

I’ve gone from nine years and nine months back to seven years and three months since then. It’s wonderful.