Saturday, September 29, 2018


There are essentially two types of sequels. One would be the continuing story sort, where, although the novels stand on their own and have their own arcs, there is an overall unifying plot. The three novels of my Malvern Trilogy fit that model pretty well. Maybe the four Donzalo’s Destiny books do also, though it might be argued that it is one large novel (or, conversely, a series of eleven different novellas and novelettes). In that each Donzalo book was published before the next was written, I feel it is appropriate to call them sequels.

The other would be an whole new story for our protagonist(s) — or maybe, a secondary character moves up to the lead for the new narrative. The three novels in the Mora Trilogy (which can itself be seen as a sequel to the Malvern Trilogy) go this route. There is an underlying plot element, to be sure, but not really a continuing story. However, there is not a clear line between these two kinds of sequels. They may just be a bit of each.

My latest, ‘The Jewels of the Elements’ (out February 2 of next year), tends more to the latter. It is billed as a sequel to ‘The Eyes of the Wind’ and shares the plot element of the mystical jewels known as the Eyes. It also continues the adventures of the noblewoman Marana and her now-husband, the craftsman Saj. But it is a new story with a new plot and a new setting. There is no overarching plot unifying the two books.

Eventually, there will a sequel — or sequels — to the Donzalo’s Destiny books. Donzalo will not be in its pages that much; rather, the focus will shift to Lady Fachalana. That is, the story will center around her as the previous one did around Donzalo, but there will be plenty enough subplots. When I might start on it, who knows? There are other projects waiting. Some of them just might be sequels.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Hike and Bike

Having largely recovered from an 'ouchy' lower back/hips, caused by overdoing it with the string trimmer (hey, I have an acre and an half to maintain here), I was able to get back to my hiking and biking routine. That was  curtailed a bit through the summer anyway, as I spent time almost everyday pushing a mower about. No more of that till next year, I think.

So, three or four hikes or bikes of varying length each week. In addition, of course, to my regular weight training. I'm not giving up on that after forty-some years! I may not be as big as I was in my peak bodybuilding years but I am in the leanest condition of my life. I look better than most guys half my age. Maybe even a third of my age. No brag, just fact, as they say. Well, somebody says it. This does not mean I am necessarily healthier than those younger guys, just that the body looks better.

I do a medium-length bike ride most Sunday mornings, up to Graceville and back on the paved road—that would be Peanut Road. It's the only time I feel safe pedaling up that busy and somewhat narrow way. To the Piggly-Wiggly in town and back is about seven miles. I could do my grocering by bike, if I wished, and might when the weather grows a little cooler. But I can take various dirt back roads up to Graceville and add a mile or two to that distance. Still entirely doable, should I wish.

But I can also simply ride (or walk) those many back roads just for the fun and exercise, and frequently do. Sometimes a wider tire might be helpful, when conditions get dry and sandy; I have 32s on the bike and can live with that 'compromise' for now. The bike, incidentally, is an inexpensive Taiwan-made single speed, with commodious baskets for carrying whatever. Probably better suited to city use but here I am in the middle of nowhere! The photo above is from a recent jaunt, not too far from my place.

I see loads of wildlife tracks when I get onto those dirt roads and sometimes wildlife as well. A deer ran in front of my bike the last time I was out, some time after seven in the morning (in this continuing hot weather, I ride early). Riding those back roads is the next best thing to getting down to the beach and surfing, and awakes some of the same feelings in me. Riding around on city streets would not be the same. It is the joining of nature and physical activity that does it for me.

I've always enjoyed hiking and biking. I was a wanderer as a kid, whether we lived in town or country. My bike or my feet carried me away from whatever bothered me at home. I liked the solitude of it, the being-in-control of it. I still do.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Fan Fiction

In a sense, I write 'fan fiction.' No, I've never written anything that incorporated someone else's characters or worlds. But I do create characters and worlds of my own and then write about them, rather than starting with an 'idea' and then crafting the characters and setting to fit it (Mostly. There are always exceptions to everything). I'm not unusual in this approach; some writers work this way, some don't. Stephen King starts with the story and says the characters will take form as he works. I need to know how those imaginary people think and act (to some extent) before starting. This is why I sometimes write back-story tales about them for my own use, before ever starting on a book.

Now, of course, I have various interrelated series going, so I have a whole bunch of characters I know fairly well. And I am, indeed, writing fan fiction about them.

Sunday, September 09, 2018


The demon Qu’orthseth — known in some parts as Akorzef or Cahorsus, and affectionately called Cory by its human companion (not exactly its master) — goes way back in my writing, back to a short story I sketched out and never finished, long before I wrote any of the novels. The name Qu’orthseth, admittedly, was a joke, a parody of such over-apostrophed names in fantasy fiction.

But Big Q itself (it is asexual, about eight foot tall, and wine-red) was first titled ‘the red beast’ in a tale I intended to write of Corad of Lorj, one of the sons of Saj and Marana, who are the protagonists of ‘The Eyes of the Wind’ and the upcoming ‘The Jewels of the Elements.’ Essentially, the idea was for the demon to be a caregiver for its senile human master, keeping the elderly wizardly alive via less than ethical means. Why? Because as long as the old man held onto life, the demon could remain in our world — much preferable to returning to its home!

I never followed through on developing that tale but Q did show up in a different story, ‘The Book, the Beast, and the Burglar.’ By the time I got that short piece to where I considered it complete, I recognized it really was the beginning of a novel (that happens to me rather frequently). The novel became ‘The Ways of Wizardry,’ and it detailed how Qu’orthseth and the wizard Im came to be bound to each other. Now Im and the demon have shown up, a thousand years later, in ‘The Jewels of the Elements.’

And both are near the ends of their lives, though still reasonably vigorous and capable, magically and physically. The original ‘red beast’ story would have taken place twenty years or so after the events in ‘Jewels;’ the question for me now is whether to follow on with that scenario (even though I might never get it written) or have Qu’orthseth come to a different end in the final pages of the novel-in-progress.

I’ve put in quite a bit to ‘humanize’ the demon, to show that a millennium among men and, especially, as a companion to Im, has rubbed off on an essentially amoral creature. So a ‘sacrifice’ at this point is very tempting. It also seems just a tad cheap but, after all, we all have to die sometime. Even demons. It does save it from being whisked back to its home, too, and I can admittedly think of other (and maybe better?) scenarios for Im’s final years.

So it is likely Qu’orthseth will meet its end in this novel. This will not prevent it from appearing in all those stories set in the thousand years between ‘The Ways of Wizardry’ and ‘The Jewels of the Elements.’ That, you may count on.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Nobles and Names

In ‘The Crocodile’s Son’ and ‘The Eyes of the Wind,’ I chose to use Irish/Gaelic titles for the old Sharshite nobility — titles that had been outlawed by their Muram rulers. Now the Sharshites are not Gaelic. Let’s get that out of the way right now. The actual titles would be different in their own tongue. But I did want to give a bit of a Celtic feel to them, thus the choice.

Is there some Celtic ancestry for the native folk of Sharsh? Possibly, but it would be far removed and much mixed with other cultures by the time of our tales. ‘Gauls’ almost certainly passed through the Ural Gate, the passage between worlds, at some point, as would Romanized people of that heritage a little later. Both would, however, be thousands of years removed from the time the novels are set.

Similarly, I employed more-or-less English titles for the Muram and post-Muram Sharshite aristocracy. Count, Baron, etc. were used in the Donzalo books but not in the aforementioned novels, which are set more than a millennium earlier. I do make mention of the actual Muram title for King, Celos. I also used Thegn here and there as an older title and one the Mura allowed for the ‘new’ Sharshite nobility that supported their rule. The title survived as Thane among the Cuddonians of ‘Donzalo’s Destiny.’ (The Cuddonians are, at least in part, descendants of Sharshite refugees who crossed the mountains.)

And there is Dux, from the Latin, which I used for Muram military governors. Not unexpectedly, this comes down as Duke in later Sharshite usage. The ruler of Muradon is an emperor, also of Roman origin; for that matter, I use the Roman equivalent of knight, equester, for mounted Muram lancers. There was certainly an intention to draw some parallels between the empires of the Romans and the Mura.

Not that they are at all the same! The Mura are more akin to Asiatic nomads than they are Italians. But using references from other cultures is a useful sort of shorthand in writing fantasies. It helps prevent the created cultures from seeming too odd, too alien — and then, everyone (well, almost everyone) in the ‘D-World’ is descended from folk from our own ‘E-World.’ Nonetheless, be assured that I have created new languages to some degree for these cultures (although bits of Basque, Etruscan, and other tongues pop up) and that the cultures themselves are pretty much created from the ground up, and are not directly based on historic models. Nor am I going to be stealing historic events, a la Game of Thrones, and presenting them as as new. I reckon I can make up better ones myself!