Its taken a while, unfortunately, but I’ve almost finished off the next group of short stories. Three are complete and one is over half way through the final rewrite. All that will remain then is to tidy them up, group them and find a cover for them.
This collection is the second in the Peregrine and Blade series of heroic fantasy. One of them I’m especially happy with, even though it involves no fighting, no treasure and only four people in it. For me it is an unusual story, but one I enjoyed writing.
I hope to have it all up and ready to go very soon, barring emergencies cropping up. And they do like cropping up…
I guess I should report on how well NaNoWriMo went. Short answer; not very.
In all I managed about 18-19K, well short of the target amount. I still blame Skyrim for that.
I did at least finish the first planned novelette, which came to around 10.5K in the end. The second novelette did get some rough ideas noted down, and the novella too up the rest (8K odd.) So progress, but not as much as I had hoped.
Interestingly that first novelette is now one of four that I’m sitting on that is finished but not yet released. The other three are part of a planned anthology that are waiting for two more planned stories to get finished so they can all be released at once – I may end up just going ahead with the first three by themselves at this rate.
It is about time I did an update on the NaNoWriMo progress. So far it is going good without being outstanding – around 15,100 words in the fist 8 days. At current rates I should hit the target goal by the end of the month, though with Skyrim due out in a couple of days productivity may drop off. So far the words are split between the first novelette (7250 words done) and the novella (7900 words done.)
Once done it will still need a bit of polishing, and I do mean to make a few adjustments to Obadiah when that happens as well. I came to the idea that I’d like him to be a purveyor of innocent snark – by that he makes comments that are on the surface innocent enough but in a different tone could be snarky. The idea came from a comment he made at one point which fitted that concept – “A most novel solution, sir,” Obadiah said, “But I do trust that it has not caused us an impediment to getting out, should the need arise.”
And now for a short extract (which still needs polishing up), of the opening passage of the first novelette, which goes by the working title Hammer of the Pygmies.
The room shuddered in accordance with the muffled explosion that sounded from outside. The fine crystal chandelier swayed, while upon the table porcelain and silverware rattled.
There sat at the table, reading a newspaper, a tall man of handsome demeanour. His blond hair, moustache and sideburns were neatly trimmed, with not a strand out of place. He had reached the age where its exact nature was hard to pin down, for while not a touch of grey marred his hair, the sure sign of the passage of years, he was yet no longer a youngster either.
Sir Richard Hammerman, gentleman adventurer, late of East Dalforth Estate in Albion, but of present making his residence in Her Immortal Majesty Queen Elizabeth the First’s Cape Colony in South Africus, twitched aside the corners of the evening newspaper he was perusing to look down the length of the table towards the doorway into the room with a keen blue eyed gaze. It took only a few moments for the door to open. A big, solidly built man with a ruddy complexion entered. He bore a large walrus moustache and short cropped ginger hair as well as an expression of thoughtful concentration.
“The Doctor?” Sir Richard enquired.
Sir Richard replied with a touch of a nod before returning to his paper. “It would prudent, I think, to have a cup of tea ready for him, Obadiah.”
Obadiah Crabb stepped back out of the room, leaving Sir Richard to his reading as he awaited the arrival of the good doctor. The Cape Colony Times, the local news sheet, held reports from across the Empire and its Dominions, from Indus and Australis, from across the dark continent of Africus and the New World, and was the paper read by the Gentlemen of Cape Colony. Sir Richard tuned a page before picking up a cup of tea to take a sip from. His eye caught note of news from the Indus frontier, of reports of clashes with tribal revels, followed by a report of the continuing boom of the Australis Gold Rushes, where the lucky were striking it rich overnight.
When the door at last reopened, Sir Richard had finished with both his cup of tea and the perusal of the paper. The man who entered the room, Doctor Hamilton Gooding, had a face dominated by a long nose and an impressive bushy salt and pepper beard. Smudges of soot covered his face, all bar for circles about his eyes where his brass goggles had sat, goggles that were now pushed up onto his head. He pulled off a pair of thick leather gloves, and tossed them down along with a heavy work apron that bore the pock marks produced by hot sparks.
“Problems, doctor?” Sir Richard enquired politely.
“Aye, that there is laddie,” Hamilton replied in his thick Scotti accent. “The wee mule is having a spot o’bother. I requested a Number Three tumbling ratchet and what they supplied me with was a blasted Number Five. Caused the whole contraption to o’erheat and near take my head off.”
Obadiah slipped back into the room, setting down a fresh cup of tea before Doctor Hamilton.
“Much appreciated, laddie,” Hamilton said, easing his frame into a chair. Taking up the sugar prongs he added a cube of sugar to the tea and commenced stirring it in.
“Has this set back our plans?” Sir Richard asked, folding up the paper and setting it down on the table. Obadiah busied himself clearing away the plates and platters that had been set down for dinner.
“Not at all. I’ll have the wee beastie back up and functioning afore you can mention it.”
“That is good to hear.”
Out in the hallway, the clock began to jangle, marking the arrival of a new hour.
Sir Richard pushed back his chair and rose to his feet. “If you will excuse me, I am expected down at the club.”
It is November 1st here in Australia and I am about to commence an attempt at NaNoWriMo. For it I have gone with the Steampunk flavoured anthology. I am planning on three stories as of yet unknown length. The first and third ones have been planned out, but the second one is still just a concept – I’ll have to come up with something for it when the time comes. So far titles are just working ones.
The characters of the stories are;
Sir Richard Hammerman; Gentleman-Explorer. A typical reserved, stiff-upper-lip gentleman of Albion, unflappable in the face of danger.
Obadiah Crabb; Sir Richard’s loyal and dependable manservant.
Doctor Hamilton Gooding; Scientist, naturalist, explorer and inventor from Scotti.
Captain Archibald Hammerman; Sir Richard’s genial brother and somewhat the back sheep of the family. They bought him a commition in the army to keep him out of trouble.
Lady Adeline ‘Ada’ Redsmith; A daughter of an old friend of Sir Richard and Captain Archibald’s father. Raised in the colonies and as such is a more adventurous and outgoing woman than the genteel society ladies of Londinium.
Hammer of the Pygmies
Sir Richard and Doctor Gooding set forth from Cape Colony into the wilds of Africus, into pygmy territory, seeking a lost temple. The region is fraught with peril as it is said that the pygmies have discovered a means by which to animate the bodies of their fallen foes to fight for them.
Hammer and the Captain
Doctor Gooding’s research into some recently discovered ancient stone tablets is interrupted by agents of the Frankish Sun King. It is up to Sir Richard and Captain Archibald to recover both the good doctor and the tablets before they can be spirited away back to Eupora.
Hammer of the Skies
Travelling back to Albion via airship and escorting the Lady Adeline Redsmith is no easy task when pterodactyl riding pygmies, djinn dervishes and Transylvanian sky-pirates all seek to thwart the journey of Sir Richard, Captain Archibald and Doctor Gooding.
After a bit of a hiatus, I’m getting back to the blog – I had been trying to square things away in time for the start of NaNoWriMo so I didn’t have an unfinished project getting in the way. It is touch and go to see if that happens or not.
This isn’t the only blog I keep either – my far older one is over and Mist and Shadows – while it is mostly about writing as well, other subjects do crop up from time to time, and unlike this one it isn’t exclusively about short stories and novellas.
NaNoWriMo is upon us again soon.
The funny thing is, despite having known about it for years, last year was the first time I attempted it – and never completed it. I got some 17,000 words in and decided that I shouldn’t be working on a new project when old ones still remained to be finished. So it got set aside, as often happens. At least this time the projects I returned to did get finished. In part that is why I like short stories – after 10-15,000 words you are generally finished.
This year I am contemplating doing it again – but not with a novel, as is the norm. Instead I am thinking of doing an anthology of short stories. The question is which, as I have a few planned.
The first is one I’ve already written six short stories for and was planned to be one of the next things finished after the re-editing and new covers were done for the previous stories. There are three more stories planned for the anthology, though I am not sure if they can be stretched to 50,000 words between them.
The second only has one story written so far – and another half done. It had been planned as a novella but may end up being a bit longer, given it is already 40,000 words in length. Four novelettes and a novella are planned to finish of that anthology, so it could easily hit the 50,000 word mark.
The third is a anthology of pulp style sword and sorcery fantasy stories – three have been written (but not yet published) with a number more planned. The good thing about them is that they are fairly fun and easy to write and don’t require a huge amount of planning.
The last one is an anthology I’ve been wanting to write for a long time but never gotten around to it – a steampunk series set in a fantastical alternative Earth, following the exploits of a gentleman-adventurer and his companions as they battle pterodactyl-riding pygmies while travelling aboard airships, find lost treasures in hidden temples in the deep jungles, get caught up in the politics of the Immortal Queen Victoria of Albion as she seeks to defend the Empire against her foes in Europa and all the weird science and outlandish steampunk contraptions that go along with it.
I still have a few weeks to go luckily before a choice needs to be made.
I have of late been flat out working on re-editing my collection of short stories as of late, bringing them up to scratch, as well as working on new covers for them. Now the edits are done I can return to other projects, such as this blog.
At one stage the fantasy I wrote was mostly of your fairly standard pseudo-medieval European inspired style. Like most fantasy in fact. Then, a few years back, I was musing about how fantasy so often gets locked in a medieval stasis, where nothing changes for hundreds, if not thousands of years. It got me pondering about what would happen if things did continue to change and advance. At the time I was reading a lot of books set in the Napoleonic War period – C. S. Forester, Bernard Cornwell, Patrick O’Brian – and wondered what a fantasy world would be like with that level of technology. So I took my world, advanced it four hundred years, gave it gunpowder technology and started writing some stories.
The Tomb of the Tagosa Kings was the first one I did – a short story to explore how it might work and to introduce a couple of characters who were to be prominent in later stories. It is still to date one of my favourite short stories I have written. (Sadly, the only review for it so far is from someone who ‘didn’t get it’ – which is a bad way to review a story.)
Here is the blurb for the story;
In the depths of arid country, the adventurer and historian Professor Halir and his escorts, men of the Queen’s Own Iskaeri Light Infantry, find themselves under attack by fierce Nacatori raiders as he seeks to unlock the secrets of a long lost tomb. What lies within the tomb may be of a much bigger threat than that posed by the raiders.
The Tomb of the Tagosa Kings is available for free at Smashwords.
Most of what I write is fantasy, though I have, and will continue to dabble with other genres. Of that, a lot of it takes places in a setting that has been developing over a number of years, one that, like a lot of fantasy, does take place across more than one world, though the most detail has gone into one core world. The stories I write take place over a large sweep of time, ranging from simple stone age times, through the bronze age, to more traditional fantasy time frames and on into gunpowder fantasy. Writing short stories allows me to explore all this more readily.
The Bronze Man, shockingly, takes place in the Bronze Age era of the setting, the first planned story in a collection recounting the deeds of the great heroes and kings of the past. The story is inspired by, in part, Homer’s Illiad and the tales of the ancient Celts, of great heroes who rode into combat on chariots and challenged other heroes to duels.
Here is the blurb for the story;
Fierce Chelosian sea-raiders descend upon the simple bronze-age village of Rath Arn and the villagers there are left with a stark choice – die free or live as slaves. But Rath Arn is the home of the mighty hero Awn the Red, and he leads the villagers in seeking to delay the far more numerous foe until help arrives.
The Bronze Man is available for free at Smashwords.
I normally have multiple projects on the boil – now being no different. Even when I was working on novels I was regularly starting new ones. It has led to a lot of half started novels out there. Switching across to writing short stories has helped as it means they are more likely to be finished, even if I go back to them later on.
The current is a list of what exactly I am working on at the moment.
Firstly I am doing a re-edit of all my old stories. My editing skills have improved remarkably and it is time I went back and fixed up all the errors I missed when I wrote them. Included in the re-edit is fixing the covers. I can’t afford to have them all done professionally, but at least I can improve on early attempts. So far I have done 3 out of 16, the stories ranging from a mere 1000 words all the way to one of 15,000.
Beyond that I am working on seven, yes seven, novelettes, though there are more planned and set aside. The first two are in the final polish stage and form the third duo of stories in The Chronicles of the White Bull, an ongoing series following the adventures of a minotaur who once was a slave-gladiator seeking the way home through a dying world.
The other five range from just needing a final polish to still being in plotting, and form a new series I am working on, a pulp style sword and sorcery series inspired by my enjoyment of Robert E Howard and others of his ilk.
I do keep myself busy.