Archive for July, 2016

It was inevitable, I suppose. The first part of the revision process on WAR OF MAGIC went so fast I thought maybe it was going to be easy.


But revisions are never that easy. And now the revisions are not going as smoothly or as swiftly. Now it’s plugging along.

Even so, I’m as close as makes no difference to two-thirds done with the first round. The second round won’t require a full read-through. It’s purpose will be to go back to the comments I hadn’t fully addressed the first time. Then the polishing edit and it will be ready to go.

Even if the last bit is something of an uphill slog, the end is in sight.

Also, my last few answers for the A to Z favorite fantasy characters game #FellowshipOfFun as we get down to the really difficult letters are:

  • W is for Willow. Yes, you have to use the way-back machine for that one.
  • X is for Charles Xavier, Professor X.
  • Y is the only easy one from this batch. Yoda, of course.
  • Z is the hardest. The only character I can come up with is Zorro, and that’s neither fantasy nor science fiction. But . . . I could write a fantasy story using those elements. Hmm.

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Fellowship of Fun

Not much else to report right now.

My latest choices for the A to Z Favorite Fantasy Characters for the Fellowship of Fantasy challenge are:

  • T is for Treebeard
  • U is for Undomiel (thus getting both Aragorn and Arwen in).
  • V is for Miles Vorkosigan. Yes, he’s a science fiction character. I don’t care.

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And, in yesterday’s post, I forgot to note my last four entries in the #FellowshipOfFun A to Z favorite fantasy characters. So, here they are:

  • For P I couldn’t decide between Polgara (from David Eddings Belgariad and Mallorean, as well as other books) or Penric (from Lois McMaster Bujold’s “Penric’s Demon” and “Penric and the Shaman.”)
  • Q was really hard. I ended up going with Quetza from my own Dual Magics series.
  • R was Ron Weasley, of course.
  • And S could only be Samwise Gamgee.


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I’m closing in on half-way through the first round of post-critique revisions on WAR OF MAGIC.


And I’ve actually already tackled most of the more difficult structural changes that I thought would probably have to wait until the second round. I’ll still have some things to go back and address in a second round. And then on to the polishing edit.

It’s looking good for a September release.

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As I work through the revisions on WAR OF MAGIC, I’ve had a chance to think about critiques some more.


The first thought, is actually more from the days of marking up the manuscript than it is from the revisions:

When there are too many comments–sometimes multiple comments on the same page–they tend to blur. It becomes hard to see the forest for the trees. And a real gem might get missed in sifting through the rest. If there’s a need for that many comments, it might be better to save them all until the end of the chapter.Well, except for typo corrections and similar things. And the small comments of approval. Those are always good.

I’ve done that before when I give critiques, too. It has the benefit of not posting a question that is answered a paragraph or a page later. (Small mysteries–used properly–can actually be a good way to encourage a reader to turn the page.) And it might also encourage paring down to the really important comments.

The second thought is about suggestions and it’s two-fold.

First, there’s a danger in making suggestions for major changes (or even minor ones) to someone else’s work. No critiquer is going to know that world or that story as intimately as the author does. Especially in a series. If it’s early in the series–or even in a book–you don’t know where the author intends to take that story, so you don’t know what things they need to establish. If it’s late in the series, and the critiquer hasn’t read the earlier books, they might not know what’s already been established. The suggestion just might break some of the rules of the society or the magic that have already been established. So, maybe it’s a good idea not to be too specific in your suggestions.

On the other hand, sometimes a suggestion that won’t work can actually trigger other ideas that will–and that make the story better. So I would hate not have my beta readers make any suggestions at all. But, less specific is often better–because of that forests and trees problem.

And then there’s the most basic issue. When a beta reader sees a problem, it’s real. But the solution might be the opposite of the suggestion. A section that is too slow might not need to be cut; it might need to have more added to it. More detail to bring the setting to life. More conflict. More . . . something. That’s sometimes the hardest thing for the writer to recognize.

And now, just for fun, my last few entries in the A to Z favorite fantasy characters game #FellowshipOfFun:

  • M is for Mercy Thompson, the little coyote shifter who keeps the big, bad werewolves in line and on their toes in Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series.
  • N was hard. I ended up going with Neville Longbottom.
  • O is for Obi-Wan Kenobi. Stars Wars is definitely Science Fantasy, so that’s not cheating at all.

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Well, I finally finished the markup. So now I’m starting revisions on WAR OF MAGIC for real.


Starting with a read-through during which I’ll fix all the small- to medium-sized things I can. Places where readers wanted more emotion attached to a scene or a better grounding either in the settings or the background from the previous books. Stuff like that.

There may be a few bigger, structural changes. Those will come in a second pass, after I have a little more time to think about them. And the read-through will help with that.

In the meantime, just for fun, here are my last few picks on the FellowshipOfFun A to Z favorite fantasy characters game.

  • I is for Ivan Vorpatril. All right, that one’s cheating just a little, since Ivan is from Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga, which is science fiction. But I’m sticking with it anyway.
  • J is for Jack Frost from “Rise of the Guardians.” J was difficult, though I was tempted to go with Jathan from my own DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING.
  • K is for Katsa from Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING.
  • L takes us back to LORD OF THE RINGS and can only be Legolas. (In this case I definitely mean the movie version.)

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I’m still mired in the markup of my manuscript of WAR OF MAGIC.WarMagicNew

Although, I’m now about a quarter of the way through the third–and last–critique. So not much longer. I’ve gleaned a few interesting ideas in the process. Putting my version of my beta readers’ comments into the manuscript often prompts new ideas. So, while it’s the drudge work of the process, it’s still worth it.

Otherwise, back to the favorite fantasy characters of #FellowshipOfFun:

  • F: Faramir. Tolkien’s version, not the one from the movies. The one who could honestly say that he was not tempted by the ring of power.
  • G: Galadriel, of course.
  • H: Enough LotR, at least for now. H is for Harry Potter. Or maybe for Hermione.


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Now all three critiques are back for WAR OF MAGIC.


So, I’ve switched back to working on that one.

It’s interesting sometimes to compare critiques. One beta reader found a particular scene slow, while another loved it. That may have been influenced by the fact that the one who found it slow has read all three previous books in the series and the other has only read the second book, THE VOICE OF PROPHECY.


There’s a somewhat similar–not the same–in the third book, BEYOND THE PROPHECY, so maybe that’s why.


I’ll have to reread that scene from the third book before I decide what to do.

Meantime, I’m marking up the comments into my manuscript. It’s the slowest, most boring part of the revision process and requires taking frequent breaks. (Good thing my kitchen needs cleaning anyway.)  But it gives me a chance to start thinking about the more major revisions that may be needed.

Meantime, on the subject of taking short breaks, one of the groups I belong to, Fellowship of Fantasy, has an ABC challenge going on on twitter under the hastag #FellowshipOfFun. For each day, a favorite fantasy character starting with a different letter. (Some letters are way more challenging than others.)

So far, my answers are:

  • A: Aragorn, of course. Goes without saying.
  • B: Bran Cornick, the Marrok, from Patricia Briggs series.
  • C: Cazaril from Lois McMaster Bujold’s THE CURSE OF CHALION. One of my favorite fantasies of all time.
  • D: Dag Redwing/Bluefield from Lois McMaster Bujold’s SHARING KNIFE series. Another favorite.
  • E: Eowyn, who slew the Witch King of Angmar.

And, since we didn’t start until the 6th, that’s as far as we’ve gotten.

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I’ve gotten back the second (of three) critiques back on WAR OF MAGIC.


With later books in a series, I always try to have one beta reader who hasn’t read the previous books. They’re the ones who can tell me when I’ve assumed too much after living in this story for a couple of years. When I haven’t reintroduced characters sufficiently–especially minor but important characters. When I haven’t re-grounded the reader in the world or the magic system. Or, in the case of DUAL MAGICS, what the various groups of people feel about magic. When I haven’t established where scattered characters are in this world at the start of the story. Things I’m much too close to the story to judge.

Though I label each book with its number in the series, there’s no way I can control how readers come to them. Some might pick up the fourth book first. Or, someone who’d read the first three books might not read the last for–well, at least a year, because that’s how long it’s probably going to take me to get it published. But maybe longer than that, too.

That’s okay. Each book in this series is meant to stand alone, but they’re also part of a larger story. So I try to make it easy to step back into the story. And there are clearly some places where I failed to accomplish that.

Also, it appears that the first part of the story is too slow. I’ll have to think about how to fix that, too.


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BECOME is flowing much better now with the new structure.

Become 5

I’ve completed three new chapters and started a fourth since coming back to this one with a new structure. I’m really liking it a lot better, too. This time, I really believe the story is going to work.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me while I get back to this slightly awkward scene–awkward for my characters that is.

Happy Independence Day

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