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The Renegade Count is up to 2,000 words after three or so days. That’s great progress, the plot has lots of energy, and the characters are coming to life. I’m really happy with it. But, I need to reassess.

The issue is that Yamaya is at the point of knifing Huld. The tension might build up to that by the end of the novella, but I’m only 4 pages in. This wasn’t meant to be my starting point. Besides which, my original intention was that Berisan make allies — first with Yamaya and later with the village where Huld lives. Having this level of antagonism at the outset will eliminate that possibility.

What’s happening, I think, is my fury at the attempted coup in Washington D.C. and the shameful non-apology from those who supported it. Real as the situation and emotions are, the story I’m writing needs to be separated from them.

Possibly, however, my muse is telling me that the novella is not really about Berisan making allies. It’s about Yamaya holding onto her farm. As I cool down that first conversation, more new ideas are already starting to pop.

So my job today is to step Huld back from his most inflammatory words, not trigger Yamaya’s rage, and let the plot build on a stronger framework.


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No sooner did I start on The Renegade Count, than an unexpected character strutted into the scene. He actually developed from the fourth potential introduction I was working with. So — yay for my strategy!

Huld is going to be an antagonist. He is an unwanted suitor of Yamaya’s, with intentions not at all pure. This makes him pretty much a stereotype. Yet stereotypes often contain a kernel of truth. As a writer, it’s my job to make sure Huld becomes more than a negative trope.

Anyway, the obnoxious strutting is definitely permissible for such a character. It gives the plot a kick, as Berisan and Yamaya have someone actively striving against them.

Now — back to my writing!


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Despite the current political crisis — or perhaps as a respite from it — I am push-starting my next novella, tentatively titled The Renegade Count. Step one is for me to find my entry point.

I’ve already been thinking about the characters and their background. Berisan is one of my Minstrels, a renegade mage who tries to bring people hope against a cruel regime. Yamaya is a peasant woman who appears to need help. Berisan has a history of protecting his brother, so naturally he falls into that mode with Yamaya. However, she has a dark past, and he’s going to find it’s not as simple as sticking around or walking away.

What I’m really working on today and tomorrow is how and where these two will meet. When I’m making decisions like this, I like to come up with at least three possible scenarios. The first one will be really obvious and full of stereotypes. The second will be more interesting, and hopefully the third will be something unexpected. In any case, it has to immediately engage the reader.

By the way, what I’m using is the Rusch Technique, taught by Kristine Kathryn Rusch at a workshop a lone time ago. So I’m not claiming to brilliantly think this up on my own.

Anyway! There are a few smaller decisions as well. Mostly names for side characters and places, so I don’t stop in the middle of a sentence to figure them out. Like I said, I hope to settle these details by tomorrow.

Wish me luck! (And to not get distracted by politics until after my writing is done.)


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Yesterday was Christmas, so here’s a slightly late gift from my pen name, Lucy D. Ford.


Call Me King, by Lucy D. Ford

The farmhouse door slammed open, and little feet pounded down the rickety steps. A young voice yelled out, “Call me king!”

The farm wife glanced up sharply from weeding her cabbages. Nap time was always over too soon. She watched the boy run through the farm yard. A ragged blanket flapped behind him.

“Call me king!”

Chickens scattered, squawking, as the simple-minded boy slashed at them with a large tin spoon. The farm wife sighed to herself. She’d been so careful to pick up every stick from the yard. Naturally, the brat got into her kitchen drawer instead.

“Call me king!”

A spotted dog galloped after the boy, barking madly. It nimbly dodged a swipe from the spoon. The farm wife shook her head. The boy was lucky to have such a friend, but did he care?

“Call me king!”

She knelt to dig out a particularly stubborn dandelion root. The boy spotted her. He raced up, flailing the spoon at the air. Dirt flew as he skidded to a halt.

“Call me king!” He swirled his blanket, wild-eyed, wrapped in the game. When he grinned, a gap showed where one tooth was missing.

“Stop that. You’re getting dust in my eyes.”

He ignored her protest. “I am the king! Call me king!”

Slowly, firmly, she answered, “No.”

“Call me king!” he demanded yet again.

“No.” The farm wife reached out in a half-hearted attempt to reclaim her spoon. The boy pulled away, and she ended up rubbing his curly head, instead.

“I’m tired of this game,” she said. “There’s work to be done.”

The boy grabbed her wrist, his little fist sticky and tight. “You have to call me king!”

“Let go, please. What I have to do is finish the weeding.”

The boy held on tighter. A fierce, mad spark lit in his eyes. “Go to the dungeon,” he babbled. “I’ll chop your head off. I am the king!”

The farm wife lost patience. She stood up tall and stern. “Then you must call me witch!”

A cloud passed over them. The dog cowered and whined. The boy blinked, then jumped away. After a moment’s confusion, he jabbed the spoon at her.

“Aaah! There’s a witch here!”

He darted around the yard, seemingly with no aim in mind. For several minutes, the chant of “call me king” was replaced by “there’s a witch.” Barking dog and squawking chickens added to the cacophony.

The witch fumed as she turned to weeding the carrots with extra vengeance. It was a good thing none of the neighbors lived close enough to hear. They all understood that the boy was simple-minded, but you never knew when a label like witch might stick in the wrong ear.

After some time, the boy’s racing became more of a trot. He shook the tin spoon at the cow in its shed. “Go to the dungeon! I am the king!”

By then, the witch’s fury had given way to sorrow. Five years ago, she had abandoned her oath and committed a terrible crime. She had reduced an unhinged monarch to a squalling infant and stolen away with it. The sentence for her deed was this endless watch over her victim. A simple-minded child in a quiet farmyard could do little harm, even if he managed to hit you with a spoon. But a mad king was a peril to all the world.

“Call me king,” the tiny tyrant ranted. “I’ll chop your head off!”

Softly, she murmured, “And that is why I had to lay the curse upon you, King Liam.”


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For the past couple of years, I’ve been focused on my Minstrels of Skaythe series. In these high fantasy novellas, a group of mages struggle to resist a vicious regime without becoming vicious themselves. Today I’m flashing back to one of my earlier novels, The Seven Exalted Orders.

Published in 2012 by Sky Warrior Books, The Seven Exalted Orders focuses on a nation where magic is strictly controlled by the government. The Collegium of Magi deckares that mages have to join an Order and can only work that kind of magic. When a woman develops powers that don’t fit into any of those neat boxes, the Collegium sends some other mages to bring her back in line.

If you’re enjoying the Minstrels of Skaythe series, you’ll probably like The Seven Exalted Orders, too. It’s available in print and as an e-book through Amazon or Smashwords. Better yet, Sky Warrior tells me they hope to publish the sequel this spring.


Arkanost has Seven Exalted Orders. No more, no less. When a magus goes renegade in a far-off province, the Mage Lords demand that something be done. Ryamon is bitter and frustrated. He longs to be a Fire magus; as a Stone magus, he’s miserable. If he can bring the rogue back, he has a chance — his last chance — to fulfill his dream.

It’s a great plan until he actually meets Valdira.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Revisions to Prisoners of the Wailing Tower are going well. In fact, I’m coming to a part of the plot that I really like best. That’s when my viewpoint characters meet up — or in some cases, collide.

Although I might start working on a story with a single POV, I usually end up adding more. This is mostly from the practicality that, if significant events are happening in a location, the readers deserve to know about it. No unfair surprises from this author! Letting the readers know about it requires a viewpoint character to witness the said events. However, having a second or third POV also gives some “break time” where the reader can think and anticipate what might happen with the first POV character.

Conversely, if I want something to come as a complete surprise, then I make sure NOT to have a POV there. That spares me having to torture the meanings of words in order to avoid prematurely revealing a surprise. Or, worse — making my characters be too stupid to notice what’s happening around them.

Beyond that, I find it really satisfying to have two or more viewpoint characters who are not necessarily aware of each other at the outset. They may be allies who are separated, as in Prisoners of the Wailing Tower and my 2007 novel, Too Many Princes. But it’s even more fun when they are on opposite sides, as in The Seven Exalted Orders, from 2012. Each POV character has their own compelling arc, but ultimately they crash into each other. Even I, as the author, sometimes don’t know who to root for!

So Alemin and Lorrah’s arcs are converging in Prisoners, and I love it. I can hardly wait for next spring when you all get a chance to see what I’m working on.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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The third draft revision for Prisoners of the Wailing Tower, that is. I’ve done my first read-through, where I highlight everything that I might want to fix. Now I’m on about page 20 of 120, going through word by word.

I’ve discovered a few words that I definitely used too much. Some characters don’t walk, they either strut or swagger. Others can’t just look at you, they scowl or glare. When they talk, they all sneer. So obviously I’m working to refine my vocabulary and eliminate those redundancies.

The only plot related problem to work out is the horse issue. (Will the horses run away in the middle of a battle.) I thought I had it solved, with the horse being well trained enough not to trample my protagonist. Then I remembered that the horses were also blinded in the battle. So I still have some thinking to do there.

Over all, I’m pleased with it. With school being fairly intense, I’m only getting through about 10 pages a day of careful work. I still should finish before Christmas, though. I’ll have a completed novella to toast at New Year’s. My expected publication date is in May of 2021.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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I’ve been sharing how often I hear the complaint that a particular book, movie, comic or game is “too political.” And remember how I pointed out how often writers are told that the only measure of success is the number of copies sold?

I have just three more words for you: Game of Thrones.

A big series full of big books with big sales figures, even before the big TV series. Well, if you’ve read these books, you know that they are extremely political. Every character, every plot event, involves some sort of political intrigue. The whole series is a meditation on politics and power.

Have all the “politics” done anything to alienate fans or drive down sales? Not so much.

In truth, almost any genre series you could name has some sort of political underpinning. To claim that this is a problem is to ignore the roots and history of science fiction and fantasy.

So go ahead and write your story with all the politics you want. Anyone who thinks they know better can just go ahead and write their own book. Maybe they’ll even got a hint about their own politics.


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By coincidence, just after my last post (“Too Political?”) a friend of mine posted on Facebook that she was still angry about the threats to our democracy embodied in this election. She wanted to write something political. But she wasn’t sure if writers should get into politics. I whispered back to her (as one does on Facebook, by typing *whispers*) “All fiction is political.”

In the comments for “Too Political?” Alden mentioned how world building especially is full of politics. Who has power. How resources are allocated. You can see the author’s underlying assumptions in ways that are sometimes obvious or sometimes more subtle.

In a lot of classic SF, the cast is entirely male. It was just their assumption that only men would crew a starship (or whatever ship it was). There might be grotesque stereotypes of minorities such as Black and Asian people, and the author wouldn’t even see how bigoted they were being.

For authors working today, the world is different. We have to think more about bias and representation. And I think, the change is for the better.

We writers so often get told that making money is the most important part of our art. We have to sell copies to be considered successful. Lots and lots of copies. So then we’re told to only pick the hot, commercial topics. Things that are already selling well. Above all, we must not write anything that might offend a customer.

Never mind that my friend isn’t the only one who’s still upset about the threats to democracy. She might find a ready audience for her political fantasy story. Besides which, her existing trilogy has the main characters living in a matriarchal society. If that isn’t political, tell me what is.

I may have said this before, but the stories we tell are important. They might call for change, where bias still exists. They might show us how to create healthier relationships. If we want the world to keep changing for the better, the first step is for us to share the future we imagine, through our stories.

So I don’t think that writers can ever be too political. Whoever says that is just trying to shut you up.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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Minstrels of Skaythe is a book! No surprise, right? I’ve only been talking about it non-stop for a month. But I’m still excited to give you the purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/173392275X. It would be great if you could share this around with anyone you know who loves high fantasy.

Finally, I have something in the Minstrels of Skaythe series that I can autograph. So if you’d like to get a signed copy, feel free to contact me and I’ll gladly set that up.

Now excuse me while I rush around updating all my web sites and stuff!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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