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Posts Tagged ‘Tower in the Mist’

Yes! I have finished a non-skeletal and satisfying first draft of Fang Marsh. The novella came in at 33,500 words. The other Minstrels of Skaythe novellas are 32,000 words (The Tower in the Mist) and 38,000 words (The Cursed Grove), so Fang Marsh fits right in at its length.

That said, I’m pondering whether to take a stab at the second draft now. If I give myself 2 weeks, I should still have plenty of time to set up The Cursed Grove for Thanksgiving weekend. There’s a good use in letting stories rest between drafts, but I’m inclined to work on the issues I’m already aware of in Fang Marsh, and let it rest after that.

First of all, I’m changing the title, which I’ve known all along that I would. It’s going to be The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh. The title character is based on one from an RPG who was The Ice Witch. Yes, like The Batman, everyone knew her as The Ice Witch. Although Meven is not exactly the same character, the name/title has a good ring and I’d like to keep that.

Meven herself will be a main focus of this revision. Her character is kind of all over the place. The original Ice Witch was actually not icy, but funny and snarky. Meven spends too much time being scared and emotionally shut in. I plan to organize her and create a nice arc from the anxious fugitive to the confident and sarcastic Ice Witch I knew and loved.

Her foundling, currently named Elldry, is going to be called something with a stronger rhythm. With find-and-replace, that will be an easy fix. His personal arc will also be firmed up, but doesn’t need as much work as Meven’s.

Finally, there is currently a distinct lack of fangs in Fang Marsh. The previous two Minstrels of Skaythe novels each featured some sort of giant creature. They just pop, you know? So I will be looking to add a confrontation with something big and fanged, which will deepen the relationship between Meven and her hopeful boyfriend, Shonn, as they both save Elldry from it.

All that in two weeks? No sweat! *sarcasm*


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I’m buried with work for SpoCon, including final schedule tweaks, badge lists, and door schedules. So here’s a snippet from The Tower in the Mist.

The viewpoint character is a rebel who’s been arrested and finds that his strength of purpose may not be as great as he had thought.


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My first review has come in on The Tower in the Mist, and it’s a lovely one. Alden Loveshade delivers perceptive comments on his Loveshade Family Blog. Thank you so much, Alden!

I also have a minor puzzle. One of my goals for the year has been to revitalize my author newsletter and get more activity going there. They say these can be a great way to connect with fans and perhaps get them to use those purchase links in the e-mails.

So far this year, I have improved my record of putting the newsletter out on time each month. I’ve tried to have entertaining things to say. Although one person does interact consistently, which is more than I had before, I have unfortunately seen more people drop off the list each time I send one.

Maybe it’s natural, and those who were accustomed to the previous moribund newsletter find monthly contact a bit too much. It’s a little disheartening, all the same.

What’s an author to do? Keep on trying until I weed out the disinterested subscribers, I suppose. And keeping peeking back at Alden’s review to cheer myself up!


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Amid all the excitement of publishing The Tower in the Mist, I also managed a third draft revision of its sequel, which I’m now calling The Grove of Ghosts. It started out being 36,850 words and ended being 36,760. Having only a 90-odd word difference convinces me that the story is really solid at its length.

The whole exercise made me think a bit about word counts and why they matter. One factor is that the word count is a defining characteristic for our genre. The way I was taught is this: 1) Flash fiction is anything under 1,000 words. 2) Short stories are 1,000 to 10,000 words. 3) 10,000 to 15,000 is a novelette. 4) 15,000 to 30,000 is a novella. 5) 30,000 to 90,000 is the Dead Zone. No publications buy stories at this length. 6) 90,000 words or more is a novel.

Based on this, maybe you can see why I was worried that my novellas were 32,000 words (The Tower in the Mist) and 38,000 words (The Grove of Ghosts) in their first drafts. Strictly by the word count, both of them are too long for the novella format.

The word-count-as-definition trope comes from the 19th and 20th Centuries, when all publications were on paper and editors had to gauge how many pages a given story would take up in their magazine. And the calculation still holds true in print books and magazines, which require editors to balance page counts vs. price point.

However, as an author of e-books, page count is really a non-issue. With no actual book to fit on actual shelves or ship in actual boxes, I can write 38,000 words and call it a novella. I don’t have to worry that it’s in the Dead Zone. The calculation that I have to make is price point vs. value to customer. After buying my e-book, I want my reader to believe they got a fair value for what they paid. If the book is too short, they may feel cheated. It it is too long, they may suspect I padded it to inflate the word count.

What’s your thought about word counts and story length over all?


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Here it is — the cover you all helped me fine-tune! The Tower in the Mist is getting closer to its publication date, on May 1st. There’s even a pre-order link if you are so inclined.

Mages vs. Warriors vs. Giant Badger vs. Tyranny! Zathi’s job is to capture renegade mages, but Keilos isn’t like any other mage she’s dealt with. Her drive to bring him in only leads them deeper into a cursed forest. Together, warrior and mage will face deadly beasts and grapple with decisions that compromise every principle. Until they stumble upon a place of ancient, forgotten magic. Zathi must choose — allow Keilos to claim it, or kill him once and for all.

Next step? I need to set up publicity and blog visits, and so I once again call on you friends for help. Some of you will soon receive e-mails asking about a visit to your blog, but I’d also love any ideas you have about other blogs I could approach. All suggestions are welcome.

I hope you’re all as excited as I am to visit the deep, dark Hornwood. Here’s that pre-order link again.


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Thanks so much to everyone who commented on my cover choices! I’m pretty much settled on Option 1, with perhaps the subtitles moved around.

This brings me to the cover copy, and here’s what I have so far: “As a hunter-guard, it’s Zathi’s job to capture renegade mages, but Keilos isn’t like any other mage she’s dealt with. Her drive to bring him in only leads them deeper into the accursed Hornwood. Together, warrior and mage will battle deadly beasts and face decisions that compromise every principle. Until they stumble upon a place of ancient, forgotten power. Zathi must choose — allow Keilos to claim it, or kill him once and for all.”

This description packs a lot in, but it may go on too long. My question, bluntly put: would you want to read this book? If not, what would tip the balance? As ever, I look forward to your advice.

One of you sharp-eyed readers also noticed that I’m still trying out variations on the series title. The gist is that these people live in a world after the evil overlord, Dar-Gothull, has triumphed. The mages are trying to bring back hope, and this makes them renegades.

Their powers are based around light, hence I’ve been calling them Light-Bringers, but that title has already been used for a couple of recent series. They travel in disguise as a troupe of minstrels. The name of their land is Skaythe. They spend a lot of time in a dark forest called the Hornwood. So I’m boiling it down to Minstrels of Skaythe or Minstrels of the Light.

What do you think? I really like Minstrels of Light, but I have a hunch it’s already been used by a Christian band somewhere. I also like The Hornwood Series, but I understand there is a Hornwood character in Game of Thrones, and I don’t want to create confusion. More searching to follow…


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Option 1

Here I am with a couple of fairly firm concepts for the cover of The Tower in the Mist. I’d love to hear what you think!

Which font style do you like better? Which color works with the art? Should the sub-headers be placed somewhere else?

I really appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.

Option 2

In other news, I’m being interviewed! Dave Koster has invited me to visit his blog, On Writing Dragons. I get these invitations from time to time, and it’s always a ton of fun. It should go live within the next weeks, so watch this space for a link to that.


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