The elf knight sits on yonder hill, and blows his horn both loud and shrill

It snowed this morning; now, it’s spitting ice pellets.  In view of the weather, I declined to go into town, hoping for better tomorrow.

For fun, I called the oil company to find out why we’d run out of oil.  I also solicited promises that this would never happen again, promises the young lady at the Office adroitly failed to give while being oh-so-helpful.  One result of her helpfulness and my continuing failure to understand how this unhappy circumstance could have come about, is that we will host yet! another! tech! tomorrow.  He will check the lines and the intake, the tank, and the furnace itself, to be sure that we don’t have a slow leak somewhere, and to patch it if we do.

So, that.

I again called the Maine State Archivist, who was not in, though this time, I got to leave a message with a live person, rather than voice mail.  I received a promise that the Archivist would return my call this afternoon, but I have Doubts that this will actually happen.  Perhaps he’ll prove me wrong.

I also called the guy who gave us a quote on putting a rooflet over the outside front stairs, and then disappeared off the face of the earth, to find out if he actually intended to do the work, and when.  That call went to voice-mail, which I supposed I could’ve predicted.

In between phone calls, and before we had finished off the coffee in the pot, a UPS truck pulled into the driveway, and the driver gave into Steve’s hands two boxes of post cards — one for Trade Secrets and one for Carousel Seas — which we will be taking with us to PhilCon.  Many thanks to Laura at Baen, for putting this together for us.

The mail brought the yearly aggravation of Form 8802, wherein we pay the government a fee to certify that  that we are, indeed, US citizens, and therefore do not have to pay taxes on monies we earn overseas.  So, yanno, yay.

I should probably finish off my phone calling extravaganza with a call to the ACA, to see if I can get a supervisor, or somebody who has once in their life at least looked over the edge of the box, but I fear the force is not sufficiently strong in me.

Alliance of Equals stands at just a smidge shy of 31,000 words.  I have about 7,700 words (roughly two chapters) left from the words excised from Dragon in Exile, and I believe they go Right About Here, which will put me, again, roughly, at just about 40,000 words.  Which will be a good place to leave it while we go down-coast to party.  When we come home from PhilCon, I’ll read those 40,000-ish words, and then move on with the next 60-90,000-ish all-new words.  This book is due on Madame the Editor’s desk in February.  No, I don’t know when it will be published, or when the eArc will be available, just to nip those both in the bud.

Several people have wanted to know how come Alliance is moving along “so quickly” while Dragon took so long to write.  There are two answers to that — three answers, if you count the age-old, and very true, “all books write different” — a simple answer and a complicated one.

The simple answer is:  Dragon is Exile took so long to write because I was trying writing two books at once.

The complicated answer also addresses the question raised by the simple answer (“But WHY were you trying to write two books at once?” so hang on to that one, ‘k?  Thx.)

The reason we were trying to write two books at once is:

1.  We pitched five books, and the first book in the pitch had to do with the Dutiful Passage

2.  One of the other books had to do with Surebleak

3.  The Surebleak book wanted to be written first, but I (mostly, it was I) resisted this, insisting that the first book had to be written first.

(A side issue which still influenced the writing — I was at the bottom of the Manic/Depressive Wheel.  Between us, I was in a hole under the wheel, which is just generally a very bad place to write from.  It’s especially a bad place to start writing from, because the beginning of the book is where you set up all the stuff that’s going to, yanno, happen in the story.  And the beginning of a series — or of a five-book dash — is where you set up the rest of the series.  That means it’s really preferable to have good access to your brain.  And the big thing that depression does, besides making you feel bad, is?  Right.  Depression makes you stupid.  So, that.)

4.  By the time I realized that I had to write the Surebleak book first, or kill both it and the Passage book through Auctorial Stupidity, and untangled the plots from each other, the Surebleak book no longer trusted me.

5.  That meant that I needed to coax it, and sweet-talk it, and Calmly Accept whatever bits and pieces it gave me.  Then, after I had all the bits and pieces I was apparently going to get, I had to figure out the order of the scenes, and write all the connective tissue. And! Since the book no longer trusted me, I had to trust it.  Which among other things meant accepting the existence of a character whose purpose in the story was only Revealed as we were going through the penultimate draft.

5a.  Steve could not take over and Just Write the Book because, (1) I was being an idiot, and (2) the entangled plots were a mess the like of which you rarely see.  I hardly knew how to untangle them, and it was my mess.

5b. Tangential Interesting Factoid:  At one point early in our career, we did manage to write A Whole Wrong Book.  The solution to that was easy — write the correct book.  In the five weeks, I think it was, to deadline.

6.  The good side of all this is that, when we came to address Book the Second, we had almost a quarter of a book already in the can.  Which is why Alliance seems to be moving along at such a spanking pace.


Today’s blog title comes to you, again, courtesy of Steeleye Span:  Lady Isobel and the Elf Knight

* * *

Progress on Alliance of Equals
30,874/100,000 OR 31% Complete

 “He’s a bit stiff in the honor, the third mate,” he murmured.

4 thoughts on “The elf knight sits on yonder hill, and blows his horn both loud and shrill”

  1. Your explanation also fits some of the problems I’ve had with certain books. That thing about the book not trusting you if you don’t write it when it wants to be written…oh, yeah, definitely. Once they go off and sulk somewhere, they’re really hard to coax back out and into playing the very game they wanted to play before.

    As for the depression. Sucks. Definitely energy-robbing & brain-robbing.

  2. I thought to myself, “Self, #’s 3-5 are why I write poetry rather than novels.” And that was when the two poems I’ve been trying to write about my father hopped up on the desk and blew raspberries at me. I’m not sure they EVER trusted me, and that is a very helpful way to think about what is wrong with my relationships with them. Thank you.

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