The Sun Sword & Skirmish

In the comments on my State of the Writing post, a couple of questions have come up, in part because I mentioned my hope of writing a small afterward to House Name which essentially says: And now, please read The Sun Sword.

Carol Duffy said: I guess my question would be: *is* it actually necessary, as opposed to desirable? Or, put another way, “Are you giving yourself enough credit?” While I read the Hunters books before reading The Sun Sword, and they certainly added a lot to the latter books, I wouldn’t say they were necessary to understanding them. You did a wonderful job of keeping “new” readers up to speed if they hadn’t read the first two.

I think it’s necessary, in part because the book takes place on the time-line heels of, and actually during the final novel of the six. I’d initially thought that if I kept viewpoints to the den and the people who did not, in fact, head through the Stone Deepings to the heart of the Voyani encampment, I would be able to fill in what had happened during those missing months, in a way that would make it relevant to the den. While this can work, it can’t work for everything that occurred, and some of what did occur in the South has become relevant now.  In part because of Adam, in part because of Celleriant and the Winter King, and in part because of some of the events that occur.

Genna Warner said: I just recently started reading the West novels. I started with the advice on this website and read Hidden City, City of Night, then read Hunters Oath and Hunters Death. Then got all 6 Sun Sword books to read (Im starting the third book now), but wondered if I should have waited until after reading House Name to actually read the Sun Sword books. Now Im sort-of wishing I had waited. Some people say read the books in the order the author wrote them, but I’m not really one of them. I like (if at all possible) to read a story in chronological order. Bouncing back and forth in time can give me a bit of a headache. But since I have started the series, I can’t put it down. It has made working a bit hard actually, I would rather be reading. :)

First: Thank you :). I’m never quite sure that people who like the West books will like the Sagara books, and vice versa — because I’ve heard from West readers who haven’t cared for the Cast books, and also Sagara readers who haven’t been able to get through the West ones.

House Name and Hunter’s Death cover the same period, from different viewpoints. Much of HD is missing from HN because the Hunters are only barely present as far as either Jewel or the den is concerned. Much of HN deals with Teller, Finch, Arann, Angel (significant Angel things), Carver. The order that you read those in isn’t as important — but reading Hunter’s Death before City of Night might have been. I often read the endings of books before I’ve finished, so I’m not perhaps as sensitive to spoiler and surprise as other readers are, which used to really annoy my first editor :D. (“Michelle, if you were meant to read that first, don’t you think it would have been called CHAPTER ONE?”)

But Sun Sword will give you everything you need to know before you start Skirmish. In some ways, it will give you more. There are events scattered throughout the South, from Shining Court onward, that come into play. Those events in the contexts of the novels in which they appeared were part of the story or arc of the novel without being the whole novel; they might have seemed amusing or important but not entirely significant.

But even the prologue of Skirmish makes reference to the last part of the Averalaan thread in Sun Sword, although admittedly, that’s one thing that I don’t think a new reader would founder on.

And last, Aaron said: I think Michelle is just saying that she wants you to read the Sun Sword series before ‘Skirmish’, because there will be plot spoilers for Sun Sword in the conclusion of the House war. I don’t think this will be a major issue, any more than Rath’s storyline was an issue between ‘Hunter’s Death’ and ‘City of Night’ – but everyone is different.

Sadly, while I wish this were entirely accurate, it’s isn’t quite. Or at least, I think it’s not – the jury is, of course, out until you’ve all read Skirmish. There are no plot spoilers for Sun Sword yet that would, I think, spoil Sun Sword, but there’s one discussion of import that has no relevance — or makes no sense — if you haven’t (I think) read them (I’m trying hard to avoid being specific about which book in the Sun Sword because people are spoiler sensitive). Yes, the end of Sun Sword is likely to be spoiled before House War, the final book, is done, because by that point, the time-lines should be even again.

State of the Writing, September 2010 edition

Volume 03 of House War: House Name

House War: House Name: This has been finished; the cover was posted downstream. The last of the three books that follow Jewel’s past. It’s scheduled for January of 2011, and it can be preordered from: Indiebound | Amazon | Powell’s | Borders | B & N

Cast in Ruin: This book begins a few days after Cast in Chaos ends.  Kaylin is called in for the etiquette lessons she’s managed to avoid until now — and is also called in to help with an unusual investigation in the fief of Tiamaris, where the relocation of thousands of strangers is not perhaps going entirely smoothly.  Cast in Ruin has been revised and sent to my editor. It will come back with a revision letter, and if it evades that, will come back with line edits, copy-edits, and page proofs. Hopefully it will come with a cover, as well, and when it does, I’ll share.

House War: Skirmish: I’m about 110k words into Skirmish and I desperately want people to read it, or at least the parts of it that were a revelation to me. It isn’t finished yet, but it starts the day after Jewel’s return to the House in the ‘present’ time-line.

Silence of the Grave: A YA novel I wrote a while ago on spec.  I meant to return to it and revise the beginning, but ended up writing all of Cast in Chaos and “Cast in Moonlight” first.  I’m currently (finally) revising the first third of it, and will hopefully be finished in a week, at which point I will start:

Cast in Danger: So far, only background work has been done on this book, and the title is very tentative. I know how it starts, and I know that it involves the Shadow Wolves and the Barrani. I don’t want to say much more because I haven’t actually written any of the book words yet–just the foundation notes and information.

Which character is harder to write?

Aaron asked
If 39k words is all it takes to reveal Kaylin’s history, then perhaps you’ve been a bit lenient with Jewel, eh?

Well…it’s Kaylin’s first case, and because of the wordcount, it doesn’t go into as much detail about the rest of her life as maybe it should; also, I thought it would end in a different place, because I’d hoped to be able to do her first case with the Hawks and the argument over the question of her survival in the same story. This didn’t happen, because it would probably have doubled the length.

Which is the more difficult character for you to write (at the moment and all things considered), Kaylin or Jewel?

The answer to this one depends on the time of day, and in particular on which project is currently causing me to pull all my hair out.

Kaylin is difficult in part because the entire novel (almost any CAST novel) is from her viewpoint. Any information that reaches the reader is information she has to personally come across in one way or another. It can’t be unnatural; it can’t be information she wouldn’t otherwise see–she has to be involved directly. This complicates the way the stories unfold or are presented.

I’m trying the “more” command in WordPress to make the posts on the front page a bit shorter; please tell me if this is not helpful, or if it’s annoying.


A question about content

I have a question.

I make longer posts both here and on my LiveJournal. The nature of the posts are slightly different.

(I didn’t say it was going to be a short question, did I? >.>)

I’ve been posting on LJ for a number of years. I didn’t actually start the LJ posts to be an author-online; I started them because they seemed like an almost natural offshoot of a prior BBS on which I socialized with people who were otherwise halfway across the planet.

However…when being social, acts of egregious self-promotion All The Time aren’t conducive to conversation and interaction, and there’s always pressure to be promoting and to raise awareness. This was tricky for me, because I’m well aware that people who are interested in what I have to say or think in general don’t actually need to be told constantly what my publication schedule is like, what I’ve just sold, or what’s just arrived in bookstores. Nor are they always my readers, so answering questions about what I’m writing, in detail, or what I’ve written, in detail, sometimes made me feel self-conscious.

On the other hand? Not answering questions when readers did find my LJ and were interested in my books, seemed graceless and kind of counter-intuitive. So I tried to find a balance.

Talking about the writing process is general enough, and on LJ, common enough, that it’s part of the general conversation; I felt, and feel, no self-consciousness about that, and I would often combine some of both — specific questions and more general observations.  This is in part what the internet does–one person will pose a question or make a comment, and others will respond to it (often, in my case, at length) as a sort of extended conversational gambit.

When I started the wordpress site (at which this is being posted), I thought I could use it to post book-related news — release dates, covers, interviews — that were much more about what I do than what I think. They could be about the promotion, and about the books themselves, and I would feel much less self-conscious about it because the people who were only interested in the posts about the books I write would be able to find that information easily.

And that’s worked out, and I think it’s worked relatively well. The only thing I feel a little bad for is the lack of an LJ style cut-tag, but hopefully that’s less of an issue.

You’re probably wondering what the question is at this point, or are at least becoming concerned that I’ve become so mired in the background that I’ve forgotten it.  So:  the question is:

Are you happy with what’s posted here as it currently stands, or would you like me to post a link (or even cross-post) to the LJ posts when I do write them?

I ask this because I was writing an LJ post about something Sherwood Smith wrote here, and I realized I was about to point out which of my own books or stories were informed, for me, by what she calls ‘white fire’ writing.

I thought it might be of interest to people who read here, and then, well. Question paralysis.

Harvest Moon

Devon, in the previous post, asked Where, in your eyes, does Cast in Moonlight fit into the grand scheme of things?

It seemed like the right time to answer.

Harvest Moon is a collection of three stories, one by Mercedes Lacky set in her 500 Kingdoms universe, one by new author Cameron Haley which is, I believe, a prequel to the just released Mob Rules, and one by me.  The publication date is, in theory, the first of October, 2010.

My contribution is “Cast in Moonlight”, a novella of 39,000 words.

Cast in Moonlight fits in at the beginning, sort of.  Kaylin is thirteen years old when she first meets the Hawklord, and the story starts just after that first meeting and continues from there, as Kaylin meets the Hawks:  Marcus, Teela, Tain, Clint and the Hawklord himself, with one surprise appearance by a Dragon whom Kaylin doesn’t recognize as a Dragon because she’s not familiar with them.

It features her very first case as a not-quite-old-enough-to-be-Hawk.

There is, however, no Nightshade and no Severn.  Sorry…

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