Cast in Ruin Chapter Two

I hope people aren’t getting tired of seeing this cover, because it’s one of my favourites in the series to date. Which is not, of course, why I’m posting it again.

No, I’m posting it because so many people have asked, here and in email, if I could just possibly post Chapter Two before the book’s release date. I can’t think of any harm it could do, and yes, Chapter One ended in an unfortunate place — which was honestly not my intent, because I didn’t really write Chapter One thinking of it as a separate entity, the way a short story is.

Here, without further preamble, is Cast in Ruin Chapter Two. Enjoy!

I will be sitting here at my computer working on the other half of today’s writing, which has been going very slowly thanks to allergies and the type of sleep allergies sometimes cause. I am certain my children are grateful that I spent time preparing Chapter Two instead of being cranky, grouchy mom <wry g>.

Birthnight & Gifted

There are two stories, which are much shorter than the previous six. They were written at about the same time–very early ‘90s, and overlapping by a month.

It’s interesting for me to reread them, because I often don’t reread my short fiction unless I’m looking for specific details in a particular story–for instance, when looking up the Maker’s Guild in Memory of Stone. As I approach the task of proofing them (and describing elements of each story to the graphic designer), I’m struck by the sense of watching myself change as a writer over a decade and a half. These stories were written twenty years ago. All stories come from the sum of our experiences, observations, and interests, but not in completely predictable ways. I do not remember writing these stories, because two decades and small children have changed me.

They’re not the stories I would write now, either. They both have some of the feel of fairy tale in their language and the way event unfolds, and they are both about the end of immortality. I think that’s one of the subjects that’s always spoken to me as a reader – the passing of an age, the loss that it entails.
——

Birthnight is the first, and has the distinction of being the first short story sale I’d made to that point. I’d sold two novels (although they had yet to see publication, since the lead-time was much longer than it is now), written most of a third. My third attempt at a short story became the Books of the Sundered. So this would technically be my fourth attempt at a short story, because novels were my natural writing length.

I think it works better read aloud, which surprised me; when I wrote Birthnight, it had such a strong voice for me and the cadence of the sentences was entirely natural. But it’s possibly because it has some of the feel of a fairy tale of the type I might have listened to as a child, although I wouldn’t have understood the why of the end.

The story is available now at Smashwords, and is in the queue at Amazon.com and iBooks.

——

Gifted is mostly set in a contemporary urban environment, but the tone of the language itself isn’t hugely contemporary, because it’s written from the viewpoint of the last of the Genies, and in this particular small universe, Genies perish when they grant their third and final wish, so the narrative voice is distant because distance is how he’s survived.

The second character, the human, is an old woman who lives alone.

I think it’s a little short at the end; I hadn’t completely learned how to balance tone, voice and, well, length. That struggle, at least, has continued.

The story is also available at Smashwords, and is in the Amazon.com and iBooks queues.

I’ve added links to the author pages on the side-bar in “Other Stuff About me”. I’m in the process of adding links to Amazon.com’s author page(s) as well.

I have another question

I’ve been writing (Peril & War at the moment) and revising (Silence), and in between, when the creative impulse is at its lowest, I’ve been proof-reading and formatting.

All six of the stories related to the West novels are now on-line (six are available in the iBooks store, four at Barnes & Noble, one at Kobo, six at Diesel, one at Sony. I do not know what happened to Echoes at B&N, and I’m trying to have it redistributed, but so far that hasn’t worked). My typesetter is halfway through the book, but has gone to Alaska for two weeks.

ETA: All six of the stories are now available, as of this morning, at B&N. A new page has been added to the sidebar – Short Stories – which has links to all of the etailers that currently have the available ebook.

All of the stories that now remain are stories that stand alone (with the exception of The Augustine Painters and The Colors of Augustine, which are set in the same universe, but are not connected to any of the novels). I intend to continue to post them, and to announce them in much the same way the six Essalieyan shorts have been announced here.

One of the things that makes short stories interesting is the ability to experiment with different moods, tones, tenses; to shift gears and write something that wouldn’t necessarily sustain a novel (or at last, not a novel I could finish). What this means, however, is that some of the stories are distinctly different in mood or tone than anything one would find in the novels. Some, however, are not.

Authors are not entirely objective about their own work (yes, this is an understatement). Being the author, I’m not therefore objective about my own work, but when I look at the list of stories, there are some I think would work for my novel readers (the Augustine stories, which apparently also work for people who don’t), and some I’m far less certain about.

In my long and winding way, I am getting to the question, honest!

Would people appreciate it if I indicated, when posting about the stories here, which ones I feel will work, and which I’m far less certain about? I don’t consider any of the stories bad, but years of working behind a bookstore counter make it second nature to try to recommend books to customers who will like them. (Except my own, because – again – objectivity issues.)

The Memory of Stone

This is the sixth, and final (for now) of the short stories set in the universe of my DAW novels. It, as I mention in the introduction, went a little on the long side, and it’s my personal favourite of the six. It’s also the only one so far that has one of those cover quotes — pulled from the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror’s introduction because it made me happy.

Although this story focuses on two characters that aren’t otherwise extant in either The Sun Sword or The House War, it touches on things that are central to the final conflict. It is now available, as usual, on Smashwords, and will be coming up at Amazon.com within the next twenty-four hours. Smashwords wait times for distribution have gone down, so Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Sony readers should see it in three weeks; Diesel readers, within the week.

I’ve learned a few things in reprinting these stories. No matter how many eyes proof-read them, and no matter how often, there is always at least one mistake that’s managed to hole up and evade everyone, because I have never gone through a proof pass without finding an error that has been missed on previous iterations. Ever. This is also true of novels, but I think I feel less self-conscious about that in general, possibly because I have more practice. Or possibly because I don’t read those so very slowly, looking only for mistakes.

The mistakes are nerve-wracking; it’s like they’re waiting in ambush around every verbal corner. For the ones I missed entirely, I apologize.

But there is something a little exciting about actually uploading the stories and announcing their presence. They aren’t novels, so their audience is limited. I will continue to bring out the rest of the short stories, but aside from these six, and the two Augustine stories, the short pieces all stand on their own, and I’m not sure how many people are actually interested in unrelated shorts. I will probably wave or point at the ones I am relatively certain will be of interest to my novel readers (when we get there, The Colors of Augustine), so I’ll continue to mention them here.

ETA: the first five stories are now available in the iTunes store. Huntbrother, The Black Ospreys and The Weapon are available on Barnes & Noble, so I’ve queried to see what happened to Echoes which is not there. Only Echoes has made it to the Kobo, and only Huntbrother to the Sony ebookstore. The first four stories are all up at Diesel.

More news

I have just finished speaking with Khristine Hvam Kies, who is the narrator for the Cast novels in audio book. Or at least the narrator for the first one. So: people who were wondering who the narrator is, it’s her :). We had a long discussion about pronunciation of names, and the tonal quality of the various characters and their speech, so I’m looking forward to the results.

Memory of Stone has been proofed and the entire set of six stories and introductions should be typeset within the next ten days. At which point, I will finally have a page count total, and after that, a cover for a print-on-demand version (page count equalling spine width, without which a cover can’t be finalized), which has been on hold forever while I work on the text. I will probably format and release the ebook over the weekend, because I have spent so much time on the phone today I have seriously shorted the writing time, and the writing still isn’t finished.

Phone, you say?

My editor at DAW. Some time ago, I mentioned that I had written a YA; I’ve even read the prologue and the first chapter in public in a couple of places. It’s a contemporary fantasy (my first at novel length), and I sold it to DAW sometime at the end of last year. People have been asking me when it will be published, and I’ve been telling them that the book isn’t going to be scheduled until the second book is finished (and, as I jettisoned the first 50k words of the first attempt, the second book is not yet finished).

However…plans, they always change.

Silence, the first book in a trilogy I am currently calling “The Dead”, although that’s probably going to change as well, is now scheduled for a May 2012 release, from DAW. So, Skirmish is coming out in January of 2012, Silence in May of 2012, and Cast in Peril sometime between August and October of 2012. Skirmish is finished. Silence is finished. Peril is not quite finished yet, but is in progress as I type.

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