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An Excerpt from Witch Warden


I cranked out a couple thousand words last night. Moving hard toward the end of chapter 5. I should have it done if not tonight, then before the weekend. (I can get a lot of writing done at work when it’s slow.) Targeting mid-August as when I will finally have a complete first draft done did up.

In reading elsewhere, I got the impression readers enjoy seeing excerpts from works in progress. So I thought I would drop in a little snippet that came out as a result of last night’s work. It happens late in chapter 5.

“I first met B’rulda over twenty-five years ago, when she showed up as an over-eager recruit from the Oladi midworld, Tinta,” I said, beginning my tribute to my fallen comrade. When I finished twenty minutes later, both Meneu and I were openly crying. She added a few touching memories. Using my databand we added the recording to the memorial set up by Guardmaster Telk.

Finally in bed, I realized sleep would probably be long in coming. My thoughts continued to churn. Fragments of my fight in the hanger bays flashed haphazardly, in no particular order. Flames, my blasting the control centers, driving the hoverdisc, screams, bodies flying. I had to let the mental chaos swirl itself out on its own. But I could push it back for the most part.

Meneu snuggled against my right side, as she usually did, her arm across my chest, our legs intertwined. Our foam mattress had slits in it from side to side, allowing me to sneak my arm beneath her without her having to lie uncomfortably on my limb. The mattress had been a long-ago purchase by her for us.

“Remember your mission to Byne?” she asked, her voice low in the surrounding darkness and quiet.

“I was actually thinking about it earlier,” I said.

“You left so suddenly, all we had time for was a kiss and a hug. You were gone for months, but it didn’t really bother me. I just didn’t think you were in any real danger on that one.”

I gave a light chuckle. “And it turned out I probably came closest to dying than on any other mission.” Both me and the young Bynick girl I was trying so hard to save.

Meneu adjusted her position, somehow edging closer. “Then I saw you hit by that stingwhip, and those… thugs carrying you off.” She sniffed, and the shaking of her body told me she was crying. “And I thought I’d lost you. I’d lost you. And I never got a final hug.”

My debriefing let her know what had happened, in a cold recounting. She probably felt my light, involuntary trembles, and knew full well the emotional impact it had, and was still having, on me. And now that she was back in my arms, I could let myself feel the anguish of knowing how my desperate situation had impacted her.

“I was so helpless,” I whispered. “When Copperfox reached for me to steal my memories… all I could think about was you. How I’d somehow failed you.”

She reached up and wiped away my tears. I rubbed the tip of my thumb across her own wet cheeks.

“You will never be a disappointment to me, Maels Raptori,” she said. “I regret nothing. I’ve been truly honored and blessed to have been a part of your life.”

“No, Meneu. You are my life.”

She moved to place her cheek against mine and hold me tight. I hugged her back.

“I was so scared,” she whispered into my ear. “So scared.”

“Me too,” I admitted.

We held each other in the dark. Eventually our tears and trembling left us.

Sleep came quickly after that.

So, a lot of that probably doesn’t make sense. I just thought readers familiar with the series might enjoy a peek at the work in progress.

WIP Update

Now that A Child of Byne is off to the publisher, I can focus more now on my current work in progress, Witch Warden: The Ux-Blood Trilogy, Book III.

Right now I am halfway through chapter 5. I can see in my head how I want it to play out, and how it will lead into chapter 6 and the great climactic fight. The current word count is around 95K. I foresee the final manuscript falling near a 125K word count. That’s what I’m aiming for, anyway. This one won’t be as long as Witchblood  but it’s the story that wants to be told. I still think it will as entertaining, if not more. For readers of the whole trilogy, Witch Warden answers questions introduced in Earth Cell, particularly regarding the plague that wiped out the Raptori, leaving Maels as the last of his kind (and how he survived that).

With my recent work on A Child of Byne, I have begun considering how I want the cover to look. Already I know the text will have a blue color but will use the same font. I like the way that’s worked out- provides a certain consistency, but the color allows for some individuality. (I use a shade of green for A Child of Byne.) In my head I picture Maels battling his nemesis in this story, a Kerrid named Copperfox, on a troucher walkway leading to an anchor portal. The swirling portal light is bright and leaves the two combatants in shadow, much like the previous covers. Below is the abandoned city of those who used to live at the Edge of All, as the place has come to be known. I think I can work this out. I still have the portal swirl I created for Earth Cell’s cover- I’ve used it on all the covers so far. The portal for Witch Warden will be different, though, in that it won’t have an achoring rock surrounding it. As described in the story, it just hovers in empty space at the end of the walkway. I’m thinking Photoshop will make it easy to smudge the poprtal’s edges, give it a fade into the surrounding sky. Should be fun to play with when the time comes.

For the back cover, I have not decided yet. I know I don’t want to go through the too-detailed process I suffered for A Child of Byne. There’s a part of the story which has an elevator-type setup in a rock shaft. I was thinking of going with that, as it would be fun to model in Maya. Plus, it’s a fun part of the story, in chapter 4. It would be tricky to arrange the shaft so the reader understands, but I think I could do it. Other thoughts include the lake on Galmeran, with the wooden buildings along the cliff walls, and maybe even the moment the Handresi Guild House comes under attack, with water spewing from the various portals that appear. That’s a key moment of the story, too. Still a lot of time to decide, and Witch Warden offers a variety of visual treats. I plan to sit down and slam both covers out in September, when the manuscript heads off to my copy editor for her magic touch.

For now, though, I am focusing on just finishing up this first draft. Unlike Witchblood, where I re-wrote the entire first chapter and significant chunks of the second, I am satisfied with what I have here in Witch Warden. I don’t foresee wholesale re-writes, just a lot of revision, to add detail to some items I kind of skipped over, and deepen the emotional content. I usually hold off on really hitting the emotional side of things until the first draft is complete and where I like it. That way, I can see the story in its entirety and work the emotions in on a more consistent basis. I like to see the big picture as I paint in the smaller details. Needless to say, it’s a process…

Thoughts About the Future

Is it Friday already? I didn’t really think about it until I was on my way to work this evening. But yep, it really is!

So yesterday was my first night back after a three-week vacation. Took me a bit to get back into the story. Had to read a lot of the previous chapters to remember names and races and such. That’s one thing I’ll focus on in the next big revision- making sure I got all the character names and places where they work and their species correct. I’ve done pretty well with that up to now. But this story has far more characters than the previous stories, and it’s quite the juggling act. I’m pretty sure I have it all down correctly at the moment. But it won’t hurt to double check those suckers. Then I want to spiff up the clothing, and… well, I’ll worry about it all come revision time.

On the drive to work tonight, my thoughts pushed ahead to what I plan to do once Witch Warden is done. I know for a fact I want to put off writing novels for a while. I have a few shorter works I want to get out of my head. I plan to put Chainsaw up for sale through Smashwords at some point. I also need to finish the back cover for A Child of Byne, but I hope to have that done sooner rather than later- at least before the publication of Witch Warden. I want to totally revise Closure, an urban fantasy novelette I wrote earlier this year with great enthusiasm, only to find it needs a lot of work. (But the changes I have in mind should round out the story quite well.) That one I’ll also throw out for sale through Smashwords. It should end up being a 34K word novella. I also have in mind a short story called A Ghastling Gillion Stars, about a child witch born with sensitive abilities (which are only supposed to mainfest in elderly witches). This one is set in the Ux-Blood universe.

Further down the road, I plan to write a novel called Maiden. With that one I have a short story called Slipsense, which introduces the milieu for Maiden. I also intend to hammer out four short stories set in my Warren universe, where rabbits are the main characters. These short stories center on the events that lead to the prophecy that drives the trilogy I have written out in my mind already. While I do have a fourth novel that focuses on the character who is afflicted with the prophecy, I don’t think the four short stories will ruin that story. If anything, they should add to it quite well, when all is said and done. I’m glad I have such clarity, even if these are all in the ‘intended’ stage still. Seeing everything before I pen a single word will help create a sweeping story arc.

When I do return to novels, I have plenty to chose from. Stand-alone novels like: Dew Drops, Condensation, Infestation, the previously mentioned Maiden; a quartet of stories set in a fantasy world called Norland Asunder, a trilogy about human settlers on an alien world that looks to be fantasy on the surface but is in fact sci-fi because aliens are involved, and a pair of stories revolving around Pathic America. Plenty of ideas to keep me busy for a while.

But before any of this comes to pass, I have to finish Witch Warden and get A Child of Byne off to my publisher- two immediate projects that cry for my attention. I plan to write out another two to three thousands words tonight on Witch Warden, then give the back cover art of A Child of Byne the majority of my attention over the weekend. I even bought a new 21″ monitor for when I work at the hospital, so I can have dual monitors when I use Maya. My 17.3″ laptop screen just doesn’t have the necessary real estate for such a deep and powerful program.

3K a Day in May


I’ve admittedly been slacking regarding my current WIP, Witch Warden: The Ux-Blood Trilogy, Book III. I know what I want to write. It’s just that whole writing part that’s proving… difficult. I have about 35,000 words already penned, another 5K or so with the first bit of chapter 3. So I am well into it. But the fact of it all is that I should have a first draft done by now. Which I do not. Not even close.

So, for the month of May, I intend to write 3,000 words a day. I have done it before, so I know it is possible. 3K words takes me about three hours. I try not to do it all in a single sitting. But in the past by day’s end I have my 3K, and it’s a good 3K. If I stick to my guns on this, I’ll have cranked out 90K words, more or less, by month’s end. With a full first draft at that point, I feel I will be back on schedule. I have outlined chapters 3 and 4, so I’ve only the final two to sketch out. And I’ve worked out in my mind all the little things that should make this a fun read. I intend to put Maels in grave jeopardy soon, and make a revelation that will foretell even worse for our intrepid hero. I know where I’m going with this. Just have to sit down and get the words out.

3K a day in May. I’ve done it before. I think I’ll do it again!

Right now, I am going to Wal-Mart in Eden Prairie. Yes, it’s 2:30 am. I am as usual wide awake. And with the hour so late, the roads should be clear and the customers in Wallyworld few. Going to pick up a few things. The stove will be replaced tomorrow (Thursday). I’ve cleaned things there, and right now I’m running the self-cleaning feature. Fingers crossed I don’t burn down the townhouse while I’m out.

Also, I find out later today if Chainsaw will be accepted for publication, or place in a contest I entered way back in February.

Post-Vacation Post!


Well, had forty hours off this past week. For me, that means no work Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. I work two eight-hour shifts, then two twelve-hour weekend shifts. All of these are overnight as well. In return, I get Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off every week! I think it’s more than a fair trade.

Would have been nice except winter decided to stick around. Should have been temperatures in the fifties, some rain, a good healthy burst from the plants-I call it the green switch get flicked on. Instead, snow, cold, and more snow. My front porch saw a good foot at least with the way the wind swirled it all into my little nook. The side patio had even more dumped all over. Ridiculous! Things didn’t start warming up until yesterday-Thursday, my first day back to work. This weekend temps are supposed to jack into the seventies before chilling back down the first week of May. Thunderstorms are expected Tuesday. Now, I can deal with thunderstorms, even on my day off. That’s good writing weather (well, except until the power goes out. Then it’s good sleeping weather!).  Just… no more snow, please. Until November at the earliest, hmm?

Got more written on Witch Warden. Worked on the back copy and back cover for A Child of Byne. I know what I want for the back, but it’s surprising me how hard it’s turning out to be. But now that I’ve a couple of failures under my belt, I think I’ll get it right soon enough. (I actually enjoy the process. Even getting it wrong helps me develop my rusty skills in that regard.) I still plan on having the story out in softcover and at least Kindle format by the end of May.

Nit came through in publication. Get your copy today! You can find it in Kindle format, or for the Nook, or practically any other e-reader format. If you need an e-reader app, go here. They’re free for your PC, Mac, or other device.

I broke (shattered, really) the top of my smoothtop electric range. Don’t drop a cast iron skillet onto them ranges, by the way. It’ll get messy. A new range is en route, with delivery slated for Thursday. Not my day off, but as I mentioned earlier, I work overnights, so I do have the day to be there for the swap. Looks like I’ll be micrwaving and eating out a bit over the next few days. Oh well.

Most of the snow is gone. All of it should be melted away by Sunday. Pepper is finally enjoying more time outside than in. She brought home something odd the other day. A chunk of squirrel-type hair, matted together. Nothing else- no skin, no blood. A most unusual thing. I took it from her and threw it in the outside garbage bins. If it had been on an animal, I might have let her fling it around. But the way it looked, I just didn’t like the look of it. I hope she doesn’t bring more of the home. But knowing her…

Anyway, just thought I would post tonight. I plan to post again Tuesday. One thing my little vacation taught me was that I am totally no good with extended days off. I don’t think I went to bed or woke up the same times two days in a row. Working overnights has thrown my sleep schedule out of whack when I’m not working. I can deal with it for my three days off. I just sleep until past noon mostly, and things work out. It’s when I don’t go to work to at least establish a four-day cycle that throws me off. I don’t have to worry about this again until my three-week vacation at the end of June. My trip to West Virginia and then Maine should help me get into a routine. But sheesh! What a strange problem to have.

An April Tuesday…

It’s been cold and raining all day just about. Sleet, even! At least it’s not snow. Good sleeping weather, and I have done so. I’ll be up late tonight, maybe until three in the morning. One of the many benefits of working nights.

Got things to do to stay busy. Work on a friend’s website, proofing on A Child of Byne, more writing for Witch Warden. I may focus on Child and just get that project done did up. Got the template and the ISBNs from my publisher. I have all the parts in place, just need to slap things together and I’ll have a finished project.

I’m still amazed at how Child has come out. It’s longer than I anticipated- it’s into full-scale novel range where the word count is concerned. I want to keep thinking of it as a novella, as I don’t want people confusing it with the final book of the Ux-Blood trilogy. I’ll be happy to have it as part of my finished works. It’s just a story I never really intended to write. You know, sit-down-and-crank-out-the-words write. While it’s cut into my writing on Witch Warden, it’s still a nice thing to have happened. I’ve started playing with the cover design. If it comes out as I see it, should be a nice one. The elements will be in keeping with the other Ux-Blood books. I hope to have things off to the publisher well before month’s end, and an author’proof in hand for proofing and fixing by early May.

Once Child is out of the way, I can focus on Witch Warden. I meant to have a first draft of chapter two by last weekend. But I misplaced my jumpdrive in my big book bag- it slid into a fold at the bottom of a big pocket. So Saturday’s writing was lost. Then Sunday was pretty busy. I did read through a good chunk of chapter two and did some heavy editing. I think when this draft is finally done, it should be really tight where the writing is concerned. Hopefully revisions down the road will be extremely easy. But I’m just a couple thousand words from being done and on to chapter three. It’s just proving one darn struggle to get the words out. I may have to wait until I’m back at work on Thursday, when I can sit and focus without distraction for the most part. I do some of my best writing at work. One of the many huge benefits of working nights.

Anyway, as the rain patters down, it’s time to get focused and get stuff done!

Work continues on Witch Warden

Well, it’s Friday right now. I’m about to take my shower before heading off to work. Did a good three thousand words last night on my current work in progress, Witch Warden: The Ux-Blood Trilogy, Book III. Straightened out some small issues from the previous night’s work, then pushed on with new material. I have a general idea of where I want to go as I get into the chapter’s end. Just a matter now of throwing words out, then fixing them to mean what I want to say. (Of course, later my editor, Erin Wilcox, will suggest the words I actually meant to use so that I say what I actually meant to say. She’s tricky good that way.)

I should finish off chapter two this weekend, if not tonight. Then things get interesting. I know how I want the story to end. I know the things I want to include in the middle, to deepen the threat and develop Maels and his relationships with everyone involved. In my previous two books, chapter three has been where I introduce the main protagonist. It will be the same here- at some point Maels will run face-to-face with Copperfox, the female Kerrid trying to put the final pieces of the Raptori Wipe back together. Their conflict will center on Meneu’s activities, as she’s been assembling as detailed a history of the plague as she can, as a gift to her lifemate, Maels. Plus, she has the lattice she and Maels took from Cave Three in the first chapter, and Copperfox kinda wants that back. So, lots of material to put into place. Still not sure of the order of it all, but I think I’m taking it at just the right pace.

But, first order of business is to get out those final four or five thousand words of chapter two. Get this first draft down, then see where some fiddling is necessary. Some days the writing can be a chore. Tonight, I think I’ll blow through my goal of three thousand words in no time. It’s fun to destroy an overworld!