"For the sake of humanity, join in Bitterwood's revolt." - Kirkus Reviews

Monday, September 3, 2007


I've been publishing my Dragon Forge word counts every Sunday, but yesterday I was driving back from Dragon Con so I was too wiped out by the time I got home to update. Anyway, I've arrived at 66357. The con ate into my writing time, I'm afraid. This week, I've got two reading/signings lined up, which will also take a chunk of writing time away from me. Still, next weekend is relatively open, so we'll see. To stay on my official schedule, I have to be at 90k words by the end of September, so, roughly 24k words this month, or 6k words per week, which shouldn't be that tough, even though September is a relatively tough month at my day job as compared to August.

Now that I'm past the middle of the book, things are becoming slightly more difficult in some ways and slightly easier in others. In some ways, writing a novel is a little like building a jigsaw puzzle. Unfortunately, you don't get to look at the picture on the box. Fortunately, you do get to make the puzzle pieces into any shape you want. So, in the first half of hte book, I can place down my pieces--the scenes, characters, and plot points, pretty much as they come to me. I have an outline, but the actual writing is driven almost purely by imagination. In the second half of writing a book, imagination is still important, but so is continuity and logic. You aren't so much pulling things out of the air as puzzling out how all the things you put in the first half snap together into a coherent and satisfying plot in the second. Right now, I've scattered my various groups of characters all around the Bitterwood universe. From this point on, I've got to work on bringing them back together, and the choreography of getting character A to point B so they can fight character C can be surprisingly complicated.

By the way, some months back, I gave a little hint about a contest I was thinking of running. I said there was something important in my novel that I hadn't named, but didn't say what that was, because it was something of a spoiler. But, at this point, the book has been on the shelves for a few months, and plenty of reviews have now spilled the beans that the fantasy novel is actually set on a post-apocolyptic Earth. Specifically, Albekizan's kingdom encompasses the states of the American south--from what is now Virginia stretching down to Georgia. Climate change and a few other forces have radically altered the map. The area north of Washington DC is known as the Ghostlands and dragons seldom travel there. They also don't much venture west of the Appalachian mountains, for reasons I will reveal in Dragon Forge. Florida has pretty much vanished beneath rising seas, leaving only a series of swampy islands. Some of today's place names endure--Richmond and Conyers, for example.

In Bitterwood, I never refer to this area as anything other than "Albekizan's kingdom." I had thought of giving the kingdom a name that bore some phonetic similarity to America--Merka was one of my early options--but in the final draft I removed all place names because they were either too obvious or perhaps a bit silly. So, I still haven't decided on a name for my fantasy setting. Fortunately, I don't need one quite yet. The lack of a name for my setting hasn't hurt Bitterwood as far as I can tell, but it would be nice to include a setting name in the second book. So, start thinking of names. After I finish my first draft of Dragon Forge, I'll announce an official contest and some prizes for people who take part. The main prize I have in mind would be copies of the upcoming Solaris Book of New Fantasy, which contains a Bitterwood story, but since it's not out until early next year, I'm jumping the gun a bit if I start the contest now.

So... watch this space.

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