Thursday, January 06, 2011

Into 2011

From My Cover Art

Welcome to 2011

I am already falling behind. Some of it is not my fault. I started out the year with the worst backache I have every suffered with. For more than a week, starting on December 29th, I could barely walk from one room to another. The problem is almost entirely cleared up. It was difficult even to sit at the desk and work, but I fought my way through what I had to and got FM up for the year as well as Vision, in its new glorious Joomla form. I think I am going to truly enjoy working with as soon as I figure out the archive function.

I wrote over a million new words last year. No surprise there, really. Several novels, a number of short stories, articles and outlines. This year I started out with the Devlin's Team #4: Missing Persons and it's moving along fine. Then on Sunday I decided to start a short story: And Wings to Fly is already done. It went over 6k and I hope to write more short pieces over the year. Shorter than 6k in fact. I'd like to do some flash fiction, I think. Maybe even some 100 word drabbles.

I am also editing Circe's Gifts, which is kind of a young YA or maybe even a MG book. I'm not very good at judging them. It needs considerably more work than I had expected, though. It's going to take me a few months to work my way through it, and likely need a last clean up after that since I'm changing so much.

I am working on two outlines -- In the Shadow of Giants (still working at it, and I hope to start it in March) and another one called The Shades of Death. It's going to be a busy year for writing, I hope! I really like all the stories, though the last one is giving me some trouble.

Somewhere around the first of the year, an odd story idea began to grow in my head. It started haunting me and talking to me and a couple days ago I finally started writing it down -- no world building, no outline, just the voice talking to me this time. That used to happen now and then, and I think if I move carefully, I can handle this one. It's a first person tale, titled Istavian after the huge city in which it takes place. It's likely only going to move a few hundred words at a time, but I'm finding it intriguing. So here is the opening (a little edited from the version I posted in my LJ and a bit more added at the end):

Istavian is a crossroads city, and that's what has made her great and left her so embattled. She sits on a wide bay at the far end of the Inner Sea, with the Kolti sailing at her from the west, the Tassanians marching in from the east, the Silnans sending marauders from the north . . . and the oh-so-civilized Tacana's sending only their spies and assassins from the south.

There is a legend that Istavian has never gone more than three generations under the same flag and I think this might be true. My great-grandfather served as a minister for the Kolti when they last held the city. My father fought in the army against the Silnans when we lost that war. And when I turned twelve, we were back in Kolti hands again, but with the Tassanians not far off, watching for their chance.

There's a joke in the city that if someone asks you whom you serve, you ask which way the wind is blowing today.

Such a city is rife with intrigue, of course. No group ever fully leaves, but some part of them goes underground and works again to bring their side back to power. They dig down into their burrows and send out their worker ants to find out what is going on and whom they can betray.

And sometimes the burrows go so deep that those worker ants, like me, never really see whom we're working for.

I stood outside the doorway of the Pritelin Temple, the one dedicated to the god of lame soldiers. Its popularity probably says something dire about my city; that such a temple not only exists, but flourishes. I lived there with the other maimed soldier who had nowhere better to go. I had lost my leg below my right knee in the battle with the Silnans when I was nineteen, and no, I will not tell you that nightmare tale. When the Istavian army finally freed the prisoners the Silnans had taken, I came back to the city a changed man and for more than the loss of my leg.

I wanted answers when I came back. Why, why why?

For a while, I buried myself in the underside of Istavian -- in the alleys and cesspits on the north side where the poor build their ramshackle homes of brick, dirt and rock debris in the old marshes. Over the generations, the houses had fallen and been rebuilt so many times that they had a sort of bedrock beneath them, though seething here and there with mud and muck. It's still called The Marshes, though. You could see the pile-on-pile of buildings down there from the doorway of the temple on the heights. I often stopped and looked down into an area that seemed habitually filled with smoke and fog.

People died there every day in a battle they fought against a different enemy than the one I had faced. They fought -- and mostly lost -- their war against destitution, disease and despair. I never found my answers there and eventually I moved up to the heights. I remember thinking one day that I wanted to breathe fresh air again. Even the breeze off the ocean carried the scent of dead fish over buildings since the docks are downwind of the area. There is nothing good in The Marshes.

Except for a few people, and I missed them in an odd way. Ah, Jemia and her warm, soft hands that could make me forget for at least a little while -- but I left even her behind because she could not tell me why. On a fateful day in spring I had climbed slowly up the path from The Marches to the Temples, hobbling along on the crutches I'd made and learned to use so well.

And here I'd stayed -- one year, two. I had, I realized, turned twenty-three somewhere not long in the past. Four years, and I still did not have my answer.

So there it is. I have actually made something of a map of the city -- the only world building I've done -- and I can see things there. My so far unnamed MC is looking for answers to something that happened during the war with the Silnans (a name that I think is going to change). The tale is set in my Tales from Another Place world. Silky takes place there, among many many other stories. I need to get the old map out of the world and fit this one in. I know the location. I know two of the groups named -- the Tassanians and the Kolti, who have had a long, old war with each other. This city is a jewel; rich with trade and ancient and filled with secrets.

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