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Writing: Book Day Tomorrow! [May. 26th, 2014|02:42 pm]
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The fifth and final volume of Paladin's Legacy, Crown of Renewal, officially debuts tomorrow in the US.   (It's been out about a week in the UK, and sneaked out the back door to arrive at Balticon and into a few stores a day or two ago.)   For those unaware of what I've been writing the past umpty-ump years, Paladin's Legacy is the story of what happened after Paksenarrion found, and saved (more than once) the future king of Lyonya.   My original plan for the books wasn't the way they turned out, but the way they turned out is (as so often happens) a lot more interesting.   Not, however, easier to write.



Crown of Renewal

Originally, this was going to be Kieri's story.   Once I started, I realized that it couldn't be...that Paks's deeds had affected more than one person in the earlier books, and the "true" story had to deal with the great changes in the lives of many of them.   She was the catalyst, or the person on a mountain trail who kicks a boulder off the edge and starts an avalanche.    She never intended, or expected, to have as much effect as she did.  Like most of us, she has a fairly short range on the "futurism" side of things.

Realizing this kicked me at once into another multi-viewpoint story (OK, I've done that before) in a setting that had always required much more depth and complexity than the SF books...which themselves aren't exactly simple.  Holding everything down to a five-volume length was...very, very tricky.  Every one of them wanted to grow much larger than it did, with characters tugging on my mental arm and shouting in my mental ear that I was not giving them enough air time.   Complicating the situation (a lot) was being unable to find the carefully saved notebooks of details (some not explicit in the original Deed of Paksenarrion, but many more that were)  which I needed to stitch together the seam between old group and new.  Similarly, the old master map, which I  knew I had put under a protective sheet on the old drafting table...was not there.

But the story wanted to be told, and a story that wants to be told gives the writer no rest.  So away I went, clickety-clacking over the keyboard, buying more big sheets of drafting paper, redrawing the map,  looking up details in the old paperbacks (and then asking for help finding things.)  And the story grew, and grew, and grew....proliferating like an over-fertilized pumpkin vine, all directions at once and all of them (they insisted) absolutely necessary.    I don't write with a theme in mind...the story takes me where it will...but the story knows what it's about.  One of the things this story is about is the reality of change--that everything changes, and to keep living means adapting to change.   But it's also about the choices people make when faced with change...and it's also about second (and third, and fourth) chances when past choices turned out to be bad ones...and it's also about the long memory of horses...and it's also about the way good ideas may be warped over time into very bad ones...and it's also about...many more things than that.

The final "braid"--weaving in the tail of the story, all the points of view, all (or nearly all...always leave something open, a door for imagination to continue) the subplots--is always a challenge in multi-viewpoint, multi-volume works.  Who should have the real last word or scene?   In this monster (and it is a monster) it often felt impossible...nothing was going to work.  But then it began to come right, and then...at long last...it was done.  To the extent that any story is ever "done." 

Readers bring their own imagination to stories--each reader introduces her/his own past experiences, including reading experiences, into what's on the pages.  No two people, I'm convinced, see the characters the same, in a book (a movie provides explicit visual data; a book suggests.)   Readers enrich their own reading that way, and the writer cannot guess what they will use to do so...perhaps a table setting seen at a banquet, or a room in a farmhouse, or the sound of wind battering shutters.  Words suggest--and then the reader's imagination takes over, partnering with the writer.   Stories I read years ago still live inside my head, even when I haven't re-read the book for decades.  In my mind the story doesn't end with the last page--however satisfying the writer's ending is--because the thoughts and feelings roused go on. 

For those who haven't read any of the books, but are tempted, the best places to start are with the original Deed of Paksenarrion (available from Baen Books in print or as e-book) or with the first book of Paladin's Legacy, Oath of Fealty (available in print, e-book, and audiobook.)  There's more info about the volumes on either my website or the Paksworld website (which has  a lot of useful background, if you want to start with the new group.)   The Paksworld blog is a project specific blog, for fans of the whole group of books (now ten, in three different groups.)

Meanwhile back at the writing-ranch (not really),  there's a collection of related fiction in the assembly process, and in the fall, I have a story in Shattered Shields, an fantasy anthology edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Jennifer Brozek.   Here's the cover for that:


Shattered-Shields-cover

And I'm working on a proposal for something completely different, which may or may not pan out so...not talking about it now, except to Agent.

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Comments:
From: geekmerc
2014-05-26 09:40 pm (UTC)

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Now I'm scared. I was thinking you might extend it to 6 books. Although, now that I think about it, the threads are coming together. I will be glad to finish the series. I won't even start a song of ice and fire until Martin finishes it. I'm not sure I'll like it, but I definitely hate reading a series that the author can't complete. Deed of Paksenarrion is till my favorite, although I think I've read it too many times of late. It is getting to the point that I sometimes skip a few chapters, but I guess that happens when you read a trilogy 3-5 times a year.

Best of luck on your sales figures. I really hope that more people find and read your work. I've always found your stories to be enjoyable.



Edited at 2014-05-26 09:41 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-05-27 12:29 am (UTC)

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I'm glad you've enjoyed the Deed that much and hope you find the end of this group as satisfying.
From: geekmerc
2014-05-27 02:53 am (UTC)

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I'm sure that I will. I actually was loaned Deed of Paksenarrion by a friend years ago. It was in new condition. I accidentally got a pizza sauce smudge on one of the pages. I spent a month to find a brand new replacement for it, as the hardback was extremely difficult to find. I always smile when I get to the page with the smudge. :)

The downside to where I live is that I'll have to wait until this weekend to buy your book. Getting Jim Butcher's latest in the morning on nook, but I get yours in hardback so that I can loan them to friends who can't afford them yet. Another trip to the city. Yipee!
[User Picture]From: slimequeen
2014-05-26 10:09 pm (UTC)

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I'm over halfway through CROWN (bless NetGalley!) and I have the utmost admiration for how you braided all of these plot threads together. I know all the drafts and anxiety I went through with my books, and they are nothing near this scale as far as characters or geography.

Also, I'm really looking forward to SHATTERED SHIELDS. The line-up for that is wonderful.
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-05-27 12:27 am (UTC)

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I was really happy that the editors accepted my story for that anthology. Delighted to be in such good company.
[User Picture]From: blueeowyn
2014-05-26 11:05 pm (UTC)

Books

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Thank you for sharing your world with us. I am looking forward to reading Crown but unfortunately it will be later than I had planned ... Life interferred with my reading of the originals and I really want to finish at least Deeds before reading Crown. Ideally I would like to finish Deeds and the first 4 Legacy books first. I'm not sure I am that patient.
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-05-27 12:26 am (UTC)

Re: Books

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Life often does get in the way, doesn't it? I can say that if you start at the beginning, Crown will be out in paperback before you finish the others, very likely. At least don't start later than Oath of Fealty, because the learning curve for who's who and what happened gets really steep if you do.
[User Picture]From: blueeowyn
2014-05-27 11:07 am (UTC)

Re: Books

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I'm about 2/3 of the way through Divided Allegiance. It took me awhile to get through Liar's Oath. However, since they are re-reads, and I have read Deed more than some of my books and have read the first 3 Legacy books 2x each (I would do a re-read of each before the next came out), I think I will finish everything by the end of summer. I'm really enjoying finding little things in the earlier books that tie into the current series. Out of curiosity, what helps you more in the sales numbers, buying today, buying later this week, buying this coming weekend, or buying next week? Will the ones that sold at Balticon count towards your sales numbers (remembering what you said happened to someone else when an e version came out early).

edited to actually log in

Edited at 2014-05-27 11:08 am (UTC)
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-05-29 04:12 am (UTC)

Re: Books

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In terms of "help"--it varies, but early sales are always better than later sales. These unless you've got a monster bestseller (stays on the list for months--v. rare) your chance to get on is in the first week, at most ten days. In terms of making the publisher happy, the first 2-4 weeks is the critical period. Though books have long tails, often someone's negotiating a new contract as a new book is nearing release, and strong sales in both pre-orders and first-week sales give the writer a better position. Personally, I'm happy if people like the books and buy them (those who can afford them)...maybe tell friends about them. Because personal recommendations count for more than fancy ads (it's been shown.)
[User Picture]From: blueeowyn
2014-05-29 11:33 am (UTC)

Re: Books

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My DH bought the book for me last night. So, hopefully it will help. Thank you for the reminder that I should put it up in my journal. I know that a friend hadn't heard about the new series until I had mentioned it.
[User Picture]From: lighthawk
2014-05-27 01:41 am (UTC)

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I have been looking forward to Crown of Renewal since I finished the 4th book last fall. I will definitely be reading it and finishing it this week, possibly even tomorrow.

I want to thank you for sharing that world with us, it has been one of my favorite stories for a long time now and will continue to be indefinitely.

While I will see after I finish Crown, my only hope in regards to this world is that I see more stories featuring Paks. But I imagine that such a story has to want to be told for you to write it. But a fellow can dream.

Anyway, thank you again and I look forward to reading and rereading these books in the future. :)
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-05-27 02:16 am (UTC)

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Paks is my own favorite character...but the way I write (and the only way I can write, having tried others) requires me to let the character be what the character wants to be. Paks has not agreed to return as a point of view character--and I've started many a story about her, only to have her essence--her real self--not be there. Doesn't work. I won't fake her. Her appearances in Paladin's Legacy have been just as abrupt, surprising, and brief in my head as in the books. Maybe she'll come back someday. If she does, I'll be there eager to write the story. In the meantime, I cherish the visits even if she won't let me inside her head to see things from her viewpoint again. (And if that description makes you think this writer's crazy...welll...that's just how it works for me.)
[User Picture]From: lighthawk
2014-05-27 02:20 am (UTC)

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No, that doesn't sound crazy. I have characters of my own that behave the same way, though I lack the technical skill to properly tell their stories (maybe one day!). It will be my endearing hope that she wishes to share more of her tale in the future. Until then, I will enjoy that which is there. :)
[User Picture]From: lighthawk
2014-05-30 03:51 am (UTC)

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Well, I basically finished the book in more or less a single sitting, I couldn't put it down. I enjoyed it best out of the new series.

Thank you for taking me on this journey and I look forward to taking it again sometime.
[User Picture]From: msminlr
2014-05-27 12:46 pm (UTC)

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I've got the earlier books in this series loaded onto my Nook [had to re-buy the first two, as I'd originally got them from SF Book Club and they are now In A Box Somewhere] and am now off to buy the new one.
[User Picture]From: bagfish
2014-05-27 12:48 pm (UTC)

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I'm one of the lucky people in the UK who pre-ordered Crown and was surprised and VERY pleased to have received it ten days ago. I'd just finished my reread of the Paks books and the first four Legacy books and it arrived just in time.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought that it wrapped up many of the dangling threads, especially those out of Liars Oath, but I can definitely see that the characters wanted to you say more! Their lives and stories are definitely still going on in the background, especially the noble families in Tsaia - the reappearance of magery in those families is surely going to change society radically.

I particularly loved the way you finished the Marshall-General's viewpoint story, that was absolutely wonderful.

And the last chapter was brilliant. Very thoughtful and quiet and just right. (I won't say more cos of spoilers!!)

I've enjoyed the series hugely, and my OH is currently reading the Paks books in preparation for the Legacy books and he is completely hooked!

Thankyou for writing such a wonderful series of books.
[User Picture]From: seekerval
2014-05-27 05:53 pm (UTC)

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Yippee! Now I know how to start my birthday wish list! And--as I'm between books--I'll start the whole re-read from the beginning with Paks' argument with her father. Today.

I've enjoyed your novels since Paks was first published. Hope to continue with even more to come of whomever wants their story told. Thanks for the excellent entertainment.
[User Picture]From: teriegarrison
2014-05-27 07:41 pm (UTC)

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Well bugger! I've had a friend visiting for the past two weeks (put her on the plane home yesterday) and lost track of the date. And OF COURSE I placed a Waterstones order today...without remembering to add your new book to my cart. ARRGGHH!

I'll order it soon. And so good to see your phosphors here again. :-)
From: otterb
2014-05-27 08:25 pm (UTC)

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Package has arrived on my doorstep containing this and the new Dresden Files book. Since my husband and I are both reading both series, we'll have to draw straws for who gets which book first, then swap. Except it won't be until the weekend, as we both have major activities at work this week and house guests coming Thursday.

I have a four hour train ride next week that it would be lovely to have this for. Assuming I can keep my hands off it that long.
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-05-29 04:13 am (UTC)

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My husband usually gets to read new books first because I'm trying to finish something...not this year.
[User Picture]From: westrider
2014-05-29 01:10 am (UTC)

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Mine's here, and just waiting for me to finish re-reading what came before.

I remember a conversation with my mom after we'd just read Limits of Power, about how impressed we were that the writing was so tight, and covering so much material in just enough detail without bloating out to become one of those unwieldy monstrosities of a book that neither of us really like. Excellently written.
[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2014-05-29 04:15 am (UTC)

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Thank you! I hope for that, but it's so hard to know exactly when you've given enough detail and not left someone groping for that one thing they needed to know...or when you've put too many that are simply "Yeah, yeah, will you get ON with it!" bothers. I will go to bed cheerful.