Mid-November State of the Author, 2021

Mildly frazzled. However, I will attest that the customer service sides of both AOPA and the FAA not-in-house-user computer people are very good. I just wish I had not needed their services. It was a case of “if you know how to use the system and what makes it tick, it’s an intuitive system” versus “Why is it not doing what I need it to do? It won’t tell me.”

I’m at 34K words on City, Priest, and Empire. This is going to be a longer book, which fits the story – the resettlement of the lands between the Comb Mountains and the Five Free Cities on the Northern Ocean. Halwende is . . . an intriguing character. His first big collision with the Northern Emperor is about to transpire, setting up the love/intensely-dislike relationship between them.

I hope to have the Lone Hunter story done soon. I need to finish one scene, but Life keeps happening.

I know how to work the three unfinished stories in the next Familiars anthology, it will just take time.

After that? We’ll see. I will have a lot less time over Christmas than I first thought. And next term is . . . full. Very full.

Friday Query

So, is there any interest in my releasing a story in the secondary series “Familiar Generations” about the Lone Hunter? It would be a $.99 short story, the first in the next “generation” of Familiar stories. No, don’t worry, Lelia, Tay and Co. are not going to disappear with Overly Familiar, but I’d like to get something out since I’m setting Familiar Paths aside this month to work on the next Merchant book.

Also: Is anyone willing to answer some questions about the US Army and the area around Ft. Bragg? I need some info about checking into a base, and if a scenario would be reasonable (for Mike and Rich versions of reasonable.) If so, please ping my e-mail (see the About) page, and thanks in advance.

White Gold is Available

The book, not the metal, sorry.

Salt. The original white gold. Men labor for it, died for it, killed because of it. Now trouble simmers between the salters of Halfeld Fluss and those who need wood for crafts and fuel.

Widower Tarno Halson, master salter, only wants to work, raise his sons, and find a wife to help him. Instead he finds himself in the middle of the conflict.

Set in the world of Merchant and Magic, this blue-collar fantasy tells the tale of an average man who isn’t quite so average.

Tuesday Tidbit: Sibling Collision

Boianti and Skender agree to disagree. [NOTE: I will not post any more excerpts from White Gold of Empire. I am beginning revisions and will be asking for volunteer beta readers.]

That night Arthur passed the word to his brother, and showed him the maps. Skender paced the length of the gathering barn twice before speaking. “I do not care for this.” Arthur waited, still and calm. Something more than just the undead irritated the senior Hunter. A bat fluttered out the large open doorway. Perhaps it would devour the mosquitoes plaguing the lowlands and starting to pester the home farm as well. “Two. Two unclean things move. One of the covens, the one that works near the Bauer farm, asked Shadow to guard their midsummer working. They fear something in the darkness, even on the turning of summer.”

“Perhaps because of the turning.” Arthur turned his left hand palm up. “From longer to shorter, and a new moon. They follow Wicca, as Ink at the print shop does.” He disagreed, but he saw no grounds to impose beliefs on the erring, so long as they erred on the side of the Light and peace.

“Perhaps. I care not for it.” Skender paced once again, then drew close indeed to his brother. He spoke so quietly Arthur almost could not hear. “Corava may be with child.”

“Ah.” Nothing more need be said, should be said. To do so risked the life of mother and child-to-be. 

Skender stepped clear once more. “Shadow asks that a few Hunters assist him watching over the coven. He . . . has never requested such in the past.” Skender rubbed the lower half of his face, squarer and stronger than Arthur’s own. “I am inclined to agree.”

Arthur nodded. “It would not be amiss to even the balance with the workers of shadow.” The clan and the shadow workers kept no accounts, but they could not have succeeded in the Terrible Hunt without the shadow mages. No one wanted to be in debt to magic workers.

“Indeed.” Skender folded his arms. “You will not Hunt with us.”

He bared his teeth oh so slightly. “I can link with Shadow.” His brother could not, nor could Raabe work magic for the foreseeable future.

Sheer muscle slammed him into one of the heavy beams supporting the hay loft and roof. The force drove the air from his lungs and brought dust sifting down onto their heads. “Do. Not. Defy. Me.” The dim light from the main house and the stars glinted off steel in his brother’s right hand.

Fire flared in Arthur’s blood. Ice flashed through his veins even faster, and he regained control of himself. He inhaled slowly and tipped his head back, throat bared to the steel. “I refrain from your Hunt.”

The knife returned to its sheath. “You and Silver, reserve. I do not trust the taste in the wind.” With that Skender stalked away.

Arthur remained where he stood, motionless, until he heard naught save night sounds. How long since he had challenged his brother? Before the shop had opened, that much he did recall. He had survived, but recovery had required weeks. His body would not fare so well now. He closed his eyes for the briefest of moments. Movement, now, or the rage would return. It must be cleared from his blood. He bared his teeth. “Your Hunt. Not mine.”

He parked well away from the place of the disturbed graves, on the opposite side of an overgrown woodlot. The current owner no doubt thought that good stewardship equaled neglect. Arthur ghosted through the trees and overgrown brush, scowling at the overly-healthy patches of nettles. Poison ivy waited too, he suspected. A deer hurried away, and he heard the small creatures scuttling and creeping about their own business. Night birds called, and a great-horned owl voiced her opinion of matters. He smelled crushed leaves, and mud, undercut with a tease of wood smoke and cooked meat. A festive summer campfire or bonfire, probably. He shifted his attention down, studying the lower trunks of the trees.

Ah. One trail camera pointed across the faint deer path. He detoured around it. Closer to the graveyard, two very new cameras stared into the night. The scent of plastic and rubber told everything with a nose that man had been in the area. He rolled his eyes, then studied the boxes and smiled. They’d used the kind with easy-to-replace batteries. Easy to remove as well, should someone need to do so. He ghosted closer and studied the top of the closest box. He had only to add a USB link with a small video file, and the cameras would show precisely nothing for as long as needed, should it be needed. He crept in a spiral around the area of interest and found two more cameras, same model, and the one on the gate. It had already developed a problem, or so it seemed. He did not test it. There was no need, not yet.

He could just discern the new grave, and disturbed ground not far from the new one. He touched the beads in his pocket and twisted his vision for an instant. The cemetery remained hallowed, and the consecration had been renewed within the past few years. Thank You, he silently murmured. That eased one fear, perhaps.

Arthur eased away from the cemetery and turned his attention to the field. Clover or another low ground-cover crop covered the heavy soil, except for one patch. There a few sickly plants struggled to hold down the dirt, freshly churned dirt. He started to curse, then caught himself. Lady of Night, St. Michael protector of the Lady, something foul waited under the soil. How could others not smell, taste the corruption in the very air? Perhaps it was good that they could not, so they did not go poking. He did not flee, but he departed with equal care and far greater haste, not stopping until he reached the car. He cleaned his boots, changed them for a different pair, hid the stalking boots in the trunk, then drove away.

Instead of returning to the farm, he parked at one of the scenic overlooks the state had provided for those who insisted at staring into the valley instead of at the road. He stretched, then leaned against the metal of the dark car. Arms folded, Arthur studied the stars, then the glowing spill of Riverton’s lights below. Did he Hunt a mere nosferitau, or something in the guise of a nosferitau? He needed more than Silver, but could he ask? Perhaps the lone Hunter, the only one to remain on his own? Arthur snorted. No, that one had his own tasks. Did Skender even remember that he lived? Probably best not to remind him, not now. The soft night wind caressed his cheek, then murmured on its way. Traffic sounds faded as the stars moved across the sky.

(C) 2021 Alma T. C. Boykin All Rights Reserved

State of the Author, September ’21

Short version: less frazzled than last week.

Longer version:

The short story for the next Tales Around the Supper Table anthology is done. I’m going to give it another once-over, now that it has “rested,” and send it off to the editor. That collection should be *taps wood* out later this fall.

I got the draft of White Gold and Empire done last weekend. It needs major revision before it goes to the alpha readers, mostly to get the “voice” unified across the book. Keep in mind, I started it in the fall of ’19, then set it aside, so it needs to be smoothed out, and one big plot thread tucked away.

I have the plot for another Merchant book sketched out. I’m going to work on it for NaNoWriMo (November). The tentative title is City, Priest, and Empire, and it is set at the end of the Great Cold. It appears that I can’t really do a good Merchant world book unless I am immersed in Central Europe stuff, either being there or doing a lot of heavy research for something else. *shrug* #WriterWorldProblems

The stories for Familiar Paths are well underway, and I hope to have those done by the end of October, for a December release.

I know how the next Elect story will go, it is a matter of clearing space in my head to work on it, now that the reference book I needed has arrived. The main character is Paulus, and the female lead doesn’t have a name yet. She’s an environmental science major with more Grand Plans than sense, at least until reality, ahem, bites.

Day Job is rather calm for the moment this term, as usually happens. Spring is when things tend to go rodeo.

July ’21 Author Update

I discovered that I have to add a story to Nominally Familiar in order to fill a time gap and set up some things for the future. So expect the book in August, if all goes well.

I will resume work on White Gold and Empire as soon as I finish the short story.

After that? I will have a short story in an anthology tentatively slated for an autumn release. Then it depends on what Day Job looks like. I don’t know for 100% certain how many classes I will have, what my schedule will be, or how many students I have (yet). One of the classes will be brand new, and those always take more work than something I’ve taught before.

If Day Job is full, then the next thing will be a Familiars book, then probably a second Familiars book or Elect novella. If Day Job isn’t too overwhelming, I may take on the novella first, for an autumn release, then Familiars, then maybe that Indus Valley thing. I’ve already got the next Elect story sketched out. Paulus and an as-yet unnamed lady are the PoV characters. After that will come a story from Magda’s PoV.

As it stands at the moment, there will be three AndrĂ©-Lelia stories in N- Familiar, the one about Morgana, one about Ned Oescher (the jeweler), one Rosie and Mallory, and Sharrie’s story. I’ve already started pulling some of the story excerpts off the blog, so if you have been looking for something and can’t find it, don’t worry. You’re not losing your mind.

New Release: Wolf of the World

Wolf of the World is now live.

Dark magic, darker geology (or at least uncooperative rocks), a old wolf, and a Texan.

Empires came and went, but little seemed to change until an oil-field survey crew from Houston arrives on the Polish-Ukranian-Slovak border. The Galician oil fields had played out . . . or had they? And what brooded from the top of the mountain that wasn’t there (per GPS)?

Linda wants oil. Gregor and the Elect want freedom and revenge.

A dark fantasy with strong romance elements. 28K words.

May ’21 Progress (?) Report

The next print volume of the Familiars Tales, including Clearly and Distinctly, is being formatted right now, so it should be available within two weeks or so. The next print volume will have Familiar Roads , then Eerily, in order to keep in-series continuity.

I’m working through edits on “Wolf of the World.” If all goes well, it should be available early next week.

I’ve gotten more written on White Gold, the next Merchant book. My goal is to finish the draft by the end of the month, if not sooner.

I’m also working on some Familiars stories for the next book, or at least making notes of ideas so that when I get things settled down, I can write them.

My other summer goal is to write the book based on the Indo-European arrival in the Indus Valley, the one I sketched out over at MadGeniusClub last year.

Day Job will have expanded duties next year, at least in the first semester, so I’m going to try to get a lot of writing done over the summer. Yes, I do have a vacation planned. No, I’m not leaving the US this year. Maybe, maybe, perhaps, in 2022, but I’m not holding my breath. Too much depends on bureaucrats in three other countries, none of whom seem to be afflicted by sanity at the moment.