Progress Report

Hey guys,

Hope life is treating you well, wherever you may be. Or as well as can be expected, anyway. Here in my part of Canada, we're under lockdown and have a curfew. Not sure which wave this is. The fifth or the sixth? It sometimes feels as though we'll never get out of this shit.

Some of you have messaged me, asking for news regarding my manuscript. I haven't shared anything because there's nothing to share just yet.

When last you heard about it, The Evil That Men Do weighed in at 164,000 words (593 manuscript pages) and I had just sent it to the agent that represented my first novel back in 2007. Covid has slowed everything down in our lives, it often seems, and it's the same with publishing. It took more than five months for me to get a response. Matt's wife died not too long ago and since basically all of his clients have used the free time engendered by the pandemic to write their own novels, he no longer takes on new clients. He had a lot of nice things to say about my manuscript and encouraged me to search for an agent actively seeking new clients, but he did pass on it.

So I sent it out to another one and it took four months to hear back from her. Wasn't expecting much since she requested the first five pages only. Hard to really make an impression with such a small sample. Anyway, I sent the manuscript to another agent in October and I'm still waiting to hear back from him. Them's the breaks.

Here's the blurb (kind of):

Princess Beatrice Orsini, heir to the throne of Nadrek, is about to get betrothed to Tammaron Rohan, a scion of the royal line of the neighboring kingdom of Sarandia. Something that doesn't sit well with loyalists afraid that foreign influence might undermine the aristocracy's privileges in the years to come. Trouble is, the Hundred Years War has decimated the House Orsini family tree and the male line will end with the death of King Rodric. Many hope that uniting both families will finally bring a measure of peace to a realm that has bled for close to a century. Still, with the Game of Houses one never knows.

Fourteen years before, Laman Orsini, brother of King Edward, orchestrated a coup that sought to eliminate every other claimant to the crown. And though his treachery cost the lives of the rest of the royal family, a seemingly mortally wounded Rodric entrusted his young daughter Beatrice in the care of an old friend he met during the last civil war. Captain Shorty, commanding officer of the 13th Company, flees with the princess, now the legitimate heir to the crown.

Beatrice, not yet five years old, suddenly finds herself the biggest prize in the Game of Houses. As the only person standing in the way of Lord Laman's ascending the throne, he and his cronies will stop at nothing to capture and kill the girl. Alas, the 13th Company is the most notorious and ruthless military unit the kingdom of Nadrek has ever fielded. And they are known by another name, one earned in blood time and time again: the Widowmakers.

How hard can it be to kill one little girl? The conspirators are about to find out what it means to go up against the 13th Company. During her flight north toward the city of Fairhaven, living among those hard men and women will forever change the princess. But Beatrice's sweet innocence and her immense courage in the face of such adversity will also touch them in unexpected ways. They will never be the same again.

As I said before, it's Glen Cook's The Black Company meets Steven Erikson's The Bridgeburners meets George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones. And just from this blurb you can see that there are a few nods and winks to various SFF series out there. Hopefully one day in the near future you'll get to meet Shorty, Shithead, Biggie, Blur, Simple, Sugar, Sunshine, Ghost, Princess, Serenity, Clumsy, Stringer, Boom, Fatso, Handsome, the Reverend, and the rest of the gang!

Back in January of 2021, I started working on the sequel, Blood for Blood. I got about 25 manuscript pages into the project before realizing that writing the next installment of a novel that might never see the light wasn't necessarily the best thing to do. But still, I wanted to keep working on something. After all, I have over 25 pages of handwritten notes regarding the sequel and over 10 pages of notes regarding the prequel, which is now titled The Thing That Should Not Be.

Then in March, I woke up with the idea of a story that could bridge The Evil That Men Do and Blood for Blood. I let it percolate inside my brain for a little while and wrote what turned out to be a 117-page novella titled Blademaster. I finished the first draft the first week of July and found myself at the same impasse.

That same week I dared my friend Chloé to take up what I call the song title challenge. You choose a song title and write a short story on the images and the themes it evokes in your mind. It's something I've always wanted to do but never did. The next day I went out for a walk and the first tune to hit my headphones was "She Talks to Angels" by The Black Crows. By the time I got home, I had enough material for a series of short stories featuring a homeless girl who lost her mind and who claims to, you guessed it, talk to angels.

A few walks later, I had all the main plot points more or less mapped out. But instead of starting at the beginning with the first story, "She Talks to Angels", because everything was so clear in my head I elected to write one of the last ones. "Heaven is a Place on Earth" saw the light and weighs in at 39 manuscript pages. Then came "When Doves Cry" (29 manuscript pages), followed by "Send Me An Angel" (22 manuscript pages). Though I was tempted to write the very last one, "Something To Believe In", I finally decided to go back to the start and I began writing "She Talks to Angels" yesterday afternoon. I figure there will be two or three more before I can bridge the gap between this first tale and what I've already written, and then I can start working on the last one. As you can see, each one is named after a song title.

So even though I wasn't able to keep up the pace I maintained throughout 2020, I still managed to write over 250 pages in 2021. Which isn't bad, all things considered.

Hopefully I'll have good news to share with you in the coming months! =)

1 commentaires:

Fred said...

Don't give up Pat. I submitted short stories from time to time and one time, I got an answer 18 months after the submission. I'm sure that you'll be a full time author sometimes in the future, you just know too much so you know what's works good and what's works best in Fantasy / Scifi novels.

PS. It's the fifth wave in Quebec.