Adventures in various worlds

This is the place to find out about my works-in-progress, my completed stories, and scribblings of mine that I’m especially fond of. You can read the first chapters of my main novels and a short story (from a while ago) here if you like: hover your mouse over the Adventures in Various Worlds title and you’ll see the list.

(Check here occasionally to see things added or the statuses of current works in progress updated.)


Writers know how it is to look over their old writing and cringe, torn between the desire to destroy it (in case anyone else finds it) or to keep it as a reminder of how much they’ve grown since then. I’ve gotten rid of most of my old work. The one piece I keep around, I do because it held the seeds of two of my later (and much better) stories. Travellers From Afar, written in 2013 and afterwards revised, involves time-travel and the conversion of a part of England. The time-travel part later made its way into Of the North, where it’s much better developed. England’s conversion, with much greater historical accuracy and much deeper, appears in Wind Age. But Travellers From Afar has very few virtues in itself. The style of the writing is immature; it tells, instead of showing; it pretends to be historical fiction, but I did no research whatsoever, and now that I know what I’m talking about, I can point out wrong centuries, wrong clothes, wrong social norms, wrong everything.

* * *


“Do not mess with the dragon, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.”

A Reptilian Romance was my second actually finished story — finished, that is, to the point where I let other people read it. I wrote it for the Rooglewood Press Beauty and the Beast retelling contest in 2014. I don’t re-read it and cringe, as I do with Travelers From Afar on the rare occasions that I do look at it again, and it does have its good lines, but it’s superficial. However, since it was the first story I polished enough to submit to a contest, it is worth mentioning.

* * *


My first novel-length story. Built on two cliches: the girl sent to a boarding house where she’s unhappy, and her parents both dying early on. But Lily is one of my oldest characters and one I’m closest to, and as she’s also a writer, we’re quite good friends. Her story is of her growing up during the American Civil War, from her first discovering her gift of words, to her first publication in a city magazine, to her best friend leaving to fight, to her eventual marriage and return to the farm where she grew up. I wrote it over the course of three years, and my writing style changed (and I think improved) greatly over it, so that the style of the last half is noticeably different from the first. But it’s an old favourite and I toy with rewriting it once in a while. It was a step in my growth as a writer when I first put enough dedication into a story to stay with it for 100,000 words by the time it was all done, but I think I’ve also outgrown it now.

* * *


I’ve been writing this one on and off, with most of the activity concentrated between May 27 and August 15, 2015, and slower additions at all sorts of times after. It started as a writing prompt involving roses, outlaws, and something I can’t remember — a castle? It was going to be a retelling of Beauty and the Beast with Robin Hood elements. It turned into a Robin-Hoody story with elements of Beauty and the Beast, though it could also be described as a combination of the Princess Bride and Robin Hood. The plot needs a lot of work and it gets preachy in places, so much that it’s depressing, but the characters are what keeps me smiling when I re-read it. The first complete story (it’s sort of a series) finished at about 55,000 words. Some of my favourite characters are in it. I do love them :).

My sister’s work on the collage — it takes more work than it looks — earns a special mention. My only part of it was finding the pictures and picking the quotes (all pictures from various places on the Internet), and she put them together and organized them so the colours worked together, and took impossible proportions and squeezed them together so you can’t tell the effort behind it.

“[Hunting] sounds exciting, all right,” Cook agreed, passing among the tables to refill mugs, “but I’m glad I had the easy work, all the same. Running about and jumping logs and dodging trees isn’t best for one of my age.”

  “Or size,” added another. “More water, thank you.”

  “You really think he’ll give you water after that comment?” the Captain inquired, or at least Rose guessed it was the Captain by his voice.

  “Oh, he’ll give him water all right, it’s what he’ll put in it that’s –– questionable,” Arthur said.

* * *

Just Outlaws

I started this after finishing Rose-Tinted Arrows, but chronologically it comes before. How Algernon came to be among the outlaws, and how from a gang wild and rough around somewhat more than just the edges they became the Merry Men, and the futility of revenge, and the helplessness of a student deprived of books, are all told here.

Begun Fall 2017, in progress, I estimate around fifty thousand words when done.

* * *


Æschild is her SCA name. A debate about time-travel ends awkwardly, and the bard she’d argued with sent her a ring made after an Anglo-Saxon find to apologize. When she puts it on she finds herself in England in the middle of the eleventh century. The Normans harrying the coasts are the least of her problems. The fact that she was in garb, about to leave for an event, at the time of the change, is her salvation when she finds herself in a strangely familiar other where and time. What, after all, is “home”? Is there more than one way to live the Dream? And, once you’ve lost something, is it gone forever?

“Of the North” is the title of a song and a CD of songs by Baroness Aneleda Falconbridge of the East Kingdom of the SCA, and none of her words belong to me. I am using her title as mine for a working title because it fits — if I ever seek publication I may change it, or ask permission to use it.

First draft, just 50,000 words, written for my first NaNoWriMo, in 2015.

Currently in rewriting; probably between 80,000 and 100,000 words when complete. Also, this description barely fits anymore. I’m going to have to work on a new one. . .

* * *


 Alfhild is the second daughter of a carl in early seventh-century Britain. Her life has always been full of work, except when she steals off to the monastery to learn. It is quiet, except for her conversion to the Christian faith opposed to the paganism her family still holds. Certain her vocation is to become a nun, she refuses her suitors. Then one day while her father and brothers are away hunting, a Thegn’s eldest son and his men, having lost their way and with a storm approaching, ask for shelter and food for the night. After they have left, leaving behind them nothing but gold and memories to become legends, everyone says the Thegn has forgotten Alfhild as surely as she will forget him. But the wind that blew the Thegn into her land blows change into Alfhild’s life –– and gives her the opportunity to change her world.

64,000 words, written between March and August 2016.

In hibernation because of major plot structure problems. I will return to it, if I live long enough.

* * *

In addition to my finished stories I have some in progress, or partially planned (I don’t plan them out entirely before writing):

Adventures of the Motley Crew: If you’ve read the blog for very long at all, or even noticed the tags, you’ll have a guess. This is nonfiction about my sister and I and our group of Catholic, Communist Lutheran, and Deist friends from the orchestra, but mostly it’s about the beauty of Philia (especially that hard and honest friendship which is not afraid to draw blade either in alliance with or against the beloved) in a world which has forgotten or neglected any kind of love besides Eros.

Begun Winter 2017-18, who knows how long it will be or when it will be done. It’s a very optimistic and even youthful (but hopefully not immature) story, which is odd because most of the players are old-for-their-age high-school and college students, and if that isn’t a weird mess to try to categorize, I don’t know what is.

The Roman Story: What happened to the Vestal Virgins after the sacred flame was extinguished at the end of the fourth century?

Autumn 2017. Still in the researching and trying to find a plot stage. I foresee it being massive — it’s got to be, to hold the larger-than-life characters who keep coming up.

* * *

(The stories below are all ideas from 2016, and haven’t made any progress since then, but as they still have some promise I haven’t officially abandoned them.)

The Wedding Story: A home-schooling family with lots of kids and musical talent. Daughter who despises weddings and has no use for history. Family friend who loves history. Still manages somehow to avoid romance. Highlights: small boys, laughter, SCA, libraries. Scattered bits and pieces written.

The Post-Conquest Story: Eanfled/Eanflaed is the daughter of an Anglo-Saxon Eorl (or cnecht? help) who died defending his home. Grief for his death broke her mother’s spirit, and now, with her brother gone to fight with Harold Cyning, all their responsibilities have fallen on Eanfled’s shoulders. Though her beloved England is conquered, she determines to fight on to the very end in what ways she can. Geoffroi is the disinherited first son of a Norman noble, with a tongue as quick and sharp as his sword, who earns his living as a hired blade until he takes up with Duke William’s expedition to gain England. The reward he asks for is simple: a rich English bride. His plans do not go far beyond money and a place to settle down. When the Norman appears in Eanfled’s yard and she finds out that if she refuses marriage she will be cast on William’s charity, neither Eanfled nor Geoffroi get quite what they expected. (Bits and pieces done here and there, but not much. Other projects took precedence.)

Modern Lily’s Story: So far only ideas and conjectures. I’m thinking of taking Success Is Counted Sweetest and rewriting it as a contemporary coming-of-age story, only without the cliches and poor writing. Lily’s a college student, working part-time at a library for her summer job, and is a Civil War re-enactor in her spare time. She’s been writing since she was about ten and misspelled a word when her mother gave her a spelling test (she was home-schooled). Perry. . . there’s nothing much to change about him.


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