A lot has happened in my fictional world recently. The Vermilion Bird (Legends of the Five Directions 4: South) has been checked for historical errors of fact and is getting a full read-through from my writers’ group as well as a couple of fellow authors encountering it for the first time. (And big thanks to all my early readers!)
With three out of four sets of comments in my possession, I plan to start going through the manuscript again this weekend to respond to the suggested changes and to make any other needed adjustments while waiting for the last set of comments to come in. With luck and a bit of work, I will release the book in time for the Christmas holiday—or at least early in the new year. Stay tuned not just for publication information but for news of sales on the earlier books as the release date approaches.
Meanwhile, I have completed three full drafts of the last Legends novel, The Shattered Drum (Legends 5: Center). That too is in the midst of a read-through, because I have reached the point where I can’t see what problems remain. Although all the Legends novels intersect to some degree, the last two have particularly close ties, so it makes sense to discover what needs to be done on Legends 5 before letting go of Legends 4. I hope to have the complete series available in print and as e-books by the end of 2018.
So what’s next? As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s not easy saying goodbye to characters I have come to know and love over the course of a decade. So although I’m taking a step back from the principals, I am in the midst of crafting a new series, Songs of Steppe and Forest. Each of the Songs features a character who never quite received her due in Legends. Some were supposed to get their own novels but didn’t, mostly because the novels had grown long enough without them. Others I never intended to become more than secondary characters, but as my creations tend to do, after a while they acquired pasts and problems and attitudes that made them interesting potential protagonists. As seems appropriate as the stories develop, these somewhat familiar heroines will interact with members of the original cast, so that readers who fell in love with Nasan and Daniil or Ogodai and Firuza can find out what happens to them in the years ahead.
I have a series of covers, worked out with our designer Courtney J. Hall, which I will reveal over time. I have rough ideas—sketches more than outlines—for four possible books, which could expand to six if needed. I am researching now to find the best time period for each story. All will take place in Russia and the adjoining lands in the 1540s, a decade even more troubled than the 1530s—if that is possible. I just stumbled over an architectural detail about sixteenth-century Moscow that is too good not to turn into a plot-driving conspiracy, just as soon as I figure out what that conspiracy should be. I even have fifteen or so rough pages for the first book in the new series, Song of the Siren, although I have yet to zero in on the character’s distinctive “voice.”
And as always, I am collecting every appropriate public domain image I can find as mental fuel for the settings my characters inhabit. Some of them are in this post—small hints to what you can expect from The Vermilion Bird.
Enjoy! I will have more news soon.
Images: Andrei Riabushkin, The Tsar Meeting with His Boyars (1893); Illustrated Chronicle Codex, The Wedding of Prince Andrei Staritsky, 1533 (late 16th century); S. M. Prokudin-Gorsky, Staritsa (1912). All public domain in the United States because of their age.