Otherworld talk 7

If the previous episode, Situational Awareness, was the high point of Chronicles of the Otherworld, sometimes I think its followup, A Peace Shattered, is the lowest. I don’t know why, honestly. It just doesn’t seem to stack up. It comes between two of my favorite parts, but it doesn’t compare to either of them. Maybe you feel differently, though. Anyway, let’s talk.


First off, I will freely admit that I had a hard time coming up with a plot for this one. All along, Chronicles was intended to be 8 parts, each with 8 chapters. It was a formula. And after I finished up Situational Awareness, I saw how to plan out the ending. But I had nothing to cover the weeks in between.

Thus was born the kidnapping sequence. It’s not my best, but I think it does an okay job of filling the gap. It’s plausible, and the actors involved might conceive of such a scheme. It ties up a loose end (Olof, from Episodes 5 & 6) while setting out another (Elgaan, who will be a thorn in Lee’s side for a while). It also brings together a few disparate parts of the expedition, connecting Ryan, Lee, Jenn, and Amy.

The natives don’t have a real police force. They don’t have a dedicated investigator to help solve the mystery of the disappearing doctor. That fits neatly into Jenn’s idea of herself as a vigilante (Episodes 4 & 6). On the other hand, Lee spends much of the time frustrated by a cultural difference: he isn’t allowed to participate in the investigation or interrogation, as he’s considered too partial.

There’s a lot of barely restrained rage on his part, a sharp contrast to the easygoing Lee of the first six episodes. And maybe contrast is what I was going for in this one, because a lot of characters end up acting different. But this is an emergency. One of their own has been taken, so they have to get serious.


The second subplot for this episode is the quick dig, with the bizarre trio of Alex, Jeff, and Ayla going back to the site of their arrival to find some answers. Well, they don’t find all of them, but they do get the big one: the timeline.

From the beginning, I imagined the Otherworld as a place first visited before the Ice Age. The Altea, whoever they were—even I don’t know yet—came from Earth, emigrating permanently once the glaciers started melting. True victims of climate change, if you will. They were technologically advanced, compared both to their Neolithic neighbors and the modern inhabitants of America, but they died out long ago, when their second world began to suffer the fate of their first. (This one comes into play a bit later.) The site in Mexico was not their only gateway between worlds, but it’s the only one in friendly territory, you might say.

We saw some evidence of advancement back in Episode 4, the first time our intrepid heroes began nosing around the site’s underground. Here we get even more, as well as ironclad proof of the timeline. That was an idea I had long before I started writing this episode. If the Otherworld can have some animals otherwise extinct (American horses, northern peccaries and tapirs, etc.), then why not others? Why not one of the most famous Ice Age extinctions of all? And that plants the seed in the characters’ minds, too: if these are here, what else is?

So the archaeological dig without any archaeologists finds two things that completely rewrite history. That’s the bombshell of the series, even more than the very existence of the Otherworld. But I like to think I played it well. The Altea didn’t guide Paleo-Indians or their Otherworld cousins. None of the native creations of the Americas belong to them, with the exception of the sites like Tamaulipas. And it’s mostly the same on the other side. By the time the Mayans came around, the Altea were nothing more than dust; by the time the expedition arrives in the Otherworld, they’re only remembered as legends.


After this, there’s only one episode left in the season. The finale, if you will, and it takes a bit of a different approach. So will I, in these talks, so I’m going to talk a bit about it now. First off, it uses a bit of a different structure. Because so many things are going on, it doesn’t follow the usual “POV rotation”. Instead, the first six chapters whip around, each following a single day of the story and changing focus as needed. Alex, Jenn, and Amy get a higher proportion of the attention, but that’s because they have more to do. Chapter 7 is even more different, as it’s made up of seven scenes, one for each character. And the final chapter of the season is an epilogue: five scenes, one each for the four expedition members who never got a chance to speak, and the last for their honorary twelfth member.

I’ll talk more about the happenings of Episode 8, titled Long Road’s End, after it’s out. But I’ll gladly say that it was a fun, enjoyable experience. It was a pleasure to write, unlike this one, where I sometimes felt like quitting. It’s a good thing I didn’t, as I hope you’ll see soon.

Novel Month 2017 – Day 30, evening

And that’s a wrap. No, the novel isn’t finished. But the month is, and I think I’ve done enough work to call this a victory. I completed the goals I set for myself 30 days ago. I set a new personal record for most words written in a month. I still have the final 4 chapters to write, but those should go down in the next few days.

Before we get to the wrap-up, here’s the final stats.

This session’s word count: 4,114
Total word count: 136,613
Daily average: 4,553
Last year’s total: 103,626

Now, on to my thoughts about the month as a whole.

First off, I am never doing this again. Not at this level, anyway. Over 135,000 words in a month? If you suggested that in October, I’d have called you crazy. Now, after doing it, I’m ready to call myself crazy. Seriously, this month wore on me more than any other period of writing I can remember.

Back in June (I think?), when I was writing The Shape of Things, I actually quit for over a week, because I was just tired of the story. This time, I really didn’t have that luxury. I had committed myself to The Soulstone Sorcerer. And there were times when I hated that decision. I still don’t completely like the story, even at this late stage. Maybe I can write an ending that will leave me feeling better about it, but I don’t know.

If the quality isn’t up to my own personal standards, then the quantity certainly was. I don’t know what possessed me this month, but this is definitely the most prolific I’ve ever been. (Maybe I wanted to get it out of the way. I did feel that way sometimes.) I started out with 5375 words in the first day, about double last year’s opening, and I think that set the tone. I kept a daily average of at least 4500 until the 13th, and the only real reason I lost that streak was because of my bizarre sleeping schedule.

Could I keep that pace with a story I truly enjoyed? I doubt it. For this one, I persevered out of sheer stubbornness a lot of the time, boredom the rest. If I had anything else to do at all, I’d never have come close to 136K.

I’ll keep going to finish this book, and I hope that won’t take more than a week. Next year, I think I’ll have to find something that won’t run 400+ pages, because I’m tired. I’m exhausted. As soon as this one’s done, I want to curl up into a ball and ignore my keyboard until January. I know I can’t, because I have other things to do (like editing, and making a cover for that pesky Linear Cycle paperback). But I think this will be the last story I write in 2017, barring some unforeseen flash of inspiration.

As always, it’s been fun, though maybe not as much this time around. Regular posts start back up next week, and here’s to 6 in a row!

Novel Month 2017 – Day 29, evening

We’re nearing the end of both the month and the novel. Chapter 25 goes down, leaving only 5 to go. Four of those will be of the “climactic battle” variety, while the last ties up some of the loose ends and sets others aside for the potential sequel. (No, I don’t have the first thing planned for that one. Ask again this time next year.)

Tomorrow, I’ll do a lot of wrapping up, and I hope to get a few more stats put up. Obviously, this is the last day for the projected word count, but I’d like to look back and see just how prolific a writer I’ve been this month.

This session’s word count: 5,157
Total word count: 132,499
Daily average: 4,568
Last year’s cumulative total: 100,805
Projected word count: 137,067

Novel Month 2017 – Day 28, evening

Chapter 24, done. Six chapters to go, and we may have our first actual sighting of the villain. Yay, me. Not much else to say. I’m getting close to the end of this novel, and I hope I can keep this up until I make it there. Shouldn’t be too long now. Oh, and Rudolph comes on tonight, which is as good a sign as any that November is about done. Bring it on, Christmas!

This session’s word count: 4,917
Total word count: 127,342
Daily average: 4,547
Last year’s cumulative total: 98,540
Projected word count: 136,437

Novel Month 2017 – Day 27, evening

That one took a lot longer than I thought. Chapter 23 is done, thankfully, but the little streak I mentioned yesterday had to end, because this particular chapter (all setup, really) ran a bit long. That’s okay, though. I’m down to 7 to go, I think. Next up is a not-quite-travelogue, and then comes the action. The climax. The easy part, right?

This session’s word count: 4,575
Total word count: 122,425
Daily average: 4,534
Last year’s cumulative total: 96,528
Projected word count: 136,027

Novel Month 2017 – Day 26, evening

So this is a pretty odd pattern, but it seems to be working. Finish the chapter you start yesterday, then write the first bit of the next one. I can live with that, especially since I’m closing in on that ending. Chapter 23 is kind of the jumping off point for that, the part where our heroes set out on their ultimate quest. I’m planning for 30 chapters total, so that should work.

This session’s word count: 5,006
Total word count: 117,850
Daily average: 4,532
Last year’s cumulative total: 93,410
Projected word count: 135,980

Novel Month 2017 – Day 25, evening

A little bit later today, but I’ve been writing off and on throughout the day. Trust me on that one. I finished Chapter 21 and started 22, and I’m in that hardest part of the book now: the part just before the ending. Basically, it’s all setup work for the next couple of days. That’s boring, slow, and really hard to do, but I’ve made it this far.

This session’s word count: 4,638
Total word count: 112,844
Daily average: 4,513
Last year’s cumulative total: 90,680
Projected word count: 135,312

Novel Month 2017 – Day 24, afternoon

Black Friday is here! That’s right, the most important commercial holiday of the year has finally arrived. Fortunately for me, it’s not much different from any other day of November, because a) I’d be doing most of my shopping online, and b) I’m too poor to hit the town in search of deals that were over before I even woke up.

So you get writing instead. Chapter 20 is done, 21 is about halfway, and I’m starting the final third of the book. So far, it’s looking okay. Not the best thing I’ve written by far (that honor goes to either Nocturne or Situational Awareness, in my opinion), but I’m not hating this one like I was a week ago. It’s got potential. Now I just have to find a way to get to the ending, and that’s always the hardest part for me.

This session’s word count: 4,403
Total word count: 108,206
Daily average: 4,508
Last year’s cumulative count: 87,068
Projected word count: 135,257

Novel Month 2017 – Day 23, late afternoon

It’s Thanksgiving. I can stand to call it a little early. I’m full, I’m tired, and I just don’t have a feeling of where this chapter’s going. So I’ll let it simmer for another day, and we can hope that Black Friday brings some clarity. It won’t bring shopping, that’s for sure.

This session’s word count: 3,349
Total word count: 103,803
Daily average: 4,513
Last year’s cumulative total: 84,165
Projected word count: 135,395

Novel Month 2017 – Day 22, afternoon


I don’t know how somebody can write 6000 words without realizing it, but that’s what I did. I don’t know how anybody can write 100,000 words in 22 days, but I did it. Chapter 19 is done, it came out a bit longer than I expected, and it brought me into 6 figures for the month. I just don’t know what else to say.

Happy Thanksgiving. And wow.

This session’s word count: 6,032
Total word count: 100,454
Daily average: 4,566
Last year’s cumulative total: 80,020
Projected word count: 136,982