Well, I’ve been at Camp a week now, and it was a fun start, since I threw all my plans up in the air and started again. Well, I didn’t throw out what I’d done of Willoughby’s story, but I’ve changed the overall plan – from two books to finish the series to four! I started by getting my head round the overall story by writing ‘a short history of the realms’ and that’s when I decided that there was too much there, over too long a timescale, to make two good MG/children’s books. And in fact I’ve reverted to ideas I’ve had before – the Princelings of the North rescuing the person who put a message in a bottle, and the Chronicles of Marsh to wrap up all the other short stories that fill in bits of plot.
So now I finally know where I’m going, I’m writing what is now called just Willoughby the Narrator, and it’s going well enough. I want to make sure it has a proper ending, and a real climax, too! I’ve done 45,666 words for it now, and it really doesn’t want that many more. I had some trouble with it yesterday when I realised I’d done some plot points that didn’t exactly fit with things said in Bravo Victor, but I think I can wiggle out of them. Altogether for Camp my word count is 23166 today, which is well ahead of schedule.
I’ve got a really active cabin, so there’s always someone to chat to when ideas dry up. In fact, if the rain keeps showering as much as it has so far, I could really get a lot of writing done!
Hope your July is going well
PS you can keep up with my word count and progress on specific books with the progress bars near the bottom right of the page.
An excerpt from Willoughby the Narrator
Willoughby arrives at Castle Marsh for the very first time
“Greetings, stranger. I’m Haggis, head of security around here. Would you like to introduce yourself?”
“Oh, hallo, pleased to meet you.” I stuck out my hand, and he shook it, and held on to it. “I’m Willoughby, the narrator, come for the Narrathon. My fiddlesticks are over there.” They were still rolled up, so nobody would recognise them as my badge of office, as it were.
He let go of my hand and smiled. “We’ve been looking forward to meeting you. Never had a proper narrator here before. Hope you can teach our young hopefuls while you’re here? Do you want a drink first,” he nodded towards the tavern, “or do you want to meet King Fred and find out where you’re staying.”
“Oh, meet King Fred, please.” Priorities, I thought.
“This way, then. I expect he’ll find some refreshment for you. It’s a long way from anywhere, even Wash. We’re very glad you came.”
He was keen on reassuring me. Maybe he felt he’d been too stern when he first saw me. It seemed like Fred had some good people around him.
We jinked our way through the wooden buildings to some steps, and up into another courtyard, this one displaying the fine proportions of the castle itself. There was a fire on one side, with a few people gathered around it, and some children running around playing games with hoops and sticks. A platform was being worked on at the far side. I reckoned that would be the stage for all the Yuletide events.
“Do you want to leave your fiddlesticks there? They’ll be quite safe,” Haggis said, indicating a number of boxes at the side of the stage. I put them down, and Haggis told one of the workers on the stage what they were, and to look after them. Kind of him.
“That’s Neeps,” Haggis said. “My number two, and getting to be a first-class carpenter. I reckon I’ll lose him if I’m not careful.”
I nodded, not entirely sure what he meant. All castles had their own arrangements that were a mystery to outsiders until you settled in and got the local jargon sorted out.
We went in through a nicely arched doorway and up a flight of stone stairs. “He’s probably in here,” Haggis said, opening one half of a double door. “This is the small hall. If he’s not here he’ll be in his office along the corridor, and if not there, in the Natural Philosophy school on the top floor north. Or with the family two floors above here.”
The small hall contained a number of ladies sitting around a long table, making things, while further on some teenagers were moving around and saying things as if addressing an audience. Haggis paused, and one of the ladies got up and came over.
She was very beautiful, and reminded me of Queen Nerys. She moved gracefully despite being pregnant, and I guessed she might have a couple of months to go.
She held out her hand, saying, “You must be Willoughby. Welcome to Castle Marsh.”
The penny dropped, and I kissed her hand like I had with the lady Nimrod. “Thank you, Queen Kira, I am honoured to meet you.”
“Fred is around somewhere, probably in his office with George. There was another Kings’ Council meeting yesterday, and he’s probably discussing it with him. Would you like to go up? I’ll send some refreshment for you too.”
“Thank you, your majesty,” I said, with a little bow.
“No need to stand on ceremony here.” She smiled and turned away, asking one of the ladies with her to send tea and cake for three up to Fred’s office. The lady scurried away, and Haggis and I followed her out of the room and up the stairs.
“Here we are,” Haggis arrived at an open door and put his head through. “Mr Willoughby, sir.”
“Ah, great! Willoughby, come in, take a seat. You know George, of course.” He waved at his brother, a slightly darker version of himself with a smooth head of hair, compared to Fred’s quiff.
“I’m not sure…” we’ve ever met, I was going to say, but George came and shook my hand.
“Fred thinks I know everyone he does. But it’s not entirely true. I feel I know you though, you’ve quite a reputation.”
“Thank you,” I said, and sat in the armchair Fred indicated. There was a large desk, covered in papers, and partly overlain by a large document I thought might be a map. That had a chair behind it with its back to the window, which gave a view out over the marsh to a line of dunes, and beyond, a slate-grey sea. The clouds were gathering, and it was hard to see where the sea ended and the sky began. There was a small fire in the grate, and my armchair faced it. Fred and George sat either side in similar chairs to mine. Another was set further back against the wall, with two more chairs, more upright ones, within reach. I guessed Fred often discussed things in here.
“How was your journey?” Fred asked.
“Very good.” My toes were warming up, which was a blessing.
“It can be pretty harsh at this time of the year. The wind’s in the east, and I thought we were going to be in for a Howler, but it’s slackened off a bit.”
“Fred’s an expert on winds,” George put in, saving me from commenting, since I didn’t know what he meant.
“Sorry, yes, it’s my hobby. At least, it seems to be relegated to hobby, these days. I spend all my time on my duties, these days. I’m sure my uncle and grandfather used to be able to take much more time off.”
“They had a steward, though,” George said.
“They didn’t have Kira.”
“They didn’t take an interest in their families, or have trouble with the refugees, as we call the people who turn up wanting to settle, these days. And I bet they didn’t have as much trouble with the Kings’ Council.”
“They probably did have trouble with the Kings’ Council, they just ignored it. Ooh, goody, cake!”
The lady who had left the hall came in with a tray of hot drinks and three large slices of carrot cake. “Thank you Alicia,” Fred said. “Over here, please. And, er, please close the door on your way out.”
The way Fred said that made it sound like an unusual occurrence.
© J M Pett 2016