Upcoming Release! Tales in a New Bundle

Tales of Old Giralliya is an experiment for me.

I conceived of the stories as the fairy tales that mothers and fathers of my North-lands tell their young children at bedtime, and I recounted the stories in the spare style typical of fairy tales.

Characters are sketched in with just a few details, leaning heavily on archetypes. We have the young, inexperienced king, who tries something that an older man would not. Or the young girl, kidnapped from home, held captive by her enemies, and faced with a chance to save her village, but lacking any obvious means to do so.

Each story is comprised of just one scene, or two, embedded within a scant narrative frame that is the equivalent of ‘once upon a time.’

I loved telling the stories, writing in hope that some of my readers would enjoy reading them.

But would they? Would they really?

And who might like to be my first reader, the one to give me necessary feedback—feedback that would allow me to revise the stories to be their best?

I needed someone who not only had loved fairy tales as a child, but who still loved them. Someone who might pull out her battered copy of East of the Sun and West of the Moon and read it for pleasure (not mere nostalgia) now.

Really, my choice of a first reader was simple. I asked the curator of the bundle for which Tales of Old Giralliya was created.

She graciously consented to help me, and I sent her the file.

Then I waited. Nervously.

I thought she would like the stories, but . . . would she really?

Well, good news: she did! 😀

And she provided me with excellent feedback.

My collection has now been revised, edited, and proofread, and will release sometime this month in the bundle entitled Might Have Been.

Here’s a little bit about Tales of Old Giralliya.

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A troll-mage rains death upon the land from his citadel in the sky. Who—if anyone—can defeat him? Despite the oracle’s prophecy, few believe the beggar’s son might be the people’s champion.

A magical plague infests the villages, the cities, and the lonely manors. Will the realm descend into ruin before a cure is found? Or could wizened, old Eliya convince the stricken that something improbable might save them all?

Three ducal brothers fight for the rule of their duchy, crushing fields and hamlets under their chariot wheels. Can young Andraia, kidnapped from her village, bring the destructive struggle to an end?

Instead of Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, or the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the Giralliyan Empire has Ravessa’s Ride, the Thricely Odd Troll, the Kite Climber, and more. Tales of Old Giralliya presents six of these fresh, new fairy tales for your enjoyment.

Adventure and magic in the tradition of The Red Fairy Book and the Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

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For more about Tales of Old Giralliya, see:
Rebirth of Four Fairy Tales
Two Giralliyan Folk Heroes
Caught Between Two Armies



Caught Between Two Armies

Before I embarked on writing “The Kite Climber,” I possessed only the haziest of ideas for the story I wanted to tell.

It involved kites and civil war.

That was all I had.

I knew very little about man-lifting kites. I knew they existed historically. I knew they’d been used in times of war for signaling and observation. I had this vision in my head of a gigantic diamond-shaped kite with a man lashed to its cross bracing. That’s actually not what man-lifting kites look like, but I didn’t know that then.

Nor did I go seeking such information.

I felt like I needed the emotional heart of my story more than I needed technical details.

I trawled through my memories of my backlist books in hope of finding inspiration, and find it I did in a passage from Troll-magic.

Lorelin . . . embarked on the story of Emoirie’s great grandmere, the remarkable lady who’d saved her village when it was caught between opposing battalions in the Wars of the Tree Wands; and then for an encore went on to boss around the most influential Giralliyan Paucitor of her times. All before the age of twenty years, when she returned by choice to her humble origins and lived happily to become matriarch over innumerable grandchildren.

I loved the possibility of telling the story of Emoirie’s great grandmother.

There was only one problem with that, but it was a serious one. Emoirie lives in the Steam Age of my North-lands. Her great grandmother would have lived in the Age of Sail.

The story I wanted to tell took place long before then, at the end of classical antiquity when much of Giralliya was war-torn and falling into the barbarism of the Dark Ages.

I teetered on the edge of dismissing my feeling of inspiration, and then decided I’d be bold and uphold my inner artist. Surely Emoirie’s great grandmother wasn’t the only woman who’d been faced with saving her home when it stood between opposing armies.

I would tell the story of a girl confronted with exactly that circumstance, but living in the violent period of history that I wished to chronicle.

I was so excited by my decision, that I dove right in!

No research, no hesitation, just a quick sweep for names (people and places), and then I began.

I’d imagined starting with the girl who’d been stolen to climb the kite tethers, carrying reports from the man aloft in the kite to the forces on the ground. Instead, I delved into the source of the armed conflict. Only after I’d recounted the story of the three hostile ducal brothers did I turn to Andraia, my heroine.

But it was going well, and I was loving it.

I never did check into the man-lifting kites—not until after I finished the story.

The fighting brothers were all mages—powerful troll-mages. They were more than capable of using magery to give their colossal diamond-shaped kites a boost, if the technical aspects really required more lift than a diamond-shaped kite could provide.

“The Kite Climber” is one story of six in Tales of Old Giralliya.

For more about the collection, see:
Rebirth of Four Fairy Tales
Two Giralliyan Folk Heroes
Tales in a New Bundle



Two Giralliyan Folk Heroes

“The Hermit and the Smith” is the first of two new stories I’m writing for Tales of Old Giralliya.

I was inspired by a passage from the appendices of Hunting Wild.

The Holy Hermit Cathal was born into the social unrest and turbulence of this time. As a young man he pursued the course of an ascetic, withdrawing from human contact to pursue a life of simplicity and meditation. Later in life, one of the destined human sacrifices escaped to Cathal’s lonely hut in the hills and changed Cathal’s outlook.

Cathal realized that withdrawing from tumult was cowardly, and he emerged to challenge the disgusting practice of human sacrifice, speaking nearly every day to crowds in the realms of Istria, Eirdry, and Ennecy.

I wanted to write about Cathal. Not his full story, but that moment when he was confronted by the fugitive running for his life.

If I could just capture that scene, it would satisfy some longing in my writer’s heart.

But a story is more than just a vignette or cameo. The scene I was longing to paint with words needed more than one man fleeing and another offering him refuge.

So I put on my thinking cap.

Who was the fugitive? What was important to him? How did he come to be destined for blood sacrifice?

As I pondered these and other questions, I found myself wondering if I could connect my holy hermit with some of the events forming the backstory of The Tally Master.

That proved to be the concept that would ignite my creative fire.

I imagined the dry hills and the olive orchards around the city of Castarre. I discovered the name of the man—a metal smith—outracing the hounds. It all became very real in my mind’s eye.

And then I started writing!

For more about Tales of Old Giralliya, see:
Rebirth of Four Fairy Tales
Caught Between Two Armies
Tales in a New Bundle



Rebirth of Four Fairy Tales

You may have noticed a new progress bar over there in the sidebar of my website. Yes, the one entitled Tales of Old Giralliya. That’s the one.

Where did it come from, and what’s it all about?

It all started back in 2012.

In 2012, I wrote several North-lands fairy tales for my blog.

I had a lot of fun with them, and at least one of my readers told me that she was really enjoying the flash fiction. (The fairy tales were short, under 1,000 words.)

I remember brainstorming a bunch of ideas for future fairy tale blog posts, and I developed a list of a dozen possibilities. I imagined myself checking the list at intervals, writing and posting the next story from it, and eventually writing all of them.

The fourth story on the list went long—to 1,500 words instead of the usual 700 or so.

I was okay with that. Really, anything up to 3,000 words seemed a manageable length for a blog post.

The fifth story was 8,000 words long.

That was a problem.

Oh, I had fun writing it. And I think my readers enjoyed reading it. But 8,000 words deserves to be published as more than a blog post. This one was, eventually. In the ramp-up to publication, it grew, because I discovered as I worked that the story needed a bit more development, which added scenes and word count.

When the draft was complete, it had reached 20,000 words. I named it Hunting Wild. 😀

So far, so good.

But what about fairy tale #6, Fairest Trickery?

I never wrote it, because it is a more complex tale than Hunting Wild, and since Hunting Wild required 20,000 words, Fairest Trickery would probably require at least 50,000 words. It would be a novel.

Obviously, I like writing novels! I love writing novels. But Fairest Trickery would have to get in line behind the ten other novels I wanted to write first!

Aegis and Mage and Mirage—the stories following after Fairest Trickery—are probably novellas, but this whole sequence—Blood Falchion, Hunting Wild, Fairest Trickery, Aegis, and Mage and Mirage—forms a series telling of the events occurring around a cursed blade as it passes down through history. And I would need to write the books in order. I still think I might one day; we’ll see.

But the Blood Blade series brought my fairy tale telling to an end, back in 2012.

Occasionally I toyed with reviving my list. I could skip past the Blood Blade series and tell some of the other, unrelated fairy tales.

I could, but somehow I never did. Until now!

What happened?

A. L. Butcher, bundle curator extraordinaire, invited me to contribute to a fairy tale themed bundle that she plans to release this November.

Oh, how I wanted to be part of it!

But I had a problem.

Troll-magic, a re-telling of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, is already in the Here Be Magic bundle.

Crossing Naiad, a re-telling of The Three Billy Goats Gruff, is in the Here Be Ghosts bundle.

The Troll’s Belt, a re-telling of Hansel and Gretel, is in the Here Be Fairies bundle.

Some of the earliest bundles to which I contributed are no longer in print. But these three are. I didn’t have any new fairy tales for the new bundle. That made me sad.

Then I remembered the fairy tales from my blog! They are not re-tellings of fairy tales from our own Earth’s cultures, no. They are brand new fairy tales emerging from the cultures of my North-lands. But they are fairy tales.

I could collect them together and contribute the collection to the bundle!

I emailed A. L. about the possibility, and she liked it. So I set to work.

The first part was simple. I copied-and-pasted from those old blog posts. Then I ran through the files with a light edit. And that should have been enough. Legend of the Beggar’s Son, Ravessa’s Ride, and The Thricely Odd Troll, when gathered together form a nice little trio.

But, but, but!

Re-reading the stories inspired me. Wouldn’t it be fun to tell a few more of the stories from my old list? I was sure I could make the November deadline. Oh, oh, oh! It was irresistible.

Last week I finished The Hermit and the Smith. This week I finished The Kite Climber.

I also re-visited my decision not to include Blood Falchion. Why had I decided that? I re-read it. Wouldn’t it be nice to give the story the visibility the bundle would confer on it? Yes, it would. So what if it’s the beginning of a series. The story is complete in itself. It stands alone. I would include it!

So Tales of Old Giralliya will have seven stories in it: four from my blog plus three new ones. I’ve loved working on the project, and I’m excited about the next story I’ll write for it.

I’ve done the brainstorming and taken a bunch of notes. I want to do a little outlining and a little thinking, and then I’ll dive in!

I plan to blog a bit more about the process of creating this collection. In the meantime, watch the progress bar to see the words piling up! 😀

For more about Tales of Old Giralliya, see:
Two Giralliyan Folk Heroes
Caught Between Two Armies
Tales in a New Bundle

Edited to Add: The seventh story, when I actually sat down to write it, proved to be too long for this collection and told in a different style. It’s not right for Tales of Old Giralliya, but you will get to read it. I plan to release it as a standalone novelette.