This is to give waiting readers an indication of what I’m working on. Please note that I usually have three (at least) projects I’m bouncing through at any given time–I seldom work consistently on the one thing from beginning to end. This means that readers can wait longer for any given piece than is right, but it makes it more likely I am able to produce something. Trying to wed myself to one project at a time makes it harder for me to work at all.
Curiosity (Kit March chapter) – This is the chapter where Tes gets hirself deeper into trouble by doing magic out of hir depth, but it showcases a connection that is later very important, so it’s stealth plot. I think it needs one more read-through before I start on the pronoun checking and the polishing. I’m mostly happy with it, which means that I’ll probably read it through once more and rewrite it from scratch, which is what I usually end up doing even when I swear that I have no need of doing so. I’m slightly unsure about the start, because it goes over content that didn’t exist in “Maker” until the very final edit, so chances are good that I’ll decide it is wrong.
Longevity (Kit March chapter) – Third-draft finished. I like the conversation here, as it’s where we get to see that Amelia and Darius actually have a fair bit in common when it comes to magic and their opinion on Kit, and Darius starts to loosen up a little. He doesn’t realise it yet, but this is the beginning of his learning again the difference between talking with a friend and the If You Don’t Talk You Won’t Recover approach of the Greensward. (What makes you think this is based on real life experience?) But I still can’t seem to hack this down to readable lengths, because there’s so much talking and plot-significant events, and while there’s a section that isn’t plot important, taking it out leaves those that are awkwardly shoved together in ways that don’t read well to me. Sigh. I don’t know. At least I’m a couple of months away from having to seriously figure this one out.
Exsanguination (Kit March chapter) – Second-draft finished, but also way, way too long. Fortunately, I know exactly what piece I have to cut, and as much as I really like the scene with Darius realising that the College is full of magical creatures that can provide him the support he needs for various self-care jobs, it’s easy to cut. Although I realised that I wrote a bit that clashes with his earlier claim that he didn’t grok the full importance of Eren Adalet’s teaching until afterwards, so I’ll have to rework that slightly. But other than that, I think most of it is good for line editing, actually.
Lesson (Kit March chapter) – Second draft finished. This is basically where we get to see Darius handle his first class in an awkward-ish autistic kind of way (he spends most of the time stimming by clutching and petting a cat) and I get to throw in a few ways in which I’d love to have seen a teacher teach. It’s also too long, but the extra part is right at the end and easy to cut, as much as I want the class to have a conversation on the ways magic can aid some forms of transitioning. (I have hopes it can go somewhere else. Trans characters being openly trans is an important thing.) Aside from the cut at the end, though, I think this is ready for line editing, no further drafting. I really like this chapter, because it’s something we don’t get to see very often generally, and it’s the first glimpse of a College class in action. It’s also where we get to see Darius begin to feel a sense of being in the right place and time as a teacher, which is pretty important!
Midnight (Kit March chapter) – This chapter is about the nature of magic. The setting is spooky, as it involves more nighttime exploration (everyone in the College has adventures after dark, but this adventure involves a secret tunnel under the College) and we get to see little bits of Darius making a space personal, like a shrine with a lock of Efe’s hair and a few other mementos. We’ve seen some of how Tes makes hir world from hir objects, and it’s fun to explore this with Darius as well. Mostly, though, I like this chapter for voicing a few hard truths and responsibilities about magic–the blood trade in particular but magic in general.
Royalty (Kit March chapter) – This is where we get to see the crossovers between stories because I need a necromancer, and as Kit and Amelia already appeared in A Prince of the Dead, there’s really no reason not to bring Zaishne and Paide in. (Also, since I’m writing Ein as autistic, he needs an autistic mentor or two, and since the College exists, there’s no reason for a lack of contact and all the reason for it.) Tes, Holly and Iris are awkward around royal visitors and Darius realises that today was not the right day to turn his hair aqua as a spell demonstration for his class. The fun for me is writing all the ways in which Paide is subtly hitting on Darius, because Paide is too polite to be obnoxious about it but in every way inclined to try, which may result in getting to explore Darius’s polyamoury and open relationships a little more.
Truth of the Eyrie (the fourth Eagle Court story) – This is about a new character, Switch, a working-class agender person who has a few words to say to Ein and Thereva about the reality of being trans in Ihrne when you’re not a prince or a general–in other words, the work needed to take a proclamation and law into something that protects the marginalised. As a working-class agender person myself, I am rather enjoying writing a character whose experience is so much closer to mine, a character who doesn’t have the protections of money, title or even magic but needs to rely only on their wits and stubbornness. Given the difficulty of their entering the palace to hold more privileged trans characters accountable, I consider Switch to be the bravest, most determined character in the Marchverse. It is my intent to never give them magical ability for this reason. We need magicians and necromancers as protagonists, like cis people, but we also need more ordinary heroes to find ourselves in.
Birds of a Feather (the fifth Eagle Court story) – This one is odd structurally, because it’s three short stories that, thematically, go together. The first story is about Paide speaking with Zaishne, based on the end of A Prince of the Dead and the revelations of The King of Gears and Bone. The second story is about Ein and Thereva talking with the Marches, based on the end of The King of Gears and Bone. (Let me just say that there’s a little something about the nature of how Paide is undead, aside from trans and/or autistic people forming relationships with other trans and/or autistic people, that is in need of discussion.) The third story is about Switch’s trying to cross paths with Paide, Ein and Thereva. All three stories end in the same place, finally bringing Switch’s plot in line with the others: here is where we see the beginnings of a most unconventional government.
All the Stars in the Sky – A short SF story about an autistic space adventurer, Jaim, meeting an android at a tree-focused theme park–discovering their shared frustration with the incomprehensibility of allistics, revelling in mutual feelings of otherness in an allistic-dominated world, pondering why it is humans made androids that express autistic humanity and launching a plan to take over the galaxy together. I’m only just over a thousand words in, but so far I’ve got a semi-verbal, agender, aro-ace, autistic protagonist who uses a computer program to speak and is a ship pilot travelling the known galaxy when off duty to see all the trees accessible to someone not allowed to venture planetside (for setting-based reasons). My thinking here is that ze spends hir life staring at the stars, so ze is entranced by something ze so seldom sees in hir life–trees and forests.
Blood and the Ravens (Kit March novelette, sequel to Certain Eldritch Artefacts and prequel to The Adventurer King) – This is about three different things that have been referenced in Kit March and The Adventurer King relating to Darius’s years in Rajad: the bullying and assault Darius mentioned in “Maker”, his lessons with the blood witch Eren Adalet, and his connection/friendship with Mair and the Ravens (the workers at a brothel housed nearby the school). In a sense, I’m trying to show Darius’s connections to the world around him and why he decides to stay at the school despite an epic case of not fitting in–and that it’s actually Mair, Akash and Ila who give him that sense of belonging, not Eren and her magic.
Untitled (Kit March novelette, sequel to The Adventurer King) – Currently a mess, quite frankly, and I’m unsure as to whether I should split it into two novelettes or one novella. However it turns out, it’s the story of Efe and Darius in Ashad, taking out a tyrant-to-be and dealing with a host of complications: the way Darius is treated as an autistic trans man, a host of access needs, the difficulty of communication, Darius’s aromanticism versus Efe’s unthinking flirtation and growing attraction, the growing problem of Hamide Golzar and the Phoenix Guard, a few mistakes made by two men who are lacking some in experience, and the problem of being a blood witch in a world that–sometimes rightly–is wary of the trade. It needs a lot of work to be a coherent first draft though; right now it is more a loose collection of scenes.
A Census of Dragons (Kit March short story) – This is about Master Faiza’s previous life as a princess who serves their kingdom by counting dragons and ends up in a life-changing conversation with a curious dragon and an annoying prince who (like Faiza’s parents, who sent Faiza on this task in the hope they would interact with people who aren’t librarians) sees the habit of dragons acquiring young royals as a prime networking opportunity. I should finish at least one of the pieces above first, but as it explains the beginning of why Faiza ended up in Greenstone, I really want to start. And dragons. Every time I’ve had Darius mention that he spent a few months organising a dragon’s hoard during his year of travel, I’ve had to cut it for length. I’m longing to show how, in the Marchverse, autistics get along really well with dragons, to the extent that a good many former students of the College seek them out as a post-graduation career opportunity.