There’s a saying about dressing for the job you want, not the job you have. It sounds suspiciously like the kind of thing a high-end suit manufacturer might have come up with.

Anyway, I’ve accumulated quite a few outfits that make me look like a sci-fi character, so I’ve been following that dubious piece of advice either way.

That Awkward Moment When Someone Catches You Stealing a Magic Vial From Your Sister’s Professor

It’s tough to find a good first draft excerpt. Something that isn’t too clunky, too spoilery, or too rife with notes-to-self and bracketed terms I need to research. After starting to post excerpts at the halfway point of Stars Fall Out, I went back and found a few from earlier in the book. That took care of the “spoilery” bit of the problem.

I’m still self-conscious about most of the excerpts I’ve posted. There’s a lot that’s lost by taking words out of the context of the scene, and since they’re rough draft, that clunkiness is still there.

Anyway. I think we can all relate to the feeling of sneaking into a lab at the top of a tower with an almost infinite number of stairs to steal a magic vial from your sister’s professor. So here’s more about that:

The light came near me again, and I dove to a crouch, stumbling at the edge of the archway, and again losing momentum as I tried to pivot and rise to my feet out of view. In that third moment of stillness, my legs shook with fear. They would fail me the next time I tried them.

I wouldn’t make it to the stairs, let alone down.

But they worked on their own, somehow, somehow, thank the gods, thank the spirits, thank reflex and terror, and I dashed down the stairs, skipping them two and three at a time, stumbling around corners and knocking into walls.

I didn’t hear my pursuer, or even know for sure if they were indeed pursuing me. I lost track of how many flights I had gone down, and so there was no halfway point to acknowledge, but again, stairs, landing, fireglass.

Stairs, landing, fireglass.

Stairs, landing, fireglass.

Door.

I pushed it open with all my strength in opposition to a powerful winter wind blowing it shut.

And then I burst out onto the university campus, and onto the streets of Nirsuathu.


Research rabbit holes: I had to look up the name of a mapmaking tool for a character who is an amateur cartographer, and now I, too, am an amateur cartographer.

One of the unexpected consequences of COVID-19 in my life is that I’ve turned into a snuggle-on-the-couch with-a-blanket kind of person, when before I was always a sit-upright-on-floor-pillows kind of person.

I guess it’s a comfort thing, but it makes it harder to go to bed in good time. If I can no longer sit upright on the floor, that usually means I’m tired enough to go to bed. But the couch? I just stay on the couch. And I watch Deep Space Nine.

One of my rewards to myself for finishing Stars Fall Out (and also an early birthday present) was a box set of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Best Star Trek ever, and best show ever.

I should’ve bought it ages ago on whatever flimsy excuse I could come up with.

A Fearsome Beast

Here’s another excerpt from Stars Fall Out, one of several I set aside to post before I finished the draft, but then never got around to posting due to the fact that finishing the draft ate all my free time in the weeks before its completion.

This excerpt features Master Zanhori, known as one of the greatest living oneiromancers, who travels throughout the Kirosz Empire with his three fearsome beasts, negotiating for peace where he can, and sometimes leaving destruction where he can’t.

The chair creaked alarmingly when I sat in it. Berihl opened a single eye at the noise and snorted. “How did you get a huge boar like that up the stairs?”

“I’d rather not talk about it.” Zanhrori tapped his long, elegant pen against the side of his desk. “And she’s a sow, not a boar.”

“Piro said—”

“For all his keenness, he isn’t much of a biologist. Your husband could’ve told you the difference.”

“That’s probably true.” His unexpected mention of Tirsan had thrown me off balance. I took a deep breath and braced myself in the chair so it wouldn’t creak again. “I know that you’re busy, so I’ll get right to it: I’m looking for someone to train me.”