Don’t Panic

January 19th, 2008

So funny that David should come up with his great How to Write a Novel post just now. Exactly twelve days after launching Breath and Bone — the culmination of the most intense writing project of my life, begun with a paragraph back in May 2004 — I agree with my publisher on a new 3-book epic fantasy series, tentatively titled The Sabrian Veil. Cheers and happiness all around…and then panic sets in…

I look back at the Lighthouse books – and my other two series – and see how complex they are, and I am absolutely daunted at beginning again. It is no wonder that so many authors find themselves going back again and again to the worlds they’ve created.

But then I start twiddling with my notes, and before I know it, I’ve started and ended a war in the distant past, and filled out a sketch of the nature of magic in Sabria – because the conflict in this series derives, in part, from the nature of magic, the differences between popular belief, manipulated perception, and truth. And Real Soon Now, I’ll commit by writing the first chapter. I had to know enough of the world and characters to write the book proposal – which was very hard for an anti-outliner like me. But I’ll flesh it out only enough to write the first chapter. I write sequentially and spirally – ie. I start at the beginning and write through to the end. Each day I begin writing by revising what came before. No real drafts at all. But that’s what has worked before, and I’ve got to have that jump off the cliff faith that it will happen again.

If anyone is interested, I’ve decided to record the daily bits of this particular development cycle on my personal blog, Text Crumbs. Join me there, if you’re interested in the sordid details.

Cheers to all. Don’t Panic.

11 Responses to “Don’t Panic”

  1. David Louis Edelmanon 19 Jan 2008 at 9:32 pm

    I’ve got complete and utter faith in you, Carol!

  2. lyssabitson 22 Jan 2008 at 3:49 pm

    I haven’t finished Breath and Bone yet, but I just have to say that I loooOOooove Valen. By the first couple of chapters of Flesh and Spirit I was hooked. He’s so different than the other main characters of your other series, I just was so tickled. I’ve loved everything I’ve read, and you definitely do the noble, long-suffering character well.. but I have to admit to being surprised and delighted to read a character that’s just such a complete scamp, relentlessly self-interested, yet completely endearing. He’s so irrepressibly cheerful, you cannot help but love him even as he completely manipulates you into doing something against your better judgment (but not with any malicious intent). The story itself is completely engrossing, a dire and perilous situation, but Valen makes it *fun*. I’m pretty sure I’m grinning a silly grin the whole time I’m reading, can’t quite wipe it away.

    So I can’t wait to see what you come with next!

  3. Carol Bergon 22 Jan 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement! And you’ve described my exact feeling about Valen. Imagine me jumping up and down, saying, “Yes, yes! You’ve nailed him!” Or perhaps that isn’t so lovely an image, but you’ve made me quite happy today. He is the (current) apple of my eye.


  4. lyssabitson 22 Jan 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Hee hee, well, there’ve been some scenes that make the image of, er, nailing him, seem rather lovely indeed. I just finished up with the scene of him waking up in the infirmary with Elene and well… *ahems* I’ll admit, I love fantasy books with a few bodice-ripping elements to them.. especially since no one can tell from the cover you’re reading that sort of thing, unlike the straight romance novels. 😉

    I’m relieved to find out my interpretation of his character was what you were trying to convey. I was a little nervous posting that, that I’d totally missed the mark. Still, I’m having such a ball with him. His innately joyful spirit really does jump off the page.

  5. Anyaon 24 Jan 2008 at 3:45 am

    After the rai-kirah series I didn’t think I could love any fantasy character as much as Seyonne, but Valen tops it! I’m halfway through Breath and Bone (my copy only just arrived) and it’s honestly the best fantasy novel I can remember reading since you-know-what (not to be comparing The Lighthouse to LoR, simply saying that as a reading experience, LoR was unique). Anyway, I’m not even through the story yet and already bought parts 2-4 of Bridge of D’Arnath, deciding I would rather read a story with female pov by Carol Berg than oh any other author. (I’m ashamed to admit I prefer male povs in fantasy ever since reading some abysmally badly written female povs way back in the 80s.)

    So I’m sure I will also like The Sabrian Veil!

    P.S. I do love trilogies. Really, any story that can’t be told in 1-4 parts isn’t ONE story, but several. I came across Transformation at a time when I was on the verge of giving up on fantasy entirely because of the increasing number of unfinished, no-end-anywhere-in-sight fantasy series on my shelves, some of which still aren’t finished, which doesn’t matter since I stopped reading them usually during the fourth volume (of now 7, 11, 12 parts. . .)

    What I really like about your characters is how you put them in places of danger that is physical and emotional at the same time.

    In Flesh and Spirit, when Valen’s sister calls him a recondeur, the shame he feels, the looks of his brothers when he’s just begun to like them, his despair at being locked up again . . . and a little while later, Valen’s horror when his father announces his contract with Osriel, ah! I could feel that horror with him.

    Not many novels manage to involve me so much, emotionally.

    I’m looking forward to your next trilogy.

  6. Anyaon 24 Jan 2008 at 4:21 am

    Sorry, I should have given a SPOILER warning in my previous post. To those who haven’t read Flesh and Spirit yet, DON’T read the paragraph beginning with “What I really like about your characters . . .”

  7. Carol Bergon 24 Jan 2008 at 10:14 am


    Thanks for the very kind words…and the heads up. I woke this morning with another panic attack, so it was most timely!
    I inserted SPOILER warnings around the tricky paragraph.


  8. lyssabitson 29 Jan 2008 at 12:05 am

    As long as you have your towel and a couple of beers, everything should be fine. Don’t panic! 😉

  9. lyssabitson 29 Jan 2008 at 12:14 am

    Anya, you’re surely right that Valen is the best of all (I just finished last night.. I’m exhausted now but it was so worth staying up late), but I will say, I loved Aiden in Song of the Beast just as much, if not more, than Seyonne. That’s the book I give everyone, since it’s a standalone, in my attempt to hook people on Carol’s books. Although just within the Rai-kirah series, I really couldn’t say whether I liked Seyonne or Aleksander more. 😉 Something about Aleskander’s reformation, the fact that he was too honorable a guy to deny the truth rather than fall back on the attitudes instilled by his upbringing was very compelling. Still, Valen.. I’ve got a little crush on Valen.

  10. Carol Bergon 29 Jan 2008 at 12:38 am

    Still, Valen.. I’ve got a little crush on Valen.

    Me, too. He is very…earthy. < -g->


  11. lyssabitson 30 Jan 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Me, too. He is very…earthy.

    Hee hee, or.. Well-y, as the case may be.

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