Completed the first draft of THE FLAME OF BATTLE, i.e. the epic Viking book, and it is *gulp* 91,522 words long.
Here are the stats: I wrote those words (plus others) over the past 82 days, averaging 1,130 words/day, despite it being busy season at work.
I have absolutely *never* written a novel that was this long and in less than three months. I am quite astounded by this.
Today (once I finish this newsletter), I go back to editing that story, and on Monday, just like Alabama says, I’ll send it on down the line — to my editors.
ON MONDAY I will start writing VIKING 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO. I sure hope this next one goes just as smoothly. Seriously I do.
And all this time I kept thinking I needed to work harder. I guess I’m good!
Here is a little excerpt from THE FLAME OF BATTLE to whet your whistle.
They had been riding over the rough seas for part of the day. “We should be getting close now,” said Hakr as the first ships rounded a point.
Just then, halloos went up from the first ships in the line. Excitement swept over Dyrfinna as her crew jumped to their feet and looked over the sides and front of the ship. They rounded the point, one of the last to do so, and there, black on the waters, were King Varinn’s ships, all arrayed for battle, the blue flags on their masts and riggings, and all six of his black dragons aloft.
“Six dragons against our five,” Hakr said.
“I wish I were up there to fix that,” Dyrfinna said.
Across the waves, the war horns sounded, from King Varinn’s ships and the Queen’s ships. The warriors on Dyrfinna’s ship sounded theirs, and she lifted hers to her lips and blasted it, skipping up an octave and back down. Most every horn played a different note, and a wild cacophony rang over the waters, a weird howling of hundreds of horns wilding over the waves, and Vikings whooped at the calls, the cheers and roars rising from all sides. Dyrfinna laughed in the wildness and glory of the barbaric noise. “Come on!” she shouted, and blasted the horn again.
Ships on both sides shook out their banners, then leapt forward across the open water between them as the rowers dug in with their oars, warriors leaning over the sides, brandishing their swords and axes and lances. Berserkers roared and bit their shields as they worked themselves up to fighting fury.
Overhead, with a hard thrust of their wings, four of the red dragons sprang out from the ships to meet the five black dragons flying in at them. The dragons met over the tops of the ships with a clash of claws and scales and rolling gouts of fire.
Dyrfinna leapt to her feet and called back to her shipmates, all faces now illuminated brightly with the fire in the sky. “We are going to go between ships, skirmishing, and support those who are failing with the fight. We will earn our glory!” She struck her fist hard against her shield, and her warriors cheered and blasted their war horns. The rowers swiftly shipped the oars, and all went to the sides of their ship, standing so thick that their shields touched all around, enclosing the ship’s deck so the enemy would not be able to board. The ship continued gliding forward toward the fight.
“Fight for the Queen’s daughter!” Dyrfinna shouted as the air suddenly darkened with a cloud of arrows. Fighters ducked under their shields, arrows clattering everywhere around them. Somebody screamed out.
Dyrfinna remembered her dream of Skuld, the Valkyrie who chose who died in battles. “Not today, Skuld. Not today!” she cried as her ship rammed into an enemy’s ship and a woman with a lion painted on her shield brandished her lance at Dyrfinna.
An enemy warrior sprang up onto the edge of his ship, balancing there. “The wrath of Thor falls like a thunderbolt from above!” he shouted – then reeled when an arrow slammed through his eye with a sickening sound. He slumped forward against the side of Dyrfinna’s ship and slid into the water.
“At them!” The fight was joined on all sides, a roar of a thousand voices that echoed off the mountains around them.
Now Skeggi and the berserker were pushing their way onto the enemy’s ship. Dyrfinna calculated swiftly, seeing that the fighters’ attention were on where Skeggi was making his breakthrough. She rushed up onto the edge of her ship and sprang into the enemy’s ship, plunged among the enemy through a break between two shields. She brought her sword down upon one of her foes as she fell, then landed. She deflected several swords with her shield, then spun and cut through those two warriors, and began raining blows from her sword all around, fighting hard and cutting down the enemy where she met them. She was breathing hard and had to shake the sweat from her eyes. The enemies she cut down fell, heels kicking hard, or tried to gasp out curses at her as they choked on their own blood, until hateful death come down over their eyes.
You can preorder THE FLAME OF BATTLE right now!
Dyrfinna is a born commander. She bests her peers in dragon riding, sword fighting, and battle strategy. So when the Queen calls the people of Skala to battle to revenge her murdered daughter, Dyrfinna outfits a ship and brings a crew.
Once in the field, Dyrfinna leads her troops to victory in a series of hard-fought battles against overwhelming odds. Yet a commander is raised over her, and because of his clumsy leadership, a great disaster results in the massacre of a quarter of the Queen’s army. Then the commander unfairly blames a second disaster on Dyrfinna. The wrong stroke of her sword could undo everything she’s ever worked for, earn her the fury of her friends … and exile to certain death.
But you can’t keep a true warrior down. When things are darkest, a flame rises out of the desolation.