The way has become clear. This year 2015, a year of the Sheep, begins with the entire Habdvarsha initiative—all the books planned or written, all the art, all the artifacts, all the music, everything associated with my imaginative world, brought home to Stikmantica. But what does it mean to say that? I have never before offered an organized breakdown of the planned scope of my life work. Now that every part has become real at least to the extent of detailed planning, I feel less audacious sharing my intentions. Here listed are the constituents of the single, encompassing work to which I remain committed. This is what I do with my time. Here is why I do not want to engage outside suggestions for the foreseeable future.
Taking shape in one of the notebooks I haul everywhere I go is, “The Seven Jewel Bird,” a novelette seemingly outside the Habdvarsha universe, but actually not. The old man at the center of this story has already played a role in one of the books of The Hidden Lands of Nod cycle. This is my core “new writing” project at the moment.
Rose Moon & Death on the Toilet will bring together the two Bigger MacGregor stories—the erotic slipstream novella recently re-published by Stikmantica on Smashwords bound with the popular short work of weird fiction—in one volume as the fastest way to get a finished Stikmanz title back into print. I am in the process of deciding whether to produce a limited-edition hardback or print-on-demand trade paper.
Nod’s Way has moved ahead of Dvarsh fonts as an immediate priority, again because issuing a rectified modification of the first edition is a path to product that can be realized quickly and within current budget constraints. This is separate from the longer term project of a completely redesigned, fully bilingual Nod, which must wait on the fonts. More of that below.
Dvarsh fonts in book weight and bold are well advanced. The character set for the Bold font is complete except for a few ligatures (two-figure combinations), which have been sketched but not executed. A book weight has reached an advanced design phase, but the characters have not yet been rendered for import into Fontlab. When finished, I intend to release the fonts under a creative commons license. More on that after I consult my attorney. Later this year I’ll look for test users.
Early mornings from 6:00-6:45 a.m., I work on the soundtrack for Don Quijote en el Laberinto de la Soledad, a video project that doesn’t have anything to do Habdvarsha or The Hidden Lands of Nod, except that it allows me to continue developing skills necessary for The Song of Worlds video when that chapter opens. Storyboards for Don Q. en el Laberinto, etc. are done and preliminary drawings are in progress. The real stumbler is capturing an adequate performance of the soundtrack. This very morning I recorded a demo that was almost, but not quite, sufficient. The sound was also dull. I’ll try again after changing strings on the bouzouki.
Prelude to a Change of Mind, the first book of The Hidden Lands of Nod, is being prepared for new release as both e-book and print editions. My ambition is to have it back in print by this summer. Changes from the Blue Moose Press edition are not many, but there are some, and shortcuts profit no one.
A Dvarsh dictionary and primer to supersede The Way it Grows is on hold until The fonts are finished. The dictionary has become too large an undertaking to build each word by hand. I have to be able to type in the language before this one moves back to the front of the stove; however, little by little I am systematizing the lexicon, necessary prep for constructing the dictionary proper. If there is interest, I may publish a word list of the several hundred words rendered in the original Dvarsh script sometime this year. The hundreds more words existing only as pencil entries in notebooks will have to wait until they can be typed in a Dvarsh font.
Web Development remains a priority. Progress is slow, since it depends entirely upon me, but at least now that it depends on no one else, progress is being made. I am always looking for a WordPress capable website maven to work as a contract developer and/or consultant. Please, contact me. I have a budget for this, and I’d like to spend it.
Sleeper Awakes, the third book in The Hidden Lands of Nod, has never been completely sidelined. I have completely re-written the first of its five parts, to its great improvement. Four more to go before this, the source work for all of Habdvarsha, re-appears in the market. Plan this time is to publish it in two volumes, hardback, limited edition, as e-book and, eventually, as an audiobook.
Entranscing, the second book in The Hidden Lands of Nod is the one I never planned to write. It was written to an impossible deadline at the insistence of an early publisher of my work. It has never been more than a detailed plan for a novel, but it is part of the world now, and deserves its fix. Sleeper Awakes is dearer to my heart and a more critical title to get back into circulation, so republication will go out of order. The second book in the cycle will follow the third.
The Song of Worlds book is well advanced, but stalled until the fonts are complete. A long poem in Dvarsh, The Song of Worlds is the origin myth of that people, tracing their culture from emergence of their species into consciousness to their mass emigration from this consensus reality. It’s written, created as deep backstory. When I realized the degree of interest in the Dvarsh language I decided it makes sense to provide text to read for those who buy a dictionary/primer. A fully elaborated Nod’s Way will also address this.
Rataxes, the General, the fourth book in The Hidden Lands of Nod, exists as a detailed outline recently updated and enlarged, and a notebook containing extensive sketches of several critical scenes. As I keep mucking with this while working on everything else on this list, I should come up with an approximate first draft by the time this novel takes its turn as the central writing project. This one will be a murder mystery: three murders, three realities, three investigations. Ekaterina, Mathilde and the two Jacks will be there, as will Rataxes 2, and Edger, and Bigger MacGregor. I may also produce this in two volumes. It will be at least as large as Sleeper Awakes.
Nod’s Way completely redesigned, bilingual English/Dvarsh, augmented by a deck of mystic cards, will be the final, fully realized version of the Dvarsh wisdom book and oracle. The ultimate Dvarsh cultural artifact after the language itself, as well as the most crystalline expression of my vision, this ambition for Nod’s Way has always been on the table, and remains there. Like several other projects, the next step requires Dvarsh fonts and a dictionary.
Another Noon, the fifth and final book of The Hidden Lands of Nod, exists as a detailed outline heavily notated with pertinent references to the works that proceed it. Planned as a short work, comparable to Prelude to a Change of Mind in length, it will nevertheless pull all the threads of the cycle together to wrap with a bang. Similar to Rataxes, the General, it is morphing into a first draft by indirection and in slow motion
Murder at Yodelers’ Rest is a novella currently existing as a detailed, heavily notated outline within hailing distance of a first draft. The story is roughly contemporaneous with Rose Moon, if that means anything when they exist in separate realities, and answers, among other things, what really happened to the Neanderthals. The two Jacks find themselves assigned to investigate the first murder in Habdvarsha within living memory—and the dvarsh are extremely long lived. It’s conceivable that Murder at Yodelers’ Rest could slip in front of Rataxes, the General before all is said and done. Chronologically, it comes earlier, which may count for something in the world of commerce.
Kwech, the Dvarsh board game that I designed as part of the original story line for Murder at Yodelers’ Rest, is another case of slow motion elaboration. The rules are worked out, the board is designed and drawings of the playing pieces occupy several pages in a notebook. Almost all necessary materials to fabricate a prototype are on hand right here on the premises. I just need to designate a large enough expanse of unbroken time to make all the pieces and figure out from there what to do with it. Maybe I’ll produce it by hand, making only a few copies of the game each year, and charge a bundle for the ones I don’t give away.
Songs in an Unspoken Tongue is the eventual name for an EP or album of songs sung in Dvarsh. Of the five songs written so far, I’ve abandoned one and continued to play four. I am working on music for two new songs and lyrics for one of them. Tentatively, my thought is to release a collection under this title when I have eight to ten songs, and then re-issue with additions as I write and record new material.
Proverbs of the Dvarsh represents the very first texts of the Dvarsh language, and a graphics project to showcase the statements the Dvarsh had to say when I needed for them to say something. Look for these as a set of postcards, a poster, likely a large format art book and however else these wisdoms of the wise folks come into play. As with Kwech, at some point I’ll block out four or five days to do nothing else, and I’ll bring a first version into being.
The Song of Worlds video is the project for which earlier videos have been proofs of concept and exercises for figuring out technique. The video—scripted, drawn, composed, performed and assembled by me—will dramatize the text of the Dvarsh origin poem. The entire script will be in Dvarsh, as too the subtitles.
Finally, a booklength excision from an early version of Sleeper Awakes, as yet without title, will be repurposed and rewritten eventually to clarify the connection between The Hidden Lands of Nod and The Seven Jewel Bird. This sits quite actually at the bottom of the list, but it is in the plan, and has the virtue of having reached a third draft before I cut it from Sleeper.
The final project in the Stikmantica list is last not by priority but uniqueness. My work only by privilege as publisher, Lightning Water, first novel of M. S. Lewis, remains in active development. The manuscript is back with its author for another work through before returning to publisher and designer Yours Truly, and editor Neil E. Kahn. It has the potential to be a remarkable book, and we are taking the time to make sure it attains that status.