I'm in the very final stages of hammering the rough draft of The Bonnie Bell into shape for submission to the publisher.

The word count stands at 127,419 words.  I don't expect that to change significantly.

That makes The Bonnie Bell the longest piece I've ever written.

By contrast, Hold the Dark is around 60,000 words, and The Banshee's Walk is around 80,000.

Not too many years ago, I was having trouble churning out 4000 word short stories.  In fact, I'd probably have a rough time today, starting and ending something in less than five thousand of the little squiggly things.  Especially a fantasy short -- you've got to tell a good story and build a believable world, and a limit of five thousand words make doing both extremely difficult.

No, I prefer writing novels.  You've got more room, more time.  If you want to write in a minor character with a quirk just for some comic relief, that's fine -- you won't be looking later on to cut three hundred words just to make the piece fit inside some magazines hard-and-fast length limits.

The flip side to that freedom is of course the peril granted by the freedom itself.  The last thing you want to do is go off on so many tangents readers get lost in the action, and wind up glaring at the book in confusion (I'm looking at you, Gene Wolfe).

I think I've managed to walk that tightrope pretty well in Bonnie Bell.  Of course I won't know for sure until I get a yea or a nay from the kind folks at Samhain, but right now it feels good.

I'd love to talk specifics about the book itself, but of course I really shouldn't.  I will say this one ends in a manner unlike any of the others.  I hope that means readers will clamor for the next book, and not rise up in anger and storm my castle with torches and pitchforks, because A) the castle is a rental and B) my homeowner's policy specifically does NOT cover 'mobs, angry.'

I will give out a hint or two.  My favorite scene, I think, involves Markhat riding a war-horse right through the doors at Wherthmore.  And then there's the dinner scene at the fancy restaurant -- but alas, that's all you get.

So, very soon, The Bonnie Bell will be sent away for judgement, and the new book will begin.

But right now, I'm just looking at that word count and grinning like an idiot.

One hundred and twenty-seven thousand, four hundred and nineteen words.

With THE END stuck at the bottom.

Feels good.