Wild Card progress

It’s Remembrance Sunday, and we have the most glorious, rare sunny day in Britain. This morning, I captured the sun flare effect I want for the cover of Wild Card, and watched raptors circling in a wispy cloud that twisted and floated up almost as quickly as they did.


So much for the distractions. I am on a 2,000 words per day drive to complete Wild Card before the end of November, and I’m on course, even with the editing tasks and capturing elements for the cover.

I’ve spoken before about the structure of novels, analyzing the novel into 4 quarters. The word count so far is :

Quarter 1: 42k
Quarter 2: 44k
Quarter 3: 54k

And Quarter 4 looks to be about 30-35k. Whether the disparity in sizes makes the novel feel unbalanced, I’ll wait to hear from my editor, Lauren Sweet. She has the 3 completed quarters and has fed back on the first 2. All that remains of the editing tasks she’s recommended in the first half is a re-write of Chapter 7. (She did make me rewrite David’s trial in HT 4 times!).

At 170+k words, Wild Card will be a fair bit longer than Hidden Trump (135k) and Sleight of Hand (120k). It is also more complex, in that the Were and Adepts have their plots unfolding in parallel, whereas it was mainly Athanate with a touch of Were before. There are developments in the Athanate world. There’s a rogue Were on the loose. The remnants of Matlal’s House remain in Denver. There are also the FBI, former army colleagues, Amber’s own Athanate House, her family, her PI company, her mental state, her paranormal progress, her commitments and relationships. And some really cool cars.

I’ve had some times when I’ve felt uncertain on this novel; more so than on SoH, HT and RD. The way Q3 just grew and grew in October worried me. Now, I’m on the downhill slope and picking up confidence again.


I’ve had some requests dating back to the release of SoH suggesting I should organize Audiobook versions, and Harper from Germany just gave me a nudge on the website last week. I know Debra Dunbar has just started this process for her Imp series, so I have someone I can question!

Yup, once Wild Card is out, I will start the process. The biggest hurdle is the voice. I want someone who sounds a bit like Amber sounds in my head. She has a mid-western accent. Her voice is pitched low contralto. Her timbre could be described as rough or slightly breathy – it doesn’t take long as a Sergeant yelling at soldiers to give you that slightly hoarse sound. I’m open to suggestions, and I’ll organize some links to voice actors that I think might be okay. I’ll expect voting on this!


Bian’s Tale, book 1. This series’ books will be much shorter than Amber’s. When I first thought of Bian’s Tale, I was worried that it doesn’t fall into the Urban Fantasy guidelines, at least not at the start. I guess it’s more horror, since it is neither urban, nor contemporary. I now think this might be a marketing advantage, and may attract people from other genres…

I will update you again when I have Lauren’s response on Part 3, so in a week or so.

About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first books are available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Mark-Henwick/e/B008SBO5YK/

18 responses to “Wild Card progress”

  1. Suzie says :

    Glad to hear about your progress so far, Mark. Can’t wait for your next book! The one thing I must comment on is the voice thing. I was a sergeant for eight years of my military career and my voice never got hoarse (at least not permanently). Although, I will admit I developed a killer glare that did much of the job for me. One look and my soldiers knew to just drop and start doing push-ups. To this day my husband quivers in fear when I lay it on him 🙂

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Lol! I get hoarse talking to the kids. You’re mid-western aren’t you? Where can I get a sample of you reading something? 🙂

      • Suzie says :

        That’s the difference between men and women. We can “talk” to people for much longer without hurting our voices. The only women I know whose voices are permanently hoarse are chain smokers and some former drill sergeants. Those are both cases where it can certainly happen.

        (I have the radio show interview you listened to before)

  2. Jon.Gray says :

    My troops called it “THE LOOK”; all lived in fear of receiving it. I never had to raise my voice. It was much more intimidating that way. Master Sergeant, US Army, retired.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Ha! Thank you, Jon.
      With you and Suzie both commenting, I guess I’ll have to withdraw the reason Amber’s voice sounds a little hoarse. 🙂
      The voice for the narrator has to feel right, but I guess that’s more down to what the readers think than what I think.
      I enjoy getting feedback from people who’ve served.

      • Jon.Gray says :

        Don’t get me wrong, there were those in leadership positions who yelled and threatened to get things done. I preferred because of respect rather than fear. This is how I see Amber and why I have no trouble identifying with her. She is my kid of Sergeant!

      • Jon.Gray says :

        oops, lost an n

  3. Kate Kelly says :

    I keep stalking your blog to see updates. I grew up with a navy chief and I love how your book reminds me of him now that he is gone. Lol the series is fantastic and I can’t wait for wildcard.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thanks Kate.
      I’m touched and delighted that my books have had this effect.
      Not long to wait now. I’ve lifted my average well over 2000 words a day over the last week, and the part I’m writing now is the fun part, where all the tricks and traps and twists I set up earlier fire off, one after another.
      Keep an eye on the blog, I’ll update a couple of times and then warn everyone about a week before publication.

  4. Robert Bird says :

    Hi Mark. I’m really looking forward to this book. I’m glad it is getting close. Thanks for your hard work. And thanks for your regular posts. I don’t know how much it means to others, but with some authors, their blogs get updated once every few months/years. I like a little something more frequent – it helps with the anticipation.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thanks Bob. Once I’ve got Wild Card out, I’ll try getting back to interleaving stats and progress reports with something a bit more thoughtful.
      I’ll finish the sequence I promised on book covers and the list, also promised, of what I’ve read and enjoyed.

  5. Bernd says :

    Hope you do like one of my favorite authors David Weber does and snippets out over a few weeks the first few chapters of the book on your blog/ Facebook and/or website. He says it drives interest in the book before release. Also he loves to drop cryptic hints to drive us nuts in the comment threads on the snippets. He also likes to if he is feeling ornery to drop mystery snippets with malice a forethought to drive us crazy.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Hi Bernd
      I love the Honor Harrington books, though I don’t watch David’s web site.
      I have looked at it, and other famous author web sites, and they’re a bit more sophisticated than mine. I’ll post some snippets, some stuff that doesn’t look as if it’ll make it to the book, and maybe the first chapter…

      • Bernd says :

        I love the mystery snippets where he says this takes place some where in the book not saying where and blanks out one or two names so as to avoid giving away a spoiler. The post is usually 3 paragraphs to a page long and he usually ends it with an author note of tum de dum. He than will have fun relieve boredom/ authorial frustration by selectively commenting in the thread. He usually only does one or two of the mystery posts per book as he does not want to spoiler the book but if you have done an author signing with him you will recognize his “low humor” in his teaser snippets.

      • Bernd says :

        David has a person he trusts/ beta reader do the posts of the first bit of the story usually 1-5 pages at a time 2-3 times a week at a set days of the week. This allows him to get back to work. Don’t know if you have someone you can trust to do it this way. This would allow you to drivable attention to your website/ Facebook page to get your readers in the habit of visiting.

  6. Kate Kelly says :

    I keep checking hoping it is coming out now. Lol I am having withdrawals. Grin can’t wait for it.

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