Hi folks,

As I’m sure you’ve guessed from the lack of updates, this fall hasn’t gone especially well for me. I’ve had a significant health setback, and that’s kind of driven writing out of the picture for a while. I made it to California for this winter, which I’m hoping will help a bit, but I’m expecting a long road back, and I thought it would be a good idea to communicate a little bit about what I’m hoping for in the near-ish future here.

When things started going badly I was a chapter and a half from the end of Hera of Lexington, and that’s been very frustrating, as I feel like I’m just a tiny bit away from going over the top into the downhill at the end of that book. That’s still the #1 priority right now, and I continue to hope that at some point before too long I’ll  be able to share the last two chapters with you. 

After that, though, I think there’s going to be a little bit of a break. I have a few things to work on outside of this website, and I’d like to build up a significant buffer of completed chapters before I set forth publishing the next things, one of which is season 2 of The Cell Phone Towers of Elfland. So I’ve decided that I’m going to take the whole of my winter in California as a staging time for the next steps of this project, and aim to restart publication when I get back to Minnesota in May. I basically need to figure out a way to get back to the organized, productive work schedule I was on this summer, and I expect that’s going to take a while. It seems like relieving myself of deadline pressure is the best way of going about that.

So: the last two chapters of Hera when available, but CPTE season 2 and new projects delayed until May. Then in 2024 I try to make the next step toward improving this process to avoid these large and unwanted gaps. I certainly feel best about this when I’m able to publish every Wednesday, and I imagine you do too. I’ll get there. 

Hi folks, 

I’m happy to announce that, after a very difficult and fatigue-ridden 2022, I’ve finally recovered and have been writing at a reasonable speed again for the last couple of months. My hope was to have three stories ready to go before restarting publication, and my target date was May 17, a week from today. I’m very pleased that I finished the third story on Monday and I’m ready to go forward with this project again, with any luck returning to the weekly publication that I managed for a while in late 2021 before this setback.

The plan here is very much still what it was at the beginning of 2022, simply happening later. Next Wednesday I’ll be publishing chapter 5 of Hera of Lexington. The Wednesday after that I’ll begin the new fantasy series, titled 40 Days in an Elvish Prison. If writing continues to go well, I’m hoping to put out one Hera chapter (of ten) per month, with the other Wednesdays featuring the fifteen chapters of 40 Days. That would lead to both of those finishing around the end of October, and I already have exciting plans for what comes next, including the second season of The Cell Phone Towers of Elfland and a new science fiction series. 

Speaking of The Cell Phone Towers of Elfland, I’m also working on production of the paper and electronic book versions, with a tentative release date of June 22. And with any luck there will be a CPTE-related surprise coming later this summer. 

I’ve moved my main social media presence to Mastodon, now at https://wandering.shop/@antabaku. Once publication starts I’m sure I’ll be announcing things on Twitter and Facebook as well, but if you want to follow the progress I’m making on a day-to-day basis and get peeks into the stories ahead of time, that’s going to be on Mastodon going forward. (Unless something better comes along.) 

I’m looking forward to getting this going again next week, and I hope to see you there.


Today is the second anniversary of the Anta Baku project, and also I feel like an update is desperately overdue. I’m still here! I’m still intending to finish Hera of Lexington, and there will be a second season of The Cell Phone Towers of Elfland, and there are some other things that I intend to do at some point. I know how all those things go, I just haven’t been able to write them. 

It’s been interesting, doing this, to observe the highs and lows of my ability to work on it. I had a big, frustrating gap in working ability last spring, but then came out of it extremely productive; this year it’s been even worse. I haven’t written much of anything since finishing the first season of CPTE in November. I’ve gone through a lot of stages of frustration and aggravation over that, and right now I don’t have any sense of when it’s going to come back, but I’m trying to get rest and let my brain work its way back to productivity on its own. Everything I’ve tried to get it moving again has been futile, so it’s just a point of patience.

In the first year of this project I wrote 95800 words; in the second year I wrote 98400. I started counting this hoping there would be a lot of growth in those numbers, feeling like I did a lot last fall and that would give this year an edge. But seven months of very little production will take its toll, and year-over-year growth is disappointing. It’s a reminder that I still have a lot of work to do on increasing my productivity before this project can really meet my goals. 

On the other hand, finishing one book and writing 5/13 of another is pretty good for a two-year-old. I’m just hoping I can get going again soon. 


I feel like I should make a post just to let anyone who comes by know that I’m still here and still working at this point. It’s been a long, difficult summer for me. For most of the late spring and summer I’ve been fighting off some significant cognitive disfunction, in ways that aren’t necessarily debilitating to general life but make it very hard to keep all of the things in my head that I need to in order to write series fiction with arc plot. 

I ended up taking eight weeks almost entirely off from writing, and then the last eight have been something of a slog as I try to retrain myself to do this. Even though these are short stories, they still take a very long time when grinding away at a few hundred words per week. So I’ve been making progress on Hera #4 and CPTE #12, but it’s been very slow progress, and I don’t have an ETA for publishing either of them yet. 

In terms of writing volume, though, I’m beginning to see progress, even though it is still very much three steps forward and two steps back. I feel better about what I’ve been doing, and over the last couple of weeks I’ve gradually been able to start scaling up how much I’m producing. The levels are still small but they’ve crept up into four digits, at least, and I’m optimistic that I’ll be somewhat back up to speed sometime this fall. If you’ve been reading along so far, I really appreciate your patience; I had hoped to be working both of these stories toward their conclusion by now, rather than being hung up halfway through in the case of CPTE and about a third of the way into Hera.

On the bright side, one thing I have been able to do recently, when not writing, is work toward ensuring the financial stability of this project. That’s gone very well, and I’m starting to get some ideas of how to expand things a little bit here so that publishing things regularly can be not entirely dependent on my ability to write regularly. I expect this winter to go better than last winter – I have a large sheaf of contingency plans for being in warm places – but this summer has really proved how easy it is for everything to stop when I can’t manage to finish the next thing. I don’t have any specific plans in that direction yet, but you might see some before too terribly long.

And through it all I’m still motivated to finish these things, which was one of my worries from the beginning that hasn’t yet come to pass. I have several exciting new things scheduled to work on once these are done, but it hasn’t even been tempting to try to jump off the track to go running after them. I really like what I’ve got coming for you very soon in CPTE, and the rest of the season plot there, especially. These stories are still engaging me, and I hope I can pull the writing process together enough for them to be engaging you as well before too long.

My brain definitely knows it’s spring this week, as I was just pouring out words and hours on Monday, at least relative to where I have been. The last few weeks I’ve been doing a really productive job on Mondays and Tuesdays, and then having a hard time getting back to it in the second half of the week, so while I’m definitely getting some good moments in I’m not making progress quite as fast as I had hoped. I’m still feeling pretty reasonable on getting Hera Chapter 3 ready for publication next week, and I already have the public domain illustration I want for it, but I’m less confident in being able to go weekly right away in April.

The Hera stories being longer than expected turned out to not be just a one-time thing with Chapter 2, which is making the schedule more difficult as I ramp back up. Chapter 3 is already as long as Chapter 2, and there’s quite a ways to go still. I had the idea that if I could get to 7500 words/week I could publish weekly, but CPTE stories are getting a little bit longer, more in the 5k range than where they started at 3k, and Hera just keeps going. Even my backup alternate schedule with three CPTE stories for every Hera, rather than alternating, means I’m going to need to get to 10k/week if they’re ballooning out beyond 15,000 words. 

And the last few weeks have really brought home to me that writing can be extremely tiring. I don’t think 10k/week is at all unreasonable, but 10k next week is definitely out of line. Later in the summer, when I’ve had time to train up more, and learn more about taking intentional rest, I’m pretty confident that I can get there. I like this chapter a lot, I’m pretty pleased with where CPTE is going, and the next story there in specific. I just think the schedule I had in mind was a little too ambitious, and you’ll probably be seeing two or three stories in April instead of four. 

I’m so happy to report that it’s March, and that I have a draft of the next CPTE story. After the second week of February went so well I had real hopes that things were getting going, just had one scene left to finish, surely that couldn’t take too long. But February came back with a vengeance in the last two weeks, and I’ve mostly been trying to hold the pieces of everything together. 

Usually I have to get the rest of my life into some sort of balance before writing works, but this week has been the opposite, as writing is just about the only thing that’s working. But I’ll take it, and try to use that as a base to pull the rest of myself together. 

The next one is “Ian and the Lost Princes,” and it needs some close rewriting of some of the dialogue (writing for Richard III is tough) and to be sent to the illustrator, but I’m pretty confident in being able to get that out in the next couple of weeks. 

Meanwhile I’m glad to be reading something that isn’t Discworld, finally. The first new book off the pile was C. L. Polk’s Soulstar, the third book in its trilogy. This series hadn’t really reminded me of Daniel Abraham’s Long Price books before, but Soulstar really heads in that direction, working really hard on the idea that every bit of success against dystopia reveals deeper and more complicated levels of dystopia. It goes back toward more typical fantasy structure at the very end, with a simplifying and presumably happy ending, although like the Long Price books the amount of work the characters have gotten themselves into is daunting. 

Beyond that, it’s getting noticeably warmer, and I’m hoping that will eventually help my body which will help everything else. Thinking about keeping the Wednesday blog even after I can start publishing stories again, as this has been usefully keeping me on track, even when I can’t move very quickly down it.

I’m very nearly to the end of the complete, publication-order reread of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books that I started in September. I’m only about halfway through the final book, The Shepherd’s Crown, today, but I feel comfortable talking about the series as a whole, and the main thing I want to talk about is reading order.

Discworld is a huge series, with 41 books in the main sequence, published over 33 years, and it varies highly in quality. This has led to some ridiculous flowcharts for where to start reading it, which can be funny, but I don’t really think that’s the right approach. Instead I want to look at how to get the most out of reading it for the least investment.

Often when we talk about series fiction we talk about spearpoints, which is to say that you have significant events late in the series whose power is dependent on having read the previous works in the series, metaphorically the shaft of the spear. This is a really powerful tool for authors, who can give more emotional weight to a climax when the history of several books with the same characters and world is pushing behind it.

Discworld doesn’t really do this, outside of Raising Steam. One of the reasons there are lots of entry points to the series is that every book until the very last few is written to hold up on its own. That makes the series more accessible and possibly made it more successful, but one thing it means is that you don’t have to read them in publication order, or series chronological order, to get the most out of any particular book. 

So I wanted to create a series reading order that abandons overall chronology while still maintaining it locally in a few key places, in favor of trying to get the most punch out of the fewest books. The goal of the Reverse Spearpoint Order is that you can read as far into it as you feel is worthwhile, and then stop, without missing out on anything. No reading mediocre books to get to good ones. At whatever point in the RSO you’ve had enough of Discworld, you can have confidence that you will have read as much of it as you really want to, that there are no hidden gems waiting for you later in the sequence, and you can move on to whatever interests you next. 

Maybe this will be thirty-some books, maybe it will be one or five or eight. There are a few I really don’t recommend getting to unless you’re a huge completist, but maybe it will even be all 41.

The nature of the list also means that they will get somewhat more racist and sexist as you go along. For the most part these map well with other qualities of the books, so that the best ones in other terms are also the least racist and sexist. (The exception is the late set I’m calling The Summoning Dark, which could have been dramatically improved by dumping those things, and if you really don’t care about them you could move that set up to #5.) Pratchett in particular really likes gender essentialism and cheap jokes at East Asians, which may bother you quite early on. If they do, stop, it’s not going to get better.

Enough said, I think, on to the reading order. I break these up a little differently than the traditional subseries labels.

Anta Baku’s Reverse Spearpoint Discworld Reading Order

(1) The Tiffany Aching Books:

The Wee Free Men
A Hat Full of Sky
I Shall Wear Midnight
The Shepherd’s Crown

(2) Modernity in Ankh-Morpork:

The Truth
Going Postal
Making Money

(3) Lu-Tse

Small Gods
Thief of Time

(4) Mid-period Vimes
The Fifth Elephant
Night Watch

(5) Singles 1998-2003

Carpe Jugulum (This is a Witches book but it’s by far the best non-Tiffany Witches book)
Monstrous Regiment
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
The Last Hero

(6) Early Watch

Guards, Guards!
Men at Arms
Feet of Clay

(7) Death

Reaper Man
Soul Music

(8) The Summoning Dark
Raising Steam

(9) Witches
Wyrd Sisters
Lords and Ladies

(10) Deep Cuts
Moving Pictures
Unseen Academicals
Equal Rites
The Color of Magic
The Light Fantastic

(11) For the Completist Only
Witches Abroad
Interesting Times
The Last Continent


My own opinion would suggest that stopping somewhere in Group #5 is probably ideal for a recreational reader. I’m glad I read/reread them all, but a lot of that glad is tied to being a comic fantasy writer and having things to learn even from the books that don’t do it very well. 

Going into last week I had a lot of worries about how working things back up out of this winter becalming was going to go. Was it going to take months, was I going to have to start over from grinding out a few hundred words a week, would I lose interest in these particular series and really want to work on something else? And then conveniently last week came along and wiped out all of them, as I wrote the first 3500 words of the next CPTE story. This week hasn’t gone quite so well so far, and I haven’t managed to finish it yet, but I’m not really worried. This has been more like a normal tougher week, as it has been really, really cold, but that looks ready to turn around over the next few days and bring a February thaw next week. 

One of the things I did before writing those words was look at my goals for the two ongoing series, for the things I have lined up behind them, and and how I want everything to progress through 2021. I came up with something that’s maybe a roadmap, or an aspiration, but started looking like more of a plan once it became clear that the wordcount goals are likely to be reasonable. 

My goal and intention at this point is to publish one story in each series in March, and then get back to weekly releases in April. Both March stories are already partially completed, Ian’s last week and Hera’s way back in November. So I think the March part of things is a reasonable plan. Getting to weekly release by the beginning of April involves ratcheting up the hours and the weekly word count a little bit, but not incredibly, and that has been on the goal sheet anyway. Ideally then as we move on through the summer, I’ll be able to continue to grow my productivity and work on getting a little bit ahead. 

If that pace works, each of these series will complete its current season in the early fall, and I’m already looking forward to the things I have ready to step into their places. I have a lot of long-term plans for CPTE, but I think by then I’m going to want a break, and the current plotline is designed to come to a conclusion around the time it would make sense to collect the stories into a book. Hera has always been planned in discrete 13-episode seasons. So they both would have natural break points to let in the new things, and then they could come back around later. 

That’s where I am on February 17, anyway. Things can change quickly, and I’m hoping to have more weeks like last week, where they change for the better. If not, I’ll manage. I’m honestly a little bit surprised to still be as motivated on these particular projects as I was in the fall. But that’s where I am, if not more so, and I intend to take advantage of it.

I’m guessing I’ll be done with my Discworld reread next week, and will write a blog post about it all then. Currently halfway through Raising Steam. 

So, January is over, and I’m beginning to be able to tell from inside my brain. After three weeks of doing absolutely nothing except coping, I’m beginning to reach the stage where motion is possible again. This shows up first as being really, really sick of my coping devices, and turning that into productivity is a multi-dimensional trick that is pretty hard to get right the first time. But I’m beginning to push toward that, slowly, with the idea that I have to start with pretty low expectations and build up. 

So when setting goals for February, they’re all about getting to my writing space, and spending time there writing something, even if it’s just journaling. Eventually I’ll work up to development and then actual writing, but for the moment the goals are about being there and getting back used to putting some hours in, rather than any amount of productivity. In some ways I’m back to the premise that got all this started, which is that if I sit there writing about not writing for long enough, eventually I’ll get bored of it and write something instead. 

Meanwhile I’ve been working a little bit, very slowly, on development of the next Ian story, and the fantasy series that I expect to be the next thing when it’s time to take a break from CPTE. There’s a lot of CPTE to come, but once I’ve made it through the first section of arc plot and have enough to collect it into a book, I’m pretty sure I’m going to want to do something else. I’ve had a couple of science fiction things that could come along, but no fantasy, and I do kind of want to keep one of each going. 

Of course that’s many months in the future, but it’s nice to have something to develop for that space.

I’m down to four books remaining on the Discworld reread, as I started I Shall Wear Midnight this morning. Not a whole lot to say about Making Money and Unseen Academicals at this point, and the whole project has gotten a bit fatiguing. Pratchett repeats jokes, and variants on the same joke, often enough that these really aren’t meant to be read in sequence. But at this point I’m so close to the end I’m just going to plug away to the finish.

Not a lot to say today, really, just that I’m still here. Winter continues to try to ruin everything. My brain has been kicking at it, trying to get working on some of these things again, but it will probably still be quite a while before I’m able to break through into actually getting something done. Historically February is not better, only later, but it does mean that I’ve gotten through the first stage of this and don’t have as far to go.

Still reading Discworld, but I’m finding myself without much to say about Wintersmith and Making Money, which were the books of this week. Looking forward to the end of that project at this point, and thinking about what to read next. Video-wise I binge-watched the first season of Avenue 5, which is my favorite of the new crop of funny science fiction. Suzy Nakamura is really great, Hugh Laurie is of course a comedic treasure, and I really enjoy the way they’re using Ethan Phillips. It’s funny in a totally different way from how I want to be, but that’s ok, I still think there are things to learn from it as it slowly soaks into my January brain.