As I explained in my February 27th post, although Jeanette and I love our life on our small farm in Oregon, it is very challenging because there is always work to do. There is never any real “down time,” when we have nothing to do; there are, at best, periods of the year when we are—barring some unforeseen mishaps that must be dealt with—somewhat less busy. Those are the periods when I plan to fit my writing into our schedule, but after ten years of life here, I obviously still struggle to balance being an author and living on a farm.
Late winter through early spring in a “normal” year are one of the somewhat less busy periods. Our primary farm related tasks during those months, outside of the work of every day life, are starting the seedlings of the numerous different crops we will eventually plant in our garden, and, as they grow up-potting them to larger size pots. I had hoped, this year, during the time between seed starts and up-potting, to scramble and complete writing book 5 of The Strongbow Saga. But as I explained in my previous post, this, once again, was not a normal year. We lost a large block of time repairing a fence line that was damaged in a snowstorm, then I lost even more time when I learned I would have to have cataract surgery on both of my eyes. That pushed my hoped-for completion date of writing book 5 to, in a best case scenario, late May or early June.
That hasn’t happened. The eye surgeries did not go entirely smoothly. In theory, the surgery on each eye, which replaced my aging and cloudy natural lens with an acrylic implant, and which also was supposed to correct some distortion in my vision due to astigmatism, which is caused by irregularities in the shape of the cornea, or surface of the eye, would have left me with 20-20 distance vision, and I would have needed to wear glasses for reading and close work. In theory. As the surgeon said, when he first reviewed the status of my vision several weeks after both surgeries were done, “Sometimes we hit a home run, and sometimes the process takes several base hits.”
The surgeries improved, but did not fully remove the astigmatism in my eyes. To (hopefully) correct that, I will need a laser surgical procedure called Lasik. But that has not happened yet, because I’ve had to have two other procedures to correct other issues. It turned out that I had some debris from the removal of the old lens remaining in my right eye, clouding my vision slightly in that eye, which required a laser procedure to clean up the debris by vaporizing it. Then it turned out that the artificial lens that was implanted in my left eye had over-corrected and made my vision far-sighted in that eye, so last week I had a different (and quite uncomfortable) laser surgery procedure to reshape the surface of the left eye and hopefully correct the farsightedness. Assuming that was fully successful—and I will supposedly find out later this week—I will still need the Lasik surgical procedure for the astigmatism. Aging bodies suck!
All of this has required numerous trips into town, both for the procedures themselves and for various pre- and post-operative check-ups. From where our farm is located, it requires about an hour and a half round trip just for the driving time to town, on top of whatever time the actual business in town requires. We love living out in the country, but it is not always convenient. Needless to say, because of the further loss of potential writing time, I have once again failed to meet my hoped-for completion date of book 5.
So, what is the new plan, and current projection for book 5? My new goal is to finish writing book 5 and publish it by the end of this year. I’m going to have to try to find bits and pieces of time where I can, and summer is the busiest time of the year. In so many ways, though, this is already not a “normal” year.
In a “normal” year, by the end of May we would have already planted in the garden most of those plants we began as seed starts weeks or months ago. But April and May have been unusually cold and rainy. We even had a light snow just a little over a week ago. Many days, even when it has not been actively raining, the ground has been too wet to work. The downside of all of that is that we still have much work to do to get our garden in—most of our numerous plant starts are as yet still unplanted—and because of the late start, our garden will for the most part be much later than usual producing the various vegetables and fruits which we both enjoy fresh and preserve by freezing and canning, to feed us throughout the rest of the year.
But there are also upsides. One is that after we do get the garden planted, there is going to be somewhat of a lull, while the plants grow larger, before they begin producing harvest-able crops. That does not happen in a ”normal” summer, and I plan to use that time to write.
Additionally, we were very concerned, because we have been in drought conditions here in western Oregon for several years, about the poor condition of our pastures, and their resultant inability to provide sufficient food for our herd of heritage sheep. In anticipation of that, we had reduced the size of the herd by aggressively harvesting from it. But after weeks and weeks of rain, our pastures currently look the best they have in years, so that crisis may have been averted, for this year, at least.
So, to summarize, although book 5 is once again behind schedule, I am still working on it, and still plan/hope to publish it this year, though now that will not happen until closer to year’s end. And in separate Strongbow Saga news, which I failed to mention back when it happened, I did publish the German language edition of Book 4 back in January of this year. The series is still progressing, just not as smoothly or timely as we all wish that it would.
Hi Mr Roberts,
I’ve just finished re-reading the series for at least the 4th time in eager anticipation of the 5th book.
I am hoping the harsh December ice storms didn’t hurt the farm and you and your wife are doing well.
I as I am sure many others have been eagerly waiting a long time for this next instalment, my question is when will it be available for pre-order.
Thank you very much for the story that has kept me checking back in for the last decade.
Thank you, Jared. I can’t make a book available for pre-order until I have a specific date for when it will go on sale, and I’m not at that point yet. For now, just trying for March, but in addition to finishing writing it, there are some things, like formatting the manuscript and getting a completed cover, which are not things I have total control over.
Please, give us some idea when we will see book 5.
We had a late, compressed, and brutally busy harvest season on the farm, due to an unusually cold, wet spring that delayed things growing and ripening in our garden and orchard. Unfortunately that cut into my anticipated block of fall/winter writing time, so at this point, I’m afraid it will probably be March before I can get book 5 out. So sorry.
What town in Oregon do you live in? I live in a rural town in Oregon myself but not on a farm. I think I’ve been waiting for the next book in the series since I was in 8th or 9th grade. I’m 23 now.
I don’t live in a town. Our farm is about 30 miles or so from the Eugene/Springfield metropolitan area, in the McKenzie River Valley. Sorry to keep you waiting for so long–I truly am a slow writer, plus life has not always been helpful during the years that I’ve been working on book 5. But thank you for still being interested in the next book. I’ll try to not keep you waiting too much longer.
Time and farming wait for no one! You have to work around what you can do and I will be happy when the book comes out whether it is this year, next year or whenever really! I have a huge amount of respect for you as in my writing and farming I rarely manage a poem never mind a novel! Good luck and fair weather, Steve
I must apologize in advance for the long scripted post. I hope Jeanette and yourself are found in good health.
First and foremost please know that I am not asking about The Strongbow Saga at it relates to timing and the toils it takes in said timing. As I myself am learning for the first time in my life at the age of 30 that in homeownership there is little to no downtime. For there’s always work to be done.
I am simply writing this post to tell you the amount of passion that your books have given me over the last 10+ years of my life. Since reading about the adventures of Halfdan’s life that the Norns have weaved for him. (or putting fingers to keyboard in your writings as it were); I have learned to shoot traditional longbow and Recurve bow, and have hunted Boar with both as Halfdan would have.
I have feasted on Venison Heart as a recipe you posted years ago (though I used different seasonings due to lack of berries and sheep heart). I have taken up 19th century woodworking in hopes to become a Bowyer, and to become better attuned to make things with my hands and be less dependable on technology for craftsmanship.
In future endeavors I hope to take up blacksmithing as an art. Although time will tell how that goes, first I must finish bow building.
All these things I have done because of the life you have brought to life in the character Halfdan. I cannot truly express the love I have for the characters you have created. The time you gave to find the history behind the story itself.
The fact that I can go and read an account in history about battles and raids that actually happened is by far my favorite thingthe Strongbow Saga offers.
It almost makes me think Halfdan son of Hrorik was a historical figure himself that only you have found and have written about.
Once every other year it seems I find myself reading The Viking Warrior – The Long Hunt mainly because I have cherished your books so much.
I have read The Beasts of Dublin as well and enjoyed it likewise. This is not said to make you feel any certain way, but to make it known that your stories have forever impacted me and even if another book is not written, finished, or started the works completed are more than enough for this lifelong fan of yours.
From Strongbow Saga to updates of the farm, Always a fan of you Mr. Roberts Thanks for all you have done!
– Josh G
Thank you so much, Josh. I was very moved by your message.