Well, the fourth novella of the Wandering Tale - tentatively titled The Crown Unconquered - has cleared draft status and has been sent out to the beta readers. As usual I will be trying not to read, edit, or even think about the story until I've heard back from some of them.
Sometime this year I will be gathering the first four novellas into the first Wandering Tale collection, as they all treat with a greater meta-story that was developing behind the plots of the four stories themselves. I anticipate starting a new meta-story with the fifth, and developing it for as long as it needs to be developed in order to be both coherent and entertaining.
I have not quite decided exactly what the fifth story will be about. I'm afraid I must admit to all three of my fans that it is not yet the continuation of the Three Fingers of Death cliffhanger. That will come along in either the sixth or the seventh entry. There are a couple people who may be angry at me over this, including - and I kid you not - my own mother, who was so eager to hear more about what happens with John the Smith and his magic swords that she choked me when I told her the fourth story doesn't deal with it. Yes, choked. But only a little.
Love you, mom!
That cliffhanger was almost a violation of the whole idea behind the Wandering Tale - to slowly explore a new fantasy realm in a casual way, creating a loosely-connected series as I went. However, I think most will agree that ending the story in any other way would have been a mistake.
Returning to the subject of The Crown Unconquered, this story brings a different sort of characters to the foreground - the nobility and rulers, who I've generally only dealt with tangentially. It deals with politics and intrigue, which made for a slightly more complicated plot and a longer novella (the draft weighs in a 28k words, about 10k longer than Swordsman of Carn Nebeth).
While I think the story works well, I think I will return to the lower ranks of society in the future of the Wandering Tale. Court politics and diplomacy is fun and all (yes, it is), but it necessitates a larger cast of characters as well as a more complicated story. Crown has turned out well, but I think the spirit of the Wandering Tale lies more truly with the more humble folk of this fantasy land.