The Novel Playlist – ‘Cause I’m Silly Like That

I’ve seen this done on several other blogs, and I honestly find it quite amusing most of the time. I rarely encounter author playlists with music I like, but there is something curious about seeing what other writers listen to and what inspires them. Also, I needed to post something – preferably something quick and easy – so here we are.

I’m a child of the 90’s, therefore my music choices (mostly late-90’s and early 2000’s) reflect that. I’m also a sucker for a lot of what some people would call low-grade pop/rock that came out of that time (think Nickelback rather than Britney Spears). You might laugh at what inspired the various characters/scenes in Book 1, but in my defense, 90% of the novel was written to the backdrop of Lindsey Stirling who is anything but low-grade. That girl is awesome. So, without further adieu… the playlist.

Teveres:

  • Halfway Gone – Lifehouse
  • Am I Ever Gonna Find Out – Lifehouse
  • It’s Been a While – Staind
  • You Found Me – The Fray
  • Personal Jesus – Depeche Mode
  • How You Remind Me – Nickelback
  • Going Down in Flames – 3 Doors Down
  • Ticket to Heaven – 3 Doors Down
  • My Own Prison – Creed
  • Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz
  • Iris – Goo Goo Dolls
  • So I Need You – 3 Doors Down

Aia:

  • I’m With You – Avril Lavigne
  • Nobody’s Home – Avril Lavigne
  • Quasimodo – Lifehouse
  • Name – Goo Goo Dolls
  • Acoustic #3 – Goo Goo Dolls
  • Broadway – Goo Goo Dolls
  • Here is Gone – Goo Goo Dolls
  • You Owe Me Nothing in Return – Alanis Morisette
  • Slania’s Song – Eluveitie
  • How To Save a Life – The Fray
  • Prince – Vanessa Carlton
  • Pieces of You – Jewel
  • Numb – Pink
  • Hemorrhage – Fuel

Les:

  • Far Away – Nickelback
  • I’m Still Here – John Rzeznik
  • Syndicate – The Fray
  • Wasted and Ready – Ben Kweller
  • Closing Time – Semisonic
  • Think Twice – Eve 6

Garren:

  • Freedom Fighter – Creed
  • Weathered – Creed
  • Bullets – Creed
  • Drive – Incubus

Yep, I’m a ‘cheap date,’ as they say. 😉

In other news, Tragedy has done exceptionally well on “free” days, and was #9 on the historical fiction free amazon bestseller list during the first promotion! It’s quite possibly the longest, most specific distinction in the book world, but hey, I’ll take what I can get at this point. I’m doing another free day on 10/26, so if you’d like to check it out and haven’t yet, do so! If you found it intriguing at all, PLEASE write a review. Reviews are lifeblood for a self-published gal like myself.

Suffering is in the works. It’s slow, and a little painful, but it’s happening. There’s a whole lot going on in Book 2 which gets real complicated real fast, and I’m relying pretty heavily on my historical consultant (aka “the husband”) for direction. Think French Resistance – and that’s all I have to say about that. Will there be a short story coming your way soon?

Will Les be the subject of that potential short story?

Well, that’s up to you folks. If the interest is there, it will come. Shout out.

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Official Novel Release Statement – Forsaken Lands, Book 1: Tragedy now on Kindle

Tragedy CoverForsaken Lands, Book 1: Tragedy Available on Amazon

You heard that right, my friends. The day has come – the book is released. Well, technically it was released on 10/8, but I wanted to get it up, put it out there on Facebook, and have something fancy to offer newcomers to the blog (namely a free promotion day). So far the reception has been positive. Synopsis as follows:

Teveres and Aiasjia could not be more dissimilar. Raised in poverty at the merciless hand of her mother, Aia is a powerful healer disgraced by her profession and outcast from her home city of Nivenea. Teveres is the privileged son of Ilvan’s High Priest whose startling ability to kill with only his mind leads to the brutal murder of his entire family. Though they do not know it, Aia and Teveres are linked by their strange abilities – they represent a once-revered minority of the population known as the Deldri, individuals gifted by the gods with extraordinary power. It was thought that the Deldri lived on only in legend… until now.

When the leaders of Elseth’s Lands disappear and Aia and Teveres are captured by the warring Kaldari people, they are thrust into a whirlwind of politics, religion and subterfuge which has been quietly destroying their homeland since before they were born. Together with a peculiar young baron and a renegade Kaldari mercenary, they must grow beyond their weaknesses to discover their roles in the fate of nations.

Review requests are out and the print edition is in process. It’s kind of awesome. No, really awesome. I don’t expect to make big bucks, of course, but just having it out there feels fantastic. I can’t wait to start really getting to work on Book 2, and I’m planning on a few interesting extras to be released on the blog in the coming weeks.

Excited? I know I am. If you’re moved to do it, please review it (hell, that even rhymes!).

Writing Without a Net

I haven’t had a whole lot to say here lately because, well, I’ve been busy. Not with writing, of course – perhaps if I was busy with that I might have more to blog about – but busy with career things, with job application things, with terribly mundane things I wish I didn’t have to pay attention to. It’s only in my “spare time” that I’ve been able to work on finishing my last edits… and I have a super fun announcement to make tomorrow morning regarding the book. You only get one guess what it is, though, because it should be terribly freaking obvious by now.

I have, of course, already started Book 2. After I finished Tragedy and had it sent off to my beta readers, I couldn’t wait to dive into the sequel, Suffering. The first few chapters are floating around already, but on a recent cross-country plane ride I discovered that 90% of what I’ve written in Suffering needs to be tossed, and the end of Tragedy needed to be tweaked.

I say ‘tweaked,’ but if anyone becomes attached to these characters it’s going to amount to more than just a minor difference. However, if the change isn’t made then Book 2’s plot simply doesn’t work (or doesn’t work without a lot of ridiculous retconning). Of course, tweaking Tragedy by adding one scene to the end is no big thing for that book – but it means losing most of what I’ve written in Suffering. You would think that losing 90% of what I worked on would bother me, but as I reflected on the changes I’m making, it’s really quite normal for me.

That leads me into the brief discussion topic of this post. All authors have a different method of writing. The wonderful, beautiful, fantastical podcast Writing Excuses recently did a show entitled Digging Yourself Out of Holes’ which explored this topic a bit. As they explain in the podcast, there are folks who outline before writing, termed ‘architects,’ and there are those who write without a really firm plan, a method termed ‘discovery writing.’ Naturally people can fall anywhere on the spectrum between the two; not everyone is either strictly structural or wild and crazy stream-of-consciousness. As you see above, in my case, I lean more towards the latter. I like to think of it as writing without a net.

Part of that has to do with my inner nature. I’m a person who likes to intuitively feel through situations, and focusing on details makes me awfully bored (reason #1 why I hated anatomy class). Writing is my fun hobby on the side, and while I’m sure I’d be more efficient if I planned everything out, I would also be a lot less motivated to do it.  Not planning is more exciting, but the downside is that I probably went though 5 radically different scenarios for the story in Tragedy before I found the “true” story (really, the one that made any sense). I’ve got tomes of discarded writing scraps between the drafts of Tragedy and the drafts of my probably-never-to-be-published first novel, 4012.

How do I write if I have no structure? I have goals. I start stories with two things in mind – an image of the first scene and an image of the last scene. The adventure is in trying to get from beginning to end and making it all sensical. Sometimes this means I’ll get running on a premise that I really like, and then I outline a few chapters ahead to remind myself of my train of thought. Those outlines are pretty flexible, though, and usually consist of dialogue clips or one particular image that needs to be described. Interestingly enough, my original final scene did not make it into Tragedy even though I was working towards it for the entire book, even in the final draft. Things just didn’t quite pan out that way. The result is quite satisfying to me, though, and hopefully it’ll be satisfying to you.

So that’s my little spiel for the day. Keep an eye out tomorrow… that’s all I’m sayin’.

The novel release, part 163: It’s coming… this week. No, seriously, I mean it!

Ever since I finished it I just like to look at it. There’s a table of contents (all linked and prettified, which is not an easy feat, my friends), a dedication page, prologue, chapters, epilogue, afterword… believe it or not, it looks like a real novel.

And let me tell you, that’s more than a little scary. This thing is going to be out on the internets (theoretically) by the end of the week with my name on it, an open invitation for the world to look on, wonder, criticize, and maybe (hopefully) enjoy. I don’t even know what to do with myself. I have a list of links to blogs I would like to request to do interview on, and people who I would like to have review the book. The ebook is going to come out first, since of course that’s the easiest format to put together. I’m hoping that within a month or two there will be a print copy out there, if only because it’s a childhood dream of mine to hold a book in my hands which I wrote.

Yeah, it’s vanity, but I would be lying to you if I told you otherwise. There are a lot of reasons I write – a lot of decent, noble reasons. That’s kind of secondary to my baser motivations at this stage in the process, my inner child who is screaming ‘HEY LOOK AT WHAT I MADE.’ I have a feeling that there’s a little of that in any artist who disseminates their work.

I have made a few changes to this blog in preparation for the launch. There is now a “For Authors” section on some useful self-publishing resources (really, writing resources in general – I’m sure they’d be useful for those going the traditional route too). There is also an appendix and a pronunciation guide, to be used as a companion to Tragedy. The new menu of pages is my little attempt at being more professional… cause if I don’t take me seriously, I have no reason to expect you to do so. Still struggling with that part, if you haven’t noticed.

If you have questions about the process – uploading, editing, formatting, what have you – please feel free to post them! I’ll be in touch later this week, of that you can be sure. 😉

Tidbits and Much-Anticipated News

If you follow me on facebook (and if you don’t, please direct your attention to the left side of the blog and hit ‘like!’), you know that I’ve been doing a lot of editing. I’ve also been working on the cover.

Yes, September is over and the book has not materialized. And yet I think this is a good thing – it gave me time to modify the ending, which is necessary for Book 2 to flow properly. Also, the edits were important. Many much edits (like my grammar?).

At any rate, this is my little gift to you since I’ve been holding out for so long. The following is the rough cut of the glossary of terms I came up with. Hopefully it comes through in the novel that there is quite a bit of backstory to the world of Forsaken Lands, far beyond what is “necessary” to be explained in the story. If there is continued curiosity about how the world works, I may release more bonus background info in the future!

Elseth’s Lands: Located on the northern half of the continent, Elseth’s land was once a geographically diverse, fertile land. Recently the state of the land has been changing, and with it many crops have begun dying and lakes have dried up.

Elseth’s Children: Believed to be the direct descendents of the goddess Elseth and her lover Layvin, Elseth’s Children live on the northern half of the continent. Elseth’s Children are distinct from the Kaldari by their dress, quality of building materials, and the capacity to produce “gifted” children. They have a pantheistic religion with many temples to various gods and goddesses scattered throughout their lands. Each large city is ruled by a governor and governess, with individual sections of society represented by democratically elected barons and baronesses (small towns have a baron and/or baroness who reports to their regional city). Gifted individuals may not hold public office; the only gifted individuals involved in politics are those who sit on the Divine Council and advise the governor and governess of Nivenea. Nivenea’s governor and governess are nominally considered the highest authority in Elseth’s Land.

Leyvada: The language of Elseth’s Children.

Followers of Shelm: Since The Decline began several years ago, more people have begun to doubt the validity of Elseth’s Children’s predominant religion. The Followers represent a splinter group of mostly rural individuals who have decided to follow the Kaldari god, believing that The Decline is the One God’s punishment for worshipping demons. Interestingly, the Kaldari and The Followers have not historically been allies; the Kaldari generally find The Followers to be radical, misguided pretenders.

Nivenea: The capital of Elseth’s Land and home of the University, a bastion of progress. Nivenea is the most advanced city in the world and is home to over 50,000 inhabitants. Nestled in the hills of Layvin’s Embrace, Nivenea is highly defensible and normally has a very mild climate.

The University: The center for knowledge and Learning, the University trains gifted individuals for careers which highlight their special talents. Leaders also study at the University, and all the citizens of Elseth’s Lands are welcome to browse the public librairies on the first floor. The University is additionally the epicenter of Nivenea’s undercity, where the Justices live, train and hold prisoners awaiting public judgment. The highest floor of the University belongs to the governor and governess; their quarters serve as the platform for Nivenea’s famous spire, a symbol of Nivenea’s divine blessing.

“Gifted:” The term applied to Children of Elseth who are able to control matter and energy. The traditional gifts are the ability to harmonize with plants, affinity for creating machines, weaponization of kelspar, charging kelspar and communicating with the gods, and activation of healing materials (by career they are Greens, Engineers, Justices, Clergy and Healers, respectively). Roughly one in 10 of Elseth’s Children are gifted; giftedness can run in families, but may also be random.

Deldri: The Deldri were once known as those chosen by the gods, revered by the masses and treated as leaders. One leader became very powerful, and declared himself the godking. A band of clergy members known therafter as the Divine Council killed the godking, and declared that the Deldri were insane, dangerous mistakes. They began covertly and systematically killing young children who developed Deldri traits until eventually the Deldri became a myth. Only in the last 25 years have the Deldri began to appear again. Only about one in ten thousand Children of Elseth are born Deldri.

Kelspar: Found only in the land of Elseth, kelspar is the radiant crystalline ore which enhances the divinity within a gifted individual. It is considered a direct gift from the gods meant only for the Children of Elseth, and is a source of both mechanical and spiritual energy.

“Corners embrace you:” A traditional parting statement, derived from Elseth’s Children’s beliefs about death. It is thought that when a person dies, their soul joins all the other souls in the world. In this process, the person’s “essence” shatters and is lost forever. The corners of the world are governed by individual gods and goddesses; to be embraced by the corners is to have parts of your soul exist cohesively, so that a recognizable part of yourself will appear in a child’s new soul. When a person says that they “hope your essence scatters to the twelve corners,” this is quite the opposite sentiment – they hope that no part of your soul ever exists cohesively again.

The Decline: The Decline probably began thirty years ago, and has progressed very slowly since then. The Divine Council has been following the progression of The Decline since it started, though the people of Elseth’s Lands only became aware of it in the last 10 years. The Decline represents the loss of fertile land, the death of many of crops, increasingly erratic weather patterns and an increased incidence of natural disasters. New illnesses including “the blight” have appeared. Some believe that The Decline is a sign that the gods have abandoned them; others see The Decline as a test of Elseth’s Children’s collective soul.

“Blight Touched” or “The Blight:” The blight was only discovered in the last 30 years, seemingly at the same time as The Decline began. It mimics many mental illnesses known in the past, but is rapid in onset and responds to none of the known remedies for illnesses of the mind. It afflicts both the gifted and ungifted, and may strike at any age, even in the very old or very young. The blight touched have vivid visual and auditory hallucinations and are best described as “wandering through a perpetual nightmare they cannot escape.” The vast majority of blight touched individuals commit suicide or die in a hallucinatory accident within a year of the onset of symptoms.

Followers of Shelm: Since The Decline began several years ago, more people have begun to doubt the validity of Elseth’s Children’s predominant religion. The Followers represent a splinter group of mostly rural individuals who have decided to follow the Kaldari god, believing that The Decline is the One God’s punishment for worshipping demons. Interestingly, the Kaldari and The Followers have not historically been allies; the Kaldari generally find The Followers to be radical, misguided pretenders.

Kaldari: The Kaldari provinces lie to the south of Elseth’s Land just beyond the Border Mountains. Historically the Kaldari have been tribal people, living semi-nomadic lives on the harsh terrain that is their homeland. Children of the One God, the Kaldari reject the pantheism of Elseth’s Children and embrace the mercilessness of their land and deity. There are 5 provinces, each with a distinct tribal symbol and terrain. In the last several years the Kaldari have loosely banded together under their leader Drei, collectively referred to as the Kaldari Coalition of Tribes.

Ebonstone: Ebonstone has long been used by the Kaldari as a symbol of leadership. It is known that ebonstone could render the wearer immune to clergy or Justice attacks; exactly how the stone works is unknown. The Kaldari believe it is the One God’s answer to Elseth’s Children’s “demon magic.” Since ebonstone is very scarce, it is worn as a tattoo or prized jewelry piece by the leaders from each of the Kaldari provinces. When a leader dies, the leader who is to succeed them must remove the stone and take it for themselves.

You can find this Appendix in alphabetical order on the blog navigation area to the left. Additionally, I’ll be adding a pronunciation guide *hopefully* before the book hits the virtual shelves.