Cover Release: An Elden Novella Called “Broken”

Well my friends, interesting things have been happening over here. While working on Forsaken Lands 2 I had a conversation with my sister, and at some point I asked the question, “Hey, who do you think deserves the next short story?”

As soon as she said “Elden” my mind got spinning, and in 12 days I had about 18,000 words on paper – enough to qualify as a novella. Mind you, I had planned to work on a short story after the novel draft was finished, but Elden’s tale was so juicy that it simply took off with my better senses, and here we are. Fortunately I’m pretty sure that I can still make my goal of a June 23rd first draft of FL2 despite my 12 day novella diversion. What’s even better is I will now be releasing a new title in the next 1-3 months, prior to the release of FL2! Check out the cover –

broken

I’ll be working up a formal blurb in the next few days. In short, it is another first-person origin story of sorts, giving you a window into Elden’s life at age sixteen. Several points about his past are revealed, including the beginning of his dangerous relationship with the Kaldari fire drug. After my beta readers give me their feedback on the draft I will make necessary changes, consult with my editing folks, and then bam – it will be out on the net. I’m still undecided as to whether I’ll do three months of Kindle Select or go straight to wider distribution. More on the intricacies of that decision to come.

I’m on break between the end of my training and the beginning of my new job, so there will be lots of writing happening in the next few weeks as well as a (much less arduous) move to a neighboring city. I’ll see about getting some blog posts out in that amount of time. Who knows… perhaps I’ll release some snippets from Broken while I’m at it. Interested? Shout out!

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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.

The Challenge of Cheerfulness

Well I’m sure you’ve been waiting for my exalted opinion on the matter (no really, you can breathe again!), so I will start out by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed Anne Bishop’s latest novel, Written in RedI’m not going to go full-on book report on this mini-review, but I’ll give you my impressions and my sincere recommendation that you give the book a try if it sounds at all interesting.

A departure from her previous works of fantasy, Written in Red is an urban fantasy novel complete with werewolves, vampires, and a variety of other paranormal creatures (those that are called “The Others”). I expected that this novel wouldn’t be your run-of-the-mill, standard vampire vs shifter kind of story, and I was completely right. The characters had the Anne Bishop charm that I have come to expect from her work, and The Others were portrayed in an organic, character-driven light that I haven’t seen so much in other urban fantasy books. Specifically, she did a great job characterizing her shifter characters as very animalistic and… well, other. Of course she has done this kind of thing in the past – the kindred from Black Jewels were some of my favorite characters.

Above all, Written in Red was an example of how an author who has a history of writing deeply dark and sometimes disturbing fiction can take you to the extreme opposite end of the emotional spectrum. Somewhere in the middle of Written in Red the main character, Meg, works her naiive charm on a very broken, sad character, and the moment where Meg’s kindness comes to fruition was so adorable and lovely that it brought me to tears. So freaking adorable!

It got me to thinking, of course, about my own work (after all, learning is about observation). I view Anne Bishop as a sort of role model – I have been in love with her characters for the last 8 years, and devour each book in less than a week of purchasing it. She’s not a classical master of prose or anything like that, but she is an author who has sucked me into her worlds over and over again. Her darker themes please me on whatever level causes me to write dark stories, and her style is fluent enough that it doesn’t grate on my senses. The heartwarming thing, though…

If you met me on the street, I don’t know that you would peg me for the kind of gal who writes tragic, bloody fantasy stories. I smile pretty easily. I like to laugh and joke, and I fancy myself to be a cheerful person most days. I wear colors, though I have been known to dress in some quantity of black (it is so very attractive… and helps one blend in with creatures of the night… >.>). However, as cheerful as I might be in person, I do not write heartwarming stories in any sense of the word. Sitting on the bus during my commute, I kept trying to think of a hearth-fires-and-hot-chocolate moment from any of my scenes.

I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t come up with one. Witty moments? Maybe… at least I’d like to believe I have a few of those in there. Funny moments? Smirk-worthy moments, at least. Heartbreaking moments? I certainly felt heartbroken when I was writing a few of the scenes from Forsaken Lands and Fathers and Sons, so I can only hope that you felt what I was feeling at the time. Heartwarming moments, though, not so much.

Anne Bishop had a few of those delightfully cheerful moments in her prior work, but none so prominent as those in Written in Red. It’s an intriguing proposition, really, to consider putting a scene in the book that makes the reader feel that unique blend of heart-wrenching and soul-feeding happy-sadness that comes with a dramatic… is there another word for heartwarming? I’m getting tired of using the same word too many times in this post. Anyway. It’s a skill that would seem to take some training for those of us who specialize in the tragedies; a skill I would like to sharpen in the future. Will there be any warming of the hearts in Forsaken Lands 2? It remains to be seen at this point…

That’s just my musing of the night. I was feeling guilty about not posting anything in a while, especially when the release date for Forsaken Lands Book 1 is so very, very close! The cover art is coming together beautifully, and the final pre-publishing edits are certainly somewhere in the process. I wouldn’t say almost done. Or even halfway done. Close enough that I can finish it off before the end of the month, though, that’s for sure!

Trust me, we got this over here.

As usual, I leave you with a question to close: are there any emotional states you have a hard time reaching with your writing? To those who primarily read, what scenes do you find authors struggling with in the work you enjoy?

A little riff – rambling, reading and editing

I’ve been away from the keyboard for a little over a week now. This post may be a little rambly, but I’ll just have to ask you for a pass on that one (after all, the description at the top of this blog does specify “ramblings” as part of the content). Seattle has taken me on a wild ride between working and exploring this fabulous city. There hasn’t been a lot of time for writing, though I have been reading a lot – and if you ask any author worth their salt, they’ll tell you that reading is as important, if not more so, that actually putting words on a page.

The book I’ve been reading is by my favorite author, Anne Bishop. Now, I will say that her books are not for everyone; I totally get why a person wouldn’t want to read The Black Jewels Trilogy, a story which was dark and explicit enough that the first time I opened it I considered throwing it away. I like reading the books of authors who exemplify in their work what I hope to show off in mine, and Anne does an amazing job (in my humble opinion) at writing edgy, lovable characters. She has certainly done that with her latest novel – the one I’m waist deep in at the moment – Written in Red. If you like urban fantasy with a strong character focus, I highly recommend that you check it out. I don’t know how good it will be for your brain, but I certainly think it’s been good for mine! I might post a more extensive review when I finish it, who knows.

While I haven’t made a whole lot of writing progress lately, what I have been doing consists of somewhat tedious content and cleanup editing. Unfortunately for me, editing is this trance-like state of ruthless abandon requiring exquisite concentration… and I’ve had approximately none of that since I’ve been displaced from my home, living out of a suitcase in an alien city.  Nonetheless, slow, painstaking progress has been made. If you’d like to take a look at things I’ve been working on, I’d recommend clicking on over to Teveres’s Intro – the first half of Tragedy’s prologue up on createspace.

I think that’s about it from me, folks, so I’ll leave you with a question: which authors have inspired you, and why?

Have a great week!