Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Minstrels of Skaythe’

I’m still doing a bit of work on the very end of The Renegade Count, just making sure everything fits together the way it should. While I do that, I’m also starting the first step of my revisions, which is to name or re-name a few people and places.

Names are a detail that I pay a lot of attention to. The sound of them, and how they fit together, is an important part of my world building. I want them all to sound like they come from the same place and time. Although I try to come up with a list of good names before I start the first draft, and pick from that list when I encounter a new character, there are always a few I get stuck on.

For this novella, I’m re-naming a couple of characters whose names are too similar and might cause confusion for readers. There are also a few, very minor, characters who I didn’t anticipate needing names. No big deal, I’ll just play with sound combinations until I get them how I want them.

The major problem that I have it with the title. The Renegade Count was supposed to be about Berisan accidentally being appointed “count” of an obscure village. Since the people are expecting military-style magic to defend them, and Berisan is a pacifist, I thought that would be an interesting conflict. As it worked out, though, Yamaya’s character arc took up a lot more of the story. The village didn’t draft Berisan as their protector in the way I had anticipated.

This leaves me the choice of completely re-writing the plot to force my original intention on it — you writers out there know this hardly ever produces a better story — or coming up with a new title. Guess which one I’m choosing?

So the work goes on… or begins, depending on where you count from!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

So close to finishing up with The Renegade Count! That octopus of a plot is pinned to the matt except for the end of one tentacle is still twitching.

Basically, the last chapter is a big ol’ mess. It’s really disorganized, but in a way I can handle. There were a couple of great observations made by Berisan and Yamaya. They’re so great, I think I used them more than once. So I need to go back over those chapters, decide where the great lines should go, and generally shape the conclusion to my liking. With any luck, I’ll finish that this afternoon.

Saturdays are my day off from writing, and I have a fun thing going on where some friends are running an online role-playing game. I’m going to moderate a chat for them. But, on Sunday I should be able to start the next draft. It had been my intention to finish The Renegade Count several weeks ago, so that I can publish it in mid-May. That’s not a lot of time, which is one reason I’ve been anxious about finishing this draft.

However, the pauses to think and attention to detail usually mean that my revisions go quickly. So a May publications date looks chancy, but it’s not beyond possibility. If I have to push it into June, so be it. I can feature that book during Queen Titania’s Court.

Onward!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been dithering a bit with The Renegade Count this week. Mostly I think it’s because my pacifist main character is about to find out he seriously hurt someone. Maybe even killed them.

As we all know, life is never totally under our control, even in stories. I like to to express that by not completely planning some things. I’ll roll dice for some outcomes. So the situation is that Berisan reflexively pushed away at some people who were attacking him with swords. They were standing on a slope of loose stones, and it started a rockslide.

What I have to decide is how badly the two attackers were hurt in the rockslide. A couple of dice rolls showed me that one attacker had 30% damage to his left arm. That’s pretty easy to describe as having a broken bone. The other one had 50% damage to his chest. This one is puzzling me a bit to interpret. Fifty percent damage sounds serious. Like multiple broken ribs, maybe? Or internal injuries? With no medical care to speak of, he might still die.

Neither attacker was killed outright, but they won’t be coming after Berisan again, either. Still, I want him to have that realization that he isn’t some emblem of perfection. His philosophy of non-violence can’t insulate him from all circumstances. Even if Berisan was defending himself, he hurt these men. It’s going to be a painful realization.

We all know writers who chuckle gleefully when they think of some torment to put their characters through, but I’m not one of them. Inhabiting this part of Berisan’s journey is going to be stressful for me, too. That’s why I often dither and delay starting those scenes.

Oh well, better get to it!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

What’s Happening? I am happy to say that I got my greenhouse to stay up in the wind. We had snow last week, but I’m confident that my seeds can germinate in relative warmth. In addition, I’m experimenting with a slightly different form of online seminar, with a gardening webinar series called Cabin Fever. There are sessions on Monday and Wednesdays evenings, which unfortunately go across dinner and writing time. However, I only have to attend the ones I’m interested in, so it shouldn’t slow my writing too much.

What I’m Working On. As related in my previous post, I’ve reached 15,000 words on The Renegade Count and the complications are multiplying. Berisan has been busted as a mage, and is thinking he should get the heck out of Dodge. But that would mean abandoning Yamaya. I’m working through a gap until Yamaya gets her turn at being busted as a former bandit. Given her past, Yamaya’s turn is likely to get messy.

What’s Next? SpoCon, the local convention where I volunteer as programming director, is still hoping we can hold an in-person event next October. I’ve started the process of inviting speakers and getting ideas for what activities the convention will include. As a fund- and awareness-raiser, we’re hosting an online game in early April, which requires a few rehearsals. I’ve seen the face rigs they’ll be using, so if the players are talking to a dragon, the person they’re talking to will actually appear to be a dragon. It is going to be really cool.

Fun and Games. Right now, the only video game I’m playing is Animal Crossing. The one-year anniversary of my village is coming up, which is pretty incredible. The rest of my relaxation time has been split between reading (gotta keep up with my Goodreads goal) and building jigsaw puzzles.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

With all my recent posts being about RadCon, you might think I’ve ground to a halt on my current novella. I’m glad to say, you would be wrong. If I hope to get this one ready by May, I’ll have to hurry, so I set myself a goal to write 500 words a day (roughly two pages), five days a week. That gives me 2,500 words per week. So far I’ve kept up with that pace. It helped that February has a couple of minor holidays that gave me a day off work, so I had extra time for writing.

Currently, The Renegade Count is about 15,000 words, or half way to my goal (maybe). My two main characters, Berisan and Yamaya, have a slightly uneasy alliance. In this week’s work, Yamaya’s village market was disrupted by a couple of thugs — people she knew in her shady past. Berisan stepped in to help out a woman who was being dragged around, and ended up revealing that he is a mage. The village headman (the guy who was supposed to protect the residents but hid instead) is now demanding that he protect their village every time the bandits come back.

Since Berisan is a pacifist, he refused, but now the headman is threatening to call the Count’s guards if he doesn’t cooperate. In Skaythe, no good deed goes unpunished. Meanwhile, Yamaya is afraid that her former associates will rat her out. That could mean she loses the farm she and her late husband tried to build.

This is where things stand right now. Moving it forward next week should be… interesting!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

Last Saturday, right about this time, I was “at” Virtual RadCon, waiting to start a panel called “Why Story?” Luna Corbden and I began with the basics. That people are inherently social and therefore any kind of gossip intrigues us — even made-up stories. We talked about how the Hero’s Journey and other frameworks help people find logic and order in a world of confusion.

When things got exciting for me was when someone in the chat asked whether stories are just momentary diversions. Do they matter beyond the time it takes to read them? Can a story change the world? My answer was yes, because stories can start people thinking.

A good example (although I neglected to bring it up in the panel) is Rachel Carson’s seminal work of environmental reporting, Silent Spring. The issues Carson raised in 1962 opened a lot of eyes. Her words ultimately led to legislation such as the Clean Air Act of 1970, that we now take for granted as protecting public health.

Another, more current example is Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, A Handmaid’s Tale, which effectively vocalizes women’s dread of oppression based on our gender. Although, its dystopian setting of an environmental and political disaster zone certainly resonates with many other groups.

This was my opening to talk about my own series, Minstrels of Skaythe. How it sprang from my recognition that in so much fiction, we solve every problem at the point of a gun or a sword. My main characters are trying to live without violence, while surrounded by it. How will that even work?

Although it’s always great for panelists to mention our stuff, the point I was trying to make is this: if we want the world to change, we first need to imagine the change. Then, we have to write or illustrate the change, so other people can also imagine it.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

I frequently mention that I enjoy playing video games like Dragon Age, Skyrim, and Fallout. For a lot of people, video games seem like an idle entertainment, but you could say the same thing about the stories we write. Right? And we surely hope that readers will find something of value in the idle entertainments we create.

For me, these role-playing video games fill some of the same space that reading books does. It’s a form of story-telling where you participate in the action. Rather than reading about a desperate mission behind enemy lines, you/your character carries out that desperate mission. You meet interesting people, some of whom are human and some who aren’t (depending on which game it is). You can help “write” the dialogues that get them to be friendly or make enemies. You can even fall in love!

In a good role-player, the player is making choices that shape the outcome of the game. Or so it appears. As a writer myself, I understand that it is all scripted and the player is not really changing them. Especially not the ultimate outcome of the game’s story. The game writers have a right to make the point they want to make. So I’m pretty tolerant of scripted outcomes.

When I regret a choice in a video game, it’s usually because I joined a faction or romanced a character that is too divergent from my own beliefs. A good example is the Brotherhood of Steel, one of the factions in Fallout 4. In my first playthrough, they struck me as too militaristic, so I passed on my chance to join them. For my current playthrough, I decided to try the Brotherhood. I built my character so their philosophy would appeal to him. It wasn’t enough.

First they say they’re here to save humanity from the monsters of the wasteland. Okay, cool. But then they encourage you to threaten settlers in order to establish supply lines with dialogue like “You know what to do.” Even if you purchase the supplies, your faction then “controls” the settlement rather than being “allies.” I started calling them the Brotherhood of Steal. When they wanted me to attack other factions to gain more control, my character stopped doing their missions. He definitely regretted his choice. Now I’ve joined a different faction that seems like they might fight against the Brotherhood. If so, that is something I/he will not regret.

This is not, specifically, a complaint about that faction. As I writer, I learn a lot from these games. One thing is how to engage readers/players without dragging them. “Let’s save humanity from monsters” is a great hook. But I also enjoyed how the game writers slowly upended the Brotherhood of Steel. While my character was furious, I admired the writers’ skill.

Also, it reminded me not to put my reader in a place where they regret cheering my characters on. Unless that is my point, of course. For instance, in The Tower in the Mist, some of my characters slowly realized that they were on the wrong side. If I showed this well enough, the readers will have come along for the rest of the series.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

What’s Happening? Slowly my school is coming back to in-person learning. Third-graders are attending every day, and the Fourth-graders start in A/B cohorts tomorrow. I was a little dismayed at first, but that was just the knee-jerk reaction of my schedule being overhauled. I’m getting more excited for it now. This is the job I’m supposed to be doing as a paraeducator.

What I’m Working On. The Renegade Count, naturally. I’m about 6,000 words in to the latest Minstrels of Skaythe novella, and feeling worried about where the plot is going… or not going. But my anxiety is typical for this stage of a novel, so I think I have a shot at finishing it before April, which is my goal.

What’s Next? In two weeks, or a little less, I’m doing a virtual convention. RadCon is a science fiction convention that I attend in person most years. This year will be online. I’m going to do a few panels and help with a virtual room party. It’s my first time participating in this way, and I’ve ordered a new webcam to make it look better. So here’s hoping it goes well.

Hey! Since it’s online, you might be able to join in some of my events. It’s even FREE! Here’s a link if you’re interested.

Fun and Games. Fallout 4 and Animal Crossing. What can I say? I like a game where I get to build things.

Speaking of building things, I’ve started pre-planning for this year’s garden. I set up my small greenhouse/cold frame over the weekend. It promptly blew down. Guess I need more bricks!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

This will be a plotting day for me. You could call it outlining, but it’s a little more free-form than that. Basically, I believe that people react based on emotion rather than intellect. So to carry The Renegade Count forward, I’ll look at the events that have already happened and ask myself what the characters are feeling about them.

Based on that, I’ll generate as many ideas as I can. Some of them may be so obvious that it would be unrealistic not to use them. But if so, I’ll try to find ways to make them more interesting and unpredictable. Above all, I don’t want to write a story that’s boring!

The other thing that’s going on is, we got a new china cabinet. We’d noticed that our old one was starting lean over. Fortunately, it was leaning into a corner, so we knew it wouldn’t fall. Last weekend we wandered through antique malls until we found one that would fit into the limited space. At the moment, all our stoneware and glassware is currently arrayed on the dining room table. We also have some small appliances that need to not be packed onto our kitchen counter. Later today, we’ll decide what goes in the hutch and what we don’t need to keep around.

Fun times, right?


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

You know what they say… Two steps forward, one step back? The Renegade Count is feeling a bit like that. I work on some stuff, then I think of something I hadn’t before. After which, I have to go back and account for whatever it is.

The knot I’m currently picking at is about revealing too much of Yamaya’s background, too soon. Not that I want to deceive the readers in an unfair way, but holding back a little can be a very effective technique. Give them a few pieces of information and let them try to figure it out before I come out with it. If they guessed right, they’ll be pleased with themselves. If they guessed wrong, they’ll be delightfully surprised.

In her initial POV section, Yamaya told major pieces of her back story right away. My task of the moment is to snip some of that out and work it into a conversation with Berisan slightly later in the story. I’ve always found conversations a really effective means of revealing character while also giving back story. So I need to avoid tipping my hand too soon.

That’s the approach I’ll be taking tonight — as soon as I finish this blog!


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »