Posts Tagged ‘Minstrels of Skaythe’

Today I’m visiting with David Lee Summers on his blog. The topic is fantastic settings. I hope you’ll join us there!

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Dancer in the Grove of Ghosts continues the Minstrels of Skaythe series. In a world of dark magic, the minstrels seek to restore a forbidden power — hope!

Book cover for Dancer in the Grove of Ghosts

Dancer in the Grove of Ghosts

“He’s dead. He just doesn’t know it yet.”

Mortally wounded, Cylass is abandoned on the battlefield by comrades who would just as soon have him out of the way. But as he waits for death, a strange savior appears. The dancer, Tisha, heals him with her forbidden magic, but also draws the wrath of his cruel former lord.

Soon guardsman and renegade mage are on the run. Will Cylass help Tisha, as she helped him? Or will he do the smart thing, and turn her over to the vicious Count Ar-Dayne?

Now that the book is live, I hope you’ll consider the modest $5 purchase. I am still seeking opportunities to blog about Dancer in the Grove of Ghosts, and or course, all reviews would be much appreciated!

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Yes! I have finished a non-skeletal and satisfying first draft of Fang Marsh. The novella came in at 33,500 words. The other Minstrels of Skaythe novellas are 32,000 words (The Tower in the Mist) and 38,000 words (The Cursed Grove), so Fang Marsh fits right in at its length.

That said, I’m pondering whether to take a stab at the second draft now. If I give myself 2 weeks, I should still have plenty of time to set up The Cursed Grove for Thanksgiving weekend. There’s a good use in letting stories rest between drafts, but I’m inclined to work on the issues I’m already aware of in Fang Marsh, and let it rest after that.

First of all, I’m changing the title, which I’ve known all along that I would. It’s going to be The Ice Witch of Fang Marsh. The title character is based on one from an RPG who was The Ice Witch. Yes, like The Batman, everyone knew her as The Ice Witch. Although Meven is not exactly the same character, the name/title has a good ring and I’d like to keep that.

Meven herself will be a main focus of this revision. Her character is kind of all over the place. The original Ice Witch was actually not icy, but funny and snarky. Meven spends too much time being scared and emotionally shut in. I plan to organize her and create a nice arc from the anxious fugitive to the confident and sarcastic Ice Witch I knew and loved.

Her foundling, currently named Elldry, is going to be called something with a stronger rhythm. With find-and-replace, that will be an easy fix. His personal arc will also be firmed up, but doesn’t need as much work as Meven’s.

Finally, there is currently a distinct lack of fangs in Fang Marsh. The previous two Minstrels of Skaythe novels each featured some sort of giant creature. They just pop, you know? So I will be looking to add a confrontation with something big and fanged, which will deepen the relationship between Meven and her hopeful boyfriend, Shonn, as they both save Elldry from it.

All that in two weeks? No sweat! *sarcasm*

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I’ve been working through some serious questions for the last few weeks, so I thought I’d lighten up this time and just chat about what I’m working on.

I’ve nearly finished the first draft of my novella, Fang Marsh. I say nearly because, while I’ve reached “the end,” the last quarter of the book is very rough. I skeleton-drafted through it in order to get to “the end.” Now I have to go back and fill in the gaps. Fully describe, amp up emotions, make motivations clear, all that stuff. It should take me another week or so. I’m looking for about 35,000 words, a really good length for a novella.

After that, I’m switching over to the self-publishing process on my second Minstrels of Skaythe novella, The Cursed Grove. I’ve been thinking of a Thanksgiving release for it, but it could be ready sooner. With curses in the title, it could even be a Hallowe’en book. That might be pushing it, since this isn’t a standard horror novel. So that’s something I’ll have to decide.

I’m also working on various non-writing projects around the house. The garden season is basically over, which means I begin taking things down and prepping beds for winter. In addition, we decided to slowly transition our yard from mostly lawn, which takes a lot of care and feeding, to a more sustainable landscape. This requires digging out beds, laying pathways, transplanting, and so on. It’s hard work, but fun.

I hope all of you are working hard but having fun, too.

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I mentioned that as Fang Marsh develops I have to make some decisions about the plot and the outcome. The most significant of these is about the magic my mages wield.

In the series, Minstrels of Skaythe, mages rule the land through fear and oppression. Their power is based on lethentros, an energy born from entropy and death itself. Because their source is so dark, it inevitably destroys them. Either another mage kills them to seize their power, or they go mad and their own power consumes them.

The Minstrels, who seek to bring hope to the land, use a different energy. Their source is vitalis, the energy of pure joy and life itself. With their power, they can heal all injuries and create hope in the hopeless. However, people who are healed by them develop an attachment. They can no longer live in the despair they knew. This power to literally change who people are is a grave crime to the Minstrels.

What I have to decide is whether vitalis can cure a mage who has channeled lethentros. Meven’s foundling, Elldry, is using lethentros after experiencing a deep trauma. It makes him volatile and paranoid. Meven wants to teach him to use vitalis instead. I have to figure out if this is even possible, and what the consequences may be.

I’ll have to confront this same question at other points in the series. Enemy mages may want to seize the Minstrels’ power for themselves. Others will be offered healing and have to decide whether they want it. Ultimately, if the Minstrels confront the evil overlord, Dar-Gothull, they might try to heal him instead of fighting back. Will that work, and is it ethical?

By the end of Fang Marsh, I will have to decide what happens when vitalis meets lethentros. It should be an interesting discovery!

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This summer I’ve been plugging away at the next Minstrels of Skaythe novella, tentatively titled “Fang Marsh.” Yes, that’s the one whose title I’ve been trying to figure out. I’ll get there, eventually.

Meven, a mage who rejects her society’s cruel way of life, stumbles on a traumatized child, who is also a mage. She takes this foundling with her, hoping to save him from the madness that eventually claims most mages in Skaythe. Meven herself is very closed-in and doesn’t recognize that she might need help, too.

That was all planned. What I hadn’t planned for was a house boat full of water folk whose lives she might affect. The authorities are going to come looking for Meven. (Thus keeping up her tension and danger.) If they hide her, the consequence will be severe. I want to establish the possibility that the water folk may betray her, even though they are good and kind people.

There’s also a young man who is smitten and will keep turning up, despite her rejecting him. Shonn doesn’t know she’s a mage. I have considered that he might be the one who betrays her, after learning the truth. Or, he might be just the man she needs. I haven’t decided.

So it’s going slowly, but it’s going. What had been vague ideas and outcomes need to come into focus. And I know that they will. I’ve learned to trust my muse over the years.

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Here it is — the cover you all helped me fine-tune! The Tower in the Mist is getting closer to its publication date, on May 1st. There’s even a pre-order link if you are so inclined.

Mages vs. Warriors vs. Giant Badger vs. Tyranny! Zathi’s job is to capture renegade mages, but Keilos isn’t like any other mage she’s dealt with. Her drive to bring him in only leads them deeper into a cursed forest. Together, warrior and mage will face deadly beasts and grapple with decisions that compromise every principle. Until they stumble upon a place of ancient, forgotten magic. Zathi must choose — allow Keilos to claim it, or kill him once and for all.

Next step? I need to set up publicity and blog visits, and so I once again call on you friends for help. Some of you will soon receive e-mails asking about a visit to your blog, but I’d also love any ideas you have about other blogs I could approach. All suggestions are welcome.

I hope you’re all as excited as I am to visit the deep, dark Hornwood. Here’s that pre-order link again.

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