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Sand and Ash 28: Second Thoughts

This chapter was written at a point where my life was rapidly getting stressed. My wife was pregnant with our third baby but we were still standing in the shadows of the miscarriage from the second that happened earlier in May. There were a lot of danger signs for this pregnancy, including things that justified going to the emergency room and doctors.

Every moment, I was afraid she was going to tell me we lost the baby and that shoved me into depression. Since I don’t really have a social structure to help with that, I went with the only thing I did have: I wrote. These chapters reflect that mood, all of my fears of losing a child and the general weight of being depressed.

Looking back at the chapter, I can see where I borrowed from other incidents of depression my life, including the time when I seriously considered suicide during high school. I still remember the visceral moments of those days: the walking alone because I had effectively been pushed aside in my social circles, the ostracization that happened when a kid was suspended from school for slamming my head into a locker, and the death threats that followed. I got nasty comments when I was at my locker. Some of the students would rev their engines and drive off the road just to make me jump out of the way.

I didn’t have a place after that, at least that is what it felt like, and no one to turn to for help. I was just… there but not there, “dead” like Rutejìmo is in my story. I think some of the idea of how banyosiōu reflect back to that time.

I didn’t have many friends in high school. The people I was closest to were the teachers, but there is a gap that no student or teacher could bridge. They had to always keep me at arm length, which means I felt I couldn’t get the help I needed. At home, I didn’t really have a support structure because I didn’t know what I needed or what I was going through. I had to figure it out myself because I felt that no one could help me. I’m sure there were, but I didn’t know it at the time. I didn’t trust anyone around me to talk about these things, not to be as honest as I needed to be. So, I ended up internalizing it as I wandered alone in crowded hallways.

This was twenty-three years ago. While depression continues to pluck at my life constantly, I’ve learned to manage it.

My love of writing really came from this period. I wrote because it kept me away from that abyss. I wrote because it could get the things in my head out on the page and let me have peace at night. In all honesty, the reason I’m still here is simply because I found that it didn’t hurt anymore when I wrote.

As a parent, I also realize I have to show my boys that I’ll always be willing to listen. Not to mock or shove it aside, but to listen and help. But, I suspect no one realized that I was struggling and I’m afraid it could happen to my own boys. More importantly, I’m afraid I won’t see it coming. Terrified of that, actually. Among other things.

Flight of the Scions 10: The Boar Hunt Inn

And for more cheerful topics.

This has to be one of my favorite places in my world, The Boar Hunt Inn in chapter ten. It is a large inn somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Expensive, decked out, and with characters that have distinctive personalities.

The idea of the Boar Hunt Inn is that it is the midpoint between two large cities. Later, it will become a much larger junction and a lot of money to Falkin, but at the moment, it is nothing more than the country’s largest rest stop.

I have a lot of story ideas for this place, but at the moment, it’s just a random stop in Kanéko’s life. This isn’t the furthest she’s going to get away from her home in years. That would be too easy since we are only a third into the novel.

We’ll be going here a lot for Kanéko’s story, not only this book but for the three after it too.

For patrons, I’ve posted a few chapters ahead for Flight of the Scions. So, enjoy and let me know what you think.
After seven years of basically secret negotiations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is starting the rounds of getting signed.

I don’t think it should.

There are a few reasons for this, but I consider them rather big ones. I may not be the clearest in explaining it, but I still think it is important because this is a really big agreement that affects most of the world and it doesn’t benefit anyone besides corporations. It doesn’t help creators like me, it doesn’t help consumers. It takes the general populace into spending more and more money just to feed corporations.

The EFF has a really good set of pages on this also. They say a lot of good things about this, not to mention:

The Washington Post and also here.

Creative Commons and here.

truthdig

Secrecy

I’ve been watching TPP since 2009 or so. The one thing that I noticed was that only companies and governments were involved in the process. There didn’t appear to be anyone representing the common person, the folks who aren’t obscenely rich or have multi-billion dollar companies behind them. Attempts to get advocates involved had failed, meetings were kept secret, and the only reason we know about half of what went on was through Wikikeaks and other whistle-blowers.

While you may not agree with Wikileaks, I think they had served an important part about telling people about things they should know.

I don’t think something that affects a significant amount of manufacturing, trade, and deals across the entire globe should be done in secret. You know why? Because politics should be in the open. We should be able to debate and discuss it. More importantly, if companies are allowed to represent their interests in a binding treaty, why aren’t the consumers?

Probably the biggest argument is that it would be embroiled in massive debate and would never get done. It is far easier to make a decision when the people who are harmed by it aren’t even allowed to know about it.

Intellectual Property

Most of the terms in the TPP, I can’t really talk about. However, intellectual property is one of them. You can find a decent summary of those terms on Wikipedia.

For this, I’ll point to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. I continue to feel that the DMCA is a horrible thing. Most people don’t even encounter it, mainly because they don’t realize that it affects them.

TPP basically continues it. If there is a vulnerability in Windows 10 that lets someone download all of your personal data? You can’t investigate or report it because it is protected by DRM. If Sony decided to install a root-kit on their CDs that lets people hack your computer (they did), guess what? It’s illegal to figure it out.

I really hate the inability to look at the world. Keurig (the coffee pod place) and HP have DRM controls on their coffee pods (it reads codes) and ink cartridges purely to ensure you have to pay full price for coffee and ink. In effect, it is used to prevent people from making cheaper alternatives, which also means it attacks the Maker movement, which is something I really think is important.

DMCA says that if I make a video and post it on YouTube, but it involves EDM dancing to music, it can get pulled down for infringement. Or companies can use it to take down critical reviews or comments about their products. Or high school teachers can’t really show clips of broadcasts because it violates rules. I did an entire presentation on the Hero’s Journey for college using clips from Star Wars; these days, that is illegal even though it made the point.

TPP doesn’t make that better. It makes it universal. It makes a concept of preventing competition, discourse, and debate illegal because it would harm business.

Creativity

I have also made it clear that I dislike the business practices of Disney and the Tolkien Estate (among others) because they do everything to protect their property so they don’t have competition.

Creativity is important but it is also based on the stuff already there. How many authors started with fan-fiction or scribbling their favorite character on a piece of paper. The better ones sell at least the art at con shows, something that “steals” money from companies.

It looks like, and I honestly can’t read that much, TPP basically gives a much more forceful prevention of that but also makes the punishment far more severe. So, the people who got started creating fan creations are not preventing others from the doing the same.

And maybe a show’s creator doesn’t mind it, but what about the production company? Or the distributor?

First Sale

Article 4.2 provides that rights holders may authorize or prohibit parallel imports.

In March 2013, the United States Supreme Court decided in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. that the first-sale doctrine applies to works manufactured outside the United States, establishing the legality of parallel imports.

The above is a bit hard to explain. Basically, someone bought something in one country where it was cheaper and brought it into another country to sell it for less than the same product was being sold for a much higher price. The supreme court say that was acceptable because we have the first-sale doctrine which says once you buy it, the person who makes it can’t control it anymore.

There appears to be a lot of things going against the first-sale doctrine in this treaty? Why? Because companies don’t like it. Used car sales, used book sales, selling back college books? Those are all first-sale.

In the computer field (after an Autocad ruling), we are seeing that? The push for cloud services such as Office 365 and Google Docs? Those aren’t really there to make your life easier, they are there to get a steady income money from you. Photoshop costs $250 and you used to buy a used copy for $50. Now, you must get it online at the wonderful price of $40 a month ($480/year).

I still remember when I was young and I heard an author ranting about how all second-hand bookstores should be closed down because he was losing money on the sales. That’s first sale.

Ebay? Yeah, almost entirely first-sale doctrine and parallel imports. Same with half the stuff I buy on Amazon (new chargers for the computer and phones).

Do you know that most software costs outside of the US are much higher? This prevents you from buying something in the US and selling it. Which means the prices can stay high because there is no competition. Want the reverse? Drug prices outside of the US are much less, sometimes by orders of magnitude. But we pay more because we are locked into the market.

The above stuff hits me the hardest with movies. I am frequently disconnected from the Internet. When we want to watch a movie, pulling it off the DVD is great, but DVDs are fragile and easily broken. Netflix works unless Mediacom decides to make it slower (the whole Net Neutrality thing) or they decide that I have to pay an extra $50/month because I exceeded bandwidth watching shows. DVDs don’t have that problem, but then I can only play them on authorized devices that have poor remotes, UI, or don’t work with modern hardware. If I want to put it on my phone to occupy the boys in line? Nope, DRM and illegal.

Again, TPP just continues that. And makes the punishment worse. That doesn’t help us, that helps profits.

Copyright

With regard to copyright, the TPP requires that signatories establish “term of protection of a work (including a photographic work), performance, or phonogram” of: 70 years following the death of a natural person; for a non-natural person the term is “not less than 95 years from the end of the calendar year of the first authorized publication of the work, performance of phonogram.” “Failing such authorized publication within 25 years from the creation of the work, performance, or phonogram, not less than 120 years from the end of the calendar year of creation.” This language is duplicated only in the Oman-US FTA (2006).

I hate this one so much. I don’t think a century is reasonable protection. I think 20-30 years is pushing it. My main reasons is that mean you don’t have to create anything new. You have years and years that prevents even similiar items from being created, new versions of it. Half of Disney’s movies are from the public domain, but they won’t give up the rights themselves.

I think a generation past someone’s death is reasonable, not a lifetime.

And yes, that applies to me. I asked SMWM if she would be willing to let me expire my copyrights 28 years after I died. You know why? I can’t do it. The only way I could come close is to have “the intent is to release…” or create an entire foundation not to let people access what I create.

Why? Because I want to be read. I want people to see what I’ve made and maybe have it touch their lives. Not to have it tied back where it is most profitable for someone or (in almost every other case) dropped on the floor to be forgotten forever.

TPP just makes that worse.

Public Domain

I think public domain is important for our culture. It isn’t just stories that Disney turned into movies (Snow White, Cinderella, Peter Pan), but all the things that have gone into who we as a culture are. The Sony Bono Act just made things worse by starving public domain to protect corporate interests and TPP just seems to be making it even worse to get those culturally-important things into everyone’s hands instead of using them as perpetual piggy banks.

I feel that all the acts of creativity that would have gone into public domain is a terrible loss.

Open Source

I’m an open-source developer. I strongly believe in the movement because it has brought us things like Firefox, Chrome, Libreoffice. One of the biggest is that open-source can be reviewed for flaws. It can be trusted with far less effort because it is open.

Prohibit Open Source Mandates: With no good rationale, the agreement would outlaw a country from adopting rules for the sale of software that include mandatory code review or the release of source code. This could inhibit countries from addressing pressing information security problems, such as widespread and massive vulnerability in closed-source home routers.

(From the EFF site.)

Shadowrun and Snow Crash

I marked this as Shadowrun because the idea of mega-corporations have a foundation in deal likes this? You know who the bad guys are in those fictions? Corporations because all they do is use. I’m not saying a game or a book is right, but it shouldn’t be a how-to guide.

In some ways, TPP is basically companies making a crime to ruin their profits. And that sounds just like Shadowrun to me.

My own stories talk about the same thing, the cost per second for housing in Casting Call is one example. It bothers me, mainly because I think that is what is going to happen.

Deals like these should benefit people, not simply make more money, remove rights, make trying to find cheaper alternatives criminal, and stifle creativity.
As much as these stories have similar starts, there are also large sections where they aren’t alike at all. The two chapters this week is one of those moments as the two stories reflection where they are: Rutejìmo’s story is almost over and Kanéko’s is just beginning.

I once read that Jim Butcher alternates between brutalizing Harry Dresden and giving him an easier time. It seems like I do the same thing, though when I originally submitted this, the writing group felt I was just beating on poor Rutejìmo and Kanéko the entire time. I don’t think so, there are highlights too.

Sand and Ash 27: Two Months Later

This chapter jumps a lot of time, two months. These aren’t quite the same months as we live. I created the calendar for the world a few years ago to help with this scene (and to post in a Reddit contest).

This is the beginning of the end of the novel, the move to the final setting. It wasn’t by his choice, and you can see that a number of people were involved in forcing him to move.

In hindsight, I should have written one or two more chapters between this and the previous chapter. Two months is a long time, but there were a lot of heartbreaks and struggles as he learned how to survive on the streets.

I didn’t for intuitive reasons, ones that I doubt every time I read the chapter but then remember when I consider changing it. My gut feeling is that I did the right thing by not having those chapters in here.

Rutejìmo’s two months of living on the streets were critical to his life, but they were also secondary. He didn’t make friends, he didn’t establish relationships. He struggled to put food in his belly and find shelter, but ultimately those were secondary to the one thing important in his life: Mapábyo.

It would have been 1-3 chapters of him not living life, just mechanically going through the motions as he got caught in a cycle of “survive until Mapábyo comes back” and then “love Mapábyo as much as he could” before going back to survival.

That kind of cycle destroys someone, it burns them out. I know what happened during those two months. I know when he considered suicide. I have the scenes where he is begging for food. Even what he and Mapábyo did when they were together.

Ultimately, they aren’t in the story. Neither Rutejìmo or Mapábyo evolve. They don’t change, they don’t struggle beyond the basic tier of surviving. So, I cut it. Maybe I’ll show it from a point of view that does, maybe I won’t.

If enough people insist it belongs in the story, though, I’ll put it in anyways.

Flight of the Scions 9: Archery Lessons

Chapter nine points out one of my favorite parts of writing teenagers: making really stupid mistakes. I like it mainly because I made those mistakes and I still remember the self-satisfied smirks on people’s faces but not realizing that there was nothing they could say that would prevent me from making them.

Kanéko is in the middle of a train wreck, the reader knows what is going to happen but she doesn’t. The thing is, as bright as she is, there are things that she doesn’t know how to handle. After spending her entire life sheltered at her father’s keep and being told she had to be protected because she’s damage makes it hard to resist when something changes for the better. Affection is a powerful thing to someone who doesn’t realize that it is skin deep.

I feel that this and the last chapter should have someone screaming in the theory, “don’t go into there, you idiot” but it is a painful lesson that actually will affect her for better part of four books.

So, an important mistake to say the least.

This is another chapter that I cut entirely. Which was the wrong thing since horseback archery is very important to later events. Actually, the entire bow thing is, but I felt that the later challenges were diminished without showing her struggling and improving here.
As I’m going through these chapters a week at a time, I keep seeing parallels between the two stories. This week, both Flight of the Scions and Sand and Ash deal with an elder trying to pass advice to the main characters. The difference is that Garèo is telling Kanéko that she is making a mistake and Gichyòbi is telling Rutejìmo that he is on the right path.

The desert culture doesn’t like to say things explicitly. For the most part, if Kanéko was in the desert, not magically dead, or being half-white, her clan would be finding ways to keep her away from Pahim. Subtle ways, like sending her to a different part of town or finding ways to occupy her. They wouldn’t say “you are making a mistake.”

Before Garèo fled the desert, he would have done the same thing. The problem is that Garèo isn’t in the desert. He doesn’t have a clan to help him. He doesn’t have the respect that comes with being an elder that would make it easier. Not to mention, he is struggling with herding the other teenagers and taking charge of the trip (many adults find this specific trip to be obnoxious and a waste of time and money). He doesn’t have time to deal with Kanéko’s rebellion other than to warn her about larger mistakes she is about to make.

Sand and Ash 26: Return to Wamifuko City

This chapter is a rough one. While it mostly building characters, it is also setting out much of the rest of the plot for the rest of the novel. Hopefully, with hindsight, going back to this chapter will point that out.

Like Mikáryo, Gichyòbi knows that Rutejìmo is becoming something more. His wife also knows, because she is also an elder like her husband, but Rutejìmo doesn’t know it. The Wamifuko believe in the present world and the hidden stone beneath the mouth. She is the stone that he stands on.

I love showing a couple that has been married for years and are still in love. I think it shows there is hope, but I also wanted a functional relationship since so much of fantasy involved ruined families. Gichyòbi loves his children even though they were sired by someone else. He treats them as more important than anything else and will die for him.

Flight of the Scions 8: Camping Partners

Chapter eight was one of the chapters cut when I tried to reduce the book from 220k words down to 100k. I had a quote on editing that was in the fifteen thousand dollar range and I got hit by a bunch of sticker shock. I ranted about it on Twitter and Maggie Stiefvater gave me a name of a good editor who would do it for considerably less.

I screwed up that referral. I really did. I contacted the editor and got it scheduled, but then at WisCon, I met up with another editor who was willing to do it for a little less. I sent an email to the first one and ask for feedback. She didn’t answer for three weeks (24 days actually), so I gave the job to the second one.

That ended… poorly for me.

At the same time, I don’t think I can go back to the first one. So, I basically burned a bridge (though I was polite as I could) because I wasn’t patient enough.

Between that incident, the fallout that followed, and the Immerse or Die review, I pretty much can’t get a book out. I know that I’m flawed when it comes to writing and I need an editor. Every time someone gets 40:00 at Immerse or Die, I’m hit with this envy that I was nine minutes shy because I didn’t create a good enough book and get it edited. I didn’t go with someone who could help me and I don’t seem to be able to fix the flaws myself. That is one reason I’m so picky about the cover and the editing, but at the same time, that is also what is holding me back.
Occasional, these two serials touch on similar topics. This week, it’s sex, though in much different contexts.

Sand and Ash 25: Mikáryo

This chapter is about the one thing that has been keeping Rutejìmo going for years: Mikáryo. It was his crush for her that gave him hope when the rest of his clan and the world ground him down. Actually, there were at least one point (which I haven’t written about) where he almost killed himself but it was his hope for her that kept him going.

I have moments like that in my head as I build up characters, but they won’t always get written. And there are some very dark points in everyone’s life, just like all of ours.

Now, the problem is that Mikáryo has turned him away. He doesn’t know that she is crying at the same time as this chapter, wracked by her own guilt for what she did.

Fortunately for him, Mapábyo is curious about what drew Rutejìmo to Mikáryo. She knows about her own crush on him but it was born from a different source that Rutejìmo’s for Mikáryo’s. Mapábyo was drawn to Rutejìmo’s kindness, as demonstrated by the early chapter of Sand and Blood but also by his drive to keep going. He never gave up, even when he is the slowest, the weakest, and the most insulted of the clan, he kept going. That is actually one of his strongest virtues, as it were, unstoppable.

There is also curiosity about sex. Rutejìmo’s first was Mikáryo, who taught him the basics of intercourse but also gave him a “general overview” of human sexuality as a whole. Desòchu did the same, but he was more prescriptive of the “correct” way to do things. This, of course, reflects the personalities of the two warriors in general; people are rarely different in bed than they are with the rest of the world.

Of course, now it is up to Rutejìmo and Mapábyo to find their own “way” when it comes to sex. It is a blending of multiple cultures, both the two young adult’s personalities but also the “seed” of possibilities that they were given by the warriors.

Desòchu, of course, would have rather, Chimípu been Rutejìmo’s first because it was within the clan but also because Chimípu was introduced to the same, relatively strict, manner as Desòchu (he was Chimípu’s first also).

But, Rutejìmo got Mikáryo who is very deviant compared to the straight-laced Desòchu. And that means that both Rutejìmo and Mapa may end up a bit more adventurous than he would have liked. Not that it would ever show up as a problem… *cough*.

Topics like this are why I was afraid of Sand and Blood being marked as a Young Adult novel. The sequel is not a young adult and has some pretty dark points that I have never read in a YA novel before. But, if the first book in a series is YA, how can you say the next one isn’t? Yeah, I could always write characters in their twenties, but I like starting in the teenage years. Things that happen there influence someone in their twenties and thirties just as much as starting later.

Flight of the Scions 7: An Ally

Over in chapter seven, Kanéko is having trouble of her own as she learns about the bigger world around her while dealing with the false knowledge of being a teenager. She’s a bright girl, but she hasn’t experienced the world.

This chapter has a fairly decent sexual undercurrent here, but it is much more unfocused than Rutejìmo’s story. The main reason is Kanéko is young and doesn’t know what she wants. She went from a sheltered girl who rarely saw more than twenty people in a month to having a cute guy paying attention to her just when everything else feels like it is going wrong.

There is also the jealousy because Maris has some features that Kanéko wished she had. The world is coming out of a Rubenesque era as it enters the Victorian age and most of the “pretty” pictures she’s been daydreaming about have women with lots of curves. Maris is one of those girls, with large breasts, wide hips, and an innocence that Kanéko doesn’t have. I guess finding out that she has no magic and feeling like her father had abandoned her is one way of dragging someone down.

The biggest difference is that Kanéko will never have a crush like Rutejìmo. She has her own drive and pulls herself up, standing up on her own simply because she has to. These are two very different lives, though they start in similar manners.

For subscribers, I posted another two chapters but I skipped two. This week hasn’t been a good one for writing, too many different projects and a brand new puppy has made it almost impossible to write. The missing chapters were resurrected from a previous version, back when I was trying to cut 100k words from the novel. Since I moved to a single point of view story (Kanéko’s), I thought it would be appropriate to put these two chapters back. Since I haven’t gotten to cleaning them up, I posted the ones past it.
It was a fairly good week when it came to writing. I’ve started working on editing ahead of time, mainly to finish things, but also because this is turning out to be a writing week.

For patrons, I did find a bug in EPUB, MOBI, and PDF generation for all subscribers. All of the files have been updated if you have downloaded them.

Next week should have at least one or two new chapters being posted for subscribers. The password didn’t change because there were no new patrons.

Sand and Ash 24: Tijikóse

This chapter is an introspective chapter for poor Rutejìmo. He found the love of his life and they are traveling together. He knows what society expects of him and he gets a chance to practice it among clans who have already accepted him.

It’s a good chapter.

Flight of the Scions 6: Germudrir Mill

When I wrote Wind, Bear, and Moon (now known as Flight of the Scions), I decided to include a dog-aspected girl as one of the main characters. Much of this was inspired by my love of anime, but it made the transition to Fedran relatively untouched.

The history of dalpre (animal people) changed, however. Fedran is a bit darker of a world so the dalpre were a species of humans that were magically altered to have animal aspects to assist in serving others. In other words, a slave race. As I see it, the dalpre were that way of thousands of years until society slowly came to the realization that they were people to. This mimics some of the revelations that our world has taken when it comes to various races without singling any specific one for purposes of the story.

During the point of Flight of the Scions, the dalpre had been freed across most of the continent for just over twenty years. Salcid was a young man at the time (I have a story about his and the mill’s freedom). Maris is the first generation that had spent her entire life not being a slave, but she still has a chip on her shoulder because everyone reminds her that she shouldn’t have been free. Not to mention, reminding her that she is less than human because she has canine ears and a tail.

Unlike the image for this post, Maris is not slender. She is overweight, short, and curvy. She is also very strong, a dirty fighter, and prone to believing that fights should be ended with her on top. She also thinks that most fights with men should consist of groin, throat, and knee shots. And the fight doesn’t end when someone falls, it is just time to remind them to never attack again.

If I had written this novel last year, I could have said that she was modeled after Violet of Rat Queens, but let’s be honest, she’s loosely based on my wife. And I’m proud of both of their brutalities. Of course, she isn’t as uneducated or simple as Maris, but I had to start somewhere.

If you are interested in chapter six, become a patron and start reading.

As a side note, “germudri” means “dog type-of wood”. Actually, Kanéko’s name is also symbolic: “lurcukla” means “full moon” which is a nod to the original character’s moon-based healing powers.

2015 Writing Income

Last year, I did a post on writing income throughout the entire year. It wasn’t exactly the shining example of “success” but it was progress when it came to writing.

I’m doing the same thing again for 2015, just not in as much detail. The main reason I’m focusing on progress over time is that the data was getting a bit obnoxious. Not to mention, it probably wouldn’t be as useful.

Some of the numbers changed from last year, mainly because I spent my New Year’s Eve re-entering all writing accounting from 2002 into a proper accounting software (GnuCash) but with a focus on individual projects instead of everything as a whole. So, the numbers I’m talking about are net after income from royalties and expenses for advertisement, editing, and illustration.

Because of how most accounting works, you typically don’t leave year after year in the same file. Since I’m working with limited data, I kept it in a single file but then had to extract it. Since I’ve been working with NodeJS, I wrote a program that parses the gzip-compressed XML data and pull out an annual breakdown of each project. Well, it does month too but it wasn’t as useful or pretty.

In 2015, I made a net profit of $978.10. It isn’t that much of money compared to others, but I have to remember that I’m really only working against myself. In that case, it was a good year since my net monies since 2002 is $3,365.58. This means that this year had contributed to almost a third of my current all-time profits.

In the above graph, the red line was the net profits over time. Now, these projects includes the expenses and income, which means many of my initial books were negatives since I paid for editing and covers. It also means that when I bought a large block of ISBN numbers, it lowered my profits for the year.

In 2015, my project could be broken down into the following:

As usual, the bulk of my writing income ($1,356.22) comes from commissions and ghost writing.

This pretty much paid for what ended up being a major change in my writing, which is publishing other authors as part of Broken Typewriter Press. It was fun, but I made a few mistakes (two significant typos that caused recalls) but I’m getting better at it. Hopefully it will start to come out of the hole, but this is still in the early years and the $-632.47 won’t be an general trend.

I wasn’t able to get a second book out in 2015. There were a lot of reasons for that, but it was something I knew would happen. Sand and Ash only needs editing and a cover to get it out, but I had other obligations and projects that made it unreasonable. At the end of the year, I decided to use Patreon to help get my books out. I started rather late, so in 2015, only one person gave me $50.00 toward it, but hopefully that will change in 2016 (it already has).

I also had a number of friends who are really helping me get readers and I have to thank Shannon, Cassie, Tyree, and Barb for that.

And to the one book I do have out: Sand and Blood. Looking at the yearly breakdown, it isn’t exactly a good year for having a book out, I only made $83.70, but it was the first year that I had a profit for the year, so I can’t honestly argue. That brings the net value of Sand and Blood to $-1,255.37.

Well, that’s my 2015. It isn’t exactly an example of a shining success but it is an improvement that is the only thing I can aim for. At the minimum, my writing should bring in more money that it costs. And, given that I’ve been doing this steadily since 2002, I’m going to say that I’m just leading into a slow introduction to a much bigger story.

Not unlike my novels.
Over in Sand and Ash, we hit one of my favorite chapters of the book. And on Flight of the Scions, we are one chapter away from introducing probably the most popular character in the entire book: Maris.

Sand and Ash 23: Reunion

I love this chapter for so many reasons. The biggest is Rutejìmo finally acknowledged that he loved Mapábyo to her. And, for the briefest moment, everything is right in their life as we fade into a kiss.

The theme of “falling in love” badly was important to me. I wanted a story of fumbled declarations, messy fights, and the struggle to realize that there might be someone out there. I don’t believe in soul mates or even life partners (my spouse disagrees on the last one), but there is the “good enough” that sometimes lasts decades if not centuries. But, it is rarely the clean falling in love of the movies with their non-issues mostly driven by communication.

Rutejìmo and Mapábyo will fight in the future, outside of the purview of stories. She will hit him and throw things, he won’t hit her back; he is fully a pacifist at this point. They will scream and storm away.

But in this point, this one moment, they kissed.

This is humanity at its best. Look at them. All that anger, all that mistrust, all that unhappiness… forgotten, for that one perfect moment when they get off the plane. — Bartleby, Dogma

And I love that.

Now, it took me forty-three thousand words to get here but this isn’t the end. The world doesn’t get better just because of that kiss. He is dead after all.

Flight of the Scions 5: Lesson Plans

The fifth chapter is a transition, an introspection scene. It gives Garèo and Kanéko a chance to talk to each other and hopefully get a little more idea of why they are going on the trip, what is Garèo doing outside of the desert, and pointing out that Kanéko really has had a cozy by sheltered life.

What doesn’t come up much in this book is that Ronamar, Kanéko’s father, had a marriage before Mioráshi and Kanéko. They were killed trying to get to him and he ended up having a rather impressive war with his neighbor. Some of the cut chapters talk about it, but he met Mioráshi during that battle when he hired a bunch of desert mercenaries to help with the offensive. It just happened that the foul-mouthed daughter of the mercenary leader hit all of his right buttons. Repeatedly. When the desert mercenaries returned to the desert, Mioráshi was pregnant with Kanéko and decided to stay behind.

One thing about Mioráshi is that she really isn’t prepared to be a mother. She was young (early twenties) when she had Kanéko and spent most of her life with rather impressive combat skills and only judged on her ability to blow holes through walls. She does her best, which is one reason why Garèo is here.

All these details were cut from the book. Yeah, there are references to them, but I’ll probably put more into Kin-Killer and Ronamar’s novel (if I write it). I have no intent of writing a full novel for Mioráshi, but maybe a story or two.

Until then, enjoy the stories. Flight of the Scions is a patron only serial. The money I get from patrons will go into editing and commissioning a cover for these two books.
There are a few things this week but the two chapters aren’t really related to each other.

Sand and Ash 22: The Ghost

This chapter is a bridge chapter between two significant events in poor Rutejìmo’s life. If we consider the stages of death as part of Rutejimo’s acceptance to his new life, then this would be leading into the acceptance phase. Of course, there will be some rough points in the future, but that should be fun.

I like the idea of how the banyosiōu actually are treated in society. They are expected to do chores and deal with garbage, but no one can tell them that. So, everything is done with a subtle touch, without direct interaction.

Flight of the Scions 4: Waryoni Garèo

The fourth chapter introduces one of the more interesting characters in Flight of the Scions. Actually, Garèo ended up dominating the original version of Flight, which contributed to the struggles I had trying to trim down the 220k words of that version.

In the end, his story ended up being so significant that I couldn’t remove his adventures. At the same time, I couldn’t cut the novel in half either. So, I broke it into another novel called Kin-Killer. The events of Kin-Killer aren’t a prequel or a sequel but events at the same time; in effect, this is the biggest reason I realized I wanted to write R5-D4 Plots.

Garèo’s full story isn’t going to happen in this novel. There will be bits and pieces, but Kanéko would never get the full answer because I plan on having another novel talking about his personal struggles during the same events. Will it work? I don’t know, but I think it will be fun to find out.

As for the events in the chapter? Well, Kanéko tries to hide her chest filled with tools and Garèo almost catches her.
There are a few things this week but the two chapters aren’t really related to each other.

Sand and Ash 21: Silence

This chapter was the point where I finally realized the “how” of Rutejìmo’s fate. And it wasn’t just for this book but the next one too, a grand plot that would completely ruin the point of my first novel, which was that Rutejìmo would never be a hero.

Of course, it’s kind of hard to see how nearly dying in the desert, passing out at the edge of an oasis, and having an old man give you pity would be consider the first steps of being one, but here it is. I see it now, looking at the book, seeing what he is does in this chapter leads up to the final chapter of the third book.

This also is the chapter that I realized how the “dead” work. Originally, I got the idea for the banyosiōu was from poor descriptions of the caste system in some cultures. The lowest caste were the unclean, those who dealt with garbage and corpses. In my world, it is the ones ostracized from their clan who are responsible for those things.

Of course, that led into why they weren’t obvious. Well, that lead into being unseen. The banyosiōu are non-people which means there is societal pressure to treat them as they don’t exist. People look the other way in fears of their own clan bonds behind dissolved. They aren’t touched because their hands work with garbage and corpses. In effect, they are non-people who cannot be talked to.

But how do you tell a banyosiōu what to do? How do they function in society if they can’t be acknowledged or spoken to? Well, we’ll see that over the next few chapters.

Flight of the Scions 3: A Simple Lie

The third chapter is where things to from bad to worse for Kanéko. After the explosion of the stables and her father’s declaration that she would never be able to work with mechanical devices again, she was pretty devastated. The idea of finding out that you were good at something and then being told you can’t do it after some mistake can be rather hard.

In high school, I loved helping the computer lab. I was good at computers and programming. I spent most of my hours in there, cleaning up computers and just being helpful. I was given a chance to become the official assistant which was one of the brightest days of my high school times.

And then something happened. Someone got access to the root password and ruined a lot of machines. I didn’t do it and I was sure I didn’t show the password to someone who did, but it didn’t matter. I took the blame and was banned from the computer lab.

My mother helped get the banned overturned but I was never allowed to officially help the ladies in the lab again. That single moment was the end, the point where I was told I couldn’t do something that tied two of my favorite things together: working with computers and helping others.

Of course in my world, I didn’t steal computers to keep programming. I had them at home and parents who encouraged me every day. Kanéko, on the other hand, didn’t have a PC at home, so she did the only thing she could: she took her tools with the intent of going back to her one true passion when her father wasn’t looking. Of course, when she gets caught by her foul-mouthed mother (I love the idea of her mom swearing constantly in two languages), there is only one thing to do: lie, lie, lie.

I also made two more chapters of Flight of the Scions available for subscribers.