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This is a big chapter. Like many of my tragedy chapters, it starts with a beautiful day where everyone is happy. It doesn't end that way.

Felony Feedback

When I created the world, I wanted a reasonable reason for writing a steampunk/industrial magic world. It also had to answer the question "why haven't mages taken over the world." My answer was resonance which is where powerful magic reacts violently with all other forms of disharmonious energies. In short, powerful mages cause each other pain and artifacts explode in the presence of anyone besides their creator (or someone with a compatible resonance).

Many cities have a resonance. It comes from years of magic seeping into the rocks and wood. A necessary harmony to keep everything from exploding while still getting the benefits of magic. In the desert, it is the clan who claimed them which is why every city, valley, and built-up area is named after a specific clan. The resonance of the clan is the resonance of the area. All energies outside of that can cause destruction as artifacts explode.

There are also laws around resonance. To willfully use powerful, incompatible magic is called Felony Feedback (mashio kajudūfa). It is a crime, punishable up to death or imprisonment based on the amount of destruction that comes from using such magic in close quarters.

Up to this point, Rutejìmo's stories have been relatively isolated as I worked out the details of resonance through short stories. We had a little foray into resonance with Sand and Ash with Mapábyo running through the city but this chapter has two very high powered fighters causing all sorts of destruction. It is a logical progression and something that is going to happen a couple times in this book.

The Call

The Call is a concept that completely surprised me in Sand and Ash. I wasn't entirely sure the thought process that came out of it but it seemed like something that would have formed with the magical guardianship between clan members and their warriors.

I thought of it as hearing my children scream. Most parents can tell if a kid is just running around with high-pitched screams verses the scream of pain. More importantly, a lot of parents know that it is their kid and respond faster than just a generals scream of pain.

The Call is a magical version of that child's cry for help. The difference is that it uses more than just sound waves but also the will of the person doing the cry. It has a compulsion with it, a drive to come and help regardless of what the person is doing. It is a drive, a "must help" that is tied directly into the powers of the clan.

Warriors, like most aspects of the desert culture, have a lot more power than the non-warriors.

Rutejìmo is an exception because of his ties to the desert, we'll be seeing that later. I've written about how he is special in how other warriors treat him, that also applies to who will answer his Call.

Anime Fights

One of the things I've noticed is that a number of readers don't like it when I say my novel is anime-inspired. I'm not sure what they mean, but I usually attribute the inspiration to fight scenes that destroy scenery, a certain style of special effects, and the over-the-top nature of actions. Personally, I imagine all the characters as anime (Fairy Tail, Slayers) as I'm writing.

This is also my bucket list: to have my novels animated as an anime movie or series.

This fight shows that. The powerful parries leave concussion blasts, there are tornadoes of golden fire, and a mile-long fireball directly influenced from one of my favorite martials movies, Shaolin Soccer. When you through in massive mechanical spiders spitting fire and acid and I think I have a fun little fight.

Sand and Bone 14: Presents

Nifùni sneaks away to accept the job the rest of the clan decided to turn down. What started as a beautiful but expensive day of shopping for Rutejìmo turns violent when he has to find and save his clan member from being murdered.

Read the chapter at http://ift.tt/2iFHtX7. All of my books are free downloads at https://fedran.com/. If you like what you read, please consider becoming a patron or reviewing one of my other books. Even a dollar a month helps get this edited and properly published. Plus, you get to see how it ends now instead of waiting weeks.
There are a couple things with this chapter that I found enjoyable. It was more than the interplay of the individual characters but also how they work together.

Nudity verses sex

It was touched at the end of Sand and Bone, but public nudidity isn't a problem. It is also not automatically sexual like it is in many parts of the United States. I wanted this scene to show that but also to show how the clan works together when they travel. That includes sharing the shower areas and taking turns.

It reminds me of the shower scene in Starship Troopers. While the scene was pretty much fan-service for the viewers, the characters didn't treat it as a sexual encounter. It just was. Of course, when the US created co-ed bathrooms, it is a big deal. Same with breast-feeding in public. Neither are a big deal if people don't make it so, but a large hunk of the population seems to make it a big deal.

That isn't the case here. It doesn't matter if it is Desòchu dancing naked in the last chapter of Sand and Bone or the clan taking turns with the shower. There is a time and place for sex and the culture understands that isn't it.

Of course, that leads into the cultures who do have taboos against nudity and the warriors' sterility to rant and rave about it. If you read the epigraphs of the chapters, you'll see those voices.

No rape exists here

Part of this culture also comes from author intrusion. I decided a while ago that rape doesn't exist in my world. No matter how dark, no matter how gritty I try to get, Fedran will not have it. If I make a reference to it, that is a mistake on my part because it doesn't even enter the consciousness of the characters.

I made this choice for a number of reasons but I felt that I could come up with a story that could show horror without using rape as the mechanism. That doesn't mean people won't get tortured but I won't let sexual violence be that mechanism. Even the torture will mostly be off-page.

Struggling for money

One of the common themes in many anime series is running out of money. I don't know what it is, but some of my favorite series all have that including Hyper Police and Slayers.

I can understand it. Writing is not a rich career. What I made just softens the blow of getting a book out and it remains a labor of love instead of a viable fiscal path in my life. There are times when I'm looking at my balance counting the hours to payday or hoping that one check will get in fast enough that I won't bounce a check.

In some ways, the struggle this chapters has with the hundred thousand pyābi offer is a reflection of my own writing. I take commissioned jobs frequently but they don't advance my career. I can't share them, I can't even say anything more than "I wrote a fifty thousand word commission and it took up my bandwidth for two months." That is frustrating because I'd rather write a fifty thousand word novel in this world.

I don't though. My Patreon is slowly building up (I tripled my subscribers since the first of the year!) but it is a long way to let me give up writing commissions in favor of my own worlds (the fantasy or even the sci-fi one).

I like the idea of the clan being poor like most small business owners I know. They worry about every job, every mission. At the same time, they are willing to buy presents for everyone because it brings joy. They struggle but also share what bounty they do have. I love that about this clan, it is a little thing about a close-knit family and circle of friends that I think makes them special.

Sand and Bone 13: Voting

Rutejìmo and the other of the clan finally come up to a choice the next morning. Do they take the job that Nifùni found or trust Rutejìmo's feelings that there is something wrong. Even though both men have a strong opinion about their own choice, it is up to the clan to decide if the job is worth the risk.

Read the chapter at http://ift.tt/2jAoF0s. All of my books are free downloads at https://fedran.com/. If you like what you read, please consider becoming a patron or reviewing one of my other books. Even a dollar a month helps get this edited and properly published. Plus, you get to see how it ends now instead of waiting weeks.
One thing I notice is that I take a long time to get to the inciting event of a book. In this case, twelve chapters of building up the characters and personalities all so I can start the crux of the story with a simple meeting in a bar.

A lot of advice says that I should be getting to the bulk of the plot earlier but I really want to establish characters. There are parts of his plot in the first chapter, the disdain from the rest of his clan and their view of his cowardice, but not the "OMG, we are going to die" bits.

I'm not sure if that is the inciting event or not. It is the arc for the entire story though, the man who ran away from combat in the beginning is the one who will be running into a battle despite everything he wanted.

That said, I think this book is paced pretty well. There are not a lot of "side plots" as it were and the story stays focused on a single path, Rutejìmo's. He doesn't have a lot of distractions either, this story didn't fit well with the wandering tale that some writers excel at.

HERO System

There was another thing in this chapter that drew my attention.

He always wondered if his slowness at running and his unwillingness to take a life were somehow connected with his services to the dead.

The answer is "yes." Internally, I use the HERO System (6th ed.) to manage the characters in my stories. This gives me a framework for how they evolve over time (experience per chapter) but also balancing out their skills to each other. It isn't exact and I fudge a lot, but the rough progression helps me frame that aspect of the world.

Rutejìmo's powers have been pretty much set in Sand and Blood with little improvement during Sand and Ash. Some of that was building up his attributes and skills but a lot of it was banking toward the powers he's beginning to manifest in this book.

Of course, this is shown in the above quote. It is limiting his services to the dead because he was saving up for a number of high-cost powers, contacts and networking, and social influence. Despite being "weak," he is actually well known throughout the western region.

He also has always had a very high END, REC, PD, and ED which are all passive attributes that have little physical indicator of their values. By this book, he had quite a number of defensive combat levels (as we'll find out) in addition to his powerful abilities that finally kicked in.

Some day, I might see about licensing HERO or something and writing a source book for these characters, which is one reason I haven't posted any specific details. Not to mention, they are filled with spoilers even in the first chapter.

Sand and Bone 12: The Offer

At the end of the day, Rutejìmo is wandering around a too-large city looking for Nifùni who never returned to the inn. Not having a way of contacting him, the rest of the clan had spread out to check out the taverns and stores. Naturally, none of them would consider that Nifùni would have found a night to himself; Rutejìmo's history showed the danger of disappearing in the middle of the night.

Read the chapter at http://ift.tt/2hVT9cQ. All of my books are free downloads at https://fedran.com/. If you like what you read, please consider becoming a patrons, reviewing, or even talking about my book on social networks. Any little bit helps me get the next book out.
On the last day of Lexember, I present a word for the joy of finishing a good book.

Lexember 31: nakasabyofino

Pronunciation

nakasabyofìno: /na.ka.sa.bjo.ꜜɸi.no/

Noun

nakasabyofìno

The joy of finishing a good book.
For Lexember 30, I present a word for an unread book. This word was blatantly stolen from the real world Japanese definition because I think it is awesome.

Lexember 30: tsudoku

Pronunciation

tsudòku: /tsɯ.ꜜdo.kɯ̥/

tsudōku: /tsɯ.doː.kɯ̥/

Noun

tsudōku

An unread book or books.

Verb

tsudòku

To acquire books but not to read them.
On this lovely day of Lexember, I present a word for paper cut.

Lexember 29: takawumofu

Pronunciation

takawumófu: /ta.ka.wɯ.ꜛmo.ɸɯ̥/

takawumōfu: /ta.ka.wɯ.moː.ɸɯ̥/

Noun

takawumōfu

A paper cut.

Verb

takawumòfu

To be a persistent annoyance.

On #lexember 28, I present wamifi or paper

For the twenty-eighth day of Lexember, I present a word for paper.

Lexember 28: wamifi

Pronunciation

wamīfi: /wa.miː.ɸi̥/

Noun

wamīfi

Paper.

Anything made of shaped wood pulp.
There is a minor spoiler in this post.

This is another chapter with little hints here and there. Some of them are for later books while others are foreshadowing of events later in this book.

The most obvious one ties into the limitations of third-person limited. I really like writing with limited point of view, if the character doesn't know it, then it doesn't show up in narrative. That is why Rutejìmo has a much different view of the coastal folk than Kanéko. It also means that it is hard to hint at certain foreshadowing without putting a big sign that says "this is a plot!"

For some reason, I get frustrated when I watch movies or TV and I see a cut or scene that is obviously foreshadowing for later. The main character picking up a weapon or retrieving their pack, Kubo looking at his musical instrument before he is tossed away, in Avatar when they look at skulls of flying creatures and "no one has ever ridden one before."

One of them has haunted me from the very beginning of this series: Rutejìmo is a damage sponge. The amount of injuries he takes should have killed a lesser man. Actually, it would have killed a lesser man but he has a certain something going on for him and it is subtle. More importantly, he doesn't know it is happening (but I did).

Rutejìmo walked hand in hand with Mapábyo. The exhaustion from his purification ritual still plucked at his senses, but sleep and a full meal had helped recover his energies. Even his recent injuries, including the cut in his shoulder, had already started to scab over and no longer throbbed.

As I've mentioned before, there is very little magical healing in my world. When people get hurt, they stay hurt. But... there is healing and recovery magic. It just isn't always obvious. This isn't one of Shimusògo's powers which means his ability to take damage and recovery quickly comes from another source.

Now one that isn't addressed in this book is the talk about the formalized nature of kojinōmi in the eastern cities. I've had a number of readers mention they would like me to put more details into this one, but this is actually for a later book (related to this series though). There is a hint of that also in Flight of the Scions for one of the epigraphs.

"There are six of the Shimusògo in town, but only one... like me." He couldn't bring himself to say kojinōmi even knowing it was acceptable. Too many years of not speaking about what he did stilled his voice.

She dug into the folds of her armored fabric before pulling out a notebook. With a brass pen, she wrote something before ripping it off and handing it to Rutejìmo. "You've been requested to present yourself to the other kojinōmi at this address in three nights."

Rutejìmo took the paper, it was an address. "When?"

Dimóryo frowned. "For dinner, isn't that when you always do those things?"

Sand and Bone 11: Recovering

I remember one of the first times I went to Chicago as someone aware of the differences. It was a huge city and completely different than growing up in Naperville, Aurora, or even West Chicago. The joy of seeing it was a delightful contrast that I also had when I went to Los Angeles and New York. I wanted to put some of that into Sand and Bone with having the rural clan members see their first "big" city.

You may notice that both this series and Flight of the Scions are set in rural areas. That was intentional because it was easier to develop the world from the more sedate places before diving into the more populated cities such as Muddy Reflections or Clutch. I wanted to work out some of the interplay of resonance, magic, and the way people grow up before throwing thousands into the mix.

Read the chapter at http://ift.tt/2ipZNV6. All of my books are free downloads at https://fedran.com/. If you like what you read, please consider becoming a patrons, reviewing, or even talking about my book on social networks. Any little bit helps me get the next book out.
On Lexember 27th, I present a word for accounting or book of accounts.

Lexember 27: hagomami

Pronunciation

hagomàmi: /ça.ɡo.ꜜma.mi/

hagomāmi: /ça.ɡo.maː.mi/

hagomámi: /ça.ɡo.ꜛma.mi/

Noun

hagomàmi

An ad-hoc or vague list of business finances.

hagomámi

A book of formal bookkeeping or accounting for a business.

Verb

hagomàmi

Someone who avoids paying tip or gratuity when expected.

hagomāmi

To be obsessed with making sure one's money is accounted for.
On the twenty-sixth day of Lexember, I present a word for a book or registry of taxes owed.

Lexember 26: akuregima

Pronunciation

akuregìma: /a.kɯ.ɾe.ꜜɡi.ma/

akuregíma: /a.kɯ.ɾe.ꜛɡi.ma/

Noun

akuregìma

The audit of taxes collected.

A list of individuals that need to still pay their taxes.

akuregíma

A list of taxes owed by an individual.

Verb

akuregíma

To be nit-picky or obsessively detailed oriented.