?

Log in

There are a couple of spoilers in this one, but that should be obvious from most of these posts.

Sand and Blood 12: Investigating the Night

Independence. Most teenagers go through a phase where they try to find their own way of life, sometimes a way that is completely contradictory to the one they were raised with. I think that is the best way to describe Tsubàyo in this chapter; he is rejecting the Shimusogo Way (no accent, it’s a possessive here) and finding his own. Too bad it involves stealing horses.

This chapter also is the second time I really show that the world is in the beginning of the Industrial Age. The giant mechanical scorpion is definitely not a fantasy troupe (unless you include Maze Mega Burst Space).

I didn’t want to write a world where everything was steam-driven and amazing (also known as steampunk). Instead, part of the world is moving into the age while other parts are still clinging to the old age of magic. As it happens, both Sand and Blood and Flight of the Scions are both located in low population areas without a lot of mechanical development, so they are both focus on the magical age. At the same time, we have a road rally (a real one, not the “rally” from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) going along the west coast, a factory city from the south (where the giant scorpion came from), and growing acceptance in other large cities.

By the time we get to Sand and Bone, which is the third book in this series and fifteen years later, there is a lot more mechanical devices running around in the background, not to mention a couple six-story snakes that shoot fireballs. At the same time, Kanéko is deep into the mechanical age of the world and has a lot of industrial devices that should be firmly in the steampunk genre.

Read Sand and Blood 12: Investigating the Night at http://ift.tt/1Y83LQt.

Flight of the Scions 18: Lessons Learned

This is the first chapter where Ruben speaks and it drives me nuts. He has a particular speech pattern that is sometimes a difficult to make flow easily but at the same time be just a bit unnatural.

He uses big words. They should be correct, but he uses larger words when smaller words would be sufficient. The problem is, I need to make sure they are the correct large word, including various connotations. And that makes his speech pattern come off as a bit unnatural.

The hardest part is that it shouldn’t come off as forced. I’m pretty sure there will be multiple rounds of going through his dialog (I was hoping Author Intrusion was much further along since I wanted to write a tool to help with that.

The reason Ruben speaks the way he does is because he has a dictionary built into his head, this world’s version of Wikipedia, and he doesn’t normally speak out loud. As a natural born telepath and a fifth generation of Vo, his “native” language is telepathy even though there is no one in the area who is telepathic (except his father and we’ll talk about that). Speaking will always be unnatural for him. Coupled with his knowledge, I thought that bigger words would be appropriate for his pattern.

Speaking of patterns, you may notice that Maris almost always starts her sentences with conjunctions. While this is not really grammatical, it reflects her environment when she grew up: where there were over a hundred dalpre all speaking over each other. Almost every sentence is chained from the one before it but it may have been someone else’s sentence. In other words, they interrupt and steal conversations constantly, guiding it in the direction they want. Her father did the same thing, but he didn’t have nearly as many words to let the reader really see the conjunction-leading sentences.

Over time, both of these characters’ speech patterns will slowly change to be more “normal.” I figured it will be a natural evolution as they leave their previous environment (silence and overwhelming noise) and interact with more standard speech patterns (e.g., Kanéko).

I have no clue why I do things like this. I’ve been writing long enough that leading dialog with conjunctions or using a large word when a smaller one is frustrating. My heart says “wrong” but my plans say that it is correct.

Read Sand and Blood 18: Lessons Learned at http://ift.tt/1Y83LQv (subscribers)

Sand and Ash

On the Sand and Ash front, I have a bit of news. The first editor should be done by the end of the week. Once I integrate that feedback, I’m going to send it to the second one.

The main reason I have two is because they focus on separate things. The first one is a development and line editor, the second is a copy editor. I also know that I really need at least two rounds of editing because of mistakes I made with Sand and Blood.

I won’t have a copy for Wiscon though, not unless I decide to spend an extra $50. Given that no one has ever asked to see a copy of my book at Wiscon before, it’s probably not worth the money.

This week, I need to work on covers, assigning ISBNs, and basically get the packaging stuff done.

Patrons

My writing is supported by patrons and donations. There are multiple ways to help, but if you like what I write please consider subscribing. All the money is going into getting these edited and released as Creative Commons books.
As it sometimes happens, there is no commonality between these two serials. Remarkably, this is also where you can see the difference between the two protagonists. Rutejìmo is introspective and somewhat passive, he makes a lot of mistakes and doubts himself. Kanéko, on the other hand, doesn’t hesitate long before coming up with a plan, even if it ends up being a mistake. She may not have magic, but she’s observant and bright.

Sand and Blood 11: Standing Alone

There is a point in most people’s lives where they are at home getting ready for bed or making dinner when they realized they had just made a terrible mistake. They didn’t think about it at the time, they just responded, but introspection forces them to reliving the experience and point out every flaw in their being.

This is Rutejìmo’s chapter for that. He isn’t a bad guy, per se. I see him as not trusting himself, terrified of making waves, or even speaking out for himself. The kernel of being a hero is there, just buried a bit. Obviously, there are some rather oppressive folks he’s traveling with. Tsubàyo is right near the top of the people who are most likely to abuse Rutejìmo.

But, why would he go with his bully instead of staying behind? Why would someone willingly go into an abusive relationship? Well, there are a lot of reasons. Rutejìmo was guilty for what he did to Pidòhu or, more importantly, what he felt he was responsible for letting Pidòhu get hurt. There was also the unfamiliar situation where Tsubàyo was a known (the devil you know) but the others weren’t. It is hard to break out of a relationship even when others say it is terrible for you.

I occasionally hear someone wondering why someone else would go back to abusive husband or a cruel boss. I think it is the same way. There is a known factor, a rut that has been worn down that gives someone a sense of being even though it is a painful route. There is more than “well, I would just leave.” No, not always. Sometimes, it is just as painful to leave as being verbally or physically abused. It takes a lot to pull away, either it be fear of the unknown, protectiveness of a child (how will I pay for them if I don’t have…), or any other factors.

It is rarely as simple as “well, I would have left.”

More importantly, it is cruel to tell someone “you should just leave” as if it was that simple. If it is that important, the better question is, “what can I do for you?” or “how can I help?”

Read Sand and Blood 11: Separate Ways at http://ift.tt/1SNZYtg.

Flight of the Scions 17: Nobody

For a four thousand word chapters, there is a lot in here.

I’ll start with the easiest: racism. While I made Kanéko brown, it was only a small part of her character. I didn’t want a story about the evils of racism, I wanted a story about a young girl who finds herself in the middle of nowhere and finds kinship where she didn’t expect it. But, the color of her skin is there and people respond to it because I think that is how people would. Racism is there, it just isn’t the point of this novel.

There is also Maris. I love her. She’s adorable, sweet, and brutal. Even though she and Kanéko had a fight, here she is kicking the crap out of people and helping without hesitation. She has no grudges but she’s also mercurial to say the least. Her innocence, in many ways, is a great foil to Ruben’s seriousness and Kanéko’s struggles of being different (racism, lack of magic, being the baron’s daughter).

Mixed in there is economics. Ten thousand crowns is basically ten thousand dollars, a rather significant sum. However, given the distance this village is from the rest of the cities, I’m treating the average income of the farmers to be closer to subsidence farmers who are happy if they make a thousand a year beyond feeding themselves. A ten thousand reward for Kanéko, for them, is a lot of money. Probably on the order of someone giving someone in Cedar Rapids a hundred grand.

Even though Sarom Senior knows it is wrong, it is hard to turn down doubling everyone’s income for an entire year for the price of one frightened young girl. Obviously, Sarom Junior wouldn’t have a problem because he thinks she isn’t really human, but there were some cut scenes that talk about the repercussions of their decisions.

This has a bit of spoilers:

The last point is Ruben power and Kanéko’s lack of magic. This is important because Ruben is a telepath and he was looking for Kanéko. Even though she doesn’t have magic, Kanéko is receptive to telepaths. Her receptivity isn’t magic, it’s a passive ability that ties into her creativity. In effect, she is open-minded (relatively speaking) to possibilities that it takes little effort to “plant” the idea in her head. She doesn’t resist but she isn’t capable of doing it herself. I still feel that fits with the basis that she has no magic.

This chapter has her beginning to pick up on Ruben’s mental search for her. I thought it was a cool effect that tied into Ruben’s father doing it on a far crueler manner at the end of the book. Sadly, that scene was also cut from this book. But, as a teaser, it has something in common with the demons from Disney’s Hercules movie.

Ruben’s way of speaking ties into that. She hears him clearly despite his soft voice because he projects telepathically as he speaks. Most people can’t pick it up, but her receptivity to it means that he is always clear. His vocabulary is also important; as I see Ruben, he has a stale copy of Wikipedia in his head. He tries to use precise words for his situation, though they usually are longer than your average fare.

Read Sand and Blood 17: Nobody at http://ift.tt/21eIu9x (subscribers)

Sand and Ash

And just a brief status update on Sand and Ash. I’ve gotten feedback from three of the four beta readers and integrated them with the current version on the website (version 0.7.0). As soon as I get the fourth, I’ll be finishing up two more quick rounds and then sending it to the copy editor.

If all goes well, I’ll have at least one copy for Wiscon, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Not much left on those tasks: the edits and finalize the covers.

Patrons

For my patrons, I also posted the another two chapters of Sand and Bone for their viewing pleasure.

My writing is supported by patrons and donations. There are multiple ways to help, but if you like what I write please consider subscribing. All the money is going into getting these edited and released as Creative Commons books.
Fedran is set at the beginning of the industrial age, when the age of magic is faltering and technology is taking its place. One of the foundations of the world is that (almost) everyone has a magical talent but the power that talent isn’t that important. Most of the population doesn’t have useful talents, much like the guy in Xanth who only had the ability to change his own urine different colors. Those without magic are considered to be “less than human” or developmentally challenged.

Slight spoiler in the next paragraph if you haven’t read Sand and Ash.

Like many aspects in my world, magic is a evolutionary trait. It originally came as something that enhanced survival, which is why the desert folks are typically more powerful than the ones in the more civilized areas. A good example is Pahim, who can grow flowers in his hand, and Rutejìmo who can run thirty-five miles an hour, throw fireballs, always runs on a solid surface, and transfer kinetic energy easily with other members of his clan. In his culture, Rutejìmo is considered the weakest of his clan. Again Pahim, he is far and away more powerful.

The main reason is that survivability in civilized areas is a lot higher. You don’t need to create walls of fire, be able to break the sound barrier, or explode people’s hearts when the most struggle you have is getting to work on time.

Over time, magical talents weaken. There are powerful ones, Kanéko’s father, Ronamar, is very powerful but he is also from a line of mage-knights, but for the most part, the civilized people (which are mostly white because of physical location) actually have weaker talents but sometimes more useful (such as Falkin’s ability to see the profit/loss statements over everyone’s head).

One way magic is evolutionary is when it manifests. In most cases, this happens during puberty. If someone has a perfectly safe and quiet life, they will manifest some talent usually based on their interests but would be relatively non-powerful. This would be Pahim’s ability to grow flowers or Lily’s talent to color fabric.

On the other hand, if during that time, a teenager is under duress, the resulting power will be significantly more combat or survival-related. We will see that later in Flight of the Scions.

Related to this is knowing that stress causes manifestation makes it harder to manifest. It is hard to have that “I’m going to die” when you also know “that my near-death experience will give me awesome powers!” The knowledge that you will probably survive means it isn’t as life-threatening as you think which means less stress.

You may have noticed that both Rutejimo’s and Desòchu’s manifestations are very rapid (hours from the moment of being abandoned). This is because the clans are very good at creating powerful manifestations by watching when they were emotionally ready to “pop”, putting them in a high stress environment (abandoning in the middle of the desert happens to be the Shimusògo clan’s preferred method), and setting them up to have the most powerful talents they are capable of manifesting.

They are also kept in the dark until then, without any adult even giving a head’s up with the events that would happen. Even the dullest kid would realize that powers happen during the rite of passage, which is why most desert children are a bit… surprised it happen. Combine that with a sociey that won’t talk about dying or sickness, kills off their elders who drink too much or abuse their spouses, and you have a situation where the children are emotionally and intellectually stunted.

Now, if Kanéko had the potential of a magical talent, this or the previous chapters (in her story) would have been the chapter where she manifested her powers. In a different world, she would have either gained some pretty decent combat powers or water-bending (to use a common phrase). But, she didn’t.

Sand and Blood 10: Separation Anxiety

One of the complaints I’ve had about Rutejìmo as a protagonist is that he isn’t the hero. He isn’t the one leading the pack or making grand decisions. Instead, he is in the back struggling with guilt and questioning his decision. Of course, that stress is the final capstone of his manifesting and he finally gets to see the clan spirit, Shimusògo.

Of course, he has no clue what is going on, so he gets mocked by those who have not manifested their powers.

Read Sand and Blood 10: Separation Anxiety at http://ift.tt/1TikT4w

Flight of the Scions 16: The River

Poor Kanéko. After having her crush betray her for a ten thousand crown reward, she is lost in the middle of the woods with nowhere to go and no ability to defend herself except for her wits. And when she wakes up, she is knee deep in mud next to a river without a clue where her hunters are or how to get back to the Boar Hunt Inn.

In the original version (now in Kin-Killer), Garèo is in full-blown panic trying to find her. There were two chapters of him running back to the inn and realizing that his nemesis (Cobin) was hanging around.

Read Sand and Blood 16: The River at http://ift.tt/1TikT4y (subscribers)

Patrons

For my patrons, I also posted the another chapter of Sand and Bone for their viewing pleasure.

My writing is supported by patrons and donations. There are multiple ways to help, but if you like what I write please consider subscribing. All the money is going into getting these edited and released as Creative Commons books.
This is one of those weeks where a lot of people get hurt. In Sand and Blood, we have a compound fracture in the middle of the desert. This was actually the original idea for the novel, to write a story about my Boy Scout manual’s survival chapter which I thought about for a long time.

I like gritty stories. I like seeing people struggling with their injuries and not get magically healed for the next battle. I like damage, mainly because it is one more thing that lets them shine. True nature comes out in moments of stress, not wandering around being awesome (which is why I don’t like playing Exalted anymore).

Sand and Blood 9: Blood and Bone

Rutejìmo is not a hero. I mean, he isn’t the type of person who charges into danger and, frankly, he freezes. I wrote this because I see that most people do that when something terrible happens. Strangers stare at car accidents with horror but they don’t do anything. They don’t rush forward, they don’t run away. They stare in shock. There is a term for some of it, bystanders apathy and it is a terrible thing that allows for abuse.

It is hard writing a character that doesn’t charge into the thick of things. Instead, he stands there, unsure of what to do. And then later regrets not doing anything because I think others do the same.

Chimípu, on the other hand, is the hero and this is where she shows it. She is the one who goes to help Pidòhu without a second thought. Again, this is part of the basis. Rutejìmo isn’t the hero, he is the man next to the hero.

Also, while Chimípu’s struggles are about self-sacrifice and serving the clan, Rutejìmo is fighting his personal demons more than anything else. And I’m not talking demonic creatures, I’m just talking the terrified core that exists in most of us.

Read Sand and Blood 9: Blood and Bone

Flight of the Scions 15: Reward Money

When I first wrote this, I had a much longer scene than before. Instead of Kanéko just running off as soon as she crushed poor Pahim’s balls, there were multiple fights as she tried to escape Cobin and his men. However, those specific scenes were lost somewhere in my historical repositories and I couldn’t find it. So, I rewrite the chapter to give Pahim’s final blow a bit more detail and to add more to the story. After this, I should be back on track for new chapters.

Read Sand and Blood 15: Reward Money (subscribers)

Patrons

For my patrons, I also posted the first five chapters of Sand and Bone for their viewing pleasure. This is only moderately edited but it gives a preview of the final tale of Rutejìmo’s story.

My writing is supported by patrons and donations. There are multiple ways to help, but if you like what I write please consider subscribing. All the money is going into getting these edited and out faster.
I know I said I was going to take April off to settle a few things, but I didn’t want to lose the momentum. So, I’m starting to serialize Sand and Blood starting with chapter eight since chapter one through seven were already available on my site.

Sand and Blood started quite a few years ago as a placeholder novel. Flight of the Scions was submitted somewhere and I thought I had a good chance of making it. I distracted myself by reading The Language Construction Kit and they had this neat little section about world building. Of course, the author was suggesting writing a 200-300 word story to show someone in the culture, I was just going to write a little 20k word novella showing the culture that Kanéko was missing.

Almost eighty thousand words later, I was only a third done with the story. Blood was the beginning of that journal. It isn’t a “typical” fantasy in that the main character isn’t the grand hero, and I found that a lot of people don’t really care for it, but there are some who do.

But here we are, at the beginning (-ish).

Like Sand and Ash, these chapters are going to be released under Creative Commons and will be available for free on my site, Patreon, Ello, and Wattpad. I’m dropping Penflip and Diaspora because they really didn’t produce any feedback from the last few months.

Sand and Blood 8: The Morning Sun

I really should have ended the preview at chapter eight. Everything up to this point was getting Rutejìmo in the middle of the desert. Chapter eight is when he wakes up abandoned by all of the adults (elders) of the clan and he’s stuck with four others in the middle of nowhere.

The idea of this reminded me of a Japanese anime when ten students go out on a journey, but when they get there, they find out there were supposed to be only nine of them. Since the students didn’t know each other before the journey, none of them knew which one was the extra and a lot of human nature came out of it. (It was also done nicely in Eureka.)

This is inspired by that story.

Read Sand and Blood 8: The Morning Sun

Flight of the Scions 13: The High Life

My “break,” as it were, comes from working on Flight of the Scions. Sand and Blood is pretty much final, complete with multiple editor runs, so I don’t really have to do much other than write my thoughts. Flight, on the other hand, requires a bit of editing as I go.

I added a section into chapter thirteen that was cut. It was a sweet little scene between Garèo and Virsian as Kanéko realizes that they are actually interested in each other.

The new section starts at:

As he returned to the room, Kanéko leaned over the railing and looked down. A large garden filled the space behind the inn. It was a couple chains deep, going from the wall of the inn and reaching into the woods. From her vantage point, she could see dozens of little paths leading to dead ends filled with benches and quiet places to talk. She amused herself by tracing them with her mind.

“It is a lovely night.”

Kanéko gasped as she heard Garèo’s voice from below. She ducked down and leaned on the railing to peer over the edge, her heart beating faster as she waited for him to call out to her.

Garèo and Virsian walked with arms intertwined as they headed into the gardens. The cat woman’s tail swayed lazily as she spoke, the tip of it occasional tapping against the back of Garèo’s leg.

In the original book, there is actually a chapter before and after this from Garèo’s point of view when he is flirting with Virsian and then one with him and Maris. Neither of those are going to be in the book since they will show up for Kin-Killer if I write it.

Patrons

My writing is supported by patrons and donations. There are multiple ways to help, but if you like what I write please consider subscribing. All the money is going into getting these edited and out faster.

Sand and Ash

Thirty-five weeks ago, on my birthday, I started posting Sand and Ash on my website. There were a lot of reasons I started posting or my decision to release it as a Creative Common licensed serial. Most of those reasons are still true, over half a year later.

There is a reason I’m woolgathering at this point: Sand and Ash is now completely released. Tonight, I have posted the final two chapters of the novel on the website. In doing so, most of the subscriber-only features disappeared and everything is now unlocked including the full EPUB, MOBI, and PDF versions of the novel.

I love this novel, mainly because it was different than anything I had written before. It was dark and gritty, but also filled with hope and drive. The main character broke down more than a few times, had his heart ripped open, but still managed to stand up and walk forward. He fell in love poorly and died for it, but in the end, he found something far more important than winning some fight or making a girl love him.

My reasons

In my original post, I wrote a few reasons why I was doing it.

Editing: Every chapter that I posted, I also edited one more time. That gives it at least six rounds for every element, though I introduced a few typos as I went along. Overall, I think it ended up being a much stronger story in the places it was weak.

Obscurity: As far as I can tell, this still remains a problem. I’ve had a few votes on Wattpad, a number of retweets on Twitter and Facebook, and some loves on Ello. That was great that I got those, but I didn’t really gain in interaction. No one asked about the characters or the plot, no discussions or “moars!”

Patrons: There was one kind soul who decided to help me out with subscriptions and another who gave me a hunk of change (effectively a year’s worth). Those two are fantastic. I was hoping for more, but obviously I’m not there yet.

Giving Back: This wasn’t listed but it is true. I made this Creative Commons because I wanted to give something to the community and I felt this was a good way to go about it.

What’s next for Ash

The next steps are going to be pretty simple but take time.

I want to go through the novel and document every character, created world, and epigraph. I did this with Sand and Blood and I thought it created a more interesting world that I used to write this one.

Get a beta reading from a friend. He offered to read it for me and I’m going to take him up on the offer.

Get a final copy editing. This will take a bit of time, but I should have enough saved up to have this edited formally and then get it polished. This is what the subscriptions were going to help with and I’m going to use all the money to get the final polish.

Finish the covers. At the end of last year, I decided to go with a more abstract style of cover that fits some ideas I liked. I hadn’t finished the series to prove out the ideas, but I like how it has turned out so far. I need to work on the other covers before I can finish it, but it should be done by the time I get it fully edited.

Get it printed and ready for the author signing at ICON. It probably won’t be done for WisCon unless things go a lot faster than I expected.

Other plans

I’m getting ready for the next serial. I’m thinking about making Sand and Blood, the first book, public in the same manner. For those who are interested in giving me feedback, were the notes interesting? Worthwhile to keep going? Or should I just have a short note that there was a chapter and leave it at that?

I plan on starting with chapter eight of Blood on the first week of May. I may switch to a different day though, Sunday? What is the best day for anyone?

I’m also going to post the first ten or so chapters of Sand and Bone for subscribers on the website. So, if you want to read the conclusion of Rutejìmo’s story, please consider subscribing.

Next week, I’ll be back to Flight of the Scions for subscribers.

Thoughts

For those who have read the novel, thank you. You have made my day.

For those who have retweeted and shared my posts, also thank you. Without you, I would be in that empty room.

And for Susan, who gave me the time to write this, I love you.

Sand and Ash 34

There is no Flight of the Scions this week. I’m almost at the end of Sand and Ash and I want to make these last chapters the best I can.

Sand and Ash 34: Unshed Tears

This is the quietest climax that I have ever written. Usually there is blood, gore, and screaming. Instead, it was just a quiet acknowledgment and capstone for everything that happened in this novel. As endings go, I think it is appropriate.

At the same time, I’m terrified to see what everyone thinks about this. As I mentioned last week, this is an atypical and different. I wrote it because I wanted to, but it still scares me to see what others think about it.

There are two more chapters left and then we are finally done.
It was the day after one of my conventions and we had just finished with my annual visit to my grandmother. For the entire trip, my wife had alternated between being down and cranky at me, but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. It came to a head when she asked me to go home instead of continuing our trip to the cabin as planned. It took me a little bit to realize what she was asking, but when I did, we headed straight home.

My dad was disappointed that we canceled at the last moment, but I didn’t really know the reason either. All I know is that she asked therefore I will do it.

I didn’t find out until we were on the road that she thought she lost the baby. It was four since we found out we were about to have our second child but we were holding off telling anyone until week eleven.

Hours in the emergency rooms confirmed what she thought: we lost the baby.

A miscarriage is a painful thing. I can describe it, but I suspect very few want the graphic details that I’m capable of writing. Let’s just say that the following days were painful for both of us.

Her body was already starting to pass the fetus and we were suffering through the emotional and physical pain of losing our unborn child. Every few minutes, I found her bent over something while screaming out in pain. I’d hear the cries throughout the house. Ever time she went in the bathroom, there was a fear that there would be something that she couldn’t handle. That is… horrifying to say the least. And it scars you.

I was helpless to do anything because there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t comfort her, I couldn’t talk to her or distract her. There was no food or movie or even a song that would ease the agony. Instead, I followed after her in case she needed something, anything. My presence was the only thing I could give her, even if it was to commiserate.

Usually, I see the world as problems to solve.

This was unsolvable.

Sand and Ash 33: Cremation

I rewrote chapter thirty-three today because I didn’t get the emotional impact that I felt when I wrote it. I think this version more of the pain that we went through during our miscarriage. From my point of view, it wasn’t nearly as devastating as it was for her, but I still couldn’t say it was a good time in my life. Nor was it something I could just ignore.

Flight of the Scions 15: Reward Money

Chapter Fifteen is where Pahim shows his true nature. Kanéko responds in the way most of my female characters seem to respond: by kicking him in the nuts as hard as she can. It is effective, you know, though not for fighters who are prepared for it.

I realize that I need to find some older version of these chapters. Both this and the previous one had about four thousand words cut out of it and I think they make a stronger story. I’m pretty sure I have it, I just have to go through the repository to find them.
I struggle with myself as much as everything else. Intellectually, I have plans, but emotionally I’m afraid of making mistakes. The events in these two chapters reflect those fears and doubts.

Sand and Ash 32: Forbidden Words

Chapter Thirty-Two is one of the more stressful of my chapters. The premises of Sand and Ash was falling in love and finding oneself. I think I’ve shown that, I hope I have, and I really like how this story has turned out.

The problem is that I write fantasy. And most fantasy novels end with some big fight where secrets are revealed, powers are thrown left and right, and there is effectively a big crater where the final fight happens.

This book doesn’t end that way. It ends the way I thought it should end. Not with a bang but a “here I am” and “this is what I’ve become.” It isn’t really a “climax” per se. There is no Big Bad. No heart-pounding fear of surviving. There is no fight where lives are put on the risk. It ends in quiet voices and revelations.

Rutejìmo is a pacifist and this story reflects that, his story ends quietly not violently. The final struggle has been happening for a while, his thoughts of leaving, his struggle being isolated from his clan, and now… someone close to him dies. The “fight” as it were is his own thoughts and actions as he finds out who he is and what he is going to become.

When I read almost every one of my fantasy books, I realize they don’t end this way. Excluding the filler books in some series, you rarely find a book that doesn’t end with a fight against some great evil or an action sequence. There are swords, fighting, and usually more than a little magic.

There are many reasons this series as “failed” as it were. I look at the readers who comment on the contents of the story in the last half year, the hits on the websites, and even the views over on Wattpad. They aren’t a success with any metric I can think of.

I think the lack of fighting and violence is one of the reasons (but not the only one). It is part of the genre, at least in the bulk of what I’ve read. In some ways, I knew that the story would appeal to less people if I wrote about a pacifist struggling with themselves, but it was the story that I wanted to tell.

Right now, I’m struggling with the intellectual knowledge that this story doesn’t appeal to many people and the emotional desire to be a success. Rutejìmo’s story will probably never be a “hit” with anyone and I don’t know what to do with it from here. Do I just acknowledge that the series won’t succeed and start releasing the first book? Do I give up posting the next one? Do I give up? I don’t really know.

Flight of the Scions 14: Changing Plans

Chapter Fourteen is where things change. Kanéko has her good life but now she is with Pahim but without feeling the passion she did before.

This is also the point where the original story diverged. Many years ago, when I wrote this, Garèo’s story was intertwined with Kanéko’s. The bald guy in this chapter is actually his nemesis, not Kanéko’s.

When I decided to split the novel lengthwise, that mean that certain characters are only bit parts from one side but major characters in the other. Cobin is one of those examples. Kanéko only sees part of his actions, but Garèo has a more intimate struggle and conflict.

I don’t know if this will work. Honestly, I’m terrified that it will fall flat because there are two different stories that touch each other so many different ways but were never tightly coupled.

Intellectually, I think it will work. Emotionally? Well, I’m terrified I’m going to fail.
I don’t always plan things very well, but sometimes when I stumble on a plot, it feels right.

Sand and Ash 31: An Unexpected Role

Chapter Thirty-One is an important chapter for me. As I mentioned in the original outline for the novel, Rutejìmo was suppose to be saddled with Mapábyo as they left the city and the two would work out their personal differences in the middle of the sands. It was a few chapters of talking until they ended up having wild, angry sex and making up.

But when I wrote it, something else happened. I decided that Rutejìmo would be kicked out of his clan and then be forced to be a “non-entity” and all the consequences of his actions. Chapters later, I realized that his struggles to survive opened up a path that almost no one else could take.

Of course, I couldn’t really figure out what that path was until I finished Sand and Bone. Fortunately, I was able to bring that revelation back to this chapter to help finish up this book. And it let me name what he had become: kojinōmi, a priest of the dead.

Flight of the Scions 13: The High Life

Chapter Thirteen is the point most of the writing group started to forgive me. They hated Pahim both times I sent the novel through the writing group. (They also hated her name of Kanek, but that’s okay, Pah’s annoying).

I think the forgiveness came because she is finally beginning to see that she may have had a mistake. I don’t know if this is creating a two-dimensional character out of Pahim, but he’s really a freeloading little ass. And the initial thrill of having him kissing up to her is fading when she starts to encounter people who actually respect her as a person.

Yeah, this probably ties from my life a little. Attention, any type of attention, is an addictive thing. When someone says all the right things, it is hard to resist. Even if you know it is wrong, it is so hard to pull away.

But, sooner or later, something happens and you realize that you have to leave.

Let’s say… I had that point which is why I live in Iowa now.