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Last year at about this time I was just coming to the end of the first draft of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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I didn’t finish the first draft until after Christmas and then I spent the next month (while the first manuscript cooled so I could look at it more critically) starting the first draft of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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That worked out pretty well. Revisions, critiques, and more revisions were finished on the first book by May and it was published by the end of that month. The first draft of the second was finished in July and now it’s available for pre-order and will be published on January 2nd. (At the limited-time pre-order price of only 99 cents until January 5th. And, by the way, the first book is also only 99 cents until then.)

But, it turns out, finishing up before Christmas just isn’t working out as well, especially when I’m trying to start not just a new book, but a new series. Too many distractions this time of year.

But I’m not going to let that stop me. I’m going to get at least some work done on MAGE STORM in the next couple of weeks. Maybe just not as much as I’d hoped.

Mage Storm

Mage Storm

I haven’t made much progress yet on getting back into the rewrite of MAGE STORM. Mage Storm

Here’s a taste, anyway:

Mastan closed his fist to cut off the trickle of red magic he’d been using to fuse the latest boulder to the top of the dam. Closing his eyes, he could picture what this had been like before that rogue mage, Grevin, had blasted this gap between the cliffs. A towering waterfall had cascaded from above like a gigantic, braided strand of pearls and diamonds, with a roar like the ocean during a storm. The white of the foaming water contrasted against the dark rock in an ever-changing, ever-fascinating column. Now, even standing at the top of what little he’d managed to rebuild, he could feel the height of the remaining cliffs towering above him to either side. Even with the addition of this boulder, he hadn’t raised the dam a tenth of the height of those cliffs.

It’d take much longer than the remainder of his lifetime to repair the damage and restore the waterfall and the lake beyond. And he still wouldn’t have done anything for all the other destruction the wild mages—and those who fought them—had caused. And yet, the world created magic every day, whether he wanted it or not. Much more than one old man could ever channel. Mastan had to do what he could to use at least some of it up before it ran wild and did even more damage. This was as good a way to do that as any—and better than some.

He stood up to stretch his aching back and saw the storm bearing down on him. Mage storm. One of the biggest he’d ever seen. And he was already tired. Clouds of cinders in white, yellow, green, and red roiled above and rained down destruction on the land below. Well, except that fortunately there wasn’t much below it at the moment to be harmed.

Mastan took an apple from his pocket and bit into it. The sweetness—and a long drink of water—would help him recover from the magic he’d already done while he waited for the storm to reach him.

There was no question the mage storms were getting worse with each passing year. Those with little understanding of magic—which was just about everyone, since the catastrophic end of the Great Mage War—thought that the storms were the ashes of the mages killed in that war. If only that were true, the storms would have burned themselves out long ago. No, as with most things concerning magic, the truth was more complex than that. Only the white cinders were the actual remains of mages. And they were the least harmful—well, except for the uncanny . . . sentience they lent the storms.

Which was why this storm was moving across the wind and headed straight for the river valley below, where it would rain destruction on farms and towns.

The real source of the mage storms was the untapped, unfocused magic of the world. With next to no mages left to focus and use the magic, there was nothing for it to do but run wild. That magic would destroy the world someday, if something wasn’t done.

Mastan sighed at the thought, accepting the necessity though he didn’t like it. For a while after his horrible failure with his only apprentice since the war, he’d tried to find a way to destroy the magic, once and for all. But he knew now that even a circle of a hundred mages didn’t stand a chance of accomplishing that.

No, the only solution was more mages. Some should develop spontaneously, just as they had before the war. There had to still be people out there with the magic lying dormant in their blood, just waiting for something to wake it. He snorted. The old mages had never been more virtuous than anybody else—especially the itinerate mages. There’d be descendants of the old mages, maybe several generations back. But some, at least would have inherited the capacity for magic. But prior experience proved that such random initiations were at least as likely to occur in the wrong people, those prone to going rogue and only making the problem worse. He’d needed some way to select for people who would want to heal the world, not destroy it.

And then he’d just have to hope that some, at least, of them found their way to him or learned to control the magic on their own before the magic killed them and added their ashes to the mage storms. Mastan didn’t like the risks he was forcing on who knew how many unsuspecting people without their knowledge or consent. He just couldn’t see any other way to save the world.

Look what came today:

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The proof of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM. The pre-order is live already (for only 99 cents) and the paperback will be published (hopefully) after I check over the proof.  Oh, and the first book of the two-book series, BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING is reduced to 99 cents, too.

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Next up is to start getting the word out. And moving my brain into a new story. Most likely MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

Winding Up

I’m about 80% done with the polishing edit on BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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The pre-order should be up on Amazon any time now, with other vendors to follow after I finish the edit and the formatting. The release date is January 2nd and the pre-order will be only 99 cents until then.

I’m also dropping the price on the first book, BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING to 99 cents for that period.

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I plan to do some promotion of the first book, probably mostly through social media. And I still have to finish researching launch strategies more thoroughly in the interim.

And then, of course, there’s formatting the print version.

Meadowsweet

The new, shiny story idea is tentatively titled MEADOWSWEET. (I like that title, but I may decide it doesn’t communicate fantasy well enough and tweak it a bit. On the other hand, this would be a fairytale retelling, not epic fantasy. So maybe it stays.)

MEADOWSWEET will be a retelling of the fairytale I knew as a child as “Furball” or “Little Furball”. This fairytale has many titles–more than most–and several versions–some of them definitely not meant for children. That much darker (and, truthfully, probably older) version is not the one that was in my fairytale book and it’s certainly not the one I would write.

The Furball I grew up with was a princess who saved herself, not one who ultimately failed and became a victim of the very thing she tried to escape. (Look up some of those versions if you’re curious. I’m not going to tell them here.)

And, in my version, the princess’s name (which is never given in the fairytale, as so many of them are not) would be Meadowsweet. Hence the tentative title. Why? Well, that has to do with my world-building inspiration. For reasons of the magic involved, I wanted a name that tied her to the land in some way. I could have used a mineral name, some gemstone, but I decided on a plant name. In this case a flower, one that looks delicate and is known for its sweetness. One that would contrast with the strength and fortitude of the princess.

Choices

I had my plans all made. After the next book in line would be MAGE STORM, kicking off a new series.

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Then about a week ago, a new, bright, shiny story idea bounced across my path. It’s not really a new story, exactly. The idea has been around for a while, but it wasn’t ready. There were pieces missing. Especially the world building. And then, one night, there they were, all shiny and new.

The conventional wisdom at this point, is to right down all that inspiration, so I won’t forget. (That’s a lesson most writers have to learn the hard way–including me. No matter how much you think you’ll remember because it’s so wonderful–you won’t. Write it down.) And then go ahead with the original plan.

That’s . . . sometimes easier said than done.  I’ve written down the inspiration, but I still really, really want to write MEADOWSWEET, too. (Just like stray puppies and kittens, it’s a really bad sign when the get named.) My heart may already have gone over that fence.

MEADOWSWEET would be a fairytale retelling–a subgenre I’ve never done before. In another post I may go into which fairytale and why I chose that title instead of one more closely tied to the original fairytale.

So, what’s likely to happen next is me trying to write two stories at once. I’ve been that crazy before and it’s worked out. (Though I do have to be really careful to keep the characters and character names in the right stories.) It can work out. When one story hits a place that needs more thought or inspiration to break through, I can just switch to the other for a while. Given the trouble MAGE STORM was giving me a month or so ago, that might actually be a good thing.

Meantime, while I try to force myself to do that research on launch strategies, I’ve started the polishing edit on BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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Maybe that’ll give me a little more distance from that bright, shiny story temptation.

 

Ravens are a rich source of magic and mythology. That’s not why I chose them for the BECOME series. They’re also very interesting birds in the real world, too. Which may be why so much mythology has built up around them.

The Greeks associated them with Apollo, who used them as his messengers. Interestingly, in this story, the ravens were originally white until Apollo, enraged by news of his lover’s infidelity, scorched the bird black. Interesting, because the principle raven in the BEDOME series is also white.

Similarly, in Norse mythology, Odin had a pair of ravens Huginn (Thought) and Muninn (Memory) as his . . . hmm, scouts might be more true than messengers for these two. They flew out every day and brought back news to him.

Celtic mythology associates ravens with the goddesses of the battlefield. In Native American stories, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, it’s Raven who creates the world. Although, Raven can also be a trickster.

Rich material to draw from. Especially when you add the reality of ravens to the mix. They’re among the smartest birds, even showing problem-solving ability. They play, especially picking up sticks or pebbles and dropping them so they can swoop down and catch them before they fall. They can mimic sounds, including human speech. Poe’s raven really could have “quoth ‘Nevermore’.” White ravens, while not common, do occur–and not always as albinos. They live generally ten to fifteen years in the wild, but in captivity can live up to forty years.

What better companion for a sky-god-in-potential than a white raven? Snow makes an appearance in BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING,

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but he really becomes part of the story in BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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