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Archive for November, 2018

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.

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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.

 

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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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I’m trying to resist the temptation of the bright, shiny new idea that finally came together last night, so let’s not talk about that. Not yet anyway.

Let’s talk about magical creatures, instead. Specifically those in the BECOME series.

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There’s a nod to the Greek legend of Hercules that inspired this story in the BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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There’s the dragon, though it’s neither nine-headed nor a water dragon like Hercules’s hydra. And a very large lion-like creature that’s meant to be a reference to the Nemean lion.

But throughout the series there’s another kind of magical creature. Cats. Now, a lot of people who’ve had cats as pets will tell you that the ordinary house cat is a magical creature. Some will claim that they must be able to disappear into other dimensions. And sometimes it certainly seems like it. And trying to get a cat into a carrier to go to the vet is likely to leave you swearing that they’re able to double their size at will.

But the cats in the BECOME series have a different kind of magic. In this series, every descendant of the Goddess has a guardian cat–a small grey cat, to be specific. Well, actually a succession of cats, since even magical cats don’t live as long as humans. These cats have healing powers, so their charges (the Goddess’s descendants) are healed of almost every scrape, scratch, and fever immediately. (Even the cats can’t cure death, though, so anything that happens too suddenly can still be fatal.) The cats are also opinionated and prone to letting their charges know when they’ve done–or are thinking about doing–something wrong or merely stupid.

Later, in BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM, these cats are still grey, but, for some descendants, not necessarily small.

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And then there are the ravens. More on the ravens in the next post.

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Changes

The second round of final revisions to BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM have gone well, so far.

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Just two more.

The first of those I thought was going to be more extensive. But, on reflection, I’m thinking maybe not. I don’t know that that particular meeting needs more emotion. Not that it can’t be refined a little, but I don’t know that it should be deeper. Although these two characters are half-brothers, they’ve never met before, so I don’t think their emotions need to run really deep–yet. I’m going to give that section another read through and then decide.

The second is a place where another character (not a POV character) really should have an emotional reaction to something and currently doesn’t. But since he doesn’t have the POV, it will only the obvious, external reaction. Well, and the effect that has on the POV character.

So, it’s looking really good to complete these revisions soon. Then I think I’ll let it rest just a little before I start the final polishing edit. I think I’ll spend the time doing some research into launch strategies and see if I can’t give this one off to a better start than the last one. There’s always something new that can be learned and a chance to do things a little better with each book.

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I’ve finished the first round of final revisions on BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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That included a partial rewrite of a couple of chapters toward the end.

This morning I started going through the comments I still have marked up in the manuscript. At least a couple of them I added myself during the read through. Some of them will be relatively easy once I’ve decided how to handle them. I’ve knocked off a couple of those already. Some will take a lot more thought and a lot more work. At least I don’t need to do another complete read-through for these.

No definitive estimate at this time of how long this phase will take. Most likely before Thanksgiving. Getting closer and closer to the point where I can at least put it up for pre-order, though.

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Moving Right Along

I’m now past the 80% mark in the revisions on BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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Of course that’s only the first round. I’ll have to circle back and work on some of the revisions I couldn’t–or chose not to–complete in this round. Still, with a holiday weekend coming up, I think this round will be done this weekend.

I’ve added a few complexities for my characters to work through and there’s at least one more I may add. And I’ve addressed some things my beta readers found unclear. I won’t know how it all meshes together, of course, until I do the final read-through/polishing edit.

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