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Posts Tagged ‘characters’

I’ve started back to work on the sequel to BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING,

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BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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Switching gears, even to a sequel always takes a few days–even without life interrupting. And plumbing issues–one of the joys of an old house–have definitely interrupted.

However, one of the first things I’ve done is to review the comments on the first five chapters by an alpha reader. And, based on that, I’ve decided to add a new first chapter, from the perspective of one of the primary characters from the BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, just to give readers a quick grounding in WHERE and especially WHEN this story takes place.

I’ve decided this because otherwise the story starts with an entirely new character who wasn’t even referenced in the first book. And also because the sequel takes place about eighteen years after the first book. Hopefully, this will ease readers in a little more gently, even if it appears to be a somewhat slow beginning. It’ll be a very short chapter, at least. So that’s what I’m doing now.

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Kaleran is still surprising me. Turns out he’s sneaky, too. Well, with his past, he almost had to be, but I hadn’t planned on that. Well, no doubt it will prove useful elsewhere in the plot, too.

Here’s a snippet I just wrote from BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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Someone thought they could lock him in the same cellar they used to lock him in when he was a lot younger. Someone also forgot that he’d escaped from that cellar before, because they think the door wasn’t really locked that time.

“What are you doing?” Alander—Uncle Alander—asked.

“Getting us out of here.”

“I tried the door already. It’s too strong.” He stopped and eyed Kaleran for a moment, then shook his head. “There’s no way to get a good grip on it, so probably too strong for you, too.”

Kaleran smiled grimly. “I’ve been in this Tower for thirteen years. I spent a good deal of that time figuring out how to evade or escape from Uncle Cordan.” He grimaced. “Until he started sending troops of Tower guards after me, anyway.”

He reached up to shoulder height with only a slight wince and counted three bricks over from the door frame. He grasped the brick and tried to pull it out. Hmm. Maybe Uncle Cordan had discovered his secret after all. He ran a finger around the top of the brick. Nothing. Around the bottom. Oh, right. He hadn’t been quite as tall back then. He dropped his hand to the brick immediately below and tugged. It pulled out easily, revealing a shallow space just large enough for the small hammer hidden there. It was a little rusty, after all this time, but that wouldn’t matter.

“What’s that for?” Uncle Alander asked.

“Rel—” Kaleran cut himself off. He wasn’t ready to reveal Reldan’s existence just yet. “A friend once told me that it’s always wisest to attack at the weakest point. The weakest point of a door is the hinges. And this door has hinges on the inside.” Something Uncle Cordan never had realized, apparently.

The other man smiled. “Ah.”

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And, finally, the (probably) last POV character, Cordan. The antagonist. He was more of an obstacle in BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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But he’s had time to consolidate some power of his own–that he doesn’t want to lose–and become a true antagonist in BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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Cordan is unlike most of his many half-brothers. They’re all big, strong warriors. A childhood injury kept him from that path. He didn’t have the right temperament for diplomacy. But he was quick to recognize an opportunity in the vacuum during Gaian’s long process of Becoming a god.

Even though he and Gaian never liked each other, he’s started a temple to the Sky God–who doesn’t, yet, exist. And, as long as there is no Sky God, Cordan can pretty much do what he wants. He’s got a vested interest in seeing that Gaian does not succeed.

Here’s his introduction in the second book:

Sitting in his office on the top floor of the Temple Tower—one floor higher than his brother’s neighboring Palace—Cordan unclenched his fist and smoothed out the page his clerk had just brought to him. It wouldn’t do for the man—for anyone—to realize the importance of this particular prophecy. At his request, the Goddess’s Temple sent over copies of all new prophecies so that the New Temple could maintain their own Book of Prophecies. Not that there were that many—maybe two or three in a year. Still, Cordan read each one before it was bound into his copy of the Book. This was the one he had been dreading all these years.

Fatherless, Weather has grown strong and true,

Taught and guided by blood, protected by blood and Temple.

Now the time arrives to seek his lost father and complete the prophecy.

For nearly twenty years, he’d had completely free rein to make the New Temple whatever he wanted. To rule it as if it were his own small but growing kingdom. After this long Cordan had nearly convinced himself that Gaian had failed at something after all and there was no danger of a Sky God arising to interfere with him. He’d even begun to loosen his hold—just slightly—on Kaleran if only because a very frustrated young man with nearly Gaian’s strength was almost as much a danger as Gaian’s success would be. Seemed he’d been a bit premature on both counts.

So, he needed a new plan—and fast. Well, Kaleran was still mostly under his control. Enough, certainly to keep him tight around this tower—and away from wherever “Weather” was supposed to go to find his “lost father.” But Cordan hadn’t really believed Kaleran was the one of Gaian’s sons he needed to concern himself with for years now. It was the other one he needed to worry about. The one whose location he’d only been able to guess at since the princess and her whelp had disappeared seventeen years ago.

He stood up and walked over to the big table, spreading out the map and weighting its corners to keep it flat. Not in Juturna, he was certain of that, at least. “Protected by blood and Temple.” Eh, well not his Temple, that much was certain. And if the Goddess’s Temple knew where the boy was, they obviously weren’t going to tell him.

This could mean trouble for Margan. And Gaian. And Rose. And Kaleran. Well, trouble is what an antagonist does best.

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It’s Rose’s turn.

It was difficult to choose an introduction for Rose. She’s a brand new character BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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She’s also the youngest of the POV characters, which means she’ll likely be the one to change the most, in some ways. (Also, it’s quite possible that Rose’s name will change before this book makes it out into the public.)

So, I defaulted to her very first scene. Which also happens to be the first scene in the book–at least right now. All of this is still first draft, after all.

For the third night in a row, Rose dreamed of a very odd palace. It was nothing like the palace here in Versenna, which she’d walked by more times than she could count on her way to the Temple. This palace was all open courtyards and carved arches. Totally impractical. There’d be no way at all to keep the rain or the winter chill out. But . . . other things about this dream made her think that the palace might be somewhere on the other side of the mountains called The Spine of the World. They said it was drier, there.

As on the previous nights, her dream eye was drawn to a young man. The burnished gold of his hair was one of the things that made her think this dream location might be Khatar. At least, the traders that came over the mountain pass from Khatar were the only people she knew who generally had hair that color—well, and a few people whose parents or grandparents had come from Khatar.

This time, the young man rode up to the palace on a horse only a slightly darker shade of gold than his hair, with a creamy mane and tail. Rose had never seen a horse that color, but she had to admit they made a striking pair. Then again, she’d thought the young man was striking whatever he happened to be doing in her dream.

Suddenly she sat bolt upright. “Fatherless, Weather has grown strong and true, taught and guided by blood, protected by blood and Temple. Now the time arrives to seek his lost father and complete the prophecy.”

Her father squeezed her hand. “Wake up now, Rose.”

Her eyes fluttered open and her brows knit, momentarily disoriented. Why was Papa holding her hand? Oh, right. Because she’d had the same dream, or one very like it, for two nights running—three, now. Papa was a Dream Guide, as Rose would be too, someday, and he had to touch her as she dreamed in order to share the dream so he could determine if this was a true dream.

Papa released her hand and began scribbling something hurriedly on the paper on the little table by her bed.

Now, if you want to know what the reference to “Weather” means, well, you’ll just have to read the next blog post, which will introduce another character.

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This is Gaian, Kaleran’s father. Everyone thinks he’s dead–or, well, something like dead. The events at the end of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, left him with no memory of who he is, where he came from, or why he’s in the forest.

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He’s basically been boiled down to a single imperative–Protect those who are weaker. And, since his character is (loosely) based on Hercules, pretty much everybody is weaker. Up to now, he’s mostly done that by removing (permanently) any bandits or other nefarious people he’s found trying to take refuge in the forest.

This isn’t really his first POV appearance in BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM, but it’s a better introduction to who he is now.

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But, then, this isn’t really his introduction, either, since he’s the main character of the series. He’s just rescued Rose–who I expect will be introduced in my next blog post–and escorted her back out of the forest to her family. (Snow is a white raven that he rescued as a nestling, earlier.)

Gaian stood in the shadow of the trees and watched Rose’s reunion with her family. At some point, long ago, he was sure someone had greeted him like that. He had an impression of a woman with pale, pale blonde hair. He just couldn’t remember who she was. Or where.

How long ago was that? He couldn’t remember that, either. Though he knew he’d been in the forest a long time. Cat was getting old, at least. Just this last winter she’d welcomed a new cat who’d come into the forest from somewhere. Gaian had named the new cat Blue Eyes for the distinctive color of her eyes. It was Blue Eyes weaving around his legs right now, while Cat stayed in the shelter of their cave, sleeping.

He didn’t feel like he was getting old himself. Well, people lived longer than cats, he supposed.

Snow, now. Gaian watched the raven amusing himself with another stick. Snow and his mate had raised how many nestlings of their own in the tallest tree at the edge of his glade? He tried to count on his fingers. Hmm. More than fifteen nesting seasons. Probably not as many as twenty. That was as close as he could reckon it, not having paid that much attention to the passing of time.

And in all that time, the only other human voices he’d heard had been bandits and deserters in the few moments before their deaths. Not once, until today, had he heard his name—or even thought of it. In fact, it had taken him a moment to remember his own name. And he still wasn’t sure he’d remembered it exactly correctly. ‘Gan’ was close but . . . not quite right.

It made him a little sad to think that. Befitting his mood, a chilly drizzle started. Gaian shook himself and raised the lion’s-head hood of his cape to keep the rain off, though that likely would have frightened Rose.

Rose was a problem, living so close to the forest. As a descendant of the Goddess, she definitely had a claim on his protection. And the forest wasn’t safe. It certainly wouldn’t be safe for her to get in the habit of running into the forest. Well, the first thing he needed to do was dispose of a couple of bandits’ bodies. Then backtrack and try to ascertain if they were alone or if there was a larger band he needed to deal with.

And . . . and maybe he’d come check on Rose a little more frequently.

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Characters

So, I continue to work on BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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Rather than just keep updating my progress, I’m going to share the introductions of the various POV characters. Not necessarily in the order of their introduction in the narrative.

Here’s Kaleran, eldest son of the main character, last seen at the end of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING at the age of five when his father died (at least as far as anyone knows). He’s now twenty-three. (Yes, there’s an eighteen-year gap between books 1 and 2.)

The sanctuary garden was blessedly empty at this hour. Taking one more look around, just to be sure, he knelt before the Goddess’s statue. Mumbling one hurried devotion, he felt around the base for the little hollow, hidden by a miniature rose bush, and retrieved his treasure.

He was fairly sure, by now, that the priestesses knew about it and left it there, because it was important to him. But he never spoke of it, and neither did they. He . . . didn’t really want to talk about it. It was silly for a grown man to place so much importance in a child’s toy, but he couldn’t help it.

With the wooden sphere in his hand, he said a more sincere devotion and retreated to the bench, rolling the ball in his hand. The paint was fading, after all this time. In places it had peeled off entirely. Once, it had been bright red with blue and yellow stripes, the beautiful favorite toy of a five-year old boy. It was all he had left of that happy life before . . . before everything had come crashing down. The only thing that helped him remember when he had been truly loved—not cared for out of duty by a man too busy to spare him so much as an hour. Though, in truth, Uncle Benar had little more time for his own sons. Or, later . . . whatever you could call Uncle Cordan’s tutelage, it surely wasn’t love.

Kaleran wasn’t just sure what it was, actually. When he’d been sent to the tower at ten years old, Uncle Benar had said that he was to be trained and prepared to be High Priest for his father, someday. But if that was Uncle Cordan’s purpose, he had a very odd way of going about it. The only training Kaleran received was when he was allowed to go back across to the Palace and join the other young men for a tiny portion of their training. At least, the only training Uncle Cordan knew about. There were a couple of Temple Guards, here, who gave him personal training in the warrior’s circle—the training he was forbidden to get at the Palace. Of course, Uncle Cordan’s demands had forced him to miss even that outlet today.

If he was meant to be High Priest someday, shouldn’t he be learning about the running of the New Temple and the equinox festivals and . . . and theology, or something?

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I’m moving forward in the first draft of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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I’ve moved all my characters into position and now it’s time for things to start to get interesting.

Well, I hope it’s been interesting up to this point, too, of course. But now I mean more in the may-you-live-in-interesting-times sense. Unexpected complications confusing and separating allies while the antagonist attempts to strengthen his position. Although, the antagonist has got a few unexpected complications in store, too in just a few chapters. Some things that will make one character change sides.

In other words, the next few chapters are going to be fun to write.

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