Posts Tagged ‘conflict’

Still working on BECOME, of course.


Just one more scene and then I get to work on one of the more exciting parts of this story. Hint: There’ll be a dragon involved.

This is the point where one of the brothers is going to come very close to betraying the other–only to realize that his assumptions were all wrong.

That’s going to be fun. Dare I hope that writing the story will start moving a little faster?

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The governments of the five different realms of BECOME


are not as diverse as the ones in my DUAL MAGICS series.

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed SetThat would be a tall order. But they do have different ways of passing power from one ruler to the next.

Some use the familiar inheritance by the nearest male relative of the old king. Some use something more like the Holy Roman Empire–a council of prince-electors chose the successor, often from among themselves. In my story, the council is empowered to choose the new king from the old king’s extended family.

And, one kingdom uses a system somewhat related to Frazer’s (See, THE GOLDEN BOUGH) sacred king. In my case, a Great Combat is held at intervals in which two men must fight for the right to rule. The Combat is controlled by the Goddess’s priestesses and serves to reinforce that the right to rule comes from her–only. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always guarantee a good or even a competent king.

There are those who want to end this system, for that reason as well as for dynastic ones. And, of course, those who want to continue it. The conflict between those two groups is part of the background of this story.

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Thanks to some comments in a writer’s forum I belong to (Hatrack River Writers Workshop) about what is–and is not–a flashback and other kinds of story structures that are not linear, I think I finally have a good idea how BELONG needs to flow.


As I’ve said before, BECOME is loosely based on the Hercules myth/legend cycle–turned upside-down. What has intrigued me most about that story is that Herc, at the end, ascends and becomes a god.

Now, exciting as his story is, it’s undeniable that outside of killing monsters and similar feats, Hercules’s life was a disaster. Admittedly, Hera was responsible for most of that, but still . . . what about his life prepared him to be a god of anything (except possibly killing monsters)?

So, Become is mostly about what happens when my character, who has led a blessed and very successful life (upside-down Hercules, remember) is suddenly confronted with the first thing he can’t do easily–become a god. That’s when the story really gets moving. But there’s a lot of story before that, too. Both about the hero and about his near-twin half brother (very like Hercules) who is his sometimes ally-friend, sometimes opponent and who will be the one to try to take advantage of that failure.

I now think I know how to start the story much closer to that key event and then let the earlier story come in, hopefully organically. We’ll see how well I succeed at that.

I have a reading list of a couple of books that have done something similar to look into, too.

Of course, what I really should be working on is MAGE STORM. I guess my muse just doesn’t agree with my plans.

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I’m currently writing the chapter (or possibly two) that will lead up to the climactic battle of WAR OF MAGIC–and the whole DUAL MAGICS series.


There’s a reason why the cover for this book has fire as a background image, where the earlier books had lightning or smoke backgrounds–all in blue and red to symbolize the two kinds of magic.

I’ve got one character who may be dead already in the first attack. He’s never been a POV character and the other characters don’t know, so I’ve got a little time to decide if I’m going to save him or not. (Probably not.) I already killed off another character awhile back. Not my favorite thing to write, even off-stage.

Nevertheless, a few more are going to have to die or be seriously injured. I can believably get them through a few skirmishes mostly unharmed. But not this battle.

Makes me a little sad. I’ve spent quite a lot of time with these characters by now. I’d like to send them all off to live happily ever after, but that just won’t work for this story.

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Let me be clear. I despise cliff hangers. And not just the ones that leave a main character literally hanging off some metaphorical cliff. I also hate the ones that have only a temporary resolution of the story problem–or none at all–and basically force you to pick up the next book to find out what happens.

I’ve worked really hard in all of the DUAL MAGICS books to have a complete story in each one–some problem that starts early in the book and gets some kind of resolution at the end. Of course, middle books in series also need to have a build-up of unresolved problems that will come to fruition in the last book, which complicates the resolution. But each book does have some conflict that defines that part of the series, too.

While I’ve been taking a brief respite from DUAL MAGICS, I’ve been working on a very rough draft of the first book of what will be my next epic fantasy series. (By the way, the break is working. My subconscious has started throwing up ideas about the way things should go as I build to the series climax. I’ll be able to go back to it with more enthusiasm–and more inspiration–soon.) I think this new series will be a trilogy, possibly a duology.

But here’s the problem: right now at least, I can’t see any way that this first book can end that isn’t a cliff hanger. Oh, not that I won’t have, sort of, resolved the conflict I set up at the beginning. But it won’t be a satisfying kind of resolution. And it can’t be, not for this series.

And that presents a problem for me. I don’t want to do to my readers the sort of thing that annoys me as a reader. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m getting a start on this now. I may need to write this series all the way to the end, at least in rough draft, first. That way, I could shorten the time between releases so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.

For right now, it’s still just get the story down, though.

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So by now it’s obvious that this is really a collection of deleted scenes making up most of a subplot I had to delete from THE VOICE OF PROPHECY


and couldn’t shoehorn into BEYOND THE PROPHECY.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The first parts are in this post, and this one. Here’s the end of it:

Vatar looked back over his little column of riders to where Teran and Terania rode in a zone of isolation, shunned by Thekila. Even Quetza barely spoke to them. That had been going on for three days. Vatar couldn’t help thinking of the period in the Valley, before she chose him, when Thekila had treated Vatar similarly. And how it had made him feel. Well, they’d be home this afternoon. He’d speak to her then, when they could be alone.

Vatar opened the door to the room next to the one he shared with Thekila. The twins were soundly asleep. He shut the door quietly and continued to the room at the end. Pausing to watch Thekila brushing out her flame-red hair, he sat down to pull off his boots. Without looking up, he drew a deep breath. “You should let up on Teran.”

Thekila whirled to face him. “What?”

Vatar looked up to meet her eyes. “You don’t have to seek him out, or spend a lot of time with him, or even forgive him. That’s fine with me. Just . . . return his greeting in the morning. Nod or give him a word when he speaks to you. That’s all.”

Thekila’s brows creased. “Why?”

Vatar stood up and crossed to her side. He put his hand to her face, allowing his thumb to caress her cheek. “Because I remember how it hurt, when we quarreled, before you chose me. When you shut me out like that.” His eyes drifted slightly away from hers. “You drove me to tears, you know.”

Thekila blinked. “Tears?”

Vatar nodded slightly, still not meeting her gaze directly. “Late at night, when I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to make things right between us.” He looked back into her eyes. “Don’t torment him. It isn’t necessary.”

Thekila looked up into his eyes for a long moment. “You know, if your positions were reversed, I don’t think Teran would make the same request on your behalf.”

Vatar smiled crookedly. He caressed her cheek again. “That doesn’t matter.”

Thekila smiled back. “No. Vatar, you should know. I made the right choice.” Her voice grew harder. “But don’t do anything like that again until you talk to me, first.”


Teran waited until he could get Thekila alone for a moment. She’d smiled at him that morning, but not in a very natural way. That stiff smile. He couldn’t shake the thought that she’d begun to realize her danger. That she was beginning to see the truth. He had to try again, for her sake. “Thekila, have you changed your mind? Are you starting to think—?”

Thekila spun to face him, cutting him off. “Don’t, Teran.”

Teran took a step back. “What?”

Thekila’s lips thinned. “Don’t say it. I’m speaking to you because Vatar asked me to. But don’t try my patience by bringing that subject up again.”

Teran blinked. “Vatar asked you to?”

Thekila crossed her arms in front of her chest. “Yes. He said it wasn’t necessary to hurt you. Even though he’s never liked you. Even after you tried to come between us again. He’s a better man than you in every way, Teran. And if you dare to question his sanity in my presence again, I will never forgive you. Never.” She turned and strode away. Every footstep punctuating the distance that had suddenly grown between them.

Terania came up beside him. “I tried to warn you.”

He swallowed hard. “Will she . . .”

Terania shook her head. “She’ll never turn to you, now. No matter what happens.” She sighed. “We’ll still be here and we’ll try to protect her. But I doubt she’ll ever completely forgive you.”

“Even if I’m right? Even if Vatar is crazy?” he asked.

Especially if you’re right.”

BEYOND THE PROPHECY released yesterday.

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Here’s a continuation of the deleted scene from THE VOICE OF PROPHECY I started in my last blog post.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I had hoped to fit this subplot into BEYOND THE PROPHECY, but it just wouldn’t fit.


Thekila smiled as she watched Vatar carry the twins off to their tent to put them to bed. Both had fallen asleep cuddled up to his sides almost as soon as they’d eaten. She rinsed off all four plates and started toward the tent herself.

Teran stepped in front of her. “I need to talk to you.”

Thekila looked toward the tent, where the sound of Vatar’s pipes playing his lullaby called to her. “Can’t it wait? There’ll be plenty of time to talk while we ride tomorrow.”

Teran put out his arm to block her. “I don’t think it can. Thekila, you have to face the truth. Vatar is . . . dangerous. If you are becoming bound, then you have to end it, now. While you still can.”

Thekila’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean?”

Teran reached out to take hold of her arm, as if he’d drag her away from her tent—and Vatar. “He’s obviously insane. Believing he knows what the lions are thinking.”

Thekila shook her head. “No. He didn’t say he knew what they were thinking. He knows what mood they are in.”

“And you believe him?” Teran asked.

Thekila frowned. Skepticism was one thing. She’d expect that of Teran. But he’d seen the proof twice now. He’d seen her sense the eagle before the others, when she couldn’t have seen it. And how did he think Vatar had known the lions were there if he couldn’t sense them? “Of course I do. I know he can feel the lions because I can sense the eagles in the same way. It’s perfectly true, Teran. He’s not crazy.”

Teran drew in his breath. “Thekila, are you pregnant with his child?”

She smiled and placed a hand over her abdomen. “Yes.”

“Then it’s that much more important that you listen to me. Staying with a mad man . . . It endangers you and the child. You have to think of that. Come back to the Valley with me. I’ll take care of you. I’ll even raise his child. But you can’t . . .”

Thekila pulled her arm out of his grasp and stepped back, out of his reach. Her voice rose. “Don’t try to tell me what I can and can’t do, Teran. Vatar was right about you. He tried to tell me that you wanted to break us up, but I wouldn’t believe him. I told him not to be jealous of you, that you were like a big brother to me. And all the time . . . Don’t ever try to come between Vatar and me, Teran. He is not insane. I could not be safer anywhere than with him.” She started to walk past him to her tent.

Teran grabbed her arm again. “He asked me to keep you safe. Even he knows that he’s losing his mind.”

Thekila whirled in one of the moves Orleus had taught her during their training sessions last winter, freeing her arm and placing herself nearer to her tent, where Teran would have a harder time stopping her again. “Vatar may doubt himself. That doesn’t mean that I will ever doubt him.”

She took another step back, out his reach, then turned and stalked off to her tent, back stiff.

Vatar looked up as she pushed aside the tent flap. His eyes narrowed instantly and he stood up from their bedroll. “What’s the matter?”

Thekila looked toward the sleeping twins and her lips thinned. “Can you come outside for a moment?”

Vatar looked toward the twins, too. They were soundly asleep at the back of the tent, curled around each other. “All right.”

Thekila walked a few paces away from the camp before spinning to face Vatar. “Did you tell Teran to try to persuade me to return to the Valley?”

Vatar’s eyes flew wide. “What? Of course not!”

Thekila nodded slightly. She really hadn’t believed that. “What did you tell him?”

Vatar reached for her, drawing her into a hug. “I asked him to try to keep you safe if I am losing my mind.”

Thekila wrapped her arms around him. “You were always jealous of Teran. Why would you do that?”

He stroked her back. “I need to know someone will look out for you, if it comes to that.”

“But why Teran? Have you changed your mind about him?”

Vatar huffed softly. “No. I’m not jealous any more—much. After all, you chose me, not him. But I still don’t like him.”

She pushed back within the circle of his arms to look up at his face. “Then why?”

Vatar sighed. “Because I know he loves you, too. He’ll fight for you, if necessary.”

Thekila bit her lip. “Arcas—or your father—would.”

Vatar shook his head. “Arcas can’t fight magic. And Father and Boreala would be trying to save me, not you.” He cupped her face with his hand. “I need to know someone will fight for you.

BEYOND THE PROPHECY releases next Tuesday. You have until then to pre-order at the special price of $0.99.

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Actually, this is a whole deleted subplot–or part of it. I’d written this for THE VOICE OF PROPHECY,

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????but had to cut it. The whole return trip to the Valley just didn’t make sense there. The urgency didn’t exist yet and it just wasn’t something Vatar would do at that point. It felt very out of character for him. I was sorry to lose it, because it set up a very nice short-term conflict between Vatar, Thekila, and Teran.

I’d hoped to fit the subplot into BEYOND THE PROPHECY,

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????but the element that really made it work–Vatar thinking he was going crazy–didn’t exist anymore. So, here’s the first part of that subplot.

This takes place as Vatar and his cohort are escorting Teran and Terania–two Valson completely unused to the plains–across the plains to Caere. Vatar’s twins are about four years old at this point. Vatar has earlier asked his former rival, Teran, to look after Thekila if it turns out Vatar is losing his mind.

They stopped at another waterhole that evening. Vatar, Arcas, and Quetza set about making camp, while Theklan took care of the horses and Thekila and Terania made preparations for an evening meal. The twins, free from their day-long confinement, ran around the campsite, releasing all their pent-up energy.

Vatar watched them for a moment. “Stay close. And don’t go near the water.”

He turned back to pitching one of the tents. Arcas and Vatar straightened at the same moment as the dogs began to bark. Vatar didn’t need to ask. Of course Arcas had sensed the lions coming down to drink at the far side of the water hole. Vatar immediately scanned the campsite. He spotted Savara pestering Thekila, but where was Zavar? He extended his Far Sight. The little boy had wandered near the water in spite of Vatar’s warnings. Much too close to the lions. Without meaning to, Vatar slipped into the viewpoint of the big male—watching Zavar as he drifted closer. He swallowed hard past the sudden lump in his throat. “Stop where you are, Zavar!”

Zavar stopped and looked back, wide-eyed at his father’s tone of voice.

Teran looked up, too. “What is it?”

Vatar strode forward and gathered up Zavar before he answered. “Look ahead of him, by the water’s edge. Behind the reeds.”

Teran squinted. “I don’t see anything.”

Arcas left the tents and went to scoop up Savara. “Look closer.”

Teran stiffened. “Lions!”

Vatar carried Zavar back to the center of the camp, shaking his head. “He’s going to be just like me. Always curious and always wandering off.”

Arcas bounced Savara in his arms. “Too bad Aunt Lucina isn’t here to tell us how she kept you out of trouble.”

Vatar set Zavar down next to Teran. “Lots of eyes, Arcas. There’s always someone told off to keep an eye on the children.” He took Savara and set her down next to her brother. “Teran, I’m afraid it’s going to be your job while we finish setting up camp. Keep them away from the water.”

Terania dropped the knife she’d been using to cut up the dried meat. “You mean we’re going to stay here? Aren’t we going to move camp somewhere safer?” Terania asked.

Arcas looked briefly toward the waterhole. “It’s safe enough. They’re already moving away. They just came down for a drink. Anyway, it’d take half the night to get to the next waterhole. That’d be more dangerous than staying here.”

“Do we set a watch tonight?” Quetza asked.Arcas snorted. “No need. The dogs will warn us of anything that approaches. That’s part of their job.”

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So, last time I blogged about the last sticky revisions to BEYOND THE PROPHECY. The ones I left until last because I needed to think about them more.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Probably the hardest of those–and the one I was likely to leave to last–was a very general note on the whole middle of the story. A large part of what’s going on there is actually setting up for the conflict in the fourth (and final) book of the series. But that meant that it largely lost sight of the main conflict of this story. Things were happening, often exciting things, but they didn’t seem to further the story. And as a consequence it felt weak, sort of meandering.

But I need those things to happen. This is one of the problems with wiriting middle books in a series. And it was going to be the hardest thing to fix in this manuscript.

Then, on Monday, I listened to the latest episode of the Writing Excuses podcast. Which just happened to be about middles and characters needing to fail (even if they succeed at something smaller) during the middle. And the light broke through. That sometimes happens when my subconscious is worrying at a problem for me (while I take care of the easier revisions) and then I run across just the thing that proves to be the key to the solution.

I’m likely going to listen to that podcast again–maybe more than once. But the key is this. Yes, my characters have to step aside to deal with this other problem before it gets out of hand. (It will, anyway, of course, but not until the next book.) Yes, but by doing that, something else has to go wrong in the main conflict because they weren’t there to stop it.

I need to work it so that when we come to the climax, the situation is worse than it would have been (not necessarily a lot worse than it already is, though) if they had made different choices. Even though their choices weren’t wrong.

It’s going to take a bit of reworking, but it will make the story so much stronger.


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I’ve finally made progress on the blurb for BEYOND THE PROPHECY.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????It isn’t finished, yet. It still needs some tightening, but I’ve finally got something I can work with:

The foundations of Vatar’s world are unraveling.

Being one of a handful graced—or cursed—with both kinds of magic makes Vatar the target of those who think he’s too dangerous.

The Council that rules his adopted city has guaranteed safety for him and his family in return for his promise not to expose their secrets. But they’ve already failed to keep their part of the bargain.

One Council member sees him as an obstacle to furthering her power. Gerusa launches an unsanctioned attack on Vatar and his family. When that fails, she is forced to flee the city.

But that’s far from the end. Even from exile, Gerusa exerts influence, causing the city to churn with unrest and uncertainty. It’s clear that her goal is to unseat the Council and replace it with herself as sole ruler.

Unable to trust the Council, Vatar sets out to stop her.

But when he’s captured, he’ll be forced to prove his boast that it’s impossible to imprison anyone who can do what he can—or die.

The key was to focus on the central conflict.

I’ve also finished marking up the revision notes. One of the things I know is that I need to center the manuscript more on the central conflict. (Maybe not surprising that I had trouble with the blurb, then, huh?) There is a central conflict, but other things are happening, too. Things that lead up to the conflict in the fourth and final book in the DUAL MAGICS series. I just need to make sure that the main conflict of this story gets center stage.

A bit later today, it will be time to dig in and start the final revisions. Once I have a handle on that, I’ll be able to set the release date. The target is still September.

I also now have a new cover for “Modgud Gold“.

Modgud Gold Cover NewThat ties in with the series much better.

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