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Last post I was on Chapter 43 of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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I am currently on Chapter 44. So, as I said in my last post, this bit has slowed me down a little. In fact, I’m reminding myself–or trying to–that this part doesn’t have to be good, doesn’t have to be my best writing–yet. It’s a first draft. I’m reminding myself of Shannon Hale’s great quote on the subject of first drafts about shoveling sand into a box in order to be able to build castles later.

However, looking ahead, I believe there are only about six chapters left after this one. And I have all of them in my rolling outline. One or two of those could split for various reasons, like a change of POV character. Still, that’s two to three more weeks at recent speed and way ahead of my projected schedule.

And that’s very good news for how the rest of the schedule for this book could go. If I can complete it by the end of July–or thereabouts. Then August becomes the month of rest for this manuscript. (I’ll likely be starting a rewrite of MAGE STORM during that time.) Then September for the revisions. And out to my beta readers in October–which is a very good goal to try for because November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and some of my beta readers probably wouldn’t be available. And December is . . . well, December. Everybody’s busy. That would leave November/December for final revisions and the polishing edit. It might even be possible that this would be published in December, but January becomes a very good bet.

After the sometimes tooth-pulling experience of getting the first draft of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING done,

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this one has been really fun. And fast.

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The Pace Continues

Last post, I had started Chapter 41 of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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Now I’ve started Chapter 43.

Chapter 41 was a lot of fun. And Chapter 42 had a lot of emotion. Now, Chapter 43 has slowed me down a little. It’s a change of POV and location. And another case of a planned chapter that split into two because I decided I needed both POVs.

It’s also . . . well, some chapters I just have to write my way into. This looks like being one of those. It’s also a bit of a break after the emotional ride of the last two chapters–a chance to catch the breath before things start getting more serious. In more ways than one. Because the climax is only a handful of chapters away, now–assuming no more chapters end up being more than one chapter, like this one did.

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Let’s see, last post I had started Chapter 39 in BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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I have now started Chapter 41, which is still well ahead of schedule. (The goal was two chapters a week and I post twice a week. So, really, I’d be on schedule if I’d only written one chapter in that time frame.)

I’ve actually written a little more than that. Chapter 40 ended up being split when I realized the scene I’d just written more properly belonged a little later in the narrative. So, I cut and pasted and moved it to a new chapter to a new Chapter 46, where it sits by itself until I get to that chapter.

But the real fun is the chapter I’m writing now. The POV character is Mariel, who was an important character in BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING and is more of a side character in the sequel.

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She is one of the more patient and mild-mannered characters–normally. But she’s just hit the end of her tether and is about to unleash her–considerable–wrath over a wide swath of people she doesn’t think have come up to snuff in the current situation. People who mostly aren’t used to be talked to that way.

This is going to be fun!

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I’ve explained before that I’m a modified discovery writer. I don’t outline the entire story before I start writing–though I do know the end I’m trying to reach and at least a few of the major points in between. I also do tend to have a sort of rolling outline of what’s going to happen in the next few chapters–usually three to five. But sometimes that estimate is off.

BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM is turning out to be no exception.

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So, the chapter I mentioned in my last post ran longer than expected. Not really unusual, especially with a lot of dialog. Generally, I prefer my chapters to be no longer than ten pages. It’s a personal preference. As a reader, I appreciate a stopping place so that if I need to stop for a bit, I can easily find my place again. Scene breaks work, too, but chapter breaks are better. Some chapters are, of course shorter–even much shorter. A few just have to go longer.

But very often, there is a place to break and start a new chapter. And sometimes, that’s also a good place for a change of POV character and a slightly different outlook on the situation. So, that’s what I did with this chapter, switching from Margan (previously referred to as Impatient in that previous post) to Rose (the Neighbor).

But what was to happen at the end of the original chapter needs to be in Margan’s POV when he realizes something no one had suspected–least of all Rose. It just won’t work from Rose’s at all. So that means a third chapter, possibly fairly short, in Margan’s POV.

One chapter just became three. To be followed by the chapter in Gaian’s POV that was always intended to follow that little episode in Margan’s POV. Though, because something else has been delayed that would have happened before that.

And only then, the thing that action which was delayed, probably another chapter in Margan’s POV. The delay of this chapter helps to fill that plot hole I was worried about earlier. And, at the same time, helps to set up some action–actually a couple of pieces of action–that will occur later in the story. So win-win.

But that one chapter (which, I can see now, was always going to be too long) is now four chapters.

And all of that will be followed by another new chapter as other characters cope with what Margan and Rose got up to. This chapter will also nicely set up some later action. And then back to the original plan with a chapter in Kaleran’s POV

Not counting the finished chapter I started off from, that’s six chapters ahead. Assuming none of those decide to multiply, of course.

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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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