Archive for Writing and Publishing

Writing a New-new Book

For NaNoWriMo I put aside the alternate reality, time travel-ish scifi novel I’d been writing and started something completely new. While I didn’t hit the 50k word goal, I did get a great foothold on the story and a lot of worldbuilding in. For now I’m calling it Wyvern’s Wings, though as with most things that may change. Just for kicks, I’m going to give a bit of a rundown on the story and the characters I’ve got so far. There will be a map at the end for reference.

So what is Wyvern’s Wings? Well, it’s a fantasy story, for one thing. And I guess it qualifies as part of the Young Adult genre, given that the protagonist(s) are teenagers. The story follows two characters: Sabine and Cecily. Here’s a quick rundown of the plot, and then I’ll go into some characters.

Sabine Corwen is the daughter of the king, his only child and heir to the throne of Viranthia. Cecily is a member of the mercenary company The Black Wyverns, and used to be Sabine’s undercover bodyguard, traveling with her everywhere under the guise of a handmaid, the last line of defense should the royal guard fail in their duty. She was also much more than that, and when the king found out about their relationship he had Cecily banished from the kingdom despite Sabine’s protests.

But Cecily isn’t one to take that sort of thing in stride. She hatched a crazy, impossible plan – she would recruit a dragon to help her “kidnap” Sabine. Reunited, the two of them could live out their lives together in peace.

Unfortunately, the world has a habit of turning plans on their head. While Cecily tracks down the dragon Vortax in Sardir, far to the south, Viranthia is gripped by a coup. The Duchess Greymoore seizes the throne while the kingdom’s armies are away fighting a war with neighboring Urdomar. King Corwyn is killed, and Sabine barely escapes assassination herself.

Hearing of the chaos in Viranthia, Cecily races home with Vortax in tow, not knowing if Sabine is alive or dead, and determined to wreak bloody vengeance if it’s the latter. At the same time, Sabine becomes entangled in a counter-rebellion that either aims to restore her to the throne or use her as a convenient figurehead with which to seize power.

Hopefully that all sounds interesting. Here are the characters I’ve got so far:

Magnus Corwyn, king of Viranthia. Magnus didn’t remarry after the queen died, leaving his daughter Sabine an only child and heir to the throne. Under his rule Viranthia has become embroiled in a war with neighboring Urdomar, a war which is slowly being lost. To keep things going he has slowly increased both taxation and conscription for the military, making him unpopular with the people. He meets his end when Duchess Greymoore seizes the throne.

Sabine Corwyn, princess and heir to Viranthia. Seventeen years old, she has a rocky relationship with her father, though the public would never know. The weight of responsibility as heir weighs heavily on her, a burden that felt lighter when Cecily was around. Recent events have made that relationship worse. Cecily’s banishment was one, the other is the marriage her father arranged to Prince Rothar of Osterim. The marriage would unite the two kingdoms under one rule, in the long term, and in the short term make Osterim’s troops available to push back Urdomar. And then there was the coup, and everything turned upside down.

Cecily Wyvern, mercenary. Wyvern isn’t her actual last name, though in truth she has no idea what it would be anyway. She doesn’t know her father, and her mother is a vague memory from long ago. But that’s not to say she doesn’t have a family. Ruark, leader of the Black Wyverns, took her in whenever it was she lost her parents, and has been her surrogate father for her entire life. Growing up in a mercenary company she was treated as part mascot, part everybody’s kid sister, and they taught her a lot of things. At seventeen, she’s equal to just about anyone in a fight. Those skills got her a contract to be Sabine’s bodyguard, and fate took it from there. When she lost Sabine and was exiled, it took away both things she loved – Sabine and the Wyverns. But that’s ok, because she’s got a plan to turn everything around. She just needs a dragon.

Ruark, mercenary leader. Ruark is the leader of the Black Wyverns, and has been since he was a young man. Through circumstance and history, he was also a friend of King Magnus Corwyn, and the Wyverns benefitted from a lot of work doing things the kingdom’s troops couldn’t or shouldn’t be seen doing. It also led to Cecily and Sabine coming together, and it was only Ruark’s intervention that got Cecily banished rather than imprisoned. With Magnus dead and Sabine in need, Ruark leads the Wyverns in joining the nascent counter-rebellion. He, at least, is determined to see her back on the throne, though he has his doubts about many of the other nobles involved.

Duchess Evaline Greymoore, usurper of the throne and former marshal of the army. Greymoore is a middled aged woman who has always had an eye for seizing the day. Appointed one of the kingdom’s military field marshals, she has long made it a point to appear extremely loyal to the king. But when Viranthia’s armies are all occupied fighting Urdomar, and the nobility and commoners both come to dislike King Corwyn, she sees an opportunity. Claiming to fight for the welfare of the people, and backed by a cabal of treacherous nobles, she seizes power. Her first act is to cede land to Urdomar for a quick peace and end the war, but things start to go awry when Sabine turns out to be alive and leading a rebellion against her rule. Sabine isn’t the only problem – other kingdoms are eyeing Viranthia like wolves circling a wounded deer, and Cecily hasn’t even shown up with her dragon yet.

Ethan, royal guard recruit. Twenty years old, Ethan had just finished training and induction into the royal guard when the kingdom collapsed around him. His first assignment was to help guard Sabine’s carriage as the princess went to meet her future husband, Prince Rothar. It ended in an ambush and bloody disaster, and while he managed to pull Sabine to safety in the woods he is at a loss for what to do next. As Sabine becomes involved in the counter-rebellion, he settles into the role of silent bodyguard. He’s the last of the loyal royal guard, after all, and he intends to see that Sabine stays alive to reclaim her throne.

Indigo, Black Wyvern mercenary. Indigo was down south in the trade city of Taradiid when the coup happened, looking into business opportunities for the Wyverns. He’s also gotten himself into a lot of trouble with the city guard when Cecily comes through on her way north. Thanks to her he gets out of it, and joins her on the way back to Viranthia.

Barros, gang leader. Being a major trade hub, Taradiid has no shortage of gangs and criminal organizations. Barros leads one, using his street runners to steal from merchants and city guard alike with puckish impunity. When he was a younger man, he worked with Ruark when the Wyverns had a contract to provide security for the city. The two of them worked both sides and shared profits, becoming good friends. He even remembers Cecily from when she was tiny, and agrees to help her get back north to Viranthia under the condition she make sure Ruark was ok, and get him to send Barros a friendly hello from time to time.

Kinja, one of Barros’ street runners. Lithe, agile, fast, silent. Kinja is one of Barros best street runners, able to get into places unnoticed and fight her way out of trouble with equal aplomb. She is chosen by Barros to accompany Cecily and Indigo to Viranthia.

Vortax, dragon. Vortax lived relatively quietly in the desert canyons of Sardir, hoarding stories, books, and scrolls. When Cecily comes looking for him he agrees to help after she explains what she wants, and promises that she will give him a most valuable thing he could never get elsewhere – the opportunity to actually take part in an amazing story.

Obviously, this isn’t a comprehensive list of characters, but I think these are all of the important ones (so far). When I come up with more, I’ll be sure to make additional posts detailing them.

And, as promised, here the map:

 

Update! Querying and New Book In Progress

Well, I haven’t posted much about that game that I mentioned in my last post, but rest assured there have been game sessions. I may even do some writeups here at some point.

In other news, I have query letters out to agents for my fantasy western book Goyle Country. Here’s hoping somebody likes the sound of a fantasy/western adventure mashup. Also, I’ve started work on a third book. This one is an alternate reality sci-fi story. I’m already on chapter three, with about 3200 words put in. Not too shabby, really. I’m aiming to have it finished before November so I can throw a fourth project at NaNoWriMo. I think I’m on track for that, but we’ll see how it goes!

I hate misplacing plot items

Typing along on the Fantasy Western after a week or two of not writing because I had the plague, when suddenly… crap. Where did I leave the dynamite? I have to know where I left the dynamite. Plot cannot progress without knowing where the boomsticks are. Blergle.

Welp.

Ah, having to delete 500+ words because you realized a thing you were doing was no longer possible because of a plot point many pages ago. Gotta love writing.

Slowly but surely

Haven’t been writing as much as I’d like lately, work has got me a bit brain fried. But I am roughly five thousands words past the original ending, so there’s progress being made, slowly but surely.

Progress Update

Say, how about an update? I’ve already caught up to the wordcount I had prior to axing the ending of the Fantasy Western, but I’m not quite done yet. Part of redoing the end was adding a bit more to certain subplot and character interactions. That’s going well, I think, and I’m trying not to stretch the ending too far out. I’d like to keep this book shorter than the 170k-ish words that Clockwork & Old Gods ended up being. So far it’s sitting at just shy of 70k. That’s a whole hundred thousand words less! Good gods, that first book was a monster, wasn’t it?

Success!

Well, the free book promotion seems to have been a success. 284 books given away! Including, oddly enough, three from this morning after I thought the promotion had ended. But hey, what’s three more free copies? Thanks to everyone who picked up a free copy or helped spread the word. I’m looking forward to seeing what sorts of reviews this generates, good or bad.

And in the meantime, I’ve gotten the Fantasy Western (which stubbornly refuses to take on an actual title) nearly rewritten. Fourteen pages to go and then I’ll be asking people to beta read.

Remember That Fantasy Western?

Well, I’m finally almost through re-writing. I just have the very end to redo, which is about 15 pages worth. I’m pretty much scrapping it entirely and going a different direction with it. Still, it’s just about there. Keep an eye out, because once I’m done I think I’ll ask for beta readers to read through the whole thing and give me more feedback.

Also, this free book promo for Clockwork & Old Gods is getting some good results. 240 free copies have been claimed so far, which isn’t bad at all. I’m looking forward to getting some reviews out of it.

Short Fiction: Oh… hello

Art by Alexander Forssberg

Art by Alexander Forssberg

 

Dragon lairs were notoriously hard to get to. Mostly they nested in the mountains, but every once in a while they’d choose to take over the remains of an abandoned castle or an island in the middle of a lake somewhere. The one Cara was after had chosen, by all the signs she could find, to settle into a series of maze-like canyons the locals called Garth’s Folley. She had no idea who Garth was or why the canyons were named after him, and she honestly hadn’t cared enough to delve into it. All that mattered was she’d found her dragon.

Finding it was, of course, the easy part. Those dragon hunters that lived long enough to develop a strategy usually preferred a slow, careful approach. The longer you stayed hidden, the closer you could get, the better your odds. Rushing in with sword drawn and hollering a battle cry was a sure way to crispy, crunchy death. So it was with some trepidation that Cara simply walked into Garth’s Folley with little preparation and no real plan.

Oh, she wasn’t completely unprepared. She had armor… sort of. Second hand shoulder pauldrons, a beaten up breastplate under a threadbare tabard, and there were a few square pieces of metal that might generously be called bracers strapped to her forearms. Her leather pants were more suited to travel by horseback than combat, but she told herself it would be better than simple cloth. She did have a sword, though it hadn’t come with a shield. In hindsight, a shield seemed rather important when it came to facing down fire breathing dragons. Well, live and learn. Hopefully.

Most importantly, the dragon she’d tracked down was a young one. She hoped its relative inexperience in eating dragon hunters would give her the opportunity she needed. Otherwise… she tried not to dwell on whether it would be crunchy or crispy, because neither sounded particularly appealing.

Cara had been wandering the canyon for almost three days, and was starting to worry she hadn’t brought enough food, when she first caught sight of her quarry. At first it was a shadow moving across the canyon floor, something she mistook as a cloud moving across the sun. But clouds didn’t let out bowl clenching shrieks like the one that came a second later. Startled, she turned her gaze skyward.

Up above the great winged beast lazily circled overhead, giving Cara the impression of a hawk with its eye on a field mouse. The mouse, of course, was probably her. She pushed back against the rough rock of the canyon wall, hoping it hadn’t seen her after all. If it decided to swoop down on her there wouldn’t be any chance of self defense.

Luckily it either hadn’t seen her, or had its eye on a different mouse, for when it tucked its wings and dove it disappeared into another part of the canyon. She saw it several times after that, always in the sky, and from those brief glimpses she guessed at what must be the direction of its lair.

Even then, finding her way towards it through the labyrinth of rock was a difficult task. At last, with food dangerously low, she found signs that she was on the right track. First was a bone from an animal she couldn’t place, cracked and pitted with teeth marks. The further she went the more bones there were, scattered carelessly across the canyon floor, occasionally in small piles. More telling were the scales. She’d heard about how dragons molted, and knew good condition scales could sell for a nice price in some places.

But now wasn’t the time for treasure hunting. The real prize was close. If this was where the dragon ate, where it kept its hoard would be close by. And if the dragon was home it would be with its hoard.

Creeping slowly through the bones she heard a deep, rumbling snort, and froze in her tracks. It had come from a turn in the canyon just up ahead. It was here, just like she wanted. Brandishing the sword in front of her, Cara swallowed hard and continued on, using the sound of what she now believed to the dragon’s snores to mask her footsteps. She took one more steadying breath, clenched her teeth, and turned the corner to see… nothing.

No dragon. No hoard, even. The canyon simply ended in a dusty, empty dead end. And yet the sound had definitely come from here, she was sure of it. She walked further in, curiously looking around for somewhere the dragon could be hiding. A hidden cave entrance maybe, or… or maybe this was a trap. The realization hit her like a punch in the gut. The dragon noises had stopped. If it had been here – she looked up to the sky, wondering if it was above her, waiting to pounce.

“Shit,” she breathed. “Where are you? You had to have gone somewhere!”

“Looking for me?” A low, thickly accented voice rumbled from behind her.

Cara spun to face the dragon, sword raised in a token gesture of defense. How had it gotten behind her, and without making a noise? “Oh,” she croaked weakly, “Hello…”

It stalked slowly forward, a menacing growl issuing from the back of its throat. She retreated until there was nowhere left to go, and pressed her back into the wall. This wasn’t how things were supposed to go. Not at all. The dragon’s nose was almost close enough to touch the tip of her sword. It was not impressed. Not at all. But she wasn’t dead yet, and that gave her an opportunity.

“Wait!” she plead. “Don’t eat me yet! I’m not here to kill you or steal your hoard, I swear!”

“Good thing,” the dragon snorted, blowing a gust of hot, fetid breath across her face. “You wouldn’t have succeeded at either. So why are you here, soft one? I’ve been watching you for days as you wandered these canyons. You’re no warrior. You don’t even have a shield. I’ve eaten better warriors than you with one eye closed.”

“Right, I knew I should have gotten a shield. I mean, um…” Cara looked at her sword, then back at the dragon. She only had one chance to get this right. She dropped the sword and tried to stand up straight. “I need your help.”

This, at least, seemed to take the dragon by surprise. “Oh?” it drolled. “How unusual. What could I possibly help you with?”

“Well,” Cara took a breath and made a squinting, sheepish face. “I need you to kidnap a princess…”

The dragon was silent for several seconds. Cara began to worry it would just eat her anyway, but eventually it settled onto its belly on the floor, legs folded underneath, and snapped those terrifying teeth together several times. “How wonderfully cliche,” it said, snapping teeth again. Cara began to suspect this was the dragon version of a laugh. “Why?” it asked.

So she laid it all out. How she had been hired as a tutor to teach the king’s daughter. How they’d fallen in love, how the king had found out and banished her, and how the princess had become betrothed to the prince of another land.

“If we ran,” Cara explained, “The king would know. He’d come after us, chase us to the end of the world to get his daughter back. And to punish me. But if she were taken by a dragon…”

“Ah,” the dragon nodded. “He would think she’d been eaten, or whatever it is dragons are supposed to do with kidnapped princesses.”

“Right,” Cara agreed. “At the very least he wouldn’t think to come after us. I know dragons don’t usually help people… but will you? If you told me what you hoard, I’m sure I could find something to pay you with.”

“Do you know why dragons never help anyone?” it asked, slitted yellow eyes narrowed. “It’s because no one ever asks. And this… this is so wonderfully out of the ordinary I’ll do it for free. Tell me more about this princess of yours…”

 

News!

So, news! I’ve finally gotten around to enrolling my book (Clockwork & Old Gods) in Amazon’s KDP Select. In order to make that happen I had to remove it from everywhere else – Smashwords, B&N, etc. I wasn’t getting much in the way of sales elsewhere anyway, so hopefully this move helps some.

KDP Select also gives the option to run a five day promotion during which the book is free, and I’ll be setting one of those up soon to try and bump my Amazon sales rank a bit.

For anyone interested, and for anyone who wants to maybe help spread word around, you can find the book here:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BAW4MYW