Raevenly is Writing: Research

I spent the better part of tonight doing nothing.

That’s not true, but that’s how it felt. What I did was spend two and a half hours wandering google, trying to find the right questions to ask to figure out how my main character lives. It’s an important question, and daily life of the D’anhkkhna is one of the main reasons I set out to write this story.

But I hate that I “wasted” my writing time wandering google, so after researching, spending all night at work thinking on what I researched, and a batch of chocolate chip cookies (totally a necessity), I give you: not enough to show for all this effort. 😛 But I know my setting better now, and so it was worth it. I hope.

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Call for beta readers

Thought I’d share this here too. Kortan is ready for betas, and actually, anyone who’s NOT read Asylum would be preferred. I’d like to see how the piece stands alone.

In Search of Asylum

As previously mentioned, I’m working on Asylum edits and backstories, and I’m in need of some volunteers. I have a lovely reader for proofreading, but I’m also looking for someone less familiar with the rules and lore of Asylum’s universe. The piece I’m working on plays with some legendary figures, and I’d like a reader who can tell me if I’m taking too much for granted. I know who all these people are, now I just have to make sure the readers will.
Currently, there’s no deadline or set pace, so if you’d like a sneak peak into the next Asylum-verse story,  drop me a line! I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

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Raevenly is Writing: Kortan short

I follow a lot of writing prompt blogs on Tumblr, for those days I just can’t get my motor going. Came around one the other day I really liked, and I really liked the snippet that came of it, so have some more Kortan.

“Write about a journey that takes longer than the stay at the destination.” – dropkickwritersblock

The journey to and from the summit took over a fortnight, near half a month spent away from the work in the fields. But to see the stars on this certain peak on this certain night… Kortan’s father swore it would be worth it. Kortan’s eleven-year-old feet did not agree. His younger sister could ride—and so could he, if he would swallow his pride and shift—but he walked for all eight days on his own two feet, more or less.

The Lover’s Tears, they called it, when Li’Daea wept for her sister and her lover both, one descended into the underworld to retrieve the other. Kortan didn’t know about all that, but he knew the sweetbreads they carried with them were made from the first of the summer’s wheat and the last of the summer’s berries. And that he wasn’t to have any until the best of them had been given up in thanks, a symbolic well-wishing for Dareiya’s long journey.

Surely, it couldn’t be any longer than their own.

But the great bonfire of the camp at the top of the peak was the biggest he’d ever seen, and he met a girl with hair like spun copper who stole from him his first kiss, and the sweetbreads made by the distant caravans were even better than the ones he’d coveted on the trip up.

And then the stars began to fall.

Great swathes of starlight, racing across the sky and leaving shimmering trails in their wake. Hundreds of hundreds of stars, more than he thought were even in the sky, falling and falling, crashing from one end of the sky to the other. From the peak, they could see all the way to the sea, see as the weeping stars fell past the horizon, into the dark waters of the dead. It filled him with awe, and terror.

Kortan never forgot those stars. Even as he fell through the darkness himself, he knew himself to be a star, a tear that Li’Daea herself had wept.

Writing a book blurb for Rain

Decided to put Rain’s story up on fictionpress.net, because why not. Could be fun, always the chance it draws more interest for Asylum, etc. There’s just one problem.

It doesn’t have a blurb.

Summing up your baby in 380 characters or less is hard. Making it reach out and grab readers from among a list of millions is even harder. I’m no expert (I’ve written like, one blurb. Ever.), but here’s the things I look for as a reader:

  • What/where/when/who/etc, RIGHT out the gate — This is a sales pitch. Give me a sense of what you’re selling right away. Doesn’t have to be super detailed, and a certain amount can be assume by genre, but I wanna know what I’m reading.
  • What’s at stake? — Why do I want to keep reading? Build a sense of suspense, so I can’t not pick it up.
  • Voice — This one is a little trickier to convey, and more important to me in first paragraphs than blurb, but if you can find a way to show me the flavor of what you’re writing, it helps draw me in. I love witty, sarcastic heroes for example, so if I know this is a story about one of those, I’ll always give it a shot, at least.
  • Style — This is a little different from voice, though they do blend. What I mean by style is more the way you write and less the way your hero talks/thinks. Again, it’s harder to finesse into a blurb, but be mindful of it, especially in the final tweaking stage.

Now, mostly this was just to gather my thoughts, so I can apply this logic to Rain’s story. But, in the spirit of “The Experiment” (remember that?), I thought I’d share the process.

First thing’s first, as with all writing: get some words down on paper. Doesn’t have to be good yet. Just get something down so you can play with it. Can’t edit a blank page.

Brooke keeps dreaming about dying. Not her death, but the deaths of those around her. Strangers.

Something is hunting her city, and its getting closer with every kill. Will she solves the mystery before the death she dreams is finally her own?

I couldn’t resist a little drama and suspense, but Rain’s story is based in suspense so it fits. I have 150 more characters to play with, but it’s a fair start. We know who, what, what’s at stake, and I’ve even put some style in there. No voice, but I’ve always kind of hated Rain’s voice, so I’m not surprised I steered away from it. (I really hate writing YA. There’s a reason I only wrote book 1 of three.)

(You might notice that I keep saying Rain even though the blurb says Brooke. Such is the dilemma of having an MC who changes names on you. I’m going with Brooke because that’s how she starts the novel. The Brooke/Rain thing will sort itself out in text.)

Re-reading it, I feel like there’s a real disconnect between the first lines and the latter. Also, I haven’t mentioned Rook or Myles once. I might not. This is Rain’s story. She’s the one we need to forget a connection with. I’m also not sold with the something hunting in her city, but I’ll keep it for now. Time to focus on her dreams, I think.

Brooke keeps dreaming about dying. Not her death, but the deaths of those around her. Strangers. And something dark on silent wings.

Something is hunting her city, and its getting closer with every kill. Will she solves the mystery before the death she dreams is finally her own?

Ok, so a bit cliche, but cliches are so overused for a reason. They work. I don’t have a lot of room to wax poetic, to build feeling slowly and originally. It’s a balance, because that does cost me style points a bit, but if I’m honest with myself, Rain’s story probably leaned pretty heavily on cliches anyways. It was my first novel after all.

So now we have an allusion to Rook, which makes my prologue a little less jarring when I promised a story about “Brooke”. So hey, there’s a new angle. Let’s take a look at the prologue again and see if anything jumps out.

Prologue

Rook sat bolt up in bed. She was awake. He had waited nearly 20 years since he first felt her return to this world, and now, suddenly, she was finally awake.

He wanted to fly from his bed immediately, to take to the skies and search for the beacon that would be her fractured mind, but he settled himself back into the tangle of sheets and bodies and willed himself to be still. She was awake, but she was still just a mortal human girl, and drawing attention to her now would only put her in danger. Still, he was unable to return to sleep, so as he lay back, he let himself imagine all the possibilities of her new form.

In the past, she had been short, tall, dark, fair, blonde, brunette, red-head, all number of combinations, but he’d known her each time just the same. How could he forget what was once a part of his soul?

“Maybe this time I’ll even find her before anyone else,” he mused, smile playing at his lips. Ever the optimist. No wonder he’d been kicked out of The Black Legion.

Right. I brought up pretty much right away that Rain keeps getting reincarnated in this deadly race. Can I do something with that?

Brooke keeps dreaming about dying. Not her death, but the deaths of those around her. Strangers. And something dark on silent wings.

Rook has watched her for centuries, through lifetime after lifetime. It’s always ended in flames.

Something is hunting her city, and its getting closer with every kill. Will she solves the mystery before the death she dreams is finally her own?

Mmk, so I’m more or less at my character limit, but I’m finally telling a more complete story. We have Rain (Brooke), we have Rook, we have conflict. I’m not sold on “ended in flames”, but again, get some words on paper. I want to make an allusion to the fact that he hasn’t be able to save her in those  lifetimes after lifetimes.

So now we have some bones. Again, the who/what/where/when/why is set up sufficiently. We have our MC’s, we know this story is gonna focus pretty heavily on death. We know Brooke is in danger, and potentially has the tools and allies she needs to come out on top for once. So the tweaks to apply now are voice and style, and maybe a little more hook. Death is pretty hooky, but also hokey. Gotta make my story about teeneagers and murders really stand out. But from here, it’s all dressing. Editing. So much easier with words on a page, rather than accursed blinking cursor.

So there ya go. My two cents on blurb writing. Look for the finished product on fictionpress.net (and read the full story under “Finished” work, if you haven’t already). Happy Writing!

Raevenly is Writing: Kortan opening

So I’m slowly coming to admit to myself that the best way to get to know my world is to write and write and write and write and write, then write some more. And that A LOT of what I write will be unusable. Not useless, because it’s teaching me about my world (and my craft, obviously), but unusable, because not every story is tidy. Some things are big rambly messes that never resolve, have no real structure, and don’t interest anyone but me.

I’m working on one of those.

I’ve needed to understand the serpent world of the dead for a long time, and basic differences between ancient and modern serpent culture, how those cultures relate to other cultures, and so on. Fascinating stuff, to me, but probably won’t ever make a good novel.

But novel writing is what I know, so rather than trying to write a faux scholarly piece, or bullet listed notes, or whatever works for other people, I found a hobbit. Not a proper hobbit, but a character to explore the wide world with. Enter Kortan (working name, but I think I like it), a black scaled serpent who spend a few decades (centuries?) wandering the realm of the dead.

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Teaser Tuesday Dreams in the Desert part 4

This week’s #TeaserTuesday brings us to my favorite part of the dreams in the desert.

 

It’s just a dance, he told himself. Just one stupid little dance you’ve practiced a hundred times. With his nerves this ramped up, he was just as likely to call the fire on accident as with the ceremonial dance. Either way, the central fire would be lit for the year, and his people’s prosperity would be assured.

The only real question was whether or not his dignity would survive the winter.

 

It was only a matter of time before I let myself really dig deep into the serpent village of the past. I still hold Raith as one of my absolute favorite characters, and it saddens me every time that I can’t bring him back somehow.

Except, ya know, in flashbacks. 😛

So tune in Saturday for more about Raith, ancient serpent rituals, and cakes that taste like dirt.