The Two Hundred and Ninety-First Post: The One Where I Pick Up From Where I Left Off Last Time…

As I left everyone last night: Anya is getting off the boat where she and Rhona are going to spend their honeymoon in Ozur-Soren.  As Anya looks around, she sees a ship flying the banners of Tarjen with a set of students coming off, walking in formation with the jackets of their schools.  Anya looks down at her jacket, crafted by Skein’s Glow.  While it’s better than anything made by the hands of man, Anya reflects that there is no symbol of her School on her jacket (nor can they be, since she left them in the last book).  In Tarjen, the Scholars are to which everyone aspires to be in life.  You’re there, you’re set up.  Better training, better food and living quarters, even a chance to wield political power.  As she watches the students march by her, she sees that they regard her as a civilian (fightin’ words in Tarjen).  She recognizes the ranks on the jacket, nothing that these are students fresh out of the Academies — not the ones you want with the job to guard the ranking monarch.

As the students meet with the Provost Marshal (the closest thing the Tarjentians have to an ambassador here).  Anya makes her way to the gates to check in and get her weapon bound.  She’s asked her name:  she stumbles a little bit and finally spits out Anya Sirota (she can’t take her family name, as it would identify her as still in the Scholarship.  Yeah, her bridges are burning bright).  The gatekeeper asks Rhona for her name.  Rhona carefully spells it out with her fingers, using the elvish naming convention of her name and the name of her new family: Rhona of the family Sirota.  If you read the previous book, she always identified herself as Rhona of no family.  The gatekeeper has no idea what Rhona is doing, so Anya translates, getting as close to emotional as she’s going to get.  The gatekeeper asks the purpose and duration of the stay.  Anya says one week it’s for celebrating.

“You picked the right time.  Harvest Days are here.”

Before Anya says it’s called Exaction Day, Rhona holds up her mandolin.  The gatekeeper says that Rhona will have more than enough opportunity to play and make some coin and then asks the question that Anya has been privately dreaded: are you carrying any weapons?  Yet another reminder of her past. Those blades she had earlier belonged to her father — the Head Scholar of her School.  Instead, she has blades made by Skein’s Glow.  Again — better than even Tarjentian crafted blades with ore taken right out of the mountain, but it’s not the blades from her school.  She unbuckles her baldrick (belt for holding blades, worn from shoulder to hip) and belt to hand over the sword and dagger set.  The gatekeeper just shakes his head and gives her a length of knotted rope to attach to the handles of the weapons.  Out of the corner of her eyes, she sees the students from Tarjen handing over their weapons.  “Not everything’s bad.”  She catches the eye of one of the students…and he’s not happy.

The gatekeeper takes their arrival tax (“for the health of his Royal Highness”) and they pass through into the City of Ozur-Soren.  Luckily for them, the monarch has finished up a speech formally beginning the Harvest celebration, much to the jubilation of the patiently sober.  Anya’s loathing for this place is similar to the loathing the Soviets had for America at the height of the Cold War.  Rhona looks around and sees a bunch of people looking to party and willing to spend coin for the privilege of her company.  Anya looks around and sees nothing but grasshoppers waiting for the ants to bring in the harvest.  Needless to say, the pair try to make their way to the nearest tavern to wash the taste of hte sea out of their mouths.

Now, while Rhona is finding a tavern that will let her drink and play at the same time, Anya is getting some counseling from Skein’s Glow, which can be summed up in four words: suck it up, buttercup.  There is no shame in not taking it easy for a week (or longer) while Anya tries to figure out her next step, even if it’s telling the fat little children of fatter lords with end of the sword goes into the enemy.  Anya is stubborn — she’s not going to be some welfare case for Rhona.  If Rhona is married to a Tarjentian, then she is darn well going to be married to a Daughter of the Mountains.  She just needs to figure out what she wants to do to earn her keep.  Saying that, she gets up to dance with Rhona who is herself singing and plying her trade.

Several hours later, Anya tries to keep her spirits up with booze and good company when the students come in — not wearing their Scholar’s jacket but the uniforms of the Monarch’s body guards — and the bodyguards they are rotating out with dressed in their jackets.  Anya knows the ritual well — the students buy the leaving group’s last drink and the leaving group buys the student’s first round.  As she’s gazing fondly at the group, she recognizes one of the jackets as from her Scholarship.  She’s tempted to get up and approach him to get some old gossip, but she also recognizes one of the incoming students as from her Scholarship.  Anya is fairly certain that she would not be received well in that group: her father no doubt would be tilling the soil with salt as it were and turning her old friends and Scholar-mates against her.  This does absolutely nothing good for her mood, so she turns around and continues to drink.  As she turns around, she notes that one of the other incoming students seems to be taking an undue interest in her.  She shrugs it off as a mixture of contempt, lust and/or jealousy.

…and that’s where we’re going to leave this for the time being.  Thank you for being patient while I work this out here.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to wrap it up by tomorrow and bring you back to your regularly scheduled blathering.


Seething Apathy

The Two Hundred and Ninetieth Post: The One Where I Try To Explain A Sequel…

Hey, everyone.  I’m trying to get a sequel together for another book I wrote much earlier.  I have a place, a time, some scene in mind and (a first for me!) how to end it so that it dovetails into another book that I had an idea for, but nixed it when I felt it was getting a little too close to a comic book I saw (not that it’s stopped me completely, but it certainly gave me time to pause.

The sequel is called “Daughter of the Mountain” and it deals with the aftermath of Anya and Rhona deciding to run off together (they’re kinda hitched, but that’s a long story to be worked on later).  It starts a few days after the end of The Quietest Heart with Anya being a little mopey.  I’m sure no one reading it is going to understand.  She gets to bed a hot elven chick (“I’m twenty and she looks like that.  When I’m eighty…she’s still going to look like that.”) and it’s their honeymoon.  From Rhona’s point of view — this is great.  She has a companion that’s not going to take any sort of advantage over her or rob her and leave her in a ditch for dead.  Life could not be better.

Anya has issues because she has no idea what to do.  From when she was little, it was hammered into her tiny little head that her only joy in life would be to rise through the Circles, gain rank and eventually take the Scholar’s Seat to run her particular school and guide the nation of Tarjen to a prosperous new age.  What no one counted on was her falling in love with not only an elf (there are no half-breeds), but a female elf (human do not wield magic, and the elves aren’t about to help these simple humans with their fertility problems).  Now her well mapped route through her life is in shambles.  her coping mechanism (drinking and fighting for her School) aren’t going to be of any use.  Why?  Read on.

I have this wonderful little fantasy world, and in it there is an island called Ozur-Soren.  The way I described it Mardi Gras, Vegas and Ibiza all came together on an island the size of Louisville, KY (400 square miles).  On Ozur-Soren is the ruling monarch of the realms — Tarjen, Solvig, Daergal, Imre and all the other places pay their respects (or protection money — however you want to look at it) to Ozur-Soren.  This is important because Tarjen’s price is two things: iron ore (which they are famous for) and fighters.  Every year during what the Tarjens call the Day of The Iron Price, the Scholars send twenty of their best students to act as bodyguards for the monarch, as well as several tons of iron ore.  While one would think that the students would jump at the chance of a year’s vacation…the harsh reality is that these students spend a year away from duels to improve their rank.  Imagine if you were sent to work for another company, but everything you did over there didn’t count for anything on either side.  Anya’s predicament is similar to the soon-to-be-bodyguards — anything she does now isn’t going to be for her benefit among the Scholars of her school.  In fact, she’s lost some standing among her own School.  She’s the one that skipped out of duty and tradition because (in the eyes of the Scholarship) she wanted to get laid more than she wanted to fight.

When are they arriving at Ozur-Soren?  At the beginning of Harvest.  The next weeks are filled with incoming tributes from the various other nation-states.  Including Tarjen.  So, not only is Anya adrift without any of the underpinnings of her society to guide her, but the Scholarship she served will be coming alongside her.  The whole week is going to be reminders of what she’s given up.  Is this a great honeymoon or what?

But, I can say in the end that Anya gets her head right.  What happens in between landing on the shores of the Fabled White Towers and catching the next boat to the port of Daergal on the mainland?  I will save that for another time, but I will leave you with this saying from Don Henley:

Sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge.

Hope y’all have a good week.


Seething Apathy

The Two Hundred and Eighty-Ninth Post: The One Where I Finally Sort Out All This Schedule Stuff..

Hello, everyone — one of the major problems I have been having is getting word count (stop me if you’ve heard this one — ok, got it).  I need to get serious about being consistent.  I need to get at least two thousand words a day.  I’m going to use the same approach I have used in the past when I was working on Nanowrimo.  Break the project down into three manageable chunks of 700-750 words each day: when I get up in the morning, during work and when I get home.  My iPad can log into Windows Online, so there is no hassle of remembering to e-mail myself the work I did at work (y’know, instead of my real job).  I know that consistency is the major hurdle.  The fact that there is almost a year gap in this blog is testament to that issue.  If I can break it down into smaller parts, I can do it.  i did it for Nanowrimo last year and managed to turn it into a 55K novel.  I can do it with this one.  Next January, when I leave my current job and do…something else, I might be able to increase the word count a little and maybe write, then take a thirty minute break.

You could be asking yourself “Why does he keep bringing this up?”  The same reason why you make a shopping list before walking into a grocery store: a reminder.  This is to keep things in the forefront of my mind.  The same reason why I blather on about story ideas — to keep them in my mind and make a record of them in the event that I forget something. Yes, I have forgotten things.  Really good things: The Three Brothers and Three Sisters: (Statescraft, Spycraft and Warcraft are the Three Brothers and the Three Sisters are Evocation, Elementalism and… and… dammit).  Also for all you novice writers and creative types, a bit of advice: write it down.  

With the current project, I am trying to do something different: when I have to make a decision for what’s to happen to a character, I’m going to go the opposite of what I think should happen.  Ehren brings back some vegetables and some lemons for the meal they’re having at the wainwright’s house.  Vimala (The healing spirit attached to him) says that the mother will be grateful for what Ehren has brought in — after all, the boy is starting to suffer from rickets and scurvy). Rather than be grateful, the woman tells Ehren that the lemons don’t belong to them and that they’re going to get an earful from the owner of the tree.  Some of you may recognize as the Constanza method of writing.  I’m hoping that in doing that I can keep the reader guessing.  i did it at one point in the still unfinished Cat, Rabbit and Clover.  it worked in that the main character was able to head off a disaster that would have gotten him fired from the job.

Well, with all of that said, i should go on ahead and get to the 750 I am owed to myself today.  I hope y’all have a good rest of the day.  As always, there are books that my good friends have written — feel free to try a couple of them through the links provided.


Seething Apathy.

The Two Hundred and Eighty-Eighth Post: The One Where I Try to Find Something Meaningful to Say…

Well, I am trying to keep the momentum going with this blog.  I put in about two thousand words on The Marvelous and Malefic Doomsday Medicine Show.  I like how the interplay between Vimala and Ehren (the main protagonists) is shaping up.  I’m also trying to flesh out an idea I had.  Looking back at works like Faust and the old Blues Legends, it’s an evil spirit that attaches itself to someone, promising power and influence in exchange for a deed…and that price goes up until the hapless victim has no choice in the matter.

So I thought to myself: why does it have to be an evil spirit that does this?  What if a good spirit had a similar arrangement? ‘I’ll do this for you, but I want you to promise to eat your vegetables the next time we’re in a good restaurant… and drink your milk.  Since I was writing in the fantasy world I established earlier, I went along with it.  Of course, the relationship between the spirit (Vimala) and the mortal (Ehren) has changed a little bit now that I’m putting it in the novel (they’re comfortably adversarial, but neither of them can really be without the other.  I’m not going to say any more about this right now because I don’t want to give anything away).  I’m still looking forward to finishing this scene and painting the wider world of Ehren and Vimala.  Yeah, I like world building.

Speaking of building: anyone here addicted to Spotify?  I had no idea just how much stuff is on that site.  I’ve gotten two good playlists for when I’m writing.  I’m not sure how to link playlists here, but I’m fighting the urge to drop everything here and fill up another folder of music.  The only downside is that their Bear McCreary station is a little bare.  I really wanted to get “Prelude to War” and “All Along the Watchtower” on my writing playlists.  Oh, well — they have “Truth and Reconciliation Suite” which works for me just fine for now.

Oh — I have had a chance to see a couple of Summer Films: Mad Max: Fury Road and The Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Both come with my highest recommendations, but if you only have time or money for one, my advice is to go see Mad Max: Fury Road.  Yes, I know — I am a Marvel fanboy and I should be toeing the company line…but I got so much info about the movie, the cast, the effects, the writer, the director, the catering…there was very little left to surprise me.  I know they’re setting up the Civil War storyline with this movie and I’m looking forward to it.  With Mad Max — everything was relatively new.  The action was clearly filmed and centered on the frame.  I missed that.  Every action scene now is so jerky and ADHD-like I can’t follow what’s happening at times.  With the cast, there was something new and the approach that was taken was different than what I would have done.  it was just nice to sit down to a movie and be surprised every now and then.  Next up for me is either “Inside Out” or “Spy”.

Well, that’s all the time I have for now.  I need to just give in and fill out a new list.  Hope y’all have a good day.


Seething Apathy

ps: I figured out how to share the list.  Here’s my writing music list


The Two Hundred and Eighty-Seventh Post: The One Where I Talk About an Old Fascination and the New Project…

Hello, everyone!  I woke up this morning to Art Bell.  If you’ve never heard of him, go on down to the website and take a look around.  He’s coming back to the radio (well, the Internet) and I’ve found his show to be entertaining.  His show deals with oddities like UFOs, ghosts and the such.  I started listening to him when I was working third shift at Anthem (a long, long time ago).  Do I believe what he espouses?  Some of it.  I like the EVP/Ghost hunting episodes and some of the more reasonable conspiracy segments.  I bought a subscription when I heard he’s coming back  Give it a listen when he’s back on July 20th.

The new project.  One of the things that I am liking about this one is that I am trying to make the main character as unlikeable as possible without completely alienating him from the readers.  I know that I am going to get a lot of comparisons to the show “House“, in that the character isn’t the likeable sort of person.  They’re right, but “House” is really nothing more than an a re-hashing of Sherlock Holmes (not bashing — I loved the show).  So far, the main character of The Marvelous and Malefic Doomsday Medicine Show (Love that title!) is not a misunderstood genius, but rather an avaricious individual.  If he’s not getting paid, he’s doesn’t give a whit about you.  Of course, we’re going to have flashes of humanity here and there, but not enough for us to look at him differently.  He’s going to change over the course of the book, like the dragon in “Skyrim” says:

"What is better: to be born good, or to overcome your evil nature through great effort?"

Which is the theme of this novel: you can overcome the worse parts of your nature, but it takes an effort.  I’m aiming to get this book finished and out there before Christmas — this year (I feel that I have to qualify that.  I mean…Tyro’s novel has been a project for almost twenty years).  I’m looking forward to revealing the antagonist in the book, since it’s a callback to my first novel (still on sale!).  I still have that fire in my belly for this one.  I am going to try to finish Cat, Rabbit and Clover at some point this year as well, it’s just that the more I write it, the more I want to add and the longer it gets, I just need to focus on the scenes that need to finish and get it off to the editor.  I need to get this done because I finally got the title for the sequel: The Three L’s: Love, Luck and Lumber.  Evan’s series can go on as long as there is interest in it.  Most of the other projects are trilogies (I’ve been told they tend to sell better), and I think the only things that are one-shot works are all my horror projects (which I should get to them at some point) and maybe the one romance idea I have (which takes place at around the same time as the current work — I wonder if they should reference each other?)

Well, speaking of writing — I should get to that for the few minutes I have before I have to get off to work.  I hope y’all have a good day.


Seething Apathy

The Two Hundred and Eighty-Sixth Post: The One Where I Try to Use My iPad…

This is really just a small test to see how my iPad takes to the new interface.  Honestly, I liked it better when I could use my Word to type, cut and paste everything on directly.  Apparently, Microsoft and WordPress have had some sort of falling out.


I doubt it looked this cute

Anyway, I think I am going to stick with using my main PC for the day to day blogs and use the iPad when I am out at conventions…or I forget to post.

There will be a longer post tomorrow.  Pinky swear.

Seething Apathy 

The Two Hundred and Eighty-Fifth Post: The One Where I Tap the Microphone…

I know I’ve been away for a while, but now I am back and I’m going to put forth a much better effort in maintaining this blog – since last I’ve chatted with all of you, I’ve put out another book:

This may or may not be a picture of my desk at work.

This may or may not be a picture of my desk at work.

This one is also an experiment as I am trying to drum up sales by attaching it to a website service which I’ve mentioned this blog.  Which means hopefully this shady little operation will get some traffic…which means I should write something here as a proof of life.  So…other than some several starts and stops to books (no surprise to those who know me) there hasn’t been a lot going on.  It’s just me trying to not destroy my computer with well-intended fixes and trying to squeeze in writing at work and home.  I am going to get back on track with this (stop laughing, Rob).

On the work front, as I mentioned that I’ve finished one book in a month and I am working on a new one.  I’m hoping to get this one finished and out by year’s end.  The title – and this one I am sticking to! – is The Marvelous and Malefic Doomsday Medicine Show.  It takes place in the same fantasy world as The Quietest Heart, but in the future (not jet-pack and lasers future, more like 400 years ahead – similar to pre-World War 1 Europe).  I have a couple other projects that take place in this time period that I am also trying to work on.  The fun part is the research on that time period.  There are a lot of advancements that I never really thought of happening then, like refrigeration.  I’m trying to bring in some modern conveniences for that time but justifying them with either ‘magic’ or ‘we have rocks that do that’ (like smokeless gunpowder, refrigeration and antibiotics – parenthetical note: the rocks aren’t the antibiotics).  It’s an interesting time period as far as technology, social issues and politics.

Anyhow, I do want to thank someone for getting me back into this:  Amanda Hillard-Beam.  A columnist for the local paper – she has some witty insights in being a mother, journalist and bon-vivant.  I’m going to try to get back into the 500 words-a-day schedule with this.  I’m trying to think of anything else that’s come up…oh, I have taken up photography as a hobby and a side business venture.  The cover for The Dreaded Day Job is one that I did on my own.  I would like to say that I’m doing this because I primarily have a deep passion for the visual arts, but to be honest – it’s cheaper for me to make my own book covers.  Seriously.  A good book cover runs upwards of $500.00.  If I can save myself some money, then by all means I’ll do it.  Could also turn into a way of making a little money, who knows?

Well, I should get lunch made and finish getting ready for the day.  At least the computer is still alive.

Oh – remember that picture of the nice, neat desk?

I told you to enjoy it.

I hope y’all have a good day.


Seething Apathy.