Book Launch/Giveaway, Essays

Recap Series #3: The Long Road to Complete Berserker

Finally, our journey down memory lane ends at Berserker. (click for Recaps 1 and 2) After years of blood, sweat, and buckets of crystalline tears, the last book of the Rise of the Papilion trilogy is here.

If you’d told me a year ago that this would be the case, I would have laughed in your face.

Seriously.

Berserkers_Kindle_V2

 

After Wolf’s Bane was completed, I was totally burned out. Besides my faithful beta-readers and some friends, I hadn’t had much help with the book and I was terrified it would fail. As mentioned in part 2, the book was a challenge. It was a nightmare to edit, and a beast to format. I was still blogging and marketing my books, and the whole thing was getting to me. Right after the book was released, I called it quits.

I didn’t write for a long time, but periodically I did go back to Berserker. I wanted to finish it. But, like any project worth doing, there were issues. At the end of Bane, I had written myself into a corner. Now, don’t panic! The story had to go the way it did, there was no other option; I just hadn’t figured out how to get out of that spot. But, I was confident it would work out and it did. I just let the story evolve and in its own time the solution came to me. Voilà!

So, while I worked out that dilemma, I wrote when I could, biding my time by writing new characters, developing cultures we hadn’t seen much of until then, and before I knew it, I’d written about 70K words without even including Jeru or Kelen. At that point, I reigned myself in, cut a bunch of stuff, and refocused.

So, I was writing, but it wasn’t consistent. A lot was going on in my life over the 3-4 years it took to complete this book, which caused me to stop writing for very long periods of time. Finally, at my sister’s graduation from her animation program, my cousin asked me, “So, what’s happening with Berserker?” I kinda mumbled something about the book being on standby, but as we talked I felt a little spark. I decided then that I would fix the manuscript.

It was hard! So much time had passed that I had disconnected from the characters and the story, and the sequences were all out of whack. I could tell where I had written out of obligation to get something on the page versus the sections where I had been driven by inspiration. I remember pouring over the printed manuscript, reading, editing, moving things around. At one point, I printed cue cards and had everything spread out on the floor. At another point, I’d put the story into Scrivener. I never figured out how to use the darned thing, but at least it helped organize the scenes.

Probably about a year later after another long break, things picked up again. One night at the dinner table, my son said, “Mom, I think it’s time for you to start writing again.” I was shocked! But I took that as a sign that my kids would be alright with me focusing on writing again. So, on days off, vacations, quiet evenings and whatnot, I worked on the manuscript until it was ready for the last round of beta readers and the proofread. Then there was the final read. Which resulted in more edits, and then the final, final read.

Writing is not for the faint of heart, and in most cases, not for people who like to see quick results. It’s a laborious art-form that can result is gorgeous, inspiring work, but is fraught with challenges, discouragements, loneliness, and disappointment. But if you tough it out, are patient and stick to your goals, you will come out on the other side with a beautiful book to share with the world.   

Interesting Points:

  • My sister, Amy Hands, animator/illustrator and designer, did the cover art for both Wolf’s Bane and Berserker. After she sent me the finished image for Berserker, the doors opened for the project’s completion. Within weeks, the manuscript was formatted and uploaded to Kindle and CreateSpace, ready for release.
  • I watched A LOT of anime during this time. I find the cinematic nature of their visual storytelling resembles how I picture scenes in my mind. Also, I love that they take time to develop their characters, even the antagonists, so that you connect with and understand them even if you don’t always agree with them. One thing that really stuck with me was that animes don’t always resolve with the good guy blasting the bad guy to smithereens. Often, the endings are complex, unexpected, thoughtful, and therefore more satisfying. I used these elements to inspire how Berserker was crafted.

I’ll finish with an excerpt from Chapter 39. In the backdrop, Jeru and Kelen are engaged in their final battle, while everyone else stands in awe of the result. This short scene revolves around Nyssa and Jurgan, the Storyteller we met in Wolf’s Bane

“Jurgan?”

Nyssa was in the middle of changing Dilla when the Storyteller suddenly got up and went to the mouth of the cave. He stumbled, though there was nothing in the way to hinder him. Samson raised his head, quietly observing. 

“Jurgan? What is it?”

At the entrance, he pulled aside the flaps to look outside. He gasped and put his hands to his mouth. “In all my years, after all the effort it took to paint, I never thought I would actually see it.”

Nyssa hurried to tie the diaper before handing the baby to Trelina, then joined the Teller. She noticed that Samson had moved from his spot, but the clouds over the mountain and thunder rumbling overhead distracted her from inquiring into where he’d gone. Bursts of lightning illuminated the sky.

“What a storm!” She drew back, stifling a shudder. Nyssa had heard of windstorms and even tornadoes occurring in the plains, not to mention the destruction they could wreak. Ab-clanners sometimes lost homes, lands, and livestock to them. Homeless, they were known to tramp from village to village, refugees depending on the kindness of strangers.

Jeru is out there.

“That is not a natural storm.” Jurgan’s gaze remained fixed, giving Nyssa the impression he was privy to a sight that she was not. 

“Teller, what do you see?”

Jurgan’s voice dropped to a whisper, as though seeking the softest way to deliver difficult news. “I see the Wolf and the Butterfly at war.” He turned to her with tears running down his face. “Just as I had painted it.”

Thanks for sticking with me over the years and especially for your support. Anyone who writes knows that it’s one of the toughest things to do, let alone be good at. I hope you’ll check out the books, and if you do, write me to let me know what you think…a review is also welcome ;P

Take care, and have a great Thursday. And, oh yeah. Berserker is out TODAY!

Essays

Quickie Update

Hi all! I’ve been away for a loooong time and I feel I should provide an explanation.

Truth is, I just got overwhelmed with ‘doing’–running to this and that event, running to this writing group or that workshop, reading, writing, following social media, reviewing, blogging–it was all too much so I just stopped.

stop-sign-2I’d been in this place before–feeling as though no matter how hard and fast I ran I could never keep up–and it sucked. So, it was cut stuff out, or go nuts. Besides, I wanted to spend more time writing. After all, that’s the purpose of all this, right? We run around promoting ourselves to sell the books we write, and we blog to communicate about our passion for writing as well as about those fabulous books. But we write because that’s what we were born to do.

So I kicked social media and all the rest to the curb for a bit, sat back, and wrote.

writing image

 

I have been rewriting the third book in my Rise of the Papilion trilogy, weaving together the half manuscript I wrote last year with new material. It is a big job, a huge puzzle getting all the disparate pieces to fit. But it is coming together, and this time I’m not rushing. Rather I’m letting the thing breathe, adding or rewriting as the story comes to me.

Sadly, I haven’t published any new stories on the blog lately, mostly because the most recently written pieces have been submitted to magazines and I’m waiting the responses. I did write a story called Falling Free which I hope will be turned into a short comic by the grace of my super-talented sister, illustrator and soon to be animator, Amy Hands. (Click on the link to check her out on deviant art). I’ve also been journaling and writing poetry, basically just seeing where the creative muse takes me. Journaling was something I used to do a lot but had stopped, thinking: What’s the point? I’m never going to read this again. But I went back to it, and rather than pages of “blah, blah, blah”, I closed the notebook with vignettes, focused thoughts, and spontaneous literary expressions scrawled across the pages. I understand this to be a development of a new character’s Voice. I’m certain that, at some point, it will all come together to create a new kind of story for me. More on that to come.

In the meantime, here’s what’s coming up on the blog in the next little while:

– author interviews with Scott Toney of Breakwater Harbor Books, and Susanne Leist

– guest post by the wonderful author and all-time best supporter Belinda Hughes

– more book reviews

– new posts on writing and the writing experience

– info on the release of the paperback version of Wolf’s Bane, which I hope to release in the next 2-3 weeks

– updates on ongoing and new writing projects, including Berserker, book 3 in my fantasy trilogy

Thanks to everyone who reads, shares, comments on and otherwise supports this blog! Also, I’m always looking for people to collaborate with, so if you have an idea drop me a line!

Essays

Wolf’s Bane is here!

There were moments when I thought Wolf’s Bane would never come out. I started writing it in 2012, and it has gone through many rounds of beta-readings and even more rounds of rewrites, then proofreading, and followed by more tweaking since. I was determined that the book following The Purple Morrow would be as good as it could possibly be despite being an independently published book.

Why was producing this book such a challenge?

WolfsBane_Cover_2015_smashwords

There are a few reasons. Bane is my third completed novel but it is also the most complex one I’ve written to date. After having enjoyed building the world of Marathana so much, I wanted to explore it more fully and give readers more of a taste. This meant delving deeper into the various cultures and belief systems, creating new characters and people groups, exploring new terrain…no small challenge. As well, Bane is a bridge book, connecting the story’s beginning to its end, and it was a challenge to find the right story balance. Some betas felt there was too little back story, others that there was too much. And as the author, I didn’t want to give away all the secrets too soon, nor did I want to leave the story so bland that people wouldn’t want to advance to the final instalment. Finally, finding the right balance between my two main characters was tough. Morrow is Jeru’s story and Bane is Kelen’s, though both men are integral to each other’s lives, destinies, and the overarching storyline. It was a big challenge and I hope I did both characters justice.

Wolf’s Bane owes its existence to many people, and I will include them here. It’s been a long road to get here so if I forget someone please, please forgive me:

Beta Readers: Judith MacNamee, Authonomy’s Christian Lit Forum members, Zach Bonelli, T.A. Miles, Joshua Evans, Katie Cross, Bernard Cullen.

Thanks to my writing group for their support, enthusiasm and helping me feel that being indie is cool. And special shout out to Cora Siré, who gave me pointers on the poetic sections of the book.

To the Quebec Writers Federation for supporting local writers and for being an excellent resource over all (workshops, networking opportunities, etc.) It’s great to be around people who love writing so much.  

Thanks to William Bryan Miller for proofreading. He was quick, professional and on time!

To Phil Partington for keeping me grounded and for being a tireless listener (‘Being a writer is so hard!’). To Cairo Amani for having more infectious enthusiasm than anyone I know. And when it comes to editing, she’s almost as terrifying as Phil. To my super-talented sister Amy Hands for providing me with fantastic digital paintings of Jeru, and more recently, Bane’s  cover wolf in all its raging glory.

And to my family. Kids, you guys keep me motivated and I’m thrilled that you are proud of me. And to Sam Lampron, my super-supportive husband, for designing my book covers and for encouraging me to keep pursuing this ‘writing thing.’

Wolf’s Bane is available NOW at Smashwords and its affiliates. It is available now via Kindle on pre-order and for purchase as of Feb. 27, 2015.

 

Essays, Misc

Introducing Jeru, the Main Character of The Purple Morrow

You have to admire talent. My baby-sister Amy (she’d probably kill me for saying that!) recently finished the Illustration and Design program at college and has moved on to animation at University.  She’s an amazing artist, always has been. So when I asked her to draw me a picture of Jeru, the main character of my book The Purple Morrow, I knew I was in great hands. Really, it’s like she looked into my head and found all the elements I was thinking of and put them into this image, including his expression. There is a character interview with Jeru here that you can read, but I’ve also included a short excerpt below where you can read about one of the major events that shaped Jeru’s life as well as his future decisions. Enjoy!

Jeru, the main character of The Purple Morrow
Jeru, the main character of The Purple Morrow

 

Taken from Chapter 1-Ashes to Ashes

Something was wrong. He watched the current, scrutinized
the stones, and peered through the trees, looking for the
source of the disturbance. Though nothing appeared amiss, he
could not shake off the sudden, cloying sense of apprehension.
Should we stop? Or should we take the risk and cross the river?
Each time he thought of crossing, a thrill of anxiety twisted in
his gut. He looked down at his wife, still wrapped securely in his
arms. He could not ignore the light of excitement and expectation
shining in her face.

“‘Liyah,” he said, “these stones are slippery. People have
fallen in and drowned because of it. Just remember that the
fourth one is smaller than the others, so it’s a little harder to get
a good grip.”

“Don’t be silly. I’m from the Water Clan, Jeru. I’ve been
crossing stones like this since I was a child. Anyway, with you
beside me, I’ve got nothing to worry about.”

A cloud passed in front of the sun, plunging the area in
shadow. Jeru tightened his hold on her. On impulse, he bowed
his head and kissed her hard, savouring the taste of her lips and
the silky feel of her hair as he entwined his fingers in it. Then he
stared across the river, spying the path they would take to slip
behind the waterfall into the tunnel which led to the caves. It’s
really not that far. We can make it.

When they broke apart, she tilted her head to the side.
“Are you alright? You’re acting a little…odd.”

“Spirit above, woman! Can’t a man enjoy his wife without
being reprimanded for it?”

Still watching him with some uncertainty, she said, “It’s
just that you were squeezing me as though you were afraid to
let me go.”

“I’m fine. I had a strange feeling, but only for a second.
It’s gone now.” It was a lie, but he could not think of anything
else to say to save the moment.

“Alright, then. Now that you’ve had your head start, can
we—?” She gestured at the caves.

Jeru uttered a silent prayer to the High Spirit before stepping
off the shore onto the first few stepping stones. He held
Aliyah’s hand in a strong, protective grip while keeping his eyes
fixed on the opposite shore…

Copyright ©  Dyane Forde 2013