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, Misc

Neat Little Gem: Dan Stevers’ ‘Son of Man’

This post isn’t about writing, but it does touch on Art and, in particular, a form I really enjoy, animation.

Over the years, I’ve struggled to find non-cringe-worthy Christian media content. Some of you out there know what I mean, and probably have your own Cringe List in mind. (I had stopped reading Christian content books for a long time because of this, and movies had an even worse track record).

But, the tide seems to be changing! Today, while watching anime (one of my favorite past times), I spotted a mini-movie. The image was striking: Jesus wearing the crown of thorns, in animation format. It was a preview of a longer movie by Dan Stevers, only 2 minutes long called, Son of Man. I clicked on it out of curiosity. And was pleasantly surprised.  So much so, I decided to blog about it.

Dan Stevers – Son of Man from DanStevers.com on Vimeo.

If you’ve got some time to spare, and are wanting to watch something inspirational (we so need that nowadays), check it out. And encourage someone who’s working just as hard on something he loves as the rest of us are.

Misc

Anime that Stirs the Imagination: My Neighbor Totoro

Totoro

I have been thinking a lot about anime lately and why I find it so thrilling and inspiring to watch. Then I decided to share some of the best-loved movies with my children as a means of exposing them to amazing storytelling and visual imagery that is different to what they are used to. And it’s a joy to discover these movies with them.

wolfchildren

Yesterday we watched Wolf Children, which was so touching and beautiful I watched with tears in my eyes most of the way through, and tonight we watched My Neighbor Totoro, which had me laughing all the way through. Both are wonderful, fantastic fantasy movies which stir the imagination and fill the heart with wonder. It’s not often my kids walk away from a movie with their eyes still round with awe at what they had seen, and talking about the movies the next day. Today, my daughter said, “Wolf Children was sadder than I expected.” And I said, “Yes, it was.” Clearly, she was moved by the movie and thinking about what she had seen. Isn’t that what good storytelling in any genre is supposed to do?

As a fantasy writer, I find these movies encourage me to stretch my concept of what fantasy is and what it can be. This is one reason I love anime so much. I will continue to watch anime movies with my kids and hope they will be inspired too 🙂

Next week is Castle in the Sky!

My_Neighbor_Totoro13

Essays, Misc, Stories

I’m Writing Again and Loving Every Second of it

I’ve been quiet for some time, huh? No, no, I’m not trying to play hide and seek with you all, but as you’ve seen from some of my last posts, I’m taking time to reconsider writing and it’s place in my life, which means I’ve sort of gone back to basics. I love writing–that’s a given–but things started to go awry when the focus became producing a product not something creative that burns in my soul. So, I’m writing something now that is entirely new for me in terms of subject, story length and style. Best part is, I’m not thinking at all about what I’m going to do with it next. Eh, what’s that called again? Oh, yeah, I think it’s called writing for the love of writing and to heck with everything else. 😀

So I’ve enclosed a sample below, for fun. It’s the opening of episode 1. Real quick, it’s the story about an adolescent boy who is bullied at school but in the evenings finds solace in the gaming Virtual Reality world. Well… he finds solace for a while, but when you mix gaming, VR and the control of elemental forces you know that won’t last for long. Anyhoo, I’m five episodes in. And for those who know anything about anime, the concepts and visuals and scale (which come later in the story) are inspired by things like .Hack, Chaos/Head, PsychoPass, etc. Let me know what you think!

 

The Cloud-Gatherer’s Tears

Image by Jupiterimages
Image by Jupiterimages

When the devil’s got you good by the neck, what do you do when you’re too scared to scream? Or when he’s beats you down so hard that just thinking of moving sends shock waves of pain through every part of your body?

All the brave words you came up with, the ones meant to build you up and tear him down, if even a little, shrivel up like scraps of burnt paper; the motes dissolve into thin air just like the veneer of your courage. Panic slams into your gut like a fist until you’re sputtering and coughing up bile and spit like a man half-drowned.

What do you do when the devil’s stares turns your soul to dust?

Nothing.

You just stuff it all down, pack the hurt and the hate and the questions about justice good and tight so nothing gets by the seams. And then you wait it out.

Bullies are strong. But every storm eventually blows over.

They picked me out on the first day of school. I was the new guy, fresh off the truck as they say, the one huddled up tight against the lockers never knowing where to put my hands. Pockets? Let them hang? How do the other kids stand? Or do they lean, like this?

I pictured school as a sort of African game-land, where fluorescent lights buzzed from above like cold suns laying bare the lay of the land. I was the gazelle who never knew which line to stand in; who got lost on his way to every class. Lured by the smell of fear, the devil-lions swarmed. Pink tongues flicked, swiping salivating maws.

The lions made me bleed. And bleed and bleed until there was none left to give.

Adults say you’re supposed to get help. They preach that it’s bad to hit back. I’ve seen kids who dared to stand up for themselves get expelled for fighting. I think grown-ups have forgotten what the real world of kids is like. They think we’re nice. Innocent.

We aren’t.

Well, at least some of us aren’t. But grown-ups can’t seem to tell the difference. 

Copyright@ 2014 by Dyane Forde