Book Launch/Giveaway, Essays, Misc

Recap Series #2: The Challenges of Writing Wolf’s Bane, Sequel to The Purple Morrow

Berserker is coming out in 2 days, so I figured I’d better get back to writing these book summaries. Click here to read Part 1 of the recap series.

The Struggle was Real

So. Wolf’s Bane…more like Dyane’s Bane. Because that’s exactly what it felt like to write this beast.

 

When I had finished The Purple Morrow, I was on a bit (a lot!) of a high. It was the second book I had written, but it was the only one of the two that was publish-worthy. And, after doing the run-around, research, trying and erring, I finally published the book. Yes!

So, now I was on to book 2, Wolf’s Bane. But this time around, I struggled with something I hadn’t before: fear of disappointing. The first book had been well-received, something that, especially for a first-timer, felt like a miracle. And after slaving away at Morrow for 2-3 years, I had come to love the characters. I wanted to write them a great story while not disappointing readers.

I’ll tell you one thing. If you’re writing a book, don’t worry about disappointing your readers. It’s impossible to focus on telling a great story when you’re filled with anxiety. Write the book that’s in your heart, trust your characters, and trust yourself. If you do those things, the book should take shape. Okay, that was more than one thing. But, in writing Bane, I found these points to be true. Once I stopped stressing and just wrote what I was feeling and what felt right for the characters, the book came together. I’m pleased and proud of the result. And, in the end, the book ended up being well-received to boot. 

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Another struggled I faced was figuring out how to write a ‘bridge’ book, meaning a book that bridges the events in book 1 and the trilogy’s conclusion. How do you keep the story interesting while not giving too much away? And how do you end the book so that it’s satisfying to the current story while not actually ending the overarching story prematurely?

That was tough, and I struggled with that for a while. In the end, I introduced new elements and characters, deepened the world-building and developed the magic/spiritual foundations of the story, while working hard on character development. I enjoyed bringing that wretch, Oren, to life so much, and the antagonistic yet nurturing relationship between Seylem and Kelen was a blast to write. Working on Jeru’s development was harder, as he’s my Every Man who needed a believable hero arc, something I’d never done before. So, yes, there were many, many challenges to overcome.

 

Interesting points:

Wolf’s Bane is the first time I had to develop a magic system in a story. I’d never done that before, and I was lucky to have a friend at the time who guided me through the process and let me bounce ideas off him.

I experimented with tone, lyrical style, and integrated elements of poetry. It probably sounds weird, but I allowed myself the freedom to tell the story using elements that I felt were needed to do it right. Of course, that made editing and rewrites a challenge, especially the poetry-inspired sections but thankfully, I had a poet-friend to edit that.

 

So, as I did for Morrow, I’ll include an excerpt. This is from Usurper, Chapter 2:

Oren hurried to the Naagra-Oni’s chambers. The hallway stretched straight as an arrow in front of him, and a lush runner spanned its length. The carpet was the Ministry’s gift to them, a measure to counter the perpetual cold clinging to the stone floors. Arched, stone doors, unadorned except for the iron rings bolted into their surfaces, lined the corridor on both sides. Other Naagra of more lowly stature slept behind them. Slept, or read. Or plotted. Naagra were always plotting. Oren would know, since he had been at it the longest. And, if he were so bold, which he was, he would even go so far as to claim to be the best at it.

Oren wrapped his cloak tighter around him against the cold, but the dampness permeated the four thick layers of linens and furs. It even crept through his tiger-seal boots, so that his toes began to tingle. Outside, the wind howled, battering the temple walls. Oren thought how ironic it was that the wind appeared to fight so hard to find a way in when all he wanted was to escape, even into the midst of a late-spring blizzard.

He hated Ambroze, the Naagra-Oni, hated his gloating smile and his silky voice that, at first, sounded pleasant, even friendly, until one discerned the venom lurking underneath. The Master Seer, though, never bothered to hide his disdain from Oren. It shone through his ice blue eyes and that cursed, mocking smile. Oren would much prefer to test himself against the tempest blowing outside than spend ten minutes with the man. Only curiosity, not to mention the command to present himself at Ambroze’s chambers exactly twenty minutes before, forced him to continue moving down the corridor, around the bend and up two flights of stairs into the north wing; the wing that had once been his.

“One day,” Oren swore as he swished down the darkened corridor, “I will take back my place, you cursed upstart! Then we’ll see who is left grinning with such disdain!” For now, Oren doubled his pace. He was still a subordinate–though the highest ranked subordinate–and it would not do to irritate the Master Seer.

He arrived at the massive double doors just as the gong struck the half hour mark. He would slow-boil Lapi in oil for making him late!

Oren shoved the great doors with all the strength contained in his wiry body. They groaned open. A blast of hot air met him, instantly turning to mist once it confronted the icy air from the hall. Oren waded through the cloud, emerging like some sort of wraith, and found himself standing in a great, round room. The back half was blocked off by a series of dark-coloured screens. The ceiling was hidden in gloom, but Oren knew it was adorned with the painted images of Anyul, the Snow god and his minions, Ice and Frost. They leered at him from above, shaming him into false humility as he stood before the Naagra-Oni. No windows pocked the walls of the room, and the torches were not lit. The only light came from dripping, black candles scattered throughout and the massive fires glowing in their hearths.

“You are late.” The words were clipped, and they cut like knives.

“My apologies, Naagra-Oni,” Oren answered, bristling. “I came as soon as I received your summons.”

 

If you enjoyed the summary and excerpt, leave me a message below. And don’t forget:  Berserker, the conclusion to the Rise of the Papilion trilogy, is out Thursday, March 8!

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