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.

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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!

Author Interviews, Essays, Guest Blog, Misc

Michelle Abbott Interviews Jeru, MC of The Purple Morrow

The Purple MorrowThis is really interesting. Michelle Abbott, romance author and blogger, has interviewed Jeru, the main character of The Purple Morrow! I’m so proud of him–he did great! Read on to meet this great character and overall amazing guy.  

Note: Michelle moved her blog and as the interview is no longer available I decided to repost my version here.

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Today I welcome Jeru, the main character from The Purple Morrow.

Hi Jeru. How would you describe your story? Is it a horror, thriller, or maybe a romance?

Hi Michelle! It’s great to meet you.

(Laughs) As for your question, if you ask me, I say the story is a horror. I mean, all I wanted was to live the normal, quiet life of a clan hunter and trader, but all that got turned upside down once those damned Rovers ploughed into the south bent on destroying it and after the Purple Morrow showed up–night after night–in my dreams. Seeing the Morrow is pretty significant and when I finally found out why…! (Sips water and runs a hand through his hair). Anyway…getting mixed up with Kelen, the Rover commander who literally wanted my head, also sucked, as you modern people say. I still have the scars from our fights to prove it! But meeting him did cause me to meet my wife, Nyssa, so that part wasn’t bad (grins).

But if you ask Dyane she’ll say it’s a fantasy novel with action, mythological and romance elements. Not too heavy on the romance though! She’s more interested in lopping off heads and writing macho axe-and-sword duels than sending me off with Nyssa to some cozy love nest for pages at a time. You know, I’d been meaning to talk to her about that one day, but with running for my life and trying to understand the Morrow’s long-forgotten lore, I guess I just never got around to it. (Laughs)

Where is your story set? In another world, the past, the future?

My clan is the Wolf Clan, and it’s located in the lush forests of Marathana. That’s our continent. See, there are four main Clans, three of which broke away from the Mother Clan generations ago when three brothers decided to settle the south. Sage Clan, the wisdom and law keepers, settled in the mountains, while the Water Clan, from which our line of healers come, settled the eastern cliffs. Earth Clan, of which Wolf Clan is a sect, settled the forests. As a clan, we’re known for our stubborn loyalty, and for our dedication to tradition and to the clan’s common good. Marriage and procreation are key values and central to our survival, especially with the ever-present threat of Rover attacks, which is why my refusal to remarry after the death of my first wife was such an aberration. Also, it was foretold that Marathana’s saviour would come from my clan. That’s…where I come in. I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

Can you tell me something about the land you live in? It seems different from the world I know of today.

Well, Marathana is divided into the Northlands, which are populated by the greedy and destructive Northmen–the Rovers are their army of marauders, the Southernlands which is where my people live, and further down are the Deep Southernlands, which is largely desert. There’s a miserable little hole there called the Badlands. That’s where the half-breed spawns of the Northmen and Southernmen are sent because anyone found to have Rover blood is immediately exiled. That’s how hated the Rovers are. I’ll let you figure out how the half-breeds come to be; I’d rather not speak of things like that in mixed company.

Aside from that, I guess we’d appear pretty primitive compared to you: we’ve no lights, or cars, no ‘tech’ as I have heard some of you mention. But it’s a beautiful land of mountains and rivers and plains. Silver Falls is one of our most important and sacred features…though, sadly, it’s also the location of one of the saddest events of my life: the death of my first wife…um…next question?

For the benefit of the readers, what do you look like?

I’m 24, have black shoulder-length hair I often keep tied back, and have green eyes. Apparently, I’m the only living person with eyes this colour and they’re the sign of my destiny. As for the rest of me, I think I must be attractive since Dyane often describes me as having ‘full lips’, as being ‘lithe’ and ‘graceful as a cat’. I think there’s even a line somewhere in chapter six about my skin ‘glistening in the sun’ from sweat during martial arts training. (Grins and shows off delightful dimples and straight, white teeth) I don’t mind, though. I figure the more she likes me, the better my storylines will be! You know, the positive effect of strong inspiration and all that. (Laughs).

An image of what Jeru might look like--taken from anime Sword of the Stranger
An image of what Jeru might look like–taken from anime Sword of the Stranger

From the excerpt I read of your story, you seem sad and lonely. What caused you to feel that way?

Yeah, life hasn’t been kind to me. Ten years ago, the Rovers razed our village and my family and a lot of villagers were killed. It was lonely growing up in the aftermath of all that, especially as an orphan. Luckily, I had Lark, my best friend, and Mara, the healer, to help but I guess you never really come back from something like that, do you?

And, as I mentioned before, five years ago I married my first wife, Aliyah, only to have her die on our wedding day. I…thought it was my fault. A man’s supposed to protect his wife, right? Anyway, after all that I kinda felt like life had it out for me. I just closed off, lived quietly with my head down. Until the Morrow showed up and messed all that up!

www.mycix.com
http://www.mycix.com

Can you tell me more about the Purple Morrow? I know it is a butterfly that you have been dreaming about.

Well, butterflies are revered by the Clan as symbols of hope, change, second chances and so on. There’s some sort of mythology tied to it as well, and I spend a lot of book two unraveling what it’s all about. But basically, when one is seen in a dream or a vision, it’s thought to be some kind of sign. What’s also important is the fact that the rarer the butterfly, the more important the message or ensuing destiny. The Purple Morrow is the rarest of them all, so you can understand the trepidation I felt when it started showing up in my dreams!

I can tell your dreams disturb you. How long have you been having them?

For weeks! I felt so stupid being afraid to sleep for fear of dreaming about what is essentially a beautiful insect, but knowing its significance…anyway, they nearly drove me crazy! Poor Lark. He got the brunt of it all. (Laughs)

How did you meet your friend, Lark?

Oh, Lark and I have been buddies since we were kids. When my family was killed he sort of stepped in as big brother and best friend. He’s easygoing and fun and dependable– the kind of friend every guy wants watching his back. Half the time nothing he says makes any real sense, but when it came to getting me to see Nyssa as a possible wife, by some magic I’ve yet to understand, the man actually spoke sensibly. At the time, it was maddening!

What do you think are your best attributes?

I’m just a regular guy, an Everyman, trying to live right in a difficult world. I think I’m loyal and honest and I genuinely care about people. And even though it might take a while to get me going, when I know what needs to get done, come hell or high water, I see the thing through.

And what are your worst?

I’m stubborn. I get set in my ways and it’s hard to change my mind. I mean, it took the Morrow, Mara, Lark, Nyssa, nearly getting killed by Kelen more than once amongst other things to get me to accept the challenge the Morrow set for me. Yep, stubborn as a mule, I am!

Will you be appearing in any future books?

Yes! I’ll be in all the books since the trilogy is mostly the story of how I become Marathana’s deliverer. But in Wolf’s Bane, book 2, other characters take on larger roles and we see more of the other people groups living in Marathana. For example, Kelen, a crowd favourite, becomes co-main character as his role in the story and in my life moves to the forefront. What happens between he and I at the end surprised even me. I can’t wait for book 3!

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Michelle, thanks so much for having my on today. I hope I did Dyane proud…and that she’ll remember it when it comes time to finish book 3 as in add more love scenes! (Coughs) Anyway, Michelle! It was great to talk about The Purple Morrow and the world I come from. I hope you’ll have me back when Wolf’s Bane comes out, hopefully sometime later this year (2014)…

Author Interviews, Essays, Guest Blog, Misc, Stories

A Clash of Clans ~ An Excerpt From Author Dyane Forde: Guest Post

Author and blogger TA Miles has graciously chosen to feature an excerpt of my debut book, The Purple Morrow on her blog. The book is scheduled to be released within the next few weeks, so please check out the post and see what I’ve been slaving over for the last few years…yes, years. 🙂 And leave me a note! I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

A Clash of Clans ~ An Excerpt From Author Dyane Forde: Guest Post