Category Archives: Aryneth

RoW80 Update: The End is only the Beginning.

Yesterday, I officially finished the rough draft of Soulless (unless you count a potential epilogue that I’m still on the fence about). It’s been several years since I completely finished a rough draft of something, and the feeling is incredibly accomplished. The timing couldn’t be better, either, since Monday I was really feeling like I wasn’t making any progress. Inspired once more by the frequent advice that I need to treat writing as a full time job (thanks, Lauralynn!), I changed my routine up Tuesday morning, and the difference is astonishing. I minimized distractions and went back to an old system that allows me to work on certain things a little longer and more productively than what I was doing on Monday. If I keep this up, I’m going to have the full-time writer thing down pat…as far as the writing part goes. The making money part…well…patience, young grasshopper, patience.

I managed to transcribe a chapter in, then realized that I’ve already typed up to Chapter 14 (out of 20). Sooo…having this draft typed by the end of this round is definitely going to happen. Having the whole thing in by the end of this week is a possibility. So I’m going to try to do at least a chapter a day, and then get down to some heavy duty editing. I figured if I take one chapter per check in and just really finesse the heck out of the chapter, I’ll have a pretty solid manuscript ready for beta readers at the end of the round.

Let’s see…all my daily goals were kept up pretty well. Yesterday was just really productive in that “treat this like your job now” aspect, which was fantastic. Today will be a little off, but that’s the nice thing about this full-time gig: I can set which days are my “working days” and which days (like today, since the boyfriend stays over Tuesday nights) are more relaxed days.

Finally, the drawing for the check in! My apologies for the quality; I have a scanner, but no working desktop right now, so photographs will have to do. Also, if anyone knows of a good image editing app (since I have a ChromeBook), please let me know! I used to use Photoshop in school and then Gimp because I’m cheap, but I have no idea what I can use now for my artsy stuff.

Clearly, the background/frame work is still a work in progress, but here you have a little piece I’ve been working on featuring Auferrix Ferrore, and the Serpent in a Cage theme. This isn’t the image I have in mind for the cover, but the cover is going to be an Art Nouveau style, so I figured I’d better get the practice in. And, who knows, the original idea could fail, so this will make a good back-up (though I might have to sketch some clothes on her). The detail work in this style is INSANE, and I know if I can get some coloring going, this could be a really proud piece for me. It’s really channeling the vibe I want for the SiaC artwork, and I’m thinking of titling this one “The Girl in the Green Cloak,” and doing subsequent pieces with the other characters.

So, my goals are going well, and have even altered a little bit for the better. How’s everything on your RoW80 front?

And, if you haven’t already, swing by and check out my fellow RoWers here! Happy writing!

Author Quotes: Pratchett.

“Fantasy doesn’t have to be fantastic. American writers in particular find this much harder to grasp. You need to have your feet on the ground as much as your head in the clouds. The cute dragon that sits on your shoulder also craps all down your back, but this makes it more interesting because it gives it an added dimension.” –Terry Pratchett

It’s absolutely no secret that I’m a huge fan of Terry Pratchett; I find him to be absolutely brilliant in a very subtle way. He’s amusing if you read him casually, but he’s genius if you start really paying attention. His Discworld series is a penultimate example of what he talks about in this solid an encouraging quote. Discworld is fantasy satire, but with a real world strength that makes it poignant, realistic, and relatable. And I love that.

Of course, for a lot of people, fantasy is supposed to be an escape, especially into the fantastic, into worlds that are so beyond our own, where you feel transported into a world of heroes and dragons, where good always triumphs over evil. I think there’s a good place in the world for that kind of fantasy, but, I have to admit, I’m not a big fan. I like my fantasy to feel real. I want to suspend my disbelief very little, to feel like I’m in a world that mine could easily become. The most effective fantasy, if you ask me, is fantasy that’s rooted in reality, and that’s the type of fantasy I hope to write, and that I hope people will enjoy reading from me.

To go along with that, there’s only a few days left for Roane Publishing‘s Portals fantasy anthology. I’m hard at work finishing up my entry; anyone else plan on giving it a go? All I have to say is that it’s a good thing they’re accepting entries up to 10k. This may be a long one, indeed…

Language Ex Machina.

As far as fantasy goes, I’ve always been inspired by Tolkein’s scholarly breadth of detail in his worldbuilding, most notably his dizzying work with creating full, functional, quite honestly breathtaking structures of language. Naturally, this is something I’ve always wanted to weave into my worldbuilding for Aryneth, but, as one would imagine, languages are not a simple or easy matter. One thing that always felt a little troublesome to me in this respect was the fact that, in a world filled with so many different languages, how would people truly be able to understand each other? I’ve seen this handled in many books, both fantasy and science fiction, with the creation of a “Common Tongue” spoken by all “civilized” cultures throughout the world-slash-galaxy, but I’ve always had issues with it. To me, there was always a certain suspension of reality that went along with it. Look at our own world. While English is fairly close to a Common Tongue as any (or perhaps it just seems that way because that I what I speak and know), there are hundreds of languages out there. When I visit my boyfriend’s parents, conversation is stilted because, while he and I speak fluent English, their English is very, very limited, as they speak an entirely different language. The idea of the Common Tongue, then, is pretty much a Language Ex Machina, something put into place to make the plot and the difficulty in delving into the reality of different languages much easier to deal with.

Is this a bad thing? Should we be striving to make the way languages are handled in fantasy closer to how languages exist in the real world? It’s something I’ve always struggled with a little bit, and, as I get to the point in Serpent in a Cage where the different storylines (and, as it were, different cultures) meet, I really gave it some serious thought. Should Auferrix immediately address Locke and Gilferen in Kassirian, her native language? Surely, they would establish that they can’t understand each other outside of the Common Tongue, but if everyone went around sticking to the language of their native lands, then what’s the promise that they would even know the Common Tongue? How realistic would it be to have three people from different lands communicating easily among themselves?

It may seem like a minor thing to obsess over, but SiaC is a story that depends very heavily on the idea of a mystical language so unknown that not even a very intelligent character can pick up on a certain hint that might otherwise be obvious right away. That language has to have been buried and mostly forgotten for ages. How does a world go from having one mystical language long forgotten to hundreds of varied languages spread throughout, yet still everyone can speak another language all the same?

Herein lies my own Language Ex Machina: the gods did it. This is kind of an easy out for most fantasy novels, but, thankfully, it ties in with a lot of the lore for Aryneth. Way back when they created all the different races, I’m sure it would have made sense for different languages to develop, but there’s a point in the history where things become more cohesive and joined together; at that time, the gods united Aryneth in a way that allowed for a single language to develop. The devout would promote this language, because this was what the gods wanted, and so everyone would learn it, cultivate it, use it, until it became common for everyone, and it was the older languages that fell back into the realm of scholars and the unbelievers. This is where the ancient language would have gotten lost and, during the time of Aryneth where the gods were banished from the world and a great divide occurred, there would be a resurgence in the languages of one’s old land. The Common Tongue was still the common tongue, followed for ease and the fact that it was everywhere, but a new spark begins where people start preferring to speak among themselves in the old language of their native lands, though it is not necessarily a common social practice.

Random thoughts on the matter, but I think it’s a pretty solid solution. Any thoughts to share? For the other worldbuilders out there, how much have you invested into languages? Which fictional development of a language do you find particularly interesting or inspiring? Here would be the moment I’d want to say something in Klingon or Redvyn, but, well, I haven’t gotten THAT far into it, myself.

Review: Greece in the Bronze Age.

“…it would be exactly like the Mycenaeans to draw it instead of domesticating it.”


Greece in the Bronze Age” by Emily Vermeule

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m an absolute nut for books, especially old books that appear to have seen their fair share of use and enjoyment through the decades. When my fiance’s mother was getting rid of some old books, I was bold enough to take a great big load of them, delivering into my possession a wonderful array of scholarly books from when she was still studying for her teaching degree in the classics. Emily Vermeule’s look at ancient archaeology, Greece in the Bronze Age, was among them, books I mostly took because I knew I’d like having them on the shelves, books I never really expected to get around to reading.

Well, I decided, maybe we should give these books a go after all. I’ve determined to be reading at least one non-fiction book at a time (I have a habit of reading several at once, about a chapter at a time…talk about a weird ADD), and Greece in the Bronze Age was at the top of a pile. Written in the 1960s, by a woman, in a really cool field, I thought it would be really interesting. It was fairly straightforward, sometimes to the point of dryness, but I’m sure some of the details might be a little more fetching for someone in the field of archaeology, which I am definitely not. I had to keep using spellcheck to even get the spelling of archaeology correct for this post. However, that said, while a lot of the details and comparison to this ancient Greek text to that ancient language can get a little tedious, it wasn’t as dry as it could be. It’s littered with diagrams and photographs that really spark the imagination, get the brain thinking, and could serve as a really great reference in the future, especially since I’d really like to develop certain aspects of Arynethian culture (namely Midacian) to mimic ancient Greece.

Overall, Greece in the Bronze Age has a lot of charm because it’s an old book from the sixties, is not exactly a compelling read, but definitely a book I’ll be glad to have around to flip through for ideas and inspiration. The illustrations and photographs alone make this a great volume for the shelf of anyone with a love of history as inspiration.

And who knows? One day, maybe even the archaeology aspect will become a point of reference in a future work.

Book read: 015/100.

Fame! (When are you going to live forever?)

When perusing through these marvelous reimaginings of Roald Dahl works via one of Annie Cardi‘s wonderful linkdrop posts, I got to thinking, “What would the reimaginings of my covers be like?”

Promptly, I stopped myself to drop the reminder that one might need to have book covers in the first place before people can even begin to reimagine them. Still, it’s easy to get caught up in those fantasies of fame even well before you’d laid down the ground work. The real key is to ensure that you are attempting to take it beyond the fantasy, actually writing, actually publishing, and (as I’ve been neglecting an awful lot lately) actually promoting.

It did get me curious, though: what, to you, will be the standard of fame? Will you be shooting for J.K. Rowling notoriety or bust? How many copies of your book would you need to sell before you truly felt “successful”? What would stand out to you as a true mark to stand there and think to yourself, “Wow, I’ve really actually made it!”

For me, I’ve always told myself, if there’s at least a handful of people that have read my books and found something to love about them, I’m happy. If those few people enjoyed it enough to want to tell other people about it, even better. I’d consider myself “famous” to the degree of my dreams if someone mentioned “L.S. Engler,” and, immediately, someone else would relate it to something they’ve read. I’ve always joked that I’d consider it the ultimate mark of fame once one of my characters showed up at Fandom High.

There are so many ways to measure fame. I think a lot of us aren’t telling the whole truth if we say that fame isn’t a concern. Fame is definitely a concern for me. I want to be famous. I want to be known. I am not ashamed of that. I have all these wonderful stories that I want to share with the world, but I have a lot of work to do before I get there. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of that, to instead just live in the dream, but I’m determined to keep on. Writing is the only thing I truly want to do with my life; if it doesn’t earn me a lick of fame and my only audience is only my family and friends…that’s pretty disappointing, but I’ll take it. Now, if I can get beyond that, though, that would truly be a dream come true.

Of course, that won’t happen unless I get some books finished, so, if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to get back to writing! Definitely share your thoughts, though, I’d love to hear them!

Ketchup Post.

Sometimes, you just need to take a moment to catch up.

You see, I’ve had a lot going on, which is why post have been infrequent at best. Work has just exploded to the point where I’ve been charged with taking care of the two top management positions of a struggling store, I’ve got to fit in time with the boyfriend, AND I’ve been trying to focus on more of my actual writing than all the social networking and platform building stuff. Add all this to the fact that I don’t really have a computer and only have access when I borrow my roommate’s while I have a rare day off when she’s at work…I don’t get around to post much these days.

Nor do I get the chance to go around and check up on how everyone else out there is doing, what they’re working on, what they’ve been obsessing over, etc, etc, etc. So I’d like to make today’s post a catch-up post. Tell me: what’s been going on? Any good projects? Contests? What new books or authors or shows or movies have you been getting into? What’s been happening that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it; I miss connecting with everyone so much.

And what have I got currently on my plate?

–Waiting for submissions to World Unknown Review, for starters. True, I haven’t been very good at advertising the literary journal, so the first attempt might be a bust, but October is still a few months away…

–Typing up the latest Serpent in a Cage draft. I’ve filled up one notebook, so I’m already starting to transcribe part of SiaC while finishing writing the ending. I’m approximately halfway through; here’s to hoping that, when I finally get this version typed, I stick with it and it doesn’t go changing itself again.

–I’ve finished the draft of another fairy tale in the vein of “Just Right,” this one the Snow White tale, and I’m working on developing more so I can start cobbling together that book. So we’ve got Goldilocks and Snow White, I’m working on Rumplestilkskin now, and who knows which I’ll tackle next. I’m open to suggestions for favorites.

–”Soulless” has been plodding along despite the fact that I’ve lost my vision for this book. Instead of setting it aside, though, I’m resolving to finish the draft. Far too often, when I lose vision for a story, I stop and put it aside, but I’m going to see if finishing it and returning to a finished product later isn’t more beneficial.

–Several books have been coming alongside these ones, too, once that continue to push forward toward conclusion. My Western with dragons is getting a lot of interest from people I’ve talked to about it, and I love the way my haunted house story is coming along. I started up a short story that’s turning into a story about magic that’s a loose parody of Harry Potter, and the prequels to the Serpent in a Cage era is really making me fall back in love with the world of Aryneth. I’ve dedicated myself to writing more, and I’m loving every second of it.

–I’ve finally ordered a new laptop. It’s just a little Chromebook that I’ll mostly use for writing and Fandom High, but I imagine it will allow me to update and visit fellow writers more often.

So there you have it. Finally, a catch-up post! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some writing to keep doing. Keep me posted! What have I been missing out here in the great Blogosphere?

The Pacing of Plot.

As I plow forward in my desperate attempt to get this latest draft of Serpent in a Cage finished in time for a decent publication date, I find myself obsessing a little too much over certain details. I’ve been a trooper when it comes to pushing aside the doubts and striving forward, if only to finish the first draft and then worry about the details, but one of the issues has been weighing more prominently on my mind, and that is the topic of pace.

For me, especially with fantasy novels, the pacing of a book can make or break it. If a story moves too slow, I lose interest in it. Sometimes, though, a story throws so much at you so quickly that you never really feel a connection. It’s definitely the latter that I’m worried about in SiaC. I’m about four chapters into it, and, in the first three chapters, there’s an awful lot of encounters. Some of those encounters are about to swing back around and turn into bigger plot points, but I’m worried that it’s almost too much at once. Will readers find it irritating to have my characters encounter someone, move on, encounter something else, move on again for another encounter before some it starts to tie together? I hope not, and I’m thinking if it does feel like too much, I can always go back and slow the pace down in the revision, with some other perspectives or whatever else might seem fitting.

That’s just the thing, though, these encounters and how I have them set up all seem fitting. It’s hard to tell from my own perspective. I know a great deal of my inspiration and my wanting to write in the first place is based heavily in video games, mostly role-playing ones such as Final Fantasy and Baldur’s Gate, where encounters are basically imperative to moving the plot forward. But I know a common mistake a lot of authors make is to introduce too many players too quickly, and the wealth of personalities in SiaC has been a common criticism in previous drafts.

Do you find yourself distracted when an author has a fairly quick succession of events to throw at you? Do you wish they’d sometimes slow down? How often do you feel they slow down too much? Just some questions rolling around in my brain. I’m throwing in a chapter from a different perspective, happening in the other part of the book, before returning to the busier point-of-views, so maybe that will help. Although that could also just completely interrupt a perfectly good, steady pace with the others! It’s all such a balancing act and I hope I can just manage to get it right…

10 Characters Meme.

I was trying to think of something a little light, a little fun, to do on the blog today since I’m definitely out of practice with regular posting and thinking of things to write. With the reclamation of the previously missing draft of Serpent in a Cage, the book has been pretty strong on my mind, too, and I just want to babble about it. For the sake of my poor readers, I wanted to at least give my babbling a little bit of an interesting twist, and so that means a meme. Specifically, the 10 Characters meme.

I’ve seen this used a lot in fan communities and in role-playing games, but there’s no reason I can’t go and apply it to my current WIP. So, here’s how it works. Below, you’ll see a list of ten characters from Serpent in a Cage, and, below that, there are questions, that I have no looked at prior to composing the list, about those characters. It’s a cool exercise in putting them into situations or thoughts you wouldn’t normally conceive of, and…okay. It’s an excuse to let me talk about my characters. Shhh.

The fun with the meme is that you don’t know which characters are going to be thrown into which situations, so if you want to swipe it and do it yourself (which I very, very, very strongly encourage), do so before reading my answers, or at least randomly switch the numbers to prevent predictable results. I know I’d definitely love to see this pop up in a few other blogs for a few other WIPs out there…

Anyway, onto the Serpent in a Cage bunch…

1. Locke Mandrake Battarack
2. Gilferen Allok
3. Auferrix Ferrore
4. Tayahyla Ma’a’goric
5. Estialog Emereson
6. Taluin Sera Cohl
7. Knolan Rszbeki
8. Awngel Demarkus
9. Tenenshe’ean Madean
10. Jaxson Devoii

1) Describe the children of #3 and #7? Are they good parents?

While I find it pretty difficult to imagine Auferrix and Knolan having children together, we know for a fact that Knolan is a capable parent, having raised Gilferen and Locke from babies into adulthood by himself and with hardly any resources. Auferrix is not likely to be as strong a parent as the more experienced Knolan, but, since she did witness her own parents’ death at a young age, she is likely to be very protective and very caring toward whatever children she may have. If these two were to procreate, I don’t think it would be a one-time thing. They’d probably get involved, have at least a few children, who would all be strong-willed and stubborn, capable fighters and strategists, though they’ll probably always feel a little bit at odds with their place in the world. Both their parents would try to ensure that they certainly had a place, but both parents spent a majority of their lives outside of the box they were meant to be in, and I can see that rubbing off on whatever offspring they might have.

I have to admit, exploring a sort of romance developing between these two fascinates me a little more than I should, and I’m creating this whole crazy AU in my head at the moment, involving a father-complex and a love triangle pulling in her current father figure, Kadue. Yikes!

2) Describe #5 and #1′s first kiss.

Do you mean besides completely accidental? Although I am now imagining a scene where Estialog has Locke in a vulnerable position, and the best way to kill him is with a spell that could only be executed with a kiss. Because an old Majani trying to kill you isn’t enough; it has to be overlaid with blatant homoerotic sensuality, as well…

3) How would #2 react to if #6 is pregnant with #10′s baby?

Shocked, offended….and incredibly impressed, not to mention a little bit jealous. Up until Jaxson joined the Battaracks, Gilferen was easily the ladies’ man of the group, and he mostly is, but Jaxson has a certain ability that makes him jealous, whether it be with knives, women, or general charisma. He can’t understand it entirely…but in a way, it makes sense. So he’d have to mentally give Jaxson a high five for that one, although he’d be left also thinking that he thought Taluin would be smarter than to be seduced by Jaxson. Especially since Taluin so deftly managed to spurn all of Gilferen’s own attempts to seduce her…

4) How does #8 convince #7 to go with him/her on a date?

Boy, so far, Knolan’s getting quite a bit of attention in this meme! However, Awngel’s got a pretty good job with this one…All she’d have to do is bat her eyelashes, twirl her parasol and smile at him and she’d pretty much be able to get him to do whatever she’d want. Historically, Knolan really is mush when it comes to pretty women…and Awngel is very good at using her feminine wiles to get what she wants out of a Battarack…

5) Where would #9 and #6 go for their honeymoon? How is #4 going to sabotage their honeymoon?

So, Taluin’s getting some action, too, it seems. This is a good meme for the old-school Battaracks! Well, if you can call marrying Tenenshe’ean a good thing, which I probably wouldn’t. There was probably a lot of manipulation going on there…if anyone other than Tayahyla was trying to stop it, it would probably be because Taluin was being swayed into an evil trap! The fact that Tayahyla wants to stop it, though, is probably because she’d be the one wanting to go on a tour of ancient Kassirian ruins with Tenenshe’ean. And she’d probably sabotage it fairly well, considering she was raised in the deserts and could track them better than anyone else. She’d probably wind up snagging Taluin and threatening to kill Taluin, which Tenenshe’ean would allow unless he hadn’t gotten whatever it was he wanted out of Taluin yet.

…So maybe not so good for old-school Battaracks after all…

6) #6 is in love with #1. #3 confesses his/her love to #6. Whom would #6 pick? Does #8 think s/he made the right choice?

That needs to be broken down a little. Taluin is in love with her dead best friend’s son. That alone is enough to pause. Then Auferrix confesses her love for Taluin (I could be down with that…). Taluin most definitely chooses Auferrix, because she’s smart enough to know that it’s weird being in love with Locke, especially since she’s constantly thinking about how much Locke looks like his father, which then makes her wonder if she just really has a thing for her dead best friend’s dead husband who she thought she hated…Auferrix, meanwhile, is the first Asyentai who she has sworn to bring into power, and that’s a pretty great way to be at her side to make sure that happens. As far as Awngel’s opinion in all of this…she’d easily support Taluin’s choice, because she’s had enough drama in her own life to want the people in her life to be without drama as well.

7) #5 and #2 must pretend to be a married couple. Why?

I have no idea, but I bet it has something to do with with when Gilferen gets to the Majani Tower and wants to fend off the advances of another young male Majani. “See, we can’t date, I’m already married.” “…To who?” *Estialog hobbles by* “..uhh…Majani Emereson! ..wait…crap. Ahaha, hey, honey!”

Meanwhile, Tayahyla cannot stop laughing to save her life.

8) #10 is moving in with #9. What do they fight about the most?

Which one of them has the best wardrobe…

9) How will #4 prove his/her love to #1?

Tayahyla would most likely prove her supposed love to Locke by not killing Gilferen, as much as she would very much like to. After all, what says “I love you” better than “I won’t murder your best friend”?

10) #7 and #4. Love at first sight?

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. …no. At first sight, Knolan finds Tayahyla to be an immature, petulant savage that he’d rather never have to deal with ever. And, although Tayahyla probably wouldn’t mind getting with Knolan if she had the chance, it would be more likely in an attempt to get under Estialog’s skin than out of actual attraction.

11) What would #2 give #9 for Valentine’s Day?

A sword in the belly and a swift kick to the head…Happy Valentine’s Day, Douchebag Trying to Take Over the World by Kidnapping, Torturing, and Raping Young Women!

12) Under what circumstances could #3 and #5 have a happy end?

Ooooh, now this is a great idea for an AU! The whole focal point of Serpent in a Cage balances on which group gets to help Auferrix first. Depending on who you ask, if Estialog and Tayahyla were to prove victorious, the happy ending for Auferrix could also easily happen, it’s just that she’s helped by different people and another faction is the one that wins. My whole over-arching theme in the Aryneth books is that the lines between good and evil are actually quite blurred, and the idea that the Black Majani aren’t the evil ones, that DiraSkyria truly is the Savior of the World rather than the destroyer of it, that the people trying to stop her are really the evil ones is fascinating, and the point is, if Estialog truly was the one to save Auferrix and she raised up the kingdom of A’aefar with him, it would still be a happy ending for the both of them…though not for the people who were trying to save her first.

Writing the book with the other side winning could be a very interesting exercise…

11) What would #8 like to change about #10? Does number #10 approve?

I’m actually tempted not to answer this one because it might ruin a surprise within some future volumes, so I’ll just leave it at mentioning that Awngel would like to change quite a bit of Jaxson’s past, which she’ll make quite clear to him in the future, once she figures out who he is and how they’re connected to each other. And he makes it quite clear that he doesn’t approve of her disapproval; he has no remorse for his past. Sorry ’bout it, Awngel.

12) #2 and #7 are together. Who is more protective of the other?

Well, this one’s a little easy, since Gilferen and Knolan have spent their whole life together. The idea of that turning into something romantic, as I’m sure the question is implying, is a little weird for me and treads on some pretty twisted psychological territory, but Knolan is definitely the more protective one. Their whole relationship is centered on the fact that Knolan has spent his whole life protecting Gilferen.

13) Who is first going to say “I love you”, #1 or #9?

I’m pretty sure Tenenshe’ean would cut out his own tongue before saying “I love you” to anyone, so I’d have to go with Locke on this one. We all know he’s actually a real softie inside.

14) Describe #10 and #4′s perfect romantic outing.

The two people on the list with possibly the most skewed ideas of ‘romantic,’ other than Tenenshe’ean, of course. It involves finding a bar…a nice one, a classy one, not some shitty hole in the wall…starting a game of poker, drinking a lot of alcohol, winning some money, and then going and frexing until they pass out. Not a bad evening, really…

15) Who suffers from pre-wedding jitters, #3 or #8? How does bridesmaid/best man #10 soothe them?

That’s an easy one; Auferrix is general unconcerned with matters of the heart, while Awngel has jitters about everything tied into relationships. Considering who Awngel ends up marrying, the idea of Jaxson as a best man makes me laugh, but his method of soothing the jittery bride is likely booze-involved, a release of sexual tension, or a threat with a knife…Yeah. Jaxson’s more likely to increase Awngel’s anxiety, not soothe it…

16) #6 is a secret admirer. What presents will they make the wo/man of their dreams?

Taluin would more than likely find some rare old book of poetry, dress it up with a ribbon, and pass it along. It’s a true sign of affection when a bibliophile willingly hands over something they’d love to just keep to themselves!

And there you have it! A lot of these situations were pretty absurd for this cast; Serpent in a Cage is hardly a romantic book, but that’s part of what makes it so much fun. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go ahead and get back to finishing the book so that you can all read it and see what I mean by these answers.

Art Nouveau and Aryneth.

One of the most notable after-effects of a trip to the Art Institute is that it never fails to inspire me to try my hand at art again. Now, writing has always been an obvious choice for me. I love it, I’m fairly good at it, I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. However, I’ve also dabbled a little bit in other artistic forays, including drawing and such…nothing much, but I like to think I have a decent enough hand.

Decent enough to produce my own cover art? Probably not. Then again, I’ve been wondering about that recently, in light of seeing some covers out there that easily make me think, “I could do that/better than that,” if I may be so bold. While I’ll most likely turn all my cover art to friends more capable, the thought of at least sketching a draft for them to go off of has crossed my mind, and, heck, maybe with a little work, I could make it good enough myself.

In considering the potential covers for Serpent in a Cage and subsequent Aryneth novels, an interesting thought came to mind. I want something a little unique and different, and, to this point, I had been considering just a really simple, stark design, much like the designs for the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. But that wouldn’t be very different, would it? I got to thinking that I’ve never really seen Art Nouveau style covers for much of anything, much less fantasy novels, and thought that would be such a cool design.

What do you think? I’m a huge fan of art nouveau, though I’ve never tried the style myself. Last night, after my foray into the Art Institute, I got out my pencils and papers, pulled up some reference images on my Kindle, and started to sketch a few potential designs for SiaC. The one I really took to still needs a lot of work, but I’m really stoked about this approach, the cover to SiaC featuring a stunning design with Auferrix and a serpent in a sweeping art nouveau style, not dissimilar from this image.

Do you think this design is a good move? Would you be intrigued by a fantasy cover in this style, or turned off? I know it’s becoming pretty popular to see all sorts of characters done up in art nouveau style (I even own a nouveau Samus Aran shirt). Is it too much of a fad, or is the style classic enough that it can rise above the current popularity? Any thoughts would be welcome. I thought of taking a picture of the sketch so far, but it’s no where near completion enough, I’m afraid.

The Second Asyentai: Let’s Get Political.

Last night, I realized that I’ve been reading an awful lot of political fantasy lately. I’ve got Melanie Rawn’s The Ruins of Ambrai for one, Terry Pratchett’s The Truth for another, and, most influential of all, George R. R. Martin’s A Feast for Crows, which is easily the most political of the Song of Ice and Fire books so far, as the game is changing and everyone’s rearranging their pieces, so to speak. Naturally, being the little writerly magpie that I am, my brain shifted gears and I seized the chance to start up my own political fantasy that I have been developing for a while but have yet to really attempt to put into paper.

Of course, my current Aryneth WIP, Serpent in a Cage, is a little bit political, but that series doesn’t really get to the level of ASoIaF until the later books. I wanted something with conflicting factions and convultuted internal plotting now, so I stepped a little further back in Arynethian history to the Second Asyentai (Locke and Auferrix and crew are the Third Asyentai). These are the unsuspecting chosen ones that were lead on a fate that caused them to bring about the Sealing of the Gods from the world, thus creating a period of turmoil and chaos until we pick things back up a couple thousand years later in SiaC. Sweet Bianca, revolutionary Launce, fierce Katarina, playful Tigaren, serene Seo, and an admittedly unnamed Apylo who we’ll just call mysterious wind up being thrown together as the worlds they knew dissolves around them and they change the entire fate of the planet in the meantime. Much like a ASoIaF book, the narratives will switch between these six strangers as their stories mesh and meld in a big net of intrigue, religion, and maybe even a little romance.

So, please to enjoy the following excerpt, the first page of the new project written last night. I’m really enjoying the tone and the approach so far, so thought on what you think and if you’re eager to see more would be appreciated:

         With her heart heavy and her shoulders sagging, the princess laid the rose down on the glossy surface of the closed casket. Her rose was to be the first of many, and she drew her hand back slowly, wishing to let her fingers linger but for the thorns. She dropped her hand, as well as her head, and sniffled back her tears. Another hand fell on her shoulder and squeeze.
         “Bianca.”
         Startled, she jumped, blinking into the realization that she was not standing over her father’s corpse but was sitting in a rumbling carriage with squeaking wheels instead. The hand on her shoulder belonged to her cousin, Ewyn, who leaned forward to smile at her and pointed her attention out the window. “Look. What a beautiful sunset.”
         The transition from dreams and memory to stark reality was jarring, causing her to stare blankly at Ewyn’s handsome face before she could turn her head away. A deep, angry blush heated her skin, and she hoped no one could notice it in the darkening cabin. It was little wonder they all thought her to be slow and a little bit stupid; they couldn’t truly understand how her thoughts plagued and distracted her constantly. She stared out the window without seeing anything, tightening a fist in her lap.
         “Sunset,” she noted mildly, frowning, the expression knotting in her eyebrows. “So soon? It will be practically midnight by the time we arrive.”
         “The innkeepers will still be most receptive all the same,” Ewyn assured her complacently, “have no worries. The road to Cenmich is long and the proprietors of the Golden Light are accustomed to welcoming their important guests at strange hours due to the journey. They will be pleased to welcome us, Birdie.”
         “I would be pleased not to trouble them,” Bianca stated, frowning at her cousin now in a light attempt to convince him. But she knew that she had lost all respect and conviction the moment someone called her by that little pet name. “If we keep on, we can reach Cenmich by morning all the same.”
         “Wouldn’t it be better to let the horses rest a while?” In the red twilight, Ewyn’s smile was condescending and, she thought, perhaps a little predatory. “That way, everyone will arrive in the village refreshed and ready. It would leave a dismal impression should we present ourselves road-worn and weary, Birdie.”

Not much, as I said, about a page, but I’m intending to compose much more today. I’ve got a good feeling about this one, so here’s to hoping for a steady drive as I continue it! Wish me luck!

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