Battarack Keep.

It’s always amazing when I come across an image that makes me realize that some of the places in my head are actual places in the world. While browsing /r/castles, I discovered the wonder that is Lichtenstein Castle in Germany:

Not only is this a marvelous piece of architecture and scenery, but this is almost exactly what I had in mind for Battarack Keep, an iconic location to come into play in the fourth book of the main Aryneth series. Check out this link for some more amazing photographs one redditor took from an aerial perspective.

The following description contains SPOILERS for the Aryneth series, the first book of which is probably four years away from publication, so proceed only if you don’t mind being spoiled for a book you might be reading in about a decade from now, lol.

Battarack Keep was built on the edge of a cliff, looming over the mighty river that splits the land of Kyano into two parts, from which the elaborate system of rivers branches off to snake its way through the continent. The castle grounds slope into a private garden system, while the village is settled down below. The ancestral home of the Battarack family, it was overtaken by the Han family after the gods were seals from the world and the dynasties of the Second Asyentai had fallen. As per the prophecies, the Battaracks returned to the kingdom, pulling the Valley of the Swallow back into a time of prosperity under Locke Mandrake Battarack, and stayed in tact as a leading faction in the world well into the Age of Apocalypse. The height of the castle made it nearly impossible to overtake, a valuable asset in the war-torn Kyano.

I’ve had so many vivid thoughts of the Battarack children playing in the castle and on the sloping grounds of the mountaintop, of Locke peering out over the edge of the cliff in contemplation as he struggled with his quick rise from poverty to power, of Launce Battarack sneaking out from his high-towered prison to lead a revolution against the supposed tyranny of his father, so it’s incredibly awesome to have a visual reference for it, too. Lichtenstein Castle is the perfect Battarack Keep, and I just wanted to take a moment to share that with you all.


Awesome Arynethian Females Volume I.

So, a while ago, Infinite Free Time put up this post about ten awesome fictional female characters (all of whom I agree with completely), and I thought of doing the same, but I don’t know how I could possibly choose ten of my favorites, and another thought struck me to turn it into shameless self-promotion. Now, while the idea of picking only ten awesome females is daunting, picking only ten from the world of Aryneth is pretty difficult, too. Even outside of Aryneth, I love my strong female characters: the cast of Soulless is heavily female and the men are kind of off to the side. But I did want to take a moment to highlight the varied female cast that populates the Aryneth books and makes them so awesome.

And, of course, since I want to fill this post with pretty pictures, it gives me the chance to try a hand at some “dream casting,” which is always more fun than it should be. Honestly, these are mostly in order of appearance, as I’m firmly in the belief that all my women are pretty damn awesome. I’ve also decided to break it down by book, leaving them to manageable little tidbits and saving more awesome women for future posts. Today, we take a look at Serpent in a Cage, which is, admittedly, a little heavy on the male characters, but the pure awesomeness of the ladies within make up for their smaller numbers.

(Also, it appears that Photobucket, which I use to host my images, is kind of wishy-washy with its servers today, so if you don’t see the images, that’s why.  Of course it would crash on a day I’m doing a picture-centric post! Ugh)

1. Auferrix Ferrore.
(Frieda Pinto)

A seventeen year old girl who seeks revenge on the jackasses who killed her parents and kept her locked and abused in a dungeon for a few years before deciding to kill her, too, is a pretty good place to start when it comes to Awesomeness. Auferrix goes through hell and torture and still comes out in a blaze of glory, ready to rule and kick some more ass. She was trained from the moment she was born to become that fierce leader, so, sometimes, she can be a little cold on the personal side of things, but there’s no denying that she’s a stand-out figure who refuses to be a victim of her circumstances.

2. Taluin Sera Cohl.
(Cate Blanchett)

Of all my characters, Taluin consistently comes out as one of my absolute favorites. She has a rich and tragic past, having lost everything and finding solace and a new life through books and prophesies and destiny. Now that I think about it, perhaps I like Taluin so much because she reminds me of my own sometimes rocky life. She’s strong and independent and fiercely interested in history, the past, and how the things we do today shape the world tomorrow. She’s caring and loving, and, sometimes, that gets her into situations she’d rather not be in, where other people turn to her for support she can’t always offer. Kind and gentle but a fighter when she needs to be, she has a quiet grace that catches people off guard, usually in a powerful way.

3. Tayahyla Ma’a’goric.
(Teyonah Parris)

Another fierce young woman from Serpent in a Cage, Tayahyla starts out as a mystery, an irritable Majani with great power and a short temper. As we get to know her, though, we realize that she’s much more than just a bad guy set to ruin all of Taluin’s well-laid plans, with a complicated past and an extremely complicated destiny. She’s constantly at odd with who she is, having been raised by her absent father’s best friend while her he<bart longs for the nomadic life of the mother who shunned her (or so she thinks). She’s hyper aware of her strengths, especially as a woman, though incredibly ignorant of her emotions and feelings. She believes whole-heartedly in what she’s doing, despite being at odds with everyone who tells her it’s wrong. Tayahyla is constantly breaking my heart, while astounding me with her determination and stubborness.

These three women open up the door to the great cast of females that populate Aryneth, and, without them, there would be no Serpent in a Cage. Thanks for taking a moment to be introduced to them, and here’s to looking forward to learning about them more!

Happy writing!

RoW80: Round 3 Goals.

It’s July 7th! Know what that means? A Round of Words in 80 Days Round 3! Starting now and running until…erm, 80 days from now, RoW80 touts itself as “the writing challenge that knows you have a life.” I’ve been in love with this community since I first discovered it years ago, and I’m thrilled to be tackling another challenge that truly has helped me to move forward with my writing career. What do I hope to accomplish this round? Let’s have a look-see:

Goal One: Soulless. Since The Slayer Sage: Soulless is set to be released on August 15th, this goal won’t get me through the full 80 days, but, until then, it’s my top priority. My goal is to edit at least a chapter every day. I want to be revising and fine-tuning this thing until the very last moment…and I’ll need to. During the “break,” I’ve written up three whole chapters (approximately 30 pages in my little notebooks) to fit in towards the beginning that changes the scope of the rest of the book a little, so I’ve really got to work in that new tone and some of the new details. It’s kind of amazing how different a book it’s going to be than what my beta readers read, though the changes are heavily based on their suggestions. For that, I’m utterly grateful to them. Changing a book this much in about a month is daunting as hell, but it’s also exciting and keeping me really chugging along full speed towards the finish line.

Keep an eye out for posts looking for people to help spread the word about the book once we get closer to August. I’d really love it if anyone would want to do an interview or join in on the cover reveal or even book reviews once we get to that point.

Goal Two: Short Stories. Just like last round, I’ll be striving to finish and shop more short stories out in the great publishing wilderness. Lately, because of those three added chapters, I haven’t been touching many shorts, but that should change now that I’m back to full-on editing mode with Soulless. Besides, I have all my current wheelhouse out in the ether at the moment, six stories all together, one of which got passed on up to the next level of editing. Really, you can’t ask for much more than that. Although ten shots is more likely to hit than six. And twenty is more likely to hit than ten… My goal here is to get a short story written (and submitted somewhere!) every day. The usual goal. I rarely make it. But I’ll keep striving.

Goal Three: Heartless. Due to the changes in Soulless, I have to go back and restart the progress I’ve made on the next book, Heartless. No big loss there, it’s only a few chapters in, and some of them I’ll reuse, but the focus shifted a little and I was heading into some messy territory. My goal is at least a page a day, which is rarely a problem for me. I’ve got plenty of time to get the rough draft finished before its release day in August of 2015.

Goal One-Point-Five (To be taken up after August 15): Serpent in a Cage. SiaC‘s rough draft has had time to marinate; my brain has had time to separate itself from it, so once Soulless is dressed up and out the door, I will return to it and attempt to edit it and cross my fingers in the hopes that it doesn’t call for a fourth completely new re-write. I shall attempt to edit a chapter a day.

Second verse, same as the first, really, with a few alterations here and there. Really, my goals are pretty steady. I’ve found something that works astonishingly well for myself, and I intend to stick with it for the next two years, when the entirety of The Slayer Saga will be complete. Then I might have to focus on a different approach, but, until then, it’s steady as she goes.

Be sure to check out the goals of my fellow RoWers here and cheer them on voraciously!

Happy writing!

RoW80 Update: Reflections and Conclusions.

Round 2 of this year of A Round of Words in 80 Days has officially concluded, and there’s a little bit of time before the next one starts (July 7th! It’ll be here before we know it). A time to reflect and relax and rethink our goals and motivations. It’s also a time to look back and see exactly how much (or little, as the case may sometimes be) we accomplished in the past eighty days. I have to admit, when I look back on the last eighty days, I’m a little bit astounded by what I managed. It was a good round, a very, very good round.

So what did I accomplish?

Soulless. I finished the first book of The Slayer Saga pretty early in the round, typed it up, and got through my first edits. Then I sent it out to beta readers, and now I’ve got about a month and a half to put the finishing touches on it, get a cover fashioned up, and format it for an exciting release on August 15th. A good portion of Round 3 will likely be focused on marketing the crap out of it. Be prepared toward the end of July for me to do some shout-outs for people who would like to do interviews/reviews/run naked through the streets with a banner and a bullhorn…

Serpent in a Cage. Version 3.5 (and hopefully there will be no 4.0! I’ll accept a 3.75, though) has been completely typed up and transcribed! When Soulless is out of my hair for a little bit, I might just start picking at editing it, though it might also wait until I’ve secured Heartless to be in a good spot for publication in August of 2015. Then there’s making sure Fearless is reading for 2016. So SiaC might be put off a little longer, and I’m okay with that. It’s my baby. The time has to be right, and this is not the right time for it.

Short Stories. In the course of this round, I managed to get three new short stories finished and sent out, one of which is actually in the final stages of review, so keep your fingers crossed! Toward the end of the round, I hit a little bit of a wall, in that it seemed I couldn’t get any new stuff out. I’ve got a few ideas now, though, so hopefully that will change, but I’m not stressing out about it too much, as Soulless is my main priority. I also found a journal that accepts previously published works of longer, novelette-size fiction, so I’m brushing up “The Mutineers of Starvation” to add to the mix.

All in all, I feel pretty damn good about this round. The best part about it, though, is that it’s helped me jump right back into the exciting, turbulent waters of the self-publishing world and reconnect with a lot of good friends and mentors. That’s the thing I’ve always loved about RoW80, it’s just as much about the community as it is about the goals.

So, how was Round 2 for you? Any particularly awesome successes? Anything that still needs some work? What have you got planned for Round 3? I know that, outside of getting Soulless out and on its feet, most of my goals will focus on Heartless and more short stories. I’ve given myself a goal of a delicious smoothie from work whenever I sell a story. They’re super addictive, so I better get to selling…

Happy writing!

Three More Questions about “Soulless.”

I’m stealing some more questions from a post by Harliqueen, because they’re just so gosh darn good and it makes for an easy post topic for me. Granted, this is a romance weekly thing that a few blogs do, and Soulless is definitely not a romance, but I’m going to do these three questions, anyway, because I’m shameless like that. Mwa ha ha.

1. When writing your novel, do you know how it’s going to end before you write, or do you write from start to finish?

For as much as I’m mostly a pantser, I do usually have a general structure in mind for how a book will begin and end. Sometimes, like with Serpent in a Cage, the details in the middle are also plotted out, but more often than not, the details develop as I go along, hitting a few high points here and there. Most of my non-Aryneth books are like that. I have a start point and an end point, and I just see where it leads me, while all the Aryneth books are meticulously planned, due to the complex nature of the books. Still, even then, I get a few surprises along the way.

Soulless started as a mere blip of an idea without much of an endgame in mind, to be honest (and I'm sure some of my beta probably noticed that, haha). It's since developed into a three-book series, and I know what's going to happen in books two and three already. A lot of times, I wanted to just throw it out the window, I was so frustrated, but I dedicated myself to plowing ahead and reaching the end, no matter what. Now it's all about smoothing out the bumps and making it more of a cohesive story rather than just a driven ramble.

2. How do the people you know impact your writing? Are you influenced by friends and family for your characters?

There are a few characters there in my head-space that have been inspired by a few people in my life, but the characters of Soulless are not in that realm, unless you count the fact that Veroh’s name is inspired by the two Veronicas I know. When it comes to influencing me on a critique level, though, the opinion of the people I know can really help shape a character and make them richer. Unlike the Aryneth characters that I’ve been developing since childhood, this cast is pretty new to me, too. They just came into being about a year ago, so I’ve been eager to incorporate some tips and suggestions from other people. Still, if their opinions stray too far from the original idea, then the influence will likely stop. Any author worth their salt will always consider what other people have to say, and I do not plan to be an exception to that.

3. Describe the hero in your current WIP in three words.

The Soulless Slayer. Wait, is that cheating? Hehe.

Fine, how about this:

That’s all! Let me thank Harliqueen for letting me steal more questions off her blog. I’m off to do more edits, and don’t forget! The chance to pledge money to support Soulless via Kickstarter ends tomorrow!

RoW80 Update: Them Pesky Goals.

Here we are, moseying on up to another RoW80 check-in, and I still don’t feel like I’ve done anything to develop new goals for the round. It isn’t that I haven’t been getting anything done, I have, but, with balancing the new part-time job and deciding on a new project while Soulless is off to the betas, I haven’t been very focused. That kind of defeats the purpose of the round, if you ask me, but I’m also a little okay with it. I set myself a goal this round and I reached it, albeit early. So it’s already been a success.

But I should probably attempt something rather than just coasting along and enjoying the breeze. The way I see it, I can break it down as such:

Goal One: Serpent in a Cage. Now, I’m not ready to move onto the BIG SERIES, not until The Slayer Series is complete. I would also like to try the Aryneth series on a traditional publishing route, Still, it doesn’t hurt to have it typed. And it probably wouldn’t hurt to send it through several washes of editing over the next couple of years. So I’m transcribing the written draft, aiming for a chapter a day, and then I’ll strive to edit a chapter a day…and pray the edits don’t convince me to write it up all over again from scratch like I did the last two drafts…

Goal Two: Short Stories. I guess my main focus should be producing more short stories to send out for publication. Looking back, I’ve actually been doing fairly well in this, though it’s really difficult to write and type and edit a really good, solid story in just a single day. But that’s okay. I’ve got three new stories out there. Three of them, more than I would have expected when I started this goal. No, I haven’t been submitting a story every day, but I strive to get one finished quickly and sent out, and the results are solid. So I’ll keep going on this one. I’m currently working on a love story with a ghost for a contest I just saw in my inbox, so that should be good.

Goal Three: Heartless. With Soulless set to be published in August of this year, I have until August of next year to write, edit, and publish the second book in the series, Heartless. I would have thought writing a book in a year was crazy, but, when I decided to finally buckle down and finish Soulless, I did it within two months. I can totally get to that point with Heartless, and, for now, since I don’t want to be too distracted, I’m making the goal to write at least a page a day, though I’m likely to do more. If it ends up being as long as Soulless, that puts me at the end in about 211 days. Plenty of time.

So there we have it. One month to go in this Round, and I’ve got three new goals: SiaC, Short Stories, and Heartless. I should be able to keep myself busy. How about you? How are your goals going out there, fellow RoWers? And if you’re not a RoWer, you can check in on some here!

Happy writing!

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!