Editing Purgatory

I finished this book in December and here it is May and I am still editing it.  I am looking with no small amount of jealousy at my wife who wrote her book in a month and it was mostly ready to go when she finished it.  We wrote very different books, in very different styles, but in the end, she made far fewer mistakes than I did.

I made some whoppers.  I just let the words pour out of me and yes, I found some gems, but there was a whole lot of detritus to sort through.  On edit pass one, I realized that the story was broken pretty severely and needed a bunch more scenes to fix, a complete rewrite of the ending and some pretty consistent modifications along the way.  On pass four I had to trim about a fifth of the story to make it more focused.  I’ve recently gotten some pretty consistent beta read feedback about some style issues that I’m fixing now.

This story started at 125K words and I’ve read it so many times that I’m considering editing backward just for a change of scenery.  My wife believes that this is a case of loving my book too much and not wanting to let it go.  I agree that I do care how it turns out, regardless of whether it sells or not, but I’ve killed a lot of darlings.  (or more correctly, I’ve put them aside for one of the other books in this world.)

I am eager to hit the publish button and I’m working exclusively to that end.  It’s driving me crazy not to be writing the next book in this series and the series I’m co-writing with Jess.  I’m trying to get this done by June 15 and if I can stand to read my own words one more time, I think I can meet that deadline and earn the right to move on to another project.

I hope the story is worthy of the time I’ve put into it.

#MondayBlogs

Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn

#MondayBlogs

My wife introduced me to this one shortly after we met.  I think it might have been a litmus test and thankfully I passed.  This has become one of my favorite books and series.  So much so that when my wife and I bought our dream home, we named the property Sunrunner’s Rest.

One of my favorite things about the story was the complex relationship between Rohan and Sioned (Great name).  I enjoyed how they balanced their personal responsibilities with their relationship.  I loved that Sioned was a queen who was determined to have it all, even though the costs were sometimes very high.

Melanie really makes her secondary characters come alive.  I often related more to Chay and Tobin, but I felt like all of the characters could have had their own books where Rohan and Sioned were just supporting characters and it would have been just as rewarding.

Dragon Prince is the kind of book that makes me want to learn my craft better and gives me targets to shoot for.  I want to write scenes that evoke the emotional responses that her’s do.  I want to portray a family that feels as genuine as Chay and Tobin.  I want to write a relationship that is as real as any in this book.  Melanie makes me want to keep writing so that someday I can give back something as powerful as I have received.

Wonder

This encapsulates what I want to be in this world.

Big eyes, VERY big, because they are full of wonder.That is my center. It is what I was born with. Eyes that have always seen the wonder in EVERYTHING.  Eyes that see lights in the trees and magic in the air. This wonder is what I put into the world, and what I protect in children. It is what makes me a Guardian. It is my center.

What is yours?

From Rise of the Guardians.

God Shuffle Book Cover

The book cover for God Shuffle came through recently and I wanted to share it with you. Thanks to my amazing wife Jessica for helping me sort through dozens of ideas to hone in on something that is simple and encapsulates this whole series.  The cover was completed by Fayefayedesigns on fiverr.  Fayefayedesigns and I think she did a great job with it.  I hope you agree.

GodShuffleKindle

 

God Shuffle – The Divine Spire

This is another excerpt from God Shuffle that I decided should be cut, but that I still like.

It deals with the Divine Spire and has been slightly edited to remove potential spoilers.

 

“Lucy, you’ve gotten yourself all muddy again.  Can’t we even walk to the Spire without you playing in the muck?”

Susanne crouched beside her daughter on the Divine Bridge and her daughter steadied herself on her father George’s leg.

“I wasn’t trying to get muddy mother, I just slipped in the horse poo. Maybe we should try next week?”

“That won’t do at all Lucy”, said George. “Now more than ever, the gods need our prayers.”

“What do they need our prayers for? They’re Gods already, they can just give themselves whatever they want.”

Susanne finished shaking the worst of the mud off of Lucy’s dress and took her hand. She pointed to the Divine Spire, a twisting artifice of glass that seemed to stretch beyond the heavens themselves.

“There was a time Lucy, that this was just a simple little temple, hardly more than a stable. The Gods built all of this in celebration of the Divine Pact. Do you know how they were able to build it?”

“Of course Mother, they are Gods.”

“Yes, they are Gods, but their power is limited. If we stop praying to them, or giving them offerings, then they will have no power and won’t be able to do even simple things. The truly special thing about this spire, is that after the Divine’s power was weakened, they gave nearly everything they had to build this mighty spire as a monument.”

George piped in.

“It was meant as a show of trust in humanity. They would weaken themselves before us and it would be up to us to bring their strength back so that they could resume their normal duties. If either party didn’t honor their promise, it could have gone butter side down.”

“If I were a God I would have held a little bit back and been the most powerful God of all and then the rest of the Gods would have to make statues to me.”

“Yes, well that’s why you aren’t allowed back in religious studies now isn’t it?”

Susanne frowned at her daughter and they began walking to the Divine Spire.

They looked up at the Spire from the bottom of the stairs and its immensity filled their field of vision.

Lucy looked up and swayed a bit then grabbed George’s leg.

“It looks much bigger from here. Those are a lot of stairs to climb.”

“That is why we waited until you were big enough to come yourself. You are far too heavy to carry any more.”

They walked up the thirty-eight granite steps, one for each deity that existed prior to the Divine Pact. Lucy was red in the face and huffing when she reached the top but also had a smile on her face and refused to take the hand George offered. She caught her breath and then marched right to the Eastern doors where she stopped and looked up.

“Father, do giants come to temple to pray?”

“No, Lucy”, said George, “but the doors are sized so that the Avatars would fit through them if they decided to visit us.”

She crossed the threshold and into the largest single room she had ever seen. The northern side had a huge stage rising above the floor complete with altar and several podiums. The other three sides had four prayer areas each, one for each Avatar. Each area had pews of its own where workers devoted to that Avatar could teach or answer questions.

“Where do you think you would like to offer your prayers Lucy?” Her mom tried to grab her hand to keep her close in the crowd.

“Oh, all of them, Mother. I want to visit every shrine and talk to them all and do you think there are Avatars here right now in disguise?”

George looked up and took a deep slow breath.

“That might take a lot of time Lucy. Wouldn’t you rather pick an Avatar that you think could use your help or that you would like to congratulate and then get home in time to help your mom with the meal?”

“No thanks Father, I wouldn’t be able to decide and I wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings.

George looked at Susanne and smiled weakly.

“We’ll do our prayers and then meet you in the middle Lucy. Don’t leave the temple without us.”

They finished their offerings to Love and Peace and sat down to wait for Lucy. She returned several times to inform them of this or that fact about an Avatar and to ask if they had known that the spire was made of real glass.  Once she very somberly explained the difference between Avatars and Gods to them.

“Well that’s that then love, we’ve lost this one to the church.”

“Don’t be sad now”, said Susanne, “at least she won’t marry a foreigner.”

God Shuffle Prologue

As a new author, it is my job to introduce you to my writing. I hope to make it easier for you to decide if I’m a good investment of your time. I also hope by posting excerpts from my new book, you’ll be able to tell if you’re going to be interested in this particular venture. This is a prologue that I wrote for Gods Shuffle before deciding not to use a prologue for this project. It does give a pretty good summary of “that which came before” though.  

500 years ago, the world was a very different place. The Gods were uncaring shepherds of their flock. They would waste their worshipers in petty wars (footnote), displays of loyalty or just because they were bored. These were dark times indeed for Hesterwind. All of the other places in the world had deserted the Gods. The Gods lost their power to influence those areas and the people of Hesterwind took notice. We are a proud and devout people, but the Gods used that against us and began to focus all of their negative feelings towards humanity on us instead of celebrating Hesterwind as their final bastion of worship.”

Our mages had been working with other nations to discover ways to breach the protections of the Gods. They built powerful magic items and devised spells that were clever and deadly and at last, one among them decided to try their luck. The first of the Gods fell and the heavens erupted. When they God’s threatened to punish all of Hesterwind unless the attackers were turned over, humanity said “No”.

Thus began the great but swift war of the Divine. The people of Hesterwind decided as one, that the Gods did not exist and that what did not exist could not hurt them. Thousands of people died that first day but only hundreds the next and only dozens the following day. Without the power of the people’s belief, the Gods were not able to maintain their terrible vengeance. When the Mages struck back three more gods fell. Humanity was plentiful but the Gods were not and this kind of loss could not be borne.

Against the wishes of the rest of the world of Atrya, humanity offered peace to the Divine and the Divine agreed to negotiations. Ash, the Goddess of Peace, was chosen to negotiate peace terms. She was invested with some of each of the Gods’ remaining power as authority to make the best terms she could and then Ash put the weakened Gods into a protective sleep. The Gods wished for a return to belief as normal and in turn, they would forgive humanity for its rejection. The Goddess of Peace had other ideas.

Ash met with humanity on the seventh day. The representatives of Hesterwind laid out their grievances. She listened thoughtfully and clarified a few areas of confusion. One of her great gifts was to see things from the viewpoint of her opponents and she began to sympathize with the Humans. Then she heard their terms.

Humanity would decide which gods would be worshiped and which would be banished from belief. They had no further need for Divine who did nothing but cause problems. The Lord of Murder and the God of Thieves were to be immediately banished as deities which served no useful societal purpose. A Divine Council would be formed which would hold a great enough portion of the divine power that they could put any Gods that became troublesome to banishment. Ash would have to agree to share the methodology for this with at least one representative from humanity. The Gods would need to serve humanity if they wished to gain the power of faith and praise. The Divine Council would determine which Gods were useful enough to merit being part of the new system.

Ash was stunned. What humanity suggested was unheard of, but she felt as though it was necessary. She knew the Gods planned to appease humanity only long enough to smash the Mage’s Guild and then take retribution on the people of Hesterwind. She sided with humanity to create a working relationship of equals. She negotiated in good faith, advocating hard for the rights of the Divine and the mundane. The negotiations lasted for 30 more days, during which humanity fed Ash with small prayers. Then it came time to announce the plan to the Gods.

They were barely awake and the Gods were already furious. They struck out at Ash but were weak as kittens. When she finally had them calmed down enough to talk, she explained the terms of the peace accord. Many left the table immediately preferring endless sleep to negotiating with the humans. The God of Death was one such one, resolving to destroy every mage in Hesterwind for their attack. He was the first to be put to sleep.

The terms were simple: Give humanity enough power to defeat you all if need be and trust us not to use it. Abide by our decisions about which Gods we want to worship. Do a good job for humanity and you remain, abuse our trust and you will sleep. A last term was included just prior to bringing the Divine Compact before the Gods. Every 50 years, your sphere of responsibility will randomly change and you will become the avatar of something different.

On behalf of the Gods, Ash was able to win concessions about the Mages and the formation of a Divine Council which included representation from the Gods. As for the Wizards, they must give up the pursuit of God Killing magic and destroy any devices capable of doing such things. In an unprecedented move that her fellow Gods did not sanction, Ash demanded that the Goddess of Magic be put to sleep to further curb the learning and power of the Wizards.

To humanity, the Divine Compact allowed the continuance of the Gods with the prospect of a stable life. To the Gods, the treaty was known as the Great Betrayal. Ash was resented by most of the Divine for giving away their power and making them subservient to humanity. For its part, Humanity has always revered the Goddess of Peace as a new entity called Divinity because she embodied all that the faithful had always hoped for in the Divine.

(Footnote)

[A particularly nasty war erupted about the proper temperature to serve tea. Many of the Gods took sides in this conflict and sent their faithful to the War of the Teacup and to this day in Hesterwind, there is a holiday to honor the dead and a custom that all tea is checked for proper temperature before serving. “Wet on the face to save disgrace”, is a saying that refers to the degree of wetness that will remain on a face after leaning over a proper cup of tea”. “A finger bridge”, is another tea custom where tea drinkers will dip their thumb and little finger into a cup of tea before drinking and if it is the proper temperature, then it will lightly burn the little finger but be merely warm on the thumb.]

Showing Up

I have been boring people with my dream of making a living as a writer for a terribly long time. Long enough that I believe I owe some kind of terrible tithe for each year that I made those claims and continued to write nothing. I told myself, “If only I could finish what I started, but alas and alac, I cannot finish such a long thing as a novel. Woe unto me for I am a tortured artist whose brilliant words must be lost to the ages. How God must have hated us to curse me so thoroughly.”  (You weren’t there, you don’t know what I said to myself. I might have talked like that.)

The terribly clever ones among them would ask, “when was the last time you tried?  What have you written lately?  How far did you get?” Can you believe it? Of course I had not written recently. I knew in my mind that I couldn’t finish a novel and hadn’t I tried that one time a dozen years or so ago when I had that idea? I sat at my desk for nearly a week, sometimes for a whole hour at a time and if that kind of determination couldn’t produce a world class author then it was clear that it was just not meant to be. A man just knows these things, deep inside and there is no sense fighting destiny is there?

In truth, I was terrified. I was scared that I might not be able to finish. I was scared that my words could only be good in the short term and that if asked to stretch to the length of a novel, my prose would be less interesting than reading soup labels. After all, I would regularly fall asleep while I was writing and if my creativity was so lacking in inspiration that I could fall asleep while typing it, how very very dull must I be? Mostly though, I was terrified that if I managed to finish a whole novel, it would be awful and I would be forced to confront the truth of my utter lack of skill.

This is then, my shout from the bottom of the mountain top.  I stand at the bottom of Everest, which has snatched the dreams of so many greater men and women. I stand here in clothing I bought from the wrong outfitter, with an ill packed sack, a days worth of rations, climbing sneakers and forty pounds of belly. I stand here with a guide book for Mount Washington and a grin upon my face and I yell in a voice that is swiftly swept away. “I’m coming for you.”

I remembered my Go Pro though, so you can all watch the fun from home.