Friday, January 29, 2010
I woke up with both kitties curled up in my bed. That was lovely. I had missed them so when I slept. The bad news, Galahad moved when I started to stir... into my fresh laundry basket, covering my outfit for today in fur. My fault for not putting the clothes away, I know.
I nearly died of exposure on the way to work this morning. It's freezing out there!
Those of you following me on Twitter or my Facebook Fan Page (I still think it's really weird having a facebook fan page before I'm actually published... this marketing schtik is just odd) will know that after all my moaning and groaning this week I have, nevertheless, caught up on my word count. I had, while I was whinging, completely forgotten that I was 2 000 words up on my target when I fell ill last Friday. I only needed to write an extra 1 000 words to regain my target word count.
I got there yesterday - and before lunch, too! I will, hopefully, build another lead in case I fall ill and just really don't feel like writing again. I have another 3 000 words to write this morning, but I think I can manage that alright.
I'm quite excited about today, all things considered, as I get to go to the Ballet this evening. Luckily for me, one of my friends is up for experiencing new things (he discovered swing dancing this way and has never looked back) and so he managed to get really inexpensive tickets to go see the Ballet. There's a wonderful programme in Ottawa called Live Rush, which is designed to make it affordable for students to see arts productions. Of course, it all depends on availability, but it's well worth the uncertainty. The premier of the Boston Ballet company in Ottawa for $11.00? Yep, I can handle that!
Since I have no other news, not even any ziggs.com searches, I shall leave you with an end of the week giggle (this one is one of mine):
moar funny pictures
Have a great weekend!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
A few more Ziggs.com searches to announce:
Visitor Location: Garland, TX
Date: January 25, 2010
Time: 2:46 PM EST
Visitor Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Date: January 27, 2010
Time: 9:42 AM EST
I'm pretty sure this is the first from Denmark. And then there's another from Moscow:
Visitor Location: Moscow, Russian Federation
Date: January 26, 2010
Time: 9:55 PM EST
That's it. Boring post today. Sorry. 'Till tomorrow, then.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I didn't think much of it, and figured that I'd just pull in some writing overtime yesterday afternoon. Then I made the mistake of catching up on Neil Gaiman's blog during lunch. I read a story about a cat he owned named Zoe, who was one of the most loving cats one could meet. She developed an extremely rare aggressive tumour (yes, the malignant kind) that grew over her throat and prevented her from drinking or eating.
Zoe of course, died. The vet came to Mr. Gaiman's house and put her to sleep.
It was such a distressing and lovingly rendered tale about a cat named Zoe, I curled into myself and had a good cry. I felt so miserable that I decided to go to icanhascheezburger.com to look at funny pictures of cats in an effort to cheer me up.
That writing overtime I was supposed to pull? Yeah, it didn't happen. Now I'm 4 000 words behind target.
Well, there's nothing for it. Must get back to the book and start typing. Hopefully it'll be better by tomorrow, and I will have caught up at least a little bit.
'Till next time, then.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Today, however, I'm grateful as my overstimulated mind gave me the titles of my books last night as I drifted off into sleep. I would also like to thank Kung Fu training for exhausting me to the point the I could sleep regardless of what my mind was doing.
In any case, the series itself has become The Seraphimè Saga and the title of book 1 is now The Osprey and the Crow. The title of book 2 is now The Wolf and the Eagle. I might later get rid of the 'the's and simply make it Osprey and Crow and Wolf and Eagle. I haven't quite decided yet. However, the point is, no more dull, unimaginative titles!
Totemic elements in this particular tale are especially strong, in case the titles didn't give it away.
I'm floating on cloud nine right now. Thus, with my new titles, and a cuppa coffee to wake me up, I shall begin the next few thousand words of The Wolf and the Eagle. Toodles.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Kill. Me. Now.
Of course, it's not such a big deal if I don't do all 6 000 words to day (I just have to do more than my regular 3 000 words). If I do 4 000 words, I'd call that a victory. I'd just slowly catch up during the rest of the week, I suppose. Ugh, all the same!
It's critical that I stay on target for this one though, as soon it will be midterm time. That doesn't mean anything to anyone who isn't in University, but I'll be marking those midterms, and the classes can get very big. The Celtic Woman: Myth and Reality is a very popular course at the University of Ottawa (hell, I took it when I was at University), and since I get paid by the University to mark those papers, all my energy will be focused on them. Then after the midterms are marked and handed back, in come the essays, after which come the exams. It's a very busy time of year for me.
That means, rather sadly, Seraphimè, Book 2 (I really have to find a better title), will be on the back-burner until the school year is out. So, I must get to it!
Now that I've done complaining (the truth is, I really like being a corrector for the Celtic Studies classes. It keeps me up to date with the latest in my chosen field of academia), it's on to things you might find interesting.
I'm not in or even near Brooklyn, but those who are may want to check this out:
I'd go, if I were nearby.
And yet more Ziggs.com searches from Moscow:
Date: January 21, 2010
Time: 5:45 PM EST
Date: January 24, 2010
Time: 9:15 PM EST
I got one from Tampa, Florida:
Date: January 23, 2010
Time: 7:47 AM EST
And one from an unknown location... but they found me through a photography search:
Search Engine: seattle.photographers.ziggs.
Search Terms: No specific terms used
Visitor Location: N/A
Date: January 22, 2010
Time: 7:33 PM EST
So... hello everyone!
That's it from me. I have to sign off and get working on that catch up! Until the morrow, then!
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
As I had taken Monday off and did not go to my usual writing station, I didn't write at all on Monday. That meant I had 3 000 words to catch up on by the end of the week. 'Ugh,' is all I can say!
In any case, I am happy to report that as of Wednesday afternoon at 12:30, I had completely caught up. I'm right on target before the week is even done. Yay me!
That, of course, got me thinking. Writing the book is the easy part. Trying to get the thing published is when the hard work really begins. I had read that while doing my research and, considering the blood, sweat and tears I shed while writing The Great Man series, I really didn't believe it.
I do now.
There are agents and publishing houses to research. There are frustrating (in the if-I-have-to-rewrite-this-one-more-time-bodies-will-be-turning-up-in-the-canal kind of frustrating) synopses to be written. There are query letters, rejection letters, Beta Readers to find, editing to be done... and on and on it goes ad nausea.
So really, I find writing relaxing. It's a soothing, wonderful outpouring of the subconscious. Writing is like making love and getting pregnant, in it's way.
Publishing is a long, laboured birth.
Some days I think I'd prefer to stay pregnant forever....
Oh, as a completely unrelated side-note, got a search from Texas yesterday:
Search Engine: Ziggs
Search Terms: No specific terms used
Visitor Location: Dallas, TX
Date: January 20, 2010
Time: 1:52 PM EST
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
So, hello Moscow!
Luckily for you, I'm not going to post all twelve (12) (alright, that gag is just getting silly now) searches, just the dates (starting with the oldest):
Search Engine: Ziggs
Search Terms: No specific terms used
Visitor Location: Moscow, Russian Federation
Date: January 01, 2010
Time: 5:10 PM EST
Date: January 04, 2010
Time: 9:49 PM EST
Date: January 05, 2010
Time: 1:03 AM EST
Date: January 09, 2010
Time: 8:21 AM EST
Date: January 09, 2010
Time: 10:13 AM EST
Date: January 12, 2010
Time: 2:16 AM EST
Date: January 13, 2010
Time: 4:32 AM EST
Search Engine: Google
Search Terms: sonia.carriere
Visitor Location: Gatineau, QC (Canada)
Date: January 15, 2010
Time: 2:37 AM EST
Random person from Gatineau in the middle of my Russian notifications. Hi Gatineau!
Date: January 16, 2010
Time: 12:52 AM EST
Date: January 18, 2010
Time: 11:45 PM EST
Date: January 20, 2010
Time: 12:14 AM EST
Search Engine: www.google.com.au
Date: January 20, 2010
Time: 6:55 AM EST
Hey! My first hit from Australia! Hello home (although technically Sydney isn't home, but being an ex-pat, I claim all of Australia as home. It kind of inspires a song... 'I've been to cities that never close down....')
So, in case there was someone in Moscow reading my blog and was hoping for a shout out, here it is!
Now I am just being silly. I have 4 000 words to write today if I'm going to catch up on the sick day I had on Monday. Thus, I must leave this silliness, plug in my music and get to work. Until next time!
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
No wonder Tor hasn't spoken to me!
For the past four days I have been trying so hard to write a more enticing, exciting synopsis. You know, the sort of synopsis that adequately reflects my book and my writing style, that covers everything the book is about. I've been failing miserably!
Why is writing a synopsis so bloody difficult?! ARGH!
Editors out there, I promise you that my writing is far better than my synopsis. I swears it! (You'd have to read that last sentence with Gollum in mind for it to make sense.)
I am sooooooooo frustrated right now! I repeat: ARGH!
There are so many sites out there that help with writing a synopsis.... But they all say different things!
Double space it. No, single space it. 1 page for every 35 pages of story. No, that's waaay too long. Put a title. Don't put the title, editors will change it anyway. Add dialogue. Don't add dialogue. Quote. No, don't. ARGH!
I'm so lost and turned around right now, I don't know which way is up any more. Here are some of the links to the sites I read in trying to research this ludicrous synopsis thing:
Kill me now please. Slowly if you want. Just don't make me write this damned synopsis!
I know the story. I know the characters. I know the world. I can write four complete books in under two years. WHY CAN I NOT WRITE A TWO PAGE SUMMARY?
Monday, January 18, 2010
The gods of the desert were cruel and hard, like the land itself. They required what life required – constant battle. Susa Ottal hated them with all his heart. The battles they demanded, the blood they required, had taken his family. His father was killed in battle, defending the well that was the village’s only source of water. His mother was sacrificed upon the altar of the gods. He became a slave, a child of only ten, carrying his dying infant sister on the long march back to the invader’s homeland.
They were also men of the desert. Men with brown skin and dark eyes like his. They could have been kin for all the differences in appearance they displayed. Even their clothing was the same. All Susa could think of was their similarities during the long, hard march across the desert. They were his people, and yet they insisted on battling other desert dwellers, raping and enslaving them. All for what? Because the Gods decreed that only the strongest could survive? Because the Gods required blood on their alters.
Susa kept his eyes down that long, dusty march, staring at the orange sand to hide the hate in his eyes. When he buried his sister in a shallow grave on the eighth, he cut his forearm with a sharp stone.
“I promise you this, Denna,” he whispered as the blood soaked into the sand at his feet. “I will make them pay, the gods and their followers alike. I will play their game, and I will win. I will choke the life from them. You will see.”
For the first few years of his enslavement, Susa worked the dry sand for his master, trying to glean a harvest year after year. If there was no yield, all the slaves were whipped. His master was fond of the lash, almost as fond of that cruel tool as he was of young boys. Susa, being handsome and strong, attracted his master’s attention more often than not. He bore the raping well, letting it cement his hatred and his resolve.
When he turned fifteen, Susa snuck in the head of a hoe to his master’s bedroom and with it, he beat the man to death. Before the light left the man’s eyes, Susa looked down at him with a sneer. “You are the first,” he said. “The first in a long line of deaths that I will rain upon this desert, to cleanse it of kin-killers and the gods who desire it. Do not worry. Your death, all those deaths that I shall bring, will serve a purpose. The desert will be united, as it should have been if not for the bastard gods.”
Susa Ottal did not run. He walked from his mater’s house, still covered in the gore of his first kill. He walked through the village and presented himself before the village enforcers.
“I killed my master,” he said to them.
For his crime, Susa was sentenced to the fighting arena for however long he should survive. There, he fought other slaves for his evening meal. Susa had never held a weapon before. His family were goat-herders. Even so, he was swift like a black snake and for five years he fought. In the time he spent in the dungeons of the arena, he forged an army of the slaves there and, the day before he turned twenty, he lead the slave revolt.
No slave had ever challenged the authority of the masters before. Perhaps that was the reason for the victory. Whatever the reason, Susa and his army of slaves were victorious. They not only won the arena, but attacked and won the village. All the slaves were freed and the masters became the slaves. The new slaves were made to build the fortifications around the village, the very first of their kind.
Tall walls of fired yellow clay, thick enough that three men could walk abreast surrounded the village. Many of the bricks came from the arena, which was frenetically torn down upon victory by the slaves who had lived there. In the centre of the village, a fort was built, so strong no besieging army has ever managed to take it.
All the altars and sanctuaries of the gods were destroyed, their idols smashed into dust. Susa, leader of the slave revolt forbade the worship of gods of any kind and deemed each man’s fate the property of each man alone. Susa was proclaimed king by his followers.
Word spread, and it was not long until the name Susa was whispered in the ears of every slave, filling them with the fire of hope as they have never been filled before. Other revolts began to occur. Some were successful, others not. Those slaves that revolted or escaped, fled to Susa’s free city and there they joined the cause.
Susa’s hundred-strong army swept through the desert like a sandstorm. They rode from village to village, freeing the slaves taking the masters as slaves, and destroying the altars and idols of the Gods.
“I am the king of the desert!” Susa Ottal proclaimed.
“King of the desert!” his followers cried in exultation.
In a campaign that lasted twenty long years, Susa led his armies against master and priest and god alike. When at last he had rode the entire length and breadth of the desert and subjugated all the people therein, he held for himself a festival, where he was crowned king of the desert, true king at last. At the festival, he pronounced all the gods dead, and forbade their worship in the desert. A hundred slaves who had once been masters were beheaded before him, a sacrifice for the king.
Susa then also declared that no man of the desert would ever again be slaves, and proclaimed a law that to take a man of the desert and make him a slave was punishable by death.
Every year, on the anniversary of Susa’s final victory over the desert, a festival in his honour was held, and every year, the desert affirmed it’s devotion to Susa, the freer of slaves.
He forced many a master’s wife to his bed until one at last gave him a son. The moment of the child’s birth, he had the mother executed. The child was fed on the milk of goats and raised a warrior, filled with the hatred for the dead gods as his father was.
In the year after Susa’s death, he was proclaimed a god by his son. For who else but a god could have battled the other gods and won? Susa, God of the Yellow City, bringer of law.
It was unfortunate that Susa’s law against slavery did not extend to all peoples, for before Susa Ottal’s proclamation against enslaving the men of the desert, none in the west had ever heard of the Ottals.
- On the Histories of Tribal Movements in the North West. H.B.B. Grenn.
Friday, January 15, 2010
The world began a long time before we did. It was born before life itself. In essence, this world was the first life that was. It came before the sun, before the heavens were set, before gods, and trees, beasts and men. Why are we surprised then, to learn that they were men, of a kind, here before us?
They were like us, but so unlike us. We were tall, they were squat. We lived in the warm places, they in the cold. We knew war, they knew not. Yet none knew how to live on the edge of the walls of ice as they did.
We met them when the world began to change. The moist grasslands of our home had begun to dry. It was slow at first, then ever more rapid. The beasts all changed their movements, trekking instinctively to where food could still be found and we too had to move, or perish in the drought.
That was when we first knew war. As the desert expanded, food and water became scarce and men would fight to the death to claim those necessities of life for themselves and their families. No longer could we afford kindness to strangers.
Many of us were raised with war. It decided rights, claimed slaves who became mothers, provided food and water. Only the largest and the strongest survived, and so, almost magically, it seemed, children grew taller and taller, and bigger and bigger. Over the generations, war became a part of us, so ingrained that, it seemed, we were prepared for battle the moment we left our mother’s wombs in a squalling ball of rage.
They were not like that, the ice-dwellers. They had learned a different lesson from the scarcity of food. They had learned to aid one another, shelter each other, feed others. They understood as we did not yet that their survival depended on kindnesses extended beyond just the family unit, but out to all the families. Once every three years, they would all gather at the great boulder that had been thrown by a mountain that spat fire and ice together. They gathered and they feasted and sang. They exchanged stories and knowledge and reports and daughters. They were woefully unprepared for our arrival.
Constant war forced some families further and further away from our homeland. They would flee in all directions to escape, while the victors stole away their water, their wives and their land. The few that managed to escape would settle and survive until the next family encroached and another battle would be fought. The victor would take and the defeated would flee.
Thus, in ever increasing numbers, we found ourselves travelling north in search of unoccupied lands in which to settle. We were sorely disappointed then, when we came across them. At first the sightings were almost mythic – a shadow in the snow, a mysteriously butchered kill. The first meeting did not go well.
They, long used to helping strangers find food, opened their arms to us, only to be slashed through the heart. At first, they simply fled before us. Later, they began to resist us and in terrible slaughter they were cut down.
Our family was small – a father and his two daughters. They had fled the fighting in the south and were chased again from their homes in the north. Unable to climb the great wall of ice, they walked along its edge. Westward they walked, cold and hungry until at last their legs gave way and they fell.
They did not die there, that family. They were saved by a brave woman – one of the others. Her long wiry hair had once been red, but was now almost the same colour as the ice beneath the three bodies she found. Though she had never seen our kind before, she had heard the stories. She knew we were born murderers and yet, looking in the pale faces of the children, she felt her heart stir and was moved. She carried all three back to her clan, to a fire and warmth, and back to life.
I imagine that there must have been a great argument, for who would willing house the kind that hunted and killed them? But the old woman was adamant. She nursed the man and his two daughters back to health, and saw in the man’s eyes fear when he looked upon her, but the children were different.
She taught them then. She taught them about the northern skies and the fire in the night sky. She taught them about the gods and who they were, and how they came to be, and what they did. She showed them how they buried their dead, and then venerated them every year at a special festival.
There were two gods, she taught. One was a man, who was also a stag. He had as messengers serpents with the heads of goats. He lived in the spirit world, for the most part, and would seldom come into the world of the living. He cared for the animals of the wild, and all the wild places were his domain. He was king in the land of the dead, and ruled over the spirits there. He was the spirit that guided the hunter, or punished him, if he hunted foolishly or needlessly. They gave him no name, but a title – The Lord of the Wild.
She taught about the Bride of Fire, whose power was dedicated to the hearth and to the health of the people. She took special care of mothers and infants, and inspired songs and dance.
Together, these were the two gods, and each had a host of servants, ancestors of the families who had worshipped them.
Three sisters served both gods together. In the guise of crows they came to take the spirits of the departed to the land of the dead. In the guise of three women, they tended to the family. In time, when the others were long dead and forgotten, their roles would be confused and they became separate sets of sisters for each function.
The father learnt to trust these strange people of the ice, and they taught him the paths of the beasts, and which ones to hunt and why. They taught him which herbs were for eating, and which were for healing, and which would kill and mustn’t be touched. The children learnt women’s work, how to weaves baskets of the touch summer grass that grew in lavender and sage across the rocky ground when the sun returned. They learnt how to recognise the signs left by others, telling them where the herds were, where water was, and any other useful piece of news.
For many years they lived with the ice-dwellers and it was their presence that saved that clan of ice-dwellers from the encroaching families of the east. It soon came to be that those families that travelled west found a place amongst the ice-dwellers, and accompanied them to their gatherings, performed their rites, and walked their treks following the great beasts of the ice-fields.
Those of us that could not make peace with the ice-dwellers were left to fend for themselves, and died slow deaths from hunger and pain.
Generations on, the weather began to warm, and the ice receded inch by blissful inch. Rains returned to the homeland and some of us travelled south again. The retreating ice created the vast Sierran Tundra that now sits in the north. Yet, for the wet and the increase in food that we all reaped, the ice-dwellers began to dwindle, their numbers cut by raiding parties from the east, and by a series of unfortunate deaths and disasters.
The last of the ice-dwellers was a woman and she lived in the far north with a clan known as the Ice Bear Clan. She was very wise, and very, very old. In a feverish dream that would be her last she said aloud, ‘We are gone now, gone to be with our ancestors. The world, She has called us home at last, and we leave this place now to you, young ones. Take care of it, and love it as we did. Do not forget all we have taught you.’
Then she died.
She was mourned greatly as she was buried, and each one of us, man and woman and child vowed to continue to live as we had been taught for so long.
For a time, some of us forgot our vows, and began to build and make war on one another. The Tundra was not to be tamed and a woman, in the guise of the Great Tundra Wolf came down from the ice and tore down the follies of our ancestors. None know who the woman was, where she came from or where she went after. Some say it was the spirit of an ancestor, enraged by what she saw. Others claimed it was the land itself, claiming back what was rightfully Hers.
The survivors of the destruction fled south, beyond the lands of the Tundra and continued to build. Those that remained retook their vows, the vows sworn to the last of the Old Ones. We hold that vow still, and every three years we gather at the place where the boulder was, and we feast and exchange stories, and news, and daughters, just as they did.
But nothing can stay the same forever. A change is coming. Dry winds whip in from the east and they bring with them the scent of fear, and more and more at the gatherings we hear tales of a strange people who come in and hunt us as if we were animals.
We are now the ice-dwellers, and we are now as they once were – hunted and scared and confused. These easterners are not like us, not willing to learn as we did, and it seems, that we must do what the Old Ones never did. We must change, or like them, we shall perish.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Turingar, son of Thurin, had been at Medrim for two months. It was a wonder he lasted so long. The visibility of him created by his height and mass made him the perfect target for the enemy. He had fought his way out of many scrapes and had saved many good men. His loud laugh, good humour and direct, if somewhat child-like nature, ensured that he was friends with everyone at Medrim.
No one could deny they loved the blonde giant from the north. His greatest claim to fame was his skill in battle. Men were happy to follow the blonde streak of rage into battle, knowing full well that chances were, as long as they stayed close, they were likely to survive almost any skirmish. General Stran couldn’t help but smile when he watched the brute in action.
“Take the third line!” he barked. The commanded was repeated until it reached the ears of Thuringar. Grinning like a madman, Thuringar changed direction and led his battalion in a diagonal swath across the third line of attackers.
Like so many battles at Medrim, this quickly dissolved into organised chaos. Unable to get word to his men, Stran prayed that they each remembered their parts and played them to perfection. This they did do, but it did nothing to stave the carnage. People were dying at an alarming rate. If this continued for much longer, all of Vanolin would be stripped of its fighting force in just two months, and left defenseless against unspeakable horror.
The cloud that hung over Medrim keeping the skies perpetually black broiled overhead as a great rush of the enemy reached the walls. Moving frantically, the men poured pitch and oil and set aflame the mindless army of the enemy.
Thuringar’s battalion began to push the enemy back towards the flames. It was part of the strategy. The enemy feared the light and heat of fire as it feared nothing else. Driven wild by the flames, the armies of the enemy broke and fled and any that were caught fleeing were slain.
When at last the dust and din of battle cleared, Thuringar was revealed, bloodied and broken on the field. His death was slow.
When at last he drew his last breath, Thuringar was taken from the hospital and buried by the west gates of Medrim. Above his grave they erected a tall statue in honour of the warrior. He was deeply mourned.
To this day, tales of the blonde giant’s exploits are sung throughout Vanolin and the territories of the North Men. Such a hero is not easily forgotten.
- Thuringar, Son of Thurin. Battle Heroes of the Third Darkness. Darupim the Elder. C. 2306. S. VIX, V. III.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Vanessa did not know how long she had spent wandering the wilds. Her eyes were sore and red from the countless hours of tears that spilled down her cheeks. It had been weeks since her last meal. She was hungry and tired and more and more she was angry. She was angry with Julian for breaking her defences and causing her to love him. She was angry with him for leaving, even though she knew he must and she had known it from the start.
Mostly she was angry with herself for falling in love with him in the first place, and even angrier that she wept for his leaving. She had known. It should not hurt as much as this. She sat on the rock that happened to cross her path and stared out into the forest. All she could see were tree trunks and the occasional shrub. She would die here. She decided. It was a good place to die, here on this rock that jutted out from nowhere. It was very dramatic.
Vanessa liked the drama. It was a pity, she thought, that there would be no one to find her, to tell the tale of how her love for a man she could not keep broke her and she died alone of a shattered heart. It would have made a good song.
No sooner had Vanessa laid back on the rock and closed her eyes than she heard it. It was faint and hazy, but it was recognisable. The song, melodic and familiar, the very song that had brought her to Jeremy and Charlotte and thence the Dragon’s Chalice was faintly uttered on the breeze. Vanessa sat upright and listened harder.
It was unmistakable. It was the very same song. She looked about her. There were none of the strange little women made of mist dancing about her head. No. It was only the song that rang clear as a crystal bell and faint upon the light breeze.
Vanessa had no choice. She had to obey. She stood up on her tired, aching legs and slowly followed the sound. The singing grew louder and clearer as she approached. It was not long before she heard the gentle caress of waves upon sand. The song rang bright and beautiful in her ears. Vanessa broke into a run. She had to find them, she had to. She ran stumbling and half-blind through the trees until at last they gave way and Vanessa found herself on a small beach. The song faded on one clear note as Vanessa spied a small boat moored in the sand. She stood and stared in bewildered surprise, unable to move.
Vanessa was woken from her reverie by a sharp cold bade on her throat. She stiffened and looked to her right. A short, broadly built woman stood, her sword drawn and placed against Vanessa’s neck.
“Gwen!” a sharp voice snapped from somewhere beyond Vanessa’s vision.
Both Vanessa and the woman turned towards the sound. Just in front of the forest line stood a cluster of twenty women or so. They all stood respectfully behind the owner of the voice, a woman of average height, a little taller than Vanessa, with thick waves of auburn hair tied loosely back with three gold bands. She was fully armed, and around the top of her right arm was tied a thick strap of pale deer hide from which hung five eagle’s feathers and blue and violet beads.
“Put that sword away, she is unarmed!” the woman said, approaching Vanessa and the burly woman named Gwen. Very reluctantly, Gwen pulled back her weapon and sheathed it. By the time the sword slid with a dry hiss into the sheath the woman had reached the pair.
“What do you think you were doing?” The woman snapped. “I thought I taught you better than to draw a weapon on an unarmed person!” Gwen grunted.
“She could be a spy,” she replied gruffly.
“Yes, a spy standing on a beach in full view of anyone who bothered to look.”
Gwen was silenced by the obvious sarcasm. She said nothing, bowed and marched to the boat. The woman sighed and shook her head. She turned to Vanessa and smiled.
“I’m sorry. Gwen still has much to work through.”
Vanessa nodded dumbly. The woman looked her over with a critical, but kind eye. She seemed to Vanessa the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. Her dark hair shone with health and her dark eyes sparkled. Her body was strong and lean from much practice, but was beautifully curved. Vanessa could hear the song again, faint and joyous. The woman smiled and extended her hand.
“My name is Eva.”
Just above Eva’s right shoulder a small wisp of mist danced and played in the form of a perfect, miniature woman. The woman smiled at Vanessa, her large eyes twinkling in the morning sun. She blew Vanessa a kiss, and vanished, dissipating with the breeze, and the song faded once more. Vanessa turned her attention back to the warm, brown eyes of the woman in front of her. Vanessa smiled. She was home.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Lord of Horses, Book 2 of The Great Man:
“You should not have saved him, Sahara. He was too far gone.”
“I had to mother.”
The older white woman shook her head as she mixed fresh powder in a small bowl.
“You did not have to. You wanted to.” The woman added three drops of wormwood sap and once again began to mix. “He is handsome, to be sure. I could not blame you for your desire. But child, you shall never know him. He will be forever a dream to you.”
“I will be with him, mother. I know it. I knew it when we were both children, when first my lips touched his.”
The woman looked at her daughter with raised eyebrows. The stunningly beautiful girl before her smiled - a rare event for her.
“He wore my anklet about his wrist. He was the boy who had saved me all those years ago, when I had been captured and shipped away.”
The older woman sighed.
“I cannot explain it well,” the girl continued. “But my life and his are entwined.”
“I felt the same about your father.” The woman sounded sad. “I had seen him only once before the night we had lain together. But my fate was the same as for each of us. He grew older, and I did not. I watched in agony as his life ebbed, even as yours began. He died, and I lived on, my heart sundered. This will be your fate, child, if you pursue this man. He shall die, and you shall walk evermore on this earth in grief.”
“I shall follow wheresoever he may go, even to death.”
The white woman almost dropped her mixing bowl. “Don't say it!” she gasped. “Do you not realise that to him you are only a dream, a wish given life in his sleep? You are not real to him and he shall live his life apart from you. He shall take other women and you, my child, shall be forced to watch as he lives a life you shall not ever be a part of.”
The girl smiled sadly at her mother. “I have seen him in my dreams. I know his fate, and I know mine. He shall live his life, and I shall live mine. But we shall find each other in the end. I am bound to him, my life to his. Even if I wanted to remain, when at last his life leaves him, mine will also depart, we are bound so tightly to one another. I could leave him now and never see him again, and still I will die when his heart ceases to beat.”
“Don't!” the woman whispered. “I cannot hear it!”
“Mother, you know that I love you, but I will not be able to bear this life as you have done. I cannot stand the pain of seeing good men die for no reason. I do not enjoy the visions of their shades. I cannot stand this curse. I do not want this life.”
“You are needed here. You were born to this life for a reason.”
“Yes, I was. And he is my reason. I love him.”
“You cannot go to him!” the older woman said quietly. It was the few times she ever commanded her daughter. “I forbid it.”
“Even if I wanted to obey, I could not. I find myself by his side in waking or in dreams. For however long the moon shines upon him, I shall be beside him.”
Monday, January 11, 2010
Excerpt from the Prologue of The Third Prince.
The storm was wicked. It whipped the coast with violent torrents of freezing-cold rain and hailstones the size of a man's hand. The ocean was as angry as the wind, pounding the granite shore, trying to pulverize it to dust. The horses were wild. The storm had them in a frenzy. The only horse not rearing and whinnying like a possessed spirit was an old mare.
She stood in the corner of the large barn panting and trembling, her gentle eyes wide. She was foaling, and the birth was not easy. The farmer had no idea. The mare was not bred. Not by him at the very least. How she came to be in foal without a stallion around was anybody's guess. Still, here, in this storm, the mare was foaling. It cost her everything to bring the twin foals into existence.
After the storm had passed, when the farmer went to the barn to check on his horses he was shocked to see his old mare dead, and a white filly, also dead. Resting placidly on his legs was a black foal, larger than it ought to be, staring at the farmer with eerie blue eyes.
* * *
It was five years after his birth. She remembered well the night he was born. It had been stormy. There were reports of hail on the coast, but inland there had been only rain and thunder. The birth was not easy, but it could have been worse. Of all her children, she had wanted this one the most. She had loved his father as she had loved no other. Even now, she was reminded of him as she looked at her son. But the child was born cursed.
From the moment he was born, she noticed the shadows dance around him. He saw them also. They entertained him. It wasn't long before they began to work on her. She started hearing voices, feeling strange emotions, seeing things. It swelled into exquisite torture until it was impossible to resist. She was slipping into Darkness. It was more than just a feeling. It certainly wasn't despair. The Darkness was trying to claim her, as it had claimed his father. She knew it. And if it claimed her... she pushed the thought from her mind. She would not let them claim her son. Not her perfect son. Not the only child born from love. She knew what she must do. It was the only way to save him. For if she were to Fall, there would be nothing stopping it claiming her son. She would not let it happen. This was the only way. It was all for him.
She let the thought sustain her as she picked her way, barefoot, through the palace gardens towards her private corner. It had been created just for her as a wedding gift. She barely contained a snort. Her husband, King though he was, was not someone she ever would have willingly wed. The marriage had been a necessity. The alliance the marriage would create would have been enough to bring her entire race out of hiding.
The Keshaly’i. They were slowly filtering out of the wilds to make contact with the impetuous race of Men. Despite the alliance, the relationship was shaky. Anything could break it asunder and bring it crashing down with the deafening ring of war. The Keshaly’i, even with the Sammonishy'i as natural allies, had to tread carefully.
Men. She could not help but dislike the race. With very few exceptions, she found the race to be entirely without a sense of honour, hypocritical and wilfully ignorant. Ignorance was bad enough, but wilful ignorance was unforgivable. It was their short lives. It is hard to accumulate any sense of wisdom if there is not enough time in which to acquire it. Not one of the race ever lived past sixty, let alone one hundred. So to her, they all seemed like foolish children who had not been disciplined properly.
There were some exceptions. Stran, the General who kept Medrim together despite years of attacks from an unknown enemy, seemed to be one of the most decent Men alive. Though she had only met him once, she had liked him immediately. He seemed honest, though sometimes brutally so, and stalwart. Several of the wise ones of the northern Men were also finer examples of what Men had the potential to become. Even so, she despaired of the race ever learning anything else but greed.
She pushed these thoughts from her mind as she spotted the grand tree that stood in the centre of her garden. Her son was only five. It was young to be leaving him; cruel, almost, but for her reasons. It was all for him. To save him. To save him from the terrible Darkness and all it threatened to consume. Her perfect, golden-eyed son. Her heart ached for the love and grief that welled up in her chest at the thought of him. She wanted to turn back, to run back to the castle and look upon his sleeping face once more, but she could not. He would understand. He must. It was all for him. She pressed on.
Despite the gardener's insistence that it was nearing the end of its life, the tree thrived under the care she had provided. It was a gift of her people. There was not one form of life that did not prosper when the Keshaly’i were close. The moon was bright tonight, almost full. Everything was touched by the silver light so that it appeared to be day but somehow more gentle, more peaceful. She was glad for the light. The Darkness would not be able to claim her if the moon stayed bright. She watched the moon for a moment. It was surreal. Everything here was so beautiful.
That was the nature of death. It impressed upon those who were leaving the beauty of what they were leaving behind. Some thought it death’s cruel joke. The Keshaly’i thought differently. It was the revelation needed to pass on. It had the power to bring a soul into the next level of existence; or for souls of lesser standing, it was a powerful lesson to learn; to take with them into another life. This life, this world was beautiful; precious.
But she was delaying. She stole a quick look around her to make sure she was quite alone. Then, with a shaking hand, she lifted the dagger from her breast. She couldn’t help but notice that this too, bringer of death though it was, was stunningly beautiful. It was an ancient dagger, an heirloom of her family for generations beyond recall. It was one of the first ever to be created. It was the gift that once stood for the union of all three races. That union was now long forgotten.
What happened to the daggers given to the Sammonishy’i and to Men none seemed to know. They would identify the foremost families of those races. They were given as gifts to the heads of those families who had fought so valiantly against the Darkness when last it struck.
The Darkness. The eternal enemy of light and life. It was coming again, and trapped in the world of Men, she was the only one who knew.
She turned her eyes away from the moon. It was time. Though she was not a warrior, she would do whatever she could to protect those she loved from the Darkness. Her son. She could not let him be taken. She raised the dagger high and, weeping, plunged the cold steel through her chest, piercing her heart. It was the only thing she could do for him. A mother’s sacrifice.
She could not hear her son’s scream as she fell lifeless to the ground. She could not feel his trembling hands as they shook her or the hot tears fall onto her chest when he buried his head in her breasts. She was gone. She did not know that her son, had followed her, had seen. Her five-year old child, golden-eyed and third born, had watched her die.
Friday, January 8, 2010
There is a bizarre sort of rush that I feel when the story comes through me like that. It sure beats out a roller-coaster. It's a gentler kind of rush, fuelled less by fear than by adoration. It's a strange sort of mix of adrenaline and muse-fuelled trance. I'm not explaining it very well, but other authors will understand... I hope!
I am beginning my new year of writing by re-reading Book 1 of Seraphimé in order to get a grasp on the story again. It's actually really helping. Though I have the ending, there were several characters that didn't have a satisfying arc. Now they do.
I am having trouble finding an adequate place to begin Book 2, however, and it seems that the haphazard manner in which I wrote The Great Man series will win out again, and I'll have no choice but to write the end of the Seraphimé series first, before I can find a good place to begin the second instalment.
We'll just have to wait and see. It might change after I've finished re-reading Book 1. We'll see.
I'm so very glad to be back. Until Monday, then!
Thursday, January 7, 2010
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I remember why I love Steven Erikson so much. Book 3 of the Malazan Book of the Fallen is, by far, his best yet. You reconnect with characters from both book 1 and 2, and find yourself falling in love with a few of them.
One of the things I adore most about Steven Erikson is that he isn't afraid to kill off important characters to further the story, and believe me, by the end of this book, I was keening for the losses. So lovingly was each death wrought... I can scarce find words for their profundity.
Needless to say, I'll be taking book 4 a little more slowly as I don't think my heart could take those blows over again!
An exquisitely rendered tale. You'll be sorry if you missed it!
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