So much politics, so little time

I’m working on the structure of Triumphe’s political system (what did you think I meant real life politics?). There is a lot  going on in Delphinium, and a lot more planned for the future, so I want to have things set up in a way that makes sense.

So far I have the one kingdom, Triumphe, that does not cover the entire realm of Clandestina, but a good 3/4ths of it. The remaining unclaimed land is just that- unclaimed, with far more fée influence and magic than the mostly human kingdom. Said kingdom has 4 duchies, named after the French card suits (Piques, Trèfles, Carreaux, Cœurs). Each of those duchies has several of their own counties, from two to four. There’s also the Margrave’s territory, which is less a piece of land and more the border between their plane and Faery.

I have a great new mapping software that is helping me figure it all out (Other World Mapper). Once I get it all done I’ll show it off, here and on the wiki (which I am still working on).

Excerpt from Delphinium (Happy Valentine’s!)

“So what did you do this last year?” she asked as they began to walk around the clearing. They heard water and made towards the stream.

“Surgery work,” he replied. “We had corpses to practice on, to be able to know what went where, and why, and how.”

“How did you receive corpses?”

“Several people and families generously allowed us to use their loved one’s bodies after death.”

“I can not imagine that is popular. Did you share each.. Body?”
Pierre grimaced. He had not wished to inform Lizzy of this specifically. “Truthfully most were criminals whose deaths were not deemed important enough to give full funerals. At least this way they would be… of use.”

She took this in stride, nodding her head slowly though shuddering.

“A grim year, then.”

“Quite. Though it was not all gloom and horror.”

“Do tell?” While they had walked their hands had linked and she leaned against him as they found the river.

“We were students after all. Pranks were pulled, curfew ignored, alcohol drunk in excess. I was among the oldest so I mainly watched over the younger men.”

“And when you were younger?” Lizzy probed, reading into what Pierre had not said. He did not meet her eyes, staring up at the trees quite pointedly.

“Your brother and I had our fun at times.”

She laughed. They had gotten into enough trouble as children to guess the level of possible mischief Pierre and Piers could do when alone and bored.

“Anything illegal?”

I killed a man, he thought immediately. Several in fact, but one stood out to him in that moment. A prisoner taken straight from his hanging to his slab, so the students could see what was as close to a living body as possible. He had been not quite as dead as they had thought. After seeing the blood flowing and hearing the man let out a moan, even opening his eyes, many of the students turned away and one ran to alert a professor. Pierre had made it seem that he checked for a pulse, but he squeezed the very damaged windpipe. By the time someone with more authority was in the room the man was well and truly dead. It was deemed a delayed hanging. Pierre remained to finish the lesson even though he had been offered a pass at seeing a man die right before his eyes.

“No,” he told her.

“A pity. I hear from Piers that the best moments are those that might get you a night in jail for your troubles.”

“Oh, did he? What tales did he tell his dear little sister?”

“I believe there was a time when the boys in your dorm snuck in strong wine, or went out on the town. Perhaps those were actually in chronological order, it would explain much.”

“I never did such things.”

“Of course not. Though I now shall have to find myself another companion,” she said with a smile and glance to him. “I would like a partner with experience in such things so I have some guidance when I deem to try.”

Before he could answer she dashed ahead to where the stream was in view. He gave chase. At the edge of the bank she did not stop, pulling up her skirts and jumping to a rock that jetted out in the middle. She made it, arms waving to keep her balance and getting one shoe wet, but staying on the rock. With a laugh she turned and curtsied to him.

“And you think yourself safe there, Lizzy dear?” he called.

He took even less care of his attire, jumping straight into the water, mud, and stones. She gasped, looking around for another place to go, but the far side of the bank was, as named, too far.
He reached her then, grabbing her and swinging her in his arms as she shrieked.

“Pierre!”

“Hush or I shall drop you!”

“You would not!”

He pretended to, getting another shriek from her that had him laughing as he carried her back to shore.

“No, my dear, I would not,” he agreed, finally, placing her down in the grass. Not after she had been ill. Another day, perhaps.

They were the same height at the moment and he kissed her before getting out himself and looking down at his ruined clothes. His shoes were wet and the feeling was quite uncomfortable out of the water. He knelt down and began to untie the laces.

Lizzy bit her tongue to keep from asking naughtily if he would also take off his trousers, seeing as they were wet up to the knee.

When barefoot Pierre hopped back into the stream with the shoes in his hands.

“What are you doing?”

“Leaving my shoes,” he called over his shoulder, going back to the rock. He made sure they would not fall into the water before again returning. “They are quite nice shoes, but hardly my only pair. I am sure there are fée around, perhaps the gift would be appreciated. We cannot spare much food or drink.”

Her one shoe was hardly as wet as his had been but she sat and began to undo her laces as well. Without a word he bent down to help her.

“I shall buy you an even lovelier pair when we reach Piques,” he promised as he turned back to place her shoes next to his.

“Oh, you do not—”

“I insist.”


Not exactly a Scene as it’s from Delphinium and not a stand-alone, but I thought it fitting for Valentine’s. You’ll recognize Pierre’s thoughts from the Scene ‘Hanging.’

So many promos! Now back to me :)

I thought I’d check in and ramble about myself and my work for a little bit to break up the other indie folk.

That said this cross-promotion thing is amazing. All the great writers that I’m showing off are also showing off Larkspur. In October I had 160+ downloads, 101 in November, and in December I have 425 so far, and it’s only the 4th! I’m sure I have a few more promos set up for December too, and I’m not-so-secretly hoping to break 1000.

I have most of the major scenes for Delphinium written and pretty polished, now I’m just trying to tie them all together coherently. Sometimes I explain something in a chapter only to find that I wrote something similar already, so that all has to be fixed and redone. Some of the chapters take place over a day and others might be several weeks and I need to summarize, or expand, and make it flow right. I’m feeling really good about this story though- I have fewer “this sucks, what the hell am I even doing” days than I used to have. The story itself, by the way, takes place over 4 months and almost a week. I am gradually scaling up the time for each book, Aconitella should take place over a year and a half, and a few of the vaguely plotted stories for after the Larkspur series may cover five to ten years. I am working with a lot of time, generations here, so going week by week might not be the best idea in the world.

The Wolf Within has been put aside so I can wrap up Delphinium, but it will be written alongside Aconitella. I want to try dealing with more than one world at once, outside of Scenes. And even with Scenes I tend to fall back into the realm I’m working on at the moment. I’ve not been able to stick to another realm long enough for a good coherent Scene in a while (sorry about that).

I do have a pretty finished opening page to The Wolf Within though, so I’ll go ahead and share that here! 🙂

The pups were coming out of the den. They were less than a moon old and had only opened their eyes a few days past, but the alpha-mother was letting them come to meet the rest of the pack. Their alpha-father stood at the opening of the den, tail wagging his entire body as he made himself wait for his mate and puppies to appear. It was their first litter.
The other two wolves of the pack stood further back, not part of the family and not wishing to intrude, though keeping away from new puppies had proved too difficult to overcome entirely.

Alpha-mother came out first and greeted her mate. An uncertain whining was heard from the den and she yipped, telling her little ones that it was safe. Alpha-father had had enough waiting and stuck his head into the den, sniffing and licking the bundles of fur. He grabbed one by the scruff and pulled him out, setting him down before covering him again in licks.

The other two siblings ran out then and all descended on their father, licking at the corners on his mouth and pressing to him, showing him deference and love.

“Come,” the alpha-mother said to the two sitting off to the side. She nudged one of the puppies, a solid black one, in their direction if her beckoning had not been enough. “You are pack too.”

The elder, a golden wolf with suspiciously blue eyes, looked to the younger white wolf before taking a step forward.

The black puppy moved to him, tail low but swishing, shy and trying not to show her fear. The golden wolf dipped his head and licked her in greeting, and she nuzzled him back.

“Smell different.” The pup sneezed and stood back to look at the other pack members, then back to his mother. “Wolf-not-wolf.”

“Man-wolf,” his father explained. “Pack.”

The golden wolf laid down to be less intimidating and all the pups decided it would be a grand idea to tackle him at once.

Finally the black pup went over to the white wolf and sniffed her curiously. She was different than the golden wolf still, and reminded her of her parents in how she sat.

“Alpha-not-wolf?” she asked.

Her father walked over and bent his head, exposing his neck. “Man-wolf queen. She is the alpha of all the alphas. Wolf and man-wolf.”

The queen nudged alpha-father to stand and snorted in annoyance. “I am still young, and a guest of your father’s. I am not here as his alpha.”

Hope everyone is having a great Christmas season! ❤

Early NaNoWriMo

November is National Novel Writing Month. From the 1st of November to the 3oth the goal is to write 50-thousand words, or 1667 words a day.

I know a bunch of writers and several of them have already decided they are doing NaNo. I half-heartedly have tried in years past (last year trying to finish Delphinium..), but I didn’t last more than a few days. Now said friends have roped me into it and I’m not allowed to escape.

(Thanks, kalez ❤ :P)

This year I will again try and finish Delphinium for NaNo. It isn’t technically within the rules, as the story isn’t new and a good chunk is written already, but blah- don’t care.

Reasons I think I might get it to work:

1 – My friends will hound me about it, I’m sure.

2 – I’ve been doing a lot better lately with productivity and feeling good about myself. I started the keto diet in the middle of summer and it’s doing wonders

3 – I am fed up with not having Delphinium out. I owe you this story. I owe the almost 100 people who have written reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, who loved Larkspur, and are still waiting. I owe the people I know through Facebook who are both my friends and readers. I owe Pierre and Lizzy.

I am making a minor tweak though-I’m starting October 17th. I have more than 50K words left and if I want to squish in the (more or less) correct number of words a day I need more time. So I’m just going ahead and adding in the last two weeks of October. Let’s call it fée-time and pretend it can work that way.

Seeing as it’s after midnight already and I’m not too tired I guess I’ll start now.

 

Notebooks and plans

First thing’s first- there’s this new amazing notebook  program that I saw on reddit. The creator is super awesome, and while the program is a little bare-bones right now, there’s already major updates planned that will in just a few weeks make this the best organization/writing program ever.

http://www.notebook.ai/

You get to input characters, places, items, and will be able to include races, family trees, scenes- the whole shebang. I’ve already started adding in some characters and places. The cool thing is that there’s a list of questions for each person/place/thing- their age, how they look, what they like, where the thing is from. It helps you think and plot more thoroughly.

You can also show off your notebooks to others. I fully intend to make use of this and have a link  in the sidebar to show off Noctuina.

This also has me plotting more in general. I’ve gotten the timelines more set for the Larkspur series- I know where books 3 and 4 start and end, and roughly what goes on during this time. I have a start for The Wolf Within and I’m plotting that out as well. I’ve even back-tracked to Incubo and made some adjustments even though I plan to have that stand-alone out only after the City of Dreams series.

That’s not to mention still the other handful of projects I have popping up as wanting to be next in line.

And I am writing! I got a lot done last night, a good chunk of Delphinium and some in The Wolf Within. Writing sprints are really helpful.

I might try and make the next Scene from Ibella, where Incubo and City of Dreams takes place.

Names

I love names. I attempt not to reuse a name I’ve used before, so that every character is recognizable by name alone, but I will probably slip up eventually. Once I name a character they’re in my head, and I start getting a whole backstory and arc for them- hence characters mentioned in passing often not given a name because then I’ll have to do more with them. Of course usually I come back to them somehow anyway.

Some of the names I use have meaning or references. Others do not. A few I have made up.

Here are a few of each!

Pierre: The quintessential French name. I didn’t have any specific reason to use this name other than I liked it and it stuck.

Majius: One of my made up names for a wizard in Dracæna. I played around with the word ‘mage’ until I came up with it. His nickname shows this off even more, Maje (spoken as “Mah-jeh”).

Inisaira: Also one I’ve made up. Her nickname, Aira, was first, and it was a not-so-subtle reference to the wind-magic she had in the first variations of the story.

Rohan: I actually did not know this was a name when I first wrote it down. I was 13, he’s also one of my first characters, and I just liked the sound of it. Later I learned about the Lord of the Rings reference, and the fact that this was also a real Indian name meaning ascendance.

Ophion: Pierre’s uncle has quite an odd name for the setting. It’s Greek and refers to a giant snake in mythology. Eglė, his Familiar, takes the forms of serpents.

Eglė: Her name is a reference to another myth, this one Lithuanian,  where she is the Queen of the Serpents. Her name, though, means spruce tree (she was turned into the tree in the myth).

Ophélie: Pierre’s mother and Ophion’s younger sister is named the French version of Ophelia- Hamlet’s lover who was driven to suicide.

Edgard: The roi of Clandestina was named after Edgar Allan Poe. His wife, Josephine, was named after Napoleon’s wife.

Pluta: Named after the cat, Pluto, from Poe’s “The Black Cat.”

Mora: Went through a few names before I settled on this. It’s close enough to ‘morte’ (death) to not be seen as a coincidence, and also refers to the spirits that bring about nightmares.

Saiva and her language

I meant for this to be a quick post about language, but it seems to have devolved into a little bit of everything.


I write my books in English. And like many fantasy authors this is my variant of ‘the common tongue’ that, for one reason or another, everyone on earth can understand. It makes things easier and it’s a trope that’s well known.

That said, I do not ignore other languages. Clandestina is a mix of countries, but mainly influenced by France and England. You see this from the main character’s name, Pierre, to the occasional French term or phrase thrown in. It is flavoring, and at the same time it sets up how the world works.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We’re going to need some of the mythological background here too.

Saiva is the personification of Nothing. She is the pair and partner of Amôru, Everything Good- The One God (lower-g gods/goddesses are mentioned sometimes in world, but they’re not technically gods in the same way, usually just kyrioi or similar). Their son, Sebelas, is the personification of Good, and is ruling until sin can be extinguished from the world and his father can return.

If Amôru is comparable to the Judeo-Christian God, and Sebelas is Jesus, Saiva is a mix of the Holy Mother of God and Buddha.

She is not evil. She is not the opposite of Amôru. If Amôru is the charity of sharing food, Saiva’s is the feeling of thanks and warmth afterwards. If Amôru is a great tree, Saiva is the soil after the tree has been cut down waiting for another plant. She is what is left, ‘a good nothing’ after a good takes place. She is also seen as universal- the common denominator between all people and creatures. While Amôru may have specific laws that certain bestia may not break, and others can, she is the same to all.

So when referencing this common tongue anywhere in Noctuina, it is called Saiva’s Tongue. She isn’t necessary the creator of it (though she might be, I’m not sure about the mythology of it yet), but it represents her.

That isn’t the only language in the world though. Each realm is inspired by a number of varying real-life cultures, with one being the main influence usually. This culture tends to bring its language with it into the realm, being said realm’s tongue, and a more intimate and personal way of speaking. When a character in Clandestina switches to French they mean it far more than if it was in English. Promises turn into swears, vows might be preferred in the realm’s language, emphasis is placed on the words.

Terms sometimes too appear in different languages. Words in general have meaning, especially in Noctuina, so names are not passed on without a thought, and terms are specific (but like I said before, not everyone gets this right all the time– calling a kyria a goddess, for instance).

Pierre is a duc. This does not just mean I wanted to write duke in French to make it look foreign. It also means that, in his duchy, he is the authority of all bestia residing there. So a fée (or a vampire, or a werewolf, or any other bestia) who lives in his domain will have to answer to Pierre.

[Side note: Aimé is referred to as a prince, but the spelling is the same in French and English. It is pronounced differently though.  I do mean it to be the French term though].

If he was merely a duke, a vampire or a fée might be able to disobey the laws of his land, as long as they complied with the laws of their own people.

Of course the world is never simple, and there are many instances where the law can be seen one way or another based on how you interpret it. A visiting fée to Pierre’s land might be able to argue they belong to their Queen, not him, because they are only there for a short time. And a human in Faery might have very few rights indeed, no matter their status outside of that plane.