By any other name

Usually I dislike how short Larkspur is. It is the main issue most have with the story if you look at the reviews. Today, though I’m quite glad because the more I work on Delphinium, the more history and information there is to deal with. And I cannot stand needing to rewrite and tweak so that everything fits continuity. This way  I am mostly allowed to insert all of this information into the second book and have it make more sense (I think all of my Scenes from Clandestina can stay as they are, but I’ll look into those right after I post this).

Now let me try and explain why I am now dealing with all of this extra stuff:
I named Félicien’s parents. Not his adoptive parents, who raise him after he is in Faery (they already have names), but his birth-parents. I had written a Scene a few days ago (it didn’t turn out very well so it isn’t up) but I only mentioned ‘The Duchesse’ because Félicien’s mother did not have a name. Without a name she was a figment, a reference, something to mention but not expand upon.

The moment I name a character they become infinitely more important and real. They gain an appearance and a temperament and a history–all from a name. And changing the name can change appearance and temperament and history, so sometimes I go through several names and iterations before everything clicks into place (I had that happen a few weeks ago actually).

The Duchesse could just be an old woman who lost her son, who stepped aside from governing and let the steward run things because of her grief. Duchesse Cunégonde of Piques, though, forced the fée Margrave to return to Faery and demanded her son’s return, and banished him when that did not happen. She stepped aside from governing out of grief yet did not shut herself away, but planned revenge. She is the reason the fée are no longer trusted or liked in Piques, the reason for the fine cutlery being cold iron, the reason that ironically her own son and then grandson have problems when they return to Piques and are seen as fay.

Now to find out how Félicien’s father acted…

(For a story where the fairies were supposed to be a minor reference they have almost overtaken the necromancy in which fantastical aspect is the most prominent in the realm).

So, overall, I am happy Larkspur is short and sweet and dark. It lets me work on Delphinium and make plans for a whole new set of books. I do believe Félicien’s life will eventually be chronicled as well, and feature both sets of his parents.

Wolves

It should not be this hard to find decent public domain pictures/paintings of wolves.

I’m working on a new project, a secondary book that I won’t really start until after Delphinium is done, but will let me take my mind into another place when I need it. I know I tried the ‘other project’ thing before with Incubo, and while that’s still on the table it fell through as my next-in-line book (it worked better as a stand alone that comes after a series, rather than the start to a new series).

Anyway, I had time to think and plot last night and went quite deep into the land of Astrarctia, where ‘Wolf Girl’ takes place. While the name has changed over the years it was my first mediaeval world that wasn’t totally a rip-off (just mostly). Inisaira was one of my first characters ever. If Clandestina is how I learned to write well (with lots of roleplaying online, Pierre was a role-play character I had intended not to have as a book-character way back when), this world is how I learned to worldbuild and write in the first place.

I’m quite glad I can consider it back on the table and with a ‘next’ marker placed on it. Already working out the timeline and the vague ideas for book 1.

I think I will also make another section here on the blog sorting out my intended projects, naming the ones I have named, and giving short summaries about what is what.

Wolf Girl (Astrarctia)

She should return to the woods. She’d lived in this town for five full moons, longer than she usually stayed in one human place, but she had been comfortable. Another like her lived here and though she had not met with him he felt like family. It was more than she usually had and she had not wished to give it up.

But they knew. She did not think it was her that was caught, but it was a warning she could not ignore. If a ringian had not already been sent for one would be soon.

The full moon had been last night, and unlike months before many had hid in their homes from late afternoon, when the moon first appeared in the day-sky. As a born werewolf she could change shape whenever she wanted and was not even forced to by the moon, so she had not dared shift. She had wanted it, desperately, and felt dizzy and on edge all night, but she sat with the other urchins and homeless of the town in the meeting hall and tried not to bring attention to herself. They were told they had been brought to the hall for their own safety, but more likely it was to make sure they were human. She stole a cap to wear over her white hair and did not look up, hoping her amber eyes would seem hazel in the shadows. She had not slept at all.

Now it was dawn and she felt safe enough to leave. She would eat, hide things she could not take, and disappear. Once she was far enough in the forests she would shift and find a place to curl up and sleep. If she was lucky she would run into a pack that could take her in for a time, but she had been a lone wolf before.

She had caches all over the town and she went from one to another. Most had food, meat she had caught or stolen and then packed in snow, and some had clothes. One had a knife she had found in the woods. She ate the food and left the clothes- maybe some of the other urchins would find them and use them. She would not need them with her fur. The knife she wished she could take, it was a good quality, but would be useless with her teeth and claws.

Every moment she stayed was another moment she was in danger. Some of the shops were opening for the day, people were beginning to leave the safety of their homes, and all would be wary and on the lookout for a werewolf in their midst. She decided she had eaten enough and abandoned the last few caches, heading towards the woods. It would be best if she was not seen, even though she had ‘proven’ her humanity. It would be foolish to be seen going into the forests the day after a full moon.

Voices stopped her. She froze behind the thick trunk of a tree and listened. They were speaking to each other and it did not seem they were looking for her.

“Go!” a woman sobbed.

“Quick, son.” A man’s voice, gruff with emotion.

“But if I leave they will know!” The third voice was of a boy.

“If you stay you will die.” The man again.

The wind picked up and blew towards her, bringing her a wealth of information. The man and woman were married, and the boy was their son. He also had the scent of wolf and blood on him.

She peered around from her hiding spot. The boy had a hand wrapped in bloody bandage, and his clothes were torn and ragged. This was not the werewolf she had scented before, though, this werewolf seemed to have shifted for the first time last night, not even aware enough about what was happening to take his clothes off.

She began to walk to them slowly, but the boy turned to her as the wind changed direction again, and now gave him information about her. The parents looked at her too and the mother’s eyes widened in fear. The father moved towards her, as if he could silence her and protect his son. If she was a human girl who heard what was being spoken, and then told the town it could be death for all of them.

“She’s one too,” the boy said, figuring out what her scent meant, moving to stop his father.

“Was she the one—”

“No,” the boy said quickly. “It was a male, a man, that..” He moved his hurt arm. His father took a step back, but did not look away from her.

“I’m Inisaira,” she said, reaching them. “Aira. I was leaving after last night.”

“Ander,” the boy replied when his father said nothing. “I was too, I guess. I… changed last night.”

“We want him safe!” his mother said. “Please, help us. Take him far away!”

How could she turn him away? He was was taller than her by a few inches, older than her,but she had certainly been a werewolf longer. She had felt safe enough just knowing a werewolf was in the same town (even though she now thought horrible things about the wolf that had bitten a child). This could be the start of her own real pack.

She began to take her clothes off. The man turned away, but the mother and boy did not. She was still young enough that it was not unusual to be naked in the summer months. Of course this was winter.

“Hurry,” she urged Ander, throwing her shirt on to the ground. “We will run faster as wolves. Your parents want you safe, that is more than I’ve seen in some other places.”

Once they were both naked, the boy looking more uncomfortable than her, she nodded to him. Good, he was listening to her. “You were bit, but you can still turn into a wolf if it isn’t a full moon. You need to mean it- say a prayer to Luna and picture yourself shifting.”

It took him a few minutes to change. Aira was a wolf in only a moment, and she observed the boy while he concentrated. Finally his limbs began to move and fur sprouted from his body. The mother gasped and she hid in her husband’s arms, but the father did not look away. Ander crouched and then fell in the snow, but quickly his new form appeared, one accustom to snow and the forest.

He stood, shaking off the snow that clung to his golden fur, the same color as his hair. He was an older puppy, like Aira, neither yet adults as people or beasts but needing to act without guidance from adults.

They regarded each other in this second form. Their scents filled the air and both knew even more about each other than when they had scented each other in human form. Ander knew she was a born werewolf, the alpha, and that she was tired and worried, even if she tried to hide it. She knew he was bitten a few days ago, the bite tearing when he shifted last night and reopening wounds. He was worried too, even afraid, but was determined.

She took a step to him and looked up into his eyes. He tilted his head in confusion, and then slowly bent his head in understanding. He licked her snout, crouching before her.

Brother, she said, nudging him. Beta.

Sister, he agreed, nuzzling her face. Alpha.

She looked to his front paw. He had taken off his clothes but had forgotten about the bandage. It was now lose and twisted up in his fur. She bent over and grabbed an end in her mouth, pulling and shaking her head until it came loose and she dropped it. When his wound began to bleed and he whined she licked at it until it stopped.

She glanced to the parents and gave a nod so they would understand. The father nodded back, and then mother tried to hide her tears by picking up their clothes. With a meaningful look to Ander she dashed off into the underbrush. He followed.

 

Larkspur: 24th March

I have spent the entire day writing and editing Larkspur. I have a little over 12K (cut a lot, added a lot), and I need a few more scenes fleshed out before I’m satisfied with the arc. I think I can get the end wordcount at ~15K. By technical definitions this would make it a novelette, though novella has been used for that length as well (I prefer the term novelette honestly).

Unfortunately have classes all day long tomorrow, so it takes the entire day away from me writing-wise. That said, I think I’ll finish soon. Really soon. I am hesitantly promising that I will have Larkspur done by the 22nd. It will be the day after Spring starts, and canonically the last day the story takes place on as well- it spans Martius/Prima 14th – 22nd. The dates are very important for fictional magical fée reasons, and there’s a certain level of satisfaction to finishing the book on the canon-dates. I couldn’t have it done for the 14th, but I’m doing my best to have it done at least by the last day. You can imagine the actions had to finish taking place before I could write them down and give them story form.

This is my first book, my first completed story in years. I have worked on it for two years, trying to make it perfect. I know it isn’t, but it’s as close as it is going to get. I need to work on the next story, and actually be a writer and author.

I am going to try my damnedest not to take another two years for the next story. If I can find some sort of rhythm I will attempt a monthly schedule, but I can make no hard promises at this time. Think of it like comic book releases, a month apart, but sometimes there’s a ~week off one way or the other depending when it’s published. I have an idea of what the next few stories will be (one a sequel to Larkspur, and another the beginning of a different realm’s stories), and between trying to work within an outline and giving myself real ‘writing time’ I hope I can become professional very quickly.

The story will be uploaded to Kindle late the 21st, or early the 22nd. I have heard it may take Amazon 24-48 hours to put the book up for sale (I had hoped it was far faster, but alas) and so I am giving the official release date as Monday, March 24th (if it shows up online before, say the evening of the 23rd, I will inform everyone!). The first two or three days it will be free, I just ask if you do read the story you leave a review.

Larkspur, by V. M. Jaskiernia

“Pierre Salvador has returned to court after finishing his studies, and a party in his honour happens that very evening. But feeling unwell so shortly after his travels, the princeling excuses himself from dancing-and-flirting with Lady Elizabeth Anne, and retreats to his quarters with a black cat in tow. In addition to medical university, Pierre has almost finished the last task set by Mora, lady of death, to complete his study in necrocræft. An illegal magic, the power over life and death, he courts Mora as he also begins to court Elizabeth. Love or death?”

‘Almost done’

I’ve been ‘almost done’ with Larkspur for months. I thought I’d have it finished by Christmas, then by New Year’s, then by my birthday… and every day has come and gone. I thought I’d finish this week during Spring Break, and with classes on Monday I’m not sure I’ll manage that either.

I’m not trying to lie, or be lazy, or not-write. It just sort of happens. I’m at 11,397 words in a novelette I want to be at least ~15K. 3/4ths of it is done, and I’m happy and proud of it. I just have to wrap it up, come up with a good place to end, and post it on Kindle.

But I can’t get that last 1/4th done. Where I want to end right now will leave me short of my wordcount goal, but adding more for the sake of numbers seems bad. I know the moment I finish this story my ‘real’ writing career starts- and if I want to gain any sort of reader-base I need to write and post regularly. But it’s been taking me years to get this far in Larkspur. I’ve dealt with a lot of self-doubt throughout all this, and come out for the better, but it’s still difficult.

I can’t take years for the next story. Not in this posting-every-other-day internet field. A month between updates and you assume the creator has died, or been kidnapped at least. I need to post a good story every two weeks, or every month, consistently.

I know people who do it, I know it’s very possible. I should be one of those people. I have years of backstory and plots and daydreams that just could do no better than a regular story series.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

Back to writing then. Hopefully I’ll be able to post ‘I’m Done!’ in the near future.