Monthly Archives: May 2015

Bound A-Z: D is for Dragons

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We’re going to do something a little different today.

Instead of me telling you about dragons (most of which you’ll have learned on your own in the books, or will learn), I’m going to dig up something from a deleted scene from Bound.

In early drafts, Aren explained far more about dragons to Rowan than he did in the version you all have seen. It was more interesting if she walked in mostly unprepared, and in later drafts Aren got more reserved, and so handing out fun facts and stories willy-nilly really would have been out of character for him.

I hated to cut this part, though. One of the things I like about the world of these books is the folklore and the mythology. Most of it only gets mentioned in passing: the Tyrean children’s stories that Rowan doesn’t read to us, the ballad sung by a Wanderer girl, the many gods of Tyrea, the legends of the Dragonfreed Brothers.

This was a story told in full…and unfortunately, the larger story was better off without it.

From an old draft of Bound, here’s what the original conversation looked like, complete with a little bonus Tyrean history for you. Enjoy, and please forgive the lack of editing. It was a work in progress…

“This might be a silly question, but is the treasure cursed?” she asked. She was looking at me so intently that she almost got knocked off of her horse by a low-hanging branch, which she ducked under at the last moment.

“It’s not silly.” Her ignorance was infuriating, but it wasn’t her fault. Better that she know the dangers of the land we’d soon reach. “A dragon doesn’t intentionally do anything to its possessions, as far as we know. Something gets into them, though. There are stories about people who possess something as small as a gold coin from a dragon’s hoard going insane, killing strangers or loved ones out of rage or envy. There was a king hundreds of years ago who took possession of a dragon’s gold after it died; it’s said he was a great king before that. He was generous in sharing the treasure with his household and his friends, even his servants. According to the stories, barely a month later the idea of ruling the kingdom had been thrown out in favour of decadent feasts, drunkenness, experimenting with potions and exotic entertainments. That was only the beginning. Soon they wanted more and stranger diversions, and they became cruel, reaching levels of depravity a nice person like you wouldn’t be able to comprehend, I’m sure. They lost all respect for life, lost whatever inhibitions they once had. You probably don’t want to hear those stories.”

She looked like I’d insulted her, but said, “I suppose not. And the court fell?”

“More than that. They had to pay for all of this somehow, and the gold made it into the hands of nearly everyone in the city. It was complete chaos. People outside eventually realized what was happening. They burned the city to the ground, and everyone in it. The next king rebuilt far to the south, in Luid, and no one has resettled the old place since.”

That bought me another few minutes of silence. “Does it affect everyone the same way?” she asked at last.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, does one dragon’s treasure make everyone who possesses it murderous, and another’s make people…” She paused. “Gluttonous?”

That’s not what you were going to say, I thought, but let her continue.

“Or does it depend on the person? Last question for now, I promise.”

Thank the gods. “People used to think it was the former, that a dragon’s particular influence would cause everyone to act like that dragon. We think now that it’s more a case of it bringing out whatever darkness is already in a person so that it drowns out everything else that a person was. We don’t test that theory, though. There was one scholar who thought that if a person who was completely without vice were to take the treasure, the magic wouldn’t affect him or her. Then they could melt it down and make it safe for others.”

“And?”

“And then they realized that there’s no such person.”

Rowan smiled sadly. “Good point.”

TELL ME: If you stole a dragon’s treasure, what would it bring out in you? Lust? Envy? A willingness to literally kill for the last Oreo in the box?


WIPpet Wednesday: Crime Scene

Hi again! It’s time again for me to stumble into the WIPpet Wednesday party and wander around greeting everyone, pretending I have some idea of what’s going on with the folks who post serial-style.

Dropping in every few weeks means missing a lot. O.o

WIPpet Wednesday is, of course, the day when the WIPpeteers post a snippet of a work-in-progress that relates in some way to the day’s date. As Sworn is still with its first readers and I probably won’t get back to it until we’re at least somewhat settled in a new home, we’re sampling from the vampires again today.

The good news is that I got beat sheets done for the whole series yesterday (though #5 still needs work), which means that I can get down to scene outlines soon if I can find time around house stuff.

The better news is that this is going to be SO MUCH FUN to write that I’m shaking a little.

You may be a writer if this makes you do a happy dance.

Today we’ll do our snippet from chapter nine of Resurrection (2+7 for the 27th). Shivva and Daniel are at a crime scene, which we’ve seen a few of on Wippet Wednesdays past. Shivva’s job is just to see what she can figure out without direction. Kind of a test, and an important one.

The kitchen is a mess, with uncapped soda bottles all over the table next to stacks of plastic cups, some of which are tipped and scattered across the floor. Bowls of chips and party mix sit on the counters, along with an array of cheap booze. The sharp stink of it would be enough to mask the scent of blood if we were limited to living senses. Not for us, though. Underneath our stylish-yet-understated clothing, Daniel and I are monsters. Even spoiled, dead blood calls to us.

I move toward the basement door without any direction from Daniel, and he follows a few steps behind. This is my show now.

Death chokes the air down here, as though its heaviness has dragged it all underground. The basement is finished and separated into a rec room and a few smaller, enclosed rooms off of it. Probably a furnace room, maybe a bathroom. The walls look solid, but the carpet is cheap. Couches upholstered in worn cloth in clashing patterns cluster around a big TV in the corner, and the tables between them are scattered with plates of half-eaten pizza. In the open space in the centre of the room lies an empty wine bottle. I pull on gloves before I pick it up, even though our investigation should be over. No point sending the human police on a snipe hunt if they do show up.

I hold it out to Daniel. “Spin the bottle?”

He shrugs. “We thought maybe. I didn’t know kids these days still did that.”

I didn’t think they did, either. “You’d think there would be an app for that.”

I’m guessing high schoolers. Old enough that someone’s parents left them home alone, and they had friends over. More than a few, judging by the number of cups scattered over the floor. Maybe college age kids acting goofy, but I’d like to think that anyone who can legally drink would have better taste than what’s indicated by the open bar upstairs.

So there we go. Yeah, cutting it off before the gore again. I don’t think anyone stumbling on my blog for the first time is going to want to see what these two are dealing with. *waves*

And I’d say that’s it for me for a while regarding WIPpet Wednesday. I’ll still be blogging, still doing the Bound A-Z series on Thursdays, but I likely won’t be posting on Wednesdays until I’m back to work and have a lot more new material to share. I’ll still pop in on other WIPpeteers’ posts when I can. If you’d like to do the same, you can find them here.

Big thanks as always to our host KL Schwengel, who just alpha read Sworn for me and is either making notes or plotting my death. I’m not scared. Nope.

*shiver*


Bound A-Z: C is for Cave Fairies & Creatures

Here comes a post that makes me wish I were a better artist.

Cave fairies were introduced in Bound when Rowan met Jasper. Actually, I’ll just let her describe him for you:

The moth thing buzzed closer, and I saw that it wasn’t an insect at all, but a tiny man with a round belly and long, thin limbs. The wings that fluttered on his back were the color of dust, and a thin layer of fuzz in the same shade covered his body. His disproportionately large, black eyes studied me, and then he grunted and buzzed back to sit on Cassia’s shoulder.

Not exactly Tinkerbell or a dainty little garden fairy.

This is one of my favourite things about world-building: the creatures. It’s fun trying to find a balance between the familiar and the new. And balance is a good thing. It’s not all that exciting to read about species that are just as they’ve always been portrayed, with nothing new added. On the other hand, when every creature is new and novel, I find it’s incredibly difficult as a reader to keep them all straight.

“Was the fanglorious dobblewowser the one that has six legs and two teeth, or the thing that looks like an elf, talks like an elf, and acts like an elf, but TOTALLY ISN’T AN ELF BECAUSE IT GLOWS IN THE DARK AND IS NOT CALLED AN ELF?”

Next week we’ll take a look at the dragons of Serath (the larger land where the bound Trilogy takes place, though dragons exist in other places in that world, as well*), but today I thought we’d look at some of the creatures that may seem familiar in some respects, but hold a few surprises, as well.

CAVE FAIRIES: See above. These guys are frequently grouchy, as they hibernate much of the year. Or they just really like their naps, we’re not entirely sure. They’re reclusive and well-camoflaged, and rarely leave their caves. They’re not attractive creatures, but useful if you can get on their good side. There are other types of fairies around, but these are the only ones we’ve met so far.

HORSES: There are a few types of horses in Serath. The first would be nearly indistinguishable from the horses of our world. These horses have little to no magic in their blood, just as the Darmish people like things. At the other end of the spectrum we have the Tusker, an apparently demonic creature with hoofsteps that shake the earth, an ear-piercing scream, and a thirst for blood. In the middle are the “regular” horses of Tyrea and Belleisle: horses that look much like those in Darmid, but with heavier jaws and teeth designed for consuming meat as much as vegetation. Highly adaptable, intelligent, and hardy, they’re perfect travel companions–if you can earn their trust.

Then we have the flying horses, fine-boned creatures of the sky, blessed with the ability to speak. And there are rumors of unicorns, though few are so lucky as to see one.

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MERFOLK: The merfolk of this world are not half-fish, as they’re generally depicted in our world. They’re warm-blooded, but able to breathe underwater as well as on land. They appear entirely human when in that form, and nearly human from the waist up when in true mer form, if you can get past the greyish skin tone. Their tails are covered in smooth skin and end in thick flukes. Picture them as half dolphin if that helps, though they’d prefer not to be thought of as half-anything. The merfolk are a proud species all their own, and existed in that world long before the arrival of the first humans.

GRYPHONS: Half lion, half eagle, the gryphons of Serath are actually pretty typical of what we’re used to… so far. But then, the characters we’re visiting with don’t have a lot of experience with them. Who knows what secrets they’re hiding?

AEYER: The winged people of the northern mountains in Tyrea. I still have a lot to learn about these guys, who are most decidedly not angelic types. A fact-finding safari may be in order. Wish me luck.

SEA MONSTERS: We’ve only seen one (called “Fangface” by Kel, though I doubt that’s what the natural history books would say), but the seas are full of dangerous, beautiful, and fascinating creatures. Between the fresh-water dragons and the threats below the surface of the sea, life on land can seem tame in comparison.

CENTAURS, ELVES, GOBLINS, TREE FAIRIES, AND OTHERS: The world is so large, and one story so little time to experience all of it. Perhaps some day…

TELL ME: Did I miss anything you were curious about? What creatures do you love to read about, and what twists on traditional favourites have been your favourites in your reading adventures?

 

 

*You didn’t think these stories covered everything, did you? There’s a big, wide, wondrous world out there we’ve yet to explore, friends…


Cover Reveal: Dissonance by Mariella Hunt

I know, I usually do cover reveals on Mondays. But when a super nice debut author asks whether people can help out on a Tuesday, I’m definitely not going to say no. I haven’t read this one yet, but I know Mariella’s been pouring her heart and soul into it, and I wish her all the best!

No release date yet, but she’s aiming for some time in June at the latest.

-K

—-

DISSONANCE

Fifteen-year-old Allie Grant lives crippled by her illness. Though kept in isolation, she’s never alone: A spirit named Song lurks in the silence of her bedroom.

When Song reveals its dark nature on the night of her recital, the show ends in tragedy. Verging on death, Allie’s taken in by an uncle she’s never met.

Julian claims to be a Muse with power over music and answers that’ll heal her. The cure she needs is rare, requiring of him a difficult sacrifice. Allie soon suspects her uncle has a secret that’ll turn her world around.

But with days left to live, she might fade without learning the truth…like the finishing chord of a song.

(YA Urban Fantasy)

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About the Author:
Mariella Hunt is a writer with a strong love for coffee and guinea pigs. She likes using big words in everyday speech, and keeps journals of quotes from the greats.

Most days you’ll find her on a well-loved armchair, reading–or working on one of her many projects. As she cannot stick to an outline, she rewrites way too much.


Bound A-Z: B is for Belleisle

B

This isn’t the topic I wanted to cover today, but I realized that the one I wanted to do would have been either spoiler-laden or super boring.

And we don’t want “B for Boring.” Nope, nope, nope.

So Belleisle it is, that peaceful island off the east coast of Tyrea.

They do things differently there. Whereas Tyrea is ruled by the most powerful Sorcerer, Belleisle has no king, but is rather watched over by a governor–a position that’s easily lost should it be determined that the governor isn’t working in the best interests of the people. Their decision-making processes tend to be more democratic than those in Tyrea. While final decisions rest with the governor, open meetings where people can speak their minds are frequently held in the city, and residents from towns and villages all over the island travel there to have their say.

There’s magic on the island, and plenty of it. In fact, there’s far more mid-level human magic in Belleisle than in Tyrea. Some people, and powerful ones at that, believe that this is because Belleisle sits far from the choked-off magic of Darmid, but that’s not the only theory. Others place the blame squarely on the ruling family of Tyrea*, on the lay of the land and the types of creatures living there, or on the whims of the gods.

The truth of that (or whichever version of the truth is most widely accepted) will have far-reaching implications for all three countries.

In any case, the magic there is strong, and is more widely spread out through the population than it is in Tyrea. A peaceful nation, Belleisle is nonetheless equipped with impressive defenses thanks to generations of Sorcerers who made it their mission not to rule, but to defend. And though the people of Belleisle try to stay out of Tyrean business, you’d have to be a fool to threaten them. The people of Belleisle don’t trust people from Tyrea, especially those with great political or magical power.

The aspect of the island most relevant to the Bound trilogy is the school run by the Sorcerer Ernis Albion and his wife, the Potioner Emalda Albion. They take in the most promising students from the island and guide them through their schooling, helping them identify natural skills and develop others, and educating them in matters that go far beyond magic. Languages, history, magical theory, religion, and a host of other subjects go hand-in-hand with the development of magical power in the hopes that these students will become well-rounded and capable citizens. Brains are as important as magical brawn, and humility is encouraged. Magic is a gift not to be taken lightly, nor abused in a blind quest for power.

That’s not to say that every student becomes a model citizen. The school has seen its share of troublemakers, back-stabbers, and jerks. Wherever there is power, there is potential for its abuse. The headmaster only hopes that careful guidance will help the most troublesome students come out all right on the other side.

Things you didn’t know #1: On a few occasions, the school has accepted students from Tyrea. It’s a dangerous proposition, as these students come from families the king might see as a threat, who don’t want to send their children to Luid for training. There are strict conditions placed on the students’ enrollment, including being completely cut off from their families for the duration of their stay.

Things you didn’t know #2: Nearly all of the students at the school are of near-Sorcerer level magical power, but Emalda also occasionally allows young Potioners to train under her. Only the most promising make the cut, though, and she only takes on one apprentice at a time. When Aren and Rowan arrived at the island, she was between apprentices.

 

*Their tendency to breed the strongest magic into one family and to kill off rivals is thought to not be great for human magic, overall. Funny thing.


WIPpet Wednesday: Welcome Back, Vampires

Yep.

Sworn is off to alpha readers, which means two things.

One: I feel like puking (a lot), because sending a story out to be critiqued for the first time is terrifying. Actually, sending it out for the last time is also terrifying.

Two: Yes, I’m supposed to be focusing on getting ready to move (more on that another day), but I still need something writing-related to work on so I don’t go crazy. This means I blew the dust off of Resurrection (an urban fantasy project that some of you may remember), printed it out, and will be reading it over this week.

It got rave reviews from readers before… I just have to decide whether I’m still happy with it, and what comes next. It’s a novella. A satisfying story on its own, but definitely leading into more. I have plans for the series. I’m just not 100% sure what they are yet, whether we’re looking at a 4-5 book story arc or something more episodic like Nancy Drew Sookie Stackhouse. Either way, 5 books max.

Released at 2-3 month intervals.

YAY.

I’ve got planning to do.

Anyway, it’s officially a work in progress again, and WIPpet Wednesday is when we share a snippet from a WIP. It has to relate in some way to today’s date. I was going to give you something from chapter 13, but there is no chapter 13.

I’m not superstitious, it’s just that compact.

So let’s go with chapter 4 (1+3), 5 paragraphs for the 5th month.

Trixie, Shivva, and Daniel just came back from a tough crime scene involving slaughtered humans and rogue vampires, and Daniel’s not talking to anyone*. This snippet gives a reasonable idea of how they feel about us.

All scenes in this one are from Shivva’s POV. Weird…

“I don’t know what crawled up his ass,” Trixie says. She squeezes a lemon wedge, watching the juice roll off her fingers into her tea. “He’s not just being overprotective, either. He was fine until right before we left. Maybe he didn’t get a good feed in.”

I flop back on the bed. “Maybe he’s sick of my issues.”

“Probably. You’ve got to let it go, Shivva. We’re not human. It’s not our job to protect them.”

“But we need them.”

“We need our stock,” she clarifies, and stirs her tea with a dainty silver teaspoon. “The feeders. That’s it. Even then, one’s pretty much like any other. It’s no big loss if something happens to one of them. But keeping them safe gives them incentive to trust us and saves us trouble.”

Nice, eh?

For more WIPpet Wednesday fun, click this here link. To join in, just post on your own blog space, link back there, and stop by to comment on everyone else’s posts. Easy peasy, and a great way to meet some wonderful writer-type peoples. Big thanks to our host, KL Schwengel!

Hope you’re all having a great week!

*Daniel is Shivva and Trixie’s trainer. He’s… eh, you’ll have to read it.


Bound A-Z: A is for Adventure

Bet you thought I was going to say Aren, didn’t you?

Oh, hi.

Oh, hi.

One of my favourite things about reading and writing Fantasy is the potential for adventure. Not adventures in meeting rich guys in coffee shops… not adventures in parenting, or shopping, or real estate, but the kind of adventure that takes characters away from their regular lives and throws them into something completely unfamiliar and even magical.

Big adventures.

Epic adventures.

The Bound Trilogy is a series of three adventures, but it’s also just one. Each book has its own story: Bound is about Aren and Rowan’s meeting and (as suggested by the title) the search for a cure for her binding. Torn is about SPOILER ALERT Aren’s quest to find his father and everything that happens during that time, with he and Rowan on separate adventures. Sworn is about… well, you’ll see.

But overall, there’s one massive task, which means one ginormous* adventure: Dealing with Severn. He’s the big bad guy, even if he only shows up a few times in the earlier books. He’s the challenge, the thing that threatens the characters we’re rooting for, and each book is a step closer to whatever the conclusion of that adventure will be.

Of course, life doesn’t deal out one problem or adventure at a time, and neither do stories. Adventure comes in many forms: finding love, losing it, growing up, and even the little things that distract us from our big goals are all adventures in their own right.

Sometimes adventure leads to glory. Sometimes it ends in heartbreak. And some adventures don’t end with every thread tied up in a neat “happily ever after” bow. Life is messy, and life goes on after the adventure is over. That’s another thing I love about Fantasy. Even when the story’s over, the fair dude or damsel saved, the monsters slain (or not), and the world granted a measure of peace, there’s still so much potential for the reader’s imagination to continue the fun. Unless everybody dies, the story goes on.

Life itself is the greatest adventure, and there’s always room for one more.

TELL ME: What’s your favourite adventure in a book or movie? What adventures has your own life led you to recently?

 

 

 

 

*I know it’s not a word, but it feels good to say it.


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