Time for another monthly progress report, one week into August.
July was busy with family reunion/vacation and some other stuff, so I didn't get as much writing done as I hoped I would. I did finally figure out the follow-up Wildings series, which now also has a name, Defenders of the Wildings. I solved the story problems (I think); the events of book 1 make the most sense coming in the middle of book 2, which means I'm splitting book 2 in half and putting book 1 in the middle, with much attendant reworking of the two books. The story seems to be working better now, but what it means for the series is that this series won't be structured in nice, neat novel-length episodes like Daughter of the Wildings. I can't tell yet if it's going to be one large, disjointed book (my least favorite option), two short and somewhat less disjointed books, or a series of shorter serial-style episodes. Right now I've got book 1 (now the second episode) rewritten and I'm constructing episode 1 out of the first part of the old book 2. The whole thing is roughly outlined, and I added a concluding episode which wasn't in the original plan, to tie up the story in a more satisfactory fashion. (I also had to do this with Daughter of the Wildings, which first I thought would be five books, then I realized I needed a sixth book.) I'm also getting ideas for another follow-up set of books, called Children of the Wildings, starring, well, I'll let you guess!
I've also been working on edits of Tales of Azara, now titled The Brilliant Career of Sajur Golu and Other Tales of Azara. See my hopefully-not-too-lame cover I made for it above. If you've read Chosen of Azara, you may remember Sajur Golu as the evil, corrupt priest. This collection of short stories contains the story of his rise to the position of High Priest of Source Dar and of the Madrinan Empire, along with other background stories, character vignettes, and alternate points of view of scenes in the book. I'm looking at releasing it sometime before the end of August, in conjunction with the debut of a new cover for Chosen of Azara. Getting a new cover for Chosen of Azara was a very difficult decision; I love the current cover but it just isn't quite right for the genre and while it represents the characters of Sevry and Lucie very well, it doesn't really convey a sense of the story. None of this is the fault of the artist; I love Design by Katt's work and highly recommend her for beautiful photomanipulation covers. Rather, it's the difficulty in finding base photos to work with that are right for the book. Also, with two more novels in the Estelend world scheduled to come out later this year and early next year, I wanted to re-brand the Chosen cover to fit with the others and with The Warrior and the Holy Man, which is also set in Estelend. So I commissioned Mominur Rahman, the artist who did the amazing Daughter of the Wildings covers and also the new covers for Urdaisunia and Warrior and the Holy Man, to do these next three covers. I got the final art for Chosen today, and it's gorgeous. Watch for the cover reveal, coming soon!
So I've hinted at some exciting things coming up, and new cover art is one of them. The others I still can't talk about, but they're really cool. Stay tuned for news!
And finally, since it's Music Monday, here's a video for you. This is "My Therapy" from the album Haven by Kamelot, which is the theme song for my character Davreos from Heir of Tanaris, one of my upcoming Estelend books.
Another Music Monday and a new project means it's time to make a new playlist! Part of the fun of working on a new novel is putting together a playlist for it. I wrote the first draft of The Source-Fixer without really having a playlist in mind, but now as I'm planning the revision, it's started to come together.
The Source-Fixer (this may graduate from working title to actual title) is about two people in the middle of life (Kaniev is forty; Fransisa won't admit to her age but, just between you and me, she's also forty) who lose everything that's given meaning and purpose to their lives up until now, then find new life and hope in a place they never expected. And yes, it's a fantasy-romance (I am who I am), but kind of different. So with that in mind, here are my songs for the book:
For your listening enjoyment, here's the playlist on Spotify. (click link to listen directly on Spotify)
Finally surfacing for air after recovering from getting For the Wildings ready to release and diving into the next projects on the list. It's still hard to believe that Daughter of the Wildings is complete and published (except for the paperback; I've just started working on that). It started as just an experiment about 4 1/2 years ago, then that one book turned into a 5-book series, then 6 books, and turned into a story that I felt absolutely compelled, driven, to publish. There was a time, a little over two years ago, when I was honestly afraid I might not live to finish it, but the problem turned out to be relatively mild and self-correcting and *knock on wood* I hope I won't have any more similar problems for the foreseeable future. I do need to try to get back to the better health habits I was working on before.
Anyway. So, yeah, Daughter of the Wildings, the project of my heart, my obsession for the last few years, is out there now, and it's time to move on to other things. Next up is The Source-Fixer (still trying to think of a different title, and not having much luck). I'm nearly done with the triage phase of the first big revision. This book started out as a project I abandoned many years ago, then I figured out how to finish it and wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo in 2014. Now that I'm reading through it, I'm seeing things I love about it and also some major issues. Nothing unfixable, though.
I've also initiated the process of getting cover art for Source-Fixer and Heir of Tanaris, and a new cover for Chosen of Azara. Since these are all set in the same world, I want to re-brand Chosen with a cover to match the other two books. I love getting new cover art, and I'm so excited to see how these are going to look!
In other news, as a result of my commitment to write 1000 words a day/250,000 words this year, I have a bunch of short stories waiting to be published. I'll be releasing the first collection of five soon (finishing up the final edits on them). Email subscribers will have the opportunity to get the collection for free :)
And also, as part of writing 1000 words a day, I now find myself nearly 7500 words into book 2 of the follow-up series to Daughter of the Wildings. I finished the draft of book 1, then was wondering how to get to the next major plot point in the series story arc, and realized what I needed was a range war! So I did some reading up on range wars in the Old West, and book 2 just kind of came together. Daughter of the Wildings may be finished, but I'm not done with the world or the characters quite yet.
Last month I planted some vegetables in my new raised gardening box. Let's check in on how my little green things are doing:
A reminder: if you read For the Wildings, don't forget to go to the link at the end of the book to download a free Silas and Lainie short story, "A Good Example"! The story has major spoilers for the book, so don't read it before you finish For the Wildings :)
Finally, since it's Music Monday, I'll leave you with the video of Insomnia from Kamelot's album Haven.
Taking a break from final proofreads on For the Wildings for another Music Monday! This week I'm featuring Haven, the most recent album from one of my favorite symphonic/progressive metal bands, Kamelot. This is another album I've been enjoying a lot lately, and it's a heavy influence on one of my upcoming books, Heir of Tanaris.
It's hard to say what the strongest point of this album is, but the vocal performances are definitely a highlight. Tommy Karevik (the more-than-worthy successor to Kamelot's previous singer, the extremely talented and classically-trained Roy Khan) has a powerful sound, amazing range, and virtuoso phrasing and vocal shadings that make each song an incredible listening experience. I'd have to say, among a lot of amazing singers I'm a fan of right now, he's my favorite.
There's some great songwriting on the album, both musically and lyrically. The instrumentals, played with the skill and polish of a longtime professional band, combine serious headbanging metal and beautiful string arrangements. The members of Kamelot are masters of their instruments and definitely know what they're doing. As well, there are a lot of memorable melodies, some of the most beautiful melodies I've heard in metal. The bonus album contains the instrumental tracks of all the songs, which stand up well by themselves, as well as orchestral arrangements of some of the songs.
And then there's the lyrics. A lot of authors who listen to music as they write prefer music without lyrics, so that those words and their words don't get mixed up, but I get a lot of inspiration from the right lyrics, and when I start a new project I spend a lot of time carefully choosing songs that fit the overall plot and mood of the book as well as for specific scenes and characters. Lyrics matter to me, and I love the lyrics on Haven. They have a somewhat dystopian feel to them, and center around a loose concept of being torn between personal desires for good and evil, longing for power on the one hand and love on the other. At least that's my read on it, and the theme fits perfectly with Heir of Tanaris, about a man torn between the evil that's been instilled in him for years and his longings for personal power and domination, and his newly-awakened desires to be a better man and to be worthy of the love he's found. The first six songs on Haven - Fallen Star, Insomnia, Citizen Zero, Veil of Elysium, Under Grey Skies, My Therapy, and a song from further down, Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy), form the core of my writing soundtrack for Heir, and I must have listened to it hundreds of times over and over and over while I wrote the first draft, and never got tired of it. My Therapy is especially appropriate; the female lead character in Heir is a healer, and Davreos, the male protagonist, looks to her to heal him not just physically but also emotionally and spiritually with her love.
To give you a taste of this amazing album, here's the official lyrics video for Veil of Elysium, one of the most beautiful metal songs I've ever heard:
So I hate it when I want to write a blog post but I have no idea what to write about. There's only so much I can say about my own writing before it gets boring, and unlike a lot of writers, I'm not interested in blogging about writing. But thinking of interesting stuff is hard. Then it occurred to me, I like music, so maybe sometimes I should blog about music. And I hate cooking but we gotta eat anyway, so maybe sometimes I should blog about stuff I like to make that's easy, especially on a busy day (like a long day of writing). And some other stuff. So I came up with a list of themes for blogging, Music Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Throwback Thursday (not original with me, of course), Friday Five (which I already do sporadically), Sneak Peek/Snippet Saturday. All alliterative, because alliteration makes everything easier. And author spotlights on Wednesday, but I couldn't think of a way to make that alliterative. So this is just a loose framework, don't look for a post on each of those topics every week, and I reserve the right to post on a different topic on any day when I feel like it. But when I want to write a blog post and have no idea what to write about, this gives me some ideas.
Anyhoo, for the inaugural Music Monday, here's a look at my most recent album purchase (yes, I buy my music by the album, instead of streaming or only buying individual songs. I guess I'm just old-fashioned that way. Though I mainly buy MP3s), Legacy, the brand new album (their 4th, I believe) from Tunisian progressive/symphonic metal band Myrath.
Myrath combines the metal rock, symphonic arrangements, and big, dramatic melodies and lyrics of symphonic metal with the rhythms and melodic hooks of North Africa and the Middle East for a sound that rocks hard and is musically gorgeous and unique at the same time. Along with the usual instruments you'd find in a metal band, they also use traditional instruments. The lead singer's vocal stylings might sound a little unusual and take some getting used to, because again they draw heavily from North African and Middle Eastern musical traditions. The songs on Legacy (really a self-titled album, since "Myrath" means "Legacy") integrate these traditions more heavily than on the previous albums that I've heard (Desert Call and Tales of the Sands), but it's still very listenable. The songwriting and musicianship show a band that is gaining depth and maturity with each album. The lyrics are positive, on subjects like the desert, adventures, facing life's challenges, and a good portion of love songs. With my own love of the desert and of writing fantasy set in the desert, Myrath's songs are a great fit for my books, and of course I always love a good love song. I've used a couple of their songs on playlists for my books, "Silent Cries" (from Desert Call) on the Urdaisunia playlist, and "Silent Cries" (again) and "Madness" (also from Desert Call) on the playlist for The Lost Book of Anggird.
Me being something of a musicology nerd (I got my Master's degree in music history, though I never got into ethnomusicology), I love coming across music that's unique and powerful and draws on long, deep tradition. I see symphonic metal as being one of the latest evolutions of classical music, and the addition of North African/Middle Eastern music traditions to the mix makes Myrath one of the most fascinating bands I've come across. I recommend you give them a try, especially if you like symphonic/progressive metal. Even if you don't, sometimes it's good to take a chance and try something new, anyway :-D
To give you a taste of Myrath's sound, here's the video for "Believer" from Legacy:
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