I started writing the sequel to Blood of the Dragon today after several weeks of research, outlining, and mucho coffee. The outline is not done, so I’m still not certain how this book will end up, but I do have a good idea where it’s going. That’s much of my pleasure in writing: discovering where the story will take me.
You may have heard writers say this before, that they simply uncover a story that’s already there. That’s been true with my efforts in the past, including Blood of the Dragon, where the germ of the story seems to arrive fully formed. The writing process is then like an archaeologist carefully digging for an artifact, dusting it off, cleaning it up until the public can enjoy it.
In the case of my sequel, the story has been formed by research first, the story slowly evolving as I studied the ancient Meso-American cultures of Mexico and the southwest United States (especially the Navajo), and dived into myths and legends of Ireland and China. I love to incorporate tales from our past in my own story, to rewrite them or weave them in.
This has felt more like cooking: so far, I’ve done the prep work like chopping the vegetables and slicing the meat. Now it’s time to see if I can toss the ingredients into a pot and come up with something delicious. Maybe with my next post, I’ll put up the free write exercise that was the key to discovering the plot.
Last weekend, I found the path I’d always taken to the ocean had been blocked following a wild storm that left driftwood in the grasses, and not just high up on the shore. In the picture below, the original path was to the left (trust me, it’s far more blocked than it looks). Yet now, there is already a path to the right forming (bottom right corner). Taking the right path brings me to the beach 10-15 feet farther north, or almost the same place as always.
This made me think about the number of times that my path has changed, whether through hardships of my own doing or from circumstances outside my control. I’ve often wondered how different my life would be if such-and-such hadn’t happened. Then I looked at what had happened to this path, and I wonder if those events hadn’t happened, would my life really be that much different now?
Some events, certainly, have altered my life a great deal, and have shaped me (especially the darker events). But others, how much change did they really cause?
It’s been a rough month of writing, a month spent editing at least as much as writing, and much of my writing time spent talking with friends at Starbucks. I don’t ever want to take away from the latter. Unless I have a deadline to meet, friends should always be higher on my list than writing.
Still, I was glad to get away to visit the ocean once more. Views like this move my soul like few other things in this world:
My muse moves with the scent of salt air, the never-ending crash of waves, the crunch of sand, the cry of sandpipers, and the breeze off the ocean. Even though my eyes water from the breeze and the glare of the sun, inspiration fills my soul and makes me long to write. How can I not when I see this?
Read Entry 5 here
Arah Abu 26
The Mistress of Singers awarded Khariss with the Private Room after what she did this morning’s chapel. The Alis attended today, the first time he has been in the city in months. I saw the tears on his face when she sang, and tonight we heard that me made a huge donation to the Cathedral! If there is one older man I would not mind marrying, it is the general. He’s even more exotic than those gorgeous traders from Ikibz! From what father says, he’s also a good man, the kind Khariss wants, so maybe she’ll get to marry him, but I know Bishop Abianes hates him. The Alis must really be a good person for the bishop to speak that way when the general is not around. A shame that this war has started, otherwise I am certain that he’d be here every day and maybe he might notice me as well.
Still, now that there is a real war, maybe we’ll get besieged, and soon we’ll be able to watch our knights leading sorties into the enemy and routing them! Wouldn’t that be glorious? Just like in the stories father used to read when I was young! I can’t imagine any army would last too long against us. Khariss cried a bit at the thought of the fighting, and I guess she’s right that some of our men might die, but really! I told her that we could go up one of the high towers and that maybe we could sing to the soldiers from way up above. Wouldn’t that be spectacular! They would be so inspired!
The Princess only wrote for a few more paragraphs, all about the glories of war, how likely she and Khariss were to be the saviors of the entire army, and how she might choose to take the knight who ‘vanquished’ the most enemies as a secret lover.
Read Entry 7 here
Read Previous Entry here
Arah Abu 6
I made it! Khariss made it! They made us wait two days, but the other two girls are being married off to bishops. Good for them! They’re of low birth, so naturally they’re thrilled, even though the bishops already have grey in their hair. Khariss told me that’s how her mother married her father. Her mother is quite young, and as much younger than Bishop Abianes as these girls are than the men they’ll be marrying tomorrow. I still don’t understand why her father seems embarrassed about her mother; sure she was of low birth, but she was almost a Singer of Janal!
I’ve changed my mind about who I want to marry. I understand why Khariss just wants a good man; that’s all I’d want if my father was a man like Abianes. Funny how she talks about what a great man he is, as if he was a good man! Ugh! My father is a good man and a great king. That’s the kind of man I want to marry, someone who is good and wise but also handsome. And young. And good with his sword, or at least a good horse rider. I don’t want to marry a bishop. Khariss really needs to pay more attention to details about the men she likes if she wants to survive court politics.
(Another sentence was started, but clearly something distracted her and Eilina’s next thought was never completed. That might have actually been a good thing…)
Read next entry
Read Entry 1 here
The following entry is from five-and-one-half months earlier, Arah Sabatu 18 (Year 25), and comes from Princess Eilina’s first mention of Khariss. It was one of several descriptions of all of the girls in the testing process that the princess wrote during the week, and easily the most flattering.
Khariss is not tall, petite almost, and I think she’s rather pretty. Not in a classic sense, but her dark eyes are these big almonds beneath black eyebrows, and really stand out beneath her bangs. She does have a chin almost as tiny as her nose, but I’ve heard grown men practically swoon over her lips. They’re quite full with rich color, her mouth is the exact perfect width, and when she smiles, I think every girl is jealous. She smiles a lot, even when she’s concentrating. I think that’s why she just bursts out in song sometimes. Her hair is this light brown, or maybe a dark blonde, that is perfect with her slightly darker skin tone and black eyebrows. She usually wears it in a long ponytail, the kind that princesses are never allowed, with wisps hanging on either side to frame her face. The part I’m most jealous of, however, is that no one wears makeup as well as she does. All the other girls try, me included, but we look like we try. With Khariss, it looks like she was born that way.
I have chosen not to include the rest of the entry about Khariss, mostly because it is a discussion of the colors she chooses and how the princess thinks they must be applied.
Read Entry 3 here
In an attempt to work out a new character in my book, I have written about her from the point of view of her best friend in a series of diary entries. I’ve never tried this before. As I post entries, I would love to hear what you think, good or bad, especially about the development of Khariss. The months are based on the Babylonian calendar.
All entries are from Princess Eilina’s diary in Year 26 of the reign of King Zaheil IV
Arah Abu 3
Tomorrow is the final day of testing for the new singers. There are only four of us left, and I am still here! Me, the first princess to have even been allowed to begin the testing in a century. If I am chosen, I will be the first princess ever to be a Singer of Janal! I can hardly believe it!
I hope Khariss is the other one if I am chosen. If neither of us is selected, I plan on asking father if she can become my first handmaiden. I know that 16 is rather old to start, but I finally have a real friend. She’s not like her father at all. I think she’s the only one who doesn’t see Bishop Abianes for what he is. I need to rescue her from him. Her mother must be very sweet for Khariss to be so sweet, and I’d love to meet her, but the Bishop thinks he’s too important to be seen with her. I’m thinking she must be of poor birth, because he’s not a handsome man and Khariss is so pretty, so her mother must be as well.
The following four pages are a rambling discussion about the upcoming test, the horrible mistress of the singers, and the new cute attache of the ambassador of Javern. For the reader’s sake, they have not been included.
Continue to the next entry