Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zoli

Zany.   Meerkats are Turbotot's favorite.

Here I am at the end of the alphabet.  I'll conclude with another character interview. Echoes of Oblivion has Zephyr, but I'm really not in the mood for Zephyr's attitude today, so instead, I'll introduce a character from my newest book, Shadows of Absolution, which was released last week.  Zoli Achara's backstory does not come into play in the book very much, so I thought it would be fun to reveal my notes about his character that are not within the context of Isen's narrative.

Today I would like to introduce my readers to Zoli Achara, father of Isen Layel, narrator of Shadows of Absolution.  To start off, why don't you tell me a little about yourself.  When were you born?
Can we make this quick?  I'm supposed to be in the herb garden today.  I was born seven years after Malora fell.  My parents were busy landscaping what was left of the world when I was conceived.  They lost two babies before me, and when she started having early contractions, the midwife in their refugee party told her she needed to stay on bedrest and she might lose me, too.  She complied and the refugees stopped moving around for a while.  They were in an area of Lusifal called the Liban Hills.  They decided it was a good enough place to stay, so my dad built the Gana range around them while they were waiting for me to be born.  More people joined us and by the time he finished construction, there were about 200 people in Gana.  There are 600 now, so we're doing well.

How long ago was that?
Fifty-three years.  Web be damned, am I really that old?  I don't feel that old.

You don't look that old.  I'd guess you were about 35.
Thank you, that's flattering.  People on my mom's side of the family don't really age normally.  We're not entirely human, so I have no idea what our lifespan is.

Who do you look like?
My dad.  Entirely.  Black hair, amber eyes, same facial features.  I didn't inherit much from my mother.

Tell me about your family.
My family is great.  I told you about my parents a little, already.  My father Onyx is a Geophorian priest, and my mother Thora Achara... well, she's one of those Acharas.  Yes, the Ganebran Acharas.  She's also a Geophorian, which I imagine caused her some problems when she was young.  I have two little brothers, Vedan and Orien.  My wife is Lusa Layel.  She's the leader of the rangers.  We have three children.  Our daughters are Isen and Adi, and our son is Lian.

How did you meet your wife?
We had a huge influx of refugees into Gana not long after I was born.  That's about the time my mom named our people Baku and named the city Jata.  Lusa's parents were refugees from Kiribar.  She's five years younger than me, so I never really thought about her until we were older.  I thought she was after Vedan, but she surprised me.  When I was twenty-five and she was twenty, I was drumming at the festival.  She sat and watched me the entire night.  When I was putting away my drum, she cornered me and proposed to me.  I was shy and she caught me off-guard.  It took me three weeks to give her an answer, three weeks of her coming by every day to ask and me stammering in a corner.  I finally said yes and it was the best decision I ever made.

So, in the Baku society, women propose to the men?
Yes.  It's one of my mother's decrees.   She's the chieftan and what she says goes.  I've heard we're backwards from what society used to be, but my mother doesn't want to repeat the mistakes of the past.  Our women are warriors and leaders and our men take care of the children and the gardens.

Do you like it that way?
Hmm?  I don't really know anything different except stories of the old world.  I was a little upset when my mom told me I wasn't her heir, but I got over it.  I'm really not cut out to lead.  I'd rather be gardening.

What was your childhood like?
Rough.  Malora was a mess, and for a long time we were only focused on survival.  My mom worked really hard to relieve some of the tension in Jata by staging festivals, but it was a long time before people were interested.  It started to get better once my talent revealed itself.  I was able to grow enough food for everyone, and my brothers joined me once their talents displayed.  All three of us have the same talent, and we passed it on to our sons.  Maybe the Web influenced our abilities because we were needed, I don't know.  Back to my childhood... my mother wouldn't let mere survival be my only focus.  She was stuck on bedrest for all three of her surviving children, as well as the four between us who didn't survive, so she spent a lot of time reading to me.  She had a huge library and my father liked to search the destroyed cities for books to bring her.  I wasn't born yet when the world fell, but she didn't want me to forget why our lives were difficult.

What is your greatest dream?
It used to be stability for the Baku.  We had a hard time when I was young, but we're doing well now.  We no longer worry about making it through the winter.  We're happy, I'm happy.  Except for one thing.  I want to see my daughter smile again.  Isen has had a difficult and tragic year.  The man she loved died and she shut down emotionally.  I want to see her happy and I'm not sure if she is able to come back to that place on her own.  She's not receptive to our efforts, so it might take someone outside of our family to break her heart out of the icy cave she hid it in.

What is your greatest fear?
I'm afraid of too much.  The wandering predators, especially the wolves after I saw what they did to my nephew and Torin.  I have nightmares about that.  I'm afraid that our gardening talents will vanish and we'll starve.  My brothers and I aren't just green thumbs, we have a magical talent for coaxing plants to grow in horrible conditions.  I'm afraid of Holly Thula, my cousin.  I only met him once, but he terrified me.   Mostly right now, I'm afraid of Isen.  I don't think she's suicidal, but she seems to have resigned herself to a life alone.  It is hard to watch my child decide all she deserves is loneliness.  She deserves better than that.  She doesn't even speak normally anymore.  She's going through the motions of life instead of living it.

What is your favorite memory?
I have three.  The births of my children.  Lusa was in labor with Isen for two days.  She was two weeks late and I was starting to wonder if we'd ever meet her.  Finally, she came out and I caught her.  She was born in the caul, which is supposed to be lucky.  I hope that proves true for her someday soon.  My daughter Adi was breech and her head got stuck.  The midwife was able to maneuver her out, but she had to be resuscitated.  That was the scariest moment of my life, and when she finally opened her eyes and cried, this huge wave of relief and love washed over me.  She wasn't as alert as Isen was and it took her a while to finally nurse, but she was beautiful and alive.  She has some problems still from her birth, but she's doing all right.  Lian couldn't wait to get out.  He was born three weeks early after two hours of labor.  That was intense.  Lusa's other labors were long so we hadn't even called for the midwife yet.  We thought we would have another twelve hours at least, but then, all of a sudden, there was a baby.  Lusa decided she was done after him and three seemed like a good number to me.

You've told us about gardening and drumming.  Do you have any other talents or skills you'd like to share?
I can read runestones reasonably well.  I'm a good cook.  Lusa tells me I have a great singing voice, but I'm afraid to bring it out in public.  There are a couple of other things I do really well, but I doubt Lusa would want me to talk about them.

What magical talent do you wish you had?
Um... mine.  It's subtle, but useful.  We can't survive without food and it's fulfilling to watch seeds grow into edible plants in a matter of days.  It would be fun if I could grow them instantly, but all I can do is coax them to grow a little faster.  I can't think of anything else I'd want to do.  Some of my family members have nightmarish talents.  My uncle and his youngest son, especially.  Both of them affect the moods of the people they're near, one positive and one negative.  I don't think either of them can even touch anyone without an effect.  Even worse is my grandfather's talent.  I don't think I could handle anything like that without going insane within a week.

So you just want to be you?
Absolutely.  But taller.

I'll let you get back to your gardening now.  I look forward to learning about more of your family in Shadows of Absolution.
And I look forward to finding out what the abyss you do with my Isen.  Does she ever find her heart?  And if so, who helps her find it?  I really want to know if she'll be all right.

Damn.  I tried.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Y is for Young

I found a relic of the past today.  When I was in 10th grade, my English class put together a little book called Soul Food, which contained essays and poems from every student in the class.  I located it in my garage.  Garages hide boxes of memories.

This is the poem I wrote for the book.  I was fifteen years old.

A Forever Friend (Winter 1998)

When we were young,
That's when we had readl fun,
When imaginations soared,
When Chihuahua dogs were dragons,
And tulip flower fairies were real.
We dashed across green grass all day,
And did not give a care
About the past presidents of France,
Or the bloody war in the east.

When we were young,
We flew like sparrows under the sun.
The jack pine lions roared
At the pink and orange snapdragons,
And chocolate ice cream was a meal.
We skipped on ivory moonbeam rays,
And jumped alligator infested moats on a dare,
And slashed our favorite corduroy pants,
And concocted a delicious mudpie feast.

When we are old,
We'll rest on the porch until the day is done,
And we'll wear purple and never pore,
Of hearing the child down the road bragging.
Our everlasting friendship will have a tangible feel.
We'll sit and remember our play,
And not mind if the wind blows our silver-gilt hair.
We'll recall the time a pine bough was a lance
Used to spear the mighty shadow beast.

When we are old,
We'll snooze with our hair in a bun,
And won't care if we snore.
Grandchildren pushing red wagons
Will help wizened hearts heal.
We won't care how much we weigh,
And will irk the young by eating an eclair.
And for eternity we'll watch the kaleidoscope sunset dance.
Together through the ages, friends forever.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

X is for Xeric

Halloween 2010 tomato harvest.

I had an awesome garden two years ago.  I grew tomatoes, snow peas, green beans, mixed lettuces, and herbs.  My tomato plants grew eight feet tall and yielded thousands of fruits.  I made most of it into salsa or sauce and had enough to last all winter.  I picked my first tomatoes in June and my last in November.

And then came the drought.

Last year, I got 5 snow peas and 2 tomatoes.  Total.  It was 100+ degrees all summer and the ground was dry even with watering.  We went away for a week, and when we came back, the yard was brown and crunchy.

I think this year is going to turn out the the same way, so I'm hesitant to plant anything.  My hostas didn't even come back this year after being scorched last year.

My question for any readers who enjoy gardening....

What can I grow in the newly xeric conditions of the plains?  I'm expecting it to be over 100 during the day and 85-90 at night and little rain like last year.  Is there any hope for a vegetable garden this year, or am I doomed to baked-out grass and sprouting seeds on the countertop?

I do like sprouts, but I'd rather have fresh tomatoes.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Video: Original Prologue for Mayfly Requiem

I wanted to test out the webcam on my new tablet.  It wouldn't let me read off the screen at the same time and I couldn't figure out where my laptop went, so I picked up my original draft of Mayfly Requiem and read the prologue.  The published version is slightly different.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Snippet Sunday: Absolution

I finished rewrites on The Crystal Lattice last night, so now it is time to return to Absolution.  I can't publish the former until I publish the latter because of chronology, so I'm waiting to do my final edits until Absolution is published.
The following is a completely unedited passage from my draft of  Absolution.  The story takes place sixty years after the fall of Malora, a post-apocalyptic, dangerous world.  The narrator, a young woman named Isen, has joined the Aulor Bethel and gender-switching mage Dacibrega on a quest to find the last lost city of the Tenjeri.  

I felt Holly's presence well before I saw him. Fatigue, not overwhelming, but subtle, a malaise which begged me to lie down on the beach and allow the waves to crash me into submission. As I did with everything else in my life, I resisted and stumbled behind my companions. I had expected to feel Holly's aura after what Bethel told me, but I did not expect the accelerated ease with which despair tickled my psyche further into depression. The farther south we walked along the Aloran Bay, the more rampant my desperation became. I wanted nothing more than to turn around and run north, but my stubbornness kept me trudging ever forward.

The ocean was infinite and unforgiving, churning waters of an unrelenting elemental soul. I was lost in it and I was not even touching the water. Ara was its name, her name. At least in this manifestation. Omalara was the name of her spirit, the spirit of all oceans because there was only one ocean in all the world. Different names in different places, on different shores, but Omalara was the true name of her soul. There were fourteen elemental deities in the Web, but on that shore all I could see were Omalara and Rima, the ocean and the sky. Even the stars were diminished by the brightness of the full moon. My senses were ebbed by the roar of the water and the incessant pulse of what I assumed was Holly.
Isen, are you all right?” Bethel asked. He was the color of the dunes, and walked barefoot in the shimmering grains of shattered quartz. 
Fine,” I mumbled. It was not true. I was utterly hopeless. Why had I come here? I would never find what I was looking for. I did not even know what it was I was seeking. Nothing. Maybe nothing. Nothing would ever get better for me. I was unwanted, unloved, and I was certain no one in Jata missed me. They had forgotten about me, already I was only a wisp of a memory, intangible, and unnoticed.

No, you are not fine,” Bethel said gently. He walked toward me and laid his hand on my shoulder. “I think I left him too long by himself. Whatever you are feeling now, it will pass. He doesn't want to hurt anyone, and he is learning to control his power, but he is still too strong for many people to tolerate. We must still find him. The despair you are feeling will subside once I have seen to him.”
It is not so bad. You'll get used to it, though I do not think anything he can make you feel is as bad as what you have already done to yourself,” Dacibrega shouted. She had her back turned to us and continued walking down the shore. She had not spoken to me since we left the ruined city. It was better that way. I could not do anything right, and I especially could not be around people for any length of time without hurting them. Especially an anomaly like Dacibrega. I hurt her and the acknowledgment of my chaotic feelings forced hot acid to rise in my parched throat.
Bethel took my hand and urged me forward. I trudged slowly beside him through the sand, feeling nothing but the slight roughness of his skin and my own sedating remorse. I was tired, too tired. Why wouldn't he let me stop? All I wanted was to lie down on the sand and stare into the waves until I faded into nothingness. It would be better that way, to be nothing, to wane with the moon into an inky black and star-filled sky. I was ready to surrender what little sanity I had to the oblivion. I was resolutely fearless, but my soul was an abyss.
Bethel let go of my hand and the gloom brightened to a dim haze. There was still no cheer in the crashing of the whitecaps on the sand, but there was a sense of acceptance. The pain of my soul subsided and I finally saw my cousin, who lounged sleepily on a dune overlooking the sea.
The moonlight kissed Holly's golden hair with a glaze of silver fire and auric dust. Bethel walked away from me and knelt behind Holly. Bethel placed his fingertips on the young man's temples and the melancholy I was drowning in fully abated.
Dacibrega was smiling and whispering a greeting to Holly, but I could only stare at him. How could someone so beautiful have caused me so much despair? Holly's eyes were brilliantly blue, yet held an air of perpetual worry. His hair fell framed his eyes in short golden waves. With his prominent cheekbones and willowy frame, I realized had a significant resemblance to Bethel. I wasn't surprised, as my grandmother told me how much her brother Aridani looked like their father. Aridani had five children, and Holly was his youngest. According to Bethel, Holly was the most uncontrollably powerful of the five. He was several years younger than my father, but he did not appear any older than I did.
How are you doing, Holly?” Bethel asked. I sat on the sand and watched them. I was a bit ashamed of myself for feeling so sorrowful, but was grateful the feelings were now diminished. I was only numb, and the sand was comfortable under my tired legs.
Better now that you two are back, and you even brought a little friend,” Holly said. I snorted into my hands. Little friend? I was not certain I liked his condescending commentary. “I made a friend, too, but she won't come close enough for me to talk to her. She keeps writing me messages in the sand.”
What friend?” Bethel asked. He spoke so softly I could hardly hear him above the rush of waves.
You first,” Holly challenged.
Bethel smiled at me. “This is Isen and the lovely furball is her familiar Zade. She's your cousin Zoli's daughter, and will be helping us get to Trieskel. You were chewing on her energy on the way here. I was afraid she wouldn't make it without needing to be carried.”
I made it,” I mumbled.
Sorry about that,” Holly said. His teeth were just as even and white as Bethel's, though he had a more squared jaw. “I felt Bethel and Daci approach. I guess I was reaching for them a bit and didn't realize you were with them. I apologize. I'm not so scary, really. Sometimes my little inner turmoil decides to run off and play with others, that's all.”
I am fine now,” I returned.
I know you are. Hopefully it won't happen again,” Holly said. Hopefully? That did not sound promising. “My friend is down the beach a ways. I saw her hair through the rushes before it got dark. I think she's one of Solace's. They can't come near me, you know, never could.”
Really?” Bethel asked hopefully. “You said she leaves you messages. What is she skulking around for?”
Waiting for you, I assume. She won't let me close so I know she's not looking for me. Solace will never let me be with them. She saw to that years ago. It's too bad, really. The ocean is the only place that seems to welcome me anymore, even if her people are afraid. At least Omalara likes me, even if no one else does.”
I like you,” Bethel said with a laugh.
You like everyone,” Holly replied. “Even those you pretend not to.”
Where is the boat?” Dacibrega asked.
Didn't move it, it's still in the cove,” Holly chirped. “North. That's to my left, Daci.”
I know north. It is warmer in the north,” Dacibrega said, and I could not hold back my laughter. She pretended to be so smart, but she obviously could not figure much of anything out and I doubted she was even capable of functioning without Bethel's help.
That is southern hemisphere. We're north now. It's opposite,” Bethel said gently. I thought he was glaring at me, but it was difficult to tell in the dark. Holly's quizzical expression only made me laugh harder. “Be nice, or at least pretend to be.”

Friday, April 20, 2012

W is for Welcome

Welcome to Evergreen and Indigo!  Thank you for joining me.  I'm almost at the end of the alphabet, so I'll be going back to normal posts soon.  

If you are an indie author, I want to hear from you.  I'd love to interview you and feature you on this blog.  Go here and send me an email.  Help me promote you!

I've also interviewed a couple of my own characters just for fun.  I may add more in the future.  Check them out here

I am in the last sequence of The Crystal Lattice, but it will be a while before it is released.  I need to publish in chronological order instead of the order I originally wrote the books.  Once I finish the last twenty pages of rewrites, I'm going to put it away for a little while so I can finish Absolution.  I've always alternated books like this so I can look at the final edits with fresh eyes and make sure overlapping characters sync up before I send them to my proofreader.

The original written order was:  The Crystal Lattice, Echoes of Oblivion trilogy, Absolution, Mayfly Requiem.  Chronological order is:
  1. Mayfly Requiem
  2. The Abyssal Night
  3. Shards of Chaos
  4. The Shattered Veil
  5. Absolution
  6. The Crystal Lattice
So, while you are waiting for me to finish the last two books in the sequence for you, I'd be extremely grateful if you'd do something for me.  Please like and tag my books on Amazon, 'like' my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, and leave me reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.  Leave me comments on my blog posts and tell me which characters are your favorites so I can feature them here.

Thank you for wandering through Malora with me.  I appreciate your companionship on this strange journey.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

V is for Valari

I have with me today Valari Banan, one of Meridian's most popular Geophorian mages and an antagonist from Mayfly Requiem.
Don't call me an antagonist.  I'm not an antagonist.

What are you, then?
A mage.  A good one.  You can call me Vale

I apologize, Vale the good mage.  How are you today?

So, where are you from and how did you end up in Meridian?
I'm from Lusifal.  Lani brought me to Meridian.

The Aulor Lani?  How did you meet him?
Yes, the Aulor.  I know Dia too, but I wish I knew her better.  Lani saved my life.  I was falsely accused of some crimes and left to die in a cell.  Lani freed me.  He's great, my best friend really.

Interesting.  What else can you tell me about Lani?
Nothing.  This is supposed to be about me.  If you want to know about Lani, go interview him and leave me alone.

Sorry.  What was your childhood like?
Miserable.  My mom died a couple of weeks after my brother was born and my dad didn't want anything to do with us.  Us being my brother Roar and I.  Dad never really thought Roar was his kid.  Roar's a fire priest, so he's always looked a little different.  I was different, too.  Mages aren't appreciated where I came from.  Dad got sick of us after a couple of years and tossed us out.  We ended up being trained by the Geophorians in Moonhaven.

That must have been difficult.
Not really.  No point in staying with someone who didn't want us around.  We were better off without him.  Roar and I were better off together.

Are you close to your brother?
Very.  He's all the family I have.  I don't see him as much as I'd like these days.  He's kind of a rogue elementalist so Lani's been working with him since we came to Meridian.

I've heard you're an extremely talented mage and a favorite student of the magisters.  What is your favorite thing about being a Geophorian mage?
Yes, I am considered talented.  I was always the top mage in my classes.  I love feeling the power of a spell course through my veins.  I can taste it.  It's like sugared vanilla.  Delicious.

What is your favorite thing about Meridian?
I love the Orbs in the temple and the hydras in the lake.  Fascinating.  But my favorite thing has to be the Aulors.  Aucra's city is perfection and the presence of her children make it home.

When you walk into a room, what is the first thing people notice about you?
I'm damned charismatic, ask anyone.  Girls like me.  Some boys, too.  I think it's the black hair and blue eyes.  A lot of people find that combination striking.

I have to know, do you have a special someone, or are you single?
A little of each.  I have a wicked crush on a girl, but she's in love with someone else.  I'm still trying to get over her, and that makes me emotionally unavailable.

Sorry.  That stings, doesn't it?
You have no idea.  Hey, give me a couple of months, then we'll go out to dinner, okay?  I think I'll be ready then.

Sounds good.  It's a date.  What was the last dream you had?
Last night I dreamed I was the king of a small country.  How cool would that be?

So, you dream of power?  Anything else?
Immortality, maybe.  I'm fascinated by the Aulors.  I was even before I met them.  Imagine how much you could accomplish if you had hundreds or even thousands of years to plan and implement your dreams instead of having to cram everything into a few decades.  Who wouldn't dream of that?

I think I'd rather borrow Lani's talent and give myself a couple more hours each day.
Yeah, that would be great, too.  I've seen him in action, and he's impressive.  Very impressive.  I told you I don't want to talk about him.  He likes his privacy and we're supposed to be talking about me.  If you keep bringing up Lani, we're not going on that date.

I understand.  Vale, what is your greatest fear?
Being forgotten.  If I am forgotten after I die, then my life was worthless.  I don't want to be a mayfly.

It just means I don't want to live a day and be forgotten before I'm even dead.  It's one of Lani's terms and it stuck in my head.

Do you have any nicknames?
Besides Vale?  And don't you dare call me Banana.  Well, the mages in Moonhaven liked to run my names together and call me Valariban.  I like it.  I might keep it if I ever run for office.

It's regal.  Last question, and then I'll let you get back to your duties.  If you were stuck on an island, what three things would you bring with you?
I'd rather bring people than things.  I'd say Dia, Lani, and you.

Certainly.  I must be going now. There are spells to write and tunnels to explore.

I'll tell you when we go on our date.  I hope you like Kiran food.

Almost forgot.  Where can we learn more about you, Valari Banan.
You'll just have to read Mayfly Requiem.  I do warn you, Lani's opinions may have clouded his portrayal of me.  I'll let you come to your own conclusions.

Monday, April 16, 2012

U is for Ugh!

The tree we lost last year certainly made me go "Ugh!"

Things that make me go "Ugh!"...

  • My toddler eating a spider, then dancing around singing, "Ate a spider!  Ate a spider!  I ate a spider!"
  • Toddler diapers... potty train already!
  • Pictures of horses... I'm equinophobic.
  • Moldy sippy cups found under the couch.
  • Ants invading the dining room after a storm.
  • Sand grinding against glass.
  • Untuned instruments.
  • Waterfalls.
  • Kansas politicians.
  • Proselytizing.  
  • Certain sounds.
  • Science haters.
  • Textspeak and horrible English.
  • The stench of bacon.
  • Food allergies.
  • Spilled milk.
What makes you go "Ugh!"?  Leave a comment and tell me!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

T is for Tesji

Today I am interviewing Tesji, the narrator of The Crystal Lattice.  He has been kind enough to allow me to play around in his head for the last nine years, and he has a lot to say.

Good afternoon, Tesji.  First of all, would you describe yourself to me?
That's kind of a loaded question, isn't it?  Do you want the full version or the short version?

Short version.  You already told me the full version.
All right, then.  You know you have to clarify things like that for me because I can't keep my mouth shut.  I'm a half-Efi, half-Mero fire Emergent, but I'd rather be a musician.  How long has it been since the war?  Oh, never mind.  I'm about seventy years old now, which still puts me between adolescence and adulthood.  I was born in Vanora, grew up in Tiponia out west in the Efilon Wilderness, and was trained by the Aulor Bethel Masiona.  I have been accused of being arrogant, but I'm not.  Confidence isn't arrogance.

When you walk into a room, what do people notice about you first?
The hair.  I was born with an instant "look at me!" trait, and after my emergence it only became more noticeable.  For a long time I used it so people would immediately pay attention to me, but after the events I told you about, I cut it all off and went incognito.  I wasn't up for attracting any more attention to my family.  People still recognize me, though, so I get stared at a lot no matter where I go.  My cousins get mistaken for me quite often, but that is only because people notice the hair first.

What do you do for a living?  
I'm a bard.  For now, I'm working on several solo projects, but I'm thinking of starting a band with my cousin.  Faron wants to call it the Rogue Amoebas, but I'm leaning toward Lyrebird, and we'll tour all of the seedy joints on the east coast.

Tell me about your parents. How well do/did you get along with them?

Ugh, you're going with that one already?  Bad memories.  I didn't know my parents until I was an adult.  I was raised by my grandfather after my mother left and my father had a total breakdown.  I suppose my mother and I get along all right now, but that took a lot of work. 

Do you have any siblings?
Yes, one, but since our ages are so far apart I grew up as an only child.

Who else was in your family while you were growing up? How did you get along with them?

I only had my grandfather from the time I was eight until I left home.  He ignored me much of the time because he was so obsessed with his own projects.  We had some great conversations, but he probably gave me too much freedom.  I was a bit feral and uncivilized.

What were three things you liked to do when you were a child?
Much to the chagrin of the community, I enjoyed experimenting with pyrotechnics.  I read everything I could get my hands on and loved to explore the forests.  I wasn't supposed to wander alone, but I did anyway.  My grandfather only rarely noticed my absence and once I wasn't in school anymore, no one cared what I did as long as I kept my distance.

What were you afraid of when you were a child?

Nalica Achay.

What makes you happy now?

My chosen family.

What is your greatest fear?
I'm terrified of losing control of my abilities.  It's happened before and every time was a disaster.

What do you want from life?
I really need a couple of years of quiet, where nothing goes awry and no one is trying to kill me.  Yeah, that would be nice.  Might not happen.  I made too many people angry to be left alone.

What three things would you take to a Desert Island?
My sitar, Faron, and Safora.  Sitar for entertainment, Faron to make sure we always have food, and Safora for... well, I won't go into that.

How do you fall in love? At first sight? Over a long period?
Far too quickly for my own good.  My childhood crush hated me, but that didn't stop me from dreaming about her for decades.  When I was older, it was frustrating being the one to fall in love at first sight when the person of my affection took a long time to warm up to me.  Once she realized she loved me, we were inseparable, but that only came after she almost got me killed.

Do you hold grudges, or do you forgive and forget?

I used to hold grudges, but then I realized that even the nastiest people can change if you give them the chance.  I was shown a few different perspectives, and I try to be more empathetic now.

What do you consider to be your special talent?
Persuasion.  I recently convinced my cousin that squirrels don't exist.

What do you wish your special talent was?
I'd love to have a fraction of Arden's glass-making talent.  I also wish people would go back to seeing me as just a musician instead of a... well, you know...

No, I don't know.  Tell me.
I'd rather not.  I'm trying to put all of that behind me.  That's why I've gone back to using my birth name instead of my Emergent name.

Because Ravaki Thula is now infamous?

What are you most afraid of?
The elements calling on me again.  I don't want to lose the serenity I struggled so hard to achieve.

I think the rest of Melor is afraid of that as well.
They should be.

How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?
The events of my past brought me to where I am today, so even if I could change my past, I wouldn't.  Ten years ago, I couldn't have dreamed about being where I am today.  I have my own family and I'm living within sight of Ara.  I am absolutely content with my life right now.  I wish I could bring back the people I lost, but there is no use in lamenting necromancy or time travel.

Thank you for speaking with me today.  What are your plans for the rest of the day?
Well, we were going to go swimming, but it's raining again.  I think we'll take Zella and Sora over to my mother's for the afternoon.  Thank you for the interview.  I'm not as crazy as everyone thinks I am, am I?

Maybe.  You have your moments.
Everyone does.

S is for Snippet Sunday

This is a work in progress and requires more editing, but I thought I'd share a snippet from The Crystal Lattice with my readers.  
The narrator, Tesji, was a child during this event, and had just finished a humiliating day at school.  He is a young adult for most of the book, but his childhood as a bully victim defined much of his life.  Other characters mentioned in this passage are Nalica -- Tesji's main antagonist,  Terali -- Nalica's twin and Tesji's childhood crush, Lirana -- the village's schoolteacher, and Janakei -- Tesji's reclusive grandfather, who raised him after his father abandoned him.

Moon Jellyfish

I savored the quiet as I walked down Tiponia's main street. The whispering and giggling were over for the day. I knew it would start all over again tomorrow, but for now it was quiet.
Too quiet.
None of my classmates were visible. Usually, they found were playing games on the walk or gossiping in the marketplace, but I saw and heard no one.
“You didn’t think you could escape that easily, did you, Cry-ji?” Nalica snickered as he stepped out from behind a fruit booth. He folded his arms over his husky chest and made a loud clicking sound in the back of his throat.
Other students materialized from alleyways and the shade of vendor booths. Terali was among them. She put her hands on her hips and tilted her head. She smirked behind the cascade of hair obscuring most of her face.
Nalica stepped closer to me. The acrid smell of his sweat and breath reached my nose. He rubbed his nose and said, “About time little freak gets what’s coming to you. We're gonna make you pay for being alive!”
The nearest minion handed Nalica a long, slender rope. Before I could dodge, he flailed his arm and whipped me across the face. Pain ripped through my right cheek. I touched my hand to my face and quickly pulled it away as the stabbing heat flared. Blood trickled down my fingers and dripped onto the cobblestones.
“That’s just a taste, freak. We’re gonna mess with you for a while, then we’re gonna go find your freak grandfather and beat on him because he is the reason you exist.” Nalica whipped me again, this time catching the side of my neck. He laughed and puffed his chest proudly as his minions high-fived each other.
I could no longer restrain my rage. There was only so much torture I could take, and Nalica had crossed into the field of my fury. My skin flushed and became hot. The small hairs on the back of my neck prickled and stood on end. Pain and anger and rage welled up inside the pit of my stomach. A static-like sensation sparked from my fingertips, then slowly moved up my arms into my neck and head. I looked up at the fair, cloudless blue sky and silently pleaded for the wind to pick up. The trees moaned in the distance
I took a step closer to my tormentor and smiled. “You are never going to touch me again. You are never going to make fun of me again, or hit me, or throw things at me. You are the one who will pay, not me. You will regret all the harm you have caused me, and any pain you may be thinking of causing anyone in the future.”
I didn't feel like I was in control of my body or voice. My words were quiet, but intense, and carefully articulated. The crowd of tormentors ceased taunting and giggling. They stared at me with nothing but worry written on their haughty faces.
I hummed a dissonant melody and took another step closer to Nalica. A few clouds floated through my peripheral vision. My humming became a whispering vocalization, and dark clouds moved in from behind me. The sky turned a sickly shade of gray. My eyes burned and the blood dripping down my face was searingly hot. I chanted words in a language I had never heard, and rain poured down. My spirit was renewed as blood and tears were washed from my bruised face .
Nalica was horrified. I sang in a clear and steady voice. Lightning struck a tree in the distance. The wind cried and whirled with all of her strength. The raging wind left me untouched, but picked up Nalica and several minions. All of them screamed as they were swept into the air by the gale. They were carried in almost a full circle before being pummeled into the roof of a house. The wind retreated and they fell to the ground, unconscious and bleeding. The still-unharmed onlookers backed away, shaking and whimpering.
I dropped to the ground and panted. The sky cleared in an instant and the day was once again bright and blue. The wind slowed to an adagio zephyr. Terali and her friends whispered to each other. The wind carried their voices to my ears. “His eyes were glowing purple! Did you see? They glowed purple!”
I dashed to my house, crying salty tears into the open whip wounds. Onlookers backed away as I passed. I didn't care and I kept running until I had opened my front door and stepped inside. I closed the door and leaned against it, still panting. What had I done? My entire body trembled. I had no idea how I did that. What am I, what have I done? How had I made the wind do what I wanted? What was the language I was singing? I slumped to the floor. Janakei came out of the study and tilted his head at me questioningly.
“I made a storm,” I stated through labored breaths. I pulled my knees to my chest and wrapped my arms around my shins.
Janakei dipped a cloth in water and retrieved his first-aid kit from the cabinet. He sat on the floor in front of me and wiped the blood from my face and neck. He dabbed a white willow bark tincture on my wounds. I gritted my teeth and braced myself against the sting. I hugged my legs tighter as he carefully stitched the gashes.
Janakei cupped my chin in one hand and stroked my bruised forehead with the other. I leaned against him and sobbed into his shoulder. He kissed my hair and said, “I've really had it with them. I guess you won't be going to school anymore. No more worries, I'll put out some books for you to read. You were always a bit... above... your classmates, and it is too bad they resented you so much for it that they felt the need to resort to violence to make them feel better. So you made a storm? I'm not surprised. Magical abilities can run in families, but I can't recall anyone on this side of the family having any talents. It's quite rare, so congratulations.”
 “One more way I'm an outsider,” I whispered.

“So what? Embrace it. I have,” Janakei replied. And with that, he popped back into his room and closed the door.
No more school? How nice! But as I contemplated it more, I realized that it was exactly what the harpy and the bully horde wanted, never to see me again. I decided I didn't really care. I didn’t want to be somewhere where I was constantly ridiculed. I didn't want to associate with people who found joy in giving me scars. I picked myself up off the floor and went out to the well, feeling a little better I wouldn’t have to go back to Lirana’s awful, immaculate school.
I drew a bucket of water and poured it over myself. Blood, dirt, dried sticky juice flowed off of me and stained the earth red. I drew up several buckets and dumped them over my head until my hair was no longer sticky and the water ran clear around my bare feet.
I returned to the house and climbed the ladder into my loft. I stripped off my wet clothes and glared out the window at the town that saw no misdeed in torturing a child. Well, now I really am a freak, and all of you know it, I thought. A yawn pulled at my fresh stitches and nearly sent me into an agonized fit. I collapsed onto my bed and immediately fell into a deep sleep.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

R is for Rastaban

Asphodelus albus, a flower associated with the dead and the underworld, and the inspiration for the name Azfadel in The Crystal Lattice.  Source

Names influence perceptions of characters. If the name isn't just right, the author may have trouble connecting with the character. I ran into this problem with The Crystal Lattice. I picked a name that never felt right. Nine years after my original draft, I finally changed it and instantly became more comfortable. My narrator's given name is Tesji, which didn't change in the rewrites. However, his chosen name is now Ravaki (Ravi). It finally feels more natural, not to mention easier to pronounce.

A protagonist with a soft-sounding name is immediately perceived differently than one with a harsh-sounding name. An abrupt or masculine name invokes barbarians, warriors, and traditional heroes while a softer name brings to mind bookish introverts and brooding antiheroes. Tesji is intentionally difficult to pronounce (Tays-gee) because of the Mero phonetics. It is one more thing that makes him stand out from his peers, whose names are based on Japanese and Spanish phonetics. Partway through the book, Tesji undergoes an emergence, where he communes with the elements and discovers how to use his talents. This emergence results in a physical transformation in addition to a mental one. Tesji renames himself Ravaki, and society's perception of him drastically changes. He becomes stronger, more confident, and less of a target for bullies.

But, enough about protagonists. I am more interested in antagonists. I perceive antagonists with a hard sounding name as being physically stronger and more directly villainous, while a villain with a softer name is plotting, sneaky, or ambiguous. The name can influence the back story and motivations. Maybe that villain was bullied as a child because of his name and is still bitter about it as an adult.  He proudly wields the name as a war cry of, "You bullied me. Now I will bully you."

This brings me to Rastaban, an ambiguous antagonist with a massive amount of back story, which I am still exploring in Absolution. When I first formulated Echoes of Oblivion, I had a difficult time coming up with the perfect names for the Achara brothers. My other characters were easier. The Geophorians all had names specific to their talents. Lirit was a chirping bird, and to keep an "L" theme in her family, her father became the very proper Lucienus. Rhodren probably has the best story -- the Greek letter "rho" plus a backwards "nerd". Hey, I'm an engineer... I can find inspiration in odd places!

Sevilen's name went through several revisions, all starting with the letter "S" before I settled on a Turkish name meaning "loved". The name immediately clicked, and I chased it with the rhythmic Achara, which I hoisted from the charaven device in my already-completed first draft of The Crystal Lattice.

So, now that I had Sevilen, I needed his counterpart. His name needed to suit a villain who was not quite what he seemed. The character was both ruthless and sympathetic, paternal, agoraphobic, charismatic, and casually homicidal. He was the confident leader of an empire, but panicked if he had to set foot off the grounds of his home. His motives were unknown even to the person closest to him. His name not only described a person, but an entire empire and an ancient dynasty. I spent about a week trying to figure out who he was, and then, while looking at an astronomy book, something clicked.

Rastaban: Beta Draconis, the head of the serpent. Third brightest star in the constellation Draco. Everything about it was perfect, including the alternative name of the star, Alwaid, which either means "who is to be destroyed" or "lute player" (Rastaban is also a gifted musician, though he rarely plays in front of anyone except Aridani). Rastaban Achara Eryaucra, king of Ganebra.

Once Rastaban was named, his lore fell into place. Every king in the Eryaucra line now carried the -ban suffix, which I translated as "sun". The convention began two thousand years before The Abyssal Night, when Valariban Eryaucra ascended. I continued looking through the astronomy book, and Achernar and Mirfak became foreign monarchs.

Then, Aridani Eryaucra came along. I wanted to keep the cosmic theme, so I named him after the constellation Eridanus, the river. He was a bit of flowing freshwater in tortuous Ganebra. His nickname, Ari, has many meanings in many languages. Fearless (Armenian), eagle (German, Old Norse), lion (Hebrew and others), 'one who shows the right path' (Hindi), clear (Maori).  I'll let you find out for yourself what his name truly means within the context of Malora.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Author Interview: Patti Roberts

Patti Roberts is the author of  The Paradox Series, available in e-book format from Amazon (US & UK), Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble, and in print format from Amazon/Createspace.

Where are you from originally?
I was born in Brisbane Queensland Australia, grew up in Darwin in the Northern Territory and currently live in Cairns in Far North Queensland.

Tell us your latest news?
I've just met my son's girlfriend Amanda and she is lovely!!!

If you could have a dinner party with any authors from any time in history, who would you choose and why? I have to say George R. R. Martin because I love the richness of his writing. I would love to get inside his head! AND – all of my new indie friends – what a blast that would be!! A few that instantly come to mind are Ella Melder, Collette Scott, Lenore Wolfe, Starr West, KaSonndra Leigh, Jayde Scott, Carolyn Hockley, Mary Ting and Carlyle Labuschagne.

That sounds like quite a party!  I'll bring hummus and fresh pita.

What are your current projects?
Helping to support other indie authors by publishing "First 5 Chapters" - they are ebook publications that allows readers to try the first 5 chapters from some very talented indie authors. Each publication features 6 authors in similar genres. As you can imagine the idea is taking off in a big way. You can find "First 5 Chapters" on Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes & Noble and they are either free or 99c – less than a cup of coffee 

What books or authors have influenced your writing? Currently, George R. R. Martin (LOVE the TV series and the books) because there is so much going on. Such a huge host of characters. Kingdoms within kingdoms. It makes your head boggle but I like a book that demands you pay attention.

I still need to read that one.  I love the TV series.

Is there an Author that you would really like to meet?
George R. R. Martin and my indie author friends.

What book are you reading now and in what format (ebook/paperback/hardcover)? Ebook. Solomon's Men by by Glenn Starkey and George R. R. Martin.

Tell us a little about your background. When did you start writing? I started writing with the intent on publishing in 2009. I was feeling very down and misplaced after a failed relationship and I wanted to do something positive…. I needed to do something positive. I wanted to herd up all my unresolved emotions and put them to good use. So I went out and bought a new laptop computer and started writing. Hence the reason Paradox – The Angels Are Here is a little bit EMO! Writing has been the best therapy and I have never been happier or more fulfilled! I highly recommend writing to anyone that finds themselves in a similar predicament. That is when I started writing and how the Paradox Series was born. Out of the ashes… so to speak.

What is your series about? An Ancient World and the New World. It is about two souls being drawn together over the centuries to the present day. It is about love, loss, betrayal, Hope. It is about innocence lost. It is about the past and the present colliding and realising that nothing is as it seems... And that those that are lost to you, are never very far away. That behind this portal there are many, many ancient worlds waiting to be rediscovered.

Excellent.  I'll put it on my list for when my new tablet comes and I finally get to read e-books.

Where do you get your ideas? For every warp of life imaginable. Awake or asleep. And a creative and overworked imagination.

Me too.  I find a surprising amount of inspiration in the shower and on the news.
What is your writing process? I run different scenarios around for particular chapters in my head. I give the characters dialogue to see were it leads. It is one thing to have an idea for a story line but it isn’t until I bring in the characters to see how their personalities would react in particular circumstances that I really know how it has to be written.
Do you write full-time now? I do pretty much. However, much of that time is also spent planning, researching, marketing, and promoting. Many hours of marketing!!!
Your settings and descriptions are very detailed. Can you describe your research into your subject this time around? Same as always. Hours of research into ancient civilizations, myths and legends. From the tiniest red shiny beads found in the blistering Utopia desert to the magical realm of ancient forest trees. And of course a vivid imagination… a must when writing fantasy worlds.
Let us talk a little bit about Grace, a young woman who is coming of age in this story. She is certainly growing. Can you tell us about her inner motivation and how Juliette influences her? Grace Knows she is different - even though she isn't ready to accept that fact just yet. She senses a danger in knowing who she really is so she keeps most of those thoughts to herself by writing in a hidden journal. She has visions of a girl named Juliette. But she doesn't quite understand why or who this Juliette is. Through Grace, Juliette is also starting to come to terms with a past that she thought was long gone and buried.
You have also introduced some new characters, most notably Damon…. Hmmm. Is Grace developing a love interest for the future installments? Grace is certainly at an age where love is a priority for any "normal" teenage girl. And Grace so badly wants to be normal. So when Damon Draco comes along she is instantly drawn to his boyish good looks and mysterious charm. But is there more to it than just a teenage crush…
Another favorite is Keyla. Will she be playing a prominent role in the series? Most certainly. Keyla is everything precious and pure. Within her she holds powerful abilities pasted down from an almost extinct race of people that stretches back to the time before time. The ancient Bakhna Rakhna People from the southern mountains. Home of the Ancients.
Are any of your characters based on real-life friends or acquaintances? I name some of my characters after friends that have inspired me. Sometimes I will take a friend's personality and blend it with one of my characters to make them become more real - more dimensional. I give all of my characters birthdates, favorite colors, particular things they like or dislike. Imagine what their parents would be like. Even if I never write about those things. It makes my characters more real.
Do you ever incorporate yourself into your characters? My thoughts and feelings most certainly.
Are you still writing the series? If so, what will your future projects entail? Next on the agenda is book 3 - that is due to be released this year (2012). I will know in the next few months about how I want the 4th book in the series to go.
Tell us about your cover. Did you design it yourself? Yes, I source the cover art from and then design the titles and fonts. I love cover art – I do judge a book by the cover!!!
Where did you get the inspiration for your cover? I can spend hours looking at pictures online for my covers, locations, and my characters. I have to have faces for my characters when I am writing dialogue for them. I search until I find a face that matches my character. Then I print it out and have it on a corkboard in front of me. I feel I can be more consistent with my characters traits and dialogue if I have a firm image of them to look at.
Does your reading inspire you and your work? Most certainly. It puts my head in the right place. When I writing for the ancient world I read books like the Game of Thrones. The visual media – music and artwork - finding the right artwork and music for my ancient world is just as important as finding the right face for my characters. Let's face it. We are not talking about an everyday world here. I have a special post on my blog dedicated to all that inspires my writing.
Where can we find you online?
What formats are your books available in? ebook and paperback
Where are your paperback books available for purchase? Most online stores including Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and Createspace.
Book Review By Ella Melder (excerpt)

I do not remember when I have been more spellbound by a fantasy book before.
This book delivers on so many levels. Patti Roberts has grown up. Her writing skills rival some of the very big names out there and I would be surprised if awareness of her talent doesn’t sky-rocket within a few short months. With ‘Progeny Of Innocence’ we have no choice but to believe. It’s not a fantasy anymore, it is a certainty.
‘It is a shame,’ Patti says, ‘that real life events very rarely portray the grandiose victories personified in fiction’. Because we know, we feel that undercurrent to all of our lives. We’ve always suspected there is more to this inconsequential human existence and Patti Roberts makes it easy to imagine what this might be.
Patti Roberts is so comfortable with her creation that it leaves no questions unanswered. You can see the prisoners being dragged in, you can see the forest and its people, you can understand the relationships between the six ancient races and feel their resistance to Grigorian rule.
Paradox is not a story in a place – it is the legend of a whole world.

Win a signed copy of Book 3 – Bound By Blood