The Next Big Thing? Here’s hoping!

While scrolling through Facebook, I saw Angela Scott looking to tag some other writers in one of her blog posts (and I’m guessing she had much the same experience earlier). The post is a part of The Next Big Thing (I’ll be a part of week nine) and involves answering a few simple questions about a WIP (Work In Progress for those of you who don’t see the abbreviation every day). I have 2 WIPs at the moment, but Soulless is closest to being done, so I’ll start there.

1: What is the working title of your book?

Soulless.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

It’s hard to even say since it’s been so long since I started putting the plot together. Most of my stories end up having wings in them at some point, and I knew that I wanted them to serve as a source of power in Soulless. I wanted to see them as a source of division between two races on a single planet, and I wanted to see what would happen when the race without the wings decided that the disparity was unfair.

3. What genre does the book fall under?

It’s fantasy. I try to keep it in a more Victorian style, but I doubt it will become steampunk in revisions. There are machines, though. I think the largest emphasis is on trains and guns.

4. What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I… Hmm. I guess I’d never actually thought about that. I would honestly be scared to say anything, since I know anyone I mention now would be too old by the time a Soulless movie actually comes out. I know what my characters look like and all, but I feel like finding an actor would be so much more than that. Maybe Mieta would look a little like Mila Kunis, but I don’t know how much actual chemistry there would be. Maybe someone like Brad Pitt for Blood-Emperor Theop? Doubtful, but I think that would be a good fit. As for other characters, I could keep throwing out names, but the honest truth is that I don’t keep up with enough actors to make good decisions. I’ll leave that to the studio if it comes down to it, haha.

However, I could go on for days about a movie soundtrack.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Three people have their wings taken from them and try to find justice.

That’s…a sloppy synopsis, but the question said one sentence, and I find a one sentence description much more tolerable than an eight paragraph one. I’ll be sure to elaborate much more later if you’ll have it.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I would love to be represented! I have a few agents in mind that I’ll shop it around to once the story is edited, revised, revised again, and revised a third or eighth time. It’s always nice to know that self-publishing is an option now, but I would give anything to be able to hold Soulless as a book, run my fingers along the pages in a rush, and get a good whiff of the smell of paper. Self-publishing will be a last resort I guess, but it’s one I’ll go to if that’s what it takes to get the story out there.

7. How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript? 

I started writing this draft in . . . I think May or June of 2011, so about 15 months if I can sit down and finish writing it this week. Longer than it should have, but I did manage to put out both “Siren” and “Coward” of the Ereptor series during that time.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

Er, this is a tricky one, I suppose. In my mind, the story is so much more visual. The setting feels a bit like Fullmetal Alchemist in my mind. Lots of magic, technology, and action where appropriate. I try my best to make the setting scientifically sound, but there are parts to be driven by the science of magic.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I have a few ideas littering my skull, shelved away as stacks of notes, scenes, and characters for later use. I attempted writing some of those but always came away disappointed. Honestly, the current story I’m writing is the fifth or sixth incarnation of Soulless and the first one to survive past the first chapter or two (I’ll start writing chapter 57 tomorrow!). I started writing the story in third person instead of first, and the story took off. I wrote and wrote, and I thought This one is actually happening. I’m writing this one! I wrote this story because the characters said I was ready. Corny? Yes. But it’s true.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s what I think of as The Beginning. This story starts and stands on its own, but it leads in to so much more that I have in store. Soulless will be at the very core of most of my writing, even years later. This story is the shockwave that will reverberate through my tales and will show the first glimpse of the world in my mind that I’m trying to show.

Also lots of magic, bullets, and battles!

Okay, the rules of this said to tag 5 other authors, but I guess I’ve fallen behind on networking. I’ll cheat off of Angela Scott, though, and post the others that she tagged. Check them out, and I’m sure you’ll see some interesting responses!

Jay Taylor
Frog and Esther Jones
Nanette Pitts

And be sure to take a look at Angela’s novel Wanted: Dead or Undead, on Amazon for only $0.99. It’s a zombie western, and I know how much you guys like zombies. I read this book a few months ago and am eagerly awaiting the sequel.

I think maybe I was supposed to wait a week before posting this, but I hope you’ll forgive me for jumping the gun a little.

I’ve got big things on the way, guys. I hope you enjoy!

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Looking to the future

There’s always a strange balance to find between posting enough to keep you guys notified of what I’m doing and posting so much that I worry I’ll annoy you. I feel like I should at least adopt a more regular schedule, but we’ll see how that goes.

Anyway, the point is, I was scrolling the Reddit a few days ago and saw where someone on r/writing posted some self-imposed deadlines. I thought about that and how, at the beginning of the year, I posted a publication schedule that I did not stick to. Now I’m at a point where I’m not sure if I let myself down or if I set unrealistic goals. 

Okay, maybe the goals weren’t so unrealistic, but I forgot to factor in the inevitable self-doubt (don’t worry, I’m learning to suppress that!). 

So! Let’s talk new goals.

August – Soulless

Soulless is very nearly done. The most recent word count is in the 93000 range, which is 386 pages by my word processor’s count. It’s ramping up towards a climax, and the whole story is ready to come crashing down into a conclusion. I’ve spent over a year with these characters, and I’m interested to see how Caru and company will overcome a crisis that will forever change the face of their world. These people are so intent on what they’re doing now–rightfully so–and I want to see if the story ends the way I always thought it would. If nothing else, I’m so very happy that I’ve been given the opportunity to tell this tale. I think you guys are going to like it.

September/October – Massive editing

The goal with Soulless now is to finish the draft by my 30th birthday, which will be on August 20th. Should I ever have kids, I want to tell them that one of the proudest moments in my life was finishing a book by the time I was 30. Finished will of course be a loose term, as I’ll most likely end with a 115000 word, 425 page novel, all of which is unedited. 

As some of you know, I spent too much time editing “Coward” as it was, but I want to get Soulless done and ready to go as soon as I can. I’ll shop it around with different agents for a while, but you may see Soulless self-published on Amazon alongside my Ereptor series near the beginning of 2013. We’ll see where that goes, but I would like to see this on bookshelves if anyone is willing to pick it up. Fingers crossed!

November – NaNoWriMo/Finishing the Ereptor series

As many of you know, November is National Novel Writing Month, where the goal is to write 50000 words in 30 days. It doesn’t sound like too much of a problem, but I did fail rather spectacularly last year, so… The point is, I want to do better this year. “Coward” ended at around 23500 words, and I think “Jergen” and “Tim” should end at around the same point. Maybe the point of NaNoWriMo is to put 50000 words into one story, but I hope you guys will forgive me there.

With “Jergen” filling the Medic role and “Tim” filling the Farmer, the 5-part Ereptor series will be complete. I have general ideas for both stories, and I’m eager to see what happens. And, yes, for those fans of the first three stories, this will be the same Dr. Jergen from Siren’s initial trip through Drayton, and the same Tim who still serves as Freya’s father figure and mentor. Even thinking about it now, I can’t wait to see how they will interact with each other later. You’ll also see more of Patience, who, for reasons not yet revealed, may be my favorite character in the series.

Though the five-part Ereptor series will be completed, there will be more to the story. I’ve got general ideas for the conclusion (yes, a zombie story with a conclusion!), but that may still be a few years away. The thoughts I do have on the ending novel are huge, and now I’m hoping I’ll be a good enough writer to pull it off.

Don’t worry, I won’t let you down.

December – Editing the Ereptor series

Much like with Soulless, these two stories will need editing and should be on Amazon (maybe Smashwords too?) in January 2013. That’s the plan, and I’ll try my hardest to stick to it. I may bundle them together for $1.99 (Okay, maybe $1.98 would be more consistent), and the series will be bundled together as a whole shortly after.

January – New project: Beloved

Beloved is a story that takes place in the Ereptor world, but the character will not come into contact with anyone from the Atlanta settlers or surrounding areas. All the stories will revolve in some way around how different people react in generally the same situation, and Beloved may show the most extreme reaction of them all. If there is any interaction between Beloved and Ereptor, it will be very minimal. Beloved is sketchy in my head at the moment, but it’ll get there.

I think that will give me enough to do for a while. You guys will have to hold me liable to these goals, though! Keep on me and make sure I stick to my plans. I have stories I think you guys will love, and I’ll do the very best I can.

One more thing I wanted to say: I got an e-mail from Amazon this morning informing me that I’m about to be paid for stories sold in the Kindle store!

Image

I know $10.15 may not be a fortune exactly, but it’s the first step of many towards achieving a lifelong goal. From the very bottom of my heart, I want to thank you all so much for your continued care and support. I have bigger plans in mind, and, as always, I hope you enjoy!

 

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Coward, now on Amazon

After a delay (i.e. editing took longer than I expected), “Coward” is finally for sale on Amazon for $0.99! Coward is the third installment of the ongoing Ereptor zombie fiction series, introducing the Soldier character, with Freya serving as Valkyrie and Siren as Historian. This story follows Dean, a Soldier who watched his wife die in a zombie attack seven years earlier during the Fall. Years have taken their toll on the Soldier’s mind, burdening him with grief as he fights, finding that slaughtering zombies will not silence his wife’s dying screams. Each slash and thrust of his blade pulls him backwards in time, forcing him to relive the horrors of the Fall. Though his mind crumbles through flashbacks, determination presses him ever forward.

Seven years later, zombies behave abnormally as Dean and other Soldiers approach the Drayton settlement on a supply drop. Grouped with Siren, fellow Soldier Shooter, and former Valkyrie Patience, Dean seeks to find how severe the new threat may be and why they behave differently. Time slips away as the undead approach the new city, and Dean can only pray that his mind will not completely fracture as he searches for answers.

That’s the basic introduction.

I really enjoyed writing this story and getting to know the characters. Siren’s presence in the story honestly came as a surprise, and I found Patience to be one of my favorite characters in the series, though little of her story is showcased in Coward. Expect to see more of her in the future.

Dean himself was interesting to write. I found that I admired his single-minded determination and loved his motivations. He’s self-loathing to a fault at times and is suspicious of others’ involvement in his mental state, but he sometimes fails to see that they genuinely do care for him. Dean is an excellent fighter and knows it, but he is prone to fits of rage while facing zombies and sometimes blanks out from himself in very dangerous ways.

Not to mention that this story did give me the chance to introduce the shockblade technology I alluded to earlier.

As with the other two stories in the series, “Coward” can be read in whatever order you like. Although I do tie the stories together in small ways, this one should be able to stand on its own if you want.

Now that Coward is edited and completed, I’m looking for my next step. At this point, I’m torn between finishing the Soulless novel or progressing on to the next story in the Ereptor series. I have the basics of the fourth story in my mind, and will say that it will showcase Jergen, the Medic from the combat team in the Siren story. “Jergen” will have an early cameo from Freya and will take a deeper look into Patience. The fifth story–the Farmer story–will reintroduce Tim, the warm-hearted man who looked out for Freya as the group of survivors traveled from the midwest to Atlanta. I honestly know little about Tim’s story at this time, but it will come to me, and I’m excited for that.

I also now know how the Ereptor saga will end, and I promise I will provide as epic of a scope as I’m able.

If you want to purchase “Coward,” you may do so here! Lending is enabled, and you’re free to download the preview if you would like to test the waters first. “Coward” is also available DRM-free.

Thanks so much for sticking with me, and I hope you enjoy my work.

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Coward, almost done

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything new to the Ereptor series–“Siren” went live on Amazon in November–and it’s time to remedy that. “Coward” has been brewing for some time, and now it is almost complete. I’m going to make another pass or two through to make sure everything clicks together and manages to make sense, but hopefully this will be up before month’s end.

A little backstory? Sure.

“Coward” takes place seven years after the Fall, beginning as Dean and several other Soldiers find a small cluster of zombies along Alabama’s Interstate 20 as they escort supplies from Atlanta to Drayton. The encounter unleashes a flood of memories to Dean’s mind as they dispatch the zombies and continue towards the small Alabama town. Upon the squad’s arrival, they learn that the undead are on the move, and they seem to be heading in the same direction.

I’ll leave it at that for now. Check out the first section here. Hope you enjoy!

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Breeze

Sorry guys, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted any updates. Life has been a bit of a rollercoaster lately, but I think things are getting more organized. Editing can be discouraging at times as well, but there always is the comfort of knowing the material gets better with each and every pass. I originally intended to have the five zombie stories (I’m deciding on naming the series Ereptor, after all) to release every three months, and I’m already two behind on “Coward.” So, eesh, sorry about that one. Forgive me?

The good news is that “Coward” is nearly done. The major revision is almost complete, and then I’ll get some feedback from my alphas and betas and get it all straightened out. I hate to slap another “soon” label on this one, but that, luckily, is the timeframe I’m working in now. Expect it by the end of the month.

I know the direction of the fourth Ereptor story now, but I’m going to hold off for a bit. Soulless has been gathering too much dust lately, so I’m going to focus there and get it done. It’s rapidly approaching the 100,000 word mark, and I do not expect it to go far beyond that. It’s meant to be a 350-500 page story and should fall well within those boundaries.

“Siren” is still free-to-read for a while longer, even though I initially said it would only be so for about a week. Feel free to check it out!

I also experimented with some flash fiction over the weekend. It’s always held a strange fascination with me, and I thought struggling to fit a story into a very tight word count would be a fun challenge. At 196 words, here is “Breeze.” Let me know what you think!

* * * * *

Moonlight beamed through my open window, first through the bug screen and then through the dreamcatcher. A midsummer’s wind tilted the charm first to the left, then back to the right and left again. Mom made it at some camp decades ago when she was in her childhood and later wanted me to have it.

I couldn’t give it up. Not after, well, you know.

I tried not to look at it. It gave me the creeps. Mom said nightmares were too big to pass through and remained trapped until morning where they would die in the sunrise. Was that true? Dreamcatchers were supposed to degrade, but that camp gave the kids lasting materials. So old, and I wondered how many nightmares remained soaked in the net.

I tried not to look at it, instead rolling to one side and pulling blankets over my head. It was stifling beneath, but I couldn’t keep staring into that well of nightmares. So long it soaked. No magic, only a child’s toy made years ago at camp.

I saw its shadow even from beneath the blankets. I peered over, and the charm tilted left, then right, then left again.

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Siren, Free to read for a while

I know a lot of you guys have been waiting patiently for the third story in my zombie series (which I’m now calling “Ereptor” unless I think of something else before it’s all finished, but I like the title so far), so I thought I’d leave something here for you. While I’m working on the finishing touches for “Coward,” I’ll leave “Siren” up free to read for the next week or so. If you want to purchase it for Kindle, it’s still for sale  in the Amazon store for $0.99; if not, you can enjoy it for free.

I still have the extended “Freya” preview up as well, along with the first five chapters of my in-progress novel, Soulless. I’ll appreciate any feedback you have to offer! Hope you enjoy!

Check out “Siren” here.

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Small site update

I’m still working on making this blog a little easier to navigate, but I’m having trouble making it do exactly what I need. I’ll make it work soon, hopefully.

Anyway, for those of you who frequent my updates, you’ll see that the writing sample links have moved to the top of the home page, though the original links still remain at the bottom as well if you scroll down that far. I’ll try to clean that up soon; it looks a bit cluttered for now, and I know it will need some work when I start the serial work.

I’ll make it look professional one of these days! Thanks for sticking with me, guys.

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Soulless, Relationships between Cirellias, Rythellas, and the planet Ilthirios.

I was told this week to write about the Soulless moons, so here is that post. This is a bit of a gray area for me, as I feel that the information below should be correct, but I’m not certain if everything is entirely viable scientifically. My background is as a history major, not astrophysics. I think that, even though it orbits the planet still, Rythellas may show the same face to the sun at all times, since there seems to be a lit side and a dark side. This might introduce some complications to the story’s world, but should be resolved by the time the final draft is completed.

Like I said, much of this is based on logic and not science. If I’m getting this wrong, please let me know.

Deep breath.

The world of Soulless, Ilthirios, is the largest part of a three-body astronomical system with its two moons, Cirellias and Rythellas. It is to be noted that Ilthirios is mutually tidally-locked to Cirellias, the nearer of the moons. What this means in terms of viewpoint from the planetary surface is that Cirellias remains motionless in the sky, locked into a stationary position over the Ilthirian equator. Mutual tidal locking infers that Cirellias’s rotational period, it’s revolutionary period, and the Ilthirian rotational period are all equal.

Both Cirellias and Rythellas would be identified with similarities to Earth’s own moon in that they vary from shades of white to gray (Cirellias being a darker gray, Rythellas closer to white), are heavily cratered, and are geologically dead. Although the (mostly) iron cores no longer spin and thus do not create the dynamo effect necessary to produce independent magnetic fields, both do produce magical forces along their equators, perpendicular to the poles. With rotating cores, both moons would produce a “grand cross” effect with stationary magnetic poles and sweeping magical poles. As it is, though, the equatorial magical poles are as stationary as the axises around which the moons rotate.

Cirellias and Rythellas are both of only slightly varying sizes—even in comparison to Earth’s moon—with diameters of just over 2000 miles. Though they are practically twin bodies when viewed from a standpoint outside the three-body system, Cirellias is only about 1/3 the distance from Ilthirios as Rythellas (~65,000 miles to ~210,000 miles), and appears much larger in the sky. Due to reduced distance, Cirellias is nearly nine times brighter at night than Rythellas, even in the Void Moon phase. At midnight (when Cirellias is full), the sky is bright enough to read by, even if one would still need to read text more closely than by sunlight.

Local time in Edaria—directly beneath Cirellias’s positive magical “pole”—reflects opposite time on the Cirellian surface. The Cirellian new moon phase occurs at Edarian noon and vice-versa, with sunrise and sunset reversed as well. Rythellas, however, orbits independently around the Ilthirian-Cirellian barycenter, with a 2:1 rotational ratio. This means that Rythellas shows opposite faces to Ilthirios within a span of 14 days, with a complete revolution and full rotation (relative to those viewing from the planetary surface) after 28 days.

Rythellas has an orbital inclination of approximately 2 degrees, while Cirellias remains fixed at 0. In respect to the sun, Ilthirios holds a 26 degree inclination. This tilt is enough so that Cirellias does not always shadow Ilthirios, with the penumbra going either above or below the planet during the equatorial growing seasons. However, with the tidal locking effect, this does mean that eclipses are a daily occurrence during the two equatorial summers with a true total eclipse during the equinoxes. In fact, Cirellias conceals the sun completely during the eclipses several days before and after the equinoxes but only because that moon is larger than the sun when seen from the Ilthirian surface. As either equinox approaches, the exact date can be measured with instruments based on how much of the sun is concealed during partial eclipses and how far north or south of Cirellias the sun passes. It is also possible to measure dates on the planetary surface as equinoxes approach by measuring at what latitudes the eclipse passes.

Rythellas and the sun appear as the same relative size from Ilthirios, meaning that any native of Earth would witness a very familiar sight when those two bodies align, although Rythellian eclipses are far more rare.

With the tidal-locking effect from Cirellias, that face of the Ilthirian surface is much wetter than the opposite hemisphere, which is dominated by large deserts. Surface oceans are in mostly stable positions in regard to Cirellias, which does not move to generate high or low tides. High and low tides do still exist, though they are conducted by Rythellas and, less so, by the sun. Without the presence of Cirellias, Ilthirios would be perceived as a much dryer planet than Earth.

Magically, Cirellias is the weaker of the two moons, with the pole showering the Edarian subcontinent at all times. This magical showering led to the evolutionary divergence of the erman race, who developed wings with filaments designed to collect and manipulate Cirellian energies. The constant rate of magic provides a stable source for the ermen. Although Cirellias a negative magical pole on the opposite side of the equator (only theorized by Ilthirian astronomers), it never comes into contact with the planet and is thus of little current interest.

Rythellas, however, has a very intense magical field, but the equatorial poles only interact with the Ilthirian surface twice during the course of its cycle. During the negative—Void—phase, the pole dissolves all magical effects on the planet, completely overriding the Cirellian effect. All ermen lose access to the Cirellian magical fields and are rendered as magically weakened as the large majority of their human counterparts. During the positive—Soulless—phase, Rythellas amplifies the Cirellian effect. This induces a frenzy on the ermen race, going so far as to shift their minds from logic and reason to primal fury and thirst for battle. With that mindset and an amplified magical field, a Soulless erman is especially dangerous, far exceeding their normal capabilities. In order to preserve peace, safety, and life on the planet, ermen return home to Edaria for the Soulless night to surround themselves with loved onces in order to induce the Calming—an effect where berserk ermen can turn to one another and sedate their savage natures until sunrise. Reasoning for the ermen’s return to Edaria during both the Void and Soulless Rythellian phases are racial secrets, completely unknown to humans (though they have suspicions).

In societies’ nature to attribute common features to heavenly bodies, so have humans and ermen alike done so with the twin moons. Both agree that the dominant marks on the Cirellian surface resemble a hand, though the perceived fingers are only geological striations (created during the moon’s formation) radiating away from the southern pole. There is dispute over the lit surface of Rythellas, though, some cultures claiming to see birds or trees. As for Edarians, they claim to see a single open eye.


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Soulless, Explanations on Ermen

I thought with the tweets, posts, and updates I’ve made lately that it seemed a good time to provide a little background on Soulless as it nears completion. I may even find myself explaining things out of order, but it will come full circle in the end (promise). In this post, I’m going to explain a bit about the erman race, which requires discussion of the world’s two moons. They’ll be discussed in greater detail at a later date.

Here goes:

Through an evolutionary divergence, the world of Soulless is home to two sentient races–humans and ermen. Although physically similar, there are some key differences, the most notable being that of the wings that all ermen bear. The wings are feathered like birds’ (as opposed to the mammalian wings of bats or leathery wings of dragons of legend or various dinosaurs) and serve as a means of transportation as well as a conduit for erman magic. Approximately 98% of the filaments needed to direct magical flows are located in the wings, the remaining 2% spread very thinly throughout the body. Though there may be exceptions, erman wings usually match hair color.

Ermen are generally taller than humans, but only slightly on average. Where the average human male is 5’9″, the average erman male height is near 6’1″ (with heights of 5’5″ and 5’10” respectively for females). Ermen may be taller, but not by so much that they are larger than all humans.

They are of an equal physical strength with humans, able to lift and bear similar loads of weight so long as the use of magic is not included. In direct hand-to-hand combat, trained human fighters would have no advantages or disadvantages against an erman of equal skill (assuming that the human knows how to grapple against a winged opponent). Erman core weight is slightly less than that of humans due to their thinner bones–hollow in places, porous throughout–but the weight of the wings makes up the difference.

Though it is possible for humans and ermen to mate, such unions are rare. Children born of an interracial marriage have their race decided by the mother–human women bear human children, and ermen women bear ermen children. Relationships are strained, though, partly because of the need for erman racial secrecy and the need for all ermen to return to Edaria twice each month (explained in greater detail below). This is not to say that human-erman relationships never work, but they are more challenging than those within one’s own race.

Technologically, ermen are behind humans in several ways, most notably in the areas of transportation and weaponry. At the time of the events in Soulless, humans are experienced with firearms and are developing locomotive travel by way of train. This is not to say that ermen are scientifically inferior to humans, but rather that they are already naturally capable of what humans are learning through discovery; firearms are of little use to a race with near-limitless magic, and trains are cramped and compact when compared to travel by one’s own wings. Ermen sometimes travel by train, but usually for the novelty of having done so than the need to span large distances.

Though humanity is scattered over the planetary hemisphere facing the stationary low moon Cirellias, ermen only name one place home: the floating mini-continent of Edaria above the western coast of the primary inhabitable landmass and straddling the nation of Serana’s northern border against Chasar. Though Edaria floats directly beneath tidally-locked Cirellias, it is not held into place by gravitational forces–too weak at such a great distance–but rather through magical forces, which shower the continent from that moon. It was through many generations of living beneath Cirellias that ermen developed the filaments in their wings that are now able to process and direct the moon’s magical energies. Filaments in the wings act as a net for Cirellias’s magic, meaning that ermen can cast spells more effectively when wings are spread wide than when they are held tightly against the back.

Ermen and humans speak a common language. In fact, all nations in the human world below are able to share a common language because of ermen. Ermen learned fast travel very quickly in early civilization, and theirs became the language of trade between all nations and eventually the only language. For a group to have developed a surviving language of their own, they would have needed to have lived in seclusion during the entirety of history.

Erman magic can be viewed in two schools: Destructive and Restorative. The affinity towards either school is determined through genetics rather than any amount of training. Mostly, those strong in Destructive join labor forces or the military, and those strong in Restorative magics become healers and nurses. The bulk of erman population falls somewhere in the middle though, only incidentally stronger in one school than the other.

Ermen do hold racial secrets against the humans regarding magic. These are tied directly to Cirellias’s twin, the high moon Rythellas. This is because Rythellas orbits the planet in a set path as opposed to being locked to a single position. Like Cirellias, Rythellas is also a source of magic, but does not normally infuse the magic against the planet since only two points on the satellite’s surface have any effect.

The first interaction is during Rythellas’s full moon phase (dubbed the “Void Moon” among both species), when Rythellas negates the effects of Cirellias. Though ermen can still fly under their own power during the Void Moon, they are essentially rendered magically sterile for the duration of that single night, no more proficient than any common human and definitely beneath the powers of any human bloodmage.

The second interaction is during Rythellas’s new moon phase–the “Soulless Moon.” During the Soulless phase, Rythellas amplifies the Cirellian effect, vastly increasing the innate magical strength of all ermen. However, this is easily more detrimental to their race as it also heightens combat sense. Beneath Soulless Rythellas, ermen become aggressive to the point of madness, lashing out and destroying all in their path. Erman civilization would already have collapsed entirely if not for the Calming. The only thing that can sate a Soulless Erman’s thirst for destruction is the presence of loved ones, so ermen always return to Edaria for the Calming on that night. Surrounded by those they cherish most–friends, lovers, relatives, children–they suppress their need for violence until daybreak.

With these two interactions, ermen return to Edaria for each night (fourteen days between each of Rythellas’s extremes), as is mandated by Edarian law. They return during the Void Moon to protect themselves against humans, and during the Soulless Moon to avoid destroying humans and ermen alike. Although the humans note the erman flight to Edaria on both occasions, the reasons are tightly-held Edarian secrets. Some humans believe that ermen are weakened during both phases, but none are able to say for certain without erman confirmation.

I think that sums up much of that definition for now, though I’ll always feel like I’m forgetting something. I’ll explain more next week and in the weeks after about the relation of the planet to Rythellas and Cirellias, human magic use, and planetary geography.

If you would like to read the current first chapter of Soulless, you can do so here. I will edit and post the second chapter at the beginning of next week. If there’s any doubt by the end of the first chapter, yes, Caru Freehaven is an erman. An especially angry one.

I hope you enjoy!

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Plans for 2012

This post may be a rehashing of previous posts, but I thought I’d share some ideas and let you guys know where I’m heading.

To say the least, December and January have been slow months for me in my writing. I’ve hardly made any progress, and I would go on and on about stresses of the holiday seasons and some other technical issues, but I also know that explanations are rarely excuses. I’ll pick up the pace and get some more material out for you to enjoy.

But, hey, let’s talk about that material.

Coward

“Coward” will be the third installment of the zombie series (which I still haven’t named). As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this will be a detective story of sorts, set seven years after the Fall. Where “Freya” and “Siren” were both recollections of previous events that ended with present scenes, “Coward” will actually be set in the present. This story will happen during those final scenes, if not a little after. I think I’m most excited about this story since I think it will be one where I finally put my personal brand on the tale and (hopefully) set it apart from other zombie material.

Not that other zombie material is necessarily bad, but I do have some twists of my own I want to throw in. This will all tie together soon, and I’m hoping I’ll have to skill to actually pull off what I have planned.

Soulless

I posted Chapter 1 of Soulless here for you to sample if you’re so inclined. I think I like the beginning, but I also feel like it needs to be more violent to convey the intensity of the forces that overtake the erman race during the Soulless phase. Don’t worry, this won’t be 400 pages of gore and violence, nor will Caru Freehaven be a massively powerful force through the entire story. I like Caru and am trying to keep him from falling into a Mary Sue/Stanley Stu role. The opening chapter deals with having power, but much of the book deals with the crippling loss of power.

Soulless will be the spring board for my body of work and one that holds many things together. I’ll try not to bludgeon readers with the connections though.

As it stands, Soulless will be a single novel, not part of a trilogy or . . . decology? It’s not going to be an epic, but it’s a starting point, an explanation for other stories. I guess this will make more sense in time.

Unnamed Serial

I said before that I want to do some serial fiction, probably to the tune of around 2,500 words per week (about 10 pages if printed). I think it’s still–sadly–in the world-building phase at the moment. I know a few things about the main character, primarily that he’s searching for various pieces of mystical armor. I don’t know why, though. I know that the different pieces can be summoned and dispelled by the wearer at will, and that they will remain as tattoos on the user’s skin when not in use. The story will probably start with him and only one piece of gear, this one actually being a weapon of spring-loaded claws. Each piece has an independent magical ability, and I think the claws can create fire and ice by focusing or dispersing heat energy.

There are a few other characters I’m moderately aware of, but I don’t know exactly who they are or how they tie into the story. There’s an innocent young girl with a guardian of (unknown to her) pure evil, a lecherous knight holy only in name, a rotund fellow with a bizarre fixation on prime numbers and other mathematical principles, and a psychic healer who wants to keep her eyes on a precious family heirloom. These will probably not be in the same story arcs, though their paths may cross eventually. I want to see where the serial is heading before I start, but I also know that I’m going to start with no clear idea of an ending. This may continue for a very long time.

I’ve got other stories in mind, but I don’t dare start them until I finish some more of these. I don’t even know if I’ll start the serial before the zombie shorts are completed, but it’s definitely on the “upcoming” list.

In the meantime, I’ll try to get “Coward” out for you guys soon and may post another chapter or two from Soulless as I work on finishing the first draft. With luck, I should be done with Soulless by the time the fifth zombie story is published, but check back with me later and I’ll see how I’m coming along on that. I think the doldrums of the past month have convinced me to pick up the pace and finish what I think is a good story.

Let me know what you think. Hope you enjoy!

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