Recap Series #3: The Long Road to Complete Berserker

Finally, our journey down memory lane ends at Berserker. (click for Recaps 1 and 2) After years of blood, sweat, and buckets of crystalline tears, the last book of the Rise of the Papilion trilogy is here.

If you’d told me a year ago that this would be the case, I would have laughed in your face.

Seriously.

Berserkers_Kindle_V2

 

After Wolf’s Bane was completed, I was totally burned out. Besides my faithful beta-readers and some friends, I hadn’t had much help with the book and I was terrified it would fail. As mentioned in part 2, the book was a challenge. It was a nightmare to edit, and a beast to format. I was still blogging and marketing my books, and the whole thing was getting to me. Right after the book was released, I called it quits.

I didn’t write for a long time, but periodically I did go back to Berserker. I wanted to finish it. But, like any project worth doing, there were issues. At the end of Bane, I had written myself into a corner. Now, don’t panic! The story had to go the way it did, there was no other option; I just hadn’t figured out how to get out of that spot. But, I was confident it would work out and it did. I just let the story evolve and in its own time the solution came to me. Voilà!

So, while I worked out that dilemma, I wrote when I could, biding my time by writing new characters, developing cultures we hadn’t seen much of until then, and before I knew it, I’d written about 70K words without even including Jeru or Kelen. At that point, I reigned myself in, cut a bunch of stuff, and refocused.

So, I was writing, but it wasn’t consistent. A lot was going on in my life over the 3-4 years it took to complete this book, which caused me to stop writing for very long periods of time. Finally, at my sister’s graduation from her animation program, my cousin asked me, “So, what’s happening with Berserker?” I kinda mumbled something about the book being on standby, but as we talked I felt a little spark. I decided then that I would fix the manuscript.

It was hard! So much time had passed that I had disconnected from the characters and the story, and the sequences were all out of whack. I could tell where I had written out of obligation to get something on the page versus the sections where I had been driven by inspiration. I remember pouring over the printed manuscript, reading, editing, moving things around. At one point, I printed cue cards and had everything spread out on the floor. At another point, I’d put the story into Scrivener. I never figured out how to use the darned thing, but at least it helped organize the scenes.

Probably about a year later after another long break, things picked up again. One night at the dinner table, my son said, “Mom, I think it’s time for you to start writing again.” I was shocked! But I took that as a sign that my kids would be alright with me focusing on writing again. So, on days off, vacations, quiet evenings and whatnot, I worked on the manuscript until it was ready for the last round of beta readers and the proofread. Then there was the final read. Which resulted in more edits, and then the final, final read.

Writing is not for the faint of heart, and in most cases, not for people who like to see quick results. It’s a laborious art-form that can result is gorgeous, inspiring work, but is fraught with challenges, discouragements, loneliness, and disappointment. But if you tough it out, are patient and stick to your goals, you will come out on the other side with a beautiful book to share with the world.   

Interesting Points:

  • My sister, Amy Hands, animator/illustrator and designer, did the cover art for both Wolf’s Bane and Berserker. After she sent me the finished image for Berserker, the doors opened for the project’s completion. Within weeks, the manuscript was formatted and uploaded to Kindle and CreateSpace, ready for release.
  • I watched A LOT of anime during this time. I find the cinematic nature of their visual storytelling resembles how I picture scenes in my mind. Also, I love that they take time to develop their characters, even the antagonists, so that you connect with and understand them even if you don’t always agree with them. One thing that really stuck with me was that animes don’t always resolve with the good guy blasting the bad guy to smithereens. Often, the endings are complex, unexpected, thoughtful, and therefore more satisfying. I used these elements to inspire how Berserker was crafted.

I’ll finish with an excerpt from Chapter 39. In the backdrop, Jeru and Kelen are engaged in their final battle, while everyone else stands in awe of the result. This short scene revolves around Nyssa and Jurgan, the Storyteller we met in Wolf’s Bane

“Jurgan?”

Nyssa was in the middle of changing Dilla when the Storyteller suddenly got up and went to the mouth of the cave. He stumbled, though there was nothing in the way to hinder him. Samson raised his head, quietly observing. 

“Jurgan? What is it?”

At the entrance, he pulled aside the flaps to look outside. He gasped and put his hands to his mouth. “In all my years, after all the effort it took to paint, I never thought I would actually see it.”

Nyssa hurried to tie the diaper before handing the baby to Trelina, then joined the Teller. She noticed that Samson had moved from his spot, but the clouds over the mountain and thunder rumbling overhead distracted her from inquiring into where he’d gone. Bursts of lightning illuminated the sky.

“What a storm!” She drew back, stifling a shudder. Nyssa had heard of windstorms and even tornadoes occurring in the plains, not to mention the destruction they could wreak. Ab-clanners sometimes lost homes, lands, and livestock to them. Homeless, they were known to tramp from village to village, refugees depending on the kindness of strangers.

Jeru is out there.

“That is not a natural storm.” Jurgan’s gaze remained fixed, giving Nyssa the impression he was privy to a sight that she was not. 

“Teller, what do you see?”

Jurgan’s voice dropped to a whisper, as though seeking the softest way to deliver difficult news. “I see the Wolf and the Butterfly at war.” He turned to her with tears running down his face. “Just as I had painted it.”

Thanks for sticking with me over the years and especially for your support. Anyone who writes knows that it’s one of the toughest things to do, let alone be good at. I hope you’ll check out the books, and if you do, write me to let me know what you think…a review is also welcome ;P

Take care, and have a great Thursday. And, oh yeah. Berserker is out TODAY!

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Recap Series #2: The Challenges of Writing Wolf’s Bane, Sequel to The Purple Morrow

Berserker is coming out in 2 days, so I figured I’d better get back to writing these book summaries. Click here to read Part 1 of the recap series.

The Struggle was Real

So. Wolf’s Bane…more like Dyane’s Bane. Because that’s exactly what it felt like to write this beast.

 

When I had finished The Purple Morrow, I was on a bit (a lot!) of a high. It was the second book I had written, but it was the only one of the two that was publish-worthy. And, after doing the run-around, research, trying and erring, I finally published the book. Yes!

So, now I was on to book 2, Wolf’s Bane. But this time around, I struggled with something I hadn’t before: fear of disappointing. The first book had been well-received, something that, especially for a first-timer, felt like a miracle. And after slaving away at Morrow for 2-3 years, I had come to love the characters. I wanted to write them a great story while not disappointing readers.

I’ll tell you one thing. If you’re writing a book, don’t worry about disappointing your readers. It’s impossible to focus on telling a great story when you’re filled with anxiety. Write the book that’s in your heart, trust your characters, and trust yourself. If you do those things, the book should take shape. Okay, that was more than one thing. But, in writing Bane, I found these points to be true. Once I stopped stressing and just wrote what I was feeling and what felt right for the characters, the book came together. I’m pleased and proud of the result. And, in the end, the book ended up being well-received to boot. 

Another struggled I faced was figuring out how to write a ‘bridge’ book, meaning a book that bridges the events in book 1 and the trilogy’s conclusion. How do you keep the story interesting while not giving too much away? And how do you end the book so that it’s satisfying to the current story while not actually ending the overarching story prematurely?

That was tough, and I struggled with that for a while. In the end, I introduced new elements and characters, deepened the world-building and developed the magic/spiritual foundations of the story, while working hard on character development. I enjoyed bringing that wretch, Oren, to life so much, and the antagonistic yet nurturing relationship between Seylem and Kelen was a blast to write. Working on Jeru’s development was harder, as he’s my Every Man who needed a believable hero arc, something I’d never done before. So, yes, there were many, many challenges to overcome.

 

Interesting points:

Wolf’s Bane is the first time I had to develop a magic system in a story. I’d never done that before, and I was lucky to have a friend at the time who guided me through the process and let me bounce ideas off him.

I experimented with tone, lyrical style, and integrated elements of poetry. It probably sounds weird, but I allowed myself the freedom to tell the story using elements that I felt were needed to do it right. Of course, that made editing and rewrites a challenge, especially the poetry-inspired sections but thankfully, I had a poet-friend to edit that.

 

So, as I did for Morrow, I’ll include an excerpt. This is from Usurper, Chapter 2:

Oren hurried to the Naagra-Oni’s chambers. The hallway stretched straight as an arrow in front of him, and a lush runner spanned its length. The carpet was the Ministry’s gift to them, a measure to counter the perpetual cold clinging to the stone floors. Arched, stone doors, unadorned except for the iron rings bolted into their surfaces, lined the corridor on both sides. Other Naagra of more lowly stature slept behind them. Slept, or read. Or plotted. Naagra were always plotting. Oren would know, since he had been at it the longest. And, if he were so bold, which he was, he would even go so far as to claim to be the best at it.

Oren wrapped his cloak tighter around him against the cold, but the dampness permeated the four thick layers of linens and furs. It even crept through his tiger-seal boots, so that his toes began to tingle. Outside, the wind howled, battering the temple walls. Oren thought how ironic it was that the wind appeared to fight so hard to find a way in when all he wanted was to escape, even into the midst of a late-spring blizzard.

He hated Ambroze, the Naagra-Oni, hated his gloating smile and his silky voice that, at first, sounded pleasant, even friendly, until one discerned the venom lurking underneath. The Master Seer, though, never bothered to hide his disdain from Oren. It shone through his ice blue eyes and that cursed, mocking smile. Oren would much prefer to test himself against the tempest blowing outside than spend ten minutes with the man. Only curiosity, not to mention the command to present himself at Ambroze’s chambers exactly twenty minutes before, forced him to continue moving down the corridor, around the bend and up two flights of stairs into the north wing; the wing that had once been his.

“One day,” Oren swore as he swished down the darkened corridor, “I will take back my place, you cursed upstart! Then we’ll see who is left grinning with such disdain!” For now, Oren doubled his pace. He was still a subordinate–though the highest ranked subordinate–and it would not do to irritate the Master Seer.

He arrived at the massive double doors just as the gong struck the half hour mark. He would slow-boil Lapi in oil for making him late!

Oren shoved the great doors with all the strength contained in his wiry body. They groaned open. A blast of hot air met him, instantly turning to mist once it confronted the icy air from the hall. Oren waded through the cloud, emerging like some sort of wraith, and found himself standing in a great, round room. The back half was blocked off by a series of dark-coloured screens. The ceiling was hidden in gloom, but Oren knew it was adorned with the painted images of Anyul, the Snow god and his minions, Ice and Frost. They leered at him from above, shaming him into false humility as he stood before the Naagra-Oni. No windows pocked the walls of the room, and the torches were not lit. The only light came from dripping, black candles scattered throughout and the massive fires glowing in their hearths.

“You are late.” The words were clipped, and they cut like knives.

“My apologies, Naagra-Oni,” Oren answered, bristling. “I came as soon as I received your summons.”

 

If you enjoyed the summary and excerpt, leave me a message below. And don’t forget:  Berserker, the conclusion to the Rise of the Papilion trilogy, is out Thursday, March 8!

New Book Review for Wolf’s Bane

WolfsBane_Cover_2015_smashwords (1)Yes, yes, it has been a while (er, ages) since I’ve posted. It’s possible I might get back to posting more regularly, but for now, I wanted to post this review of Wolf’s Bane because, well, I’m darn proud. 🙂

Here’s the link Enjoy!

Wolf’s Bane: It’s Finally Ready!

Mark your calendars! The projected release date for the ebook release of Wolf’s Bane, sequel to The Purple Morrow, is February 23 on Smashwords (and affiliates)! Click on the cover for more information and to pre-order your copy!

 

WolfsBane_Cover_2015_smashwords

 

For excerpts, click here.

I’m Participating in Mary Buchan’s Blog Hop and Giveaway!

Wow! My first official Blog Hop/Giveaway! People, I’ve finally made it! 😀

From bugburrypond.wordpress.com

From bugburrypond.wordpress.com

For a chance to discover some great authors, blogs and books, read on! 

A word from our Hostess:

What is on your summer reading list? If you are searching for a book to read, we may have something for you during your summer vacation. Mary BuchanMidlifestyle RNventor, is hosting this book blog hop during her virtual book launch of Over iT. Thirteen amazing authors will make you think, cry, laugh out loud or all three. Each author will give you a chance to win his or her book in a giveaway that ends July 23, 2014. Follow the links below and make sure you enter all for a chance to win!!

About the book YOU can Win: 

Purple_MorrowlTo start off my section of this blog hop/giveaway, I thought I’d use the intro that writer, editor, and writing instructor Wendy Strain used to announce me as a judge for her upcoming #5 MinuteFiction writing event taking place July 15

“While the story begins with a just-married and innocent Jeru, it quickly spins this main character into a series of events over which he has no control, leading him to become a solitary hunter for the clan until the day the Purple Morrow, a harbinger of hope, appears to him and sets him on a path he cannot avoid as he slowly begins to understand his own destiny in a world terrorized by the Rovers.

Dyane writes with a beautiful descriptive voice that pulls you easily into the scene, but her writing is strongly focused on issues of culture and personal growth. Don’t worry, though. She doesn’t get heavy-handed about it – it’s all woven seamlessly into the stories she writes.”

Thanks, Wendy! Even I wanted to buy my own book after reading that. 😀

About The Purple Morrow in my own words…

Painting by Amy Hands

Painting by Amy Hands

The idea for The Purple Morrow started a few years back when I wanted to explore themes related to loss, redemption, and moving forward. The story of a man unable to deal with the past while being thrown into a crisis demanding that he settle things and move on seemed a good place to start. 

The Purple Morrow started very simply; I’d intended it to be a solo book. But as the story developed and the characters matured, I knew the full tale had to be explored. The world of Marathana blossomed, becoming multi-cultural, each people group following their own cultural or religious beliefs. Magic and spirituality are also firmly rooted in this world and play essential roles in determining which side–good or evil–will prevail. I had a full-fledged trilogy on my hands. 

I am proud of these books. The Purple Morrow is the only one available for purchase through Storenvy and Amazon at the moment, though Wolf’s Bane, the sequel, is in the pipe and Berserker, the third book, is in production.

To win a PDF copy of my book,  The Purple Morrow, leave a comment below or email me at dyegirl_00@hotmail.com and tell me what you think the Purple Morrow is. 🙂 Winners will be randomly chosen. 

The Giveaway Rules:

The winner will be chosen at random from the comment list entered in this blog.  Please be sure to give me an email. our information is confidential and used for this giveaway only. Giveaway ends on July 23rd at 11:59 pm. The winner who does not respond within 2 days of our announcement via email will be dismissed in favor of another winner. 

 

Congratulations to ace1028 for winning the Giveaway!

 

The Other Participants: Check Them Out!

1. Mary Buchan:  Over iT
2. Hallie Hawkins:  Money and Credit Guides
3. Tamela Rich:  Live Full Throttle
4. Suzanne Letourneau: Soar with Vulnerability
5. Carol Casseara:  Chicken Soup for the Soul
6. Patti Tingen:  Patti Tingen-Author
7. Paige Kellerman:  Paige Kellerman
8. Rich London:  A Handbook for Life
9. Kim Bongiorno:  Let Me Start By Saying
10. Kathy Gottberg:  Smart Living 365
11. John Baumann:  Decide Success
12. Lee McCracken:  A Prayer and a Pink Pedicure

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