Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBT+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: Chraest (page 1 of 2)

Science Fiction

There’s a reason why I don’t actively try to pursue very many Science Fiction ideas. I’m not a very science-oriented person, and I feel inadequate to the job of creating a believable SF universe without it. Back in the early 1990’s, I wrote more SF stuff. This was before I had regular access to the internet. I soaked up just as many SF stories of all kinds as I did Fantasy novels and stories. I was much more confident in my SF skills, focusing on characters and plot instead of the science—definitely a “soft” SF writer at the time.

Since, I’ve not developed very much interest in science. I follow a notable scientist or few on Twitter, several astronauts, NASA, and I read various articles about science. But nothing really in-depth or detailed. Nothing like research—not the focused kind anyway. I don’t do it for my Fantasy stuff, so why would I do it for SF? As a result, the closest thing to SF I’ve had is Chraest, which is descendants of humans who landed on a planet already occupied by a native intelligence, with magic. Chraest is and always has been as much Fantasy as it is SF.

So it’s rather startling to me to be developing a more SF-focused idea. It started with a prompt on FM’s prompt board. Basically, imagine a drug that gives you the ability to see the future accurately—but it is highly addictive and has debilitating side effects. Would you take this drug? Explore in the point of view of a character of your own.

Original conception of the idea this prompt sparked could have been almost any speculative genre. Almost any kind of Fantasy, or Science Fiction. I may use a variation of it for Fantasy, but this idea became specifically SF. I saw, in my head, planet-hopper ships, companies and organizations recruiting users of this drug, and contemplated the possibility of this drug being based upon some as-yet-undiscovered Element, so I looked up the Periodic Table of Elements and started worldbuilding.

I now have vague notions for a Recruiter character, and a solid concept for a sleuth. I’ve named this SF universe and created a Scrivener file for it. My confidence in pulling off SF isn’t any greater, and it’s complicated by some plans I have for both characters, but I’m determined to see this through. For one, I know little of drug addiction and recovery, and that’s going to be absolutely necessary for me to research.

But I do know I look forward to writing these books. My first SF idea in over 20 years. It’s going to be an adventure.

A Creative Writing Downswing

This has been a “slow” year for me, writing-wise. I’ve spent most of it in one writing downswing or another. These have, for the most part, been productive, though. My creative mind hasn’t gone on complete hiatus during these periods, which has been good.

Most of the time when I’m in a writing downswing like this, I focus on existing stories or projects which I’ve had in mind for a long time and want to start, like with ALON1. This story has been on my mind since January or earlier, and is the primary reason why I pushed so hard in previous months to finish TPOM3 so that I could work on it. I’d like to write it during Nano, and it currently looks like I’ll be able to do so.

But this writing downswing has been odd in one way. I’ve been getting brand-new ideas. The main one I’ve been fiddling with, in my head, is set on Chraest—a sort of tie-in to another story set taking the character from the Empire to a new member country to help establish a Temple of the proper Gods of Chraest there. I’d like to make it one long book instead of the duology it seems like it’ll be, and I have no problem with such long pieces.

I don’t typically get brand-new ideas during writing downswings. I don’t know why. It’s one of the creative endeavors my creative mind decides not to focus on. I’ve just been glad to be working even the inching little big I have been on ALON1.

There are a few other odd ideas drifting around in my mind. Mostly concepts I’d like to employ in future stories, matching them up to existing ideas. A couple of these concepts have been inspired by a movie I saw last night, and I’m seeing places where they can fit on Chraest.

One thing I’m glad of is that the world of Chraest seems to be my main focus at this time. And I mean I’m feeling particularly enthusiastic about working on projects set in that world. I hope this doesn’t change before Nano, because I’d really like to start on ALON1.

In a way, it’s been good I’ve been in this writing downswing. It’s given me an opportunity to absorb things from the rest of the world in a more attentive way than I usually do. I’ve really been doing my best to pay attention to the world around me. That awareness has definitely fed into my creative mind, and I’m looking forward to finding out just what else I can come up with for ideas.

Writer’s Block or Project Block

If you’ve followed my blog any length of time, you know I suffer from an unpredictable, periodical, and severe form of writers’ block, driven by my bipolar mood swings, which I call “writing downswings.” I happen to be in the middle of one of these right now, and while it hasn’t been completely dry creatively, it has pretty much wiped out my creative mind. What little progress I have made, on my 2yn15 project, has been stilted at best; I’m in the middle of a series of exercises meant to help me build the world of Mukhamutara, and it takes me days to figure out how to meet the expectations of the lessons given.

But this is, for me, inherently different from another, milder form of block which affects specific projects or, more frequently, all the projects on one particular world. I’ll call this Project Block, and I think it may be just as driven by my bipolar as my writing downswings are, which means it’s never going to be controllable.

Typically, in my writing, things go like this: My writing swings “up” out of a downswing with a focus on one particular world. Sometimes with a focus on one particular project in any given world. Regardless, this does not permit deviation from the particular world I’m focused on. So, if I come “up” out of a downswing focused on, say for example, TPOM3, I’m unable to work on anything besides other Chraest stories.

I may read every single stalled project I have set in each and every world I have a Scrivener file for. This includes even those Scrivener files where I’ve just copy-pasted old wips from years before that I plan on looking into completing at some later date. I will frequently even come up with ideas for the storyline, characters, or other things related to those stories, and I write these notes down. But I don’t actually write on these stories, or in these other worlds.

So, typically, my focus remains either TPOM3, or possibly some other Chrest project or two.

Rarely does my creative mind provide me ideas for plotting/writing on projects set in two different worlds; that’s generally when my writing is running a bit manic, and it’s more frustrating in some ways than it is helpful, because it makes it impossible for me to focus on one or another particular project enough to make decent progress on anything at all.

Much of the time (though not all), I’m happy with my creative mind’s willingness to focus on one particular project or a number of them set on one particular world. That’s when I make the most progress on anything. So, for the most part, Project Block is helpful. There are times when it isn’t, but those are rare, and that’s typically when I have the desire to write, but no ideas for plotting or handling plotted out scenes, and this is something I can’t get moving even if I move to a project I happen to be pantsing for the most part (I do have a project or two for which I have no outlines—but they usually have notes and other background work).

The frustrating thing is when my Project Block migrates from world to world. This happens pretty frequently—sometimes even more frequently than I post about on Twitter or here on my blog. I’ll be happily writing on one or more projects on a given world, then, over a number of days, I’ll lose creative focus, then come out of the fugue with a focus on another world.

I’ll be honest here. I really wish I could be like those writers who can focus on one project from beginning to end before moving on to something else. I’d probably have a lot more books done if I could do that. And I have tried to do that. More than once. Each and every time, I ended up hating my writing, and I stopped forcing the words so I wouldn’t drive myself into depression. I do not want to be depressed and in despair over my fantasy writing. It’s my first love in writing, and the work I really want to make work, so I’ve learned to go with the flow. If my creative mind doesn’t want to work on something, I don’t force it. I know I’ll eventually come back to it, and I’ve learned to accept that.

A Knowledgeable Author’s Writing Advice

I receive newsletters from a certain popular author who teaches writing skills to other writers. She answers questions about writing from people in some of these newsletters. This is rather intermittent, I suppose because she doesn’t receive such questions with any frequency or regularity. Today, I got one of those emails, and at the top she states this:

This problem boils down to “I’m having trouble with my current Work In Progress (WIP) so I’m working on something else on the side.”

I know lots of writers who do this. Some work on outlining new projects while writing on one. Some write on other projects when another isn’t going. Still other writers work on editing a different project at the same time. Some do all three on various projects at once.

This knowledgeable author’s first response is: 1) Shiny Object Syndrome is the writer’s worst enemy. This, I have a method of dealing with. I’m pretty good at corralling my ideas and holding them off. Basically, when a new idea pops up, I tell it to get in line. If it doesn’t shut up, I do a little background work on it—worldbuild if necessary, do a character list, write out plot points, maybe outline a scene or two. Something. Then I tell the idea to get back in line, and, sometimes right away, other times after I’ve done more background work on it, it does listen.

Knowledgeable Author next says: 2) Stories work best when you give them your love. And I do this to the best of my ability, whenever I’m able to focus on a project to any extent. There’s just one problem I have with being able to do this consistently. My bipolar controls my creative mind. I’ve explained this before, how my writing desire and capability fluctuates, sometimes wildly. I can be quite happily working on one of my Chraesti projects one day, then the next day be sick of all those WIPs but overjoyed to work on something on Aphori. And, as I’ve explained before, if I try to force my creative mind to work on something, I end up pushing myself into depression as well. So I follow this rule to the best of my ability when I am able to write, but must ultimately go with the flow when it comes to what my creative mind provides me, even if it provides me nothing at all to work with.

3) Current Project gets your first words. This is Knowledgeable Author’s last emphasized statement, and I happen to agree wholeheartedly with it. This is how I operate when my creative mind wants to work on two different projects, particularly when I want to write fresh words on both. Main WIP gets the attention first, then I work on the other project. However, for me, if I get stuck on the main project, focusing on that sticking point to figure out a way past it only aggravates and depresses me, so I must focus on something else to give my subconscious a chance to chew on the problem. Because, the more I focus on that issue, and the more aggravated and depressed I get over it, the harder it is for me to figure out a solution. This does not mean I do not spend any time at all consciously considering the issue, it just means that I’m trusting my creative mind to provide the answer I need at some point. Allowing myself to be distracted with another project enables me to be patient with the vagaries dictated by my bipolar and the fact my creative mind may not have fully worked out a problem before I reached the point of plotting or writing it.

While I do agree in general with Knowledgeable Author’s advice, I think they’re not taking into account that all writers are different. Granted, for most writers, particularly beginning writers, it may be a case that moving on to another particular project when stuck on the first may create a bunch of incomplete and partial stories which are never returned to. But, by the same token, some writers need time away from one project—and a switch to something sometimes completely different from that WIP—in order to make progress on it. I don’t think I’d know so many writers who are working on multiple projects at once if Knowledgeable Author’s advice worked for everyone. Sometimes, things just don’t go as planned, no matter how much one wishes they would—that’s something I had a painful and difficult time learning, and I haven’t forgotten that lesson.

Science Fantasy

Chraest is actually not pure fantasy. It’s science fantasy. If you happen to be a reader or writer who thinks this can’t be done . . . I’m happy to say, it was done before. Probably several times over, but the series/world I’m most familiar with is Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series.

And I’m sort of treating Chraest the same way. Oh, I make reference to different things which make it clear Chraest isn’t pure fantasy, but they’re subtle until the third volume of TPOM. In the middle of Measure of Resistance, in a scene from Asthané’s point of view, I make blunt reference to the fact humans are not native to Chraest.

I had a great deal of fun writing that little bit. Had, in fact, been seeking a way and a place to make it absolutely clear humans aren’t native to Chraest. And, even after the other little hints (references to the hours of the day, the length of the year, naming plants native to Chraest) my blunt statement is still just the tip of the iceberg. There’s much more to Chraest and its universe than even I’m aware of at this point.

How did Chraest end up a science-fantasy world?

There’s a story to this development, and here it is:

I like to develop calendars as part of my worldbuilding for my fantasy worlds, and Chraest was no different. The last science fantasy world I developed, I meant to write stories from the natives’ pov, so I had complete freedom—in my mind—to do what I wanted with the calendar, and I had fun with it. With Chraest, it was a bit different. I kept trying to mash it into one of our years, and it just wasn’t working out. I could not, for the life of me, figure out why Chraest wouldn’t function on a 365-day year.

So, I decided to fiddle with the months. I was, to make it clear, in Forward Motion for Writers chat this particular night I was working on Chraest. I wanted to settle the calendar so I could use Aeon Timeline to list out the stories I had planned and a number of events and such I’d worked out in my worldbuilding over the course of TPOM1&2 and Stirrings (whose title will be changed once I figure out what fits better). I fiddled with the months and ended up with twelve—but three of them shorter than the other nine—and still not fitting our Terran year.

At this point, I made a frustrated comment about this issue in chat, and Zette suggested I play with the number of days in the year. At first, I hesitated, then I decided, Why not? and threw myself into it. I forget all the convolutions I took Chraest’s year-length through, but I finally ended up with a year-length of about 540 days. The first month of each third of the year is a two-week Sacred Month, and the other nine are six-week-long Secular Months; weeks all have nine days.

When I announced that I’d figured this out (and the resultant worldbuilding “facts” I’d learned from this process), Zette went on to say that perhaps the days weren’t 24 hours long. At this point, the knowledge Chraest wasn’t a pure fantasy hit, and I mentioned that in chat—along with even more worldbuilding facts which landed in my head at about the same time.

So I blame Zette, but with a big grin, because her suggestions opened up an aspect I hadn’t been looking at and made what I know of Chraest possible.

Asexual Characters

I once before, in a science fantasy work, fiddled with an asexual side character, but I’ve since “abandoned” that project (I put it in quotes because I may well return to it once I feel ready, skillwise, to take it up again). Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out ways to write asexual Main Characters. And, in my Chraesti stories, I’ve hit on the way.

I’ve got two asexual MCs on Chraest.

Hwodi is male, and he has no desire for sex or romantic physical contact. He doesn’t so much think it’s disgusting, he simply does not comprehend such desires. Though he understands that other people have them, he’s never seen what’s so fantastic about sex and romance. He’s quite happy being single, and, in a way, actually fears sex. He’s seen what it’s done to some people around him, the trouble it can cause, and the messes it makes of friendships and political alliances. As a prince, he understands he’ll have to marry, but he’s not particularly looking forward to it. When the True Gods Bestow Gifts upon him, he uses those Gifts in part as an excuse to abandon his life as a prince so he won’t be forced into a political marriage he has no desire for. Since the priests of his country push him to use these Gifts as a sign of his country’s gods’ will, his departure also removes him from their influence and the pressure to begin a kind of religious rewawakening among his people. He wants to contemplate these Gifts on his own.

My other asexual main character is romantic. This is Xedepria of Ghulia. She’s married to another woman, whose family disapproves of the marriage. They don’t like Xedepria or the fact she’s a woman. One of the greatest disappointments she’ll have is when Kalyine divorces her—she’ll understand completely why Kalyine does it, but it will upset her a great deal. For Xedepria, having a wife, a relationship with someone is far more important than having her freedom in some respects. The fact is, however, Xedepria needs her freedom far more than she needs her marriage, and that freedom and the fact her wife was forced away from her will fuel her determination to succeed later. I like to think I’ll be able to bring the women back together over the course of Xedepria’s story, but I’m honestly uncertain it will happen. If it does, it won’t happen in the first book. Kalyine, however, will be the person Xedepria does everything she does for—not to prove to Kalyine her worthiness (because she doesn’t have to prove it to Kalyine and knows as much), but to prove to Kalyine’s parents she’s worthy of their daughter. I like to think they’ll be willing to be swayed by Xedepria’s eventual status, but we’ll see.

I’d like to write more asexual characters, but I’m not pushing it. I’m pleased to have just these two and look forward to working on their stories.

Random Vs. Predictable

When I began writing The Power of Music, I knew I would be working with two points of view. Throughout most of the first volume of that story, I managed to pretty predictably ping pong between the two. I’d write one or two scenes with Géta, then match that number with an equal number from Asthané’s point of view. There were a few places where I didn’t do that, but for the most part, I was able to keep that pattern.

In the second book, that was blown all to hell. I’ve always seen TPOM more as Géta’s story—in fact, the whole Discordant Harmonies series. Asthané is an important point of view, but he’s not the most important one. It’s Géta. Don’t get me wrong. I love Asthané. He has a point of view because what he has to “say” is just as important, in some ways, as Géta has to say. They both have a major hand in the plot and making music for the Mages of the Empire what it’s supposed to become, not just in TPOM, but in the other two books as well.

However, since Géta, as the musician, is pivotal to everything, the focus is primarily on his point of view. His scenes, and that meant I had to accept the fact that I could not tell the story I wanted if I kept up the equality ping pong between his pov and Asthané’s. So, in the second volume of TPOM, I wrote the story I wanted to tell.

As a result, books two and three are pretty randomly divided between the two, with a greater number of scenes from Géta’s point of view. Asthané simply isn’t as influential on the story, and he has much less to go through with regards to plot.

I think pretty much every Chraesti book which has two or more active points of view will fall out this way. These stories are my heart’s stories in a lot of ways, and I don’t want to screw with the technical side too much or they may not come out the way I want to—the way they need to in order for the whole saga I see for Chraest to work the way it has to.

But my Hatuni books aren’t like that.

It’s kind of an experiment what I’m doing with the books set on Hatu Napor. At least with Degrees of Subtlety (I) and Fairy-Touched. When I started outlining DoS, I determined I’d try to make the pov breaks as predictable as possible. They’re random in the extreme in TPOM—happen anywhere regardless of whether or not it’s actually a new chapter. With DoS, I wanted to challenge myself. So, with that in mind, I outlined two scenes at a time for each character. DoS begins with two scenes from Arrowroot’s pov, then the chapter breaks, and the next two scenes are from Sweetbriar’s pov. Each character gets two scenes, and these two scenes comprise a single chapter told from that character’s pov. In Fairy-Touched, I have three scenes from each character’s pov in alternating chapters. So, one chapter of three scenes from POV1 (whose name keeps changing) in one chapter, and three scenes from Kaj’s pov in the following chapter.

Thus far, I’ve been able to keep up with things like this without the story breaking down. I do not want to break this pattern with my Hatuni books. That’s part of the challenge. I want to see if it’s possible for me, someone who changes point of view arbitrarily, to create a comprehensible story which is logical and makes sense plotwise while keeping to a strict, predictable pattern.

I also want my Hatuni books to be stylistically different from my Chraesti stories somehow. I want them to have their own “personality.” Making the point of view changes predictable is the best way I could think of to do it. Dividing the pov changes by chapter makes them even more distinct from my Chraesti books.

I’ve found my Hatuni books require a different mindset. In order to create the divisions between points of view I have in them, I spend longer trying to see pertinent scenes. But the challenge is fun, even if it’s slow-going with them. I’m finding myself able to write deeper scenes than I think I’d be getting on them if I were randomly changing points of view. Writing more than one scene from one pov is also allowing me to deepen their characterization over a longer “period” in the story. I’m also able to focus on plot points better, which means I see more things I can do to add depth and complication to them. Staying in one point of view throughout a chapter also enables me to give both characters “equal” page time, relatively speaking.

They’re turning out to be “neater” books—no matter how much I love them, I’m always going to see my Chraesti duo/multi pov books as “messy.” No rhyme or reason to the randomness of their pov switches aside from the plot requirements. I’m finding I enjoy creating predictable pov switches in my Hatuni books. I’m excited by the difference in the style, and it makes the books challenging enough to plot out that I haven’t lost interest.

Now if only I could switch back to writing these books, I’d be happy. LOL

Other Projects

I didn’t originally intend to work on Degrees of Subtlety—or on any story set on Hatu Napor at all. My intent was to focus solely on Chraest, where I have the most stories set. It’s still my goal to get 12 Chraesti stories done before I start publishing, in fact.

But Hatu Napor isn’t the only world I’ve previously created and then “abandoned.” There are several others. And they all have stories which fascinate me attached to them. Stories I long to work on, which I’d love to complete.

For instance, there’s Married to the Moons, a trilogy (I hope), and other stories set on Nahela. The primary MC for MttM is a suicidal Voice of the Gods. The Moons he’s married to? The three Sister-Goddesses who direct life in his homeland. I need to do more backstory and worldbuilding on Nahela before I can decide precisely what to do with it, but the “introductory” story, MttM, is still very dear to me, and I’d love to complete it.

Then, on Tzefanya, I have Seeking Knowledge. I’m waiting on my subconscious to provide vital bits of information regarding the storyline, various religious facts about the world’s current state, and more of the backstory/history of the Ahlai, a nomadic people who were forced to abandon their homeland to avoid being enslaved by an invading empire.

And I have Ferodoxis. That’s not it’s real name, that’s what the humans call it. For the natives, at least those in Imotina, it’s Ferodozhe. Don’t ask my why the humans screwed it up like they did, my creative mind hasn’t told me yet. On this world, in Imotina, is set a story about one of the very few—well, she’s not precisely straight, though she marries a male of her race—female POV MCs I’ve ever been able to make real. I hope to get back to The Obscure Child and its following books (whose series title I don’t yet know) at some point in the future. Just . . . not right now (hear that, creative mind?).

And then there’s Mistworld, or Elindu. A continent surrounded by a curtain of mists and referred to by its denizens as the Heartland is a kind of dumping ground of various races from elsewhere on the planet. Outside the mists, in the majority of the world, magic is something if one is lucky one is only deported to “the Mists” for having. If one is not lucky, one is consigned to one of a number of torturous deaths. Technology reigns beyond the mists, but within them, magic is paramount. This world has elves of various types, possibly vampires (some worldbuilding I haven’t quite decided upon), and the auspices of various gods who have been forgotten by those outside the Mists. Farrillan’s story, in Cat Eyes, is set on this world. I’ve written one other story, a novelette, set in the Heartland. Not sure what kind of tech I’ll be giving the people outside of the mists; I’m having enough trouble figuring out the Heartland as it is.

Last, but not least, are my Urban Fantasy stories. I’d love to get these going again, but I’m not ready to do the research necessary for them. I’m also not certain if I want to have my UF Earth tied to Elindu in some way, and if so, how strong that tie should be (for instance, can people pass between them easily, or are there certain requirements or restrictions which make doing so too costly? What would be the effect of tech in the confines of the Mists on Elindu? How long have they been connected, how did they come to be so, and did Earth give Elindu magic, or was it the other way around?). Lots to work on with this yet.

Luckily (for me), my creative mind hasn’t splintered off into offering profound Must Write NOW ideas for any of these other projects. And I hope it doesn’t happen until I’ve finished at least the books for Chraest I want to write for my first year of publishing (at one book a month, if all goes well). I do want to get back to these worlds and their projects. Not right now, though. I have enough to work on as it is just with Chraest, never mind Hatu Napor.

Going with the Flow

Last year, following one of my writing dowswings, I came back to writing with a mind focused on gay romances. I fought this for about a week, then fiddled with it, and, eventually, picked up my fantasy work again. Right now, I want to say I’m out of this most recent writing downswing, but it ended just about the same time my radiation treatments began and they’ve kind of eaten my writing mind.

But I’m going with the flow.

Part of this means when I do write or work on my writing, I don’t force myself to focus on Chraest’s projects, much as I’d rather be working on them. I’ll be honest and admit I wasn’t happy to come back to writing focused on Hatu Napor’s initial project. I’d decided to let it set until I was done getting my year’s-worth of Chraest’s books done first. However, sometimes my muse throws me curveballs like that.

And the reason why I went with it, instead of forcing myself to work on Chraest’s projects?

I really don’t want to make myself depressed. Because, when I force myself to work on something my writing mind isn’t focused on, I don’t make any progress at all on anything, and I drive myself into a moody, bitchy, depressive mood swing, which just exacerbates everything. I’m not a nice person when I’m like that, to myself or anybody else. It’s not a fun experience at any time, and I’m a firm believer in the philosophy that writing should be fun.

It’s not fun to try and force my creative mind to do something it doesn’t want to.

And even with that, I’ve been happier with this focus than I was any time from 2009 through 2012. Because I’d come out of my downswing focused on the genre I want to write.

And this focus hasn’t lasted long. About two weeks. Last night and the night before, I opened various Chraest projects. I’m reading through them, refamiliarizing myself with the stories, characters, and world. More because of the length of time I’ve been away from them (Eight weeks! Yikes!) than because of anything else. I’m starting to feel excited about working on stuff set on Chraest again.

So I’ll keep going with the flow and see where it leads.

Curveballs from the Muse

In each of my minor downswings last year, I was creative. I also came out of them focused on Chraesti stories. I had other worlds I’d written stories in, with other magic systems, in various states of worldbuilding, but nothing about them called out to me. I even dropped the one non-Chraesti project I’d been working on for the Two-Year Novel Course, Degrees of Subtlety.

This time, when my writing mind fully surfaced for more than a gasp of air, I found myself focused on this project and world. I was not expecting this at all. The writing urge has tapered off (likely due to the new phase of cancer treatment, which I’ll blog about later), but I spent a number of days last week writing on DoS and worldbuilding for it.

Then I got the concept and basic storyline for another story set in that world.

Unlike Chraest’s stories and worldbuilding, this other world, which I’ve tentatively named Hatu Napor (one guess about where I got the first half of the name), is pure fantasy. No history of spacefaring humans, no alien species and backstory relating the humans’ current situation.

Hatu Napor isn’t the only pure-fantasy world I’ve got which my writing mind could conceivably have decided to focus on. I have one which is tied to our world through places like the Bermuda Triangle; this I’ve called Elindu, and it has vampires, dragons, and a small variety of elven races. There’s also Nahela, where all mages have twins, and all true priests, whether they adhere to a religious philosophy or not, have more than one soul.

But this time, the Muse decided to remind me of my characters Sweetbriar and Arrowroot and their story. It’s been fun working on Hatu Napor and this story and the new idea. They’re markedly different from my Chraesti stories, which makes working on them a nice break. For one, while Chraest’s humans are in a verge-of-industrialization-level society, Hatu Napor has passed that point to some extent. Electricity is present. New weapons are being developed (guns), the automobile has recently been invented and is attainable by those of some financial prominence, though they aren’t exactly reliable. They have factories, and different religious factions vie for prominence. Where in Chraest’s stories homosexuality is almost universally accepted to some extent, in Hatu Napor, or at least the country where these two stories occur, it isn’t quite as welcome.

It’s definitely a nice change.

I’ve restarted DoS and am about four or five chapters in. It’s been a fun rewrite. The original partial manuscript left much to be desired in plotting and characterization, and I’ve been able to make both a bit more complicated this time around. I’m right now doing one or two plot cards per scene written on it while I work on the outline for the other story set in the same country/world. I’m experimenting with this a bit, too: doing two scenes per chapter from one character’s point of view before switching pov for the next chapter. So far, it’s working out well, and I’m going to try the same thing with the other story, only it looks, so far, as if I’ll be doing three scenes per chapter in it. It’s also a nice challenge.

All in all, I’m glad I came out of my most recent downswing with a focus on my fantasy work, even if it isn’t what I’d anticipated working on. It’s proved to be challenging, fun, and a nice break from the intensity of some of my other fantasy work. I also look forward to seeing what other ideas I come up with for Hatu Napor. I’m sure they’ll be just as fun to work on.

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