Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: Elindu

April 2015 Camp Nano Winner! (And May “Plans”)

Camp Nano April 2015 Winner!

April 2015 Camp Nano Winner’s Banner

April’s primary goal was to participate in Camp Nano, which I did. I was a bit concerned at the end, because I hit a block in my writing and ended up having to cut a fair portion of v1.2 of Masks. I wouldn’t have done this except that the block was such that I could not convince myself to write on the project until I “fixed” the issue I saw. I did save all I’d written from the first, and I added that with my new words on v1.3 when I validated the novel.

I liked the way the Nano people changed the camp system. It was nice to be in a cabin with people I know, who at least posted stuff to chat even if they made little or no progress on their Nano projects. I think my cabin met the cabin-wide goal count mainly because of one of our overachieving writers wrote around 100k over the course of the month. Without her wordage, our cabin wouldn’t have met its goal.

I’m letting Masks rest for a bit now. In part because real life is going to intervene next week with my partial hysterectomy, and in part because I’m starting to feel a writing downswing coming on. I intend to go with the flow on this and do what I can but not push myself. The plan is to do a lot of reading. My hope is that by going along with it since I’m mindful enough to feel it coming on it won’t last as long and I’ll be back to writing about the time I’ve recovered enough from my surgery to spend more time at my desk.

Things I plan on fiddling with throughout may include Tricks and Traps, the second in a series of novelettes/novellas featuring a mercenary team, set on Elindu—actually, in the Heartland there, where Masks is set, though they’re set in different eras. I’d like to get a good number of plot cards on Whispers on the Wind (Shi’u’s story) as well; this is something I really need to get crackin’ on because I want this to be my November Nano project. Also, I’m considering working some on Degrees of Subtlety because I read through it the past couple days and I’m finally seeing things I need to in order to make progress on its outline; in fact, last night, I spent some time moving the unwritten cards over to a new file so I can rework what I have of the outline, though I’ll probably be brining in a number of the “discarded” plot cards over into the new outline; and another thing I need to do is spend some time working out the plot points for this story, which I feel I can do now since I’m seeing things more clearly.

I know that sounds like a lot for a month when I’m not going to push myself, but it’s where my creative mind’s been flitting the past week or so. I’m just not holding myself to any hard-and-fast goals for the duration.

Jodalur Investigative Division Series

I finally got around to adding Elindu and my Nano ’14 project to my Projects list. Not only did it pass 10k, but I also won Nano with Masks.

Over the course of November and December, I came up with a whole list of other projects for the Jodalur Investigative Division series. I’ll be honest though: in a lot of cases, all I know about the particular stories behind the titles listed on the JID page is that little teaser line. Due to this fact, I have a suspicion the JID books will be written rather more slowly than average, though I’d like to have three or four by the time I get to publishing any of them.

One thing I don’t want is for my stories to have my sleuths operating in a vacuum. I want them to grow and change and for their lives to have ups and downs. I know some mystery writers do this, but I can’t recall any I’ve read who did. In a way, it would be easier for them to exist in a kind of timelessness, where they don’t change, but I enjoy showing the characters’ non-working lives. I need to show just enough to provide hints to character and push plot forward whenever possible, and there’s a lot of plot to push forward, though some of it won’t come into play right away. I have to foreshadow things a bit, because there’s a subtle subplot that’s going to arc through the first 4 or so books of the series.

Since December, I’ve been stalled on Masks. I couldn’t figure out why at first, but I had a recent epiphany on the project. Apparently, my creative mind stopped working on it because it hadn’t had a chance to come up with some vital things. Masks previously stood at 58,611 words. It was bloated, and I’ve cut over 46k words on it. Now that I know who all the suspects are—both those who are the actual perpetrators as well as those who are the diversions—I’ve decided to write from a particular point about 12k or so words in. I feel very good about the cut, and about my prospects for streamlining the story from this point on, though, if I find I need to, I will cut to a manageable point again.

UF Earth and Elindu

I have a bunch of Urban Fantasy ideas. No, it’s not the typical type I’ve seen on bookshelves in stores. My MCs in this UF world are of course some variety of LGBT. They’re not all detectives—in fact, I have only two of those, a brother-sister team whose stories I can’t get off the ground. Most of my UF stories are less mysteries than they are dramas, and, in many cases, mystery doesn’t even have a role in the ideas I have at all. Aside from my UF races, most of them could be standard mainstream stories, with a thriller or two thrown in.

I can’t get these stories off the ground, in part because of the research requirement. My inherent personality is lazy, and the thought of doing research is a turn-off, though I do it willingly enough in the course of writing some stories. But that’s in the course of. Designating a specific amount of time to focus on research alone makes me edgy, so I never do it. I will admit, however, I do tend to get into my research once I start, and sometimes go back to it if it’s compelling enough, after I’m done writing. If I can make it fun for myself, I do it a lot more happily.

And I’d love to write these stories. They’re fun. Plus, they tie into Elindu, where my Nano14, Masks, is set. Developing my UF ideas to the point where they’re at now enabled me to figure out a great deal about Elindu, and vice-versa. These worlds are irrevocably connected in my mind, my UF Earth and Elindu, and I’d really like to show the two different ends of the connection—how magic has developed on our world, and how technology has developed on Elindu outside of the warded area where Masks is set.

Elindu is a science-fantasy world. A more dramatically alt-Earth planet than the UF Earth I’ve developed is. One of the things I need to research for Elindu is early Earth continental forms. And one of the things I need to research for my UF Earth is locations of other places similar to the Bermuda Triangle—basically, locales here on earth where mysterious disappearances and other unexplainable things have occurred. I’ve only recently gotten a good idea what to do for my early Earth continent research, but I’m still clueless for how to go about figuring out how to search for Bermuda Triangle-like locales.

I’m continuing to develop both worlds, however. I do know my UF Earth’s organized and regulated travel procedures get all shot to hell with regards to how the fantasy races travel, particularly my version of elves. I’ve developed my own breed of vampires for both worlds—and I’ve given them their own country on Elindu while trapping the majority of the UF Earthbound vampires under the control of the Catholic Church (a common fallacy is that my version of vampires choose vampirism and are thus redeemable into mundane humans again, but they’re not, and the methods the Church uses to control them actually drive them into a mental state where they’re beyond reason or control). I’m developing a variety of mage-types for both worlds and tweaking the magical system to fit both. Also, I’m developing my own were-races.

Passage back and forth is possible, but not encouraged by those in the know. Mostly, passage is from UF Earth to Elindu and not the other way around, though it does happen accidentally. I do know my nonhuman races on Earth spent a great deal of Earth’s history trying to hide their presence for the most part, though there are some inconsistencies in how certain communities came out or developed in tandem with mundane communities (French elves!). And I know that magic—on both worlds—can be completely eradicated by killing the right people—but one must know who they are, where they live, and how to get past the wards (and loyal communities of magical entities) who protect them.

I have stories spanning the 20th-21st centuries on UF Earth, and stories scattered across hundreds of years on Elindu. New “inpsirations” of entities appear on both worlds whenever they’re successful, and technology on UF Earth and outside the gods’ wards on Elindu is highly developed. Within the wards that protect Elindu’s magical creatures, tech is somewhat suppressed and develops at a slower pace, even when “modern” stuff from UF Earth finds its way to Elindu’s warded area. All of UF Earth’s Pagan deities are all real—though I haven’t done much of that research yet, either.

There’s still quite a bit I must develop on both worlds. Things I need to tweak, too. It’s slow going, especially when I have so many other worlds and projects I want to get done. I actually probably shouldn’t be surprised it’s taking me so long to do much with my UF Earth/Elindu worlds, even with the research I have difficulty doing.

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.

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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