Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Next Big Thing - My work in progress

Several of my writer friends sent this to me... (Kessie Carroll tagged me.)

1) What is the title of your next book/work?
Well, the book I just finished yet another editing pass on is "A New Threat". It was originally titled "Meskka", but I didn't like that as it didn't tell you anything about the book.

The book I'm writing right now is called "Wings of Truth". I think I'll talk more about that one, as I've posted a bunch about the former, and not much about the latter.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book/work?
A dream. It sounds cliche, but the way I fall asleep is to actively daydream, then my subconscious takes over, then whey I wake up I analyze the dream and kinda re-play/edit it. That's one reason I hate being woken up. I should clarify something here. The above makes me sound like some kind of dream-savant or something... it's not really like that. I can't usually tell which part of the process is which. I don't usually remember my dreams, I kind of infer that the process works something like how I described because suddenly it's morning.

3) What genre does your book/work fall under?
Science fiction. Wings of Truth has kind of a fantasy feel to it, but it's definitely sci-fi.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I hate these questions. I really don't know. Natiah looks kinda sorta like Karen Gillan. I'm more of a 'use your imagination and have the characters look however you want them too' type.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
"Elrund's views of the evil Vincetii are turned around when he captures their new, young queen. To further complicate matters, a group of Vincetii are threatening to destroy Elrund's country--and the rest of the world."

I'm not happy with that though. I only have about 25,000 words written in this story, and haven't worked on a synopsis at all. I don't think I'm really good at writing synopsis's.  When I finish the story, I will trash the current one, try to forget it ever existed, and write a good one.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Not sure. I'm leaning toward self-publishing for a few reasons, but might try to submit to a small press or two. We'll see.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Well, I'm not done yet. "A New Threat" took about four years. It was my first book, and I learned a LOT writing it. Also, I had to cram writing time in around a day job to pay the bills, my other hobbies, and family.

So far, I've been working on Wings of Truth for about four months (not including time editing A New Threat, and other stuff. I also wrote a very rough draft of another novel before I started Wings of Truth.)

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Hmm. A handfull of images flash through my mind when I read that question, but no titles come to mind. That's how I remember books. When I read, it's like stepping into a holo-deck on Star Trek, so a picture comes to mind. Let's see, girl thrust into a foreign culture is similar to when Lessa comes to the Weyre in Dragonflight (completely different than where she came from, the people there might or might not be enemies...). Errr... can't remember titles for the rest. It'll be interesting to see what readers compare it to when it comes out.

The main plot line is more Romeo and Juliet in space... only with a happy ending. ;)

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A lot of it was indirectly inspired by the movie Thor. It's kinda hard to see when reading the book, but my wife and I watched that before going to bed one night, and started imaging an alien culture with what we might almost call super powers, and how that might work... Natiah came from almost nowhere (gotta have a heroine) and I think I spent most of the night re-working who she was, where she came from, and her relationship to the male lead.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
I like this question. I tend to get stuck on side trails when asked a specific question, so people might get the wrong idea about what the book is about, due to me talking mostly about inspiration and such.

It's set on a planet with two cultures that have been at war for so long they don't even remember how it started, and don't know anything about the opposing side.

The story is about a young man from one of these cultures, and a young woman from the other that are forced into working together to save both of their people from factions on both sides that are so filled with hate that all they can think about is killing the enemy.
Elrund and Natiah learn that perhaps they have more in common than they thought, and that both sides have been hiding information from everyone. Can they each get past they way they've been brought up to hate the enemy and stop the potential destruction of the planet? Can they accept the new-found feelings they have for each other, and what are the consequences if they do?

And now for my favorite part, a sample! (Some writers don't like to give out samples at all, some not until it's finished... it doesn't bother me though, I just want to share what I'm passionate about. Warning though, this is mostly un-edited. Expect all the mistakes to be fixed before it's published, and possible massive changes.):

Chapter 1

            Elrund jumped out of bed the instant the alarm rang. He fumbled for the switch for the lamp on his nightstand and pulled his pants on as soon as he found them. He grabbed his sword Vinrid and strapped it to his waist along with his blaster.
            "Security breach in the detention area," the intercom announced. "All forces, report in."
            Elrund ran for the door. He turned sideways and launched himself through just as the door started to slide open. He ran down the hallway, the columns starting to blur together as he picked up speed.
            He skidded to a stop at the entrance to the detention area.
            "Let me through!" he yelled.
            A soldier snapped to attention, saluted him, and immediately keyed in the sequence to open the blast door.
            Elrund stepped through the door into the holding area and looked around to survey the damage. Scorch marks covered the white walls and debris covered the floor. A large hole had been blasted in the roof, and a female Vincetii hovered above the hole.
            She had light purple skin. A noble, then, as the commoners had a deep purple, almost blue tone to their skin. She had auburn hair, most unusual for her race, and the claws on her wingtips were larger than average for a female, and sliver. This was no ordinary warrior. The glowing purple cylinder she held in her right hand wasn't ordinary either.
            "Status report," Elrund said.
            General Torbian stepped forward and saluted him.
            "You arrived quickly, your highness. She's been hovering there since she blew a hole in the roof, and has demanded to speak with the king. She hasn't said a word since."
            "Any idea what that is?" Elrund nodded at the cylinder the Vincetii was holding.
            "No sir. However, it's giving off cardia radiation..." General Tobian's voice trailed off.
            Elrund glanced at him, then back up at the cylinder. It looked harmless enough. No controls that he could see from here, just a black cylinder with blotches of purple light wafting around inside. But cardia radiation, that meant that the one hand-sized cylinder could possibly destroy the entire city.
            "The king is away on business." Elrund stepped forward and waved the soldiers back. "Will the heir to the throne suffice?"
            The Vincetti stared back down at him, her wings flapping just enough to keep her hovering there. Elrund returned her stare. Her violet eyes weren't haughty, or full of hatred. That too, was unusual. Instead, he almost thought he saw fear, or uncertainty in them.
            "Are you authorized to meet my demands?" she asked.
            The woman's voice was clear, and pleasantly toned, yet another surprise. The other Vincetii that he had fought had either deep gravely voices, or high shrieking ones. But then, most of them had been yelling at him and trying to kill him at the time.
            "My father will stand by my word," Elrund said.
            The Vincetii paused, her eyes flicking down to the sword at his waist, then back up to meet his eyes again.
            "I want you to release the prisoners that were captured in the last raid on our settlement."
            Elrund raised any eyebrow. "That 'raid' was to recover supplies that were stolen from us. The thieves have been apprehended."
            The Vincetii looked down at the cylinder she held, then back to Elrund and raised an eyebrow.
            "Very well." Elrund sighed. "What do you give in exchange for the prisoners, then?"
            "Not blowing up your city."
            Now Elrund raised any eyebrow. "You do realize that in doing so, you'll kill the prisoners that you're attempting to free. And, though we would die, we would most likely kill you before you could escape."
            The Vincetii's shoulders sagged a little.
            "I offer my self in exchange for them."
            "May I have your name, then?"
            The Vincetii slowed the flapping of her wings and lowered herself to the floor. She folded her wings to her back and took a step towards Elrund. The soldiers around Elrund raised their weapons.
            "I am Natiah, queen of the Vincetii."
            Elrund cocked his head. "I was lead to believe that the queen of the Vincetii died in battle a month ago?"
            Natiah straightened her shoulders and lifted her chin. "I am her youngest daughter, now queen."
            A young man stepped forward at Elrund's command.
            "Binders, please."
            Elrund took the binders from the sergeant and took a step toward Natiah. She jerked the cylinder up in front of her. it emitted a loud hum and left a purple after-image as she swung it upward.
            "The prisoners first," she said.
            Elrund stopped and waved the soldiers back again.
            "Then what's to stop you from leaving with them? If you're serious about your proposal, then I suggest a show of good faith. Allow me to take you into custody. The soldiers will stay back, you you willingly give up the cylinder once the prisoners have been freed."
            It was gamble. The Vincetii were cruel, vicious, and untrustworthy. Elrund couldn't be certain that Natiah wouldn't detonate the cylinder once the prisoners were freed. This could have been planned to be a suicide mission from the beginning, and there was no way to know if this really was the queen or not.
            Still, this was the best way he could think of to avoid as many deaths as possible. And the young Vincetii seemed different. She was certainly young, and possibly naive. Why else would she come up with such a hair-brained scheme instead of just attacking?  And since when did Vincetii care about what happened to each other.
            Natiah stared into his eyes as he was thinking this. She swallowed a few times, and Elrund noticed that her wings were twitching.
            She's not sure this is a good idea, either, he thought.
            "Very well," she eventually said. "I think I can trust you. I surrender myself into your custody, as long as the prisoners are freed, and you give me your word that you will be personally responsible for my safety."
            "You have my word."
            Elrund stepped forward and Natiah held her hands out in front of her. She was breathing harder now, and noticeably trembling. She still clutched the cylinder in a death grip. Elund placed the binders around her wrists. She didn't meet his eyes.
            "I'm afraid we will have to bind your wings, as well, your highness."
            "A reasonable precaution. May I ask for some of the prisoners to be released first."
            Elrund bent down and looked into her eyes. Her pupils were dilated, and they were a darker shade of violet now, a sign of fear.
            "Very well, General,"
            Elrund grasped her wrist with his left hand as General Tobain walked over to the first cell bank. The Vincetii was definitely trembling.
            She relaxed a little when the first wave of Vincetii prisoners flew out of the hole in the detention block. Elrund wrapped binders around her wings, securing them together so she couldn't fly off. She whimpered a little when he did that. He wondered if they were sensitive.
            General Tobain released another bank of prisoners.
            "The cylinder, your highness?" Elrund prompted.
            "I will surrender it once the last group of prisoners is away."
            Elrund looked down at her with new respect. She was obviously terrified, but she had courage. But did she have honor? No Vincetii he had yet met had seemed to, yet if this one did not, then he was gambling with the lives of everyone in the city.
            He took a deep breath and nodded to the General, who released the last group of prisoners.
            Elrund looked Natiah in the eye and placed one hand on the cylinder. It was warm to the touch. Natiah released it, and Elrund handed it to a solider to be taken to the lab for analysis.
            Elrund snapped his fingers and another soldier stepped up to him and snapped to attention.
            "Yes, your highness?"
            "Take her to a secure cell."
            Natiah whipped her head around and looked him in the eye. "Your word?" she whispered. Her eyes were pleading with him, and she was shaking visibly now.
            "You will not be harmed."
            "Could... could you take me to my cell? You've given me your word that I won't be harmed, they haven't, and all the stories..."
            Elrund wondered for the first time if the Vincetii children were told tales of horror about the evils of the Alandra the same as the Alandra children were told tales about the Vincetii.
            "Very well."
            Elrund waved the soldier back and his hand under Natiah's elbow.
            "If you would come this way, please," he said.


            Elrund returned his father's stare. The king had returned a few hours after the attack and had summoned Elrund to the throne room. His father had been staring at him for the past half and hour, and hadn't yet mentioned why Elrund had been summoned.
            "Well?" the king finally asked.
            "Why did you let the prisoners go?"
            "The queen threatened to destroy the entire city. I took the course of action that I thought would save the most lives."
            "Yes, and that's commendable, however, it's rare that we get prisoners. We hadn't even had a chance to get much information out of them yet."
            Elrund raised an eyebrow. His father knew as well as he did that Vincetii prisoners very rarely gave up any information at all.
            "What really troubles you about my conduct, father?"
            The king leaned back on his throne and looked Elrund up and down.
            "I'm trying to decide whether I've raised a good leader or a sentimental fool."
            "You've fought the Vincetii. You know what they're like. Yet you believed that young whelp wouldn't actually destroy the city if you released the prisoners. Oddly enough, she kept her word, a first for the Vincetii as far as I know.
            "I need to know we're all alive today by a fluke accident, or if you know what you're doing. How did you know you could trust her?"
            Elrund took a deep breath and squared his shoulders.
            "I'm not sure, sir. If she had wanted to kill us all, she could have done it without warning --enough of our battles with them are started that way. Everything about this one is different. When have the Vincetii ever cared about anything? Why give us the chance to cooperate? Why offer herself at all instead of just demanding that the prisoners be released or she'd blow everything up?"
            Elrund paced back and forth.
            "None of it made any sense, and I wanted answers. I looked her in the eyes."
            He paused and glanced up at his father, who had straightened up at that.
            "I've only ever seen hostility in Vincetii eyes. Anger, hatred-- this was different. I saw fear and trust in her eyes, so I took a chance. And I still believe that choice was the best outcome to avoid loss of life.
            "If I accepted her offer, and she betrayed that trust, then where would we be? Right back where we were, either dead in an explosion anyway, or in the middle of a battle. At worst, accepting her offer would be a waste of time, so I took it."
            The king grunted. "I suppose so. I'm not sure I would have seen it that way. Good job, son. Now go and see if you can get anything out of her."
            "Yes, Father."
            Elrund stepped up and clasped his fathers hand, then turned and left the throne room.


            "What do you mean she's not in her cell?"
            The guard cringed when Elrund yelled at him.
            "I'm sorry sir, she had to be taken to the medical ward."
            Elrund leaned up against the wall and rubbed his temples.
            "As soon as you left she tried to escape. She cut through the bars with her wing claws--"
            Elrund looked up. "What?"
            The bars were re-enforced steel. Even Vincetii claws shouldn't have been able to cut through them.
            "Yes sir. We even have it on camera."
            The guard turned around and pressed a button. The monitor behind him changed from a schematic of the facility to an overhead view of the Vincetii queen's cell. She looked around, and then slammed a claw across the bars.
            Elrund gasped as the claws sliced through the steel bars. It wasn't exactly like a knife through butter, but the bars didn't offer much resistance.
            "After that," the guard continued, "she ran out of her cell and headed for the exit. She killed two guards before we could tranquilize her. General Tobian ordered her claws amputated, and your father approved it."
            Elrund sunk into a chair and lowered his face into his hands.
            "What a day," he murmured.
            He didn't know what to think. One the one hand, he had given her his word that she would not be harmed. On the other hand, she had murdered two guards.
            He stood and thanked the guard, and headed to the medical ward.

            The Vincetii was strapped to a bed in the recovery ward when he got there. She was crying softly.
            "I'm sorry, I was not made aware of this until it had happened," he said.
            She blinked the tears from her eyes and turned to face him.
            "It is not your fault. It was my duty to attempt escape, and now I must suffer the consequences of that failure."
            She turned away and her body shook as she fought back more tears.
            Elrund reached down and released the shackle around her left wrist. A medical tech ran into the room.
            "Sir, you can't do that!"
            "It's fine. She is my responsibility now."
            "Yes sir."
            The tech stood there, wringing his hands.
            "Is there anything else?" Elrund asked.
            "Yes, sir--" The tech glanced back and forth between them, the conflict between helping an enemy and caring for a patient evident on his face. "Uh, she should rest or be limited to light duties for the next day or so... So, um..."
            Elrund turned to look at Natiah before answering the tech.
            "Don't worry, I will see to it that she isn't harmed."
            Elrund removed the rest of the restraints and stepped back, allowing the girl to sit up. Upon closer examination, he was almost sure she was still a girl. Or, if a young woman, just barely so.
            "Natiah," he asked.
            "Yes?" she answered in a small voice, not meeting his eyes.
            "If I am to keep my word to you, I need your word that you will not attempt escape, will not harm any of my people, and obey my word."
            Natiah looked up at him.
            "That is much to ask of a prisoner, and of a young woman," she said.
            "You already have my word that I will not harm you."
            "You not realize how the oath you wish me to take would bind me, and that it could harm me in ways that I do not understand if I mis-judge your character?"
            Elrund smiled. "I believe so. Do you understand how large a risk I take in trusting the word of a Vincetii?"
            Natiah did smile at that. "As much as I can trust the word of an Alandran."
            She stared into his eyes for a while, her whole body taut. She slowly let out a large breath.
            "Very well, Elrund. I give you my word, though you know not what your request means among my people."
Chapter 2

            Natiah curled up into a ball in the corner of her cell and wrapped her wings around herself. She looked out in despair over her cell. It was a small room. Not even big enough to spread her wings in, let alone fly.
            How can the Alandrans stand such small rooms? she wondered.
            The sanitary facilities were barely adequate, and the only piece of furniture in the room was a bench that could be more accurately described as a hard block of plastic big enough to sleep on. The bars on this cell were thicker that the ones in her old cell, and made of a different alloy.
            Not that that mattered now. Now that they had removed her wing-claws. How could they? She could never go back home now. Without her claws she wouldn't be admitted into any noble's property. Even the peasant classes had wing-claws, puny, nail-like things that they were.
            She folded a pinion down and looked at the bandage where her wing-claws had once protruded and chocked back tears. Yet, she couldn't really blame them. She would have done the same to a prisoner who tried to escape and killed her people.
            She looked up and pulled her knees tighter to her chest when she heard footsteps in the hallway outside her cell. Part of her wanted to believe Elrund's promise that she wouldn't be harmed, but the stories warned of torture and painful death for any prisoners. That was why she had risked her life to free her people. She hoped they had made it home.
            "Want to take a walk?"
            Natiah looked up. Elrund was standing outside her cell, leaning against the bars.
            "Where?" she asked.
            "Oh, I was thinking the gardens."
            This had to be a trap. Was he dangling hope of escape in front of her, hoping for an excuse to break his word? How did she even know she could trust him?
            "Well?" Elrund drummed his fingers on the bars. "I thought you might want to get out and stretch a bit?"
            Natiah rose without taking her eyes off him, not saying a word. Could this still be a trap? Why was he being so nice to her? She stood in front of the bars and waited in silence.
            Elrund pressed his palm against the wall and the bars slid open. He stepped back and gestured for her to precede him down the hallway.
            Natiah took slow, careful steps. They had removed her clothing after her first escape attempt, and now she was clad only in a short white shift with orange trim that barely met the needs of modesty. She wrapped her wings around herself. It most definitely did not meet the needs of anatomy. She wasn't really surprised about that either. The people of Alandra probably didn't entertain that many Vincetii outside of a barbecue--and she was starting to doubt that tale as well.