Delphinium ramble

I’m either 1/3rd or a 1/4th of the way through Delphinium, depending on if it stretches the wordcount I had originally planned. While all of Larkspur is 15K, Delphinium is currently 10K+ and with still a lot to go. 30K might become 35K, or even 40K if I really get into it.

While I’m glad I wrote and released Larkspur, it really is a ‘prologue.’ My original plan for writing was to release small 10K-15K snippets, out of sync, to slowly build a world from many different angles. And while I had done something like that years ago on deviantART (yeah, yeah, we all had that phase), it is not a writing-plan to use with publishing. Ideally I would put Larkspur and Delphinium together, but as it is Larkspur will stay and be perma-free to entice folk to the rest of the books (when more are out). While I will have some 99cent or perma-free shorter stories, I plan to write longer actual-books from now on (though they may still be relatively short while I get the hang of things).

So the rest of the series is more plotted, with a real beginning-middle-end. At least in my head. On paper it might get a little wonky (it’s amazing what I learn about this world even after all these years) but that’s at least half the fun.

Snippet time! Not giving any context, took out the names too :)

“He grabbed —–’s throat until the other stopped struggling, barely moving but still on the edges of consciousness. The dagger then found his lungs, and any remaining movement and life in him began to drain away. The blade was pulled out only to enter again. In all —– had five deep wounds in his chest. None were yet fatal.”

Hey again! Also worldbuilding.

I’ve started listening to the self-publishing podcast again. Forgot how assuring and motivational it was to just listen to indie authors talk amongst themselves.

I have been away for almost a month, no online presence in terms of my writer-self. I even didn’t bother with the self-promo thread in /r/fantasy. My facebook release party died, and so did my ‘beta draft’ blog.. thing. At least I’m making all these mistakes with a limited amount of eyes on me, hopefully I can learn from it all.

That said, I am writing. I’m pleased with what I have in Delphinium so far. I haven’t given up, though it seems I’ve become the embodiment of slow and kinda-steady. I world-built a bit, wrote a bit, and I’m finding the joy in writing again. With the fall/winter months most of my joy disappeared, and it’s nice that it’s back.

So, let’s talk about Noctuina’s solar system. It has our 9 planets (including Earth as Gaia) and then a lot more. From planets that were thought to have existed in our world, to hypothetical planets and astrological bodies, there are 42 planets I’ve come up with. There’s also the sun, and an anti-sun (Nemesis). Plus a lot of moons for varying planets, and several groups of asteroids. My vague concept right now is that said planets are a visual representation of other planes of existence. How the moons and asteroids tie in is also important, but still vague too.

Now, Noctuina is the 7th planet. For perspective Meurzh/Mars is 5th and Iovis/Jupiter is 10th. Rex is the 6th planet, and represents the plane of Faery. Rex has 8 asteroids associated with it, all named after the 4 Queens and Kings of Faery (Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring). Because it is so close, people can sometimes stumble into Faery.

The 8th planet is Theia. Her moons are important– There are 4: Morpheus, Phantasos, Phobetor, Thanatos.

You may recognize some of those names- Morpheus often called the god of Dreams, and Thanatos is the embodiment of Death (Greek mythology). They, along with Phantasos and Phobetor, are siblings. They’re the gods of dreams.

They are also planes of existence- though they can only be reached with the soul/spirit. Thanatos is where Mora lives. When you die in Noctuina, you go to Thanatos for a time, before heading to a more permanent (but not eternal) afterlife. The other moons are Dreams, Nightmares, and ‘regular’ dreams that everyone has- vague places and plots, but not realms you can exist in.

Thanatos (and large parts of Rex) is connected to Clandestina. The other three are connected to Ibella- I have a whole set of stories about several people who can while asleep enter the planes of Dreams and Nightmares, and how they are scorned for this. Which, now that I can see it has an association with death, doesn’t surprise me.

Behind

I thought I was giving myself leeway with ‘a day or two’ but ah, as we can see, I’m just bad at this. Never ever ever going to promise a release date ever again…

Part 2 is almost done, it’s gone off in a different direction than I expected/had outlined and I’m letting it flesh out. Working on it tonight, hopefully I will manage to put it up before I fall asleep. As of right now I’m wide awake and have tea, so I’m going to be up a while still.

Safe

Usually when I start writing, I start to worry. If not outright panic. Everything from “my story sucks” to “I am no good at this at all.” And so after a while I generally stop and go do something else. I haven’t felt safe and happy when I write in a while.

Today I’ve been writing for an hour. I was going to post that part 2 will be up tonight, but I think that’s just adding another layer of pressure. So while I am aiming for that, I’m not stating it. Because, having written for an hour- I feel better with writing.

I started working on part 2, knowing part 1 was short by a hundred words, and not really knowing where to go. Then I started typing and a completely different scene showed up. So now that gets the stage for part 2, and part 1 gets longer because I want the lead-up to be there.

And that’s ok! I liked exploring where this was going, even if it veered away from my outline and some of the current scenes. It felt right.

If I can manage to get this feeling more often, make myself write at least an hour a day, I can not only get a lot more done- I can feel like I used to, when I realized at 13 that the stories in my head could be put on paper.

More snippets for your patience :)

“The Royal Land of Hearts clings to its humanity– did you never notice other students uncertain of being paired with you to study, or even professors wary of you?” He had, of course, but never thought it had anything to do with being fée. His status as princeling, perhaps, or even an aura about him because of the dark cræft he practiced, but not his being the son of a man who had been spirited away. Then again, his closest friend at University was from the duchy where a misstep in the woods would lead you into a fée’s domain.

Part 1 of Delphinium, Beta Edition

Here’s part 1! Remember, this is a beta/advanced-copy of Delphinium, being serialized on my blog because I’m horrible at getting things done. This way I’m working on it every day, and giving something back. This is *not* the final edition of the book. It’ll still be read through and tweaked, by me and my editor, before a final copy is up for sale. I can assure you the main story won’t change, but there may be scenes added in, or rewritten, and other small changes that make this the ‘beta’ version and not the final. Similarly, if you find any issue or are confused, please comment! Or if you like it, please comment then too.


She had become ill. A cough began the day of their departure and lasted throughout the  journey, bringing with it chills and taking away her appetite. Three days from Piques’s capital they were commanded to stop and rest in town, her suitor refusing to go further until she improved. As his orders were that of duc and doctor none could argue.

He carried her to the most elegant suite at the inn as if he were already her husband, laying her down in bed, but then moving to the hall while a maid helped her undress. When he entered again she was curled up under the covers and shivering. Ignoring the maid he made his way to the lady, kissing her forehead and letting his lips linger to both comfort and assess a fever.

“I am unfamiliar with what ails you, my dear,” he said, stroking back her curls. Her blue eyes were unfocused, and her skin was pale save for blotches on her cheeks. “I will consult with local physicians about this. You will be better soon.” His studies had been in surgery, not illness, but he would take extraordinary measures to make her well.

“Forgive me for being so much trouble—” A kiss silenced her. The thought that he could catch her illness entered his mind for a moment, but the desire to show her no blame won over. And if he did fall ill, felt the symptoms himself, at least he might be able to hold back the spirits that plagued her.

She broke the kiss to cough. Spots of red betrayed how much worse her condition had become.

“Rest for now,” he said softly. He took out a handkerchief and wiped away the blood, then tucked her in. She lay facing away and only mumbled a reply. The duc remained standing by her side, not wanting to leave her, one hand still stroking blonde hair that was damp from fever and sweat.

“There is drink for Lady Elizabeth by the bed, Your Grace,” the maid spoke up, breaking into his thoughts. “And chimes to the servant’s room for when she wakes.”

“Thank you, you may go,” he replied over his shoulder. Pouring his love a glass of diluted wine he paused after setting down the glass- the maid had left and the door was barely ajar. He took off his gloves and, with a pin taken from the folds of his clothing, he pricked a finger. Blood seeped out, becoming dark first with saturation and then in hue. When it dripped down his hand the trail left behind was black.

He let several drops of blood fall into her wine before putting on his gloves again. They were black as well, and by sight one would not see the bloodstains. He would change them when he had a spare moment.

“Sleep well, Lizzy. Do not forget to drink. I will have a light dinner brought to you later.” She did not reply a second time, already asleep or too weak to answer.

He closed the door behind himself softly, uncertain if he wanted to leave without making her at least drink first. But no, she needed to rest, it would do her good before any magic enchanted her. And he needed his own rest before using any cræft.

He went to his rooms, smiling when he walked in to see his cat lying on a pillow. He sat beside her and pulled the black queen onto his lap, not a care for the expensive clothes that would be covered in fur. He held her close as a pet from childhood and not the Familiar she usually was.

“She is very ill,” he told her. “I do not know what to do, Pluta. I don’t know how to feel… A doctor has been sent for, what if they can offer no help either?”

Pluta pressed herself to her master. He did not often worry, but Elizabeth had become close to him again these last few weeks.

“What is the worst that can happen?” the cat said. To most it would sound like purring or mewling, but to him and those that knew necrocræft it would be human tongue.

“She could suffer,” he replied. “And I might not be able to do anything.”

Illness was something one learned to understand and live with in Clandestina. While some of the best healers and doctors of the world resided in this realm, it was by necessity, as the guardians who had once controlled death and illness were all but gone. Some resided in other realms, most had just disappeared, yet the magic of a realm was innate. Other places could continue to thrive without ever knowing about the keres; this land of fée and mortal was in turmoil.

But some did not accept so easily that control was out of their grasp.

“My Lady,” Pierre called out to the silence around him. The bed shifted as another sat behind him, arms wrapping around his waist. Her head rested between his shoulder-blades. She brought a chill with her, as if she had stood out in the snow for far too long and had yet to warm, and the duc shivered in her embrace.

“The illness–”

“The spirits are not mine,” Mora said. “They come from my plane, but only in ancestry.” She was not a goddess. Neither all-knowing nor all-powerful, she was a being that happened to exist in another plane and have more magic than most– A daimon. The last ker. Legend and time, though, had turned her into a being that responded to Death. And sometimes Life.

“Do what you will,” she said before he continued. “Piques is your land, Clandestina your home, and you are my most beloved Suitor. You do not need my permission, Lord of Death.”

“Will you help?” he asked. She had been wary of Elizabeth since the daughter of the comte had returned to Pierre’s life. Had been jealous even that he had chosen to come back to life after committing suicide (the final of Death’s tests) instead of staying with her in the land of the dead.

“I will not hinder.” She placed a kiss of ice to the nape of his neck, and the weight on the bed vanished. The cold remained.

***

He made his way to the dining hall. Most of who had accompanied him were left to have meals while rooms were sorted. From guards to those driving the carriages, miscellaneous staff, and other nobles who had been at the castle for his birthday party just two weeks past. He had become ill that evening, through the use of his cræft, and Elizabeth stayed with him and kept him company until he was well. He had in turn asked her to join him for the spring in Piques.

Raising a finger to hush the man that would announce his presence, Pierre Salvador, duc de Piques, walked through the throng of people until he found his student. A gifted boy in healing and similar skills, Wolfram was sitting among a group of boys that helped with the animals.

“Have you heard of this illness?” the duc asked, interrupting some story about the dogs. The young man nodded, though the others seemed unsure of what to do with the duc before them.

“Yes, Your Grace. But I have only heard of it in passing. I do not know the treatment. I have just heard Lord Ophion mention it.” Before being with the duc he had been a student of the royal physician.

Pierre nodded, the tightening of his grip on his cane the only visible sign of discomfort. “Let us go wait for the healers and see if this has been happening in the area. Come along.” Wolfram was not needed, but he was the closest the duc had to a human friend within this party, aside from Lizzy. Thinking about medicine or cræft at least kept his mind occupied and relevant to trying to help her.

The food was forgotten, Wolfram standing and attending his lord while leaving behind the others. Several more people offered to come, but Pierre ignored them and walked quickly with only his apprentice.

“What else has Ophion said?”

“It presents with a harsh cough that can lead to blood coming up from the lungs and throat. The few cases he has seen…” Hesitation, and Wolfram did not finish what he was going to say.

“Ended in death,” Pierre said, guessing correctly why the boy would feel uncomfortable sharing this news. “At least death I can cure.”

***

“Your Grace,” the doctor greeted when he entered the room. After trying to understand the spirits of the illness and failing, Pierre and Wolfram had retired to wait until the physician came.

The duc stood and crossed the room to shake his hand, a gesture from physician to physician and not lord to citizen.

“My beloved is ill,” he began without further introduction. “A harsh cough that leads to bleeding, though whether from the lungs or throat I am not aware. She runs a fever and is weak and pale. She is asleep, though if you need to examine her she may be woken.”

The doctor nodded. “There is no need, Your Grace. I have seen the illness. It is rarer here than in the south of Piques, but it is slowly spreading north. I know of no name for it, but I can describe what is happening. It is an illness that can lay dormant in a human person for many months, if not years. I speculate there are many infected among us, we are merely not ill.”

“And what causes it to become active?”

“The presence of death,” the doctor replied. Pierre remained composed, but Wolfram coughed to hide his intake of breath. The doctor did not pay him any attention.

“How is this treated?” the duc continued.

“I have medicines to treat the cough, the tearing, to keep down the fever– but these only treat the symptoms and not the illness. The afflicted must be surrounded by life. It is early spring, if she has just become ill then perhaps it will not be for long. By next winter I hope to have a better cure in mind.”

“Thank you.”

They shook hands once more and the doctor left.

***

She awoke to a gentle hand shaking her shoulder.

“Elizabeth,” a woman’s voice said. “I am here with medicine for you, and dinner.”

Lizzy thanked the nurse, sitting and receiving a cup filled with some concontion that smelt of mint. A dinner tray with soup and a roll was beside her bed.

Her fever must still be high for she thought she saw wings on the woman’s back.

“Thank you,” she said.

Mora smiled.

Part .5 of Delphinium, Beta Edition

Once again my over-estimations come back to haunt me. Here’s part of the first ‘chapter’ of Delphinium, about a 4th of it. This is why I gave the vague ‘day or two’ for estimations. Slow and steady did finally win the race though, so I’ll keep writing even if it’s only a little at a time.

She had become ill. A cough began the day of their departure and lasted throughout the  journey, bringing with it chills and taking away her appetite. Three days from Piques’s capital they were commanded to stop and rest in town, her suitor refusing to go further until she improved. As his orders were that of duc and doctor none could argue.

He carried her to the most elegant suite at the inn as if he were already her husband, laying her down in bed, but then moving to the hall while a maid helped her undress. When he entered again she was curled up under the covers and shivering. Ignoring the maid he made his way to the lady, kissing her forehead and letting his lips linger to both comfort and asses a fever.

“I am unfamiliar with what ails you, my dear,” he said, stroking back her curls. Her blue eyes were unfocused, her skin pale save for blotches on her cheeks. “I will consult with local physicians about this. You will be better soon.” His studies had been in surgery, not illness, but he would take extraordinary measures to make her well.

“Forgive me for being so much trouble—” A kiss silenced her. The thought that he could catch her illness entered his mind for a moment, but the desire to show her no blame won over. And if he did fall ill and feel the symptoms himself, at least he might be able to hold back the spirits that plagued her.

She broke the kiss to cough, spots of red betraying how much worse her condition had become.

“Rest for now,” he said softly. He took out a handkerchief and wiped away the blood from her lips, then tucked her in. She lay facing away and only mumbled a reply. The duc remained standing by her side, not wanting to leave her, one hand still stroking blonde hair that was damp from fever and sweat.

“There is drink for Lady Elizabeth by the bed, Your Grace,” the maid spoke up, breaking into his thoughts. “And chimes to the servant’s room for when she wakes.”

“Thank you, you may go,” he replied over his shoulder. Pouring his love a glass of diluted wine he paused after setting down the glass- the maid had left and the door was barely ajar. He took off his gloves and, with a pin taken from the folds of his clothing, he pricked a finger. Blood seeped out, becoming dark first with saturation and then in hue. When it dripped down his hand the trail left behind was black.

He let several drops of blood fall into her wine before putting on his gloves again. They were black as well, and by sight one would not see the bloodstains.

“Sleep well, Lizzy. Do not forget to drink. I will have a light dinner brought to you later.” She did not reply a second time, already asleep or too weak to answer.

He closed the door behind himself softly, uncertain if he wanted to leave without making her at least drink first. But no, she needed to rest, it would do her good before any magic enchanted her. And he needed his own rest before using any cræft.

He went to his own rooms, smiling when he walked in to see his cat lying on a pillow. A pure black queen, she was his constant companion and confidant.  He sat beside her and pulled her into his lap, not a care for the expensive clothes that would be covered in fur. He held her close as a pet from childhood and not the Familiar she usually was.

“She is very ill,” he told her. “I do not know what to do, Pluta. I don’t know how to feel. A doctor has been sent for, what if they can offer no help either?”

Pluta pressed herself to her master. He did not often worry, but Elizabeth had become close to him again these last few weeks, a childhood friendship becoming an adult’s desire for true companionship and love.

“What is the worst that can happen?” the cat said. To most it would sound like purring or mewling, but to him and those that knew necrocræft it would be human tongue.

“She could suffer,” he replied. “And I might not be able to do anything.”

Serializing Delphinium

I’ve been a bad author. It has taken me far far too much time to get Delphinium done, and frankly, I’m still not finished.

I am sorry.

I get ahead of myself and make plans, and then I realize I can’t do what I want to. With a blog and facebook and twitter I’ve found myself also spouting all my plans to people who actually count on me. Then I can’t deliver.

I’m learning, I’m trying to catch up with my mouth and ideas. I’m getting there. To make up for this astoundingly long wait I’ve decided to serialize Delphinium’s first edition on my blog. It’ll have pages up there under “Clandestina > Larkspur Series > Delphinium” and I’ll mention it in posts here. There are 15 parts of ~2000 words each, and most still need polish, so I’m going to release one at a time (in order :P) until the book’s finished. I’ve giving myself a day, maybe two, for each section. That said some sections are almost perfect now, so as soon as they are done they will be put up. I won’t be holding anything back, it’s less ‘a part a day’ and more ‘a part as fast as I can finish it.’

Then I’ll send it over to my editor to catch any last moment issues I may have missed, and release it on Amazon/B&N/Kobo. Sadly at that point the ‘first edition’ will be taken down.

The first part of Delphinium will be up *tonight.* It’s late-ish (East Coast) but I’ll have it up before I crash for the night. I promise.