Work in Progress: Ashes and Light, week five

Ashes and Light
Swords of Charlemagne, Book 3

32378 / 85000 (38.09%)
Just barely made my word-counts this week.  It’s been a busy week of non-writing related stuff, and while I’ve thought a lot about writing, I haven’t actually accomplished as much as I wanted to! I’m not behind — not by a long shot. But I’ve lost a little of the momentum I’d gained. I’ll be fixing that this week!
Part of that delay was the usual — writing a sex scene. The blocking on sex scenes and fight scenes always slows me down! I did finally finish it to my satisfaction — we’ll see what the editor thinks when this book finally goes off to him.
I also put a short scene up onto my Facebook to see what people thought. I like the concept, but I thought there was one passage in particular that felt clunky. So I asked for opinions. This is what we ended up with:
“I’d wondered at that. Is there no one in Zaragoza to teach you?” Turpin asked.
“I wouldn’t know who to trust,” Nasir answered. “My uncle’s city… well, it’s not Constantinople.”
Turpin looked at him. “Is that why you want to go back?”
Nasir nodded. “Part of the reason.” He paused for a moment. “Imagine that you’ve lived your entire life in a world of vibrant color and music, where everything is rich and alive. Then…take it away. Replace it with a world where everything is drab and gray. Where the music is just off-tune enough that it makes your teeth ache. Where everything has not yet made up its collective mind on which side of dead it can be found. That was what moving from Constantinople to Zaragoza was like. I hate this city. No, hate isn’t strong enough. I despise this city. I want to go home.”
Turpin blinked. “I do understand what you are saying,” he said. “That’s a most impressive description, Nasir. Why do you stay?”
Nasir shook his head. “My uncle. To put it mildly, he controls my purse, for another year.”
***
In Patreon news, Chapter 6 of Heir to the Firstborn just went live this past Friday.  The tension is building, the mountain is teetering… looks like it’s going to fall soon. (Soon being Chapter 8. I’m writing the scene now.) I’m kind of looking forward to this, because it will bring in a character I’ve been dying to write (whose voice, in my head, sounds like Sam Yao from the Zombies, Run!  running app.)  It also brings me one step closer to a character I really can’t wait to get to in this story, because once he’s in the page, things will really start to get interesting!
See you all on the flip side!
Posted by EASchechter in Adavar, Ashes and Light, Elemental Project, forthcoming works, Heir to the Firstborn, Swords of Charlemagne, upcoming work, WIP, wordcount, writing, 0 comments

Work in Progress: Ashes and Light, week four

Ashes and Light
Swords of Charlemagne, Book 3

26938 / 85000 (31.69%)
It’s always a good thing when you can take a day off and still be ahead on your work. Today, I was a zombie — allergy attack in the middle of the night means Benadryl coma means Liz is a zombie the next day. But I didn’t lose a day in writing because I’m already a day ahead.
I’ve spent time the past few days writing my least favorite character — Ganelon. Usually, villains are fun for me to write, and I have to be reined back a little (okay, a lot) from mustache twirling and overly dramatic dialogue. But Ganelon isn’t my usual villain.  For one, I didn’t create him. He’s not my character, so he’s been an awful bastard for hundreds of years now. But there’s not much detail given on him in The Song of Roland, so we never really know why he hates Roland so much. He’s jealous, yes. But is that enough?
Not really. Not for me. I needed a little more depth. So what did I come up with?
I came up with a character who owes every title he has and everything he owns to a bargain that he made and a child that isn’t his. He married Roland’s mother because she was a stepping stone for his ambition — marry Berta, take care of her and her son, and get riches untold. Sounded like a good deal, so Ganelon did it. And he got his titles, but Berta died, leaving Ganelon saddled with a child who wasn’t his.  A child that he neglected and abused, and who could ruin him if he ever told Charles the truth.
Roland, on the other hand, swore to his mother that he’d honor his step-father. He wants to love Ganelon, despite everything. He refuses to reveal what happened to him at Ganelon’s hands, because he knows that being stripped of his titles and lands is the least that will happen to Ganelon. He won’t ruin his step-father, but he can be pushed too far… and finding out that Ganelon has started treating his younger son the same way he treated Roland is that far.
Here’s the excerpt:
There was an oil lamp burning on the small table next to the bed, casting just enough light to see Roland, stretched out on his back. His hands were resting loose on his stomach, and his ankles were crossed. He looked as if he were asleep, but his eyes were open.
“Roland?” Turpin said gently. “I can go, if you want to be alone.”
“No, you can stay,” Roland answered. There was a thickness to his voice, the remnants of old pain and of new tears. “I think I need for you to stay.”
“It’s done,” Turpin said, moving to sit on the edge of the bed. “Olivier has taken the papers to Charles, and Baudoin will be safe.”
Roland nodded. “I heard. Thank you.”
Turpin rested his hand on Roland’s leg. “I’d advise you to walk carefully for the next few days. Ganelon is brainless enough in his temper to try and turn on you while I’m gone.”
Roland snorted. “I’ll keep my promise to my mother. I won’t say a word against him, or treat him with anything less than his due as my step-father, but I’m not letting him hurt anyone again. If he tries to hurt me again, I’ll kill him.” His voice was flat and cold. “If he tries to hurt my brother again, I’ll kill him. If he tries to hurt Olivier, or you—” He smiled. “You get the idea.”
“I do,” Turpin said. “And I will promise you the same, my Roland. If he attempts to hurt you, or any of our loved ones, I will make him disappear so thoroughly that God Almighty will forget He ever created a mistake that went by the name of Ganelon.”
Roland frowned. He propped himself up on his elbows. “I thought God couldn’t make mistakes?” he asked.
“Created a louse in human form, then?” Turpin suggested. It drew a chuckle from Roland.
“That raises the question of why did God create lice?” he asked, sitting the rest of the way up. “They don’t seem to have much of a purpose.”
Turpin smiled. “I imagine the common louse has a great deal of purpose…to another louse.” He squeezed Roland’s leg. “You never told me. Any of this. I never knew.”
“I’ve never told anyone,” Roland admitted. “Olivier guessed at some of it, years ago. In Pavia. But I’ve never told anyone.” He covered Turpin’s hand with his own. “And I’m not going to. I don’t need the nightmares.”
Turpin nodded. “As you wish. Just know that none of it changes how I feel about you.”
Roland barked with laughter. “I know that, Turp!”
***
In other work, I’m getting close to dropping the first mountain in Heir to the Firstborn. It’s looking like it will happen in chapter 8. Chapter 5 just went live last Friday, so now is a good time to get caught up (especially since now one gets charged until the end of the month.)
And that’s how things are in this part of the world. No hurricane this year, at least not for us yet (we’re having the first anniversary of our first serious hurricane since we moved to Central Florida).
Posted by EASchechter in Adavar, Best laid plans, Best planned lays, Elemental Project, Heir to the Firstborn, Patreon, Swords of Charlemagne, upcoming books, upcoming work, WIP, wordcount, Worldbuilding, writing, 0 comments

Work in Progress: Ashes and Light, week three

Ashes and Light
Swords of Charlemagne, Book 3

21237 / 85000 (24.98%)

Just like that, quarter of a book.

The research bits this week have all involved the intricacies of Charlemagne’s siege of Zaragosa — exactly why the Franks were there, who was manipulating whom, and the ongoing conflicts between the two caliphates that were vying for control of al-Andalus. So basically, I’ve had a crash course in Dark Ages Poly Sci, which I then condensed to about a quarter of a chapter.

***

“I was not in court when the seeds for this venture were planted,” Turpin said slowly. “What I’ve been told is that emissaries came from these lands, and promised Charles free passage to spread the word of God if only he would assist them in their conflict against… who was it, Olivier?”

“The amir of al Andalus,” Oliver answered.

“The amir?” Nasir repeated. “But the amir is in Cordoba! That’s a week’s travel south of here!” He waved one arm in the general direction of south.

“The agreement was that if we came and assisted them in their fight against the amir, that they would submit to Frankish rule, take the Cross, and give the cities of Barcelona, Girona and Zaragosa over to King Charles,” Olivier said.

“I can’t see my uncle ever agreeing to that,” Nasir said slowly. Olivier nodded.

“That’s where the problem lies. Your uncle didn’t agree. But someone speaking in his name did.” Olivier frowned. “Solomon?”

“Sulayman?” Nasir corrected. “Sulayman ibn Yaqzan al-Kalbi?”

“That’s it, yes,” Olivier said. “And when we reached Barcelona and Girona, things went just the way they were promised. The gates were opened to us. There was feasting and the greatest of welcomes. When we got here, though. That’s when the trouble started.”

“Sulayman is wali of those cities,” Nasir said softly. “He’s an ally of my uncle against the amir, one of three, but I had no idea it had gone this far! Nor that he had overstepped so far! I’m certain that once my uncle hears your side of things, that we will be able to resolve everything amicably.”

“And if he wants to deal with Sulayman, we can even hand the man over. When it became clear that his promises weren’t going to be kept, Charles put him in chains. Which may be how your uncle would want him delivered. Now, I’m not clear on the conflict between the amir and your uncle and his allies,” Turpin said. Nasir nodded.

“It’s complicated,” he said slowly. “The easiest way I can explain it is that my uncle and his allies are of one branch of a very old family, the amir is of another branch of the same family. There has been animosity between those two branches for over a hundred years.”

***

In other writing, I’m still working on Heir to the Firstborn. Discovered that I managed to bleed a little of Swords of Charlemagne over into Adavar — in the prologue that I posted, the injured Heir to the Firstborn is named Milon.

Milon is also the canonical name of Roland’s father in the Charlemagne myths. Which I knew, and wrote about in the first two books of Swords of Charlemagne.

I guess I just really like the name.

Double excerpt week, this week. You’ve had a little of Ashes and Light. Here’s a little of Heir to the Firstborn. Remember, you can read along with this every Friday if you support me on Patreon.

***

She [Aleia] handed his bag to him. “And wear this. Aven, I’m serious about this. I want you to keep this to hand from the minute we leave until we reach Forge.”

Aven took the bag from her, feeling the weight of it. “What… Ama, there’s something in here?”

“Yes. Think about it.”

Aven frowned, hefted the bag, then blinked. “The Diadem? And the gems?”

“Don’t let Aria know you have them,” Aleia said. “I don’t want her to know where they’re hidden.”

“They’re hers, though,” Aven said. He slung the bag over his head and across his body, settling it on his hip. “Why not tell her?”

“Because if things go badly, it’ll be on you to keep her, and those, safe.” Aleia folded her arms over her chest. “And she’s got a good heart, for all that she’s spoiled. She has to, or she’d not wear the Diadem. If things go badly, and she thought for an instant that she’d be able to save you by giving Mannon the Diadem, she’d do it.”

“And she can’t,” Aven said. He smoothed his hand over the strap on his chest.

“He can’t have the Diadem, and he cannot have her,” Aleia said softly. “Aven, the only reason that we left Milon behind was that he was dying. If Mannon had gotten his hands on the Heir… no. No, Milon wasn’t the Heir at that point. He was the Firstborn. If Mannon had gotten his hands on the Firstborn… I don’t know. I don’t want to know. You’re her Companion now, Aven. It’s on you to keep her safe.” She sighed. “And that’s another reason to bring the swords. You’ll need them.”

“Me?” Aven said. No, he didn’t say it, he squeaked it, and felt his face grow hot. “Ama—”

“I’ve taught you all of the sword dances, and you’re very good with sword and club.”

“But that’s just dancing!” Aven protested. “Ama—”

“You have the skills,” Aleia cut him off. “You’ll know what to do when the time comes.”

“If—”

Aleia shook her head. “I’ve no doubt that the time is coming, Aven. Don’t deny that. You’ll be fighting. We’ll all be fighting.” She bent, picking up the oilcloth bundle. “These were Abin’s, you know.”

“You told me the story,” Aven said, but his mother didn’t seem to hear him.

“I brought them with me to the Palace, because my mother insisted. She gave them to me before I left, told me to bear them with pride. She was proud of me then, proud that I was going to be Companion to the Firstborn, the same as our distant father. I’d only ever used them to dance. I never used them on another person until the morning Mannon attacked the palace.” She cradled the swords like a baby. “I would dance with these, for Milon. He was a dancer, too. I was teaching him sword dancing, and he was teaching me smoke blades.” She smiled, softly. “It’s fitting that you should have them, that you should use them to protect his daughter.” She looked up. “Do you want to carry these, or the cask?”

“I’ll carry the cask, Ama.” He packed the cask with the canvas and the silk, and the other supplies he’d collected, then hoisted it under his arm. It wasn’t heavy. Not nearly as heavy as the meaning of the weight on the bag that rested on his hip.

 

Posted by EASchechter in accountability, Adavar, Ashes and Light, brother can you spare a dime?, Elemental Project, Heir to the Firstborn, Patreon, progress, promotions, research is fun, Swords of Charlemagne, WIP, wordcount, 0 comments

Work in Progress: Ashes and Light, week 2

Ashes and Light
Swords of Charlemagne, Book 3

12824 / 85000 (15.09%)
So, did Victorian men’s trousers have buttons or hooks at the waist?  That’s what stopped me tonight, and sent me running to the research rabbit hole.  (The answer? Buttons. They had buttons.)

 

Ashes and Light is coming along nicely. I’m into chapter 4, and I might have finished it if it hadn’t been for those darned buttons.  Heir to the Firstborn is also coming along nicely, and I’m finding that I have to leave it for my chaser — I get my words in for Ashes and Light, and then I get to play in Heir to the Firstborn.  Chapter 3 of Heir went live Friday night, and Chapter 4 is already scheduled for next Friday.

 

So, excerpt time. I’m going to throw one in for Heir to the Firstborn. Remember, the only way to get this in real time as I write it  is to support me on Patreon.

 

***

 

Prologue:

The Firstborn was dead.

Since the beginning, the tribes of Adavar had been ruled by the Firstborn, chosen by the Mother Goddess to take up the reins of power once held by Axia, firstborn daughter of the Goddess. It had only been five years since Tirine had ascended to the role of Firstborn, and her rule had been welcomed with great acclaim. She had been well-loved during her years as Heir to Firstborn Riga, showing herself to be a generous and loving person, a fair and impartial judge when necessary, and completely implacable in times of need. She’d stood as Heir for fifteen years, and throughout it all, her affection and respect for her people, her Council, and her Heir were clear to anyone who cared to look.

And now she was dead. Murdered, along with her Council.

It was unthinkable. Unimaginable. And yet….

If, perhaps, it could have been imagined, could even have been conceived of, then perhaps it could have been prevented. But the ritual to choose the Heir had been handed down since the beginning — each candidate entered Aixa’s crypt alone. Only the true Heir would find Aixa’s diadem. There had never before been one who dared to say the Goddess was wrong, and who then somehow managed to convince others to follow him and take up arms against the Firstborn. The very idea was absurd! And so there were no guards in the Palace, no precautions against attack. When Mannon and his men struck in the dark hours before dawn, there was no warning. By the time the sun rose, where once the halls of the Palace that overlooked the sea had been filled with light, the scent of flowers, and the sounds of laughter, now they were filled with smoke, the stench of blood, and the moans of the dying.

And the soft, repetitive swearing of a young woman leading a small group of survivors. There were four of them — the woman, who went before the others, and who was armed with a pair of hooked swords. Behind her were three young men — one of them was unconscious and covered in blood, and was being carried by the other two.

“There. The door isn’t broken. Check there,” she gestured toward a door. One of the young men surrendered his burden to the other and darted forward. He peered inside the room, then nodded.

“It’s empty. And the lock is intact. Mem, bring him in here.” He got out of the way as the other man carried their wounded friend inside, then closed and barred the door. He glanced at the woman, who nodded.

“Do what you can, Jehan,” she said softly. “I’ll guard.”

“You’re the only one armed,” Jehan replied, just as softly. “I’m not sure what I can do, Aleia.”

“Do something,” she said, her voice cracking slightly. He nodded and turned away, moving to kneel next to the other men.

“Jehan, tell me you can do something?” The one Jehan had called Mem whispered, his eyes never leaving the unnatural pallor of their wounded friend’s face.

“Let me see,” Jehan knelt next to the wounded man. He rested one hand on his chest, the other on his forehead, and closed his eyes, tried to push back the sick feeling of terror that had been near constant since the screams had woken him from a sound sleep. He had to focus. Milon needed him.

And they needed Milon. He was Firstborn now. They needed him to put everything right.

***

Aleia listened at the door, trying to force herself to relax. She could hear nothing outside the door, but she knew that meant nothing. She’d heard nothing before the screams started. She closed her eyes, feeling her stomach churn. The swords she held had been her mother’s, and her grandmother’s. The stories in her family said the swords had been made for their distant ancestor, Abin, the first Companion from the Water tribe. As far as Aleia knew, the swords had never been used against another person. Not until today.

She swallowed and looked over her shoulder. Jehan’s was in profile to her, his head bowed as he attempted to save Milon’s life. Memfis was across from him, but she knew the big man wasn’t seeing anything but Milon.
Milon. What weird currents had brought the Heir to the Firstborn to her mother’s canoe? What had made him choose her to wear the Water gem, out of all of her sisters, all of her cousins? She’d never thought to leave the sea, never thought that she’d ever live on land. Never thought she’d come to love anyone as much as she loved these men.

To lose Milon—

No. No, they were not going to lose Milon. Jehan was an excellent healer — all of his teachers said so. He hadn’t finished his training, but it was only another year. He’d put Milon to rights, and then…

And then what? She tensed as she heard shouting from the corridor, but the voices faded away after a moment, and she let out a shaky breath. What were they supposed to do now? She closed her eyes for a moment, trying to think.

To plan, the way she’d been taught.

First things first, they needed to get out of the Palace. They needed to get to safety. Where would be safe?
Someplace inaccessible to Mannon and his land-based troops. Which meant not the Earth tribe lands, nor the Fire tribe. They’d be safe with the Air tribe, but she doubted that they’d be able to get any further than the Solstice Fair village before they were taken.

That meant she needed to take them home with her, back to the sea. If they went out to the deep waters, Mannon would never find them. They could plan further, once they were safe. She nodded slowly, and looked back at the men. Memfis had taken Milon’s hand, and it had to be the angle, or the shadows.

Memfis couldn’t be crying.

“I don’t know what else I can do,” Jehan said, his voice just barely audible to Aleia. “Every time I fix something, two other things go wrong. At least two things. He needs a real healer, not a half-trained one!”

“You’re what we have, Jehan,” Memfis insisted.

“And I’m making it worse!” Jehan’s voice was filled with despair, and at the sound, Milon groaned. From where she stood, Aleia saw Jehan’s olive skin go ashen. But his voice was steady when he leaned over Milon. “Milon, easy. Don’t try to move.”

To Aleia’s shock, she heard a weak chuckle. “Not…” Milon wheezed. “Hurts… hurts too much. Block it? Please?”

Jehan licked his lips. Then he nodded. A moment later, Milon sighed. “Thank you. Mem?”

“I’m here,” Memfis said. He reached out and brushed back Milon’s dark hair. Milon smiled slightly. He blinked, looked up, and frowned.

“Oh. Here,” he murmured. “Mem, we’re here.”

“We’re where?” Memfis asked. Then he coughed. “No. No, we are not here. We’re not. You’re not leaving me, Milon.”

Milon coughed. “Saw it. Saw it in the smoke. You know.”

“No!”

“Don’t shout!” Aleia hissed. “They’ll hear you!”

“Aleia?” Milon raised his voice slightly. “C’mere, Guppy.”

Aleia left the door and joined the others, kneeling down and laying her swords aside so that she could lean over to kiss Milon’s forehead. “Don’t call me Guppy,” she whispered. She sat up and looked at Memfis. “What did he see?”

Memfis and Milon had known each other the longest — they’d been boys together in the Fire tribe city of Forge, training there to be prophetic Smoke Dancers. Milon’s visions had never been wrong. “What is he talking about?”

Memfis swallowed and blinked, his pale amber eyes filling again with tears. “His death. It’s one of the first things we see when we start to dance in the smoke. We see our end.”

Jehan looked up. “You never told me that!”

“You’re part Fire, but you’re not a Smoke Dancer,” Memfis answered. “You didn’t need to know.”

“Mem, promise me,” Milon said, his voice quiet. “Get them out. Promise me.”

“Milon—”

“Guppy is pregnant. You need to see them safe,” Milon continued. He frowned. “Liara… never see her again. Never see the baby. Babies.”

“How did you know?” Jehan demanded. “I only just confirmed it this morning. Yesterday.” He looked at Aleia. “I don’t even know when I am anymore.”

“Jehan, focus,” Memfis murmured. “Don’t panic.”

“I’m not panicking!” Jehan snapped. Then he swallowed and let out a soft huff. “Okay. A bit.”

Aleia looked down, and realized that Milon’s eyes were closed. “Is he—”

“No,” Jehan answered. “Milon, stay with us. We’ll get out of this.”

“Mem.” Milon’s voice was softer. “Get them out. You know how.”

Memfis nodded. “I know. But I can’t leave you!”

Milon smiled slightly. “That’s an order,” he said. “From your Firstborn. Go.”

Memfis looked at if he’d been slapped. “Milon—”

“Go, Mem. They’re coming.” Milon swallowed. “Send word to Liara. Tell her to be safe. That I love her.” He smiled.

“Love you all.”

Aleia leaned down and kissed Milon gently. Then she picked up her swords and moved away, going back to the door so that the others could say their goodbyes. She heard a step behind her, then Jehan came to stand on her left.

“Did you tell him?” he asked. Aleia looked up at him and shook her head.

“You know he always knew more than he should have,” she answered. She shifted both swords to her right hand so that she could take Jehan’s hand. “Jehan—”

“Don’t ask me how I am,” he said quickly. “I couldn’t even tell you.”

Aleia nodded, squeezing his fingers. Behind her, she heard Memfis whispering something, but couldn’t make out the words. She heard Milon’s voice whispering something in response, then Memfis raised his voice. “Jehan, he wants the block removed.”

“I don’t have to,” Jehan said as he turned back. “I can leave it.” He went back to kneel once more next to Milon. Aleia followed him, resting her hand on his shoulder as Jehan looked down at his hands, then took one of Milon’s hands in his. “I can leave the block, and I can put you to sleep. You… you won’t wake.”

“Do that,” Memfis said, his voice cracking. “Give him that much.”

Jehan looked up at Memfis, then back at Milon. Milon nodded, closing his eyes once more. “Please.”

Jehan sat very still for a moment, then reached out and rested his free hand on Milon’s forehead. Milon sighed softly, and his body went limp. Jehan laid Milon’s hand on his chest, then wiped his face.

“Where—?” he started, and his voice cracked. He stopped, cleared his throat, then started again, “Mem, where are we going?”

Memfis didn’t answer immediately. Slowly, he laid Milon’s hand down. He leaned down and kissed Milon’s lips gently, then paused with his forehead touching Milon’s. He straightened and looked at Jehan. Then he looked up at Aleia. “Pregnant?”

Aleia swallowed. “Yes.”

“Is Milon the father, or Jehan?”

“Jehan,” Aleia answered. “The timing is wrong for Milon.”

Memfis nodded slowly. He got to his feet and took a deep breath. “Where are we going?” he repeated. “Down the servant’s way. You two ever been in the corridors?”

Jehan shook his head. “No. Have you?”

Memfis nodded. “Milon showed me. There are tunnels that lead right down to the water. It’s how they bring supplies up to the palace. Milon and I, we’d go down to the docks and watch the ships come in.” He got up and moved to a tapestry in the corner, shifting it aside to reveal a door. “Come on. They’ll start searching the rooms soon, when they realize we’re not among the dead.”

***

Aleia could smell the sea long before they were out of the tunnels. The smell of home. Then they were at the mouth of the tunnels, and she could see the sunlight glittering on the water. They stopped, and she stood between Jehan and Memfis, taking their hands in hers.

“You’re coming back with me,” she said. “The both of you. We’ll be safe—”

“I’m going back to Forge,” Memfis interrupted. “That’s where my path runs.”

“Mannon will find you,” Jehan said. “He’ll look for you, for all of us. Once he knows we’re alive, he’ll hunt for us.”

Memfis snorted. “He won’t find me. Remember, I know my end. It’s a long time from now. And to get there, I need to go back to Forge. There are things I need to do there.” He looked down at Aleia and smiled. “I’ll be all right. Your road is on the waves, Guppy. Take Jehan and go back to your family.”

“I can’t go yet,” Jehan said softly. “I need to go back to the healing center. I need to finish my training, so that… so I don’t fail again. So that when I need to, I can save the people I love.” He swallowed, then looked at Aleia. “Will you come with me?”

“Jehan!”

“I…” Jehan blushed. “I love you. I love you both. I loved Milon, too. I can’t lose you all. Memfis knows his road. Say you’ll take my road with me? It will be only until I finish my training, and then we’ll go to the sea. I… I’m a lousy carpenter. I’ll build a canoe with you, if you want, but it might sink.”

Aleia felt her throat tighten. She slipped her hand from Jehan’s, slid her arm around his back and leaned in to him, mindful of the sword case that she wore strapped to her back. “I won’t let you drown, Jehan.”

He slipped his arm around her. “And I won’t call you Guppy.”

“Let’s go,” Memfis murmured. “Jehan, your healing center, that was the one near the border of Earth and Fire, right? I have money. We can bribe one of the merchants to take us south, and head inland from there. I’ll leave you at the healing center.”

“You don’t have to see us there, Mem,” Aleia protested.

“I promised him I’d see you safe,” Memfis replied. “I’m keeping that promise. Come on.”

Posted by EASchechter in Adavar, Ashes and Light, Elemental Project, forthcoming works, Heir to the Firstborn, Swords of Charlemagne, upcoming books, WIP, wordcount, Worldbuilding, writing, 0 comments

Work in Progress: Ashes and Light, Week 1

Ashes and Light
Swords of Charlemagne, Book 3

7212 / 85000 (8.48%)
Not bad for a first week. I hadn’t realized that I was missing Margaret and Douglas until I dove back into their world. two chapters in, not sure how many more are to come.

 

There was also over 6K words written on Heir to the Firstborn, which is humming along nicely. I just dropped my first mountain on my MC. It’s a little one. There are bigger ones to come. (teehee — for mine is an evil writer laugh!)

 

I do have to say I’m enjoying having more time to write. And working on two projects at the same time isn’t as difficult as I thought it might be. Which is good, because I am really enjoying both projects, and I don’t want to have to put one aside to focus on the other. Now, having said that, I will probably put Heir on hold when I get my next set of edits in. Two projects at once is going well. Two projects and edits might be too much. We’ll see.

 

Now, I did the last couple of book tracking posts with excerpts.  So I should do excerpts for this one, too.  Here’s the beginning of chapter one of Ashes and Light:

 

***
Mid-August, and the Season was over for the year. The worst of the summer heat was passing, and the worst of the London crowds had retreated to country estates, not to be seen again in London until February. Not that Margaret cared much about the Season. She’d never been of that level of society, where social connections and rank were considered paramount. Being studied and judged, like a butterfly pinned to a card, made her deeply uncomfortable. Going to the theatre, or the Opera, to dinner parties or balls or any of the other normal evening diversions were, in her mind, poor choices when compared to staying at home and exploring what Douglas had called her belated morning-gift — the extensive library that he and Yael Mystere had accumulated over the years in the London townhouse that Margaret now shared with her husband.

 

The only thing better would have been if Mystere had been there to share it with them.

 

Margaret sighed and glanced up and down the street before crossing to the far side. It had been four months since they’d last seen Mystere. Four  months without any word, any signs that he lived. Knowing what she now knew about him, about Douglas, and the life that she’d once shared with them so many years ago, she doubted that he was dead. Especially since death was something that Mystere seemed to recover from remarkably well. But having him disappear like this had gone from puzzling to alarming to terrifying — where was he? He’d told them that the next sword — his own sword, Almace — was here in London. He’d sent them ahead, promised to follow them. But he hadn’t, and it had been four months.

 

Margaret stopped and resettled the long strap of her satchel on her shoulder. Usually, the duties of the lady of the house included paying calls in an afternoon, making the endless social rounds of forced niceties and simpering conversations about who was doing what with whom, and the shocking prices of whatever the delicacy of the moment might be. Douglas had introduced her to several of his colleagues at the hospital, and to their wives. She could very well call on them, if she was so inclined. But today was Friday, and many of those wives were assisting in their husband’s clinics today. It would hardly do to show up at their doors and expected to be entertained.

 

So, on Fridays, Margaret paid no social calls. Instead, she paid intellectual ones — visiting the Reading Room of the British Museum, searching through antique bookstores, trying to find any reference that she could on the Wardens. On the swords. On where Mystere could possibly have hidden Almace. The sword was in holy ground, Mystere had told them. It was a starting point, and one that had left Margaret dizzy with the discovery of just how many places within the borders of London could be considered holy ground. Still, she researched, and every false trail, every failed turn only strengthened her determination to tease loose the strands of the puzzle that Mystere had left them with. Caedda and his quest to possess all four swords was never far from her thoughts, making her work all that more urgent. Inside her satchel were copies of her notes, written in a amalgam of Old High German, Old Low Franconian, both East and West, Latin, Greek and Aramaic, which she had then forced through a filter of Pittman shorthand. Perhaps Mystere could have puzzled them out, but she was certain in her bones that no one else would be able to. And she wasn’t entirely certain that Mystere knew Pittman shorthand.

 

Those notes documented the locations of every square inch of holy ground that existed inside the boundaries of London of a thousand years before, collected from maps and tax records and entries in countless diaries. Every Friday, she added to that list — perhaps one, perhaps six, which she then added to the map that was locked away in the workroom that she shared with Douglas. And every Saturday, she and Douglas went searching, hunting for those locations, hoping against hope that this time, they would find Almace.

 

Four months of searching, and all for naught. There were no traces of Almace. And still, no traces of Yael Mystere.
She turned from Westmoreland Street onto Wheatley, and crossed the quiet street toward Wesley and home. As she turned the corner, she stopped.

 

There was someone sitting on the steps of the townhouse.

 

No. No, that wasn’t right. There was a small figure slumped on the steps of the townhouse. And even from this distance, she could see the growing stain beneath them.

 

Douglas, there’s someone bleeding out on the steps!
Posted by EASchechter in accountability, Ashes and Light, Enspire, excerpt, Forbidden Fiction, forthcoming works, Heir to the Firstborn, progress, Swords of Charlemagne, WIP, wordcount, 0 comments

What’s the story, Wishbone?

(Anyone else remember that show?)

Here we are in August, and it’s time for school to start again. Which means that it’s time for me to start again.

I’m coming off a fantastic weekend at Indie Book Fest, a convention that I think is going to be a regular thing for me from now on. Even though I had a nasty case of food poisoning on Thursday night, I still had an amazing time, and I met a bunch of wonderful writers and readers.  Cannot wait for next year!

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Having fun at IBF. #ibf2018

A post shared by Elizabeth Schechter (@schechterelizabeth) on

(I really like this picture!)

In other news, I posted another chapter of Heir to the Firstborn on Friday night, a preliminary map on Saturday, and I am working on the next post. Yes, I’m going to be working on two stories simultaneously. Yes, I have a plan. No, I have no idea how well this plan is going to work. You don’t know until you try, right?

Everybody ready?

Let’s go!

 

Posted by EASchechter in 2018 plans, Adavar, Ashes and Light, Best laid plans, Best planned lays, Elemental Project, Heir to the Firstborn, Indie Bookfest, Patreon, Planning, Swords of Charlemagne, 0 comments

Testing, testing

This is a test.

Okay, it’s more of a pop quiz.

I’m just testing to see if I can still post to all my usual places. Facebook has changed some things.

As you were.

 

Posted by EASchechter, 0 comments

An interesting week

It’s been a very interesting week here in Schechterland.

I finished the first chapter of the Heir to the Firstborn, and I’ve scheduled it to go live on Patreon on Friday, August 3rd at 8PM. It’s going up as a public freebie, so anyone can take a look. If you like it, and want to know what happens after… well, you can jump in for a dollar a month.

I was originally planning on going live with the chapter this past Friday, but I was late because of the other interesting thing this past week. I had oral surgery on Thursday.

This is where you want to avoid the next bit if dental things bother you. I’ve put the story in gray between the stars, so that it’s harder to read. If you really want to know, you can highlight it to see what I’m talking about.

***

It wasn’t a hugely invasive procedure, but I ended up with two stitches and some bone removal, so it did knock me off my pins.

Yes, I did  say “it wasn’t a hugely invasive procedure” and “bone removal” in the same sentence. Considering that my alternative involved bone grafts and implants? Yeah, this was good.

I’m still a little loopy (and I’m not even on the good pain meds!) I’m recovering, though, and will have a permanent crown put in on Thursday (I hope. Depends on how the incisions are healing.)

***

Okay, back to less squicky bits. (And yes, I went back and edited to that the white text wasn’t showing up on the gray background.)

I’ll be starting back to Swords of Charlemagne in just about two weeks, after Indie Bookfest. There are still tickets available for the convention, so if you’re in the area of Lake Mary, Florida, you should totally come check it out!

Posted by EASchechter in 2018 plans, Adavar, appearances, Best laid plans, Best planned lays, circlet, Elemental Project, Heir to the Firstborn, Indie Bookfest, Patreon, promotions, Swords of Charlemagne, why-the-writing-is-slow, 0 comments

Love is love is love. July 25, 2018

I just sent this letter off to the RWA board.

****
To everyone on the RWA Board, hello.

I couldn’t make it to the National Convention this year, so I missed out on seeing all of you in person again. I know I’ve only been to one convention so far, but last year I called it the Romance Family Reunion. I missed the reunion this year, and I regret it.

I regret it more in that I didn’t have a chance to see Suzanne Brockmann’s speech in person. I’ve read it, and wow! I am sorry I missed that.

I’m also sorry that you’re now having to deal with the fallout of that speech. It boggles my mind that romance writers can be so closed minded. Our genre is about love. Love is the reason for our writing. To say that somehow love is wrong because of gender, or color, or any other reason is to deny the very guiding principle of our genre. To quote Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Love is love is love is love,” and no amount of gate-keeping or pearl-clutching is going to change that.

I’ve seen people saying that the speech was too political. I’m reading that as “How dare you shine light on the dark places of my soul? How dare you tip my sacred cows!” Really, how is what we do not political? Writing is art, and art is nothing if not political. Art is meant to be uncomfortable. It exists to make people think. To make them open their minds and their hearts to the greater meaning of the universe.

Boy, that was pretentious, wasn’t it?

Romance pushes envelopes. It’s subversive. It always has been. It always will be. And even though the romance industry has been slow to change, it has changed! A large part of that change has come because of what you’ve done, and what your immediate predecessors have done, and for that, I thank you. From the very bottom of my heart, I thank you.

There’s still more to do. And it starts with standing up for love. It starts with making statements like Suzanne Brockmann did. It starts with tipping those sacred cows and calling the ignorant and the small-minded on their hypocrisy.

I’ll finish with another quote. This one is from another hero of mine, writer J. Michael Straczynski. Being the unrepentant nerd that I am, it’s a comic book quote, from “Civil War: The Amazing Spider Man.” The words were spoken by Captain America:

“Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right.

This nation was founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — “No, YOU move.”

We believe in love. We will stand for love, in all of its many forms and colors.

It’s time for the people who say otherwise to move.

Posted by EASchechter, 0 comments

Mirror: I Have a Plan

Mirrored from Patreon:

All right. So here’s the plan.

I just posted the Earth Tribe introduction as a Patron only post. Next week, I’ll post the last Tribe (which is Fire).

The following week, I’ll be starting the actual story. I’ve got a synopsis going, and the characters are starting to yell at me.

Once I start the story, I’m changing the Patreon over to per month (as opposed to per creation). I’ll be posting more frequently — every two to three thousand words, and if I charge by the creation, that might get a bit onerous. I’m hoping to have the story up one chapter a week, on Fridays. It might slow down a bit once I go back to working on Swords of Charlemagne in mid-August. I hope not, though.

So, that’s the plan. Story coming soon!

Posted by EASchechter in 2018 plans, Adavar, Best laid plans, Best planned lays, Elemental Project, Heir to the Firstborn, Mirror, Patreon, Planning, Worldbuilding, writer on writing, 0 comments