Category: Ascended

Weekend Writing Warriors: Ascended 3

In NaNoWriMo spirit I am continuing to post excerpts from my current project Ascended.

Lately I’ve been showing a lot of anti-Shipwreck Island sentiment and how the local movement seems to have the upper hand in comparison to the refugees.  But with Lord Mark about to marry a prominent Shipwreck Islander and remaining hospitable to the refugees, this isn’t always the case.  Here’s a scene with Foreman Zander where the tables are turned on him.  He tries to enter Sunforge Castle and speak to Lord Mark regarding the plague epidemic, but is stopped short by castle guards.

“You can ask for an audience, sure, […] but that doesn’t mean you can just barge in on your say so.  The Duke is busy, now come back another time!”

“I think he needs more convincing,” the first guard said.  Sunlight flashed from his sword.  Zander recognized the make of the swords, as they came from his own factory.   I hope you appreciate them, boys.  They cost perhaps more money than you ever saw back home.  Did Lord Mark find this amusing, to send Shipwreck islanders to guard the castle from him with his own company’s steel?

NaNoWriMo: Week 2

We’re now in week 3 of National Novel Writing Month.  Hopefully it will go better than the previous week.

In the NaNoWriMo community, Week 2 is generally considered the time when productivity slows or hits a wall.  The feeling of hopelessness often kicks in, and that nagging feeling of “there’s no way you can keep this up!  You’re so far from your goals!” starts gnawing at the back of your mind.  The dreaded Inner Editor finishes chewing out of the leather straps you used to restrain it, and gets to work convincing you that the words you do have down are terrible and you’d be better off without them.

I am not immune to this feeling.

My week had a great start.  Despite being behind on the daily word count (to stay on track, writers try to add about 1,667 words a day) by over 10 thousand words, I pulled off an amazing sprint thanks to high doses of caffeine and the BICFOK (Butt in chair, fingers on keys) method.  My end of day total was close to 7 thousand words.  I’ve pulled off 5K days in the past, but this was a new record for me.  I’m still impressed with my progress.

After that day?  Nothing.  I’ve added maybe a few hundred words since then.  At the time of this writing I’m still hovering around 15 thousand words, and although I love all of them, I wish there were more.  But after that sprint I’ve been feeling mentally drained.  Not only that, given the fact that I didn’t plan as much as I’m used to before writing, I’m a bit lost as to where the plot should go from my current state.  I’m not sure yet if I’m not wired for “pantsing” through novels or just not used to the method.

It wasn’t all bad.  What little progress I have made all but cemented the structure that the novel will have upon completion.  Not unlike Jasper, the story will have three distinct parts.  Part 1 focuses on the plague and its destruction of social order in Sunforge, ending with a wedding for the two protagonists that doesn’t quite go as planned.  It will establish the characters and their places in society, create the bleak atmosphere and establish the basic social/economic structure of the city.  The latter is more important for future installments, because I am considering expanding this story into a series.  Part 2 deals with the aftermath of the plague once it finishes off the population.  The survivors are then left to deal with vengeful spirits.  Part 3 kicks in once the characters survive the ghosts and discover the true culprits behind the plague.

I’ve also made some progress into fleshing out the main group of antagonists.  Many Sunforge citizens, accepting that they are facing their death and believing that Shipwreck Islanders are the cause, begin acting out of revenge to commit violent acts up to and including murder on the refugees.  Foreman Zander manages to recruit members of the lower class hardest hit by plague to aid in his “cause.”  It’s not a case of “get them before they get us,” but “get them because they got us.”

That’s how my week was, writing wise.  I’d cross my fingers in hope that this week will show better progress, but that makes it difficult to write.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Ascended 2

Another excerpt from Ascended.  I made amazing progress on Thursday when I had a break from work, writing nearly 7,000 words.  I’m still behind on my wordcount goals, but I have plenty of time to catch up.

It’s simple and fun. Sign the linky, then on Sunday, post 8 sentences from a current writing project, published or unpublished. Visit other participants and offer opinions, critiques, support. Writers hanging out with writers, a good time with a great group of people.

In my last post I touched on the hostility of Sunforge citizens toward refugees from Shipwreck Island.  Sallei Corvus may be preparing to marry the Lord of Sunforge, but the citizens have not forgotten who she is or where she was born.  This excerpt introduces Foreman Zander, who is the main antagonist of the story.  He is a foreman in one of Sunforge’s arms factories and member of the emerging middle class.

Some snipping has been made to fit the 8-sentence structure and help the excerpt flow better.

“You appear to be lost, my lady,” a voice said behind her.  “These streets are no place for someone like you.”

Sallei turned.  Peering from behind the stationary [automaton] was a man … easily large enough to match the intimidating machine.  He placed a hand on the [automaton’s] shoulder and smiled.  “At least you brought yourself a bodyguard,” he said.  […]

“It’s not here to defend me,” Sallei said.  “Are you suggesting that I need protection?”

This is probably one of my favorite scenes so far.  Everything that Zander has said to Sallei at his point has the hint of a veiled threat in it.  It displays his feeling of superiority toward Sallei and her people, and at the same time his knowledge that he is lower in the pecking order.

The Story of Ascended

When I said “in my next post” I didn’t take Weekend Writing Warriors into account.  But as promised, here is a bit of the backstory on my latest project for NaNoWriMo.

Ascended takes place in a city called Sunforge, located at the foot of a mountain range and on the northwest coast of the kingdom of Cecile.  Cecile tends to be an aggressive and war-loving kingdom, and Sunforge was historically the city where the nation’s arms were produced.  This makes Sunforge a prosperous and powerful city.  One of the protagonists is Lucas Mark, who is titled both Duke of the mountain region and Lord of Sunforge.

The other protagonist is his soon to be wife, Lady Sallei Corvus.  Her home of Shipwreck Island is part of the same kingdom, but was never as powerful as Sunforge and its arms manufacturing sector.  I switch to past tense here, because Shipwreck Island is all but destroyed by the start of Ascended.

What happened?  The short answer is plague.  A previously undiscovered disease struck the little island and killed most of the population before anyone could make sense of the symptoms, much less work on a cure.  Most of the survivors fled the island and arrived at the great city of Sunforge.

Fortunately, Lucas extended a warm welcome to all of the refugees, being from his fiancee’s home.  Unfortunately, the plague was not exterminated.  Soon enough, Sunforge citizens began to show symptoms of the same disease.

Some readers asked in the last post why the plague doctors received such harsh treatment.  The truth is, it has been widely believed (and with good reason) that Shipwreck Islanders carried the plague with them when they fled to Sunforge.  The fate of Sunforge is bleak at the moment: most citizens are infected if not already dead, and the doctors have all but given up on finding a way to slow the disease’s progress.  Naturally, there are worse off citizens who realize that the end is near and decide to take revenge on what Shipwreck Islanders are left.

That’s about all I can say about this story’s background.  Later I’ll go into detail about the land’s magic systems, its dominant religion (which does play a major part in the story), or the plague and plague doctors.  There’s a lot to tell.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Ascended

And now that I’m back from my blogging break, this entry comes from my NaNo project Ascended.

It’s simple and fun. Sign the linky, then on Sunday, post 8 sentences from a current writing project, published or unpublished. Visit other participants and offer opinions, critiques, support. Writers hanging out with writers, a good time with a great group of people.

There are two protagonists here:  Lucas Mark, Duke of the Mountains and Lord of Sunforge, and his fiancee Sallei Corvus, heir to Shipwreck Island.
Due to the speed-writing, plothole-inducing nature of NaNoWriMo, expect this excerpt to be rough.

“I saw a doctor beaten in the streets today,” Sallei said.  “Three children ganged up on him.  One of them took his cane and struck him with it until he fell.  Then while the other two kicked and stomped on him, he broke the cane in two and stabbed the man with it.  I saw parents nearby, watching out of the corners of their eyes, and did nothing.  That was only one doctor, but the violence will escalate.  I know it will be hard, Lucas, but you are the only one in this city who can do something.  So find a way and do it!”

NaNoWriMo week 1

No, I didn’t vanish.  I’ve been buried in a mountain of pumpkins and pumpkin baked goods.

It’s not all bad.  I’ve written about the pumpkin fever in spite of the Florida climate.  While I’m partial to the occasional pumpkin spice latte, my fondness for the seasonal flavor has gone down.  Maybe it’s the mile-high stacks of pumpkin pies and pound cakes I package on a daily basis, or maybe I’m outgrowing pumpkin.
Along with my new job, I’ve been devoting a lot of my time to National Novel Writing Month.  In the spirit of newness I’ve changed some of my usual habits.  For one, it’s time I took a short break from Jasper and come back to it with fresh eyes.  So I’m working on something new this month.  Ascended is a dark fantasy story with a mysterious plague, vengeful ghosts, and a woman who can transform into a bird.
This is also the first time in five years I’m pantsing the story.  Typically I have an outline to go by as my guide, a bare-bones map into unfamiliar territory.  This year, I have no map at all and the land is totally uncharted.  I wasn’t able to reach the finish line in the past few years with that outline, so perhaps it couldn’t hurt to give pantsing another try.
So far I’ve got a slow start and I’m far from being on track.  So far, I’m up to 3 thousand words.  By day 7 the par is 11,669. I’m slowly catching up but I’ve got a long way to go.
In my next post I’ll go into more detail about the plot and backstory of Ascended.  Expect to see a Weekend Writing Warriors post or three in the near future as well!