One of my favorite things about being a “discovery writer” (that’s someone who doesn’t plot a story out, though I am thinking that some planning would help, but that’s a blog for another day) is finding little bits of story that are gems waiting to be uncovered.
There’s one “gem” though that I’ve been waiting for years to find out what the story behind the story is.
In Quest for the Three Books, I “knew” that the Shant’olin (nasty ghosts who eat souls) were tied to the ruins of Lilinar. I always figured Rivic had had something to do with this. But as I prepare the ending of Walk the Path, sequel to Tangled Magic, I haven’t discovered the answer to how the Shant’olin were contained to the ruins, or even how they got there.
It remains a mystery.
Also, when I was working on all the stories in the Sacred Knight series, I know there is something special about the gates of Lilinar, perhaps that there is something buried beneath them, maybe right inside. The observant reader will notice that the Shant’olin never approach near the gate in Quest for the Three Books. In later books, Steigan often has a strange sensation as he’s walking into Lilinar. Again, I thought I would find out what was going on when I wrote Rivic’s books, since he was the one who built Lilinar. But Walk the Path ends with him just starting the building of Lilinar after he leaves Gohaldinest.
That leaves me with the question of what is going on?
There is another story here. Is there a character I’m missing? A bigger picture? Another story between stories?
Do you want to know the best part?
That means there is more to this story for me to start to discover. And that is my happy spot.
Here’s a little story you might not know about Gohaldinest.
In Quest for the Three Books, I needed a name for a place whose streets were supposedly paved with gold. The line, “The streets are paved with gold, but I seek a richer treasure,” kept going through my head. The streets of where?
So, of course I went about naming this city by doing what I always do: starting with a letter and seeing where it goes from there. As you are probably thinking, the name became Gohaldinest.
The streets of Gohaldinest are paved with gold, but I seek a richer treasure. If you’ve read the Sacred Knight series, then you know this is a line from the oath of a dominus. But Gohaldinest was never meant to be a real city. It was supposed to be an imaginary place, the setting of a fable.
We have cities like this in our own history, those that seem to have been swallowed by time. As our archaeology and technology improves, we realize that sometimes the rubble of one city becomes the foundations for another. Many towns are built from the very stones of the buildings of fallen cities.
This is what happened to Gohaldinest. It literally wasn’t until the third book, To Birth a Destiny, when Steigan is in Dubinshire that he discovers that Gohaldinest is real and that Dubinshire was built from the rock that had once formed the older city.
Now to have walked through Gohaldinest in the shoes of three different characters (Steigan: Quest for the Three Books, Rivic: Tangled Magic & Walk the Path, and Cirvel: Palladium) just for starters is pretty amazing and wondrous. The further back I go into the history of Gohaldinest (since for some reason I have to be writing these books pretty much backwards — it doesn’t quite count since I still need to write books 5 and 6 for Sacred Knight), the more of an amazing place this city becomes.
A few nights ago I was flipping through my sketchbook again and came across a picture that reminds me of Ithanes. Ah, Ithanes!
He doesn’t come into the story until book 2, Manifest the Magic, but he was so full of surprises for me. I’ve come to utterly adore him. He’s like the king of snark, and very powerful with his magic. He knows what he’s good at, and lets people follow their strengths. He’s a good leader in that he finds people to compensate for the areas where he is weak. I think that’s why he likes Steigan so much. Yet, he also doesn’t often show weakness in himself. He’s lord of two lands, Dubinshire and Gohaldinest, and he lets everyone know it. Don’t let him fool you, though. He does have his deep, dark secrets.
And speaking of which, I so want to look through that curio cabinet he keeps locked in his chambers. In book 3, To Birth a Destiny, the reader gets to see that curio a couple of times and Steigan even describes some of what he saw. But let me tell you, I was right there when Steigan was discussing what he was seeing and he certainly didn’t get to some of the more interesting items toward the back. Some day I’d like to draw that cabinet and all the trinkets in there. I’d also love to sit down and talk to Ithanes about how he collected all of them. Oh, the stories!
This sketch was done in 2018. I do think if I’d intended it to be Ithanes, it should have had a teardrop-shaped gemstone hanging from the circlet. Maybe I just needed practice drawing a circlet, even a wiry one. (grin)
Maybe someday I’ll get around to doing an illustrated Sacred Knight edition, or maybe even a graphic novel. Someday.
Did you know that Rivic’s story,Tangled Magic, almost didn’t happen?
As I was working on the first three books of the Sacred Knight series and thinking about Alityka’s part, I started seeing scenes with Rivic and Alityka. I even wrote several of these scenes down. All were from Alityka’s point of view.
Then in 2015, I started writing a story as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month held in November). I had fully intended it to be a rewrite of the start of a novel I had written many years ago and lost the beginning chapters. Soon, I realized that I was actually writing two books. Yes, I had the start of my lost novel, which I wrote nearly 30 years ago and I certainly don’t remember how it started then so this was fresh, but I also had a major piece of another story. I finished NaNoWriMo with over the 50,000 words needed to “win,” but I hadn’t actually finished the novel.
After giving it some time to cool down and really figure out what I had going on, I split the two pieces apart. Yet now I had to figure out the characters I had. I so much wanted to write Alityka’s story that I resisted telling it from Rivic’s point of view, yet I knew in my heart this was exactly what was what needed to happen. Yes, Alityka’s side of my Sacred Knight story needed to be told by Rivic.
Ah, yes… in the post of my weekly chapter last Friday, I did mention that I would talk about why I’d been absent. Look at how well I dodged that!
Okay, well, if you figured from the not so discrete announcement, I’ve been busy getting Tangled Magic up. I had so wanted to let it have a longer pre-order time, maybe get some hype worked up for it. But after finding it delayed for nearly a year, I couldn’t do that. I just didn’t want to wait any longer.
So, I finally had to draw the line in the sand and say that I was getting it done.
Read it before the Sacred Knight story starts towards its conclusion with The Missing Thread (more on that to come!)
In case you are wondering, this story has changed significantly since it here on the blog under the working title of Onesong. Which, honestly, it should because the chapters I release here are merely work in progress to keep me moving. By the time I make them into a book, they should be worked out and cleaned up. It’ll be familiar, but (hopefully) delightfully different.
I’ve been preparing Tangled Magic for publication and I started thinking that I should add a map and a character list like I’ve done for my Sacred Knight series.
Now, keep in mind that I had this thought while I was actually working on a scene for Walk the Path, sequel to Tangled Magic, because this is where one of those odd synchronicities take place.
These two things made me start thinking about the character list in Sacred Knight. Did you know that there is actually a character missing from the cast in To Birth a Destiny (book 3) as well as Prince of the Ruined Land (book4)? I have mentioned it a few times and no one has ever come back to me saying that they have found the character.
Okay, yes, it is one character in a lineup of nearly 100. I admit that it’s probably not very obvious.
But here comes Tangled Magic and I have an opportunity to either list this very character (sort of – I’ll explain below) in the cast or not. The situation repeats for Walk the Path. If I really wanted to push it, I get another “chance” to hide this character in the character list for Palladium.
Now the reason I say that it’s the “very character” is because it’s not necessarily the same person. It is the same person in To Birth a Destiny and Prince of the Ruined Land, but in the other books, there’s a possibility that it’s more of a position, like a title.
And I am the one left laughing because I never did give this character an actual name in the Sacred Knight series.
As for the synchronicity, I was writing about this character in Walk the Path when I actually realized what was going on with this character.
Yep, now I’m really launched into my maniacal laughter.
I’m having fun wondering just how long I can “hide” this character. Maybe if I make it all the way to the release of Palladium without someone pointing it out, I’ll set up some kind of prize for finding the missing person.
Until then, I already consider the game afoot. (grin)
Sometimes I like to go back through my sketchbook. I find interesting things.
Here’s a partially inked picture of *shock* Steigan. I use to draw him more than anything else. Not so much these days, but every now and then he pops up.
You can see that it’s over 2 years old.
More interesting is that on the next page, I found this statement that I wrote:
His eyes are older,
Yet they still mock me.
Temptation leave me be.
I am an idiot.
His eyes still haunt.
My heart grows none the wiser.
Just have to say, “Say what?” I found this to be a completely odd statement in my journal. Who the heck was I talking about? Was it just words that popped into my head? I have lines that do that sometimes, but I generally write them down in an idea file, not in my sketchbook. This makes me think I was actually referring to someone. Besides, words like “I am an idiot” don’t usually fill the snippets that land in my head; that also feels more like me talking in my head.
Since this was also dated around 2017 and there is absolutely no clue as to what I was thinking about on that day, I guess this will fall off into the mysteries of mankind. The world will never know what adventure I was on that day which led me to write these words.
Oh, and it’s more proof that I am no poet. But I do enjoy it when my past self leaves my future self some tantalizing mysteries.
Been trying to post this since Tuesday, but the time never felt quite right until now.
Now, if you were been reading between the lines on my Monday blog, you noticed
that I’ve also been working on other stories too. Lately, I’ve been doing this
massive brainstorming on Cirvel’s plans. This has led me to working on the
entire story from Palladium on through to the Sacred Knight series
where I’m currently struggling on book 5.
I remember when I was working on Quest for the Three Books and was getting overwhelmed because it was such a large story. I mean, there were three timelines involved! When I consider Cirvel’s story and how his plans literally run through three series (which right now are a total of nine books – more on this in a moment) and a span of about 5,000 years, I know that I could easily face that same overwhelm. This is an important story. When I add to it that between Cirvel and Moonhunter’s stories, I am building the backbone for a plethora of stories in a connected universe and I know it must be solid. Who wouldn’t hurl under these conditions? But I feel extremely lucky that I worked through those issues of overwhelm when I was at the smaller level, even though it didn’t feel like it at the time.
That’s not to say I haven’t had a few anxious moments. There are some things
that when I’m having to make a decision, I feel as if I’m standing on a ledge
looking out into the vast expanse of space.
Then I remind myself that no one’s life is on the line and I mellow out
about it. It’s just a story.
It’s my own desire to get it right, as close to perfectionism as I come,
that drives me. And I know I’m much better if I stay loose and trust the
process. Again, not life or death.
So above I counted nine novels in the full scope of Cirvel’s tale. This
includes Palladium (which hopefully you are reading along with on my
blog right now), Tangled Magic and Walk the Path (the 2 stories
which make up Rivic’s part of the tale), and then the six novels of the Sacred
Knight series (even though only four of them are released right now). I haven’t
included two other stories. One of those is where Martias and Steigan go off to
the Palin Wars when they aren’t supposed to. I’ve been working on that story in
this time too. In fact, I discovered the answer to the story that I thought I
needed, but when I went back to it, I discovered that at some point I had
“finished” the story. Now I’m left wondering if I want to do what came to me in
the last few weeks, if I want to leave it as it is even though the new idea is
so much better, or to figure out how to merge the two ideas which might
overload the story. There is also the possibility that I break off the aspect
of the story which “finished” it and make that another story. It would be so
easy to do. It has left me wondering if Martias has an even bigger part than I
Not bad for a character I initially murdered off in an early draft.
Yes, Martias was supposed to die in Quest for the Three Books.
I am very glad my critique partners screamed at me killing him and told me
to completely lose that draft. Sherri even made me feel very guilty about it. I
remember her telling me that she was going to get “Team Martias” shirts made –
I sometimes wonder if her comment spurred the turn in Martias’ character. He
was never meant to become so evil. He was always supposed to be a helper for
Steigan. The moment he became the Shapeshifter character and dropped the metal
trap door on Steigan down in the catacombs, it surprised the heck out of me.
Trust the process! I even know the exact moment he takes the journal from
Steigan. There are things that only I know about Martias. Most of it has come
out, but there is more. Even as I’m writing these words, I realize that I do
have more locked away in my head, things that I’ve hinted at to myself. I have
chills crawling over my arms. See, I might even have to write more stories with
As a side note, the world lost Sherri earlier this year to cancer. She was
an amazing storyteller and I wish I had craft she did. She always spurred me to
write better. And especially to pay attention to my grammar – I’m trying I swear!
I have often thought about what Sherri would think about Martias now since I
don’t know if she ever read books 2 through 4. Now that she’s gone, I invite
her to my side often to help me through plotting all this. Maybe that’s why I
don’t feel the overwhelm I did. I have promised another reader that Steigan will
get a happy ending (though if you paid attention when Onesong was running on my
blog, you know it didn’t last), but I hope that I can give Martias a happy
ending too in memory of Sherri.
There is one more book that I didn’t include in my list of Cirvel’s stories and it might be an important one. It’s the story where Elliot is the main character. Now Elliot is a different breed. If you read For a Good Time, Call Loki, then you saw Elliot as a (pre)teen. Yeah, I’m being vague on that. His novel starts many years later and involves characters that I believe are Cirvel’s children. What I am missing is the little spark which really pulls this into being a book in the chain of Cirvel’s long-term plans. I feel like I am so close to finding the tie, but I have yet to put the bow on it. You’ll probably hear me screaming with joy the very moment I discover it. (grin)
So yes, if you were paying attention in that last paragraph, you see that in
my “connected universe” I even pull Loki’s and Steigan’s stories together.
Elliot is not the only connection I have either, it’s the only one that has
been published (and I guess doesn’t fully count until I publish Elliot’s book too).
I love these mind games I get to play with myself! Best job in the world. To
me, this is what makes writing so exciting.
And now I’m going to get back to it. So many books to write. So little time.
I promised this week you’d discover where they had landed. Of course, if that was if you’d read the story Onesong when it was posted here. (grin) Of course, you sort of see a glimpse of it in To Birth a Destiny, but it’s not clear there, nor was it meant to be obvious. I only realized what was going on when I writing the Onesong stories (which are now Tangled Magic and Walk the Path).
If your new to my writing or haven’t read/don’t remember Onesong, don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you. I never know where people have started reading or what they have read, so it’s all good.
But for the core fans who have been with me for a while, I suspect there is going to be a small sound of delight at having hit a nugget of things coming together, followed by a, “Wait, how’s that possible? OMG! Need more now!”