Di Salas

Now that I have abused your sensibilities with some Joe Schmoe rants, terrible style and all, I apologize for not updating for several months. I could cite ‘life happens’ as the reason, but really it was just that I had nothing to say. Moving on, here’s an excerpt from a story that went wrong in a hurry, so even though I like most of what is written past this point, it will probably be rewritten so it’s less grotty and more story that doesn’t end up dead-ending.

It was one of those situations when you know your writing is careening out of control, but just can’t help yourself, until you run into a dead end and put it down and walk away in self-defense until you’ve put enough time between you and it to be able to turn it into something usable.

This world is one of two worlds I’ve written in that were not originally my own, but a world concept gifted to me by a friend. In my notes, it is simply ‘The Demonwisp world’. Di’s name literally denotes him as the 4th born child, and thus not a citizen. Only the first two children of a citizen are citizens, but it’s considered ‘patriotic’ to have extra children to give to the government for the army and other purposes. Extra children are usually given ‘letter names’, a social attempt to be a bit nicer than calling them by numbers instead. Di didn’t qualify for the army, so he was sold to a private owner, instead.

Enjoy!

Di Salas really hated being manhandled, but he supposed that it was better than being pushed and expected to find his way without tripping. He had no idea where he was, or who had him, for that matter. They stopped suddenly. Di wondered why, then a cold, very noble-accented voice stated, “You’re a traitor.”

So, his owner, Lord Pyoter Daralis had been found out. It was like a kick to the chest, but he didn’t let it show. He was a dead man now, but they couldn’t have his pride. Only that stupid traitor, Lord Daralis, held that power.

“Yes. What of it?”

The blindfold was removed and he blinked in the sudden light. The noble, a highly placed one from his clothing, looked familiar, but he couldn’t place why.

“Arrogant, aren’t you? Do you know who I am, little fire mage?”

“No. Why don’t you just kill me and get it over with?”

The man chuckled and rose. Up close, Di suddenly noticed the man was taller than him. Not that that was hard. Di was only 5’9½”.

He lifted a hand to the slavemark on Di’s neck. “I am High Prince Balsam Kai Renalis Vitchenka Alric.” He said more, but it was in Ancient, the language used for spells, and Di didn’t understand most of it, because a buzzing arose in his ears. Then pain struck him so hard that he would have screamed himself hoarse if he could have drawn breath. It was like being turned inside out, like having the original spell laid on him and then twisted, but at the same time. Then it was over, and he was panting heavily, tears in his eyes.

“What-” He cleared his throat. “What did you do?”

The High Prince smiled at him. “All of these spellmarks have a clause that allows one of royal blood to override them and assume ownership. Unfortunately for you, when that happens, the partially enforced binding is converted to a master binding to prevent a second override.”

Joe Schmoe, pt. 4

Joe really missed Mindy on days when he was marching in the hot sun or cold rain, with his riffle on his shoulder. At least they didn’t make him carry his rifle, though, because rifles could shoot people, and even though the government told him it was patriotic to shoot people, they understood that messing up people’s hair or disturbing their water or flipping the pages of their book was much less traumatic for their soldiers and much more frustrating to the enemy. The government was good like that.

[Yes, ‘riffle’ is a word, no, a ‘riffle’ is not a gun. But hey, it’s all good, Joe gets to carry around a conceptualized riffle!]

Joe Schmoe, pt. 2

He was used to being a solider, but being a soldier made him sad, because it meant he had to be away from his girlfriend. His girlfriend was sad too, because she missed the way he liked to ring orgasms out of her. He did this by passing the Ring of Orgasm repeatedly over her body. He also liked to wring orgasms from her in the more traditional manner, wringing every last drop of pleasure from her and leaving her a content mess.

[Yes, sex scene writers, unless you have a Ring of Orgasm, or are featuring some sort of ring device to make your character orgasm, the word is wring.]

Misused Words

So, I’m sure there’s people out there who wonder why people jump all over them for using a typo-ed, misspelled, or otherwise slightly misused word.

I’m someone who naturally tries to skip over things like that, but it takes an effort, because I can see how silly it makes things read. Since I’ve been teaching myself editing, this tendency has increased exponentially.

So, for those who don’t get it, or just have trouble with spelling or using the correct homophone, here’s approximately how reading through typos translates to my brain while I’m trying to read that otherwise lovely story. [This will continue for several entries, and I apologize ahead of time for the writing style.]

Joe Schmoe was an enemy solider. He was a solider cuz he was just built that way. Never mind that he was a skinny lightweight little fuck, he was a solider, and as a result, swimming was tough for him because his extra solid mass made him sink like a stone. He was also an enemy soldier, because his government handed him a gun and told him it was patriotic to shoot us. Governments being like that.

Four months late and a dollar short

Well, so much for February… and March… and April. Not sure where they went. Doctors appointments and allergies, I suspect. I definitely remember losing a few weeks to allergies in there. Privately I suspect that there was a break in the wall between this realm and a hell dimension, and some hell-trees snuck in before it was repaired, loosing their evil pollen on the world, well-disguised by by the similar and slightly less sinister action of spring-blooming earth trees.

Ahem.

Anyways. Some bright soul may have noticed that A Gift of a Name is still up. The reason for this being that the editor I was going to flog it to has a 10,000 minimum word count requirement for short stories and despite additions and edits, so far I’ve only been able to get it up to 7,000 words. This is baffling, since adding words is rarely an issue for me. So, for the meantime, until I get over the creeping urge to scream when I think about it, it’s staying up a while longer.

Meanwhile, writing…

April was CampNano, and I got coaxed into joining a cabin. Since I had nothing in mind, this mostly involved typing up already written but not previously typed stories. I did, however, end up writing on a very wicked space pirate character for a while…until I made the mistake of skimming through Nanowrimo while exhausted.

Let me warn you, skimming down an authors’ discussion thread of any sort can be very, very dangerous when you are loopy-tired, more so if you don’t realize that you’re that tired. I now have an Arthur/Mordred romance short running around in my head, driving me insane, filling in details left and right, demanding ungodly amounts of research into arthurian legends [which I don’t like in the first place, thank you very much], and refusing to be written as of yet. Those threads are dangerous, I’m telling you.

Hm. Excerpt, exerpt… Oh, yes, that’s where March went! Meet Fens, one of several POV characters in this story. So. This story opens with a werewolf in a tattoo shop, getting a tattoo from a Fae tattoo artist. After it’s done, he pays for the work, and when asked he absently replies  that he’s an Arne [omega equivalent]. Turns out that this was not the brightest reply he could have given, as it triggers the Fae’s acquisitive streak.

“You’ve already paid for the work, so I can’t keep you on that basis, but did you know that there’s an agreement between the Fae and the Werr that no one of jinn or lesser rank is to enter a Fae shop unescorted by one of higher rank without previous agreement? If you do, you can be taken in exchange for services provided.” The Fae lifted his hand, but Fens found that he was now held in place by a shackle inexplicably merged with the counter.

“Um.” He swallowed hard. “No, I didn’t. And I already paid.”

“That you did.” The Fae walked away.

“Hey, let me out of this!”

He paused, then turned. “Is that a request for the use of my skills?”

“No.” Fens wasn’t stupid.

“Then if you want out, free yourself. By the way, you won’t be able to shift in that shackle.”

“Great.” He said sarcastically, then muttered, “Lupe take it!” He laid his head down on the counter and sighed. This was going to be a long day.

It was hours later, and he was cold and stiff and ready to cry. Several customers had come and gone without giving any indication of even seeing him. Fae magic at work, obviously.

“So, you’re going to be stubborn. Are you holding out for your true mate or something? Is that why you refuse to give in and become mine?” The Fae sounded a bit offended, maybe even a bit hurt.

Fens lifted his head and glared at the Fae. “You could have just asked.”

“And you would have said ‘yes’?” he sounded surprised and dubious.

Fens regarded him silently for a very long minute. “I don’t like being forced to do things. I really don’t like people who don’t respect my intelligence. That aside, I would have said yes if you’d asked to begin with, though not now, of course.”

“Why would you have said yes?”

He smiled thinly. “Let me out of the shop with no impediment to my leaving, and with all my belongings, and I’ll tell you.”

The Fae looked disappointed, as if robbed of a favorite treat. “Agreed, but if you come back of your own will, I will keep you.” He made a gesture and the shackle disappeared.

Fens put on his shirt and coat and made sure he had his wallet and the instruction paper, then sauntered out of the shop. Once over the threshold, he turned and gazed at the Fae for a long moment, memorizing the ice pale blue eyes, the shoulder length silver blue hair caught back in a ponytail, the almost harsh but beautiful features, and the leanly muscled body.

“I won’t come back. But I would have stayed because you’re my mate. Nice meeting you.” With that, feeling like he was courting danger by doing so, he turned his back and walked away quickly. Why in the pits couldn’t he have had a nice jun-ne as a mate? Someone who could be expected to be a little offended by having a mate, but would get over it in a hurry. Why was he stuck wanting an arrogant, manipulative, possessive Fae he couldn’t have?

A shout of rage from behind him hurried his step.

Info Dumping

Pacing Information in a Story

Think of information as a jar of cookies. A large jar. You need your reader to eat all of them.

Sometimes you have to start off with three cookies, but dumping the jar of cookies in total on your reader won’t entice them to eat them all. In fact they might just up and walk off, considering it abuse. Three’s a good number, a nice bribe without being overwhelming.

Then for a while you need to just pass them cookies one at a time, as needed, as they finish the others. Sometimes two or three cookies as you go is okay. But not too many times in a row. You don’t want your reader to get stuffed and wander off because they’re not hungry anymore. Just pace yourself to how fast those cookies can be eaten. Small cookies can disappear quickly, where bigger ones take longer, and that plate sized one…well, you might have to break that thing in half to not overwhelm them.

And of course, there’s always a few cookies that are the best and tastiest. You have to be careful to pass those out at the right intervals. If you wait too long to start passing them, your reader will get upset and huff off. If you give them all out too soon, then your reader will be disappointed that there’s none left at the end.

Improving Sentence Structure

I was on a forum for writers recently, and there was a thread about sentence structure that I posted an answer to. Now, staring blankly at my blog, it occurred to me that perhaps it would be useful to others as well. So, this will be the first of a few posts on writing tips.

Cadun and Galvin

. . . This is a snippet that I’ve been meaning to get around to writing on for nearly two years now. Wow, time flies, hm? Galvin and Cadun’s story is a small spinoff of a much larger story, which may actually eventually be published under …some name. It is set in a world with multiple stories that vary widely. I asked people to suggest characters and then wrote their individual stories in an effort to widen my knowledge of the world and give it depth. From my point of view, it worked remarkably well, and challenged my writing skills as well. Galvin and Cadun are both fill-in characters that I came up with, but they turned out to be cute enough together that I wanted to write a bit more about them.

Here’s a little background, if you care. If you don’t, just go ahead and skip to the snippet.

Galvin and Cadun attend the Imperial Academy, which starts at grade 11 and goes through collage in top level government and business courses. Galvin and Cadun are in a specialized program that is entirely paid for by the Emperor, and in return, the graduates work for the Emperor the rest of their lives. The graduates, called ‘Vexcrips’ or ‘Emperor’s Wolves’ are one or two person units who act as troubleshooters and disaster relief, often sent in to situations that otherwise would require a platoon or more of soldiers to fix the problem.

Even low rank students like Cadun are people that the average badass would do well to think twice about annoying. Cadun’s worries center around the fact that he’s somewhat of a spaz compared to the average vexcrip student, personality-wise, and he deals particularly badly with watching Galvin fight alone. He knows that he could be asked to leave on the basis of slightly sub-par fighting skills (for the program) and an apparently unstable temperament.

 

Cadun went white as a sheet and crumpled the note in his hand a bit savagely.

“What’s the matter?” Galvin asked lazily. Cadun got upset easily, but he got over things easily most of the time, too, so it usually wasn’t worth getting worked up over.

Cadun shook his head, indicating he couldn’t bring himself to talk about it.

Concerned now, Galvin rose and pried the note out of his hand. He smoothed it out and read it. It was a summons to the administrator’s office. No wonder Cadun had gone pale. He was at the bottom of his class, as well as more openly emotional than the average Vexcrip was wont to be. Cadun was facing the possibility that he was being expelled.

“I’ll go with you.” He wasn’t going to let his lover face that alone.

Cadun swallowed hard, biting his lip for a moment, then said shakily, “Th-Thank you.”

 

The administrator’s office was chilly, large, and starkly impersonal. A picture of the Emperor’s Chief of Staff in uniform was the only slightly personal touch in the whole room. The administrator himself was a slender man with purple and black hair who reminded Galvin strongly of Taka in his year. He was pretty sure they were related, but found he didn’t quite have the guts to ask in the face of the administrator’s cold stare.

“Cadun Gyaros.”

“Yes, sir?”

“If you had come alone, I was going to expel you.”

Galvin shifted his weight uneasily. That sounded as if Cadun wasn’t being expelled.

“I didn’t come alone.” Cadun pointed out, tone puzzled.

“Yes, I see that. Very good.”

Silence fell, and the administrator turned his attention to some paperwork. Finally Cadun spoke. “Sir?”

The administrator lifted his head, his expression clearly saying ‘You’re still here?’ “What? Oh, yes. Galvin Rhygher will be your permanent vexcrip partner. That is all. You may go.”

Cadun blinked, then gave a slight bow. “Thank you, sir.”

They took that as their cue to haul ass out of there. Outside, Galvin paused and took a deep breath, then pulled Cadun close and hugged him tightly, burying his face in the blue hair. If Cadun had gone home, his family would have arranged a marriage for him. Not that Galvin would have lost him, but keeping him would have been a lot harder. A couple minutes later, he lifted his head and relaxed his grip. “Don’t think you get to slack off just because you’re my partner.”

Cadun stiffened in affront. “As if I would! You just wait, I’ll get better than you.”

“Uh-huh.”

“I will. Come on. I’m hungry.” Cadun headed towards the dorm.

Galvin reached out and steered him towards Harusuilu’s Redoubt. “Let’s celebrate with good food. My treat.”

Cadun shivered. “I don’t like her.”

He grinned. “She likes you. Besides, her food is the best.” Haru had a tendency to tease Cadun until he flew into a rage or dissolved into tears. He’d tell her to lay off for today. Cadun wasn’t as fragile as he seemed, but there was no point in spoiling the good news for him.

Note: Harusuilu is also the name of the goddess of dark evil, and her redoubt, where she is confined, is said to be where the darkest of woes and suffering originate to seep out into the world.Let’s just say Haru’s parents have a nasty sense of humor.

Haru finds it funny to see people’s reaction to the name of her on-campus eatery. She doesn’t really like superstitious people, though, and finds ways to get rid of them in a hurry. This doesn’t actually hurt her business, since people line up for approximately two blocks to get food around lunch time. She is a very good cook.

A Month Late

Turns out, squash think trees are fine climbing challenges. Who knew? I have a couple very fuzzy pictures of a vine that climbed our cedar tree and bloomed at about 5’10”. Fuzzy because the cedar branches more or less block the view from the camera.

Keve straightened up from a crouch as the humans moved out of sight. “They’ll be back. They were only scouting this time.” He commented unnecessarily. A sharp tug against his throat had him straightening fully and taking half a step backwards.

“Are you done playing?” Shudra asked with a mild look.

Glancing at the leash held firmly in the wide, slightly green-tinged hand, Keve had no doubt it was a reprimand for his overcautious posture, but the Shudra didn’t have the same sorts of bad experiences with humans that Keve did. Shudra indulged his caution, though, and had rescued him years ago, so his reply was respectful. “Yes, master.”

“Stupid fox, the humans won’t be back. They’re too scared to come further.” Hastimuk said scornfully.

Keve ignored the loudmouth, knowing it was his own comment on the obvious at fault for the jibe. Other than their odd skin tone and massively muscular builds, the appearance of ogres was little different than that of humans. Even their social structures had some similarities: the opinions of slaves were rated on the same level as dog barf. Lower ranked ogres tended to be not too bright, belligerent, and many of them resented him a bit for various reasons. Stupid reasons. Not that they’d be stupid enough to do anything but make fun of him with Shudra right there, but there were a number who thought Keve was better off dead.

“If Keve says the humans will return, they will return.” Shudra rebuked Hastimuk in a surprisingly cold tone.

Keve blinked at him in startlement. Shudra didn’t usually bother to defend Keve’s judgement.

Dyaus slapped Hastimuk across the back of his head. “Quit poking at Shudra’s pet. It’s obvious that the humans plan to come back. If you didn’t see that, you can go back to keeping a house. If you did see it and just allowed yourself to lie about it because Shudra’s pet noted it, you can take a beating like an ogren.”

Keve carefully kept his eyes on Shudra. ‘Ogren’ simply meant ‘warrior’, though mostly males were ogren. An ogren being sent out of his place for incompetence was a huge disgrace, even if there was no real stigma to ‘keeping house’. Taking a beating for incompetence was no joke either, though, and it was no business of a slave like Keve which punishment Hastimuk chose.

“Keve, you’re familiar with our borders, burn a line along this border.”

“Are you serious?” he asked, eyes widening. That was a lot of fox fire.

Shudra held his hands about at shoulder width in answer. “That wide.”

“Shit.” Keve muttered, and turned around to survey the border. Granted, he understood why he got stuck doing it: fox fire only burned what he wanted it to. Three feet wide was no easy task, though, not when it stretched along the whole southern border. It probably wouldn’t deter the humans by itself, either. “It might help if you put up warnings in their language.”

“Signs? I intend to.”

This story is, imaginatively, called ‘Keve’.