Monday, October 27, 2014

B is for Broken Promises

Welcome to the second installment of the A-Z blogging challenge.

I thought about doing another character examination, like I did last week, but instead I'm going to explore a concept that is present in my novella.

Today we are talking about Broken Promises.

As I mentioned before, To Tread the Narrow Path is split into four parts called "Books," then those are broken again into four parts. The first segment of each book is titled "The Oath." In The Oath, in each book, the character is forced to take a vow that will cause them to come at odds with their sense of duty and honor.

For example, if you read the excerpt I posted from the first part of Book I, you will see Riean, the main character of Book I, struggle with the desire for vengence and the oath of peace that his master forces upon him. His oath brings him in direct conflict with his sense of justice and desire for revenge at the death of his master.

Each character must face the same type of choice. They are all presented with a vow that runs tangent to either their own sense of morality, the code of honor of their nation, or their personal duty to their own clan. Something I play with in the narrative is the concept of "two masters." You may have heard the verse from the Bible that states you cannot serve two masters. This choice puts the characters in a posistion choosing which oath to keep; which master will they serve.

In the narrative, it isn't neccessarily a choice between good and evil. Their are more facets to the choices that go beyond morality. Each character must find the balance betwen their vows, they must walk a narrow path (reference intended) to survive.

You cannot serve two masters. The characters in To Tread the Narrow Path learn this lesson through a series of trials and triumphs. If you are reading the novella, feel free to comment below with your thoughts, but please no spoilers.

If you are not reading, you can check it out on Amazon.

If you've enjoyed this glimpse into the thoughts behind the story, please like, share, subscribe, +1, etc...

Thanks for reading.

-Anthony
Promo Image for The Tale of the Little Bird

Monday, October 20, 2014

Excerpt- 10.20.2014

It's an excerpt day.

I am sharing from the second part of my serial novella. I already shared an excerpt from Part I, you can check it out here. We are almost to the end of the story, you can read these two segments to see how it all began. I hope you enjoy.

To Tread the Narrow Path
Book I: The Tale of the Little Bird
Part II: The Path Behind

I alone mourned him.
I alone whispered the prayers that sent him to the shadow world. Each word falling from my lips in harmony with the flames engulfing my master’s body. I watched his spirit rise with the embers into the wind. As sadness began to overcome me, I turned my thoughts to the things he had taught me.
And to all the things he had not. All the questions swum just below the surface of my thoughts like a fish beneath rushing waters. The questions cast me back to the beginning. I think of the events that occurred long before my birth. Events set in motion by distrust and disloyalty. Petty emotions that would grow to topple kingdoms. Petty emotions that led to the narrow path.
My master was emperor Gregor’s Nightwatch. A spy. An assassin. A servant who kept our master’s order by secret murders. My master served and protected his Lord from the blades of his enemies. He walked the narrow path alone, nameless and clanless. He served Gregor tirelessly. Until the day Lord Gregor took ill and soon died. It was then that the rule and title of the clan fell to Akana, Gregor’s son. He was only seven summers old. When he was nine, his forces suffered a disastrous defeat at the hands of a rival warlord. Those who survived the battle of the Valley of Dragons call it a massacre.
That rival is Marcus, a former general of Akana’s father. He demanded that the boy proclaim him emperor. In the face of the crushing weight of the rebel armies, the boy retreated to his ancestral lands leaving the spoils to Marcus and his armies. Marcus’ rule was harsh. He stripped most of the nobles and loyal families of their lands and exiled them. Their peasants became landless and their loyal warriors became masterless wanderers and criminals. As the boy became a man, forces rallied behind him. Nobles and Lords begged him to return the glory of his father, and fight for his right to rule from his father's throne. Akana and his armies in recent summers have managed to retake much of his former kingdom. All from the ancient and powerful seat of kings built by his ancestors. For many summers now, only Akana stood against the usurper, only the walls of his castle, Sciath's Reach, stood between Marcus’ complete rule of the land. My master, on behalf of Akana was a constant thorn in Marcus’ side. He protected the young lord from the assassins that the warlord would send. My master was alone in his efforts, without the support and protection of a clan, and he trained me to be his successor. A second generation to guard our Lord from attacks.
A Nightwatch learns to not question, but one question was more troublesome during my training than any other. The question of my ancestors. I asked my master one evening after meditation, "Who is my father?"
I could not see his eyes for his mask but I recognized amusement within them. He replied, "You have never asked this before, little bird."
"I beg to know. I want to know the names of my ancestors."
"You do not ask the right question. Ask correctly and I will tell you."
This caught me off guard. I stammered, "Do you--?"
"Do not be hasty! Consider your wording; consider what it is you really wish to understand. It is not only your father you seek to know. It is yourself. I shall answer your question when you word it properly. It is as much a part of your training as anything else I teach you."
I went to ponder his words and actions and after a time I soon forgot the question. Training consumed my life. It was a daily mental and physical spectacle. Every waking moment held a lesson for me. Lessons of agility. Endurance. Patience. Stamina. All under the watchful eye of my master and all taught with the tutelage of pain. Summers later, as I neared the end of my training, my sixteenth summer, the same questions reared their head and settled foremost in my mind.
One day after our evening meal, I steeled myself to ask again. I prepared my words carefully and listened so as not to miss any nuances within my master’s words.
I asked, "Honorable and august teacher, I still have questions."
"I will answer them should they prove worthy."
"Are you my father?"
I expected repercussions for this wording. Instead, he placed his hand on my shoulder and replied, "No. Although you would be a welcome son."
His response pleased me so I pressed farther, "Does my father still live?"
My master stiffened at this question and said, "That matters little, my bird. Your duty to him, the honor you bring his name, would be a comfort to him alive or dead."
"And--?" I was seeking more. His answers did not deter my curiosity.
"I have said enough. Your ancestors are an old and illustrious clan; you honor them as they do you." My greatest efforts could not pry more information out of him.
More seasons passed, and many attacks came upon us. As an enemy of the warlord, we were often the focus of reprisals. A day before my master fell, we sat in meditation on the front patio of our sanctuary.
"Listen, Little Bird, to the rain," he began, but stopped short and stiffened. My sensei tensed, and whispered to me in a battle language that only we share, "Rainfall on cloth."
The sentence was simple and direct but I caught all of the implications. We were about to be attacked. I raised myself into a crouched position and my master drew his sword half out of the scabbard. He made a sniffing noise and whispered, "Six men." Sweat beaded on my forehead and I heard footfalls on the thatch roof that could be mistaken for raindrops. My master reached back and pulled his mask over his face. The black cloth, with the features of a fox painted onto the fabric, always intimidated foes and allies alike. He claimed that our mask imbued the wearer with supernatural abilities; the spirits empowered us as we fought.
Our enemies chose this moment to attack. They came from every angle in a blaze and fury of weapons and fist. My teacher’s movements as he danced around the assassins were beautiful. The blade of my master’s sword became the judgment of the spirits sending four of the assassins down the narrow path. I dispatched the other two with relative ease. As we stood ready for another attack, I wondered why such a small force came to assassinate my master. After what seemed like hours, my master finally breathed normally and relaxed; relaxed as much as a Nightwatch can. He ripped the shirt off the nearest corpse and exposed the sign of their clan. The tattoo on the man’s chest showed a serpent entwining itself around a blood red rose.
Nameless warriors for a nameless clan. I did not recognize the tattoo, but surely, my master did. He gave no sign one way or the other. He must have seen it before, just as he saw the storm to come, the clouds stirring dark and foreboding. He knew the red tide that threatened to engulf our home. For it was then that he sent me away to the stream, to the salmon weir. He told me that we needed to lay in fish for the coming winter. Now, I know it was to escape the crimson rain that was to come.
As I search our hidden cave, it brings me back to the present. When the assassins found our sanctuary, they undermined the security of our home. I cannot leave it bare to our enemies lest it give up any of my master’s secrets. The fire was glorious. It consumed all. All except the Wolf’s Blade, the last vestige of my master’s family line, and the scroll, his last message to our Lord. I would need the blade’s purity and strength for the coming journey.
I understand he meant to spare me, but did he think that he also shamed me? A shame that might only be washed away by service to our Lord, to fulfill my master's oath. I vowed to choose the path of duty and honor above the path of vengeance. I would honor my master, my father, and my clan.


-End

Hope you enjoyed. If you like please follow the link at the beginning of the post and check out the novella on Amazon.

As always, if you have enjoyed this, please like, share, +1, etc...

Thanks.

-Anthony-

Monday, October 13, 2014

A is For Akana

Welcome to my first post for the A-Z challenge blogging challenge. We begin with A is For Akana.

Today, I will be discussing the character of Akana from my serial novella, To Tread the Narrow Path. To be honest, I had debated on topics. I almost went with Allison from my upcoming novel Lighthouse on the Edge of Forever, but in the end I wanted to talk about Akana. Especially since the current installment of the novella, The Boy Who Would be Emperor, is from his perspective.

If you are reading the serial, then I hope you will gain some insight into Akana's character and motives. If you haven't read it yet, I will do my best to keep this post spoiler free and provide you with some of the back story to Akana outlined in the book. If I do inadvertently give away some plot points, I apologize in advance.

Before I can get into Akana, I need to talk a little about the roots of the story itself. As I mentioned in my interview (you can read it here) with the fantastic Eric E. McClure, this story started as a short story based on Japan during the transition between the feudal era and the shogunate, circa 1600. It was only when I wanted to expand the story beyond what history tells us about the events surrounding the fall of the imperium, that I rewrote it to a fantasy novella.

Armed with the following information, you will see a bit more of the character of Akana. He is based on the historical figure Toyotomi Hideyori. Hideyori was the son of the general that unified Japan. He was around five when his father died. One of the regents, Tokugawa Ieyasu, led a successful rebellion against Hideyori's forces in 1600. Tokugawa left Hideyori alive and in an arranged marriage in hopes of mitigating any grumblings amongst the people at the downfall of Hideyori's armies. As he grew Hideyori became a presence in the political game again and Tokugawa felt the need to eliminate the remnants of the old establishment. In 1615 a final battle was fought between the armies at the ancestral castle at Osaka. Hideyori's armies suffered a huge defeat at the hands of Tokugawa.

My original draft had some fictional characters interacting with historical figures and wove in and out of the events recorded in history. When I decided to expand upon the story, I deviated from the historical account as my story grew beyond its original scope. As I evolved Hideyori into Akana, as I changed the setting from Japan to a fictional world, the character became his own person. Akana's motivations and thoughts evolved beyond the weight and pressure of writing a fictional account of a historical person. I was given freedom to develop him into a completely new person.

That's not to say that the kernel of the original character didn't still play into his internal workings. I've kept a lot of the back story. Akana is the son of a beloved Emperor and his father passes away when he is nine years old. The rebellion in my story has been brewing before the transition of power, but it is only after Akana's coronation that it threatens the empire.

Akana is driven by his desire for unification of the clans. He will do anything to ensure the survival of the Empire in the face of the rebellion. His installment in the novella, The Boy Who Would be Emperor, weaves in and out of the events of the first two pieces of the book. His tale in the novella is all about his journey and his actions to save his kingdom.

I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into the character of Akana. If you're interested in the story I encourage you to check out the novella on Amazon.

As always, if you enjoyed, please like, share, +1, etc...

Thanks.

-Anthony

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Update- 10.06.2014

Welcome back. This is my update post to kick off the month.
For the details of all of my current projects, you can click here to read my initial month one update. That should give you all the info you need to be up to date on my stuff.
To Tread the Narrow Path:
For details on this WIP, you can refer to my Published Works page. Book III- The Tale of the Boy Who Would be Emperor is now half way complete with Parts One and Two out for it. In the next few weeks, stay tuned for the third and fourth installments to go live. Currently the novella is available on Amazon with all of the installments up to date for only $0.99. If it sounds like something you'd be interested in, check it out.
There isn't much else to update about my works in progress, but I do have an announcement about a different direction I'll be taking with my blog, at least for a short while.
I am going to be using an idea I saw on some other writer's blogs and pages (i.e. shamelessly stealing). The extremely talented writers that I have seen do this successfully are Angel Blackwood and Angie Grigaliunas.
You can find out more about them at the following-
Follow/Like Angel Blackwood on Facebook
Follow/Like Angie Grigaliunas on Facebook and read her blog
I will be doing the A-Z blogging challenge. Angel's can be found on her Facebook page and Angie's can be found on her blog. I highly recommend giving the two of them a like on Facebook. Good things are going to come from that corner of the web. I guarantee it.
The concept is that I will take a letter of the alphabet and pick a topic that corresponds to that letter that relates to my stories or to my writing. I've enjoyed reading what Angel and Angie have been writing about and I'm looking forward to seeing what I come up with.
I will be continuing the scheduled post that I've been doing, so you will still see an update post the first week of the month and an excerpt post on the third. The second and forth weeks will be given over to the A-Z challenge.
I will also be doing the A-Z challenge on my fatherhood blog, The Dad's Eye View, but post over there will be less frequent then over here.
If you have a topic or question that you want covered during this challenge, comment below or contact me and I'll try to fit it in.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or thoughts about anything I'm working on feel free to drop me a comment here or on the fan page, or you can always message me on another means of contact.

Thanks for reading, please join me next week as we begin the A-Z challenge with the letter A. I have some ideas as to what I'll cover, but as I said above, if you've got anything that you want to see in regards to my writing, drop me a note about it.
If you've enjoyed this please like, share, +1, follow, etc…

Thanks
-Anthony-