Monday, November 24, 2014

D is for Dénouement

Uh oh, I'm getting fancy in here using big French words...

Don't worry, I'm not really trying to be pretentious. D is for Dénouement, just seems to fit. You know, with the end of To Tread the Narrow Path approaching.

Dénouement is a literary term that is the final part of a narrative. It is the point where all of the plot lines are drawn together and the story is brought to a close.

In our current age where we are having the final books in a trilogy turned into two part films, the concept of a dénouement may be a lost ideal. At least in the major Hollywood circles, but not in the written word.

The dénouement is the opportunity for the writer to tie up loose ends. To bring the narrative to its close. It is a beautiful thing as a reader to come to a satisfying end.

Currently, I've read quite a few books that gave an ending that felt right. The last four books all had endings that left me feeling satisfied with the time that I invested as a reader. In some cases there might be parts of the story that are sorrowful, but in the end the dénouement comes to a full and realized ending. If anyone is wondering the books I am referencing are Stephen King's 11/22/63, Eric E McClure's Touch of Life and New Found Dream, and Ken Kiser's Fifthwind. Sometimes you don't have a satisfying ending when you come to the end of a book, but I am thankful that the last four I've read brought me to an end that felt right.

That brings me to my story that I am telling in To Tread the Narrow Path. As the final installments are finishing their preparations to go live, I am finding myself looking at my ending that I am ready to release to you. One of the things that I have enjoyed about doing a serial novella is the ability to change things as the story progresses, but that is also one of the things that is hard as well. As we approach the end, I've found myself rewriting the ending (which causes it to have to be re-edited), and I have found myself second guessing the endings that I have written. I actually have multiple endings prepared, and the one that goes live is the one that I will have to live with.

I find myself looking at the ending and wondering if I have prepared a satisfying dénouement. Will it carry the reader to the finish line?

Only three more installments to go (with one set to go live this week). In the next few weeks this story will draw to a close. I am glad I've read books with such good endings recently, because hopefully I will glean some enlightenment while deciding which of my endings to go with.

If you've been reading and want to throw your opinion or thoughts at me (another benefit of the serial model), comment below or contact me here. If you aren't reading yet (Why Not?), check it out over at Amazon.

Also, a couple of weeks ago, I hinted at a new cover for the novella. I will be releasing the final full version, next week, but wanted to give a tease of it this week.

I think you will really like it, I know I do.

Thanks for reading. If you've enjoyed, please like, share, +1, etc...



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Excerpt- 11.17.2014

Sorry for the delay in this week's post. After polling over on my Facebook page, it seems that a lot of people want to see some excerpts from my gothic western script, Desolation. I'm trying to pick out a portion of the script to use as an excerpt, and haven't found a section I feel would be good to share just yet.

So, while I deliberate, I've decided to share another part of To Tread the Narrow Path. You can read the first two excerpts here (Part I) and here (Part II).

I hope you enjoy.

To Tread the Narrow Path
Book I: The Tale of the Little Bird
Part III: The Path Ahead

My first duty was to travel to Sciath's Reach and warn the Lord Akana of the plot against him. I believed my master’s death to be only the first step in a grand conspiracy. Travel to the heart of the kingdom would not be easy. I did not know when the nameless clan would find me again. I knew no one beyond my master and the nearby village. I convinced myself to trust no one on my journey and to travel alone.
For two days, I have traveled under the guise of a peasant. Hoping no one would take notice of me. Near the end of the third day of my journey, I prepared to rest under a nearby tree. Suddenly, I felt my senses pricking. My ears straining at sounds felt more than heard. Muscles alert and ready. My instincts warned me that my surroundings were not as safe as they appeared. In preparedness, I reached into the bundle of rags that hid my weapons, and grasped the hilt of my sword. As I tested the air with my nose, a handful of snow fell onto my shoulder. With sudden horror, I realized what bothered me. I did not feel the wind, yet the trees swayed and snow fell from the branches.
The moment I drew my sword, assassins burst out of the surrounding trees and shrubs. Attacking me with all manners of styles and weapons, I was almost overwhelmed. I held back not wanting to shed blood before I reached my Lord. I would have escaped if not for the blow from behind. I fell to the ground, the wind knocked out of me. As the boot of one of the assailants roughly rolled me over, I looked up to see a female pointing her sword at my neck. Her white mask only showed her jade eyes through two small holes. Her eyes were beautiful yet deadly.
She glared down at me and said, "What are you doing on our road, little bird?"
"I am on an errand for my Lord Akana. Why do you call me that?" Little Bird, my masters name for me. I tried to get up but she pressed the blade closer.
She said, "Are you not a little bird? Maybe a forest demon. Half bird and half man or should I say boy?" Although she laughed mirthlessly, her eyes showed amusement. She continued, "You show promise for a small one. You might have slipped our trap had your defense been fatal. Is that by accident or design?"
"I have taken a vow," I placed all the courage I could muster into my words; "I will not kill unless so ordered by my Lord. I am on the way to serve and protect my Lord."
Her eyes narrowed at me much like a cat eyeing its prey. She said, "A creature of Akana’s clan, no doubt. Who trained you, bird?"
"I am Nightwatch. My master’s sign is a fox."
She took on a suspicious look as she said, "The Gray Fox? The one who is clanless, but serves the true emperor? I know him. Why is he not on this all important errand?"
I knew she would kill me if my answers did not please her. I replied, "He is dead. Slain by the enemies of the Emperor."
Her jade eyes betrayed her shock and despair but also showed that she was still wary. "And what swordsman brought him down?"
With sadness and pride in my voice I said, "Not one. Many. Each warrior bore the mark of the Serpent Rose."
This answer satisfied her curiosity. She said, "Then you may use our road with my permission. We share an enemy. The swords of the Venom Rose rise against us as well. You are the last Nightwatch. You must deliver your master’s message to the emperor."
"Who are they? To whom are they sworn?" I demanded.
She and her companions began to slink away into the shadows like cats. She called back to me, "I know not who they serve, but they are enemies to all. We will meet again, Little Bird. You will know me by my eyes for I am the Jade Cat." With that, she disappeared into the shadows leaving me alone on the path. Always alone.
The mountain road gave way to the sea road that would lead me to Sciath’s Reach. I gave up my peasant garb. I had no desire for secrecy now. I wanted the Venom Rose to know of my arrival. Always conscious of my surroundings I took notice of the travelers I was passing; a woman with child on her back and a man carrying firewood ahead of her. I paused as my instincts quickened. I strained for any sign of ambush. As I held my breath, I heard a sighing from the trees that was not the wind. A creak of wood, the complement of a gutstring. Instinctively, I dove for the cover of the embankment on my left as arrows exploded out of the woods. Dozens of bowmen waited for me in the forest. Their hearts only held murder for me and anyone nearby. The man carrying firewood fell to the side of the road, already slain, but the mother and babe still lived. I vowed not have the blood of a mother and child on my hands. I ran across the embankment to where she stood with the child strapped on her back and grabbed her hand. I dragged her towards a small fishing hut I spied only a few hundred yards away. With waves of arrows following us, we arrived at the hut. It was too much to fight. Too much danger for the innocents. I cursed as they forced me to take shelter, whereas normally I might have eluded my enemies. The fishing hut had all the disadvantages of a trap but it left them only one entrance. That entrance I deftly covered with my bow. I motioned the mother to lie near the back and stay down.
As a plan formed in my mind I spoke it aloud, "At nightfall we can slip away," my fingers and hands were making ready an arrow, "The tide will be high and…" The twang of my bowstring snapping cut my words short. The ‘mother’ was attacking me with a knife but he had made the mistake of cutting my bowstring first instead of my neck. He thrust at me like one unprepared for retaliation. I took his thrust and redirected it into his leg by breaking his elbow. He will live. I will keep my vow. As he fell, I noticed the tattoo on his arm, the Venom Rose. A trap within a trap. Hearing a whistling noise, I intuitively moved my head to the side as two small throwing knives spun past my temples.
I turned to see the babe, a man only three feet high, bearing weapons against me. He tried again to strike me with knives but this time I was prepared. I moved in close and planted two fingers into his neck cutting off the blood flow to his head. He fell over unconscious, sleeping like the child he appeared to be. Knowing that other enemies were closing in, I pried the hut’s floorboards up and dropped silently into the water. I swam out beyond my enemy’s sight and followed the shore until I was a safe distance away.
Thoughts came rushing up to the surface of my consciousness. With a Nightwatch, nothing is as it seems. All is an illusion. Our world is a world of our own making. It is a world outside the senses. A world where trust has no meaning and truth has no place. The swords of the Venom Rose could only belong to the Warlord. That meant that Marcus would move against my Lord. I was bound to warn Lord Akana. My honor and that of my master demanded it.



I hope you've enjoyed these excerpts. If you want to know how this ends, all current updates of the novella are available on Amazon as an ebook. Within the next few weeks, the final installments will be live in the marketplace and a print edition of the book will be available as well.

As always, thanks for reading, and if you've enjoyed, please feel free to like, share, +1, etc...


If you have any questions about copyright information or reproduction of this excerpt please check out the  copyright page.

Monday, November 10, 2014

C is for Continuity

Today, I'd like to focus on another aspect of my serial.

Continuity. I've spoken before about this in regards to comic books, movies, and TV, but what exactly am I referring to when I speak of continuity in relation to my novella?

This post actually comes from a reader that wanted to point out a continuity error to me between the narrations of the first three parts of the novella. She wanted to point out a discrepancy in a conversation between two characters that differed from one POV to the other.

As I've explained before, the novella is broken into four "books," and each book is then broken down into four parts. The books mirror each other in style, thematics, and tone while being distinct in and of themselves. Each of the first three books is told from the first person POV of one of the main characters.

Book I- Riean
Book II- Aelura
Book III- Akana

The narrative journey of each of the books weaves in and out of the others. To illustrate, I've made a basic timeline that you can find below. This should give a general idea of how each book overlaps with the narrative of the others. The first part of the novella (which you can read an excerpt of here), kicked off with the event I've marked at year zero and the other parts span the time from 26 years before that event to a little over five years after.

The entire scope of the serial

Over the course of the story different events and conversations are presented from the different POV characters. For example there is one conversation that is told from all three view points. For the most part, I've kept the majority of the action and dialog identical, but in each instance there are differences. It may be a change in the wording of a sentence. One character may have heard it differently. Or it could be in a description of the setting or the actions of others.

The reason I did this is not lazy writing. Honestly. No, what I am trying to do is be honest with my characters. In life, we all experience everything differently, even if we experience the same event. If you and I were witnesses to a crime, and had to testify, there would be differences in our testimony. There would be a general consensus, but subtle differences that would be based on what exactly we saw and how our brains processed the information from the event.

Each of my POV characters has a different take on shared events. They all tell the same general story, but the narrative is filtered through their own personal lens. So, if you are reading and want to glean some extra insight into a character, go back and look at shared conversations between the books. You might be able to see a reason a character may have heard a sentence differently or saw something the others did not.
If you are reading, two new installments went live last week. The last two parts of Book III are now part of the book. That leaves the final four segments of Book IV to come out. I hope to have the remainder out by Christmas and have it available for print by then, but we'll see. My initial goal was to have the entire novella published by its one year mark, so we are ahead of schedule so far. If you want to purchase the novella, it is only $0.99 on Amazon.

If you've got any questions feel free to comment below or contact me on the contact page.

If you've enjoyed please comment, like, share, subscribe, +1, etc...

Thanks for reading.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Update- 11.3.2014

Welcome to November's update post.

Big news this week, that I will get to down below, but first I wanted to say welcome to any new readers I may have picked up in the last month.

In the last month I started the A-Z blogging challenge on both this blog and on my fatherhood blog.

We covered the following last month-

A is for Akana- I presented a character examination of Akana from To Tread the Narrow Path. We explored the beginnings of the novella as a historical fiction short story based during the feudal era in Japan, and how Akana's character in a fantasy setting was influenced by a historical individual.

B is for Broken Promises- I explored the motif of broken promises and the concept of serving two masters as it relates to my novella. They are torn between the vows they take and their sense of duty and honor. That choice is part of the driving force of the novella.

You can also check out the first A-Z post on my fatherhood blog- A is for Anthony.

In other news:

I posted on Facebook asking for help in picking a new cover for To Tread the Narrow Path. I've gotten some really good feedback and I will be sharing the final cover with you all soon. I am still soliciting feedback so below are the prospective first drafts of some potential covers. Comment below with your thoughts-

wooded path, black and green, natural/earthy feel

nature feel with the leaves, earth tones, minimalistic

black is predominant color, eastern inspired mountain on cover, nature

mountain on back cover, minimalistic front cover, earth tones

nature, wooded path, dark colors, earth tones
 As far as updates on the novella go:

This week there will be not one, but two updates to the novella going live in the Amazon marketplace. I will post on social media when the link is live and the update is available. If you want to get caught up before the updates go live you can purchase from Amazon for $0.99.

Also, this will bring us to the end of Book III of the novella and will set the stage for Book IV. Between November and December, I hope to have the final four installments of the novella out and ready for you to read, and once all of the installments are ready, the book will be set for a print run (which is why I am seeking a new cover).

As I've said before once this is complete I am going to be throwing myself into my next project in earnest and I am unbelievably excited about it. You can check out my initial thoughts on Lighthouse at the Edge of Forever here.

Thanks for reading. If you've enjoyed, please like, share, subscribe, +1, etc...