15 March 2003

Haven't written at all today. I've been out with friends. We saw Kangaroo Jack, and while it was okay, it made me wish for my own stories. LOL After the movie, we stopped by an office supply store and I bought the things I figured I'd need for my writing kit; I'm going to work on making a long reverse outline and try tracking the things put into HoI. I want to see how much I actually pay attention to and what doesn't get picked up; it'll either help me tighten what's looking to be a long novel right now, or it'll just make me more aware of the plots trailing through the novel. I'm not making any elaborate rules for myself with regards to the tracking--I'm just looking for paths, patterns, and continued storylines.

I left the WIP at an uncertain scene last night, and I'm going to change it a little before I continue writing. I want to nix out what I've got and just have Hiyo sit next to Keiki for a while. I think it's better if he doesn't tell her anything, and especially if DLachomaogu doesn't do anything but indicate his peripheral interest in the girl. I'm going to try to allude, quietly, to her future. All I know is that Keiki hasn't been able to sleep since completing the spell and being revived after fainting at the feet of Barukei's mother. LOL Poor guy. He's running on adrenaline right now, and his lack of sleep, I hope, will lead to more than internal moaning about the reaction-headache he's suffering, the fact that Hiyo's attached herself to his company, and he's in a situation he's just begining to realize he has no way dealing with. Wait, maybe the last is okay. With a little of the second. Very little of the first, if any at all. Just enough to show he's still feeling pain and is tired unto death.

I'm looking forward to it. Keiki's respite is about to end.

Okay, now it's off to assemble my writing kit and see about using that new three-hole puncher I got today. Whee!

14 March 2003

Well, wrote a completely unrelated short tonight. Went to a "Think Tank' discussion on Holly Lisle and made a suggestion and my Boss Muse hit me. LOL I did not expect the ending that came, but I like it. It's titled "Caller ID" for now, but the title may change, though I think it's still appropriate. I haven't given any crits, so I'm not posting it at HL just yet.

On the main WIP, I've gotten Keiki everywhere he needs to be when he needs to be there. He's even making Barukei suffer a bit for being so stubborn. heh heh. Never knew Keiki had it in him. He's got bigger plans for Barukei, too. (A "him or me" ultimatum that'll force Barukei into a Courtship, heh heh) But now, he's got to get rid of the re-energized enchantment on Barukei, with Jaiya's help. I'm glad I made that nice little allusion to her way back in what, chapter one? Two? Anyway, she's eased his way past the House Baiya, whose name I had to change because I couldn't remember the old one (and now I can't remember the new one, either LOL), and they're preparing to remove the spell.

Overall, I wrote, between my WIP and the short, a bit over 3700 words today.

And I'm looking to doing another session on the WIP. Whee. Things are going great. LOL

Well, for me, anyway. Keiki, now . . . *VEG*
I wrote a little last night. This after deciding not to. I'm reading more of my writing-advice books (one on character emotions and another on dialogue--in which the author suggests you spend one day going around whispering some nonsense word like "monkeys" to see how people react). They inspired me to write and I did a quick overview of what I'd done so far.

I need to make a reverse outline now. I'm going to start the fifth chapter and I'm losing track of the story lines, so I've made myself a little "writer's kit" with the list of words I made up (with the help of Langmaker), put in a bunch of blank notebook paper, and have brought my old printout of the character list out with me. I also have the "tracking sheet" I made using the suggestion of Zette on Holly Lisle--a speradsheet with columns for entering pertinent info on my writing progress as related to words, time alloted, chapters/scenes done, on what day, etc. I did it yesterday, but failed to use it last night. I believe I'll be hitting an office supply store this weekend to get a three-hole puncher, a binder, some separator-pages (you know, the ones with the tabs for labels on them), and a plain folder to make a more orgainised "writer's kit." Maybe even a pouch and some new pens. It's been a long time since I bought new pens. And I need more clicky (mechanical) pencils. I seem to have lost all but the broken one that doesn't hold the lead--it just drops out completely when you press the clicky button.

I'll also have to devise a sort of tracking for what character's doing what and how he/she relates to the others. Maybe by chapter. So I have a better view of what's going on. With behind-the-scenes notes about non-viewpoint characters (which is pretty much everyone since it's in 1st pov). I want to be able to keep an eye on what's going on when Keiki's not around so I can have him react properly, but I'm also afraid I'll let him know too much. Believe me, if I had been able to write this in 3rd pov, I would have, but I just couldn't get into the society. I kept forgetting the Imotinans weren't living like medieval Europeans--very bad thing. I've loosely based their culture on Asian cultures. Their language, too--but I've changed the phonetic rules to reflect their history; they basically "made" their language when the Empire was complete, the people familiar with the new society. To bring everyone into the family, so to speak, the first Zhipei brought representatives from every region and did her best to incorporate at least some of the phonetic rules of them all into one, unified language. Mages, priests, Tanahu (priests of the Zhiraikaovei--which are not Gods), and Oshiri (Tanahu mages), Ahaihu (Sabi'Oji who are mages), and priest-mages still must learn some of the Old Dialects, and the more one knows, the more variety one's magic/spells have.

Oshiri and Ahaihu have the Touch of a Zhiraikaovei in their magic, whethter or not the Zhiraikaovei actually works through them. So, Keiki could legally/officially introduce himself as Ahaihu DLachomaogu DLaokeikithei. He doesn't because he doesn't want people to remember he's a mage first thing when they think of him. Introducing himself as "Sabi'Oji" means others' impressions of him remain more innocuous. They won't be looking for any magic from him. Many Ahaihu do this. It allows them to better protect their Shisei.



13 March 2003

Did a little more on the MS last night before bed. I just kind of shoved Keiki where he belongs and a nice little subscene with a LOT of potential sprang from it. Now I'm going to have to go back and name all the dishes and utensils again (I haven't been able to find the original notes from before but I'll look for them a couple more times before completely giving up) and I have to not only decide what meaning they all carry--the Imotinans once used eating utensils and dishes as a means of silent communication, and, in fact, married couples still share a single set--but which dishes and utensils besides a knife they bring when they're at a party--a sort of all-purpose travel-pack with the most likely dishes/utensils necessary (and their accompanying messages when traded/shared). I remember the descriptions, at least, so if I have to write it all out again, I won't be completely lost.

The meaning of the knife is easiest to remember, though it was originally only given to one's most trusted friend/ally. I guess, in the political situation Keiki's facing, anyone who supports his cousin and his House--the legitimate heirs, after all--is a trusted friend/ally. Especially since he wouldn't trust his more distant cousins, who aren't eligible for the throne at all, except through birth and a blind disregard for Law.

The Laws that govern the throne are important. They can't be changed, but there are loopholes. The one Law that has no loophole, however, would Legally prevent any of Keiki's and Yajadi's distant relations from ascending the throne: Only the blood of Keiki and Yajadi has touched the Book of Blood. Anyone physically voilating that Law doesn't live long after the rightful heir's blood once more meets the tome. The spell connecting the Book and Throne doesn't care if you're related. If the Book doesn't know you, the Throne will kill you.

However, the Book of Blood's (the Keikithei's) importance has been allowed to erode through time. More than once, everone's lack of knowledge about the Book has prevented a usurper's success. No usurper has held the Throne for more than a portion of his or her lifetime. Not all heirs are publicly announced--only those produced by the reigning Zhipei are publicly known. Contract-births involving surrogate parents (usually a mother who was raped), are, by Law, to remain secret until the Heir comes of age. All Birth-Contracts are so. Only the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the child typically know about the Contract. Only Contract-births prove one's legitimacy to claim a House's name, properties, etc. So, if the TLozhipei (Yajadi), were to accept another woman's child as her own, but without a Contract for the child, that child could not ascend the Throne, even if that child's blood had been presented to the Book of Blood. The child would be an adoptee, nothing more. In order for the adoptee to succeed Yajadi, the child must be Legally acceptable. Her blood must be introduced to the Book, and there must be a Contract for her adoption somewhere in existence.

She will be. But that's for another book. I'm enjoying thinking of what I'm going to do to Keiki before I give him a break.

Keiki cannot take the throne himself because he has a birth defect; it comes with a facial scar. The Law preventing him from taking the Throne states that one bearing Kazhehimo's Face (the outward sign of the birth defect--the facial scar) cannot be trusted to rule wisely. This Law was made long ago, when it was believed that children born so were less intelligent than normal children. All Kazhehimo's Face really means, however, is that magic was used upon the mother at some point during her pregnancy. The birthmark can take a variety of shapes/forms/textures. Keiki's is a slightly-rasised winestain birthmark much smoother than the rest of his face, and covers approximately two thirds of his face. His lips are uneven--thicker at one end than at the other--and he cannot completely open his left eye. Even though he is a mage and has the buttercream hair all mages are born with, the hair in and at the edges of the birthmark is discolored, almost blood-red, though the birthmark itself is more of a liver-brown. The skin of the birthmark is cooler than the rest of his skin, but more sensitive to changes in temperature and pressure; it sometimes rashes when he's been wearing his gairi (headcloth that covers his face) too long.

Many people with Kazhehimo's Face become Sabi'Oji, giving the illusion that few are born with the scar. In fact, most of the Sabi'Oji are those with Kazhehimo's Face, and, because Sabi'Oji serve as one's closest advisors/teachers/mentors/friends, that proves they are quite as intelligent as "normal" people. Besides that, they go through specialized training nowadays in Imotina, thanks to Kazhehimo--he wasn't a Sabi'Oji. Back when he lived, Hand-Slaves were the most trusted slaves of their masters. Nowadays, thanks to Kazhehimo's work, they make up the most important Station in Imotinan society. They are no longer taken from their masters' slave population; they choose whom they serve, and serve the Zhiraikaovei whose "signature" they bear on their clothing and skin as much as they serve an individual. They are priests, friends, and a variety of other things to their masters (Shisei'ubu).

But Barukei is refusing to accept Keiki's service. Not that Keiki particularly wants to serve Barukei (he'd far rather Court Barukei). But neither of them has much choice. Keiki can resist some of what his Zhiraikaovei--DLachomaogu--wants, but to resist everything all the time would kill him. So he's left tracking Barukei down and gets to follow his would-be Shisei. Keiki's "service" to Barukei will not be a typical example of how a Sabi'Oji goes about things.

Poor Keiki. (Please note the sarcasm)

12 March 2003

I decided to reread one of my writing-advice books. This one: Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress. It's part of what's sparked a lot of the changes that I've been thinking of the past couple days.

For instance, I'm expanding the twins' roles. I want to differentiate between the two a bit more, make it clear that they're operating in collusion. I'm also hoping to be able to make it clear which twin is whom by their behavior twoards my protagonists, Keiki--who's not having an easy time doing his duty this time around! Not only that, I've been able to slip a reference to Jaiya into the begining thus far--comparing her skill to Keiki's. My rough draft is turning into a glorified outline, but that's no problem, because I'm more interested now than before. Whee!

I wrote a little last night before bed. In about an hour I got over a thousand words. It all came so easy, felt so good. I'll compare it to an orgasm. Writing last night was like an orgasm. I may have to tweak the first chapter, which opens with the real Akiro confronting Keiki--hoping for information Keiki wouldn't share even if he had a choice in it. I think I confused myself a bit and I plan on cleaning it up a bit, since I figured out that I want both twins active in the conspiracy.

However, any confrontation between Keiki and one of the twins alone is going to involve the real Akotai, who wants to eliminate Keiki RIGHT NOW, instead of taking his wiser brother's advice and waiting for an opportune time. If they're caught attempting to kill Keiki, who is a Sabi'Oji (and in the direct, if not legal, line to ascend to the throne--but they don't know that), they'll be executed. But Akotai, whom I've realized is feeling a bit restricted by his brother's magical superiority, wants to assert his independence.

So, I'm going to have to go back and tweak Akiro so he'll consistently read as Akiro from CH1 on.

As to Keiki's difficulties: well, they're his, aren't they? He doesn't want to serve Barukei, though he's admitted he considered Courting Barukei before he (Keiki) went off to learn how to be a Sabi'Oji. I may change the timeline of it a bit. A year on Imotina's planet is 640 days long, a month forty days, with sixteen months to a year. Two years is then thirty-two months. I can't do the rest of the math without a calculator, but I think two years there would cover for the training Keiki recieves. He has to learn to use a neuter-voice--as neuter as he can make it, anyway--and to lose the contractions and slang of his former Station. I'm still trying to mentally do the math here. It's not working. Huh. According to the computer's calculator--if I entered it all correctly, two of their years is about three and a half of our years here. Good. That'll cover it. No fussing with the timeline there. (sigh of relief)

I can't quite figure out how I'm going to put Keiki where he needs to be when he needs to be there, but I do know he's going to hound after Barukei. Keiki's doing anything to avoid ascending to the throne, and I don't know at this point if the relationship between him and Barukei will develop as it had in the first draft. I may not let it; the emotional turmoil, especially after Barukei confronts Keiki should prove quite interesting. I don't want to make things too easy for Keiki, since he's refusing to follow his heart.

Sometimes characters can be so vexing.

11 March 2003

I've been thinking a lot about what I'm doing with The Hand of Intrigue today. I haven't done much except read through and make notes on changes and things, but I'm getting the feeling I'll need to actually start rewriting the whole thing from the begining. I have too much going on--if I'm going to add all I want to--to just patch it all in. This isn't a video game and patching in won't improve anything this time around; I'll have to go in and do another full revision, and that's something I don't want to have to do.

On the other hand, I don't want to spend all my time rewriting it, but it looks like I'm going to have to do it that way. I've considered changing the first chapter substantially, perhaps making it two chapters to emphasize a possible change in events. I want to focus on Keiki's familiarity with the palace (his return home, however brief its duration) and perhaps introduce one of the twins earlier. This would enable me to explain a bit of Keiki's history, perhaps betray his true name, and the source of the name he's taken for his service to his Zhiraikaovei. Not only that, introducing one twin before I introduce Barukei and then the other twin will give me a chance to see both twins. They won't be "playing" themselves; Akotai will confront Barukei first, as Akiro. After Barukei and Keiki return to the celebration, Akiro will greet Barukei, as Akotai. I'll have to find some way to delinate the twins in my WIP, so at least I know what's going on and who's doing what and when.

I'll also have a better chance of showcasing Keiki's turmoil. He doesn't know whom he's supposed to serve, because even his Zhiraikaovei doesn't know. Only the Gods know, and they're hesitant to push themselves back into mortal society at this particular time. Things are uncertain among the mortals and the Gods don't want to misbalance things too drastically; there are too many people who would promptly drop what they're doing to focus on the Gods again, and that almost destroyed Imotina once. In fact, more than one group of disenfranchized citizens left Imotina long ago--two ended up in neighboring countries and one went overseas; almost all at the same time. It left the motherland underpopulated and almost caused the early Empire to fall. The Gods, already abandoned by most of their people, decided to retreat until a more appropriate time, when the people had more than just their relationship to the Gods to focus on. That time hasn't arrived--yet.

But having left the Zhiraikaovei--created them, in fact--for the people, so the Imotinans wouldn't be alone and to galvanize the intelligence, creativity, and senses of adventure and invention in the people, the Gods had not completely abandoned their people. They've become quite accustomed to subtle maneuvering through the personifications the people applied to the Zhiraikaovei. However, they're wary of using Zhiraikaovei DLachomaogu's Tanahu, Oshiri, and Sabi'Oji too much. Their priests are encouraging them to trust the Zhiraikaovei of Intrigue, and have well-chosen their "operative" in Keiki, to some extent, if only because of his blood ties to the throne and House Oyuchayei (if not the Family Name) and the laws that, though they prevent him from directly assuming the throne will allow him to do so if married.

So, Keiki doesn't want to marry Barukei. Too much of a risk, never mind the fact that if he thought about it he'd realize his accepting Barukei as his husband would put him under the direct regard of all of the Zhiraikaovei'ubu. Well, he won't have a chance if I can get to the third book in this series. He may not be sexually interested in women, but he's digging his own hole here, and he'd better be happy his society accepts whatever contracts and bonds a married couple makes with each other.


Ahem. I'm done grumbling. Besides, I get another novel out of this mess Keiki's causing, don't I? Another chance to twist him for making my job so difficult. heh heh

So, I intro "Akiro" (Akotai), compare Keiki's memories of the man before Keiki had gone on to become a Sabi'Oji and the man he's meeting at present, drag him through Barukei's refusals of service, then show him "Akotai" (Akiro), who is the man who actually Courted Barukei before the other twin ruined it all by throwing a fit and turning to a woman. While that's acceptable, it's generally not a nice thing to do when one's led one's lover to believe one's planning to marry said lover. This ruined Akotai's reputaion for quite some time, and only Akiro's devising of the plan to place an ineligible distant cousin (ineligible because her blood had not touched the Book of Blood as an infant) on the throne.

I wonder if I could inject some hints on the disintegration of the cohesiveness between the twins, as well. The real Akiro's regret for having lost Barukei and anger at his brother for causing it. The real Akotai's anger at being controlled politically by his wiser brother and restricted in his magical training--because he lacks the emotional and tempermental restraint necessary.


Speaking of restraint, I need to lengthen Barukei's eventual acceptance of Keiki, despite all of Keiki's efforts to be friendly. This is something I'm not good at, but it needs to be done, and I'm sure I'll figure out how to do it without dragging it out too much.

10 March 2003

Awright. (Yes, I really do say it that way.)


My current major WIP is "The Hand of Intrigue." From the looks of things--I'm into the notetaking-and-revising stage now--I'll be lengthening the 50k novel a bit. I've already decided to keep something that I'd almost decided to drop. Not only does it provide a good excuse for me to infodump on the role and restrictions and rights of Sabi'Oji, it involves a character who should be appearing in the next novel I intend to write, Hiyo.


I've decided that it might be best to "up the ante" by invoking an attack on my MC and his "master" and involving the police much sooner than originally intended. It'll give me a chance to explain more on Sabi'Oji and their rights (to investigate crimes committed against themselves and/or their Shisei). Not only that, I may put the investigators' precinct in the square with the Old Temple, where the few but determined followers of the Gods still worship--another tie-in to the next novel. It would make a strange sort of sense, and I could possibly add in a bit more about Hiyo--maybe have her return to talk to Keiki some more, expanding her discussions to include changes she hopes to either make or to encourage after her time as regent. If she ever makes it to the throne. I don't know if she'll make it that far. Well, she will, but I don't know for how long she'll BE on the throne before the right and proper heir arrives on the scene.


Of course--getting back to the present dilemma--I'll have to expand on the relationship with the investigators that develops.


Speaking of relationships, when did Jaiya decide she knew Keiki from Mage-School? Hello? I'm the author here. Why wasn't I told? This makes things a bit interesting, to say the least, but I don't know how to work it in, precisely, and I may have to drop-kick this discovery out of this novel. If I don't figure out what's going on with this "Hey-I-remember-you" thing before I finish typing in this mad revision, I'll have to can it, won't I? It should come in useful later, though, if I ever do the THIRD novel that wants to get written--and it probably will. Can't leave the throne unoccupied. At least Keiki never had a romantic thing with Jaiya, or I'd have a hell of a time with the confusion. Well, a worse hell of a time than I am now.


And Akotai and Akiro need to decide what's going on, too. I know they're identical twins, but they need to get their butts on the line and figure out who's doing what before I rip my hair out. Just when I think I've got them pinned down, they skitter around like a couple of roaches. I think Akotai's the one who's the mage. If that's so, Akiro's the one who's been fronting for the two of them, because it's in the school records that Akotai's the mage of the pair. I suspect they've been regularly switching places quite frequently, so people never get enough of a handle on one's behaviors to be able to tell them apart. I do know that Akiro thought it would be a great idea to put one of the ruler's unworthy distant relations on the throne to play puppeteer of, but Akotai, thanks to his idiotic decision to persue a woman has ruined Akiro's chance to Court and marry Barukei--in effect use him to make their wishes come true. Not that Barukei would help, but he did once love "Akotai" (Akiro). A marriage would probably have helped them get Yajadi's cousin on the throne.


Ah. I know who's doing what now, don't I? heh heh I am the Author. I have the POWER!


Huh. I'll need to use that relationship between Keiki and Jaiya beyond their disenchanting Barukei. Maybe bring her in to ward Keiki when he does his Scrying? Hmmm. It would provide an outside observer to the relationship developing between Barukei and Keiki, which will make things in that particular subplot more interesting, especially since I'm going to do my bloody best to lengthen the dilemma for Keiki. I'm going to let him fret--good idea to let him fret until he makes Barukei angry.


Because Barukei loves Keiki, after all, doesn't he? And if he sends Keiki away and Keiki is attacked and ends up right back in Barukei's home/family, then they've got to face it, after all. And what if I had Feiyao actively pushing them together even though he's Courting Barukei with complete intent to wed Barukei? LOL What if I had Keiki stumbling into Feiyao's gates? Possible, possible.


I am really starting to like this full revision. Unfortunately, the way this is going towards complication, I may need to hire the people who do the "For Dummies" books to write a "The Hand of Intrigue For Dummies" for my novel.