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Dragon’s Bane Update

Dragon’s Bane Update

First, a bit of housekeeping: The recent Goodreads giveaway was a success. Not quite as many participants as the 2015 giveaway, there were still a large number of entrants interested in Dragon’s Rook. The winners are Jessica from the Netherlands, and Sheila from New Mexico. Signed paperback copies have been mailed, and should arrive soon.

Second, questions have been asked by readers concerning the availability of Dragon’s Bane, the second half of The Lost Sword duology. They have served as prods to speed up the completion of the story:

1) I just finished Dragon’s Rook and loved it. Any news on when the sequel will be available for purchase? I can’t wait!

(T)hank you for the kind review! We writers pour pieces — minutes, hours, years — of our lives into our work, so when readers receive it well, we are encouraged to continue.

As for when Dragon’s Bane will be available, I had hoped it would be completed and published by January 2016, but life matters took me away from it for a long while. (I won’t bore you with the details.) However, I hope to have it ready soon.

Today’s revisions included (SPOILER ALERT) a reunion scene between two characters who each thought the other was dead. ūüôā

2) I just finished Dragon’s Rook, really liked it. I was wondering when the sequel is coming?

First, thank you for reading the book!

Second, I’m pleased that you enjoyed it.

Third, I wanted the book completed and published this year. However, due to life circumstances, my writing has been quite slow. Dragon’s Bane is about one-third complete, and there are copious notes regarding unwritten scenes.

The ending scene was written about fifteen years ago — believe it or not! — but it may change. I’m exploring a couple of potential plot twists that never occurred to me during the writing of the first book, but which may deepen the story even further.

Below is a taste, a scene from the first third of the book, a confrontation between Lady Yan√°mari and her mother, Queen Una:

The eyes widened, the fury grew, and as it did, Queen Una fully materialized, her form solid, even the tiny creases around her eyes and mouth delineated. She released Yan√°mari and stepped back, lifting her arms from her sides and lowering her head, looking at Yan√°mari from beneath dark brows.

As the queen opened her mouth to speak, Yan√°mari laughed. The sight was too comical: flowing black garments, menacing stare, threatening posture. A bit too much like the H√īk Nar Brethren. In the past two days, she had seen more amazing things than this.

Beside, what true power resorted to manipulation and magic?

There was something external about magic, as if the one who practiced it and the one upon whom it was practiced were both tools of a capricious power that must be cajoled and lured with secret rites and careful spells. Is that where her mother had been all these years? Learning the dark arts? What an absurd expenditure of time.

Where was she when I was a child and longed for a mother? When I might have loved her?

But there was no hope of traveling that road‚ÄĒthe cart had already passed.

(c2016, KB)

For more information or to read reviews, visit keananbrand.com.

 

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Step Right Up!

Step Right Up!

(rabid used-car-salesman gestures and wild-eyed look) “Step right up, folks! A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”

The lawyer clears his throat, and the salesman amends his pitch. “A once-in-a-year opportunity!”

The lawyer nods.

“Enter now to win one of two signed paperback copies of Dragon’s Rook!”

And, for those readers who don’t prefer the high-pressure sales pitch, here’s a graphic with an embedded link, which you may click or not, as you wish. ūüėČ

2 Win a FREE Book!

 

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In Progress

In Progress

In the past, I’ve shared incomplete poems or scenes, or pieces that have been worked and re-worked, to show fellow writers that perfection is 1) often relative, and 2) not a one-step process. Writing is the practice of perseverance.

In the wee hours of morning, when my head hurt and I couldn’t sleep, I pondered the beginning of Dragon’s Bane, the second half of an epic fantasy yarn. Scenes need re-arranging. (Anyone who knows me knows I play “52-card pick-up” with chapters and scenes, mixing up parts of the story until I settle on a progression that feels right.) Emotion needs to be established. (Always tricky.) Mystery and atmosphere must be heightened. (Always fun.)

And I need to write more poetry and fragments of the story world’s history. I used almost all of them for the first half of the story (Dragon’s Rook), so the well is almost dry. Time to dig deeper.

As I lay awake, this gap-filled poem arrived, employing phrases and concepts from the first book, obliquely summarizing the entire story:

in the high mountains
beyond Craydaegs’ gate
behind Brona’s Veil
the people await

past the curtain of night
on the path of the moon
in the land of the horse-kings
_______________-oon

hear the horn of the Woodsman
heed his ____ tread
his fell axe is trimming
the leaves of the dead

the warrior, the flame,
a sword in the west
away, all ye Dragons
let enmity rest

c2016, KB

Once finished, it’ll be the opening poem before the story begins.

lake at Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma City (c2014, KB)

lake at Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma City (c2014, KB)

 

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Granite

Granite

Ideas from unexpected places? Happens all the time.

This week, while writing story notes in a spiral-bound notebook, I was listening to episodes of “Ancient Impossible” on the History Channel.* When I’d hear a historical detail I wanted to remember, I’d jot it on a separate page from the story notes.

In Dragon’s Rook, I wrote about a mountain city carved from granite.** However, I didn’t reveal how it was carved. Granite is serious stone. It doesn’t like to be cut.

However, there are examples of granite cut in ancient times, and they were the subject of a couple segments on “Ancient Impossible”: How did the ancients cut a large core of granite — a cylinder with evenly-spaced narrow grooves spiraling down its length — and how did they cut a slab that is marked as if by a circular saw, a piece of technology that no one expected to have existed then?

And that reminded me of something that should be incorporated into the next book, Dragon’s Bane: How was the city of Elycia carved into a mountainside composed mainly of granite?

Not gonna tell you. Yet. ūüėČ

But it makes sense inside the story, and it explains one detail mentioned in Dragon’s Rook —¬†the grooves left in the stone cliffs.

I want to go write that material right now, but I’m still finishing Thieves’ Honor, a space opera novel, which I hope to have complete by the end of the month. And then it’s back to Dragon’s Bane. And, after that, The Unmakers, a novel of paranormal suspense.

*¬†Anyone else listen to TV rather than watch it? Must come from all my years of having a radio but no television — listening is now a habit.

** The Mount Rushmore carvings are granite.

 
 

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Filthy Lucre

Filthy lucre” is an¬†Old World, Bible-language insult regarding¬†ill-gotten money. Some folks think money itself is evil. Some, as do I, think the love of money is the real evil.

Yet, however one may view it, money has become a necessity.

Therefore, allowing¬†readers keep a couple extra bucks in their pockets, the e-book price for¬†the¬†novel, Dragon’s Rook, has been reduced to¬†$2.99 (US). Yay!

Dragon's_Rook_Cover_Keanan_Brand_Susan_TrouttComprised of Dragon’s Rook (2015) and Dragon’s Bane (2016), The Lost Sword is a slightly different slant on epic¬†fantasy. It has a grand scope, yes, and there are swords and dragons, prophecies and portents, chosen heroes and dastardly villains, but there are subtler¬†themes underlying the tale: what is courage, honor, free will, servitude, freedom? What is faith, trust, love? How does one live one’s own life despite the expectations of others or the calling of a being greater than oneself? How does one live for oneself, and yet live for the sake of others?

The story is rife with questions — most culled from my own struggles with similar issues — and there are rarely¬†easy answers. (Which is a bit like talking¬†to¬†the Voice, the deity character who does not always reply when the mortals ask more information of Him than He has already given. ūüėČ )

At the risk of spoiling the second book, “the chosen ones” may not¬†all¬†survive¬†or be in charge¬†at the end. Their task may be far different than everyone — including the immortal Keepers — anticipates. That part of the tale has yet to be written, and I am pondering several different possibilities. However, readers can be assured the ending will not be dark¬†but filled with hope, and it will fit the story that led up to it. That is a certainty.*

Captain Gaerbith is heir to a secret: the location of a lost sword he cannot touch. In a village far from the battlefield, Kieran the blacksmith remembers nothing before the day when, as a young boy, he was found beside a dead man, a dagger in hand.

Maggie is a healer’s apprentice, and earns her way as a laundress. Her shadowed past and crippled hand make her an object of suspicion and ridicule. Far to the north, the king’s daughter‚ÄĒYan√°mari‚ÄĒplots to escape the royal city and her father’s iron control.

Etherium, the one metal capable of harming Dragons, can be wielded only by a true descendant of Kel High King. King Morfran seeks a Kellish smith who can recreate the lost sword, false proof of Morfran’s right to the throne.

Forces are aligning, old prophecies are fulfilling, and in the east a fire glows in Dragon’s Rook.

Dragon’s Bane is coming together nicely, and should be released next year.¬†Dragon’s Rook is currently available from these e-book vendors:

Amazon (Kindle)
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Kobo
iBooks (iTunes)
PageFoundry (now Inktera)
Scribd
Oyster
Smashwords**

The paperback is available via Amazon or CreateSpace for $17.99 (US). I am pleased with the look and feel of the print version. The dragon eye is almost 3D — well done, Suzan! — and the matte finish is soft, buttery, mimicking the texture of the leather background image.

*¬†Anyone else a bit weary of “gritty” fantasy, pessimistic dystopia, and other bleak tales?
** Go here for a special Smashwords discount, available through August 31, 2015.

 

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Brevity is the Soul

Brevity is the Soul

Of all the genres of novels I’ve edited, I most enjoy Westerns and mysteries, but the one in which I’ve the most experience is romance. Therefore, a person might be forgiven for thinking I might be able to easily incorporate romantic scenes into my own stories.

No. No, not without much cursing and gnashing of teeth.

And when one of my alpha readers squinches her eyes and purses her mouth and shakes her head — despite her best efforts at remaining courteously noncommittal — I know I’ve failed.

(spoiler warning for those who have not yet read Dragon’s Rook)

There is a reunion scene in Dragon’s Bane¬†in which a couple meets again after he thought she had died. Each being of a reticent nature and possessing a painful past, they have never declared themselves, so the scene required the showing of deep affection but also deep restraint:

He embraced her, and through the fabric he felt the ridged scars on her back. She turned her face into the hollow of his shoulder.

Nay, lass, do not hide.

If you knew the truth‚ÄĒ

He drew a deep breath. What can you say, Maggie Finney, to change my mind?

She grabbed handfuls of his tunic, pressing her fists against his lower back.

In earlier drafts, the pair¬†talked about¬†what happened after her “death”, and of the events that brought him back to the outlaw camp to find her grave, but it was boring, anticlimactic, cliched, and lacked the trueness I sought.

Several paragraphs were rewritten and rearranged and finally cut until only this one remains:

Maggie had fallen asleep standing up. Kieran guided her to the ground. She slumped against him and he eased her down, grabbed the blanket, then lay on his side, pulling her to him with an arm around her waist. She sighed. He tucked his knees behind hers, felt her heartbeat through her back, smelled the warmth of her neck. He had neither the wherewithal nor the desire to move. No matter the roof over his head, this was home.

It says everything I wanted to say, and in far fewer words than were written in effort to achieve it. Sometimes I need to blurp hundreds, maybe even thousands, of¬†words onto the page before I know which ones I don’t need.

Brevity, as the bard said, is the soul of wit. Sometimes, brevity is also the soul of an entire scene.

 

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Think Before Typing

Driving into a storm, Wyoming, August 2013 (KB)

Driving into a storm, Wyoming, August 2013 (c. KB)

At the end of May this year, I responded to a suspect question via e-mail as if it were legitimate instead of snarky: A potential reader called into question a synopsis of my novel, and asked how a plot point could be possible, given the circumstances.

Well, read the book, was my first thought, but — to be fair — that particular part of the story is actually central to the second book, so it’s not broadly explained in the current novel.*

On the other hand, there was a distinct tang of antagonism to the question, and it made me not want to respond at all.

However, giving the inquirer the benefit of the doubt, I answered honestly and unemotionally.

I won’t reveal either the question or the answer, because they don’t really matter. The problem was the attitude underlying the question, and with the confrontational way in which the question was posed.

One would think that¬†—¬†with all this proliferation of faceless, voiceless communication that has the potential to inspire online disputes and conflagrations over even the pettiest of misunderstandings or disagreements¬†—¬†folks would take care with their words so their intentions are not misconstrued.

Or perhaps, sporting a nifty avatar, they think themselves immune or powerful. As a friend says, “People are brave behind that perception of anonymity.”

————–

*¬†The Lost Sword duology consists of Dragon’s Rook (January 2015) and Dragon’s Bane (coming in 2016).

 

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