Ruminating on Angels

How Now Folks,

I’m nearing the end of the second draft for book 2, Angels of Perdition. Just adding in some elements to the middle section that I missed on the original run through. We’re shooting to begin the first major editorial pass by the end of the month. In those moments where I’m staring at a blank page trying to corral my thoughts, I’ve notice something; The act of creation for the second book is different from the first. I don’t mean procedures and methods; I mean in terms of finding its essence.

See, I actually began writing Chaos of Souls back in 2014. (If you want to get technical, I began writing it in 1983. It’s taken me this long to get it right). This version started in 2014, and at that time, I was just writing for the hell of it. I had this story I tinkered with for decades, and I wanted to see how it ended. My wife grew to love it, and so I was pretty much writing it for the two of us to enjoy; really just creating the book we always wanted to read. I had another manuscript, of a later point in the time line for the series, and I wanted to combine the two, catch them up, if you will. So, on the weekends, I hung out in the backyard and just kept on writing, trying to get my characters to that later point. All in all, I had a manuscript that was 1,154 pages.

Then, near the end of 2016, Dorothy and I were talking about the rise of independent authors and publishing ebooks online, and we decided to give it a go. The problem was, this 1,154-page beast was too big, even for a fantasy book, and there was a great deal that I wanted to expand upon. So, after looking at the layout of the story, we decided to break that massive manuscript into three parts. The first 550 pages were reworked and expanded into The Gates of Golorath, which now has 639 pages. The next section, which is currently becoming Angels of Perdition, was only at 199 pages. The final section is about 409 pages. I had a ton of material for books 1 & 3, but not all that much for book 2. Most of this book still needed a first draft, and writing it turned into me chasing the story for a good part. Don’t worry, I found it.

Now here’s the thing: refining part 1 and turning it into its own book helped redefine the entire Chaos of Souls story. More than that, it showed us how things actually worked within a book. We understood how to craft characters that people other than us cared about, and how to unify events so the plot makes sense. (There is, I discovered, a huge difference between writing for yourself, and writing for others). More than that, we learned how to work together as a team to really bang out some great content.

But, I of course, wanted to try something different. Even this working knowledge of how Dorothy and I work as a team, I had something up my sleeve for the end of Angels, and I wanted it be a surprise for my wife. So, I kept quiet about what I was working on. Have you ever watched a movie and thought to yourself, “Hey, that’s stupid,” or “That’s out of character,” “That doesn’t make sense with the plot,” “The writers forgot about X or Y from the beginning”? I didn’t have those problems in Gates, because I have Dorothy to work with (as well as an awesome editor). She catches all the continuity and plotting errors. When she read the first draft of Angels, she found all those errors that I wouldn’t have written in had I just kept her in the loop.

As to the surprise, oh, hell yeah, she was surprised. It was cool too, because I was sitting in the room when she read it, so I got to see the full reaction. But, it cost me a lot of revision work to fix my mistakes.

Ok. Lesson learned. Keep the muse in the loop.

Don’t worry. Angels of Perdition is not leaving our hands until it is as perfect as we can make it. She caught all of my mistakes and miscues, and they have all been fixed. Relax. We’re obsessive about stuff like this. When we have a job to do, we give it our all. That’s who we are. I’m not saying that we’re as fastidious as a Mala’kar… ok, who am I kidding.

Yeah, we’re on that level of neurosis.

 

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World Building Pt. 1

How now all.

So, a question that comes up an awful lot is, “how do you create the world you write in?” The answer is fairly simple (though a bit involved); All writer’s world build, even if they’re not aware they’re doing it, and each does it a little differently.

For this post, I wanted to examine what world building is. We’ll get to how it’s done at a later time.

World building is the creation of a unique and specific environment for the character(s) to move through. At its heart, this is the setting, and some stories require the author to deviate from reality. If done right, it also produces the conflict which in turn helps drive events. The problem is that once you start bending the rules of reality, you create new rules, and these can be easy to forget if you don’t take really good notes.

For the purpose of this discussion, I’m going to focus on Speculative Fiction, and for our purposes, this includes several different genres: Science fiction, Fantasy, Post-apocalyptic, and Dystopian among them.

 When we break it down, there are five types of world building categories that these tales fall into.

  1. Relational: This is the type of world building that produced Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha county, and Harper Lee’s Maycombe county. Namely, they created the community their novel was set in. This focuses on the characters, their relationships and interactions, as well as the institutions within the community, and how these affect each other. This is set in the real world, and is bound by real world constraints.
  2. Transformational: This is the radical change from the real world. Typically, this is post-apocalyptic fiction, where some disastrous event has forever altered the world as we know it. William Forthesythe’ One Minute After, tells the story of an America without electricity after an electromagnetic pulse. The society the characters live in is similar to our own, but this is because the characters intentionally chose for it to be so. This is a part of the conflict in the novel; whether or not they can hold onto these ideals of civilization in a desperate and depraved world. Others go further; S.M. Sterling’s novel Dies a Fire removes not only electricity, but rewrites the laws of physics, so gunpowder and explosives do not work either. This sends civilization not just back into the 19th century, but back into the 12th century, complete with feudal lords.
  3. Comparable: J.K. Rowling’s world of wizards, or Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere tell stories of a world that exists parallel to our own, but outside the keen of the average person. This allows the reader to access the world new world by its relation to what is known. Typically, the lead character is new to the world, and so the reader learns along with them as they experience things.
  4. Structural: This too has a transformational event at its heart, but it is now far in the past. The world has moved on, leaving the ruins of the old behind. Steven King’s Gunsligner series, Suzanne Collins Hunger Games and Terry Brook’s Shanarra are examples. Here, the landscape and the structures create ample room for conflict. This is also a way for the author to create entirely new structures and worlds, but still being able to connect back to the world the reader knows.
  5. Mythological: this is completely removed from the world as we know it, due to the creation of an entire mythos and / or adjustments to reality. Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” Blake’s “Continental Prophecies,” Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” Tolkien’s Middle Earth, and Frank Herbert’s Dune are prime examples here. The world(s) they describe is different in almost every aspect. The landscape, the language, the abilities, the customs, the norms are all different. This gives the writer complete control to do whatever they wish, but they also tie themselves into the rules they create. The worlds they create may be based on the known (Tolkien = Icelandic Eddas, Judeo/Christian Mythos), but those aspects as used more as molds that give a general outline. Borrowing cultural aspects from the known world helps the writer ground the reader and enables them to process the new reality. In my series, Chaos of Souls, the characters are angels that have been fragmented and their souls reformed to create new beings. As a result, they retain a great deal of their angelic abilities. Their magic flows from themselves, and from the world around them.

The process differs depending on which type of story is being told: specifically, whether it is Science Fiction or Fantasy. While they are often lumped together for marketing purposes, they are fundamentally different in their worlds (universe, multiverse, dimensions) are created.

Science Fiction = Technology (even if it does not exist, yet). This is the product of the Mind of Man, where humanity has overcome the limitations of the environment through the use of his technological creations. Star Trek had warp drive, Clarke had a Dyson Sphere, and Weber had mechanical avatars. The mind is the pinnacle of creation and the driving force of human advancement, and often the problems will have a technological solution. As such, it is often used to subjugate the environment and bend existence to its will. While the rules of physics may be bent, stretched, or extrapolated upon, they are never truly broken and replaced.

Fantasy = Magic. This can take any form, or have any source, but in essence, it is outside the character, even if their body is the conduit for it. Divinity & miracles, are a form of magic, because they are powers outside the technological realm, and outside the individual. Goodkind called his magic Han, Jordan called it the One Power. It does not matter where it comes from, but, it comes from somewhere outside of the character. This is the product of working in harmony with existence to manipulate the environment. This is more primitive, and can even be unconscious in the character, and often throw the rules of physics out the window.

So, there we go. We have a theoretical framework to work off of.

See you next time.

R.M. Garino

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Blog update – April 2018

Hey all,

So, I’m chugging along with Angels of Perdition, filling in the missing parts at the beginning and in a way, starting the story. Most people I talk to look at me strange when I make a statement like that; the common assumption is that a book is written the way that it is read. Unfortunately, it is not. I actually wrote the middle part first, then went forward and wrote most of the end, and then worked on the beginning. Believe it or not, the first quarter of the story has been the hardest to write. It might be a strange way to approach a novel, but it works for me. I like being able to jump around, tightening connections, adding in layers, and all around deepening the story. Think of it as impressionistic painting using trampolines and springboards. Quite messy really. Anyway, we’re still on track to meet the April deadline, so things are moving apace.

We’ve recently updated all of the House crests on the website, and they look amazing. Think it’s time for some tattoos, they look so good. We’ve also updated several of the character portraits as well, so stop on by for a quick peek at what’s changed. Oh yea, we’re expecting a book trailer any day, but we’ll wait until the Angels of Perdition preorder period to release it. I guess it was kind of mean to mention it, and then dangle a release date that’s still a few months away.

In the meantime, I’m keeping myself sane through all the snowstorms by keeping busy. I’m really into making stuff. Not just novels, but all kinds of stuff. I brew my own beer, cider, limoncello, mead, and am looking forward to my first foray into wine this summer. The dream is to start distilling my own spirits, but that is way more regulated than home brewing, so it might be a while. But, this week it is finally time to start sampling some of the batches I put up last year. This is the fun part; a little booze, a cigar, and a novel to finish. Woo hoo! Sounds like a good time.

Time to get workin’.

That’s all for now.

Regards,

R.M. Garino

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Update February 2018

Hey All. Welcome to my blog.

So, book 2 of Chaos of Souls Series, Angels of Perdition is still in the first stage of production. To give you an estimate, Gates consisted of just over 163,000 words. As of this morning, Angels stands at 123,855 words, leaving just an iddy biddy 39,000 words left to put to paper. I’ve been writing in arcs: first Logan and the cohort of Yearlings in the Sur – thought I’d forget about that? What? It’s awesome! Wait till you read it. The second arc was Angus and Arielle, which I’m working on now. Don’t worry, the arcs will get shuffled into their final positions in the book later on in the process. This is just the order I wrote them. I’m looking for the draft to be completed by the end of March.

Next step is off to the editor at the end of April, so we’re looking at late spring as our release date. Once Angels is out of my hands, I’ll be turning my attentions to two smaller projects. a Chaos of Souls series novella, and the first installment of the Protectorate of the New Apocalypse series.

The Chaos of Souls novella is about the E’ine and how they rediscovered the Patresilen, created the great tree Reven Marthal, and crafted the Gates of Golorath. Set against the backdrop of the Apostate’s War, I’m taking the reader back in time to when Thenaria was young and Lilly was still alive. I’m expecting this book to be released (still working on the final title) mid to late summer, as it only needs a cover and a final polish. Consider it a bit of backstory on characters you’re going to meet in Angels of Perdition.

The first book in the Protectorate of the New Apocalypse series is currently about halfway through the first draft, and I’m looking forward to getting back to it. I’m planning on it being a much shorter book than any of the full length Chaos books, probably around 50,000 to 80,000 words. So, if I can refrain from being long winded, we’ll see its release in time for the winter.

That’s all for now.

All the Best,

R.M. Garino

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