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NaNoWriMo: Success!

I dood it!

I got the 50,000 word challenge for National Novel Writing Month! I was up late last night trying to get it done, but it is done and I am content. Technically, now, it was a continuation of my previous work on my existing novel-in-progress, First Empress, just a later part of the story that I hadn’t gotten to yet. The important thing is that it is that it was all new material to help me continue my tale.

One of the more interesting experiments was getting to deal more closely with Queen Viarraluca’s detractors, her political enemies. Though her majesty has overthrown and executed the Tetrarchy that previously ruled the Hegemony of Andivel and gotten the people and the army on her side, there still exists a Council of nobles that have a lot of political power, and who see this new tyrant queen as a threat to that power. And, to be fair, she is a threat as she refuses to play by their rules and steps around them in everything she does. So it was kind of fun to get a look into their minds and understand what motivates them, as well as their assumptions about Queen Viarra’s motivations.

Here’s an excerpt from an early scene where they meet to conspire against her majesty. At this point in the story, there has already been an assassination attempt on Queen Viarra, and the seven noblemen who financed the assassin have been tracked down and crucified. This scene takes place the evening after a Council meeting where Queen Viarra verbally bitch-slaps a group of her detractors, followed by a speech from General Etan voicing his support for her majesty and his derision for the council.

***

The twenty-six conspirators met at Councilman Evral’s country vineyard estate, the night lit by the near-full moon. Peron followed his father, Lord Amrel, through the gateway and into the main courtyard. It wasn’t enough that this fucking islander queen had hanged the tetrarchs and driven out their families—Peron’s fiancée, Iress, fleeing with them—the she-tyrant had crucified the father of two of the young nobleman’s closest friends and driven them from the city as well.

It was a classic take-over, the young nobleman reflected. New monarch gets the military and the people on her side, then tears down the previous ruling class to ensure her place as sole despot. She’d started by bribing the soldiers with money she’d stolen from the late tetrarchs—and possibly by sleeping with a general or two. Then she’d seduced the people by lowering taxes and spending coin generously among the craftsmen and merchants. It was no wonder the people loved their new queen: the bitch knew how to appeal to the greed of the soldiers and the nearsightedness of the commoners. Her methods were so… cliché that the council and nobles should have seen this coming.

This was why the people of Andivel had formed the tetrarchy in the first place, to maintain a balance of power and prevent such tyrants from taking root and exploiting the populace. Clearly the soldiers and lower classes had forgotten this.

“Of course we blamed them for incompetence,” Lord Unor was saying as Peron followed his father into the main sitting room. “How competent can they be: they got beaten to a standstill by a bunch of hairy, slobbering barbarian thugs who still think iron smelting is a radical invention? One decent hoplite ought to be worth any ten shirtless Gan.”

“Not that it makes a difference now,” another councilman pointed out. “General Etan’s little diatribe made clear that the arrogant bitch has most, if not all, of the army on her side now. How long do you think we have before she has the rest of us on the council hanged or crucified?”

“Or quartered or stoned or impaled or beheaded or torn apart by dogs?” Councilman Ordis added gloomily.

“Or what’s that quaint tradition among some of the eastern Tollesian colonies?” Lord Evral asked. “The one where they lock you in a box with just your head sticking out and give you plenty to eat until you rot to death in your own excrement?”

“That strikes me as unlikely,” Councilman Berol shook his head. “It’s kind of an inefficient way to kill someone, and this queen strikes me as nothing if not efficient.”

“After Etan’s little speech, Lord Onris told me that he’s leaving the city,” Peron’s father spoke up. “He said that he’s not going to wait for the bitch’s attack dogs to come after him, so he’s leaving to be with his wife’s family in Mertal.”

“That’s desperation,” Berol snorted. “Onris fucking hates his wife’s family.”

“Is that our only solution?” Peron found himself asking. “Leave Andival before the crazy bitch trumps up excuses to have the rest of us executed?”

“Well, she’s got the military and the idiot rabble on her side, so we can’t exactly raise a coup or a popular uprising,” Lord Evral pointed out. “And after that failed assassination attempt, she’ll probably be on alert for another knife in her window.”

“And it’s not like we can erode her authority with the council,” Lord Amrel added. “We are the fucking council, but she doesn’t seem to feel under any obligation to play by our rules. How do you attack someone who’s unassailable?”

“There’s a cute trick among the Venarri kingdoms in the west, as well as a few of the Gannic kingdoms, and even some of the western mainland and island Tollesian city-states,” Councilman Haret spoke up for the first time thus far. “When an enemy city seems too fortified and fully prepared for a siege, instead of surmounting the walls or sieging the city, they undermine the walls’ foundation. They have sappers dig under the walls, using gravity to cause the fortifications to crash in on themselves. For all intents and purposes, they attack the very foundation supporting their unmovable enemy, making him collapse under his own weight.”

“I get it,” Ordis smirked. “Instead of sending thugs or assassins after Queen Viarra, send them after her supporters. She can’t watch over all of her friends at once.”

“Exactly,” Haret nodded gravely. “Murder army officers who’ve pledged their allegiance, councilmen who’ve voiced support for her, merchants with whom she does frequent business, even her servants if we can catch them at the right moment. Collapse her foundations by killing her supports and making others afraid to keep holding her up.”

Writerly Advice for NaNoWriMo

I’m after some writerly advice from my fellow writers out there. I find myself floundering with my NaNoWriMo project. Despite my efforts, I just didn’t have a very solid idea of where I wanted to go with Book II of First Empress. I think part of that is because I’m still deciding on how a lot of stuff will go down in the last few chapters of Book I. I’m seriously debating working on it instead. The problem being that the material all has to be from a different project—as in, Book I can’t count toward the 50,000-word challenge because of the contest guidelines.

I continue to fall behind because of my troubles in reconciling the two books, that I’m beginning to wonder if it’s worth it to try to stick with NaNoWriMo’s deadlines. Would it be best to keep tapping away at Book II? Or should I go back to work on Book I and deal with Book II after the first book is finished? Thoughts?

Didn’t get there.

As this pressure on my head, throat, and sinuses that I’ve been trying to ignore the past few days continues to increase, I am forced to concede that I am in fact getting sick. Couple this with being way behind in my NaNoWriMo entry already, I think it’s a clear sign that I’m not going to make it to 50,000 words for the month. I’m only slightly bummed about this, though, as I feel I got a decent start on the novel, as well as a lot of great input from some amazing folks. This isn’t to say that I’m giving up on the story altogether though. I just think it best that I take things easy and focus on other stuff that needs dealt with.

Hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity to try again next year, and with better advance preparation. I think one of my issues this first time was that I decided to do it the morning of October 31, and thus didn’t have all that solid a layout for my story just yet, and didn’t even write out an outline until Nov 3. Scheduling issues got in the way as well early on and even though I started pretty far ahead, I ended up way behind by the second week.

The novel I chose to work on was a fantasy story and prequel to a novel I already had in the works. My working title is First Empress and takes place in sort of a late-Bronze-Age fantasy setting. Given this, I fairly deliberately fell back to my past reading and research into Ancient Greece, even opting to call the infantry soldiers hoplites. If anyone is interested, I’ll go ahead and post a few excerpts from the story.

Here is the synopsis I submitted for my NaNoWriMo novel:

Empress Viarraluca Tolles, brilliant, ambitious ruler of the island city-state of Kel Fimmaril, has been offered an amazing, magical gift by her beloved subjects: eternal youth. The gift is the result of new research into the use of arcane methods to prevent aging. Having transformed her nation from a tiny island kingdom into the sea-faring, commercial Tollesian Empire in less than a decade, the 28-year-old empress contemplates the implications and consequences of becoming its eternal ruler.

Far to the south, a nine-year-old girl named Zahnia experiences daily the horrors behind the arcane research, as dozens of her fellow orphans are experimented on for the benefit of humanity. Alone and terrified, the captive girl prays for any escape, any ally, to deliver her from the mad alchemists who hold her.

November is National Novel Writing Month!

So I’ve decided to go ahead and take the plunge. I signed up with the people at NaNoWriMo to try to write the first draft of a 50,000 word novel by the end of November. Details about the organization and the event can be found at http://www.nanowrimo.org.

Initially, I’d figured on entering my currently-in-the-works novel, Chronicle of Pren, as my novel and use the event as an excuse to get additional work done on it. But when I was reading the entry guidelines, it became quickly apparent that if I did, I wouldn’t be able to legally include any of the already complete work toward my page count. (I mean, I guess I could post it illegally, but I’m not the sort to cheat that way.) Instead, I’ve opted to write a prequel, of sorts, to the Chronicle with the intent of providing extensive background on the two ‘immortal’ characters, Luka and Zahnia. Specifically how they met and how each came upon their gifts of eternal youth. My working title for the new novel is First Empress.

If folks are interested, I’ll go ahead and post progress reports over the course of November, and—if the organization allows—I’ll see about posting excerpts from the novel itself.

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