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I am going to quit beating myself when I set out to do a writing/editing task at a certain time and find myself just thinking about everything else instead, but occasionally thinking about the edits or book. Because that is rumination, and it means something deep and important is churning under the surface.

I changed the title of the book from The Emerald Sword to The Steel Guardian, naming it after the title character's job. But today in my private journal, ruminating on the history of Arkatyr and what I'm going to do this Nanowrimo -- a prequel -- it struck me that Emerald's name is actually Emerald, or translates to it. He uses his pommel stone to flash light. He has a particular spectrum signature that makes sense to other Swords and translates as him -- combination of spectrum signature and pattern he flashes. So that's his name, personal name. Which does not mean The Emerald Sword so much as A Sword named Emerald.

It's a less drastic change to his character. But I needed to know that changing the title was not changing yet another character name in a book plagued with character name changes. I backed up on one of them because it was just too many, and so will be thoroughly editing the names today among other things.

Calling him "Guardian" puts him on duty while he's goofing off, reminds everyone he's in charge whenever they talk to him, makes him more pompous. While he's got a bit of a streak of that, Emerald does sometimes let his kings take the lead. More often than not. He prefers to. This is one of the things that makes him good at it, he's not a control freak going way beyond his own duties and micromanaging everyone else's job in a magical monarchy. No, his "who I am" is not the same as "what I do." When he's off romancing another flashing Sword in the Abyss with intricate ripples of sensual light, she's probably not really connecting his wavelength with his pommel stone. More like while he was being forged he got fussy about it and demanded the dark elves find one that had his wavelength. Or liked the stone while he was being forged as it was presented to him and claimed that wavelength for his signature. It's a particularly bright green and shows up all the time in the light around his spells -- and his sleight of hand tricks, something he learned from a human magician.

I needed to know that before introducing him. The first toughest edit on this is to rewrite his introduction. Among other things, actually work in an introduction -- who he is! He made a lot of excuses as if talking to a reader who's posterity and might be judging his actions within his duty. His excuses are hilarious. So I need to know the context of his presenting it, at least in the back of my head, and tighten it up till it's funny. But get in the important little things that I didn't in the first go. Things I knew and the reader didn't till it was three pages in.

Basics, like "he's a magic sword with full sentience," and "there are lots of them" and "he's royalty because he's a Royal Sword" and "that means king-choosing, magical guardian of the land and some spiritual obligations to the land, close to ancient-wizarding and land wizard, not actually king himself but very important to a magical monarchy." Explication in a way, and in a way not because his excuses are funnier. It's not much to slip in here and there but ought to be presented lightly and fast along with his name.

He's not a narrator that can be ignored, a side character like Daniel in Interview with the Vampire. He's a narrator who's a major character in the events and responsible for a lot of them. In my ruminations I've come to see that he may be responsible for there being a kingdom there at all, because he had this inherent drive to serve one.

It also struck me that the way to stay happy and intense about marketing The Steel Guardian while intensely immersed in writing a new book during November would be to do the prequel. Write what really happened when he first met Talen, the founding King, and the giant Urgalek and the dark elf that built all the magical monuments and set up all his mirrors. Bits of that are mentioned as legend in the book. The pieces in the book and the pieces in my head just connected solidly this morning and I understand the backstory and inherent conflicts of the founding of Arkatyr a lot better.

That way I can stay on topic and not either wreck my new book by paying more attention to marketing the finished one, or flub the launch by being too emotionally focused on my current book in progress.

Today is also the day that the word series really sank deep. That Arkatyr is not a one-off, written and complete and let it go. Arkatyr has some deeper roots than I thought it did. It's a rich world. It's got many ties in all directions and cool things I can do with that world in book after book. It's that kind of setting -- and that's all to the good. I have wanted to do something multibook for a long time. I missed the rolling tide of knowing some teasers but not exactly what the next book would be or who'd be in it.

Elven characters are some continuity. The surviving ones were younger during the prequel and may be older during sequels. Emerald's got continuity. Clans of dark elves are some continuity too. There are so many directions that I can explore in greater depth and just add to this structure -- but the foundation's sound. The world went live in a deep way this morning, and that's more my perception of it than anything else.

But getting that before the rewrite is well underway is going to affect the tone, in a good way. It'll bring in more richness and a little more description. Also paradoxically a little less. I'll feel free to give little details and things that dangle off into potential other stories, some of which will be short stories and posted for a free download on the site. I should get at least one short story in Arkatyr done during September while I'm setting up the website, so that there's free fiction on it as well as all the how-to and informational articles. I'm at the start of one of these big settings like the Nomad Universe... and so I can go into the worldbuilding process in the articles about the way that I'll do a pastel painting in stages and turn it into a demo on eHow or deviantART.

That's a new approach for me on writing articles. I've had more practice writing How To now with all the art articles, so maybe my writing articles will be a bit easier to use.

I went to bed last night turning it all over and over in my head, and woke up this morning having gotten it clear. Emerald's his name and his series is going to go for a bunch of books, not just one.

I also spent a lot of time thinking about my art commissions, both Lauren's and Trish's. Cheetahs danced around a fire and the fire changed and obscured the cheetahs less. It stopped blazing up like someone threw a pint of lighter fluid on it, and turned into a campfire scaled fire, still bright enough to show the golden cat on the far side of it and cast brilliant violet shadows. The near cheetah moved a little. The processes changed in mental rehearsal, partly because of that little Impressionist landscape -- the painting will be richer and more powerful for it.

A wombat crouched in a sunny garden filled with... geraniums. Yes. Geraniums. The plants I've been watching bloom for over a year now. Other flowers too, with butterflies soaring over them, but the clustered flowers are geraniums and will look bright and have accurate leaf shapes even where they're loose. The animals will be in the closest focus for both Cat in the Garden and Wombat in the Garden.

Yesterday I also started getting caught up on something else -- the "Thankful For" swap on WetCanvas, which ended in May. I'm late on it and was way behind on the number of swap cards to send. But I sent out five swap cards yesterday and will be mailing more this week and next until the whole swap list has one each. Late is much better than never, and as IrishRose pointed out, getting something in the mail besides bills is always cheery.

I've also got a baker's dozen other Swaps to send out this month for ACEO Art Cards Editions & Originals group on eBay... and some of them done already since I send out unsold Theme Week cards in the Themed Swap. Six of them Open Swap, six Endangered Species, one Junior Swap to send that I have done but need to mail. It sounds more overwhelming than it is, because I have some beautiful artworks that haven't sold and will be sending some of those in the Open Swap as well as the Thankful For swap. Most of these are just my sorting out the addresses, filling out envelopes, doing the doodle bookmark and writing a note to wrap around it and help cushion the art.

I've been feeling the urge to get caught up on everything soon. It's a bit like when I was close to paying for my John Houle art... it feels like it all came in reach and I can do this, if I keep focused. I am almost dumping inventory on ACEOs with all these swaps, catching up and letting go of the older cards because my art improved so dramatically.

I think these are my last commissions for a while. I need to focus on books and need to do the ultimate piece of illustration during this time too -- start sketching for the cover of The Steel Guardian. I'm going to keep the strong green impression on the cover. I wanted a wash of green in the background and green light on many of the elements, and the scene is getting clearer as I think about it. I want it to have the clean-hue brightness of old Frazetta covers, and last night I looked at a dino-painting on WetCanvas that had a blazing orange vague background -- really vague -- yet it implied a hot shimmering desert the dinosaur was walking across, very well. So this greenness may help me establish this is a magical setting, this is a place in imagination, this is fantasy.

Brighter than life with noble heroes, cunning villains, depths of perfidy and heights of sacrifice and hope, the intensity of the tale. I think that's going to work out. I have to do the cheetahs to get to it, oddly enough. It's something to do with my honor and something to do with the process too, the gold-and-blue cheetahs are showing me the way.

If I am all caught up, then what I'm doing in the moment has 100% of my energy just as it has 100% of my funds. I'll be living in Arkatyr for a while this season.
Explore-Oil-Pastels-With-Robert-Sloan.com Articles at eHow.com, ETSY shop, My Bonanzle Booth, deviantART gallery, SFFmuse and look for art by robertsloan2art on eBay. Listed on Art Blogs 4 U
Proud member of the Oil Pastel Society
Interesting art blog: Patrick's Art Blog focused on realism!
New Topical Blog: www.robs-art-supply-reviews.blogspot.com for all the cool art stuff that isn't oil pastels!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 17th, 2008 04:21 pm (UTC)
Yes! I agree with the way you are seeing the fire now. It is a sacred fire, but it is not the focus of the piece.
Aug. 17th, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks! The visualizations keep getting clearer each time, and the golds are the accent, the blues the main color.
Aug. 17th, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. Katiyah at the back of the circle has more of the gold light on her, and my cheetah-self at the front is softly backlit but both are contoured by the moonlight.
Aug. 17th, 2008 07:55 pm (UTC)
Yes. And I can see the angle of the moon too, that cool blue fill light -- that will work. I have to be aware of the angle of the moon in the scene to get that right.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


2013 Nano Winner
Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance

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