Tag Archives: casting the bones

ROOKWAR cover: revealed!

So here it is, the final cover of the final book in the Casting the Bones trilogy:

cover-rookwar

PRETTY.

The book itself will be released in the next few weeks. As I’ve said before, it’s by far the longest, biggest, and most complex of the three books and of them, it’s the one I’m most proud of. Hoping people enjoy it.

Watch this space for further news.

RAVENFALL giveaway: Day 1!

RavenfallCover

Today (really technically yesterday at this point) marks the first day of the Great Ravenfall giveaway, wherein I’ll be giving away four sets of Crowflight and Ravenfall – the first two books in the Casting the Bones trilogy – as well as four separate thematic bracelets.

This round’s bracelet is “Blood and Moonlight”, made laboriously by hand by me:

"Blood and Moonlight" - August 10

“Blood and Moonlight” – August 10

AND THIS ROUND’S WINNER IS: Brad! Yaaaaaaaaaay Brad

If you didn’t win this time around, you’ll get three more chances before the final drawing on the 16th. And if you haven’t entered yet, you certainly still can right here (scroll to the bottom for the entry form).

RAVENFALL is out!

RavenfallCover

I’ve been yelling about this in various places already, but here’s the official author-blog announcement: Ravenfall, the second novel in the Casting the Bones trilogy, is now available to purchase here.

While I of course hugely appreciate it whenever anyone spends their hard-earned cash on my stuff, you can also win copies of both it and Crowflight (book 1) over here. I’ll be giving out four rounds of copies in total, so your chances are pretty damn good.

YAY BOOK

July news, because there’s a lot of it

Okay, so somehow July ended up being the month where everything is happening. Here’s what’s on deck:

So wow, yeah. August should be more sedate, except for all the writing I’ll be doing. Rookwar will be finished by the end of this month, but then I have the as-yet untitled book I’m writing about Kae from Line and Orbit, and I have an idea for another tropey-as-fuck Big Gay SF novel (not Line and Orbit-related) that I hope to begin work on in the fall.

And I’m teaching an intensive three-week course and looking for a job. And I’ve decided to retool my entire doctoral dissertation.

Wheeee summer.

RAVENFALL excerpt: Chapter 1

RavenfallCover

As promised, here’s the first chapter of Ravenfall, free to read.

The Story So Far, by way of the back cover blurb:

In exile from her home and her people, Turn – once Crow and psychopomp-in-training – is living among the mysterious Ravens, a people steeped in magic and forgotten history. Despite a period of relative peace, Turn is restless and struggling to find her place among her adopted tribe. Complicating things are her feelings for her friend and companion Ava, which are both changing and intensifying. And of course, peace can’t last. Unexpectedly, an old friend appears bearing bad tidings, and the Ravens are faced with a choice between fight or flight. But the choice may not be as clear as it appears, and Turn suspects it may be informed by an influence that means to destroy them.

The lost tribe of the Moravici, supposedly stripped of power, are not as dead as they seemed, and are extending tentacles of control and dark coercion into places Turn didn’t believe possible. The Crows, convinced that the Ravens pose a lethal threat, are preparing to make war. In Sol, the world of the living, the dead are rising, and they have an appetite for flesh. The Ravens are arguing among themselves, unable to take action. Despairing, Turn sees little hope of saving anyone.

But of course, help can come from the unlikeliest of places. The question is what price it will demand.

Click the cut for excerpty goodness. And if you like what you read, please add on Goodreads. And buy. And if you buy, it’s always amazing if you review anywhere you like. I pretty much depend on word-of-mouth, so any help there is so appreciated.

Continue reading

Writing RAVENFALL: Gender, pronouns, and creating the character of Ava

Those of you who have read Crowflight will have met Ava, the Raven who saves Turn from starvation and an infected wound after she’s exiled into the Shadowlands. In Ravenfall, Turn’s relationship with Ava deepens, and the two of them take a journey that forces them to depend on each other in entirely new ways. By the end of the book, they’re closer than ever, and in Rookwar I’m happy to report that Ava is taking center stage in ways they haven’t before, mostly by virtue of their own demands to be allowed to do so.

Ava is an interesting character, at least to me. They’re strange, and for a while they were entirely mysterious to me. When I wrote Crowflight I knew I needed a character to act as Turn’s guide to the Ravens as a people and a culture; Line and Orbit had taught me that as Adam came to understand the Bideshi with the help of Kae and Lochlan. When you’re introducing both the protagonist and the reader to a new world within the world of the story, such a guide-character is not necessary but often very helpful.

So at first that was what Ava was there to do. But as Turn learned about them, I learned about them too. Or rather, I learned what I didn’t know about them, and how much of what I did know was somewhat contradictory.

I have no idea how old Ava is. They haven’t told me, so they haven’t told Turn, either. Ava is definitely older than Turn, and may in fact be quite a lot older, though I don’t think Ava is elderly. They aren’t elderly in any physically recognizable way; they’re slender to the point of serious thinness, but they’re extremely strong. Their face is essentially ageless, unlined but not at all young. They’re wise, but they tend to keep out of the way of any political or social power – perhaps because of that wisdom. They’re familiar with Raven blood magic, but don’t specialize in it particularly. They’re a skilled warrior, but prefer not to fight at all, and what role they’ve played in past conflicts is unclear. They’re devoted to the service of the goddess Atropos, but not especially devout or mystical, at least not any more than any other Raven.

They’re also devoted to Turn, but their other intense relationships – if any – remain a mystery. I know almost nothing about their parentage, their personal history, or their motivations before Turn came along.

Which isn’t to say I don’t know anything about their actual character. Slowly, as they’ve revealed their personality to Turn, they’ve revealed themselves to me. Ava is quiet, practical, but capable of intense emotion and possessed of deep convictions. They tend to be naturally skeptical, and to depend on little without evidence. From what I’ve observed of the way I write them, they’ve always been something of an outsider within the already-outsider Ravens, preferring to keep to the margins and make their own decisions independently of the group. Turn met Ava when Ava was camped some distance from the rest of their group; my sense is that Ava often did that before meeting Turn, retiring to the wilderness away from the primary encampment to engage in solitary meditation.

But on Turn’s arrival, Ava gained a kind of anchor. Ava was drawn to her instantly and provided Turn with not only a guide but also a companion at a time when Turn badly needed one. I think Ava was ready for one as well, after so much time spent alone. Now Ava serves as Turn’s companion and friend, as well as advisor of a kind. Turn is still quite young, barely out of her teens, and she needs one.

And then there’s the issue of gender. As soon as Ava made themselves known, my general sense was that they were a woman, but that quickly changed, and I realized that it made a lot of sense to write Ava as genderqueer/non-binary, which I’d been wanting to do with a character for a while. There is no place for non-binary people in Crow culture, but there is among the Ravens, who are both more and less bound by traditions (sharp-eyed readers may pick up some similarities between them and the Bideshi, some of which were consciously inserted and some of which were not). That means there’s a bit of a learning curve for Turn, and for a time she thinks of Ava using binary pronouns, which Ava allows.

But I knew pretty early on that I wanted to eventually go with the singular they, and I wanted to Turn to end up there as well. Some of it that was personal – I prefer that pronoun for myself, and it irritates me how much resistance there is to it, as well as to other non-binary pronouns – but some of it was also that I just wanted to see what would happen to the way I wrote if I abandoned binary writing with a character.

And interestingly enough, what happened was that Ava finally felt able to start asserting themselves not only as a secondary character but as a co-protagonist, which they pretty much are at this point. The simple adoption of a different kind of pronoun made a character come alive for me in a way they hadn’t before. The moment in Crowflight where Turn stops thinking of Ava as she and starts thinking of them as they was a major turning point for me as the author. From then on, writing Ava felt different.

Incidentally, she is simply what Ava offers as a pronoun for Turn to use, not one at which Turn arrives herself. Ava’s reasons for doing that are unclear to me, aside from graciously looking for a way to make Turn more comfortable while she settled into the idea of a non-binary person. Ava certainly doesn’t identify as she any more than they identify as he.

So what Ava taught me – among other things – is that pronouns matter a lot in writing a character, and playing with gender in a story can make an enormous difference in the end to how a character feels and lives and acts through an author. They also taught me that I could write characters like this, that I didn’t have to be afraid of it just because not many other people are doing it (though I’m so happy to see that it’s becoming less uncommon). I could open my fictional worlds up to people who are more like me, and while that might be obvious to some people, it’s also easier for some people, and it was liberating when I really started to internalize that.

So Ava’s important, and what they taught me has been important. I’m not sure what state they’ll be in at the end of Rookwar. But whatever happens between now and then, I’m grateful.

Later this week/early next week I’ll be posting the first chapter of Ravenfall, so watch for that.

 

Here’s the RAVENFALL cover and I love it

RavenfallCover

LOOK AT IT

When we last left Turn, Psychopomp-in-training and now exile from the Crows, she was living among the mysterious Ravens, a people steeped in magic and forgotten history. For a time there’s been peace, but Turn is restless and struggling to find her place, as well as confronting her feelings for her friend and companion Ava, which are both changing and intensifying. And of course, peace can’t last. An old friend appears unexpectedly with bad tidings, and the Ravens are faced with a choice between fight or flight. But the choice may not be as clear as it appears, and Turn suspects it may be informed by an influence that means to destroy them.

The lost tribe of the Moravici, supposedly stripped of power, are not as dead as they seemed, and are extending tentacles of control and dark coercion into places Turn didn’t believe possible. The Crows, convinced that the Ravens pose a lethal threat, are preparing to make war. In Sol, the world of the living, the dead are rising, and they have an appetite for flesh. The Ravens are arguing among themselves, unable to take action. Turn faces despair everywhere she looks, and little hope of saving anyone.

In short, everything kind of sucks. But of course, help can come from the unlikeliest places. The question is what price it’ll demand.

This thing gets released in July. As you see above, it’s the second book in the Casting the Bones trilogy; the third book is coming this fall. Naturally I’ll be giving away free stuff, so watch for that. Might make some jewelry; haven’t decided. In the meantime, while you wait, Crowflight is available, and I hope you check it out and enjoy.

8870200266_3104ed4d7f_o-220x330

And it goes without saying that if you do, reviews – positive or negative – are massively, massively appreciated.

 

CROWFLIGHT: The players

So who exactly are the people who populate the world of Crowflight? What’s their deal? Here I offer some answers, while keeping things as spoiler-free as possible.

8870200266_3104ed4d7f_o-220x330Turn: The protagonist of the book, a young woman of the Crow tribe who is preparing to take her place as a Psychopomp – a guide of souls across the space between the worlds to the lands beyond death. She is skilled, competent, and as the story begins, optimistic about her future. However, that all changes rather quickly, and she’s thrown into fear and uncertainty. She’s brave, as far as it goes, but she’s also reluctant to shoulder responsibility after it backfires on her so extravagantly. The book is at least in part the story of her struggling to accept the responsibilities thrust upon her, even if she never becomes entirely comfortable with them.

I often pick names with some meaning behind them, and Turn’s name was chosen based on the role she has to play in the larger story – that of a catalyst for change, of pushes forward and u-turns back toward what’s come before alike.

Sene: Turn’s lover, and also her emotional support. They haven’t been together long, but their bond is strong, and they both believe that they have a promising future with each other. Sene is a skilled artist, a painter of murals for the wealthy of the Crow city of Lune, and while he isn’t wealthy himself, his talent allows him to scrape by. A fiercely loyal partner, Sene admires Turn as much as he loves her, and wants to do all he can to help her succeed in her chosen vocation. But when Turn’s life is thrown into upheaval, their bond will be tested, perhaps beyond 413px-Brooklyn_Museum_-_Crow_on_a_Branch_-_Kawanabe_Kyosaiwhat it can bear.

Corvi: A master Psychopomp and Turn’s mentor. Corvi is old beyond reckoning and extremely wise, though also possessed of a healthy sense of mischief. She rarely does things the conventional way, though she also takes great care to protect and guide the students under her tutelage. But even she may not be able to shield Turn from the chaos to come, and good intentions sometimes have terrible consequences.

Gen: Turn’s best friend – one of her few – and a fellow student. Gen is boisterous and good-natured, outwardly a little shallow and over-focused on gossip and romance but also intelligent, brave and loyal. When the world appears set against Turn, she is one of the few who stands by her, and proves willing to go to great lengths to help her.

Ava: A member of the Raven tribe, Ava is a mysterious figure, though a powerful ally to those with whom they choose to align themselves. They are possessed of significant magic in their own right, though they are uninterested in using it for any personal gain. They know the Shadowlands well, and can travel swiftly even across dangerous terrain. They are one of a large minority of the Raven tribe who are of neither wholly masculine nor wholly feminine gender, and accordingly they prefer ungendered pronouns.

raven by oddstockMori: A leader of the small group of Ravens of which Ava is a member. Mori is steadfast and strong-willed, as well as kind, even to outsiders. He takes his position as (unofficial) leader of his caravan very seriously, but also feels an obligation toward the Carrion Kind as a whole, and when they are threatened, he is will to do whatever is necessary to eliminate the threat.

Yavon: A sorceress of the Ravens, skilled in all forms of magic, Yavon also possesses a sharply cheerful sense of humor and a great pride in her work. She is a teacher of other Ravens, and enjoys guiding them toward a greater understanding of their own power. Like Mori,  she feels a deep commitment to the protection of all the Carrion Kind, despite the mistrust that the Crows and Rooks feel for her people.

Renna: Chief Minister Renna of the Rock is the leader of Lune, and a hero to its people. When the Calamity of the Split Earth nearly destroyed the Crows, she held the city together in the aftermath, restoring order and providing for the injured and suffering. While she is generally a just and fair leader and determined to do anything she has to do for her tribe, she is also extremely proud and not especially merciful to those she deems undeserving. To many, she appears cold and aloof, but most feel that this is an unfortunately necessary part of the strength she has to show as ruler.

Joran: One of the most senior Psychopomps, despite his relative youth, Joran is Renna’s most prized student from her days as a mentor. His attractiveness and charisma, as well as his skill as a Psychopomp, make him something of a celebrity in Lune. While he isn’t stupid by any means, all of this attention has gone to his head somewhat, and he tends to be arrogant and boastful. He is also absolutely loyal to Renna and eagerly does whatever is asked of him – no matter how questionable it might be.

That’s the cast – roughly. There are many other characters, enemies and friends Turn encounters on her way, people she’ll love and hate and some of whom she’ll lose in the end. I hope you enjoy them all as much as I did writing them.

And a reminder: you can enter to win a free copy of the book over here until the 13th!

image by devra

image by devra