Hello my lovely readers, I come today with a couple of great announcements as well as the conclusion of my reflections blog series.
First of all, I am so proud to say that my short story, “Through the Blackthorn,” will be one of 12 stories in the anthology We Cryptids edited by Vivian Caethe. Each one is a noblebright urban fantasy story about cryptids finding their place in society and dealing with their relationships with humans. “Through the Blackthorn” is about Beitild, a huldra who is isolated from and harassed by humans due to her tail and hollow back. When a human asks for her help, Beitild is hesitant, but learns that not all people are the same.
You can preorder either an ebook or print copy, which should be released in September. Check it out here.
My next announcement concerns the third and final book in my Sovereigns of the Dead trilogy, The Enduring Flame. I met my goal for finishing the first draft by the end of April, and am now working toward edits. The editing process is always laborious, and with my upcoming honeymoon (and subsequent sewing projects in preparation of it), I’m not expecting to have the book ready for beta readers until July. I’m hoping that the readers will finish it within a month or two, leaving me time to get the cover and final edits done before November/December. I can’t make any promises at this point in time, but at least I have a completed draft and notes for the first round of edits.
Alright, let’s move on to character reflections! Last month, I talked about Cara’s progression and changes. The other main POV characters had far fewer changes, so I’m going to talk about them all this month: Gwen, Sandu, Seanna, and Jagger.
Jagger, as I mentioned last month, was originally a teacher of sorts at Cara’s school. He was a master spy, and this pretty quickly turned into him being an assassin-for-hire. The Nightcats morphed into Fauste’s Shiv, and Jagger’s relationship with Raven solidified into a loving marriage. Jagger’s always been a surly bastard, and he’s always had a soft spot for Sandu. Many of his chapters remained consistent throughout multiple drafts of The Lantern-Lit City.
Gwen was a bit odd for me. She started out sweet and naïve, then became a little more petty and childish, then ended up somewhere in-between. Her marriage to Druam fluctuated throughout the drafts: in some, he kept putting off the wedding that she was begging for. In others, she tried to escape said marriage. Her magic always played a role, but it grew over the course of many drafts until it became her defining goal.
Fun fact, in one draft Gwen falls in love with Mavian and tries to run away with him instead of marrying Druam.
Seanna’s progression was fairly quick. In the first couple of drafts, she was a kind, compassionate queen who wanted to help Druam with his lady drama (this was the same draft where Gwen tried to leave him). By the third draft, Seanna became the petty, conniving queen. She was always going to be pregnant, but the fact of her sexuality came in a bit later. Originally, she was straight and into one of the male characters. However, it never sat quite right with me, and I realized that Seanna was really a lesbian. This influenced a lot of her other character beats, and ended up one of my favorite changes in the whole series. Sometimes, you have to listen when a character tells you who they are.
Finally, we have Sandu. Tied with Druam, he’s my personal favorite character (though don’t tell the rest that), a happy-go-lucky guy with a tragic past. Despite his rough life, he somehow manages to find a way to get through it and still come out smiling. He has always functioned as the character who brings Cara out of her shell and grounds her in reality, serving as the straight man to her supernatural abilities.
In early drafts, Sandu was a graduate of the Nightcat school and served as a spy. He was also in love with Renna, who tragically died in a fire. Later on, after I scrapped the Nightcats and tried to figure out how Sandu would come into contact with Cara, I found the perfect way to tie him to both her and Jagger: Sandu as a bounty hunter. I gave him a gambling background and family issues, which drive every decision he makes, and voila, we have the Sandu that comes into the published manuscript. He’s the rogue with a heart of gold, and though he may not steer the plot, I see him as the emotional through-line of the entire series.
That’s it for this week. Hopefully it’s been interesting for you to see how the characters grow and change throughout the writing process! Which character’s progression did you enjoy the most? Which of their arcs in the published books is your favorite to read?
Next month, I’ll likely do something a bit different and show you some of my sewing projects. Happy May!