Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wrapping up Fate & Destinies

The one thing about hand writing the first draft that can be daunting is typing the manuscript when I finish. When I can, I will type up what has been written every couple of days, but when I'm going into that final stretch, and I can practically taste the finish line, I will push until it is complete.

When I returned from RainbowCon I wrote an estimated 20-30k in less than a week. I can only calculate a rough word count per page hand written, so I never quite know the real numbers until everything is typed up. I usually step away for a couple of days before I go back and enter the rest of the first draft into the computer. If I missed a point or something needs to be fleshed out, then it will be fixed as I type it up.

Last night Fate & Destinies was completed. The estimated 20-30k in reality was almost 40k giving the manuscript 106k total word count.

Now the behemoth is in the hands of the beta, and I wait on pins and needles for some kind of response. Last night I had a tough time sleeping because I kept going over the plot points, wondering if I should have added more here and there. I know better than to start any serious editing until I hear back, but sometimes it's hard--more so with this book.

Fate & Destines is the fleshed out version of the free story, Fated, that I wrote last summer for the GoodReads M/M Romance group. It was the second story I picked as an emergency prompt. Really, I had no business picking up the prompt because I knew zilch about historical Scotland, unless you count watching the movie Braveheart. Three days of research, plus what I could research as I wrote the story, was all the time that I had because it had to be finished in 14 days so I could to send it to an editor.

You may have seen a post or two about how I botched up the story because a good deal of my historical facts were completely wrong, wrong, wrong. I was so embarrassed. Regardless of the mistakes, Kevin and Lucy loved their story, and in the end, that was what mattered.

BUT. When I turned the story over, it had focused on Ewen and Roi's relationship, and getting them solid while leaving the overall plot unfinished. This gave me the chance to go back and fix the historical mistakes, straighten out what I didn't like about the way Ewen and Roi's relationship played out, as well as completing the overall plot.

So now with the manuscript ---> <--- close to being ready to send to an editor, I'm really nervous. I believe I have all the historical facts taken care of so that part isn't what worries me.

What I did was go a bit deeper into the archaic word usage, which is harder than it seems. Finding that balance where readers can read and enjoy the story, and yet, be able to indulge in little-used words and sentence structures. Now, I didn't go as deep as Paul Kingsnorth in his book The Wake. He used an updated version of old English that he dubbed "the shadow tongue". You have to read it out loud to understand it, or at least I did. It's beautiful, really, but freaking hard. Fate & Destinies isn't that deep but I'm afraid it will be one of those stories that the reader will either love or hate.

With the word count being what it is, the number of publishers who might be willing to take on the manuscript dwindled. The word usage may also be a stumbling block when it comes to subbing to a publishing house.

Last night at dinner, I was talking to my husband about possibly self-publishing Fate & Destinies. Even if the MS was accepted by a publisher in 90 days, the release date still wouldn't be until probably next year. The downside is editing, cover cost, and managing the third party postings. I don't know. I'm still thinking it over. I don't have to decide yet since it needs polishing, but I'll have to make a decision soon.

Well, I didn't intend to talk your head off without giving you a treat. Here's an unedited excerpt of Fate & Destinies. Maybe you can tell me if the language works or not! It is entirely possible I'm using some of these words wrong. :)

Excerpt of Fate & Destinies
Copyright 2014 Lexi Ander

I followed the foul men through the muddy streets, praying they noticed me not. They came in to town separately, biding their time as they awaited for others to arrive. The stench of sorcery clung to them, the smell of rot clinging to them speaking of a darkness I could smell even if I beheld it not. I dared not let them catch me watching. This be not the first time they came to me village, leaving a trail of innocent bodies behind. The first time I thought it be only coincidence, but the second time, the itch betwixt me shoulder blades ignited. The last time I felt so be when I were very small, and me village raided. I had heeded that niggle to be the only one spared whilst all others were slayed or taken off to the slavers.

Always the sorcerers came to the village and awaited for the fifth man. He reeked not of dark magic but his aura be stamped with the sign of an old curse. I recalled him well for that be the day sweet Iain came me, a crushing tragedy landing him in me care.

That day, many twelvemonths ago, dark magic had hung in the air around the sinking ship, the signs be there for anyone with a knowing eye to see. When the red-haired maiden surfaced with Iain, she came to me as if she knew I would be there. She placed the boy in me arms, and pushed me to the edge of the shore. When I glanced back she be gone.

I had carried Iain into the longhouse to get him warm. That be the first time I noticed the cursed man, though he seemed alone. Now, I be hard pressed to believe it be of no coincidence the boat sunk the day the cursed man came to the village. Since then, he continued to come back, seemingly searching from someone, if the bodies left in his wake be an indication of his purpose. It escaped me notice not that many of the victims be ones who had been in the longhouse with us that night. Every time he returned, worry lay heavy upon me over Iain's future well-being.

When the men arrived this time, the pinch betwixt me shoulders sharpened. I heard them asking about the sole survivor of the shipwreck four years back now. People be willing to talk, their tongues wagging about the blessed survivor, sweet Iain, not giving a thought to the strangeness of the outsider's questions. With haste, I packed a bundle of necessities, and with Iain in tow, we wove behind the buildings, peering around corners for a sign of the dark sorcerers. Iain said naught, staying close as if he knew we be the prey in a hunt.

We slipped down the road without another taking notice, and I ushered my boy into the forest, away from the village. When the road be no longer within view, I urged him to run. It be as if I could feel them coming, even though I espied them not. I ran until me legs burned, and then we ran more. I know not how Iain kept up upon his small legs, but he complained not.

Coming to a small glen we halted and leaned against an old tree. I dared not drop the bundle for I carried what we would need in the coming days of travel, if I only knew whence to go. Iain caught his breath and looked at me with eyes too old for one his age. He would not reach his majority for another couple of twelvemonths, but I would see him as the small boy pulled from the depths of the ocean evermore.

The sudden appearance of the old woman gave us both a fright. I clutched Iain to me, afraid he would be taken, but she made shushing noises, pointing a gnarled finger toward the opposite edge of the glen whence the five men stepped from the forest's canopy. Her cold hard fingers clutch me arm as if to keep me from running. I dared not whisper for I be rooted in place by fear, like a fat doe staring at the hunter waiting for the tip of an arrow to pierce me breast.

In me fright, I noticed not forthwith the shadows about us had lengthened until it be too late. The gloom enveloped Iain and me in a cool embrace. I espied not the old woman but her hand upon me arm turned dry and hot, reminding me we were not alone in the darkness.

The sorcerers walked by us as if we were not there. I smelled the stench of their bodies and beheld the sweat upon their brow. If I so desired, I could have reached out and plucked at their cloaks. Me brave Iain buried his face in me stomach, stifling any noise that would have given us away.

We awaited. Long after I lost sight of them moving through the forest, we remained hidden in the shadow of the tree. When I thought they be far away, I moved to step into the light, but Iain drew me sight, pointing a finger in time for me to see one, then two of the sorcerers step from the low brush not far away.

After that, we moved not until the sun set and the moon rose fat and heavy in the night sky. I had forgotten the grasp the old woman had upon me arm until she pulled us from the shadow. Instead of releasing me, she pulled me along a faint path in the forest. Now and again, she made us halt and hide among the trees. I saw and heard naught but refused to gainsay the woman who had saved Iain's and me.

All nighttide we walked, not daring to stop for too long. When we emerged from the forest we be leagues away from our village. A Viking longboat sat off shore, a campfire lit the beach. When I would have halted and hidden again, the old woman hailed the camp, dragging Iain and I behind her, albeit warily now.

Me poor Iain dozed upon his feet, and I held him close, attempting to stave off me own weariness whilst the woman haggled for passage. I know not why I trusted her, some say only a fool would. Since the red-haired maiden laid Iain in me arms, I have trusted no one. Me husband and babes were lost to the illness that swept through the village, leaving me behind, alone and bereft. I toiled, bidding me time, waiting for the reaper to claim me as well. When the boy came into me life I gave up the wait for now I had something—someone to live for, to protect.

Why would I trust the crone who had spoken not more than three words to me? When I be younger than Iain, I recalled this very same woman when came to the aid of me mother's mother. Naught about her had changed from the colour and cut of her dress to the tattered patches of her cloak. I know not if she be a goddess guised as the aged or one of the Christian angels the abbey monks bespoke of. All I knew, she gave us aid in evading the dark sorcerers.

"Passage be paid." Her face be lined by time, but her eyes were clear—and the same blue as Iain's. I noticed not the similarity afore. "They shall take you to an isle far to the north and you shall seek out a priest called Alric. Leave the boy at the temple and then go west upon a Viking route." A satchel be pressed into me hand afore she turned to leave.

Of a sudden I be afeard. Me home, the life I had would be forever gone once I stepped upon the Viking longboat. "Mother." Me throat closed over the word, revealing the turmoil I felt flutter in me breast.

She glanced not back but her steps slowed. "Be vigilant, Ebba. Continue to trust your eyes for they shall evermore show you what be true."

Thank you for stopping by and reading!

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