Posts Tagged ‘writing’

I hate to make all these “I haven’t been a very good blogger lately” posts off, but here we go:

Sing it with me:

I haven’t been a very good blogger lately. 

A lot of this has to do with internet problems I’ve been having (the Coyote Crossing cohousing web server was haxx0red recently, as the damn kids say, and because of that my internet connection has been… spotty, at best). But much of it has to do with where my creative energy has been going. I’ve got all these ideas for blog posts that I want to write, but about 60% of my creative energy is going into Lotus, and the other 40% is going into Daughter of Flame. Which means that I don’t write the blog posts that I want to write, when I have the time to write. And then there’s classes, and homework, and San Francisco Giants games, and sleep. Beautiful sleep.

I’m sorry about this. Here: as a token of reconciliation, here’s the first draft of the prologue to Daughter of Flame. It might be very different in the end. But it is here anyway.

~ Ian

(Queens of the Stone Age, “Song for the Dead”)


Daughter of Flame: Loki 1

He walked across the desert, naked in the burning sun.

It didn’t burn his skin. He was a being of fire, after all, and a little heat wouldn’t be enough to burn him. In ages long past, he had danced in the hydrogen-fusion flames of the sun, done the backstroke in magma chambers at the earth’s heart, raised his mouth to the sky and laughed as lightning burned vast northern forests to the ground.

It wasn’t the heat that bothered him. It was the light.

His eyes were accustomed to the darkness of Niflheim. Twelve hundred years in the freezing cold beneath the earth (with only a meager break of a month, nearly eighteen years ago, and what a break that had been), and his eyes were light-sensitive. Even moreso, because of the snake’s venom, constantly dripping into his eyes.

Step after step, over the hard-baked, griddle-hot ground, he walked.

The man was tall. Eight feet tall, and thin. When he’d been young, he’d reminded those who saw him of a bundle of sticks hastily cobbled together into the shape of a man. He walked hunched over, but even that couldn’t conceal the fact of his height. (Even so, he was considered a runt among his kind…) The skin on his arms and chest and back was ghost-pale and freckled, with pale tan patches the size of thumbprints dappling his body, and covered in fine blonde hairs almost too light to be seen.

His hair was the bright red-orange color of a wildfire.

His eyes were the dark yellow of topazes.

Around his mouth, like a ring of mushrooms or standing stones, were a series of tiny piercings, as regular and evenly spaced as if they’d been sewn there.

He had many names, and gathered them like a dragon gathers jewels. In days of old, men called him the Skywalker, the Smith of Lies, the Mother of Serpents, Baldur’s Bane, the Betrayer.

He was Loki, god of chaos and flame.

And he was free.


Eventually, as Loki walked, the sun began to die in the west. Just before it sank below the horizon, he came to a road that cut arrow-straight across the desert, from east to west. Not much of a road, just a two-lane highway, lined by a barbed-wire fence and a row of telephone poles, wire strung between them like a clothesline.

There were two ravens sitting on the barbed-wire fence, watching him. They were as big as dogs, and as black as the void of space.

Loki smiled when he saw them.

“I see you there,” he said. “Don’t think you two can hide.”

The ravens just watched him impassively, as only ravens can.

“Now, I’m going to give a warning to you,” he said. “You’re gonna go back to old Glad-of-War and tell him. I’m off to Jotunheim. I mean to end it now. I’m just passing through at the moment, but when I do return, you better believe it’s gonna be at the helm of a ship built of dead men’s nails.

“And, just to be clear that I mean business…”

He reached out, as quick as an eyeblink, and grabbed one of the ravens by the neck. It kawed in protest, almost more annoyed than afraid.

Loki brought the raven to his mouth, and opened it wide. His jaw distended as if it were made of rubber. His mouth was full of sharp, sharp teeth.

He casually tossed the raven in. There was the sickening crunch of gristle and bone as he chewed, and then swallowed in one gulp.

“That’s what the All-father will get, when I’m done with him,” said Loki. “Just to make things more interesting, tell you what: I’ll be in the land of ice and fire. Gathering my power. Tell Odin that he’ll find me there, if he can’t resist a challenge. If I know him at all, and I do, he’ll come galloping into battle.”

And Loki turned away from the raven. “Well, what are you waiting for? Fly away, little bird.”

There was the sound of wings behind him. Loki didn’t turn around to watch the raven leave.

Far off on the highway, there was the roar of an engine, and a cloud of dust. Loki stuck out his thumb.

A white sports car with the top down came roaring up at ninety miles an hour, and pulled to a stop in front of Loki. The driver was a man in a black leather jacket, with mirrored sunglasses.

“Damn,” he said, whistling. “How’d you lose your clothes?”

“Long story,” Loki said. “Nice car.”

The man grinned. Not particularly bright, thought Loki. Good. “Yeah. Good eye.”

“Fuel-injected V10 engine, molded aluminum chassis, seven hundred brake horsepower, can go from zero to sixty in just four-point-six seconds.”

“Yeah. She’s a beautiful machine.”

“She is indeed,” Loki murmured. “Give her to me.”


“Your car. And your clothes.”

The man threw up his hands. “Hey, man, if you think I’m gonna give you my car, you must be out of your mind.”

“Yes,” said Loki. “I am.”

And he snapped his fingers.

The man burst into flame.

Loki watched as the man slowly burned, screaming, fat and muscle going up in flames, bones cracking with heat, hair sending clouds of noxious black smoke into the evening desert sky. Strangely enough, his clothing didn’t burn.

Loki waited until the man was nothing but a pile of gray ash, and then opened the car door, took out the man’s clothes, and put them on.

The man had been tall, but he’d still been a couple feet shorter than Loki. No matter. Loki took hold of the force of Chaos, and stretched the clothes until they fit him perfectly.

Loki put on the sunglasses, and sat behind the wheel of the convertible. It was now matte-black, with red-orange flames curling along the sides.

“It’s been a while,” said Loki.

He put his foot down on the exhaust. The car’s tires squealed, and the exhaust blasted gouts of blue fire.

He was free now. The world had been without him for too long.

Time for a little chaos.



So. I thought that I’d talk to you guys some about what’s been going on with my book.

Or, rather, books. Because I have two of them now.

That’s right. I’m working the first draft of a second novel, entitled Daughter of Flame, which is the book that I mentioned in this post. It’s a YA fantasy novel set in sort of semi-quasi-modern times. It’s basically the story of Fiona Lyesmith (American Gods reference intentional), who is the half-mortal bastard daughter of Loki. It’s got a lot of stuff in it. I’m only at the beginning now, but I’m planning on including lots and lots of things: Kitsune assassins, and elves, and dungeon crawling, and chaos magick, and the Fates, and flying goats, and all kinds of other awesome stuff.

And there’s music. Fiona Lyesmith is a singer, and music is a key part of her life, just like writing is a key part of mine. So I’ve sprinkled liberal references to Fiona’s favorite bands throughout the book, which include some of my favorites as well. Of course, I’m not a musician, so I’m mostly making stuff up here, but in the case of fiction, verisimilitude beats realism nearly every time. Besides, I feel like all creative people have the same feelings about their work, whether they’re writers or musicians, game designers or bakers.

In any case: Daughter of Flame is coming along. I’m still at the stage where I’m getting to know the characters, but I like them, and I’m getting to know them better. The novel is YA (young adult), so I have to have a different mindset when it comes to writing it. I’m not as comfortable with including explicit violence or sexual content as I am with some of my other work. In addition, I can’t swear, which feels kind of uncomfortable. I’m a sailor-mouth. I prefer it when I’m able to cuss. The fact that I’m pretty much reduced to using “crap” and “damn” when it comes to swearing feels like a weight around my neck sometimes. (Even so, I’ve kind of fallen in love with the phrase “Jesus Christ on a stick!” which my characters use, and which I’ve found myself saying sometimes.

I’ve also come to realize that Daughter of Flame is sharply different from most YA these days, which I dignify with the term “smoldering magical teen boy with abs abstinence porn”, or SMTBWAAP, for short. (It’s pronounced sumtubwhap, so you know.) You know the kind. It’s the kind of chaste paranormal high-school romance that has been burning up the charts because of Twilight and its ilk. Daughter of Flame is not that. It’s kind of the opposite. It’s heavy-action, slightly intellectual mythological portal fantasy with a kickass soundtrack. I could never imagine Fiona Lyesmith listening to Linkin Park, Maroon 5, or Justin Bieber. She likes to rock out to Lacuna Coil blasting a hole through her eardrums. If she met Justin Bieber, she’d probably pants him.

So, yes. Good music, Norse gods, and cool characters: that’s how I think of Daughter of Flame.

As for Baby #1? It’s coming along nicely. I’ve written six chapters of Draft 2, with a total wordcount of around 25,000 words (basically, this means that it’s a fifth of the length of d1). I’m not looking forward to the massive cuts that I’m going to have to make. I’m probably going to have to get rid of around 50,000 words before I sent Lotus out to agents and publishers. Line edits won’t be enough. I’m going to have to cut whole scenes. Which is bad, because I love what I’ve written. I love the characters and the world that I’ve created. It’s going to be hard to lose some of that.

Oh well. I can put some of the deleted scenes up on Axolotl Ceviche when that happens. (By the way, this summer I’m probably going to migrate everything over to, which I own. Just a heads up.) There’s a lot of work to be done before Lotus is going to be of publication quality, but I can get it done. Finishing d1 has given me a huge burst of confidence when it comes to writing.

Speaking of which: Remember “Cassandra”, that story I wrote WAY back in April of 2012? Well, it’s going to be a screenplay.

More on that soon.

~ Ian



That date being: The day that I started on my first post-Lotus project. 

I don’t feel like talking about it that much, in case it all crashes and burns, but it’s a YA novel that deals with the Norse Gods, rock and roll, and all kinds of different things. And it’s very different from Lotus, in a way that I’ll talk to you about later. 

But yes. You heard it from me first.

The amount of writing that I did on the first day? 3,066 words. And I still had time to do homework, go to class, and fill out a job application.

Not going to lie to you guys: I feel like a complete BOSS.

~ Ian


(temporary cover art made with Pulp-O-Mizer)

Well, it’s been a little over half a month since I finished the first draft of The Lotus Imperiate. And, as you can see, I’ve made a lovely piece of cover art to go along with the book.

I don’t know what the scene is depicting. I assume that the young lady is Kitt Ashlocke, but in no place does Kitt wield a laser gun. Or have red hair. Or smile, for that matter.

I think that the man behind her is Taishoan. I believe I will give him a name for the purposes of this temporary cover. I will call him Li. Li’s a good Taishoan name. In fact, there’s already a character named Li in the first draft. This is a different Li. Let’s call him… McGillicuddy Li. McGillicuddy isn’t a Taishoan surname, but I don’t care. The universe of this cover art is already insane enough.

Wait… where was I?

Oh yeah.

One thing that you may have noticed about the cover art is the change in title. Book 1 is now going to be called Lotus. This wasn’t a hard decision. “Imperiate” isn’t a word that I invented, but it’s certainly not common as a synonym for “empire”, and so I was worried that there would be a person one day walking into a bookstore and saying to the clerk, “I heard about a fantasy novel that sounded kind of cool. It’s called The Lotus Something-or-Other. I think that last word started with an I, or something.”

You can imagine that I wanted to avoid that at all costs. Generally a title only works if it’s memorable, and because I didn’t want to confuse people by giving them hard-to-remember words, I changed the title, dropping the first and last words of the title.

So yes. The new name of my book is Lotus, and it will be book one of Song of the Lotus, which is my prospective name for the whole following trilogy. If all goes as planned, the following books in the series will be called Dragon and Black Sun. Or, as I’m going to refer to them for ease of remembering, Lotus 2 and Lotus 3.

The change in title isn’t the only change that I made, though. There’s quite a few others. Like, for instance:

  • The universe in D1 was a sort of uncomfortable mixture between steampunk and samurai epic. There were airships and magic trains, which are hallmarks of the steampunk genre. However, I didn’t feel exactly comfortable with writing an Asian-steampunk universe, for two reasons: while I was writing D1, a book called Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff came out (that was book one of The Lotus War trilogy, no less), and I didn’t want to draw unfair comparisons*; and more importantly, I don’t have much of a handle on steampunk. I enjoy some works of steampunk, like Girl Genius, but I don’t feel like I know the genre well enough to write a fully-fledged steampunk fantasy at this point. So I’ve scaled back the level of technology in the universe, from steampunk-level to the level it was about the year 1600. For those of you who don’t know, 1600 was a significant year in Japanese history, because it was the year of the Battle of Sekigahara, which allowed Tokugawa Ieyasu to unite Japan under his rule, and led to two-and-a-half centuries of Tokugawa family rule as Shogun (the Edo Period, in case you didn’t know). It’s also the year that one of my favorite novels of all time, Shogun, happens to be set, which isn’t coincidental: Shogun really gave me a love of East Asian culture and history, so it was natural to want to write a book set in that sort of time period. What this means is that, while technology will be more advanced than most traditional medieval fantasy, Lotus will still have a very feudal Japanese feel to it. This was the era of the great daimyo, after all, and was a few decades before Miyamoto Musashi wrote The Book of Five Rings, which is the book on bushido and swordplay. This necessitates a change in style, of course, but not an unwelcome one. 
  • Along with that, the Flying City, the citadel of the Lotus Lords (which is a magical city that flies in the air, as you can guess from the name) is gone. I had to think a lot about this, because the image of a flying city was one of the things that made me want to write my book in the first place. However, I felt that a flying city had to have a huge amount of infrastructure that wouldn’t exist in a 17th-century Asian environment. You’d need to have air travel to get to the city, or some form of teleportation (I had both). And since 17th-century Asia had a distinct lack of airships, and I thought that teleportation would be a direct hindrance to the story in Lotus 2 (which involves a lot of walking around from place to place), I couldn’t have either of those without seriously undermining the world I’d built. Which meant that both of them had to go, which meant that there could be no Flying City.
  • Apart from that, there were a lot of other changes. I can’t go into too much detail, not because I’m afraid people will steal my ideas, but because if I told you all that’s been changed, it would make absolutely no sense without the context of having read the book before. Suffice it to say, all the characters will be significantly different in Draft 2. Some will have new dimensions, and new roles to play in the story. Many people had their backstories changed. Two fairly important characters had their nationalities changed. One switched gender, because of the societal role that his/her gender plays would be directly contrary to the position of power I wanted to put them in. One character doesn’t even appear in Draft 2 at all. I felt that he didn’t have much character in D1, and most of the actions that he takes would impede a new subplot for one of the other main characters. And there will be sexings. Many new and strange sexings between characters that did not sex before.
  • That being said, the overarching plot remains mostly the same. For one thing, D2 is still primarily a heist story, and heist stories have a certain structure that works. For another thing, I feel that good storytelling stems from characters, and not from plot, as I stated in one of my earliest blog posts. When I write, I tend to go character first, plot second. That being said, the plots of books 2 and 3 will be significantly different, mostly because of the new role that one of the main characters in Book 1 has.

As of this writing, D2 (which I have started) has around 12,200 words, which is about a tenth of the length of D1. There’s a reason for the fact that I’ve written so much in such a short time. First of all, I’ve done a chapter-by-chapter outline of the book, and I’m writing D2 out-of-order: I’ll write whatever chapter I most feel like writing at that time, and then move onto the next one. This is a change for me because I wrote D1 in a huge lump, starting at the beginning and working my way through the whole book one step at a time. Writing this way feels more like writing a series of interrelated short stories, rather than a big indigestible book.

But there’s another difference, as well. The best way I can articulate them is in terms of relationships.

Writing a story is like a relationship. With a short story of less than 5,000 words, it’s a one night stand: you get it over with as soon as possible, and then don’t look back. When I was writing “Cassandra”, it was a passionate, monthlong fling. The whole process of writing the story took a month from start to finish. (Ah, “Cassandra”, when can I finish you? You and I have so many fond memories, and you’re so beautiful… I’ll have to give you a call sometime, my darling. Wait by the phone. When you see my caller ID, answer.)

A novel is like a fully-fledged longterm relationship. It’s hard work, and it’s not as easy as a month of passionate cheap sex, but you get to know each other. You know how to please each other. You know how to make the other sing. And there are rough patches, just as in any other relationship, but you work through them. Because you love each other. Because you care.

That’s the way I am with Lotus. When I began writing Lotus, it was awkward and uncomfortable for both of us, like it always is among new lovers. I was clumsy and hamfisted, and the book wasn’t performing to its full potential. But it’s been eight months this Thursday since I started writing Lotus, and because of that, we know each other. We’re both in it for the long haul. I know the book, and she knows me. We both know what’s right for each other, and we work together to make that happen.

And then there’s the actual physical writing. If a writing session is like sex, then at the start, I was nervous and awkward, and because of that, we both suffered.

But now we know each other perfectly. And the sex is amazing.

…Okay, this is getting seriously weird. For those of you who are confused, I DON’T HAVE SEX WITH MY BOOK. It’s a metaphor. Geez…

It’s gotten to the point where everything feels right between me and my book. And because of that, I’m writing more and better than I had before.

Right now, only one person has read my book to completion: my friend and beta reader Blake Hihara, who is currently in the LAND OF THE RISING SUN. (Kamisu, in Ibaraki Prefecture, to be precise.) And from what I’ve heard from my other betas, then the book is good. Yes, they say, it has a lot of rough places. But there’s still something there. Something is starting and trying to climb towards the light, to quote Pink Floyd**. Which makes me confident.

A few weeks ago, I announced to the world that I wrote a book, not knowing whether it was good, or whether I’d wasted the last seven months of my life. Because of both the positive feedback I’ve been getting, combined with the incredible writing sessions I’ve been having, it feels like it’s going to happen, for reals. And because of that, my goal of an actual, for-real publication date of 2018 (five years to do the process of rewriting, revising, and shopping for markets) doesn’t seem unattainable. It feels like it’s going to happen.

My basic plan of attack for the years between now and 2018 are as follows:

Now to mid-2014: Finish the second draft of Lotus. (So you know, the attempted finishing date of Book 1 will be very close to my college graduation.)

Mid-2014 to end of 2014: Revise D2, so that it gets to the point where I’m at a penultimate draft. Talk with beta readers, and revise accordingly.

2015 to mid-2016: Let the book sit for a while. Send my shorter work out to markets and get it published, so I won’t be a complete unknown when I send my work in to agents/publishers. That way, I’ll have a resume to work on. Work on Book 2, and hopefully get its first draft done. Revise D2, so that I can get it into Final Draft stage.

Mid-2016 onward: Send it to agents/publishers. When it gets rejected, rinse and repeat.

2017. Get the book accepted. Pre-publication process.

2018: Publication date… I hope!

2018 is still a while off, and I’ve got plenty of time between now and then. But it’s going to be five years of work.

This isn’t because I’m too lazy to send it out right now. It’s because I want it to be the best book it can possibly be.

Regardless, things are going to be interesting.

I’ll be doing State of the Book posts from here on out. Look for at least quasi-regular updates into the status of my book.

In the meantime, I’ll close with a gif, as is the custom of the Internet.


Stay frosty, Canada.

~ Ian

* I’m not too worried about plot similarities between Stormdancer and Lotus, though. I haven’t read Stormdancer, but from what I’ve heard, it’s about a teenage girl with the power to talk to griffons, which is a world away from my deicidal heist novel. Basically, the only similarities between the books are the fact that they’re Asian-inspired fantasy novels with Lotus in the series’ title. I’ll take heart from NK Jemisin and Christopher Paolini, who both have series called The Inheritance Trilogy that are about as different as books can be.

** You know. Like I always do.


Posted: February 8, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Today, as of 5:40 PM, the first draft of The Lotus Imperiate is finished.


Holy crap, you guys.

I wrote a book.

~ Ian

I made a timeline for The Lotus Imperiate universe*.

It covers about 5000 years of history, is 1,797 words long, and takes up five pages. And yet, I still feel like it’s not long enough.

In other words: Preparations for Draft 2 are on.

~ Ian

*note: It’s called the Lotusverse. Or, at least that’s what I call it.

When I was growing up, I tended to reuse the same characters between projects.

I had three characters who existed pretty much exclusively in all of my fiction between about 2006 and 2011. When I’d abandoned my first novel (a godawful Tolkien ripoff that I’m thankful I left choking in the dust), I decided that I wanted to write a story about teenagers traveling to a strange new dimension, which was called Winter. (It was very cold. That’s why it was called that. Like you couldn’t figure it out for yourself.)

The three teenagers were: Krish, a young geeky martial artist; Anita, a cool, socially-outgoing musician and cheerleader; and Ash, a quirky young woman with mysterious abilities and an uncertain past. The three of them were friends, and they would have had great adventures together.

About 2009, I decided that I wanted to write some secondary-world fantasy for a change, going back to my “roots”, so to speak. This didn’t prevent the three mystery-solving teens from making the transfer to fantasyland, though. Krish became a retired battle-scarred warrior, living a life of quiet solitude with his family in the most remote part of the continent. Ash became a young priestess with strange powers, hunted down for carrying a demon child. And Anita was a barmaid with a crossbow.

That book, which I think I still have on my computer, never got past the first fifty pages. But somehow the characters continued onward, getting into my next big project, written during the fall of 2010: a secondary-world fantasy novel that I thought of as the first book of the Exodus trilogy, which contained… wait for it… two barmaids named Ash and Anita. Ash had strange and mysterious powers, as usual. (Somehow, Krish had disappeared from that universe. It makes sense– the character was intended to be Indian, and he wouldn’t have fit into that universe.)

Omniverse was the last story I wrote that contained Krish, Ash, and Anita. They had been with me for five years, jumping from being dimension-hopping high school students in Santa Cruz, to being characters in two separate fantasy universes, and finally hopping back to modern-day California, this time as college students, and getting back into their old dimension-hopping habits as if 2006 had never ended. In fact, I don’t think about each character as being one “character”, per se, but instead a strange archetype, a being that exists in multiple universes, with a different aspect for each universe. They’re a little bit like the Eternal Champion in that way, I guess: just as Jerry Cornelius, Elric, Dorian Hawkmoon, and Corum are all aspects of the same person, so were these characters: a constant running thread throughout five years of my life.

I can’t pretend that they’ve gone away, either. They’re still with me, in The Lotus Imperiate, only some of them have different names and some of them have been blended together and mutated over time. Sometimes I find myself writing a line for a character that has very specifically Ash-like characteristics, and there are times that I can see Anita in a character that I write. I wonder if all writers have this recycling process. We might think that we see a single character, but what we’re really seeing are the granddaughters of a thousand rough drafts.

Oh, hey, the story. Let’s get to that:



Page 69 has four panels.


Shot of the mountbird, with ASH and FARADOR on its back, running off into the distance.

CAPTION: The days passed by. I asked Farador how far a mountbird could run in a day with two people on its back. He answered that it could go ten leagues.


Another shot of the mountbird riding past another stand of trees, the blood-red moon of the alien planet setting on the horizon.

CAPTION: Assuming that one league is three and a half miles, that’s thirty-five miles a day. Since Farador said that Forn was a hundred days away, then that means that the distance between where we started and Forn was 3,500 miles.

CAPTION: That’s like riding an ostrich from San Diego to Nova Scotia.


Shot of ASH and FARADOR seated around a campfire. ASH is carrying a load of firewood while FARADOR whittles down a five-foot long piece of wood into a smooth staff.

CAPTION: I insisted in doing my part to help– fetching water, setting snares, chopping firewood. In return, Farador said that I needed to learn how to defend myself. He made a quarterstaff for me, and taught me how to use it.


Shot of ASH and FARADOR squaring off and sparring. FARADOR has removed the sickle from his sickle-staff, and is now facing down ASH armed with a seven-foot length of wood.

CAPTION: Time passed quickly. My clothes got ratty and worn, and my hair got greasy and lank. Since I was dressed in a TARDIS T-shirt and pajama pants when I came to this world, they got dirty quick. And the smell… my God, you can only imagine it.

Page 70 has three panels.


ASH and FARADOR sit by the fire, talking. ASH is telling FARADOR a story, complete with hand gestures, and FARADOR is listening intently.

CAPTION: Farador made good on his promise not to touch me. And we became friends, in a way. He told me stories of Forn– old sagas and dragonslaying legends, and war stories from his life and the lives of his ancestors.

CAPTION: While I told him stories from my own world. I started with fairy tales and kids’ stories, and later told oral versions of my favorite books and TV shows. (Of course, there was a lot of misunderstandings involved in telling him my favorites. I still have no idea if he understood anything of my summaries of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes.)


ASH cuts a notch into her staff with a knife. There are about twenty other notches already carved into her staff with her knife.

CAPTION: As a way of keeping time, I carved notches into my staff with Farador’s hunting knife. One notch equalled one day of travel. That was how I could guesstimate how long I’d been in this world, and how close I was to Forn.


Distance shot of FARADOR and ASH, riding the mountbird, looking out over the edge of a cliff into a deep canyon, about the width and depth of the Grand Canyon. This is Kamora’s Kerf.

CAPTION: So I knew we’d been traveling for ten days when we reached Kamora’s Kerf…

Page 71 has six panels.


Shot of ASH’s astonished face as she looks out over the vast canyon.

ASH: My god…

ASH: I had no idea that anything this size was out here.


FARADOR looks out from over ASH’s shoulder at the canyon.

FARADOR: Yes. It is called Kamora’s Kerf.

FARADOR: We cannot go around it. It stretches for thirty leagues to the north and the south. We must go through the canyon.


ASH: Huh. How are we going to get down into it? This cliff has to be five hundred feet high.


FARADOR: There is a trail, about half a league to the north. It leads down into the canyon.

FARADOR: But Ash Campos… I must warn you. There is danger in the canyon. This place is a location of old magic.


ASH: Huh? What do you mean?

FARADOR: Have the stories not reached your country? Kamora’s Kerf is famous the world over.

ASH: No. I’ve never heard anything about this place.


The mountbird begins to ride off across the lip of the canyon.

FARADOR: You are very strange, Ash Campos. Very well, I will tell you of Kamora’s Kerf.

Page 72 has six panels.


Okay, this is an image styled like a page from an old manuscript. We’re looking at an image of a giant, a creature whose head scrapes the sky. The creature is female, with wide hips, and writhing serpents’ tails for arms. Clouds gather at her feet as she walks the earth, mountains nothing more than molehills beneath her. Her head is huge and solemn, and her hair is lank and dreadlocked. As she breathes out, yellow clouds of smoke steam from her nostrils. In one snaky hand, she carries a double-headed axe, like the labrys of Minoan Crete.

CAPTION: In times of old, when the sun shone golden and the world was warm, there was a monster named Kamora. It is unknown where she came from, whether she came from beneath the earth or the distant sky, but where she walked, destruction followed in her wake.


Picture of KAMORA’s huge feet crushing a city beneath her heel, as she walks across the earth. Off to the side, a man in silver armor stands mounted on a mountbird, with a bow across his back and a lance on the side of his bird.

CAPTION: Kamora was careless of the beings below her. One day, she crushed an entire city under her foot, for there were cities in the earth in those days. For this, the only surviving warrior of the city, a man named Tyreesh, swore to take vengeance on her, to kill her in any way possible.


TYREESH, with a bow and flaming arrows across his back, bows before an eagle the size of a 747, paying fealty to him. This is KAARAKI’I, the King of the North Wind.

CAPTION: Tyreesh journeyed for a three years and three days. He stole the fire arrows from the Queen of the Sun, and took them back to earth. He journeyed to the far north, and using his speechcraft, persuaded Kaaraki’i, the King of the North Wind, to be his mount to kill Kamora.


Picture of TYREESH and KAARAKI’I, flying around KAMORA’s head in battle. TYREESH is loosing a flaming arrow, and it strikes KAMORA in the eye. She howls in pain, and lashes out with her double-headed axe, where it flies towards the ground.

CAPTION: Tyreesh and Kaaraki’i challenged Kamora in the Outer Wastes. Tyreesh loosed arrow after arrow, striking Kamora again and again in the face and head. Kamora struck out against Tyreesh with her axe…


Another manuscript-type image of KAMORA’s axe carving deep into the ground, creating a deep furrow.

CAPTION: …and it cut into the earth, creating a great gash, sixty leagues long and four leagues wide.


An image of glowing, insubstantial humanoids, with bright white eyes and hooded robes, in a deep and shadowy place.

CAPTION: Ever since then, it is said that Kamora’s Kerf has been haunted by those who Kamora’s carelessness has killed, those inhabitants of the cities that once dotted the earth like standing stones cover the Outer Wastes.

Page 73 has five panels.


Shot of ASH staring off ahead of her on the mountbird as she and FARADOR ride across the lip of the canyon.


ASH: You left the story unfinished.



ASH: You didn’t tell me how Tyreesh killed Kamora.


FARADOR looks out over the canyon, out across the buttes and mesas deep within Kamora’s Kerf.

FARADOR: It is unknown. Tyreesh was never seen again, as was Kamora. No man knows where they went.

FARADOR: The lore tells us that Kaaraki’i returned, but he was mute. He never spoke a word again. That is why no bird speaks today.

FARADOR: In any case, this was long ago, and nothing of Kamora’s like lives on the earth today.


FARADOR stops his mountbird, and steps off. There is a small trail visible on the side of the cliff, which goes steeply down into the canyon.

FARADOR: Even so, we must rest here for the night. There are foul beasts within the Kerf, and we should gather our strength for the journey through it.

FARADOR: It will take us three days to pass through the canyon– one to descend to the river, one to travel along the river’s banks to the trail back out, and one to climb out of the Kerf.

ASH: Great. Just what I wanted to hear.

Page 74 has four panels.


ASH and FARADOR lie on opposite sides of the campfire. ASH is staring up at the sky, and FARADOR is snoring. The campfire’s embers are burning low, and ASH has a faraway look on her face.

CAPTION: I realized how far away home was. I didn’t think that Kamora’s Kerf was really a giant axe-wound in the earth… but then again, I didn’t think that I could travel to alternate dimensions by being attacked by shadow monsters. So I’d had a few preconcieved notions challenged.


Shot of the stars and moons, shining brilliantly above the earth. This is a shot from ASH’s perspective. We can see two of the moons of this planet, each one blood-red and gibbous.

CAPTION: The sky really was beautiful. I spent hours at night staring up at the heavens, just watching the stars slowly revolve around the north pole. They were unfamiliar: no Big Dipper, no Orion’s Belt. Even so, they were beautiful. And so bright. Even in the High Sierras at night I never saw stars so brilliant.


It’s daytime, and FARADOR and ASH are descending down into the Kerf. They have both dismounted: FARADOR is walking first, leading the mountbird down the steep trail like a burro down into the Grand Canyon, and ASH following behind, dressed in her TARDIS t-shirt and pajama pants, leaning on her staff. All around them, cliffs of stratified rock rise up, strange spires like you see in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona.

CAPTION: We traveled downwards, deep into the canyon. We couldn’t ride on the mountbird. It was far too steep. Farador offered to let me ride while he led the mountbird down, but I’m a feminist to my core. I refused, and walked instead.


Sitting around the campfire. ASH is skinning a winged lizard-type creature about two feet long. FARADOR is using his arrows to try and shoot down a second flying reptile high above, so they can have food. The mountbird is off chasing down some kind of small mustelid, and a slow-flowing river winds its way through the canyon, off to one side.

CAPTION: We made the bottom of the canyon by mid-afternoon, and made camp by the side of the river. It turned out that there were these weird flying lizards in the bottom of the canyon. I asked if they were related dragons. Farador gave me a funny look. In any case, we hunted and replenished our supplies.



I’ll try and post the third part of this chapter sometime soon. Sooner, at least: there was quite a while between the first part and this one.

~ Ian

I’m tired.

Looking at the history on my computer, I can see that I started The Lotus Imperiate almost seven months ago, on June 28, 2012.

That’s a long time ago.

And I’m tired.

Writing a novel is like running a goddamn Ironman triathlon. It’s long, and hard, and nearly impossible to do if you don’t have the training…

…but damn is it rewarding.

The Lotus Imperiate is nearly done. I’m at the climactic scene right now, and I just want to put a stake in this goddamn beast’s heart and be done with it. I want to be finished with this book, if only so I can go on to the second draft, and so I can go on to write something else.

It’s exhausting like you can’t believe, if you haven’t tried it. It’s long, and hard, and painful, and complicated, and I’m at the point where I HATE EVERYTHING I’M WRITING BECAUSE IT’S ALL SUCH CRAP but I can’t stop. Because I know that it’s a good story, and I love the characters, and I know that I’m at the beginning of something good.

And it won’t be over until I finish it.

~ Ian

One year ago today, Axolotl Ceviche began.

I remember where I was when I began this blog. I was at Kirkwood, sitting at the bottom of a staircase, trying to get the page set up while practically everyone in the place yelled at me for blocking the stairs.

I’m at Kirkwood now, and it seems strange to me that I’m here again. It’s like coming full circle, a snake eating its tail.

2012 was a long year for me. A hard year, too, in many ways; but then again, all years are hard in their own particular way when you’re an Aspie in the world of neurotypicals. (I haven’t really talked all that much about my Asperger’s Syndrome on this blog, have I? I’m going to have to rectify that at some point.) But it was a year of huge progress for me in my writing.

I got my first rejection letter, and felt slightly relieved.

I wrote the first draft of “Cassandra” (which I’ll really have to finish up one of these days), which I suspect might be the best thing I’ve ever written.

Plus there’s the fact that I’ve written 100,000 words of a novel, and I’m within spitting distance of finishing the first draft as we speak.

A lot happened in 2012: some of it good, some of it not so good; some of which I shared with you, some of which I kept to myself. (After all, I do have a personal life, and not everything that happens to me goes up on this blog.)

I think 2013 will be the year when I’m going to keep refining. I’ll finish The Lotus Imperiate, and hopefully get a large chunk of the second draft finished. (My goal is to sell tLI by 2018, which I think is completely doable.) I’ve got an idea for a YA fantasy novel that I think is really cool. And I hope to do all those things that are in many ways more important than writing: I’ll go to school, and get a job, and hang out with friends, and (hopefully) get a girlfriend, although I think I have to master other things in the social universe before I get up to that level.

2012 was long, and it was wild. I don’t know what 2013 will bring, for any of us, any more than anyone else.

But for me, and for all of you, I hope that it will be awesome.

~ Ian

(Pink Floyd, “Outside the Wall”/”In the Flesh?”)


Posted: December 24, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Nothing quite like finding out, on Christmas Eve, that one of your main characters’ names means “penis” in Japanese, and the name of your Japan-analog country in your world means “murder”. Which means that you have to change them both to something else, because your book is set in an Asian-inspired fantasy universe and you don’t want to be seen as a complete fucking racist moron.

Oh well. That’s what first drafts are for: making mistakes early so you don’t have to make them later.

I’m an idiot…

~ Ian