Tag Archives: Saveer

Writing: Theme

After harping on the same series for three blog posts in a row, of course I’m going to pick on theme for a little while.

English professors and teachers really harp on themes with their students. As a writer, I can say any theme anything of mine ever has is about 99.9% of the time pure accident. I can see them if I read the stories as an English major,  but as a writer, they aren’t my focus. So why do teachers emphasis theme so much in their courses?

I think some of the problem is a confusion between what is a theme and what is a message. There are a limited number of themes, mostly because they have to be so general. Common ones (i.e. off the top of my head) are coming of age, handling–or in some cases, not handling–grief, discrimination or prejudice of some sort.. See how vague these are? Many can be applied to almost any story. English people can argue the importance of them all they like. I honestly find them pointless as hell and usually meaningless to a reader. Instead, they’ve become terms for critics and book jacket summary writers to throw around like purple prose. It’s stopped being helpful for finding books we like since every time a book that claims to have one of these themes becomes popular, suddenly everything on the shelf has the exact same theme.

The book (or series) message is a little more complicated and sometimes hard to pin down. Some writers claim their books have no message, meant to be purely entertaining reads. Personally, I find those books boring or that there is a message, the writer just didn’t want to admit to it. A message doesn’t have to be some big, deep monster of a thing that’s meant to change the way people think. It could be something simple, like Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small series. The first book’s message is treating everyone fairly, and standing up to bullies. Each book has a similar message, even with a bunch of themes tacked on.

The difference between a theme and a message is its specifity, at least for me. If it’s some unconcrete thing that is never really mentioned at all in the text, then it’s a theme and pointless. But if it is mentioned in the text, and the writer is far more obviously trying to convey it to their audience, to give them something to take home at the end of the day, then it’s a message. Again, it could be something really simple.

In my own work, I’m currently revising Mari’s first book, Bandit’s Escape, and outlining the second book, Bandit’s Chance. I can see themes of coming of age, discrimination, feminism, and family being applied to these books without my input, plus lord knows what else I didn’t think of. But the overall message of this series is about out-growing a childhood home, and having to forge a path to find a new one, even in the face of adversity and controversy. I’m also joining the movement to prove female heroes can be strong without sacrificing their femininity or resorting to rape plots. The latter are my biggest pet peeve. It’s becoming a little too common for me. I’m not saying I’ll never use them, but I definitely want to avoid them if at all possible.

More than theme, I think the writer’s message should be looked at, both what they intended and what they actually did write. Themes are cookie-cutter and too general of a lense to reflect on writing, not to mention constantly mixing with message. Focusing on message is better for judging the writer’s intent, and what the point of the book is.


New Story: The Last Guardians 3-Guardians Ascending

Currently Working On:
The Shadow Day Quartet Book 1: Bandit’s Escape
Commission References

Yep, it’s official. I’ve finished the Last Guardians! So excited, you wouldn’t believe it.

The delay on me posting both the story and my blog post has two reasons: 1, noble took her time on this book cover, and wow, does the effort show. It looks AMAZING. I especially love how the city stretches out in unorganized chaos, perfect for the Lower Circle. 2, I got swamped in medieval fair stuff and wrapping up not only my own finals, but the finals for my students (I TA for a large class, scary stuff).

That said, I am so proud of this trilogy. (I’m sure I’ll hate it later, but right now I love it.) It wrapped up just the way I wanted to, and not only that, but everything fits together but is capable of standing alone. Writing from Rim’s point of view was definitely interesting. She’s younger than I usually write, and definitely different from writing either of the two Guards. I had to constantly remember the differences, especially since the Upper Circle and the Lower Circle raise completely different children. The ending came out a little differently than I expected, but that was more Rim going down an unexpected career path than anything else.

This is the story where I had the Bell Moment, as I like to call it. I was sitting here, needing something because I’m an IDIOT, and was trying to figure out how to make a signal in the dark, when I remembered a moment-of-random from the second story that was just a very minor detail at the time. My brain went, “OH! OH!” and it solved all my problems. So I call them “bell moments” ever since. Want to know why? Read the story.

Next is the anthology, but first I need to commission noble for both the anthology cover AND a less craptastic cover for the first story. Which means finishing reference pics. But first, must finish Mari’s first story and plot the second so I’m ready for the fall. Well, and finish my video game class this summer, and the summer play… For now, read the final(ish) part of the trilogy!

The Last Guardians: Guardians Ascending on Kindle

Random Update and What’s Ahead

I’m alive, I promise. I’m just swamped in semester tidings and work and yes. I shall update properly in two weeks. (Feel free to whack me if I don’t.)

As some sort of peace offering, I give you all my projects in the order I am working on them. (Provided editors pick them up, of course.) All titles are semi-tentative.

Shadow Day Quartet
Bandit’s Escape
Bandit’s Chance
Bandit’s Doubt
Bandit’s Return

(Somewhere in between quartet books, there might be a non-fiction book about a princess. Just saying.)

Shadow Hawk
(stand alone)

Vows of Courage Trilogy
Forged by Fear
Born by Blood
Proven by Pain

In the Spirit of
(stand alone)

White Hawk Trilogy
Chains of Illusion
Chains of Challenge
Chains of Lineage

Mari is a GO!!!!! (And I’m uber busy o_o)

Currently Working On:
Commission References
Eresith World Building

Okay, I think I’ve gotten school/work/assistantship/homework balanced out at last. Or at least, I HOPE I do. If not, I might be in trouble, but hey, at least stuff is still getting done, right? I may have flaked on getting the blog updated last week in all of the crazy (SO MUCH CRAZY, thank you bookstore), but I did get some serious work done this week. What, you may be asking, did I get done?

I figured out that Mari’s story is a quartet. Yep. It’s official. And I’ve got the main protagonists AND antagonists for all four books figured out, the main sidekicks figured out, and the overarching plot questions for both the series AND each of the books. I even know that it’s set before Sal’s series, because I want to introduce Sal’s mom as a character first and be slightly evil and all that fun stuff.

Yay actually getting some stuff done this week! I also finished the actual WRITING part of the commissions, so now I just need to play around in Photoshop and get about six reference pics done, and I’m all set for when noble opens commissions again. Those will probably happen at least partially tonight (I have D&D with my elven warmage Yun, but it’s the first session so there’s going to be times when I’m not involved). For those who are interested, I’ve half-decided that (if Amazon lets me) I’m going to do a print version of the anthology, with inserts of the cover art for each story, except the prequel that gets no cover art because it’s unique to the anthology anyway. *nodnod* I just want a printed copy to sit on the bookshelf and go, “SEE! SEE! I’m PUBLISHED!”

…..I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT MARI! 😀 You have no idea, guys… Her story is really fresh in my head, so it’s going to be amazing. I’m going to be writing the bulk of the first book next semester for Writing the Novel (if it’s offered) and finishing it over the summer so that this time next year, I’m editing it for publication. It might even be ready for me to be sending out to agents and publishing houses around Christmas, isn’t that exciting? I’m not certain if I want to try and do two series running at the same time though, so I might sit on my vampire-trilogy/quartet (yes, I again am not certain which one it is, though I’m half-certain this one is a trilogy) until I graduate and have more time to plan a vacation to New Orleans, Seattle, and NYC (the locations the books are set in). That means that the second book in Mari’s quartet (which really needs a) a series name and b) titles for the books) will be my graduate project. This might be for the best anyway… I might make the vampire series my, “Okay, I am SICK of Eresith,” series to go to. Though I also have my Shadowhawk story for that, so hmm, we’ll just have to see.

Busy, Busy, Busy…

Currently Work On:
World-Building Eresith
Creating Commission Descriptions (1.5/3)

Yep, you read right. I gave up on the artist I was having do the cover of Guardian Seeking, and instead asked noblestallion to do the entire series. She’s agreed, and as soon as she’s open for commissions again (I just missed her, conflabit!), she’ll start working on the covers. So I’m getting descriptions for her forms pre-filled out so all I have to do is copy-pasta. I’ll start her on Guardians Ascending first so that can go up, and then we’ll give Seeking a better cover before we start on the anthology…not that the super-secret extra story going into the anthology is written yet. 😛 I’m plotting it out, and then I’ll ask Mel Odom if he’ll mind editing again after I write it, so I can say he looked over everything and make my inner OCD geek happy.

Meanwhile, Eresith slowly plods along. I’m working at getting the history of the Spiral City finished Sunday when I get off work at the bookstore, then I can move on to the other stuff, like religion details, government, law and punishment (Dr. Olberding would never forgive me if I didn’t at least know how that theoretically worked), social hierarchy (both before and after The Last Guardians), and last, but not least, the magic system. Yeah… I’d like to finish this before school starts, but I’m feeling a wee bit doubtful on that front.

My work/school life has also imploded. I’m having difficulties getting enrolled in my final class, of course, as well as finding all the books I need for them as a whole (especially since one class hasn’t turned in a list to the bookstore and I can’ t access the other till I’m enrolled *eyeroll*). Meanwhile, I think I’ve figured out my work schedule, but I’ve got two hours of assistantship floating around that I have no idea how I’m going to do them unless I can wiggle out a, “I’ll come by every time my playwriting class  lets out early or if I don’t have work some random day” deal with the institute my second ten-hours is for. Thank you, nightmare… I’m going to be stupidly busy once October comes around and I’ve got bookstore, classes, assistantship, rehearsals, D&D, forum RPs, and my own personal work going on all at the same time. WHY do I do this to myself, I swear…?

Anyway. Hopefully going to blog again on Tuesday about my RPing pet peeves again instead of just slightly whining/warning about my upcoming disaster of a life. I’ll see ya’ll then.


Currently Working On:
Kindle-Formatting Guardians Ascending
Eresith World Building

So, this post might end up being a little pathetic, because I’m not really talking about anything, I’m updating. But, SQUEE!!! An artist friend of mine, Tristen Anderson, was very, VERY nice (and exceptionally patient) and made a map of Eresith! DOUBLE SQUEE!!!

What this means is if you are a fan of The Last Guardians, you’ll be able to see the Spiral City in relation to the rest of its continent. That is HARDLY the rest of the world… I’ve kinda described Eresith as Saveer’s Europe more than once. There’s a land bridge to a larger, southern continent, and then who KNOWS what’s on the other side of that forest (I don’t want to know, I know there are things besides trees that keep people from crossing it, and that’s enough).

I am SO excited that I’ve gotten a little more of this world fleshed out. The Slayers Empire is a really big deal, since it is so important to the Spiral City’s history, and now I have a whole story that happens there…which is also mildly annoying. Because I’m not certain if Sal (new character) and that crew’s story happens chronologically before my little half-changeling’s trilogy. *le sigh* And I’m not certain if it IS a single story, I’m worried it needs to be a trilogy and that’s… typical.

I’ve color-coded the map in two ways: one is topography, the other is where all the countries lay out. I’m HOPING I’ll get my Spiral City map that I have scribbled somewhere scanned in and up so you all can see that too. 😛 If I do, I’ll just edit this post. I can’t remember which of my notebooks I put it in. But yes, new page on the website coming up in a few seconds! *happy dance*

Edit: I found my scribbles and made them pretty in Photoshop. 😀 So enjoy! And I shifted things around on the site…

New Story: The Last Guardians 2–Guardian Proving

Currently Working On:
World-building the lands of Eresith
Formatting Guardians Ascending for Kindle

Yep, the Spiral City world has a name. The world is Saveer, the continent is Eresith, though it’s a bit like Europe since there’s another part of the continent that I haven’t touched yet, and I know for a fact it has a land-bridge to yet another continent. I may even have a map after this week. ^_^

In other news, the second part of The Last Guardians is up on Kindle! And this one has a much more impressive cover page, thanks to the amazing artist on deviantart, the user noblestallion. I love commissioning her for work, she does amazing pictures. This is the first time she’s done a city scape, but I wouldn’t have known it. (If ANYONE cripes about it being “too perfect,” please remember that this is the Upper Circle, the place that prides itself on being near-perfect.)

For the second story, I knew it had to focus on Liv. But like I said in the first book, she is so passive, it was hard to get her to take the step forward. Which gave me the idea that maybe something needed to happen to give her the initiative to do things herself. So I knew she needed a crime or criminal to deal with that required logical thought and examination of evidence, what she brings to hers and Mai’s partnership, which is how I came to an arsonist.

A character I unexpectedly brought back in was Sul. He was name-dropped in the first story, but I honestly didn’t expect him to reappear…I didn’t even know he was a him to begin with! But he was a fun character to flesh out, especially his different relationships between Mai and Liv respectively. Liv’s grandmother was also a piece of work. Liv herself though was the biggest surprise. She had so much going on, and how she felt about her partnership with Mai and being a guard surprised me. I don’t know if some of it was her getting a couple of years under her belt between this one and the previous story, or if it was just learning more about her, but I became just as attached to her as I am to Mai and Ava.

The Last Guardians: Guardian Proving on Kindle

New Story: The Last Guardians 1–Guardian Seeking

Currently working on:
Getting the world-building for the Spiral City and surrounding areas organized
Getting Guardian Proving formatted for Kindle

Thought I’d start sticking that *points up* in here so you all know what I’m up to. But yes, the first of the Last Guardians trilogy is up on Kindle! *happy dance* Okay, the cover art is temporary, I’m still waiting on the “official” stuff I paid for. I’m still excited for the story to be up. It’s the first in this world, but there’s a LOT that’s going to happen in it.

The story really started with the idea of the city. I loved the idea of a city being so isolated, and so physically divided that it became socioeconomic as well. (See my world building post for more about this process.) From there, the idea came around for the main character, and with the help of my short story professor, Mel Odom, her motivation for going after the serial killer. Mai was such a strong personality, I knew I had to have someone to balance her, which is where Liv came from. A rookie, awkward in her role, I didn’t know a lot about her in this story, but I knew there was a story to her, but I’d have to dig for it and I didn’t have the time for it at the moment. But she helped pull Mai back from being a complete maniac, and slowed her down, as well as showcasing elements of the culture that Mai tends to disregard…Mai is not a polite person.

Writing Mai’s story didn’t feel like any kind of work–and it is definitely Mai’s story. It literally poured out, and I had to force myself to take breaks for important things like food and water. The only thing that kept biting me in the butt for a couple of drafts was the ending. I had a hard time not setting the story up for the trilogy or changing character point of views. Thank God for Mel, who helped straighten me out and get an ending that worked. He also was instrumental in pointing out other slight problems that I didn’t notice while writing it, but would throw a reader off.

Overall, I’m very proud of this story, and that it’s the beginning of my introduction to this world. Mai is the kind of protagonist I like to put out there, strong but flawed, human but willing to go to extraordinary measures for what she believes in. The fact she’s female is just a bonus. 😛 A really, really big bonus.

The Last Guardian: Guardian Seeking on Kindle