Category Archives: The Heroes of the Land

General info about some of the characters, but no spoilers. Don’t want to ruin anything.

Updates! The Path Behind & The Way Forward

Hey there blog readers! It’s been quite a spell since I have made an appearance here in the Notes. Silly things like the kids and the house and the job and grad school keep finding ways to inject themselves into my writing and blogging schedule. Here is an update on how things are progressing.

As you know, I finished the first draft of Emergence (Book 1 in The First Proving trilogy) back in June, then I spent a good deal of July proofreading and polishing. The polishing effort turned into a complete re-read and the commensurate set of revisions. I love this story – the plot, the characters, where it’s all going – but there are hundreds and hundreds of examples of places where I mis-use or over-use a verb or an adjective, or just plain do a poor job of conveying a scene or an action. These revisions addressed a lot of that, and I am much happier with where Emergence stands now.

Of the group of early readers, one really fast page-turner has already finished reading the completed draft! I am beyond excited about that. I have been craving feedback since I finished chapter 1, and in a few days we are getting together for breakfast to discuss his thoughts. Hopefully there will be several others joining him soon in the ranks of complete book readers so I can continue to try to improve the book.

I attended my first writer’s group a few weeks ago (called the Cincinnati Fiction Writers), and I am totally excited about the quality feedback and support I received there! Great people, strong writing, and honest opinions on the good and the bad. I plan to be a regular attendee.

Lastly, and perhaps most excitingly, I have had a few nibbles…just nibbles, mind you… from agents who are interested in the story I am weaving. As you know if you have been following this blog or if you know me, I am not expecting agents and publishers to line up for my work. That’s just not why I am writing this series. But I am trying. I have sent many a query letter, and seen many a rejection. If I should be so blessed as to attract a notable agent, that would be fantastic! I promise to keep you posted.

Finally, the way forward continues to be explored. I am up to about 55k words in book 2, Knights and Watchers. This is a little scary for me, since that should mean I am at the halfway point of the book. As far as I can tell, I have over-written (again) since I don’t think I am quite near the middle of the events I need to capture. That’s the REAL reason I need to get published. So some professional editor will help revise and condense my writing for FREE!  🙂   At any rate, I am very pleased with the progress of Knights and Watchers. I just finished the chapter where I finally get to introduce one of the primary tools of my evil antagonists, a monster-creature that I found genuinely scary once I finished writing it. Fun! The thing appears and nearly kills all of the main characters in minutes with good old-fashioned brute force, despite all of their “Emerging” abilities. It really upsets the proverbial apple cart, since they were beginning to feel pretty great about what they can do. Reality check. From something VERY unreal.

So I am looking powerfully forward to writing these next few chapters, which includes a fancy formal ball that all of the men and women main characters get to attend, the resolution of the “shady men in black with glimmering silver beret/gauntlet/cloak” plot thread, and once again everyone nearly dying. Might have some late nights/early mornings ahead of me making it happen!

Until next time!

~Kevin

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Heroes… Lots of Heroes…

I am hoping that the key to having way too many important characters is simply not worrying about it too much, and instead letting different characters be in the “main” role at different points in time. I know that it has been pulled off successfully in other books, where there is a big group of central characters that travels around together on some quest or adventure, and over time one gets to know their individual personas because different events tend to focus on different aspects of each character. Sure hoping that works with this book. I want the reader to slowly get to know these people, to understand what makes each one of them tick, to see how their disparate backgrounds have shaped them each and informs the decisions they make in the present story.

Now that I have publicly fretted about the number of people featured in the story, you should probably know the identities of the rest of the nearly-main characters. There is a group of 7 young women that are critical to the plot, all 20 Summers old, from widely varying backgrounds and locations.

Nirran Ardorex (pronounced NEAR-en ARR-door-ecks) is good friends with Sica (pronounced SEEK-uh) Woodrand. They both grew up in and around Jesserin Duchy, and both took apprentice positions with the Jesserin City local patrol at age 18 Summers. They both had skills very well suited for police and security work; Nirran is an excellent acrobat and archer, and the very tall Sica is a skilled spear fighter and tactician/commander.

The Princess Darian Greystone has grown up with a number of close friends in the vicinity of the enormous Greystone Castle, in the busy center of Greystone City. Among them are the twin sisters Jerine and Jeressa (pronounced jer-REEN and jer-RESSA) Masterson, daughters of the First Monitor (man in charge) of the Erinor College (the network of schools throughout the Protectorates). As such, Jerine and Jeressa have both been raised to be scholars, but both have also found that they excelled at riding, at archery, and at swordplay. Darian herself is the Crown Princess of the Greystone Protectorates since she is the only heir to the throne of her mother, Lorillin, the Queen of Greystone. Darian has lived a protected life until just recently, when she was given some freedom to begin experimenting with her remarkable abilities as a sword fighter and a field general.

One of the most traditionally revered cultural artifacts in the free countries of the known Land is the honor and position granted to Bards. The Priory of Bards, as the all-female organization is officially known, is charged with the memorization and performance of the old tales from Greystone’s misty, unwritten past. As such, they have traditionally served as unofficial historians as well as lauded entertainers, even though in recent times the historical accuracy of many Bard’s tales has come into question. A rising star among the Bards by the name of My Cordollas (core-DOH-lus) is also central to the tale of the First Proving.

Lastly, there is Anelia Perithen, daughter of the very wealthy Ark Perithen of the expansive Perithen Farms of Jall duchy. While Anelia was raised in relative luxury as the daughter of the largest farm owner in the known Land, she has always taken it upon herself to work with her hands and learn about life side-by-side with the farm hands and harvesters. An accomplished quarter-staff wielder, she successfully led the defense of several of the Perithen farms against groups of raiders from the west, thereby earning the praise and loyalty of many in Jall duchy.

These seven women, along with the eight men in the last post, completes the cast of characters that are central to the First Proving. Of course, this list is only of prominent good-guy characters. Soon, I will post much simpler introductions of some of the bad-guys in the story.

Thanks for reading! And please feel free to post questions or comments if you have any!

~Kevin

 

The Characters

The Characters

Here’s a little basic info on the story. I assume that you have already read the “Back of the Book” blurb earlier in the blog, so I won’t post that again here.

Our main characters are 8 young men, all 20 Summers old (the term “years” is not used in Greystone to refer to age… instead, age is referred to by number of Summers one has lived). In Greystone, men and women typically begin their formal apprenticeships for their careers at age 18 (informal apprentice work can begin years earlier), then become true adults in the eyes of all at age 20. At the beginning of the story, the 8 guys are divided into three groups that eventually meet. Here is the line-up with simple descriptions of each character.

Argand Mason and Kosin Fletcher are traveling together to the capital of the Protectorates, Greystone City. Argand is the son of a stonemason and an excellent swordsman who rejected apprenticing under his father in favor of  joining the local patrol (police force) of his hometown of Eagle’s Reach. Kosin is the son of a master weapons maker in Jesserin City (not far from Eagle’s Reach), and is a skilled knife thrower and archer.

Max Chemael, Brien Page, and Varix Cooper basically grew up together in Greystone City. Max is the son of a wealthy politician and is the nephew of one of the five Dukes that govern the five Protectorates. Instead of following his father’s footsteps into court business, Max chooses to use his uncanny skill as a swordsman by joining the Grey Shields – the army of Greystone. Brien, whose father runs a messenger service for governmental affairs, and Varix, an orphan who meets the two others as a youth in school, also join the Grey Shields. Brien has no interest in his father’s business, and is an even better fighter than Max. Varix, an orphan who grew up in the poorer Southside District of Greystone City, apprenticed as a barrel maker, and was happy to leave that behind in favor of being a soldier.

Lastly, Loric Sarindon, Surk Brayburn, and West Currier are also old friends. Surk and West hail from the town of Southern March and have known each other since they were toddlers, while Loric grew up in another region entirely. But Loric spent his childhood summers in Southern March visiting his grandmother who lived near the two others. Loric has been raised to be a hunter by his father, a professional Huntmaster. Surk comes from a long line of blacksmiths, but while he loves the trade, he is looking for more. West is the son of a wealthy business man and is known for his intelligence, but he would rather be known for his skill as a warrior.

One of the oldest traditions in Greystone is called “Venture”, where brave young men or women aged 20 or older travel into the dangerous Black Mountains to test their courage and skill against the wild animals that live there. It’s a test with a reward; by tradition, anyone who survives the perils of the Black and returns with the head of one of the terrifying near-monsters that infest the heights is granted knighthood. Knights of Greystone are then assigned to serve under one of the five Dukes of the kingdom or, for the bravest and best, to serve under the King or Queen directly. The knights become, based on their skills and talents, the commanders of the Grey Shields, of the Pathwatch (a law enforcement organization for matters above what a local patrol can handle) and of the local armies within the duchies. They are celebrated and praised, and live lives of luxury as highly paid warlords.

But for every person who becomes a ducal or royal knight, there are dozen and dozens who die in the attempt. Such is the nature of going on Venture.

And naturally, that’s where our 8 heroes are headed. While they do not all intend to go on Venture when the story begins, they all end up traveling together to the Black Mountains. Many things happen before they reach there, as they each begin displaying strange powers and skills that frankly freak them out. At the same time, as a set of other very important characters (seven women, also all 20 Summers old) are slowly introduced. But more on the ladies in a future post.

More to come!

~Kevin