Category Archives: Planning/Plotting


I’ve been a bit stuck on Blood of the Goddess for a bit now, and a thought came to me while I was driving in to work tonight. A while back I’d been part of the “Above and Beyond” class over at Evolution Writers, which my wife Nonny had been teaching. Thinking about A&B, I think some of the exercises might help me sort through the problems I’m having and help me move on. For the curious, I’ll post these publically, though most of it will be behind a cut link so as to not spam you.

I’m skipping the first exercise as it was mainly designed to help you pick an idea to work on in the class; that’s already a given as to what I’m going to apply the course to. The second exercise is about the story premise:

* * *


Siobhan runs a florist shop in the heart of Providence near Thayer Street, close to Brown College and Johnston & Wales University, called The Wild Rose. It also serves as a New Age store, selling pagan books, herbs, and oils for use in ritual. The shop has been in the family for many generations, though the New Age materials were added by Siobhan when she took over running the shop after her mother Mary’s death.

Her father moved away from Rhode Island, seeking to start a new life and to distance his daughter Sarah from the influence of her older sister. Years have passed without contact between them, until one day Siobhan receives a call from James asking for her help. To her surprise, James is acknowledging his own talents, and a vision of danger gives him great concern for Sarah or one of his roomates.

Surprised to learn that her sister is going to college in Providence– and upset that she was not told before– she agrees to look in on Sarah. She can tell that James is wrestling with his conscience, but his Native American heritage makes it clear to him that gifts are not given without reason. The catch: Sarah hasn’t talked to Siobhan in years, and James has convinced her that her sister is a devil-worshipper.

While trying to track down her sister, she runs into an attractive ex-Marine who is under attack from someone with dark talents and her ex-fiancee Robert, who turns out to be a werewolf. While both men try to help her find her missing sister, they both have their own problems that require her aid. Soon she starts to see that their problems and her sister are connected, and she’s in over her head.

Can she find her sister and stop the evil rising in the heart of Providence before it’s too late?
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Further Plottage…

So, I’ve been thinking about Glenn and really think that he needs to be more prominent in the story. Which is fine, because I think I can put him as the POV character again for chapter 9. Don’t need to focus on Shiobhan as she deals with filing police report and such– but rather, I can focus on his emotions as he deals with his breakup with Melissa. And the breakdown of the magical bonds that she placed on him…

Also have a few other subplots that I need to develop soon:

  • Introduce the cultists Melissa is working with
  • Show that Sorcha is alive
  • Amp up the attraction between Shiobhan and Glenn (this is something that I need to revise into Chapter 1, as well…)
  • Involve what help Robert needs from Shiobhan

I can probably do the first two– if not three– in the next chapter with Glenn. I’m thinking he has a dream when he’s in the hospital, his magical gift all the stronger for having been contained/shielded by Melissa. He can see the cultists with Sorcha, showing she is alive, and showing some interaction between them and Melissa– though he doesn’t realize that it’s her. (Don’t want the readers figuring it out quite yet.) And when he’s dealing with the aftermath of the breakup, Shiobhan keeps intruding on his thoughts…

But Robert does need to play into this as well… he needed help from Shiobhan, and he’s been good about putting Sorcha above himself at the moment. But that can’t last forever, because he’s dealing with a deadline… and it’s something he will have to face. Possibly related to a Pack issue? Or someone hunting shifters? Not sure yet, he’s been fairly tight-lipped even to me… will have to crack his shell open soon and get more out of him other than he wants Shiobhan back (which she won’t let happen). Once burned, twice shy… she’s over him, or at least enough that she isn’t hooking back up with him again.


Providence plotting…

Further plottage for Providence paranormal. Went rereading through the first two chapters and realized how much I like this story and do want to work on it. But I had a lot of questions about it and wasn’t sure what was going on. So I sat down and did some freewriting to help get me past this block.

Notes under the cut… some of these refer to the previous notes I had made.
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Current status

I’ve got several WIPs that I’m working on, so this is a general update.

Providence Paranormal:

This is temporarily being shelved while I try to plot out some more of the conflicts that I want to have in it. I need to do some digging into who the hero is, what the romantic conflict of the story is, what is going on behind the scenes involving the sister, and how the hero is tied to the sister. I’m thinking this is going to be in the 50k+ range, and may aim it at LSB or possibly even NY print.

Savage Lands:

I’m thinking about this story a bit lately. I’m wondering if I want to continue it in the serial idea that I was going to go with before, or if I want to expand it to be more like a Tryst length story for each installment (10-20 per “episode”). If I do that, I need to figure out who the romantic interest is and have her involved from the beginning.

Upon Wings of Hope:

I’ve been really bad about keeping up with this WIP. This is the one I was primarily going to run through the Above & Beyond coursework with, and I’m behind on that. I need to finish up Marten’s bio, which is the last bio I need, and then I need to do the homework for the stakes assignment. I’ll need to do that for Alissandra, Marten, and Litala.


I’m putting this back on indefinite hold. I want to get some of the other projects done first and return to this with some fresh ideas. I think I’m going to change up some of the things I wasn’t planning on before and probably darken the tone a bit. I think I also have a lot of characters for this story and I’ll need to reevaluate who the “main” characters are and how necessary some of the support characters are. I definitely do not want to fall back into the trap of forgetting to involve the familiars like I did the first time around.

Love at First Kiss:

This is a romance idea that I’m aiming at Cobblestone for. I’ve got some details over on the WIP manager at Evolution, and I’ve started working on this. Some 1kish words at the moment, I want to finish this over September/October, revise it and send it off. Looking to actually finish something for once.

Hitting the Books:

Once I finish up with Love at First Kiss, I’m going to work on this novella and push that out to Cobblestone as well.

Shadows in the Light:

This is a dark idea that came to me a while ago, and it’s something I’m going to work on plotting out. I’m thinking along the lines of L. A. Banks / Chris Golden tone… dark, gritty, gory… but yet with a stong romance amidst the hell. This is going to take a bit of research and may end up being a series, so I’m not rushing to work on this right away, but will chip away at it a bit here and a bit there.



Sorry I haven’t posted updates in a bit, things have been rather hectic with the server problems (which should be resolved now that Evo is moved over to the RackForce server…), the abysmal heat (which has cooled down, thank all the gods), and more health issues (which seem to have somewhat stabilized).

I’d like to thank the good folks over at Cobblestone Press for the wonderful Q&A session they did over at Evolution. It was a lot of fun and I know that I for one learned quite a bit from it.

In more personal news, I’ve shelved the Providence paranormal for the moment. I’m stepping away from novel length projects at the moment and I’m working on some novella ideas that, ideally, I’d like to submit over to Cobblestone. Ironically enough, none of them are paranormal!

Now I just need to figure out which one to work on… Blind Date, Hitting the Books, or Love at First Kiss. Leaning towards Hitting the Books, but we’ll have to see.


Posted by on August 15, 2006 in General, Planning/Plotting

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Plot threads for Providence…

Going through and identifying some of the plot threads for the paranormal:

  • A dark herbwitch is trying to kill Glen
  • Conflict between Shiobhan and the dark herbwitch
  • Romantic tension between Shiobhan and Glen
  • Conflict between Shiobhan and her father James due to her religion
  • Conflict between Shiobhan and her sister Sorcha due to her religion
  • Danger that Sorcha is threatened by
  • Plot line that connects Glen and what threatens Sorcha (I assume that the dark herbwitch is involved, but why? And how does this tie together more directly with Glen?)
  • Conflict from Shiobahn’s ex-lover, Robert — who was kicked out of Kelly’s coven for his behavior (Was it just his personality or was he dabbling in the dark?)
  • Past romance between Kelly and Shiobhan? (Undecided on this one… there is attraction between them, but I could see Shiobhan resisting it given that Kelly works for her.)
  • Conflict between Shiobhan and the coven… they want her to rejoin, she thinks she needs to do things alone.

Prewriting to do…

Over at Evolution, I’m taking part of the March/April Prewriting Mission. I signed up for level 1, which is 10k worth of prewriting material. At first, I thought to myself that I wouldn’t be able to do it, but Nonny made a point about character bios that I needed to do.

As a todo list for my own reference, these are the bios that I need to do:

Shadows Into Twilight:

  1. Ormryche
  2. Tawny
  3. Martel
  4. Lucero
  5. Morgianna
  6. Caladuera
  7. Arkyron

(The last two I’m not sure if I need to do or not. I probably should, though.)

Upon Wings of Hope

  1. Marten

Savage Lands

  1. Adrian
  2. Alexa
  3. Stefanos
  4. Adrian’s romantic interest

I also need to do some general world-building notes on the setting; who their father was, etc.

Blood Sight

  1. Karlan
  2. Awena
  3. Thentar

I had decided after the crits that Thentar was going to be Awena’s outlawed brother, but there’s definitely more to the story than that.

Slip stories

  1. Slip

All in all… that’s a lot of prewriting to get done, I think. 16 bios, each around 1k… yeah, that’ll get me my 10k without an issue, especially when you add in the plot and setting notes on top of the bios.


Posted by on March 4, 2006 in Planning/Plotting


From A&B… Premise homework for Upon Wings of Hope

Realized I never posted these to LiveJournal…


* * *

Avians, who look like human with wings, rule the land. Humans– the earthbound– are basically treated as slaves, not held to Avian law unless it affects Avians. Alissandra, an Avian, feels that something is inherently wrong in the way the humans are treated. Though asking questions about the past often draws unwelcome– and pointed– attention from the priesthood of the Winged Goddess, she seeks answers to the inequality of the two peoples… answers she finds in the journal of a human mage who cured his sick daughter by giving her wings with which to fly.

She does so with the assistance of the human Marten, who is secretly feeding the findings of their research to the underground human rebellion. Alissandra becomes pregnant with Marten’s child, and the pregnancy is aborted by decree of the Triune Council. Marten is soon-after killed in an explosion triggered by uncontrolled magic, and Alissandra is sent back to her home Eyrie, Drun Aliet, in disgrace.

Litala, a human, has been abused for most of her life, meets Alissandra upon her return. As the two seek solace from their individual pains in their friendship, Alissandra becomes her champion and saves her from further further abuse. Pressed to protect Litala further and to protect herself from an enforced pregnancy she does not want, Alissandra ends up transforming Litala into an Avian. The two are arrested, and in the middle of a trial for their blasphemous use of magic, the Winged Goddess chooses Litala to be her Avatar.

Together they return to Drun Shonen and delve deeper into the past as they come to terms with the changes in their own lives. Alissandra realizes that there is more to the inequality beyond just the politics, and Litala is left responsible for a priesthood that grudging looks to her for guidance… when she has been trained to fear making choices for herself.

Marten yet lives, and after a stormy reconciliation and growing passion for both women, connects them with the rebellion. The three face the hostility of people who long for them to be dead and forgotten– and try to make them so– for who and what they are, and forge a peace in their own complicated relationship.

As they dare to uncover the greatest lies which have shaped the face of the land for ages past, they stand united together to lead their people to their forgotten past, and to their new future.

Premise Questions:

* * *

  1. What do I love about this story?The original premise was inspired mainly out of interest in quasi-humans. It was originally a male Avian and a female human. But given the concept of their inequality, it was rapidly apparent that Litala’s history would be one of abuse. After being exposed to the “uber” genre of fancfiction by Jeri at FM, it morphed into a female/female pair. While I was originally intending this to be a serial story, told in many different installations, I decided to rewrite it as a complete novel.

    Marten was added in because I wanted to explore how Litala would react to a male, whom she will associate with her abusers– especially since he is human, like she once was. And at the same time, while she will have to grow strong enough to overcome that (and more), I am very interested in the dynamics of polyamory. Not that that should surprise anyone here… heh.

    It is about overcoming our weaknesses. Alissandra is the strongest of the three of them, but she has not lived as much until the novel starts. The other two have suffered more than she can really come to terms with on a gut level. Litala is withdrawn, introverted, afraid… and she is thrust into the role (which I once thought of Alissandra taking on, and realized there was more conflict if it fell to Litala) of being a religious leader to their people– chosen for that role directly by the Divine. Marten is afraid to trust Alissandra, and very angry at having his child ripped away from her… and his rage and oft-times hatred for his enemies blinds him to the fact that there are good people that do not agree with his world view. He must overcome his prejudice.

    And what greater conflicts are there, than overcoming bigotry, recovering from abuse, spiritual crises, and being helpless in the face of the suffering of another?

  2. Where is your novel set, who is your main character, and what is his main conflict, problem, or goal?I don’t have a name for the continent yet, but it is an isolated land mass inhabited by humans and Avians who abandoned the world at large in ages past. My main characters are the Avian Alissandra, the human Marten, and the human Litala who is transformed into an Avian. The main conflict is the inequality between the humans and the Avians.
  3. What does your protagonist most want, and why?They want to live in a world where life is respected and cherished, with equality between their peoples. They see and live through the results of the way the world currently exists.
  4. What is your your protagonist’s second plot layer? (Maass uses “plot layer” to refer to a subplot directly affecting the main character, such as a romance; storylines relating to other characters are referred to as subplots)The transformation of Litala from human to Avian, and the divine selection of Litala as the Avatar of the Winged Goddess.
  5. What is your protagonist’s third plot layer?The formation of the triad polyamorous relationship between the three characters, and the issues they must overcome to do so.
  6. What is the first subplot?Alissandra’s former Mage mentor orchestrates the attempts on the lives of Marten and Litala out of jealousy that they share Alissandra’s love, which he can never have.
  7. What is the second subplot?The old land, Drel Trano, is not sealed off like the public believes; a portal exists, and it is actively in use by those behind the power of the Triune High Council.
  8. Who is the most important secondary or supporting character, what is her main problem, conflict, or goal, and what does she most want?I don’t know that I have an external secondary character that aids the protagonists; as the three characters are all main characters in their own right and support the goals of each other in the triad. They share a common goal and focus, though each of them has their own personal challenges and biases as well.

    Outside of the three, the most important secondary character would be Thaltron. He was promised as a fledgeling to be mated with Alissandra. Litala being Avian gives Alissandra the right to refuse; if she had remained human, she would not have that right and the priests would have forced the mating. Ultimately, he fights against everything that Alissandra and Litala stand for, until he realizes that he can never have what he wants… because Alissandra is no longer capable of having children as a byproduct of the forced abortion. He is robbed of his desire by the consequences of the very prejudice that he espouses. He then has a chance at redemption, but he must decide if he truly wishes to be saved.

  9. Who is the novel’s antagonist, what is his main problem, conflict, or goal, and what does he most want?Alissandra’s mentor is haunted by the ghost of his former wife (figuratively, not literally). She had an affair with a human, and the pregnancy killed her. He blames humans because of this, though he was never fond of them before that time. He has slipped into a delusional state where he confuses his late wife and Alissandra. He wants Alissandra, wants to be loved by her, and is infuriated by her associations with Litala and Marten.

    He is not the power behind the Mage branch of the Triune High Council, but he is the power behind the figurehead the Mages use in the Council (Archmage Dalforne).



Posted by on February 14, 2006 in Planning/Plotting, Wings


Luzon #1: A&B Premise Questions…

Working on the A&B premise questions for the first Luzon book…


  1. What do I love about this story?The premise, the setting, the characters, the time period. This book is home to many things that I love most about high fantasy… and even though I started it many years ago at this point, it’s always calling me back to it. This time, when I pick it back up to rewrite it, I intend to finish it.
  2. Where is your novel set, who is your main character, and what is his main conflict, problem, or goal?This novel is set mainly in the country of Culloden, one of the three human countries. The main character is Ormryche, a young man drawn into the world of wizardry, seeking to use his skills in the service of King and Country.
  3. What does your protagonist most want, and why?Ormryche seeks to be a champion of the realm– not because he wants to be a hero, but because he is a hero. He is a swordsman, trained to become a Lord of the Realm when his father passes on, and he learns to be a mage. All these skills give him power– but they also give him responsibility. He has the opportunity to make changes, to affect people’s lives. He has the confidence of his King, and ties to the Mage Council… and he is affected by the problems that they face as well.
  4. What is your your protagonist’s second plot layer? (Maass uses “plot layer” to refer to a subplot directly affecting the main character, such as a romance; storylines relating to other characters are referred to as subplots.)He seeks the respect of his father, his King, and his mentor Karlon.
  5. What is your protagonist’s third plot layer?He seeks the love of Evelan, his companion in mage training. He has known for many years that his marriage was most likely to be arranged for him, but all that changes when he becomes a mage. Similarly, Evelan was raised to be a Lady, and is also freed of her planned life when she enters the mage training. Romance blooms as they face adversity together, but is it just the bond of their trials, or is it true love?
  6. What is the first subplot?The tension in the realm caused by the barrenness of Queen Avara… and the fact that the shadow mages are behind the fact that she is barren.
  7. What is the second subplot?Conflict between the Lords of the Realm due to the shadow mages seeking to turn one Lord against another. (The assassination attempt on Olenek implicating Sangar, the cattle raids on Sangar’s herds, etc.)
  8. What is the third subplot?Tension in the Council of Twelve between Karlon and Halvrath over Karlon’s late wife.
  9. Who is the most important secondary or supporting character, what is her main problem, conflict, or goal, and what does she most want?Evelan is the secondary character. She is in many ways in the same situation as Ormryche, but where he would have had some freedom in his duties as a Lord, she would have been much more strictly confined by her role as a Lady. She feels lost and adrift when her life changes and she is entered into mage training. With the guidance of Mage Karlon and Queen Avara, she seeks to find her way in life.
  10. Who is the novel’s antagonist, what is his main problem, conflict, or goal, and what does he most want?The events in this book are directed by a Shadow, a mage who has committed the Wizard’s Flaw and become one of the living dead. The energy of stolen life burned his away from him at the same time it cursed him to undeath. The Shadow is under the command of Lucero and Morgianna, the two dark gods who seek to re-enter this world, and he is a pawn in their schemes.

ETA: forgot I do actually have a rough map of this, along with the continent name (Tareya).



Posted by on February 14, 2006 in Luzon, Planning/Plotting


Thantil Setting…

Thantil world setting notes:


* * *

Different races have different racial affinities to which they gravitate. While these do not necessarily hold true for any given individual—freedom of will—it is by and large exceptionally common to see these affinities upheld.

Humans: humans are the only race which does not have an affinity. They are all drawn in different directions, and this causes a lot of confusion—and sometimes fear—amongst the other races. Humans have short lives, and fast reproductive cycles.

Elves: elves are drawn to the affinities of life and magic. While they are excellent craftsmen—their swords being the stuff of legend—it is more due to the magic imbued in the weapon than the quality of the weapon itself.

Elves natuarally gravitate to either the pursuit of magic, or the pursuit of life and the protection thereof. They have designed miraculous cities, working with trees rather than against them, and many a rumor has been spread about the wonders of an elven city.

Elves are insular and afraid of their human neighbors, fearing that the passion at which they live their lives is nothing short of recklessness and folly.

Elves have long lives, but slow reproductive cycles. Their population is growing, but not even close to the rate at which humans are doing so.

Dwarves: dwarves are drawn to the affinity of creation. They are excellent craftsment, strong and hardy, and take a very real and visceral delight in working with their hands in some form of a craft. While they are hardly un-intelligent, it is rare to find a dwarf who spends his time in study as opposed to at the forge or the like. Usually the majority of the books that they have read and studied are books about their particular craft of choice.

Dwarves do not usually practice magic, but in the process of creating something, they can tap into the elemental forces of creation and bind that into an item. It’s just as common to find a dwarven weapon enchanted as an elven one, though the processes between the two races are remarkably different.

While there were great dwarven civilizations in the past (above ground), they are now all but extinct. Only a handful remain, and those that do, are usually so paranoid about the downfall of their race to deal with anyone outside their community.

Most dwarves have actually settled into human life quite well, serving as shopkeeps and craftsmen. They rarely take human apprentices, but if they do, it shows a remarkable talent on the part of the apprentice, and also the same kind of desire for crafting that a dwarf has.

Dwarves live almost as long as the elves, but have very slow reproductive cycles. In 500-700 years, if a solution is not found, then the dwarves living amongst humans will become only a memory… with the few remaining dwarven civilizations following on their heels.

Halflings: halflings have an affinity to the earth and to life. They are very direct, blunt, plain folk who want to be left alone, eat as much as possible, brewing their mead, and tending to their gardens.

They don’t live as long as dwarves, but they breed faster than the elves.

Halflings do have a weakness for gems, and living underground/semi-underground in burrows and warrens.

* * *

One concept that I really do like is the concept of the d20 magical domain system. I’d like to see this expanded and used for arcane magic as well as divine magic; it’s a good way to define the difference between one sorceror and the next.


  1. Nature
    • Animals
    • Growing Seasons
    • Healing
    • Life
  2. Harvest
    • Childbirth
    • Dying Seasons
    • Fertility
    • Hunting
  3. Stone
    • Earth
    • Fortitude
    • Strength
    • Home
  4. Magic
    • Knowledge
    • Wisdom
    • Power
  5. Creation
    • Performance
    • Intuition
    • Passion
    • Inspiration
  6. Thieves
    • Deception
    • Stealth
    • Avarice
    • Luck
  7. Honor
    • Justice
    • Loyalty
    • Mercy
    • Valor
  8. Ocean / Sea
    • Fishermen
    • Rivers
    • Sailors
    • Rain
  9. Sun
    • Battle
    • Day
    • Fire
    • Fearlessness
  10. Moon
    • Love
    • Night
    • Beauty
    • Peace
  11. Travellers
    • Journeying
    • Roads
    • Trade
  12. Death
    • Underworld
    • Destruction
    • Balance
    • Rebirth
  13. Cruelty
    • Murder
    • Pain
    • Discord
    • Fear

* * *

Places (and peoples):

  • Varnos (Varnosians)
  • Meltak (The Meltak)
  • Tika’la Plains (tribal names)
  • The Anvil of al-Ramath
  • Barnett (Barnettans)
  • Reyirspeikum (Reyiri)
  • Leilon (Leilans)
  • The Jargothian Empire (Jargothians)
  • Sethnor (Setians)
  • Qenosalitha (Qenosalia)
  • The Fens of Imfala (Mudlings)

* * *

To Be Hashed Out:

* trueforms
* dogmas
* symbols
* planes?
* personalities
* worshippers
* deity alignment / accepted priest alignment



Posted by on November 1, 2005 in Planning/Plotting, Thantil