Friday, January 29, 2016

Excerpt - TVB: "Isalaina"






His whole form seemed to solidify on the spot. He swallowed hard and tried to avert his gaze. He couldn’t.

Her gray-green eyes were like the Xagimn Ocean. Her fair complexion seemed to glow in the firelight. A light breeze fluttered through her soft, golden hair.

Isalaina…

Since he had first seen her sparkling smile, Jaranin had adored her. They had always been good friends, never more. Still… whenever she sat close to him, offered him the slightest smile, wrinkled her nose when she laughed—shivers would tickle his spine. Whenever anyone mentioned her name, he would either grin or blush profusely. And lately, it’d been getting worse. Now, even if she spoke a word to him, his mouth would grow clumsy. She made him so nervous it made him ill. But he felt that if she asked him, he could move mountains for her.

Either that or he'd completely lose his wits. Like now, for instance, as he nearly tripped himself as he was gaping at her.

With a little start and stammer, Jaranin extricated his robe and continued. “…Standing beside the messenger was his wife,” Jaranin swallowed, still unable to take his eyes off Isalaina, “Áthel.”

Jaranin forced his gaze away, but his thoughts were still focused on her light a beam of light. Was she enjoying the story? Did she approve?

One more glance couldn’t hurt.

Isalaina’s eyes sparkled in the firelight, glittering with tears and filled with apprehension. The gentle orange flames of the bonfire caressed her lightly-tanned complexion.

“…And he swore, as she stared at him with a mixture of pride and trepidation, that she had never before looked as beautiful as now,” Jaranin continued.

Isalaina smiled.

Worried he’d completely forget his place in the story the next time, Jaranin hurriedly completed his tale. He told of the final battle of Ánari, how the walls fell to the wicked dark forces, but how many inhabitants of the city escaped. The walls were torn down, but never its spirit, he concluded.

“This is why we celebrate the city of Ánari. For though the city once fell, there may come a day when Lexirous’s visions of Evil shall be destroyed. And in those days, all people of Amboron will live in peace and truth, just as they did in the Ancientest Age.”

No one seemed to notice Jaranin’s haste. As soon as he finished with a flourish and a bow, the spectators erupted into applause.

...It wasn’t until most of the patrons had finally moved onto the feasting table, however, that Jaranin finally saw her.
 
Isalaina was still in her seat, the firelight making her golden hair appear to glow. She and Elun had been chatting while the others patrons mobbed Jaranin. As soon as they noticed Jaranin watching them, Elun and Isalaina both looked up, smiling. Isalaina waved.

“Thank you very much,” Jaranin said to the last of his well-wishers before meandering toward the bench.

“You were exceptional tonight, Jaranin.” Isalaina gushed. There was a notably vacant spot between her and Elun, which Jaranin gratefully took.

“Why thank you,” Jaranin smirked. “Though I think I would have liked my performance a whole lot better if I hadn’t nearly tripped over my robe…” He paused, recalling that she’d warned him about that before the performance. “You were right,” he added soberly. “I should’ve let you hem it.” He’d be sure to do so next year.

Isalaina just waved it off with a sigh. “It wasn’t important. I hardly even noticed. I was too busy crying by that point. The story was beautiful; I loved it.”

“And didn’t you say his entrance was superb, Is?” Elun chortled. “Didn’t you say that? Go on, tell him. I won’t mind if you say it again.” He elbowed Jaranin’s ribcage, grinning. Isalaina laughed.

“All right, all right! Nothing caused us bodily injury,” Jaranin admitted as he ruffled Elun’s hair. “This time.”

Elun struck a pose of hurt, but all three giggled. After the laughter, however, Elun hopped up. “Well, I don’t know about you two, but I’m half famished to starvation.” He clapped his hands and rubbed them together. “So if you need me, I’ll be showing Will how to talk with your mouth chock-full without choking.”

“Be sure he knows about the ‘not choking’ part!” Isalaina called as Elun was scampering toward the tables.

Jaranin and Isalaina shook their heads as they watched their friend go.

“He’s an odd one…” Jaranin chuckled.

“Thus why the three of us get along so well,” Isalaina countered with a smile.

They sat in silence for a few minutes. Jaranin fidgeted in his seat, struggling to think of something to say. “Think you’ll win the archery competition this year?”

“Naturally. I’m aiming for third year in a row.” Isalaina raised her head proudly. “I’ve been practicing hard.”

“It shows. Last I saw, you were hitting bullseyes every time.”

She smirked. “Well, I can’t have someone else strutting about with my title. I might even beat my record this year!” She nudged him playfully, “That is, as long as you don’t gnaw your knuckles right behind me.”

“I’ll try to be more composed this year,” Jaranin swore solemnly, properly scolded.

They shared a chuckle.
---
[Excerpt from The Victor's Blade; all content subject to change.]

The spunky and lovely Isalaina. Has a knack for weaving, archery, and teasing Jaranin.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Origins of The Victor's Blade - Pt. 4 of 4

The Victor’s Blade has undergone more birthing pains, I think, than any other book in the history of authorship. I challenge anyone to prove me wrong (en garde. I love reading stories about other writers’ misery so I can commiserate).

I was well-along in The Victor’s Blade. Jaranin had left his hometown of Sinoa. He’d brought along his friends, Elun and Isalaina. They’d even met Zaelor (formerly Arulondor, but swiftly changed as soon as my friend had laughed and said it sounded like someone asking if his name was “Londor”).

It was fifty pages of single-spaced, one-inch margin Word document—more than I’d ever written before on a single project. I was so proud. This manuscript had been months and months of writing work, hours spent staring at a white page on the computer screen.

And quite suddenly, the computer died on me.

I lost it all.
 
No back-ups, of course. I was too young to know the pains of losing data to a computer crash.

Devastation. This time, perhaps, for a more valid reason. All that hard work, and in the blink of an eye… it was gone.

My friend was, of course, the one to console me.

“That happened to me once, too. But you know what? It’s going to make your story better.”

“How?” I tearfully asked into the phone receiver.

“You’re gonna have to re-write it. And the new version will end up way better than your first one. Trust me. That’s just how it goes.”

I didn’t even want to think about rewriting fifty whole pages all over again, starting from scratch.

But once I gathered my courage, I did. I just couldn’t let this story go.

And you know what?

It was better.

I got smarter after that. Ohhh, did I learn quick. I soon had a stack of color-coded floppy disks on my desk, with a story on each one. And, later, I even learned how to burn The Victor’s Blade onto a CD. The wonders of new technologies to a teenaged girl!

Ah, I’d learned to back-up… but I hadn’t learned to back-up frequently.

Another computer crash. Another lost manuscript. And the last version I had saved? Chapters and chapters behind where my latest writing had landed.

Devastation was starting to feel a little too familiar by this point.

But I started again.

And you know what else?

It was better.

Fortunately, I’ve never lost a manuscript after that. But I’ve started over again (of my own volition) twice now. Writing and rewriting and re-re-writing. Going back over that beginning few chapters so many times it makes me queasy to think. Rediscovering characters, re-analyzing plot points, even calling into questions story arcs I’ve had planned since 2001 and threatening to drop them.

Because I’ve learned a lot since 2001. I’ve grown a lot since 2000. And some of the things I thought made flawless scenes I’ve now embarrassedly discarded.

But there’s some stuff there that still gleams golden.

There’s still an essence I can’t let go of. There’s still a story here (under all this planning and rewriting) that I keep coming back to… because I keep wishing there was more story to read.

I want to find out if the boy from the village loses his riddle-book to the enemy. I want to find out if he ever makes it to the sword, and if the sword’s still there or if it ever even existed.

I want to know how his story ends.

Let’s find out together.


---
Previous (Part 3)


From Him, To Him

Monday, January 25, 2016

Origins of The Victor's Blade - Pt. 3 of 4

I could no longer keep the title “The Golden Sword.”

I was devastated (as only a pre-teen can be) at the news. Of all things to shatter my slowly-progressing story’s development, it had to be a LEGO set.

A LEGO set!

I’d been a purveyor and purchaser of LEGO bricks for years. My first set was a massive castle from the Factions series (circa early 1990’s). My more recent favorite, however, was the rugged Johnny Thunder. Johnny was an Aussie adventurer who unearthed mysteries and treasures in wild, untamed lands like the Egyptian pyramids, Amazon rainforest, and even… Dino Island? (Which was apparently the least-memorable locale of the series, since I had to look it up.)

So I was absolutely thrilled when the LEGO company released a new Johnny Thunder series in 2003, set in the exotic Far East… until I discovered that the artifact he was looking for this time was none other than The Golden Sword.

A LEGO set had stolen my story’s name! (Well, technically my friend’s story’s name, but you get the idea).

I’d have to change the name immediately. I couldn’t be sued for copyright infringement because the LEGO company had decided to pull the metaphorical rug out from under my writing career.

The problem was… I couldn’t get myself to change it.

“The Golden Sword” was perfect. It was short, direct, to-the-point. No-nonsense. It said exactly what the story was about. And what else was I going to rename a legendary blade? Not to mention I had already had the title for years. It was much more than a placeholder—it was the identity of the story itself.

But I stubbornly set about coming up with a new name (despite repeated attempts on my parents’ part to reassure me that it would not be copyright infringement if my story happened to be named the same as a LEGO piece). Ideas came and went, but nothing really stuck.

I sat down to brainstorm. I needed a list of words I liked, that sounded powerful but not overbearing, that would have good meanings for a sword’s name.

Valiant? I liked that word. But it sounded too pompous.

…What about victor? A sword that made the wielder a victor. The Victor’s Sword?

No, no. The Victor’s Blade.

That was it. That was the one.

---
Previous (Part 2) ----- Next (Finale)

Photo from Brickipedia. All photos property of their respective owners and used under US "Fair Use" laws.

LEGO®, Johnny Thunder®, and all related terms are trademarks of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site. Also, honest props to the LEGO Group for having the most common sense and reasonable "Fair Play" regulations for talking about their merch.

From Him, To Him

Friday, January 22, 2016

Excerpt - TVB: "The Storyteller"


“Are we forgetting anything?” Jaranin asked, looking up from trying to tame his tousled brown hair. His eyes skirted their surroundings. Other than the pond he’d been using as a mirror and the trees all around, there wasn’t much to see. Well, besides his partner-in-crime, Elun, who was standing there bedecked with what must have looked like the oddest set of gear in the world.

“Master Jaranin Riel,” his red-headed elf companion began with a sniff, “don’t tell me you doubt the impeccable planning skills of Elun the Elaborate Entrance-Inventor!” The elf tossed his head and somehow managed to make a dramatic gesture despite carrying a heavy sword in one hand and a giant glass jar in the other. As if that wasn’t enough to keep track of, there was also the full burlap sack propped against Elun’s legs and the aloo, too. How Elun had managed to convince his father to let them borrow the valuable (and large) funnel-shaped elf instrument, Jaranin didn’t know.

“Oh, doubt you? Never.” Jaranin chuckled as he straightened his borrowed midnight-blue robe. He felt honored to wear it for the third year in a row now—but he just wished the traditional storyteller robe were a bit smaller. He was swimming in it. “No, I only doubt you when your plans involve something that might sting us. Or bite us. Or fall on our heads. Or…”

“Jaranin, I keep tellin’ ya,” Elun began with a characteristically dramatic roll of his eyes, “if y’keep worrying about every little thing, yer gonna go gray. Or get wrinkles.” Elun stretched himself to his full height—which still left him an inch shorter than Jaranin. “That’s why ya gotta learn to be more upbeat. Like me!”

“‘Upbeat?’” Jaranin ruffled his friend’s hair. “Do you make these words up as you go, or do you lie awake each night planning them?”

Elun grinned over the lid of his firefly prison. “Bit o’ both!” He tossed the short sword and glass jar up in the air, catching them deftly.

Jaranin jumped forward and rested his hand on the glass jar. As if that reminder would be enough to keep it still in Elun’s hands. “If that glass jar breaks, you’re going to have to nab those fireflies in a tenth the time it took us to capture them all,” he warned.

But he’d never been good at keeping a straight face, so he felt his grin peeking out despite his best efforts to look grim.

Elun made a noise in the back of his throat, something between a gag and a gasp. “Worrying!

“Right! Right.” Jaranin stepped back, nervously smoothing his robe one last time. “Sorry.”

 Elun just winked. “Aw, I’m not the one y’need to be sorry to, Jar. Really, you should be apologizin’ to the lady. I mean, I doubt Isalaina likes her men wrinkly.” Elun batted his eyelashes.

Ohhh no you didn’t.

With a grin, Jaranin snatched his friend, locking Elun’s chin in the crook of his arm. “Oh she doesn’t, does she?” With his free hand, Jaranin rubbed his knuckles onto Elun’s head.

“Hoi! Stoppit! Leggo!” Elun cawed. “The plan! Remember the plan!” The jar of fireflies danced precariously in his hand.

Jaranin released him, but not without a parting jab to his friend’s arm. “Right. For the plan.”

Elun rubbed his arm wound with a grin. “…And may I remind you, all my plans work out, in the end.”

“So they do.” Jaranin sighed with a rueful smile. Both lads fell silent as they gazed at the line of trees before them. Orange firelight glowed between the dark trunks. They could still easily make out the hushed laughter and murmuring of a crowd.

“Ready?” Elun inquired.

Jaranin straightened his robe and tried one last pass at his hair. Another glance in the pond told him it was still in vain. But at last, he nodded. “Ready.” He gulped, staring at the trees ahead.

“Excellent.” Elun offered a parting grin to the scampering insects within his jar. “This is going to be the best festival entrance yet!”

Jaranin nodded briskly. Here we go… He raised his hand like they’d planned, the signal for Elun to begin.

Here we go.

---
[Excerpt from The Victor's Blade; all content subject to change.]

I'm going to try posting excerpts every Friday, so check back if you like what you've read!

Elun's quite the character. He's always keeping Jaranin on his toes. What do you think of the boys?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Origins of The Victor's Blade - Pt. 2 of 4

I’m not sure how long The Golden Sword story lay waiting before I unearthed it.

The story still hadn’t left me. I pulled it up on the family computer and, knowing my friend was never going to return to a one-off story he’d never mentioned again, I started to create my own additions.

I added a second character to the main party—a female and potential love interest for later down the narrative road. She was bright and cheerful but strong with a little hint of mischief, and her delight was to keep the protagonist on his toes with her rapier wit and their playful banter.

She was loosely based on me (or the person I wished I could be), but she would also prove to be the precursor to the two leading ladies of The Victor’s Blade.

But the protagonist and his companion were off, and after writing in an early confrontation pitting them against a band of brigands, I saved the document and turned the computer off. And The Golden Sword would wait some more.

It’s hard to say how the story developed after that. I know I was concerned that my friend would be upset that I had altered his original tale, but he must have given his blessing, because the project continued.

My family moved to a new house in 2001. And it was there, sitting at a computer of my own, that I recall sitting down to give The Golden Sword the update I knew it so desperately needed.

First, I knew, it needed more characters.

Pencil in hand, on a sheet of lined Post-It Note memo paper, I wrote down the names of The Victor's Blade's main party--

Jaranin: a much younger version of the mild-mannered (and now definitely orphaned) protagonist.

Elun: a playful, red-headed, freckle-faced foil to Jaranin’s more serious and laid-back demeanor. He’d assist Jaranin on his quest and never leave his side.

Isalaina: an almost princess-like childhood friend to Jaranin and Elun. Lovely, clever, graceful, and Jaranin’s even better half.

Arulondor: a cynical and laconic mentor who would guide Jaranin through his adventure and life.

And Emarella: an impish but talented fighter who could give Arulondor a run for his money with her smart mouth.

The pieces were in place. The game was about to begin.

---
Previous (Part 1) ----- Next (Part 3)

Photo by jessica45 on Pixabay.com.

From Him, To Him

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Origins of The Victor's Blade - Pt. 1 of 4

I mentioned yesterday how a friend of mine played a pivotal role in starting The Victor's Blade.

Ready for story time?

As children are wont to do, my writing buddy/best friend and I tried to go over to each others' houses as often as possible. We'd play pretend or video games or action figures--whatever suited our fancy.

As we got older, another activity we added to the itinerary was writing. We had both been writing as soon as we could read (a little later for me--I was a reading late-bloomer at the age of six or so), and since we both loved a good story, it was only natural we'd collaborate on one of our own.

I still wish I could remember the exact date. I believe it was 2000, when both of us were ten years old, on the cusp of turning eleven later in the year. My friend and I sat in front of my family computer, its large monitor enshrined in my parents' spacious (for a ten-year-old) master bedroom.

I wasn't feeling particularly inspired today, so I sat and watched as he set to work.

The story he wrote, completely off the top of his head, was titled "The Golden Sword." In it, a man from a small village received a book of riddles from a village elder, a woman who had cared for him when he was a child. She explained that the book would lead him to a great weapon, the Golden Sword. It was a precious book, and the weapon was dangerous, so he could never let the book fall into enemy hands. After packing the book and his few other belongings in a sack, the man set out on his adventure.

Perhaps it was the archetypes present even in the story of a ten-year-old. Perhaps it was hero-worship of the writer and friend who could, on the spot, come up with a story that piqued my interest. But something about his story drew me in, made me wish there was more to read.

But writing time was done. Either he ran out of inspiration or we got bored. We moved on to other activities. And The Golden Sword sat, saved in a Word Document on my family computer.

Waiting to be rediscovered.

---

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.
 
From Him, To Him

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

More On The Victor's Blade and Why It's a Monster... Beast... Thing.

The Victor's Blade is about a small-town boy named Jaranin who must solve the riddle of his late father's journal. If he succeeds, the book will lead him to the location of his inheritance and destiny: a legendary sword called the Victor's Blade.

The sword, the topic of myths for centuries, is said to grant victory to whomever wields it. Only someone from Jaranin's family can use it to destroy a great evil that threatens Amboron: Maddokar. Maddokar the Dark, king of the powerful and terrifying Vadigon race, has been quietly progressing his plan to mold the world to his ideals of perfection. His plans are almost complete. He has hunted down Jaranin's family for generations; now, only Jaranin is left. The boy is the last Swordwielder. All Maddokar needs to do is kill Jaranin or capture the Victor's Blade and Maddokar's plans cannot be stopped.

So, why is it my "Monster Opus"?

This story started as a small kernel of a story (one book) and quickly exploded into three planned books (or maybe more!). Not only that, but since I like to dig into a book with depth (The Lord of the Rings is perhaps my favorite book series of all time), The Victor's Blade has grown over fifteen years from a simple story about a boy with a riddle-book to a complex web of interlocking, entertaining characters and the stories that weave them all together.

I love a story that has all these different threads and yet somehow manages to flawlessly tie them all together in the end. I love a story that takes my breath away with how it sets up each and every character and sub-plot and braids them together so intricately that everything works, everything logically flows from one cause to the next effect--a story where nothing is forgotten.

That's the kind of story I'm trying to make with The Victor's Blade.

But it's harrrrd!

You don't want to see my notes for this story. Trust me. You know those crazy crime-show criminal profilers that have photos and yarn taped all over their wall?

Multiply that by four.

 
Add a lot of flashy colors, substitute Excel for the yarn, and you've pretty much got it.

But really, the main reason I lovingly call this project a monster... Well, it's a little more personal for me.

I used to have a kindred spirit when I was in middle school, before The Victor's Blade really got started. He'd been my best friend since we were four years old. We liked all the same books and all the same video games, and we shared the same passion for the Medieval, for fantasy, for adventure, and for storytelling. In fact, this was the very person who planted the first kernels in The Victor's Blade's field (More on that tomorrow).

We couldn't have been more than teenagers when he had his own book in the works: a project that had started as a simple story and had blossomed into a massive trilogy with enough history, character, and action beneath the surface to sink the Titanic.

"Jeannette, I've created a monster," he said to me on the phone one day as I pored over drawings he had given me--his concept art for characters and weapons and a detailed map of kingdoms and countries, each with its own history and governmental structure already planned out.

He'd created a monster.

Now, I'm taking on a monster of my own.

---
Yeah, I got a little sappy on you today. But I know you've got stories of your own about dreams friends and family have helped you get started on--or even realize. I'd love to hear some of your stories. Let's share a couple yarns together, friend. I'll stay a while.

(Also high-fives for anyone who caught the allusion in this post title to Peregrin Took in Peter Jackson's film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings)

Photo by snd63 on Pixabay.com.

From Him, To Him 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Cut Scene - Back-Cover Concept (The Victor's Blade)

"The tales you know are about a hero--he's chosen by others, by circumstances, by fate... perhaps because of his skills or potential. Sometimes, he even chooses himself. But he is meant to defeat the insurmountable. It's his calling. His destiny.

"This isn't those tales.

"This is about you, Jaranin. Not because you're the one meant to do this... It's because you're..." Zaelor trailed off, running his hand through his hair. He ruffled his bangs a moment in thought before settling, with a dissatisfied grunt, on his last words:

"You're just the last one."

Jaranin grasped for a tree trunk beside him, suddenly not feeling quite as stable on his legs as he had been a few minutes ago. The last one? Last what? "Wha--" Reply? Not a chance. The tingling fear had choked out his voice. But Jaranin swallowed. He had to try. "But I'm not..." He trailed off again.

Zaelor just stood there, towering over him. What was that look on his mentor's face? Anger? Shame? ...Pity?

Zaelor's piercing brown eyes hadn't moved away from Jaranin's. Then, finally, Zaelor inhaled... and exhaled slowly. "Maddokar knew your family from the start. He knew only they could stop him." Jaranin could barely hear now, Zaelor was speaking in such a soft tone.

Zaelor has never talked like this before.

Before, the fear had slowly been creeping down his spine. Now it rooted Jaranin to the spot.

"...You're the only one left, Jaranin. He exterminated them."


---
The crux of The Victor's Blade.


The Victor's Blade is a fantasy fiction trilogy that follows Jaranin, an unsuspecting boy with an enormous burden to bear. Hunted by an enemy one step away from achieving their goal, with all the world's hopes hinging on the story of a mythic blade, Jaranin has only one clue--a weathered keepsake from his deceased mother.

He must defeat the insurmountable... before the insurmountable defeats all.

Questions? Comments? Want more? Yell at me in the comments!

---
[Cut content from The Victor's Blade; all content subject to change.]

Want more Victor's Blade? Check out these TVB Excerpts.

Photo by Sam Austin on Unsplash.


From Him, To Him

Thursday, January 14, 2016

It's Begun, Hasn't It?

Welp. We're here, friends.

There's no more hiding in the shadows of internet-lurking obscurity for me. I've bitten the bullet. I've shoved myself off the point of no return. I have done what all the hob-nobs and snoots of the literary world tell us feeble fiction newbies to do--

I have finally made a blog.

(Wait, is that how you use "hob-nobs"? Pretty sure a hob-nob is an item, not a person. Like a door knob? Whatever.)

(...A panicked trip to dictionary.com strikes me down by revealing it is a verb. I've dishonored my professors and my family name. I'm shredding my English degree.)

Well, since you're still here, I suppose I've entertained you enough that now we're stuck with each other. So sit down. I'll pull up a chair. Or a stool.

Actually, having just moved, I currently have neither.

I'm Jeannette Jonic. 26. Female. Bachelor of Arts in English, Creative Writing. Reader, Roleplayer, Player of Video Games, and Dare-I-Call-It?-Writer.

You'll probably see a lot of my ramblings here on a wide variety of topics, but I'm going to try to be a good little girl and focus on my (usually fantasy fiction) stories: a pot of bubbling ideas, half-formed stories, and the manuscript-in-progress for my multi-trilogy Monster Opus, The Victor's Blade.

--More on that one especially in later posts. Much, much more.

So, in the immortal words of D.J. MacHale in his Pendragon series:

"And so we go."

(You should check those out, by the way. Pendragon, I mean. If you like fantasy and other worlds and sarcastic characters, that is. Here's the first book, The Merchant of Death, on Amazon.)

But enough about me. I want to know who all YOU are. Shoot me a message in the comments, please. I'm notoriously bad at checking e-mail. Introduce yourself (preferably in a way that will make me laugh at your cleverness). You can say "Hi" or "You smell like cheese" or something far better than those two silly examples.

It's a pleasure to meet you all.

---
Photo by Ruslan Bardash on Unsplash.com.


From Him, To Him