Good News, Bad News, and A Call for Beta Readers

January 20th, 2014

So it’s been a while. I’m not even going to check to see how long, exactly, so let’s just leave it at ‘a while’.

There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that I’m writing again on a regular basis. For the last couple of months, I’ve been writing a bit every day, and I’m happy to say it has become habit. Hooray! Better late than never.

The bad news is, I’ve decided to give up on editing, and rewrite the book from the start. There are a few reasons for this. First and foremost, the voice was just bad. Dialog? Not horrible. Action scenes? Okay. Everything else? Awful. My first person voice tends to be okay (see Tarvin’s story. I still think that’s the best voice I’ve done), but when it comes to third person, I have trouble. And this book has too much going on in too many places to be first person. I think I’ve got a better voice going now, but all the old stuff needs to be tossed.

Second, I’ve changed the story around a bit, which required a few new scenes to be written anyway, and a number of changes in already existing scenes. So a lot of stuff would need to be rewritten anyway.

And third, the whole pacing of the book needed fixing. As a direct result of not being happy with any scenes that weren’t dialog or action, I tended to avoid the slower scenes, which gave the book a breakneck pace. I covered, in 100,000 words, three times as much story as I have planned out for a single book now. So this time through, I’m taking the time to add a little more detail and character development.

The book will be better for it! Promise!

By the way, due to minor plot changes, Isem’s story is no longer accurate. I should really take it down. Loral’s story is (probably|maybe|possibly) being rewritten from a third person point of view, and will likely have some minor changes made to it as well. Normally, I would just introduce her when Isem runs into her, but that happens too late in the story to introduce a main character, so I’ll probably just fit a few “Loral” chapters in amongst the Isem ones so she gets a bit of an introduction early on.

Speaking of when the two of them meet, that’s just about where I am in the story right now. Chapter 8, though that’s without the Loral chapters. Probably closer to Chapter 15 if the Loral chapters get in there.

Anyway, that sorta brings me to my final reason for posting, and that is: I’m looking for a beta reader or two. It would involve reading first drafts in Google Docs and making comments on anything that needs improving. Rewards include being able to read the book before anyone else, and my permission to digitally yell at me and tell me all the things I did wrong.

That last point alone should secure all the volunteers I need.

If you’re interested, email me at beta@kaellar.com . I reserve the right to disable that email address should the sudden influx of spam become too great to handle.

One last point – the website has been moved to stories.kaellar.com for reasons that are probably unnecessary, but include: future-proofing against stories that don’t take place on Osterin – I have another two or three worlds lined up that I plan to put stories on here for. Also, I like the name better.

Everything should still be working on the old site. The two names actually just point to the same place anyway, and you likely won’t notice a difference when you’re silently directed to the new site. But just in case you notice a different address in your address bar…

I think that’s everything for now. Hopefully the next update won’t be quite so far off.

Language

February 28th, 2012

There are three languages spoken in the world of Osterin, some more common than others. The first is the one that’s spoken pretty much everywhere, particularly in the west. The main reason for its widespread use is the Illusionist network, which has been around since the language was developed. Because messages could be sent relatively easily and inexpensively between remote locations, different regions didn’t really have a chance to develop their own language.

There are slightly different dialects, particularly in Lianti, where the Illusionist network is banned from operation. They still speak the same language, but have an accent different from those in Attarnon. You’ll see this when Isem arrives in Lianti.

The second language is the original language of the Western people. It is primarily based on symbols, where each symbol represents a word – usually a noun. The reason this language fell out of use is its difficulty in representing complex thoughts. In ancient western civilization – wild as it was – there was no need for such abstract things, but as they developed into a more peaceful nation, they needed a better language, and adopted one based on the Eastern language. There are very few who still speak the old Western language, other than the Northmen.

The old Eastern language is spoken more commonly in the East, particularly in Aridia, where they have had less contact with the West. However, it is so similar to the common language in the West that the two can almost be used interchangeably Рthink American English vs. British English. There were never any regional dialects in the East Рthe culture is far too organized to allow such a degradation of their language.

 

Editing progress: slow, but moving. Current scene I’m working on is a new one – Isem is summoned to see the leader of the Asylum, who tells him some important things.

Naming Conventions

January 9th, 2012

Names in Osterin have a tendency to follow certain conventions. There are a few names that deviate from the rules, but most of them will fall within the following parameters:

Male names contain more hard or sharp sounds like K, T, or B, and will always (usually) end in a consonant. Examples: Isem, Tomat, Armel, Bayett, Tarvin, Timal, Arlin, Jordel, Toril, etc.

Female names tend to be softer, and will usually end in a vowel. There are more exceptions to this rule (Loral, Millian, Meris) than there are to the male name rule. Examples: Angeli, Tori, Sasha, Sera, Rienna, Reyna, Shirina, etc.

While first names are similar in both the Eastern and Western nations, last names still have some differences. Families originally from the west will have names that consist of several (usually three) distinct syllables and usually end in an A or U. Examples: Tori Bamaru, Armel Nairobu, Nik Subata.

Last names of families from the east are more likely to end in a consonant, most likely an N, and are usually two syllables. Examples: Bayett Laysen, Angeli Roinen, Loral Feynan.

 

Editing progress: Not much over the holidays, though I have organized what needs to be done. There are currently 41 scenes that need more significant revisions (adding important bits or changing some details), 27 that need minor changes (adding tension or rewriting bits that don’t flow well), and 5 new scenes to write.

Money

December 19th, 2011

In Osterin, all transactions are based on a bartering system. In the east, mostly Aridia, this is more of a literal bartering system, where some good or service is directly exchanged for another. This also takes place in some places in Lianti. However, in Attarnon, most bartering takes place with a coin system.

The coins, at their simplest, are pieces of metal with a value and a symbol stamped into them. The symbol serves an important function – it names the smith who determined the value of the coin. If the coin is determined to be counterfeit in some way, such as being a bit of iron plated in gold, or if the stamped value is inaccurate, the smith can be prosecuted under the law – or, occasionally, outside of the law, depending on who his coins affect. As such, smiths guard their stamps very closely.

Some smith symbols are recognized instantly across most of Attarnon, and the coins are accepted at face value with no questions asked, since the smith has proven himself trustworthy. Unknown smith symbols are more likely to be examined closely by the merchant accepting them.

There are several methods that have been devised to cheat the system, though none of them are in widespread use. The first involves shaving small pieces off the coins, leaving the symbol and the value intact, but the coin a little lighter. This is time consuming, however, and is not worth the time is takes for the little value it provides, except perhaps for the higher value coins. Another tactic that has been attempted is to reproduce a certain smith’s mark, either to pass off counterfeit coins, or to discredit a smith. However, smith symbols are complex and difficult to reproduce, and a merchant’s eyes are sharp.

The values of coins are determined by the value of the metal used to craft them. Iron coins, called ferits, are the cheapest. These are often not even stamped, as their value is so low that there would be no sense in counterfeiting them. Copper is next, and are called cuvers. It takes 45 ferits to equal the value of a single cuver. Steel coins are called dachals, and are the most common coin found in Attarnon. A dachal is worth 20 cuvers. Next is silver, common among high-priced transactions. These coins are called argets, and are worth 20 dachals. Last, and worth 20 argets each, are the aurits, made of gold. These are extremely rare, and only a few smiths are known to even make them.

 

Editing update: Finished that last scene, though it may still need a bit of tweaking. Made a list of all the edits that need to be done, and working through that. Don’t expect much from the next couple weeks. Christmas and all.

A Tour of Attarnon

December 6th, 2011

This tour will start on the west coast. Here you will find cliffs running nearly the entire length of the shoreline, with a vertical drop that can reach up to 100 feet at points. These cliffs are surprisingly smooth, as though a massive knife simply sliced off the edge of the continent. There are few settlements along this edge, except where the occasional river runs by and drops off the edge into the ocean.

Moving north, the shoreline gradually returns to beaches, but it also gets colder. By the time the shore is back to normal, the ground is covered in snow and ice nearly year-round. Somewhere around this point, the Northlands begin. Along Attarnon’s northern border are a series of towers, each one within Illusionist messaging distance of the next two on each side. This is the official border line, and squadrons of Quis and Madmen man these towers in rotating shifts to repel Northman raids. No roads extend beyond this point, and only a fool would journey there. Between the cold and the roving bands of Northmen, the chance of survival is slim at best.

To the south, Attarnon shares a once-violent border with Lianti, who split off into their own country some time ago. While there were – and still occasionally are – some minor border skirmishes, the war was not particularly bloody, for the most part. At the time, Attarnon did not have the control of their Madmen that they now do, nor the support of the Quis. By the time Attarnon became as powerful as they now are, public opinion no longer supported a war, and Lianti became a hesitant trading partner. Some battle sites were lost, and the bodies are still out there somewhere.

To the east are the Mountains, though Attarnon’s border ends somewhere in the foothills. Towns here tend to be rougher than elsewhere, particularly in the southeast. This is likely due to the ease with which criminal types can disappear into the mountains should they be pursued. Closer to the northern border, a large river runs from the mountains and all the way through the country, passing the capital city of Insen and eventually emptying into the ocean. This is a major trade route between the mountain kingdom and Attarnon.

Central Attarnon is forested. Almost entirely, except where the trees have been cut down to build villages, or burned down in the occasional forest fire. The trees are mixed, with a higher concentration of coniferous trees to the north, and more deciduous trees to the south. Slightly rolling hills cover the landscape. The city of Insen was built near the river, about two span’s march from the mountains, slightly more north than south. It sits on a large hill, with walls that reach out of the ground itself to embrace the buildings within. The King’s palace sits on the peak of the hill, and the Asylum is nearby, but closer to the river.

In total, it would take somewhere around 6 to 8 span to walk from the western border of Attarnon to the eastern, depending on walking speed and the number of hours a day spent walking. On a good Attarnon horse, it could be as little as a single span, whereas with a Druid-bred Ganyan horse, it could take as little as two days. From north to south would be about 20% less.

 

Editing update: planning on finishing up that scene today, then we’ll see what I need to do with the Asylum scenes.