DGB Updates and Art

After a many month break, I’ve returned to Dead God’s Bones refreshed and ready to get it into shape for querying, because I will NOT have a repeat of In Blood, where I sat on a completed manuscript for three years waiting for…god knows. For the time to be right? For that sudden bolt of inspiration that turns it from a so-so novel into a great one? For my courage to stop cowering in a corner?

Either way, we shall not have a repeat. DGB is going to be submitted, and in a timely manner, before I change too much as a writer and as a person and grow to loathe the thing I’ve made.

So I took a chance.

I posted a call for betas on Reddit.

I’ve been frequenting the Reddit beta readers forums to find beta projects I’d like to work on, but this is the first that I’ve ever put out a call. It’s…a little intimidating. Most of the time, my betas are drawn from a group of other writers I personally know, some through my grad program, some through undergrad, and some through my in-person critique group. I don’t have much need to foray into the wilds of forum boards to find betas.

But, this time around, I wanted someone who doesn’t know me, who hasn’t read an excerpt of this novel somewhere, who will be, more or less, objective. I also find myself in need of someone who loves pointing out mistakes, seeing that I apparently created continuity errors during my last editing pass and I’m not all that great at catching them myself. Thus, beta reader. Thus, Reddit.

Egads.

The plan is to start querying either at by the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021. I think I’m just going to have to embrace this book at 180k, since trimming just seems to lend itself to further expansion elsewhere, and by the end of an editing pass, it’s nearly the same length. So I guess 180k is where it needs to be for now, and I want to get started on the next step, since this is as good as I’m going to get it at this point in my writing skill level. Which brings me to queries.

So far, I have two versions, the long one and the short one. For funsies, I’ve posted the longer one here, since I used the shorter one for my Reddit call.

Three years ago, Investigator-Prefect Kossa en Bekhir failed to capture a serial murderer targeting magical practitioners in the city of Balara. It nearly ended his career. Now, the killer is back, and has graduated from preying on low-ranking government officials to the upper echelons of society, their throats slit and bodies drained of blood.

Complicating matters, he’s partnered with his boss’ daughter—a newly-minted investigator-brevet with no experience, a hair-trigger of a sword-arm, and questionable loyalties. As the investigation into the murders becomes increasingly convoluted, Kossa draws connections between the murderer’s method and his own secret past. For Kossa en Bekhir doesn’t exist. His name is a lie, his voice is a magical fabrication, and his skin bears the scars of the hundred-and-twenty stroke legacy of a dead man found guilty of treason. Every step forward brings him closer to a place he never wanted to revisit: the home that betrayed him and ripped the magic from his veins. 

He won’t survive the encounter a second time.

DEAD GOD’S BONES is a 180,000-word adult high fantasy set in a sub-tropical island city rife with drugs and dragons. It’s THE ANKH-MORPORK NIGHT WATCH meets THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA and A MEMORY CALLED EMPIRE.

Another beta pass, maybe two, and I plan to descend once more into the query trenches and send this out. I’ve already started preliminary research on agents and putting together my list. Once again, feeling rather out of my depth, but there we are.

Oh, I did say there would be art, didn’t I?

I’ll be honest, I haven’t freehand doodled with an actual pencil on actual paper in almost a year. I discovered I’m out of practice, but not in the way you might think. I was able, for the most part, to accurately translate what was in my head to my hand to the page. Rather, my muscles have apparently atrophied and I don’t have the fine motor control. Which was…frustrating. Need to build that back up. Also, forgive the off proportions, I wasn’t working from reference.

So these three are the main viewpoint characters of Dead God’s Bones, Kossa at the top, Maiv to the middle-right, and Luko bottom-left. As you might note, yes, in my head, they’re totally elves. On the written page, it’s less apparent, though they are varying shades of blue, ranging from a pale noon horizon blue to an almost blue-purple, and their sclera is black rather than white.

You can’t see it, but the impetus for beginning this was a desire to draw Kossa’s marriage ear-cuff…which can’t really be seen because I drew his head too small. I’ll probably draw another at some point or a closeup of his ear and just the ear. A lot of my doodles are born of a need to visually work out some worldbuilding detail, and it spirals out from there.

Also, don’t believe Luko. He does get paid, just not right now due to plot reasons.

Phyl and Lou

So I decided to do some minor revisions to the beginning of the book I’m currently querying and in doing so, I was suddenly possessed by my illustration muse, so doodled two of the characters from the book.

Both Phyl (the woman on the right) and Lou (the guy on the left) are the bodyguards of my draugr mob boss character, Jehan, and I’ve never actually drawn either of them. Not a proper illustration, just some little doodles here and there. So *hand wave* ta-da!

Phyl and Lou sm

Phyllis and Lou sitting on a concrete barrier. And with their human-faces; I tried a version with their scary draugr-faces, but as line art, it came out looking bizarre, so switched back. I’m starting to think the draugr-faces really only work when in color.

Phyl gets introduced in the first chapter; Lou gets stage time a little farther on. Phyl’s so much fun, perhaps partially because I’m just tickled by the idea of a bad-ass assassin/bodyguard named Phyllis (I mean, she is a hundred and twenty or so; period names and all that).

She’s infuriatingly chipper; he’s more taciturn. She likes little fast cars; he prefers large sedans or SUVs. She’s prone to brute-forcing things into submission; he goes tactical and has contingencies for contingencies. She has memory issues (due to a brain injury from before she was made a draugr); he forgets nothing, especially not favors owed or grudges. They’ve been working together as bodyguards for, eeeeeh, eighty years, give or take. Their dynamic is just so damn interesting (and enjoyable) to write.

One day, I might do a spin-off focusing on just them, since they’re both secondary, non-viewpoint characters and though they have lives outside of the main plot, said lives only get mentions here and there. True, I’d need something for them to do, seeing that a lot of their daily job is following Jehan around and looking menacing.

In other news, no bites for the query. I realize I’m setting myself up for failure by querying a 140,000 word urban fantasy but… *sigh* I just love reading (and, therefore, writing) big books so much.

The new revamped query will be going out for the next batch of ten. It’s much, much shorter and I’m hoping that the conciseness of the query might allay concerns about the word count. It might backfire on me and leave agents questioning why such a short query has such a long book. But we shall see.