Choices

An Arrow Against the Wind Commentary: Athson’s Choices

Note: Fantasy Friday is a new feature for Archer’s Aim. This is a re-post, but for those interested, it’s useful. I’ll work on some new, fantasy-related posts to mix in with some of my older ones like this as well as some posts about new books in the coming months. Please feel free to share on social media or re-blog these posts. Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Introduction

The Bow of Destiny begins a long journey for Athson and his companions which leads him to a gut-wrenching ending in that book. An Arrow Against the Wind begins immediately after those twists but with a twist of its own. In that light, Athson’s perspective shifts with realization that what he thought was real wasn’t and he begins to question his decade-long predicament.

Commentary

Within The Bow of Destiny, Athson struggles with grief both old and new as well as his uncertainty from his PTSD-like fits which seem to have resolved in some ways. However, he’s never quite sure of himself and doesn’t always trust his own awareness. He’s equally suspicious and doubtful of the quest. Within all of these difficulties, Athson is stuck in a spiraling struggle with his outlook on the adventure.

But, with the sudden shift of reality, his mood shifts from one of grief to that of a determination to seek answers to his life as well as help those around him. Without sharing any spoilers, Athson needs to find more than the Bow of Hart and isn’t willing to just follow Hastra’s lead in the matter. However, he is seeking to help others and himself though he doesn’t know how to go about it. He just unwilling to follow a course that he doesn’t believe will achieve his goals.

Athson sets out on his own to accomplish his new goals, determined not to remain a grieving victim. Hastra and Gweld slowly turn his attention back to the Bow of Hart as a way of accomplishing his goals. Their reasoning is that the Bow of Hart is the key to the problems that confront Athson who slowly comes around to the idea. However, he still wants to do things his way regardless.

Between the events of The Bow of Destiny and An Arrow Against the Wind, there’s a definite progression for Athson. In the first book, he’s struggling with his own pathos and malady about which he believes himself to be merely a bystander as events happen to him. By the end, he’s willing to take a stand for himself and others, rising out of his inward struggles.

An Arrow Against the Wind shows how Athson begins to grow as he takes action against the forces set against him. His actions are imperfect but he has skills as a ranger that he can use to further his goals. He believes he’s still making good decision, a belief revealed in the opening scene of The Bow of Destiny when he makes a choice while hunting. But as Athson progresses he will be presented with tougher choices and the question remains if he’s truly able to make a difficult decision by parsing out more than what he wants at a moment, but what is best for others as well. His choices lie between his own goals and the needs of others. He wants to help but what is the best way? He’s growing out of the malaise of years and into an active participant in this life because the Bow of Hart and the prophesy surrounding it require him to grow and make tough choices.

Excerpt

Here’s an excerpt where he discusses his options with Limbreth regarding some choices and the Bow of Hart:

Later, they shared time during their watches as they walked a circuit of their camp. Spark trailed them.

“Let’s just leave and go ourselves. They’re slowing us down. They’ll keep me from doing what I have to do.” Athson stared into the silent night, his tone hushed. Time was wasting. Each night the moon phase progressed. His gut clenched. “It’s not their decision.”

“Athson, they mean well and understand your feelings.” She paused, hefting a sword. “But there are the bigger issues of the prophecy. Hastra knew her risks and has for years.”

They paused by the mules, and Athson patted one on its side. “But I can’t abandon my father and mother again.” He turned to Limbreth and grasped her shoulders. “I’ve lived well with the elves while they’ve suffered. I can’t just run off and forget them.”

She leaned forward, her forehead touching his. “I know. It’s not easy. Maybe an answer will present itself.”

His voice rose in challenge, and he stepped back. “Like what? I’m trapped. They are trapped in Corgren’s clutches.”

Limbreth gazed toward their sleeping companions and back to Athson. “Quiet, you’ll wake the others. I don’t know what will happen, and neither do you. But I’ll go through it with you.” She took his hand and came closer. “I’m here now. For you. So are the others.”

Athson shrugged. Was her support just words? She had a suitor waiting for her. Somewhere. “What if the others scout out Corgren? I find the bow while they sneak my father away. Then, then…” Then what? His mother died?

Limbreth lowered her face. “What about your mother?” She sighed. “Tough questions and no answers. Yet.”

Athson paced away and back. “Well, just get some sleep. We push on before the moon.”

A falling star streaked across the sky. Athson remembered a similar sight in his vision at Eagle’s Aerie. The arrow Eloch prepared. He frowned at the sparkling sky. The inheritance lay in his pack. The same words written on the will. He needed an arrow?

“That was beautiful.”

“Yes.” Athson managed. “There’s supposed to be an arrow.”

Still watching the sky, Limbreth frowned. “What arrow?”

“It’s in the prophecy.” He thumbed over his shoulder toward camp. “It’s in that will I got. I don’t know where that is. I remember something. A falling star like a smoking arrow from back at Eagle’s Aerie. But if it’s not with the Bow of Hart I don’t know what to do to find it. But if I did, I’d have something to fight back with. Maybe.”

“Perhaps, but at least we’ll know if it’s there, and maybe we can ask Howart, if he’s there…” She lifted her arms to his shoulders and stepped closer, her eyes still to the sky. “Then we’ll decide. You know we’ll do something based on all that information. There’s an answer, Athson. It’s not hopeless.”

He scowled a moment then realized her tone held encouragement. “Thanks.” He held her a while under the stars as the time slipped past him.

Find out more about the second book of The Bow of Hart Saga, An Arrow Against the Wind, by clicking on one of these retailer badges:

About the Author

And a Few Steps Forward

Good morning everyone! Last week had a few setbacks but this week saw a few steps forward. I finally purchased a new vehicle but I’m still going through all the changes of information with insurance and the registration. Nothing big, just a few details to cover. Aside from that, there were some other nice developments.

First, a new feature on this site was started named Fantasy Friday. For now, it’s nothing major while I develop where it will go so I’m starting with some re-posts about my published books. I have quite a lot of material by now so I can cover several weeks and those when I just don’t have time to write something new. But I hope to share new content soon enough.

Print for An Arrow Against the Wind is well underway. The print cover is complete – well, mostly. The final version will be adjusted for the number of pages in the print format. My formatting specialist has the manuscript now so it shouldn’t too long until the final versions are available. The print book will appear first on Amazon and then later on Barnes & Noble. Here’s the current cover version which was share last week if you missed it:

Maybe I’ll have a preliminary print cover for The White Arrow done in a week or so to share in an upcoming post.

I’m still up in the air about several events. There’s semi-interest on my part in attending the SFWA convention this summer. I’m still considering a local SF&F convention at a local library that draws well. With print coming along, I expect to be positioned well for an appearance there if I’m interested. I will attend a local writers conference and visit with a few people, maybe make a few pitches to an agent. All these are a goals this year in various degrees of importance. I’m also considering entering The Bow of Destiny in a print contest for Writer’s Digest. Who knows what could happen with that last one, but a friend suggested I give it a try.

Also in the past week, there were other developments. I made some steady revision and editing progress on Reformed Mage. It’s nice to move forward there even while the week was full of distractions from the new(er) car purchase. I’m hopeful that I can get something done to publish the book in June but that will be dependent on my editor’s schedule and cover art. Still, progress is progress. I really want to get some cover art so I can share that development too but I’m holding off a while until I can settle the concept more, then see what my artist thinks.

I’m mainly itching to release to the next books in the series as well as the first book of Black Glove. The latter has been in solid development stages for a while but it’s waiting for more series development. I don’t want to publish it too soon without more books planned and at least one in finished first draft status. Then there are some other books which have been pushed aside for a while that are clamoring for attention and publication. There’s quite a lot to do. Here’s something of my expectations based on the amount of material I have written:

  • Publication of Reformed Mage, Book 1
  • Publication of Reformed Mage, Book 2
  • Publication of either Black Glove, Book 1 or Reformed Mage, Book 3. Whichever comes first, the other one will be released afterward.
  • Publication of Broken Shield, Book 1.
  • Publication of All Things Forgotten, Book 1.

Along that publication schedule, I’d like to start dictating new books for Reformed Mage, Black Glove, The Bow of Hart Saga sequel, Broken Shield and All Things Forgotten. Just making progress is the overall interest, but my main goals are for Reformed Mage, Black Glove and The Bow of Hart Saga in that order. The others are much further back in development and publication so they will have a much lower priority. It’s a long list but I hope to make some serious progress over the course of the year, publication first and then new drafts. The publication calendar is at least a year and a half long, probably more. Some of the drafts that are completed during that time may will elbow their way into the schedule ahead of others based on reader demand. Nothing is set in stone at the moment and I don’t expect to release more than two books this year at the rate I’m going. I might even throw in an anthology of fantasy short stories I already have written, just for fun.

Regardless, I have to focus on the immediate and keep moving toward the goals. It’s demanding and fun. Thanks for reading today. Please share this post with others on social media or re-blog it as you see fit. Leave your thoughts in the comments and I’ll respond as soon as I’m able.

 

Revision & Creative Gestation (or Indigestion)

Good morning Archer’s Aim readers, and happy Monday. Every book an author writes is different, a unique work that is custom in every way. My firm belief is that every book is approached uniquely because it is simply required. At least, that’s been my experience.

When it comes to my current book which opens a new series code-named Reformed Mage, I’ve taken a very different approach than my last several books. Much of what I wrote for The Bow of Hart Saga began several decades ago, and while there was an update to the writing, the characters and world-building, the work was well known to me. Reformed Mage began just a few years ago and quickly grew from a kernel of an idea into a full manuscript.

There were several demands on me when I really began writing this book during 2017. At the time, I was out work and wrote a fifty page sample for an agent. Later in the year when both An Arrow Against the Wind and The White Arrow were completed, I began work on Reformed Mage, moving as quickly as possible. My intent was completing the book because I was out of work at the time and, in addition to keeping me busy, it was the next project in line.

The following year began better with a new job, but I continued writing Reformed Mage and finished it within several months. Because I never stopped to do much world-building, the draft was very rough, and even rougher because I dictated which can be challenging for a fantasy novel without some extra effort put into developing the software profile regarding pronunciations.

After that was completed, I also completed the initial draft for another book which begins another series which I refer to as Black Glove. This second book is currently waiting its turn and I hope to get back to it very soon since I enjoy it as much as the current one. I ran both of these through a fast content edit, while skipping the world-building for later. However I knew these books needed a content review by my editor so I sent Reformed Mage to her.

My editor is very good at what she does and has quite a lot of experience developing a wide range of projects for a traditional publisher back in the day. I’m lucky to have this editor so when she returned the manuscript to me with all of her notes, I paid close attention. I’ve learned over the last several years not to take my editor’s critique personally. On the contrary, I’ve always felt that my editor’s professional background is worthy of me paying close attention to her insights, especially since I’m paying for the work.

In this case, my editor gave me some very valuable information. Because Reformed Mage is such a long draft, she suggested I split the work into three books. This suggestion was something I was considering anyway due to the length. Additionally, she gave me suggestions about reorganizing the flow of the events and I agrees this would fit the organization into three books very well. I took these into consideration and quickly reorganized the manuscript along these lines.

This high-altitude view of the book was an easy adjustment, but other observations proved more challenging to me creatively. I suppose many authors might simply crawl into a fetal position at such challenges and wonder if their book is even worth the effort, but I don’t. Content edit requires a critique and a thick skin. But the suggestions and the questions were real and challenging. The reasons why this proved to be more challenging is because I had not stopped to do more world-building and character development. The answers needed needed more of these elements expressed. This meant going back to the drawing board and beginning work to reassess everything about the book which was now three books.

I quickly determined that I needed to focus on the content intended for the reorganized first book which was simple enough. But then began a period of questioning myself about the characters and the world. My editor had done an excellent job in asking me a lot of questions which pointed where the holes in the story hid in the proverbial high grass. At this point, I entered what I like to think of as creative gestation (maybe indigestion?) about the work.

The process began with letting the manuscript lie by for a while and making notes on ideas to the questions as much as possible. From these notes, I began putting together more information about the world and characters that make up this fun, new fantasy series. Over several months, I began to put together quite a lot of formation and take time to learn more about all kinds of details which had not been part of the original work.

The months have gone by and a sense of frustration set in and, I suppose, this has turned in motivation. At this point in time, I find myself coming up with quite a lot insights about my characters and the story which were not evident several months ago. These new details will greatly enhance the book and the series far beyond what it was previously. So this time of creative gestation (maybe it is indigestion) has been very useful and will more than likely add a great deal to the book, making it even more fun and entertaining to read. I’m even at a place where I can begin to share some of details with readers as I talk more about the book itself. I know, I know, I should have done all the work long ago but the book needed writing immediately and it’s my task to revise it accordingly. Books to arrive in their own, unique way.

Look for more information about Reformed Mage in the coming weeks and months. I hope you will continue the journey with me as I build toward book. My only wish is that I had some artwork to share but that will arrive soon enough.

Thanks for reading the post today, please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments and I’ll get back with you as soon as I’m able. If you’ve enjoyed the post today about my creative process, please share it on social media or even reblog it so others can read it too.