Saturday, September 14, 2013

Never Say That's The End

Please Welcome Author Icy Snow

Often someone will write a story, finish it and consider it done. That’s that.  On to something else.

Once again, I finished a novel.

Once again I decided that was that.

Once again, I was wrong.

I had written a novel, Three Moon Station.  It was a bit unusual in that it was a cross-genre—a Western set in the far future on another planet. A sci-Fi/western, if you will.  The hero rides a horse and flies his drone only in emergencies.  He carries a pistol strapped to his thigh, but it’s a laser.  Justice is sometimes swift, without calling in the Federation marshal. In this story Sar Trant, a Tritomitian station owner, saves the heroine, Katy from the villain—a rustler by the way--rescues her from the clutches of her dastardly uncle, and attaines their happily ever after.

The book was published and I went on to other stories, other couples, and other adventures.

Hold on there, podnuh!

Did I say the story was finished?  Unfortunately for me (or fortunately, as the case may be), a reviewer liked Three Moon Station so much, she wanted more, and I—lapping up the praise and flattery—got to thinking. This time it was about Sar and Katy and Hatch, and what might possibly have happened after Hatch did his “happy dance” in the farmyard while his father and stepmother went into a clinch and the words “The End” appeared at the bottom of the page.

I went back over what I’d written about Sar, knowing full-well the next tale was going to center on him and not Katy who’d wholeheartedly forsaken Terra for her husband’s planet.  Let’s see…Sarkin Trant…orphan since a young age…raised by his father’s best friend…had a son at the age of fifteen…married Katy at age thirty-five, and…the most important fact…descended from the illegitimate son of an Arcanian giarl.

That fact led to the story The Finer Gentleman, taken from a quote from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations:

“He would be the finer gentleman that should leave the world without having tasted of lying or pretence of any sort, or of wantonness or conceit...”

wherein one Sarkin Trant learns he’s now the twenty-eighth giarl of Craigsmere and thirteenth in line to the Arcanian throne, goes to Arcanis and sets the nobility on its collective ear.  He also meets the margrave, Darien-Marcus, his distant cousin.

The Finer Gentleman was also cross-genre, being part futuristic tale and part Regency romance.  Take away the space travel, lasers, and outer-worldly trappings, close your eyes and listen to the dialogue, and see if you don’t agree.

After its publication, Darien-Marcus kept popping into my mind, reminding me of the little hints given about him in The Finer Gentleman.  He demanded I tell everyone what was happening to him while Cousin Sar was growing up on Tritomis-2 and elaborating on those little hints…how he was also orphaned at age nine and raised by his father’s best friends. From there on, here his story takes a much different course from Sar’s…he was given a mistress at age twelve, a wife at age thirteen, and at nineteen, developed a tremendous desire to rebel all on his own. How he, too, had set the nobility on its ear, in his own way.

I bowed to popular demand…and In this Kingdom by the Sea was the result. The title comes from Edgar A. Poe’s poem Annabel Lee:

“I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea…”

It’s the story of a child king, a husband and a ruler by the age of thirteen, a young man who, when he meets his cousin, will delight in sitting on a balcony and “lighting up” with said cousin and then both getting so snockered on royal wine they can barely stand in the receiving line given in Sar’s honor.

Darien-Marcus may be royal but he’s a descendant of Riven kan Ingan, called the Heretic, the barbarian progenitor of the royal family which has ruled for 3000 years. Rebellion is in his genes and his behavior proves it.

It was a fun story and I enjoyed writing it.  Though it seems to start off like a Young Adult novel, it very quickly grows, just as Darien-Marcus does, into a full-fledged adult one.

 I think readers will see that and enjoy it, too.


“Sire, this is Jantzen lo Reza, Giarl Alpheus.” Tyron introduced the man.
“Sire,” the man bowed. When Darien acknowledged it with one of his own, he looked at the little girl. “And may I present my daughter, Ariadne?”
“My Lady Ariadne.” Dutifully, Darien bowed to her, taking the hand she offered him as she curtseyed. She reacted more as a child then a noblewoman would, however. Looking up at him and then down at her hand, she giggled.
“What’s so funny?” Darien released her hand, brushing back his hair, which had fallen over his forehead as he dipped his head. He thought she was pretty, in a way. She was wearing a white ruffled dress, white stocking and slippers, and had bouncy blonde curls. Her hair was just a shade lighter than his own which probably meant she was a relative of some kind, but her eyes were blue so the relationship wasn’t very close.
You are.” She giggled again.
I am?” That made his color rise slightly, his fair cheeks reddening. I’m missing my game to be told I’m funny? He affected a bit of bluster and a slightly insulted air. “Where exactly am I funny?”  
“Your hair tickled my hand.” She reached up and flicked a finger at one of the wheat-colored curls returning to hang over his forehead. There was a glint of a mischievous smile. She bit her lower lip. He saw she had a tooth missing, one of her front ones. Her words came out with a bit of a whistle.         
“Oh.” He raked a hand through his hair. It straightened, then re-curled, falling over his left eye again. This time, he ignored it.
“I’m Darien,” he said after a long silence.
“I know.”
“My father told me we were coming to meet the margrave, and then Lord Summerlee introduced us, so I guessed you must be the one I’m supposed to meet.”
“He didn’t say my name, though,” Darien pointed out. “So I might just be someone who works in the palace. A page, or a messenger boy.”
“A messenger boy they call Sire and bow to? Of course.” She smiled, teeth glinting around the missing one. “You’re Darien-Marcus san Gene, Lord Lindenscraig, Crown Prince of Arcanis.”
“All right,” he acknowledged. “So you know who I am, but I don’t know you, except your name. Tell me about Ariadne lo Reza.”
“Very well.” Raising her head, she began to recite in a singsong, “My name is Ariadne, Lady Ariadne. My father is Jantzen, fifteenth Lord Alpheus. I live in southern Francovia just near the Snow King Mountains. I’m ten.”
“I’m thirteen,” he told her. “That’s nearly a grown-up according to the law.” He wondered if he should mention the girl he had at the Pleasure Dome, which definitely signified he was an adult, then decided not to. “Uncle Tyron said I should entertain you, so what shall we talk about?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never spoken to a margrave before.”
“It’s just like speaking to anyone else, I imagine, except you have to curtsey and say, Your Majesty, more,” he explained, searching for some topic. “Technically, I’m not a margrave, not until I’m crowned, anyway.” His etiquette tutor told him to ask about a person’s interests. Talking about something they knew always put them at ease, he said. “Do you like hunting?”
“Not really.” She grimaced. “I don’t like to kill things.”
“Oh.” Well, scratch that off the list then. Darien tried again. “How about sailing? I’ve my own boat. It’s anchored at the city marina in Jestey.”
“I’m afraid of water.” She shivered slightly, then went on as if defending her fear, “The ocean’s so big and deep, it’s scary.” Her blue eyes got round. “And there are monsters…”
“Don’t be silly.” His laugh was scornful. “The Great Ocean doesn’t have anything in it bigger than a three-foot sunfish.”
“It doesn’t?” She looked slightly disappointed.
“So you don’t swim, then, I imagine.” Abruptly, he thought he’d like to see her in the water, her skin tinted a pale green by the ocean’s darkness, hair like seaweed floating on its surface. He imagined she’d look like a mermaid. That sent an odd little tingle through his belly and it shook him slightly because he’d only felt it before when he was with Mirelle, his mistress.
“No, but we couldn’t swim together anyway. That’s not allowed,” she reminded him.
“Hm. That’s a stupid law, I think.” He considered a moment. “Perhaps when I’m truly margrave, I’ll repeal it. Would you let me teach you to swim after I do? There’s a pool in the cadets’ barracks I’m allowed to use.” He leaned closer, whispering, “I could smuggle you in.”
She giggled again, but from the way her eyes brightened he thought she might agree to such an adventure. Suddenly, Darien wished that could happen. He envisioned himself and Ariadne tiptoeing down the stairs to the pool area, getting out of their clothes, and diving into the clear, warm water. A sudden frisson trickled along his spine. Then another thought intruded.
“How about riding? I’ve my own stable of horses.”
“I’ve never ridden a horse,” she apologized. “But I do have a pony.”
“Well, that’s almost the same thing,” he allowed.
“Darien,” Tyron said. “The Tripod and Lady Ariadne’s father have come to a decision.”
“Yes sir?” Darien looked at Lord Summerlee, relieved that he didn’t have to search for any more topics of conversation. He was rapidly running out of subjects. Girls, he was discovering, were difficult to talk to. Ariadne, especially. She didn’t seem to like anything he did.
“We wish you and Lady Ariadne to marry.”
“Not today?” The change in the boy’s expression was remarkable and if he hadn’t looked so shocked, it might have been amusing, especially when he added, “I’ll miss my mallowick match.”
“Of course not,” Tyron assured him. “Later.”           
“Oh, well, that’s all right then.” He looked at Ariadne, then back at Tyron. “May I go now? The game starts in fifteen minutes and I’ve still got to suit up.”
“Yes, Darien.” A little discourteous, perhaps, but the boy’s relief was so great, Tyron had to smile. “You’re excused.”
Bowing to everyone, the soon-to-be-margrave bolted from the room.
“That was just a trifle rude,” Jantzen remarked, looking at the doors swinging shut in Darien’s wake.
“The boy’s just shy of thirteen. Give him a little leeway,” Tyron defended his sovereign.
Galloping down the three flights of stairs, Darien found Orion, arms filled with mallowick gear, waiting at the bottom of those on the first story. Behind him, Daneel loitered, tagging along, as usual. He was too young to play but, as the captain’s brother, he’d been made official mascot for the team, and ran up and down before the spectators waving a banner on which the team’s symbol, a flying hawk, was painted.
“What took you so long?” Rion was already dressed in gaming wear, helmet, padded chest plate and knee boots, and fairly dancing with impatience. “The game’s about to start.”
“I had some official business to take care of.” Darien said it offhandedly as he took his helmet and put it on.
“Since when do you have official business?”
“Since I’m about to have my thirteenth birthday.” He fastened the head strap and adjusted the padded section so it rested directly against his chin.
“That’s right. I forgot.” Orion looked thoughtful. “That means you’ll become margrave pretty soon, and then you’ll really be our ruler.”
“I certainly will.” It was said with satisfaction. They were at the exit from the castle now, going through the door. The sentries there bowed and Darien acknowledged them with a wave as he pulled the chest plate from Orion’s hands and thrust his arms through the shoulder straps. Behind them, Daneel double-timed it, his fat little legs pumping to keep up.
“Darien, your becoming margrave isn’t going to make a difference is it? In our being friends, I mean.”
“Not a bit,” Darien declared. “There’s something else that might, though.”
“What?” Orion looked anxious.
“Uncle Tyron has decided I should marry.”
“It isn’t going to be today is it?” Orion’s anxiety changed to anger. “Damn it, that’ll ruin our game schedule.”
“He said it’d be later.”
“How much later?” Orion sounded suspicious.
“Years from now, I hope. Ariadne’s pretty young.”
“Ariadne lo Reza?” Daneel piped up. “She’s kind of pretty.”
“I agree,” Darien answered. “But silly. She laughed because my hair fell in my face when I bowed to her.”
“Girls are like that,” Orion agreed while Daneel snorted scornfully. “They laugh at the oddest things.”
“I hope she stops doing it. I’d hate to have a wife who sounds so addlepated.”
“Stop thinking about her.” Orion slapped his shoulder and handed him his mallowick bat. “We’ve a game to win.”
The prince, his best friend, and his brother hurried across the palace courtyard, aiming themselves for the playing field where the two teams consisting of giarls’ sons and Orion’s two younger brothers waited before a gathering of spectators to begin their game.          

Three Moon Station and The Finer Gentleman are available from Class Act Books.

Here are embed codes for trailers if you can use them:

Three Moon Station: <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

The Finer Gentleman: <iframe width="420" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

In This Kingdom: <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>




  2. So glad to have you on the site, Icy Snow.

  3. It's amazing how you can assume the story is finished ... well, almost ... then go on to a sequel. In one of my books, "Magic Is Faster Than Light," I just got the idea of adding an epilog, set 200 years later with descendants of the original characters. Book came out, all was fine, when it suddenly dawned on me that the epilog, with a little editing, would make a great chapter 1 of a sequel. Voila, "Magic to the Rescue" has been published. But it isn't always that easy, having some trouble with "Magic versus the Empire," the next book ...