How Killers & Servants Fall in Love

I really hope you noticed this by now, but in case you didn’t…I posted chapter 17 two weeks ago. Due to in-chapter wrestlings with concepts of love and killing, I ended up naming it “On the Kill Side of Love.”

This chapter was both very therapeutic and very difficult to write. I heard Akiyume when they reviewed:

“I’m glad she didn’t unrealistically greet him with open arms. It was time Bre needed to actually see for herself what the ‘beast’ is and decide whether to accept Rome or not.”

standoff_backtoback_shadowplayBut I also heard the cries of:

“Why can’t they just see each other’s love for one another!”

And,

“With love comes trust, and he doesn’t trust Bre at all.”

Some of these are old comments, but they make solid points. Rome is distrusting, since he feels he’s already been betrayed. Both Rome and Bre are new to the idea of love, as unloved orphans, and are naive to the pitfalls of defining love against obsession and fascination, adult lust and childhood crushes. It’s part of what defines this story as less a “coming of age” tale, and more a tale of growing into oneself, of wrestling with those past experiences and hardships that make you who you are now, to choose who you will be. It’s in favor of making the hard choice, when the hard choice is the heart choice, knowing the consequences could be dire.

Through writing this series, I’ve come to realize why people usually don’t write romances with so many conflicts of interest—where both characters are virgin, let alone have a virgin antihero, or start off with the romantic love interests not just estranged but actually at odds. I’m also understanding why things like bondage and abuse are taboos. For those of you who haven’t muddled through writing these things in conjunction with one another, let me help shed some light: Every single one of the aforementioned conflicts propagate endless writing fuel, yet is long and difficult to resolve. If you’re a “pantser” (writing “by the seat of your pants”), like me, it means you have this many scenarios you’re waiting to pan out, without knowing the outcome—almost without knowing whether they will help the plotline progress or not. Maybe one of these conflicts is going to stunt the resolution of the other, and you won’t know it until 30 pages in. Maybe it’ll speed you into the next resolution so fast, the two “aha” moments blend into one.

The truth of the matter is, my story surprises other people because it surprises me. I lay down the ground rules, and the characters write the story. Then one character does something naughty, which the other character may or may not like.

That being said, I somehow ended up with a bastard half-noble child who was taught by his esteemed, deceased father how to break servants to preserve household order. And, well, you can see how that might be a problem, considering years (of antisocialness) later what he wants most in the world is to bed a servant—a servant who previously suffered from bullying, abuse and being broken.

At this point in the story, you probably see why Bre was so tame at the beginning of the story, at the opening of Book 1. Why she let the bullies kick her. Why she didn’t want to be noticed. How attractive it might have been to run wild with Rome before she re-entered what she perceived to be a tomb—a temple she only saw as a tomb after she met Rome, and saw what it meant to be wild and free.

love_kills_by_lmd93-d4bt1ss

Artwork by LMD93

Bre’s perception of Rome’s wildness is getting turned on its head now. She saw the freedoms of wildness, but not its hard edge, not its restrictions, not its narrowed perspective. In chapter 17, she’s faced with the question that’s been before her all along: Can she accept both sides of Rome’s wildness? Can she bed the killer with the boy? After judging him to be more dangerous than her greatest foe, does she even still want to be with him?

This chapter was hard to construct, because how do you get a temple servant to embrace a creature denounced by her religion? How do you get a second-guessing virgin to give herself up to an unruly man who admits to getting outside advice to make up for his lack of knowledge/experience? How do you get an abused girl to not cower before a torturer? How do you get a punished servant not to fear her chains? How do you get a self-conscious girl to let the guy she’s crushed on for a score of years see her naked imperfections? How do you get a lifelong servant to play like she’s worthy of a noble’s utmost attention?

And how do you get the torturing bastard not to look like a jerk?

A large portion of this chapter was a sequence of highly sexual scenes. And whenever I write scenes like that, I wonder how many people I’ll turn away, based on their principles alone. It would have turned me away, once. But, as I’ve read several erotica authors say, The sex isn’t why I write it. And in every sexual scene that I write, I’ve got to hope somebody sees more than pornography.

So, “thank you” to my reviewers, because I can tell not only that you’re enjoying reading my story, but that you’re seeing my characters as people with real struggles and failures and misgivings, in need of growth. I could ask for nothing more.

Stay tuned, because there’s about to be a whole lot of growth.


To my beloved reviewers, who always thrill me with their comments:

I’m so glad you both thought the chapter was “amazing,” and felt there was relational progress! Considering the height of the challenge to keep the characters’ reactions within their personality and development ranges thus far, I’m truly relieved to read your positive responses—particularly after my lengthy absence. So much enthusiasm! I was concerned that I was spending too much time on Rome and Bre, in the bedroom, but maybe that was a much-needed tension release?

trueBibliophiliac, I was genuinely surprised that you found the chapter “sweet.” It was a pleasant surprise. With Rome’s gruffness, and without switching to his perspective, I was worried he might come across too hard or too soft, and I wasn’t sure how much I could put the initiative into Bre’s hands without raising questions of why Rome wasn’t taking back control. If Rome came across as sweet, then his emotions came through to Bre’s perspective after all, and accurately. More on that at the beginning of next chapter. :)

You are right to fear for Rome. So if the chapter reveal about the nature of the beast is putting you on edge…good! Now you and Bre (and you other readers) have a better idea of what’s really going on here. And in the next chapter, some of the more antagonistic characters are going to begin to discover that as well. Bet ya can’t guess who just got themselves invited to the party!

Aftermath: The Violent, the Jealous, and the Wounded

I’m back from the dead!

Well, okay, I wasn’t dead. I was working 2.5 jobs. And yes, I add that .5 on the end there, because one of my two jobs offered me overtime hours, which effectively doubled the hours I would normally be working there. So, it was like having 3 part-time jobs, or 1 almost-full-time job and one part-time. 7 hours in the morning, and 5 hours in the evening, with commutes in the middle and on either end…Yeah, it was brutal. Necessary, and ethical, but brutal.

But now I’m back down to 1 job (or 1.5, I suppose). And with my brain and body well on their way to being recharged with sleep and reading and sanity, I’m stepping back into novel-writing.

Enough about me. You’re dying for news of the story, right?

Yes, the story is still here. It’s taken a lot of twisting to get my head back in the game without altering the chronology, but it’s still intact. I’ve re-read much of my already-written material. And now I’m once again trying to create, and to move the story along.

It should strike you as no surprise that I will not be able to cram as many scenes as I would like to into chapter 17. I suppose I could have glazed over the aftermath of chapter 16’s trauma (both Rome and Bre being worse-for-wear). But I’ve already had at least one person complain (albeit kindly) about the change of pacing I used in chapter 16, rushing through events without psychological rambling, and where one person complains aloud there are likely more who agree who haven’t said anything.

So, aftermath in chapter 17, and plot movement in chapter 18. Unless you want a 16,000-word chapter that will take another month to be released. Yikes.

My debate in chapter 17 has been three-fold:

  1. Whether to pick up right where the story left off, or to start with a dream (since it follows the same stream of thought from where the story left off, and would serve as a memory refresher).
  2. How much interaction Rome and the “Wheat Girl” Showcase should have after Rome and Bre got back to their guest suite.
  3. Whether to herd Rome and Bre together to repair their relationship and/or take a big leap forward, or whether to leave a wrench in it until the next wave of plot tensions have exploded into light.

Intimacy between Rome and Bre, after Bre’s near-rape and Rome’s explicit demonstration of violence, has been a particular tough spot. Rome is neither passive nor Prince Charming, so he’s not particularly willing to bend. Bre has been forced every which way into dramatic and traumatic situations she had almost no control over. That doesn’t exactly create the kind of situation that would propel Religious, Self-Conscious Girl to initiate resolution talks with Violent, Horny, Drugged Beast-Man.

The resulting writing attempts have created split versions of what could happen, based on who takes the lead after Bre seeks out Rome. Because, let’s face it: The ball is well and thoroughly in Labriella’s court. Rome has started to open up, and Bre has put on the brakes and dodged out of the way. The question becomes what, exactly, is Bre’s problem with Rome that would keep her running away, and what is strong enough to pull her back to him when he has violated her ethics?

The answers might surprise you.

And the question right behind it is, If the relationship is salvageable, is sex still on the table? (No pun intended.)


To my most recent batch of reviewers (some of whom I have already replied to privately):

trueBibliophiliac: First, you crack me up!  XD

Second, thank you for expressing your concern about the pacing. The rush-pacing in chapter 16 was intentional, so that you could feel the adrenaline and desperation of the characters when put into a time-sensitive situation, but also to simulate a sort of drug-induced blur in which events seemed to fly into one another without enough time or clarity of thought to think through proper reactions. However, I have made an attempt to even out the pacing in chapter 17, to give you (the readers) and the characters a chance to catch emotionally catch up.

And you’re right: The transition from chapter 15 to chapter 16 was rather abrupt. I initially wrote a few explanatory lead-in lines in the middle and end of Rome and Bre’s alone time together, at the end of chapter 15, but when I changed versions those lines no longer seemed to fit, so I excluded them. I supposed I could add those lines back in, if I continued on from Bre’s perspective after Rome blacked out. But at the time, I wasn’t sure where I was going with Rome’s blackout yet, so I thought it might be better to figure it out in the middle of chapter 16, where I would know how it was going to affect Bre’s reactions. (Strange as it may sound, sometimes the characters teach me a thing or two through their reactions to the situations I put them in. I didn’t know Rome started to strip her at the end of chapter 15, until Bre started shying and flashing back in the atrium in chapter 16. Just like I didn’t know Bre had been “broken” to give up information about Rome [not just as punishment for sneaking out] until chapter 15 of volume 2. I didn’t know Rome had held a whip as a child, until Bre envisioned it. I only have the benefit of hindsight when I revise. It’s part of why I’m trying to write all of the books in this series before I try to publish the first one.)

Zlen: I am so glad you can still say that you want more of Rome! One of the dangers in having an antihero flip out and show some of their true colors is always the danger that it will be too far of an ethical leap, causing readers to reject the character, and therefore put down the story. If you are still with the story, and want more Rome, then I have succeeded! I hope I can keep you wanting more.

Nachiketa: It’s not that the nobles with Power are dead. It’s that (unlike ancient times) the temple now controls those with Power—which predominantly means noblewomen. Noblemen with Power almost never pop up, let alone survive the political power struggles that ensue. You’re more likely to find a commoner with Power, which most people would consider to be an anomaly. Nobles are screened for Power, but it’s easier for a person of lower birth who’s not as power-hungry to slip through the cracks. So, when Lord Alonza figures out Bre is covering up the use of Power, he assumes the Power must be her own, undiscovered by the temple. Not in his wildest dreams would he imagine the rookie noblemen he’s been harassing, who’s lowest on the political totem pole, to actually be more Powerful than himself. If Alonza dies, Rome’s outed secret should die with him. One can only hope.  ;)

More on this later, in-story (as you guessed) as more standoffs and quandaries arise.

Akiyume: Wow, I’m so flattered (and glad) that you consider my story to be one of the best you’re reading! I am very passionate about developing my writing, although I think that is a more recent development. Character depth, however, has always been a major passion of mine. I am most drawn-in by character depth and complexity when I am reading, so it remains foremost in my mind while I am writing. I am, after all, writing the characters’ stories; it’s all about them.

I did initially intend for Bre to give in to Rome in the flower prep room—mostly because she physically could not help herself, being drugged and all. But it turned out she was too flustered to stay in one place. She might have gone along with it, if Rome hadn’t tried to strip her; I honestly couldn’t tell what turn that was going to take. But it just didn’t seem plausible that he wouldn’t try, and once he did try, it seemed obvious that it would be OOC for Bre (being so self-conscious and religion-steeped) to go along with it. And Rome, reacting largely to her undercurrents of acceptance, could force her to stay but couldn’t quite force her to accept the parts of him he hasn’t entirely accepted himself.

So, I sort of accidentally drove Bre away from Rome, when I intended for them to get closer. But, well, acceptance doesn’t happen in a day. It can, however, get a boost, in chapters 17-18.

But, you’ve caught the heart of the book! The big question is: Can Bre accept Rome, just as he is? And if she can, how will that affect and/or change Rome?

XxsilenceisgoldenxX, and my 2 guest reviewers: What high compliments! Thank you! I know my story is very different from many of the others on FictionPress these days, as ElvenFaerie said. I can’t help but be overjoyed that it sticks out in a good way! I can only hope that it will be a “gem” in the eyes of the publishing world as well.

I know the lapse in updates has been killer, but hang in there! As soon as I finish grafting versions of chapter 17 together, the posting of the chapter shouldn’t be long behind.

The Chase is On: Catch Her if You Can!

girlrunningtrophyIn case you didn’t get a notification in the last couple days, chapter 16 is now posted as “Catch Me If You Can“! The hunt is on, and Bre is the highest prize in the noble game of Hide and Seek. If she wants to survive, she has to run fast enough and hide well enough to ensure Rome is the only one to get his hands on her. But noble lust isn’t the only obstacle in this game. Lord Alonza threw in a cocktail twist, so now even wrong feels right. For the nobles, this isn’t so far from the norm. But for Rome and for Bre, being drugged in such a way might have devastating results. Even if Bre can keep her mind and body anti-noble and (most importantly) anti-Alonza, the Rome that comes to save her might be unpredictable at best. At worst? Every bit as beastly as he claims to be.

This chapter is highly sexual in nature, and largely non-consensual. There are drugs in play, on top of the nobles’ corruption and Rome’s beast nature. Not to mention, the nature of the game itself is very immoral. Sensual scenes will be fast-paced and/or riddled with moral confusion, not warm and fluffy and safe. It’s necessary for things to move forward. You have been forewarned.

You will, however, get that Rome vs. Alonza scene many of you have been waiting for. Which (I warn you) is gorey, and morally ambiguous. You may imagine how being present for this scene could affect Rome and Bre’s relationship, seeing as Bre has been raised in a temple environment which considers all life sacred.

I had to end this chapter sooner than I would have liked, because of the length. However, that might have turned out for the best, because it may make for a better transition point into the next plot twist. Yes, it will be primarily a plot twist, not a romance twist. Certain concerns have rcompletethecircleemained untouched by the storyline for far too long, and I intend to circle back around to them. That circle is just about complete. If you’ve read Book 1, you’ve waited about 1,200 [novel] pages for this. (I’m studiously trying not to think about what that means for revisions.) If you started with Book 2, a.k.a. the current story installment…let me know how you fare. Maybe consider flipping through the first several chapters of Book 1, if you can handle the slow pace. You’re all smart, so you should do fine putting the pieces together, even if you haven’t read Book 1; it’s not like it’s mandatory for understanding. But it’s kind of important to realizing the significance of Rome’s personal journey, as well as what it might mean for Bre’s past to finally catch up to her.

That’s all the hints you get, for now. :P

Worst Romance Reader Ever

It’s official: I must be the WORST Romance reader EVER!!!

I love Romance. I even welcome some of the nitty-gritty TMI stuff. So why is it that the last e-book sample I read, written by a respected Romance author, prompted me to make gagging noises and chuck my Nook across the room?

In the writing community, everybody is always talking about HEAs (Happily Ever Afters). And when I come across samples like I just read, it all sounds so suave—even when it’s the detached prodigal son watching a prostitute leave his bed. Bad Boy, okay yeah, I can dig that. But don’t romanticize him. Give me all his rough edges. Let his roughness come across in the writing. Let me feel him. Not feel what “good girls” want him to be underneath from the get-go. I want him to be raw. I want him to be work to get through to.

The last thing I want to do is bash on fellow writers. Indeed, these people have massive followings, so they must be doing something right.

Or everybody is just used to their favorites.

I, for one, have been spoiled off the cultured, individualized character perspectives of Fantasy novels (Teen/YA and otherwise) and manga, down to the things certain characters notice and the language they use—language which often grows and changes through the course of the book, as the character himself grows and changes. So when I start in on a stereotypical Romance novel, and everything reads across in the same smooth monotone, I start to skim. And skim. Until I realize: I’m going to be skimming through this whole book. And then I grunt and groan and flail and flop, because I thought I finally had that book that I was going to read all the way through, and enjoy—that one I’d stay up all night to finish. And instead, I got one I would have set back on the bookstore shelf.

Somehow, I’ve gone from my childhood habit of reading every book that I can get my hands on in my subject of interest, to garage-selling books I don’t like and rarely finishing any books at all.

They say that writers should read widely in their genre of choice. And that’s a nice idea. BUT what happens when you throw those “wide reads” across the room—repeatedly? What happens when that becomes the reason why you keep writing the unpublished manuscript you cart around from coffee shop to coffee shop?

At this point, I just want a good read. A good Romance read, with Fantasy elements, if at all possible. Something I wouldn’t push “snooze” through. It doesn’t have to be spectacular…just, not uniform. Not post-apocalyptic. Not exclusively sci-fi. With realistic, non-sappy, non-bratty, non-stereotypical fictional characters. I mean, come on, this is the Romance section, people! It shouldn’t be this hard to sell me on the male character. He doesn’t have to be a werewolf or a vampire. In fact, I’d prefer if he’s not. He just has to be special.

If you’ve read an adult Romance-Fantasy story that you absolutely fell in love with, feel free to leave a comment below and give it a shout-out! I don’t care if it has mature content, but I DO care if the sex is pointless; character development through sex is an art form. The story doesn’t have to have sex though, just decent Romance with Fantasy. So GO! List away! PLEASE! I’m dying of suaveness overdose and bad storytelling styles.

Splitting the Nitty-Gritty of Chapter 16

Once again I find myself mid-scene, and already far overshooting my chapter word count goal.

*Sigh.* No wonder this chapter is taking so much longer than expected.

If you thought last chapter was full of unexpected twists and turns, this chapter will blow your socks off…and blow your hair out. In fact, right now, far as I am into writing this chapter, I’m having trouble thinking back to how I left last chapter. Because so much has happened in between—so much that it’s looking like I’m going to have to “call it a chapter” (as compared to “calling it a day”) before I consider it truly done. Which, yes, means a cliff-hanger. And not where I wanted to leave it, either.

Chapter 16 will not be for the faint of heart. You all wanted to see Lord Alonza get what should be coming to him, at Rome’s hands. I told you that would be coming. And it is. But I warn you, it will be the goriest thing you’ve read yet—and will probably alter your impression of Rome forever, just as it becomes the wakeup-call for Bre.

You all know Rome thinks himself a beast. Bre thinks he’s just a hunter. With a little help from an outside influence, Rome is about to prove her wrong.

I warn you that the intimate scenes are reading very masculine at this point, even from Bre’s perspective, because they are very male-driven. And the scene where Alonza gets his hands on Bre turned my stomach to write. I’ve decided to leave that scene in, for the reasons I discussed last blog post. As for whether Rome is just as in-the-wrong, I will leave that for you, as the readers, to decide. I only ask you to keep in mind that Rome has been defying his own nature in order to stay with Bre, and he has made no attempt to sugar-coat that. Also keep in mind what the “Wheat Girl” has to say this chapter, because it is VEEEEEERRRRYY significant.

I will try to edit through what I have written so far, so that I can post it (hopefully) sometime in the next few days. But I warn you, it’s the thick of the relational conflict. The point where you start to see the extreme levels of the reality of everybody’s bad sides. So it’s not all going to be pretty. And it’s going to be heart-attack paced.

The Self-Entitled Villain

brainstorm_character_bAs I’ve been writing chapter 16, I’ve realized I don’t know Alonza as well as I think I do. As an author, I expect to know most of the important things about my characters. But Alonza’s personality is so close and yet so estranged from my own, that it’s easy to overlook his motivations. Through diagramming a brainstorming web, and listing off what Alonza wants from Bre, I realized that Alonza’s flaws are mostly entitlement and self-importance. He places his own worth above that of others, and fails to see why other people shouldn’t do the same. Why they shouldn’t give themselves over to his whims. Why they shouldn’t subject themselves to him. Therefore he feels justified in using nefarious means to get whatever he wants—because, of course, he deserves it, simply because he is who he is, and everyone should recognize that.

entitlementUnfortunately, because entitlement and self-importance run so rampant throughout our culture (in real life), they have become almost the norm of treating other people. Meaning, Alonza’s villainy doesn’t stand out as obviously as I assumed it would. This is actually quite sad, as a statement about our culture.

So, my challenge in writing chapter 16 is to make Lord Alonza stand out, as a villain easily distinguishable from the other nobles, from Pandora, from the temple, and from Rome.

You may be surprised that I just included Rome in that list. So was I, when my scene between Alonza and Bre in private turned out to look like a Rome-gone-wrong.

Through this, I discovered that the line between Rome’s self-confidence (in his abilities, and in his place in the food chain) and Lord Alonza’s arrogance (born of his self-entitlement) is very thin. The difference, in case you were wondering, is that Rome has a conscimaster-servant_dummiesence. In other words, if he hurts someone (like Bre, or the “wheat girl”), he feels it. There is something in him that condemns the action, even if he tries to convince himself it was necessary or that it’s just “what he does.” Alonza, on the other hand, would not interpret what he feels when he hurts someone as “condemning.” In fact, he would interpret the internal pressure as pushing him to continue, like he’s going to feel that twinge inside until he experiences the pleasure of finally getting what he wants.

An article I recently read said that one way to make a villain more villainous is actually to not only make the villain more relatable (so readers can understand and almost sympathize with why they’re doing wrong), but also to make the villain the flipside of the hero. To make them like the hero, if the hero had had a different experience, or gone a different route. I’ve read this about minor characters (in general) too.

sketch by Shady95

[sketch by Shady95]

A reader of my story once told me that I should never write something I don’t feel comfortable with. That may sound straightforward, to your ears. But what makes a villain truly villainous? Is it not the heinous crimes they commit? Don’t authors showcase the evil misdeeds of their villains—things they don’t agree with—in order to make a point? Doesn’t the protagonist have to defeat said villain to make a point about the evilness of their deeds? Therefore shouldn’t the misdeeds, and the villain themself, make readers (and author) uncomfortable?

That’s where I get hung up. I can’t stop every time I get uncomfortable writing a villain, can I? And yet, I don’t get uncomfortable very often while writing (unless I think someone is reading [or trying to read] over my shoulder as I’m writing).

The more villainous I try to make Alonza, the more uncomfortable it makes me. But if I’m honest with myself, part of that discomfort comes from Alonza not doing what he’s supposed to—or other characters not responding to him how they’re supposed to. I have a story track in my head, which is great…but my characters have taken on lives of their own. Just like real people, my characters’ responses to news or provocation depend largely upon the right wording, the right tone and volume of voice, the right accompanying gestures or body language, and the right timing.

For instance, if Rome calls Bre a “good bitch” in a seductively affectionate tone, Bre’s probably going to realize that’s not meant as the traditional insult. Whereas a more hotheaded, reactionary character like Kitiora might throw a fit, pull away, and even slap him.

If Alonza drags Bre into his personal chambers and does things that ride the line between cruelty and the promise of pleasure, she’s definitely not going to enjoy it. Because no matter what, her heart is already set on Rome. BUT, if she is given something that tampers with her normal rational state…she might be more receptive (despite her will), and he will look like less of a villain. Even though taking away her ability to contest him is definitely villainous.

See my dilemma?

Chapter 15 Finally Posted!

Chapter 15 is finally posted!!!! Hooray!!! 🎉 It’s called “The Scars that Bind Us.” The title is derived from one of the secrets Labriella has been keeping from Rome, the proof of which she wears on her back. You knew the whipping was going to be bad, and twice as bad because it’s done by someone Labriella knows and loves. What Rome doesn’t realize is that it’s not Labriella’s first picnic (so to speak). Being whipped again dredges up all kinds of awful memories for Labriella—the knowledge of which could easily compound Rome’s guilt over fulfilling what he already considers to be a nightmare. The tavern prostitute warned Labriella that she would have a hard time keeping anything from Rome, especially if they were to get intimate. Now it’s time to face the past, and determine whether they can ever truly move forward.

Can Bre ever be more to Rome than a broken servant?
In fulfilling Bre’s request, has Rome lost her affection forever?


Already, several of you (my dear readers) have reviewed! How happy that makes me!

And wow, so far all the feedback has been positive!

I apologize for making you worry that I might have scrapped the story and launched headlong into revisions. I know I have done that in the past. I’m actually trying very hard not to do that right now. I’ve got all kinds of revision ideas, to be sure. But I’ve figured out it’s so much easier to work on things like plot structure and detail consistency/importance when the story is already written (probably because I have to write “by the seat of my pants,” since outlines are more of a suggestive launchpad than representative of the actual life of my writing). So I’m trying to get as far along in the story as I can, before I revise again. I figure if I have a clearer picture of where I’m going now than I did when I was writing volume 1, then I’ll have an even clearer picture of what needs to happen (past and future) when I’m in volume 3, etc. Then I’ll be able to consolidate, and emphasize the important stuff.

But let me be clear: The story continues to defy my storyboarding expectations. It twists and turns anew, because it has a life of its own. It grows like wildfire. So instead of trying to pen it in (don’t mind the pun), I just try to herd it in a general direction. And, as this happens, the characters deepen and create their own quirks and eccentricities, and develop their own internal conflicts of interest. After the “herding” phase, I will try to insert little things here and there to make sure there is a plot. But for now, I’m going to try to just keep on writing. I realize that every time I take a workshop, or read a book or blog about writing technique, my writing changes. (Which is for the better, but develops style, character, and narration inconsistencies with previous versions.) When I write a new chapter, I have to be careful to stick with the story that’s already written, not the one I’ve altered in my head.

I’m glad everyone (so far) seems to feel that in chapter 15 Rome and Labriella have made actual relational progress. I messaged with Tsunayum about how difficult this is to accomplish, realistically, without fabricating circumstances and rushing “wishful thinking” changes in character. Rome, in particular, is difficult to handle, because he can’t appear or sound soft when he’s actually feeling soft-hearted; it would be out of character for him. Likewise, Labriella is prone to internalize all her insecurities, and deem her own issues of self-worth too insignificant to be worth mentioning. It’s a tenuous balancing act to have the two characters push and pull their hidden sides out of one another, to promote interpersonal change, without being too radically unrealistic in reaction and in methodology.

Before publishing, I hope to move this sort of event up sooner, to happen earlier in the story. But we’ll see.


Thanks for all your support! I will be re-launching into writing chapter 16. It will be Party Day 5—the day after the token of favor, the whipping, and the healing and limeyness. The event of the day will be a sort of Hide-and-Go-Seek/Sardines, to the effect of “You keep (for the day) what you catch.” Expect some unexpected twists. ;)