Merry Christmas!

A Merry Christmas from Raven, Chaoschick and the Prime team and the entire Iskandar organization, and the author that they drag along with them on their adventures.


Second Editing Round for Book 5

Book 5 of the Raven of Iskandar series is now in the second editing round. I’ve gotten it back from Yvonne and, thank God, there was a lot less blue on it. In a perfect world, all you would need is one round of editing, but the human brain doesn’t seem to work that way.

After having been through the editing cycle a number of times, I can tell you that you get used to the narrative and skip completely over missing words and bad sentence construction. One technique that proofreaders use is to read each line backwards. That will help spot misspelled words but I doubt that it would do much for storyline and sentence construction.

The book title is finally nailed down (in my own mind) as ‘The New Season’. The ‘Raven’ part is going to be dropped but I’m going to make sure you know that it is book 5 of the series right on the cover. I don’t know how many times I’ve been confused by the sequence of other writers’ series.

The title has been solidified mainly by writing it into the storyline. Here’s that excerpt, which incidentally, was add after the first round of editing.

This excerpt takes place after Iskandar faces Hooloo on the assault map Subrosa on Opening Day. Of course there are a lot of fans watching from the Angwin ‘Tournament Room’ back on Necris. (Caution, some profanity below)

Except from Raven of Iskandar Book 5: ‘The New Season’

“We won!  We won!” Raiders were shouting and there were high-fives and hugs all around.

“This may be fucking loud,” said Mason Wendlis as he high-fived Dennis.  “But it is fucking worth it.”

“Another one for the board!” yelled Jolo, high-fiving the two of them. 

On the far side of the room was the largest marker board Dennis had ever seen.  On it were three long rows of names with bright green W’s next to them.  There was a line, then another long list of names with green W’s marked ‘Championship’.  Then there was a fresh line and beneath it was the name ‘The New Season’.  Several Raiders were cheering on one of their own who was marking on the board ‘Hooloo; SubRosa; W’

‘A New Season’ is off to the Editor

Book 5 of Raven of Iskandar is now off to the editor. Well, actually, it’s already come back with lots of red (Yvonne actually uses blue). Ugh.

Book 5 will be named Raven: A New Season. I’m thinking of dropping the ‘Raven:’ part. Originally the plan was to have different book named for different characters and that’s not happening right now.

The one thing I’ve ignored so far is the cover. Not sure what I’m going to do there. I have been doing them myself but it might be time to hire a professional.

Finally, here’s another teaser from Book 5. Those of you who’ve read book 4 will remember the characters, who to this point have remained anonymous.


Lunchtime was not his preferred hour to be at Rushanak’s.  His preferred lunch was at more…let’s say ‘comprehensive’ food establishments where the meals were larger and more perfectly executed. 

He was again waiting for the younger man.

He had received a message for an urgent meeting.  That was all he knew.  He did not have to wait long, as the younger man approached with a decisive and indeed angry pace.

His companion refused to order lunch and his demeanor exuded anger as they waited for the service attendant to leave.

“Are you going to let me do this or are you going to keep interfering?” said the younger man.  “What you pulled yesterday was incredibly stupid.  Let me know now because if you continue, I’m out.”

If the older man was taken aback by this outburst, he did not allow it to show.  As he was in control, not the hired help, he took his time replying.

“It was a diversion and it has been taken as a malfunction,” he replied.  “We haven’t had one for a while.”

He knew his blasé manner would irritate the younger man.  It was time he realized who the boss was.

“The general public may think that but Iskandar knows better,” the younger man said with venom.

This was a shock to the system.  What right did he have saying these things out loud!  He stopped his reaction before it started.

“You are not supposed to say certain words here,” he said with a touch of venom.  “It can compromise the objective.”

“Any more than you did, you bumbling fool?  I doubt it,” the younger man shot back.

The older man was not used to this type of insubordination. 

“You are not going to tell me how to do my job,” he retaliated.

“And you are not going to tell me how to do mine,” the younger man responded.  “So get the hell out of my way or I’m out of here.”

People in the adjacent tables were beginning to notice the vehement conversation.  The older man was stuck between his pride and his exposure.  His pride was demanding that this hireling respect him while the niggling thought to the back of his head was caution.

“This is not the place for this discussion,” he said pompously.

“Ha, there is no discussion.  I’m out of here!” yelled the younger man, who emphasized his point by smashing his glass on the patio stones.  He was now gone and the older man suddenly realized he was left with the embarrassment.

Calming down, he decided that the whole situation was a childish display.  That was something he would deal with right away.

Excerpt from Book 5 (Coming Soon)

This is a excerpt from the next Raven of Iskandar Book (Book 5). Tentatively, the title is just ‘The New Season’.

Raven returns to Central and we have the return of a character from Book 1. This scene seems to have come out pretty well for someone who never had a music instructor (me). No spoilers for the big event.

They both turned as they heard the doors to the lounge open.  Chaoschick walked in.

“Hey, Rave,” she began, walking over to them.  “Wow, another new person.  Where do you get them all?”

They both laughed.

“Actually not that new,” said Raven.  “This is Lily.  She’s formerly of the Music Workshop.  I guess you didn’t meet her when we were up there during the playoffs.”

“I’m one of you now,” added the Twitterall.  “I am officially the music tutor for Iskandar.  I’ve also heard that you are quite a virtuoso on the viola.”

Chaoschick looked uncertain and shrugged.

“Well, go get your viola and play something for me,” stated Lily.  Raven cringed a bit.  Chaoschick was not the type of person you’d order around.  However, she was surprised.  The brunette just walked over and took her viola out of the case.  Sitting on the floor, she went through her routine of tuning.

Lily got up and walked over to her and pulled over a stool.

“Sit up here,” said the twitterall.  “You have a great ear for music.  Now you learned by someone playing the notes for you and then imitated them, right?”

“I don’t remember much about that time,” said Chaoschick.  “When things come out, like this,” she said gesturing with the instrument.  “I get scared.  A bit.”

“Nothing to be scared about.  It’s all in the past,” said Lily.  “You are very blessed to have learned so young and to care so much about playing.  I can tell by the way you were tuning.  That’s more than an instrument to you.”

“Every time I hold it, it makes me feel strange.”

Raven was fascinated by the way Lily was relating to the brunette.  It was amazing.

“Oh, the viola is just an old friend,” continued the twitterall.  “You’ve had breakup and you just don’t know if you can trust it any more.  Just forgive it.  Then forgive yourself and play.”

Chaoschick laughed.

“Should I give it a name too,” she quipped.

“Go for it.”

Chaoschick looked serious for a moment, then broke out in a smile.  “I’m calling my viola, Tracy,” she said.  “That’s what they used to call me down at West Haven.  When I learned to play.”

“Good.  Now play something.  Something upbeat.  I don’t feel like crying,” quipped Lily.

The brunette grinned at the joke and then went serious.  “I don’t know what I can play,” she said.

“No matter.  That will come with time.  For now, just play some random notes and see what they remind you of.”

Chaoschick put the instrument under her chin and just ran the bow over the strings.  Suddenly, she began to play.  It had an old classical feel and seemed to alternate passages between legato and staccato.  Her movements were crisp and precise.  It there were any bad notes in there, Raven couldn’t tell.  Lily listened with a smile. 

Chaoschick played steadily for almost ten minutes and then ended with a flourish.  Suddenly there was applause.  While she had been playing, Grabby, Skylla, Zinaida and Badger had come in, unnoticed.  Chaoschick had a smirk on her face, got up and performed an elaborate bow.

“That was amazing,” said Grabby.

“Do you remember the name of that?” asked Lily. 

Chaoschick shook her head and shrugged.  “I don’t know if I ever knew,” she said.  “Hmm.  Did that make sense?”

Everybody laughed.

“Ok,” said the twitterall.  “Whoever taught you must’ve loved Messenger, because that was the second movement of his first violin concerto.”

“Violin?” interjected Raven.

“Yes, she was playing it a fifth lower,” said Lily.  “So I’d have to say that whoever taught her was a professional.”

Mingling the Real and Unreal

Plus an update on Book 5 at the end.

There is one attribute about writers that may not be obvious. Depending on your chain of thought, it might seem to be a contradition. Writer are big readers. (No, they don’t need big letters or big words!) Writers like to read almost as much as they like to write. I, for one, enjoy seeing the way another writer develops his or her story, what they put into it and how they get themselves out of trouble.

And we do incorporate, into our own skillset, the techniques of other writers.

I picked up one from, of all writers, H. P. Lovecraft.

Of course, the Raven of Iskandar saga does not incorporate any elements of horror. However, Lovecraft was an accomplished writer and wove his stories in particular ways. He had his style.

One element of his storytelling that I ‘fell’ for was his use of mingling real books with imaginary ones. Of course I did stop short of going to the library asking for a copy of the Necronomicon (by the mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred) but there apparently were quite a few people who did. The book never existed (except for some modern authors trying to write it!), but people were misled by Lovecraft’s mingling of real books & stories with his made-up ones. For example, in the same paragraph he would mention the Necronomicon and then The King in Yellow (by a madman names Chambers). The former is imagination but The King in Yellow was a actual book of short stories by one of Lovecraft’s contemporaries and friends, Robert W. Chambers.

In the first book, Chaoschick plays the viola and the piece she plays is ‘Terms of My Life’ by Haliton Messenger. Despite the detailed description of the piece, it is total invention as is its composer. Then in book five (no spoilers), Raven will have the wallmon play the ‘Blumine’ version of Mahler’s First Symphony by the New Haven Symphony, which was an actual vinyl album (unfortunately never updated to CD).

Similarly, when the team goes to a mall on AC3 and visits Book Beast, which was the name of an actual bookstore in Milford, CT, Raven buys a book named ‘When the Sax Man Plays’ by Yvonne Marrs, which also actually exists.

A more blatant example is at Book Beast where Tristaner says he would like to paint like Van Gogh or Athenagoras. The former, of course, is real, the latter, invention.

The reference to existing people, music and other things encourages the reader to accept the inventions as also real, activating their suspension of disbelief. This makes the characters and incidents seem more real and apparently more familiar. It may even make the reader think that the invented book or artist is something that the reader needs to find out more about.

Book 5, tentatively named ‘The New Season’, has now surpassed 90,000 words. I do have some chapters to fill out, so it’s a good bet to go over 100,000 words. I found a good breaking point, so some material has been pushed back to book 6. That will give me a good start on the following book.

So, bottom line, the book should be into the editing cycle in two to three weeks.