Wow! May has been such a productive month for me; so much achieved. I’m feeling quite energised. But, whoa, I leap ahead, for there is something nasty waiting to trip me …
Asaric Lies: Amend, Revise, Rewrite
Introduction to Kerrid’s world
Pointless putting your work out to beta-readers if you then take no notice of their comments. My beta-readers were unanimous in that I didn’t allow them time to become acquainted with the story world and the main characters before moving the story on.
No excuses on my part. Enough to say that a search through ancient files yielded three deleted chapters that, now reinstated, take the reader more slowly into the culture.
That culture was the next problem, at least for some readers.
Ancient Cultures: Patriarchal v. Matriarchal
We are so used to our Western Culture’s close approach to gender equality that we forget how recently this was achieved, and that even today it is far from universal. We forget the oppression of our grandmothers, and their grandmothers, gloss over it, pretend it wasn’t so, highlight the lives of the privileged few and claim it the norm for everyone. But fact is, fathers did have control over their daughters and who they would marry, especially high-status men. And once married a woman did belong to her husband, to be beaten, or killed, at will. And though rape wasn’t condoned, it was the raped woman who was punished—in some cultures, stoned to death; the father/husband received recompense from the rapist.
From which you might guess that Asaric Lies is set in a patriarchal society. Indeed, Kerrid marries into an even stronger patriarchal system.
I admit this is a potential anachronism. It is generally thought that patriarchy arose with civilisation, i.e. the city states of e.g. Mesopotamia, with their civil service and wars requiring standing armies. Before that, it’s believed the socirty amongst the early Neolithic horticulturalists was probably matriarchal. Apparenlty, women lost control when men invented the plough.
Asaric Lies is set earlier still, in a hunter-gatherer-fisher Mesolithic culture. Bands were small, culture grown and evolved to fit their individual needs. So here we might find any and all possible systems.
I chose to make Kerrid’s culture patriarchal for a reason. At the end of Book One (SPOILER ALERT), she is tasked with turning her people from their male dominated worship of the Ancestors and Sky Man, to that of the (female) Spinner. The resultant Cult of the Spinner plays a vital role in Books 3, 4 and 5.
Asars and Asaric Tricks
Several traits separate the Asar from his/her siblings. One is their ‘exudation’, an energy exuded by the Asaric body which, in its simplest form, is seen (but only by other Asars) as a light. This energy and its light is emotion-responsive. But, note, not all Asars exude the same colour and type of light. This I needed to get across to the reader.
Likewise, I needed for my readers to understand the Asar’s ability to hear thoughts. This is not an active ‘trick’. Like it or not, the Asar hears everyone’s thoughts, even animals—until they learn to block them. So, to know what a person is thinking isn’t an intentional invasion of privacy. Indeed, it could be said that it’s the Asar who suffers the intrusion.
But I do admit, some Asars might use this ability to force the person’s thoughts into more desirable channels, and thus might actively ‘mind-read’.
A consequence of this might be coercion, where the Asar ‘persuades’ the person to obey his/her wishes, a bit like hypnotic suggestion. However, whether the Asars will one day develop this ‘trick’, as yet they can’t hold that coercion for more than a few minutes. I need to stress this as one reader suggested Kerrid could readily overcome her opponents by use of this Asaric trick. No, she could not.
Part of the revision has been to ensure that potention readers understand all this.
The third distinguishing feature of an Asar is his/her self-healing body. But that healing is dependant upon severity of injury. A cut, no matter how deep, might be quickly sealed, as too with bones. But as Kerrid frets, she doubts her body would heal if torn and eaten by a cat (leopard, tiger), because part of her would be in the cat’s belly. Speed and success of healing depends upon the damage done. For example, there would be no healing in the case of decapitation. This becomes a feature in later books where it seen that body parts once lost do not regrow.
Transitions—of status, of location, of customs
Oh dear, I’d done it again: deleted scenes that would have guided my readers from one culture to the next, from one set of characters to another, from one life-stage to the next.
I have replaced two chapters, again anciently deleted. Not only do they help to tie the two halves of the story together, but also supply interesting information regards those confusing Asaric abilities; and allow a glimpse into the psyche of Kerrid’s ‘significant other’.
From Replaced Chapters to Deleted Scenes
When I put Asaric Lies out to readers I was aware that something wasn’t ‘right’. Something to do with the pacing. Considering Kerrid has a problem that’s sending her near-insane, she dawdles over its resolution. While there is a reason for that delay (it’s called the antagonist), that delay must have infuriated the readers; it annoyed me.
Enter the surgeon’s scalpel. I have now removed some of the delaying material. I’m hoping the story reads better for it.
Two for One: a Sharper Ending
I have removed the last two chapters—intended as a hook to Book Two; these are now the opening chapter of the next book—and replaced them with yet another deleted chapter from way back when. With the addition of a little magic I’m fairly confident that I have produced an ending that both satisfies and kicks the reader into Book Two.
So, as I said, altogether, a productive month.
A New Critique for Asaric Lies?
Yesterday (26th May 2018) I uploaded Asaric Lies Chapters 1-3 to Critters.org with a Request for Dedicated Reader for the novel in its entirety.
I thought all I need do now is to wait. Until I received an email from Critters later in the day to say because of the “GDPR” privacy laws that went into effect May 25th Critters will no longer accept members in the EU.
To say I’m gutted is an understatement. Two months of weekly critiques, sometimes more than the one: good experience, yes, but I do feel that’s time wasted, that I could have been ‘gaining’ the points elsewhere to ‘pay’ for the final critique. To which, I have to say, I think Critters could have alerted us EU residents earlier, and not left it until the very last day. Very disappointed with Critters. So now I look for another critique group, or a critique partner or …
A new beta-reader for Asaric Lies?
If you think you might like to read what I hope is the finished first book, and then to give feedback in whatever depth you feel able, please contact me (See contact form above)
Return to Asaric Axis, Book Two
Anyway, bright side again. I am now free to resume the revision done on Asaric Axis during April’s Camp NaNoWriMo. When complete, I will put out the call again for beta-readers. I’m guessing that will be at the end of next month (June).
In the meantime, I thank you for your interest, your support, your comments ……………
Next update, end of June.