This is a rather long post about superpowers, being the weakest, and learning secrets. There is a lot here, but there really is no unifying theme between the three chapters posted this week.
There are two chapters from Sand and Blood to make up for me skipping last week because I was overwhelmed.
Sand and Blood 21: From the Shadows
One of the reviews I got for Sand and Blood was scope of the individual's struggles and what powers they gain. While Rutejìmo is going through a journey of self-discovery, the others are gaining phenomenal powers. This and the next chapter are a good example of that. Rutejìmo is struggling with self-doubt with his poor showing at the fight with Mikáryo when he finds out that Tsubàyo can teleport through shadows on a horse, Chimípu can burst into flames when she flights, and even Pidòhu is capable of summoning the shadows of a wind spirit.
As I have stated, this was a story about being the guy next to the Chosen One (Chimípu). It is about learning to accept weaknesses and find out that there is life in not being the greatest, strongest, and fastest.
Some of this is pulled from my own life. While some people think I'm good at things (programming, obscure knowledge), I am very weak in some critical skills in life. The two obvious ones are my inability to know what emotion I'm feeling except through inference and my inability to recognize people.
That last one has caused me a lot of trouble over the years, not to mention a lot of mocking. My ability to identify someone is fragile enough that makeup is enough for me to not recognized someone. When a coworker dyed his hair last week, I spent three hours struggling with this feeling that he was a complete stranger.
This came into the foreground during the author signing on the 16th. My table mate was an older man who still recognized and remembered his teachers and friends from grade school. And a number of them came up and they talked about the good times while I sat quietly remembering how I couldn't even recoganize my own son just because he had a growth spurt. Or the guilt I feel when I'm going on a date with my wife and shes put on makeup; I think I'm having an affair. Intellectually I know that it is the same person, but it still feels wrong.
For years, I had another coworker who had this amazing ability to remember people. He could remember their names, their histories, and their families. It was practically a superpower for me because I was happy when I remembered his name after a week. He chided me "just to remember" but the techniques he's given, the ones I've read, the years of trying haven't produced that much. I am trying, I just don't recognized anyone.
This isn't diminish the sheer amount of stress that I went through on my trip to visit the family a few years back. I honestly was terrified I wouldn't recognized my own aunt when she picked me up at the airport. Thankfully, she called and told me she was pulling up… that helped a lot.
I've tried to break through this but it is a major struggle. While others are steadily increasing their writing skills and fan bases, I'm trying to recognized my son's teacher. This is kind of what I tried to write with Rutejìmo's struggle with himself while the others are gaining all these powers; it's a humiliating experience and downright depressing.
As another side, I remember smells and voices a lot better. I can't understand words a lot (a different problem) but I usually identify actors on the TV by their voices more than anything else. And I have this really strange sense of smell that has helped me a lot, even when folks change their cologne or perfume, it is a really strong mnemonic for me.
There is also a darker tone to this chapter: when Chimípu and Rutejìmo talk about growing old. Chimípu points out that there is only one warrior in the clan who ever "retired." The rest were killed, usually from a fight. This is actually a nod to some events in Sand and Bone.
Read Sand and Blood 21: From the Shadows at https://fedran.com/sand-and-blood/chapter-21/.
Sand and Blood 22: Shadows From Sunlight
I like stories with power discoveries, as long as they aren't repeated constantly (Spider-Man and Superman both come to mind). I always felt that Rutejìmo's powers came really quickly (the day they were abandoned) but earlier post talk about how forced ignorance actually helps with the this process. He was left specifically in an infantile state just so he would manifest the strongest powers possible. Of course, we don't find out that one reason he was weak was because he actually has the powers of two spirits.
Pidòhu, on the other hand, knew exactly what was going on. So it has taken him this long to even get a hint of power from his clan spirit, Tateshyúso. Having the second spirit was an interesting challenge. While Shimusògo grants the ability to run at high speed, throwing fireballs, and kinetic transfer, I needed Tateshyúso to be complementary but still powerful. Most of her powers don't show up in this book but they have wind control and wind form. Their biggest strength is the ability to take on a elemental-like form that travels in the wind and lets them keep up with the Shimusògo runners.
Of everyone in this book, Pidòhu is actually the second most powerful character. He's the "priest/mage" if I was writing about a gaming group. Chimípu is closer to a paladin/holy champion if you went with the idea of being a champion of a specific god/spirit. But for all his power, he still starts weak and growing in power over time.
Read Sand and Blood 22: Shadows From Sunlight at https://fedran.com/sand-and-blood/chapter-22/.
Flight of the Scions 27: Change of Clothes
On the other side, in Flight of the Scions, Kanéko learns about the villain that I fired from this book. When I first wrote the book, there were two major plots woven together, hers and Garèo's. Since I switched to a single point of view novel, Garèo's part has been deferred until his own book, Kin-Killer. It will be a few years before that book every has a chance to be revealed.
But until then, Kanéko is learning that her annoying instructor killed his own family, had a major bounty on his head, and someone wanted him to stab him with an unnamed sword.
This chapter also introduces one of the antagonists for the next book, Pack Daughter. Again, in the original version of Flight, I actually identify "Las" with a couple scenes with Sinmak. But with Kanéko's limited point of view, the reader actually doesn't know who they are until it is revealed later.
Read Flight of the Scions 27: Change of Clothes https://fedran.com/flight-of-the-scions/chapter-27/ (subscribers)
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Sand and Ash
Speaking of releasing books, Sand and Ash is now out! The entire book has been completed and posted, along with EPUB, MOBI, and PDF versions. It is also on various online stores, in print, and generally spread out to everywhere but a single vendor (Smashwords).
Some of them charge $0.99 for a copy because I couldn't make it free, but there is a free version on the link above. Please read it and tell me what you think. If you like it, then buy a print version, become a patron, or throw me some dollars. If you don't want to spend money, please review it.
This is a terrifying point. As the last few years of Sand and Blood has pointed out, I don't have a lot of readers. There are a few awesome folks who have read it and reviewed it, but I'm lucky to get a book sold a month after a peak of less than twenty books on month. So many other authors talk about making dozens or hundreds of sales a month. I'm happy to have one.
Making it free doesn't mean I skimped on it. I paid for two editors to go through the books and had a dozen people reading it. I've worked on this novel for years and dropped a large hunk of change on it to make it the best possible book I could produce. I just hope that I wrote something moving enough that it will bring someone joy (and tears) in the end.