Out of all the names of characters and places in my books, this is the one people ask me about the most. Ixchel is a great character to write, and I’m looking forward to seeing how her story continues. But how do you say her name?
The answer is… not as easy as it seems.
You can literally google “how do you pronounce ixchel” and you’ll get multiple answers.
This video, for example, pronounces it the way it’s spelled in English:
But this video pronounces it more like “ee-shell”:
Ixchel is a Mayan name. The culture of her land and people in my books is loosely based on the ancient Maya. So logically, the best guide to it would be an explanation of how the Mayans pronounced it, right?
If you read that, you’ll find that “ee-shell” is close, but… it actually ends up something more like “eesh-chail” including the “ch” sound and pronouncing the “e” as a long “a.”
So which one is right?
It’s a fantasy novel, with names and cultures that I created. I’m sort of the final arbiter here. Except… it may come to a huge surprise to readers that I don’t always pronounce the names in my head while writing them. And since I was raised on American phonics, when I do pronounce names from other languages, I often do it completely wrong.
I like “ee-shell.” And “eesh-chail” is a bit too cumbersome for my tongue. But you know what? You can pronounce it however you choose. I won’t mind.
But I’d better start getting it right myself. She scares me.
A few minutes ago, I typed the last words in Until All Bonds Are Broken, the sequel to Until All Curses Are Lifted. After a marathon day of writing here on New Year’s Eve, I wrote over 6,000 words and finished the first draft.
And there was much rejoicing.
So what does this mean, exactly? Especially if you’re a reader eagerly anticipating this book? Well, sadly, it does NOT mean you’re about to get your hands on it. A first draft is just that: a first draft. You wouldn’t want to read it right now. Trust me. Parts of it wouldn’t even make sense.
I need to get through one complete editing process and partial re-write before I even let a handful of people look it over. Here are a few examples of what still needs to be done, before I can even call this a mostly complete book:
• I have to arrange the scenes into proper chapters. You know how there are multiple stories going on with different character points-of-view? I have to arrange them so they make sense.
• I have places where I left off some detailed description because I was in a hurry and needed to keep moving at the time. So there are places where the text reads something like [insert description here].
• Some times, I didn’t come up with proper names for minor characters or places while writing. Since there are multiple cultures involved in the world of Antises, each name has to be consistent from a linguistic point of view, and that takes time to work out. So many places in the current draft, you’ll find placeholder names like VILLAGENAME or VILLAGEIDIOT. (Okay, I didn’t use that one, but I should have.)
• I know of at least three scenes that I need to go back and add, places where I realized later that I needed more development of a particular event or character.
• While writing, I often think of things I need to check on or revise. But rather than stopping the writing and going back to revise things, I add the thought to a list. I have a very lengthy list of these revisions that I already know I need to do. Actually, I have two of those lists: one on my computer with the book itself, and one on my phone, from when I thought of things while away from the computer (or in the middle of the night).
• Some characters need their arcs fleshed out a bit better. I need to re-read all of their appearances and make sure everything flows properly, so as to create the best emotional resonance toward the end of the book.
The book currently stands at 124,413 words. That’s around 16,000 words shorter than the first book. But after making all the revisions I listed above, I’m sure it’ll get much closer to that amount, or even exceed it. Then comes more detailed editing process, where things may get deleted or re-arranged or expanded, so the final word count could be anywhere from 110,000 to 150,000.
So… in a few days, after I relax a bit, I’ll return to this manuscript and start on the revisions I know about. I’ll call this the second draft, and the slider on the right will reflect that. After that, I’ll look for opinions from a few trusted people I know, then make more revisions. An editor will look at it. I’ll make more revisions. And then comes proofreading. And more proofreading. And yet more proofreading.
In case it’s not obvious, this also is a months-long process. I can’t tell you for sure when the book will be in your hands. But I’m hoping for the end of summer or thereabouts.
Not long ago, I received a copy of A War of Whispers, the new board game from Starling Games. As always, when I review games on this blog, I do so as a writer, and how this game inspires or motivates my writing.
When an average gamer sees A War of Whispers set up on a table, the first questions are something like, “Oh, it’s a war game? Which one are you playing?” The answers are: “No, not really,” and “None of them.”
In this game, five nations are on the verge of war. However, the two-to-four players involved are not controlling any of the specific nations. Instead, each player controls a secret society that is manipulating ALL FIVE nations. Through the use of your agents, you decide where a nation recruits its troops, and its attacks – who, when, and where.
The point of this manipulation is that each society is rooting for different nations to succeed or fail. At the beginning of the game, you randomly place five tokens to determine how allied (or not) your society is with each nation. This determines point values and the winner at the end of the game. For the nation you most support, you’ll get 4 points per city they control at the end. For the nation you’re most against, you’ll get -1 point per city. And so on.
It doesn’t take long for players to realize that it’s just as important to manipulate the nations you oppose as it is the ones you support. That often leads to hilarious results. “We need to recruit new troops… in the mountains over here away from everyone else. It’s safer that way.” Or “Yes, let’s attack six armies with two. I’m sure it will work out for the best.”
But each nation has different land, different borders, different starting positions (one starts with NO armies on the board!), and different ways of recruiting and fighting. It sounds complicated, but the actual gameplay is fairly simple. The complexity comes from determining the best course of action and trying to react or block your opponents’ actions.
In my writer’s mind, this game spawns all kinds of stories. What kind of manipulation did it take to convince the Chancellor of the Lion Nation to march its armies into a complete disaster? What of the soldiers themselves? What does that do to the morale of the nation? Every game produces more ideas, more concepts.
I love board games. I love stories. When one inspires the other, I love it even more. A War of Whispers is a solid addition to my collection and will be played many more times.
Until All Curses Are Lifted only has a few reviews online, but each one so far has been overwhelmingly positive. Here are some samples:
From Midwest Book Review: “An inherently riveting read by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a distinctively engaging and entertaining narrative storytelling style, Until All Curses Are Lifted by Tim Frankovich will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections.”
From Elle Espiritu, Reedsy Discovery: “I was part of this world. I cared for its people. Even the Leper Assassin Kishin tugged at a corner of my heart. I genuinely cried over a pivotal scene at the temple of Theon, the one that proved just how powerful a mother’s love can be. I felt shivers when the two seemingly separate tales of Marshal and Seri finally intertwined. The good people are set on their sworn duties and even the most villainous of creatures had something significant to fight for… I can’t wait to read more.”
Jarrod, on Amazon: “I was blown away after I finished reading this. With a slow start to introduce the world and its mechanics, the book quickly picks up into one of the most intricately designed stories I’ve read in quite some time.”
Christopher K., on Amazon: “I have not been this captivated by a story in a very very long time. Characters, world crafting, and plot were all very well developed. The writing was very good and supported the story perfectly. I have already recommended this to several friends, and will continue to do so. Can’t wait for the next one!!”
Sherry, on Goodreads: “Really enjoyed the adventure, the truth shining through in each character. These are people you can care about. Well done! I look forward to the next in this series coming out soon.”
From the Tales from the Book Dragon blog: “Clear your calendar for a few hours. Put on the teapot or fill up the coffeepot. Grab the holiday cookies. Lock the door. You need time to get to know these new friends and enemies. I loved this book. It world is filled with characters who are highly imaginative and yet, undeniably realistic in that they can be sympathized with and related to. Odd, isn’t it. This is a land I would love to visit (wouldn’t want to live there, mind you). Frankovich has given the world a new series to sink our fangs and claws into and I, for one, plan to.”
Reviews are the most important thing for a writer (besides sales). If you’ve enjoyed this book, please take a minute to let others know on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. You don’t have to write like the reviews above. One sentence and a star rating is enough. But the more reviews a book gets, the more interest it gets from others. Thanks, everyone!
FINISHED! I just wrote 1495 words today. That brings the total for National Novel Writing Month 2019 to… 50,092.
What does this mean to you, the reader? It means I’m 50,092 words closer to finishing the first draft of Until All Bonds Are Broken. If you check the bar on the right, it’s showing I’m over 77% done with the expected length of the book.
There’s a very strong chance that I’ll finish before January 1. But the climax of the story is here. I have to step back for a couple of days and outline things more specifically. There are a lot of “moving parts” to get right here. So many characters. So many plot lines. All of it coming together in… well, I can’t say much more.
Most ominous line I wrote today: “They don’t hunt in packs, do they?”
Where else can you find adventure, monsters, curses, walkers between worlds, a detailed magic system, a leper assassin, & a rusty old flail, all for under one dollar?!?
You already have a copy? But do you have the ebook copy? You should get it. And a few for your friends. Send them the download links while they’re waiting in line at Black Friday shopping. They’ll thank you later.
Last Friday, my wife and I drove down to Corpus Christi. On Saturday, we took part in the second annual Wordfest, a book festival and symposium held at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. We had a great experience.
They had a contest for best decorated table, so we went all out, as you can see from the photo. The fiber-optic lights represent Seri’s color beams of magic. There’s Victor’s flail. And a friend loaned me the big metal dragon. No, there aren’t any dragons in this book, so he’s holding a sign that explains that. The result? We won second place!
Such a diverse group of people. For the day, my table sat in between a local Christian radio DJ (who also wrote a book), and a college professor promoting her book on social justice activism. (She sold more than I did, even though she was charging $35!)
I did sell a few books, but I also got to share my experiences and advice with several young writers who are hoping to publish their own stories. We talked about independent versus traditional publishing methods, and the difficulties involved in each.
Most amusing conversation I had: the one with the college girl who said, “I’m always curious to talk with people who write for money.”
Manning an author table is great fun, and I hope I can find a few more opportunities sometime soon.
Unfortunately, this event, with the travel and everything else involved, put me behind on #NaNoWriMo. But not by much! I’ll write more each of the next few days to catch back up. I have just over 10,000 words to go. The end is in sight!
Since I’m writing 1600+ words per day during NaNoWriMo, it’s hard to find time to update the blog. So here’s a quick note to let you know that the writing is coming along great! As always, you can track my progress on the bar to the right.
So far this month, I’ve written over 28,000 words. That’s a big chunk of the book. I’m right on schedule to finish 50,000.
I’m about to hit a part of the book that is still a little vague in my mind. I know what happens, generally, but there are a lot of details to work out. I may have to take a day off from writing just to outline.
If you haven’t joined my mailing list, now is the time. I’ll be leaking a few excerpts from what I’ve written only to mailing list subscribers in the next few weeks, starting tomorrow.
Update! After the first six days of NaNoWriMo, also known as November, I’ve written 10,175 words. That’s right on track for the 50,000 word goal. One fifth of the way there!
That brings Until All Bonds Are Broken to over 60,000 words right now, or around 47% of my target.
Interesting notes about what I’ve been writing the last couple of days: Volraag is getting a lot more scenes than I expected. Also, yesterday involved a bit of romance. (“Finally!” says certain readers.) I won’t say who the scene involved, but some of you might be surprised.
A few days ago, I finally wrote a scene that’s been in my head since the first chapter of book one. This one brought me to tears, so I hope it has a similar effect on you. It’s kind of the turning point of the entire novel.
For those unsure, or if you’ve forgotten, “NaNoWriMo” is National Novel Writing Month. Started way back in 1999, NaNoWriMo is a challenge, a community event, and a source of motivation for thousands of writers. In short, writers take the month of November to write an entire novel. More specifically, we try to write 50,000 words.
In a sense, this is accountability. You’re letting people know how much you’re writing on a daily basis. And it works! I’ve done it twice now. The first time, I wrote most of an earlier novel (that I’ll work on revising and re-writing next year some time). The second time, I made 50k words of progress on the novel you’re all enjoying now, Until All Curses Are Lifted.
This time? Well, if you’re following along, you know I’m working on the sequel, Until All Bonds Are Broken. I’m approaching 50,000 words on it already, and should be there by the end of this week. That means, if NaNoWriMo goes as planned, I should be at the 100,000 word mark by the end of November.
How does that compare? The first book is 139,568 words long. So if we assume that book two is comparable in length (and I assume that it is), then I’ll be over two-thirds of the way through by December 1st.
As always, you can continue to follow along with the tracker in the right column. Or if you want more specifics from me, follow me on Twitter where I post words counts and occasional vague hints. Or… better yet, join the Mailing List, where I’ll post some actual excerpts sometime soon…