Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Don't Go It Alone

   Probably the best piece of advice I received after starting down the road to become a writer was: "Build a network of friends, especially writers, before attempting to publish anything." The closer I get to publishing my first book, the more I realize how important that advice was.
   Even though I'm not very active socially, I have managed to attract several thousand friends on Google+ a quarter of which is made up of writers. I have a Facebook account but that's mainly for family and close relations. I haven't tried any of the other social media sites yet since I don't normally have much to say. I joined a writers critique group and a writers support group several years ago. The two groups serve a completely different purpose but are both equally important. I also gained the attention of a local independent e-book publisher who has been extremely helpful in guiding me along this path.
   Without the critique group and beta readers, I don't think this story would flow as well as it does. They identified problems and plot holes I didn't even know were there. Living on a fixed income doesn't leave any extra money for cover design or editing but here again my friends came through. Several volunteered to help me put together a cover that looks great and others have gone through the manuscript for me to tighten up the writing and to make sure I've got commas in all the right places.
   The point I'm trying to make is that unless you're a highly gifted writer, editor and graphic artist, e-book publishing is not a one man show. It takes a team to put together something that sells. I've lost count of the writers I've run into who tried going it alone and can't understand why they aren't selling books. They usually had a good story but it was presented in a way that kept readers from taking a chance.
   I'll probably spend several more days going over the manuscript one last time and then have my publisher friend take me through the process of getting it on Amazon. As soon as I have a date, I'll let everyone know. The goal is sometime before Christmas.
   For this week I'm back to sharing a scene from my fan/fic.
   Thanks for reading.

   Wait a minute. Something tickled the back of her mind. It had to do with Elayne and Warders, specifically the Warder bond. Egwene realized that Elayne had been unusually quiet the whole meeting and seemed pre-occupied with something, staring at the wall of the tent. Now that Egwene looked a little closer, she saw a slight smile on Elayne’s face and a warmth in her eyes Egwene had never seen before. Oh Light! Elayne wasn’t staring at the tent wall, she was looking right in the direction of Rand’s camp. Little hints, like the pieces of a blacksmith’s puzzle, started falling into place. Elayne has bonded Rand as her Warder! That’s how she always seemed to know what Rand was feeling and where he was. But hadn’t Nynaeve told her that their group first tracked Rand through Alanna and then through Min since both seemed to know where Rand was. None of this made any sense. Blood and bloody ashes! Now she was upset. Upset that she hadn’t figured this out sooner and upset that her best friend had kept it a secret from her.

   “Elayne,” Egwene said, trying to keep the annoyance out of her voice. “I think we should start with the secret you’ve been keeping from all of us. The secret of you and your Warder.”

   At Elayne’s gasp and startled look, Egwene knew she had caught her woolgathering. Elayne recovered quickly though and answered. “You know I can’t talk about that.”

   “I‘m not talking about Birgitte, I’m talking about your other Warder, Elayne.”

   Egwene watched in amazement as a number of emotions flashed across the other woman’s face. Some she couldn’t even identify before Elayne’s training took over and the Queen of Andor sat before them once again.

   “First of all,” she declared. “I am not going to ask for forgiveness for what we’ve done and I don’t regret keeping it a secret. As you will see, there are some very personal reasons behind it and a matter of safety for those involved.”

   That got everyone’s attention.

   “Please be patient,” she asked. “I need to go back to a time before I knew any of you.”

   For some reason she stared at Nynaeve and Egwene a moment before continuing.

   “After the two of you, with Rand, Perrin, Mat and Thom, left the Two Rivers with Moraine Sedai and Lan, the first town you stopped at was Baerlon, right?”

   “I didn’t leave the Two Rivers with them.” Nynaeve grumbled. “But that’s where I caught up with them.”

   With a sympathetic look for Nynaeve, Egwene answered the questioning looks on the older women’s faces. “A story for another time.”

   “Anyway,” Elayne continued. “I don’t think either of you are aware of the fact that the main reason Moraine Sedai wanted to stop in Baerlon was because Min lived there. Moraine knew all abut Min’s ability to look at someone and see their future. Remember, Moraine knew that one of the boys had to be the ________ and hoped that any viewing of Min’s would lead her to the right one. Min told me that when she looked at the three boys, she almost fainted at the number of images swirling around their heads. With so many images she could only be sure of two things. The first being that the three of them are so closely tied together that if any one of them fails then possibly the entire Pattern fails as well.”

   “Blood and bloody ashes,” Siuan blurted out. “That means Perrin and Matrim are just as important as Rand in the upcoming battle. We have been so focused on Rand that no one has been keeping an eye on the other two.”

   At a sharp glance from Egwene, Siuan sat back in her chair muttering under her breath.

   “It’s a little late to worry about them now, Siuan. From what I’ve been able to learn, the two of them have done very well on their own.” Turning her attention back to Elayne, she asked. “What was the second thing Elayne?”

   “When she looked at Rand, she saw that she would fall hopelessly in love with him and that two others would love him also. The viewing didn’t tell her whether or not he would love her or any of the other women. If he did, then somehow the three of them were going to find a way to share him.”

   “Fish guts, girl,” Siuan exclaimed. “That is the most disgusting and indecent thing I’ve ever heard. Besides, I would box the ears of any man I caught trying to juggle three women at the same time.”

   “Siuan,” Egwene said with another sharp look. “Control yourself. It isn’t that unusual. Many Aiel women share a husband and it wasn’t that long ago that the idea of an Aes Sedai marrying her Warder was frowned upon. I think we can safely say that prohibition has come to an end, can’t we?”

   Since Siuan had married her Warder, Gareth Bryne, and Egwene was planning on marrying her Warder, Gawyn Trakand, Elayne’s brother, there was nothing left to say.

   “It’s still indecent,” Siuan muttered.

   As Elayne and Egwene shared a smile between them, Egwene continued. “So, Min was the first, you obviously are the second, but who is the third?”

   Before Elayne could answer, Nynaeve looked up with an incredulous expression on her face. “Aviendha. It has to be Aviendha. Is that what all that first sister business was about?”

   Egwene could only sit and stare as memories of their time in the Aiel waste flashed through her mind. Aviendha was the last person she would have thought of. All the time that they had spent together as apprentices to the Wise Ones, Aviendha had treated Rand with scorn and appeared to hate being around him. And what was this about first sisters?

   “Elayne,” she said. “Aviendha is the last woman I would have ever guessed. Remember, we spent a lot of time together in the Aiel waste and she certainly never acted like she wanted to be near him. Plus, I’m sure I don’t understand all of the intricacies of Aiel relationships and family bonds, but I know that to be first sisters means you have to share the same mother. What am I missing here?”

   With a laugh of understanding and ironic amusement, Elayne answered. “Egwene, the only way to understand Aiel ways is to be born and raised Aiel. I don’t even try anymore. But to answer your last question first, the Aiel Wise ones have developed some amazing weaves over the years. If two women care for each other enough and want to be first sisters more than anything, the Wise Ones have a ceremony that can simulate being born together from the same mother. Actually, Amys acted as our surrogate mother. The experience was so intense and I guess you could say primal, that I can’t even begin to describe it. Anyway, we became first sisters in heart and mind, if not in blood.”

   It was obvious from the look on Elayne’s face and the beginning of tears, that this was still a very strong emotional experience for her and she would need some time to recover. Egwene decided to get up and see if there was any tea left in the pitcher. As she got up, she thanked the Light again that her new chair was nothing like the one she’d had in the rebel camp. That thing would collapse every time she moved it and had dumped her on her backside a number of times. It’s extremely hard to maintain any kind of dignity when you’re on your rump with your dress around your knees. Thankfully, there was still tea left, so she proceeded to fill anyone’s cup who wanted more.

   “No thank you, Egwene,” Elayne grimaced. “I’m still only allowed goat’s milk because of the pregnancy.”

   After Egwene returned to her chair, Elayne continued. “I’m afraid you will have to ask Aviendha about her side of the story, because I’m not sure it’s something I can discuss. But I can guarantee that she loves Rand as much as Min and I. So when Rand came to Caemlyn to drag Nynaeve off on his mad plan to cleanse the male half of the Source, the three of us got together and confronted him, explaining how we felt. Of course, being a man, he thought we were all crazy and gave us some drivel about how he didn’t want us to be hurt when he died at the Last Battle. He finally confessed that he loved all three of us and agreed to let the three of us bond him.”

   “But Min has absolutely no ability to channel the One Power. How could she have bonded him?” asked a very puzzled Nynaeve.

   “Aviendha and I worked out a new weave using parts of the Warder bond and part of the first sister weave,” Elayne explained. “We tied the three of us together and then bonded Rand with one bond. Instead of having three separate bonds, there is one bond with a link to each of us. I had no idea how strong the bond was until something in Rand changed and a circle of blue sky opened up over Caemlyn. I’ve heard the same thing happened over the Stone of Tear where Min was staying. I have no doubt that where ever Aviendha is, blue sky is there also.”

   Siuan snorted as she got up and faced each one of them in turn. “I still don’t know what to think about what the three of you have done. However, it’s obvious to me that we’ve been living to long with the belief that just because something has never been done with the Power means it can’t be done. I’d rather clean out the bilges than admit this, but we Aes Sedai have become stagnant and lost the ability to be creative, which brings us back to the purpose of this meeting. Do we dare let Rand destroy the remaining Seals on the Dark One’s prison? Do we dare stop him? We all know that more than half of the Seals have failed already and the others will fail soon. Are we against it because of pride or because of ignorance? Even the youngest member of a crew knows that when you start putting new patches over old ones in the bottom of a boat, it’s time to replace the whole bottom. This grates on me like a pair of old, rusty oar locks, but I think it’s time we stopped trying to control and guide the _________ and just give him the support he asks for. Didn’t he say that the seals were a last ditch measure taken because the female Aes Sedai of the time refused to help him? If we give him our full support this time, maybe instead of patches he can make the Dark One’s prison whole again. You’ve been speaking a lot about trust this evening, Mother. Maybe it’s time we trust the Dragon to do what needs to be done. Besides, from the look of the world right now, what do we have to lose?”

   What do we have to lose? Egwene thought. If we lose, the world and everyone in it will cease to exist. Could she trust Rand that far? Did they have a choice? She would have to make a decision by tomorrow and hope it was the right one.

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