Next book, working title JIHAD

About 80,000 words

Part One – November 20th

Part Two – December 20th

Part Three – January 20th

Complete Draft 1: February 1st

Overview (very, very tentative)

Nasheen is a society that violently emerged from a strictly conservative Judeo-Christian sort of religious background that had brutal social rules regarding the roles of the sexes. Some deserts and ancient runes and irrigation canals and etc. Magic was always taught according to what practices were appropriate for each sex. Hermaphrodites were considered abominations, homosexuality was outlawed and punishable by death, adultery was a crime punishable by death, women walked around in purdah and weren’t permitted leave the house without a male escort, polygamy was the practice of the day, prayer occurred six times every day, and everyone lived by strict adherence to the authority of a prophet/monarch. This all went to hell when the war between Nasheen and its neighbor, Chenja, became desperate.

Most of the men were dead and famine was coming. The government and prophet/monarch were corrupt. Women took the lead and trained for the frontlines. They worked as guerilla fighters, left children and old women at home to care for younger children and work in the fields, and managed to hold the border mostly on their own. They had to start learning magic relegated to the opposite sex, and with the help of a very talented and charismatic woman named Neive, they managed to gain some ground.

Religious texts began to be interpreted more and more liberally in order to allow for this dramatic and necessary change, women began stepping up into government positions left open by husbands and brothers, and when the girls left at home got into their teens, they got interested in politics, banded together with some of the pissed-off soldiers who blamed the prophet for the death of their comrades, husbands, sons, and mothers, and stormed the palace and tore the prophet apart.

Neive was elected hereditary monarch, and her female descendents ruled until just recently, when no female heir was available, and a son married a woman from neighboring Ras Tieg. 220 years after that uprising, the war is still on, technology is advancing at a surprisingly clipped rate, the same kinds of magic are now taught to both sexes, men are still dying on the front (which also keeps their numbers down), and women make up about ¾ of all of the government positions. The monarch is called a queen, but she acts in the capacity of a sort of hereditary president who’s got veto power over the main government body.

We’ve got trains, bug tech (which includes a sort of radio technology), opium, guns, prayer, rampant racism, magic illusions and trap castings (with some ball lightning thrown in), alchemy, a couple of cults, and the beginnings of photography technology (which is rapidly replacing organic bug castings, which die).

Enter our plotline. Queen Nasyaan – the daughter of the Ras Tieg Queen and the male heir to the Nasheen monarchy – puts a bounty on the head of her brother, who killed their mother (the Queen from Ras Tieg had abdicated just months before). Nasyaan offers a lordship (or whatever) and a big pile of money to whoever brings him back. More money if he’s alive, but dead will do. His name’s Rasheen, and he’s headed into their sworn enemy state, Chenja.

Enter our characters. We’ve got Nyx, whose brothers have been killed in the war, and she’s gotten cynical about life and politics, so she went into bounty hunting. She’s got no skill in magic at all, but she’s smart and a good fighter. Having no magic, she’s had to assemble a team. There’s Rhys (the geeky nerd-boy of the operation), who’s from Chenja, Anneke the martial artist (who acts as the Firefly Jayne character – the muscle), Kos (the magic-user) whose from a southern country called Mors where the sexes are still divided due to magic and religious prescriptions – he fled because he’s a flaming heterosexual – and Taite (also from Nasheen), who’s in charge of gear, logistics and communications.

Nyx and Rhys have got the sexual tension thing going – he’s from Chenja, the sworn enemy of Nasheen, (classic) and she’s vowed never to “sleep with the help” though she hops into bed with people of both sexes over the course of the book. She’s also got some serious racism issues to deal with in regards to Chenjans, and him being one in her face all the time is great. Anneke and Kos hate each other and argue all the time, but they have tension in a Zezili-vs.-Nathan (in book 2 of the fantasy saga, which I’m writing concurrently) sort of way, in that their arguments are going to bite and snip all the way through and then ¾ through the book they both look at each other sideways.

Kos and Taite are great buddies, with a brotherly loyalty that might make for one of the strongest relationships in the book. They boast to one another about their sexual misadventures – Kos’s about women, Taite’s about men. Nyx met Kos in a brothel, where they both slept with the same woman (though not at the same time). Nyx doesn’t much like Anneke’s violent tendencies, and doesn’t trust her, because Anneke worked for and betrayed one of Nyx’s rival bounty hunters, but Anneke’s too great an asset to push out. Taite used to work for Raine, Nyx’s current bounty-hunting rival, and dropped Raine to work for her after meeting Kos in a bar and being recruited for his skill in communications. Taite doesn’t much care for Anneke because of her rivalry with Kos, but he and Nyx are close. At some point, Anneke and Rhys are probably going to sleep together.

Nyx and co. take the Queen’s offer and go after Rasheem into Chenja, there’s lots of fights, interrogations, kidnappings, betrayals, a rival bounty hunter named Raine, some literal backstabbing, and an open ending that gives us character arcs and an insight into just what it is that fuels the war between the states, but leaves potential for further stories – if anyone asks for another book.

I’ve got a good five-page plot point overview and shorter three-part breakdown. Currently working on a chapter-by-chapter breakdown. Ideally, I’d like to try something diff’t this time in that I’d like to, you know, PLOT my book out. I’m tired of spending 6 months writing a book and two years rewriting. Drives me fucking nuts.

So. To work. See you all on Monday.

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