Random in Rebma

(I tried, but I couldn’t get this to go anywhere.)

Whatever magic allowed me to breathe water in Rebma didn’t apply to smoking cigarettes.


Seeing Corwin walk the Pattern and survive it, stand tall in the center, and vanish surprised me not at all. However the seeing of it did make me long for a smoke. I turned to Dierdre.

She was the only dark-haired sister. Fiona, the red bitch, Flora, the golden girl, and damp, sad Llewella with seaweed-green locks, none of them were dark haired like my brothers. Elizabeth had been. She’d died–I cast my mind back–centuries ago. I’d had never particularly known Elizabeth, but Llewella had.

And, of course, Theophonia, but even a princess of Amber had to respect the double-edged sword of sorcery. Tiffany had not. Odd both dead sisters were dark haired.

Dierdre and Moire stood side-by-side, looking at the iridescent tracery of the Pattern. I watched them as they watched it. Dierdre was the most popular girl in high school, and she’d been that girl for about a thousand years. I wondered if she still thought she was there, fighting the other girls for the best boyfriend, the nicest class assignments, to be the most popular girl all the other girls looked up to. High school had been a nightmare, and I couldn’t imagine reliving it after escaping. Maybe it was different for girls.

She was pretty enough. To be the most popular girl in high school, she had to be pretty. But she also had to be approachable, smart, and status hungry, she had to get the right boys, and surround herself with the right friends. She didn’t have to be just popular, she had to be more popular. How was that going to work? Would her connection to Corwin strengthen her, or weaken her, now that he wasn’t here?

For that answer I looked to Moire. She had definitely slept with Corwin. He hadn’t said anything, but she had that look. She was effortlessly relaxed, and her green skin was flushed. Her skin was made of leaves instead of deep ocean. That’s how Morganthe looked after a good bedding. Moire didn’t watch the Pattern longingly, and by her face she wasn’t as interested in departed Corwin as I was in a cigarette. She looked like she was coiling up a train of thought, knotting it, and putting it out of the way.

Dierdre, tall, dark, and thinking, did the bloodline proud. I didn’t like her, but she was working angles already. Shorter, curvier, and greener, Moire was feeling an emotion to be finished. Dierdre wore finery that floated in the water, wrapping her in a gauze of Amberite power and hinting at sexuality. Moire stood topless, open, and present.

I really didn’t like either of them.

The Pattern fires subsided. They dwindled like the dying fountains after a water show. I’ve seen those in Shadow. Corwin made me think of Vegas. The power of Amber had danced in the Pattern like a ballet of waters as Corwin struggled through, and now that he was gone, the sparks flared, subsided, flared again, and always their peaks were a little less. They would never disappear. Soon they would reduce themselves to some background level of noise, a flash of power here and there, and roil the floor of this room like waves breaking against the beaches. Always, there would be waves, but the walking of the Pattern by the Blood of Amber raised a hurricane.

But he was gone.

Dierdre looked at me. “So you’re getting married. Congratulations.”

“Thanks,” I said.

Moire turned away from the Pattern and looked at us both. She looked back at it like it drew her. In the corner of the first Veil where the ribbon-like path draws close together, eddies carried cyclones of blue sparks, and elsewhere waves of the same sparks beat against each other. But they were fading. Moire drew her gaze away.

“Come away from there, Random. You owe us a year, and I’ll not have you escaping.”

Green-wench, I owe you nothing. I did a favor for a brother, but owe you? Nah.

Of course, I didn’t speak. I wasn’t going to elevate her to the status of one who talks to a Prince of Amber.

Dierdre turned to Moire, another popular girl, and started working. What was she going to do? Run for class president?

“Queen Moire, I’m so delighted to remain with you, for a while. I can’t wait to get settled, and if everything goes well in Amber, I’ll always remember you.” Dierdre smiled effortlessly.

Moire turned from me to her and raised her eyebrows. She didn’t seem to imply curiosity; if I could read her expression, it said, ‘Noted.’

The one I was related to continued, “Now, since there’s going to be a wedding, you can tell me how you’d like it and I can get started. A ceremony with two Amberites present, three if Llewella leaves her room, will be quite an affair. On the other hand, it’s only for a year, so we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. Shall we talk?”

“Of course,” said Moire.

To prevent anyone from trying to escort me, I turned from the Pattern chamber first. I suppose I could make a break for it, but it was a year. What’s a year?

They might even let me go early, if I was obnoxious enough.

Outtake from Sauron Explains It All 4

Toward the back of the group, Llewella and Gerard stood in similarity and contrast. Both watched the arguments with something like boredom. He outmassed her by a margin of a wildebeest, but they both had perched on the same rough boulder. She stared into space, he rubbed his beard, and their siblings fought with each other.

Suddenly, he leaned toward her. “My liegeman Vo Tallath sends his regards.”

Llewella stared blankly.

“Vo Tallath,” said Gerard. “Dark hair. Little mustache. He likes you.”

In another time, Llewella would come to a brilliant reply. She thought of several of them in the shower the next morning. Instead, she blinked like she’d an eyelash caught in her eye. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t listening at all. What did you say?”

Gerard didn’t look offended. “One of my liegemen likes you. He sends his regards. Vo Talleth. I hear he’s handsome. I forgot until just now.”

Llewella massaged her damp hair. It seemed like it never dried. “Oh, a knight. Gerard, I’m not really interested in knights.”

“I’ll let him know. Too bad, though. He’s well read, and you came up in conversation.”

“How did I come up in conversation?”

“Vo Talleth thinks he’s something of a wit. His mouth is somewhat quicker than his sword arm, and neither has remarkable aim. On a float he said something funny to an Admiral Hahm, who didn’t find Vo Talleth’s remarks nearly as witty as Vo Talleth did. The admiral assigned him to write an analysis of Teylon Gramm’s amphibious invasion of the West Isles. Long story short, Vo Talleth came to me because I have pretty much everything ever written on the subject, and after he’d discovered I’d read far more than he had on naval tactics, we started talking books and the family. I figured you’re the other best read, and he mentioned he thought your were pretty. I said I’d pass it along, and I have.” Gerard waved his hands like spreading a feast before her.

Llewella, for her part, grimaced. “Tell him thank you very much.”

“Got it.”

Before Gerard could space back out, Llewella asked, “You think you’re the best read member of the family?”

He nodded. “I’m pretty sure I am. I have to read twice as much as the rest of you to keep up, so I read even more to stay ahead.”

“You found a way to be a meat head about reading.”

Gerard shrugged and grinned.

Llewella looked up at him and said, “That is both deeply shocking and somehow exactly what I expected you to say.” She shook her head.

Gerard wore a wry smile. “If you can’t keep up, I’ll assume I won.”

Now Llewella looked ever so mildly annoyed. “What are you reading now?”

“Chrissom’s Modern Logistics for Medium Range Fleet Operations–which I don’t suppose you’ve picked up.”

“I have not,” she admitted.

“Pity. It’s a page-turner. And Busong’s Obscene Poetry for Terrible People.”

“Is that the one full of dirty little limericks about the court?”


“Aren’t you in there too?”

“Frequently and unflatteringly.”

“Then why in Amber would you read it?” Llewella demanded.

“Because he had jokes. He called me the lesser cousin of cattle, lacking a cow’s utility in the dairy barn or the bull’s utility in the ring. He said it better. Interesting guy. Got killed in a bullfight.”

“Am I in it?”

Gerard lost his wry smile. “No.”

“I’m not?”


Self Publishing

Recent events have certainly helped me put my difficulties with Amazon in perspective.

I think I’ve fixed the carriage return issue. It will take a few days to propagate. The error did not appear on the ebook page, so that’s good.

Mara and the Trolls will come down from AO3 in a few weeks, perhaps a month, when I shift to Kindle Preferred Publishing. That enables me to run sales and advertisements more easily, but they require that Amazon have the lowest price. MatT (heh) can’t be available for free anywhere.

Obviously Matt’s (heh) writing will remain most places, including AO3. And if it matters, I encourage all not-for-profit use of my works, including fanfiction, provided they’re disseminated for free. There’s a GNU that covers this, and I’ll figure out which one it is.

Blindly Falling in Love

Spoilers abound

Blindly Falling in Love is the work of UnicornofAmber. I spend all my time thinking about writing, so I’m going to blather for a while.

The world needs more Amberfic, and by God they’re going to get it!

As the author describes in the summary, Corwin doesn’t interact with Vialle much. He speaks with her once towards the end of the first series, but swiftly discounts her interactions in his somewhat self-absorbed way. It is this egocentrism that defines Corwin and also provides the motivation for much of his evil in the beginning and redemption later one.

However purely selfishly, it also denies us readers a chance to figure out what these other people are doing. Bluntly, what’s up with Vialle? Why does she do what she does? Random himself is imperfectly described, and Corwin takes him to be a little gremlin early. Random’s also capable of casual murder, which sets up some interesting contradictions in Corwin. (Corwin saves the truck driver’s life and then leads a million odd creatures of shadow to their deaths) But with a dearth of detail about Vialle’s feelings for Random and herself nearly a lacuna, their meeting and interactions that prelude Random gaining the Throne of Amber are nothing more than a sense of wonder. We know stuff is going on, but we don’t know what. Into this valley of sonder charges the UnicornofAmber.

Three chapters in, and I get the impression that the author really cares about the characters.

Beginning with the lead herself, Vialle is both interesting and still strangely blank. We learn the how of her personality but not the why. The opening scene, before the wedding, we get little description of how Vialle perceives the world outside of some description of the soundscape, and little description of Vialle by herself. As an aquatic creature, how does she perceive a room? How does she perceive herself? We get insinuations of loneliness, the odd, comfortable loneliness of the long term solitary before losing it, as well as a surge in excitement and trepidation to be married. She’s unhappy to be married to an Amberite but tells herself to be grateful she’s getting married at all. She has a list of names, ready to mind, of people she can’t marry. She violently reacts to her own reactions. There’s a lot of good internal conflict in there, and internal conflict is as delightful to read as it is unpleasant to feel. Sort of like walking into Mordor, I bet.

The sensation of both excitement and resistance crops up again in the wedding, as she fights Random a split second to ‘see’ him first, and almost immediately kisses him thereafter. One gets an immense feeling of need, like she’s desperate for someone, and when she finds out her someone is Random, she goes all in. Random hasn’t really done much yet, and that’s fine.

Moving on the heart of the story is obviously Vialle’s imprisonment with her husband, and other than an incidental stabbing of Caine, she gets into his prison and he’s a bit horrible. I’m slow to throw stones as Eric does imply he might kill Random, and being jailed under a sword of Damocles might make anyone a bit cranky. Here again Vialle seems to take things in stride.

The obvious purpose of the first chapter is build a character and get her into jail with Random. It works. While details are a little sparse and our narrative is more Hemmingway than Austin, the ride to jail is interesting enough to get things done.

The rest is rough. There’s no sharp scene break between introduction and wedding. We don’t get a description of Vialle, or possibly more revealing, of people like Moire that Corwin’s already described. I kinda wanted to compare and contrast their descriptions. Likewise we don’t even get a description of Random by Vialle’s fingers, and I found that lacking. If she cares, we as the readers care. Likewise, the fight with Caine is truncated. She feels the knife, and then it’s at his throat. She gets the jump on a Prince of Amber, and UnicornofAmber doesn’t narrate it? I wanted a bit more.

But again, in the second chapter with Vialle and Random alone, the fic hits its stride. Again there’s a complex dynamic, but again I don’t have the description I need. I don’t really know what Random sounds like. Is his voice high and nasal? Low? Does he speak fast or slow? This element of showing isn’t included, and while the MC being blind means we don’t get visual descriptions, I wanted some aspect of what does she see. None of that is game breaking, because the dialogue is fast. She and he aren’t together emotionally, but they’re stuck together physically. There’s pressure and tension. They’ve got two beds in the same cell (which I liked a great deal). I wanted a little more setting.

The third chapter is similar. Eric appears but is undeveloped. In the books, Eric is somewhat askance at Vialle, doesn’t want to have an incident with Moire, and his motivations are a blend of selfishness or diplomacy. He doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time.

This ends the review
What follows is advice for UnicornofAmber

If you have a strong plan for what’s ahead, stop reading here. You’ve got a good story. Random and Vialle work, and their interactions are charming. I want to read more. What follows is my reaction to a problem I see coming. Three chapters is early, so you might not go down this road at all nor need my help. You’ve got good stuff here as is, and I think you can develop this a lovely little read.

But if you want some developmental help:

I don’t know why Vialle does what she does. Random isn’t doing anything, because he’s in jail. Eric is undisclosed. Caine’s a sleazeball. Cool, I get all of that, and I buy it, but WHY?

I want to take a moment to talk about plot. There are two basic plots, situational and character driven. Situational plots work best for series and the plot happens to the characters. Think murder mysteries or NGE. Plot happens. “Bob is dead. Who did it?” or “Get in the robot, Shinji!” Things happen to the characters and as a result, things must be done!

The other type is character driven plots. These are better for constrained works, because when the plot is over the book is done. Stand alone narratives work like this and most novels (we’ll pick on Stephen King).

All plots follow the same progression.

1) What does the character want?
2) Why can’t they have it?
The answer to 1 is motivation. The answer to 2 is the plot.

1) What does Macbeth want?
To be king.
2) Why can’t he have it?
Because Duncan is already King.

So what does Macbeth do? Kills Duncan. (Spoiler, but it was written >300 years ago.) The entire story is the result of this action, and the counter reactions.

When Macbeth gets his crown his motivation changes:
1) What does Macbeth want?
To stay king.
2) Why can’t he have it?
People are investigating him for murder.

Pet Sematary:
1) What does Louis Creed want?
His son back.
2) Why can’t he have it(him)?
His son is dead.

So what does Louis Creed do? Buries his son in the Pet Sematary.

When the character gets what they want, is forever forestalled from getting what they want, or gives up on wanting that thing, the plot is over. Roll credits.

You liked the character of Llewella, so I’ll break her down in the Nine.
1) What does she want?
A) to make a home for herself and B) to be respected
2) Why can’t she have it?
A) She doesn’t feel welcome in Amber nor that she belongs in Rebma and B) Moire is exploiting her power as queen to keep Llewella in her place and C) orcs are attacking

Moire of course sees things very differently, and the magical rings Bleys is handing out like popcorn are totes not involved. You pointed that out yourself.

1) What does Obrecht want?
Rings of power
2) Why can’t he have it(them)?
Other people have the rings.
What’s he going to do? Bad stuff.

Returning to Falling Blindly in Love,
1) What does Vialle want?
Be with Random.
2) Why can’t she have it?
She can. She does. By the end of chapter 1 she’s with Random.


So I’m asking myself, what’s going on? What else does Vialle want, and how is she going after it? What does Random want, and how does Vialle interact with that?

This is the reason I complained above about a lack of detail in Vialle. I don’t know what she wants other than to be with Random, and she is. Since we know the ending, and Vialle and Random will stay together, I don’t know where it’s going to go. They can break up and get back together, but I’d like to know why she wants to be with Random.

Allow me to speculate. Does she have dependency issues? That’s perfectly fine, and perhaps much as she teaches Random not to be a little turd, he teaches her about self worth.

1) What does she want?
To be with a great and mighty prince of amber because she’s worthless (motivation that she must take action to achieve in and of itself).
2) Why can’t she have it?
Because if she doesn’t think she’s worth anything, Random agrees with her and as a Prince of Amber, he’s holding out for someone better.

This leads to conflict (she’s after him and he can’t get away because he’s in jail). Ultimately she has to do great things to get his attention, and he makes her realize she’s a worthwhile person to make her go away. That attacks her motivation, up above. This causes her to undergo catharsis and realize she’s a worthwhile person.

1) Now what does she want?
To be with/repay the person who taught her she was worth something.
2) Why can’t she have it?
She has to persuade him she understands this to catch her man.

This is actually a great plot, and a flip of a common story wherein the man chases the woman. I find the idea of a blind girl chasing a mighty Prince of Amber amusing. She’s also going to have to reach down deep and find inner strength because catching her Prince of Amber won’t be easy.
Then, when she’s with Random, she has achieved her motivation, and her arc is done. Coincidentally, Corwin arrives with guns out of Avalon, and the OS continues.

ON THE OTHER HAND, you can write a plot driven story like NGE or murder mysteries.
1)What does Vialle want?
To stay with Random (motivation that won’t, by itself, induce any action).
2)Why can’t she have it?
The Black Road has brought monsters out of Garnath, and they’re all going to die.

So Vialle needs to save some people, and I don’t know why it would be her instead of the Amberites.
Actually, that’s super obvious. Black Road creatures kidnap Random and his siblings are all perfectly prepared to leave him for dead. Only the blind girl cares. She must follow the Black Road or shadow or wherever to save him.

The more I think about that, the more I like it, and if that’s what you’re going to do, ignore everything above.

Where I’m going with this, all of this, is the character that drives the plot, the main character, the protagonist, must be motivated to achieve, acquire, be, or do something they cannot achieve, acquire, be, or do because of adversity. This is an identity. The character wanting the things and doing the actions to get the things is the protagonist. If Vialle is the protagonist, she must yearn for something she can’t have (at least not at the beginning) because her actions to achieve, acquire, do, or be will be the action of the story. When she, or whomever, gets it, or her motivation changes such that she is no longer taking action to drive the story, her story arc is done.

And now, for GRAMMAR.

I hate it too, but eh.
I strongly recommend:

Or buying a copy of Strunk and White: Elements of Style. You should be able to find a used copy for a couple bucks, and it’s probably the best and most useful book on English grammar there is.

Big or major words in the title should be capitalized.

Blindly Falling in Love

All dialogue needs truncating punctuation. If it is followed by a dialogue tag (he said, she said, he muttered, he continued) wherein the verb is a synonym of said, use a comma for the bridge and a period at the end. The word that follows the comma is not considered the beginning of a sentence, so only capitalize if you would normally.

He said, “Janice, I shot a man today.”

“I know,” she replied.

See commas? The intervening comma replaces a period. The closing period remains.

For action tags that tell the reader who’s doing the talking but are not themselves dialogue, use periods. Interpret this strictly. It comes across as being very strange. For example, one cannot laugh dialogue. One can say dialogue while laughing but not well

“If you tell anyone, I’ll kill you.” He got up and pointed at her with his knife.

“You don’t have the balls.” She laughed.

If the comma would be a punctuation mark other than a period, use that instead.

“Never say that to me again!” he yelled.

“What are you going to do, coward?” she asked.

Show, don’t tell.

Telling: While singing Vialle noted that Random’s breathing slowed down completely, indicating to her that he was finally asleep.

Showing: While singing Vialle noticed Random’s breathing slowed. Every third breath emerged as a snore, and in his sleep he whistled.

Use forms of to be, such as was, and setup verbs, such as begin, less.

“Alright.” nodded Vialle as she strode back to the table to search for an apple and began to take a bite out of it.

“Alright.” Vialle nodded as she strode back to the table to search for an apple. She took a bite.

(Notice the adjustment of the descriptor action. One cannot nod words outside of perhaps Morse Code, and I don’t think that’s what was going on here)

I don’t want to go into too much more depth, because grammar and style become inextricable quickly, and my style may not work for you. But never be afraid to use said nor use a more flowery term because you feel like said is getting boring. Many authors exclusively use said. I disagree with that entirely but do think said should be the default dialogue verb, perhaps aside from asked for questions.

Anyway, good luck and happy writing.


I’m really trying to push some new ground with this one. I’m playing with my verb choice, trying to avoid state-of-being verbs except as tense indicators and use more transitives. I’m also manipulating some ideas. I’ve got a 1 chapter buffer right now, and hopefully that will grow to two or three, as I need a bit of margin to go back and fix plots that don’t pan out. It’s going well, though. I write slow, so this is a real challenge. And I need more challenges.

You can read the Nine here at AO3.