I promised some readers that I would share some short fiction about Iliya Radov from Conviction. This piece is set during Iliya’s time in the army, approximately a year before Conviction. It was originally written as a character study.
Personal note: You may have noticed my lack of being online/using social media lately. I had a concussion (undramatically acquired, and I’m okay), so I’m only slowly getting back to using computers. Luckily I had this post drafted already, so while I get back to normal and update you on what else is going on, here’s a little story for you.
The noise in there was too loud for him to have a conversation with the barmaid unless he cheated and he wasn’t that kind of guy. Iliya caught her eye and smiled. Yes, he would like to order. The barmaid’s lips moved. Iliya couldn’t hear a word, but the shapes distinctly looked like, “What can I get you, soldier?” The movement of her eyebrows suggested an emphasis on the second pronoun.
He pointed at the tall mug on the counter next to himself. Its owner was deeply involved in a shouting contest of the friendly kind with his neighbour and none of them paid any attention to the newcomer. Iliya mouthed, “Beer, please,” not bothering to speak the words.
The barmaid nodded and turned away from him to fill a mug. Next to him, the mug’s owner suddenly got up, swayed and bumped into Iliya. There was a brief and awkward moment when the man tried to convince Iliya that he had no quarrel with him and managed to insult him twice though Iliya could only hear a few of the words shouted at him. Once by saluting clumsily, the second time by trying to make out the rank on his uniform. Iliya was not going to explain it to him. If he didn’t know what he was by the grey accents and the insignia, it was fine. Iliya wasn’t here to brag. And, besides, what did he have to brag about? The drunk staggered off, presumably to relieve himself of some of all the liquid he had poured down his throat.
Iliya sighed. He caught a glimpse of his own reflection in the shiny, grotesquely disfiguring surface of a bottle behind the bar. He quickly studied his own face. It wasn’t bad. No one could tell. No one had been able to yet. He looked up again, brushing a stray lock of hair away from his forehead. The barmaid was talking to another customer now and he did not have his beer yet. Had she forgotten? Iliya leaned against the bar, uncomfortably attempting to look comfortable.
“Excuse me!” someone yelled into his ear.
Iliya’s right hand instinctively clenched and he brought it up to the other person’s face. A man with a tray full of empty mugs and bottles was standing there, clearly just trying to get past him to put the tray on he counter. Iliya looked at his own hand and brought it back down quickly before anyone noticed what was happening. He smiled at the man who had startled him, but judging from the other’s expression, it probably looked more like a sneer. What was he thinking? Oh no, that was he problem, wasn’t it? He was not thinking. He stepped back to allow the man to pass which he did, cautiously.
Iliya slowly exhaled. He was in a simple bar in a simple town where no one knew him except the handful of drunk soldiers on leave in the far corner who had not asked him to join them – which suited him rather well. No one here was out to get him. No one here was his enemy.
His hand was hurting now. He needed an outlet for the energy that he had instinctively gathered. He reached out to touch the mug on the counter. With a little luck, he would make the contents boil and no one would notice. But no. The mug was empty and the ceramic surface broke and fell apart with a loud cracking sound. Iliya quickly gave it hard push so that it crashed onto the floor. It was better to play the clumsy drunk soldier than to be considered a jumpy wizard in a uniform. The man with the tray turned around, and Iliya apologised as well as he could over the general noise.
“Your beer!” called the barmaid now.
Iliya looked at her with the first real smile that he had smiled in a while. “Thank you!” he shouted and put enough coins on the counter to pay for the broken mug as well as his own beer. He took a grateful sip of the foam on the top and then went to find a place to sit, undisturbed, cradling the mug in his hands.
I was tagged by A.J. Lundetræ in this cool, little challenge. The concept is simple:
The 777 challenge requires you go to Page 7 of your work-in-progress, scroll down to Line 7 and share the next 7 sentences in a blog post. Once you have done this, you can tag 7 other bloggers to do the same with their work-in-progress.
I had a few WiPs to choose from, but I picked the rural fantasy novel I started this spring (it’s been on the backburner due to the SWP, but I hope to get back to it soon).
The excerpt takes place just after the siblings Sarah and David have arrived in their uncle’s mansion in the Devon countryside. – So, here are my 7 sentences:
His name was written in black ink and swirling letters on the cover. A book about him – or for him? He opened it and found all the pages blank.
Just then, uncle Mortimer’s voice rang out. “Archibald!”
David jumped to his feet. Now who was Archibald?
That’s it! Any guesses as to who Archibald is? Or why David finds a book with his name on it?
I’m choosing not to tag anyone specifically, but I invite you all to play! If you do pick up the gauntlet, please leave a link to your post in the comment section. I would love to see your exceprt!
The last chapter of Conviction was released on JukePop Serials a couple of days ago.
I’m very pleased to have finished the serialisation of Iliya’s story. It’s a great feeling to complete a project like this. I’m hoping for a few more readers to catch up because while the judges don’t just look at votes, it definitely will help me a lot in the contest.
I am really grateful for the support and feedback I’ve been getting and happy that I got to be on THTW podcast. And of course I would love for Conviction to be picked for paperback publication, it would be amazing, but I know I am up against a lot of talented writers who have also worked hard on creating their stories, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
Now, something cool happened recently. Fellow JukePop author Aden Ng (who writes some really great serials, by the way. Just saying) invited me over to be the first writer for a series of interviews on his blog. Now, before you start thinking that you’ve heard me rant enough recently, just wait till you hear this: I’m not alone on that interview. I brought two guys with me that you know if you’ve read my serials. Yes, that’s right. Hector Rothenberg and Iliya Radov joined me to answer Aden’s questions, and we get to se if Iliya is capable of cracking a joke and hear what Hector really thinks of Royer. So here is it: Aden’s interview with Hector, Iliya and me.
Anyway … I think that’s about it in the news department.
I’m all out of serial now that Conviction is done. It feels odd. I’ve been so absorbed in editing over the summer that I only poked my head up a little while ago and began to consider what to do next. I have a few works in progress to choose from, but I think that discussion calls for a separate blog post.
Jon-Barrett Ingles over at Black Hill Press/1888 Center is interviewing the writers of the novellas who were in top 10 of the Summer Writing Project at the beginning of August. And I’m one of them!
It’s my first audio interview as a writer, so it was really exciting, a little scary and a lot of fun. If you want to hear me talk about Conviction and serial fiction, you should totally head on over to The How The Why. While you’re there, you may enjoy some of the other podcasts/interviews as well.
Oh, and I don’t think I mentioned it here, but Conviction was also featured on C.M. Skiera’s blog recently. It was fun and a great opportunity as well.
It’s been a while, but I’ve been up to here (insert hand gesture at neck/ear height) in writing and revising lately. Here’s everything you never wanted to hear about my serial adventures so far.
So … Aconitum ended in June. I’ve said it before, but I really enjoyed running it as a serial. At the time of writing this, the novel has 2,393 votes in total and is the 17th most bookshelved serial on JukePop. I’m very, very satisfied with that. I really had no idea what would happen when I submitted it last August, but there’s a bunch of amazing people on the site, writers as well as readers, who have been very supportive and helped spreading the word.
Also, I have enjoyed and am enjoying reading a lot of serials on JukePop as well, and I hope I’m able to support them too.
For now Hector & co are waiting for me to put back on my editing hat and go through one more round of revisions before I seek another platform for the novel. But that will be a little while yet. Because at the moment, all my editing energy goes into Conviction, my serial novella.
I posted the seventh chapter (out of thirteen) last Thursday. So far the reception has been everything I could have hoped for. I must admit that posting weekly chapters and waiting to see what regular readers think of the twists and turns of the story is quite addictive. How the serial will do in Black Hill Press’ Summer Writing Project, I have no idea, but just being part of it is really great. If you need something cool to read for the summer, I wholeheartedly recommend taking a look at some of the titles there. I am devouring a number of them every time there’s a new update.
Oh, I almost forgot. – I said I’d been writing too. I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo again this month. I’ve set a really low wordcount goal for myself because I really just wanted to play around with a few ideas and see where they took me, and I’ve had fun writing with no plan whatsoever. Some of it may end up as new serial, but it’s really nice to let loose when the rest of my story time is spent editing without making too many solid plans.
Have you read some good books this summer? Or written one, maybe?
Now that Aconitum is complete, it’s time to tell you about my next serial. First, here’s the cover:
I decided to go for something very different from my last one for this and feature the main character on the cover instead of something simple and symbolic.
Conviction takes place in the same fantasy world as a few of my other stories. In fact, one of the characters in it is the protagonist of a story I wrote ten years ago, and he has popped up in two other novels since then. None of them have been published, but perhaps I will get back to working on his story after Conviction.
In any case, Conviction is a complete work in itself, so even though it’s set in the same world as other stories, it’s entirely independent (and I hope that if I someday publish the others, the crossover characters will be little easter eggs for readers to enjoy if they notice).
I wrote the first draft of Conviction in the autumn of 2013. That’s a year after Aconitum, and between them I wrote a middle grade fantasy story (which I’m still working on). I’ve hoped to publish Conviction since its main character showed up in my head, but my main concern was that it was too short. At around 30K words, I felt it was fairly complete, but that’s nowhere near novel length (in comparision, Aconitum is just over 90K words).
Well, then something happened a little while ago. I learnt that the publisher Black Hill Press has teamed up with JukePop for a novella competition, and I realised that Conviction is actually a novella. It has more scope than a short story (and is a lot longer), but its focus is on only a few characters, and the timespan of it is short compared to most novels. So I’ve been working hard those past few weeks to get the first chapters ready for serialisation. The first one went live only a few minutes ago.
So what’s it actually about? Well, have a blurb:
In a world where wizardry is an integrated part of warfare, some kinds of magic are considered too dark and destructive to be acceptable even for military use.
Iliya Radov awaits his sentence for war crimes, and it soon turns out that his fate is in the hands of one of the continent’s most influential men who insists on hearing Iliya’s side of the story before the trial.
Conviction is a tale of courage and carnage. It is a universal story of poverty, education and ambition, of scars on the human soul and of decisions of life and death that no one wants to make.
Three winners will be picked for paperback publishing and the judges will look closely at the novellas’ analytics. In other words; if you are just a tiny bit curious, I would be super happy if you headed on over to take a look at Conviction. It’s 100% free and If you like it, you can support the novella and help me a great deal by voting for it (you can vote once for each chapter).