Manga Read Along: Red River Vol. 6 – An Independent Woman

I am moving right along on these recaps. I’ve realized at 28 volumes, Red River is a very long series and I need a way for everyone following along to keep up in case they are just joining me or missed a post. For that reason I’ve created this master list of all my Manga Read Along posts in one handy place here.

When we last left off, Yuri accepted Prince Mattiwaza’s devil’s bargain to live in his seraglio as his concubine. As one of his servants leads her to her chambers, she tells Yuri that she is his 29th kept woman, one for almost every day of the month. Between them, the women of the seraglio have over 200 servants. Yuri expresses dismay at this but the twins tell her that Mattiwaza’s harem is nothing unusual for a man of his rank.  In fact, Kail is outside the norm in that he has neither wife nor concubine before Yuri.

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Reflections on Remnas #3: Flower in the Gale

This is a revised essay on Tales of Remnas Book 2 that I thought for a book event:

Flower in the Gale is book two of the Tales of Remnas. In this one, we follow Rekki and Arshé as they return from their mission to Rekki’s ogre clan. Now that he has recovered the legendary armor of the long dead ogre king, his reputation soars but not everyone is prepared to give him a hero’s welcome. There are many that fear Rekki because they stand to lose their established power if he consolidates the clans of the Wildlands. Chief among them is Ragnar, the reigning chieftain of the clan who views Rekki as a threat to keeping leadership confined to his family line.

With tensions rising, Arshé struggles to establish herself among the ogres. She is determined to protect her mate from his external enemies but the greatest threat might be to their own relationship. Passion brought them together but can their bond survive adversity as Rekki rises to power?

Flower in the Gale was written differently than the rest of the Remnas books. In Flower Among the Ashes I discovered very quickly that I needed a chapter by chapter outline to keep the story on track as it takes place over the course of several years and goes through several distinct arcs. I knew that I needed a way to keep the story from getting too big and starting to ramble all over the place. I even had a draft where I started the story earlier in the time line but I junked it after a few chapters and started over. My idea for Ashes was keep each act within a certain word count and, since each act could have been a whole novel by itself, it was key that I couldn’t have any scenes that would constitute ‘fat.’

For Flower in the Gale, I prepared an outline but instead of, detailing it chapter by chapter, I broke the book into three acts and very briefly described what would happen in each. This actually made Gale very hard to write as I had to make up more as I went along than I normally do. Surprisingly, I don’t think you can tell that everything wasn’t meticulously planned from the beginning and I had a lot of doubts about how it would be received. I thought readers might feel it was sloppy and lacked focus. Luckily, it got the thumbs up from my beta readers. I didn’t get any of the criticisms I thought I might.

The process taught me two things. First, it is much easier to write when you have a detailed chapter by chapter outline. You are forced to focus and plan before you ever set the first word to paper and that helps keep you from writing yourself into a corner. My outlines know run about twenty-five to thirty-five pages. Second, I have to put away a draft for at least six months before I feel like I can honestly access it. There are times you are going to feel like you are writing the worst thing ever because some scenes are just more a struggle to get out than others. Because you know where the warts are, that will make you more critical of your own stuff. If you tuck it away for a bit and come back to it, you might be able to say “Oh, this scene is actually pretty good” instead of saying, “Blah! This was such a bear to write. It took me three days to write more than a thousand words.”

Manga Read Along: Red River vol. 5 -Like a Boss

As Kail lulls the king into a false sense of security by playing the part of a coward who wants to sit out the war, Yuri second guesses the wisdom of his strategy. They are unarmed in the heart of enemy territory with only five servants for back-up. With their army outside the city gates, they have nothing to stop the palace guard from murdering them. Kail shows Yuri off, bragging about his beautiful new concubine, and kisses her openly to give the impression that he is feckless lech. After he’s played the part of a decadent idiot to the hilt, he announces he is retiring to his guest chamber to boink Yuri.

The king concludes that Kail is a harmless fool, nothing like the talented and shrewd general his reputation paints him to be, and decides that they will take no action until Prince Mattiwaza returns from the battlefield. He will let the prince have the pleasure of striking Kail down. In private, Kail finally reveals the full scope of his plan to his followers. Now that they are in the heart of the fortified city they will take it in five days through sabotage. They will learn the guard’s patrol routes and then set fire to the armories. Once their soldiers are deprived of a way to fight back, they will open the gates, allowing the Hittite army in during the dead of night. Out manned and caught by surprise, the Milatians should have no choice but to surrender.

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Reflections on Remnas #2: When the Crow Smiles

This is an essay that I wrote on When the Crow Smiles for a book event. It is actually the third book in the series but, chronologically, it happens at the same time as Flower in the Gale. It is also my personal favorite:

In the folklore, crows have long been held to be tricksters and harbingers of death, the perfect symbol for my third and personal favorite novel in the Tales of Remnas. It spotlights the second key couple in this complicated tale of honor, betrayal and the redemptive power of (unexpected) love. Caska the Ghastly Smile is a dark elf assassin, a slave trained to ferret out the ruling family’s enemies and take care of the dirty work no honest noble would sully his hands with. She dreams of one thing- freeing her people from the bonds of slavery- and with the Elvenfolk on the cusp of civil war, she is closer to that goal than ever before. One man stands in her way, Sigrund Talrun, right hand man to Ranarth, the wicked elven king.

Sigrund has gone to extreme lengths to prove his loyalty to Ranarth only to find his fealty questioned at every turn. Treason is a crime that Sigrund, who prizes allegiance above anything else, cannot forgive and he jumps at the chance to hunt down the rebellious Caska before her revolution can spread any further. He must chase her beyond the border of the Summerlands to the cold mountains of northern Remnas, forbidden territory for one of the Elvenfolk. Try as he might, the sins Sigrund has committed in the name of the king are taking their toll on his conscience. The cracks are forming in his resolve as he must confront the man that his liege truly is as well as the person he is by association.

Crow is a story that isn’t always easy to like. Sigrund has done some things that are hard to forgive. He’s pompous, a stuffed-shirted, entitled and does his best to remain a toady to a despot. An odd choice for a ‘hero,’ but his crisis of conscience makes for a compelling conflict as he goes through the emotional meat grinder. However, as his soul gets stripped down he just might find his true self under all of his old prejudices (and that he’s a freak between the sheets). Caska is his foil. While no less dedicated to her own cause, she has no delusions that while her goal may be just, her methods take her down a dark and bloody path. Her one indulgence is her strange fascination with Sigrund, a man she should have every reason to hate. In laying his vulnerabilities bare, she might discover a heart that is untouchable is not as invulnerable as she thinks.

When the Crow Smiles was definitely the easiest and the hardest manuscript I’ve ever written at different times during its production. I think wrote the first two-thirds of it in less than a month while working a full time 9 to 5 on top of that. I recall cranking out the outline in one weekend. I usually start my preparation phase by coming up with a few very vivid key scenes to act as tent poles that I build the rest of the story around and it felt like I had more than usual. I had been plotting this story in my head pretty much from the moment I wrote the last quarter of Flower Among the Ashes. From a very brief interaction in the first book between Caska and Sigrund, I knew that this was a pair that would almost as important as Rekki and Arshé.

Just as the story was entering its final act, it became apparent that my grandmother was entering into the end stages of a long running battle with dementia. The work stopped when she was admitted into hospice care and stopped eating shortly after that. It was close to two months before I felt like I wrote face this story again. Even then it was slow going except for a hand full of scenes like Sigrund’s heartfelt plea to Caska near the end very. There would be days when I would just stare a blinking cursor for thirty minutes, write a few lines, delete them. At the end of the day, I felt good if I had a few workable paragraphs. Eventually, I did win the battle and was able to put ‘The End’ after the last sentence. I think what I came up with is one of the best books that I will ever write.

Reflections on Remnas #1: Flower Among the Ashes

I wrote this essay to introduce my book at the Summer Time Lovin’ Book Giveaway event and I thought I’d repost it here:

 

Hello, I’m Genevieve St-Yves and most of you are likely meeting me for the first time. I write The Tales of Remnas fantasy romance series or, as Tiffany likes to call it, (ultra hot) ogre porn. I started writing this years ago with the idea that I would write a series that was epic in scope. A multi-generational saga that took place over the course of at least one hundred years, I wanted it to follow the lives and loves of several key characters each pursuing their own goals. Not only would the series be full of plenty of adventure, with epic battles and daring-do, but the romances be larger than life as well (with plenty of salacious details).

With that in mind, I wrote four novels of a planned ten volume series over the course of about three years. At the time, I had no clear idea what I would be doing with them, and kept forging ahead to get to the next one. Then quite out of the blue, a doctor told me around this time last year that I could be facing cancer. That’s when I got my act together and decided to publish the first novel, Flower Among the Ashes. Literally, the day it was published on Amazon I underwent surgery after which the doctor told me I was going to live. A first novel is very special. For me that goes double because the book saved my sanity during a very dark existential moment.

In Flower Among the Ashes, you will meet Arshé, the main heroine whose journey forms the heart and soul of the Remnas series. She is born into a noble elven family and should be on course for a life of ease. One thing stands in her way- her identical twin sister. According to elven superstition, one twin is effectively a doppleganger, a Lesser Twin, a spirit of misfortune that will bring ruin to everyone around her if she remains unchecked. Her devastated parents decide that they can’t risk destroying their daughter and send the girls away to each be raised by a separate trusted surrogate. In time, they believe they should be able to distinguish the ‘real’ child from the Lesser Twin, and they can send the other into exile. That means a probable death for an elf as they are an isolated race. They go to great lengths to not mix with the other people of Remnas. Arshé is a taciturn wallflower and her sister Lenarsh is charismatic and vivacious. Further complicating her situation is that they both possess the power of foresight. Unfortunately, Arshé can’t see anything but disaster and misfortune while Lenarsh can accurately predict good fortune.

In her first big hard knock, Arshé gets the boot but she learns to survive on her own. Things start to look up for a while when she has a chance encounter with a handsome ogre named Ravik. Normally, this would be the point where things turn around and a heroine finds herself on the road to her happily ever after. Arshé certainly thinks she’s found someone who loves her, but she is a babe in the woods when it comes to relationships. While her time with Ravik gains her some friends and teaches her how to use her  foresight cleverly, she misses the subtle and not-so-subtle signs that Ravik is a bad boyfriend. When the relationship starts to go bad, it goes very, very bad.

Arshé is alone again, pegged for a crime she didn’t commit and hunted for the price on her head. In her darkest hour, an ogre mercenary called Rekki the Black appears and becomes her unlikely defender. Arshé gets swept up in Rekki’s quest to retrieve the missing pieces of a suit of leather armor that has special significance to the ogre clans of the Wildlands. However, her power of foresight is not the only reason Rekki wants her near his side. When he was born an old foreseer predicted that he would become king of the ogres, uniting the clans of the Wildlands and the warring kingdoms along the three great rivers of Remnas. Every king needs a queen at his side and he believes Arshé is that woman. She’s been disillusioned one time too many and it just might be Rekki’s greatest feat to win her reluctant heart.

Manga Read Along: Red River Vol. 4- Woman of Wonder

I will give it to Red River that when it is time to bring out a problem for the characters to solve Shinohara rarely goes for anything less than an invasion force ready to crush the Hittite Empire. Yuri and Zannanza are still in pickle, having been swept up in the chaos after the Mitanni launch a surprise attack on the border. Zannanza instructs Yuri to go find Kail, who he knows must already be on his trail since he did kidnap Yuri, while he tries to rally whatever is left of the city guard to hold off the enemy.

Before she goes, Zannanza apologizes one last time and Yuri is overly eager to declare the whole attempted rape thing water under the bridge. Her rationale is that she “can’t hate a man who looks like Prince Kail” but her internal monologue still indicates that she completely disgusted by what happened. I really hate that there is never any reckoning for Zannanza over this and every time it’s discussed in this volume, they kind of act like Yuri just wandered off with him and wasn’t abducted while screaming bloody murder.

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Flower on the River Cover Reveal and Release Information

I am finally ready to announce information for Flower on the River (The Tales of Remnas Book 4). The Kindle e-book will be available September 4th with the print book trailing by a few weeks.

Synopsis is below the cover image.

river with lily final ebook cover actual size 6-27-17

All Hail the King!

After uniting the warring ogre clans of the Wildlands, Rekki the Black with Arshé at his side seizes Doranell. The common people welcome their new king with open arms instead of resistance. The volatile and war-torn Riverlands country desires peace and prosperity after many years of neglect and they believe Rekki, known as the Good King, can give it to them. As the royal couple strives to merge the country into their empire, Arshé, an elven woman, faces her greatest challenge. She must win the respect of its hostile court. Her future depends on establishing herself as a power in her own right in a place where women are only vessels for continuing the ogre bloodlines.

Enemies Lurk in the Shadows

Rekki rides for the border to battle a stronghold of those loyal to Doranell’s former ruling line. Soon after, Arshé discovers a dark conspiracy within the palace. Traitors scheme to deliver the capital city into the hands of the heir of the fallen king. It’s too late to stop them, and she’s caught in its snare. To save her life and make plans to recover the palace and the capital, she must leave the new monarchy to the conspirators intent on destroying it. With no way to get word to Rekki, the fate of the nation rides on her small shoulders. Will Arshé return in time to repel the invading army that expects to find the city gates flung wide in welcome? With the battle to save the country looming ahead, the bards will sing of Arshé either as a tragic queen or a hero whose exploits are remembered throughout the ages.

 

Manga Read Along: Red River Vol. 3 – The Damsel’s in Distress

Oh my, oh my, oh my. I forgot just how uncomfortable some these story arcs could be. This volume is divided between the conclusion to the business with Zuwa the barbarian and a new arc that pits Yuri against the foe that is almost as persistent as Queen Nakia– sexual assault. When I committed to review the entire series there was a volume that I really was dreading talking about because of this issue and completely forgot how early other instances of Yuri narrowly escaping an attempted rape start cropping up.

After escaping the temple with Zuwa hot on her heels, Yuri bumps into a bearded man. He is Tito’s father and is still laboring under the misconception that Yuri killed his son. Talos wants vengeance but instead of killing her himself, he decides to give her one chance to prove her innocence in a trial combat. He might let her live if she can slay Zuwa and he even gives her choice of weapons from his smithy so she doesn’t have to face him unarmed.

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Summer Time Lovin’ Scavenger Hunt Begins Today

Happy July! Isn’t it great to flip over a new page on the calendar? This month is particularly exciting because it’s also the first day to participate in the Summer Time Lovin’ Book Scavenger Hunt.

We’ll be putting up a new question everyday relating to the works of one our featured authors. You don’t have to know the question off the top of your head. The answers can be found by reading their books’ blurbs. Posting the correct answer in the comments will give the chance to win an e-book of your choice by the author.