The Music of the Spheres: A Dalliance of Prose


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A couple of years ago, I got to beta read the awesome novel Eleanor by Jason Gurley. Twice. Seriously, you should totally go and buy a copy, it has the most beautiful cover, whether you get the UK or US version. Once it was a trilogy and that was when I fell in love with Jason’s cover design and decided he would be the one to create the covers for my own trilogy, The Changing of the Sun.

But it also inspired me to write something else.

I was at college at the time, doing a creative writing course. Oh and I was getting distinctions, like a record-breaking number of them. To be fair, I had twenty four years on most of my classmates in terms of practice. I was bored and going back to school gave me something to focus on, and a hell of a lot of stress.

But I also had this idea, started sketching out not a chapter but a precis for the arrival of an alien race who communicate via music, who have learned to manipulate reality by changing the core melodies of the universe. All through the eyes of a deaf young woman named Sophie. On the other side, in another time, are two aliens, a mother and her son from the world of Parthi. Jaithiri, the Soloist of Peace, is a retiring diplomat offered a place as part of the mysterious Chorus. Her son, Raathi, is left with a mystery of her disappearance and her research into a dead planet. At the same time, he dreams of a girl who doesn’t look like any known species, though he finds her kind in Jaithiri’s notes and the mysterious point in history simply called Before.

The tenses for this are fun; third person present. Oh and I’m writing it in a font called Cochin which is reminiscent of the way I was taught to write cursive as a child. Note the old-fashioned way of writing s. This was how my old-school teacher, Mrs Askham, instructed me in writing ‘properly’ long before the computer keyboard and shiny fonts:

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Sophie herself ‘speaks’ in italics, as above, without quotation marks. She signs, though she can speak. She prefers to do so only in the company of her cat and her close family. I’m still not exactly sure how Sophie’s story meshes with Raathi and Jaithiri, only that the Chorus is involved. I’m also pitching this as a young adult romance, a stand-alone story, that has a dream-like quality.

I’m writing the ‘alien’ bits first but it’s fun as I know very little about music and I love the idea that music can shape the world and transform the universe.

One in Blue, the Other Green: Kickstarter Plans

© Scarlett Rugers
© Scarlett Rugers

With shipments of Beyond the Stars Beneath the Sea and A Star Filled Sea hopefully going out this week, I’m calling both Kickstarters to a close. This means I can finally sit back and take a moment to celebrate production, the beauty of the print copies and the art. The fact my spare room is now a place to sleep and not stash boxes of books and rolls of brown packing paper.

Most of the time I do my Kickstarters while manic. This isn’t great from an organisational point of view and mania tends to break any ability (which isn’t much to start with) I have with basic mathematics. As maths goes, next to PE, it was possibly my worst subject and I freely admit it. I’ve worked out I’m going to need about £2250 to get the project done. This is before any art and breaks down like this:

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I did have one plan which occurred to me, not just as a smart bonus but also as a cheap one. I could, quite easily, bundle my Zoe story Sweetness in Sorrow, at the back of OiB, tOG. The two stories intersect, with each protagonist appearing in the other’s tale, plus Sweetness has already been edited and published as part of BTSBTS. That means, aside from making the print copy a tiny bit heavier, there are no extra costs involved aside from the cost of the physical copies, which is something I can budget for.

The added bonus is people get an extra story and I can use it as the kick-off point for the relaunched Kickstarter for A World of Strange New Things (of which Sweetness is the first part). It’ll be easy enough to add in a custom Kickstarter link and time the relaunch to coincide with the physical release.

 © Scarlett Rugers
© Scarlett Rugers

My current task is, of course, to offically being my two active Kickstarters to a conclusion. This is, however, a given as I’m this close to shipping out. I’ve labelled all the labels, asked those who haven’t given me their addresses to do so. There will be, perhaps, one or two people who never get in touch. That makes me sad, especially as my autism means I like to make sure people get what what they pay for.

But there we go. I’ve done my best.

OiB, tOG is my nerxt choice for crowdfunding because it’s short and self-contained. It’s also the prequel to the final book in the Changing of the Sun trilogy and helps open up the modern period of the Ashteraiverse. It’s ultimately the story of two sisters and the problem with prophecy; as Harry Potter and Cersei Lannister learned, the moment you find yourself embroiled in one, it’s like being tied up in knots. The trick isn’t to escape, however, it’s took look for wriggle room.

Elyn is an old soul who remembers. That’s her gift. It’s not going to make her life easier, especially when her mother, Dene, the Mother of Visions, foresaw her wearing the blue of the Aian Order. Her twin sister, Kana, wearing the green of Ishvei’s priests. Of course, all her elder sibling wants is her ‘rightful’ place and the power it brings. Elyn, on the other hand, will become Regent of the Grear Kishai but she would rather run to Earth than live anywhere near Kana.

Along the way, Elyn will carve a life for herself. She will love, have a daughter and become the leader of a city’s alien population. But there will also come a day when she will have to look her sister in the eye and deal with their mother’s prophecy.

OiB, tOG is about 76k, so let’s say 80k once I’ve finished doing revisions. The novel itself is complete and will need editing, it’s something to think about Kickstarting, probably around August. This means I can hopefully have it done and with my backers by November.

This gives me plenty of time to redo the Kickstarter project page, do a video and what not. I’d love to get it done in time for a pre-Winter Kickstarter for World, even if it doesn’t start being serialised until January. At least I now have a plan for the second half of the year.

Blurbs: The Fractured Era and The Broken World


This morning I officially started the next draft of The Fractured Era and actually the 40k I have is a solid basis. I know exactly what happens and when/how. It’s quite reassuring actually.

Oh and here’s the blurb: 

Everyone in the Union knows the name Juran Elaspe.

Everyone knows he was the father of intergalactic space travel, a polymath, an engineer and architect of the first artificial intelligence. They know the ship he created, bearing his name, was there when the waters parted and the races gathered.

No one knows how he died. Not really. Or how he lived.

Born on a planet segregated by sex, Juran is raised to believe that male, female and progenitor make family, no more, no less. He excels in school and makes important friendships which will last his entire lifetime. And one, fatal, mistake: he falls in desperate, hopeless love with the wrong person.

In an attempt to save himself, Juran buries himself in building the first interstellar ship, a vessel capable of going beyond the Sirian system and into deep space, far beyond even their greatest telescopes. In the process he will lose his mind and himself, for love, for his creation, for his species and their future.

And it won’t be enough.

There’s a lot less of The Broken World but I do know the plot. Also I know it includes a cameo from Kella, who appears in The Parting of the Waters. This book takes places maybe ten to fifteen years after the Gathering. I know Amel Denium (also of Parting and TFE) dies and it’s not in a pretty way.

He’s one of the big witnesses for the commission trying to find out exactly what the Directorate got up too. Going from ambassador to a criminal in the span of a few days. He’s also the lynchpin in the Commission’s case, one of several people, living and dead, who become figureheads for the corruption.

His daughter Kella serves, right at the end, to help Jaada come to terms with her abilities and her role in what is, by anyone’s estimation, one of the great stories of the Union, and Atridia’s, history.

Here’s the blurb:

Jaada Serani cannot forget and forgiveness is bitter on her tongue.

A talented author, her past is stained by incarceration in a madhouse where she almost lost control, creating worlds and universes from the ether. For a single moment she tasted transcendence and now it haunts her every time she picks up a pen.

Though freed, she lives in terror of losing control and is trying to live quietly, teaching others how to spin words into stories. In the aftermath of the Union’s birth, when she is asked to return home to Atridia, her first reaction is fear. She has run to the heart of the known universe and yet her species’ past continues to chase her down.

Once world-spanning, the Directorate has collapsed; it’s death-rattle echoing across known space. A century’s worth of crimes have finally laid in the bare light of day and no one is sure of what is truth and what was manufactured to suit the Directorate’s control.

Lies were told, a gender subverted and people erased from history but the Directorate did a good and thorough job. Now the past is muddied, faces obscured and countless made to disappear in the name of the greater good. 

A natural muse, sensitive to the flow of reality, only Jaada can retrace the truth path of the history the Directorate tried to alter. Only she can restore what they tried to expunge.

But doing so might just destroy her.

Sounds good, yes?

Oh and The Divided Land, I’m pretty sure that’s going to be the name of one of the novelettes or novels Jaada writes during the second book, even if it’s going to appear in the first (maybe it’ll span both). Jaada is, first and foremost, an author so framing fact as fiction is going to come more naturally to her, especially as she’s sensitive to the narrative and great stories of reality.

I’m pretty sure the second book will echo the ‘story within a story’ narrative of the first, though I’m not sure what it’s going to be called or even what the story is. I like the idea of the balance though, of current events and a fictionalised, but accurate, past.

I bought a sketch pad this morning so I can draw maps. I like having something to refer to, plus there are a couple of locations I need to work out, like Taborin, the capital city of the Directorate’s continent-spanning empire. I just need to be in the right mood to do it, and finish timelining. Just writing this post has revealed a couple of new things I didn’t know which is just exciting.

Wish me luck.

Let’s Try This Again: The Fractured Era and The Broken World

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It has a title page, ergo it must be real!

Opening up my timeline file got the juices flowing, I’m not sure if I’m ready to actually start yet but I have ideas. I’m basically planning to write The Fractured Era and The Broken World together. However there’s also another component to this called The Divided Land, I’m not sure if it’s a novella or a story within a story (probably in TBW as Jaada, the protagonist is an author) but I do know it focuses on a war between north and south and the creation of a manufactured disease. Oh and the creation of the Atridians’ third gender, the Ubani, as well as the religion which elevated them to the state of ‘mortal gods’.

Timelining is allowing me to fill in gaps I didn’t even realise were there, wonderful spoilerific bits and pieces which allow me to answer questions I did have. Names mentioned in passing have back story, purpose and a reason for being remembered. I knew, for example, the Directorate had staged some kind of coup but had no idea why or how. Similarly, I knew the Ubani were a recent addition to the Atridian species, looked upon with derision and blamed for the near extinction of their race, but didn’t know why.

TFE and TBW are easier, both have plots revolving around the secret history of their own civilisation, a sanitised history a la 1984. Except, by the point Jaada gets involved in the second book, the dying Directorate has done such a thorough job no one has any idea what’s truth and what’s their version of history. Juran, on the other hand, is torn between his work and his curiosity about the Ubani, the worst thing anyone can develop an obsession on during the period in which he lives. That and falling in love with your best same-sex friend. Except Juran never thinks of himself as gay, he’s just in life-long love with his closest friend, something which transcends friendship and isn’t necessarily reciprocated to the same degree.

Juran, on the other hand, is torn between his work and his curiosity about the Ubani, the worst thing anyone can develop an obsession on during the period in which he lives. That and falling in love with your best same-sex friend. Except Juran never thinks of himself as gay, he’s just in life-long love with his closest friend, something which transcends friendship and isn’t necessarily reciprocated to the same degree. Juran’s story was never going to end well. Especially not as his name lives on, longer than he does, in the form of the first Atridian starship which is given his name in memorium of his work on it.

Jaada is straight but has been burned by love. Her boyfriend turned jealous and burned her books, seeing her committed to a mental hospital for the crime of loving writing more than she loved him. By the time of TBW, she’s free of him and the Hall of the Mind but the scars run deep. Now officially a resident in a city on another planet, it’s only when the newly-elected representative of her homeworld seeks her out and asks for help, recognising what Jaada is, and how she can help Atridia account for its sins in order to deal with a shiny new future.

I’m planning on posting excerpts (usually out of order) on my Patreon under the $20 tier. I’m not doing this to restrict access but I do want people to want to see this stuff. Plus the money will help me write the books, covering my expenses while I work but also giving me an audience, which is the most important part. I work better knowing people are there, that they want to read the books.

I’m looking forward to getting started, properly, on this project. I have so much rough work that now I have a stable outline, it’s going to see much scrapped but that’s not a bad thing. The story is there, it just needs transcribing and polishing.


Giving Patreon a Second Chance

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I wanted a chance to really interact with my small but growing fanbase. I also wanted a place to put random short stories, pieces of short fiction and detail my novel writing process. I’m about, once my mood lifts, to start The Fractured Era and The Broken World, the Atridia Duology. I’m not normally a fan of paywalls but I also want to try a longer term form of crowdfunding, with videos and all the secrets of how I write.

Even a dollar helps so please do check out my Patreon page now. Pledges go out on the first day of the month but I’m asking for monthly amounts so a single pledge will get you a lot of content, plus having people who want to read my stuff, it keeps me motivated. Right now that can only be a good thing.

First Drafts: A Non-Fiction Extract from The Fractured Era

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My favourite bit about writing is actually doing the non-fiction bits which add a little more flavour to the worlds. Sometimes they’re news items or book excerpts. The one, one of the first bits I wrote for The Fractured Era was this little piece designed to send as an opening to the main text. This establishes the facts of the book: Juran Elaspe is going to die and he’s going to meet his end for all the wrong reasons at the hands of a government that wants to prescribe societal norms. In this case, a three-person family (male, female and progenitor) plus children.

He doesn’t fulfil those normals, not in the least and that’s where the story lies, at least some of it anyway:

Though spoken of, often in the same breath as Eria Daen, Albert Einstein, Radak Icheb, Kadjat Suru and Nikola Tesla, Juran Elapse’s contribution to the annals of science is often fixated on his tachyon sail and the ship named in his honour, one of his life’s greatest works.

But this is a man who created one of the first artificial intelligences (acknowledged by scholars and scientists alike as Kalafia, the keeper of Maros’ Orrery in Kasan, Coronis), who struggled his entire life with what the Atridian government still call a ‘terminal illness’ despite that fact that love didn’t kill Juran Elaspe, the state did. 

His death was one hundred percent avoidable and starkly contrasts how the Atridian Directorate blithely chose between the genius of its scientists and extinguishing their lives to keep the status quo intact once their usefulness was extracted.

A status quo which died within two generations of the Gathering but still remains spoken of like it was a Golden Age, even one made of pyrite.

Taken from Juran Elaspe: A Short Biography of the Father of Interstellar Travel.

The best part is, I actually feel ready to write this. The world building, the story, it’s a flower waiting to open and I love that. The first draft is always where I get to learn the story and that’s the best bit. I know where the story begins and ends but how I’m going to get there, that’s like driving without knowing which route you’re going to take to your destination.

I know this book is about artificial intelligence, sexuality, gender and religion and faith in an age of science/a giant conspiracy. I want to explore a society built on the bones of a whopping great lie, a scientocracy forged in a desire to destroy the other in the same of survival. The other, in this case, is another civilisation whose existence has become a ‘you or them’ scenario. This is why it’s called The Fractured Era, because it revolves around the Singularity.

New Short Story: “When the Stars Fade”

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I’ve been wanting to write a space story for a while and Kadjat Suru was mentioned, off-handedly in two other Ashteraiverse stories: The Fractured Era and “Constructed Mind, Reforged Soul”. Both Teiru and Juran know the name as being one of the pioneers of science, in Kadjat’s case she was a noted Atridian mathematician who specialised in launch trajectories and she was also the first person from her planet to die in space.

“When the Stars Fade” was always her story and began with a single line: My name is Kadjat Suru, I’m the first and I’m alone.

I discovered several things about Kadjat, primarily that she was married to a woman named Hesri and that relationship which pushes her to join, at her boss’ insistence, the space program as an astronaut. By Juran’s time, her life has been sanitised (same-sex relationships having been banned under the Directorate and partially blamed for the near-collapse of society during the Singularity) and it’s known she had a spouse but Hesri’s name and gender were wiped from the history books.

Kadjat became a loyal member of a fake past where she went into space for the advancement of science, willingly giving her life to prove it was possible to leave the planet. In reality her mission was the first step in a much larger plan, to colonise the neighbouring planet of Arcadia. But none of this is public knowledge by the time of Juran’s birth and only the Ubani remember her wife even existed.

Of the two of them, Hesri was the religious one and a follower of the Ubani sect, the religion which grew up around the progenitors who also serve as the Atridian’s third sex, needed to carry children until they’re ready to be born. This ability has turned them into mortal deities and being blessed by them is seen as a sign of good fortune, especially during weddings and naming ceremonies. By the time of The Fractured Era, however, the sect has been banned and no one remembers what Ubani actually means, much less their former place in society, except the persecuted progenitors themselves.

Kadjat remembers Hesri telling her about the Ubani belief that souls are the stars in the sky. After her wife’s death, that throwaway comment is behind her desire to go to the stars and see if she can find Hesri there. She doesn’t believe she’s literally there, of course, but it becomes Kadjat’s motivation to do the impossible. Except things go wrong and the story concludes with the tragedy that secures Kadjat’s memorium in Atridian and Union history.

Now to let it rest and get the final pass for edits/tweaks while I figure out where to send it.

The Juran Elaspe Project (AKA The Fractured Era)


I need to get back into novel writing. I’ve been focusing on short stories since January but novels are my true calling. Specifically the Juran Elaspe project, The Fractured Era, my novel about an alien genius who creates his world’s first artificial intelligence as part of his work on a starship which will eventually bear his name (and features heavily in The Parting of the Waters).

The picture above popped up on my Facebook feed a couple of weeks ago and I looked at it and went: “That’s Atridia!” I eventually found it on Shutterstock and am determined this image will make it on the final cover once the story is done. I know it’s fake but it’s also beautiful and the fact that someone made it, it doesn’t stop me from loving it any more.

I’m still trying to decide on a name for this novel (though The Fractured Era is the current front runner) but I know it is set during two time periods, the main one follows Juran Elaspe as he balances his personal and professional lives in a society that has decided he has a sickness, just because he loves someone of the wrong gender. The fact that the other person refuses to admit his feelings are mutual and that his own career is more important … well, that’s the interesting bit.

Interspersed is the story of a bureaucrat who lives through the Singularity, a cataclysm which sees the power of a world change hands, heralding the beginning of a scientocracy. I’m not yet sure if this person was Juran in a previous existence or if Juran finds some record of this person while researching forbidden texts (maybe he hacks the Directorate’s servers or sneaks into their Archive of Forbidden Things). I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a box of letters found in an attic from his grandparents, some deep family connection that could—if revealed—be the final nail in Juran’s coffin.

There’s a conspiracy. Of course, there is and, sometimes, not even the determined can win. But this isn’t a story about defeating a big, bad government. It’s much simpler than that.

Though I’ve written a large amount already, I really do need to go back to the beginning and sketch things out. I have a large Moleskine in which to draw maps, to map out a timeline of events (both past and ‘current’), plus a smaller one in which I first started scribbling a few months ago.

I’m quite looking forward to getting started on this, it’ll be nice to have another long project to do. The outline is there, it’s all about getting the words down and seeing where we go with this. I do know, however, that it’s one of two stand-alone novels set in the period before the Gathering (also featured in Parting).

The second book is called The Fourth Race and focuses on the Willan diaspora and their attempts to find a cure for the plague which is sending their race to extinction. Neither are connected, except by where they’re going to end up and that’s another book I’m hoping to get written this year.

But until then, it’s time to worldbuild.

The Ashteraiverse: Writing Aliens without the Alien

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I’ve been writing a lot of short fiction lately, some of which I knew from the start were set within the Ashteraiverse, except it’s not obvious unless you recognise certain characters. Most of the time I try to avoid giving characters recognisable species or appearances, it’s just not important and I’m not a very visual person anyway. Many of these stories could pass as secondary worlds or futuristic sci fi but I never once reference these characters as human because they aren’t.

I’m being careful not to send them to anyone who might think they’re secondary worlds because that would be misrepresentation. This is an important thing to me because I want to make this stories stand alone but also be part of a larger canon. So while the civilisations and planets are definitely not Earth, it’s not always obvious if the protagonists are human or not. I like it that way … the species isn’t important, the stories are.

“When the Stars Fade” is the story I’m currently working on. It started out purely from referencing Kadjat Suru as the first Atridian to go into—and die in—space. I mentioned her as part of Teiru’s litany of names in “Constructed Mind, Reforged Soul” and she’s one of the many pioneers of technology and science that Juran Elaspe thinks of during The Fractured Era (my next novel project). I just had this line in my head which said:

My name is Kadjat Suru, I’m the first and I’m alone.

Until she started talking, I didn’t even realise Kadjat was female. I did know, however, that this story is set maybe a hundred plus years before the colonisation of Arcadia and perhaps two centuries before the Singularity, the cataclysmic event which sees Atridia embrace technology and sees their governmental system subsumed by the nefarious Directorate. This is how my characters tend to speak (and why I’m sure I’m just channelling people in another dimension or something), telling me the story as we go.

Kadjat is remembered almost like Laika from the Russian Space Program—except she was never supposed to die. The story is a meditation on life and death, especially as Kadjat only became an astronaut after losing her wife, Hesri, who was brutally murdered by a former boyfriend. Becoming the first person to go into space gives her something to focus on and her progenitor, her birth parent, raised her on stories of the stars which have lingered through her life. Now she gets to be the first person to go beyond, to where the stars shine.

“The Mystic of Room 316” is set on Atridia. I want to say it’s a contemporary story but I’m not all that sure, even if the final scene takes place on Mnemosyne (and so after the Gathering of the Races). In truth, I’m not one hundred percent sure but it feels like it could either be set in the period just after the Gathering or far into the future around the time of Contact with Earth (or at least a little before). It doesn’t matter, it’s not about that, it was inspired by my Bipolar diagnosis and my—albeit misguided—fear of sectioning.

The main character, Jaada, isn’t mentally ill, at least not when she was was admitted thanks to the malicious conniving of her ex. The problem is that she has abilities which don’t place nicely when medicated (she’s a Muse, albeit a wild and mortal one). Being confined to a ward and medicated makes her abilities turn inward and rather than inspiring others, she begins to lose the ability to tell reality from the worlds built in her head … and then begins to create unstable realities of her own, albeit ones unable to last more than the span of a dream.

“The Technopath and the MMO” is the only story so far actually set on Earth, it’s also straight sci fi set in the period after the Esper Registration Act is brought into force (and just after Contact in August 2015). I’m still writing this and it’s a lot of fun as I’m an old school MMO player. Daniel, the protagonist, is a normal kid who doesn’t realise he’s a technopath and gets hooked on an MMO called Empires of Eternity. Oh and he starts leveling his character in his sleep which means I have to finally figure out how a gaming server can tell the difference between a computer logging onto the net and a human brain.

“Constructed Mind, Reforged Soul” is set on Coronis and Elara, the smallest world of the Alcyone system of the Pleiades. This one is definitely the most recent of the tales and I’m pretty sure, regardless of the ending, Teiru is going to reappear somewhere along the way. This was one of those stories I wrote to exorcise demons and, stuff like this, it helps. Plus I really wanted to write another story featuring Kalafia (the computer program from The Parting of the Waters), this time fully sentient.

I have other stories in mind, these are just the most recent. Also, I really need to get back into writing something novel length before I lose the skill entirely. Next week, I think, and we’ll start The Fractured Era. I have a larger Moleskine all ready for it. Yes, that sounds like a plan.

A Star Filled Sea is Live!

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Publishing an ebook brings with it a certain amount of terror and abject fear about typos.  But, yeah, A Star Filled Sea in the hands of my backers and live on Amazon (click the cover to go to the purchase page). This time, I’m also trying out Draft2Digital to publish on other platforms like iBooks and Kobo without having to laboriously go to every site and manually upload. I’ve only heard good things from other authors and if it saves me a couple of hours/eases the process I’m all for it.

This is also my first book as Asha Bardon (and Amazon have kindly suggested I update my author page to reflect the name change) and it’s kinda nice to know that this is a new page in my writing career. Do please pick up the book, the print edition is in process, and don’t forget to leave reviews. They make authors happy, including me!