Writing Your First Novel (or Two) – Update 2

Hello all, so based on feedback from a few awesome readers, I have sharpened up my novel synopsis, shown below. Please know that any comments are greatly appreciated. I can’t tell you how helpful any feedback is.

The temple was quick to call it a gift of prophesy, while such a gift was useful. Llani discovers that her ability is much less of a blessing when she’s spouting omens of death and destruction on the head of the high priest, Isak Tornin. Charged with blasphemy and named a false prophet, Llani discovers that the Goddess Jordaine is not done blessing her yet. With the Empire of Braeth facing a united army of the Western Hill Tribes for the first time in generations, many people are looking for favor in the eyes of the Goddess of War.

Does this seem more direct? Cleaner? I feel like someone without background could easily become lost in the paragraph’s details before.

It is my belief that progress happens when you hold yourself accountable to someone. Hello several virtual someones to whom I am now making a report on my progress.

Fleshing out my main villain- Isak- was the task I set for myself last update.  This was a task that absolutely could not be put off and needed to happen before any further work was done.

In early versions I thought it was more unsettling if Llani didn’t know what he was doing so she and the reader got blindsided by his plans, however after reflection- Llani can still get blindsided, its actually more engaging and suspenseful if the audience watches the trap unfolding. In my opinion it’s going well. With more background on our baddie it is becoming clearer that he isn’t deranged and hateful just to be deranged and hateful.

  • He truly and wholeheartedly believes that Llani wants to bring lasting harm to the temple and the people of the city.
  • He believes that all sin must be expunged, in the old testament sense of things- If the right hand sins better to cut it off and all that.
  • He believes this for good reason. Sin that humans do not deal with tends to be smitten (smote?), by any god or gods who get peeved enough. Gods don’t have very accurate aim. It is directly conducive to living a long lifespan in a city that doesn’t get wiped off the map by the next natural disaster or conquering army, to ensure evil does not become large enough for one of the five gods to notice, get irritated with, and smite. This is particularly true when one serves the Goddess of war, who is incidentally known for deciding and meting out Heaven’s Justice.
  • D) Other, significantly less fanatical people agree with him for similar and different reasons and view Llani and what she represents with distrust and see the necessity of working to contain her influence.

In the midst of all this, I discovered a yawning hole in the plot that focuses on his first attempt to kill Llani.

I had decided that he would be partially successful, one of Llani’s closest allies- Cedes would be killed. And since she was going to die I sorta had her lie down and die. That was it, if she fought her death the audience didn’t see it. Her family was even accepting of the fact that Cedes was going to be sacrificed. The one to save the many.

Upon further reflection that is absolute bullshit for the character as an individual and the family as a group. Instead they are going to wreck shit up. It shall be glorious. Vendettas and hatred to last ten generations, and a mother figure’s decision that if no one will lift a finger to save her child she will watch the whole world burn and lay the ashes on Cede’s grave so her soul may rest easy. And striking the match. And stepping back. And staring into the eyes of the one who betrayed her loyalty, as every network of support he ever built on her and her families loyalty goes up like paper in a bonfire.

Yes. It shall be wonderful.

Stay tuned, my focus for the next update will be

  • Making the mother figure- Brenna more visibly vital, so her defection hurts more
  • Giving Cedes more screen time so the reader doesn’t want her to die
  • Making clearer that although the Prince’s foremost trait is Honor. (He always believes himself in the right, because technically he is. His every action is to uphold the Empire’s Justice.) His actions are still wrong, and a betrayal to those whom he owes loyalty, and there are consequences for betrayal.


It has more sharp teeth than any carnivore has a right to. Its haunches and shoulders are humped and packed with muscle. Large paws show large black claws that scratch the earth with each deliberate flex of those gray-black paws. The breath is putrid, pouring from between those great yellowed teeth in miasmic huffs.

It’s not going to be any of those that get you. It’s the fear. You’re frozen by it, because you’re prey and instinctually you know it. You heart is beating in your throat, in your ears, nigh coming out of your chest. It’s trying to get the most out of the time it has left. Conversely, your breath is stuck in your lungs; your swollen heart is blocking it. You can’t scream, you can’t cry, you can barely breathe. That’s probably best. This is the ultimate the predator, best to move as little as possible.

It doesn’t matter that you are its evolutionary superior. It doesn’t matter that you can read and write, build tools, that yours is a brain that has the ability to build weapons that can wipe out thousands in a bright flash. Right here, right now the fact you have cognitive abilities that this creature can’t dream of is irrelevant. Here, the meaning of life is simple, survival of the fittest. You are a bald, naked, pink creature, with no claws and blunt teeth. Your muscles are weak and the way you walk exposes all your vital organs, neck, belly, throat.

You are Food.

Then it springs. You are dead in a simple crunch of teeth on fragile bone and cartilage.

But you were dead when it first caught you in its dull hungry gaze.

–G.A. Buba

Stripped Asiatic Hyena
Stripped Asiatic Hyena

Its been a busy week, will try to post more regularly


8:10 AM is seared into my eyelids by my phone screen.

I’m clocking 3 hours of sleep for the fourth night in a row and I feel like it.

Because Finals Week isn’t depressing enough, my phone pipes up with a very cheering reminder that it is in fact Friday the Thirteenth

Bad Things happen today, so I wear my lucky testing necklace, and I dress to kill, red lipstick, hair up.

Failure hurts less when you look good.

12:11 PM

The hollow pounding in my skull is probably what’s left of my analytical reasoning trying its damnedest to squeeze out of my head through my eye sockets. Lunch is a haze of leaning on someone’s shoulder, nodding my head at the appropriate points in the conversation while trying to simultaneously keep my eyes open and eat a decent meal before I walk home to my apartment.

1:12 PM

Rain… it is raining. Everything is cold and damp and I am entirely apathetic toward the situation. The apartment is dark and empty, but in the bed is a welcoming cocoon of blankets. No sooner am I face down, I am asleep.

2:13 PM

The ring of my phone is like a jolt of electricity straight to the heart and reflex has it at my ear before I register I am in fact awake.


The silence on the other end is broken by a few choked breaths, and I can feel my throat closing. Nononononono…


“Yeah, mama?”

“It’s grandpa… he passed away this morning.”

I hold my breath, waiting for it to start to hurt…but it doesn’t…I just feel numb.

Mama is sobbing on the line and I can’t think of a thing to say. My heart is in my throat. I want to deny it. He can’t be! I was there just last weekend!

“It’s alright though… the Alzheimer’s never got as bad as it could have. He was happy… at the end.”

I know! I was there! He remembered who I was and he asked me how my engineering classes were, and he sang karaoke after thanksgiving dinner, and he was so happy. He can’t be dead. A person can’t just die like that.

“The memorial service is Wednesday. I want you to concentrate on you finals. Don’t worry about this. Do good, and then come home.”

It’s hard to find something to say, “Alright mama, I will. I love you. I’ll be there soon. Bye,” it sounds so meaningless I almost wish I hadn’t said anything.

I can almost see her, red faced from crying, dark circles under her eyes, “OK, Baby, I love you, Bye.”

The line goes dead and I stare at it for a long while. Slowly, I crawl back under the covers and close my eyes.

3:14 PM

What do you do, when someone you’ve lived with for nine years is dead? Should I put a picture of him on Facebook “RIP Grandpa P. I will always—”

That seems to be what everyone else in the family has done.

Is there something wrong with me? I don’t want anybody else to know. I don’t want the page of single sentence blurbs, “Our prayers go out to—”

If I can just keep it quiet, where no one but me knows, no one will ask. If no one asks, I will not cry, and it won’t really be real. If I don’t cry none of it’s real and I can just be. numb.

4:15 PM

I’ve realized I don’t want to go home. If I go home everyone will be crying and sobbing and grieving… I am afraid I will stand there, dry eyed, face tingling, everything far far away, like I am now, and then they will know something is wrong with me.

I feel so strange, like I’m stuffed full of cotton balls, and all I want to do is sleep, but I can’t , there are finals and papers, and I can’t just shut down.

So I won’t and I don’t… but nothing seems real real.

Wednesday 1: 17 pm

The memorial service is like watching a funeral on television for a character who’s name you know but whose face you can’t recall. It’s not real. It really isn’t, until a slideshow starts to play and Dr. Antonio Penaloza’s voice, cracked with age, begins to sing. His voice fills up the tiny church as he belts out To God be the Glory, and I Will Always Love You at the top of his lungs. My eyes, dry till now are suddenly overrun with tears, too much to blink back though I try, slowly deep achy sobs drag themselves out of my chest, and I clutch my mother’s hand as my aunt presses tissues into my hand so I can contribute to the small mountain that is forming between the three of us.

–G.A. Buba

In memory of my Grandfather Dr. Antonio Penaloza who passed away on December 15th 2013. Loss is hard, we all deal with it in our own ways. Rest in peace grandpa. We miss you every day.

For when you need to believe in life after death G.A. Buba
For when you need to believe in life after death G.A. Buba