Sunday, June 06, 2010

Vol. 4, Deviations: Bloodlines, now Live!

Cover for Deviations: Bloodlines

I uploaded Bloodlines, the fourth Deviations volume, this morning. That book and preceding Deviations volumes are now available for free download from my website,, and

To tie this in with the Sunday Scribblings #218 theme of "Mess," Bloodlines addresses the aftermath of what I'd originally envisioned as a trilogy. Volume 3, Destiny, contained its own form of closure, but I had turned my invented world on its ear. Two ways of life had been destroyed. That left my characters and their communities vulnerable to new problems, and to opportunistic forces attracted to the vacuum left behind.

My characters refused to leave me alone after Destiny. Thrust into an increasingly unstable world, they come out flailing -- or they cleave to the past, sure that they can apply the old ways within a new context that itself is in flux.

Bloodlines had also been a messy draft, seen in my entries during 2006, my second year of writing the book. In "Neologism" I coined the term "recrap" -- a melding of "recap" and "crap" -- as I wrestled with my own expository dumps.

This is the only volume in the series that I drafted -- eventually -- in a completely nonlinear fashion. As I wrote in this August, 2006, entry, "Instead of having one neat file with its scenes lined up in an orderly row I have scattershot. But the more I write, the better focus I get on the story lines that take precedence. I can better shape the overall picture of what is essentially an ensemble piece. I know better what to trim, what to expand, how to fit the pieces together eventually."

For example, the lesson I learned here:
I felt the turning point three nights ago. I'd been struggling with a scene I knew was important, but I just couldn't get a handle on it. It was too device-driven. The characters were like little black boxes whose true emotions I couldn't reach. I was merely smearing their actions on the page and wondering what the hell I was doing as I watched layers of crap multiply from one rewrite to the next.

The aftermath of that scene started nagging at me, so I jumped ahead. The characters let me in there and I breathed easier. I knew what I wanted to accomplish, the role of the scene in the story line, and they were being accommodating.

Then one of them suddenly went ahead and did something so unexpected and profound it took my breath away. I sat at the computer with tears in my eyes and my jaw hitting the floor. In an instant I understood what the preceding scene that was giving me so much trouble was really all about, and why it is more important even than I had imagined. Everything made sense. I knew what emotional tone I needed to use and the events that would later predispose this character to do what she did, setting in motion her contribution to the crux of the story line.
As a result, what I had originally envisioned as a single scene became two chapters. But I had to make a mess of things before I could find the solution.

More notes on my process during the writing of Bloodlines can be found here, here, and here.

Two more books in the series remain. I plan to release Vol. 5, TelZodo, in December. Born at the end of Vol. 2 (Appetite), the title character is a toddler in Bloodlines, but his personality and those of his peers are already taking form. Bloodlines is the fulcrum of the series, presenting both a cultural transition across the region and beginning a transition to the next generation of characters.

Thanks to John Ottinger, whom I met at Oasis 23 last weekend, for his mention of the Deviations series here. I've been following him online (check out his book review blog list), so it was a pleasure to meet him face to face. (My Oasis report is forthcoming.)

In other news...

My story "Icarus Redux" is up at Niteblade -- you can read it here.

Micro-fiction "Empty Nest" is up at PicFic, here. PicFic also used my photo of manatees as the prompt for its Pic of the Week #10. You can see the photo and Simon Kewin's poignant interpretation here.

My poem in microcosms here stemmed from the same article that had inspired my April 8 sonnet.

My poem "Shrine to the Disconnected" has been accepted to the special apocalyptic poetry issue (#90) of Dreams and Nightmares -- more on that issue here.

I'm also about to send my fourth box of hair and fur to the Matter of Trust Hair for Oil Spills Program. Thanks again to Best Friends Grooming Salon, Heather's Bark Avenue Pet Spa, and Quick Stop Barber Shop for collecting the bags.

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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Cover for Deviations: Covenant, Second EditionCover for Deviations: AppetiteCover for Deviations: DestinyCover for Deviations: Bloodlines

Vol. 1, Deviations: Covenant (2nd Ed.)
Vol. 2, Deviations: Appetite
Vol. 3, Deviations: Destiny
Vol. 4, Deviations: Bloodlines
Free downloads at the Deviations website and on Smashwords.
Go to to access Covenant, Appetite, Destiny, and Bloodlines in even more formats!
Participant, Operation E-Book Drop. (Logo credit: K.A. M'Lady & P.M. Dittman.)
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