As I lay in bed and the early morning hours creep by, the unwelcome heat of the night stealing my sleep away, I find myself baffled by this thing we call Life. It is a phenomenon that is just absolutely incomprehensible.

And I'm not talking about that cliché, "What's the meaning of life?" Not that kind of life. I mean Life. That is, being. Being something. Something different to someone else. I contend that your "soul" is the reason you are within your body, and I am in mine.

And this is what I can't comprehend. Bodies are just things; structures. Blood, bones, skin and plenty of other disgusting stuff all mushed together.

So why is it that I can feel this keyboard. Isn't the body just a structure? Central nervous system or not, it is the soul giving Life to this body that I cannot for the Life of me understand.

So that's Life.

Enter Death.

I don't have a religion. I have somewhat of an existental nihilistic view on life. Maybe that's just because nobody's given me any answers, or a simple, clear-cut, "This is what happens after Death, and here's the evidence."

But then, those views are only "somewhat", while I have my own theories on what could possibly happen after Death greets you.

[For those of you who are religious, none of the following is intended to knock any religion. The following are just views and ideas. I will be fairly blunt.]

I think that when my Life's done living, I will go to a place where there is no touch, smell, taste, sight or sound, no emotion and no thought, and no sense of being. All these are bodily functions. A body that's not working can't perform these functions.

My theory is that, after Death, the soul leaves the body and rests in the next closest "host". And this is an ongoing process. As far as I'm concerned, at some point my soul occupied the body of someone in the Middle Ages.

But memory is also something not carried by the soul. And as I watch technology advance, I realise that I've still got a lot to see (by the time I pass on, I'll be in the future -- I think that seems like a fair observation). But I also realise that the 18 (for I could, in fact, die tomorrow) - 150 (for I can't predict medical technology 30+ years from now) years I live will be such a small snippet of humankind's progression, and I wish that the soul did carry memory. Because if my soul does, for instance, take a place in 3010, the body it occupies will not remember any of what I learned in my whole lifetime.

Which brings me to another point. What is the point in Life? Why do these souls go around giving life to things created. There can't be any point in it. And I think I've come to the conclusion just now, that they just do. There is no point in it.

I don't believe in Heaven. I wish I could be convinced that there is one, but again, when the body dies, so with it does its functions. A soul is lifeless without a host. But it's Life. We have a two-way conversation here. One can't be without the other. A soul has no sense, no being, without a body. A body is lifeless without a soul.

But it isn't this why that baffles me. It's the how. Every living creature must have a soul. When you die, does it stay with you and become useless?

I don't know what happens after Death. That's why I intend to make the most out of my Life. I think when you're old and tired, Nothingness is better than pain. If some kind of Heaven awaits me, then I'll be pleasantly surprised. Although, I wouldn't go to Heaven, since I'm not religious -- I would go to Hell. In which case, I would be not-so-pleasantly surprised.

Did you know that insects and spiders can't feel pain because they're invertebrate and don't have a central nervous system? That's why they don't seem to mind moving around with a missing leg or two.

I looked it up because I felt sorry for the insects that I inevitably step on every day.

And it gives me hope for when I die and hatch as an ant.

Rundown of "Aundes Aura: Part II"

For quite a long time, I have planned to write Aundes Aura in two parts. Not two books, but two parts to the book.

In this way, I was going to flesh out the parts separately so I would have story of decent length, and then cut it down until it really is the best it can be (that is, after content revisions, of course).

Whether the book is in two parts or not in the end, I don't know, but it's easier for me to think about it this way.

I think about the parts as though they are two smaller books. I have given the first part its own beginning, middle, climax and end. However, I've left the first part not quite resolved, and the resolution comes in Part II.

The ideas I had for Part II were always extremely vague. They were bland and seemed to involve just travelling around without a solid purpose.

[Warning: Unpurposeful rhyming ahead.]

But one night as I lay in bed, a light bulb lit up above my head. For the sake of this rhyme I should end this with red. And thankfully I kept to the meter dead.

Anyway, Part II has grown into something so epic I could never have imagined it (until, of course, a particular light bulb lit up above my head).

I'll do my best to avoid spoiling much, but I'd like to give you a general idea of how Part II will play out. I feel it will be a spectacular way to finish the Chronicles, resolving conflicts that have sprouted over hundreds of years (and several books).

Aundes Aura
Part II

There will be three main objectives in the second part.

1. Gather the other **Gifted who are scattered around the continent of Válkia so they can send away the *Auras.
2. Find the rightful ruler of Duthonne, overthrow the Church and instate the rightful ruler.
3. Sign a treaty between Meira and Duthonne.

* Auras are "gifts" sent down from the gods to help humanity overcome its problems. This backfired when people started using them as weapons.
** The Gifted are people with Auras.

In order to do all this:

- The group splits in two. In this part, Faine will take a regular POV.

- Eoin and Saera use their father's gold locket to locate people with Auras. They hope to send the Auras back in a ritual to bring peace back to the world.

- While Eoin and Saera do this, Faine and Athrù follow the details of a family tree to help them find the rightful ruler. [Hint: It is one of the characters from the first part of the book.]

- Faine, Athrù, Eoin, Saera and the other Gifted storm the Church of Duthonne in their tower and miraculously overthrow them. They instate the rightful ruler and sign a treaty between Duthonne and Meira.

- Together in the Chamber of Kings, the Gifted gather, and through a ritual they send the Auras which spoilt humanity back to the gods where they belong.

Aundes Aura Excerpt Vlog at "You're Write. Except When You're Rong."

Elena Solodow has kindly done an excerpt reading of Aundes Aura at her blog. Click here to go to the post if you want to comment on it, or you can view it below.

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Still Alive [pt. II]

Here's an example of one of the things I can get up to that doesn't help me get any writing done.

Playing, writing and recording music takes up a lot of my time. Above is an example of what can come out of it.

A. Deviation? I should think so.

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Update: Still Alive

Hopefully this song adequately sums up my past week.

Actually, this song is pretty contrary to my past week. I haven't quite succeeded in anything.

While I've been taking an unplanned and unannounced break from writing, I've been reading books for my final school year.

Since I haven't blogged for about a week, I thought I'd give you a little idea of what's going on currently in Aundes Aura.

Eoin, Saera, Faine and Athrù have stopped at a forest village called Falii (pr. fell-i-eye) on their way to the capital of Meira. The purpose of this visit is to get an extra seal from the village Council so they can get in contact with the Queen.

But Athrù's letter isn't going to the Queen. It's going to the "Thief-King", who, strangely enough, is one of the Queen's closest contacts. Athrù has decided against sending a letter to the Queen because amongst the politics she would never read it, and the situation is dire. The army of Duthonne plans to invade and attack the capital.

The letter requests that the Thief-King find them an audience with the Queen as soon as possible.

I have introduced a love interest for the main character. Her name is Kahla. And that is to say, I have had the two characters meet, and he knows he likes her, and he doesn't want to leave her but he must. She will come back into the story in Part II, and besides being a love interest, she will play a VERY important role.

Some of you who have read chapters of the story will probably remember a certain "heart-shaped" leaf that fell from the trees in the first chapter. I've decided that:

1. I can't take it seriously enough.

2. There are too many elements to bring in to make the concept work -- why doesn't it dry up? (which brought on a pointless scene with an alchemist)

3. It's too hard to explain it the way I see it. This would just confuse readers.

As such, I've decided to change the concept a little (please note: I will not be doing any of the above or the following until my first draft is complete -- well, not much of it, anyway). The "leaf" will now instead be a gold locket. The scene with the leaf will be similarly written, but instead of the leaf falling, Eoin will find the gold locket inside the hollow of a log. This is a log on which Eoin and his father used to sit and talk about everything. It was their place.

Whether it was put there by godly powers or by his father, I haven't yet decided. Apart from all this, and the desriptions of the locket, the interactions will remain the same: Eoin will hear his father's voice through the locket; he will become mentally connected with it; it will help him meet others with Auras through the mysterious ringing noise.

I'm also very excited about a new beginning I've come up with. I like to think part of it was inspired by Bryce Courtenay's The Power of One.

The teenage brother and sister, Eoin and Saera, are living in deperate circumstances after their father's sudden death in the forest one day (bitten by a lethal snake). The first few lines will involve Eoin, the POV character, stealing a loaf of bread from the cooking area of an old man's house. At the sound of creaking stairs Eoin takes the bread and runs. Outside Saera has been waiting anxiously and he pulls her along. They run to where they've been settling a new home, in a tree overlooking the village.

I imagine I will introduce Saera's Aura fairly early in the chapter. Most definitely the first few pages. If not through an event, then through dialogue. Perhaps Eoin could see a flash of light outside (from Saera's uncontrollable Aura) that he knows will have woken up a number of people before he hears the creaking stairs. This would raise the tension as people would suddenly be looking for the "tainted one", but Eoin's still inside the old man's house and the man's been awoken.

Obviously, this new beginning is still in the brainstorming stage, but I feel I've got a solid foundation to build on.

In the next post I will give you some idea of the things that will happen in Part II of Aundes Aura. The characters will take on challenges and burdens that will affect the world politically and socially in a very big way. Since this will be the last chronologically in The Válkia Chronicles, it needs a big resolution.

Habitual January: Why I Haven't Updated

The good news: I have been writing.

The not-so-good news: I've been writing less and less each day, sometimes missing a day and currently I am sitting right on my goal line.

As soon as I'm back on track, I'll update you with all my daily word counts.

However, since I'm brave, I'll give you a graph of my progress.

[Click to enlarge.] Shh. This is no time for inappropriate jokes.

Now, since I've been procrastinating all day, I'm off to write.

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A New View on the World of Publishing

I've broadened my horizons and opened myself up to the world of indie publishing. My dream will be a reality. No longer do I have to worry about word count, agents, manuscript format or other trivial matters, but I can focus on what really... matters: Writing a "ripping yarn". A story that readers want to read not because it's a duplicate of the current trend, but because it's the kind of story they've always loved. The story that makes you care about the characters and the fate of the world.

I won't be tied down to dates, but for those I make myself. I won't be tied down to deals, but for what my readers want.

To the teacher who told me when I was eight years old, "You won't make much." I'm not in it for the money; I want readers to know where they can go to expect a great epic fantasy.

An epic fantasy for the new age, which isn't sagging with Tom Bombadils, scourings of the Shire, aimless voyages on the Dawn Treader or two hundred pages at a camp where the Varden mingle with Urgals and Elves.

They'll have an epic fantasy with scenes that make their hearts race; an epic fantasy that will let them care about the characters.

My dream will be a reality.

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Habitual January: Day 7

January 6: 76
January 7: 330

So for a while there I was writing progressively less each day. I didn't intend to write so much today, nor did I expect to. In fact, I beat my record this month considering I have managed to write every day so far. I still haven't finished Chapter Nine. It's now almost 4,500 words, and that's if I take out the section I intend to remove later on. I might have to evaluate whether to split it into two shorter chapters. In fact, looking at it now, it seems like a very good option. If I break it when Eoin goes to sleep, that gives me a 3,800 word chapter (before revisions, in other words 3,400 words) and puts me 840 words into the new chapter. Lovely.

So, in regards to the graph above, I've found it's taken a lot of pressure off just consistently writing a little bit each day. One of the days I only wrote seven words, yet I didn't fall under my goal line. My aim, though, is to not fall below the goal line all month. I'm feeling really positive about January. The trouble is how I will do this when Year 12 starts in February. Still, with the new school regime I'll be putting into practice, I may be able to focus on writing when I get home from school, knowing that I don't have to deal with any homework. More on that in later weeks.

Habitual January: Day 5

January 5: 130 words

[Click to enlarge] Innuendoic connotation implied.

Again, still forward momentum, still above my goal.

I had another post planned for today, but Real Life got in the way and I have to wake up in 5 hours. That's what I get for living in Australia. Tomorrow I'll bribe RL with cookies.

I was very excited about this other post and I'll hopefully be able to get it done tomorrow.

Bonne écriture!
[Perhaps more commonly pronounced: Happy writing!]

Habitual January: Day 4

January 3: 7 words
January 4: 318 words

[Click to enlarge] If only it were that easy, eh?

Okay, so on the 3rd I got distracted. The positive here is that I wrote something, even if it was next to nothing. The great thing is that I still haven't fallen below my goal line. I'm finding the goal of 200 words a day a great way to keep myself moving forward. Sometimes I write less, and sometimes I write more, but I always move forward, and that's what this challenge is all about.

So I've written 877 words so far this month, which I think for me is great after just four days.

I could have tried to make up my loss from the 3rd, but I didn't. Why? Habitual January is all about writing every day. Did I write on the 3rd? Yes! Not forcing myself to write that extra hundred words felt great, and I'm still beating my goal.

On another positive note, I just passed into the realm of 34,000 words.

The current chapter is, as per common occurrence, turning out quite a bit longer than I had expected. It is currently over 4,000 words, and I have a lot of scenes to write yet before I finish. In fact, I think I might finish it after the current scene and give the readers a break. After all, I do in fact plan to chronicle the journey to Emareus. I feel this would be a good place to break.

Then I will lose a lot of words when I edit a backstory thread out of the chapter, cutting around 500 words. I would very much like to make up for those words the day I cut them. About 600 or 700 would do, but I'm not too worried about it. I'm confident I can make them back over time. It's for the good of the book.

Just a quick mention, if anyone has any ideas. I'm looking for a replacement name for the major character Echo. His name clashes with the main character, Eoin.

Echo is a nickname. I want a nickname that has some kind of relevance to change, as after a difficult past he changed his name to try to help himself overcome it.

I'd love any ideas that are in another language and have some significance that I can change slightly and use it. As an example, I took the Irish word for change, Athrù, into consideration for a while, but couldn't get many second opinions on it.

Anyway, this was intended to be just a quick update, but turned out more like one of my CC thank you messages. It feels good to have let it all out.

Bonne écriture!

Habitual January: Day 2

This January I would like to create a new habit of writing every day. So far, so good. I will continually update my daily word counts throughout the month

January 1: 249 words
January 2: 307 words

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Fantasy World Building: Social Groups and Organisations [The Church]

A rich fantasy world calls for several social groups and organisations that, of course, affect each other. These don't have to be involved with your main plot, but it helps when your characters come across one or another of these groups to know what condition they are in.

I wrote a lot about certain groups in my last Fantasy World Building post, but this time I will include the smaller parts of society and show how they affect each other.

Social Groups and Organisations in Duthonne

The Church: When the King was overthrown in 218p.i. (which was also three years before his death), immediate power was given to the Church. The Church were expected to seek out a suitable successor to the throne. However, the Church quickly became addicted to the power and refused to give it away. Over hundreds of years the Church passed on their power to their own heirs or next of kin, until they were finally overthrown in 703p.i. (which is also the year Aundes Aura takes place). Over their roughly 500 years of power, the Church taught the people of Duthonne to hate those who don't agree with their beliefs and brand them as heretics.

2011: Starting Again

Ah, the first of January. I guess it's sad, but I've never been one for new year's resolutions. Maybe that's because I've always had trouble achieving my goals. There's nothing quite like setting yourself a goal and then not achieving it. I know that too well.

But right now, I want to write. And that feels good after some weeks' hiatus from focused writing. Thankfully, I have already started the next scene, so it will hopefully be easier to continue.

I think the best thing I can do for my writing this year is to write every day.

A large number of words a day would be great, but what's the point if it makes me hesitant to write at all. It defeats the whole purpose.

Another possibility could be to write with the intention of finishing a scene instead of a certain number of words.

But regardless of all the possibilities as far as method, if I can write every day and keep my foward momentum, maybe soon enough I'll be nearing the end of this journey.

Carpe diem.

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Welcome to The Dark Corner of the Mind. My name is Ryan Sullivan and my aim with this blog is to help others with their own writing, as well as to make note of some of my own writing endeavours.

Here at The Dark Corner, Real Life is both our best friend and our worst enemy. Look to him for inspiration, but don't let him get in the way too much.

If he does, bribe him with cookies.

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