MARAG

Okay, so I’m doing revision and stuff now, but I don’t think I ever showed you the cover, did I? Here it is:

As you see, I chose to make the full moon central here, rather than adding an animal.

This seemed suitable because (a) coming up with animals isn’t that easy; and (b) come on, this is Marag we’re talking about here. The Moon is as central to her as the Sun is central to Suelen — you may recall that the rising Sun was featured on his cover. I will add that I’m taking some artistic license here. This book doesn’t take place in the great forest; it takes place right below the great northern mountains. That’s important because, well, it’s important. Maybe I’ll set the epilogue in the forest, but regardless, this is a liberty I’m willing to take because the winter forest looks spectacular and showy.

Now, of course, I also need to come up with back cover copy. And pick a preorder date, which I am dithering about a bit for various reasons. The point right now is: back cover description. Here’s my first attempt at the basic framework for this description:

***

Sinowa inGara cherished his first wife. He does not truly want to marry again. But he has no choice. He needs to step forward among his people; he has to have higher standing; he needs to achieve that soon. He knows exactly what he must do: he must marry a singer. Best of all if he marries an inKarano singer.

Only one inKarano singer is unmarried: Marag inKarano, already a respected singer, daughter and niece and great-niece of respected singers.

For ten winters, Marag inKarano has turned aside every warrior and every poet who has approached her. She knows she will become one of the foremost singers of all the tribes. She knows whomever she marries will gain great standing through that marriage; his tribe will gain standing among the other tribes. Her choice is important — too important to leave to chance. For all these winters, Marag has asked the gods to send her a sign when the right man comes to sit by her fire and ask for her favor.

The gods have never sent her that sign.

This winter, Sinowa catches Marag’s attention the moment he arrives at the Convocation grounds, far to the east of inGara lands. But almost at the same moment, a different problem compels her attention — and his.

Wolves have been singing in the mountains since the Convocation began, bringing good luck and showing the favor of the gods. But for five nights now, every evening, one more wolf has been missing from that chorus. Some mysterious curse has come upon the wolves … and now that ill luck may be spreading downward, carried from the mountains on a bitter wind that cries with the voices of the lost wolves. As the curse strengthens and strengthens again, even all the strength of a warrior and all the deep understanding of a singer may be hard-pressed to turn the ill luck away from the gathered people and the world.

***

Comments, please!

Also, I will just note that something I realized just as I finished this story is that here, the man solves a problem having to do with family relationships, while the woman solves the problem having to do with the curse. I think that’s kind of amusing. It just sort of happened that way, but I guess that wasn’t exactly chance, as that division of labor totally suits Ugaro society and the metaphysics of the world.

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19 thoughts on “MARAG”

  1. I like this cover, it clearly sets the story in the winter country, and it’s lovely, with the snowy forest, the full moon, and the glimpse of the mountains in the distance.
    If you really want an animal, you could have a wolf just peeking out from the trees (probably in the ‘alcove’ area above the -el in Rachel), but I don’t think it’s necessary. Ryo’s & Aras’s books had animals, and this is not a Ryo book, so no animal helps to signal that.

    I’m hoping to be allowed to proofread it, once the beta reading and revisions are done.

  2. I love this cover – it’s very atmospheric. And the story sounds great! (And now I’m wondering why Koro inKarano has never remarried).

    Do you have any idea on publication yet? (sorry, that’s probably an irritating question).

  3. I love it and can’t wait to read it! I’m with Hanneke. The story sounds great, but the first paragraph in your back copy is too wordy.

  4. You’re going to get a hint about the Koro’s backstory and why he didn’t remarry in this book. It’s just a hint. The alert reader will notice it.

    If everything looks good except the first paragraph, that’s a great start on description!

    Gill, that’s not an irritating question at all! But I’m not sure! I think I may need a couple weeks for revision, then I’m kind of betting early readers turn it around fast, then a second round of revision that should not take long, then proofing proofing proofing. Along with all that, I’m trying to arrange for people to be able to download the ebook early, before it goes into KU and becomes exclusive to Amazon. Figuring out how to do new things online is not something I enjoy, to put it mildly, but hopefully I’ll have that sorted out in February. I think I will most likely arrange for the ebook to become available in March, then drop into KU and become exclusive in very early April, but this is a guess.

    Hanneke, absolutely. You know you are just outstanding at proofreading! I’m glad you’re looking forward to this one and think you’ll have time to proofread it!

  5. I agree the first paragraph is a bit wordy. I particularly noticed the high usage of ; and : in a row. I also agree that a wolf might be appropriate on the cover, but it also looks good as it is, and may not be worth getting it redesigned at this point. And of course I agree that I can’t wait to read it!

  6. Perhaps I should say: the cover is definitely not getting redesigned at this point! Even though a wolf might have been appropriate given the unexpected development of the plot. (I mean, unexpected to me; I did not know wolves were going to be an important thing until the last minute).

  7. I am very excited!!!!

    I think that back cover copy does a good job of selling me on the plot (wolves!!) but I wonder if there could be a little more of Marag and Sinowa’s personalities? I’m not sure exactly what I want that to look like, but I think that if I didn’t already know them from previous books then I might not see anything here that makes me think the characters will be as interesting as the plot.

    In the first paragraph, I would either remove or qualify the “no choice” sentence. As it is, it sounds a little strong (he technically could choose not to pursue higher standing, right?), and it’s kind of sticking out to me as being a little overdramatic.

    (Also, since Marag is the title character, I kind of want her portion of the summary to come first, but I can see how this structure makes sense.)

  8. Love the moon and the forest! And I’m so excited to meet a young Marag and Sinowa!

    I agree with Alison: I don’t think the fact that this is Sinowa’s second marriage needs to be on the back cover.

    You probably don’t need to repeat “She knows” in the third paragraph, and I don’t know if you get much mileage out of repeating “important.”

    The last paragraph seems almost spoilery-specific. Knowing the curse involves wolves is intriguing. Do we need to know one is dying every night? That sounds like something I’d want to find out in-story.

    Otherwise sounds really good!

  9. All of the Tuyo books are interesting to me, but the back cover copy for this one REALLY grabbed me! I think it’s the subtle subversion of expectations. For example, I’ve been reading a handful of comics lately set in imperial China where, as you can imagine, a recurring conflict is the fact that the male and female romantic leads are in love but the male lead is expected to have multiple partners and heirs. Usually this is resolved by him bucking social expectations to remain monogamous. So I’m excited to see a book where the social expectations are followed in a way that works out for everyone involved! (At least, I assume it will work out because it’s your book.) And of course I LOVE that wolves howling is seen as a blessing and that the humans in the book are going help the wolves! That definitely upends the usual tropes. This looks really good!

  10. Thanks, Kim, I was definitely wanting to know if the last paragraph gave too much away. Though we find that out pretty soon in the story.

  11. Camille, spoiler: Everything works out for everyone involved.

    If I were writing a book in a world where the male lead is expected to have multiple partners and heirs, that’s exactly what would happen. In, of course, a way that worked out for everyone. But I don’t like cramming every single story line into shape to fit modern expectations and sensibilities. I mean, to an extent, so that modern readers can enjoy the story, but not to the extent that you are intrinsically declaring that the actual culture in which your story is set is BAD and of course GOOD people have to be JUST LIKE MODERN AMERICANS or they would be BAD. Not that anyone exactly says that, but that is the underlying assumption in stories such as you describe.

  12. Yes, exactly!! I think seeing characters find a way to thrive within an existing cultural paradigm can be much more interesting like you say. (Well, to an extent. I love Tamora Pierce’s Song of The Lioness as much as anyone. But even then Pierce does it within the framework of the culture she built.) Anyway, I’m excited to see what you do with this book! I need to bump up the other Tuyo books in my TBR.

  13. Camille, the only thing that REALLY matters is that Tuyo has to come first. And Ryo’s trilogy (Tuyo, Tarashana, Tasmakat) needs to be read in order. Everything else is negotiable.

  14. I also like the cover, and the forest makes it look like a Ugaro book even if that’s not the exact setting of this one.

    Agree the “no choice” sentence from the first paragraph could go.

    Maybe it’s related to the idea of showing their personalities a little more – I think you see a bit of Marag in this cover copy but not Sinowa – but I wondered why the insistence in the first paragraph on him stepping forward, having higher standing, and needing to do it soon. What’s the goal that’s so important here? He’s not a retiring character, but it doesn’t seem like it’s just for his own good. Is it for the inGara? The Ugaro as a whole?

    Really looking forward to this.

  15. I agree with Kate about starting with Marag because she’s the titular character. I also agree with OtterB about Sinowa’s portion: why does he need to step forward, and soon? And I agree with Kim too.

    Perhaps you could remove Sinowa entirely, start with “For ten winters” (adding the line about Marag that comes before that), and removing the paragraph where Sinowa catches Margo’s attention and the phrase “all the strength of a warrior”…

    That gives readers a clear image of Marag and the two problems she’s facing, while hinting that somebody’s finally going to catch her attention. Maybe you don’t want to do that if this is a dual-POV novel, which I don’t know if you’ve said or not. And if you consider mentioning the curse too much of a spoiler, you could rephrase that with just the wolves going missing.

    This is also fine the way it is. Definitely catches my attention. And the cover is fantastic!

  16. Okay, I will say: We find out immediately why Sinowa needs to step forward. I don’t really want to try to cram that reason into the back cover description, but it’s definitely urgent and the reader learns that at once because we start with Sinowa’s point of view.

    This is indeed a dual pov novel; the chapters alternate, each often picking up exactly where the previous chapter left off.

    In fact, although I’ve been referring to the beginning, from Sinowa’s pov, as a prologue, the very beginning of Marag’s pov is also a prologue, or a flashback anyway. The actual story begins almost as soon as that flashback ends, just about at the moment she first sees Sinowa, and then moves forward smoothly from there, increasingly fast, until we get to the last chapter, which is falling action and denouement. Then there’s an epilogue after that.

    I’ll probably wind up calling Sinowa’s earliest chapter “chapter one.” The epilogue is definitely an epilogue, though.

    I’m probably going to leave the fundamental structure of the description as-is, but I will fiddle with the wording and see if I can smooth it out.

    I guess this is random chance, but RIHASI will also have alternating pov. Then back to strict first-person for Tano’s next book.

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