The Lords of Aether launched on December 1 and we're happy with the response we're getting. We're slowly building up people following us on Networked Blogs and we're slowly putting the story itself together. Now that Z.A. Maxfield officially joined us and we have two posts under our belt, the whole collaboration thing is about to hit full stride.
To open the story, I introduced two of my characters. Then ZAM and I brainstormed a little and she came up with her post introducing her main character. A little more brainstorming got us talking to KC Burn about including her characters in a sub-plot. And thus the snowball has begun.
Collaborating with other people can be good for an author's soul and creative juices. It can jump start your muse. It really is a snowball that grows with each idea that builds on the last. With a lot of writers involved, all the little tangents you might want to explore become doable because if you can't do it someone else probably can. And giving the readers a bit of a cliffhanger with each post (ala soap operas) means that if you do it right, they will come back again and again and hopefully bring their friends!
For us, Lords of Aether afforded an opportunity to explore the steampunk genre and see if we could make it work, if we could write it and make it something people would want to avidly read. None of us are versed in writing steampunk so we're seven virgins with a lot of hot male characters we need immerse in the steampunk world we envision. I like the idea of billing ourselves as "7 authors who put the steam in steampunk." With ZAM's main character being a courtesan, I'd say we're off to a good start there!
And for authors like Jaime Samms who is a total pantster, it gives them a chance to learn how to plot. Of course, with seven of us and a Yahoo group where we record our brainstorming, you don't really have to remember the plot because you can always go back and look at the threads.
Dealing with characterization becomes easier too because mostly, you figure out who your person is and what drives them. After that, you talk about them with the other authors whose characters interact with yours. The discussions end up being nothing but characterizations and motivations and the spawning of new ideas and plot twists and...you get the picture! ;)
I love the collaboration and I'm hopeful for the future of the story and site since we had a good launch and continue to pick up speed. For those of you who have never collaborated with another author, I encourage you to try it. It could be one of the most rewarding experiences of your writing career. I'm certainly having a lot of fun with it.
Before I go I'm going to share the Lords of Aether video and an excerpt from the first post. Remember that you can read all the posts (installments) for free at LordsofAether.com.
Excerpt from Post 1: Trading on the Past by Lex Valentine
With a twinge of sadness for what they’d lost, Jack focused on the present. Despite the remnants of his feelings for Anthony still clinging to him, his heart now belonged to Nash, who unlike Anthony, enjoyed living a life of heart-stopping danger. Jack knew that he and Nash fit together like two puzzle pieces in a way he never had with Anthony.
“What do you think the Imperial Sky Admiral can do for you?” Anthony asked now, his voice cool and tinged with an edge of bitterness.
“I have questions about Nash’s court martial. I think your sister’s husband the admiral can answer them,” Jack replied easily. He leaned forward a bit, lowering his voice even more. “I think there is a correlation between Nash being framed and his disappearance. Not only do I need to find him for my own personal reasons, but the Empire too would like to know why he’s disappeared.”
Anthony opened his mouth to answer but the clearing of a throat had them both looking up at the stern visage of the club’s steward, Savage Beare. Beare held a decanter of port in his hand.
“Shall I top up your glasses, gentlemen?” Always correct, always ostensibly respectful, Beare managed to make the word “gentlemen” sound like a mild insult.
Jack knew damned good and well that Beare’s staff usually walked around refilling glasses. The steward rarely did so himself and he wondered if this time it was because of Anthony or because of him that Beare had approached with the wine. As Beare refilled Anthony’s glass and whipped out a glass to pour Jack a drink, the steward cocked a bushy brow at them.
“It’s been awhile since you’ve graced us with your presence, Mr. Starrington. However, it was not so long ago that your particular friend, Mr. Sutherland was here,” Beare said softly. “In fact, I do believe he went missing the following day.”
Jack already knew Nash had disappeared after a visit to the Lords of Aether Club. That bit of information and the fact that he knew he’d find Anthony there comprised the reasons for his own visit. The fact that Beare personally mentioned Nash’s attendance at the club the night before his disappearance was significant. And suspicious. As was the fact that Beare knew he and Nash were lovers.
“Do you recall who Mr. Sutherland spoke with whilst he was here?” Jack asked, keeping his voice carefully neutral.
Beare smiled, if you could call the twitching of his lips for a brief moment a smile. “I do indeed, sir. I believe he had supper with Lord Bridgewater who has just returned from Africa. In fact, they spoke at length about the wild nature of the Republic of Africa and about his lordship’s newest firearms inventions.”
With that pronouncement, Beare left them and Jack found Anthony eyeing him thoughtfully.
“Beare never offers information unless it’s important,” Anthony murmured as he sipped his port.
Jack grunted. He knew that. And he wondered why the steward had waited to tell him that until he’d sat down with Anthony. He’d been in the club a good two hours waiting for Anthony to show up. Beare could have told him about Nash at any time prior to Anthony’s arrival. The fact that he’d not spoken to Jack until Anthony showed up sent a frisson of annoyance down Jack’s spine.
With a sigh, Anthony set his glass on the side table. “My sister is having a ball tomorrow night. If you’d like to speak with her husband and Lord Bridgewater, both will be there. I’ll let Cassandra know you’re coming.”
Rising gracefully to his feet, Anthony gazed down at Jack with enigmatic golden eyes. Again, Jack felt that twinge of old emotion in his breast. For a moment they stared at one another and Jack felt the weight of their history between them. Then Anthony sighed again.
“It’s good to see you, Jack. I wish it were under other circumstances. I wish you’d thought to renew our friendship sooner rather than wait until your lover went missing to speak to me.” Anthony’s voice held regret, more than a hint of sadness, and a growing anger. “I thought what we’d shared in the past had given us a bond that wouldn’t have kept you from speaking to me for nearly ten years. I thought I’d meant more to you than simply a convenience. But I can see that I was wrong. It was convenient for you to fuck me all those years ago. It was convenient for you to walk away when something more exciting came along. It was convenient for you to ignore me and our friendship for ten years. And now, it’s convenient for you to renew that friendship and trade upon it.”
Shocked at Anthony’s harsh words, Jack stared up at his stiff posture and the mixed emotions in his golden eyes. His boyhood friend and lover had changed far more than Jack had realized.
“Well, Jonathan Starrington, I will prove to be the best friend you’ve ever had because I shall ignore that I have become a convenience for you. What I felt for you then was real and in honor of the fact that I honestly loved you with every iota of my soul, I shall assist you as much as I can,” Anthony said in a grim, haughty tone. “But don’t you dare expect me to give you another damned piece of me, because I just don’t have it to give. Not to you ever again, Jack.”
And to Jack’s immense surprise, Anthony drew himself up, glared at Jack from wounded, angry eyes, then turned on his heel, striding toward the door where Beare held his overcoat for him. While Jack still sat stupefied, Anthony left the club, the door thudding closed with a sound that seemed remarkably like a death knell.