Title: Birds & Butterflies
Series: 4 parts
Created: November 2015 (NaNoWriMo) ~ Summer 2016
Genre: YA Medieval Fantasy
One princess seeking liberation.
One peasant seeking to change the world.
One rebel seeking to protect his people.
One prince seeking to rebuild a failing nation.
A story of identity, love, compassion, and treachery.
What makes kingdoms, and what brings them to their knees? Who decides who is worthy, and who is not? Where is the line between bravery and stupidity drawn? When the cost of ambition is sacrifice, who will survive?
Birds are born to fly. Butterflies earn their wings.
HOW IT BEGAN
Two images on Facebook. That's where our story begins.
I don't remember the page I'd followed, but they were good for posting all sorts of inspirational images. This time was no different. Or so I thought.
Almost immediately, I came across the image of an elegant young woman with fiery crystals dangling over her forehead, nose to nose with a bird that looked like a phoenix trapped in a songbird's body. At once, I thought of her as 'the princess'.
Following soon after was an image of a young woman cupping a flower in her hands, which blossomed with the fiery image of a butterfly lingering above it. Leaves are tucked into her hair, making her appear like a forest nymph. She was 'the peasant' in my mind.
At first glance, I thought it was the same woman in both of the images. It took a few moments of study before I realized the subtle differences between them. Thus, a story began to form.
When I first saw these images, I saved them and jotted down the first impressions. Afterward, I decided to search for the source of these images, since the FB page had failed to provide it themselves. After a reverse image lookup, I was led to the DeviantArt page of Elena Dudina. The first image that I thought of as 'the princess' was actually titled "On Fire" by its creator. "Rebirth On Fire" was the name of the second 'peasant' image.
Only after this did I allow myself to pick out details.
FORMING AN IDEA
The title of this series came from the images themselves. In "On Fire" the princess communes with a bird, while the peasant in "Rebirth On Fire" coaxes a butterfly from a flower. Since Scrivener is particular about having a name for things up front when starting a new project, I chose Birds & Butterflies.
The idea then began with the similarity between the two women in the images. Some may think the differences are fairly obvious, but I was not one of those people. When I did find the differences, however, it allowed me to broaden the scope of my idea.
It was no longer a tale of a princess passing herself off as a peasant like in Disney's Aladdin. Instead, it became a story of two women who looked enough alike to use it to their advantage. With that in mind, Part One was titled 'The Double' and was to have a The Prince and The Pauper kind of feel. While the women didn't exactly switch places, the idea was for the peasant to become the princess, and allow the princess to pursue less demure tutoring. Including expanding on the magick both women harbored. It was also that shared magick that led me to realize that these women could not, in fact, be unrelated. Before writing the first draft, I made the conscious decision to make them half-siblings. During the writing of the first draft, I also made a new discovery that came too late. I'm happy to say that it rears its head much earlier in this second round. With it comes new motives, hardened emotions, and an adversary worthy of a Mountain Lion.
When I originally began taking notes for this story, I remember I wanted to do something similar to the fictional account of Anastasia Romanov. I wanted the story to be centered around the missing princess and the life of adversity she led before returning to her rightful place. (With the welcome addition of a romance, of course.)
The only thing that allowed me to come close was choosing a long, flowing name that began with an A. Nothing else is similar to that story, but I don't regret it.
Going with the naming thing... In its inception, I began writing B&B with at least 3 parts in mind. It was all meant to be one book, so the title could still be Birds & Butterflies, but each part was titled The Double, The Coup, and The Queen. Later on, when it wasn't finished, the last part was called The Crown. I think I was somewhere in the middle of The Coup when I figured out how long this was going to be and then The Queen solidified the fact that all four parts could become four books.
I'm not certain that the titles will remain the same. There have already been several attempts to rename them on my part, but I can't find anything that seems to fit the story better. So, for now, I'll probably refrain from calling them anything other than 'Book 1' etc.
Throughout the incarnations of this story, watching the characters develop from place holders created to perform a specific function into who the story needed them to be is something I'm most proud of.
When I first started this story, there were four people I knew would be my core cast. The Princess and the Peasant were intended as my Main Characters (MCs) with dual POVs to tell the story. For one of these women, I needed a Love Interest. For both, I needed an antagonist.
Without spoiling anything, I will say that certain things were less developed in the first draft than I wished, and others went in a completely unintended direction. Now that the second draft is underway, I'm going to work on the lacking areas, and dive headfirst into the others.
When I first created the series, I wrote out descriptions to go with each character. Now that the story is developing more, however, this image better reflects what the rewrite has in store for each of the core characters.
To name them...
Princess: Auraina of Marsei
Peasant: Sage of High Lake
Rebel: Sunder of Laiton
Captor: Prince Bale of Danton
Nothing would please me more than to go into lengthy detail about each of these people. Their nicknames and backstories, their motivations and anguishes, and their overall ambition that drives them to do whatever is necessary.
But if I told you all that here, why would you bother to read the books?
This one thing I will give you:
Beyond the core cast, there are a great many supporting characters. Some form a nucleus around our MCs. Others provide excess antagonists. There's even a special creature that finds himself in more books than these.
I have mentioned before that I created the planet of Vassel to accommodate more than a single storyline. Well, here we are again.
(Please forgive my drawing skills. It's a very large piece of paper and my tools were inadequate for the job at hand.)
This time we are on the continent of Reguis, embroiled in the ongoing conflict of two warring nations, Marsei and Danton, that are also suffering from civil disobedience.
In reality, the conflict between the nations is somewhat lessened by the inner conflicts of the nation of Marsei. There are rebels wreaking havoc north of the Capital Road, which runs from the capital of Marsei, Auryn, to the capital of Alduress, Maieve.
(Each capital is marked with the Nation's colors–or as close as my impatience would allow me to get. Also, please forgive my heinous mountains and borders. My patience and a very basic paint simulator are all that I had available to me at the time.)
There is certainly a fine line between describing the setting and describing the plot. As the plot of four books covers much terrain, it'd be hard going to describe any one of them accurately. Especially since much could be changed by way of description between now and when the entire series is rewritten. Already, the Castle of Aurynheil has had a major architectural shift from the first draft, along with Aildeon Palace having additional geographical elements added.
What I can say, though, is that my favorite location is most definitely Aildeon and it features prominently in Book 1. Beyond that, Auryn is the only other truly stable location.
There are four books. Each with an overarching plot, but also containing at least one subplot of their own. That's my plan, anyway.
As of April 8, 2020 at 3:47am, Book One's rewrite was completed. Which means that I am now fully aware of the entire beginning of this story.
This makes it a hundred times more difficult not to discuss it at length and spoil everything. With that in mind, I cannot in good conscience (at this time) reveal the overarching plot line. I can, however, leave a book blurb for Book 1. (Perhaps at a later date I will edit this to include details from the others, but more than likely, each Book will get its own dedicated blog post.) So here we have the blurb for Book 1:
Princess Auraina of Marsei may not live to be Queen. Until her eighteenth birthday, her father rules as King Regent in Auryn, while Auraina holds her own court in the south. The land is divided between father and daughter until the day of her coronation. Unless her half-brother, Prince Hathen, is able to fulfill the threats he levies against her. To thwart his assassins, Auraina needs to find a new kind of protection.
A hunter of the mountains, Sage takes unnecessary risks with her life in order to feel alive. When the offer comes to work beside the princess, it is a chance she will not pass up. Suited to the role through appearance and shared magick, Sage’s ambition will form her into the perfect double in imperfect times.
Bound together, the two women must trust one another completely. Only then will they learn that not every enemy is so close to home.
A bird is born to its wings. A butterfly must transform to earn its own.
And there we have it. I think for an unveiling post, it's gone quite well. Since I'm not looking to give away everything about the series before anyone gets the chance to read it, I should probably stop talking now.
That said, keep an eye out for other related posts. As each book is completed, it'll be fun to reveal them separately, as well as update everyone about the plans going forward in the publishing industry.
Thank you for sticking around and having a look at my next exciting endeavor!