• Mary K Gowdy

Hello everyone! I have a new novel coming out soon 🎉


In June 2020, I released the first in my fantasy series The One and the Other. The One-Sided Coin begins the story with Monoria Fledyia who is trapped in a mental institution and forced to decide who she can trust: a scientist with questionable methods or the mystical parasite he's trying to save her from. You can read more about it here.


In just a few months, I'll be releasing the prequel in the series, The Damned Ones. Read on for more information.


1. When is it coming out?

January 14, 2023


2. What is the genre?

It is the same as The One-Sided Coin--gothic fantasy. However, it lacks dystopian elements since it occurs before the dystopian society in The One-Sided Coin, and The Damned Ones centers around a royal family.


I like to describe this series as my love letter to all things gothic. It includes the tropes of fair maidens, dangerous but misunderstood beasts, madness, and the good and evil of humanity. Also, several poems are sprinkled throughout the narrative as one of the main characters of the series is a Jemalgee, a creature that speaks only in poetry.


3. What is the plot?

Crown Princess Labeth has grown up hearing the gruesome tales of the Jemalgee like everyone else. Creatures of darkness that travel in clouds of black smoke when they’re not possessing someone to satisfy their corrupt desires. When she comes face-to-face with one, it does the unthinkable—it saves her life. At first, she’s determined to stay away, but when circumstances force them together, she finds a kindred spirit.


The Jemalgee wants nothing more than redemption so it can return to its place in the sky as a star. Despite the other’s warnings, she vows to help save its soul. But when a different, jealous Jemalgee sets its sights on her and her country is forced into a war it can’t win, Labeth will have to decide how much she is willing to sacrifice to prove nothing is beyond saving.


4. Where is it set?

The whole series is set in the country of Loreiak, a small part of the world of Azain.


Thousands of years before the events of The One and the Other series, an unexplained force created magical boundaries that separated the world of Azain into eleven parts, each with its own rules of magic.


The practice of mysticism, channeling magic, and the existence of the Jemalgee and other similar beings are what make Loreiak unique.

All of The Damned Ones occurs in Loreiak's capital, Soros Cereminir. The capital sits to the south in the Nixceenac Mountains, only a day's travel from the coast. It's positioned on the coast of Lake Urvuspha and surrounded by five mountains, Mts. Raseynor, Vashilien, Rel, Odons, and Jakor.


When you read the book, you'll get to explore the Temple District and the monument of The Celestial on Mt. Vashilien, the cells in the cliffs of Mt. Jakor, and the palace, beautiful waterfall, and dark caves on Mt. Raseynor.


Other cities in Loreiak are mentioned as the country is at war with its neighbor, the Toa. While the section the Toa are in does not allow for any magic to exist, they have technological advancements unseen in all of the other sections. They've been able to share some of these inventions with Loreiak but remain hungry for the magic they cannot have. After trying and failing repeatedly to bring magic back to their section, they've decided the only way to get what they want is to conquer Loreiak.


5. Where did you get the idea?

I knew I wanted to tell the story of Labeth, the girl who first meets and establishes a connection with the creature Monoria knows as her Ghost in The One-Sided Coin. My original plan was to include Labeth's story as a flashback episode in the first book. But I didn't like what it did to the pacing so I cut it out and tried to put it in Volume Two. When I started outlining that book however, it didn't work either. This story needed to stand on its own.


I planned for it to be a novella of about 20k words and it is now a whopping 50k, a novel in its right. There was so much more story to tell than I had ever realized.


6. Introduce us to your main character.

Labeth is the crown princess of Loreiak. She's a dreamer with her head in the clouds and a quill in her hand as she tries to make known what's inside her through words. She wants what's best for her country but often has trouble keeping up with her day-to-day duties of being a crown princess. She aims to see the best in everyone and to never lose hope.


7. Will I like this book?

You'll like this book if you're a fan of Edgar Allan Poe and Libba Bray, like fantasy with complex world-building, and philosophical discussions on the inherent good and evil of mankind. The ideal reader is someone who is not afraid of going to dark places because that's where the best redemption stories are found.



8. Are there any trigger warnings?

Yes. The Damned Ones deals heavily with rape and suicide.


9. Do I have to have read The One-Sided Coin beforehand?

It's not required to have read The One-Sided Coin to understand The Damned Ones.


However, the subtitle of The Damned Ones is The One and the Other Episode Ten. The One-Sided Coin includes Episodes 1-9. I made The Damned Ones Episode Ten because I feel it is best to read it between Volumes 1 and 2 like how it was written.


10. Will there be bonus material?

Yes! There will three pieces of bonus material: an explanation of Azain, the greater world Loreiak takes place in; an excerpt from the Mystic Codex; and the first chapter of The Metal Flower: The One and the Other Volume Two. You won't be able to read these anywhere else!


11. Where can I buy it?

The Damned Ones will be available in ebook and paperback on Amazon. News about pre-orders will be coming soon. Consider signing up for my newsletter so you don't miss on when that becomes available. Also, you'll get the first episode of The One-Sided Coin as a free download if you haven't read it already.


I also update my Instagram frequently with news and behind-the-scenes looks at my projects.


And don't forget to add The Damned Ones to your tbr on Goodreads!


Thank you,

Mary K Gowdy


#writing #indieauthor #fantasyseries #books



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Updated: Aug 27

If you found your way onto this page, poetry must have you in its sweet smelling, thorn-tipped grasp. Don't freak out. I know you're scared, but making you bleed is poetry's way of showing love. It's quite a demanding little sucker. Too bad you've already fallen for it.


If you're here, you must either be in the anxious oh my goodness I don't know what I'm doing throes of infatuation, or maybe those rose-colored goggles have gone a bit askew and you fear your poetry ain't that good.


Welcome, Humble Traveler!


Today, we'll be going over two ways that you can strengthen your poetry, and I'll be providing examples from my own work. Before reading on, I suggest you read my two previous posts on poetry writing: How to Write A Poem for Beginners and 6 Common Mistakes New Poets Make.


Now on to the first point!


Throw in a Hatchet


Got your attention, didn't it? I cannot take the credit for either of these tips because I learned them in a college-level poetry class. My teacher insisted we throw hatchets into our writing--no, not actual hatchets. What she meant is to throw in specific details (a color, an object, a concrete image) because readers' minds are designed to latch onto them. It'll stick with them so when they finish the poem, it's likely to be the thing they remember the most.


When writing poetry, it's easy to get lost in using pretty language to describe your thoughts without ever providing concrete details to ground your readers. I did this a lot in my earlier work. Here's an example. This is the first draft of my poem "Unclean".


"Unclean"


To make ourselves clean

We call the other side depraved,

implying the strength of our superiority

by the power of our outrage.


In Jesus's day, to touch a corpse was

to make himself unclean,

but he cleansed the widow’s son with life,

moved by the sorrow he had seen.


The son of God cleanses man, his

righteousness unstained. But it’s impossible

to make ourselves clean

when we remain dirty prodigals.


We must lower ourselves, dropping our robes

of superiority, if we’re to intervene

to heal others of ignorance and to have the hope

to make ourselves clean.


This poem might not be bad, but there's definitely room for improvement. Another reason why I didn't like this version is that it comes off as super preachy, and I think that's partly to blame on the lack of imagery. Without imagery, the poem becomes just me ranting my thoughts to the readers rather than bringing them into an experience.


Here is the finished version:


"Unclean"


Jesus touched a corpse to make it clean

when the Jews only knew death to cause defilement,

not its cleansing by life.

The body’s mother followed it out of town,


weeping, not thinking to ask that

Jesus touch a corpse to make it clean.

When it rose, a son, he clutched his mother,

his muscles strong and warm with life.


Raising hands, we stand on mountains to shout,

Look and see that our actions are good—how

Jesus touched a corpse to make it clean.

We paint our faces with righteous outrage


at others’ sin so we are known by our fruits.

Their rotten innards gush under the Word weaponized

to bring death to defilement as we forget

Jesus touched a corpse to make it clean.


Better, right? In this version, the scene of Jesus resurrecting the widow's son is dramatized rather than narrated. We see the son's mother crying as she follows his body out of town, and we feel the life that comes back into the son (strong and warm).


Later in the poem, the abstract image of the "fruits of the Spirit" are made concrete with the description "their rotten innards". This line causes the reader to bring up their own memories of rotten fruit and the disgust attached to them.


So next time you write a poem, throw in a detail--it could even be something as simple as a color--and see how it improves the work.


Conciseness is Key


Given the choice between using more words or fewer words, pick fewer words!


"But I thought poetry was supposed to be flowery and descriptive?"


Yes, but even rose bushes need pruning. The less surrounding words your images need to fight for the spotlight, the better. Let's look at an example. Here is the first draft of my poem "Visual Discourse".


"Visual Discourse"


When we look at things, we see a flag, a statue, a color

while connotation sneaks through our eyes to our mind

and whispers of ideas, beliefs, feelings

—quickens our hearts at the sight of red.

We crouch down on the cusp of all that we understand

but do not search through it in case it begins to speak.


The ones left behind after WWI watched

as sculptures of soldiers were erected.

The statues’ shadows swallowed the ground

as they were moved to stand in the sun’s glare,

showing the onlookers their unfamiliar beauty:

the finely chiseled lines of their brows and muscles

that they couldn’t remember in their lanky boys;

the elegant forms of Greek gods representative of the civility

of dying from disease in ditches;

their gazes forever set forward in the same serenity

of Jesus before his sacrifice for the good of mankind.

They would not meet their families’ eyes

for them to tell if the terror had remained in their faces.


Their fight has endured in our society’s selective memory

which favors the strong certainty of granite men over the weakness in flesh.

As past becomes history and becomes written words,

we see only the meaning of what’s before us. The creators of these caricatures

win the argument before we realize it’s a thing—their last word

that they died for King/(God?) and Country.


Before moving on, take a few minutes to see what words you would cut from this poem. Where are the excess words? What sentences or images could be phrased better?


Now, I'm going to show you the same poem but with where I cut words out. I'm going to bold what I cut because Wix doesn't have a strikeout text feature. (Please start writing angry letters to the company immediately. Thank you)


"Visual Discourse"


1 When we look at things, we see a flag, a statue, a color

2 while connotation sneaks through our eyes to our mind

3 and whispers of ideas, beliefs, feelings

4 —quickens our hearts at the sight of red.

5 We crouch down on the cusp of all that we understand

6 but do not search through it in case it begins to speak.


7 The ones left behind after WWI watched

8 as sculptures of soldiers were erected.

9 The statues’ shadows swallowed the ground

10 as they were moved to stand in the sun’s glare,

11 showing the onlookers their unfamiliar beauty:

12 the finely chiseled lines of their brows and muscles

13 that they couldn’t remember in their lanky boys;

14 the elegant forms of Greek gods representative of the civility

15 of dying from disease in ditches;

16 their gazes forever set forward in the same serenity

17 of Jesus before his sacrifice for the good of mankind.

18 They would not meet their families’ eyes

19 for them to tell if the terror had remained in their faces.


20 Their fight has endured in our society’s selective memory

21 which favors the strong certainty of granite men over the weakness in flesh.

22 As past becomes history and becomes written words,

23 we see only the meaning of what’s before us. The creators of these caricatures

24 win the argument before we realize it’s a thing—their last word

25 that they died for King/(God?) and Country.


Words and lines were cut for different reasons so I'll go through them all.


The first part of line 1 can be understood by reading the second half so it got cut. We don't have to say we looked at something when we describe later how we see it--the looking is implied.


Much of what was deleted from stanza two are small words that you might not think are unnecessary but that you can do without. It might make your essay teacher's eye twitch to cut them, but poetry breathes with more fast-paced, condensed writing. Also, "that" can almost always be deleted. "The" and "and" often can in poetry as well. Ex. lines 11, 12, 13.


Notice how the em-dash makes the turn in lines 14-15 sharper compared to "of".


In lines 6 and 14, the words were replaced with shorter ones or a phrase was replaced with one action verb to strength the sentence. Also, in line 20, "has endured" is replaced with "endures". It is good to turn passive constructions into active ones where possible.


Finally is something I am still guilty of to this day and have to correct in my new work still, and that is showing and then telling what I'm showing means because I don't trust the reader to understand it on their own. The lines 2-3, 19, 23-24 are all deleted for this reason. Trust that your images are doing the work and that your reader will figure out the meaning. You can also get critique partners to help you understand what is too obscure and what you beat like a dead horse.


Now, let's look at the finished version.


"Visual Discourse"


We see a flag, a statue, a color;

our hearts quicken at the sight of red.

We crouch down on the cusp of all we understand

but do not listen in case it begins to speak.


Those left behind after WWI

watched as sculptures of soldiers were erected.

Their shadows swallowed the ground

as they were moved to stand in the sun’s glare,

showing onlookers their unfamiliar beauty:

finely chiseled lines of brows and muscles

they couldn’t remember in their lanky boys;

elegant forms like Greek gods, symbolic of civility

—dying from disease in ditches.

Their gazes are forever set forward

in serenity like Jesus before his sacrifice

for the good of mankind.

They would not meet their families’ eyes.


Their fight endures in our memory,

which favors the strong certainty of granite

over the weakness in flesh.

As past becomes history,

our fountain of knowledge flows penned lines,

black and murky—their last word

that they died for King God and Country.


Now all that fluff has been taken out, the strengths of the poem can truly shine. Channel your ruthless self. Cut until it feels uncomfortable and then you'll know that you've done enough.


That's all for today! I hope this post helped you, and thank you for reading.


If you'll forgive me one last bit of self-promotion, both of the example poems come from my poetry collection "Where Have We Come From, Where Are We Going?" If you liked them, please consider buying my book from Amazon.


Thanks ✌️



#poetry #writing


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Updated: Aug 27

I know it's been a while but I'm back with several pieces of exciting news, so let's get to it!


My poetry collection is out! *screams incoherently*


Where Have We Come From, Where Are We Going? is available on Amazon in paperback for $9.99.


Though a small handful of poems were written earlier, I started this collection in 2018, so it took me fours years to go from my head, onto the page, and to you. It's a very personal and political book as the political is often personal. It's the pouring from my heart all the fears, doubts, tears, and hopes that I have felt over the last six years.


While I hope anyone can find something compelling between its pages, it speaks best to young Christians or non-Christians who grew up in the church and have since become disillusioned by the American church for not looking more like the Jesus they were taught about.


"Where Have We Come From, Where Are We Going? is full of journeys – innocence to adulthood, faith’s march through deconstruction to renewal, and Time’s unstoppable trek as it takes us to hope or destruction. It chronicles the poet’s life during the personally, nationally, and globally tumultuous years of 2015 - 2020 which saw a young girl questioning what she thought she knew, the deepening of a nation’s divisions into cracks that can never be hidden again, and a pandemic that changed the path of everyone’s lives. Touching on the topics of faith, nationalism, linguistics, love, and history, Where Have We Come From zeroes in on America. It analyzes through personal narrative the white-outed parts of its history, its relationship to Christianity, and its society's polarization. No one would disagree that this is a dark, uncertain time in our nation’s history. And Time always keeps going, so the question becomes: where are we headed? "


And that's not all the news I have ;)

The second draft of the Labeth Prequel has been finished!


This book has taken so much longer than I had anticipated. It was just supposed to be a quick project before starting TOATO2. But no, this book DEMANDED more time. I intended for it to be 20,000 words and the 2nd draft is a whopping 49,370! I had to stop calling it the Labeth Novella.


Ya'll, Labeth's story is a wild ride--equal parts horror and beauty, despair and hope. I love this character even more, and I'm looking forward to sharing her story with you all.


But first, we must beta-read, and edit, and proofread, before we can publish. I'm setting my eyes towards a mid-to-late 2023 release.


Until then. . .

I can finally start drafting The One and the Other Volume 2!


Granted, if you've been following my Instagram, you know that I've already started it. I wrote the first two chapters late last year, but NOW I can give it my full, undivided attention as I take a break from the Labeth Prequel.


I am so excited! I've been dreaming about writing this book for literal YEARS. I love all my characters so much--Monoria, Attalayla, Celond, and Jeriph--and I can't wait to journey with them as they grow and face new challenges. LOYALTIES WILL BE TESTED. NEW BONDS MADE. OLD BONDS BROKEN.


Anyway, I gotta go back and write ;). Thanks for reading! Till next time!



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