I'm not entirely sure yet if this will be an SF ROMANCE. It will certainly be an SF with a romance arc, but I suppose that's what my books usually are. The romance is never the reason for the story, it's just a supporting actor. At this point several people are dead, everybody (including me) has had a few AHAH!!! moments, and I'm learning more about the Yrmaks. The women are the driving force in Yrmak society. They are the movers and the shakers. Yrmak men are fighters, although the generals are female. I've included a stock photo of what a Yrmak might look like. And here's a short excerpt to give you all a flavour. Tian is visiting a market, where she comes across a stall holder selling Yrmak artifacts.
"Name's Austen." He thrust out a hand. "I'm a well-known archaeologist. Ask me anything."
Tian shook his hand, which had the texture of sandpaper. So he did, at least, work with his hands. Of course, that could be digging ditches.
"I'm Tian. Pleased to meet you. Tell me about the Rite of Ur Bazoon. Isn't that some sort of fertility thing?"
"No. It's a ceremony carried out when the young men are mature enough to go to war. They pledge themselves to the Great Mother by cutting their left claw with a knife like that one. Their blood drips into a bowl on the altar, then the High Priestess drinks the blood. After that, they're given their spears."
He knew what he was talking about, and his pronunciation of Ur Bazoon had been pretty good. But that dagger was no more authentic Yrmak than she was.
"Do you speak Yrmak?"
"I do. It was difficult, but I find their culture fascinating. A true matriarchy, with the females running things. It's hard to find out about anything interesting if you don't speak the language."
So very true.
The main display didn't hold much of interest, but Austen held something in his hand, dark green stone with what looked like a gold inscription "Can I see that one? The one in your hand?"
He fondled the jar as though it were precious. "Beautiful, isn't it? It's not for sale. I… ah… only just got this one."
Stolen? "May I see it? Please? I'll be very careful."
"Well… okay." He placed the jar into Tian's outstretched palm.
Heavy. Not pottery, this was deep green, flawless aventurine. The symbol on the lid had been carved, then the carving filled with gold. It was an eye surrounded by rays. She'd never seen it before. "Where did you get this one?"
"Picked it up in a Yrmak's junk sale. Just came from there. The matriarch had died – that is, passed on to the Mother - and they were selling up her effects. Household goods and such."
"And they sold this?"
"It was part of a job lot." He waved his hand at the counter behind him, where an assortment of jars and cheap jewelry stood next to the box. "I've been sorting it out."
There was a certain resemblance between this symbol and the other one she kept in her comm. Not the same, but resonant. "How much do you want for it?"
Austen stared at the jar, then at her, then back at the jar, his eyes widening for the barest instant. He shook his head. "It's not for sale." He tried an apologetic smile. "Sorry. I think I'll be keeping this one."
"Do you know what it means? This symbol?" Tian traced it with her finger.
"I don't think it means anything. Not everything does, does it? Look, it's nothing. Just a part of a female's dressing room. That's why it's so fancy." He almost snatched it from Tian and put it in his pocket. "It's pretty. I think the wife would like it."
What I have found is that I've sat myself down to write after breakfast. A tentative goal is 500 words. But as the writing has continued, the ideas have come and with it the urge to write more. I'm usually putting down between 1,000 and 1,500 words a day. And even if it's garbage, I can edit garbage.
AFTER I've written The End.
Oh - By the way, tentative name is "The Eye of the Mother".