Category: Writing (page 1 of 4)

Festivals and Holidays of Verlis

Merry Christmas dear readers.

I did it this time. Here is you promised pre Christmas post. Since I have holidays on the mind, I thought I would write something about the holidays in some of my own writing. Since Lady of Courage is set in an alternate Italian maritime world, it doesn’t have any especially unique holidays. It does begin on Chistmas Eve with a Ball and that’s about it. In contrast, for Girl of the Rumours, I have had to do a fair bit of world building and that includes multiple sets of holiday customs.

Festivals in Verlis and Amra differ quite a bit. In Amra they are community celebrations and times of fun. In verlis they are more solemn. There is some slight religious significance to soem of the festivals, but it has mostly been stripped away. The old folk religions of the countries were never very ritualistic or held strongly and when the new beliefs came, the holidays were all changed.

There is a Harvest End Festival held twelve weeks after the summer solstice. It has a spirit of thanksgiving and rejoicing over the harvest. In Amra is is celebrated by huge markets in all major towns and feasts where ever people are gathered. There will be dancing and various competions or skill. Wrestling, archery, staff fighting, and the like. The celebartions frequently go on for several days. There are musicians playing all of the old and new tales until all hours of the night and religious leaders will take opportunities to speak to the people. Everywhere, the feast will begin with a prayer everyone joins in on and the day before the festival there are often special services in the chapels.

In Verlis, there are no markets and no huge gatherings. Throughout the day you are not to eat any food from the years produce, only that of the previous year. Everyone will give gifts of food to their friends and neighbours as they can afford. It usually will be something they themselves do not grow. If you are giving to those of higher class, the gift must be tasteful and well presented, but will often not be large. The extremely wealthy will often give enormous gifts. Everyone gives what they can to those less fortunate especially as this is a day when they cannot refuse it. The gifts are traditionally given anonymously, though people often know who various gifts are from. The festival ends with a time of solemn reflection at sunset followed by a meal of all new food.

The Spring Festival is held in the middle of planting. It is barely celebrated in Amra. Traditionally it is the time of drinking new milk and letting the animals out to graze in the mountains. However, no one waits for a particular day to come if the conditions are right and there is little mention of it these days. The remnant of the festival is the wearing of flowers and the dancing of the girls of each town. It is also common practice to plant herbs on this day. Prayers will be offered for a good growing season.

In Verlis, the prayers have a much greater emphasis. Everyone gathers and prays all day. The prayer are usually not just for a good planting and harvest, but for any need. In recent and not so recent years, the prayers have been for peace, for safety. Is is the one day of the year that a large portion on the population prays anything than ritualistic form prayers.

A few significant events in Girl of the Rumours happen on these festivals. Aydel dances with Nylf at the Harvest End Festival in the town of Jarrah. He tells her something that changes her life. To finish up the day, they get chased by guards and she meets Wil, Elind and Mim. (Who all happen to have an ‘i’ in their names. Funny that.)

Towards the end of the story, someone takes advantage of the Spring Festival’s distraction to further his own plans. That, put simply, wasn’t not a time the prayers for peace we answered. Not that day.

I feel that there ought to be more holidays. Something like Passover or Christmas. They haven’t come up yet and I don’t know if they will. I believe they differ between the different church branches and never became huge public celebrations. Passover would be close to the Harvest End Festival in timing. Christmas could be mid-summer, but given we do not know an actual date for Christs birth, they don’t not in most part have any celebration other than that of the new year.

There are also festivals and holidays in the neighbouring nation of the Dlinaat. The culture in entirely differnt, and the festivals have a great deal to do with their main religion. They worship the sea, or a sea god of some kind, or just simple water. It has all gotten rather mixed up over the long existence of their civilization. The migration from islands to dry plain has been a major factor in the development of the current rituals. Very few people In Verlis or Amra are familiar with their customs and I haven’t learnt the Dlinaat language yet, so I cannot study directly from the source.

It is also rumoured that there is a separate Dlinaat group who’s beliefs and practices are very reminiscent of Christianity. It seems they are the product of the knowledge of the way spreading along many paths. They do not mix with foreigners any more than the rest of the population, so they are few facts, but it is believed they celebrate Christmas. Because at least one group out there has to.

I have probably made this a little confusing. Is this our world or not? Truth be told, I haven’t quite figure that out. it’s some kind of alternate universe. Some major things are the same. Other parts of geography and history are entirely scrambled. I may end arranging things to make in entirely different as it changes more each time I think about it, but I haven’t reached that level yet.

This is likely my last post for the year so until next time, have a joyous Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Twisting Reality in Fiction

It’s about time for another of my Reality in Fiction posts. But this time I decided to mix it up. I’m talking about the lies in fiction. How reality can be twisted. The way a made up universe can reflect any world-view as true.

I have been reading a bit outside of my usual Christian fiction, to get an idea of what the world is thinking and what teenagers like to read these days. I can’t read these things without analysing them and making observations.

Secular fiction often shows a world without God. It can sometimes be a world without rules, sometimes a very believable world with basic morality (though no explanation for it), and sometimes a world with no hope.

This only breaks the laws in the universe, not the ones outside it.

I read a story where the protagonist did some pretty dreadful things to keep her family safe. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that she sold her soul to the devil, but if that would have kept all the people she cared about safe, she would have done it. Her morality was no more than ‘Murder or torture of innocents is wrong and should be avoided if possible.’

It was not a cheerful story, I didn’t enjoy parts of it. But in the end I had to acknowledge that in the story would her actions made sense. The was no higher power which meant both that there was no ultimate consequence for her actions and no guarantee that the side of right would win out. If the devil could be greater God, serving him is not unreasonable. But that’s not how the world works. The consequences of since is more than the reactions of others and the trouble of one’s conscience. There is an ultimate right and wrong, and God will win, so his side is the only right side.

Beyond that there is the hope of eternal life. Even if we die, that’s not the end. It’s only the beginning. As I’ve been helping teach all year in the School Bible classes, “God has a plan.” He is in control. He uses even the most terrible of circumstances to his ends and for the good of those who love him. In a Godless world, when they’re dead, they’re gone and there’s nothing you can do. In our world, there still is grief, but there can be the certainty that behind that it will be okay.

Of course, there can be a created world where as long as you are a generally good person you end up in some kind of positive afterlife. I know that is another very common belief. It’s nice to think that everything will be absolutely fine with us doing whatever we like, but it’s false hope. It might even be worse than the lack of hope I have already mentioned.

I’ve also seen how easily simple things that I beleive to be wrong can be justified. With no ultimate right or wrong, the boundaries can be pushed all over the place. In a story, you don’t have to deal with the consequences. You can’t entirely ignore all of them because people do know what is real, but the effects can be lessened. Things like adultery can end up with okay outcomes, instead of betrayed or broken relationships.

More than that it’s quite possible to make you really care about the characters. In certain circumstance you want to excuse people, even if you do think what they’re doing is wrong. It’s so easy to come up with extenuating circumstances, and tragic back stories. You want these people to be happy and even if the route they take towards isn’t exactly moral, when they get their you can’t help but feel some of their happiness.

Some of this twisting is probably easier in speculative fiction than contemporary. Fantasy deals with the supernatural. It’s not just a world where people don’t believe in God or don’t have morals. You can have a world with false gods, or one where you straight out prove there is no God in the story world. You can have a heaven almost everyone enters, or an endless cycle of reincarnation. You can have whatever kind of world you want to believe in.

It is likely that readers won’t fully embrace the world you’ve created as real, but it will have an influence. People will be more likely to think the way of a book or movie they enjoyed. The world you immerse yourself in will effect the one you have in you own head. That’s why I tend toward Christian fiction with heavy themes. A complex, wonderful, but potentially dangerous world with God ultimately in control.

I’ve gotten very deep here, but I do think it is very important. Popular books and movies shape the way the world thinks. Or in case of many people, how they feel. Too many of them don’t really think. Fictional world affect the emotions of the current world, and the morality. Music probably does too, but  I am very eclectic in my taste and can’t stand the thought of a lot of the stuff that passes for music. If I do happen to hear some, there is a fair chance of it being unintelligible to me. Besides, I analyse the theology of my music too.

I won’t deny that there’s nothing at all good in mainstream stories. Even if authors don’t have a good backing to the morality doesn’t mean they’ve got it all wrong. They have a conscience after all and if they listen to it, there could be quite good morals in their story.

Right now I could go off on a tangent about how morals alone don’t matter, but that would be quite off topic. It’s something I’m passionate about though, so I’ll just recommend you watch the movie Time Changer.

So anyway, when I read these stories, I end up thinking through the ideas behind them, as well as the actual content of the story. I find it fun. Maybe I’m weird, but I like having my mind stretched by time travel and the different philosophies that lie behind it. There is the ‘time is fixed and unchanging’ idea and I’m going off on a different tangent. I’ll stop that. Keep on topic.

This line of thought does factor heavily into how I create the world for my stories. I write in worlds where my core beliefs are true. If I departed from that, I would probably have a character who shares by beliefs as a frame of reference. Or I would have some other purpose behind exploring this world. I might make a world that really fundamentally breaks down, just to show it does. However, I’m more likely to keep that level of though outside my stories. I don’t think I have the skills to write something that completely skews with people’s heads. Even though I like contemplating the ideas.

​Applying This to Writing

The key to influencing someone’s mind slightly with your views is subtlety. I pull out of stories that violently disagree with me and shove that in my face. I just can’t stand some things. With other stories, well I still am paying attention so I consider what world-view the story is using and do my best to keep my mind straight. But it doesn’t offend me. And even the stories that do likely have a subtle part to them. Very few people say straight out what the underlying ideas in their stories are. They may not even recognize those ideas are there at all.

Perhaps I’m doing this all wrong by stating some of my underlying ideas, but I just can’t help it. They are important to me. I’m not shoving them in every story though. Lady of Courage particularly has very little discussion of this kind of thing. My beliefs about the world and God are underlying somewhere in the background, but over that are various social and political things and a whole conflict that only hinges on that indirectly. It like how you can’t the see the framing in a house because it’s all hidden in the walls. Or perhaps it’s more like a floor underlay.

Terrible metaphors both of them. Framing makes me think of story structure than the background of the world. And as a background it plays more into how some of the characters act and some of the social, ethical and historical foundations of society. (social and society). Maybe it’s more like the glue holding the wallpaper up. And now I’ve gotten to the part where I use building references that are outside my personal experience. I’ve helped construct walls and lay floors, but I’ve never papered them.

These underlying ideas may even be more like the air we breathe. Everywhere, invisible, essential. Or like the beam of light C. S. Lewis spoke of in an essay once. Here, I’m certainly talking about the beam. My prayer and hope for the stories is that the light will just be in the room as something you don’t even consciously think of most of the time.

A Little Sidenote

There’s another thought that came up with all of this, but really doesn’t fit because it’s not a lie in fiction. It a thought I had, a truth almost. It still is about twisted reality, but in a different way.

Some of the stories I’ve read have people travelling back in time to change things that went wrong. I started thinking over what I would do if I had the option to change some of the past. My conclusion: I wouldn’t. I’ve made some mistakes, there’s small moments I wish I had done something different, but I’m pretty content right now. There’s no friendships I completely messed up, or family members who died in an avoidable accident.

If I look further back, say to the World Wars, I want to interfere even less. One, I don’t think I could have much effect unless I actually killed Hitler and I don’t think I could do that. Two, Messing with time could entirely change the world in unforeseen ways. I’m not God, and I don’t trust myself not to make a mess of things even in the short term. I certainly couldn’t direct history.

The closest I would get would be accepting an offer to live just this past six months over again. That just because I’ve not been as productive as I could have been. And even then, the opportunities that could be lost if I did things just a little differently scare me away from that. I may have missed conversations, and even conferences. I most certainly would have written this blog post if I had been writing or studying instead of reading the books I did.

Now this post is about half a week late, but I promise I will have another one before Christmas. By the way, I am having serious trouble comprehending how close to the end of the year it it. We haven’t put decorations up yet, and I’v been the only one playing Christmas music at home and I’m usually not playing music. There aren’t even any wrapped presents sitting around yet. I better go take care of that.

Later then, bye. *waves furiously*

Beautiful NaNoWriMo project

It’s time for the Beautiful Books link up with Cait and Skye. This month I get to introduce my NaNoWriMo project. I’m going to be writing A Brigand, No Longer which is the sequel to Girl of the Rumours. I have talked about it before (see this post), but some of my ideas have changed a little and i’m going about it in a different way.

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

Joane being interesting inspired this book. In particular ongoing conflict between Joane and Elind, back in an imaging of the story where Elind was young. And I may have had the idea for about two years. This time last year, I was expecting to begin writing it very soon.

Describe what your novel is about!

Joane and Aydel adjusting to their new situations. Impending war. The groom being captured just before a wedding. Mayhem. Outlaws running wild. Fathers. Sisters. Lots of spoilers.

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Wide stone streets petering off into dirt paths. Buildings in a mixture of stone, wood and plaster. Plentiful gardens. A river flowing through the town. A dirty tent town for refugees. a tangled forest stretching down from the mountains.

Introduce us to each of your characters!

Joane: Fierce, tomboy, man-hater, intimidating leader, protective, despiser of chiefs, lonely, proud, illiterate.

Aydel: Broken, freedom-lover, comforter, shunned, healer, best sister ever, regretful.

Wil: Noble, cautious, protective, can’t say what he wants, haunted, self-sacrificing, trustworthy.

Ireen: Power-hungry, not a compelling leader, terrifying, clever, perpetual rebel,  hurt.

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

I’ve done a bit of outlining. Still more to do. And I’ve stocked up on chocolate that is to be doled out at mile stones.

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

Figuring it out. I have some plans, but I’m really just looking forward to seeing where it goes and what new characters pop up.

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

  1. A lot of the book is in a city.
  2. The city is more open than crowded, and is generally cheerful.
  3. Bright, strong colours are the fashion.

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Joane wants to make the world calm down, but she’s removed herself from her old place of authority and is hopeless in the new situation. Aydel wants her sister happily married, but Arthen has been taken in a raid and Aydel is prohibited from leaving the city.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Joane will be less jaded and suspicious. More graceful and capable. Aydel will have found hope again.

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

Right now, I feel that a major theme is new beginnings. Submission and trust will come into play as well. I want people to come away feeling lightened and cheered.

 

That’s that, and you can check out the other entries here or here.

Reality in Fiction: Contentment

I’ve had the idea for this post for months now. And finally it’s happening. I thought it would work well as part of a series. Probably posted monthly. I should be able to keep up with that. What? It’s not like I never have regularity and posting on time here. Just not often enough.

The series is going to focus how certain ideas play out in real life and books in general. I’d like to think it’s got a bt of writing advice, but non-readers should find it just as interesting. Unless you hate discovering the patterns  in most books which make it easier to predict things. (you know, the two leads will end up together if it it’s romance, the hero always wins, that slightly suspicious man is obviously evil unless he’s actually good.  Or on a deeper level you know that the protagonist is going to have to change in a certain way before he can succeed)

There are reasons things play out the same way in many stories. One of those reasons is because it’s real. Stories aren’t always like reality, but if they’re too far off in certain ways, they don’t work.

There’s a truth I’ve discovered that I think is one of the secrets to a good life. If you’re not content with what you have, you’ll never be happy however much you have. Or to look it from a less material perspective, if you’re waiting for things to change before you can be happy, it’s not going to happen. This is something that might be shown in a story, but certainly not every story. However there is a flipside, that I think subtly shows in many stories. It’s possible to be too content.

Yes, you can be too content. you can become complacent. Yes, you shouldn’t rest your happiness in things being a certain way, but sometimes things really do need to change. You must not be content to let evil go past. You must not just subsist even if it’s comfortable.

Just think of a story, any story. Is the protagonist completely happy with the way things are? Maybe they are. But do they stay that way for long? Of course they don’t. Something goes wrong and they’re forced to deal with it. If they were perfectly content to let things happen as they may, they would never get any where. They would be beaten before the fight even begun.

I’m terrible at pulling out examples because I know a lot more obscure stories than popular ones. But I’ll choose The Horse and His Boy. If Shasta had been content, passive, he never would have run away with Bree. He might not have listened at the door of the hut and known he was to be sold. And Bree, if he’d become complacent with his lot as a prisoner, he never would helped Shasta escape. Now you could say that to act differently was besides those characters natures, and you’d be correct. But that really is part of the point.

For another example I’ll pull out Truth by Molly Evangeline (aka Jaye L. Knight). Makilien, the protagonist lives in a little walled village no one ever leaves. She was drawn out by curiosity, but also by a sense that things should and could be better than they were.  She was not content to simply leave things as they were. (This isn’t the best example, because the other villagers were more afraid and down trodden than complacent, but I think it still works)

Now for an example of a passive character, Jane Bennet. I’ve read Pride and Prejudice twice I think and don’t feel all that familiar with the details of the story, but I would call Jane passive. Things happen to her. Mr. Bingley just gets dropped in her lap, so to speak, and when he’s taken away, Jane hardly does anything. She’s just content to let things be. She doesn’t grasp after anything. That’s why she isn’t the protagonist. Lizzie is. And Lizzie isn’t afraid to let people know when she’s not happy.

This isn’t to say you can’t have a protagonist who is content, or that they have to speak their mind. Just don’t let them be passive, and don’t you be passive either. Find your contentment and go change the world. That’s how to be happy. (part of it at least)

 

 

Beautiful New Covers and a Crossover Ficlet

They’re here. Six beautiful new covers for the books I love to talk about here. Well at least I love talkihng about Rizkaland, and can’t avoid talking about Rizkaland. I cannot recal if I’ve ever talked about The Ankulen. I should have mentioned it because it makes me laugh and I love it.

Kendra’s sneak peeks had given me an idea of what some of the covers looked like. She also had shared a cover she was working on which was nothing like the final product and nowhere near as awesome. Unexpected plot twist there.

The books are also being edited to make them all shinier and add extra special content. Kendra’s first book, Sew, It’s a Quest has already been re-released, and the others are on their way. And if you want a copy of all the new books, Kendra currently is running a give-away of the full set. Head over to her blog to check it out. Any comments on this post count towards the giveaway.

But enough of me yammering. You want to see the covers and then you want to read the mini fanfic I wrote which crosses over with my own stories. (Don’t ask me how I know what you want. I just do. It’s a blogging skill.)

Covers are incoming!!!!

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Sew, It’s a Quest

It’s lovely, and shiny and pink!

Two twins in a fairy tale world must find their Fairy Godmother before their eighteenth birthday, lest they forever be stuck with the other’s gift. (Cause that would be bad, you know, when your gifts are sewing and swordplay.)

Kendra’s Revison notes: I sent this book to my kindle, tore it to shreds, then retyped the whole thing, making every word fight to stay in the book. I completely rewrote one chapter, and added/expanded several scenes, focusing on character development and pacing, in particular Robin’s character.

She did an awesome job too. It’s changed from being a nice story, to a great book.

GoodreadsPaperback – FREE ebook

 

Do You Take This Quest

You know I love the colour purple, right? And incorporating the old cover is awesome.

A prince’s quest for allies against his misery uncle and a madcap race to get home for a wedding. (Also an odd girl looking for a paintbox, and some funny family resemblances.)

Kendra’s Revision notes: This book has one added chapter, a few (potentially) added scenes, and a severe edit. Again, focus is going to Robin’s character development. I hadn’t the maturity to completely handle her emotional situation when I wrote this book, and now I intend to fix that.

I’ve seen the extra chapter and it’s amazing. A lot of emotional depth to it.

Goodreads

 

My Kingdom for a Quest

Prince Arthur’s quest to take back his kingdom, and Casperl’s quest to find out how, exactly, he’s a prince.

Kendra’s notes: This book was mostly clean … but it’s getting a part two. AKA, book 3.5, The Quest for a Quince, AKA, Casperl’s story. There will be a edit to part one, though.

I’m not the biggest Bookania fan out there, but I’ve enjoyed every snippet from The Quest for a Quince that I’ve seen so far. I think something big is going on, but I don’t know what. (common trait of Kendra’s books)

Goodreads

Those first three covers were made by Kendra. The next three are designed by Alea Harper, an excellent aspiring designer. Go over to her website Elvish Pens, Fantastical Writings and have a look at the covers she’s made for her own writing. (She made me a rough one when I mentioned the elements I’d like. She’s awesome.)

 

The Ankulen

Jen knows she had an imagination once – how far will she go to get it back?

This is especially a great book for writers. It takes place in an intersection of imagination and reality, makes fun of a few of Kendra’s writing tendencies, and explores the purpose of imagination. It’s also thoroughly fun and has chapter titles like: In Which I Discover that My Imagination is Gray.

Goodreads

 

Water Princess, Fire Prince

When two teens are pulled into another world, fire and water must work together to defeat a dragon.

I absolutely love this cover. The colours fit so well with the book. It give it a much more dignified look than the original cover. It might also help me get over my mental image of Rizkaland as white. There is snow when the book begins, and even when it’s gone, I still picture it. Snow and coloured trees.

Goodreads

 

Lady Dragon, Tela Du

Purple – Red – Beautiful

Only the Tela Du stands in Amber’s way for ruling Rizkaland forever. Petra would much rather find her long-lost sisters than fight a Lady Dragon.

I just dicovered I have a slight attachment to the old cover for this book. Yes, this one is better. Yes, I complained a little about the other not matching my standards. But its gold, and its vibrancy made me love it anyway. The one bit of my mind that wants things to stay the same is fighting with rest over how excited I should be.

 

Check out what everyone says about the covers and comment over there too. Then read my fanfic.

 

As part of the giveaway on her blog, Kendra is asking for crossover fanfics. There’s a number of options, but I choose to pull a few of my characters into Rizkaland. I have Demetrio from Lady of Courage and Cassia from SubM. Demetrio is supposed to be a villain, but doesn’t act like it, while Cassia remains anonymous and is a nuisance. I hope you like it.

 

Just Get Off the Mat

It was still early summer, but there was a patch of red leaves showing through the trees ahead. Demetrio pushed ahead. If the trees were suffering from some blight, he ought to know about it.

Further on were still more red trees. He stepped from the path to see how far the trees extended. They vanished again. Puzzled, he stepped back to the path. The trees appeared again. Demetrio hurried on. There was a loud click behind him and he whirled around.

Impossible. Red trees surrounded him. Yellow grass too. Was he going mad?

“Excuse me sir, What way would I walk to find a town?”

Demetrio scanned the trees and spotted a small golden-haired girl under one of the trees. He strode forward and grabbed her wrist.

“What have you done to the trees?” he demanded.

“I? The trees? They were red when I arrived here. Where they different before?” the girl asked.

“There were green trees here, just a minute ago. And green grass. Not this atrocity. Don’t pretend you know nothing about it.”

The girl’s eyes grew big. “You’re not from here either, I see. And you don’t know what happened.”

Demetrio loosened his grip on the girl. “Where is this then? Because last time I checked, I was very much from Doranto.”

The girl sighed. “It seems there was some reason for me to be here then. You’re not in Doranto anymore. You’re in another world. She said it was called Rizkaland before she disappeared.”

“Rizkaland? World? She?” Demetrio pulled his hat off and rubbed at his head. “What on earth do you mean?”

“I mean you’ve been transported to a place completely disconnected from where ever you’ve come from. Unfortunately, that means you can’t get back all on your own. Neither can I. So, we’re stuck here. And there is magic which just makes it all worse.”

Demetrio raised his eyebrows. He still had no idea what was going on, but his senses said this was real. So presumably the magic was real and could be useful. “What is this magic? I’m not sure I believe you.”

The girl twisted her had from his grip and stepped away. “You really don’t need to know.”

Demetrio took a step after the girl and grabbed her by both wrists. “Tell me. Please.”

She stared back at him for a long moment. “Fine. But I’ll advise you to avoid all of it. Magic is not something to be meddled with and there could be all kinds in this place. Take this for example.” She pointed at a purple mat under their feet. “If you say a special word, it transports you somewhere else.”

“Do you know what the word is?”

“Yes, but I’m not using it. I don’t do magic. That’s why I asked which way the nearest town was.”

Demetrio stared at her. “I don’t suppose you could tell me the word.”

“Nope. I wouldn’t want to have someone else’s use of magic on my mind. We’ll just have to wait for someone else to turn up.”

“You said there was a woman here?”

The girl nodded. “Yep, she went off on the mat to find someone else when I refused to use it. She’ll probably be trying to come back about now.”

Demetrio tugged at the girl. “Look here. I don’t know how these things work, but I’d imagine it’s not a good idea to stand on them when someone else wants to use them.”

She pulled back. “Oh, they just won’t work. But I don’t want her using magic either.”

~The End~

Beautifully Messy Writing Process

This month the Beautiful People is author oriented. Which means you get to read about me instead of my characters.

 

Or more accurately you’ll read about my writing process. And my writing progress really isn’t beautiful. It’s much more of a mess.

 

How do you decide which project to work on?

A mixture of what’s running through my head and what fits my goals. At the moment I’m not feeling hugely motivated on any project, but I’m determined to get Girl of the Rumours into a readable shape.

How long does it usually take you to finish a project?

Months. Not that I’ have finished, finished things. I’ve completed drafts, but they always took months.

Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?

Not really, but I tend to listen to music. Instrumental orchestral stuff mostly. Lately I’ve been going for Celtic music.

What time of day do you write best?

Perhaps evening. That might just be because I’m running out of time in the day. Sometimes starting early is great.

Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?

Not really. I used the ‘I Write Like’ website and for Girl of the Rumours, it said I write like Agatha Christie. But that was only a few chapters. I haven’t found a consistent style yet.

Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?

I started writing becuase I had a story to tell and realized it could be done. I keep going because I enjoy it, I don’t want to be a quitter and God doesn’t seem to be directing me away from it.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?

Hard means it’s a scene that drags. Or has difficult emotions. Conflict with parents is something I find both hard to write and hard to read. The scene is was working on yesterday fit’s into all of that. Probably a bunch more scenes do. It’s all a bit of a blur months later.

Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?

I don’t feel all that ready for any of my projects. But honestly, I wan tot get more experienced before I get back to Lady of Courage (which has a new name coming along sometime). I felt when I was first wriitng it that the political intrigue was beyond me, and it’s got a lot of gaps. I also want to attempt a serial on the blog, but haven’t had the time to figure it out.

What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?

I put this for my goal on the Holy Worlds forum.

I’m afraid to make to many big goals, because so many thing could happen in a year to derail them. Also I just started planning out a new project that’s going to slow things down.
That said, I want to get Girl of the Rumours into the hands of a few critiquers by August. If I really focus on my editing I could have it sooner, but I want tot get other things moving along too. The first draft of Lady of Courage should be finished end of next month at the latest.

I don’t know if I’ve really finished  Lady of Courage, but I’ve done as much as I’m going to. Girl of the Rumours won’t be ready for critiquers in August unless I only give them the first part. I still hope to have it mostly by mid September. And the new project is coming along.

Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif

Write. Sigh. Rewrite.

 

Check out the rest of the link up at paperfury.com or furtherupfurtherin.net.

 

Beautiful People: Cassia


The year is 1776; the world is a different one. I am sitting in a dim room that feels like an attic, though it’s hard to be certain. You are sitting with me, though not actually there. You’re more inside my head than anywhere else. Neither of us are exactly sure how we got here, but we know why. There’s one another person in the room. A blond girl wearing practical clothes and a serious expression is sitting on a low chair in front of me. Her name is Cassia Rerdbin and I’m supposed to be interviewing her. She doesn’t seem surprised or unwilling, but refuses to let me make any record of what we say. That’s what you’re here for, to help me remember.

I’ve been chatting with her for a little while now, but nothing of substance has come up. “Have you travelled much?” I ask her.

Cassia shakes her head. “Not unless you count exploring the streets of Delman travelling.”

“Exploring a city sounds like fun. What’s your favourite place to visit there?”

She leans her hand on her hand meditatively. “The parkland. We have been boating on the river several times and it was so peaceful. Much more natural than the artificially crowdedness of the rest of the city.”

I nod and move on to the next question. “What’s one mistake in your life that you’ve learned from?”

Cassia wrinkles her nose. “Are not you supposed to start with easy questions? If this is how you do an official interview, you’re terrible at it. But I will try to answer. It is hard though. Unless I want to be ungrateful and whine about the opportunities I have been given, I’ve only really made small mistakes.”

I laugh. “Small mistakes are fine Cassia. You can still learn things from them, even if it’s forgetting to set an alarm while cooking.”

“Set an alarm while cooking?” Cassia echoes. “What would you want to do that for?”

“It’s complicated, and would distract me from talking to you,” I offer. I figure it must be a cross cultural miscommunication. Those happen sometimes.

“Oh. Well I made a few dreadful mistakes when I was learning to sew. Sometimes It’s hard to tell the backs and fronts apart. Fortunately, we mostly do alterations.”

“So, you studied sewing here at the school. What else did you study? Any favourites?”

Cassia smiles. “There’s so many amazing things to study and a lot of freedom. I especially enjoyed traditions and law. There’s such a vast array of examples. There is also wonderful art.” She drops her voice almost to a whisper. “It almost makes back to the drawbacks of studying here.”

I’d like to ask her more about those drawbacks, but it’s not on our list and we’ve been discouraged from asking about the school for an undisclosed reason. So, I move onto the next question.

“Did you study plants at all? I’m supposed to ask you about your favourite flower?”

Yes, we both know that could be smoother, but it doesn’t really matter.

“I doubt you know them, but there’s an Erint tree here at the school. It came from Trerike, which is my fatherland. They are very pretty trees too, and the leaves are good for medicine.”

I smile. “Very nice. Trees have a more enduring beauty than flowers. I could dream about them. What about you? Anything particular you dream about at night?”

Cassia looks down and fumbles with her hands. She’s seems rather bothered, I’m surprised. We thought this was an easy question when we discussed it earlier.

“I- I have bad dreams,” Cassia whispers, “I keep dreaming about magic. Something terrible happens and I’m caught in the middle.”

I reach out and squeeze her hand. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked.”

“No, it’s alright. You couldn’t have known.”

I nod. “I’ll move onto a cheerful question. What would you choose to eat if you went out for a special meal?”

“Whatever was recommended.” Cassia laughs and shakes her head. “Sorry, I’m not a food person really.”

“That’s fine. What’s one thing you want to do before you die?”

“Move to Trerike. I have wished we lived there since I was 10. I would also like to travel to some famous libraries.”

“You’re a study freak, aren’t you?” I ask.

“I wouldn’t call myself a freak, but I certainly love to study.” Cassia leans back in her chair and sighs. “Learning is my life. I just hope it will not be my death.”

“Any other special talents?”

“Writing is part of academia, but I consider myself reasonably skilled at it. I like presenting an argument.”

“Debating then? Have you ever argued hard enough to make any one cry?” I’m glad to get that opportunity to slip the question in. It could otherwise be rather sensitive.

Cassia shakes her head. “I don’t like open disagreement and debate isn’t my thing. I’d be more likely to cry myself than make someone else cry.”

“You must be a nice person to be around then. This is pretty much the end of the interview. I’d love to stick around, but I don’t have the time. I just need you to confirm the veracity of your answers. Not that you’d lie about them, but it’s a formality.”

Cassia nodded. “I understand formalities. And I promise that was all true. Some say I might be biased in my research, but I would never lie in an interview.”

“Well it was nice meeting you. I have a suspicion I’ll see you again someday, but farewell for now.”

“The same.”

Cassia smiles and the room fades from our view. The white page of my blog appears behind it.

 

~The End

 

This interview is based off the questions from Beautiful People by Cait and Sky. Stop by paperfury.com or furtherupfurtherin.net to see other people talk about or to their characters.

Character Encounters: In which I meet Cassia under a bridge

A short story written for Character Encounters.

Something really strange happened to me while i was travelling back from the Indie E-Con a few months ago.

I was waiting at the bus station for my coach back north. It was the bus stop right on the edge of the city where the river is. Since the bus wasn’t due for another half hour, I wandered down the path by the river. It amazes be how rivers seem the same the world over. The trees, smells and the position of the sun might all be different, but water is water.

When I got to the bridge I stopped and sat under it in the shade. There was another thing that didn’t change. Graffiti covered the bottom of the concrete bridge.  Nothing terribly original, just a few random words I’d rather not repeat.

A girl ran along the path in front of me. She looked my way. “Sorry,” she said, “I didn’t meant to interrupt you.”

“You didn’t interrupt anything.” I stood up feeling puzzled. Sure I’ve had stranger apoligize when I almost run into them in the story, but this was weird.

The young woman looked up at me and a strange expression crossed her face. “I don’t recognize you, but I have a strong feeling that we’ve meant before. You weren’t at that writers conference were you?”

I studied her. She looked very familiar, but I hadn’t seen her at the E-Con. “I was actually, but I don’t think that’s where we met. It was longer ago. at a conference or course.”

“No, I think I’d remember that. But I’ll get my glasses out just in case my sight is playing up.” She rummaged through a handbag and pulled out a pair of tortoise-shell glasses. when she looked up with them on, she shook her head. “Still don’t recognize you.”

But I did recognized her. Or though I did at least. “Vivien? What are you doing here? I thought you were writing your thesis for your honor’s year.”

She took a step back and gave me a puzzled look. “My name’s not Vivien and I don’t expect it ever will be. But this is a weird coincidence. Almost enough to make one think there’s something beyond this world.” She checked her watch. “I’ve got to catch a bus now. Maybe we’ll meet again someday. What is you name by the way? I’m Cassia.”

“Brie. Brie Donning. I write books.” I said stupidly.

Cassia nodded. “Me too. I write on fantasy theory. I’d love it if you could connect with me.” She shoved a card into my hand and ran toward the bus stop.

I dropped back into the seat under the bridge and scanned the card. All it held was her name, Cassia Rerdbin and an email hosted at the Tetra school website. I shoved it into my pocket. I wouldn’t need it. Either this was an elaborate hoax or she was an invention of my imagination and I needed no contact details. I might need to alter her appearance so she didn’t resemble Vivien so much.

 

I had intended to do this last month when we were to meet our character at a Indie E-con actually held in Dallas. Since I was late, I combined it it with this month. The story is actually set in the future. Cassia’s appearance is borrowed from a  real life acquaintance who I would recognize much quicker, glasses or no glasses. Her name is not Vivien.

Beautiful People: Izavee

I started writing a new story this month. It’s the secret project I started planning in January. I hadn’t done much, but a sudden challenge to write a book this month came up. I know I won’t write all of it yet, but it’ll be good to get something done. I have gotten out of the habit of writing large volumes of words.

I’m writing by hand again and I’m up to 17 pages for the month. In my defense, I only started on the 2nd and that was making my scene list. Also I’m preparing to go on holiday. I should be able to get lots done while I’m away from the internet.

It’s also time for the Beautiful People link up by Cait and Skye. I consider using my main character Cassia for the questions, but for various reasons that won’t work well. Instead I’ll tell you about a friend Cassia makes early on in the story. I haven’t got to her introduction yet in writing, so this will be fun. Her name is Izavee Echo eHerian and she’ll be answering the questions for herself.

What’s your favourite book/movie/play/etc.?
I love the stories of Quinrilian the Virtuous, a hero at the end of the Desolation of Darkness. My brother Quinric is named for him which makes the stories even more exciting. We would act them out together.
Is there anything you regret doing?
Of course. Lots of things. One thing I’d be better off without was the memory of meeting some Reika at a dance. I was only twenty-two at the time and shouldn’t have been there, but I’d pleaded to go and Father gave in. One of them pulled out one of their tricks and almost lured me away.

If you were sick or wounded, who would take care of you and how?
Quinric would do what he could, then call for our sister or a lady friend to do what he couldn’t. After that, he’d probably ask Rylen to come over and cheer me up.

Is there an object you can’t bear to part with and why?

I doubt bicycles exist in this world,
but Izavee looks a little like this.

I will never part with my mother’s necklace of service. I’ll get my own soon, but hers is forever more precious. She might have died thirteen years ago, but her influence has helped me as I’ve grown up.
What are 5 ways to win your heart (or friendship)?
Be loyal to the sanctuary. Listen. Don’t tempt me to corruption. Bring me flowers. Don’t sleep in.

What do you usually wear? Describe it top to bottom.
Top to bottom. That would be starting with the hat. I have rather a lot of hats but my favourite is a soft scarlet ekinett with an extra wide brim. I’ll wear a plain dress in any pale colour with a navy or teal jacket over it. And brown ankle shoes with buckles.
What’s you favorite type of weather?

I love warm, dry days. That’s why Zafeíri is my favourite month. It’s usually like that.

What’s the worst fight you’ve ever been in?

Me? In a fight. I never fight. What, it doesn’t have to be physical. Alright then, it was when I turned 25 and Father wanted a big party. I was just starting to realize I wasn’t all that grown up and didn’t want one. He won.

What names or nicknames have you been called throughout your life?

Iza and Vee were pretty common. Rylen calls me Echo. He says I echo the scrolls.

What makes your heart feel alive?

Visiting the sanctuary. And talking with Rylen. Or riding home on a windy day.
And that was Izavee. I hope you enjoyed getting to know her as well as I did. You can ask any questions about her and I’ll answer them if they’re not infringing on secrets.
Don’t forget to check out other Beautiful People at Paper Fury.

5 Factors in Understanding my Characters

I had something completely different planned for my post today, but something went wrong with Blogger and I’ve only got an old version of it. So I’ve had to come up with something new. I’ve been thinking a lot about character motivations and desires lately. It’s one of the most important parts of a good story.

I have found I always need something in common with my characters to be able to write them effectively. I also need something that I don’t agree with to make them interesting. Not that I’m a boring person, but fictional characters need several strong traits instead of dozens of minor ones. And I’m a product of my world, a world my characters don’t inhabit.

With that said here are the essential things I need to relate to my characters.

Ambition. This can be a desire to help people, a theory they want to prove, even something self-centred such as raising their status or taking something they feel is theirs. The nature of the ambition doesn’t entirely affect whether I like the person, but a ‘good’ character must have a strong ambition for something right.

Fears. My characters fears are probably the biggest part of myself I put into them. Fear or being alone, fear of never doing anything useful, fear of public speaking. Well that last one is actually a fear that many of my characters shouldn’t have. I have trouble making my main characters articulate and good with confrontation. I don’t make them fear it though. Maybe I should. Helping them overcome it might prove as useful to me as writing about the other fears is.

Loves. Not all my characters love the things I do. But they must have a passion for something. For Aydel it’s her medicine box and her knives; Joane has her running; Natalia, philanthropy and art; Rhesa and her orphans, Leisa and her cooking and sewing. Well those last two especially are more everyday life for Leisa than passions and they certainly are one I have.

Stupidity. Not the best term for it but all my characters seem to have one thing they cling to stubbornly which probably isn’t true. Some I laughed at other almost make me cry. Either way I can’t stand characters which are wishy-washy on everything or characters who are right about everything. Not that they could be right about everything. I’m not.

Justification. This is especially important for villains. I may completely disagree with everything they do, but I have to understand why they’re doing it. Maybe not fully because some people have a very twisted view of reality, but I usually can get my head around it somewhat eventually. It’s the same with my protagonists. She might do something foolish, but it can’t be blatantly so.

Now since It’s already one o’clock here, I think I should just post this whether there are more factors or not. I hope you enjoyed this little look inside my mind.

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