Posts Tagged Genre fiction

Rain and cold

The past couple of weeks we’ve had snow, rain, fog, freezing fog, and sun. High temperatures have ranged from 30°F to nearly 60°F. This is Central Oregon, after all. It’s high desert, where the weather seems to vary with the direction of the wind, especially this time of year.  Still, I’m not used to this damp cold, with the high and low temps almost identical at 28-32 °F for days on end. It’s almost worse than the cold spell we had in November that froze a lot of people’s pipes, the way it eats into my blood and leaves me shivering.rainy day window

Golden Threads is set in North Yorkshire. I have never been there, but I’ve been to England several times and Scotland once, and it’s usually been damp and rainy (Edinburgh wasn’t, but it sure rained on the tour bus up to Loch Lomand).

I spent a month in London many years ago and felt chilled and slightly damp almost the entire time. The skies only cleared two or three days (I remember that well, because I managed to sunburn badly). Otherwise, the weather varied between overcast with drizzle, overcast with hard rain, and overcast without rain, all hovering around 50°F. I huddled in my rented cottage with the heat on, drinking tea when I wasn’t out exploring (I was on a business trip, but my ‘host’ hardly made time to meet with me the entire month).

So I imagine England this way: damp and chilly but extremely green.

The next chapter of Golden Threads awaits your reading pleasure. It’s called Rainy Days. Earlier chapters are linked on the Golden Threads page. I love comments.

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Fantasy

When I was a kid, I read a fair amount of fantasy, including every book from the original Oz series that I could get at our library, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But then I stopped, and switched over to more serious stuff, partly because I’m such a book worm that I can’t put down anything that’s full of adventure, with plot twists and turns. I have to know what’s happening next. I would never have graduated from college or gotten any work done if I’d continued reading fantasy. bookwormEvery once in a while, when I know I have a clear schedule the next day, I indulge. Take Terry Pratchett’s Diskworld series. I remember almost peeing my pants I laughed so hard when I read the first four or five of those. I loved their creativity. How about a suitcase which takes your dirty clothes and delivers clean ones, unless you’re in trouble, in which case it helps defeat your enemy (perhaps by eating him or her), or a world which rides on the back of a giant turtle?

Lately I’ve indulged in fantasy more than normal. First there was Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches and its sequel, Shadow of Night. Then I was hooked on historical time travel and read the Outlander series. These novels piqued my interest in time travel and witches. I started writing Golden Threads. In the interest of doing some research on this sort of writing, I had to read the Harry Potter series and, most recently, the Wicked series (more Oz, yeah! although I remember the originals as being more fun, maybe because I was in elementary school?). And, once again, I have to make sure that I don’t have anything on my schedule until noon or so the next day. I simply can’t put these books down until they’re finished. Which means that I have to turn to more serious novels for a while…. 😦  (no, I’m not sad. I love those as much or more).

This is all the prelude to telling you that I finally wrote another chapter of Golden Threads. It’s called Asking for Advice. Let me know what you think. If you want to read the whole novel, which I’m writing as I go, click the Golden Threads link.

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Perserverence

bungee jump

It sure looks scary, doesn’t it! Just throw yourself off something high, with only a stretchy cord to save you.
Thanks to dukesin at stock.xchng for the photo.

Book I of my serialized fantasy novel, Golden Threads, is coming to a close, with only a couple of chapters left. It’s been an interesting journey, writing a chapter or two at a time and posting them without doing a major edit. At times, I’ve really wondered if it was a worthwhile endeavor. I have to ask myself why I persevered. Was it to prove to myself that I could do it? Maybe, because I know that I have a stubborn streak, and I could feel it come out at times, insisting that I had to POST SOMETHING. IT IS WEDNESDAY, FOR GOD’S SAKE! That need of mine to reach a goal competes with the other side of me that says: but it’s lousy. No one wants to read it. Forget it. You’ve had a busy day, this story is going nowhere. I don’t know why you bother, really.

Well, I’m sure that you get the picture. You probably have those voices in your own head. Probably even Einstein had them, even the second one, with its whiny tone saying: no one will understand your general theory. It’s too weird. It’s gotta be all wrong, anyway. You’ll be a laughing stock. Luckily for the world, he didn’t listen to that voice all of the time. Instead, he listened to the first one, at least long enough to submit his papers.

Not that I’m Einstein. Far from it.

However, I have a different reason for publishing this novel, one chapter at a time: for me to grow. To grow past my fear. To extend myself just a little. Every time I put my mouse cursor over the blue button that says, rather ominously “Publish”, here on wordpress.com, my heart threatens to stop. I move my cursor away, lift my hand, and think no. I have to edit this. It’s pure drivel. Forget it. I’ll leave it in unpublished drafts and slink away. Maybe I’ll come up with something better tomorrow.

You know something? I read recently that one of the best ways to keep our brains healthy is to do something scary every day (I apologize, but I can’t find the link, so, instead, I give you this one: Scareyourselfeveryday.com) It can be physical or mental, just do it. Eventually, that thing will stop being scary (and you have to up the ante). I’ve always known this truth. So I figure that putting my stories here on this blog, where all the world can see them, is a great way to prepare for the truly frightening event of publishing a book. Right?

Here goes: the next chapter in Golden Threads is called Becoming Serious. It’s up now, and ready for you to read and comment. Or go to Golden Threads to read previous chapters.

As always, I welcome your comments. Do you push yourself into the scary zone, or ride along in comfort? Is it worth it, whatever your choice? What about those competing voices?

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Laura meets a fairy

magic wandIt’s been over two months since I posted a new chapter to Golden Threads. When we last left Laura, she was at a meeting of teenage witches, waiting for the speaker to appear, and hoping the bullies in the group would not do anything bad to her boyfriend, Matthew. The next chapter, Appeasing, has been available on the Golden Threads page since October, but I got so involved in NaNoWriMo that I forgot to write a post linking to it. So today, I’m giving you that link and adding the next chapter: Fairy Life.

She’s in the hallway, alone, when this new chapter begins. To see what happens, click Fairy Life. To catch up on past chapters, click Golden Threads, the working title of the novel.

I’ve introduced fairies in this novel earlier, but never described them. How does one come up with the powers and behavior, the look, even, of  creatures, who have been described and written about for hundreds of years? I could have copied what others say about them. There are plenty of WEB sites about fairies. But that’s no fun. I wanted to make up my own version.

I decided to tap into my subconscious memories, melding and blending things read and things imagined to serve my purpose. I made them tall and thin, with elongated limbs, much like the elves from The Lord of the Rings, but with the ability to shrink and grow in an instant. They can disappear and reappear, and transform into insects and birds. They live a long time: hundreds, if not thousands of years.

The hard thing for me as a writer is that, once those abilities are described, they are pinned down. Any time a fairy appears later on, it must behave as laid out in Fairy Life, although I left myself a backdoor: our fairy lies (for very good reasons), thus omitting a few important fairy facts. Now why would she do that? Maybe we’ll find out as the novel progresses.

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Social Graces

spiderweb with dewEven though the heroine of my novel, Golden Threads, was kicked out of the manor when her parents were burned at the stake, she was already twelve years old and had been raised to be a lady. Not only had she learned to read and do mathematics, she knew how to embroider, ride a horse (if badly), and run a household. She had learned how to welcome guests, and how to treat servants. Although she was friendly with the village children, she was the Lord and Lady’s eldest, and thus set apart from them. As a small child she was naturally their leader in all of their games. As she grew older, her education and responsibilities kept her away from most of the village children her own age. She knew how to treat them, with respect, but not how to form close bonds.

When she lost all that, and had to struggle to keep herself and her brother alive, the village children she’d once led scorned her, all except Matthew and his siblings. She only connected with the few older women who helped her: women like Matthew’s mother.

Now that she’s living in modern-day England, she finds it even more difficult to make close friends. How does a witch with her history bridge the gap? Perhaps it doesn’t matter, because it’s time for her leadership skills to begin to re-emerge, and for her to make use of her childhood lessons in the social graces expected of the eldest daughter of a wealthy landowner.

You can find the newest chapter of my serialized novel, Golden Threads, here, or find all previous chapters by clicking on the novel’s title or the menu link. I love comments, and try to respond to all of them. I do reserve the right to reject any comments for any reason.

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Prejudice

Humans, it seems, like to divide into groups. They pick some characteristic or group of characteristics, such as ancestry, religion, skin color, etc. Those that are like themselves are okay. Those that aren’t are not okay. History is full of these divisions. Sometimes they seem rather silly: do you root for the New York Yankees, or not? But often they lead to deadly results. It seems we have a difficult time living in peace with those who are different from ourselves. Even soccer fans have been known to come to blows, let alone Hutus and Tutsis. As a teacher of mine often says when someone misunderstands her instructions in class: “if we can’t communicate, how can we ever expect to have world peace?”

English: Demonstrator at the March on Washingt...

English: Demonstrator at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wiser people than myself have developed methods for nonviolent communication, although even those can fail. Years ago, I went to an event intended to foster a dialog about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict using nonviolent communication techniques. We did a number of small group exercises, which all went smoothly, and then the organizers brought in the main attraction: two well known men, one a Palestinian and the other an Israeli. An experienced moderator started the discussion. Within fifteen minutes or so, the two men were yelling at each other and threatening to come to blows. The organizers pulled them off the stage and canceled the rest of the event. It sure undermined my belief in those techniques, at least for very volatile situations like that!

Yet, with enough will and heart, barriers between groups can break down. We recently celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Although racial tensions remain in the US, much has changed, so much so that we have our first black President. We’re intermingling. We’re embracing same-sex marriage, and welcoming gays into our homes.

In my on-line, serialized novel, one witch who come forward in time doesn’t quite fit in, because some of his ancestors were reptilians, the enemies of witches. Like all humans, some witches immediately welcome him, while others judge him without knowing him. To read this newest chapter, and find out how they deal, click here. To read the entire novel, or catch up on missed chapters, go to Golden Threads.

 

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School for witches is open

The next chapter of Golden Threads has hit the stands. Have you ever wondered what spells a witch would need to learn first, especially if his or her life was in danger?  Find out here: Chapter 20: The Teachings! To read any chapter to date, click here. Enjoy. Leave me a comment, too.

Since this chapter features Heather, Laura’s sponsor and teacher, I thought we’d interview her for today’s post. Why not! Let’s have some fun with one of our fictional characters.

The "Cave of the Witches" near Akela...

The “Cave of the Witches” near Akelarre in Zugarramurdi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Welcome Heather!

Thanks for having me.

You play a very special role in the lives of our main characters.

I do, indeed. I act as mother to David and Laura, and also as a teacher for Laura and Matthew.

How did you get that role?

I was born to it. I know that sounds odd, and it is a bit unusual. It’s complicated. Are you sure your readers want to know all this?

Of course they do.

You see, ever since the Industrial Revolution began, animals, witches and fairies have worried about the damage it was causing to Mother Earth and all of the creatures living on her. The truth is, we worried long before that, since witches from the future would occasionally appear and warn us how bad it would get. Still, it was difficult to rally much support until humans started burning coal and then other fossil fuels. These future witches would rarely stay long, then they’d be gone and we’d sink back into our old ways.

But then coal came along.

Yes. And exploiting coal and other humanoids gave the reptilians more power than they’d ever had. And we, meaning witches and fairies, formed an alliance to study the issue. We came up with a plan. We’d make a list of the most powerful witches that had ever lived. If things got bad enough, we’d try to bring them forward. In the meantime, we’d cultivate our resources and prepare. Long before Silent Spring was published, we began identifying present day witches and fairies with special abilities.

And you’re one of those special witches.

Yes. So are my parents. They both taught at Oxford. We’re teachers. But we also have strong magic and great memories. My father taught history. My mother was a botanist. She was groomed, just like me, to sponsor witch children from the past, if the need arose. I inherited both my parent’s skills. More than that, I was trained by a special group of witches and fairies, so I can teach all known spells. Plus, I studied psychology at University.

Why that?

It’s a very important skill. Some of the witches we brought forward in the early days, like Laura and David’s father and uncle, were completely unsuited to the task. For example, Laura’s father was very arrogant and unteachable. Her uncle liked to gamble and womanize. We had others that were too shy or just terrible with communication skills. We wanted to make sure we had witches with the right personality. One way to do that was to choose small children, like David, and raise them ourselves. You know, teach them kindness and responsibility along with interpersonal skills. We need real leaders who can work with others. Anyway –

But what about your own daughter?

Wendy? She’ll be fine. She was the kindest child until she turned eleven. It’s interesting seeing how difficult it is to be a teenager in the modern world. She wants to fit in very badly, and she’s fallen in with a selfish, spoiled crowd, but she’s going to snap out of it, I’m certain.

And George? What’s his role?

He makes good money.

Witches need money?

Of course. We can’t go around drawing goods to ourselves with spells. That would draw too much attention.

Is that all with George?

No. He’s only a moderately powerful witch, but he has a strong protection gene. His role is to keep us safe and be a father. It was a lucky break that I fell in love with him. His computer skills are handy, too. That’s what he does. I don’t know enough about his job to explain it to you.

Anything else you want to say to our readers?

Yes. The time will come when we’ll need everyone to do their part to keep the world from turning into a toxic soup, heated to unbearable levels by greenhouse gasses. Get involved. You may not have magic, but you can do your part.

Thank you, Heather.

My pleasure.

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