Monthly Archives: February 2014

Meeting Elixabeth

Hello. I’m Elixabeth, banished Princess of the Summer Court, high court of the Immortal Realms.

Once, I died though I am yet immortal. Branded a traitor, exiled to the Sacred Island with no hope of return to the Mortal Realms, I was left for dead, alone and injured. There I rested. There, I recovered. I plotted and I planned. And like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, when opportunity tore through the veil between realms, I answered Her call.

Once, I was dead. No more. I am reborn. I am strong. I am whole. I am the Winter Queen. And I come to take back what is mine.

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On Writing a Series…

I’ve read a lot of expert advice recently, via blogs or newsletters or websites; all about writing. I am constantly reading about writing. It’s something we do – not only do writers write, but they read. Constantly. It isn’t always fun, but it is educational, which is helpful.

The message finally sank in: readers love a series. And this is so true. My favorite historical romances aren’t one-off books, but rather the series written about the Sherbrooke or Mallory clans…(to name just two). Not to mention that two characters are already trying to push their way to the front of the line, when they aren’t major characters yet. So here I am, in the middle of outlining my novel and I have to expand the universe. Why? Well because I knew exactly what I wanted for this one book, but I need to delve further.

So, the outline is on the back burner, and might eventually get scrapped all together as I rethink this plot. And tonight? I’m creating a list of things I want in my universe before I sit down and fully expand it. Mind you, we’re doing ‘immortal’ characters. I have a headache and I’m tired, but this is, I believe, going to be super fun!

Tell me – if you were creating a universe, what would you want in it?

Also, I have a new thing – I have an empty tub from work (plastic bin that some sausage treats came in) that I’m going to fill with work-in-progress writing prompts. That way, I’ve always got something at my fingertips. What do you think?

Sunday Writing Prompts, Week Two

Prompt of the day: She climbed the tree to get a better view, but what she saw frightened her even more…

Elixabeth trembled as she searched for the strange child. Heart racing, feeling as though it would burst forth at any moment, she tried to calm herself, but ended up gasping for air, unable to breathe. Questions tumbled, one over the other, screaming in her head. Fingers shaking, she moved tendrils of hair away from her face, suddenly sorry she had not taken the time to braid it that morning even as she recognized the uselessness of worrying over choices that could not be undone.

Where had the child disappeared to? Better, where had that child come from? And what kind of clothing had she been wearing? It had been a female child, right? That child was the spitting image of Isobel, Prince Freid’s youngest sister, most likely now Isobel, Queen of the Raven Court, rather than plain Princess Isobel as she had been ages upon ages ago when last they met. Had the Queen sent her child as a messenger? Was Isobel finally ready to forgive her the exile of Prince Freid? The thought dissipated more quickly than it had formed; Isobel would have come in person rather than send a messenger, even if that messenger were her own child. Even if only to gloat, she would have been there in person to release the traitor that would have been sister-in-law.

A foul wind whipped through the trees – trees that suddenly seemed more threatening than they had moments before. Not even the trees at the deepest heart of the Sacred Forest were this dark or threatening. Elixabeth knew Summer Island better than any other being, Mortal or Immortal; it happened after centuries of exile upon one tiny island. And yet, she did not know these woods. What had just been the curve of a familiar tree, covered with moss the color of mint, smelling of lavender, was now the rough jut of a tree she had never seen before, unfettered by the growth of moss.

Was the Druid once more attempting to cross the veil between Mortal and Immortal Realms? Each time he attempted, she had known – it had been a rip in her soul, a tearing at the fabric of her being. She had been the sole connection between the Sacred Forest and her family for too long, the life of the Island was her life. She felt everything. Now, she worried that the Island would never again recognize more than her, not even her parents. What would happen to the Summer Court if she were to fade?

The trees sounded different than her trees as well. Her trees were always singing, night or day. Whether it was the chatter of the animals, or the rustle of leaves on the breeze, her trees were always joyfully living. These trees, they were silent, living yet dead. Standing perfectly still, she forced her heart to calm, her breath to still. Listening with her whole body, Elixabeth was still not able to hear even the song of a bird, nor the rustle of a leaf. Tears fell unbidden as the Winter Queen bowed her head and silently wept for a forest stifled and dying.

There. At the corner of her mind, she detected the child once again. Definitely a girl child. Not fully Mortal, yet not quite Immortal. A half-blood? She knew of no living half-bloods. While a rare clan or two saw the Half-Bloods as a gift, most clans did not; they viewed these children as trouble – not powerful enough to even spell a flower and capable of living only a score or two, they were left with mortals whose natural child had passed in the quiet of night. To whom did this child belong?

Gathering her wits, and her skirts, about her, Elixabeth pushed through the bracken until she had reached the edge of the trees. Greeted not by the calm of the ocean or the familiarity of a close island, she could not even fathom what she was really seeing. Great glass palaces, ground hard as rocks…dead fields, and air as grey as a storm… Head spinning, heart racing through her veins, tears sprang anew. Elixabeth fell to her knees, straining to recognize anything beyond the fallow field in which the child stood, looking back at her with eyes of corn silk. The eyes of the Imposter.

 

I’m Going Home

New tradition for this reinvented blog. Each Sunday, I will share one writing prompt that moved me during the week, plus the result of that prompt.

For Week One, the prompt was essentially: “In this writing prompt imagine a story figuring around a main character or a group of main characters who live in or are building an unusual house for themselves. If you don’t feel like writing a whole narrative about why these characters have come to live in this house you can discard the characters and instead focus on providing details about the house.”

Now, I took things a little off track. I haven’t yet described the house where Princess Elixabeth lives, but rather I am working on the entire island where she lives. As I mentioned previously, I am not done. I got distracted by the what-ifs but it is called a work-in-progress, right? Remember, this was done as an interview question in the guise of getting to know Elixabeth.

DESCRIBE YOUR HOME:

green, old trees, light, birth, death, ancient, lush, dark, sacred, water, life, color, pine, safety, prison

I live in the Sacred Forest – the heart of the Summer Isles, although not literally. Visitors will see quite a bit of the above, yet nothing of the above. To the Mortals, the Summer Isles are known as the Outer Hebrides, with my home specifically being Eilean Shìophoirt, or Seaforth Island. My home is my prison now, but it is a lush and beautiful prison. Mortal eyes see only a forest, ancient and cruel.

The forest takes up most of the isle, with little room for the sandy shores of a beach upon which the Mortals leave their boats. In parts, the forest doesn’t stop until the waters edge, occasionally you will find trees growing out of the water. Those trees might be the most memorable sight – thousands and thousands of years old, thicker than the Mortal houses of my youth, tall as mountains. We are a small tribe here within the Summer Isles, perhaps a few thousand are left. My island seems all the more a prison because no one else is here with me, though once it supported more than ten thousand Immortals. The others have either relocated to a different island – the better to distance themselves from the fallen and exiled Princess, while others have joined the Mortals. Perhaps over the course of a few more generations, I will be the only Immortal left here, but I doubt it. I fervently hope not, at the very least. Regardless, those trees will be here long after the Immortals are gone. Sacred, majestic. The heart of the Summer Isles. Their limbs shelter us in storms, envelope us in our heartaches, and provide a place of rest when we grow weary.

I’ve heard the stories of the Mortals – we are primitive, we are ignorant, we live in trees. We live with the trees. We live amongst the trees. Our home is so much more than the Mortal eyes and brain can comprehend. Just trying to describe it for you is difficult. My apologies, though. I tend to get carried away when talking about home. We Fey are like that – home means so much to us. It’s our beacon in the storm, our heart. For some Fey, the very soul resides in home.

The ground is covered in the softest moss imaginable – it’s like a soft woolen blanket on a frigid, snowy night. Comfort surrounds you here, especially the further into the Forest you travel. The breeze carries with it the sweet scent of lavender and mint. The heart of the Sacred Forest has never been breached by outsiders, neither Mortals nor even other inhabitants of the Immortal Realms not of this tribe. This is our very heart, our very soul. The Sacred Circle where King Jamus and Queen Annen once held court lies in the heart of the Forest. As does the well hidden entrance to our home, the Summer Court.

Here, in the heart of my people, you will find death, and with it; rebirth. We do not shy away from the reality of death, we celebrate it as a part of the sacred cycle of life. The air might be what puts off the outsiders – centuries upon centuries of death can leave a certain muskiness to the air, after all. But is more than the air – light does not penetrate the trees easily so the Sacred Circle is darker, cast in shadows with the wind whispering through branches.

Yes, we have water. No, not just the salt water of the Ocean. There are over one hundred islands in the Summer Isles, though the Sacred Forest Isle is not the largest. Some are smaller, of course. Some have no fresh water above ground. Upon my island you will find babbling brooks to quickly quench your thirst, shallow pools good for a quick swim, or even larger pools good for catching your next meal. There are even  hot springs underground – each island has them, even the smallest. Fey lore has it our progenitor created them for his people. Only we know of their location because they are an integral part of our Court. The Court itself is also under the earth; down a long winding stair built of stone. The stone work is ancient – Mama once told me it has been here since the dawn of Summer. They are well-worn stairs, smooth after years of use and care. And such gorgeous colors – blues and reds; yellows and grays. Lilac, orange, cornflower, berry, gold.

Those stairs end at the marble Sun – symbol of the Summer Court. Polished and smooth, this is the one place where sun reaches through those ancient trees. That marble Sun was created with Faerie magicks, allowing it to reflect all the colors of the sun above ground – purples and blues and grays at dusk, golden warmth that caresses the halls during the day, and robust oranges and blood reds to welcome the sun again come the dawn. When the first Faerie King created the Immortal Realms, he knew we would need the sun so he created these marble Suns to reflect throughout our hallowed halls across each island. Though we moved underground by choice, we are creatures of light and air; we need the Sun to thrive.

*** This is what I have for now. It isn’t much, and I’ll come back to it, clean it up, flesh it out. That prompt plays an integral role in my WIP so we will definitely get back to the heart of the prompt!

Plotting

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have never been very good at plotting. An idea will form, oftentimes enough of an idea to actually make something, but then my mind gets stuck. I may have an idea of a beginning or an end, perhaps even both, but I don’t have a clue about the in-between. So I’m always reading up on plotting. There are a ton of books out there, but I’m a minimum wage monkey. I don’t have a lot of extra cash for writing books. I’ll get them for my Kindle app if they’re free, but if they cost… On the wish list they go.

Today, I have found two helpful blogs, each with distinctly different plotting styles. Is it bordering on insane/redundant to try them both? I seriously hope not! And let’s be honest – I’m doing it regardless.

I am starting with the plotting technique of Rachel Aaron. I admit that I’m not familiar with her work, but I do hope to check her out soon. To me, her plotting technique is a lot of listing. You work through several steps (5, as the title suggests) of lists/free writing. Or am I the only one who creates lists when free writing? Regardless, so far I am really liking this style.

I was prompted to do a description of the home of Princess Elixabeth, as I blogged before. What I have so far is not complete, not by any means. Quite a bit of it is not as descriptive as I want but it was more a form of “free writing”. I am going to share it, even unfinished. Look for that later – I love writing prompts when they actually get something going. I despise them when they make me stop and stare at the wall.

All of this begs the question though, how much of your pre-writing do you, as a writer, share? By which I mean plotting, character development, etc…

I love hearing from you, so please share your thoughts!

Research

Do you enjoy doing the research when you’re writing, or is it a dreaded task?

I know the experts say you can never do too much research, but there are times when I feel like it’s all I do. Perhaps it is because I’ll get this CRAZY idea that sounds so awesome in my head, but when I sit down to flesh it out and start researching, it’s utter shite. I know some people might think I’m a flighty writer, but it’s more that I just came to understand I wasn’t going to be doing anything with a particular idea, or at least not right now. And at times, it is absolutely because I bogged myself down with so much research that the idea became stale, or boring.

I know that perfect balance between research and writing exists. Or, at the very least, something very close. It just has to, right?

I’m trying something new with the idea floating around my head. As I research something, I use it as an interview question for a main character. Like right now, I’m working on a setting for Faery dwellings. (Not mounds as we’re skipping that and going to something slightly different.) So, instead of trying to write a dry description of the characters home, she is describing it to me.

I’m not sure that I can imagine living on an enchanted island, but Elixabeth Stigweard has lived there all her life. While she knows of the outside realms, she has never left the island grouping she calls home. And rarely has she left the main island to visit one of the smaller islands. She and I are almost done with this interview question. Are you as anxious as I am to read her descriptions?

What’s in a name?

I have been pondering this question for quite a while. Should I write under a pen name, or should I stick with my legal name? Clearly, at this point I’m sticking with my legal name. At least for the purpose of this blog…

But should I? Two of my friends, lovely ladies both, are also writers – both use pen names. In fact, I only know one of them by her pen name. I’m cool with that. She is who I met, and who I am friends with. Not knowing the information on her Drivers License certainly cheapens nothing of our friendship.

I certainly will not be answering this question tonight, or any time in the near future. I am just wondering out loud, I suppose. Opinions?