Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Updates, updates, updates... :D and My Portfolio

This isn't going to be a very long post, so there's no need to go and get all comfortable unless you want to.  Recently I've felt the need to update The Pen and Parchment yet again.  So I've been adding pages.  I finally got my entire Art Portfolio downloaded to the site (check it out at the top of my blog. :D), and I'm thinking about changing the look once more.  I also want to add a poetry page and a page that explains my art commission rates.  Just thinks to look for in the future.

It must be a sign of change you know, this sudden need to update things.  Update my profile pic on FB, update my blog, update my book... and school's coming up in another month: I'll be a writing consultant and the secretary of the choirs.  I'll be meeting Brock Eastman and working more on SOTD while learning Music and Writing theory and singing my head off.  And I bet you I'll love every minute of it. :)  This next semester promises not to be as difficult as last semester (so far), so I'm actually looking forward to it.  And in the meantime, I'm enjoying my time off.  Recently I've simply been doing... nothing. *sighs blissfully*  Nothing much, anyway.

So that's all for now my friends.  Sorry this post is just rambling, but I felt the need to ramble and update.

See ya later!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Critiquing or Consulting? Interesting thoughts on what I’m learning about inserting your own opinions

Well, today I had Writing Consultant training and we were learning about how to approach foreign exchange students who bring in papers but may not know the English Language very well.

Ok, for starters, I can totally sympathize with such students.  I had to take German the last two semesters and it near drove me insane!  I love the language… I would LOVE to be immersed in it so that I can learn to speak if fluently… but the written grammar is so tricky to my English-wired brain.  I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around it.

Anyway, getting back to my point (which actually doesn’t have much to do with the fact that we have foreign exchange students at my school… O.O)

As part of our training, we received some hand-outs that talked us through the approach we should take, and that also explained a few terms to us.  One of the terms commonly used in our writing lab is “Facilitative questioning”.  It was as I was reading through the hand-out that I got the idea for this blog post concerning personal opinions when trying to help another person improve their writing.

Now, I’m a writer who has rather tough skin.  I really LIKE it when people critique my work with a close eye and a hard pen.  Mark my stuff up, for goodness sake!  Let me know exactly what you are thinking!  Don’t “flame” me, but give me an honest and solid critique.  I am very, very open to it.  I encourage it.  I want to know exactly how the readers will respond to my writing, and if I feel that the response is not quite what I want, then I will keep tweaking until it becomes what I’m looking for.  I know what I’m going for, and I take suggestions accordingly.  I ask for the hard stuff: I can take the punches so GIVE ‘EM TO ME. J

As a creative writer, I often go to critique forums and beta readers to get feedback on my work, and before I post an excerpt of any kind, I try to make sure it is “reader worthy”, meaning that the writing is as far as I can take it by myself.  I get the work as tight as I can manage on my own, and then I ask for help, preparing myself for the knocks I’m bound to receive in the end.  This is what I expect in a critique, and often times, this is what I dish out. 

However, the first thing I learned when I started taking this class is that critiquing is rather different than consulting.  Consulting helps a writer improve their general, over all writing abilities and grow as a writer who understand the process, while critiquing helps the writer identify problems that may or may not need to be fixed within the physical body of the text. 

When I’m working with one of my personal writing buddies, beta readers, or people who I beta for - online or in person - I often give them a critique that might have a little bit of consulting mixed in there somewhere.

However, at school, I am 100% a writing Consultant.  I don’t actually critique anything outright, but I do try to help the writer identify for themselves the problems that I can detect within their writings.  As a consultant, I must first identify these problems for myself, and then subtly tell the writer what I feel might be wrong, and then help the writer discover for his or herself how to fix the problems without actually doing any fixing myself. 

Many times, I’m told, the people who come into the writing lab are very sensitive about their works and about accepting advice.  They don’t want to feel like any of the content came from someone else, even if it was only a suggestion.  However, they DO want the consultant to teach them how to do their papers right.  Rather counterproductive, don’t you think?

This is where it gets really tough for me.  You see, as a creative writer who is on many critique forums, I’m used to going in and just showing other writers what I think might be wrong. All along I know that my suggestions are just glorified educated opinions, but the other writers on the forums – usually experienced writers who have been doing such things for many years – also know this and they accept my suggestions for what they are… simply suggestion that can be taken with a grain of salt.  However, as a consultant at my school, I’m not allowed to teach or make outright suggestions or give solid opinions… Instead, I must let the writer come to their own opinions and conclusions about the problems I have identified.  I can suggest certain actions, but never actually say outright what I think the writer should do to fix the problem.  Basically, I’m supposed to let the writer learn for themselves while very, very gently nudging them in the right direction.

And that brings me right back to Facilitative Questioning. 

As a consultant, I am only allowed to ask Facilitative questions which are questions that avoid telling the writer what to do, and instead leads the writer through the process of identifying and revising their paper according to the Higher Order Concerns (or HOCs) such as plot, thesis, organization, detail, research, and characterization that need to be addressed in their writing. (Though some people come in asking for help with “grammar”, the consultants at the writing lab have learned that “grammar” can have multiple meanings to multiple people, so we never actually address any real grammar, such as punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure, until the HOC’s are taken care of.  We are not allowed to proofread in the writing lab, as I sometimes do for my online writing friends that I beta for.)

An example of a Facilitative Question might look something like this:

“I noticed that this is a complex assignment… can you show and explain to me where in this paper you have completed an assignment guideline?”


“Why did you choose to organize this paper this way?”


“How have you supported your claim?”

These questions prompt the writer to tell you what they have planned for the paper, and they also give the writer a chance to see and identify some of the HOCs in their paper for themselves.  However, these questions can also be frustrating.  Because, in all honesty the writer sometimes feels like the consultant isn’t really trying to help them at all, but rather is asking them a bunch of silly questions.  Some writers don’t want to be asked these questions… some writers want to be told how to fix the problem, and I’m not allowed to do that. :P

If I were asking Directive Questions, I would be doing exactly that.  Directive questions look sort of like this:

“Don’t you think that sentence is vague?”


“Did you mean (insert assumption) by that statement?”

Directive questions insert my own opinion into the question so that the reader picks up on what I’m thinking about certain elements of the text.  As a creative writing critique partner, such questions can be a good thing and they help the other writer see their writings from a different perspective, but as a consultant I am not allowed to insert my opinion and so I must avoid questions like the ones above.

I am allowed to give Opinions, but only subtly and always referring to myself as a reader and not as anther writer.  For instance, “As a reader I felt that perhaps you could be a little more specific when you mention (so and so).  What was your purpose of referring to that person?”

Notice how my so called “opinion” is phrased similar to a facilitative question. ;)

Well, that’s all I have for now.  I’ll probably come back to the subject at a later date, but I just thought some of you might find this method of giving out writing advice a bit interesting.  I, personally, find it both extremely intriguing and extremely frustrating, but perhaps that’s only because I must apply it. J

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Andrew Peterson in the Peoria IL Area

Well hello again. :)  I don't usually double post in a day, but I have some exciting news.

Andrew Peterson, Christian recording artist and author of the Wingfeather Saga (On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, North! Or Be Eaten, and The Monster in the Hollows) is coming to Central IL this Sunday Evening.  So if any of you will be in the Peoria area, the concert will be held at Springfield Road Baptist Church, and it starts at 5:30pm.

But that's not the best part, friends!!

The best part is that my church's worship team is opening the night, AND I WILL BE SINGING WITH THEM!!!  ^_^  *dances around in happiness and awe*  Yep, I'm totally stoked.  First meeting Andrew Peterson this Sunday, and then a book signing by Brock Eastman in August, all within 45 minutes of my house and all within biking distance of my church. :)  God is so amazing, I'm just in total awe of how he works!!

Actually, it's really interesting because I started reading "North! Or Be Eaten" about a month ago when a friend lent me her copy of the book.  I'd heard of the series, but I couldn't find it in bookstores (for some weird reason) and I'm still a little wary of buying things off the internet.  Of course I love the song "Dancing in the Minefields" that plays on my local Christian Radio station, but I honestly didn't know that the author and the recording artist were the same person until two weeks ago.  Then I downloaded a CD, and fell in love with it (I've been singing the songs from it all week).

The fact that Mr. Peterson has done and been all of these things is totally inspiring for me for several reasons.  One -- I am a christian fantasy writer who wants to touch people with my books, and Two -- I am also a singer/songwriter looking to someday record my art.  Music and writing go hand in hand for me: I can't have one without the other, and I can't choose between them.  I'm studying for degrees in both Music and English because I can't separate my love for both arts; they've just melded together and refuse to be parted.  Some people have told me I should do one or the other, but now I know that I'm truly not alone; there are others out there who have done both and been successful, so why can't I pursuit all three of my "loves" (Music/singing/songwriting, Creative writing/English, and Painting/Drawing) and be successful at all of them?  Seriously, why  not?

Then I find out that Mr. Peterson is coming to Peoria for a concert, and then the worship leader at my church tells me that he wants me to sing with the church band this Sunday evening to open that self same concert.

I'm telling you, GOD IS SO AMAZING. :)  See how He works?  See how awesome He is?  He knows the desires of our hearts; He wants to tell us how much he loves us... and He does it in ways we never saw coming!

I can't wait until Sunday evening!!!!

Want to learn more about my Characters? Well here ya go…

  • So, Squeaks over at did a very large character tag, and then she tagged anyone who wanted to be tagged.  I liked the idea, so I decided to do the tag as well.  The only difference between my tag and her tag is that the three characters I chose to do the tag on are from three different WIPs.  However, like her tag, I chose two male characters and one female character.  It definitely proved to be interesting…

    The rules:
    1. I pick three characters
    2. I make my characters answer these questions
    3. I tag three people

    Here are my 3 chosen characters and their WIPs (respectfully): 
    ·                     Dakore (Eldrei)
    ·                     Caellahn (Song of the Daystar)
    ·                     Aura (The Spinner’s Apprentice)

    Now… *rubs hands together*  Let’s begin.

    Do you want a hug?
    Dakore:  Hugging is not essential, and in times like these, such a show of affection is probably best kept limited.  In times of crisis, one simply cannot afford to put too much energy into such a menial act.  Of course, times of grief or great joy might call for such shows of fondness or warmth… I admit that I’ve enjoyed a hug or two on occasion.  However, it is a display best kept private, in my mind.  One might even call it sacred.

                Caellahn: Hugs are personal things.  Fling them out every which way and someone might call you fickle.  Never give out any, and someone might call you callous.  But hugs are capable of healing and of helping.  They connect one person to another person in a deep, heat-felt way.  Ever hug someone and feel like you understand them better for it, like their emotions are overflowing into you?  That’s what hugs are capable of, so give them out wisely, or risk getting deeply hurt.
    Aura: Hugs are nice but not necessary.  I miss them though.  Father used to hug me a lot more, but since I’ve grown up he’s all but stopped.  I think he and mother used to hug at times, but he never talks about it too much.  And I think I look so much like mother now, that it almost hurts him to think of hugging me.  He never told me how she disappeared; I just know she’s gone.  I wonder if she would hug me… I bet she would.  I’d probably like it too…  
    Now, if it were Ganeff doing the hugging, I’d like it with no questions asked, but I’d punch him anyway.  Especially if he hugged me out of concern… he should know I can handle my own affairs without his nose and quick fingers poking into my business.  *hair-flip* And don’t you dare tell him I said I’d like it.  Then I’d have to punch you too.  *sniff*

    Do you have any kids?
                Dakore:  Simply, no.  I’ve never married, though that’s not to say I wouldn’t marry if I had the chance.  However, my heart lies with only one Ellahni, but she does not know it.  She may never know.  I would tell her, but I was faithful to her husband while he lived, and I feel it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to let her know my heart, even after all these years.  Besides, I can’t be certain she’s still alive, though I’ve heard rumors she is.  If, Nildor willing, I ever see her again, then perhaps I will tell her; after all I care for her children… there’s certainly a chance she might understand.

                Caellahn: No.  My work keeps me from settling down.  Would I ever consider the option?  Maybe one day, but not for many years.  My heart lies in the fields and over the mountains and beneath forest canopies, and more often than not it’s dangerous.  It’s no life to lead a family into.  A wife and children need a home: right now I have none and I don’t plan to find one any time soon.  Besides that, my life’s earnings at the moment are a mere pittance and not nearly enough to support more than one person.  It’s unethical to think of raising a family on such terms.

                Aura: Not yet, but one day… if I’m ever allowed that.  I wonder if Spinners can have families…? O_o 

    Have you killed anyone?
                Dakore: Out of necessity, yes.  Warriors cannot hope to be called such without laying sword to skin or spilling blood.  But I don’t kill unless it is called for; I am not an assassin, but I am, as one might say “well equipped”.
    Caellahn:  It’s sometimes called for.  However, all blood must be accounted for.  Times are troubling indeed, when one man must kill another in order to live in relative peace.  I do not take pride in the blood spilled, but regret is something I can’t afford.
    Aura:  Of course.  I wouldn’t be a Rover if I hadn’t.  What sort of thief do you take me for?

    Love anyone?
                Dakore: She doesn’t know.

                Caellahn: Not to this point in time.  Although, there was this one girl YEARS ago…

                Aura: I’m not sure if it’s actually “love” yet, or just “really, really like”.  But if he’s too dense to figure it out, then I don’t plan to tell him. *mischievous grin*

    What is your job?
                Dakore: I was the Standard Bearer for King Brentide the Silver, while he still lived.  After his death, I became Head Advisor to her majesty, Nillana the Saphire.  Now, I watch over her children as they travel back to the land of their heritage.  It’s not an easy task, to say the very least… there is much they have to learn in order to return, and Gorrak will stop at nothing to slay them.  But how could I call myself loyal to the Ellahni Throne if I weren’t willing to take on the dangers involved in returning the heirs?
    Caellahn: One might say I have two jobs, but to speak of them now ruins so much of my story that I shall respect my Author’s wishes and remained close-mouthed.  Besides, it is rather dangerous to speak of such things outright.  I am a man of secrets, and it rather defeats the purpose of my work if I spell out all my secrets for other eyes to see.  O_o
    Aura:  I guess you could say that my way of life is my job… or it was at the beginning of my story.  Rovers live by thieving, for the most part.  We’re similar to gypsies, I guess, only I suppose you could say that we are much more “dastardly”.  Of course, now I’ve been told that I’m supposed to take on a “new” job… or role in life.  Supposedly I’m supposed to be the new “Spinner” in Telltale, and from what Hawk tells me, “The Spinner is the person who spins and weaves all the stories, yarns, tales, myths, and legends throughout the land; without the Spinner, Telltale couldn’t survive.”  But I don’t want to be the Spinner… THEY CAN’T MAKE ME!!!  Hmph!!

    Favorite season?
                Dakore:  The seasons of Nerovell are such fascinating things: we don’t have such things in Narra, but they are spellbinding to watch.  I am rather partial to Winter, myself.  It is cold, but the sky always seems the clearest in the deep winter and I can see my home much better than in some of the other seasons.
    Caellahn:  I think I prefer the Autumn.  The climate is much less severe than in Summer and Winter, and it makes traveling so much more accommodating.
    Aura:  I think I’d have to say Summer.  The heat isn’t so bad when you live in the deep forest, and its fun to go swimming on the worst days.  Besides, there are so many beautiful colors to look at in the summer!!  Rover’s Wood ends up looking like someone splattered colorful paint all over everything. Hehe!

    Who's your best friend?
                Dakore: I was not just King Brentide’s Standard Bearer: we’d been friends since we were boys, and the mutual love for one another’s company just sort of spilled over into our adult lives.  Since his death, I cannot say that I have a best friend of any sort, though I find Nolan extremely intriguing, and there’s something to be said about Shaina’s loyalty.

                Caellahn: Best friend?  Can’t say that I have one, or that I’ve ever had one for that matter.  Even as a boy, I was the one who liked to strike out alone to explore the deep dark wood.  You wouldn’t believe how many wonderful secrets a single forest can hold beneath its boughs, and so many people are too afraid of the shadows to discover them.  I refused to be that sort of person then, and that’s why I am the person I am now.

                Aura:  Ganeff is my best friend, and he’s got a big enough head for it too.  He’s lucky I like him and that my dad’s the Rogue, or his quick fingers might get him in more trouble than he’s worth. ;)

                Dakore:  These days I end up staring at the sky and thinking a lot.  I miss home terribly, and the promise of returning is forever on my mind.  However, I’m also training Tibain in sword play and both he and Arien are learning the bow. (Don’t tell Tibain, but Arien is doing much better at it than he is…)  Besides that, however, I’ve found that I enjoy fishing and mending… While the children were young I had Lauring teach me how to sew.  I also enjoy planting things in the earth where Erolyn’s Gift is best put to work.

                Caellahn: Knife throwing.  After all, one can’t be too careful and practice makes perfect.  Not to be boastful, but I believe my skills might even be comparable to Allim.  He would never admit it though.   Besides knives, however, I have this thing for good wine and the making of such…

                Aura: Oh, Ganneff might say my hobby is getting myself into trouble.  Actually, though, I love colors.  All colors.  I would like to learn how to dye cloth, though my father says that’s an inappropriate task for the daughter of the Rogue and the future Rover Queen.  I don’t see his point.  Besides that, however, I like to bow-hunt and tree-hop.  Rover’s Wood is just brimming with adventure for an overly active teenage girl. *grin*

    What are you going to do when this tag is over?
                Dakore: I suppose I shall have to get back to my story, mustn’t I?  My author is kind enough to give me a break every once in a while from the rigors of life, but I can’t very well let those two walking hazards I call “charges” alone for more than a few minutes: believe me, I’ve tried and they get in more trouble than it’s worth.  *Dakore glances back at Tibain and Arien.  Arien waves and Tibain grins, hiding something behind his back. Dakore sighs and shakes his head.* 
    Caellahn:  Continue on with life, I guess.  I can never say what’s going to happen to me next, so I try to keep an open mind.
    Aura: I plan to go roaming Rover’s Wood.  I still haven’t figured out what those lights are out by Thatcher’s Corner, and that old Gypsy Cart is still around here somewhere… Though hopefully it’s long gone from Lorg Way.  *shivers*

    Okay... What is your eye color?
                Dakore: Golden Brown.  It’s not a common color among the Ellahni, so I am what some might call “an interesting phenomenon”.  It seems to be natural among the humans, though, so I’ve “fit in” rather well in Midgard and Nerovell.
                Caellahn: Deep blue.  I’m told my eyes remind people of a very deep pool of water at times.  There are rumors that my eyes are “magic”, but don’t believe a word of it.  The tricks practiced by traveling magicians are as fake as a Búrri’s blond hair, and Anahdor’s gifts far outweigh the things associated with the word.
                Aura:  Bright blue.  I’m told they sometimes glow, and I can see better in the dark than most people, even father. 

    Are you good? Or bad?
                Dakore: I would say I’m good.  At least I’m on the side of Nildor and of justice, and my intentions aren’t double-sided.  I have only one wish which is to see Brentide’s throne restored to its former glory, and to see the stain of Gorrak and his minions washed away forever.

                Caellahn: I suppose it depends on which side you’re on, doesn’t it?  One way or another, I am what I am; by Anahdor’s grace, I am cleansed from my former sins and made new, but under King Morven’s law I am considered a lawbreaker.  However I’m sure King Morven does not believe that he is evil or that what he’s doing is wrong.  It just depends on your point of view.
                Aura:  Oh, I’m most definitely bad. *mischievous grin*  They don’t call me an outlaw for nothin’!

    What is your greatest fear?
                Dakore: That all I am and all I am doing to save Nerovell and my people from destruction will not be enough.  That my charges will be captured and slaughtered by the hands of the Rhúgar.  That my home and race will be destroyed and that Gorrak will win.

                Caellahn: I don’t have time to think of fear: it just gets in my way.  Besides, with Anahdor beside me, who shall stand against me?  My fears were washed away along with my sins.

                Aura:  It used to be that I feared my father’s disapproval above all else, but now I’m more afraid for my future.  I refuse to be something I don’t want to be!!! I don’t care what fate or the stupid Tale has in mind!  But things keep getting more and more difficult and what if I’m forced into something I can’t back out of?  A Rover’s always supposed to have an escape… what if I can’t find one?  What if I can’t escape myself?

    What do you think of your parents?
                Dakore:  I love my parents dearly and miss them terribly.  They are still alive as it is… Ellahni live for centuries and longer for the most part.  My father, aged as he was, still fought in the battle on the plains now known as Mornéa Arneth.  My mother is known for her voice and her weavings; she was the one who taught Lady Nillana how to create tapestries. 

                Caellahn:  My father was the previous Commander at Fort Gallant in the south of Aliyia, and my mother was a mistress to him.  She never married.  I loved her dearly, but feared my father to a degree.  He seemed to favor me over his older son by his legal wife, yet he was very strict and easily lost his temper.  When I became older, I hated him for years for how I was conceived: why couldn’t he have married my mother as well?  Taking multiple wives was not something that was encouraged in Alayia before King Morven’s time, but it was not unheard of either, especially among the Búrri people who originated from Southland and traded at the fort; some Búrri even made their homes in Vellingsford and Chaiter.  I ended up leaving the fort altogether.  Only in my late teenage years did I forgive my father, once the Elder’s found me and taught me about Anahdor.

                Aura:  I don’t remember much about my mother… I hardly ever saw her when I was little; she seemed to flit in and out of camp and she would be gone for weeks to return one night and be gone again the next morning.  However, my father loved her so much that he actually married her.  He has an old portrait of her that he keeps hidden in a locket.  He never shows the locket to anyone, but I’ve managed to snitch it before and take a look inside.  I was only caught once.  I think my mother was beautiful, and I’m told I look very much like her, which pleases me, but I think it sometimes stirs old wounds in my father’s heart.  One night she never came back, and he never talks about it.  I don’t hate her for leaving or anything… I sort of feel indifferent about it.  After all, I hardly ever saw her to begin with, and then it was mostly in the shadows of evening.  Besides, I have my father to watch over me and protect me, and I love him very much.  He can be a bit stern at times, but I know that he’s only trying to look out for me.  I think it would devastate him if I somehow disappeared.    

    Any siblings?
                Dakore: No.  I was an only child, though Brentide and I were so close sometimes that we were referred to as brothers.

                Caellahn: I have a half-brother: Olan, current Commander at Fort Gallant.  But, sad as it is to say, our hearts are far from brotherly towards each other.  The favor of my father drove a rift between us when we were just boys and Olan has never gotten over it.  Perhaps he never will.

                Aura:  I have many brothers and sisters, though only two of them are related fully by blood.  My full sister’s name is Tellien, and my full brother’s name is Quincey, after my father.  After that, there’s the twins, Bardon and Bradon, by a goose girl named Ellurin Mckyzie: then Shawna by a shop keeper’s daughter named Rowa Vúrshwin.  Then comes Leah and Darren by the High-Born Lady, Neúlli Ethilen.  After that comes Sahléa (girl), Nathanial, and Corra, by a shepherdess named Adwyna Warryn; Jahslyn (girl), Mathella (boy), and Marcus by a Thatcher’s daughter called Merathé Eddinrow, and finally there’s Camelli (girl), Adrian (boy) Nemyna (girl), and Candor (boy) by the peasant girl Yennirell Fellington.  So all in all that equals… *does math in her head* … 17 brothers and sisters?  Yeah… that’s a lot.  *sighs*  And it’s hard to keep track of them all.  See, I’m the oldest and all of Rogue Quince’s (my father’s) children live here in Rover’s Wood after their mother’s affairs were discovered.  Since the children’s father was a Rover, they couldn’t be kept in the towns for fear that the children would take on their father’s thieving, mischievous qualities, so they were banished to the woods.  I wouldn’t say it’s a bad life… The old Rover ladies are as good to them as they were too me, and since they are Rogue Quince’s children they get treated rather well.  However, I don’t really approve of my father’s dallying.  I suppose he thinks of it as some sort of accomplishment, being the Rogue and all… he certainly didn’t get THAT title by sitting around all day.  But there’re enough mouths to feed as it is without him constantly adding to them, and it sort of makes me feel like he doesn’t care a whit for his real wife – my real mother – even though she’s gone now. 

    Was it fun to answer all these questions?
                Dakore: It was interesting and quite refreshing, to be truthful.  I enjoy the few moments I get to reflect and remember.

                Caellahn:  Oh, there are probably other things I should be doing right now, but I don’t mind answering questions every once in a while.  I was bored to start with, as my author hasn’t moved on in chapter 3 yet which means I’m still waiting to get to the action part.  *whistles nonchalantly*

                Aura:  I think it’s fun. *grin* But then again, I’m a character that has been shelved for over a year, so it’s nice just to get out of all that cyber dust. *cough-cough*

    Sure thing... Do you have any weaknesses?
                Dakore:  Hmmm… a weakness… I value life highly and if anything were to happen to my charges, I’m not sure what would happen to me.  I AM sure that I don’t want to find out.  <_<

                Caellahn:  Weaknesses?  Well, nothing really comes to mind… that’s not to say I don’t have a weakness, but rather that I never really know what my weakness may be at the time.  Might it be a life, or a part of my body, or a saying, or what?  I guess I’ll never really know until I’m tried.  Now, I’ve been challenged before and my weaknesses have proven to be different things, but never the same thing twice, as odd as that sounds.  Once my weakness was the thought of losing one of my big toes… *shivers*  (Long, scary story, that one.) Another time, it was utter darkness that near drove me to insanity.

                Aura: A weakness… I’m not really sure.  I love my brothers and sisters dearly, so I would hate to lose one of them.  However, up to this point in my life there’s not a whole lot I’ve had to be afraid of… Well, on second thought, there was that one time with the Living  Nightmare, but that’s more of a fear than a weakness.

    Your favorite element?
                Dakore: I believe mine would have to be a combination of air and water.  I can’t explain why… it just FEELS right.  *shrugs*
                Caellahn:  Mine would have to be the earth.  I’m a traveling sort of person and I live off of the terrain…
                Aura:  Mine is a mixture of earth and water, I think.  Earth because it makes me think of Rover’s Wood, and I LOVE Rover’s Wood.  Water because… I don’t know.  Because I love it; does there really need to be a better explanation?

    Do you care what others think of you?
                Dakore: No.  Well… maybe a little, but not for vanity’s sake.  I care what Nillana might think of me once I return to Narra, and I care that my charges look to me much like they would look at a father.  But as far as worrying over what others might say about my appearance, I am not so petty as that.

                Caellahn:  In my line of business, looks matter very much.  But I won’t say more on that, lest I give too much away. ;)  Personality wise, I am who I am: other people can think well of me or not as they chose but that’s their own prerogative and I could care less.

                Aura:  Yes!  To be quite honest, I’m tired of the drab Rover’s wear.  I’d like to add color to my wardrobe and see what might happen for once.  But I know that such disobedience would surely enrage and discourage my father; Ganeff’s approval is second only to his.

    Your theme song?

    What's your species?
                Dakore:  I am Ellahni… that is, what some humans might call those of us with “heavenly” lineage.  Not Angels, nor anything like the Vatta by far.  But perhaps, to put it more bluntly, you might understand me better if I tell you that I am Star Born.
                Caellahn:  I am simply and humbly human.  *bows*

                *Nichole in Aura’s Stead*  Hello, bloggy friends!  Aura is only half human.  However, she is currently unaware of this fact and of the other half of her lineage through her mother’s side.  And since she doesn’t know it, I couldn’t very well have her tell you what it is, now could I?  And I would rather her not find out just yet, so I banished her from this last question.  *grin*  But I’ll tell you anyway, and hopefully she won’t sneak back in and notice.  Her mother was a High Born Fae, the Lady Mirra illuséon, later to become Mirra Mackindorn.

    And that’s all.  It was a very long tag… it actually took me several hours to fill out, because I had to go into my characters’ heads and think of their answers.  But because of that very fact, it was also extremely fun.  I think I even learned a few things. :)

    Like Squeaks, I’m just gonna tag anyone who wants to be tagged.  And if you do decide to do this, then I would love it if you would let me know; I like to learn about other characters. :D


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Surgery… (Otherwise known as my attempts to further the progress of SOTD)

That's right; surgery. Not for me (directly), but for my novel-in-progress (respectfully)… which, if you think about it, can be just as painful to a writer as can the normal meaning behind the referral of the word. Hmm….

If you follow my blog, then you already know, but SOTD is going through a major facelift… actually, it's more like an entire "body-lift" if you want to get technical. That's right, folks… I'm rewriting. Again. Like, for the 15th time. But this is old news; I've been working on the rewrite since January and you all know that. ;)

What's not old news is that at long last I'm making progress again. I mentioned in my last post that I finally beat the dratted slum that had me trapped in chapter 3. (I mean, I was really getting tired of the number 3! :P) I'm so happy!

Now, the trouble I'm having doesn't have to do with moving on so much as it has to do with editing. I can't wait to move on!!! I have SO much epicness planned for the near future of the book, it makes me want to type! Like, Now! And not stop until late night… or early morning; that is, whenever I pause to look at the clock and realize that I really should be sleeping or I'll be a zombie in the morning. 

It's just that I can't seem to turn off my inner editor. I've tried – I really have – but she just insists that I pay attention to her. And unfortunately Inspiration is in league with Inner-Editor and refuses to let me start typing the next part of the story until I realize and fix the problems that are in the first scene of chapter 3. 

So I've come up with a plan. I've been concocting it for several days now – see my messy hair and crazy, red-rimmed eyes? That's because I've gone all "mad scientist" while working out this blue print of how to foil Inner-Editor's frenzied attempts to stop my progress. I've decided that I'm going to post the first part of chapter 3 here on my blog. I'll let you guys be my editor – if you see anything that stands out to you, good or bad, let me know about it. If you tell me what you think of the excerpt and I work out the kinks you point out, maybe Inner-Editor will be forced to shut down for awhile! Then I can move on unhindered!

So to randomly quote Disney's The Emperor's New Groove in my best Esma voice, "Oh, I know! I'll turn Inner-Editor into a flea – a harmless little flea. And then I'll put that flea in a box. And then I'll put that box in another box. And then I'll mail that box to myself. And when it arrives? Ahahaha! I'll SMASH IT WITH A HAMMER!!!

"It's brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, I tell you! Genius, I say! *poof* Or, (to save time and my sanity) I'll just foil Inner Editor by doing THIS! Take it, my loyal bloggy friends! FEEL THE POWER!!!"


Chapter 3
(Currently Untitled)

Thunk, thunk, thunk!
“Ungggh.”  Curron rolled over and buried his face in his hands.  His entire body ached as if he’d been bucked off a horse and then trampled.  Metal clattered all around him when he moved and something heavy dragged at his wrists.
                        Clang! Thunk, thunk, thunk.
“Téagh, that old rat.”  Grimacing, Curron pushed himself up to a sitting position and rubbed the back of his head; upright, it felt like a large boulder balanced precariously on an insufficient neck. Leaving his eyes closed, he shouted, “Cut the noise, old man!  You could wake the dead with that racket.  I’m up already!”
Normally this would have earned him a retort; something like, “I’ll take what help I can get, ye lout.  If it’s not from the likes of you, then the dead might as well try their hands at it.”  Today, however, there was nothing.  The hammering noise sounded through the room like the muted march of soldiers’ feet, but the old Stable Master never replied.
Curron opened one eye to a slit and immediately wished he hadn’t.  Blood pounded in his head, sending fractal colors and bursts of pain skittering before his eyes.  The small room tilted sideways, melded together in myriad shades of grey and flickering orange, and then started to spin.  He quickly closed his eyes again and leaned back against a wall.   
                       What is this place? he wondered.  Certainly not his room in the stable loft.  For one thing, this room’s floor was made of stone, not wood, and instead of the familiar smell of horse and hay, there was a strange musty scent fused with the underlying, bitter tang of old iron.    For another thing, the room was entirely too cold and completely bare.  What had happened to his bed and the brazier that stood in the corner filled with hot coals?  Where was the trunk that once belonged to Seliah?  And what about the old saddle he’d been repairing under Téagh’s careful instruction?  Téagh treated most people to a dose of crude arrogance whether he knew them or not, but Curron was different.  The retorts remained, but there was respect too, and a distorted form of kindness.  The saddle was to be Curron’s once it was repaired; he couldn't bear the thought of losing it.
His memories all clouded together like a thick fog.  They shifted and churned, darted and flitted like shadow-figures playing hide-n-catch, but they refused to align.  If this isn’t my room, he thought, and it most certainly isn’t – then where am I?
Thunk, clang!  Thunk, thunk, thunk.
The noise jarred Curron’s thoughts.  He opened his eyes and the flitting shadows vanished, replaced by dread that tightened in his gut like a knot of writhing snakes.  There was something very wrong with that hammering sound: something menacing.
He pushed himself away from the wall and looked around the room.    The space was square and barely more than three paces wide in both directions – just big enough for him to lie out straight either way.  It felt more like a tall sepulcher than it did a room or even a cell.  And with the hammering noise reverberating around the walls, he could almost imagine the sound was actually the bony fists of some crypt’s long dead occupants trying to get free. 
Shivering, Curron shook the picture from his head.  What nonsense.  Selliah would never approve of such thoughts.  If he kept at it, he would drive himself insane.
The ceiling of the room was low.  If he stood on the tips of his toes and held his arms stretched up, he could probably brush its surface with his fingertips.  A heavy wooden door without latch or handle was embedded in the wall opposite of him.  Near the top of the door was a barred window that looked out into blackness.  He eyed the window thoughtfully.
Barred?  This was a cell then, probably somewhere within the labyrinth of Fort Gallant’s underground tunnels.  Only once before had he ever stepped foot beyond the darkened lintel that marked passage into the tunnels, and the memory still haunted his nightmares.
He leaned forward, bracing himself to stand.  If he could get a better look through the iron bars, perhaps he could figure out the nature of his prison.  Metal clattered a protest as he moved, and his arms felt extremely heavy and cold.  He glanced down.
Heavy shackles coupled his wrists and ankles together, while four lengths of thick chain, their links about the size of his thumb, wound in and out of the bulky rings welded to the side of each manacle.  The opposite end of every chain was attached to a separate wall.
Curron eyed the chains dubiously and gave them a hard shake.  They rattled together, bashing against the tender underside of his wrists and sending tingles through his fingers.  He let his hands drop back to his side in dismay.  Shackles meant only one thing as far as he knew, and the chains just confirmed it.  Broken scenes from the night before floated back into place, taunting him with their incompleteness: Olan’s mocking voice, Mirra’s screams, the fighting, the blood-lust.  Flashes of color and light flitted through his memory and disappeared again– a knife, a candle, a pair of startling blue eyes…
He cringed.  Even the memory of the feeling was so strong it sent his limbs to shaking.  Olan had despised him for years and the feeling was mutual.  He’d always known it would come to a head, but he never envisioned it ending like this.
He pulled his knees up to his chest and cupped his chin in his hands, trying to recall all the details of the fight, but no matter how he tried, he couldn’t remember the very end.  It must have been bad, he concluded, Else why would I hurt so much, and why am I stuck in his dark hole?  Maybe I got hit on the head.  Maybe that’s why my head hurts so much and I can’t seem to remember clearly.  He reached up to feel his scalp, but except for a few extra dirt particles and a beetle that he untangled from his curls, there was nothing to feel: no blood, no lumps, no bruises.
            He squished the beetle in his hand and flicked its remains across the cell.  So much for that idea.
            The foreboding hammering sound continued, quieter than before, but just as unnerving.  Voices floated through the air from somewhere over Curron’s head, mingling with the sound of clopping hooves and wagon wheels rolling and creaking over stone cobbles.  Curron shifted uneasily and twisted to glance up at the wall he was sitting against.  Near the top was another tiny rectangular window striated with iron bars and open to the air.  Sunlight filtered through the bars, painting the floor of the cell and part of one wall with patches of a lighter grey, tinged yellow.  The sounds of many people and groaning timber wafted in through the window, followed by more banging.  He thought he heard his name.
Bracing himself against the wall, he inched upward until his fingers finally caught the window ledge and wrapped around the iron bars.  Using the bars as handles, he pulled himself upright and peered between them into a colorful, chaotic mess.
People milled all around the courtyard in and out of thick wooden tables and brightly painted carts as they talked to sellers or yelled after spouses. Traveling merchants hawked their wares to anyone interested: a bolt of brilliant cloth dyed from the gold Lauris flowers of Southland, a bottle of red wine from Ereniel in the west, a spool of silk ribbon from the Hahl’eil silk farms east of the Great Forest, a quiver of Bannergoose-fletched arrows from the Wild North.  A band of children chased chickens around and under the legs of people and chairs alike, ignoring the calls of bustling mothers who balanced babies on their hips and browsed through the offered goods.
Curron’s eyes drank in the whole mess.  A thrill coursed through his body. 
Trades Week!  The very first day.  If he were free, he’d be milling around as well, looking for something worthwhile to spend his copper drúggle on, perhaps joining the older boys in a game of Whithle Tag.  The first Trades Week of the month always brought throngs of people through Fort Gallant’s gates.  Most came from Eldin and the surrounding farmland, or they were Búrri traveling from northern Southland to barter.  However, there were always a few roaming traders mixed into the throng, and a gypsy or two hoping to earn coins by entertaining.  The grim, grey place known as Fort Gallant became a blossoming bazaar of vibrant promise.
Then Curron’s eyes fell on something in the middle of the courtyard: a dark blight that defied all color and reared out tall above the crowds of people, grotesque as an open wound.  Black-stained beams of wood formed a raised platform that housed a single mast jutting up from the center like a dark finger.  The mast was reinforced with wood and iron fittings to keep it from falling over, and a long-armed boom reached out from its top as if to scrape open the sky.  A small crowd of people gathered round to watch a man who stood beside the mast pound in iron pegs with a mallet.
Clang, thunk, clang, thunk, clang, thunk!
                        The people pointed and whispered.
Another man sat astride the boom, working with something in his hands.  Minutes later he let the thing drop.  There, tied around the girth of the long, extending arm dangled a thick hemp rope with a loop at the end.
A gallows.
Of course. 
Curron shrank back from the window, cold fear rushing through his veins and wrapping around his heart.  He swallowed hard several times and slumped back against the wall.  This was all his fault.  He’d brought this on himself.  He should never have risen to Olan’s taunts.  If he’d only left the dining hall when he’d had the chance!
The sound of metal being pounded into wood tolled out again, drowning out the people’s whispering voices, filling the air like a mournful dirge.  Curron screwed his eyes shut and clapped his hands over his ears.  Yet without his surroundings to distract him, the black, wooden monster from his dreams tainted his imagination in grisly red.
A frail body dangling in a stark, black wind.  Silver hair swaying before a sweet aged face.  One lone raven circling above, glistening black feathers in stark contrast with the ice blue sky.
That monster was up in the courtyard now, waiting for him, drawn from his nightmares like the devil made flesh.
A huge, misshapen, wooden devil.
Curron swallowed the bile that rose to his throat.
A gallows.  He cringed at the word, wringing trembling hands.  That’s why all the people are really here; to watch me die.