Tag Archives: The Other Mages

Downs and Ups

It’s been an interesting couple of days.

Due to some confusion at the garage I got my new muffler Wednesday afternoon instead of Thursday morning, which freed up all of Thursday for a trip to a town (DuBois) about an hour and a half away to go to a craft store (Pat Catan’s) that I’d heard great things about but had never been to.

And a trip to DuBois isn’t worthwhile without a trip to Dutch Pantry for lunch – and an Apple Fritter Sundae for dessert.

Only it wasn’t.  Horrible service there this time. Definitely not the norm but definitely beyond bad.  Sort of ruined the day.

Which means that I wasn’t in the mood to explore the craft store.  Which means that I’ll have to go back to the craft store another time. (Such a sacrifice!)

My Work Box 3.0 was, according to tracking, scheduled for delivery today but apparently that only means to the freight carrier’s hub, so I’m not getting it until Wednesday, which means I have to take another (unpaid) day off work. I’m not a happy camper because I was looking forward to getting it today (since I was already off) and having all weekend to get it assembled.

So I emailed work to request the day off (because by that time talking to people was probably really not a good idea). I got a reply (that gmail, for some unknown reason, decided to hide in my spam folder so I didn’t find it until the office was closed for the weekend) stating that I can’t call off via email.

Um… Okay, but I’m not calling off.  I’m requesting a day off, in writing, just like I did for the 31st and first.

So I called and got the on-call supervisor who was as confused as I was and agreed that wasn’t calling off.  I’ll reply to the email (when I get my snarkiness under control) and will also call on Monday when the regular people are in the office.

So, anyhow, I’ve kind of not been in the mood for much of anything creative lately and I swear the universe is conspiring to piss me off. (And succeeding quite well.) It’s enough to make me want to log into Materia Magica and kill things.

But on a brighter note, I have tentative names for the two main characters (and one secondary character) for my NaNoWriMo novel.

And on an even brighter note, I have figured out how to use Asana to manage trilogies and beyond.  Name the project for the trilogy (or series) – The Other Mages, for instance. Then, instead of adding a task, add a section (it’s kind of hidden next to the “add task” button), and then add tasks below that.

This means I have no excuse not to enter the Academy of the Accord series into it now. (That’s going to be a task and a half!)

 

 

 

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Families II

 

Way back at the end of March I wrote a blog post on Families.   It’s about the kind you (well, your characters) are born into and how they shape you/your characters.  And I said that my next post would be about the kind of family that you find or create. That didn’t happen because the next post was for Camp NaNoWriMo and for some reason the topic got pushed aside. But seeing as yesterday was Father’s Day I’ve been thinking about families again so here it is, at long last.

I think that most people have someone (or multiple someones) that they consider to be family, even if not related by blood. For instance, my roommate is my best friend and the sister I never had. (And the person I’m most likely to murder, which I’ve been told is the actual definition of a sister.)  My mother even says she has two daughters: one genetic and one generic.

(I also have someone that I think of as a daughter.)

In the Academy of the Accord series, it is noted that families you “find” are often better than those you are born into. It’s also noted that the school feels like a family, mostly because the leaders have formed their own sort of family unit.  Marsden, the Commander of the Garrison, is the father Kordelm never had and the one Wellhym wishes he’d had.  Vinadi, the school’s Headmaster, is viewed in much the same light by Torlew and (especially) Yhonshel, and as a surrogate father by Caristen. (Kordelm and Wellhym are warriors; Vinadi, Torlew and Caristen are wizards, and Yhonshel is both.)

When the “second generation” starts, they all think of Senzu as a daughter. (Her race doesn’t have families as we think of them so she doesn’t think of them as fathers.)

When Draethlen joins the group, he thinks of Marsden as a father. (He doesn’t remember his own family.)  Kordelm and Wellhym think of him as a little brother, and as the other cadets join their family group they (along with Torlew and Caristen) think of all of them as “the boys” – the same way that Vinadi and Marsden think of them.

(Kordelm and Wellhym do, however, refrain from thinking of Marsden as the boy’s grandfather, mostly out of a sense of self-preservation of their pride; both are relatively certain Marsden could probably still “dust the pit” with them in a spar.)

The family that the characters form is unbreakable, unlike the ones some of them were born into.  They share a common bond, not of blood, but of Honor.

In other not-yet-published (or even completed) novels, I also have families that were found, not born. In Book Two of the Other Mages trilogy, Katheri is confused when a visitor helps with the dishes, thinking that it isn’t right for a guest to be put to work like that. Trebor and D’Laron explain to her that Luthen isn’t a guest, he’s family.

Doing the dishes becomes sort of an inside joke then, and when they later send Katheri to the kitchen to do the dishes (so they can talk about things she’s not ready to be involved in yet) she sees it not as being dismissed, but as being accepted.

And after all, isn’t that what family is?  People who accept you as you?

 

 

 

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Dodging Plot Bunnies

We’re just over a month away from NaNoWriMo and already the plot bunnies have been congregating. I swear the approach of November acts as bait for them.

There’s a dragon story that really wants me to write it.  (And Squirrel! I just had a breakthrough on what to do next for Book 2 of the Other Mages trilogy.)

Anyhow, as I was saying, the plot bunnies are starting to crowd around.  I love the dragon story that’s taking shape in my head, but there’s also this weird dream that I had last night in which I was a cat burglar. (If you could actually see me you’d laugh hysterically at that.)  The dream itself has great promise as a novel. I don’t think I’ll ever write it although I might incorporate elements of it into something else.

Yeah.  Nothing like the approach of NaNoWriMo to call forth the plot bunnies (and it’s only going to get worse from here on out) but the plan is to work on another book set around Song and Sword.  (Because if I don’t my friend Debbie will probably kidnap me and lock me in a room chained to a desk until I do.)

But which book set around Song and Sword?

There’s the prequel, which was supposed to be a short side-story about how Pachevel met Hierik, but when I re-read what I had written there’s a definite novel in it. It might be the easiest to tackle but I always start something new for NaNoWriMo and use Camp sessions to work on stuff already started.

And then there’s the sequel that I had started.  Well, sort of started.  I’m not quite sure what the starting scene is yet.  I might stick with the one I have or I might move it a bit further in.  We’ll see when I start outlining.

Then there’s a sequel that goes before that sequel. (A prequel to a sequel?) I have only a very vague idea for it but I feel like it should be written before the other one.  (For one thing, I’ve pretty much learned my lesson about writing books out of order.)

Decisions, decisions.  I’ll start outlining all three and see which one shows the most promise and probably go with that.

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Never, Never Project

I had a college roommate who was tatting a tablecloth.  She called it her “never never project” because she was “never never going to get it finished.”  I’m beginning to feel like that with the Other Mages trilogy.

About halfway through October 2008 I decided that I was going to do NaNoWriMo. I’d been thinking about it for a couple years but for some reason I suddenly decided that now was the time.

So, on November 1st I started writing. I had a vague idea and no outline, but I had a lot of fun and I hit 50,000 words and wrapped up the story.

(Well, to be honest, I thought I was done with the story way before I hit 50K but since I didn’t think I could pull of a 10,000 word celebration orgy I kept writing and got an ending that really wrapped up the story.)

A few things happened that November.

One, I got hooked on NaNoWriMo.  As in totally addicted. I remember reaching the goal and finishing the novel and just staring at my computer screen, thinking, “I did it. I wrote a book. Wow.” which was immediately followed by, “It’s all over until next November.” (My roommate’s response to that was “No one said you can’t write the other eleven months of the year.”)

Two, I got hooked on novel writing.  My roommate was right – I didn’t have to wait for NaNoWriMo to write, so write I did.

Three, I learned what happens when you don’t have an outline.  (One character who was supposed to play a very minor role became very important.  Not too bad of a change, right?  Except about 2/3 of the way through she had a complete change of alignment that was great for the plot but not so great for the future editing.)  And there are plot holes you could fly an Air Force squadron through.

And, four, about midway through writing it I realized that it was actually book three of a trilogy.

So instead of trying to fix the mess that Xooshemi (don’t worry, her name is going to be changed) made of things, I decided to write the other two books first.  Book One didn’t present many problems but Book Two is making me want to tear my hair out.

For one thing, I never outlined it. I have a vague idea of where it needs to go but I don’t have a clear end scene.  And somehow the focus has shifted from Katheri to Trebor and Sidden when the book is supposed to be about Katheri coming into her power.

And the whole Trebor and Sidden thing is going to royally muck up Book Three.  Maybe.  I might have found a way to keep it and skirt a plot hole.

But I’m still having trouble with where it needs to end up.  And without knowing that I have no idea how to get there.  So I think I’ll put it away again for a while and see if my subconscious can figure out a solution while I’m working on something else.

Maybe I’ll work on writing a new version of a scene in the Trilogy Without a Name.  (It’s actually the original version that I had planned before the plot hijackers main characters took a detour.)

But I will get back to The Other Mages, and it will see the light of day.

Some year.

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Five Months ’til Christmas!

Disclaimer:
The title actually has nothing to do with this blog post.

When I wrote Friday’s blog post I was 7455 words below par.  I’m now 7440 words below par, which isn’t bad considering that I was working every day, kept up with both blog hops, and was too tired to write anything at all last night.  I’ll get a bit more done before I go to work today and then I’m off for two days, so there is still hope.

So, what am I writing now that I’ve tied up a bunch of loose ends for The Academy of the Accord and added stuff to Onyx Sun?  Well…

Being so far behind on word count I really didn’t have time to poke through some works in progress, so I wrote a scene that’s been in my head for half of forever. It involves a Minotaur and an Elf Druidess.  I wrote their meeting and then just let the thing wander where it wanted.

I’m ending up with a wonderfully fun mess that involves the Elf Druidess (who still needs a name, and who may not be a Druid after all), the Minotaur (whose name is Max, courtesy of a friend of mine), and a Sasquatch named Ghillie (after a ghillie suit).

Oh, and there’s a curse.  Which doesn’t affect the Minotaur or the Elf or the Sasquatch. (I’m pretty sure that Ghillie is a guest star for this book only, but you never know.)

(Yes, I’m pretty sure there’s going to be more than one book with the Minotaur and the Elf.)

I have absolutely no idea where this story is going. I’m totally pantsing the whole thing and having a blast with it.

Will I finish it? Yes, eventually.  It’s going to be a back burner project and low priority because it’s a total mess because I’m making it up as I go so it’s jumping back and forth a lot. But someday, when The Academy of the Accord is done, and the rest of the stories in the Song and Sword universe are done, and The Other Mages trilogy is done, and the sequel to Sanguine is done, and the sequel (and a prequel and maybe a side story) for Onyx Sun are done, and I finish a few other things that are patiently waiting for me to get back to them:

Hedge House
Disturbed Magic (which might have to be a trilogy)
The Trilogy That Still Doesn’t Have A Name
Sea Witch
The Lost House
The Sword and the Shield

and a bunch of others.

Yeah, eventually I’ll get back to this mess.

I’m just not going to promise when.

 

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Word Count Woes

I am 6222 words below par on word count for Camp.  Pretty sure I’m not going to get caught up before work and am equally as sure that I’ll be even further behind by the time I’m writing Monday’s post.

But on the other hand, while I may be behind on word count, I am making progress.  I finished the additional scene I was working on for Onyx Sun and wrote a new ending for the book.  I also consolidated the two extra scenes, the new ending, and a couple pages of beta reader notes into one Word file which is now on my thumb drive so I can get it printed next Friday when I’m where Office Max is.

And Book 6 of The Academy of the Accord will definitely get finished this month.  (Barring something drastic happening.) I’ve finally managed to pull off the kidnapping I’ve been struggling with for a couple months and my outline is actually looking useful again. Things are moving faster now, charging toward the climax and those magical words: “The End.”  With any luck I can get it printed next week too, along with Book 7 which has been sitting on the thumb drive for months, waiting patiently.

Finishing Book 6 is not going to get me anywhere near 50,000 words, though.  I’ll be lucky to hit 20K with it, which is going to leave me with 30K to use for something else.

But what to write?

I do need to write a final fight scene for Book 9. I kind of abandoned the ending of that book because I was getting confused as to who was where, and I’m pretty sure that I have several people in two different places at the same time.  (Oops!)  So, I think when I finish Book 6 I’ll write the final fight scene and wrap up of Book 9, then when I get to the editing portion I can fix the mess that I made of the rescue.

But that fight scene and wrap up shouldn’t be much more than 5000 words, leaving me stranded halfway to my word count goal, and not sure where to go next.  Hedge House is a possibility, or Book 2 of The Other Mages because I really would like to finish that trilogy some year.

Or maybe I’ll just write all my WiPs on little pieces of paper and draw one out of a hat.  That sounds like a good plan except for one thing:

I don’t have a big enough hat.

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Planning Ahead

So, April Camp is just past the halfway point and I’m already thinking about July. (And November too, for that matter.  I think I may need an intervention.)

I saw a picture on Face Book the other day that I thought would make an awesome cover for Song and Stone (the sequel to Song and Sword) so I decided that that would be my project for July Camp.

(Before I can use the picture I’d have to track down the artist, so I may just use it to show a cover artist what sort of thing I’m looking for.)

But then yesterday I started thinking that I should use July Camp to finish Hedge House, or maybe Disturbed Magic (the novel I’m posting from for Rainbow Snippets), or any one of half a dozen other works in progress (*cough* The Other Mages trilogy *cough*) and save Song and Stone for November, since I traditionally use the Camps to finish – or try to finish – things that I’ve already started.

So now I’m undecided again.

And overwhelmed.  I always feel that way when I start looking at how many books are waiting to be finished. (I need to stop looking at the big picture and focus on one thing at a time, but that is much easier said than done.)

I spent quite a bit of time yesterday trying to organize a schedule for the rest of the year that takes into account two more NaNoWriMo months and still has me finishing the first round edits of The Academy of the Accord series by the end of December.  I think it might be doable.  Maybe.  Then I’ll have to worry about next year.

And I’ve only figured in stuff pertaining to The Academy of the Accord – first round paper editing, entering the changes in Word, and getting the concordance set up – I haven’t factored in writing at all.  Maybe I’ll try to figure out how to work that in later today.  (Maybe 500 words a day? But which project to work on first?)

And that flash fiction piece is still being a problem, mostly because nothing I come up with is short enough and all my ideas just add to the pile of plot bunnies having an orgy in the wings.

But my biggest problem? That would be the fact that I haven’t won the lottery yet so I still have to go to work.

Well, that, and I still haven’t found a way to avoid the need to sleep now and then.

 

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Realism in Magic

So, I wasn’t sure what to write for today’s blog post, and then I had a conversation on FaceBook that started with a comment on yesterday’s Sunday Snippet post.  (Don’t you just love how one thing leads to something totally different?  Inspiration and ideas come from so many sources.)

Anyhow, I was asked what sources I used for researching wizards.  My response was, “Research? I was supposed to research?  Most of it comes from just general knowledge from having read a lot of fantasy novels, playing D&D, etc, as well as my own experience with magic.”  I then invited the questioner to hit me up on FB if he had any other questions.

It turned out that he didn’t have any specific questions, just that he’d been watching “a lot of crazy shit” on TV and wanted to know how they got their material, so when he read my post he wondered where I got mine.

And that’s a really good question and it got me thinking about how much I struggle with magic in my novels.

Practitioners of magic in the real world aren’t nearly as exciting as what you see on television or in movies or even read about in most books.  We don’t shoot lightning bolts from our fingertips or wave a wand and have the house clean itself. (Although if anyone knows how to make those things happen, please let me know.  Especially the house thing.)

So, yeah, real magic isn’t really exciting enough for a fictional world.

But on the other hand, I have a hard time making magic be as powerful and spectacular as it needs to be for fiction, so I find myself constantly working to balance the two.

So, how do you limit magic?  Coming from a background in D&D (and later an addiction to Materia Magica) one of the things that I do is put a “cost” on magic.

I’m going to pull some examples from The Academy of the Accord, since it’s my main focus at the moment.

In the series I establish that there is a “cost” for magic. Using it drains the user.  The more powerful the spell in relation to the experience of the wizard, the greater the drain.

For instance, a wizard who has just learned to use invisibility can use the spell on him/herself, but attempting to wrap the spell around another as well will exhaust said wizard.  An older wizard with more experience will have no difficulty managing to use an invisibility spell on other people.

And even experienced wizards can be exhausted from a spell – even one that they use frequently – if there is something blocking it. For instance, in one of the books, Caristen, who is very, very good with truth spells, tries to use one to reveal the writer of a letter. There were heavy wards in place around the person who wrote it and he couldn’t push through for more than a glimpse before the parchment turned to ash and he slumped onto the couch, drained, exhausted, and nearly unconscious – scaring his Warder and friends out of several years of life.

In the Other Mages trilogy, magic is even more understated.

And in The Trilogy That Still Doesn’t Have a Name magic is… not used very much, despite one of the main characters being a wizard.  Magic just isn’t the focus of the story.

I also tend to limit magic through society. In The Academy of the Accord, wizards are met with suspicion in a lot of places, due to the Wizard Wars, which happened a long time before any living person can remember them, but the effects of which are still being felt.

In The Other Mages, the Mage Guild is losing power and it’s best not to flaunt what you are.

In The Trilogy That Still Doesn’t Have a Name wizards are accepted some places and hunted in others.

And now I want to write something in which magic is the norm and those who don’t have it are viewed with suspicion.  Thanks, plot bunnies.

“(Don’t you just love how one thing leads to something totally different?  Inspiration and ideas come from so many sources.)”

Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t…

 

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Magical Unrealism

I have a problem and I really have no idea how to solve it.

I have a tendency to overestimate myself as far as what I can accomplish in any given day/week/month/year/lifetime.

This results in me overbooking and overextending and over-committing myself.

And that results in nothing getting done. (Due, in part, to my “all or none” mentality that makes it hard for me to just chip away at big projects little by little.  I’m working on changing that one, but anyway…)

The above has led to my current backlog that I need to work my way out of.

What is said backlog?

Well…

Two Pocket Letters that are unfinished but overdue.

Two Pocket Letters that aren’t started but is overdue.

One Pocket letter that isn’t started but has no sharp due date.

Three Pocket Letters that are barely started and due soon.

Unknown number of Pocket Letters (I think six or so) that aren’t started and are only semi-committed to but are due soon.

Then there’s the upcoming holiday that I am totally unready for.

And crafts.

Starting with way too many started counted cross stitch projects and ones that aren’t started but that I want to do.

And crochet.  (Must stay off of Ravelry.)

And assorted other crafts that I want to work on.  (Like my much neglected dollhouse that I’m remodeling).

And crafts I want to learn: leather-working, wood-burning, beading, jewelry-making, soap making, spinning, wood-carving…

And then there are the writing projects.

Shall I list them?

Yes, I think I shall.

9K owed from September’s 1K-a-Day Challenge.

27K owed from October’s 1K-a-Day Challenge.

10K owed from November’s 1K-a-Day Challenge. (I hit 50K for NaNoWriMo but my personal goal was 60K.)

31K for December’s 1K-a-Day Challenge.

Finish revisions for Onyx Sun so I can get it published.

Finish Hedge House so I can revise and edit it and get it published so my friend Caroline doesn’t fly over from England and stand over me with a scythe.

Finish Book 6 of The Academy of the Accord series so I can edit the series next year and (hopefully) release it in 2017.

Finish Book 2 of The Other Mages trilogy because that’s all part of my very first NaNoWriMo novel and I really want to get it out there.  I owe it to the books to finish the trilogy because that’s what got me started on this madness.

All of the above can be finished by the end of this month, right?

Then there’s the rest of the list.

Finish Lost House.

Finish Guardians of the Abyss.

Finish a novel based on a tabletop RPG a friend is creating.

Write the sequel to Song and Sword.  (Tentative title: Song and Stone.)

Write the sequel to Sanguine.

Write the sequel to Onyx Sun. (Yes, I know it isn’t even out yet.)

Write a spin off to Onyx Sun.

Finish and revise The Sword and the Shield, a paranormal mess that I wrote in November of 2011, the month that I couldn’t decide what to write for NaNoWriMo so I wrote two 50k novels – while working full time, going to school part time, and ML’ing for the first time. (Work and school were in totally different directions, by the way.)

Finish and revise Disturbed Magic, the other mess from 11/2011.

Finish the trilogy without a name and add it to the revise and edit pile.

Finish Sea Witch (tentative title) – a novel that grew from a picture a friend sent me for a writing prompt.

Finish Vishkya, a fantasy novel that I started simply to shut it up – and for catharsis, to purge something from my past.

Expand a flash fiction piece about an angel and a demon into a novel.

Finish a… (I’m not sure what to call the genre) novel that I started ages ago.  (Like most of my stuff it doesn’t have a name.)

Find and finish a novel that I started so long ago that I didn’t have a good storage system so it was printed chapter by chapter on a dot matrix printer.  (I’m pretty sure that it was written in Word Star and the computer didn’t even have a modem.)

And then there’s a folder full of snippety type things.  They’re not really fully developed enough to be considered novels or even valid starts, but they are more than plot bunnies.  There are too many to list individually.

(The more I worked on this list, the more half-remembered, half-started stories came to mind.  There are more – lots more – and now they’re all going to be clamoring for attention too.)

And there is also my “plot bunny bag” that holds slips of papers that hold ideas for stories.  Every once in a while I get brave and dive into it, but that way lies madness.

And, of course, I should be able to get all of those done by the end of next year.

Right?

 

 

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I Did It!

NaNo-2015-Winner-Banner

 

I crawled into bed at 4:30 this morning with another NaNoWriMo win under my belt.  I was so close and so tired and I kept thinking I could finish in the morning or early afternoon before work but I was afraid of computer trouble so I kept on writing.

So, what’s next?

Well, the next first thing is to catch up on the Sunday Snippet blog hop from last week and this past Sunday.  I’ll start that after work tonight and hope to finish it tomorrow.

Then I have some Pocket Letters to focus on and I’m going to hit them hard on my days off this week.

And there’s Onyx Sun to finish the revisions on and release, but I think I’m adding that to next year’s goals, because tomorrow is December 1st so it’s back to the 1K-a-Day Challenge.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to finish Hedge House (I still need to write the big battle and then the final scene) or get back to work on Book 6 of The Academy of the Accord series in hopes of finishing it before the end of the year so I can focus on getting the series edited next year.

I also have to decide what to do with Hedge House.  Right now it has a very sharp break that makes it seem like two different novels, so my options are to either go back and rewrite it so that it follows the original outline (which will give it a smoother transition), or turn it into two books (which will be published together).

But that can wait.  It’s recommended to put some time between writing and revising so you can go back with a fresher eye.

Plus, in addition to the 31k I need for December, I still “owe” about 9k for September (for Book Two of The Other Mages); 27k for October (for Book 6 of The Academy of the Accord);  and 10k for November to hopefully finish Hedge House. (I had a personal goal of 60k for November.)

So, that’s roughly 46k owed to the challenge.  Technically that’s way out of the range of the challenge I set myself, but for some reason I don’t feel like I’ll have completed it without finishing the monthly goals, so I will finish them, although not likely before the end of the year.

Unless, of course, I decide that writing 77,000 words in 31 days while trying to keep up with other things is a good idea…

Which it isn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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