Opening a Valve

Every time I talk to someone about Chasing, it makes me excited to write.  This afternoon I had a lovely chat with a co-worker about the plot of Chasing.  She was excited and a bit concerned about the plot, and it helped me get excited about the story.  The creative juices are there, I just need to open a valve and get them flowing.

I still need to do my story math and decide how the plots and subplots will align.  My least favorite thing is also on the list; I have to come up with names for some of the new characters.

Once I have a few hours to sit down and write, I’m planning to dive right in.  I keep saying that, don’t I?  Hopefully this time it will stick.  Maybe it just requires a few more conversations with friends and coworkers.  🙂

The Chase Is On!

I finally started working on the scene from Chasing that has been in my head.  It’s just a tiny moment between friends, but it seems like a good way to jump back in with who these people are and their relationships.  Would you like a little sample?  I thought so.  🙂  Remember, it’s a sequel, and so it will reveal some character details from Butterflies (in case you forgot about possible spoilers).

     Damian looked up as the concealed panel in his bedroom opened. He was expecting to see Mara, so her entrance was unsurprising.  Her clothing, however, made his eyebrows lift.  She was clad in all in white, but while the important parts of her were covered in an opaque material, the rest of her body, from head to toe, was swathed in a billowy translucent cloud. 
     “It’s not what you think,” the Dark Butterfly growled at the crown prince. 
     Damian raised his hands in mock surrender.  “I wasn’t going to ask.”
     From across the room, Andi chuckled.  It always amused her to see her husband and her Dark interact.  She smiled at Mara as the woman crossed the room.  “The Sai ambassador again?” she asked.
     The petite woman in white sighed as she dropped onto the bed next to the crown princess.  “I don’t see why Izzy can’t have her women take care of this.”
     When Damian’s sister Izzy had become Crown Princess Narcissa of Saimiri, she had accumulated a few Butterflies in her service.  They were primarily tasked with providing information back to Diaea, but Izzy had her mother’s blessing to use them occasionally for Sai business.
     “You know why,” Andi replied.  “They are in Sayornis, and the ambassador is here.”  Mara grunted her reply and Andi continued.  “Besides, she’s our friend and she asked us for help.”
     “Mmm,” was Mara’s only reply.  After a moment of silence, she focused on the reason for her visit.  “I only have a little while before I need to go join the ambassador’s household, but it should be time to review the letter you told me about.”
     Crown Princess Lisandra stood as she said, “Right, this isn’t just a social visit.  Follow me; I have it in my desk.  It shouldn’t take more than a moment.”
     Damian shook his head as he watched the two women leave the room.

Falconry in Fantasy

Falconry shows up regularly in fantasy, both books and movies.  It’s a good way to add dimension to a world and to give it a time period.  It’s also something that can make a character seem impressive.  It adds that “Wow, the guy is carrying a falcon” effect.  With only about 2000 falconers in the country, plus the several hundred bird trainers that work at zoos and other facilities, odds are pretty good that most of the readers and viewers that interact with this ancient sport will not have much of a knowledge base.  This means that many authors take the shortcut of making it up.

Unfortunately, I am not one of those readers with no knowledge.

I have never been a falconer (although I was married to one for a while) but I do have a reasonable background in the care and training of birds of prey.  Since falconry has been around for 4000 years, we figure the techniques they use are pretty well established.  Why fix it if it isn’t broken?  This means that I am fairly well-versed in hawking and could probably find my way around a medieval mews without a guide.

If I come across falconry in a movie or book that is done incorrectly, I lose all respect for the author.  The reverse is also true.  If I find an author with a well-researched, accurate description of a mews (Cecilia Dart-Thornton has an excellent example in one of the books of her Bitterbynde trilogy.) I know that he or she has taken their time to do their homework.  I will now give them credibility in all areas, not just falconry.

Of course, knowing this about myself means that I have a drive to make sure I do my research.  If I’m including something with which I am less than familiar, I want to make sure that the reader who may know more than me doesn’t figure that out.

Birthday Challenge 2011!

That’s right, it’s time once again for my birthday challenge.  For those of you who don’t remember or weren’t here, I posed a challenge to my readers last year in honor of my 30th birthday: 50 hits on August 10th.

You did so well last year that I want to do it again.  This time, I’m raising the bar.

Let’s go for 100 hits!

Share it with your friends, your coworkers, your family!  I’ll post fun stuff on August 10, so there will be something interesting here.  (I’ll let you know what I’m planning as we get closer, but there will likely be samples or stories involved.  Perhaps even a sneak peek at the sequel?)

Consider this your fair warning for Birthday Challenge 2011: 100 hits on August 10th!!!

Running the Risk of Sharing Too Much…

With a title like that, you’re probably eagerly reading this post to see what juicy gossip I’m going to drop, aren’t you?

Sorry, no over-share today.

Instead, I’m pondering how much background to provide in Chasing.  It’s a sequel, so it is fair to assume that the reader has read Butterflies.  However, I want to write it as a valid novel on its own; this requires a bit more introduction to characters and previous happenings.

Some authors write a summary prologue that covers the required background knowledge.  (The nice thing about this is you can skip it without needing the reminder if you read the books back to back.)  Sometimes you’ll see books with introductory or review information included when we need it.  Others just leave it out entirely and assume you’ve read the first book(s).

When I started working on a scene with familiar characters, I found myself stumbling over how much to share.  This leads me to face the important decisions.  How much, if any, information am I providing?  If I am providing background, what am I sharing?  How is this information being passed to the reader?

So I’m going to turn to you, my lovely blog readers, for advice.  How much background “review” information do you want in a sequel?  Have you seen other authors who’ve handled this particularly effectively?

Story Math… Again

It’s time for me to do some more story math.

You may recall that when I wrote With Honor, I had to do math to figure out the correct king for the story.  Since it was a prequel, I had to make the timeline match with Butterflies.

This time I need to decide how much time occurs between Butterflies and the sequel, Chasing.  I am a firm believer that if your characters have made it through the war, machinations, and other adventures of a novel, they deserve to have a few years of peace before it is time for some more harrowing adventures.  In fact, some of the sub-plots require at least some time to elapse between the books.  You can’t be worried that all of your babies are girls if you haven’t had any babies yet, now can you?

I need to look at the plot outline and where we left off so I can calculate the best number of years to leave between stories.  Yay for more story math!  At least this time it’s relatively simple.

Chocolate Pie

I would really like to start reading the Harry Potter books.

Enough with the shocked silence, I’ve read them before.  In fact, I own them.  What I should have said is start reading them again.

So, if I own them and I want to read them, what’s the problem?  At this point the books are kind of like the piece of chocolate pie that is currently lurking in my fridge.  I definitely should not partake.  (In the case of the pie, I shouldn’t even possess it.  That’s surprisingly Harry Potter-related, too, the results of an outing with friends to see the movie.)

I shouldn’t eat the pie because I am trying to eat healthy and lose some weight.  I was less than succesful at the healthy food thing this weekend.  One piece of pie won’t kill me, but it certainly won’t make it any easier to get back into a good eating habit.  The same holds true for Harry Potter; reading them won’t help me get back into my writing habit.

So, Harry Potter will be postponed for the time being, until I can get my writing going again.  And I’m going to at least eat something healthy for dinner before I inhale the pie.  🙂

Writing a Synopsis

Now that Dragon is done, I would love to put a synopsis of it up with the one for Butterflies on my synopsis page.  (See that link up there?  Yup, that one.  That’s where I’d put it.)

The trouble is writing it.  I can explain my books in detail to someone who asks, but writing a brief paragraph is tricky.  It has to share enough to get the reader’s interest while at the same time not sharing so much that it turns into a spoiler.  As I worked hard in writing Dragon to reveal information only as the main character got it, revealing anything in the synopsis makes me cringe.

This is my homework for the next couple of days, I guess.  Write a synopsis and have the First Readers review it.  Then I’ll post it for everyone.  I know, I know; you can’t read Dragon yet.  It doesn’t mean I can’t give you a little taste of the concept…

Movies and Books

I watched the first Lord of the Rings movie last night, and I’m preparing to go see the last Harry Potter tonight.  With both of these fresh in my mind, I thought I’d post some thoughts about movies made from books.

I am the kind of person who generally does not see movies if they are based on books that I liked.  I don’t like to be disappointed.  I’ve found a loophole to that rule recently, however; it turns out that if it’s been a while since I read the book, I don’t remember all the details and so I’m less disappointed.  This probably only holds true with movies that stick close to the book, although I haven’t tried it with anything other than Harry Potter.

I think that a book-based movie should be as close as feasible.  Michael Crichton believed in letting the screenwriters and Hollywood-types do what they liked with his books.  All I have to say is that Jurassic Park was a good movie, but it was disappointing for someone who adored the book.  (That would be me, if you hadn’t guessed.)  I applaud J.K. Rowling for insisting that the movies be a true to the books as possible, and I love how meticulous with detail Peter Jackson was when creating Tolkien’s world.

I am a realist; I understand that an 800+ page book can’t be made into a movie of reasonable length, and that certain things can be conveyed very well in writing but not at all in movies.  But if the book is popular and well-done, why shouldn’t the movie stay as close as humanly possible?

An Open Letter to “Elle”

Dear “Elle,”

I’ve noticed your rude and personal attacks in the comments of my blog.  As much as I would like to refuse you the pleasure of a response, with 7 comments in 3 days, I think it’s necessary to reply at this point.  Instead of approving your comments and replying to each, I want to write you a letter.

First, I want to say I’m sorry.  Whatever it is that I did to you that made you so angry, so hateful towards me, I’m sorry.

I know who you are, or at least, I think I do, given the content of your comments.  You’ve gotten what you wanted, right?  You’re free of me.  I’m not going to bother you, get in your way, or interfere with you.  I’ve moved on, and I’d hope for your sake that you can find a way to do the same.

We’re adults, you know.  You could approach me in real life; clearly you know who I am.  But if it is more amusing to you to spend hours reading my blog and sending anonymous, personal comments, feel free.

Like I’ve said, I’ve moved on.  In fact, I’m happier than I’ve been in years.  I hope you can find a way to be happy as well.


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