A(nother) Pravacordian Nursery Rhyme

How long did it lay, in the ice tucked away,

That silent traveler from space.

Alone, without sound, it hid in the ground,

Content in the snow’s cold embrace.

 

Till upon it they stumbled, so awed and so humbled,

So eager its secrets to find.

If they only had known, they’d have left it alone,

But their greed, it had made them all blind.

 

That which slumbered, now woken, with wonders unspoken,

Took root and continued to thrive.

How could they have guessed, they’d have left it to rest,

If they’d known what they had was alive.

 

It confused and confounded, intrigued and astounded,

And still they continued to pry.

How they’d fret, what regret, when they realized that,

It was death.  It was death from the sky.

Tick, Tock.

Progression on the final stages of Antiquity’s Gate, Sanctuary seems to have lapsed into slow motion.  It has become a back and forth between me and the editors, each new tweak adding to the vibrant fabric of the story.  The final draft is quickly transforming into a finished product, and I could not be more excited to share it with you.  But alas, just a little longer, my friends.

I am, in the meantime, countless cups of coffee and seven chapters deep into novel two, which has been progressing at a satisfying clip.  As much as I would like to share tidbits pertaining to the story, I will withhold them, at least until you’ve had a chance to read the first one!  I have a strong feeling that once you’ve finished Sanctuary, you’ll be thankful that I got a head start on the second volume.

The world around Antiquity’s Gate keeps expanding, and I find myself sitting down, unable to write some days.  Not because it feels forced, or I have no ideas.  Instead, it’s because there’s simply so much that I feel almost overwhelmed at the awesome and humbling task set before me.  It is my joyful duty to diligently record, for your reading pleasure, the places, lives, and lore of this story.  I do not take the responsibility lightly!  For now, I shall continue to forge ahead, and keep you updated as I do.

And the Beat Goes On

It’s true, isn’t it?

 

I woke up this morning feeling wretched.  My eyes were crusty, and it felt like someone had poured glue in my mouth while I slept.  I was sore all over, and cold despite a heap of blankets.  And yet, as they say, the beat goes on.  Life continued happening around me even though all I wanted to do was curl up in a corner and hide.  Children still were dressed and fed, work still got done, and, of course—coffee still got poured.  Okay, not gonna lie.  That happened first.

A story is no different.  Characters face difficult, even crippling, situations, and yet their reality still continues, steadily marching the plot along and pulling them, kicking and screaming, perhaps, with it.

This is one of the things I particularly enjoy in a story.  Putting yourself in your character’s shoes, imagining how you would feel if it were you dealing with a loss, or an injury, or a terrible choice.  Time will keep moving, regardless of what’s happened.  How do your characters cope?  Denial?  Reckless behavior?  A new sense of purpose? A change of heart?

But sometimes, imagining what you yourself would feel (or hope to feel) is not the answer.  You are not your character, after all.  Are your personalities similar?  If every character in your story resembles yourself, you may want to go back and try again.  There are infinite types of personalities out there, and if everyone were the same it would most likely make for rather a dull read.  Not only is it an important decision figuring out how you would have them proceed, but it’s equally important that it’s fitting given everything your reader knows about this character.  In order for their reaction to this cataclysmic event to be believable, you must have a strong base that would suggest that this is, indeed, a plausible response.  As you write, explore the options and be open minded.  You don’t want to end up defending a weak response later on.

On Halfsies.

As you may already be aware, Felix is a fictional character from Antiquity’s Gate.  He is a major player, and someone with whom, should you read the book, you will become closely acquainted.  He is a fun-loving, joke-cracking, fiercely loyal Halfsie.

Hold up.  What’s a Halfsie?

In the world of Antiquity’s Gate, a Halfsie is the result of interbreeding between Humans and Elves.  Despite this slang term for this small but important group of people, these are not necessarily Half-Human, Half-Elven persons.  The name has extended in use through the generations to include any non-pure blood people, including those with a Halfsie and a Human parent, an Elven and a Halfsie parent, or two Halfsie parents…you get the idea.

Generally shunned as second-class citizens, Halfsies are surprisingly resilient.  Felix, in particular, has seen more than his share of hard times, but has managed to become who he is in spite of, and perhaps also because of, how he has been treated.

Sanctuary, with a population ten thousand strong, has a relatively small Halfsie population of a few hundred or so.  Yet they should not be ignored, or underestimated.  Sure, there is strength in numbers.  But that is not the only source of strength…is it?

 

Branching Out

Having just finished an invigorating round of adding changes on the Antiquity’s Gate manuscript, and whilst awaiting further revisions from others, I thought this might be a good time to share some of my thoughts on editing for any of my fellow writers that have found their way here.

Editing, a crucial element to any good story, is difficult.  In the beginning, when you first finish writing and hand it off eagerly to third parties for their feedback, it sometimes can seem like a personal affront when their constructive criticism comes back.  However, you shouldn’t take it as one!  Constructive criticism is vital to a story that people can immerse themselves in.  One misspelled word, one convoluted, hard to read sentence, is enough to jar them out of a state of suspended disbelief.  What about that small but glaring plot hole you missed?  Or that phrase that you use far too repetitively?  Imagine rushing to try to publish something full of such errors.  You want their reading to be smooth, easy, and most of all—enjoyable.

Under no circumstance should you attempt to single-handedly edit your story.  There are several glaring reasons why, as the author, you are uniquely UNqualified to do so.  For one thing, if you have tendencies toward a certain grammatical error, you aren’t going to notice it as you’re reading through.  I, for one, use entirely too many commas when I’m writing quickly.  Oh, great.  Now you’re looking back through this post and nodding to yourself.  “She’s right,” you’re thinking.  “That’s a lot of commas.”

You’ve also got much too much invested in the story to be a credible source of information.  You know the characters and the environments too well to be able to immediately spot problems.  Perhaps you’ve failed to describe a relationship between two characters, and your readers are left wondering how the two have anything to do with one another.  You know, in your head, how they are related.  You may not see the lack of written evidence of said relationship when you’re reading through.

There are dozens more reasons why editing on your own is simply a bad idea.  Certainly, you should go over your work.  You want to write, and rewrite, until you have as polished a draft as you can possibly create.  You want to take some time away from it, so it isn’t so fresh, and then return to rewrite some more.  Ask yourself hard questions about what any given passage adds to the story—if anything.  And, when it feels complete, hand it off to someone else.  I guarantee that you’ll be shocked when it gets back to you, all marked up with red.  You’ll read through the comments and think to yourself, “How could this be?  How could I have missed so much?  Maybe I should give up on writing all together!”  You agonize over each change, contemplating them as you painstakingly work your way through.  Satisfied at last, you hand it off to someone else—

Who has discovered an entirely different set of issues.

Don’t worry, my friend.  You aren’t alone.  Everyone needs the invaluable input of others in order to craft a finished product that they can be proud of.  Don’t rush the process.  Instead, try to enjoy it!  Be thankful for all those willing to take the time and effort to help, whether they are an objective acquaintance, a paid professional, or both.  Preferably both. 🙂

 

Who is Ripley Prior?

In the not so distant future, mankind has been brought to the brink of extinction…and to the brink of the world.  Ripley Prior, our protagonist, is a mid-level, pencil-pushing worker in Sigil, the authoritarian power that rules over Santuary, a domed city located in Antarctica.

Ripley has always dreamed of being an Engineer, but it wasn’t meant to be.  Those jobs are always reserved for the Elves, who have the longevity and know-how to run the city without the need for the help of Human wannabes.  Day after day, he records numbers from vital system gauges, wishing he had the ability to do more with his life.

Ripley’s best friend, Felix, is an unmotivated Halfsie (half-Human, half-Elf).  He’s the one who is always stirring up trouble, which inevitably involves Ripley.  But when our story begins, his benign shenanigans give way to something much more ambitious…

 

A Pravacordian Nursery Rhyme

The children ran along the shore,
The sea rose up to greet them.
“Take care, beware, don’t linger there!”
Their elders did entreat them.

The sun shone down, the sand was warm,
Their words rang out, beguiling.
It seemed a dream, so right and clean,
What could the sea be hiding?

A step they took, into the surf
No fear found in their hearts.
So free, to be, upon the sea,
To never be apart.

Into the gentle froth they dove,
The sea rose up to greet them.
Too late, that’s that, no turning back,
The sea rose up to eat them.

The Things I Do for Coffee.

This morning, I headed to the kitchen, where my MoccaMaster was waiting for me, calling out.  I went through the motions almost subconsciously.  Fill the reservoir, grind the Death Wish (that’s a coffee, by the way.  More precisely, THE Coffee.), and grab the box of environmentally-friendly bamboo coffee filters…

Only there were no filters.  My children, bless their tiny, chaos-loving souls, had made a pot of coffee yesterday afternoon…and not only neglected to share that they’d used the last filter, but also went ahead and put the empty box back on the shelf.

You see, I’m past all that denial nonsense.  I know I have a problem.  Coffee doesn’t give me the jitters, or have any noticeable effect on my energy levels.  It isn’t something I do in the morning because it’s a nice, relaxing ritual.  Most mornings, I am fighting off tiny beings with varying levels of actual need, just to take a few delicious sips.  But if there is no coffee, I get a little anxious.  Okay, a lot anxious.  I spend entirely too much time, when we are going somewhere, wondering how and where I will get my next fix.  I believe water was created as a vehicle for coffee.  So now what?

Coffee does not enhance my writing process–it is my writing process.  And, more notably, perhaps, it is my favorite non-sentient thing in all the world.  If there is a coffee in my hands, iced, hot, espresso, doesn’t matter…I can just tell that everything will be all right.

I had to think quick.  I remembered our emergency box of dried goods in the basement, which had sat untouched for, oh, a decade or so.  I remembered that, of course, coffee was a vital component of any good emergency kit.  I pulled it out, rummaging through until at last I found it:  A ten pack of vital, life-giving instant hazelnut coffee packets.

“Oh, cute!  Can I try?” my daughter squealed in delight.

“Um, no, you most certainly may not,” I responded, with a wild glint in my eye and a cold, heartless tone in my voice.

Was it delicious?  Not really.  Did it sooth my psychological needs long enough for me to get dressed and head to the store for filters?  Yep.

I’m so glad that no one is writing a book about me.  Remember when I talked about the importance of a character’s drive?  I think the amount of coffee drinking scenes in that book would make for a boring read.  Some things just don’t translate, you know?

The View from the Edge of the World

Perhaps you were drawn here by the desire to learn more about the Antiquity’s Gate series, and found yourself disappointed by the whimsical musings of the author, instead. Don’t worry, my friend.  Read on, and slake your thirst for knowledge at the fount.

At the edge of the world, the last stronghold of mankind holds silent vigil, a forgotten sentinel in the shadow of the Transantarctic mountains.  For one hundred and twenty-five years, it has stood, while an increasingly dystopian hierarchy has formed bitter divides among its citizens.

The Theran people who came through Antiquity’s Gate are hiding something.  The tense relations between the last of humanity and these mysterious outsiders threaten the fragile bonds that have been holding their community together.   When the very rules enacted to safeguard survival bring heartache to the lives of two unlikely friends, it is up to them to find a way to escape from Sanctuary…but their actions may have devastating consequences.

Motivating Factors

Do you have any pet peeves? Of course you do. It’s okay to admit it–we all do.

One of the things I feel strongly about when I write is a character’s drive. When I am reading a story, there are certain things I can let slide. If it’s a good read, I can look past a few weak plot points. I can push through an introduction that doesn’t move me, giving it a chance to pick up later on. I can slog through those chapters, you know the ones. Full of explanatory dialogue, as if the author couldn’t trust his or her readers to pick up the subtle hints along the way, and felt the need to lay it all out, effectively killing the book’s replay value.

But one thing that just makes me sad is a book with a strong premise and flat characters. It feels like so much wasted potential. If you can’t relate, can’t connect, can’t feel what the characters are feeling, then what is it that keeps you reading? I want to know what drives the characters. What motivates them to do–or not do–certain things. What is their passion, and in what ways does it affect the flow of the plot? I like characters that become so real, so alive, that I feel as though they could walk into the room, and we could sit down and have a conversation like old friends. Or even, perhaps, mortal enemies.

What are the things that you look for in a story? Is it the fresh, unpredictable plot that keeps you turning the pages? Do you live for the adrenaline rush that accompanies a long-awaited climax? Is it description so lush, that you can close your eyes and effortlessly transport yourself to that fictional land? Or are you like me, driven by driven characters? Whatever it is that makes you passionate about reading, ultimately we all want the same thing. A story that’s memorable and moving. And that is a noble goal, indeed.