Why the missing time? Stuff happened, some good and more not so good. I have worked on writing but have flitted from one project to another, unable to concentrate properly as I got a good dose of the glums. I think the thing that started that off was waiting forever for a cover for my new book. I’d see a half done version and loved it, but then came the long silence. I will not bug my publisher constantly as it isn’t their fault so I waited and fretted and got glum. The upshot is the project was ditched for some unknown and unexpressed reason so my wonderful publisher scrambled to get a truly wonderful and very busy cover person, Ken Dawson, to do a new one for me. This is by far my favorite cover ever, by a long stretch and I love it to bits.
Isn’t it brilliant? So book published and the glums start to recede only to get another negative boost. This is personal stuff mostly about loosing people from this mortal coil, quite a few this year as it happens. It makes for writing xmas cards that bit more difficult because of the omissions as these were people I cared about a lot. Then this month came news that a former friend had died suddenly. I am sad for their family at the unexpected even, albeit I shed my tears years ago when this person chose to walk away from friendship with no explanation. I was over that years back and yet this is still sad. The person was a month younger than me. It makes a person feel a tad vulnerable although my tally of years isn’t that great as yet.
Then there was sickness. The dh and I caught a very nasty chest cold that lasted a good month. Yuk. The foul thing is doing the rounds as other family members are currently sick with it, although we stayed away from them while infectious. So…having failed to do Nano (the writing marathon for November), this year I am resolved to stop procrastinating and start listening to all the characters who are screaming at me to get on with their stories. Maybe I’ll get a book done by xmas? We will see.
I have been a tad quiet lately because I was busy with two projects. The first is the fourth book in the Shadow series, Staff of Shadows, which I just turned in to my publisher. The second is an audio book of Darkspire Reaches, which is in the works and my wonderful reader has just finished. It should be ready to go very shortly.
I am finishing up with the nano project, now reaching the last few chapters and I am almost done with a short for an anthology so what is next on the list? I think something spooky might be a nice break so here is the start of it. I’ll get to the rest when I have done the other two.
By C.N. Lesley
She moves through the fayre almost unnoticed. Am I the only one who can see her now? The only one left alive to remember and bear the guilt. Others could have moved away, unlike me, but they didn’t. We didn’t talk about her among ourselves afterward, but we were all drawn to the Fayre every year, waiting, watching for her to come, which she did at the witching hour. Was this her jest?
My bones creak with age, and my breath comes in a wheeze now. Soon, maybe soon, it will be my turn and then give me the mercy to be free of her. I want to believe this and yet my rheumy eyes pick out the faint shadows who follow her soft steps. Is this what happened to the ones who have already gone through the veil into death? Are they condemned to follow her for all eternity?
I was the heir when I first saw her all those years ago. Her hair of gold hung loose and in gentle waves around her shoulders in a way to make the old wives mutter. Her eyes of cornflower blue danced with life and mischief. My heart surrendered to her between one beat and the next, helpless and hopeless in the thrall of so much life and pure joy. I would have made her mine in name as well as in truth, but my father would have none of it, for she was a simple village maid, he said, and I was the decedent of Crusaders. Blue blood and commoner may mix in any way but via a solemn vow in a church in front of a priest. My summer of love dissolved into the loneliness of a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness far away from my home and my love. I should have fought for her, but I was heir. I let the separation happen.
I have spent a miserable day painting and helping with the painting and I sit down to this!!!! Oh wow! Does happy dance!!!!
Shadow Over Avalon Book 1 in the Shadow series.
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This is one of the penalties of being a Pantzer, (a writer who writes by the seat of their pants). Someone can just pop out of the woodwork at any time and then they become a problem.
Is this going to be a spear carrier, or someone of importance? A Pantzer won’t know this so the character has to be developed outside the story. It is not as simple as what they look like and if they are good or bad, oh no. A whole profile needs to be worked up to give their entire history and therefore the possible reasons behind anything they might do. None of this will probably appear in the story, but it must be in the writer’s mind as the words unfold.
Another matter of major importance for the character is are they expendable? If they are not going to be useful further down the line, then the answer is yes, they are. In which case the character has to be adorable to wring out the maximum amount of angst when they die, unless, of course, they are a bad guy, in which case they have to be even more carefully constructed so they don’t appear like a cartoon bad guy. Even bad guys have needs, motivations and wishes, so there are many shades of gray between black and white.
The major trick is to determine if this is a good guy or a bad guy and sometime this is going to be ambivalent. Not that is part of the fun, the not knowing until it happens.
Fiction writing is making things up that aren’t true. This is another way of saying writing lies, but there are two sorts of lies, the simple lie and the compound lie.
Simple lies are those to be desired as they stick very close to truth wherever possible. One way to see this is in the world creation of the book. It can happen in a real place or a fantasy world but the important thing here is that wherever is chosen must seem real. In order for this to happen there are rules to follow. Simplistically, an orchid would not grow in a barren ice desert. Cheating by calling a bunny a floodle or a moopsie is still not going to change the fact that it is a bunny and will be constrained within the confines of bunny actions if it is to suspend the reader’s ability to disbelieve; really what all this is about.
Character are more complex, as they should be if they are to come to life in a sense. A character must have motivations and for those to form, he/she has to have a past filled with things that form the motivations and promote the actions resulting from them. A lot of research can go into the creation of a character, FREX, my futuristic King Arthur in the Shadow series has over 500k notes in files of things that are useful or critical to know. A lot of this goes back to the original Welsh poems and songs. It is interesting to note a lot of the accepted history of the king was invented by one Geoffrey of Monmouth, a misogamist monk who disapproved of any instances of women recorded as having any power. They had to be evil so he made up the entire incest story to discredit Morgan Le Fay. A person has to wonder how a celibate monk got those sorts of ideas, but there you go, the lie is told and retold. Of course, only a fraction of the research goes into the book so what is the purpose, you may ask? The writer has to know how the character ticks and which way they will jump. Does the person like beef or lamb and if so, why? It is not just looking out of their eyes, it is knowing everything.
Now we get to the compound lie and it is here books can founder. This lie starts off simple but then gets additions not attaching securely to the first because the original intention wasn’t clearly envisaged or has been forgotten. This is where the term plot hole originates. Someone has just done something or had something happen that should not have come to pass because this makes nonsense of what has gone before.
Example? How about the easy fantasy trope of a farmer’s boy needing to leave his farm to explore the world as he feels confined by his simplistic circumstances? Some threat is fine at this point and it is still a simple lie. Many chapters later this same character has lost the farm he owned valiantly defending it against a marauding dragon whose existence was never mentioned in the first part of the story. The character doesn’t seem to believe he is inventing things and nor do those around him, with him on his journey from the beginning. Here is an enormous plot hole. The story is going to fail at this point. Obviously, some plot holes are more subtle, but they are still the result of the compound lie, which always fails.
A good story should have the ability to make the reader both laugh and cry.
I am currently trying out Amazon’s new lending library as they have a free trial for Canada at the moment. I have a hard time finding anything good on the site as those I knew were good were ones I had already read. So I went back to a golden oldie, Georgette Heyer and a three book set starting with ‘The Miracle at St. Bruno’s’. Now this was, is and probably always will be a mainstream book and in just about every library, etc.
What really stood out was how styles and pacing have really changed over the years since I last read this book. At the time it was classed as adult. Well, to be fair, there were only two categories: adult and children’s. Now I would put it in the YA section. What caught me first was the pacing, which was slow, so very slow. Yes, this is an historical romance with a thriller twist but it plods pedantically over many pages littered with extraneous fluff a writer would never get by an editor in this century. Another thing that jumped out at me was the multiple instances of ‘talking heads’; two characters in a room discussing something to the exclusion of everything else so the reader’s attention is focussed on the words of the dialogue and everything else that should be around is a nebulous grey color.
Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying the book and it is perfect for night time reading after I go to bed as it has a pleasantly lulling effect. I did enjoy the book enormously when I first came across it way back when. I love the historical elements, which are brilliant and I love the plot twists. It is just fascinating to see the evolution in the writing style from the then to the now.
Will I continue with the Amazon library? Nope. I can’t find anything I would get that would equal more than the $9 a month it would cost me. For my money, I would like a free choice from all of the books available, not just those solely locked into the Amazons platform.