Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Old Wounds

So eons ago, I read an issue of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy magazine - dated Summer 1995, so it could be as much as fourteen years if I read it right away - with a story entitled "Even More Than Magic" by Bob Dennis. It's about two teenagers, children of a sorceress, who are captured by her rival, and is told from the point of view of the one who wasn't raised in magic - instead sent out for herbcraft and practical learning. There's a bit in the final third or so where the narrator believes she's figured out that her mother simply loves her less, that she kept her out of her own magical craft to protect her sister.

This broke my heart. The anguish in that idea - not just applied to families, but in other areas you can be weighed and found wanting - burrowed into me and stayed there ... so much that now, over a decade later, I instantly - boom - recognized the story when I saw it. Heck, I teared up before I started reading. The fact that this theory of the narrator's is disproved at the end of the story never really helped. That moment remains. I remembered it for all the intervening years.

This inspired me, longer ago than I care to consider, to write a little story entitled "The Other Sister." It's definitely its own entity ... in fact, it takes off the idea of a sister who really is inferior, despite all her attempts and good intentions. (It showed up in Eye of Unicorn, Tongue of Dragon, the little
e-zine I ran for a while when I was too young to know better.) I think that's one of the few pieces I've ever written that was genuinely carthartic. I usually just don't go there.

I'm pondering rewriting this one. My style has improved so drastically (stop sniggering: I can hear you!) that it would basically be restructured from ground-up, the same essential plot with everything else fleshed, filled, extended and - of course - rewritten. Maybe ... who knows? I wouldn't be surprised if it touches off the same reaction for me as a writer. The feeling is still with me.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Anatomy of an Idea: Instructions For An Initiate

This story was a product of The 3AM Epiphany (the only writing exercise book I recommend, by the way) when I was doing a daily "boot camp" - an exercise a day. This was one of the very first exercise, to write a story purely in the form of commands ... implied second person. I decided to go the route of orders given to a young person being initiated as a priest - and it took a (for me) very dark turn.

I'm not sure when I decided to create a very ambiguous, pitiless goddess, but it definitely shaped the tone. For more - read it.

Instructions For An Initiate

This flash fiction piece is now available at Golden Visions magazine ( Make sure you flip down to the bottom of the page on which "Instructions" is listed: the flash fiction are all on the same page, and mine is the last (and the best ;-)).

Feel free to vote for my piece if it takes your fancy.


I just received one of those reviews - well, late last night - that reminds me why I bother posting on critique sites. The reviewer got what I was trying to do, but had a few significant critiques that left me in a quandary. After stewing and sleeping over it, I came up with a revision that I think solved, not only what he and other reviewers thought was "off" with the ending, but what left *me* somewhat discontent and gnawy ... sort of by accident on the second part, but it all works much more smoothly.

Anyhow, it's a stronger story now, and I'm very happy for it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Name Proliferation

Those of you who are writers - at least, fantasy writers - may have run into this problem ...

I'm about four hundred words into the new story mentioned in the previous post - and in that space, I've used six proper names. It developed very naturally:

1) My main character, who of course I wanted to name right out - it's third person narration, so that's the first name we see.
2) His "boss," the character he's talking to. I didn't want to keep saying "his superior" and the character is going to reappear, so let's get the name in.
3) The nationality of said boss. I'd already decided that since my MC is an exile from another nation that I wanted to do a lot of comparisons. This is the first. It would have required serious gymnastics to write the sentence in question with a generic non-name, rather than simply saying, "Ilkanese."
4) The name of the victim in the case that will be taking up the entire rest of the story. This seems like a relevant piece of info to me. By using her name, I also get to easily and simply indicate that she is THE High Priestess, not simply a high priestess.
5) His native land. Again, I'm going to be referring to it a lot, so it would be cumbersome to keep saying "his home country" every time. This is the only reference I can see that would be easy to change and move later on.
6) The name of the city. If you're writing an urban story, you can get away with naming the city and not the country; not so much the reverse.

I'm hoping this is a manageable amount of information, but I keep dithering between placing the information when it's first relevant, versus trying to undergo some gymnastics to intersperse it more gradually. On the other hand, this is a page and a half in a manuscript, so maybe that's relaxed enough. You then get a break until the next scene. Ahem.

I find this happens a lot, though. In my "word tumble," I had to name my MC, a king, five children, and a royal guard, all within a short span of time. Just personally, I would rather give something a concrete handle if it's going to mentioned more than once or twice. The act of naming something makes it feel "real" to me. So it's just a matter of making sure it's spaced out properly.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday Thoughts

No, you really don't want to know what I'm thinking.

It's been a rough week, particularly the last twenty-four hours. Real life hammered me with a to-do list so massive that even when I reached the end, my nervous system was flashing me staccato signals of, "Move! Move!" This means ... not a lot of writing, and an inordinate amount of discouragement over what I have done.

Hoping to start the story mentioned last week sometime today. I've already resolved that I'm not going to skimp on the worldbuilding ... if it's not strictly relevant, so be it. This is a character-and-setting piece more than a plot piece, and I want to immerse the reader in the mindset of someone who lives there.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine

So as mentioned in my bookcase post, I found my old MZB Fantasy Magazines. I loved this magazine - it's the first one I remember really enjoying. Hoping for a good read, and also curious if the issues would live up to my nostalgia, I started to read. I've finished three now (#40, #36 and #25, and yes, in that order) and I feel as if I have the shape of it again.

To some extent, the magazine didn't live up to my memory. I had the sense that the stories were familiar - but I'm honestly not sure whether this is a "flaw," or whether they're still imprinted on the recesses of my brain from years ago, and thus even if I don't remember the specific story, the feel of it is recognizable. But I found that I sometimes wanted more of the unexpected and exotic from the worlds and the plots.

That said - what a breath of fresh air! The stories are high-quality and many of them are humorous ... and they all present a reliably good read. There's no risk of being dangled off a literary precipe; each item in these magazines puts story first. They also tend to be pretty wholesome, which is nice in a genre that occasionally resorts to R-rated material for kicks. (I remember reading a story in - Fantasy Magazine, I think? - that would have been excellent except for taking a few passages too far ... and consequently, THAT'S what I remember about the story.) And there's real emotional resonance: I confess to tearing up a few times.

So I'm glad I found these, and I miss the magazine. Who knows where it would be today?

Friday, September 18, 2009

But what do I *DO* with it?

So for me, the creative arts have always had a practical side. I'm a professional harp performer: every piece I arrange and practice is eventually intended to be played in a background job or a stage set. I also consider myself a professional writer and with the exception of brain-stretching exercises, every story / novel I work on is intended to be sent out to publishers. I am goal-focused and product-conscious ... though I still have tremendous fun with the process. (Three words for you: Under The Sea (from The Little Mermaid). Such a blast to play. I just need to get off my duff and finish a cohesive arrangement ...)

So occasionally, when I need to downtime my brain (look, I'm verbing nouns!), I turn to the visual arts. I dabble - and it's definitely dabble - in photography, fractals, drawing and painting. To be able to do something where the result isn't expected to be up to a professional standard and I don't have to produce something for a specific goal allows me to unwind.

But then that little nagging voice creeps into my head, the one that's been trained from years of work ... what do I do with it? I feel as if there needs to be some purpose for the finished project. It's just sitting there, and it drives me batty. These files, these loose pages! They're just taking up space.

Part of it, I suppose, is that I do have a show-off streak: I want people to see what I've done and - yes, I blush - admire it. That's probably a good part of why I have a Deviantart page. For the rest of it ...

My brain churns - I can't help it - over what use my artwork might serve. One idea that amuses me is the notation of doing art-cards as stories / poems of mine are released and posting them up as little advertisements. Not sure yet.

But the point is ... I felt compelled to find something to do with my creative product, even my downtime product. I feel as if there's something vaguely diseased about this outlook of mine. I don't feel that it's ever stifled my creativity in my primary work, but I occasionally don't turn to the art because there's this tiny little voice whispering, "Okay, but what do I *do* with it?"

That said, if anyone wants my fractals or photos I'll be happy to be paid, but that's besides the point ... ahem. Running away now.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Link added

Link added to the very artistic website of Lydia Kurnia. Check it out!

Thursday Thoughts

Recently, I received a rejection on a story that commented it opened slowly. I'm aware of this, but I disagree that it's a problem. With an intriguing setup and a strong narration - which I've been told by editors it has - I feel that a reader should be curious about rather than bored by a short (emphasis on short) pre-plot section. The section in question is less than two manuscript pages out of twenty-three, and the information is crucial to the action pretty quickly. It was longer; I had already moved some of it forward into the action.

Anyhow, upshot: I've considered it, I've reviewed it with a cold eye, and it's staying. I believe I can find a publisher who sees the balance sheet. I've also seen published stories that positively dither before westward ho ...

The past few days have been crazy-busy. I've had hardly any time to work on the Journal of the Dead edit ... and when I do, I can't tell if my sense that X scene or Y scene is redundant is good instinct or just the fact that I'm tired, darnit. For now, I'm not making any drastic cuts, but I do think overall, I've removed more than I've added. Which with the way I write (you all know it) is a good thing.

I did choose my next short story from my pile of exercises ... and furthermore, decided to move my setting into the Butterfly's Poison world (otherwise known as the world of the Seventeen Seas). I already have a story published in that setting ("Currents and Clockwork" in Sails & Sorcery), which (if I'm recalling right) is about ten-fifteen years after BP. This time I'm going about three years before and making my lawyer an expatriate Calathinyan. Unfortunately, this means skimming back through my BP world notes to make sure that I'm consistent, because if the novel gets picked up or anyone compares the stories OR I decide to write another ...

This actually seems to be an inadvertent theme in that world. I'm always writing about people who are exiled or fled their homelands ... some of them miss it, others - like the MC in Currents and Clockwork - are trying very hard not to be dragged back. I wonder what this signifies.

Putting in my notes to write a story actually set in the Shardath sometime. Can I make an Oligarch (as they exist in-setting) sympathetic without turning the individual PC? Hrm. This one is set in Ilkanae, an island of city-states I created to be my (ancient, sorta) Greece -- in the theocratic city state. And the dominant religion of the Seventeen Seas is monotheistic ... so should be an interesting blend of elements. Already got some great ideas, if I can keep it from being too longwinded ...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

When I'm Not Writing

Three random photos I put up today:

My drawing skills are just on the edge of acceptable. I've pondered doing character portraits for a project (I have a specific one in mind where my fear of an inaccurate drawing getting "stuck" as the character would be minimized) but ... not quite sure I'm there yet.

Firekeeper series - Jane Lindskold

I just finished reading book 2 of Jane Lindskold's Firekeeper series - Wolf's Head, Wolf's Heart. I enjoyed this even more than the first book. It built on the previous conflicts, introduced new characters and threads, and still felt like an authentic continuation. Firekeeper and Elise have particularly intriguing evolutions during the course of the novel, but a lot of the characters grow and change, even those who aren't the focus.

This is a great example of a novel that takes a fairly common fantasy setting and some familiar tropes - and does some awesome things with them. The setting is richly detailed, the characters are three-dimensional and well-illustrated (even the "villains"), and there are several surprises in the execution. I got really caught up in the risks to the characters in the latter part of the book.

Handled particularly well is Firekeeper's continued efforts to combine her wolf outlook with her human nature. I also thought the expansion into New Kelvin was skillful. It was very different from the two countries that took up the first book, but it didn't feel slapped on or non-sequitor. I even liked the way Elise's romantic subplot was handled: it's a refreshing change from the usual romance tropes - unrequited love, love-hate, comic misunderstanding, star-crossed lovers - that develops towards a mature outlook.

Certainly, there are aspects of the book that annoyed me. It's less prevalent in #2 than it was in #1, but augh! The heraldry! Trying to crush your brain into who is related to who, and how, and how that affects their social standing ... some of it is color and you can breeze over it, but some of it is pretty crucial to the story. It seems that understanding this kind of develops by osmosis - even if you're not following it, keep reading and it will gel. There is an appendix; I don't think I resorted to it.

I also sort of felt that the history between the Royal Beasts and the humans had kind of "been done" a few too many times, but it's certainly an archetype well supported by real history.

That said, I highly recommend this book. I think a reader will enjoy it more as a continuous thread from Through Wolf's Eyes, but it seemed to me it was well-designed to carry a new reader without making the previous readers feel bogged down. There's more skill right there.

And without having to read the back, I have a good inkling as to some of the directions the next book(s) is/are going ...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What's in a Name?

Enough to drive me bonkers.

Eons ago, I was involved in Pern fandom - basically, roleplaying / writing in that setting. Recently, I've experienced the desire to remove my characters from that context and re-cast them.

The problem? These characters are around - in some cases, over - a decade old. I have a very strong association with names fitting the character and the character fitting the name. So by now, most of these people are locked into their current name and it's very hard to make significant changes. Swapping a few letters will hurt my head enough.

Why do I need to change the names? For those unfamiliar, Pernese naming frequently deals with blending the names of the parents. Sometimes it's really obvious; sometimes it's just a letter jumble. To give some examples I won't have to worry about: Vecaria and Roran's son is Veoran; Nyzael and Larkani have a daughter, Nykani; and Cyderieh and Shalderin have a son named Sahaile.

In the latter two examples, I've fixed it by simply planning to change the names of the parents. They're not going to be appearing "on camera" anyway, or even if they do, I didn't really do much with them so they're not "locked in" like others. I've noticed that changing the parent names seems to be sufficient in most cases that I can leave the names of siblings and not have it look odd. My worst example is probably Daicara, Darave and Davenor ... and modern people give their children alliterative names, so hey.

But then there are those that don't budge and aren't easy to fudge. The worst examples:

Ravela, her sons Darave and Davenor, and the former's daughter Ranessa: All four of these characters saw play. The most attention went to Darave and his daughter; I think - emphasis on think - if I change Ravela, then the others come neatly apart and it's not too bad. Savela? Sarvela? The V kind of gives it the punch. Would it make sense to make Darave into Dirave, or does that change not help? Darave and Davenor are excusable because the backstory is that Ravela left her husband, but claims the latter is still his son.
Millysti, her son Kailyst, and his cousin Telystian: Complicated by the fact that Telystian's little sister is named after her aunt, so even though one Millysti was never on-screen, the other was. Kailyst is ... he's utterly non-negotiable. And I love Telystian's name. I don't even have ideas what I could possibly do with this one.
Brothers Andileran and Ryleran and cousin Toscileran: Enough said, I think. The -leran suffix, I could probably come up with some reason for using it, and I thought of making a vocational tag ... since they're all guards. Not sure if that's cheating, or if it still looks transparently like name-blending. Also compounded by the fact that I don't want to use this solution for the prior group, so it would be two separate fixes.
Toscileran's son Cellani: Cellani was active longer than his father, actually. And I love the name! It's cute. If the -leran is an occupational suffix, does that uncouple this name enough? Or is it detached already and I'm just too used to seeing it as a direct nomenclature descendant?

I just continue to contort myself over how much change is enough, at what point does it start looking unblended versus at what point does it stop being the same "feel" for the name? How far does it need to go?

This post is just here because I'm venting right now, not specifically hunting for solutions, but it may go onto writer forum(s) in the future.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Final Encounter

Just sold this story to Aoife's Kiss! It will be coming out in June of 2010.

This story was written from an old prompt. I was bored, so I went back cruising through challenge topics that were used in the past. This one was actually about "life after the adventure" -- but instead of having a retirement story (as it were), I created an archetypal confrontation with the evil overlord(ess) ... then had both characters walk away from it. Where they go from there is the story.

Aoife's Kiss has been good to me, people. Tyree Campbell is prompt, courteous and of course, having accepted multiple pieces of my work, has excellent taste. Give them a shout-out.

I may be back today: I have something to grouse about, but I also have to bake some cookies for the harpers' gathering later today. I really need to practice this music more; resolving to do so between now and the final pre-performance gathering. It's American music and such a departure from "just Celtic" and I don't know why I'm so unenthused. I also need to work on my solo, which is the theme from Jurassic Park, or part of it. (The "pretty bit" - you hear it particularly near the end when the pterasaurs are flying past the plane.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cleaning Out

While cleaning out my shelves and my desk drawer, I discovered some funny things, some bizarre things, and some cool things. Among them:

Ultima IV for the Apple II GS. All materials, including cloth map and vellum-bound spell guide. In the original box.

A copy of Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet" with ownership signatures from my aunt, my grandmother, and her mother.

A case for holding 3.5" diskettes. Yeah, that's useful.

A folder with sheets of cherry-picked fairy-tales photocopied out of various sources, including multiple Lang fairy books.

Two copies of the Poetic Edda. I think one is not mine.

The moisture sponge that is supposed to go into my harp during winter months. Oops.

A small collection of Spanish and English coins. (Hey, this coin has a hole in it!)

I apparently followed Renaissance magazine avidly for a while. I have something like twelve issues.

Also found my Marion Zimmer Bradley Fantasy magazines. Squee. I am so reading these.

I have that many Pratchett books? Since when? Grant that it's been a tradition that when I fly, I buy a Pratchett for the trip, but ... really?

For a form of fiction that's supposedly tough to sell, I have a massive anthology collection.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Versatile Visage

This poem - one of my infamous pantoums - was just accepted by Emerald Tales! Quite excited to see this one published ... and in print, even. Even better, publication date is October, so it shan't be long. (Actually, October is supposed to be a landmark month for me with things actually hitting the stands ...)

Thursday Thoughts

I decided to change my writing focus game plan. Currently, I'm making sure I edit/rewrite a page a day of Journal, then trying to finish a chapter of Scylla and Charybdis. After that, I'll need to do an editing pass on two separate stories. Then ... I've got to take a day or two and do a focus on Journal, as otherwise it will take forever to finish up.

Speaking of Scylla and Charybdis, I made the mistake of inserting a sideplot where the ship Anaea is traveling on - to reach Annwyn, where the plot resumes - is attacked by pirates, its weapons damaged, and the new character I mentioned last week is shanghaied into repairing them ... with Anaea helping out. Wow, I am in territory such that I am faking it so much I expect a phantasmal lady to lean over and say, "I'll have what she's having."

There are places where I'm trying to be vague because I can't possibly check my science on something this general, and I'm hoping this doesn't hurt the story. I may seek out a science-savvy reviewer to error-check these pages - just as I'm half-considering doing so for my use of Judaism. (I've actually got a potential reviewer already for that.) This whole sequence really exemplifies why trying to tackle science-fiction is a challenge for me.

I've finished the Scene of Doom in Journal. At one point, I was worried about the coincidence inherent in having an old friend of one of Rhiane's spirits show up ... but it works. It doesn't come off as, "Huh, that's handy," it comes off as another complication and throws a moral wrench in the works. There's no good answer here, ethically speaking, no easy choice.

Finished my F-W challenge story and promptly forgot to include the phrase that becomes the title. Of course. I'll get it in editing; I didn't feel like drilling into it right away. I'm not sure I have five different styles; for certain I have three, and I did try to use some deliberate stylistic choices for the less distinct sections, but I chickened out on making the last section really florid (which was my plan) because ultimately I wanted it readable. Again, something I can try and manhandle in editing.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Big Three Films

Of course, I admire The Lord of the Rings film trilogy for proving that fantasy films could be a viable commercial enterprise - and I'm still slavering over that Temeraire film we were promised: where IS it! - but for me, there are three films that embody fantasy in movie format. They're all older movies; I'd personally call all three of them classics. They are:

The Princess Bride: Let's start with the obvious one, shall we? I challenge you to find someone who doesn't love this movie, with its light-hearted but dramatic core, the wonderful humor, the quirky characters ... it's a lovely portrayal of a lot of traditional fantasy elements, princes, epic beauties, revenge quests, sword-fighting, pirates ... it's eminently quotable ("Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.") and has really saturated our culture (quote from Civilation IV advice menu: "Never start a landwar in Asia."). Even if us modern gals are irritated by Buttercup's ineffectual flailings in the fireswamp - what a great adventure.

WIllow: This is the movie George Lucas wanted to make. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. There really is an unconfirmed story, though, that Lucas had written the script to Willow first ... but current technology couldn't handle the shapeshifting effects for Fin Raziel (really amazing cutting-edge effects for when it was made, folks), and so he wrote Star Wars instead. Hence the similar elements ... but this is really an archetypal adventure story, of an unassuming man swept up in events larger than himself. As to the rest, Madmartigan is an amazing character. The brownies are probably the least annoying of Lucas' sidekick concoctions. And the quotes ... okay, they're not as mainstream. But come on ... "'I dwell in darkness without you,' and it went away?"

Ladyhawke: This is probably the most obscure of the three films. The box and promo text claims that this is based off a genuine Welsh legend. It isn't, but it's easy to see why such a statement would have endured even after the real author sued. Its flaw is that it's too perfect: the illustration of traditional Celtic myth is too complete, too precise, the story too well-rounded to be an organic rather than a composed thing. (I actually did an essay on this film, so uh - pardon the ranting there.) Again, it's a beautiful blend of timeless fantasy archetype with emotion and - yes - humor. This remains my enduring image of Matthew Broderick. Yes, to me, who cares about Ferris Bueller? Broderick will always be Phillipe the Mouse. "I expect to see you at the Pearly Gates, my son, don't you dare disappoint me!" "I'll be there, Father ... even if I have to pick the lock."

Monday, September 07, 2009

For Your Amusement

I just started removing the books from my shelves so I could add a new one - which happens to entail moving three of the existing bookcases even if I didn't desperately need to reorganize, so ... down they all come.

I haven't figured out my non-fic classifications yet, but I currently have separate piles for:

Fantasy, Light Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Mysteries, Light Mysteries, Historical Mysteries, Anthologies and (general) Fiction.

Will probably add a YA category as I still have a fair number of my "kid" reads.

This is going to take forever, yo. Especially as I'm also seriously considering breaking into the one bookcase I DON'T have to move. I mean, I'm already tearing things apart, might as well go all the way ...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Two Steps Back

Lately, I've been feeling as if my writing capability has taken a dive. The last few stories I've posted up for critique have been pretty well clawed - even when I was feeling good about them. I continue to be concerned about the fact that I confuse people when I ... almost never catch the source of confusion in my own edits. Sometimes, I think it's an issue of people don't read all that carefully. Other times, I have no idea how to train myself to edit for this.

And I've gotten a lot of rejections lately, even from markets that accepted my stories in the past. The one story that has been getting really high marks (though still rejections) ... I can't seem to sell. There's only a few higher-tier markets left, and I'm reluctant to ship it down because I know it's a bloody good piece of work.

I wonder if it's my process. Writing two pieces - a novel and a short - and editing another novel keeps me continually switching up. I'm wondering if I need to work in larger chunks, for instance do a little bit of the editing each day, then a chapter of the novel and the entirety (or at least, a larger piece) of a short.

Or maybe I'm trying to stretch too far. I've been challenging myself a lot lately, not even deliberately ... but a difficult idea latches on and I'm eager to dive in. Maybe I need to pull back and simplify.

Or maybe I'm just losing it. I don't know.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Lady in Gil

Sometimes, you read a book, and it far exceeds your expectations. Rebecca Bradley's "Lady In Gil" is one such book.

On the face of it, I expected a light, simple comedy. It's not an uncommon story: an unlikely hero is recruited when no better candidate is available, and bumbles his way in the general direction of success. But the tone of this particular novel - and its narrator - is immediately endearing, a very personal and engaging sense of humor. More than that, the book is somewhat miscast by its cover blurb: it's humorous, true, but it's also dark, grim, with gritty and uncompromising descriptions of what the conquered people are suffering. This a tough balance, and excellently struck.

The romance story in this novel is beautiful. It's by turns predictable and unexpected, familiar and heart-wrenching. You can see the mistakes the narrator is mistaking and want to hit him over the head, without quite getting disgusted - which again, for me, is quite a balancing act, because I'm jaded with the familiar romantic subplots.

Overall, the plotline shines. There are some aspects you see coming - you know they have to be there - and then there are bends that go in a completely different direction. There are few black and whites in the story: every character falters, every noble character has a flaw; every situation is imperfect, every solution a little painful.

Anyhow - yes. Loved it. This is going on my Recommended Reads as soon as I figure out a shorter desc.

Thursday Thoughts

My mindset with fiction lately seems to be to take a lot more risks and experiment with things - not so much out of my comfort zone as stretching my technical and story-telling ability.

Case in point: for the September fantasy-writers challenge - which is tough enough, the topic being "someone who is guilty and innocent of the same act" - I've added three personal challenges for myself.

I wanted to do a "Vantage Point"-esque story where the same scene is replayed from multiple perspectives, adding details and advancing the story sideways rather than linearly. I wanted to use names that were titles / epithets, because this something that I don't really do and is sort of out of my comfort zone. And ... I decided I wanted each of the five scenes planned to be in a different style. (I'm a bit concerned, actually, because I started with fluid and poetic, and I don't want to lose readers! Scene two is going to drop into more of a light-touch comic style.)

After I got done planning all this, I was worried that my guilt/innocence wasn't pronounced enough, so I decided to add hints of that aspect to every character/scene.

Shortly after last week's entry, I finished "Reclamation" by Sarah Zettel. I bring this up because the novel contains a lot of the elements I was concerned about "getting away with" in science fiction. There's a strong spiritual component and lengthy flavor descriptions. It works; it works beautifully. I still have the concern with Scylla and Charybdis that I'm not maintaining tension as well, but I'm not so gnawy about the fact that there's a lot of world exploration and a sprinkling of near-mysticism.

With my Journal rewrite, I've just reached the beginning of what I think is the longest scene in the book. It's where Rhiane encounters the criminal seeking sanctuary in the Dry Temple and finds out he's the old friend of one of her spirits. There's a lot going on in this scene: the recognition, reconciliation, explanation, some unpleasant new facts and a bargain - to which her bodyguard strenuously objects. It's really too long to be an in-story written scene ... but as it is, I keep dithering over the likelihood of her being able to write the romance entries without her mental inhabitants noticing. There's just some things that have to be gimmes in the journal form.