A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Friday, October 30, 2015

Moving on.....to a new blogging platform

Okay, so I know I've had this blog for 5 years. But I'm wanting to do more and Blogger just isn't going to provide what I want since I can't purchase a domain from it. I've switched to WordPress with the intent on setting up my own domain name. If you want to follow me over there, just follow the link I've included. Thank you so much for your support and please join me on WordPress.

Writing in the Woods on WordPress

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

World building Wednesday - The Kimrayans

This week I thought we'd start my word building with discussing one of the races in my world: the Kimrayans. The Kimrayans are a nomadic race that would be similar to elves. They have the pointed ears and almond shaped eyes. They're tall with black hair and eyes that range from green to blue. Any other color is extremely rare, and is generally a result of a relationship with someone out of the tribes. Their skin is a light olive and they are incredibly graceful.

Kimrayans are nomadic tribes that populate the plains between Erondahl and the Great Waste. They are attuned to the world around them, and take special care with their home so as not to deplete it or destroy it. They venerate their elders and often there are squabbles over who can get grandma and grandpa to move in with them, as it is a sign of honor to take care of them.

Children are regarded as treasures and are guarded well by the adults. Misfortune can and does strike as the Kimrayans do live in a wild area. When a child dies, the whole tribe is in mourning and shows it. When an adult dies, only the family and close friends show they're mourning, though the death does affect the clan as a whole.

The Kimrayans have a sort of alliance with the Sindlans, the people who live to the south and east of them. They exchange goods and occasionally you'll get one or more of them into intimate relations with each other. The children born of those situations are raised by the Kimrayans as they aren't welcome in Sindla.

Kimrayans aren't particularly war like, but they do know how to fight. Life is not easy on the plains and there is always danger. There are wild beasts and people who would seek to take what the Kimrayans hold.

The two main characters in The Last Lifedancer are tied in with the Kimrayans. They are part of their tribe. They, like Kimrayans, are honorable and believe that the family is the most sacred thing there is.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Monday Recipe - Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

As I said last week, one Monday a month is going to be a recipe day. So today I'm sharing with you my favorite chocolate chip recipe. The cookies are nice and chewy, though I always make them bigger than they suggest.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

1 ¼ c granulated sugar
1 ¼ c packed brown sugar
1 ½ c butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
4 ¼ c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1-2 bags semisweet chocolate chips (2-4 cups)

Heat oven to 375 F (190 C). In large bowl with electric mixer, beat both sugars and butter until ight and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and eggs until well blended. Beat in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips.

On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart. (This is where I go a little bigger.) Bake 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

I have a convection oven, so I only need to bake them for 8 minutes. If you don't have a convection oven, you may have to bake them for the full 10 minutes.

Next month I'll have another recipe for you. Have fun with this one. I hope you enjoy the cookies as much as we do.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fiction Friday: Celeste doesn't like being robbed

Only recently freed from the streets and back in possession of a fortune that was stolen from her, Celeste Long has finally found a place she can call home after the brutal double murders of her parents. She's finding that life off the streets can be just as dangerous, especially if you're not entirely human and don't know it.

As she pulled up she noticed something odd. The sense of peace around the house was gone. Instead there was something else. It was almost as if the house was frightened. She grabbed her purse and got up to the front door. The lock was broken and the door was open.
Celeste heard voices inside. Ignoring her better sense, and feeling something strange growing at the back of her mind, she pushed the door open. Two men were in her living room. They were carrying her computer and her laptop.
One of the men saw her. “Looks like you came home too soon, bitch.” He pulled out a gun and shot her.
Celeste took a step back. She looked up, a silver glow coming into her eyes. “You just made a big mistake.” Her voice had a quality that almost sounded like it was echoing. The bullet wound began to close and the bullet popped out and clattered onto the ground.
Pain like fire across her back almost knocked her off her feet. Something tore and suddenly a pair of black wings spread out from her back. “What the hell?” The man with the gun fired a few more times.
The bullets passed through Celeste, leaving behind no wounds. “This is my home. I will not let it be fouled by the likes of you. Put down what you're carrying and leave, before I show you what I can really do.”

The second man dropped the laptop and started for the door. The first one grabbed his arm. “What are you doing? Shoot the freak.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The universe as set up for Fury

Okay, so I did say I was going to put something up from my work on my NaNo novel. I have to say I'm not quite ready to do that, so I thought I'd introduce you to another story I've just finished my first pass edits/revisions on. That is my story I've given the working title of Fury.

Fury is set in the future. It deals with a conflict between a group of central worlds and the colonies that separated from them. The reason for the split was because those who chose the colonies wanted less tech in their lives. The central worlds are a tech heavy bunch of planets where nature has taken a backseat to tech that is slowly destroying the central worlds.

The colonies are low tech, as much as they can be at least. There are some mid level tech things, but nothing like you'd find in the central worlds. The colonies are generally focused on what the planet can produce without destroying the planet for the most part. There are a few worlds that have a harder time maintaining the healthy atmospheres the rest of the colonies do.

The colonies and the central worlds are always in some sort of conflict, whether it's because of trade embargoes, open hostilities, or just trying to make the colonists – called colonials by the central worlds as a derogatory term – very uncomfortable in the central worlds so they retreat back to their home planets. There are no FTL drives so everything takes time to get to. It can be very uncomfortable for colonists to travel because the Port Authority tends not to sell first class tickets to colonists on return trips from the core.

I chose this setting because of the fact that I love the concept of a small universe that is conflicted. I also used a slightly familiar political construct that should be recognizable to anyone who knows a little bit about history. I wanted to show the disparity between the way the central worlds and their Assembly act and the colonies and their semi-ruling body the Eleven and how they work.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Blogging and me

So, on Saturday night I was looking over my blog. I happened to glance down in the right hand corner where it lists the years and the number of blog posts I've done. FYI, as of August of this year I'm up to 5 years blogging. I was surprised to see that last year I posted the most while this year I've barely posted 30 posts (this week's will take me up to 33). I was curious as to what changed so I looked over some of my 2014 posts.

I came to realize I loved blogging last year, but for some reason this year has sucked that love out of me. I don't think it's the blog itself. I think it's the fact that for a while I was completely lost in who I wasn't rather than thinking about who I am. My depression (the self-induced kind, not the stuff that comes with being bipolar) really got to me. No, I wasn't suicidal or anything like that. I was just in a general funk that has lasted for months.

I realize back in September I talked about lacking energy or a desire to blog. And that's very true. I was discouraged. But I was also in a situation that was stressing me out beyond belief and I just didn't need something else added to the plate. So I stopped writing blog posts.

I can honestly say that I'm glad I'm back to blogging. Don't get me wrong, it's still hard to come up with topics. I'm developing a blogging schedule so I know what to write on each day. Friday is still going to be for fiction. Wednesday is whatever writing stuff I feel like posting. Monday, now Monday is the kicker. I still have no idea what to do for Monday.

I figure once a month I might do a recipe day where I share some of my favorites from the month before. I love sharing my working experiments with all of you, even if I don't get too many people interested in them.

But that's once a month. What about the other 3 (or 4) Mondays in the month? I'm still working on that. Next Monday, I think, will be the recipes. I'll work something out for the rest. If anyone has any suggestions for what I can do on Monday, please let me know. I'm always up for a challenge.

(By the way, if you can't tell, I love parenthesis.)

Oh, and on a more positive note...here's a fuzzy kitten to brighten your Monday.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Fiction: Mama's Angels

A mother's love for her children is a sacred trust. When that trust is broken, things can go horribly wrong.

 Small feet pattered across the cracked tile floor. Two figures in flowing white nightgowns crept along, stifling giggles as they slipped along towards the spiraling staircase leading to the rest of the house. A tiny bell chimed discordantly from the hall. They paused just at the top of the stairs.
The only light below came from the moon shining through the broken windows. She sat on a worn settee and stared out at the encroaching rose bushes. Thorns as long as her hand gleamed in the silver light, looking like strange and twisted daggers.
She knew the children were there. The giggling was unmistakable. She didn't look up, though. She closed her eyes and prayed for sleep to come. It didn't. It never did. Not since that day. She fingered the pendant around her neck and cursed her husband. Her imprecations didn't matter. He was dead, buried and turned to dust.
The children giggled again. She sighed. “Back to bed with you,” she called.
“Why mama?” The voice was of her beautiful Light. “We want to stay up and watch the moon too.”
“Don't you love us, mama?” That was Gale. His piping voice was as easy to recognize as that of his sister.
“You know I love you,” she said, rising from the settee. Agony ripped through her heart as she turned to stare into the faces of her children. She walked towards the stairs with slow, heavy steps. Her tangled hair brushed against her back and the tattered remnants of her nightgown stirred up dust on the broken tile.
“Mama, tell us a story,” Light begged. Her smile was bright. “Tell us the story.”
The woman stopped, swaying a little on her feet. That wasn't a request she'd heard for a long time. She halfway hoped to never hear it again. “The story?” she asked.
“Yes! Yes!” Gale shouted, jumping up and down. He looked like a little boy pleading for his favorite treat.
She bowed her head. “Come down here and join me then,” she whispered. She returned to her seat. The children scampered down and climbed into her lap. Their little bodies were cold and hard as they squirmed around in her lap. They settled into comfortable positions and waited.
“Tell us, mama,” Light demanded.
“Once upon a time, there was a little family that lived together in a grand mansion,” the woman began. “To everyone else, they appeared happy and loving. The parents seemed to dote on the two little angels they'd been given to raise. But the mother wasn't pleased with them. To her, they damaged her beauty and limited the amount of pleasure she could take in life because of her vanity.” A tear slid down one cheek. “Her husband was a kind man who couldn't understand why his wife didn't love the angels as much as he did.”
“What happened next, mama?” Gale asked when she paused.
“One night the woman was sitting by the window dreaming and singing to herself. She was admiring a new necklace in her small hand mirror. The angels came downstairs, frightened by bad dreams. The woman, angry with the interruption, scolded them instead of offering them comfort. The children ran back up to their room.” Her hands trembled and the words choked her.
“Go on, mama,” Light said. Her eyes flickered a restless crimson.
“One of the angels knocked over the candle used to guard against the night,” the woman said. “Their mother ignored their screams until it was too late. All of the upper part of the house was aflame and the angers were dead. She was blamed at first but her grief made most people believe her when she said it was an accident. Her husband never forgave her and she was cursed.”
“How was she cursed, mama?” Gale asked.
“She was forced to live in the house that was where she'd been happiest, and was the place of her greatest sorrow,” she said. “There she lives to this day. She is unable to die and unable to forget. She watches as the world she knew leaves her behind.”
“What else?” Light demanded.
“She is haunted by her angels, who have become demons to punish her for her crime,” she said in a barely audible voice.
Light laughed. “We're going to be together forever and ever, aren't we?” She wrapped her bony arms around the woman's neck and hugged her.
“Yes, Light. We'll be together forever and ever.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A small blurb about what I'm going to do on Wednesdays in October

So, this is just a short little post. I have NaNoWriMo coming up, and I plan on diving in as I usually do. I think I've even picked out the story I want to write. So I'm going to be posting bits and pieces of world building and character building on the blog on Wednesdays just to show you a small glimpse into the mind of a very weird writer. That will take care of the rest of October. There will be something new in November, though I'm not sure what that is right now. So, see you on Friday for another Friday Fiction!

Monday, October 12, 2015

My weekend adventure with technology (aka I built a thing)

So, on Saturday morning a calamity struck my little corner of existence: my laptop died. I don't mean the “oh it just needs to be plugged in longer” death. No, I mean that even though it was plugged in the battery wouldn't hold a charge. It went from 73% to 42% to 3% in a matter of twenty minutes. Nothing I did stopped this inexorable decline. And since my laptop no longer runs if the battery isn't in it (or dies), it was pretty much pointless to keep trying to make it work. Monstrosity is five years old, so she outlived her projected life by at least a year.

As you can imagine, this left me feeling a little panicky. My laptop was my life. It held all my writing, it was my only way to talk to friends and family, and it was my main source of entertainment. I was really stressing because, well, computers aren't cheap and I didn't have the money to get a new one.

I asked a few people for some help and was given $400 to get a new computer. That didn't sound too bad to me, since I already had the monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Keyboard and mouse were bought when the keyboard on my laptop started failing. The monitor came with us when we moved.

So, my husband and two of our roommates headed into a larger town than we live in now and went to the electronics store. It was huge. We were there for over an hour and we still hadn't seen everything by the time we all hurt enough that we needed to get out of there. We plan a return trip at some point in the near future.

Leaving our roommates to wander on their own, Himself and I wandered over to the computer section. We were greeted by the absolute worst salesman that I've had the displeasure of meeting. He asked us if we needed something specific. We said we were just looking. He proceeded to hover over us and when we did ask him a question he didn't know the answer. So we left him there and headed elsewhere in the building.

Himself and one of our other roommates suggested I try my hand at building a computer. I was terrified. I mean, I know how to turn it on, turn it off, and run various pieces of software. I never even gave a thought to learning the hardware side of it. But we priced out the parts and it proved that it would be within my budget to do it. So with their help I picked out a case, a motherboard, a power source, and a CPU. One of our roommates was upgrading his video card, so since it was still a good one I got his used one.

So, after we got home, the roommate upgrading his computer and I headed out to the shop where there was more space to work. As we got started, I realized I had no clue what to do. I managed to get the motherboard in but that was where I stalled out. I didn't know where to plug stuff in. So our other roommate came out to check on us. With his help, we got my computer built. He ended up putting the CPU in because of how fragile it is, and he got one of the little connections I couldn't quite get set in for me too.

Once it was done, I brought it inside and set it up on the table we're using as a shared desk. I plugged it in and turned it on. Or at least I tried to. It sat there, not doing anything. By that point I was frustrated and upset that it wasn't working. Since it was late Himself suggested I go to bed and work on it in the morning. Since it was late I agreed with him.

This morning it still didn't turn on so I was struggling with it. I looked to see if anything was unplugged inside and there weren't any signs of loose cables. So I put it back up on the desk. Himself came in and flipped the switch in the back. When I poked the button again my computer booted right up. I remembered hitting the switch last night, thinking it was in the off position. I guess it was in the on position.

Once I got the computer up and running, I grabbed our Windows 7 disk. I popped it in the DVD drive and…..nothing happened. It wouldn't run. So Himself got in and pulled the hard drive out, fixed the issue with the DVD drive and plugged the hard drive back in. Then it worked. I got Windows 7 installed. If you've ever done a fresh install of Windows 7 (or any of the Windows incarnations), you know how long that process is. I got Windows loaded up.

Then I needed to get it hooked up to the internet. Since I don't have a wi fi card, we plugged me in hard line into the router. Behemoth, as I've named my new toy, wasn't registering the ethernet port. So I tried putting in the drivers using a USB stick. Behemoth didn't register the USB ports either. The roommate who gave me his video card came in and asked me if there was a disk with my new motherboard. If there was, it would have everything I needed. I'd seen the disk but hadn't thought much about it. I went out to the area where I'd put the box I'd put all the manuals in and opened it up. Sure enough, there was the desk.

So that got put into the computer and lo and behold, I had a functional computer with an internet connection. But since I wanted Windows 10, I went ahead and upgraded to that. When that finally finished (and it was a long wait), I had to install all of the programs that I use. That was easier, though it was still time consuming.

Now I have a working computer. It's an interesting situation being on a regular desktop rather than a laptop. I've been on a laptop for the better part of five years. But it's nice too. I got a 1 TB hard drive this time, which means I can put a whole lot more than I already have on there. Who knows what I'll use the space for, but I'm sure I'll find something.

I still need to transfer the stuff from my old hard drive to the new one. I was loaned a little doohickey to do it with. I'm going to ask for help with it since I have no clue what it's supposed to do. I was upset when I thought I'd lost my work over the last few days since, like a moron, I didn't back it up to Box or Google Drive. Then I remembered what Himself has had me doing. I e-mail him status reports, including copies of what I've worked on. I was able to retrieve my most recent edits, which made me happy.

So, I have a new toy that I can upgrade as I need and not have to buy a complete new device unless I want to. I can just switch out parts. That is also a relief. Computers are expensive. But that's my adventure over the weekend. It was not something I want to repeat any time soon, but I learned a lot about computers so it's all good.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Fiction: A calm night in Lacey's bar

Lacey's is a little hole in the wall place with an eclectic history, much like its owners - a strange, non-human woman named Aya and her werewolf business partner who simply calls himself Junior. With their rather unique staff, they deal with both the human and the supernatural residents of their town. Sometimes the worlds intersect in interesting - and occasionally violent - ways, though Aya does her best to keep the violence down to a minimum.

Lacey's was quiet, not an unusual occurrence for a Wednesday night. Aya surveyed her kingdom with the air of a benevolent ruler, smiling at the few regulars who hunched over drinks at the bar. There was a faint buzz of voices in her ear piece but as there weren't many people it was more the chatter of the collection of friends she had working for her than anything else. She nodded to Junior, her business partner and head bouncer. He grinned back.
Lacey's was a little, out of the way bar that had been many things since it's inaugural opening in 1921. A speakeasy, a dance hall, a billiards parlor, a restaurant, and now back to its original state of a bar. The only thing that stayed the same about the place were the stained glass windows. Rumor had it they'd been shot out by police during the Prohibition, but the owners just paid to get them replaced.
She glanced over at the two pool tables she had set up in the back. The usual crowd wasn't there yet, so they sat unused and silent. The dart players were there, laughing at each other when they missed the target. They weren't drunk yet so she didn't need one of her three bouncers chase them off.
She went back into her office and sat down behind the desk. The time sheets were already loaded into the computer. She started converting them from tiny bits of data into the hard copy paychecks she'd be handing out on Thursday.
“Hey boss, we've got two nuisances coming in,” Junior said. Though he was the co-owner of Lacey's, he preferred to act like he was just an employee.
“Who?” Aya asked.
“That reporter and a werewolf,” Junior said. “He's already pulling that attempt at alpha male shit at me.”
“Brendon told them to quit that,” Aya said.
“I don't think it's one of the pack,” Junior said. “He doesn't smell right and I don't recognize him.”
“Great, a stray,” Aya said. She pinched the bridge of her nose. “Which one's more important?”
“The reporter. He's got a camera.” Junior's voice held a hint of a growl. “He's pointing it at Randy, who conveniently had to run into the back. Everyone else is hightailing it too. Coop, Alex, and I are the only ones left.”
“I'm on my way,” Aya said. She got up and walked out into the main area.
“Ms. Winters,” the reporter said, holding his camera in one hand. He extended the other. “I'm so glad to see you. I really think we could do a great piece on this place, with it's history and all. If you and your staff would stand for pictures, we'd show what a great little family you've got here.”
Aya snorted. Family was a good term for the ragtag bundle of misfits that worked for her. She stared at the reporter's hand until he dropped it. “Mr. Kelley, I've told you politely several times what my opinion on doing a piece on Lacey's is. Let me be more blunt this time. No, you're not going to get our pictures. No, I refuse to give you access to our records. No, I do not want an article published anywhere on our establishment. If you even so much as try, I'll have a lawyer up your ass so fast you'll need an enema to get him out.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A short post on autumn

October is here. It contains so many wonderful things: Halloween. Fall colors. Cool weather. Spiced apple cider. Pumpkin pie (and pumpkin cheesecake.) My 13th wedding anniversary.

October is the first full month of autumn in the year. September is still winding down from the heat of summer. But October...October brings with it a fuller effect of autumn. Leaves that were just barely thinking of turning colors in September begin to change with a much stronger force. Nights bring frost (in my neck of the woods, at least). Days bring cool but sunny days.

Autumn, for me, is one of my favorite seasons in the year. When I still lived in southern Idaho, spring and fall were my favorite seasons because the weather was blissfully cool compared to the scorching summers. Here on the Oregon coast, we haven't seen the kind of heat I'm used to seeing in the summer. But the cooler days and seeing the frost on windshields when I get up in the morning is still as wonderful as it always has been.

Autumn also brings harvest time for many plants. We're still getting peppers, both sweet and hot. Our tomatoes quit producing a while ago. But we still have artichokes growing, and we're getting more than I thought we would from a small handful of plants. We got some peas and green beans from our plants over the last couple months. We even got a few tiny onions and some nice carrots. The farm my husband and his partners started is beginning to, pardon the pun, bear fruit for us.

I'm loving Oregon and the lovely weather here. Autumn is getting under way and it's reflected in everything around me. I love seeing the world shift and change as the seasons turn. Each season brings with it something new. Each season tells a different story. For me, the stories of spring and autumn are my favorite. Their tales are woven with sights, scents, and sounds that evoke good memories for me.

What is your favorite season? What reminds you most of it?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Romance, tragic back stories, and overpowered characters in fantasy and science fiction

So, over the weekend in one of the groups I'm part of on Facebook someone posted the blurb they wrote for their fantasy novel. It was an interesting blurb and made me want to read the book. The very first comment made on the post irritated me though. The person who commented said that she found the concept interesting but she “thought there would be a romantic interest for the MC”. I didn't follow the thread so I don't know what the end result of that comment was, but it brought up a point that made me think.

I write fantasy and sci fi. Yes, I do often put romantic points in my stories. But there are some that I've written/am planning on writing that don't have romantic ties. They have deep friendships, but nothing that lands them in bed with each other or mooncalfing over each other like lovesick teenagers.

One of my current projects, my cyberpunk story I've given a temporary title of Hackers, has three main characters – two male, one female. Guess what? None of them end up in a romantic relationship with each other. In fact, none of them have romantic relationships with anyone. It's not necessary for the story.

I see this most often when dealing with strong female characters. So many authors think they need some kind of partner - male or female - to make them better. A lot of the time these strong female characters end up blubbering idiots around their significant others and are forced eventually to rely on their romantic partners to save them.

I'm not saying that there shouldn't be romantic interests in the story. What I'm saying is if they aren't integral to the story line, leave them out. Also, take a chance and plot around them to see if they can be replaced by other relationships. If they can, give that a try. You might be surprised by how interesting those stories become when you're not putting romance in them.

Speaking of relationships, let's talk for a moment about the family situations of characters in the fantasy and sci fi genres. Specifically the fact that many authors seem to think that the best characters come from backgrounds with some kind of tragedy in them. The death of a parent (or both parents), abuse at the hands of someone (a family member or a spouse), being the target of bullies, being loners because they're too strange to make friends, etc. I see a lot of these things in both fantasy and sci fi.

I've read some interesting stories recently where the characters had perfectly healthy personal lives, albeit with some unusual circumstances they were dealing with. They had parents they could talk to, sometimes siblings that were around to provide support, and in some cases spouses and children who gave a sense of normalcy in the chaos that was their lives. Sure, these relationships also offered some good points of tension when a family member or friends were threatened. But that's part of what made the stories so interesting. There was a very real sense of urgency in these scenes because of the kind of decisions that had to be made.

Tragic pasts can lead to characters making stupid mistakes, trusting the wrong people, and create more problems for the protagonists as they go along in the story. Then again, so can having healthy and normal relationships with family and friends. People don't need bad things happening to them to make mistakes. I've made plenty in my life without needing any kind of help.

Now, don't get me wrong. I write tragic backgrounds too. I think it's something every fantasy or sci fi author plays with at some point in their career. I'm looking for ways to get beyond that, to provide interesting characterization without relying on tragedy. Sometimes it doesn't work out that way. Sometimes, to explain something that's integral to the story, you need a little pain in the past (or present). But it doesn't need to be the only thing you use.

I think the trend in fantasy and sci fi – which is thankfully fading – is making characters seem larger than life by making them less than “human”. And I don't mean the characters that aren't human beings in this. Even aliens and elves can be made sympathetic by giving them traits that we can identify with. But I've seen a lot of books where the poor protagonist is given so much to deal with that they're overwhelmed. But they're not allowed to be overwhelmed. They're given outs like special powers that suddenly appear with no other reason than they're necessary to get out of a situation. Or some kind of guardian angel (or something of a similar nature) appears to rescue them because it's hopeless and they're never going to be able to get out of it on their own. Or...or...or… I could go on with examples.

What I look for when I'm choosing a fantasy or sci fi book is real people. Characters that I can connect to on a personal level. I want to believe these people are real. I want to care about who they are and what their lives are like. I want to imagine what their life will be like when the book/series is over. I've put books down halfway through because I stopped caring about the protagonists. I've stopped reading several series because things got too over the top with special powers and allies popping up where there shouldn't be any just because the author didn't want to go to the trouble of letting their protagonists find solutions on their own.

That's not to say that if a character gets into a situation they can't handle that there can't be someone to help. But try to keep the random encounters for that to a minimum. There are probably a plethora of people around that could prove to be useful. Use them instead of inserting someone new for every problem.

Tropes are there because people love them. I get this. But people are beginning to want to wander away from the usual suspects. If they're there, they want something fresh and exciting. So readers and writers need to try expanding their horizons and venturing down a path that's new to them. And yes, I do include myself in this need to expand horizons too.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Fiction: Lady Raven

I started this story some time ago based on a dream I had. It's grown since then. It's based in Aleran, though on a different continent than my main story lines.

Ravensha was recognized by Sky-Lord Sharn as his progeny, something which threw the aeries into confusion as it has been centuries since a Sky-Lord acknowledged a female child. A stranger has come into the aeries and spun tales to ensnare the mind of the Sky-Lord. Ravensha has been chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Here she has just discovered her fate.

 “Ersa, there is an aerie that has long been abandoned on the far eastern edge of our territory,” Sharn said, turning to his mate. “You will have no trouble finding it. It is marked by boundary stones of red and white. Take Ravensha there and leave her. Choose from among those women you trust and send them to tend to her. They are to make certain she has no visitors, that she attends to her studies, and above all that she does not escape.”
“I don't understand this, Sky-Lord,” Ersa said. “I also don't like it. We have never trusted any of the humans before this. Why should we trust the Beast Lords now?”
“Do not question my will if you wish to continue your favored position, Ersa,” Sharn said.
“I will do as you say, Sky-Lord,” Ersa said. “Though I do not agree.”
“Agree or not, that is your decision,” Sharn said. “So long as you obey your orders, I do not care if you agree.” He spread his wings and left the aerie.
“Mama, the red eyes,” Ravensha said, staring up at her mother.
“What?” Ersa asked sharply.
“The man, the one the Sky-Lord called Maegren,” Ravensha said. “He had the red eyes like I saw in my dream.”
“You said the red eyes meant trouble for us,” Ersa said. Ravensha nodded. “Well, there is nothing we can do about it now. Come here, little one. I'll take you to your new aerie.”
“Yes, mama,” Ravensha said. “Will Usha and Fylan be coming to see me?”
Ersa picked her up and cast the featherweight spell again. “No. The Beast Lord says you're to be kept isolated. The Sky-Lord must be obeyed, no matter how I personally feel on the matter. I'll have Balna and a few of the others come stay with you.”
Balna was the older female who sometimes took care of Ravensha and Usha in Ersa's aerie, instead of leaving them in the rookery. Ravensha knew her well. She had some difficulty flying because she'd lost an eye fighting with the Lowlanders a few years earlier, but her mind was as sharp as ever. “Why can't Usha come too? She's not a male.”
“Usha needs to stay with the other fledglings in the rookery,” Ersa said. “She must learn how to survive, as you have. I know you try to protect her, but that will have to stop.” She carried Ravensha along, catching the wind in only the way a skilled Aeryon could. “Now be silent. I have to find these markers the Sky-Lord set up.”
They flew along the face of the Windsheer Cliffs for nearly half an hour before coming to the white rock the Sky-Lord had spoken of. The red stone was also visible, and Ersa angled herself towards the ledge between them. “Here?” Ravensha asked after her mother had landed.
“This will be your aerie now,” Ersa confirmed. She looked around. “At least he had the sense to furnish it well. You will be very comfortable here, I think.” She set Ravensha down. “I see he has included several books and scrolls. I'll instruct Balna to make sure you can read all of them. It will give you something to do. Perhaps I'll see if we can teach you to weave or sew or something useful. You'll have a lot of time on your hands so we'd best find something to keep you busy.” Ersa ruffled her daughter's hair before diving off the ledge. Ravensha ran to the edge and watched as her mother winged away.

Ravensha turned and faced her new home. She explored the side chambers, finding the privy, the bathing area, and a dark room where a sleeping pad had been placed. Ravensha came back out into the main room. She dropped down onto a pile of cushions and wrapped her wings around her. Tears trickled down her cheeks as she thought of her brother and sister. This place, this cold and empty place, was not a safe aerie. It wasn't a place of warmth and comfort, as aeries were supposed to be. It was a lonely prison, one that deprived Ravensha of all that she loved. She cried herself into a kind of stupor, and waited for those who were supposed to attend to her to arrive.