24 December 2020

Notes from Exile: Of Crooked Christmas Trees and other Leaning Towers

The Dunne Family Christmas Tree
Well, normally I would say it's almost that time, almost Christmas Day, etc. But not this year. This year, it feels like Thursday. I'm not planning how to get food two hours down the road to Atlanta for Christmas Lunch with my sister and her family. I'm not anticipating spending time with my American niece. We aren't waking up in Northumberland with Simon's parents. We just are.

I admire others that have been able to find ways around the general malaise that 2020 has spread. Especially those of you with children who have gone the extra mile to keep the magic in this holiday season when we have ditched the sugar plums in favor of vaccines and masks dancing through our visions.

Our Christmas tree has a permanent lean, as you can see in the photo. We don't have normal ceilings in this house, so we have to get a smaller tree than I'd like - but it is still too far from the outlet for me to feel comfortable plugging in the star at the top. It leans, as though it is trying to reach that outlet, and I'm reminded how we are all leaning this year. Leaning forward into the future with a vaccine and a return to in-person life. Leaning back into those moments we wish could have lasted, with family and friends that for whatever reason aren't here. Leaning into the "new normal," or leaning back into "the before time." 

We are all like leaning towers, and the key is not to lean so far that you fall. I remember a Christmas evening spent with one of my favorite people and his family, where the tree was crooked and we spent a great deal of time tying it into place with twine. There was a lot of clapping of hands and slapping of backs as the tree stood straight and tall...until something that I did to loosen the twine caused it to fall...on my friend's dad. He caught it, and while I don't remember what he said, I remember his booming laugh as he straightened it up and tied it again - and told me not to touch it.

That laugh is braided into the twine that holds me up this Christmas, along with my dad's decorations and my brother in law inexplicably under the Christmas tree at my parents' house in north Georgia. I'm remembering the ding that the MARTA train makes at every stop, and how my college friends and I raised our hands every time we heard it on the way to see the big tree in Atlanta - the start of the  Christmas season when I was younger. I think of my Daisy Mei Mei wearing the tree skirt like a 1950s salon cape and how every dog that is new to the Dunne family at Christmas has a picture in that same skirt.

I remember the Leeds German Market at Christmas and the sparkling lights in The Vue where we would grab a cheeky Nandos before seeing a movie. I remember Christmas Eve Mass at the church my inlaws attend in Seahouses. I can hear my mom saying, "Well, Merry Christmas!" on the phone when we lived 5,000 miles away. All of these memories and more hold me up this Pandemic Christmas as well as hold the promise of next year and our triumphant return to parades and late nights out, to massive meals with family and opening presents, to us. To normal. 

But for now, I will hang on to my crooked tree and my little family here in my house, safe and warm and healthy, and I will be thankful. Merry Christmas.

14 December 2020

New Year, New Novel Series

Coming next year: A new series set in the world of Orana: Guardians of Orana. The origin stories of the characters from the Nature Walker Trilogy and the Tales of the Forest War intertwined with the ongoing story of Orana, due out in the autumn of 2021. 

Watch this space, and visit nancyedunne.com for preordering information.

11 December 2020

Notes from Exile: End of a Weird Nano/Semester/Year/etc.

Well, that's that.
Well, that happened.

It happened a week ago, and I don't really have anything to say about it other than I am clearly NOT a horror writer and should stick to what I know, which is character-driven, has paranormal elements, and possibly includes some romance. 

I don't know what Legacy is going to become, but I haven't completely thrown it in the dumpster fire that has been 2020.

So here we are, in the last month of one of the weirdest years on record. I'm sure that the survivors of the Spanish Flu felt a similar sense of relief/trauma/fear mixed with a healthy dose of What the Hell was THAT? I'm also battling a lot of apathy, if I'm honest, about everything in my life, and I know I'm not alone in that.

My semester at the DayJob™ ended this past Friday and the students are in exam week now. They all went home at Thanksgiving and everything was online afterward, a decision that I think was very well reasoned. I mean, until we have a vaccine for this thing for a few months, I think that online everything is the way to go, but no one asked me. 

The end of the semester also signals the end of the calendar year, and as it always seems now that I work in academia, suddenly there is a flurry of things to do for Christmas/New Year. Only there isn't. I had so hoped that we would be going to the UK for Christmas this year. We were supposed to go in August for my father-in-law's 80th birthday but that didn't happen either.

Christmas hasn't been the same, if I'm honest, since we lost my father in April of 2018. Thanksgiving is hard now, without my mother, but Christmas was always my dad's holiday. The man was not cheap in his decoration of their house - garlands hung from every low hanging light fixture and there were wreaths with big red bows on every window. They had stockings on the mantel with a tangle of garland and plastic reindeer/Santa above it. Candles were in the windows that burned all night every night. Once he was no longer able to do these things, some of the sparkle went out of Christmas for me. 

I haven't found it since. Being unable to travel, unable to even go out for a long, loud, boozy meal with my friends here has made me just want to get this season over with and move on to 2021. I mean, I tried - I put up our tree and got hives from "Artificial Christmas Tree Syndrome." 

And this time next week I will be on Winter Break from Clemson - maybe then I can find my mojo. Or maybe I can get some editing done, or at least write a better, more uplifting blog post. Thanks for spending this year in exile with me. I hope you're well, and that your holiday season is as magical and bright as you can make it this year.

07 December 2020

Music Monday: Hiatus


I'm going to take the month of December off from posting my Music Mondays but you can bet I will be back starting 1 January with new tunes for you to discover (and hopefully some editing done!). Have just the best Christmas, listen to lots of Christmas music, and watch out for sneaky Whamageddon traps, y'all. 

03 December 2020

Second Verse, Same as the First: #PITMAD

I'm hoping that I'm not turning this into the definition of insanity. You may remember that in September I pitched my New Adult Paranormal Historical Fiction Mystery, Luminous Beings to the PitMad event on Twitter. I got one bite from an agent (that wasn't part of a vanity press). I sent the requested material.

(insert the sound of sad crickets here)

So I'm trying again with this manuscript today and I hope that with a slightly tweaked pitch I can attract some attention. If I don't, or if it ends up like it did in September I don't know that I will shop this one around for the third time. I mean, I'm an indie author at heart because 1) I'm not dependant on my career as an author to live and 2) I really like the control I have. If that turns agents off...well, I'm going to keep on being me. I just want to bank some experience in the traditional publishing world if I can.

All that to say that if you follow me on Twitter (and if you don't, come on, I'm delightful!) and you see me post my pitch, don't hit the like button - that is for publishing types that are interested in the manuscript. You can certainly retweet it if you like, and I would be very grateful. The more eyes on it, the better the chance it will end up in front of someone that wants to work with it and me! :)


30 November 2020

Music Monday: Walking on the Waves of Nanowrimo

One more blessed Scottish band/song for our last day of Nanowrimo 2020. How on earth did it happen so fast? Tomorrow the real work begins - editing this beast that you've created. I know that's a new kind of unknown, and I think this verse really speaks to that feeling: 

So you look out on the ocean
See the headlands and the strands
And you wonder what horizons
Will shape tomorrow's plans

The thing to remember, though, is the thing you've had carrying you through this whole month: You can do this! You got this! 

This song is just pure joy which I hope is what you're feeling today. I've been walking the shores this entire month, but now I'm walking the waves because WE DID IT, Y'ALL!



Walking on the Waves
by Skipinnish

An island in the sunlight
Laughter in the rain
A whisky in the darkness
It all feels just the same

Watch the sunset over Hynish
See the twilight merge to dawn
Hear the waves caress the shoreline
As the island carries on

I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves
I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves

There's two lovers on the machair
And they walk down to the sand
Their silhouettes are on the water
As they paddle hand in hand

And it's a game of sweet surrender
When there's nothing left to say
And there are moments to remember
Once these days are long away

I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves
I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves

So you look out on the ocean
See the headlands and the strands
And you wonder what horizons
Will shape tomorrow's plans

And through the turning of the seasons
And the cycle of the days
Every drink's another reason
To let tomorrow sail away

I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves
I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves

The surging of the ocean
The breakers on the shore
The echoes of our bodies
To the lovers' dream we soar

I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves
I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves
I've been walking, walking these shores all my days
But with you by my side I am walking on the waves

23 November 2020

Music Monday: People Like Us Wrimos

 [Nanowrimo 2020 Week Four] How could I not? "I know what you're going through, don't let it get to you, you'll make it out alive!" Y'all. Kelly Clarkson has long been for me that songwriter that speaks what's in my heart on a multitude of levels and topics, but this one was just so perfect for that last week of Nanowrimo. This is the week where we are tired. Our story is tired. Our characters are tired and if they are like mine, they decide that this is the time to run amok all over my story world. "Throw your fist in the air, come out, come out if you dare, tonight we're gonna change forever!"

Maybe not tonight, but this time next week you will have a manuscript in your hands. A story that you brought to life. Characters that you forced out of your mind and into the sun. It's just a few more days - you can do this. We can do this, people like us.




People Like Us
by Kelly Clarkson

We come into this world unknown
But know that we are not alone
They try and knock us down
But change is coming, it's our time now

Hey everybody loses it
Everybody wants to throw it all away sometimes
And hey, yeah I know what you're going through
Don't let it get the best of you, you'll make it out alive

Oh, people like us we've gotta stick together
Keep your head up, nothing lasts forever
Here's to the damned to the lost and forgotten
It's hard to get high when you're living on the bottom

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
We are all misfits living in a world on fire
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

Hey, this is not a funeral
It's a revolution, after all your tears have turned to rage
Just wait, everything will be okay
Even when you're feeling like it's going down in flames

Oh, people like us we've gotta stick together
Keep your head up nothing lasts forever
Here's to the damned, to the lost and forgotten
It's hard to get high when you're living on the bottom

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
We are all misfits living in a world on fire
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
You've just gotta turn it up loud when the flames get higher
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

They can't do nothing to you, they can't do nothing to me
This is the life that we choose, this is the life that we bleed
So throw your fists in the air, come out, come out if you dare
Tonight we're gonna change forever

Everybody loses it,
Everybody wants to throw it all away sometimes

Oh, people like us we've gotta stick together
Keep your head up nothing lasts forever
Here's to the damned, to the lost and forgotten
It's hard to get high when you're living on the bottom

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
We are all misfits living in a world on fire
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
You've just got to turn it up loud when the flames get higher
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
We're all misfits living in a world on fire
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

Oh woah oh oh woah oh
You've just got to turn it up loud when the flames get higher
Oh woah oh oh woah oh
Sing it for the people like us, the people like us

17 November 2020

A spot of homesickness for a Yorkshire winter...


16 November 2020

Music Monday: The Worst Day Since Yesterday

[Nanowrimo 2020 Week Three] So it is said that the second act of any story is hard to write, and the third full week of Nanowrimo to me is always the hardest. The first week I'm OFF TO THE RACES  and LET'S DO THIS THING. Week two starts that way but then I am joined at the laptop by my old friend Impostor Syndrome who wonders aloud why I am writing this and who on earth would ever read it, so that's where we start week three. Knee deep in the proverbial mud. As my mother-in-law would say, I'm trying to get up the back stairs through the mangle. It's a slog, and it brings along the looming spectre of the last week of the month and deadlines and all that. Magical stuff.

So this song, by a band that was recommended to me by my friend Shannon, was the only choice for this week. It is a sing along with a mug in your hand kind of song, one you would hear in a cozy pub with a fireplace as the winter wind rages along outside on what is clearly the worst day...since yesterday.






The Worst Day Since Yesterday
by Flogging Molly

Well, I know, I miss more than hit
With a face that was launched to sink
And I seldom feel, the bright relief
It's been the worst day since yesterday

If there's one thing I have said
Is that the dreams I once had, now lay in bed
As the four winds blow, my wits through the door
It's been the worst day since yesterday

Fallin' down to you, sweet ground
Where the flowers they bloom
Well, it's there I'll be found
Hurry back to me, my wild calling
It's been the worst day since yesterday

Though these wounds have seen no wars
Except for the scars I have ignored
And this endless crutch, well, it's never enough
It's been the worst day since yesterday
Hell says hello, well, it's time I should go

To pastures green, that I've yet to see
Hurry back to me, my wild calling
It's been the worst day since yesterday
It's been the worst day since yesterday
It's been the worst day since yesterday

11 November 2020

Notes from the Preacher's Kid: Remembrance Day

The Bush daughters give the Obama daughters a
tour of the White House.
 [Link to the article is in the photo.]

Most of you that know me know that my father was a United Methodist minister (as is my maternal uncle, sister, and brother-in-law), so I grew up a "preacher's kid." I'm sure that this conjures lots of images in your mind of holier-than-thou kids and hellraisers alike, but I think I speak for both my sister and me when I say that we were fairly normal kids.

I mean, as normal as you can be when you are moving around from home to home every four years or so (by the time I was in high school, it was seven years or so between moves). I have likened my upbringing to military kids, only it's still not the same because you are much more in the spotlight as a preacher's kid.

For example: When I was in high school, my father's sister Ruby came to stay with me and my sister Susan while our parents went to a minister's retreat of some sort. I was driving by that time, so I remember being pulled over by the chief of police with my aunt in the car. Now I knew him fairly well - we lived literally across a street and some railroad tracks from the police station and my dad had been called out at all hours when someone needing help ended up over there. So he gets out and walks to the window - I was sweating and she was seething - and when I rolled down the window he told me he'd pulled me over to tell me to tell Hoyt (my dad) to put the new sticker on his tag soon. Before I thought about it, I said, "You pulled me over for that? You just scared me to death!" He laughed and went on his way. 

My aunt, by the way, was still furious and had to let that anger out, so I got a three-point sermon on the way back home on how we did and did not speak to the police.

I wanted to post today after seeing the picture above circulating on Facebook this week. Jenna Bush Hager, one of President George W. Bush's daughters and current personality on NBC's Today Show has been featured recently in the discussions about the smooth transfer of power that happens in the US after a presidential election. Well, it's supposed to, anyway.

The picture above has the Bush daughters and their mother, First Lady Laura Bush, showing the Obama daughters around the White House before they moved in with their family. The letter that the twins wrote to Sasha and Malia reminded me so much of moving into a new parsonage - though I don't remember meeting any kids that lived in our new home before we did.

“Malia and Sasha, eight years ago on a cold November day, we greeted you on the steps of the White House. We saw both the light and wariness in your eyes as you gazed at your new home,” they wrote. “The four of us wandered the majestic halls of the house you had no choice but to move in to.” 

It also brought home the fact that my sister and I are in a rare club - UMC Preacher's Kids - and that some of my closest and dearest friends have come from that group. We understand each other - we get the weirdness and the odd memories - and we cherish that sameness that helps us be the best and most authentic versions of ourselves, wherever we ended up after we left the houses we called home, no matter how briefly.

So today, on Remembrance Day, I'm thinking about a UM preacher (who also served in the Army) and his wife and their two daughters moving into a new house, a new church, and a new life, and I am thankful. The grace that they showed, not unlike that shown to the Obama girls by the Bush daughters, guides my life, even today.

I'm the bigger one, 1977ish.

Apparently in Louisiana, 1983.



10 November 2020

Notes from Exile: Elections in the Time of Coronavirus

Complete with masks and stickers.
So, we did the thing. My friend Anne and I went to vote in person on November 3rd around lunchtime, and due to my county having about sixty-eleven polling places we were the only folks there. Compared to the long lines I saw on telly for literally everywhere else and the stories from my friends about 2+ hour waits, we were pretty lucky. 

I didn't have pearls to wear for RBG or Chucks for Kamala Harris, but I wore some of my VERY PROFESSIONAL CLOTHES in black and blue and jeans. It felt like we were joining the rest of our country, picking up our feet and letting our votes carry us along on the blue wave that I was certain would be wiping out the pain of the last four years.

Well, as we know by now (and don't come at me with this lawsuit nonsense, there is less than ANY credible evidence for voter fraud), it wasn't so much of a blue wave as it was a neck and neck battle that is still going on as votes are still being counted and confirmed.

I have had a lot to say over the past week, but I will try to summarize the main points because really, isn't that what you want from a blog? Sure you do. If you wanted flowery and slight sweary prose you'd be following me on social media. (That was a hint. Get to it.)

1. There were always going to be a lot of mail-in ballots because it's a pandemic, y'all. There are people who literally cannot come to the polls to vote, due to being sick or trying to avoid being sick, etc. People don't want to be around others that aren't in their bubble. (Part two of don't come at me: the picture above contains one of only a few people that I will willingly get THAT close to right now. She's in my bubble. The greater electorate is most certainly NOT.) There are also a considerable number of registered voters who are outside of the US at the moment. Those folks cannot come to the polls and show an ID and vote - not to mention the photo ID requirement can be construed as voter suppression, but I digress. To say that mail-in ballots should not count if they are received after the date of the election - even if they are postmarked beforehand or on the day - means that those folks are ineligible to vote, a right of every American over the age of 18. 

Sidebar: If you are going to delegitimize the votes of ex-pats around the world, then could you please do something about the fact that the US is one of only two countries in the entire world that requires its citizens to pay taxes on foreign earned income? Taxation without representation indeed.

2. I'm just going to point out that if there was such widespread election fraud perpetrated by the left/Democrats, then I would love for someone to explain Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham to me, please? Seriously. The right/GOP seems to believe that we are so well coordinated that we planned all of this just to get rid of Trump, but thought we'd be okay with having McConnell and Graham? How does that even make sense? The answer is that it doesn't, and I think if I were either of those two men I'd act like shotgun in Supernatural and keep my cakehole shut before someone starts looking into voter suppression in their states. 

Sidebar the second: I don't really think there is voter suppression in South Carolina and I can't speak to Kentucky. I just think that South Carolina is so vibrantly red that most of the state can't even fathom voting blue, even though that might just be a good change for our state. Moving on.

3. Y'all, I have never been more proud to say that Georgia is my home state! Thanks to the herculean efforts of black women in Georgia, the state flipped blue for Biden. I don't think that Georgia has been at the forefront of a presidential election this much since 1976...and maybe 1980. Stacey Abrams, among others, got out and registered something like 800,000 folks who were previously not registered to vote (because if you live in Georgia and you are black or brown, why bother?). She had the governor's race stolen from her (come on, her opponent was the incumbent Secretary of State that managed elections, FFS), but instead of being bitter, she became even more determined to see equality in voting in her state.

4. Finally, a few comments to address the noise I've heard since last Tuesday: a larger than normal turnout at the polls will equate to a larger number of votes, it's just math. Also, if you have spent the last four years trying to exert control over or potentially harm people that I love including but not limited to BIPOC, sexual assault survivors, and women, you will have to excuse me if I need to take a minute before I can react to the election results with anything but glee and a tiny bit of neener-neener. Joe Biden does not have dementia, he is a kind and thoughtful man that doesn't spend his time shouting and trying to bully his opponents into seeing things his way. I can see how you might be confused. 

Whew! Now then. Back to work - and as I saw in more than a few memes over the past week, make sure you wear your shoes, ladies. There's glass all over the floor from the shattering of that ceiling.


09 November 2020

Music Monday: Nanowrimo 2020 Playlist

[Nanowrimo 2020 Week Two] This year marks a new nano for me - I mean, they're all new, right? No nefarious nanos here, no sir... But this time I'm going to try a ghostly spooky story set in a town that is based on a real place from my real life, so that's new. 

For November I'm going to introduce you to some new music, hopefully, or find fellow devotees of some of the other songs on my curated playlist on Spotify entitled "Nanowrimo 2020." Join me there but keep an eye out here for tidbits related to why those songs are there.

Some of it, like anything from the magnificent Mongolian throat singing band called The Hu, is purely hype music to get me in the mood to hop on the stationary bike and open that document and write.

Today's pick is not the first in the playlist (because duh, alphabetical, have you met me?) but it represents where I feel like my MC's family came from - some of them anyway - and it reminds me of my own family that started in the highlands of Scotland and migrated down to the northern tip of what was then a part of the United Kingdom but is now Northern Ireland. Also, this song is just beautiful. Enjoy.




Far Side of the World
by Tide Lines

There are stories I've heard told
Of an unfamiliar road
Where an evening sun hangs gold
In the skyline

In a quiet, unknown town
There is solace to be found
In the unforsaken hours
Of the twilight

There's a girl, and I can see her
Far away from the frontier

Cause I want to dance with a Highland girl
Where the skies reach out for miles
I want to feel the breeze of the Hebrides
On the far side of the world

On an evening in July
'neath the red Lochaber sky
She smiled and closed her eyes
On my shoulder

Now I'm a million miles from home
From the girl I call my own
And I'm dreaming all alone
Just to hold her

As I look into the water
I see her standing at the alter

And I want to dance with a Highland girl
Where the skies reach out for miles
I want to feel the breeze of the Hebrides
On the far side of the world

Nail your colours to the mast
In the footsteps of the past
And when you breath your last
Life's returning

For when the sun sets on the years
All the miles and all the fears
A world away from here
It's the morning

In my mind I see her smile
Where the tide lines grace the isle

Cause I want to dance with a Highland girl
Where the skies reach out for miles
I want to feel the breeze of the Hebrides
On the far side of the world

02 November 2020

Music Monday: Rock That Vote

I have never been afraid to share who I am or what I believe, because I was raised to believe that was a basic tenet of living an authentic life. I am a lifelong democrat, recently turned democratic socialist, probably on my way to full-blown socialist. I don't use my Twitter account to blast political opinions because I don't think that I need to do that - my Twitter is mostly for writing. I have been known to make some loud statements on Facebook, but nothing that I wouldn't say to anyone in person. So today, I am asking you - begging you, if I'm honest, to get out tomorrow (if you haven't already) and vote your conscience. I say that because I still believe that my fellow Americans are good and decent people, and that we want to look out for and care for each other. Part of that responsibility involves voting.

My music Monday is Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation - the video may seem oddly authoritarian and oligarchical, but the lyrics speak of coming together to defeat social injustice and make a better life for all of us, and that's what we need to be doing tomorrow at the polls.  Five, four, three, two, one...


 

Rhythm Nation
Janet Jackson

We are a nation with no geographic boundaries
Bound together through our beliefs
We are like-minded individuals
Sharing a common vision
Pushing toward a world rid of color lines
Music, poetry, dance, unity
Music, poetry, dance, unity
Five, four, three, two, one

Yeah yeah yeah yeah, yeah yeah yeah
Bass bass, bass, bass
With music by our side
To break the color lines
Let's work together
To improve our way of life
Join voices in protest
To social injustice
A generation full of courage
Come forth with me
People of the world today
Are we looking for a better way of life
We are a part of the rhythm nation
People of the world unite
Strength in numbers we can get it right
One time
We are a part of the rhythm nation

This is the test
No struggle no progress
Lend a hand to help
Your brother do his best
Things are getting worse
We have to make them better
It's time to give a damn
Let's work together come on, yeah

People of the world today
Are we looking for a better way of life
We are a part of the rhythm nation
People of the world unite
Strength in numbers we can get it right
One time
We are a part of the rhythm nation

People of the world unite
Are we looking for a better way of life
We are a part of the rhythm nation
People of the world unite
Strength in numbers we can get it right
One time
We are a part of the rhythm nation

Bass, bass, bass
Bass, bass, bass
Bass, bass
Bass, bass

Say it people, say it different
Say it if you want a better way of life
Say it people, say it different
Say it if you want a better way of life

Everybody sing it
People of the world unite
Are we looking for a better way of life
We are a part of the rhythm nation
People of the world unite
Strength in numbers we can get it right
One time
We are a part of the rhythm nation

People of the world today
Are we looking for a better way of life
We are a part of the rhythm nation
People of the world unite
Strength in numbers we can get it right
One time
We are a part of the rhythm nation

Rhythm nation

31 October 2020

Notes from Exile: Nanowrimo 2020

Yep, it's that time again...


Okay, here we go. This past Monday, I posted a song that is like a hype video for my November, but I'm just vibrating at this point. Sorry, I know it's Halloween and all but there won't really be any trick or treaters, will there? No fancy dress at the Renn Faire to prepare. Just all nano all the time and y'all, I am here for it.

I am especially here for it after this past week of stress and awful that culminated in a 36 hour power outage and a new-to-me car. Whew!

I said in my last post that one of the things I do is work up a playlist for the month, and even though I add to it as I go along and get inspired I have it pretty much ready to go. You can check it out here if you like (and you use Spotify). I'm doing better about being a plantser, which is a combination of a plotter and a pantser. I have an idea of the plot, I have been sketching on Twitter using the #vss365 prompts, and I know my MC's first name: Scarlet.

I also have a series title: Wraiths of Appalachia. That is, as is everything right now, a placeholder. It may become the title, who knows. But it gives me a label for my Google drive folder. Now if I can just get off Tiktok long enough to string some words together...LET'S DO THIS THING!!

26 October 2020

Music Monday: Eye of the Nano Storm

 We are coming up on Halloween and, oddly enough, the end of October. I'm sure it was just March a few days ago, wasn't it? I'm planning my nano this time, and what that means is that I am telling everyone that it is a ghost story and plotting the Spotify playlist. You plan your way, I plan mine.

Today's musical selection is more a general nod to the entire Nanowrimo process. I always look forward to Nano months because I just love writing so much. I love telling stories. I love seeing things come out in the process that I had no idea about in October. I love it when my characters run amok and keep me honest in telling THEIR stories. This song, to me, is like a hype video before a football game, and y'all, I am READY.





Eye Of The Storm
Watt White

I am the eye of the storm
Inside I am silent and strong
Just waitin' for the right (right) moment to strike
Coiled like a cobra

I (Ooh oh oh oh oh)
I (Ooh oh oh oh oh)
I (Ooh oh oh oh oh)

I am the eye of the storm

Wind (wind) howling in my face
Tearing up the asphalt
I'ma getting up in the place
Run, run no where left to hide
I must take a stand now
Find the strength inside!
Welcome to the vortex
Absolute ground zero of my heart
Pinicle of the apex
Nothin's gonna tear my soul apart

I am the eye of the storm
Inside I am silent and strong
Just waitin' for the right right moment to strike
Coiled like a cobra coming to life

I am the eye of the storm
Inside
I am silent and strong
Just waitin' for the moment
Never see me comin'

I (Ooh oh oh oh oh)
I (Ooh oh oh oh oh)
I (Ooh oh oh oh oh)
I am the eye of the storm

I (Ooh oh oh oh oh)
I (Ooh oh oh oh oh)
I (Ooh oh oh oh oh)
I am the eye of the storm

Pain, pain trying to make me break
But, I'm like a fortress
Nothing can penetrate
When it gets hard I don't even flinch
Fear is not a factor
I would give 'em an inch
Welcome to the vortex
Absolute ground zero of my heart
Pinicle the apex
Nothin's gonna tear my soul apart

I am the eye of the storm
Inside I am silent and strong
Just waitin' for the right, right moment to strike
Coiled like a cobra
Coming to life

I am the eye of the storm
Inside I am silent and strong
Just waiting for the moment
Never see me comin'

I (Ooh oh oh oh oh)
I (Ooh oh oh oh oh)
I (Ooh oh oh oh oh)

I am the eye of the storm
Storm clouds storming
This is your (final warning)
Uuooh oh ah aah!

I am the eye of the storm
Inside I am silent and strong
Just waiting for the right right moment to strike
Coiled like a cobra
Coming to life

I am the eye of the storm
Inside I am silent and strong
Just waiting for the moment
Never see me comin'

Ooh oh oh oh oh
Ooh oh oh oh oh
I am waiting for the moment
Ooh oh oh oh oh
Never see me comin'

Ooh oh oh oh oh
Ooh oh oh oh oh
I'm just waiting for the moment
Ooh oh oh oh oh
Never see me comin'

23 October 2020

Notes from Exile: A Pantser's Guide To Excel for Outlining

The tip of the Excel-burg
Right, so this past weekend I attended the Broadleaf Writers Association's 5th Writers Conference and, as usual, came away exhausted but full of new ideas and energy and a love for the craft of writing.

I also came away with a new appreciation for planning out a novel before just diving in willy-nilly. I can't promise I'm going to keep this up, but for now, I'm declaring my pantser days are...comin' to a middle, to badly paraphrase Firefly. 

I attended the Planning/Pantsing Workshop on Sunday, and one of the panelists, Abbot Kahler (a nonfiction writer) mentioned marking important things that will affect characters in outlines. Like if you plan that Event A will happen and know that Character B will have Reaction C to that event, mark it in your outline/prep work so that you will remember it.

Bells and whistles went off in my head as I thought about my new organizational scheme that involves the longest spreadsheets you've ever seen - one of which is in the photo above. I was sorting through my Google Drive one day, looking for something, and it occurred to me that all my story bible work was done in various google docs, some of them overlapping in material, and I needed to rearrange that biz so that I could use it. 

I would like to say that it didn't matter so much at first because all my dog books were basically stand-alones and there were only three Orana books to worry about, but then Orana took over my life and now there are five that are published with another four in various stages of draft just waiting in my Drive to see the light of day. Five books and so far about 80+ characters to keep up with is well more than can be handled in a simple Google doc.

Now there are loads and loads of templates for creating story bibles out there, and even specific software that will help like Scrivener. I wish that had worked for me. I wanted it to work. I neeeeeeded the corkboard page on my screen with the index cards. But it did not.

Before I continue, I must be honest and tell you that I HATE Excel. I have to use it for the DayJob™, and it brings me nothing but heartache and frustration. My poor office mate who is an Excel Guru must have some sort of pre-emptive warning that I've just opened Excel because my questions are greeted with a hearty, "but what were you TRYING to do this time?" So the mere fact that I am using it to catalog languages and homeworlds and eye color is amazing and horrifying in equal measure, I promise.

So here's what I have done: I have a tab in the spreadsheet for each novel set in the Orana story universe. So far there are three in the Nature Walker Trilogy, two in the Tales of the Forest War, a standalone, and three in the upcoming Guardians of Orana series. Then I just start listing what I think is important to remember for each character: Full name, title, nickname, hair color, skin color/tone, eye color, etc. all the way through to how the character died and who was involved.

This has already helped as I am working on editing one of the Guardians novels, and I've found inconsistencies - if Nel has blue eyes in the NWT she should not have green eyes in the one I'm editing. But there is another level: the plot outline. I decided to take some time and go through each novel that I've written and put the plot into a separate spreadsheet. Busy work? Maybe, but this way I can chart the important developments that may affect later scenes, just like Ms. Kahler was talking about in the panel on Sunday. I've even marked things like 'IMPORTANT: First time Character A calls Character B by important plot point nickname.' That sort of thing will, so my Excel gurus tell me, enable me to sort by important plot points, thus making it easier for me to plan future novels in advance.

Yep, you heard that right, I'm actually working now on planning my Nanowrimo 2020 project IN ADVANCE. WITH SPREADSHEETS. AND RESEARCH. WHO AM I?

I hope this is helpful, and if not, it is at least amusing. I would also love to know if you have ways to use tools such as Excel for noveling purposes. For now, though, I'm going to go figure out the sort function. What could possibly go wrong? :)

19 October 2020

Music Mondays: Elys and Hack

 [Their story is coming, for those who have laughed along with and fallen in love with the most unlikely duo in all of Orana.]

So, I was first introduced to this song by a Rennie friend of mine when he mentioned how perfect it was for a workout. Y'all, I am so far away from a workout if it involves leaving my house...but it ended up in my Music from Orana rotation and I had never associated it with any one character or place until recently. 

I've been doing some drafting for the Guardians of Orana series where I want to be able to tell the backstories and current exploits of the cast of characters from the Nature Walker Trilogy, and this song is just Elys and Hack. Their unlikely friendship hit like the thunder before the lightning. Readers of the trilogy know Elys's backstory and how she never takes anything for granted. She is the line in the first verse that is dreaming of bigger things. Hack is the lightning strike that either illuminates her way or blasts it clear for her - sometimes/often both. Conversely, Hack is the thunder that warns the enemy - Elys does love to burn things, just like a lightning bolt.

Also, Imagine Dragons. Y'all. Perfection. Have a listen.



Thunder
Imagine Dragons

Just a young gun with the quick fuse
I was uptight, wanna let loose
I was dreaming of bigger things
And wanna leave my own life behind
Not a yes sir, not a follower
Fit the box, fit the mold
Have a seat in the foyer, take a number
I was lightning before the thunder

Thunder, thunder
Thunder, thun', thunder
Thun-thun-thunder, thunder, thunder
Thunder, thun', thunder
Thun-thun-thunder, thunder
Thunder, feel the thunder
Lightning then the thunder
Thunder, feel the thunder
Lightning then the thunder
Thunder, thunder
Thunder

Kids were laughing in my classes
While I was scheming for the masses
Who do you think you are?
Dreaming 'bout being a big star
They say you're basic, they say you're easy
You're always riding in the back seat
Now I'm smiling from the stage while
You were clapping in the nose bleeds

Thunder
Thunder, thun', thunder
Thun-thun-thunder, thunder, thunder
Thunder, thun', thunder
Thun-thun-thunder, thunder
Thunder, feel the thunder
Lightning then the thunder
Thunder, feel the thunder
Lightning then the thunder

Thunder
Thunder, feel the thunder
Lightning then the thunder, thunder
Thunder, feel the thunder
Lightning then the thunder, thunder
Thunder, feel the thunder
Lightning then the thunder, thunder
Thunder, feel the thunder
Lightning then the thunder, thunder
Thunder, feel the thunder
Lightning then the thunder, thunder
Thunder, thunder, thunder
Thun-thun-thunder, thunder
Thunder, thunder, thunder
Thun-thun-thunder, thunder
Thunder, thunder, thunder
Thun-thun-thunder, thunder
Thunder, thunder, thunder
Thun-thun-thunder, thunder

14 October 2020

Notes from Exile: It's About Time Wednesday...?

I posted last week about finally feeling like a part of the Supernatural Family when this song came on the radio in the car and I subjected my partner to a diatribe explaining how the lyrics just perfectly fit with the events in the tv show. I have been binge watching this show all summer with the goal to have 14.5 seasons under my belt before the last half of season 15 starts in October.

The new season started last Saturday, and I'm still on season 6. But I carry on because this show is JUST SO GOOD. The first few episodes seemed slow, but like any book or series, the slow burn has been worth it. SO worth it! I'm just sorry that I was a total idjit and let this show pass me by for the past 14 years. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, blogger picks the music, reader shuts their cakehole. 


Carry On Wayward Son
Kansas

Carry on my wayward son
For there'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond the illusion
I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high

Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I'm dreamin', I can hear them say

Carry on my wayward son
For there'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don't know

On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about I'm like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune, but I hear the voices say

Carry on my wayward son
For there'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor
Now your life's no longer empty
Surely heaven waits for you

Carry on my wayward son
For there'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

12 October 2020

Music Monday: Nelenie Ergwyn

[For everyone that is currently thinking that Nelenie didn't have a surname, she does. I just haven't gotten that book published yet. So, as per usual, SPOILERS and YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED, etc.]

There has been a topic floating in a fantasy writer's group I belong to for a while now. It ebbs and flows and resurfaces. "Do you feel inspired by music/Do you have music on while you write?" The five or six of you that are regular readers of the Lettuce know the answer for me, but it has been interesting to see how much my experience is not the norm, at least because I listen to music with words. Many of my colleagues in that group listen to ambient music/sounds or instrumentals only. Does that mean I'm cheating because I'm listening to music with lyrics that speak to me about my characters?

Nope. At least, I don't think so. Everyone is inspired by something, and this inspires me to create them. I think that's fair.

So, this week, a minor character turned major character as the story moved along. Nel and Gin grew up as friends until the differences between the Alynatalans and the Aynamaedeans pulled them apart. Their friendship influenced Nel's relationship with Elys and Tairn's reverence for Gin as a mother figure. Gin's feelings of inadequacy took root when Ben chose Nel over her. Not so minor, eh?

I have been thinking about her because she resurfaces in Guardians of Darkness, the beginning of the Guardians of Orana series and because the woman that inspired her is a good friend of mine who is accomplishing amazing things against incredible odds. So as I always do, I sat with a few songs before I found one that really is Nel's song to me.

Nel experienced so much upheaval during the events of the Nature Walker Trilogy. Her life changed when she came of age and realized that she and Gin were different. Her life changed when she followed the path of a warrior rather than a magic-user and took on all the difficulty that choice entailed. Her life changed drastically when she bucked the system of her people and trained Elys, an Aynamaedean, to fight in the way that Nel was taught. Her life certainly changed when that relationship was discovered and reported - by someone she had loved and trusted for her entire life - and she was exiled, forced to live as a mercenary. 

But with each trial, Nel held her head high and just got on with things. It's what drew her to Elys, I think because they are very similar in personality and threshold for surrender. But there comes a point where you have to just stop, reassess, and take the steps to get back on your path. The song "From Now On" from the musical/movie "The Greatest Showman" really spoke to me when I thought about Nel, and how she comes to that point - and I'll stop there before Nancy Spoilers spiral out of control.


From Now On

Zac Brown Band/Hugh Jackman

I saw the sun begin to dim
And felt that winter wind blow cold
A man learns who is there for him
When the glitter fades and the walls won't hold

'Cause from then, rubble
What remains can only be what's true
If all was lost, it's more I've gained
'Cause it led me back to you

And from now on, these eyes will not be blinded by the lights
From now on, what's waited 'til tomorrow starts tonight
Tonight, and let this promise in me start like an anthem in my heart
From now on, from now on

I drank champagne with kings and queens
The politicians praised my name
But those are someone else's dreams
The pitfalls of the man I became

For years and years, I chased their cheers
At the crazy speed of always needing more
But when I stop and see you here
I remember who all this was for

And from now on, these eyes will not be blinded by the lights
And from now on, what's waited 'til tomorrow starts tonight
Starts tonight, let this promise in me start like an anthem in my heart
From now on, from now on, from now on

And we will come back home
And we will come back home, home again
And we will come back home
And we will come back home, home again
And we will come back home
And we will come back home, home again

From now on, these eyes will not be blinded by the lights
And from now on, what's waited 'til tomorrow starts tonight
Starts tonight, and let this promise in me start like an anthem in my heart
From now on, from now on, from now on

And we will come back home
And we will come back home, home again
And we will come back home
And we will come back home, home again
From now on, from now on, home again


08 October 2020

Notes from Exile: I think it's October

Me and my best girl, Bryn.
(Carolina Renn Fest)
It felt like October around here for a while last week, but now we are firmly back in August/September. October means faire season, under normal circumstances. It means leaving the house at O'Dark-Thirty to drive two hours and then work all day outdoors with one of my hounds at my side. I may be an accidental Rennie, but a Rennie I am all the same, and I miss it.

Even though my participation there has been tremendously scaled back, my mind has been drifting to a created village in Huntersville, NC, and all the performers and 'fairemly' that I see there every year. I have wished I could have a steaming mug of chai in my hand, trying to keep the excited wolfhound at my side walking calmly so I can drink it rather than wear it. I've missed the shouts of Good Morning from the vendor stalls, seeing my breath (and Bryn's) in the air, and the quiet beauty of the faire before the gates are opened and the tens of thousands of patrons stream through.

I have always loved that part of faire - the part where it's just us there, the way it would be if the grounds were a real, functioning village. The writer (and well-buried actor, if I'm honest) in me loves walking along, imagining that I'm my character: an Irish lass sent with an Irish Wolfhound as a gift for Her Majesty. I love the sway of my hoopskirt as I walk. I love the street performers and vendors already in character, addressing me as 'My Lady' and asking to pet the magnificent beastie at the end of my leash. 

She loves it too - though, in recent years, Bryn has been less apt to stay on a bed in the building we lovingly refer to as the Dog Barn, preferring instead to pull me out to the front to see the people. Ciaragh is the exact opposite - she is unnerved by large crowds and would happily stay glued to a dog bed all day if only the raised beds weren't the proper size for a greyhound and she finds herself slipping off of them onto the floor. 

But neither of the big faires where I work with my dogs happened this year, and the smallish local faire made the decision to close permanently. I keep forgetting how long it has been since one of my girls has surveyed her people from the joust platform in the Southern Kingdom (the Georgia Renaissance Festival) or taken that leisurely walk pre-cannon in the lanes of the Northern Kingdom (the Carolina Renaissance Festival). I forget until one of them noses her way into the guest room-turned-pandemic supply storage and happens upon my straw hat or a stray glove. They press their nose against it, wringing out the last smells of FAIRE, and then look up at me and wag. 

We're holding onto those last smells, the images like the ones above, and the lifelong friendships formed in the early morning fog, over mugs of chai and corset lacing, until we can do all of it again in person. Huzzah, well met, and on to the rest of October!

05 October 2020

Music Monday: Taeben and Gin

[Spoilers ahead for the Nature Walker Trilogy]

New month, back to Orana and specifically to Taeben and Gin in Tempest. I know, the first thing a lot of my readers think when they see Taeben's name is that hashtag #benisadick that goes around. I mean, he's the bad guy, so he is supposed to be, right? Today, though, I want to present you with another view of him. This is a view that I got called out for pushing by one of my beta readers. I have a tendency to see the best in people, even when they don't deserve it, and the feedback was that I was giving Taeben so much grace that he wasn't even a bad guy anymore.

Some writers can create two dimensional bad guys who are like the little girl with the little curl, but I am not capable of that. I wanted people to know all sides of him because to me, that makes the reaction to him when he is bad more visceral, more shocking. This was the idea behind Tempest, to show the relationship between Taeben and Gin, so that his later behavior is even more awful and hard to believe. But I went too far, I think, at least for that beta reader - and, in truth, for me I suppose. Y'all, if I had kept on the way I was headed Taeben would have been completely unbelievable as a villain. 

So, to the point of this being a Music Monday post - I heard today's song, Silent Lucidity, in a TV show I was watching recently (ok, I will admit it was Supernatural and I'm trying to binge watch 14.5 seasons before October because I am late to that bandwagon) and I remembered that I loved that song back during the time that I was heavy into my MMORPG that inspired the Orana Chronicles. That was the time that I knew the person that inspired Taeben. It all fell into place as I was driving yesterday and heard the song again. That is what I was trying to convey in the relationship between Taeben and Gin. Maybe he was always bad. Maybe he had malicious plans for Gin well before the events of the end of Wanderer when he pulled Sath and Gin apart. 

Maybe this is Taeben and Gin in an alternate reality. Maybe this is Taeben's plan that went awry. Either way, I sat with the lyrics of this song for awhile after I got out of the car, and I couldn't get away from Taeben and Gin.



Silent Lucidity
Queensr├┐che

Hush now, don't you cry
Wipe away the teardrop from your eye
You're lying safe in bed
It was all a bad dream
Spinning in your head
Your mind tricked you to feel the pain
Of someone close to you leaving the game of life
So here it is, another chance
Wide awake you face the day
Your dream is over or has it just begun?

There's a place I like to hide
A doorway that I run through in the night
Relax child, you were there
But only didn't realize and you were scared
It's a place where you will learn
To face your fears, retrace the years
And ride the whims of your mind
Commanding in another world
Suddenly you hear and see
This magic new dimension

I will be watching over you
I am gonna help you see it through
I will protect you in the night
I am smiling next to you, in silent lucidity

If you open your mind for me
You won't rely on open eyes to see
The walls you built within
Come tumbling down, and a new world will begin
Living twice at once you learn
You're safe from pain in the dream domain
A soul set free to fly
A round trip journey in your head
Master of illusion, can you realize
Your dream's alive, you can be the guide but

I will be watching over you
I am gonna help to see it through
I will protect you in the night
I am smiling next to you

30 September 2020

Notes from Exile: Week Sixty-Twelve, and I feel FINE.

I'm calling this a Notes from Exile and not a Music Anything, because technically it isn't Monday, and this post just came to me as I sit here listening to the amazing Alicia Keys. This song, "Good Job" is just a balm for the soul and it is what I needed to hear this week, this day, this very moment. We spend a lot of our time these days just getting by, but we have a very human need not just for connection but to be appreciated. We need to know, from an external source, that we are doing a good job. We aren't just surviving, we are thriving as best we can under the current circumstances. Here we are on the cusp of yet another month, and times are really becoming scary and overwhelming, but we aren't giving up, at least not yet.

I can just hear my dear friend Robby's voice doing his best Casey Kasem impression here, but I'd like to send this long-distance dedication out to all of you that are struggling, all of you that are unsure or those that are sure you don't want to do this anymore, whatever THIS is. I hear you. I see you. And to quote one of my new favorite Instagram/TikTok creators, Thaddeuss Shafer, "you are precious, loved, and worthy," and you're doing a really good job. Stay strong. 


Good Job
Alicia Keys

You're the engine that makes all things go
And you're always in disguise, my hero
I see your light in the dark
Smile in my face when we all know it's hard
There's no way to ever pay you back
Bless your heart, know I love you for that
Honest and selfless
I don't know if this helps it but
Good Job
You're doing a good job, a good job
You're doing a good job
Don't get too down
The world needs you now
Know that you matter
Matter, matter yeah
You're doing a good job, a good job
You're doing a good job
Don't get too down
The world needs you now
Know that you matter
Matter, matter yeah
Six in the morning
As soon as you walk through that door
Everyone needs you again
The world's out of order
It's not as sound
When you're not around
All day on your feet, hard to
Keep that energy, I know
When it feels like the end of the road
You don't let go
You just press forward
You're the engine that makes all things go
Always in disguise, my hero
I see a light in the dark
Smile in my face
When we all know it's hard
There's no way to ever pay you back
Bless your heart
Know I love you for that
Honest and selfless
I don't know if this helps it but
Good Job
You're doing a good job, a good job
Good job
You're doing a good job
Don't get too down
The world needs you now
Know that you matter
Matter, matter yeah
It's a good job
You're doing a good job, a good job
Good job
You're doing a good job
Don't get too down
The world needs you now
Know that you matter
Matter, matter yeah
The mothers, the fathers
The teachers that reach us
Strangers to friends
That show up in the end
From the bottom to the top
The listeners that hear us
This is for you
You make me fearless
You're doing a good job, a good job
You're doing a good job
Don't get too down
The world needs you now
Know that you matter
Matter, matter yeah

28 September 2020

Music Monday: Lex and Em...and Alex

 [Again, spoilers ahead for Rift, read at your own risk.]

Oh, what a tangled web. You have Madelyne, who thinks that she knows Alex. She hears his voice through her headphones every night. They share inside jokes and memories of times spent in a virtual world. He listens. He understands. He is everything she has been looking for - and suddenly she has a way to be Em to his Lex.

This song makes me think of several scenes - Em, upon arriving in Tyrael and seeing it for the first time, then Em outside the cabin, looking up at the sky. Em receiving her tattoo. Em trying to separate Lex from Alex. "I'm gonna get you out of here/if I could catapult my heart to where you are."




Catapult
Jack Savoretti

Following the headlights
Got to find a way back to you
I can be the white knight
You can play the princess
We'll be running like outlaws
Hiding in the midnight
Break down them gates
Let in the sunlight
Throw me over these walls
High up in the atmosphere
If I could catapult my heart
Watch the empire fall
I'm gonna get you outta here
If I could catapult my heart
To where you are
You say you had your heart broken
What a stupid little thing to do
Now you're tied to a train track
But I'm a gonna come
And rescue you
Make no mistake
I'll do whatever it takes
To get over these walls
High up in the atmosphere
If I could catapult my heart
Watch the empire fall
Ooh I'm gonna get you outta here
If I could catapult my heart
To where you are
If I could catapult my heart
Oh throw me over these walls
Ooh high up in the atmosphere
If I could catapult my heart
Watch the empire fall
Ooh I'm gonna get you outta here
If I could catapult my heart
To where you are
If I could catapult my heart
To where you are
I'm gonna catapult my heart

21 September 2020

Music Monday: Lex

 [Spoilers for Rift, continue at your own risk.]


I know, Imagine Dragons again. Is it my fault that their music is PERFECT for the movie adaptations in my mind? Hardly. 

I had all but forgotten that I had this song on my playlist while writing Rift. I mean, any time you are writing any kind of fantasy novel, a song titled Demons is bound to be in the mix somewhere. But I took a second and really listened to the words today - this is Lex, all day long. Is he a monster? Is he Alex? Is he real?

[Really spoilery bit:] Lex struggles not with a lack of memories but with memories that he can't trust. He is anyone that has a past that has been purposely (or not) forgotten, who suddenly has to deal with the recurrence of who/what he used to be. But for him, it's worse - are any of those memories, good or bad, real? Or is he just an algorithm that has become self-aware? And through all of that, he feels so bound to Em - regardless of why he feels that way - that all he can do is try to protect her.

Anyway, this song is for Lex...please enjoy this version with another contender for my fantasy movie score, Halsey.


Demons

Imagine Dragons


When the days are cold

And the cards all fold

And the saints we see

Are all made of gold

When your dreams all fail

And the ones we hail

Are the worst of all

And the blood's run stale

I want to hide the truth

I want to shelter you

But with the beast inside

There's nowhere we can hide

No matter what we breed

We still are made of greed

This is my kingdom come

This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat

Look into my eyes

It's where my demons hide

It's where my demons hide

Don't get too close

It's dark inside

It's where my demons hide

It's where my demons hide

When the curtain's call

Is the last of all

When the lights fade out

All the sinners crawl

So they dug your grave

And the masquerade

Will come calling out

At the mess you made

Don't want to let you down

But I am hell bound

Though this is all for you

Don't want to hide the truth

No matter what we breed

We still are made of greed

This is my kingdom come

This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat

Look into my eyes

It's where my demons hide

It's where my demons hide

Don't get too close

It's dark inside

It's where my demons hide

It's where my demons hide

They say it's what you make

I say it's up to fate

It's woven in my soul

I need to let you go

Your eyes, they shine so bright

I want to save their light

I can't escape this now

Unless you show me how

When you feel my heat

Look into my eyes

It's where my demons hide

It's where my demons hide

Don't get too close

It's dark inside

It's where my demons hide

It's where my demons hide

18 September 2020

Putting on my Confessor Face: on Terry Goodkind and Inspiration

Read this one, I mean it.
Yesterday I learned of the death of an author that had a profound effect on me as a wanna-be fantasy author, Terry Goodkind. While I did not read everything he wrote, I did read the entirety of the Sword of Truth series. A review of this series never made it to my book blog, Well Read, but I wanted to do an overview here, and tell you why I believe this to be an important series to read.

I am one of a few, I'm learning, who write fantasy but aren't really fans of the "classics" in the genre, such as - steady yourself - Tolkein. I loved the Hobbit when I read it in 4th grade (age 8/9) but I moved on immediately to try to read The Fellowship of the Ring. While I'm sure both of my parents thought me to be a reading prodigy and sort of a genius, that book fell flat with young Nancy and I will admit that I never picked it up to try again. To this day I have read bits here and there and seen the movies, but I just couldn't.

If you look at my list of life changing books, the genres are all over the place: Wuthering Heights (with a modern understanding of the problematic parts), The Historian, The Percy Jackson novels. It was probably not until I discovered The Sword of Truth series, at the recommendation of a good friend and fellow gamer, that I had the idea that I might like to write novels. I had written other books in niche genres, but you know that feeling when you are reading something and you think that either you wish you could live in that universe or "I wish I had written this?" Both of those applied to Wizard's First Rule.

As I said in my Facebook post about Goodkind's passing, "the Mother Confessor, the Seeker, the Mord Sith, even Darken Rahl were such well rounded characters, dancing right up to the edge of being a Mary Sue (Richard) but not faling into that trope." We all want to write the character that saves the world. Goodkind reminded me that you can do that as well as show all the trials and tribulations leading to that win, and still have the story of the everyman at the end of the novel - or series. 

In addition to my life as a writer, Goodkind has also influenced how I think about my life as an interpreter. I have blogged before about how much I identified with the character of the Mother Confessor, Kahlan, in respect to my DayJob™ and interpreter decorum here:

Terry Goodkind has quickly become one of my favorite authors, and he describes in his Sword of Truth series a character who serves as a judge of sorts...she is called a Confessor, and he talks about her wearing her Confessor's face. I do that. I wear my Interpreter's Face. Impartial. Objective. A mask. The line "sometimes I wish someone out there would find me" rang out to me, causing me to recall those times that I stood outside the huddle of support, wishing for someone to hand me a tissue or take my hand in comfort...but remaining quietly in the background, Interpreter's Face on.

and here:

I've compared this before to the 'Confessor's face' that author Terry Goodkind created for his character, Kahlan Amnell, in the Sword of Truth fantasy series. Confessors are women that are born into a magical sisterhood and have the ability to discern truth from lies (by basically taking over the mind of the person and leaving them a slave to the Confessor, but that's beside the point here). From Temple of the Winds:

Kahlan was wearing her Confessor's face: the blank expression that showed none of her feelings.

We are taught as interpreters to do this - to an extent. We are conveying communication and by necessity that involves emotion, so I am never that 'blank,' but it is not MY emotion you are seeing. It should never be my emotion.

So I am properly mourning a life that never, ever, intersected with my own save through a recommendation heeded, a book series read/consumed, and inspiration sought and given. Thank you, Mr. Goodkind, for sharing your work with us and inspiring us to go forward, better understanding ourselves and our world.

In your light we thrive. In your mercy we are sheltered. In your wisdom we are humbled. We live only to serve. -part of the D'Haran devotion to Lord Rahl, Sword of Truth series.

16 September 2020

Notes from Exile: That Author Life, Tho

Looks like I've worked at Waterstone's before, eh?
I recently took part in an online vendor showcase for Beach Bound Hounds, an event that I used to attend every year when I had greyhounds. As a result, I now find myself swimming in extra book stock, so I'm trying to find ways to make it pretty.

The yellow tote in that photo (and the one beneath it) is filled with BOOK SIGNING BITS AND BOBS and copies of The Nature Walker Trilogy and the Tales of the Forest War. I've stacked the rest of the stock waiting to be autographed and mailed out on top, and I think it creates an interesting visual representation of my career (hee hee!) as a writer. 

The closest book to the camera is Proud Racer: An American Greyhound in Yorkshire, written in 2011 about my two years in Keighley but told through the perspective of my greyhound, Daisy. I JUST got that delivered TODAY because indie publishing cares not for deadlines nor my own sudden realization that I had no copies of it on hand. That's my beautiful Daisy's eye, there on the cover- which if you will indulge me a bit of self-promotion, is one of the best covers I have ever designed. Or maybe that's just me. Anyway... To me now, that book reads like it is telling someone else's story. 

Just behind it are copies of Bryn's book, Clobberpaws, and Ciaragh's book, Clobberpaws, Too! and there are only a few of them (that I found, y'all, what are the odds?). The Irish Wolfhound Association of the Mid South blew me away last week ordering all the stock I thought I had and enabling me to make a donation of over $200 to the Heather Burns Memorial Fund for Veteran Hounds. I blogged about my friend Heather's death last week, and IWAMS set up this fund to help adopters and foster homes take in the hounds most dear to her heart, the seniors and those with medical issues. I'm just glad I could do something to help - though it doesn't come close to repaying all the help that Heather and IWAMS have given us since we brought our big girls into our family. Wolfhound STRONG.

Along the back, there are copies of Rift, Scorch (Tales of the Forest War), and Guardian (the last in the Nature Walker Trilogy) and I am looking at them like the Waterstone's Bookseller I was when I lived in the UK. I used to love days when I could just hang out in the stacks and look at all the books on the shelves. Now, that isn't a shelf, but it motivates me to do more/write more/be better so that one day that will be the shelf in a bookstore where the Nancy E. Dunne books are.

I'm still home, I'm still working remotely, and the pandemic rages on as people take unnecessary chances and chose not to wear masks. But this week I am happy and overwhelmed with the little writer life that I've created, and that makes a difference.

PS-no word back yet on the pages request I got as a result of #PitMad back at the beginning of September, but if nothing comes of it that won't end me. I feel that, for the first time in a long time, I'm doing what I'm meant to be doing, and that is enough for now.

Music Monday: Right Now