27 February 2014

I need your help!

I'm actually working on TWISTING FATES today (yay!), and I need help.
The Gods-tongue is the language spoken by the Gods, and if mortals could speak it properly, then they'd have basically magic.
What I need is: what do you call the written language of the Gods?  I'd prefer the format of the word/phrase to be the same, like Gods-alphabet or Gods-syllabary, only punchier, the way Gods-tongue is only two syllables.  It's an important concept, so the name for it is important.  (Also, alas, I don't yet know if the written language has an alphabet vs a syllabary vs heiroglyphs vs whatever.)
It's really annoying.  

26 February 2014

Doll Bones, by Holly Black

A progress report, rather than a review.
According to the book trailer, I think it's supposed to be scary--I haven't gotten that far yet.  Well, there have been one or two hints--like "the Great Queen", a bone-china doll locked in a cabinet, whose eyes flutter.  And I think I'm about to get to the scary part.
But, what makes this such an important book for me is the beginning.  The three main characters, Zach, Alice and Poppy, have this thing where they "play" with action figures.  Except I would call it "role-playing".  They are clearly role-players who haven't yet discovered RPG books.
This is a book for gamers.  Also for writers, because my experience with writing is very similar to my experience with gaming, especially if I haven't got idea one about what I'm about to write (like every November): the characters do have a life outside you if you let them, and they will make decisions you never would have.
This is also a book for people who don't understand writers/gamers: Zach does an excellent job of describing what it's like.  (Or even for some gamers who have never let their characters live outside of them.)

My first major experience with this was with what I tend to call "my first real character"--Aidan.  I had played a lot of D&D before that, and my experience with D&D is that it makes it very hard to have a real character--you don't usually think about why your character is killing creatures and collecting gold--that's just the point of the game.
But Aidan--she was a real, breathing character with wants and desires and goals and a worldview.  And one day, I sat down to write a brief story about how she was coping with something traumatic; I'd had an idea of what would happen, but partway through, Aidan just tapped me on the shoulder, and said, "Let me tell you what happened."  Then I continued writing the story, a completely different story from what I had planned, because Aidan let me know that what I had planned would never have happened.

I had similar experiences with TWISTING FATES.  Every so often, I would be writing along, no real clue what was going to happen, and I would realize that the scene was dull.  Every time I realized that I was bored writing a scene, something would start happening.  Someone would start acting dodgy, or someone would say something that didn't make sense, based on the pages before--and the thing is, I had no idea what was really happening.  When someone was acting dodgy, I had to find out along the way, maybe just a step ahead of my characters, but sometimes at the same time (depending on how important to the plot it was--if it was major, I'd have to make a decision, but if it wasn't ... ).
The Deadlands, a major feature of the geography, and also a pretty big plot piece, were born out of a statement that they would need to buy supplies, when up until that point, supplies hadn't been an issue--villages were close together, and there was plenty of forage/hunting.  

24 February 2014


In my dream, the world burns. Angry red light washes over everything, and I hear yelling, screaming, other sounds I cannot identify. A woman stands over it all, watching. I cannot see her clearly, but she stands at the heart of the world on fire, and I do not know if she set the fire or is trying to put it out.  
I pushed on long into the night. The dream I had woken with haunted me, and besides, the temple was close enough that it made more sense to push on than to stop and make camp.

I smelled the fire before I saw it--a forested hill hid the glow from me. But when I rounded the hill, I faced the scene from my dream: the world on fire.

For a moment that felt like an eternity, I took it in: Vemzhanvimyimzhyu's temple burning, priests everywhere trying to save scrolls, books, parchments, but hindered by soldiers--not uniformed; they must be mercenaries--the sounds of fighting I had not recognized in my dream. Then I dropped my bundle, running towards the temple. I needed to help the priests save the burning knowledge.

Close to the burning building, two men grabbed me. I tried to fight them off, to get away, but the larger of the men, with long braided hair, held me fast, his grip painful. I screamed, and the other man laughed. "Hold her down for me, will you?"

I struggled uselessly as the braided man puled me to the ground. I tried to scream again, but nothing came out. 

The other one, wiry and short, unlaced his trousers and let them drop, grinning at me, before a strong voice cut through the sound of screaming, of fighting, and the great roaring of the fire.

"Leave her alone! We're done here!" There was a loud, ululating cry, and the soldiers all over the temple grounds moved away. The men standing over me did not move. "Aww, captain! We was just having a little fun!"

I looked up to see, silhouetted against the fire, a figure standing on the steps of the burning temple. "You'll have to pay for your fun in the next village, Yimve. As for you, Wenyi, you've had your fun for the night. I'm not letting you kill that girl. Go on. We're leaving."

The soldiers gathered around their commander, who gestured ahead, to the forest. The soldiers--the mercenaries--streamed into the forest, but I watch the man surrounded by flames.

When he turned his head in my direction, though, I gaped. The firelight revealed the woman from my dream, her features seeming carved from ebony and gilded.

Without entirely understanding why, I got up and staggered over to the woman. "Who are you?" I had to shout over the roaring of the fire.

"You are not a priest," she said, eyeing my travel-stained garb impassively. "Where did you come from?" Her face and voice betrayed no hint of emotion.

I shook my head, and gestured to the grounds, and the burning temple. "Why would you do something like this? By the Gods, why?"  
She shook her head, then pulled a small sack from her belt, and tossed it down to me. "See the priests get this. I--will do what I can." Her voice broke, and for a moment, I saw despair in her eyes. Then she ran down the steps and after the mercenaries.

I looked down at the sack in my hands, confused. It was not heavy, and felt filled with lentils or barley.  I wondered what was in it. But only for a moment; then I rushed to the temple to save what could be saved.  

22 February 2014

Cultural Memory

Turns out, I don't have enough time today (at least, not right now) to post an excerpt from TWISTING FATES--I could just copy and paste the super-rough first scene, but I'd prefer to apply the fixes that I've already done on paper, which means a lot of writing.
So here's what I'll do instead.  This is a thing I've been thinking about recently: cultural memory, or the cultural unconscious.  It's different from Jung's collective unconscious, because it only exists on a cultural level, rather than a universal level.
I'd love to get into more detail, but for now, I have this:
I don't think I've ever seen Psycho.  But I don't actually know, because I have memories of scenes and knowledge of the storyline.  Knowledge of the storyline by itself isn't enough for this theory.  But I have memories, in my head, of visuals and sounds, and my theory is they come from the culture itself.  Because I have no memory of actually watching the movie; I have no specific memory of being shown clips from it; yet I have memories of the film itself.
Cultural unconscious.
That's what I believe in.  

21 February 2014

Twisting Fates

Hey, all.  I'm currently working on my newest NaNoNovel, TWISTING FATES, which I hope will be super-cool.
I wrote it in November, and now I'm working on editing it, which is going to be a kinda long, hard slog, because I'm attempting to do one pass, to go from super-rough draft to something I can hand to beta readers/writing groups, and say, okay, does the story make sense, with the hope that people will say, 'yeah, it's great!', and then all I need to do is make sure everything's spelled right, and then I can publish it.  So, super-rough draft to practically publishable, one pass.  That's my hope.
(Of course, if I'm seriously missing a plot hole, or something, then I'll need to go over it again, but I'm just hoping that won't happen.)

Anyway, I think I'd like to post an excerpt sometime soon, probably just the fist scene or so.  Possibly later today, maybe tomorrow.  Not sure.  Soon, though.  Maybe after breakfast.