Do you dress for success?

If you’ve been reading Writerly Goodness for any length of time, then you’ll know that I’m fascinated by process, my own and others’.  I love to find out how other creative people do what they do, their sets of rules and their arcane rituals.  On Facebook, I often share the tips and tricks I find on my blogly ramblings, and secretly, I take a certain perverse pleasure in how many of those rules I break, and how many guidelines I defy.

Writerly Goodness aspires to the transgressive, but only rarely does she manage the faithful leap such actions require.

In May of 2011, I attended the Canadian Authors Association’s CanWrite! Conference.  Workshop host Barbara Kyle offered many writing tips, but the one that stays in my mind is this: dress for success.

Why?  I suppose it’s because I don’t, but more on that in a bit.

Barbara stated that when she got up in the morning, she was always careful to dress appropriately, as if for work: business casual.  She said that this practice honoured her work and her as its creator.  Dressing for work meant that she was serious about her writing, that she wasn’t taking anything for granted, and that she wasn’t going to waste anyone’s time, not hers, not her readers’, and certainly not her agent’s, editor’s, or publisher’s.

I agree that one should dress appropriately for one’s work, but to me, that depends entirely on what your work and life is like.  Let me ‘splain …

Writing is Barbara’s second career, after a successful first career as an actress.  She stopped acting to become an author and made the decision to write full time.  The temptation for someone in that position would be to become part of the pyjama patrol, roll out of bed, and stumble to the computer.  Barbara worked hard at her first career and knew the value of discipline, however; she knew that the slovenly writer’s life was not for her.

I don’t have that luxury.  I have to work and I have to dress appropriately for work.  When I get home of an evening, it’s actually part of my ritual to dress down for my writing.  Phil and I call this transforming into ‘comfort woman’ 🙂

I need to shed one professional self to become another, and my professional writer wants to be comfortable.

Right now, I’m in my shortie penguin pj’s, and damn, do I feel good!  You might have the urge to equate me to Michael Douglas’s character in Wonder Boys who wore the same bedraggled housecoat to write in every day … and discovered he was hideously blocked!  That would be a mistake.

I have a reason to dress as I do when I write.  That in no way means that I am any less diligent or devoted to my craft.  It simply means that my definition of appropriate dress is different.  So I’m comfortable saying that I still dress for success.

Process is different for every writer.  That’s why I find it so fascinating.

What about you?  How do you dress for success?  What does that mean for you?

More adventures in SharePoint

Last week, I took a bit of a departure from my learning journey to tell you the bitter and the sweet of a recent event in my day-job professional life.

Now we’ll get back to what was possibly the best year of my training life.

Even as I was finishing up with the elearning course, the drive was on to develop our department’s SharePoint site.  It grew from a single team site, to a site collection.  This was for our team.  A second site collection was created as a training centre for staff, and because of my tinkering, I became head designer.

So I had to set up both site collections, and develop a training product to introduce, or reintroduce my colleagues to SharePoint.  There was another survey involved as well, and many service requests to IT.  In my business, no one outside of IT can be a site owner.  The best we can do is designer.

So I spent the better part of a month, dividing my time between writing the participants’ guide and workbook, developing the scripts for the accompanying videos, and the PowerPoint slides on one hand, and developing the two site collections on the other.

I created custom lists, manipulated content types to insert templates into document library menus, put together a professional development site for my team where I promoted the learning blogs I followed, the Webinars I participated in, the books I read, and so forth.

It was about this time that I wrote my exam for the courseware writer position.

I spent two days recording and re-recording the videos.  They were still too long, but the deadline arrived, and I didn’t have the time to devote any more to the project.

In the wake of the training and the survey, several more amendments to the SharePoint site were suggested.  At the time, my colleague Laura was working on another project, putting together a Web page for our department on the company Intranet.  The Web page on our corporate site was to point to the staff training centre SharePoint site collection.  Unfortunately, there were few things we could legitimately control on the Web page, so the SharePoint sites were in jeopardy of languishing …

Until my manager decided that our SharePoint could be our de facto Intranet site.

Then began a new drive to totally redesign the training centre SharePoint.  Away went most of the Quick Launch links to the lists and libraries, away went the “out of the box” home page with its announcements and links, replaced by content editor Web parts.  I used my limited skills in image manipulation to create banners, and wiki libraries to provide a Web page-like interface for staff to access our training products and documentation.

At that time, I had three weeks to finish that bit of miracle before I had a couple of days leave, and then a week of training to attend out of town.  This was also when I submitted my application for the consultant position. If it doesn’t rain, it pours!

A marathon final day of tweaking brought that phase of the project to a close.

Were there more adventures in SharePoint yet to come? You bet 🙂  But not for a while.

This was one of the most demanding projects I’ve worked on, but I enjoyed it immensely.  I love being master of my own domain and that’s exactly what this was.

Have your interests fed into a project like this?  One that grew until you hardly thought you could complete it?  What happened?  Did you pull a rabbit out of your hat?  I bet you did!

Tell me about it … Seriously 🙂


The cadre … or should that be the cabal?

Whatever 🙂  The supporting cast.

Last week on Work in progress: I sketched out the baddies in my novel.

This week, I want to look at some of the supporting characters on the heroic side of things.  I haven’t done detailed written sketches of any of them, so this might be short and sweet!

We’ll start with Ferathainn’s family.

Selene and Devlin

Selene looks like Selma Blair … or vice versa

Selene was a child when her family and the people they were traveling with were attacked.  Only Selene survived, though injured, and was found wandering in the woods by Leaf and Oak, eleph brothers, who promptly took her back to their home in Hartsgrove.  The child could not remember anything, not even her own name.

Willow, sister of Oak and Leaf, named Selene after performing the ritual of shir’authe, the eleph way of foretelling the future of a child.  Willow knew that the girl would be a seer, a talent associated with the moon.  Selene seemed appropriate.

Years later, a young bard came to Hartsgrove.  He recited his poetry and sang his songs.

And John Butler would make an awesome Devlin

Devlin also collected stories though, and was particularly enamoured of the eleph.  Leaf was finiris, or a song master, and like a bard, finiris practiced not one, but as many of the arts as they could learn.

Though he moved on, Devlin returned often, using Leaf as his excuse, but spending more and more of his time with Selene.

Eventually, they married, but soon learned that they could not have children.  When a pregnant noble woman appeared, then ran away, shortly after giving birth, Selene and Devlin decided that they would adopt the child as their own, but they’ve never told Ferathainn that she is not theirs.

In Tellurin society, it doesn’t matter if a child is adopted or not.  The people who raise you are your parents, and fostering is a common practice.  It wouldn’t be a shameful thing if Selene and Devlin did tell Ferathainn, but they don’t.

Master Aeldred

Walt Whitman reminds me of Aeldred

The old mage was a wanderer.  He’d had his degree from the King’s university, but loved research and unearthing lore.  It was coincidence that he was in Hartsgrove the Sestaya that Ferathainn was born, but as a mage, he had the right to take part in the infant’s shir’authe.  He was simply pleased to take part in an eleph ritual.

The eleph could see nothing of the baby’s future though, except Leaf, who saw his astara in the baby’s eyes.  Selene immediately took exception to this, since Leaf was already over a hundred suns old.  It seemed perverse, and no matter what assurances Leaf offered, Selene could not be appeased.

When Aeldred finally took the baby in his arms, he could sense the power in her.  It was like nothing he’d ever felt before.  To those assembled, he merely said that the child had promise and that he might be induced to stay and take her on as a student when she was older, if she wished.

Aeldred is afraid of Ferathainn, though.  Afraid of what she might become and of his inability to control her.  This he never spoke of either, not even to his colleagues back in Drychtensart, who all wondered that he’s taking on a girl as a student.  Aeldred did what he thought was best for the girl, though, and taught her in the Agrothe tradition.  He does not gawk or wonder at her talents, though inwardly he quakes.  If she does not think she is special, if she submits to the disciplines of the Agrothe, then it is likely that she will not become the monster he fears she will …


Devlin loves Selene, but he always wanted a child of his own, and when Willow proposed a liaison, he was definitely interested.  Willow made it clear that she had no love for him.  Lust, yes, but that was a passing thing.  If she could get the idea out of her mind, she’d never have reason to pursue the bard afterward.

In an unusual move, Devlin and Willow approached Selene.  Devlin would only proceed with her approval.  Even more strangely, Selene gave her consent.

Willow hadn’t suspected that an eleph and a Tellurin could have children together, but was pleased to discover her pregnancy.  Devlin doted on his child and unofficially adopted her into his family.

Emma Stone as Aislinn

As she grew older, though, Aislinn never exhibited an interest in his music the way Ferathainn had.  She didn’t dance and she couldn’t carry a tune in a basket.  She was what we might call a girly-girl.  She loved sewing and making her own clothes, doing her hair up in fancy styles, and giggling and gossiping.

Unfortunately, her eleph features marked her as strange.  Parents didn’t take kindly to their children fraternizing with the half-breed.  She had nothing in common with either Devlin or Leaf, did not take an interest in Oak’s scouting and hunting, or in the kishida (eleph martial arts), and she didn’t like getting dirty like her mother, Willow, who spent her time either tending her fruit, or brewing, fermenting, and distilling it into alcohol.

Aislinn’s shir’authe revealed that she could be a bridge between the eleph and the Tellurin.

Leaf, Oak, and Willow

Brad Pitt with silver hair could be Leaf

These three eleph are shuriah, or outcast from their people.  Eleph society is very rigid and those that do not abide by the rules are ostracized.  In Elphindar, where the eleph originated, there were no other people.  Being shuriah meant death in all but a very few cases.

Tellurin is full of people, though.  It’s crawling with Tellurin (named for their land), but is also populated by other races: the okante, grunden, blinsies, and favrard.  The dwergen and dwergini live beneath the mountains.

Olivia Wilde as Willow

In the west, government is sparse and centralized in a few of the larger cities.  In between, people live largely as they choose.  So it was that Ashandrel (Willow), Duriel (Oak), and Faliel (Leaf) found a small community where they could live peacefully with their neighbours so long as they contributed to the sowing and harvesting at the area farms, and contributed to the livelihood of the village.

Leaf saw his astara, or soul lights, in Ferathainn’s eyes.

Orlando Bloom could be Oak

Only eleph are supposed to see them, and only in the eyes of other eleph.  Still, destiny cannot be denied.  He is even more mystified when Ferathainn sees her astara in his eyes, but he is grateful.  He would never have disclosed his feelings for Ferathainn had she not returned them.

Shia and the anogeni

Once, the anogeni were the hands of the mountains, the fingers of the seas, but eventually, they became their own distinct people.

They resemble pygmies in stature, but have large, child-like heads.  Their eyes are large and they do not have hair, but their ebony skin is covered in a kind of down.

The anogeni way is one of love.  Everything has a spirit, and they respect the spirit of every thing.  This is how they work what others might consider magick: they ask nicely, and usually the spirit is willing to help.  They shape stone and wood, and the core of their spiritual practice centres on twelve sacred plants, or askhiwine.  These particular plant spirits are very wise, and teach lessons.

Essentially, they are shaman.  The anoashki, or great mystery, is their grandfather, the living spirit of the world.

The anogeni find Dairragh after the fall of Gryphonskeep.  He is dead, but these remarkable people bring him back to life and try to teach him the anogeni way.

The anogeni are born with all of the memories of their predecessors.  Between that and the lessons of the ashkiwine, they have a great many prophecies, and Dairragh figures into a few of them.  So they determine to save him, and try to make him a champion.

Ella and Kaaria

Really, I should reserve discussion of these two figures until I talk about the deities of Tellurin, but they are part of the cabal that help my heroes, so I’ll say a few words here.

Ella is all that is left of the goddess Tryella after her brother tried to murder her.  Kaaria, an air elemental, and her sister Naia, a water elemental, rescue Tryella, after a fashion, but the best they can do for the wounded god is to put her into the body of an yrne, or giant sea eagle.

While she can still speak, nobody but Kaaria, Naia, and their other rescue, Auremon, can understand her.  She has a little prescience, and is very long-lived, but beyond that, she is mortal.  A Tellurin with a bow and good aim could kill her.

She’s been desperately trying to find some way to prevent her brother from escaping his prison.  If he gets out, everyone is going to suffer.  No matter what she tries, however, it does not seem to change the outcome.  Even Auraya’s attempts to raise the Kas’Hadden, she fears, will not be sufficient to defeat Yllel.

She does see the face of a girl, though.  Ella’s not sure whether the girl will play a role in her brother’s defeat, or if she’s not a greater danger altogether, but she figures that she will need all the help she can get.

Kaaria is helping her track down the girl, but when they do, it’s almost too late.  In desperation, Ella diverts Eoghan from his destination at the Well of Souls, to save the girl, and she and Kaaria try to prepare both Eoghan and Ferathainn for what is to come.

Kaaria and her sister aren’t native to Tellurin.  When Auremon tore the Way Between the Worlds between Tellurin and Elphindar apart, they were two of the beings pulled through it into Tellurin.  Elphindar was a dying world, and they were grateful to have a new home.

The living spirit of the planet spoke to them and has recruited them to help him bring back his original children, the akhis.  Ferathainn and Dairragh have a role to play in that drama too.

And that’s it for this week 🙂

I’ll be moving on to more legitimate world-building activities after this, I promise!

Have a great weekend.

The bitter and the sweet

I promised last week that I would post about a bittersweet experience I’ve had at work.  As with anything I write on Writerly Goodness, it’s a bit of a story 🙂

I’ve written previously about how I became a trainer and course designer.  All I’ll add to that now is that I love my job and I honestly thought I’d found my home.  I had no interest in leaving.

Still, the wisdom at work is that if you see a job-posting that you’d be interested in, apply for it.  If nothing else, you get the experience of going through an “assessment process” and you get to find out if others in the organization see value in what you do.

In 2010, I’d missed out on a couple of plum postings, both times because I was out on the road training, and didn’t have my resume, transcripts, or copies of my degrees with me.  All would have been required.  Ah well, I thought, this might be the universe telling me that I’m right (for a change).  I’m happy where I am and I shouldn’t mess with it.

In April of 2011, I saw a posting for a courseware writer.  At this point, my training world-view was just beginning to be expanded with techie tools, and free Webinars, and all that good stuff.  Even then, I knew that course writing was a direction I’d love to go in.  So I applied.

One thing I have to tell you about assessment processes at my employer is that they are long.  Sometimes a year can pass before you hear anything back.  I was content to wait though.  So many other things were happening in my life at the time, I probably couldn’t have done testing, interviews, or myself, justice.

In July, I received a notice: I’d made it past the screening and would be writing an exam.

So I did.

Then in September, in the midst of another crazy time at work, I saw a posting for a consultant.  My position is called an advisor.  That’s where training falls in our organization, and consultant would be a step up.  The call was broad, across business lines and all over the province.  I thought, what the heck, let’s give it a try, not even thinking that I would be successful.

That testing was in October, a fairly quick turnaround for my employer, and the test was followed by a phone interview in November.  The results were to be released by the end of the calendar year.

I still hadn’t heard anything about the course writer process, and as the possibility that I could become a consultant became more and more real, I started to get concerned.  By that time, I was more convinced than ever that I was where I was meant to be, career-wise.  Did I want to become a consultant?  Would I like it?  I had no idea.

The promise of a swift assessment was fulfilled and I made the pool of candidates along with another colleague.

Then things at work began to get tense and uncomfortable.  My colleagues and I were delegated to processing for three months and all training activities were cancelled.  Employees were being culled by virtue of the non-renewal of their contracts.  Restructuring, a process that is on-going and painful, had started in earnest and people were relocating, changing business lines, and generally doing whatever they could to preserve their jobs.

I didn’t expect anything to result of the consultant pool.  There was no budget for hiring, so why should I expect anything?

Slowly, things began to even out.  My team returned to training, and the initiative that had been postponed by our return to processing.  My manager announced that she was pregnant and going on maternity leave effective June first.

And when I least expected it, I got the call.

Today was my first official day as Acting Training Coordinator (a position that falls within the consultant role) and with luck, I’ll get to hang onto it until March 31, 2013.  Eeps!

The good things:

  • New challenges
  • Steep learning curve (call me masochistic, but I thrive on this stuff)
  • Acting pay (had to say it)
  • A chance to find out if I like it
  • A chance to find out if I’m good at it

The bad things:

  • Leaving my team (I heart them so much!)
  • Fear of failure (and it’s not a wee thing)
  • Not training anymore (my last gig was last week—sadness)
  • Having to off-load all my work and special projects on my team mates
  • More responsibility and pressure (I have a budget to manage—eek!)

So there you are: my bittersweet rhapsody 🙂  It’s more sweet than bitter, to be sure.  I’m doing the snoopy 🙂

I’m celebrating tomorrow when I receive my Silver award with some of my team mates.  That was for the SMART Board project.  It looks like it might get a revamp this year and I may get to train again.  Happiness is just waiting to be found.

Do you have a success story that presents as a mixed bag?

What happened afterward

Last time on My history as a so-called writer: NEOVerse opened new possibilities 🙂

About the same time that I started working for ACCUTE, my sister-in-law told me to apply for a job with her employer.  I did and before the year was out, I was once again working two jobs at the same time, up to sixty hours a week.

Exhausted, I left ACCUTE and stuck with the better career opportunity.  It was in a call centre, not something I’d generally choose for myself, but in Sudbury at the time, it was a very good job (considering pay, benefits, and pension) and I needed that.

It felt like selling out, though.  Plus, I wasn’t suited to it.  Every negative call stayed with me.  Every anguished personal tale made me feel guilty that I couldn’t do anything to help.  I tried working full-time, but couldn’t hack it long-term and returned to a part-time schedule after six months.

It was at this time that my depression, which I’d been trying to deny since I was seventeen, reared its ugly head in earnest and I had to deal. Medication and therapy provided a short-term solution, but eventually, I weaned myself off the meds and tried to manage my illness through diet, exercise, meditation, and persistent awareness of what my body, heart, and mind were telling me.

They were screaming at me to get out, but I didn’t have any other options.

Term employment led to permanent, a mortgage (negotiated to consolidate our debt including our sizable school loans), and a car loan.

I was an adult now, with an adult job, adult debts, and adult responsibilities.  I was a home-owner.  All creativity seemed to vanish.  Though I was still certain that I wanted to write, I was unable to muster the necessary dedication.  Writing was now something reserved for vacation.

This went on for years.  I tried to wedge my butt in my desk chair, but it never stayed for long.  I did pull out my old project from time to time, but couldn’t focus. I joined the Sudbury Writers’ Guild and attended a fall workshop with Rosemary Aubert.  To be honest, I’d never heard of her before, but the workshop was great and I was inspired.

When my grandfather passed away, part of my small inheritance went toward a lap top computer.  That helped a little too.  I wasn’t chained indoors in the middle of summer anymore.  I wrote more that year.

I was successful in an internal competition at work.  Better pay and a better job.  It was a good thing.  Just before I started, the Sudbury Writers’ Guild scored another coup: Nino Ricci.  That was when my writing life changed.

In the wake of that workshop, I started writing every day.

That was the real beginning of my life as a writer.

Took me long enough, didn’t it?

Gratuitous links regarding the butt in chair phenomenon:


This is my last post in My history as a so-called writer for the foreseeable.  Other tales of Writerly Goodness can be found under my categories: Work in progress and Authorial name dropping.  Next week, my blogging schedule will change, so stay tuned.

I will continue to post in Select poetry, Alchemy Ink, Work in progress, and Breaking open the mind, my learning category.

The Initiate of Stone rogues gallery

Previously on Work in progress:  Character sketches part 1: Ferathainn Devlin; Character sketches part 2: Eoghan MacDubghall; Character sketches part 3: Dairragh McKillian.

So the deal is this: as I started to write, all three of the above emerged as protagonists to one degree or another.  Ferathainn remained my primary protagonist, because it was her story that everything else emerged from, and I intend to adhere to that.

Eoghan and Dairragh were strong supporting characters, though, and I felt I had to provide them with antagonists (antagoni?) of their own.

Originally …

The character that became Khaleal was Ferathainn’s main antagonist.  He was the servant of Kane, who is known as The Black King, but Khaleal was only a servant, and acted wilfully and maliciously in Kane’s service.

The initial origins of the favrard people (they can have viable offspring with Tellurin and are therefore not a separate race/species from my perspective) were that they were created, from time immemorial, to be predatory.  Their genetics are dominant, but they needed a non-favrard to mate with, someone who possesses power, and similar physical traits, to reproduce.

Originally, this was the impetus for his rape of Ferathainn, because she was a suitable subject for the continuance of his people.  It was a biological imperative, and eventually, this seemed to me to be too contrived.

Kane was the mastermind behind the war that Khaleal is a perpetrator of, and he experimented on people.  Initially, this was a purely scientific experimentation: how much weight could a healthy specimen hold before his or her strength gave way and she or he was crushed?  How far could various joints be bent before they broke?  Things like that.  Kane was just plain cruel.

Yllel was originally called Greymon, or known to the peoples of Tellurin as “The Grey Man.”  He was the traditional devil figure and tricked people into selling their souls for various dispensations.  He was always imprisoned to prevent him from harming people/destroying the world, but initially his passion for destruction was mindless.  It just was.  There was no reason for his need to bring the world to ruin.

Eventually, I conceived of a way to bring these three villains together when I thought about the deities of Tellurin and its magick system (yes, they’re both coming in future world-building posts).

For Eoghan, Kane and Yllel (as Greymon) were the people he was assigned to defeat because as the Kas’Hadden, it was his duty to protect the world and fight the people who posed a threat to it.  Khaleal would be an obvious antagonist because of Eoghan’s love for Ferathainn.  He wants to protect her.

When I developed Tellurin’s religious system (also coming in a future post), I realized that organized religion would also be an antagonist for Eoghan.

I gave it form in the personages of Archbishop Hermann Manse and High Inquisitor Alphonse de Naude (which I will not be offering sketches of here).  Later, I also instituted a rival religion for the Faithful, the adherents of the Holy Mother Church, of whom Queen Amalthea became the main antagonistic figure.  She does not appear until the next novel in my series though.

The Fathithful could be equated to Christianity in general.  They share the most in common with High Anglican practice, but there are points of divergence.  The Faithful do not really believe in the existence of the gods, but perpetuate belief for the better governance of the people.

The HMC is more of a political body.  They believe in the gods in the clock-maker sense.  The gods set everything in motion, but the Tellurin are the ones who rule the world on their behalf.  Magick and its practitioners are blasphemous.  The Faithful are blasphemous.  Any people not purely Tellurin are blasphemous.  They are looking to foment holy war.

In thinking about Dairragh and his potential conflicts, I decided to make Halthyon into his primary antagonist.  They have a long and strange association.  As I mentioned in Dairragh’s sketch last week, Halthyon enters Dairragh’s life when he is very young.  The sourceror seduces Aline, Killian’s wife, impregnates her, and then leaves.

Not having any knowledge of where her lover went, Aline eventually runs away when Killian realizes that her baby is not his.  Halthyon returns years later and Aline willingly runs away with him, but he is not interested in her, only the child she bore.  Aline refuses to disclose where she left her baby, and dies at Halthyon’s hand.

Halthyon leaves her body for Killian and Dairragh to discover and disappears again.  When Halthyon returns to Gryphonskeep a third time, it is as the captain of a regiment.  Dairragh recognizes him, and tries to kill the author of his life’s tragedies, but only succeeds in setting off the attack, destroying everything he knows and loves.

Dairragh is also at odds with Killian, who, after his betrayal by Aline and Halthyon, becomes abusive and cruel.

When I decided to make Ferathainn and Dairragh half-brother and sister, I knew Halthyon had to be her father.  That got me thinking about how he could also play the antagonist role for Ferathainn …

Raven Margrove is Dairragh’s cousin (born Nicholas de Corvus), and a minion of Kane’s.  He is the one responsible for the destruction of Aurayene, and he leads the largest company of the Black King’s army.  It is his goal to kill King Romnir Raethe and assume the throne of Tellurin.  Eventually he and Dairragh come into direct conflict, but not in the first novel of the series.

The sketches

Name:  Khaleal bin Nasir

  • Birth date/place: 30 suns ago

    Think Oded Fehr, but with auburn hair.

  • Character role:  Secondary antagonist
  • Age:  30
  • Race:  favrard
  • Eye colour:  Green
  • Hair colour/style:  Red, long and wild.
  • Build:  Athletic, 6’ 2” 200 lbs
  • Skin tone:  dark, sun-weathered
  • Style of dress: armour, articulated plate and chain
  • Personality traits:  Khaleal is insane.  The dark god Yllel has insinuated himself into his mind as he has done with all favrard since the race sold their collective souls to him.  Khaleal is an honourable man and tries to be true to himself whenever he can, but the near-constant pressure the god can exert on him has unbalanced Khaleal to the point where he no longer has control over his own actions.
  • Background:  Khaleal was raised by his amah, Illiden, in seclusion and had what would be considered a normal childhood until he came of age.
  • At the age of 12, Khaleal felt the first stirrings of Yllel in his mind.  Over the course of the next months, Khaleal was twisted by the dark god until he was driven to seek out and kill his own mother.
  • After that, Khaleal was Yllel’s slave.
  • He harbours the secret wish to free his people from Yllel’s slavery.
  • Internal conflicts:  Insanity/Yllel.  Tortured by the things Yllel forces him to do.  His rape of Fer is what starts to send him over the edge.
  • When he sees Fer, he feels that she will be instrumental in the defeat of Kane, or Yllel, or both.  Why else would Yllel want to subvert her to his purpose?  He determines to use Fer to achieve his goal (the freedom of his people) if he can.
  • External conflicts: The Black King seeks possession of Yllel’s soul contracts and thus control of Khaleal and all his people.  Khaleal sees this as an opportunity.  Kane will certainly be easier to kill than Yllel, and then his people can be free.
  • Ferathainn wants revenge for the slaughter of Hartsgrove and her rape.
  • Eoghan and Dairragh want to kill him for Fer’s sake.
  • Yllel possesses and tortures his slaves frequently.

Name: Kane

  • Nickname: The Black King

    I picture Kane as Marlon Brando/Kurtz from heart of darkness. Just give him black eyes and pale skin, and that’s pretty much Kane.

  • Birth date/place: Thousands of suns ago
  • Character role: Secondary antagonist
  • Age: Kane’s not even certain
  • Race: Once Tellurin, but years of magick abuse and experimentation have turned him into something else.
  • Eye colour: black
  • Hair: None
  • Build: obese, 265 lbs, 5’8”
  • Skin Tone: White, so pale, it’s almost translucent
  • Style of dress: Immaculate, reflective of his self-endowed title: King.
  • Characteristics/mannerisms:  Perpetually nervous, paranoid, physical tics throughout his body.
  • Personality Traits: Methodical, cruel, patient.  Megalomaniac.  Aristocratic.  In modern psychological terms, he’s a psychopath.  Power and its exercise over others is his sole goal and the only thing that can give him any pleasure.  War and physical violence are beneath him, but he will resort to such methods if required.
  • Background: Kane was once Tellurin, became a sourceror, studied hard and learned all that he could, and then became to experiment with the source, extending his life, becoming something that was no longer Tellurin.  He developed the technique of binding to the point of perfection.  Then he began to cultivate an interest in mechanics.  But to what end to use all of his knowledge?  Kane began to quest for something worthy of his new skills.  The domination of Tellurin seemed to be the logical next step.
  • He battled and slew his fellow sourcerors, gathering source enough to sustain himself and his experiments.  Kane spent the next years experimenting on people, creating living weapons from them that were utterly subservient to his will.  He calls them grotesques.  Everyone else calls them abominations.  He made various artefacts and mechanical weapons by enslaving the souls of other sourcerors within them.
  • Eventually, Yllel found the sourceror.  Kane learned of the god’s incarceration, resources, and desire for revenge.  Kane offered to free the dark god in exchange for a piece of the world remaining after Yllel was done with it.
  • Kane’s true ambition is to free Yllel from the void only to trap him in an even more impenetrable prison: the Machine.  The instant that Yllel made his deal, the idea of the Machine rose into Kane’s consciousness.  He knew already from his earlier experiments that machines naturally dampened the flow of the source.  A maze-like Machine that was carefully sealed to control whatever source it contained could effectively imprison Yllel forever.  Or at least as long as the Machine could be maintained and repaired.
  • He fabricated the Machine from his brother’s beloved, Laleina.  He lusted after her, but prefers her ghost in his machine to any physical form of intercourse.
  • He began to create his “army” of misshapen creatures, once Tellurin, eleph, okante, or whatever other basic material came to hand.
  • All he needs now is control of Yllel’s soul contracts.
  • He plans to take control of the soul contracts, then Yllel himself.  He will not just have a small piece of the playground.  Kane will own the entire thing.
  • Internal conflicts: Fear of discovery by Yllel.  As powerful as he is, the god could still kill him.
  • External conflicts: Yllel doesn’t trust him and can kill him if Kane doesn’t watch himself.
  • Ferathainn, Eoghan, and Dairragh all want to stop the war and prevent Kane from freeing Yllel.
  • Once Kane holds the soul contracts, Khaleal will have to kill him to free his people.  Halthyon wishes to kill Kane because he is an aberration.  Halthyon also sees Kane as one of the impediments to his own goals.

Name: Yllel

  • Appearance: currently formless, but he can appear in any form
  • Background: Created by Auraya and Auremon along with Tryella his sister, Yllel is actually a piece of Auraya.  Inadvertently, the goddess instilled in her son all of her worst qualities.  He too, is psychotic.
  • Auraya, Auremon, and Tryella devoted themselves to Tellurin and its people.  Yllel had no such interest and saw their absence as abandonment, then a betrayal.  He killed his father after Auremon relinquished his godhood and became mortal; he killed his sister, Tryella, when Auraya trapped him in the void.  He’s been plotting his escape ever since.
  • Thought is the only way he can affect Tellurin now, but a god’s thoughts carry a great deal of power.  The Way Between the Worlds that leads to his prison must be opened from the outside and for that, he has recruited Kane.  He uses his enslaved peoples to work his will in the world.
  • Yllel’s goal is to escape the void and destroy Tellurin while his mother watches.  This alone might kill her, but he hopes that she survives so that he can do the deed with his own hands.  He hasn’t given much thought to what he will do afterward, but will likely recreate the world in his own twisted image.
  • Lately, he’s been plagued by visions of a girl.  She has power.  Not a god’s power, but more than most Tellurin will ever have.  He wants to possess her, and failing that, he will destroy her.
  • There is no image for Yllel, because he can look like anyone he wants to …

Name: Halthyon Morrhynd

  • Birth date/place: Thousands of suns ago/Elphindar

    I think of Halthyon as a cross between Luke Goss as Nuada in Hellboy 2 and …

  • Character role: Secondary antagonist
  • Age: unknown
  • Race: eleph
  • Eye colour: Ice Blue
  • Hair: Beautiful, luxurious, white hair.  Long and flowing.
  • Build: 6” 160 lbs.  Tall, slim, but very strong, though he rarely uses his physical strength.
  • Skin tone:  Lovely ivory skin protected from the sun.  Perfect complexion.
  • Style of dress: Flowing robes, traditional, elaborate sourceror’s garb.
  • Characteristics/mannerisms:  A flair for the dramatic.  He likes to think he is the director of the lives of others.  He’s taken a particular interest in Dairragh.
  • Personality traits:  Confident, quiet, necessarily cruel.  Halthyon takes some

    Harry Lloyd’s Viserys from Game of Thrones.

    pleasure in the work that he does but not from meaningless cruelty.  He also takes care with everything he does.  Meticulous planner.

  • Background:  Much like Kane, Halthyon is a self-made man.  As a child and bearing a name he has since discarded, he suffered heinous abuse at the hands of his father, Galag, who he suspected also killed his mother.  When Halthyon came into his power, he killed his father and determined that no one would ever be able to abuse him again.  His quest for power was driven by this need.  His history draws him to Dairragh, who has also been abused by his father (though not to the same degree, so there is contempt too).
  • Exiled from Elphindar (after a failed coup attempt), he wandered until he found one of the fabled Ways Between the Worlds.  He used it to travel to Tellurin where he found himself a kaidin, or eleph sourceror, in a world rich in the kaides esse (powers that be), and among a people who had great talent to manipulate those powers.  The Tellurin had already discovered and learned to tap the source.  He studied long and diligently and learned everything he could about sourcery in his new home.  Interestingly, as he taught the Tellurin, the Tellurin taught him.  He too, learned about the battle of the gods and Yllel’s incarceration, but from arcane sources (Halthyon is also a bit of an archaeologist).  He, too, was able to prolong his life sourcerously.  Eleph are already long-lived.  He didn’t have far to go to achieve immortality.  The source of other sourcerors and magi is his primary sustenance.
  • Halthyon was present when Auremon sacrificed his godhood and released his source into the world, permanently rupturing the Ways Between the Worlds.  He watched his people spill over into Tellurin in terror.  He watched them battle with the Tellurin and withdraw into the Deep Forest.  Halthyon watched as Auremon became a great teacher among mankind.  Halthyon watched as Yllel approached his divine father, disguised as a student, and murdered Auremon.  He watched as Yllel slowly gathered his power and then struck out at his grieving mother and sister.
  • Halthyon observed as each act of godly creation or destruction diminished the gods.  He began to study the ancient philosophers, some of whom posited that the Gods would eventually become as mortals, and as mortals became more powerful, they would eventually become gods.
  • Halthyon believes that he is destined to become one of these new gods.
  • He will be rid of Kane, the aberration, take Yllel’s power for himself by using Kane’s Machine to siphon off the dark god’s power, and then he will ascend.
  • Halthyon also suspects that Ferathainn, as his daughter, could become a new god and he wishes to have her by his side.
  • Internal conflicts: Conceited, a bit of a megalomaniac.  Thinks entirely too much of himself.
  • He has to be careful to maintain his deception.  He has to appear a willing and devoted servant of Kane and Yllel.
  • Childhood molestation by his father resulted in Halthyon committing patricide and permanently messed him up.
  • External conflicts:  Dairragh wants revenge.
  • Everyone else believes he is working for Kane to help conquer Tellurin and free Yllel.  When the truth is revealed, however, even Kane and those who see him as an ally will be his enemies.

Name: Raven Margrove (Nicholas de Corvus)

  • Date/Place of birth: 35 suns ago in Aurayene.
  • Appearance: Black hair, brown eyes, otherwise, he and Dairragh could be brothers
  • Background: Raised in a family that was devoutly Faithful (a de Corvus was the first Kas’Hadden to be called), but possessed of magickal talent, Nicholas was torn.  His father and uncle were both magi, but deemed his talent insufficient to develop (truthfully, they found his personality unsuitable—Nicholas would use his power to hurt others).  His mother wanted him to become a priest, but Nicholas wasn’t interested in a life of sacrifice and self-deprivation.  He wanted to be a mage.
  • To fulfil what he believed was his destiny, Nicholas left home and went in search of a master who would be willing to train him.  There were no takers on the continent.  Eventually, he took to the sea and found his way to a barren and desolate island.  There, in the midst of horrible creatures and marvellous inventions, Nicholas found Kane, who promptly agreed to train him to the degree his talent allowed.
  • In return, Nicholas chose a new name, Raven Margrove, and pledged himself to serve the only man who saw fit to grant his fondest wish.
  • In Kane’s service, Raven learned first the necessity of cruelty, and then the love of it.  Kane has made him general of his largest company, and field marshal of the army.  He’s promised Raven the crown in return for his service, and Raven intends to have it.

For the visual, please refer back to my post on Dairragh last week.  They could be brothers.

Next week: The cadre of secondary/supporting characters.

TTFN!  Have a great Victoria Day Weekend everyone!

And now for something completely different … the Versatile Blogger Award

JLynn Sheridan at Writing on the Sun nominated Writerly Goodness for the Versatile Blogger Award!

Thank you JLynn!

For more information, please visit the Versatile Blogger Award site.

Here are the rules:

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.

  •  Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

My fifteen nominees:

  1. Monique C. Liddle: Bends in the Road
  2. Rebecca Barray: Becca’s Blog
  3. Linda Hatton: The Whatnot Shop
  4. Richard Hacker: Richard Hacker’s Blog
  5. Khara House: Our Lost Jungle
  6. Mel Jones: Mel’s Madness
  7. E.B. Pike: Writerlious
  8. Paul Ellis: It was a Dark & Stormy Night …
  9. Gerry Wilson: The Writerly Life
  10. Muddy Kinzer: Muddying the Waters
  11. Karen Woodward
  12. Writers in the Storm Blog
  13. Stephen A. Watkins: The Undiscovered Author
  14. Gabriela Pereira: DIY MFA
  15. K.M. Weiland: Wordplay

Seven things about me:

  1. Favourite foods: sushi, onion rings, sauteed mushrooms
  2. Favourite colour: purple
  3. Favourite place: home
  4. Favourite pet: every single one, even the rats
  5. Favourite authors: Guy Gavriel Kay and O. R. Melling
  6. Favourite words: serendipity and synergy
  7. Favourite thing in the whole world: writing 🙂

Learning elearning, the hard way :)

Last time, on Breaking open the mind: I participated in my first real working group.

In March of 2011, my team received a gift: our first non-acting manager in years!  We’d gone through four in the past year alone and it was hell.  The manager that we started the year out with had been our acting manager for a while.  He knew the team and what we needed, but then he moved onto another position.  Then, we had a manager for all of three weeks before she also took on another position.

Finally, there were two other acting managers who, while well-meaning and perfectly competent, really didn’t feel comfortable in the role for the training team.  The manager that we’d had for such a short time the summer previous was successful in a competition and returned as our manager, but this time permanently.

So, a new manager, and a new fiscal year threw things into high gear.  Our budget was restricted.  No overtime, and certainly no money for travel.  We had to start looking at alternatives to in-class, instructor-led training if we wanted to be able to continue and continue to be relevant.

Thus working groups evolved for the SMART Board and WebEx, our two main tools that could be used to deliver virtual training, either synchronously (together), or asynchronously (independently).  To follow up those two courses was to be a third, regarding elearning design and the conversion of in-class course materials to online or virtual vehicles.

Though I was considered the go to person with regard to the SMART Board, I couldn’t legitimately volunteer for any of the working groups.  My father had recently passed away, and I had asked for several weeks of leave.  I wouldn’t even be around when the training would be delivered to our colleagues.

However, I did get a “consulting” role on both the SMART Board and the elearning groups.  I ended up designing a good portion of the pre-course modules for the SMART Board course, though I must say that Monica did a smashing job of finishing them off, and of the Notebook presentation and recording.  Sadly, I got little to nothing done with regard to the elearning design course.  Monica and Laura were left with the bulk of the work.

When I returned from my leave, however, there was tweaking to be done.  The SMART Board course was a success as it was, but the elearning, having been piloted, needed some rework.  For one thing, it was too long.  Laura was seconded to another working group, and so Monica and I set to.

Shortly thereafter, Monica was pulled onto the WebEx team, or rather became the WebEx team, leaving me to finish off the elearning.  Really, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

I can write though 🙂  So I wrote my way through, like I usually do, and ran the rest on instinct.

I turned the lectur-y, research-y bits into a search and learn pre-course module.  I crammed in metaphors a-plenty, drawing heavily on the resources that my manager threw my way.  I created a post-course assessment, and tidied up the elearning toolkit that Laura had created.

One critical piece I learned was the importance of storyboarding the presentation.  I scripted that sucker out to the last detail.  I also became fairly adept at PowerPoint, and incorporated Notebook activities into each module as review and assessment tools.

I learned a lot writing the course, but in the months since, I’ve learned much more, and I’d love the opportunity to go back and refine things a bit.

When time came to pilot the course a second time, there was only one of our colleagues left to attend, or offer input for review (Thanks, Sandy).  It seemed to go well, but there hasn’t been much call for the course since.  No sooner was I finished with elearning, though, and I was on to the next project.

More on that in a couple of weeks.  Next week I’m going to share a recent, bittersweet experience with you.

Interesting update: Our work of the SMART Board project has been recognized with a service award for our wee working group. (w00t!)

How has the era of reduced budgets and travel affected your training efforts?  Are you adapting courses for online delivery?  How is that working out for you?


One of the contests I entered while I was struggling through grad school was for the League of Canadian Poets.  Through that competition, one of my poems was selected for publication in the 1997 (W)rites of Spring.

I read at their gala (with Valerie Senyk, Roger Nash, Sonja Dunn, Katerina Fretwell, and others) and subsequently submitted my poetry to Dr. Laurence Steven, who was now the proud owner of Your Scrivener Press.  He accepted my work and along with the work of two other northeastern Ontario poets, Monique Chenier and Natalie Wilson, he published NeoVerse (1999).

It stood for northeastern Ontario verse, but in a way, it was the beginning of a whole new life for me creatively.

I traveled all over the north giving readings that year: North Bay, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, and Parry Sound.  Due in part to my reading activity, I was invited to participate in an event in Caledon called Word Harvest, where several other poets were performing.

Thanks to the publication of my poetry in chapbook form, I was able to become an associate member of the League of Canadian Poets.

Also around that time, I was writing articles for the Sudbury Arts Council (SAC) in the Sudbury Star, after having served on the newspaper’s readers board for a term; I wrote interviews for the Laurentian University Alumni Magazine, and articles for Georgian Bay Today.  GBT didn’t last long.  The way I was to be paid was to sell advertising to local retailers.  I was not then, nor am I now, a salesperson, by any stretch of the imagination.

I put together a few workshops for elementary and high schools, and even one for the Manitoulin Writers’ retreat.

I was also putting together Web pages for the Huntington University Library and for the Art Gallery of Sudbury.  This was the old-fashioned (ha!), type-your-tags-out-in-Wordpad, HTML Web pages.  Eventually I adopted Microsoft FrontPage.

I started to write reviews for the Canadian Book Review Annual, took another short-term contract at the Cambrian College Library, and then two of my Laurentian professors contacted me with an offer of employment.  It would only be a part-time contract, but I could be the executive assistant for an organization called ACCUTE, the association of Canadian college and university teachers of English.

There, I developed another Web site, published the quarterly newsletter, and helped to coordinate their annual conference.

My first year with ACCUTE I did the crazy and auditioned for Theatre Cambrian’s production of Hair.  It was hard work.  Dancing, singing, and acting.  It was also one of the most fun, most amazing experiences of my life.

How about you?  Was there a time in your life when you became creatively fecund? What happened?  If you’re blogging about it, link through in your comments.  I’d love to see what you’ve been up to 🙂

Like, comment, share, subscribe! (The social media equivalent of think-do-create-BE!)

Character sketches part 3: Dairragh McKillian

Previously of work in progress: Character sketches Part 1: Ferathainn Devlin and Character sketches part 2: Eoghan MacDubghall.

In the beginning …

Dairragh was pretty much what he is now, a young lord, but originally, he too, fell in love with my heroine.

You could have called Initiate of Stone Everyone Loves Ferathainn 🙂  Eoghan loved her, Dairragh loved her, even the character that became Khaleal (more on him and some of the other antagonists next week) loved her.  It was terrible. You’ll remember I was seventeen when I first came up with the idea.

Back then, after the monk left her to become the Kas’Hadden, Dairragh came into Ferathainn’s life and their fiery conflict turned to love, but she couldn’t quite get the kindly monk out of her mind.  At that time, there was completely different climax in the King’s City, what I’ve since renamed Drychtensart.

Instead of the potential Kas’Hadden (Eoghan’s brother Callum) being executed for heresy at the start of the novel, Eoghan as the Kas’Hadden is captured by Kane’s army and publically executed at the end.  Dairragh and Ferathainn try to save the Kas’Hadden, but Dairragh only manages to get in the way of the executioner’s axe, an enchanted thing, and die along with Eoghan.

Kane kept the souls of those he vanquished that version of the story, much like a voudoun priest keeps his fetishes.  Ferathainn escaped and had to try to figure out how to get the souls of Eoghan and Dairragh out of Kane’s collection of enchanted artifacts.

Enter Khaleal, who remorseful, repentant, and tragically in love with Fer (yes, this is why I changed this whole sequence of events … too saccharine) sneaks into Kane’s soul chamber and retrieves the two artifacts for Ferathainn to prove his switch to her side is genuine.

In the epic battle that originally ended the novel, both artifacts end up broken, and Khaleal makes the decision to house both lost souls until they can somehow be restored to human form.

Like Ferathainn’s original story line with trauma heaped on top of trauma, it was too much.  Moving forward, it would be too confusing, and the three-person spiritual chimera was too contrived.

How he evolved

First, I decided that Dairraigh couldn’t be a legitimate love interest for Ferathainn.  That didn’t mean I couldn’t play …

Thanks to a course I took on Renaissance Romance at the University of Windsor, I got an idea.  One feature of the pastoral romance was two siblings, separated from birth, discover each other again, and usually through a romantic near-miss.

So I decided that Ferathainn and Dairragh would grow attached to one another, only to discover that they were brother and sister.  Then to ratchet up the drama, I made Fer his half sister, fathered by his mortal enemy.

Halthyon Morrhynd (again more on him next week with my villainous gallery) is the author of every tragic event in Dairragh’s life, as he understands it.  Because Halthyon is a mage/sourceror (more on my magic system in a future world-building post), Dairragh has a hatred for everything having to do with magick, and when he first meets Ferathainn, he sees her performing magick.  This hatred also gives a little more pop to their story line going forward.

Love is a sub-plot/theme in my novel, and I decided that Dairragh needed a partner other than Ferathainn.  This gave rise to the people that became the anogeni, the hidden people.  When Halthyon, in the service of the Black King (another of my villains) destroys Dairragh’s home and gives Dairragh a wound that will kill him, the anogeni find him, restore him, and shelter him through Vedranya, the season of storms (again, part of a future world-building post).

One of their number, Shia, is his chief caretaker, and tries to teach him the anogeni way.  Because she is both his healer and teacher, Dairragh falls in love with Shia, but he doesn’t realize it until later.  Why not?  Because the anogeni are tiny people, and the physical impossibility of a complete relationship prevents him from seriously entertaining one.  This changes though.

The Sketch

Name: Dairragh McKillian of Gryphonskeep

Nickname: Dair

Birth date/place: 22 years ago in Kirksea

Character role: Secondary protagonist

Age: 22

Race: Tellurin (Eiran)

Eye colour: Dark blue

Hair colour/style: Black

Build (height/weight):  6’, athletic, 180 lbs

Skin tone:  Caucasian, but tans well

Style of dress: breeches and hose, tunics, as a young lord, he can afford his own armour, coat of arms: gold Gryphon rampant on a red field.

Characteristics/mannerisms: Grinds his teeth when irritated.  Anger management issues. Has an unbridled hatred for magi.

Personality traits: Stubborn and wilful.  Innate sense of nobility and the obligations of his class.  Values family and history.  By virtue of his station, he believes he is always right and he doesn’t realize he’s being self absorbed.  Frequently acts impulsively but is lucky.  All of this hiding a devastating insecurity.

Background: Dairragh is a descendent of the de Corvus line, and thus a person of power, but he hates magick and resists this part of his inheritance.  He is related to Ferathainn, the original Kas’Hadden, and Raven Margrove (who is actually his cousin, Nicolas de Corvus).

Dairragh is the only son of Killian and Aline.  He was born on the family estate of Tulach Daire (oak hill) for which Dairragh was named.  The neighbouring estate is Cúas (the den) and Eamon O’Faolin fostered Dairragh periodically at their other estate in Drychtensart while Killian fought for his right to Gryphonskeep. Killian’s father, Adair, did not think Killian deserving of the privilege of lordship or care of the Gryphons.

Dairragh was brought up as a noble knowing all of the privileges of his class.  His mother was from the Parimi lands and his parents’ marriage was arranged.  Aline never loved Killian and after Dairragh was born, she refused to attempt to have another child.

When Dairragh was still a child, she had an affair with a visiting mage (Halthyon Morrhynd) and became pregnant.  Rather than face Killian’s rage, she fled, found her way to Hartsgrove where she gave birth, then abandoned the child (Ferathainn) and returned to Gryphonskeep never speaking of what had happened.

This is when Killian became embittered and turned to abusing his son verbally and physically.  Aline withdrew and except for court occasions, drank herself into oblivion.

When Dairragh was 12 years old, Morrhynd returned and Aline willingly left Killian after years of misery following the sourceror’s last visit.  Killian became enraged, declared all-out war on Morrhynd and tried to retrieve Aline, who he thought of as his property.  He brought his young son with him to teach Dairragh about his obligations.  Morrhynd appeared to have holed up in an old fort with Aline, but when Killian breached the building, he only discovered Aline, dead.  Actually, it was the young Dairragh who first found his mother’s corpse.

This event entrenched Dairragh’s hatred of magi.

Dairragh loves the Gryphons.  They are his solace and he takes great pride in caring for and training them. Dairragh is an accomplished warrior, archer, and jouster.  He has competed in and won several tournaments.  He has also defended Gryphonskeep and its lands against bandits and other threats.

Dairragh looks forward to the day when Killian will cede lordship to him, but Killian continually finds ways to undermine Dairragh’s accomplishments and worth, and denies his son his inheritance.

In reality, Killian fears that Dairragh will be killed and he will lose his only heir.  He also fears that his son will prove to be more worthy than he of Gryphonskeep and its responsibilities.  Aline always loved the boy more than him, and the Gryphons respond to him better as well.  He doesn’t believe that Dairragh should get anything without a struggle.  Nothing won easily will be held dearly.

Internal conflicts: Dairragh is full of pride and a sense of self-importance that hide his deep insecurities about his worth.  He has to overcome this before he can care enough about others to become a true hero.

Shia and the anogeni try to overcome Dairragh’s hatred of magick and magi because only by learning to use the weapons of his enemy can Dairragh defeat him.  Dairragh is stubborn, however, and old enmities die hard.

When he first meets Ferathainn and realizes she is a mage, he hates her by virtue of her talent.  Eventually he comes to respect her talent, and begins to feel affection for her.  His growing affection becomes confused with lust, but when Dairragh learns that Ferathainn is actually his half-sister, he is thrown into guilt over his inadvertent but incestuous desires and has to find some way to deal with his feelings of hatred for Halthyon.  Ferathainn is his sister and the only family he has left, but she is also the daughter of his sworn enemy.

External conflicts:  The physical injuries that Halthyon gives him at the destruction of Gryphonskeep.


Halthyon wants to humiliate Dairragh and destroy him.

The Black King and Yllel seek to kill Dairragh because he is part of the force working to destroy them.

What Dairragh might look like

Again, my drawings of Dairragh are incomplete and I’m not satisfied with them.

My early inspiration for Dairragh was that character of Madmartigan, as portrayed by Val Kilmer in Willow (one of my favourite movies of all time).  Just give him a beard.

Which brings me to my second exemplar: Colin Farrell.  Dairragh is my world’s version of Irish after all.

That will give you an idea of Dairragh.

Next week: The Villainous Gallery

Until then, my friends, good luck and good writing!