Sundog Snippet: Uncertainty

English: Circumzenithal arc and sundog over Ci...

English: Circumzenithal arc and sundog over Cirrus clouds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just wrote about being a little overwhelmed and stressed recently.  Part of that is my work situation.

Without getting into too many details, I’ll give you the quick picture.

My current acting assignment as regional training coordinator will end August 31, 2013.  I’ve already been extended once, and while there is a possibility that I’d be kept on, I’m not sure if that’s in the cards.

As an actor, I really don’t have the option of applying for a self-funded leave, but I’m really in need of one.  I’m approaching burnout.

My main duties, to manage the regional training plan and budget for my business line are a continual source of stress.  Change is the name of the game, and I try my best to make sure that things work out by redoing several tables and excel worksheets every time there is a change, but it’s a lot of work.

To keep myself motivated, I keep my fingers in the training and training design pots, but that only adds stress (good as that kind may be) because I have to do these extra duties in addition to what I’m supposed to be doing.

I’ve applied for a couple of positions recently with our internal learning college.  One is as an instructional designer, and that’s where I want to be.  The other seems to be a position much like the one I currently occupy.  I haven’t heard anything about either of these processes yet.

We are reaching a point where, after the tumult of business transformation last year, a number of our boomer employees will be retiring.  This will open up another couple of consultant-level opportunities for me, but I don’t know that I’d enjoy either position.  We expect further retirement announcements in the coming months, and some at significantly higher levels.

These executive-level retirements will have a trickle-down effect and as our structure shifts to accommodate these new absences, even more opportunities may become available.  It will also throw us into a new round of chaos.

I’m not looking forward to it.

Part of me hopes that I’ll be back to my substantive position and that I’ll be able to take a break in the fall.  Another part of me is invested in the instructional designer assessment process.  It’s where I think I need to be.

The bottom line is, I don’t know where I’ll be situated in my work world in a few months time.

Writerly GoodnessChange may be the new constant, but I’ve had enough.  I am not agile.  I may rise to the occasion, but not without cost.

This is it for the Learning Mutt this week.

Next week, I’ll blog about my first training for trainers gig.

The Next Chapter: Overwhelmed or underwhelmed?

You may have noticed that I have been a little quiet here on Writerly Goodness lately.  What’s the deal? you ask. Fair question.

One piece of the puzzle is that I am a little overwhelmed right now.  I’ve taken on a submission challenge that I probably won’t meet, and several courses, that while excellent, have also eaten up a good chunk of my creative time.

I’m trying to prepare two short stories for submission at the end of the week, and one of them has yet to be finished.  I know.  I’m stressed. 😦

I’m also working through the next revision of my work in progress and this coming week, I’m on the road for work again.  I rarely finish the things I need to get done while I’m travelling.

The other piece is that I haven’t been taking advantage of all the interesting creative things coming my way.  I haven’t been motivated.  The time issue may be part of it, but I suspect that the overwhelm and stress has left me a bit down in the last bit.

This is about to change.  I’m going to make contact with a few people this weekend to see if I can arrange for some interviews, and in a couple of weeks, my creative event schedule is getting underway, starting with Sudbury Wordstock, June 7 and 8, 2013.

Then I’m off to the Canadian Authors Association CanWrite! Conference in Orillia, June

English: Waterfront of Orillia, Ontario, Canada

English: Waterfront of Orillia, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

12-16.  I’d like to catch a Chi Series reading on the 12th as well, because one of my all-time favourite writers, Guy Gavriel Kay, will be reading that night.  I just don’t know if I can do both in such a short turn-around.

Other writerly goodness on deck: an interview with Barbara Kyle (which I’m very pleased about), and possibly something of a departure that I don’t want to spill the beans about in case it doesn’t pan out.  I’ll also be blogging my experience in Margie Lawson’s course, and, on the learning mutt side of things, my first training for trainers experience (where I’m headed this week).

When I get my outdoor office set up, I’ll probably show that off too, with the new view sans birches.

Later in the summer, I’m hoping to head to When Worlds Collide in Calgary (might be

Chinook arch over the city of Calgary, Alberta...

Chinook arch over the city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

hooking up with an editor/writer friend for this and meeting a couple of other writerly friends on site), and in the fall, I’ll be taking off to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference where a whole pile of authors, agents, and editors I follow will be.

Having put off the migration to and a self-hosted site, I’ve turned my attention to adding video or podcast elements to my blog.  Not sure how soon that might happen.  I have to put my techie hat on for that.  And the site revamp is still lurking.  Once again, I just need the time to spend a day or two and dedicate myself to the changes.

There’s a lot of exciting stuff happening, I’ve just yet to get excited about it 😉  It’s kind of creeping up on me, though.  I just wish I had more time off to get everything done (!)

So I’m not really underwhelmed, I’m just under-invested at the moment.

Summer will be here before I know it!

One Sundog Snippet yet to come this week.  See y’all soon!

Sundog snippets: The learning mutt is learning :)

I haven’t made much progress on Khara House’s May submit-o-rama and that’s kind of pathetic given that I only signed up to submit once a week.

I do have two stories due for the 31st, but can’t see getting another story done this month.  My other two submissions will have to be poetry, if anything at all.  I may just have to concede to failing the challenge.

What’s more exciting (for me, anyway) is that I signed up for some excellent courses in the last few weeks.

First was Marcy Kennedy’s logline, tagline, and pitch webinar, through WANA International.

Initially, the webinar was to have been May 11, but had to be rescheduled due to technical difficulties.  We got to complete the webinar yesterday, May 18, and it was very worthwhile.  Marcy knows of what she speaks 🙂

Then Last Tuesday, I signed up for another WANA International webinar with Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus and the minds behind The Bookshelf Muse blog.

That webinar was also very good, and focused on creative ways to show emotion in your writing.  What works and what doesn’t for modern authors.

I’d highly recommend WANA International courses.  They’re reasonably priced, and the presenters are all experts in their respective fields.  Marcy’s and Angela’s/Becca’s webinars weren’t the first WANA courses I attended.  About a month or so ago, I signed up for Jay Donovan’s internet security course.  He’s one of the techsurgeons behind the WANA site.  It too, was a good one, though I had to miss part of it.

The good thing about WANA webinars is that you get the recording on the other side 🙂

My month-long learning effort, though, is my first Margie Lawson course.  Margie Lawson is my kind of writing teacher.  Her method is deep editing and you really have to experience it to understand it.  It’s eye-opening.  She gets into rhetorical techniques and studying the writing of acknowledged masters.

The course will continue until the end of the month  and I’ll blog about it in more detail at that time, but for now, I’ll just say that you have to check out the Lawson Academy.  Once again, the courses are very reasonably priced.

I got hold of Margie through the Writers in the Storm blog.

That’s all I have for you this week, my friends.  I’ll encourage you to check out WANA International and Margie Lawson for yourselves.  They. Are. Awesome.

Until next weekend, the learning mutt is learning.


Sundog snippets: Spring is finally here!

So … spring has finally arrived in northern Ontario, but the black flies and mosquitoes have me hiding inside.  I also find that I’m not as motivated by outdoor tasks as I once was.

One thing I’d usually start doing is set up my outdoor writing spot, A.K.A. the patio, but this year, Phil and I have made the decision to rid ourselves of some potentially dangerous, though lovely, trees.

We have a stand of 6 birches that have in recent years been dropping what Phil describes as “widow-makers.”  If someone gets hit by one of those, it’s game over.  Plus, they’re older than I am and if one of them should rot and fall (which happens with old birches) they could damage either our house, or my mom’s.

Soon to be departed trees

These are the birches and poplar

They’re about 30 feet high.  The poplar (actually a large-toothed aspen) is coming down incidentally, because of its proximity to the birches and to my mom’s house.  Last year, we had to trim it back, rather it had to be trimmed back by the roofers because it overhung Mom’s roof and would have damaged the new shingles otherwise.

The poplar can be pretty

The poplar’s rather pretty in spring, with its new silvery leaves and catkins hanging down.

The work will be done on May 29th, while I’m away, but I’ll come home to a new view and that weekend, Phil and I will set up the patio.

Another sign of spring that always happens around the Victoria Day Long Weekend is the blooming of the pin cherry trees.  The blooms don’t last long, but they are glorious while they last.

Pin cherries in bloom

They herald the coming of the lilacs (in about a week).

Lilacs on the way

I have a massive bunch of rhubarb.  I need to take some in for the girls at work.  If they can help me get through some of it this year, it will be a good thing.  We always have so much more than we can use.

My massive rhubarb

And one final gift: my one perfect tulip.

My one perfect tulip

Sundog snippet

Review of Laura Howard’s The Forgotten Ones

What’s The Forgotten Ones about?

The Forgotten Ones coverAllison O’Malley’s plan is to go to grad school so she can get a good job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She has carefully closed herself off from everything else, including a relationship with Ethan, who she’s been in love with for as long as she can remember.

What is definitely not part of the plan is the return of her long-lost father, who claims he can bring Allison’s mother back from the dark place her mind has gone. Allison doesn’t trust her father, so why would she believe his stories about a long forgotten Irish people, the Tuatha de Danaan? But truths have a way of revealing themselves. Secrets will eventually surface. And Allison must learn to set aside her plan and work with her father if there is even a small chance it could restore her mother’s sanity.

Read more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

My review

I enjoyed The Forgotten Ones if for no other reason than it featured the Tuatha de Danaan.  I am an unrepentant Celtophile and enjoyed rolling those lovely Irish names off my mental tongue 🙂  The fictive journey to Tir na n’Og also captured my interest.  TFO is more than just another urban faerie tale, though.

The protagonist, Allison, is dealing with some significant issues.  Her father abandoned her mother before Allison was born, and she suffers distrust of men, and a deep-seated fear that anyone she loves will leave her too.

Her mother is schizophrenic and for many years, Allison’s grandparents have been taking care of both their child and grandchild.  Allison has a plan to relieve her grandparents of this burden by taking it on herself.  Because of this, Allison tries to shut all other distractions from her life, including Ethan, the young man she’s had a crush on, well, forever.

The pack-your-bags-we’re-goin’-on-a-guilt-trip thing is that Allison believes that she is the cause of her mother’s illness.  She was still a child when her mother’s melancholy turned to depression and dissociation.  Allison also fears that she will end up just like her mother.  Mental illness has a genetic component, doesn’t it?

What if her mother’s illness wasn’t schizophrenia, though?  What if it is the sickness that assails all unfortunate humans who have been touched by the Danaan?

When she begins to have strange dreams and her absentee father turns up, Allison’s life takes a turn for the fantastic and her journey takes her to Thunder Bay (Canuck connection :D) and Tir na n’Og itself in search of a way to cure her mother.

Can she save her mother?  Can she protect her family and Ethan from the ethereal and mercurial Danaan?  Can Allison save herself?

Like I said, I enjoyed Laura’s debut novel.  She’s written it in a straight-forward, very readable style.  Allison, though understandably neurotic, takes action to solve her problems and save the people she loves.

TFO’s been framed as New Adult, but I have to say that if Laura hadn’t made the effort of framing the narrative as she did, and telling the reader that her protagonist and friends were in their early 20’s, I wouldn’t have been able to distinguish her story from YA.  Her characters share an innocence that feels more comfortable in YA than NA.

That would be my only criticism of TFO, however.

I look forward to Laura’s next book in the series and to see how she develops as an author.

My rating: Four stars

About the AuthorThe Forgotten Ones cover reveal blitz and five questions with Laura Conant Howard

Laura Howard lives in New Hampshire with her husband and four children. Her obsession with books began at the age of 6 when she got her first library card. Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High and other girly novels were routinely devoured in single sittings. Books took a backseat to diapers when she had her first child. It wasn’t until the release of a little novel called Twilight, 8 years later, that she rediscovered her love of fiction. Soon after, her characters began to make themselves known. The Forgotten Ones is her first published novel.

Now go buy the book, peoples!

The Sundog Snippet: Thinking of Dad on Mother’s Day

Before you say anything, Phil and I treated Mom to a Mom’s Day Brunch at Culpepper’s.  We would have taken Phil’s Mom too, but she threw her back out last night and couldn’t make it 😦

Yesterday, though, during out traditional Caturday pancake breakfast, Mom asked me to take some pictures of the tulips she planted from Dad’s funeral arrangements.  They didn’t come up last year because of a killing frost, but this year, they look beautiful 🙂

Dad's Tulips DadsTulips2 DadsTulips3






Just  sharing.

Happy Mom’s Day, everyone!

Sundog snippet

Six questions with D. J. McIntosh

DMcintoshD.J. McIntosh’s The Witch of Babylon has been sold in twenty countries, was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award, and won a Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award for best unpublished novel. It was a national bestseller, an Best Book, and was named one of CNN’s Most Enduring Historical Thrillers. McIntosh is a member of the Canadian Society for Mesopotamian Studies. She is a strong supporter of Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists. She lives in Toronto.


Dorothy is one of the literary friends I’ve made through social media.  I became intrigued by her work with the success of her last novel, The Witch of Babylon.  Now that her second novel, The Book of Stolen Tales, is about to be published, she has graciously consented to this interview on Writerly Goodness.

Welcome, Dorothy!

WG: The Babylon Trilogy features art dealer James Madison and follows his scholarly adventures into the mysteries of the past and how they affect the modern world.  Kirkus Reviews called you “An erudite Dan Brown,” but you mentioned to me that your novels have more in common with the novel of ideas.  Can you elaborate on that statement?

DJM:  I suppose I’m using the phrase in the broadest sense. Thrillers depend on fast paced action, strong narrative and, usually, a compelling central character. I’ve read a lot of professional opinions and blogs that maintain ideas, especially those with a political tone, should be limited or left out entirely. Added to the list of non-starters are detailed descriptions and discourse about theories and ideas. I cut my teeth on the early Victorian novelists who, thankfully, wrote before this advice was imparted. Granted, we can’t call their novels ‘thrillers’ but ‘ideas’ were central to their work. I think of Dickens whose novels amounted to a virtual campaign for social justice and whose characters often symbolized social ideals or failings. Or Thomas Hardy dismayed at the transformation of England’s rural agricultural character into an industry centered world. The idea examined in The Book of Stolen Tales looks at how stories emerge from long ago myths, travel through the ages and are transformed according to the social milieu and mores of the storytellers. I’d love to see a return to novels that celebrate ideas.

WG: What first drew you to Mesopotamian legend and mythology and how did that interest result in the idea for your novel/series?

DJM: I like to write about famous stories and give them a new twist. When I began to think about my first novel, I started with the Book of Genesis, tales that were familiar to most of us. It quickly became evident that many of these stories were based on earlier Mesopotamian myths so I turned to research Mesopotamian history and culture and promptly fell in love with it. At the same time, the Iraq war broke out. Events such as the looting of the Iraq Museum I found both horrifying and gripping. The juxtaposition of this with my research grew into my first novel.

WG: Who or what are your literary influences and how have they contributed to your work?

DJM: I love lyrical writing and would name Anne Michaels (Fugitive Pieces), Cormac McCarthy (All the Pretty Horses), Rawi Hage (De Niro’s Game) and Gil Adamson (The Outlander), among my favourites. For clever plotting and great twists you can’t beat Agatha Christie (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd). And when I started to become serious about beginning a novel, I relied on Andrew Pyper’s Lost Girls. His book taught me so much.

WG: I’m going to take you back in time, because many of my readers aren’t as advanced in their writing careers as you.  When you were trying to find a home for The Witch of Babylon, did you query agents first, or go straight for a publisher?  How long did it take to get a deal?

DJM: When I decided to attempt a novel, I spent a lot of time networking with writers and listened to the many stories about agent and publisher slush piles and rejection letters. So I didn’t circulate my m.s. at all but instead entered the Crime Writers Association (UK) Debut Dagger and was thrilled to learn that “The Witch” was a finalist. The CWA circulates all finalist entries to agents and publishers and soon after I was fortunate to be taken on by a Toronto literary agent.

WG: I’m a process geek.  Could you share something about your writing process, please?

DJM: I’m a strong believer in outlining. Once that is complete I grit my teeth and crank out the first draft. I find this stage excruciating and often there will be whole passages I know very well will be tossed but they’re needed initially just to get a full draft. Then comes working with my editor, who thankfully has a fine appreciation for improving the copy, and we go through many revisions. I really love this stage because it’s here I can fine hone the writing and enrich characters. My books are research intensive and much of the history is also added at the revision stage.

WG: Please share your log line, or promo copy, for The Book of Stolen Tales.  What is the publication date, and what plans do you have for the launch and promotion?

DJM: May 28th!!  We’ve got a great launch planned on the 23rd. A reception at the Carlton cinema in downtown Toronto followed by a private screening of Jean Cocteau’s classic Beauty & The Beast as a counterpart to the theme of The Book of Stolen Tales. Here’s the novel’s description.

“In 2011 D.J. McIntosh took the book world by storm with her debut novel, The Witch of Babylon. Praised for its “stellar research” and “superb writing,” it introduced readers to John Madison, a rakish New York art dealer with a past, who uncovered a fabulous treasure trove of antiquities in the hills outside Baghdad and the truth behind a famous story long believed to be a myth.

In this highly anticipated sequel, John Madison travels to London to purchase at auction a rare seventeenth century Italian book of fairy tales for an anonymous client. Madison is warned about the book’s malevolent history. Before he can deliver it to the buyer, he is robbed by a mysterious man claiming to be the book’s author. When his client disappears and the book’s provenance is questioned, Madison must immerse himself in the world of European artistocracy and rare book collectors. As the dark origins of certain fairy tales appear to come to life, Madison discovers that a well-loved children’s story contains a necromancer’s spell and points to the source of a deadly Mespotamian plague.”

I’ll be promoting the book with some great giveaways – new Kindle, Kobo and Sony e-readers and Amazon and Indigo gift certificates. For the details when the time comes, check out my facebook page:

and Twitter page:mcintosh_bookofstolen_pbFront

WG: Thank you for a fascinating and revealing interview, Dorothy.  All the best for your future writing endeavours.

DJM: Thank you so much for the interview Melanie. I always look forward to your Facebook posts!

WG: For those of you whose interest has been piqued, I encourage you to pick up The Witch of Babylon and read it in advance of The Book of Stolen Tales launch.

Also check Dorothy’s Author page out on Goodreads.

How my life sentence with mortal punctuation has informed my writing

A.K.A. The period at the end of this series 🙂

I’ll preface this bit by saying that I don’t think I’m unique among writers in this respect.  In fact, I think every writer works, at core, with and through the same issues.  This past week, I read (and shared) a great interview with Chuck Wendig in which he talks about (among much other awesome) the themes that crop up in his work.  Surprise, surprise, death and family rank prominently.

In this morning’s The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright, one of the Canadian greats (with whom I was privileged to work, even though he didn’t like my genre/subject matter) Alistair MacLeod, mentioned the same influences and themes.

Think of just about any author you’re reading or have enjoyed, and I think you’ll find death and family cropping up: Rowling’s Potter books were all about death and the search for family despite its omnipresence; Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice is about a number of families and he keeps on killing off prominent members 😉 (note here: in this context, what is politics, but family drama writ large on the world stage?); Collins’s Hunger Games = Death/Family; Gabaldon’s novels are a series of time travelling family sagas and death plays a prominent role.

I could go on, but I won’t.  Search your own shelves/ereaders to find your own examples.

What’s unique about me is my story, my life, and I hope that translates to my characters so that even though the theme may be familar, the way that it is expressed through my characters and stories is something just a little different.


Death finds its way into a lot of my stories in different ways:

In my first published short story, “Chlorophyll and Corruption” (which is probably the prologue to a YA sci-fi), my protagonist first saves his brother from being pushed out of their atmospheric containment bubble, then must flee an impending supernova. “For a Change” (which I have subsequently rewritten as “The Gabriel” and may yet become a sci-fi novel) my protagonist’s reaction to a world of sterile Transmat immortals is to attempt suicide, repeatedly.

In “Fox Fur,” my protagonist is trying to deal with the death of her parents by means of various encounters with foxes.  “Dead Issue,” is about a young woman who makes a personal discovery at a family funeral.

“Tonsillitis Blues” from my 1999 MA Thesis, Whispers in the Dark, is an interpretation of my adult exploration of the near-death experience prompted by my tonsillectomy trauma.  The protagonist of “Fool’s Journey” (subsequently rewritten as “A Terrible Thing” and likely a YA paranormal novel), another story from the same collection, attempts suicide because she can’t deal with the visions of danger and death she’s been gifted with.

Even my poetry is liberally sprinkled with death.

Ferathainn, the protagonist of Initiate of Stone, experiences the deaths of her best friend,

English: Colored version of the ancient Mesopo...

English: Colored version of the ancient Mesopotamian eight-pointed star symbol of the goddess Ishtar (Inana/Inanna), representing the planet Venus as morning or evening star. (Version not enclosed within a surrounding circle) Polski: Kolorowa wersja symbolu ze starożytnej Mezopotamii, ośmioramiennej gwiazdy Bogini Isztar (Inany/Inanny), reprezentujacej planetę Wenus jako poranną lub zachodnią gwiazdę. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

fiancé, and father, and subsequently dies herself attempting to exact revenge.  She undergoes an Inanna-inspired journey into the underworld to reclaim herself and her will to live.  Eoghan witnesses the execution of his brother for heresy and when the goddess Auraya calls him to become her champion, or Kas’Hadden (hammer of light), he experiences an assassination of personality at her hands.  Dairragh, deeply affected by the death of his mother years earlier, inadvertently triggers the destruction of his home and the death of his father.  He succumbs to his wounds and is resurrected and set on a shamanic path by the mysterious anogeni.

I won’t get into the protagonists of my other unpublished works, but death and its impact are recurring themes.

Death is the period of every life sentence and so it is a universal.  Few readers will fail to be engaged by various explorations of death and its impact on those left behind.  Thrillers and mysteries are built around it and are two of the most popular genres in publishing today.


Likewise, everyone has a family.  Even the only child who has chosen not to have children of her own (like me) has parents and understands the pull of the complicated legacy handed down to them.

In my, admittedly small, family, women proved to be the peace-makers, sacrificial lambs, care-takers, bread-winners, and all around protagonists of the story.

My maternal grandfather was an alcoholic and a womanizer.  He and my grandmother were unable to have children and adopted my mother and aunt.  My grandmother worked in a textile mill during the depression and worked for most of her life until her first major heart-attack forced her into early retirement.

On my father’s side, my grandfather died at a relatively young age because of heart failure and my grandmother was an entrepreneur.  I still meet people in Sudbury who hear my name and ask if it was my grandmother who owned Marttila Sewing Centre.  Yup.  That was her.  She remained fiercely independent until stroke and cancer eventually took her life.

My father was always an ill man and though he was the bread winner for most of his life, it was my mother who held the family together, getting her high school diploma and driver’s licence in her forty’s and starting a new career as a ward clerk in the hospital when my father had his breakdown.  My mother was the one who cared for her parents and my father until their respective deaths.  Though she doesn’t have to, she still takes care of me.

It’s no wonder then, that my work focuses primarily on strong female characters.

Incidentally, here are a couple of posts I came across this week from Marcy Kennedy on strong and likeable female characters.

I had trouble for many years writing strong and likeable men because that was an archetype largely absent from my experience.  I found my way to that eventually, though, because of Phil, and because I learned to recognize the good qualities in the men in my life and expand those into heroic proportions.

Everyone is a mix.  My paternal grandmother may have been a business woman, but she was a poor fiscal manager, and tried too hard to curry favour with the well-to-do women of Sudbury (read sycophantic).  She first promised my mom inheritance of her business, then rescinded the offer and sold the business to a third party.  I think this was because she was too embarrassed to let my mom see what a shambles she’d made of things.

Though family dynamics run through all of my stories and novels, I’ll just present one example, from IoS, because it’s going to take a while to break down for you 😉

Ferathainn’s family in IoS is complex.  Her parents, Selene and Devlin, can’t have children and adopted Fer when she was abandoned by a bedraggled, but clearly noble, woman who refused to speak and ran away before she could be made to explain anything.

Devlin, feeling the need of a child of his blood, fathered Fer’s half-sister Aislinn, with Willow, a family friend and eleph (read elf).  Willow is misanthropic and makes her living as a brew-master and owner of the local public house.  She readily gave Aislinn into Selene and Devlin’s care.

Aislinn is obviously a half-breed, and largely reviled by the Tellurin (human) villagers of Hartsgrove as a freak. She is destined to become a bridge between the eleph and Tellurin peoples, however, by virtue of her heritage.

When Selene and Devlin adopted Fer, the resident eleph, Willow and her brothers Oak and Leaf, invited the new family and Aeldred, the local mage, to a Shir’Authe.  The Shir’Authe foretells the destiny of the child in eleph culture.  At the ceremony, none of the eleph can see anything about Fer’s future, but Leaf sees his spirit-lights, or astara, in the baby’s eyes (if you’re an Elf Quester, this is recognition, if you’re a Meyers fan, it’s imprinting).  This is bizarre enough, because only eleph are supposed to bond with one another in this way.

Selene, understandably, freaks out, but Leaf promises never to act on this deep spiritual attraction unless Fer somehow miraculously sees her astara in his eyes, or otherwise returns his feelings once she is gown.

Aeldred senses a wild and powerful magickal talent in the infant.  He fears that he will not be able to control the child and that she will become a rogue mage.  She has the potential to wreak havoc on their world and her talents will be much sought after, by moral and immoral authorities, both magickal and political.

In an attempt to minimize Fer’s potentially negative impact, he merely tells the others that she has talent and that he will remain in Hartgrove to become her teacher.  He further tells them that Fer’s parents are powerful, but immoral, people and that they must protect the child in the event that either one, or both blood parents, come seeking her.

He gets everyone to agree to a magickal binding.  None of them will be able to speak of the circumstances of Fer’s birth or of her coming to Hartsgrove until the girl comes of age.  By then, Aeldred hopes that he will have thoroughly indoctrinated Fer in the disciplines of the Agrothe magicks and that he will therefore be able to control her chaotic potential and prevent her from doing harm.

In truth, Fer’s parents are Aline of Gryphonskeep and Halthyon, an eleph mage, or kaidin. Aline is descended from the de Corvus family and magick flows through the bloodline.  The original Kas’Hadden was a de Corvus, so the power of the gods has been passed down to Fer.  Aline is married to Killian of Gryphonskeep and mother to Dairragh (dun, dun, dun!).

Halthyon is one of those rogue magi that Aeldred worries about.  He has extended his lifespan far beyond the already lengthy eleph standard.  His goal is to accumulate magickal power (by draining it from others as he kills them) and to ascend to godhood (in the process of which he intends to kill the existing gods of Tellurin).

Halthyon is unable to extract the child’s location from Aline and subsequently kills her in the attempt.  He wants to find his child because he considers her the only person worthy of ascending with him.  In order to do that, Fer must become a god-killer as well.

Okaaaaaay.  So there, in a convoluted nutshell is the familial basis of the plot of not only

English: St. Etheldreda's Churchyard - Family ...

English: St. Etheldreda’s Churchyard – Family Plot with Snowdrops (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

IoS, but the ensuing novels in the series, which I have called Ascension.  You can see why I identify the book in the epic fantasy genre 😀

Family is an endlessly intriguing Gordian knot to unravel and I think you can see where I have mined my tapestry to create Fer’s.

It’s all variations on two essential themes.

How have your life experiences contributed to your creative work?  Do death and family inform your stories?  Do you have a family-plot?

I’d love to hear from you!

Here ends the series that was A life sentence with mortal punctuation.  I hope you have enjoyed it, and found it to be useful in your creative pursuits.

Coming soon: I’ll have a book review for Laura Howard’s The Forgotten Ones, and hopefully a couple of author interviews to throw your way.  I’ll definitely share my experience in Margie Lawson’s  A deep editing guide to making your openings pop course, and in Marcy Kennedy’s Crafting your logline and pitch workshop next weekend.  There might even be some Pupdates and Next Chapters in there.