Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Apr 7-13, 2019

Happy Tuesday! Time to reward your hard work this week with some informal writerly learnings.

Rheea Mukherjee explains what it’s like to be the bi-cultural writer. Jim Dempsey helps you discover your characters’ goals. Sarah Callender asks, so you think you can write? Kathryn Craft encourages you to use short story collections as novel prompts. Writer Unboxed

James R. Preston has a conversation about pushing the envelope of first person. Becca Puglisi discusses first pages and character emotion. Julie Glover shares ten things she learned from ten years of writing. Writers in the Storm

K.M. Weiland: what is the relationship between plot and theme? Helping Writers Become Authors

Sara Letourneau provides some exercises for exploring the theme of family in your writing. Later in the week, Jeanette the Writer looks at five famously rewritten novels. DIY MFA

Jami Gold is worldbuilding a series but writing without a plan.

Oren Ashkenazi analyses six unsatisfying character arcs. Mythcreants

Nina Munteanu explains how walking in nature helps her write.

Jenna Moreci updates her list of the top ten worst romance tropes.

 

For balance, Jenna also shares her ten favourite villain tropes.

 

Jessica Leigh Hester: for centuries, know-it-alls carried beautiful, miniature almanacs wherever they went. Atlas Obscura

Nicola Davis reports on the latest research indicating that Beowulf was the work of a single poet. The Guardian

Alison Flood: “extraordinary” 500-year-old library catalogue reveals works lost to time. The Guardian

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you found something to feed your creative process or craft.

I invite you to return on Thursday for some thoughty inspiration.

Until then, be well!

tipsday2016

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 10-16, 2019

Here we are. How is it already the third week of February? Console yourself with some informal writerly learnings *hugs*

Louise Tondeur guest posts on Jane Friedman’s blog: the myth of plan first and write later (or, you never only write one way).

Rheea Mukherjee joins Writer Unboxed: writing characters who are “smarter” than you.

Kathryn Craft: your story’s valentine to the world (AKA, your query, synopsis, and pages). Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland critiques a brave writer’s work to show how paragraph breaks guide the reader’s experience. Helping Writers Become Authors

September C. Fawkes says, look forward, not backward, to pull your reader in. Writers Helping Writers

Margie Lawson stops by Writers in the Storm to help you put fresh faces on the page.

Sara Letourneau offers some further reading on the theme of family. DIY MFA

Becca Puglisi visits DIY MFA: five vehicles for showing emotion.

Chris Winkle: optimizing your story ideas for stronger engagement. Then, Oren Ashkenazi reveals six mistakes that can kill a great plot. Mythcreants

Chuck Wendig says, your ideas aren’t that interesting. This is less about making you feel bad than about making sure your ideas don’t take the place of, like, actual writing. Terribleminds

In honour of Valentines, Jenna Moreci offers her top ten tips for writing sex scenes. [Features discussion of sex and sexuality. Yeah. Even so, had to be said.]

 

Krista D. Ball rants: why is AUTHOR NAME taking so long to write their next book? This made me wonder if these impatient readers think they own writers? At the cost of $10 to $20 per book? Really? Gear down, people. Reddit

Later in the week, an 11:45 pm amber alert (and subsequent rescind after midnight) in Ontario resulted in a strange outcry of people who didn’t want their sleep disturbed, even after they learned that the child featured in the alert had been murdered. Seriously? Disturb me all night, every night, if it saves a life.

On that boggling note, I leave you until Thursday, when you can come back for some thoughty.

Until then, be well, my friends.

tipsday2016

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

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.

Family

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.

The one where I post about Dad: A life sentence with mortal punctuation, part 9

You may have noticed that I didn’t post in my series last week.  Truth is, I needed a break from the angsty.  While I feel that this series is important to write, and that I have come to a point in my life that it is necessary to purge certain things, all this exposure of my tender bits is difficult for an introvert like myself.

In the last instalment, I wrote about some of my encounters with death I had during the sixteen years in which I sorted my depressive condition.

About Dad

I love my dad and that’s in the present tense because even though he’s gone in the physical sense, he’s still here with me every day.

In order to tell the tale of his last two years of life, I have to give it context and that begins with his birth.

Dad was the youngest of three brothers and in those days, they lived out at long lake.  Doctors still made house calls for deliveries and that day he was running late.  The woman attending my grandmother, I’m not sure whether she was an actual midwife, or just a family friend, but she told my grandmother to keep the baby in until the doctor got there.

In the story I was told, she said, “cross your legs.”

When the doctor eventually arrived and my father was delivered, he had a brain bleed (subdural haematoma) and almost died right there.  He was given a poor prognosis, but he survived.

Dad was subsequently diagnosed with epilepsy as a child and was on medication from a very young age.

When I was very young, I was his darling.  We’d watch wrestling on the weekends and he’d let me wrestle him on the couch.  Good times 🙂

Then, he fell off the car-port roof, and was hospitalized for a while as a result.

In the years that I was catching all the typical childhood diseases: chicken pox, measles, and mumps (that was terrible, I had them one side at a time so it lasted twice as long as normal 😦 ), by dad was hospitalized for various other reasons.

He had his gall bladder removed.  He developed a hiatus hernia, which was initially mistaken for a heart attack.  He had surgery for that too.  A haematoma developed after that surgery as well.

At home, he’d return from work absolutely exhausted, collapse into his recliner, and fall asleep before dinner was even ready.  After dinner and the evening news, he rarely stayed up late, or fell asleep in the recliner again.

When I hit puberty, things changed again.  I don’t think Dad really knew how to relate to me after that.  His sarcasm became biting, not only with me, but also with my friends.

By then, the malignant hyperthermia had been detected in my family and he had to get tested for that.

Only a few years afterward, Dad suffered his breakdown and was hospitalized for three months as a result.

The spectre of mental illness

For a while, Dad was doing well.  He was getting regular talk therapy and attending a support group.  He started walking everywhere: down to the corner to pick up groceries, out to his get-togethers with the support group (they had coffee klatches outside group).  It seemed, for all intents and purposes, that he was improving.

Then the therapist he was seeing indicated that their sessions would be coming to an end.  Dad should look at trying to get his life back on track, maybe going back to work.

There was a problem with that though.  His employer had disbanded his work unit and there was not job in Sudbury for him anymore.  He couldn’t imagine trying to start over and I’m sure he had anxiety attacks just thinking about it.

Plus, he’d successfully gotten on a disability pension and was, I think, comfortable not working.

Soon, he stopped attending the support group and he stopped walking.  He gained weight and developed sleep apnea.  He also got prostate cancer and though a combination of hormone therapy and radiation put the cancer into remission, Dad suffered the usual after-effects of prostate issues.

His behaviour became more erratic as he went through his manic and depressive phases.  When he was manic, he’d spend like crazy, buying things from the Shopping Channel and Readers’ Digest.  He’d enter every charity lottery he could and spent hundreds on provincial lotteries.

Toward the end of one of his manic cycles, he’d always get struck with buyers’ remorse and his guilt took an odd turn.  He’d start to accuse my mom of trying to leave him, or of hooking up with one of his friends.

When he was depressed, he slept much of the time and tried to undo his financial miscarriages until the next manic phase hit.

My mom was taking care of him as much as she was taking care of my grandfather.  And she was still working.  I worried about her.

Even after my grandfather passed away, Mom didn’t seem to get much time back for herself.  Dad demanded (without really understanding that he did it) every bit of her spare time.  Mom started to go out with friends more as a respite from his illnesses.

By then, he’s also developed an arrhythmia that required the insertion of a pace-maker and was in the early stages of Congestive Heart Failure (CHF).  He started to fall and though his knees required replacement surgery, he was too overweight and his doctor wouldn’t authorize the surgery.

The beginning of the end

On March 4, 2010, I was part of the training team at work and away training.  I got a call to my hotel room late at night.  Phil had had to take my dad to the hospital.  Nothing life threatening.  I was coming home in another day, in any case, and so it wasn’t a situation where I would have to come home, but he just wanted to let me know what was happening.

When I got home, Dad was already out of the hospital.  He was agitated and focused on financial matters.  He’d taken to bed instead of doing his taxes and Mom was worried.

Things got stranger from there and on March 18, 2010, we had to call the ambulance to come get him because he refused to leave bed and refused to eat or take his medications.  Earlier in the week, he had once again been obsessed with their financial situation.  He kept telling Mom that he’d bankrupted them, and while she assured him that was not the case, he kept insisting that she had no idea what he’d done.

At first, Dad was in what was referred to as “ground psych” at the soon to be closed St. Joseph site of the Sudbury Regional Hospital.  Due to his intransigence, he was catheterized, put on IV, and fed food and medications by syringe.  He had to wear diapers as well, because he wouldn’t get out of bed, even to go to the bathroom.

Mom and I visited daily and tried to get him to eat.  What made my heart hurt the most was how he screwed up his face like a little child and clamped his lips shut, turning his head away from the spoon.  This was definitely not my dad.

He continued to say crazy things, that the police were coming to get him; that they were going to have a news conference and put him up as an example of government fraud.  At the same time, he insisted that he didn’t need to be in the hospital.  He was still convinced that he’d bankrupted himself and Mom (not possible as Mom had separated her finances years before because of his manic spending).  He kept asking if we were living on the streets yet, had the bank not foreclosed on the house?

He thought his “fraud” so widespread that it even affected Phil and me, though we were both working full time by this time and doing well by all accounts.  I even told him that we had enough to support Mom, if she needed it, but it made no difference to Dad.

From ground psych, Dad was transferred to the Laurentian site of the hospital on their psychiatric floor.  It was determined that he had suffered a psychotic break, and though not violent, was living in delusion.

We still visited him daily and though still stubbornly clinging to his delusions, Dad eventually started to eat, got off the IV, and through our insistence started the process of getting the catheter removed and out of his diapers.

The psychiatrists on the floor could get nothing out of Dad after a while.  He decided that he’d just not talk about his delusions anymore if they got everyone into such a fluster.  They transferred him out to the medical floor as they could do nothing more for him, and he didn’t appear to be a danger to anyone.

On the medical floor, Dad succumbed to C-Difficile not once, but twice.  He was very inconsistent with his toileting, and remained in diapers.  He was so weak that he couldn’t get out of bed unassisted anymore.

At that point, we were in the position of having to get Dad into a nursing home.  The hospital couldn’t continue to care for him as a patient.  He’d already been there for five months.  Mom couldn’t care for him at home, as the hospital initially suggested.  There were stairs, and she couldn’t lift Dad on her own.  Home care could be inconsistent, and would only cover so many hours in a day.  What would happen at night should he fall or something else take place?

So, we had a family conference with the attending physician, the social worker, Mom, Phil, and me.  Dad seemed to understand what was going on and didn’t object to it.  Mom would have to do some financial manoeuvring to make the arrangement work.

You see, as soon as Dad was in the queue for a nursing home, he was considered an “alternate level of care” patient.  Even while he was in the hospital, he’d be charged the ACL rate, which was about what a nursing home would have cost.

Mom had to file papers for “involuntary separation” so that she and Dad could file their taxes completely separately, for the first time since they were married.

In ensuing weeks, the social worker guided us through the process of selecting a nursing home, and every time my mom signed a form, we were careful to ask, what does this mean?

Dad was transferred again to the hospital’s ALC facility while he waited to be placed in a home.  It was fall by then, and Dad caught C-Difficile at least twice more.  Mom and I became very adept at gowning and gloving before we went in to visit him.

Nurses redoubled their efforts to get Dad out of his diapers and physiotherapists tried to get him up and out of bed.  Sitting upright for a while was all he could manage.  He never supported his own weight again.

Eventually, Mom received the news that Dad would have a bed at Falconbridge Extendacare.  We went in for the intake meeting and left with a mass of reading material.  The place seemed ideal, though.

If Dad could eventually get mobile, even in a wheelchair, there was a pub (the main floor dining room was taken over by a musical group for the evening and they’d be allowed a beer if they wished), an interdenominational faith service several times a week, and an activity room with everything from the internet to flower arranging courses, and they kept canaries and parakeets for the residents.  There was a garden to putter around in outside if he wanted as well.  If he wanted.

The move took place in December of 2010 and Mom and I were impressed with the care he received there.  She still went out to visit him every day, but back in the summer, I’d cut back my own visits to 2 or 3 times per week.  Because of my training obligations, there were some weeks in which I couldn’t visit at all.

Things again began to look good for my dad.  The care was far more consistent at the nursing home, and they were fitting him for a wheelchair.  Mom and I were trying to figure out what his plan would cover and how much extra she could afford to pay for one when Dad set his heart on having a motorised wheelchair.

On Monday, April 4, 2011, Dad was zooming around the halls on what was to become his loaner chair pending the fitting and financial approval for the one we would purchase.  That night, Mom and I were called out to the nursing home.  Sometime after he’d been put to bed, Dad’s CHF went into overdrive and tried to drown him.

He was labouring to breathe, in-and-out of consciousness, unable to speak.  He’d shake and moan from time to time.  The doctor and the minister both came out to talk to us.

Dad was a DNR, that is, no extraordinary measures were to be taken to preserve his life.  He was declared palliative and all medication but those used to keep him “comfortable” were withdrawn.  Mom and I set up a vigil with one of Mom’s friends.

We stayed with him throughout the week and many friends came to visit him.  After the first couple of days, Dad didn’t regain consciousness.  Though I brought books and my laptop to help pass the time, I often sat and just watched him breathe for stretches, held his hand, changed the cold cloths on his head and behind his neck, swabbed his mouth with a damp sponge.

On April 9th, Mom came to relieve me for the evening shift and I went home to bed.  Just after 11, she called and told me to come back right away.  Dad passed away before I got there.

I was still able to say goodbye, though.  What was more important was that I had spent the time with him that week, bearing witness as he taught me what it was to die.  Really, he was showing me all along, and I treasure every moment I spent with him, even the difficult ones.

In memoriam

This is what I characterize as my season of sorrow: from the beginning of March, when he started to show signs of his psychotic break, through March 14, his birthday, March 18, the day he was admitted to hospital, April 4, the day he took his turn for the worse, April 9, the anniversary of his death, and April 15, the anniversary of his funeral.

In a maudlin mood, I might extend that as far as Father’s Day, but a month and a half is enough time to dwell on death.

At his funeral, I read the following poem.  Afterward, I created the picture and we had copies made for the family.

ArtofFloating

The picture is one of my dad tubing at my uncle’s cottage. Sadly, we have no pictures of him floating.

 

Dad had a nigh on miraculous ability to float.  He could lie on his back in the water, put his hands behind his head, and just float, head, belly, and toes all poking above the surface.  He was unsinkable.  My cousin swears that he caught Dad sleeping that way.  I like to think of my Dad floating away in the afterlife, still unsinkable.

I chose The Water is Wide by Connie Dover as a song for the funeral recessional as well.  Though it’s more of a love song, the water theme prevailed.  While Dad’s gone before her, I like to think that he’ll be back for Mom with the boat when the time comes.

Sadly, I couldn’t find a version of the song to share with you, but I encourage you to give it a listen.  Connie Dover has one of the world’s most beautiful voices.

Next week, the final episode of a life sentence with mortal punctuation: Thoughts on Happiness.  That’s where I’ll tell you a bit about what my experiences with death have taught me about living.

Have a great evening, everyone.

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 …

Aislinn

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.