Friday, December 31, 2010

The End of a Year, the Beginning of Another

As I huddle in my trusty dining room chair, bathed in the bluish white glow of the computer monitor, I'm stricken by how much has changed over the past few years...and yet, how much has not. As for what has changed...

Three years ago on this night, I wrote the first word of what would eventually grow into The Sword of the Patron, my first novel, which today hunts for a publisher willing to bless it with printed pages to call its own.
Like all things that start small and on a whim, my little experiment in storytelling grew and changed. What began as one novel split like a single celled organism and grew into two, when I learned I had far too much story to cram into a first-time novelist's meager pages. Two books then birthed the concept for a third, though this story remains in its infancy while I tend books one and two. Amusing, given that prior to that day in 2007, I had continually told myself I was no writer.

That novel I started three years ago has undergone multiple transformations since its inception in 2007. After all, I had never heard the phrase Point Of View, at least not in the prose sense, before I had written almost all of The Sword of the Patron. I blundered into a less flawed rendering of the story than I might have, since I wrote the story using my protagonist as the "camera"...later I would learn I had used limited third person point of view. Granted, I had mountains of errors in need of revisitation, but I'm thankful for the learning I've gained over the intervening years that have helped me recognize them. I can only imagine the days, weeks, and years to come will help me see more places I can tighten and polish. Heaven forbid I ever reach the point where I decide I have no more to learn. And praise God for people brave enough to point out when I've made a mess of things and need to fix them.

An ever widening garden of writing endeavors grew from seeds planted by The Sword of the Patron. From characters mentioned in that tale and its sequel, A Voice Within, The Windrider serial took flight. I have long known who Vinyanel Ecleriast is...I believe he marched into my head in the late 90's...but his very mention in my second novel gave him breath enough to demand more screen time of his own. (He's demanding like that.) And from there, the early-history rendering of Delquessa's Lament, a novella in progress, has also taken shape.

Since my unfocused start, I've learned how very little I know and gotten a sense of just how mammoth the task of learning how to write really is. Through a couple writers' conferences,  a few contests, and a handful of rejections (some more painful than others), I've discovered more about the world of fiction than I ever thought possible. All this set into motion by taking a few blundering steps into fleshing out a character I had in my head who I thought wanted her story told in greater detail.

So, why am I recounting all this on this New Year's eve? I suppose it's because we all tend to wax nostalgic on nights like this, but it's also to encourage you...if there's a story inside you waiting to get out, don't insist it remain within only your soul, never to breath the fresh air of the world. Certainly, some will throw a few rocks at your baby. But others just might cheer and say your story has brightened their lives. You might be able to shed light upon a message only you can tell in your words, but will resonate with just the person who needs to hear it.

Here I am, three years later, in the same spot (or at least nearly) as I was that handful of New Year's eves ago. But at the same time, what a vastly different place I now sit. In a place I once restrained my inclinations, I have now found passion. Where I once feared to tread, I find irrepressible motivation. I'm looking forward to where 2011 will take me as I continue the journeys that ensue every time I sit in this chair and place my fingers upon the keyboard.

As for you...find your adventure this year and head out upon it. Without so much as even a handkerchief in your pocket. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Little Haitus

As I suspected, all things December have made editing the next episode of The Windrider pretty much impossible, so I'm just dropping in here to give a quick update on what's going on in my writing life.

November and December generated a couple of rejections for both a short story of mine and my novel, the former which I took quite hard, actually. Why? Because the reasons they rejected the story were spot on. It's hard to hear you gave somebody a peek at your ugly baby...but fortunately, in this case, I have power to make that ugly baby a real looker, if I do it right. For this particular story, I had experimented in writing above my ability in an epic lore style, and little character-driven me just shouldn't write that way. At least not at this point in my journey.

So what am am doing about that? I'm attacking that short story, which I believe will be a novella by the time I'm through, to deepen the characters, add a more specific sense of wonder, and hopefully get the story up to snuff. It's the story of an immortal elven duchess, a king of the most powerful human civilization on the planet, and the trouble a dragon can interject into such scenarios. It starts out something like this:

A shofar’s shrill cry pierced through the din of steel upon steel. Desperation rang in its overtones.
And well it should. Major Telenius wrenched his sword free of the rebel soldier slumped over the blade. At the soldier’s final gurgling cry, Telenius winced. Perhaps he would never grow entirely accustomed to the gut-wrenching sounds of battle. Telenius’s combatant was only one of hundreds of Durik’s troops to utter a scream of despondency or death at the hands of the Vareinorean army this day.
The enemy trumpeter blew the blast again, and the major cast his glance around the valley where the battle raged. Fractured enemy lines scrabbled in a disorderly retreat, though such a choice of tactics seemed premature in Telenius’s view. True, the Vareinor had already dealt Durik’s troops some telling blows, but did they really have so weak a constitution for the conflict? Why instigate the engagement at all, simply to withdraw when there were men still fit to fight? Years of warfare under King Aeleronde’s banner had taught Telenius that the cornered man typically fought hardest.
The rebels that withdrew looked as one to the rise south of the battlefield. Their attention compelled Telenius to follow their gazes, and when he did, all the blood drained from his face.
Like a blood-red sun lifting its wrathful head over the horizon, a figure staggeringly loathsome, incomprehensibly profane, crested the ridge. Yard after yard of armored, crimson terror slithered into view.
Telenius’s heart thundered against his ribs.
The beast reared a reptilian head upon a lithe neck. His gold eyes gleamed with an impure appetite as he regarded the battlefield. Telenius’s hand fumbled to his hilt.
The beast stretched membranous wings wide, eclipsing the sun so the vein-riddled webbing between his bony pinions glowed like firelight. Vareinorean troops exchanged wide-eyed looks.

Of course, quite a bit of plot ensues from there.
What does one do with a fantasy novella? Well, in this day and age of ebooks, I'm thinking of doing a little experiment self publishing it, and seeing if I can't get some practice promoting and selling my own work. After all, promotion is largely a first time author's job these days, and quite frankly, I'd rather get the hang of it on something short. Stay tuned for more information on the possible release of Delquessa's Lament.

Beyond all this, I'm still submitting The Sword of the Patron to editors, hoping beyond hope I can find one that will touch a book that pushes 120,000 words before I mercilessly start amputating plot threads. It may also be destined for ACFW's Genesis contest this spring. We shall see what life's progression has in store.

So, even though I had no story for those of you who have read faithfully all this time...fret not. It's not because I have opted to sit around in a pink track suit watching reruns of old game shows. I won't even get into the illustration projects I've got in process now. More on that  another time.

I pray the Lord richly blesses your Christmas with abounding joy! Stop back in around the New Year for whatever insists upon being posted here next.