Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Windrider Saga Character Sketch Series #2: Majestrin

All right, commentors and fans, you got it--the consensus on the next sketch to go up on the blog was in favor of Majestrin, so here we go.

Majestrin is a mature silver dragon (mature meaning being just over 1800 years old during the time frame the Windrider stories take place.) His natural habitat is the colder northern reaches of the country of Radromir, high in the peaks of the always-snowclad Triastead mountians, the main mountain range on the western side of Argent. While he prefers colder climates, he can manage in just about any environment. Whether he'll be happy about it is another story.

The dragons of Majestrin's world employ breath weapons of huge variety, from freezing liquid (think liquid nitrogen) to paralyzing gas, to chlorine, to magma, and of course, the old standby, fire. All dragons are limited in how often they can utilize their breath, however, as a mixure of biological processes and magical replication determines the potency of the gas cloud, liquid, or energy they deploy. But when there's no breath, there are always teeth, claws, and a tail to fill in the gaps.

Majestrin's backstory, I fear, will have to remain shrouded in mystery, because some of it unfolds in the telling of the third Windrider Saga volume.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Windrider Saga: Character Sketch Series #1

As I work my way through the third book of the Windrider Saga, I find myself struggling to claim writing time from life. Less writing time means the gears get rusty and the inspiration flows more slowly. This particular book is demanding that I know the characters of the series in different ways than I've put on the page before, so in order to get my mind working in that direction, I've decided to do a little doodling on them. It always seems to get the ideas loosened up.

Now, maybe this is all self-indulgence, but I figured I'd share these little doodles with you as well.

Meet Veranna, Half Elven Prophetess of Creo

Veranna is 53 years old, which is the half elven equivalent to being in her early 20's. She was born to a Thelenese gypsy mother and an elven father who was a minstrel of Celevonese in origin.

Cultural pressures drove Veranna's parents apart, but Veranna's father was of greater means than her mother, so he took custody of the infant half-elf. As a rule, the elves of Sarn Celevon have a distinct distaste for anything or anyone outside their own culture, so the time Veranna spent with her father in his homeland was a time of disdain and ridicule, despite his efforts to shield her.

Her father's untimely death sent Veranna into the sole care of her mother, a sorceress and fortune teller. When Veranna showed a gift for dancing, the gypsy forced her daughter into performances with their caravan. The requirements of the performances became exploitative in nature, and once Veranna mustered the nerve, she fled her gypsy "family."

How Veranna encountered Creo and became his servant is a story for another time, but hopefully you've enjoyed the little peek at her backstory!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Drive-By of ConnectiCon

The sci-fi and fantasy convention scene is one with which I am relatively unfamiliar. You would think with my gaming background, the number of friends I have who are into comics, and my media immersion, that I would have spent a lot of time flitting from convention to convention, but that's not the case.

On the spur of the moment, I decided I was going to jump in the car and head for Connecticut in order to take a look at ConnectiCon, not so much for entertainment purposes, but to research the setting for the sake of using as a possible sales venue for the Faith and Fantasy Alliance.  (If you're wondering what that is all about, it's still pretty undeveloped, but you can find the gist here: http://faithandfantasycon.wordpress.com/about/ )

It's interesting to view a fan event through the eyes of a potential vendor, that's for sure. One of the things I saw that was glaringly obvious: if you want to sell at a Con, you DON'T want to be in the artist/author's area. Talk about a bunch of folks with a huge buffer zone of no foot traffic around them, all looking bored or languidly surfing the internet on their phones. Shopping in the main vending area required maneuvers similar to body checking, whereas the artist tables offered the uncomfortable opportunity to be the only customer looking at the merchandise.

What I also noticed is that just about no vendor was selling just one type of merchandise. That underscores my estimation that to be successful at conventions, the Faith and Fantasy Alliance will need to offer more than books to snag buyers within con circles. Homeschool conventions and tables of just books are a happy marriage. To sell books in convention land, if I'm not a huge publisher that can have a 20 foot high display with fire and animatronics, will require some kind of eye candy for sale to draw folks to the table. Artwork and jewelry are my first choices of items I would hope to offer--preferably items that tie into the books we're selling.

The top three things it seemed to me a person needs to sell at a con are:

  • A flashy gimmick (Which will not be booth girls. Maybe people in very cool costumes, but not skimpy ones.)
  • Products that sell themselves over a lot of white noise
  • A display that says "I am not working from my garage or dining room table." Even if I am, I just can't  LOOK like I am.

Those will be the goals I will be adding to the list as I prepare to solicit merchandise from authors and artisans, so thet can be confident their work will be in a place that will be noticed.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Grouchy, Sedentary Writers

First, I will open with an apology that I have only been dropping a post into this space bi-weekly at best. I know infrequent posting is a good way to kill an audience, but like the bulk of the US right now, I'm in a drought. If my writing life were a front lawn, you'd better not throw your partially-extinguished cigarette butt on it, because everything would go up in an instant inferno.

Its not that I haven't been writing. I've actually been writing quite a bit--just different stuff than usual. Happily, my day job now has me working on blog posts and press releases, which gives me permission to write about a strange combination of geeky band stuff, movie sound tracks, and self-publishing. But as for fiction, that world has been a wasteland for me, to the point where I have been wondering if the project I have going needs to hit the shelf for a few months, since every time I open the file, I write about seven hundred words and grind to a halt. The irony of that is the fact that I know where the story I'm writing need to end up. I just can't seem to find the bridge that crosses the chasm between where I am and where I need to land.

So, needless to say, this makes me a little grouchy when it comes to my evening writing time. Couple that with my incessant bad habit of comparing myself to other authors, and it's a good way to make for a lot of grumping and grousing.

The one thing I am loathe to admit: getting some exercise is actually very helpful to my mood. Understand, I have never been even remotely athletic. I have been a horseback rider and driver in my past, and yes, you can work up a sweat in marching band, but I have not been even remotely what you would call "in shape" since I started having kids twelve years ago. In an effort to nip the inevitable deterioration I'm goading by being a slug, I've begun biking with my oldest son  (well, actually, he was running and I was following him on my bike, until today when we both biked.)

And you know what? The days I get out, I don't spend my morning feeling like I could glare a hole in the wall. The effect last about forty-eight hours, as far as I can tell.

So is it any wonder when you read about prolific writers' lives that so many of them are fraught with stories of depression and personal tragedy? We spend all of our free mental time trying to think up the most gut-wrenching, no-win situations we can, and then we subject people we love (OK, fake people we made up) to those tortuous circumstances. We slouch in front of a keyboard living on caffeine and Snickers bars. We sacrifice sleep and decent food and real social interaction to the call of the novel. Getting winded on stairs is sort of a natural outgrowth of these behaviors, don't you think?

And so, despite my general distaste for discomfort and my historic struggle to find a form of physical activity I can do more than a couple times without hating it, I have joined the ranks of a few other sensible writers out there to get moving. I don't foresee myself every becoming a fitness nut, but for the sake of the people in my path each day who don't deserve my alternate fits of railing and weeping, it seems the only humane thing to do.