Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Habit and Ten Things On My Mind

In an effort to blog more regularly, I'm trying to make it a habit. Since I couldn't come up with anything, my sister recommended just putting up ten random things on my mind so here goes decimal randomness.

1) If you force yourself to blog regularly, then it becomes a habit and your friends and family appreciate it.
2) Dentists are weird because they always talk to you and ask you questions about your life while they have their tools in your mouth and you can't respond.
3) The parts of your brain that deal with your wants and your happiness are two separate places. We really are hardwired to want things we know will make us miserable.
4) I meant to post on my other blog about the saturday we were in Sugarhouse and saw six Subaru Bajas and how we decided to name the day Baja Day.
5) If your wife is happy, it's a lot easier to be happy yourself.
6) For writing as many books as I have, I should probably submit some of them to get published. If I don't I'll never be a published author.
7) I really love my family. They're wonderful people. I like being with them.
8) Sometimes, conversations going on around you distract you from the task of blogging.
9) I have really cute nieces and nephews.
10) Hey, I made it and it wasn't that hard.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Magic Of A Clouded Skye

From reading and listening to other writers on the subject of magic, a few common rules should be considered for the magic in any story.

1) Magic should never be free. There should always be a cost to magic.
2) All aspects of the world should take into consideration the magic of that world, economic, technological, or social.
3) Magic should have an underlying structure or philosophy. You don't have to tell the reader the rules of how it works but you have to have thought it up.
4) Avoid using magic as 'deus ex machina' within the story. Don't cheapen the protagonists' struggles and triumphs with it.

The magic of "A Clouded Skye" is not free. There are physical limitations and social ramifications. Skye gains the ability to hear the "heartsongs" of living things which are the harmonies and rhythms of all life. She also gained the ability to tap into the "Mist" which is the uncreated potential of the world. She soon learns two things about the magic of her world. One is that channeling and focusing the Mist to create something is very exhausting. Two is that she is rather tone deaf and has a hard time learning music, as her former music instructor Jacek would attest to. Socially, many humans fear magic and things of the mist. This is especially true in the old country, which has had more time and distance between it and the parts of the world still covered and shaped by the mist.

The magic of "A Clouded Skye" is related to the magic of the preceding Paradise Season stories. The Paradise Season stories take place in the same world but much later than Skye's story. In those stories, the heartsong was the major focal point. The mist had receded to the point where the magic was weaker but more sophisticated and everywhere. In "A Clouded Skye", the Mist is not yet exhausted from the world so the magic is more powerful but less understood. Fewer people understand or use it. Its close proximity but lack of understanding to the people of the world make the magic more greatly feared whereas in the Paradise Season stories it is a more commonly accepted part of life.

The mist and heartsongs are part of a universal underlying structure to the world. Some of it gets explained in the story but some of it may not. The faerie queen Ellana mentions that she was escaping a great calamity from another world. Although she doesn't elaborate more, the Mist ties into how multiple worlds exist in the setting. Picture it as the sea between many islands. Somehow the faerie queen took herself and many of her children from one world to Skye's. Just for fun, I think of wacky multi-world things from time to time. One of these days I should write a Sliders-esque world jumping story sometime.

Although magic helps Skye in the story, the magic she or her faerie friends wield does not just happen to solve all their problems for her. In fact it probably creates just as many problems as it solves. Remember, Skye is tone deaf and her ability to manipulate the heartsongs of plants is inconsistent at best.

I hope you enjoyed these revelations on the Magic of a Clouded Skye. And if you haven't guessed it yet, there is link between the Mist and the title of the book.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Clouded Skye

“Right, then, anything I should know about Prince Junior the Second?”

“He likes hunting and fencing. It makes him feel manly. If you want him to really like you, pretend to be interested.”

“I’m always looking for a good sword master to teach me to use this blade of mine,” I said patting my sheathed rusty sword. “I spent a winter with a man who was a swordsmith. He made fine ones and taught me a few basics. He said that since I tended to wander off and get into trouble, I should learn how to protect myself.”

“Have you ever had to use it against someone?” Ora asked.

“I’ve scared off a few would-be thieves with it. But it didn’t impress the bear.”

“The bear?” she asked.

“Yeah, I was traveling alone near Crescent Bay and a bear was attracted to the smell of food in my pack. It seemed rather indifferent toward the sword but quite insistent about the food. Rather than fight for it, I just let the bear have it. I haven’t had much luck with food generally.”

Just a small excerpt from the latest book I'm writing about a girl named Skye Natala. Born with a mismatched pair of eyes, she managed to stumble her way into a blood pact with a faerie queen to become her world's first elf. The story is about her adventures, or as is often the case, misadventures. Unlike several of my previous works, this one is a more lighthearted tale involving a tone deaf music student (Skye), inept highway robbers, a big red dragon named Clifford and more.

The original character concept was part of a role playing game being developed and play-tested with my friends Dave and Paul. The game ended prematurely as real life got in the way for the three of us, but the character lived on in the back of my mind. At one point, I rendered an image of Skye using DAZ 3D studio, a freeware 3D rendering program (the picture above).

I later wrote a short Story called Paradise Winter about an elf whose human husband had aged and was about to die while she continued on in immortality. It was followed up by the longer stories, Paradise Spring, Paradise Dawn, and Paradise Day. In Paradise Day (an incomplete work at this time), the main character actually gets to meet the oldest elf, the "Eve" of elves, Skye Natala. When writing that story, I knew that Skye needed her own story told. And thus began "A Clouded Skye".

With a blog, I realized I could probably share some of the thought process that goes into the creation of a story. It may be of interest to some people. One of my nieces is an avid writer herself. This post should be just the first of many (if I can actually get myself to blog on a regular basis).