The Three Little Pigs—in Shakespearean English

This is so funny, but it makes it plain why historical writers don’t try to mimic the English of their eras.

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March 4, 2012 · 10:00 pm

The Winter Writing Festival is over—’til next year!

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The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood’s  second annual Winter Writing Festival ends today.  So sad.  The success stories are a joy to read, and even those who didn’t make their goals report excellent progress.  (To see those glowing reports, click here.)  If you didn’t or couldn’t join the productivity this year, consider marking your calendars for next—so many people look forward to plowing through winter’s Dark Ages with us, we had to make it an annual event.

Fifty days of friendships made, critique partnerships founded, everyone like-minded and racing toward similar goals.  Weekly swag, fun, encouragement, and comradery available and happily shared.  And writing.  Lots of writing.  What’s not to love?

Like many of the participants, I made my posted BICHOK (Butt-In-Chair-Hands-On-Keyboard) goals, for which I can display the winner’s badge.  I did not, however, finish my manuscript, a personal goal that I’d hoped the writing sprints would see accomplished.  Still, vast progress is vast progress.

I shall miss the festival and all the gals who joined me in the chat room for sprints.  Some of their output proved beyond amazing, and the give and take made what is normally an insular experience energizing.  A sounding-board (or six) at hand has much to recommend it.

To those who made their goals, congratulations!  To those who didn’t, congratulations, as well.  Goals are wonderful things, but it’s the striving, the not giving up that will bring success.  Thus, you’re all winners.

Proverb:  To succeed, if you fall down six times, you must get up seven.

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The Legend

I have added yet another bit to my Books & Excerpts page to, I hope, entice and intrigue.

The Legend is written in the oral tradition, mimicking how it would have been told prior to the advent of the printing press.  After a short reprise—-to allow it to stand alone—- it picks up where my previous narrative tale, In the Beginning . . ., ends.  It is NOT, however, the end of the story.  That is still in the formulative stages.

Writing in the oral tradition proved far more difficult than I imagined it would be.  Please feel free to let me know if you find a place I slipped back into a more modern, character point-of-view writing style.

As always, enjoy.

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In the Beginning . . .

For any who are interested, I have posted a short, narrative prologue to my current series on my Excepts page.  While set well before the 15th century time-frame of my novels, this is the root from which those stories grew.

Yes, it’s just a taste, and I hope to expand it later, making it a story of its own.  Sadly, I can see no HEA for Merlin and Morgan—yet.  But as Scarlett O’Hara says, “Tomorrow is another day.” 

 Anything can happen.

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Come One, Come All!!!

I know I’ve been quiet lately, and I’ll explain later, but for now, I have an announcement:

The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood’s
2012 Winter Writing Festival
will soon commence!
 
Here’s the info:
 
Craving some serious writing productivity this winter? Need to clean up the mess you left in the second half of your NaNo novel? Want to finally, finally fix that pesky plot hole in your WIP?
 
Great news—it’s almost time for the Second Annual Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Winter Writing Festival!
 
Through the bleakest part of winter—January 11, 2012 through the end of February—the Winter Writing Festival will keep your creative fires burning. Unlike NaNoWriMo and other writing challenges that (much as we love them!!) have a one-size-fits-all approach, the Ruby Winter Writing Festival is designed for you.
 
We work with a “point” system, and YOU decide the terms for earning your point each day.
 
Everybody gets one bonus point on January 11, 2012 just for stopping by the Ruby blog (rubyslipperedsisterhood.com) or signing up at rsswwf.com and making a public commitment to take part in the Festival. (Short aside from me:  The page says it’s closed right now, but if you click to register, you can.  AND if you participated last year, you can just log in and update your info.)  Then, for each of the 50 days of the Festival (including January 11), you work to earn an additional point—and you define what it takes to earn that point.
No matter what stage you’re at right now (brainstorming, plotting, free-writing, fast-drafting, slow-drafting, revising, layering, polishing…or any combination of the above) you can make it work for you.
 
Here are some examples of the sorts of things you might define as worth one point (you fill in the variables according to your needs) :
-writing X number of words or pages
-deep revising Y number of pages
-polishing Z number of pages
-freewriting / brainstorming for Q number of minutes/hours
-doing R number of 20-minute writing sprints
-keeping butt in chair and hands on keyboard for S number of hours
 
For instance, one person might commit to earning points according to the following terms:
-writing 500 words per day  OR
-deep revising 10 pages per day OR
-doing a final polish on 25 pages per day
-participating in an hour of writing sprints
Any day that person meets ANY of those goals, she gets a point.
 
If you can’t meet your goal on any particular day, you can double or triple or quadruple your goal on another day to catch up. And if you know ahead of time that you can never work on certain days (say, Saturdays) feel free to add something like “Keep balance in my life by taking Saturday off” to your personal list of ‘ways to earn a point.’ Yes, really, you can get a point for taking a planned day off!! Don’t be shy.
 
This isn’t a competition, it’s a supportive process for MOVING FORWARD WITH OUR WRITING.
 
Check in on the Ruby blog every Wednesday during the Festival to report your progress. If you reach the end of February with at least 50 points, YOU WIN!!
 
Throughout the Festival, the Rubies will  be offering lots of inspiration and support, including frequent public writing sprints in our rsswwf.com Chat Room and the possibility for winning terrific Writing Festival Swag—including writing critiques from Ruby Sisters!
 
Join us January 11 at rubyslipperedsisterhood.com or rsswwf.com to get started! And spread the word on your loops, Facebook, and personal websites! The more the merrier!!
 
I know I’ll be there.  Hope to see you!
 
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Opening Sentence Anyone?

Recently the Rubies did a post on the importance of openings and sponsored a first line contest.  The entries were many (we reached the max of 100 entries) and varied in tone and genre, giving us quite the time chosing the finalists and winners.  You can find who won and placed—with their expanded entries—here.

 Also recently, I promised the prequel to my series.  With the importance of openings in mind, I’ve written the opening scene three times and deleted it twice.  So, just for giggles and grins, I’m going to give you the opening line of the current incarnation—which is, of course, subject to change; I’m still not satisfied with the tone.  I am, however, interested in your opinions, both good and bad so don’t be shy.  Let me know what you think.

Within Glastonbury Tor, 542 A. D.

Heat snaked beneath his skin, writhed and slithered straight to his groin, rousing his usually disinterested phallus to painful rigidity.

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A Different Plan

Seeing the date of my last post, I’m forced to admit I can’t walk and chew gum these days—which means weekly blog posts (the original plan) are nigh impossible.

My beloved’s surgery on 1 September turned out to be much more extensive than we first thought.  His days of walking blithely through a metal detector are over.  (Frankly, I’m grateful he can still walk at all.)   A few more screws, cages, and cross-braces and he may have to make like the Tin Man and carry his own oil can.  (Okay, okay.  I know medical hardware shouldn’t rust, but with our luck?  The WD40® is close at hand.)

Frustrated by my inability meet the myriad demands his incapacity adds to my workload and continue to write, I called my critique partner to bounce some ideas off of her and discuss ways to refine and condense my less-than-efficient process.  That topic soon segued into branding, tag lines, core story, high concept, and their relation to my current series.  We quickly realized the core story of the series (ignorance of the past can doom the future), which has its roots nearly a millenia before the series takes place, lacked definition.  Incorporating that history/back story into the books—especially the first two, since the characters have no knowledge of the event—requires a prologue.

I like prologues.  Always have.  They aren’t the darlings of the publishing world they once were, however.  Still, my characters must remain ignorant of certain past events until book three, thus there can be no conveniently found journals, book of family history (both of which would have been trite, anyway), or knowledgable companion, yet that thread must be present to stitch the three stories together.

A prologue it is.

As is her wont, my CP questioned me closely about the events that must transpire within that prologue.  Then she said, “You need to write this as its own story.”

Really?  Aren’t I already clawing and kicking to garner enough time to finish what I want to send out–preferably before those who requested it think I died?

“Listen.”  She pointed her finger at my face (I sooooo hate that, but I resisted the urge to bite).  “You said you need to refine your process, and this can help you.  You know your story, but you need to communicate everything to the reader, and the way your mind works (isn’t it lovely she’s familiar with my convoluted thought process and loves me anyway?), you tend to give highlights, assuming the reader also has a clue how your mind works.  Trust me, she doesn’t.”  (Yeah, it’s tough love, but that’s okay.)

She went on to tell me of a favorite author (of hers) who writes 50 page synopses before ever writing the story, why it worked for said author, and why she thought something similar would work for me.  As much as it pains me to admit it, she made some excellent points ere she added, “It’s a great story all by itself.  Write it.  It doesn’t have to be long, just complete.  Once you have it all down, you can take what you need and write the prologue.  The story itself, however, can be posted to your web site.  Readers will love it.”

Hmmmm.  That never occurred to me.  Even knowing there can be no HEA for the short prequel, the circumstances, choices, and character GMC are compelling.  What a great idea. 

I wish I’d thought of it.

So here’s the new plan:  The blog is going to be hit and miss for a while.  Sorry, but there are just so many hours in the day, and I need to use my limited writing time to refine my catch-as-catch-can process and work on my books.  Being published posthumously, if at all, lacks appeal. 

This blog’s readership is not extensive (although I do appreciate those of you who take the time to visit.  Many thanks for the thoughtful and supportive comments), and no one will pine because it must languish for a time.  I do, however, hope the prequel will entice everyone back once it’s up—in the next week or two, if all goes well.

For now, I’m off to that marvelous time before time, when planes of existence lacked the definition current society demands, and magic still had a toehold in our world.

The cavern is dark, devouring the light of four tall flambeaux arranged at its center.  Four men lay naked, as if dead, on four stone slabs.  A lone figure weaves between the stones, his voice echoing within the vast chamber.

Fare thee well for the nonce, my friends.  The time has come to observe and record the sorcerer’s attempts to counter events set in motion by the sorceress who had once been his student—and lover.

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Fun With Physics

I can hear you now.  “Um, Gwyn?  Isn’t this blog supposed to be about things medieval?”

Yep, it is.

“Did they even have physics in the medieval period?”

Not as a recognized science, perhaps, but let’s face it, nobody fell (or was flung by centrifugal force) off the planet for lack of gravity, rainshowers resulted in rainbows, and a body in motion tended to stay in motion (think horse stops dead, knight keeps going), so it’s safe to say physics was a part of their world.  In fact, in 214 BC (well before the medieval era), it is believed Archimedes, perhaps the greatest scientist and mathematician in all antiquity, helped defend the kingdom of Syracuse using solar reflectors to set the enemy’s sails aflame, creating what was, in effect, the first ray gun!

How’s that for archaic physics?

Now, anyone who knows me knows I’m mathematically challenged.  I can do the basics, even some advanced stuff (as long as you don’t ask how I reached my conclusion), but the application of theorums, postulates, axioms, and all that other gobblety-gook is just too confusing.  Yet I find physics fascinating.  Go figure.

A number of years ago, my sweetie and I were watching a movie about King Arthur’s Merlin.  Predicated by his, and other wizards’ of the age, preoccupation with alchemy, we discussed the probability that sorcerers were, in truth, engineers and scientists with a fundamental grasp of laws and principles not yet documented or fully understood.  It seemed probable given that magic, as we know it, is all about the illusion.  Add the technological aspect, like turning on a radio for isolated Amazonian tribesmen, and you have the foundation for deification.Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel by Michio Kaku: Book Cover

  Thus, in keeping with the outlandish but intellectually stimulating subject of my previous blog, at the suggestion of a friend and fellow writer, Ruby-Slippered Sister Tamara Hogan (www.tamarahogan.com),  I have begun reading  Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku.  Now, I’ve seen Dr. Kaku on numerous cable programs dealing with science and found him entertaining and informative in that context, but a book on physics?  I approached it with caution, but soon found I couldn’t put it down.  The man has a knack for making the subject come alive.  No calculus, differential equations, or gobblety-gook clutter the pages, just explanations of how it all works reduced to terms any layperson, mathematically challenged or not, can understand.
 
So, Celtic mythology has taken on a new layer of possibility, a layer that may or may not consist of alien technology but that brings a vibrant new hue to an already colorful subject.
 
Yes, the research is still leading the way, but the discoveries are mind boggling.
 
What fun!

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Does Your Reasearch Open New Doors? Or Lead You Astray?

I didn’t post last week because I got lost in the research.  Bad habit, that.  But, like a sailor chasing a Siren’s call, I always want to know more, understand better, have a complete picture.

Yeah, I know; good luck with that last one.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of TV.  HOWEVER (and there’s always a caveat, isn’t there?), there is the History Channel.  Now, some of what is shown there can be taken with a grain (or, in my case, a dune) of salt.  Still, it’s like a virgin What If?  forest; a vast, untapped source of ideas, new perspectives, and, to be honest, in my opinion, some of the most cringe-worthy asininity you’ll ever see outside of prime-time reality series.

My sweetie knows what I’m studying, and when he saw an interesting clip on a History Channel program called Ancient Aliens, he recorded it for me for two reasons:  One, he remembered the incident depicted—his team got the incident report only to have it suddenly, and without explanation, rescinded; it simply disappeared.  Two, it dealt with a sunken island off the coast of Ireland that, according to Celtic legend, was home to the Fomorians (sea giants), a race of gods said to have preceded the Tuatha de Danaan.

Supposedly, when the Tuatha de Danaan defeated the Fomorians, the Fomorian Island, identified by Ancient Aliens as Hy Brasil, sank into the sea.  Thus, it is often referred to as The Other Atlantis.

Cool, huh?

But here’s the kicker; according to Ancient Aliens, this island might have been home to aliens who the unsophisticated people of the time considered gods because of their technology and “magical” powers.

Okay.  I agree.  This could easily fall into the asininity category if you aren’t inclined to embrace the concept of aliens.  However, again in my opinion, I believe it would be arrogant to assume, in a universe as vast as ours, we are the only sentient life forms.  Therefore, if other sentient beings exist, is it not possible they have visited here? 

The StarGate series approached this idea strictly using Egyptian gods, but could it not, in fact, be the foundation of the mythological structure of all early societies?  Considering the numerous parallels, it’s a possibility, and I do so love possibilities.

In case you don’t know, my alter ego writes science fiction romance, a genre diametrically opposed to historical romance—or so I thought.  But what if it’s not?  How would that change our perception of history?  Of ourselves?  What if there is a perfectly logical union between history and science fiction? 

Most of my science fiction deals with genetic engineering, and according to some of the Celtic Myths I’ve read, the Fomorians were ugly, grotesque (by our standards) creatures, some half-human, half-beast.  Can anyone say Centaur?  Satyr?  Minotaur?  Anubis?  Horus?  Sekhmet?  (And that’s an extremely abbreviated sampling from only two cultures.)  In one book, the Fomorians are described as having one leg, one hand, an eye in the middle of their foreheads, and three rows of knife-like teeth.

Sounds like a genetic experiment gone terribly wrong to me.

Of course, it’s hard to be heroic battling normal folk, so making foes demonic in aspect and character could have served merely to elevate a hero’s awe-value.  Still, can you deny the  potential for epic storytelling?  What if Homer’s Odyssey is a tale of man versus alien rather than man versus gods?  Could this explain why the gods of myth had so many human failings?  Why some played with the lives of men for spite, jealousy, or myriad other amoral reasons?

Yes, research led me astray, and the What If question, that necessary tool in any writer’s toolbox, aided and abetted the detour.   I’m not sorry.  Questions require answers, and a fiction writer can answer in whatever way works for him or her.  As masters of our own creations, we become god-like, deciding the direction our characters take, the trials they will face, the obstacles in their paths, and in the end, their final destination within the story’s context.

Given that thought, perhaps one can see more easily how our ancestors might have been willing to proclaim those who seemed to control destiny gods.

Has your research ever led you astray?  Started your mind down a path it might not have considered otherwise?  Or reshaped your thinking about a particular subject?

Personally, I like the idea of opening new doors, but sometimes the timing really screws with productivity.  This week has been one of those times, but who knows?  Perhaps, in the end, it will be worthwhile.

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Magic, Myth, and Legend

While still in school, I discovered the powerful pull of magic, myth, and legend.  

Each is distinct, yet they tend to intertwine and tangle until finding the individual threads is all but impossible.  King Arthur is the perfect example.  It’s still debated whether he and/or Camelot existed, but everything from his conception to his disappearance into the mists of Avalon is shrouded in magic, myth, and legend.

All three of these components can be found somewhere in the past of  every culture, and the parallels, despite things that would have forbidden cultural exchanges, are amazing.

As my Ruby Sis, Rita, likes to say, it all comes back to our lizard brain.

Like most students, I learned about the Greek, Roman, and Norse gods and goddesses.  I bought Thor comic books (since I had the biggest crush on the flaxen-haired, yummy-muscled version of the god), and watched Clash of the Titans, Jason and the Argonauts, and myriad campy movies about anything remotely associated with Asgaard or Mt. Olympus.

Mythology became my obsession.

Later, we named our one Siberian Husky Loki (the name fit like a glove.  Despite that, we still miss him) because once a fangirl, always a fangirl, but life allowed little time for the fantasies of youth; the stuff of magic, myth and legend had no place in a world full of children, bills, and 9-5 jobs.

Loki 1986

Loki

When I started my Seers series, I had no idea it would take me back beyond the mythology I once loved to a mythology that I had yet to explore.  In fact, until I began contemplating book three, I had no idea what, other than the psychic gifts and the primary villain, united the series.

Then I met Kendra O’Neil

Kendra introduced herself to me over lunch at IHOP.  No, I’m not kidding.  One minute my sweetie and I are discussing his visit with the doctor and eating stuffed french toast, the next I have a blind seer (yeah, I know.  Sounds like the mother of oxymorons, doesn’t it?) parked in my brain telling me about herself and the prophecy that, while I knew it existed, had yet to be revealed to me.  Kendra recited it, explained what the cryptic words meant, and told me how she knew what had happened.

“‘Tis The Morrigan,” she whispered, her Irish lilt gone flat with dread. 

The who-again?

“Heed me, I pray you.  ‘Tis The Morrigan, and she must be stopped.”

Now, I have numerous books on mythology, and one of them covers myths pervasive in every known civilization from the dawn of time.  Of course, it includes Celtic mythology, so odds are I read about The Morrigan at one time or another but had forgotten about it.  With Kendra’s help, my psyche pulled bits and pieces from its vault until I had a picture.  Not a complete picture, mind you, but something with which I could work; Kendra’s story had begun to take shape.

My synapses were popping.  Excitement banished hunger.  I scribbled notes until my sweetie finished eating.  Since I can’t write and drive, he played secretary, recording my babbling, during the entire 100+ mile-drive home. 

Then, I sat down and wrote the opening of the third book. 

I sent those pages to my CP, and as is her wont, she started asking questions.  To my surprise, I didn’t stumble even once, the answers ready on my tongue.  

The bones were set, but the flesh remained sparse.  Three more books on Celtic Mythology joined the other myth books on my shelves.  And the story became clearer.  As did an unwelcome truth; I had no choice but to revisit the first two books in the series and make a few tweaks (that’s no exaggeration.  The tweaks have been few and easily accommodated.  My psyche must have been in on Kendra’s plan from the first without me being aware of it) so all three would work seamlessly together.

So, for the next few weeks (at least), this blog will celebrate Celtic Magic, Myth, and Legend.  There will be comparisons to those components in other cultures, highlighting the differences as well as the similarities, and comparisons of the same myths told differently within the same culture.

It’s fascinating stuff.  Like I said, once a fangirl . . .

I hope you’ll join me and share your knowledge.

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