Monthly Archives: July 2010

Who Would Have Guessed

My friend Dee posted an odd little link today on Facebook, and of course, I HAD to follow through.  It’s a Writing Style Analyzer.  She seemed puzzled by the answer she got, and vapid curiosity on my part made me test the same confusing waters.  And confusing they were, as I was never a huge fan of Shakespeare.

The text in question was the first page of Release

    Chapter 1: News and Plans

    After a year of teaching me the Dance, Father announced that six must be a magical age and that I finally had learned how to carry a blade without tripping over my feet.
    The next morning, we headed for the stableyard.  Sticky bits of a nut roll Grandmother had given me clung to my fingers.  I clutched my firstsword to my side determined to not prove Father’s misgivings of my skill and endeavored to clean myself.  The icing defied all my attempts to lick it off.  I stopped, laid the megassu on the ground, and raked my hands across my leggings vigorously.
    My father turned to see what held me up.  Returning to my side, he heaved a sigh and spit on one of the crisp white linen folds he always carried.  As he scrubbed my hands, he said “You will learn, Kieri, that the fleeting sweetness must be tempered lest it brings decay and rot.  How many bites did that morsel make?
    “Twelve, sir.  Ten?”  Smaller was better when the Harnii Daryl used that tone.
    “Twelve then.  You will rub the blade and hilt twelve extra strokes after practice.  Then show your sword to me.  One speck of dirt, and I will double that.”
    I bowed my head, though the forewarned penance did nothing to dampen my mood.  Of all Father’s lessons, I loved to spar.  He called it honing, but I knew it was battle.  When I faced him in the salle, the world around me faded away and I Danced like the heroes from the stories Father told me nightly.  Enemies of the Crown watched as I stood at our Andar’s side, garbed in Guard black, and turned aside the advancing forces of the Alentriian witches.  A challenge rang out to duel in my lord’s honor, and I answered it, preserving his throne with my skill.
    This morning I intended to be my namesake, the great Kieri Rayestra.  As he had, I would slay the advoutress, Tralanii Tiriis, and save my son and heir from her wiles.  I’d been bubbling since last night when Father had reached down my firstsword from its place over the foyer arch, graced to me, he claimed, by our sovereign himself.

Release is the first story I ever “finished”, and the one piece I have submitted to any commercial publisher.  I’ve found from my critiques that readers either really loved the piece or really hated it.  No one ever seemed to fall in the middle.

Since the site allows for someone to text another piece of writing, I decided to test a piece of fanfic I’ve been playing with, where I’ve been merging my story worlds with one of my inspirations: one of those 80’s cheese cartoons Jayce and the Wheel Warriors.

    Herc, or whatever he was called here, sure had made himself at home.  Jayce watched his friend during the man’s social exchange with their escort.  He liked seeing these people as more than the bloodthirsty fighters they’d witnessed in the battle or the ancient enemy of his mother’s people.  He just wished he was free to search for his father.
    He decided to broach the subject, since Herc wasn’t.  He cleared his throat before excusing himself into their conversation.
    The major’s eyes were very dark, especially pinched with humor as they were.  The man targeted him like a raptor.  “Yes… Jayce?”
    He nodded. “Sorry to interrupt, but Herc, I mean Kieri here, says your people have a galactic reputation for genetics research.”
    Their escort became thoughtful. “I wouldn’t know about a galactic reputation.  Our facilities are good, and we have some well regarded specialists.  If you wish, we may be able to arrange a meeting with some of the mentors at the Academy for you.  Do you attend a university?”
    “Actually, no.  Genetics are a passion of my father’s, and we’re looking for him.  We think he might be here.”
    The major shook his head in a polite refusal. “As far as I know, we haven’t had an inquiry of that kind recently.”
    Of course they hadn’t, he thought.  It wasn’t as if Audric could just go up and ask for access to their labs and equipment.  He tried a different tactic.  “I understand, but I know my father is here on your planet.  I can’t say how, I just do….”
    He expected to have to feign powers like Flora’s to explain his knowledge.  However, the major seemed to accept that without question.  The man did stare at him for several seconds.  Something tingled, just below the surface of his skin, like a tickle.  It disappeared before it became truly irritating.  By then the major had looked away, sucking at his cheeks.
    Whatever had happened, it got Herc’s attention.  His friend glowered at their escort. “I intend to report you for that, Major!”
    Jayce blinked. “What?”
    Vartanian Mattias turned an eye to his friend. “You have the right.  Both of you.”  Those dark eyes met his gaze, and if he wasn’t imagining it, then was an odd gentleness in the man’s face, something that might have been trying to be welcoming and fond. “I’m sorry, Jayce.  Milord Vestimorn is right.  When we arrive at the Gate, you may demand restitution, if that is your wish.”
    He shrugged. “Should I?”  He glanced at Herc.  His friend was seething, looking at the major in expression of utter disgust.  He didn’t get it.
    Clearly neither did Gillian.  The wizard had been watching as well.  His expression was puzzled.  “I don’t know, lad.  Herc, what are you talking about?”
    “Why don’t you explain it to them, sir?” his friend spat.  “Daryl used to talk about you Hastor and what you might stoop to, but I doubt he would have expected that even from one of you.”
    Whatever it was, it was an Acarian thing.  Jayce sighed. “It’s not important, Herc.  I got uncomfortable when he stared at me.  It’s not like we haven’t been doing our own share of staring.”
    Herc shook his head. “It wasn’t nothing, kid.  He violated–“
    The major broke in. “I scanned you, Jayce.  I tested your ‘tianal channels and the paths they followed.  It’s not technically a crime,” the man nodded to his friend, “but it is considered in very bad taste.  I confess–I’d never heard of an offworld race that sensed filial calls the way ours does, and I was curious to see how your ability worked.”  Now the man sighed. “That doesn’t excuse my actions.  But it does change a few things.”
    Jayce wondered what the man meant by that.  Herc clearly didn’t.  Faster than he’d seen the man ever move, Herc had drawn his blaster. “Leave the boy alone.  You want his mother, you go after her honestly.”
    Their escort looked at his friend with a bemused smile. “Put that away before you hurt yourself.  No one here is going to do anything to the boy.  Or Atyriia Alantarii for that matter.  That woman ticks me off on a daily basis, but I’ve no reason to hunt her at the moment.”
    Herc lowered his gun ever so slowly.  “If you say so.”
    Jayce however couldn’t relax as easily.  Given the flippant way the Guardsman had suddenly come up with his mother’s name, what else could these Acarians do?  “What do you mean then by this changes a few things?”
    The major was saved a reply by the carriage’s abrupt stop.  The man disembarked and motioned for the rest of them to follow.  “If you have time later and still want to know, I’ll be happy to explain.  For now, please follow me.”

    The inn was simply a spaceport bar with extra tables.  The air was as smoky and suffocating, though the food smelled better than most such places he’d seen offered.  The floors and surroundings were spotless despite the sultry ambiance.
    Once his vision adjusted to the interior, he was able to make out a number of men–and women, he noted with some surprise–relaxing in cozy gatherings.  The black uniform of the Acarian Guard adorned most patrons.  Jayce looked around, trying to spot the Andar, though all he had to go on was that the man looked a lot like Herc.  But he saw no one like that.  Certainly no one stood out as a person of unusual importance.
    Why should the Acarian sovereign worry about a bodyguard in a bar full of his soldiers, he asked himself.
    Their escort led them to a secluded corner where two men sat in padded chairs.  Both leaned over mugs of some kind of ale, talking.  The shorter one glanced their way and gave the other some kind of signal.  Then he saw the Andar turn and face them.
    The Acarian sovereign did look like Herc, but only in the loosest way.  Both were tall men; both were strong and athletic, fighters each; both had long black hair.  The Andar wore an eyepatch over his right eye.  His left one was nearly as blue as Mother’s had been, looking cold and unfriendly in the man’s chiseled face.  But Herc never had commanded this kind of presence.  Jayce remembered his siblings’ words about the man.  He had no doubt of the authority and power the Andar wielded.
    Both their host and his companion, a frighteningly effective looking man with a stony expression and a serpentine grace, rose.  Both men offered salutes to the escort and extended words of welcome to the rest of them.  When the Andar turned to greet him, Jayce reached out to shake the man’s hand.  Their visit hadn’t been a bad one so far.  A bit bogged down in bureaucratic tangles, but so far the Acarians had been decent enough.  Maybe he didn’t speak for his mother’s people, but someone had to offer a token of friendship….
    The Andar’s gaze narrowed.  The man’s ease became a haughty distance.  Jayce wasn’t about to start a fight over it.  He sighed amd dropped his hand. “I see I’m not the one to start making peace,” he grumped.
    Herc heard him or had planned on speaking anyway.  In a low whisper, the man said, “Don’t take it personal, kid.  Here you don’t touch someone you’ve just met.  Physical touch makes it hard to stop scans and the like.  Plus offering your hand like that was inviting a more intimate encounter than I think you intended.”
    “Oh…”  His cheeks flamed.  He forced himself to meet the Acarian sovereign’s gaze.  The man had to realize he’d just made a mistake.
    The Andar smiled, once again the model of ease. “It is no matter, young one.  You aren’t the first to make that error.  I should have thought before assuming my son had told you our customs before he brought you here.”
    He glanced sharply at Herc.  Not that his friend noticed.  Herc’s jaw had fallen; he looked as if the planet had exploded around him.
    The Andar shrugged and reclaimed his seat.  He motioned for them to sit as well, giving Herc a stern look. “It’s been a long day already, Kieri.  I have no intention of making it longer playing games.  If you don’t like it, you know where your ship is.  We won’t stop you–even if I probably should, given how you acquired it.”  The man picked up a pipe that had been smouldering in a cup, took a puff and let his breath out slowly. “You asked for this meeting however.”
    Jayce could almost taste the bad blood between those two.  He didn’t blame Herc for the coldness that took over the man’s expression.  Or his friend’s abrupt response. “It wasn’t for my benefit, your highness.”  Herc dropped Lyarr’s datacrystal on the table in front of his father.  “I was asked to deliver this to you.  Come on, kid, let’s leave.”
    He balked, looking at the crystal.  “But–”  He broke off, finally understanding what his friend had done–everything the man had done.  With another look at the two men, he overlaid them with an image of his sister.  He shook his head.  “No,” he whispered to no one in particular.  Then he whirled on the Andar, “What did you do to my mother, you–“
    The Acarian sovereign’s startlement barely registered before he felt Herc pull him back. “Calm down, kid.  He didn’t do anything to her that she didn’t want.”
    He twisted in the man’s grasp, slamming his elbow in the man’s rib.  “Sure he didn’t!”  He pummeled the bastard a few more times.  “Just like you didn’t, you bastard!”

New result?  I write like Neil Gaiman.   Interestingly enough, this is my most natural state of writing.  The piece here went through a spell checker, but little else.  It is pretty damned raw.

Kind of neat!

=( I’m so disapointed =)

It’s my fault, of course, assuming I understood the working of another person’s mind, when I still don’t understand my own.  But today was one of those eye-openers…  When I realize that I cannot adequately explain what drives me to write and explore characters, particularly in writing my fan fiction.  A fantasy of 25 years or so, my husband called it.  I have to confess, that hurt, though I can understand the glimpse of truth he made that assumption on and the common fascinations that would lead him to see how a character I explored so blithely in response folders and later fanfics could be seen as a fantasy.  If Kieri Vesimorn is a fantasy though, he is far too big for the label, and he doesn’t want to be.

Today was an epiphany of another kind as well.  The kind that can fix a ten-year old stagnation I’ve been working under with RELEASE.  Independence is the needed ingredient, just as much for the story as it eventually is for the main character.  Independence from the mass of other characters and their lives that have been brewing in my head all these many years.  Kieri is his own person, and his story is not that of Acaria or his parents.  I need to let him break away from all of their baggage so that he can become who he is meant to be, because otherwise, he cannot become the man I met when I first started writing about him.

So along with some much needed editing that I should have done a long time ago, I will be drawing some real lines in my stories for the first time in a long time.  It won’t happen in one day.  But at least I do have a real sense of where I am going for the first time in too long.

So, again, my husband loves me!

My husband loves me

He’s my best man, the best man. I’m biased. But he really is wonderful.

Yesterday he posted this absolutely hilarious picture on my Facebook wall. I think I need a poster-sized copy to hang on the wall over my desk. The Green Man (not what mine looks like, but an incredible picture), as fond as I am of him, just doesn’t tickle my funny bone in quite the same way.

Yet, I know that in the grand scheme of my typing and scribbling, that really, it’s a momentary fling–the flash and smile, the lure of a fun aside that draws me. The same thrill overtakes me when I hear of a new word processing program or thesaurus. It never lasts. A month later or more and I’m back, staring dreamily at my favorite inspirations seeing things within them that I had never noticed or reminiscing fondly over others.

Here are some of the tried and true:

Painters: Salvador Dali (of course), Heironymus Bosch, Albert Beirstadt, Thomas Kinkade (I love his use of color), Maxfield Parrish… There are far too many others to list. I’m quite fond of the Hudson River School, since panoramas appeal to me the most. But the biggest delight in a painting to the ability to look at it over and over again and find something new in it.

Ruins: It really doesn’t seem to matter what the ruins are of, whether an old farm house or an ancient city, an abandoned factory… Places like these hold stories. I’m a HUGE fan of Urban Exploration (although I am a rank amateur at it). Most of my stories involve a certain level of “rediscovery”. I’m a firm believer in the idea that the past was filled with ideas and creative invention that put the achievements of our modern times to pale. And at times, something shows up to suggest that I may be right.

Activities: Reading, walking, hiking, …. people-watching! The last is vital and must be done in so many different places. As much as I love hanging out and writing (and people watching) in Panera, it’ not the best place to take in a wide variety of human activities and behaviors.

A good reference library: March’s Thesaurus-Dictionary (I have two versions, an original 1926 printing and a reprint I bought in the ’90’s…both are priceless, in my opinion), at least one CRC (mine needs updating, if only because I don’t have that much tape), an adequate dictionary (an online one will do, but I tend to do a lot of pen and paper writing, so I like my well-taped ex-library copy of Webster’s), Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands, and one of Emily Post’s Etiquette guides are all standards here.

I could go on, but if I do, I’m not doing the writing I need to get done. So I’ll list one last place for inspiration… myself. I couldn’t do it alone.