It’s Day 10 of Camp NaNoWriMo! And I’m way above my daily target, which is awesome, as well as past my halfway point. My real deadline is actually the 25th rather than the 31, because I’ll be at camp the last week of July, but I think I’m doing all right on that front as well. The last few days I was losing it a bit, but I think I regained my stride this morning. I decided to take a break from my struggling middle of the plot, and write some of the backstory. During the process of writing that, I not only captured the origin of a particular character, but also came up with more detail for his sister’s story, which enabled me to go back to a scene later on and add in more there.
The following is the beginning of the scene, a rough draft that’s been only slightly edited to give the fruit a name and so it makes grammatical sense. I chose not to post the whole thing because … well, it ended on an even bigger cliffhanger.
“Come on, Mirry, keep up!”
Maxie didn’t wait for his sister to answer, but plunged further into the woods. He loved Mirady, she was his best friend in the whole wide world, but little sisters were so slow.
“Maxie, wait for me!”
“We’ll never get there if you don’t keep up!” he said, irritated. “I want to see a Quinya tree!”
“You’re too fast!”
Maxie stopped with a heavy sigh. “All right, all right! We’ll never get back in time at this rate. Come on, I’ll give you a lift.”
Rustling undergrowth and panting breath announced her getting closer to him. Once Mirady reached Maxie, he lifted her up on his back, giving her a piggy back ride.
“Oof! You’re heavy!”
“I am not!”
“Let’s just go. I don’t want Father finding out where we went or he’ll be livid. Hold tight. No, not that tight! I still need to breathe!”
He jogged off into the wilderness, as fast as he could with an eight-year-old hanging on his back, arms clinging around his neck. It slowed him down, but hopefully without having to stop for her shorter legs to catch up all the time, they would get there quickly enough to be able to return before Father’s important meeting ended and he realised they were no longer playing in the street.
He panted, his ribs and back starting to ache. At eleven years old, he was much bigger than his little sister, but she was still practically a dead weight. Father would not approve; he would say Maxie needed to practice at being a man, meaning, among other things, being able to carry heavy loads. Except he wouldn’t say ‘Maxie’—only Mirady ever called him that nowadays, ever since their mother had died. Now everyone save his sister called him by his full name, Maximilian. He didn’t like it, he much preferred Maxie.
“Are we nearly there yet?” Mirady asked from somewhere above his shoulder.
“Yes, nearly!” That was a guess; in truth Maxie thought he might be lost. The conversation they had eavesdropped on (not on purpose, of course; well behaved children should never listen in on adults’ conversations), Father’s colleague had told him where he could find the Quinya tree, and she had said to leave the path at the lightning struck oak and head north. Since Maxie had no compass, he had had to work out the direction from what he could see of the sun’s position, which was not easy and he was not positive he had got it absolutely correct.
But on the plus side, at least Quinya glowed when it was still attached to the tree, so hopefully if their direction was a bit off, they would be able to see it anyway.
Maxie was excited. He had only ever seen Quinya before when it had been processed into Quops, small drops of golden jelly, and then it had been the most fascinating moment of his life. He had had trouble believing that such a tiny thing could be overflowing with magic, and that anyone who ate one would be able to pull off the most complex and powerful spells. Quinya was the most powerful magic source, and the rarest, and he had only ever seen one single Quop. Father dealt in magic sources, but most of the time he kept his goods to himself.
Magic had always fascinated Maxie, even more than it fascinated any child. He wanted to be a magician when he was grown up, but only the luckiest people got the training for it. Father wanted him to follow his footsteps into dealing in magic sources, not using them himself.
As Maxie hunted for the tree, a crazy thought came to him. Maybe if he could prove he was cut out to be a magician, Father would reconsider. If Father was on his side, and approved his dreams, he could get him the training he needed to achieve them. But to do that, he needed a magic source to begin with.
Maybe if he picked one of the Quinya …
“There!” Mirady squealed suddenly, almost deafening Maxie. He couldn’t believe she had seen the tree first—he had been too engrossed in his daydreams to realise they had reached the end of their quest.
The tree stood alone in the centre of a clearing, and gave off a kind of aura. It wasn’t the fruit alone—although the Quinya were indeed glowing a yellow-pink colour, Maxie could feel the power radiating from the tree from about twenty feet away.
He dropped Mirady, who yelled, “Ouch!”
“Sorry,” he said, but his eyes and thoughts were fixed firmly on the fruit. He stared, entranced.
“They’re amazing,” Mirady said, but she didn’t seem keen on getting any nearer. Maxie, on the other hand, was all too keen on it.
“Maxie?” she asked hesitantly and he began walking forwards. “I don’t think we should get too close. Father says they’re dangerous.”
He barely heard her, too intent on getting one of them. Deep down, he knew she was right, but he didn’t care. He felt drawn to the fruit, as if it were deliberately pulling him in, whispering promises that it could help him achieve his dreams.
“Maxie!” Now Mirady sounded frightened. She also sounded very far away.
Maxie reached the tree, and reached out a hand, brushing the skin of one of the Quinya. It was soft as a peach and sent tingles all through his body, as if he had been struck by lightning.
Someone ran up to him and grabbed his arm, trying to pull him away. “Maxie, come on, let’s go!”
“Not yet,” he grunted, shaking his sister off of him. He grasped a Quinya and pulled.
“What are you doing? No!” Mirady cried as he lifted it to his lips. “You can’t! It’s too strong, it has to be processed! MAXIE!” She tried to pull it out of his grip, she tried stamping on his feet, even punching him, but he pushed her away so hard she fell down hard with a crack. She began sobbing.
Maxie ignored her and bit into the Quinya.
From the moment a single drop of juice touched his tongue, his mind exploded.
In addition to the above scene, I also have a new scene posted on my NaNo profile.
Would anyone like an update?
I confess it has been a while. Again. But with my coursework finally finished and out of the way, and I think I might have grasped the concept of a target audience now (hopefully), not to mention a new project that I am very excited about, I think updates should be more frequent from now on!
(Feel free to quote me on that later 🙂 )
What new project, I hear you ask? A new novel series!
But wait–what about the ones I have had on my website for ages, the ones I’ve been talking about since I began this blog?
Well, there are several reasons. The first being, after five years of exhausting myself over coursework, I need to work on something fresh, something new for a while.
The second being, the idea I am now working on which sprung into my head when I finished my degree, is a self-contained series. That is, I shall be writing four books and no more. My other fantasy novels are all set in a universe which requires extra-extremely careful planning because I intend to explore many parts of it in several different series.
The third being, time. I intend to create new languages for my science fiction universe, something that I am not able to pursue right now. And I want to focus on something that I can complete now.
There is a fourth reason, though it is closely related to the third reason. I have come to the conclusion that I am not a natural screenwriter and have chosen my path as a full-time novelist. Since I learned the hard way through fan fiction not to make the beginning of a story/series publicly available until I had actually completed the entire project, this means it could be a while before I see any income from my work. I am very fortunate, and grateful, to have family support, but of course the larger the first project, the more likely I am to bankrupt my parents …
Why try and write a whole series then, you ask? Well, don’t blame me. That’s just how my ideas come.
So after all that, I’m sure you’d like to hear something about my novel. A genre at least. Well, it’s a portal fantasy, probably going to be for young adults though I don’t get hung up about audiences when I’m writing.
The working title for the first novel is Outsider’s Crown. I have been planning it since May and am intending to write a full first draft for Camp Nanowrimo in July. This is my profile and more info on the novel. The plan is to write the second book for NaNoWriMo in November, then the third and fourth in next year’s Camps in April and July.
Wish me luck!
So, after that last post saying how difficult it is writing reviews … here’s a review. The irony is not lost on me! I chose to review a TV show I recently bought on Amazon, then decided as I wrote it that it would be something good for the blog as well. So here goes.
Warehouse 13 was a recent discovery of mine and instantly became one of my all-time favourite shows. Imagine Bones, take out the gory bits, and replace them with the “anything goes” fantasy style of Charmed, give it a steampunk makeover, and you’ve got an idea what it’s like. Admittedly slightly cheesy now and then, but that’s the way I like my TV. You also might like it if you like Buffy. The relationship between Claudia and Artie is quite close to that of Buffy and Giles, and W13 also stars Anthony (Stewart) Head and James Masters.
The warehouse of the title, dubbed “America’s attic”, is the place to protect everyday objects that have inexplicably been imbued with mysterious powers. The main characters track down the objects, called “artefacts”, and protect the
warehouse, and by extension the world. The main antagonists usually want the artefacts for themselves.
Every artefact is different, which makes for nicely varied episode plots. For some reason I never quite figured out, they all seemed to belong to dead famous people (“people with Wikipedia pages”)—Sylvia Plath’s typewriter, Jack the Ripper’s lantern, Lewis Carroll’s looking glass, HG Wells’ time machine … you get the idea. There’s a degree of predictability occasionally in some of the individual episode arcs, but overall the show twists and turns nicely. The good guys are loveable, even the grumpy ones (Artie). The bad guys (and the morally ambiguous guys) are equally fascinating, and for some reason are mostly English.
The show ran for five series, and I think wrapped up quite well. I have watched the box set twice over now, but not all the bonus features yet. That delight is still to come!
Copyright note: The photographs are borrowed from syfy.co.uk, hollywoodreporter.com, geeknation.com, gamesradar.com, and warehouse13.wikia.com.
Since trying to keep my posts ‘useful’, I have found that they have become a lot less frequent and attract less readers. So I have made a decision to set aside a specific weekly time to focus on this and do it properly. Hopefully this should solve the problem.
I’ve written hardly any poetry over the summer, so this week has been a real bonus for me as I worked on about four drafts, and written two more from scratch. I’ve been researching more poetry competitions with a view to submitting to bigger ones, hopefully being in with a chance.
Described as an anthology of “the best in Heroic, Epic and High Fantasy, and with plenty of Sword and Sorcery thrown in”, Fantasy Short Stories: Issue 1 doesn’t disappoint. The five shorts are of a generally high quality writing. I prefer indigenous fantasy novels to short high fantasy, but enjoyed most of the stories–one or two were a little violent for my liking. I think my favourite, and the strongest, was “The Empty Dark” by C L Holland; it was the most engaging and the ending was the most satisfactory of the collection. I liked the idea behind “The Pivot” but found the narrative style difficult to follow. Overall I would recommend the issue.
Fantasy Short Stories: Issue 1 is available on Kindle and other ebooks for £3.08.
For writers: details for submissions are located in the back, and on the website (link above).
I am trying out a new post format–do the headings work for you? Or do you prefer the days of my rambles? Please let me know.