Just some brief newsy things. I swear, at some point I really will offer some material with meat here. I am so very entranced with all the paradigm-changing gobbledigook I’ve been intaking lately, it’s gotta come out here at some point. And it will.
But for now, updatery:
As promised, here’s a link to my latest for the Hot Tub Crime Machine: “Sling Words on a Blank Page” is about techniques for sticking with the storymaking when the writing feels more like a slog than a romp. Head on over, and let me know (there or back here) what you think and what works for you.
The work-in-progress, Watchful Dragons: The Return of the Pelegrin, is going REALLY REALLY REALLY WELL. Writing this story feels more like taking dictation than anything else, as though it already exists in its entirety in my head, and the Muse is simply reading it off to me.
The Muse, in case I’ve never mentioned him here, is a chain-cigar-smoking degenerate named Clarence. I should write a post about him.
Well, I’ve missed a few weeks again of blogging here. It’s because late July through end of August kinda kicked my tushie. The kid was sick. I was sick. The two of us went on a last-minute mini-vay with my mom. The kid started 1st grade. (WHAT MANNER OF INSANITY IS THIS.) I got sick again during a weekend getaway to Eureka Springs. We had a huge storm that knocked out the power of over 100k customers in Oklahoma City, our house among them. It was out for two days.
In short, LIFE HAPPENS.
One of my new favorite philosophers, Peter Rollins (who looks like a mid-’90s-era rock star and I am here for it), says:
“The Gospel is: Life is shit, and you don’t have the answers, and that’s good news. Embrace your brokenness, your anxiety, and your unknowing, and you will find yourself happier. …The meaning of life is to set aside the questions and learn how to love.”
via “You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes,” Dec. 9, 2014
There’s a heckuva lot of good stuff to unpack there, and at some future point I will do some of that. Be forewarned, though: my version of unpacking philosophy will probably involve ripping the suitcase open, grabbing whatever’s nearest at hand, and flinging the contents about me with wild abandon. I doubt I will be folding and stacking things neatly, much less putting them away. It is going to be a lovely mess, and now you know.
That said, I’m not sure how much philosophizing I should do here. I mean, it’s kiiiinda on-topic? A lot of what I’m reading/listening to via Rollins and several other sparks of human brilliance is feeding directly into my WIP. So unpacking some philosophy will give some background for RotP?
I dunno. If you two inklings who still read this blog have been keeping up, you know that I don’t blog with much forethought these days. My number of spoons is limited. More targeted blog-planning takes more flatware than I have available to me. We’ll just have to see how it goes.
What else? Oh, um…so my entire workout routine has been trash for the past six weeks. Illness, out-of-townness, illness…all the suckage. In-between sicknesses, during the child’s first week of school, I was back at the gym. But that has been by the wayside for the past two weeks during second recovery and power outage hoopla.
And, as I told my therapist a couple weeks back, when one part of my health routine breaks down, the rest of my good habits follow soon thereafter. The downward spiral begins, I forget to give the Babadook a place at my table, and before I know it I’m down in the basement with him and he is eating me instead of my choosing what to feed him.
So. I have been spiraling again.
But I am fully aware of it and I know what to do about it.
Barring unforeseen crises (of which, let’s face it, there have been several of late), I ease back into my gym routine starting tomorrow. That will trigger eating healthy and taking my supplements. All of this will give me more energy and clearer thought in daily life.
Also, yesterday I painted for the first time in a year. And even though I am very definitely rusty, and I am not a huge fan of the results on the canvas, I do know that this will have been good for me. It’s triggering creative impulses.
Honestly, if I hadn’t painted yesterday, I probably wouldn’t be blogging right now.
This blog post is very stream-of-consciousness even by my standards.
Anyhoo…A Few Final Tidbits:
1. In spite of the whole teacher fiasco, the kiddo is doing GREAT. Academically, she is right where she’s supposed to be, if not a bit advanced. Socially, she’s enjoying herself. Behaviorally, her teacher is pleased with her. This morning, she read a 383-page Heidi Heckelbeck book (3 chapterbooks in 1) in one sitting. I love how much this kid loves reading.
2. Go read my first post for the Hot Tub Crime Machine: “How the Heck to Write a Murder Mystery?” My second one, as yet untitled, will concern how not to give up when writing the story gets tough. Not all of my Hot Tub writing will be how-tos, but that seems to be where I’m drawn right now.
3. Return of the Pelegrin, the aforementioned WIP, progresseth apace. I’ve slowed down quite a bit over the past month because SEE ABOVE. But I’ve reached a part of the story that’s an adventure-within-an-adventure, and it’s gonna be a lot of fun to write. There’s gonna be wild rides a-horseback, shadowy stalkers, maiming, ghosts, treachery, and, of course, the quintessential giant arachnid or six. Y’all’re gonna love it. I can’t wait for you to read this book.
4. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is available on Netflix. I am five episodes in and completely entranced. The show does its own thing (rightfully so) while staying true to the magic and beauty and atmosphere of the film. No spoilers from me, and don’t tell me anything until I’m through Season 1!
5. Speaking of Netflix, I need She-Ra Season 4, Dragon Prince Season 3, Lucifer Season 5, and Mindhunter Season 3. STAT. I’m also watching Outlander and it is glorious.
The kid was sick. I was sick. We started collectively preparing for the summer to end and the new school year to commence. My mom took the kiddo and me on a last-minute weekend trip to Bartlesville, OK, where we visited Woolaroc, went antiquing (I bought my first piece of Frankoma Pottery!), and ate too much pizza.
“Woolaroc” is a syllabic abbreviation for “WOOds LAkes ROCks,” and it’s a museum and wildlife preserve. It was established back in the 1920s as a retreat location by Frank Phillips of Conoco-Phillips fame.
It was all incredibly fascinating and also concerning from a “hey, this is a whole bunch of cultural appropriation here.” That topic is an entire series of blogposts unto itself, if not a book.
In the meantime, as of this evening our “summer” will officially come to a close. The 6yo starts 1st grade tomorrow, and of course I am far antsier about this than she is — at least externally. We attended Meet-the-Teacher last week, an event during which we actually did not meet the teacher, because there isn’t one. The school found out the day before that the teacher who was supposed to be meetable at MTT was not, in fact, coming back to teach this year.
Instead, they’ve hired back a teach who retired from their school and will stick with the kiddo’s 1st grade class as a substitute until they can hire a fulltime 1st grade teacher. Naturally, we are not exactly thrilled about this. But it could be worse. They could’ve hired a sub without a teaching degree or a teacher with emergency certification. That would not be how I want my kid to start her school career. (Yeah, I know kindergarten is how the school career starts over here, but my German brain still wants 1st grade to be the line of demarcation. It is what it is.)
Also, I’m trying not to let anxiety get the best of me regarding all of this. I know that 6yo will be fine in the long run. But she does *not* like transitions. And this one just got a few extra hurdles dropped into it. I find myself in the eternal inner parental conundrum of HOW DO I BEST HELP MY KID NAVIGATE THIS.
It’s going to be FINE.
And, as my therapist reminded me a few weeks ago, FINE means “F***ed Up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional.” So yeah, everything’s GREAT.
In other news, fellow author Bernard Schaffer has invited me to contribute to a new blog he’s starting with Tony Healey and Jack Soren: Hot Tub Crime Machine. I’m not a crime fiction writer, but I *have* dipped my toes in the water of crafting my own whodunit. Also, the Hot Tub blog is covering all sorts of mystery and thriller shenanigans as well, and I do have quite a few of those elements in my noveling arsenal.
I have sent my first post to Bernard and am currently awaiting feedback. I’ll holler here when it leaps into the hot tub. I think this is gonna be fun.
For now, there’s a 6yo calling for me to join her in playing My Little Pony, so I must away. TTFN!
Tally-ho, cutiepies! I was piffling around on Twitter and found a dream I’d shared there last year. Since it’s been forlikeEVER since I’ve blogged a dream, I thought it high time to rectify that oversight.
*ahem* Here goes….
October 25, 2018 Thanks to last night’s insomnia, I had to take a mid-morning nap or die. So I slept for about 45 minutes, and I got to experience one of the weirdest dreams I have ever had in my life. Buckle up, buttercups.
Bad Kitties and Benicio del Toro
I was catching a flight to Frankfurt, Germany, by the skin of my teeth. There was lots of running and dodging back and forth through crowds. Partly outside and uphill. When I rushed up to the airplane, they almost didn’t let me on.
To get to the airplane, I had to go through a small castle. The guy who almost didn’t take my ticket was dressed like one of those cosplayer barbarians that you see at Renaissance Fairs. And I thought if he didn’t take my ticket, he was probably going to throw me over his shoulder and schlepp me off somewhere. But finally he laughed raucously and stamped away, and I let myself onto the plane.
I was on the flight with one other passenger. It was a privately owned airline, and its claim to fame was that the owner and all of his cats would be on every flight. So, when I finally made it onto the plane, no human being was in sight. Only the cats. And some kittens! And they were really cute and sweet and I was petting them, and then I found my seat.
The inside of the airplane look like a cross between a medieval castle and a casino. I don’t really know how to explain it. But shortly after I found my seat, I was watching one of the kittens. It got ready to pounce on a toy —
— and suddenly a piece of the kitten’s side just opened up. Out popped an organ, a liver or something, and then it popped back in.
I looked at another cat. This one was was rolling around on its back, and when it rolled, its sternum opened up and its ribs splayed out and showed all of its innards and then went all back in together again. A third cat’s entire face just peeled off in a flap from forehead to chin, then reattached itself.
I was going to be sick. I went looking for help, and suddenly my mom was there. I was so relieved. I told her what was happening with the cats. She came to have a look, and we both were shocked and horrified. And I said, “Oh no, I have petted these cats. I HAVE TO GO WASH MY HANDS.”
So I went into the bathroom, which was very classy modern but shaped weird like an L. I turned the water on and reached for the soap —
— and suddenly this cat was there, squatting above the soap dish. It hunkered down and squeezed, and liquid soap came plopping into my hand out of a spout in the middle of its belly. And then it licked its bellysoap spout, looked at me with goofy eyes like Derpy from My Little Pony, and hopped down into this little basket next to the sink.
And not knowing what else to do, I washed my hands with the cat bellyplopsoap.
So when I got out of the bathroom, my mom was talking to the owner of this really bizarre airplane, which by now had been in the air for several hours; I knew we had about three hours left before we landed.
The owner looked like a dwarf version of Benicio del Toro, and he was dressed like a flamboyant card player in a casino or something. I don’t know, there were lots of vibrant colors and glitter. My mom and I tried to explain to him our concerns about the cats. He got very, very offended, and a dangerous gleam entered his eyes. I thought, “If we don’t find a way to make good with this guy, he is going to kill us.”
So I tried very calmly to explain to him that we we didn’t see anything wrong with the cats, we were just concerned for their health. Especially the health of the ones who were displaying organs on the outsides of their bodies. In the back of my mind I had decided, based on the incident of Bellyplopsoap Cat, that the other cats were genetic modification experiments gone horribly awry, and Bellyplopsoap Cat must be the first successful prototype.
So short-statured Benicio del Toro went into his office and shut the door. I turned around, and my mom was gone but my husband was there, and he said, “We just have to stay alive for 3 more hours.”
Just then, a perfectly normal-looking cat strolled past us. I bent down to pet it (one would think I’d’ve known better by now), and it turned around and its chest opened up and I could see all of its insides. I might have screamed. And then I woke up.
There was more throughout, but it was all kind of vague and blurry. As though this all weren’t enough as-is, right?!
Maybe this was why I couldn’t sleep the night before. My brain knew that if I went to under long enough, that dream was gonna happen.
And what brain in its right mind wouldn’t want to avoid that?
Also, what the hell was I processing that my brain needed a dream about improbable airplanes, mutant gross lab cats, and Benicio del Toro?
This post is nothing more than me geeking out over my own storyverse.
I indulged a bit a few weeks ago when I blogged about all the stories in the Light-Walker universe thus far, as well as the LW stories I have in mind for the rest of my natural life (and maybe beyond; we’ll see if I can figure out how to put stories into the world from the other side of eternity. Oooh, ALL THE HAUNTED QUILLS AND INKWELLS…).
*ahem* ‘Scuse me.
I gots a LOOOOOOOOT of detail on my in-storyverse history. I promise, even for you two die-hard Light-Walkers fans out there, these 50 pages are way more information than even you want to know.
Anyway, this time I’m going deeper into nerdery by sharing with you a portion of the timeline I’ve established throughout the LW stories. I won’t share the complete timeline here. Firstly, because it’s full of the chock of spoilers. In related news, it’s also 50 pages long. So yeah.
Thus, the abbreviated version.
If you continue reading this post but you haven’t read all of the stories, then HERE THERE BE SPOILERS.
The Light-Walkers Universe Timeline
WARNING: from here on, SPOILERS ABOUND.
Are you sure you want to keep reading?
I HAVE DONE MY DUE DILIGENCE BY YOU.
ONWARD, YE BRAVE SOUL.
I’m including dates, events, names, and story titles. All of this will relate only to already-published stories. So it’s stuff you should already have read if you’re choosing not to leave this post now!
There’s nothing more I can do for you. 😘
The Light-Walkers Universe Timeline
AA = After the Arrival AR = After the Return
60 AA The Witch and the Wayfarer Tree
3785 AA Gerry arrives in Uelsaemor. (“Gateway Drug”)
3787 AA Rafe Skelleran first enters Jiredd Stalbeleht. All but three Light-Walkers are lost to the Beyond. Raphael begins the search for the lost Light-Walkers. (The Dying of the Light; The Chronicles of Raphael)
3788 AA Abby arrives in Uelsaemor. (“Gateway Drug”)
4122 AA Raphael returns Asaale to Jiredd Stalbeleht. (“The Eater”)
4123 AA / 0 AR Sister of the Sable Flame
1303 AR Return of the Pelegrin
1334-1335 AR The Flight of Elfled unBlessed
1337-1389 AR The Court of the Seven
1338 AR Quylin Flint and her ternion disappear in the Ried’e Besiad. (“Out of the Darkness”) Rethana Chosardal becomes comor’mel to Allasin Calarasi. Meleghaine of Uelsaemor leads the Skardi in war against Jiredd Stal. Rethana and Chel Chosardal thwart Meleghaine by dissolving the Triad Gate. Death of Shaddix Falladd. (“Rethana’s Tower,” Rethana’s Surrender & Rethana’s Trial)
1356 AR Elyria Daral-Akenath ra’Shaskalai of Kaldoril meets Ademar Sosthenes of Remnia. Elyria returns to Kaldoril and is crowned The ra’Shask. (“Oubliette”)
1357 AR Blood Awakening
1366 AR Siffenwinch Skilflink Is Tapped Dry
1383 AR Embers of the North
1577 AR Joely Puck and Cressida Raith investigate the murder of Zheni Fenwyltr in Rocalisin Fhae. Revealing of Skardi relics. (The Priestess Murders)
2311 AR The Galbraith Folly
2321 AR Wolf Dornsson and Lendry Bersallir arrive in Enloë Vale. (“The Elven Dead”)
And there you have it. Fifty pages of history condensed into one blogpost that makes little sense to anyone but me. Yeah, I’m totally omphaloskepsizing. But it’s my blog. I can do that. 😎😉
I would LOVE to give you more detail than this — I know this timeline is rather meager! — but that really would spoiler things beyond imagining. For now though, I promise I’ll update this chronology as I release stories out into the world!
Every so often in conversation, I’ll blather something to a non-writer about how I wanted a work-in-progress to progress a certain way, but my characters informed me otherwise. “But you’re the author,” comes the puzzled reply. “Don’t you control where the story goes?”
Well, yes. Of course.
But no, not really.
I used to be a seat-of-my-pants writer, plotting out nothing, simply diving into the story and lighting up the keyboard with whatever wanted to flare from my fingertips. Then, in 2004, I found myself splat in the middle of NaNoWriMo with zero clue as to what would happen in the rest of the scene, much less the rest of the book. The story stalled out at 12,000 words, and I haven’t touched it again in a decade-and-a-half.
It’s too bad, really. It was gonna be a rockin’ awesome story.
After that somewhat vomitous experience, I rethought a few things. Like my whole approach to writing. It took a few years, but eventually I learned the art of pre-writing: character descriptions, chapter summaries, long synopses, the works. And it’s been great. Especially those long synopses (the one for my current WIP is almost 60 pages long) have pulled me up out of the quicksand when I floundered. A quick glance at my store of pre-written information, and I’m happily typing away again, the sucking mire of “writer’s block” paved over with a f*ckton of cement. Outlines are cramazing.
In every story there comes at least one moment (but it’s usually a handful or so) when the writing slows down to a desiccated crawl through the Sahara with nary an oasis in sight. Stuff all outlines and chapter summaries! Sometimes they just don’t help, and for me, it’s invariably because the characters don’t want them to.
“Say whaaaa?” you say.
Yeah. It’s a thing, ya’ll. Lotsa times, the writing screeches to a dead halt because one character plants her feet, drops a hand to the hilt of her knife, braces herself, and says, “NO.”
What’s the Because?!?
The because, my friends, is that I’ve been trying to make my character do or say something that’s out-of-character for her to do.
And honestly, for a word-smith, I have an awful hard time hammering this concept into a shape that makes any sort of sense to other people.
But I’ll give it a shot.
Let’s say I’ve got a character — we’ll call her Nera — who knows what she wants and isn’t shy about going out and getting it. Maybe she’s even a little bit ruthless in carving out her place in the world. She likes being in control. She harbors a subconscious core fear of making genuine, vulnerable connections with other people. Nera’s M.O. is to connect in a superficial way that lets her call the shots. At the first hint of genuine intimacy, she lashes out to ensure that the other person rejects her.
And let’s say I plop Nera smack in the middle of the frilliest, most over-Pinterested baby shower you can possibly imagine.
Now, Nera’s in-character response will be to do everything she can to get the hell out of there as soon as possible. She might just get up and stalk out the door, insulting the mom-to-be and all the hostesses. She might, when a hostess innocently asks her to cut the trifle, unsheath a massive dagger and use it to slice the dessert to smithereens and *then* stomp out. She might grab the dimpled baby cake topper, which is made of porcelain, and smash it on the floor before flinging herself over the side of the balcony and landing cat-like in the alley below before dashing off to change her phone number and delete her Facebook.
I can do all of this with Nera, and it feels natural. It feels like something she would do. Spouting invective at the pregnant lady? Yup, that’s Nera all right. Running away from a social situation that makes her palms break out in a clammy sweat? Most def her standard operating procedure. If I do these things with Nera, her story will practically write itself — because she’s the one determining its direction.
But that’s not what we’re talking about, is it?
We’re talking about stuff that slams a four-foot-thick steel wall in front of your story, causing it to screech to a dead stop at best, smash headlong into the wall at worst. We’re talking about stuff that leaves you with a headache and a nosebleed. Quick, get your schnoz away from your keyboard.
What might I do with Nera that would dam(n) up her story?
I might try to make her act out-of-character at the effed-up-frilly baby shower.
If Nera sips her strawberry sherbet punch
if she nibbles delicately at a mini-quiche and pops grapes into her mouth one at a time while chatting amiably about the weather and everybody’s health
if she participates in the game that has shower guests identify what mushy foods are smeared into otherwise clean diapers
if she giggles and coos over every pastel onesie and ergonomic bottle nipple
if she enjoys herself thoroughly
if she doesn’t spend the entire time biting back sarcasm and obscenities
if she stays ’til the end of the party and leaves quietly without having challenged anyone to a fistfight
if she attends the shower without a single ulterior motive
…then I have asked her to do things utterly out-of-character. She’ll have nothing more to do in her own story. I’ll have altered her character beyond recognition, preventing the continuation of the story I started. If I make Nera continue in this vein, I’ll be writing a completely different story. I’ll have to abandon her original story and write this different one. And this one, honestly, is pretty boring, because there’s no conflict or even a hint of tension in that second baby shower scenario.
If I keep trying to write the original story, picking up with the ending of the second baby shower scenario I’ll abandon it because Nera and I have nowhere to go from there. Blah blah writer emergency blah.
Plots or Pants?
So. Do I plot stories? Or do I pants them? The answer is yes.
Like I said earlier, I plot everything out before I story. Characters, plot points, story arcs, beginnings, middles, climaxes, denouements, settings, descriptions. Before I set proverbial pen to proverbial paper, I know who’s doing what and why and where. I knot my safety net. And *then* I edge out onto the highwire.
About a quarter of the way out, when it’s too late to go back, my characters usually let me know that one of my knots is frayed. It’s not tight enough. I tied it in the wrong spot. If I keep going, story and I are going to fall. The net is gonna break, and though I will survive (or will I?), story will end up splattered on the hardpacked ground of the circus ring.
What I have to do is let the characters take my hands, keep me steady, hand me a balancing pole. I have to let them fix the knots in our safety net. So that when we fall — and, inevitably, we will — that’s when the characters decide to go off-outline — we fall together, we hit the net (aka outline, long synopsis, etc), and we bounce right back up onto the highwire and finish up the story.
This is my circus, these are my monkeys, and it’s my job to let them do their thing. Even when their thing is poo-flinging and I don’t want them to.
So, in cobbling together my previous post (and in trying to navigate the new UI of WordPress that has interloped since last I blogged [by Grabthar’s Hammer, I HATE new user-interfaces]), I realized that I’ve never really done a comprehensive post about the Light-Walkers universe. Doing so might be more for my own benefit than for anyone else’s, but mayhap some of you will find it perusable if not grippingly fascinating.
The Light-Walkers universe has been in the making since at least 1992. Maybe since 1986. In 1986, the Armed Forces Network started airing a Marine recruitment ad in Germany, where I grew up. (AFN might have aired it all over Europe, but I don’t know know for sure.) The ad showed images of pseudo-medieval warriors on a life-sized chess board, and since 9-year-old me already harbored a love of chess and fantasy, I was hooked. Not by the Marines, but by the imagery and the music, which featured a chorus singing something that sounded Latin to me. But because I didn’t know Latin, my malleable brain came up with my own language for the song, and eventually I wrote down the syllables I heard.
Here’s the ad. You see why it grabbed me?!?
Fast-forward a few years, and I had a weird dream about a mutating phone booth and slitted yellow eyes staring at me from the darkness. When I was 17, I finally sat down to write the story to go with that image…and before I knew it, my pseudo-Latin scribbles from the Marine ad insisted on being included. Those syllables turned into a language I initially called Old Speech, spoken by a people called the Wanderers, which I think was my tribute to Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising. VERY long story short, in the ensuing 2+ decades I’ve ended up with the following:
These two novels, plus short story “Rethana’s Tower,” tell the story of Rethana Chosardal, a magic-user whose decimated family is in hiding from their land’s religio-fascist ruler. Rethana ends up entangled in a civil war while trying to get her little sister back home.
Rethana’s story started life as one book, but in 2011 my then-publisher Consortium Books asked me to split it into a more manageable duology. In 2021, I plan to re-release an Author’s Preferred Edition that includes these two melded once more into one, plus a short story, all under the title Rethana’s Triad. Or Triad and Gold. Or Triad’s Bane. Or The Shadow of the Triad. Or… *sigh* I have two years to figure this out.
This book tells the tale of Rafe Skelleran, fallen star of the art world, who gets sucked into this crazy world of magic, betrayal, war, romance, desperation, non-humans, monsters, and near-immortals. He doesn’t exactly get a happy ending, and I still feel kinda bad about that.
Future Legends of the Light-Walkers Novels:
• Sister of the Sable Flame will tell the story of Taeven “Ravenhair,” who has a cameo in Dying of the Light. Sable Flame will let us in on Taeven’s backstory, as well as her monumental role in rebuilding [redacted] after [redacted] is destroyed at the end of DotL. Oh, and we get to see how [redacted] from Rethana’s story gets created in the first place and why it’s so significant that Rethana and her sister destroy/transform it.
And if that’s not clear as mud, I don’t know how to help you.
• Blood Awakening is my working title (subject to change five minutes from now) for the story of Deren Tehvs, son of Rethana. Deren gets to try figuring out who his real father is, all while fighting (joining?) outlaws, falling in love with very much the wrong girl, running from apparent evil incarnate, and oh there’s DRAGONS.
• The Witch and the Wayfarer’s Tree is the working title for the story of Rowan of the First, one of the original founders of the Light-Walkers. A “wise woman” figure in DotL, she is mentor and guardian to Rafe Skelleran. But in Witch & Wayfarer, we delve into Rowan’s “futurepast” and find out who she really is. W&WT will be something of a sci-fi-fantasy that ties together most of the series as well as assorted pubbed and as-yet-unpubbed short stories.
• Embers of the North concerns Chali Tehvs, whose birth parents have cameos in Rethana’s story. Chali isn’t actually a Tehvs at all. She knows exactly where she comes from, and she knows that her lineage should give her all the clout she needs to get accepted into the “fae” (dragon rider) training program north of the capital. Needless to say, there are several somebodies who want to stop her. Also, she kind of gets to help found an empire of sorts, maybe?
So. That’s seven novels in the Legends of the Light-Walkers series. There might be more. Chali Tehvs hasn’t let me know yet if she really wants to be the one to round things out and tie up all the loose ends. I’m in no hurry to figure it out at this point. I don’t plan for LLW to go on indefinitely; 8 or 9 will be the upper limit, I think. But I’m leaving those decisions for Future Courtney.
• Watchful Dragons: Return of the Pelegrin, set in the Light-Walkers universe but on the other side of the continent from where the LLW series takes place; my work-in-progress as of this writing
I intended for this to be a stand-alone work, but it shows signs of wanting to be a series. Or at least a trilogy or something. Another problem for Future Courtney. Yay!
Other Light-Walker Novels and Short Stories
• The Flight of Elfled unBlessed follows Elfled Gardail through the religio-fascist awfulscape of Rethana’s era as Elfled flees persecution, get separated from her family, and navigates the world as a young teenage refugee (not yet published)
• The Priestess Murders, my first ever murder mystery, set two centuries after Rethana’s story (not yet published)
• The Galbraith Folly — set about 1000 years after the Rethana-Elfled-Pelegrin era, it’s the story of how a well-meaning elf queen really screwed up trying to save the world and accidentally turned all elves into nightwalkers and zombies. Oops.
Other Other Light-Walker Stories
Yeah, so this font is pretty much bottomless, if you hadn’t picked up on that yet.
• Siffenwinch Skilflink Is Tapped Dry — I got a few chapters into this one years ago, then it petered out. But the Muse has renewed interest in it since certain Skilflinks showed up in Elfled Gardail’s story. I’ll be revisiting.
• The Court of the Seven will be the story of Aletta Clerly, Elfled’s cousin. Aletta gets magic powers, meddles in the politics of two (three?) different countries, kidnaps a relative, and crowns a long-lost king. Her story spans five decades, and I’m probably going to cover all of them. So wow.
• The Chronicles of Raphael — dunno if it’ll be a standalone novel, a standalone collection of short stories, or a series of something. But it’ll be all about Rafe Skelleran’s adventures bopping in and out of our world during the period between Dying of the Light and Sister of the Sable Flame.
Then there’s a bunch of vague ideas that just have a single plot point or a couple of characters so far:
• the one about my universe’s version of “elves,” aka Song Prophets, in which we get to see what happens when two of the elf bloodlines get mixed with human DNA via twin girls who each have a different elf father
• the one where my three main universes (Light-Walkers, Elevator, and Demons of Saltmarch) REALLY slam into each other for a big gooey mashup mess (Jop and Skee will be back! plus Rafe Skelleran and Jas Burleson)
• a post-apocalyptic, Angela’s-Ashes-style epic set in the decade or so after Galbraith Folly
And…and I think maybe that’s it?
Ooooh, I know. Y’all REALLY need this (you know — the whole two of you who are still reading). Without further ado or adon’t, here’s the chronological order of all the novels and stories and ideas in the LLW universe. Ready? Set? FEAST YOUR SEEINGBALLS ON THIS:
Light-Walkers Universe Chronology
The Witch and the Wayfarer Tree (not yet written)
The Dying of the Light
The Chronicles of Raphael (not yet written)
triple-universe mashup with Rafe, Jas, Jop, and Skee
“The Eater” (The Elven Dead)
“Gateway Drug” (The Elven Dead)
Sister of the Sable Flame (incomplete)
Return of the Pelegrin (in-progress)
The Flight of Elfled unBlessed (not yet published)
The Court of the Seven (not yet written; takes place concurrently with #s 11.-.18)
“Out of the Darkness” (The Elven Dead)
“Rethana’s Tower” (The Elven Dead)
“Oubliette” (The Elven Dead)
Blood Awakening (incomplete)
Siffenwinch Skilflink Is Tapped Dry (incomplete)
Embers of the North (not yet written)
story about mixing elf and human DNA
The Priestess Murders (not yet published)
The Galbraith Folly (not yet written)
post-apocalyptic epic with elf zombies
“The Elven Dead”
And egad Brain, I think I’m done. Yikes, this was way more than I intended to write here, and I think it’s more for my use and clarity than for y’all’s. If I were a good little blogger, I’d shove some cover art in here somewhere. But it’s late, I’m tired, and I have acid reflux. So I’m not gonna.
Just a brief heyyo here’s what’s been up in my writing world:
Last month, I completed, i.e. won, the summerly version of JuNoWriMo, of which you will be cognizant if you have ever given my blog any smidgen of serious attention whatsoever. After having spent almost one whole week of June out-of-commission health-wise, I actually finished the challenge a day early; thus, there was must rejoicing.
The novel I worked on during JuNoWriMo is currently entitled Watchful Dragons: Return of the Pelegrin. “Pelegrin” is another word for “pilgrim” and is also related to the word “peregrine.” So, lots of thematic stuff with journeys and sacred stuff and untamable creatures, etc. It’s a fantasy novel set in my Light-Walkers universe, and it seeks to provide the answer to “What ever happened to Susan Pevensie from C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books?” Because, yes, I do happen to have enough hubris to believe myself capable of providing a satisfying answer to that 60-year-old question, even though I won’t be using any of Lewis’s characters, settings, or exact plot lines because I’d really rather avoid getting the pantaloons sued off me by the man’s estate. I am currently about 65,000 words in, and this book is showing every sign of being a 200k-word story, so I don’t know what I’m going to do. But I’m loving main character Gillian Averell, who is currently in the middle of going all mama-bear over her daughter getting attacked by a smoke creature that bleeds violet. Thus, much fun is being had by all.
My JuNoWriMo project of 2018 was my first ever murder mystery, also set in the Light-Walkers universe. The Priestess Murders is the story of magic-user priestess Joely Puck, unwilling assistant detective investigating the murder of a fellow priestess. There’s magic and betrayal and flaying and manipulation and insidious cursed objects and romance and inter-dimensional travel. I spent the second half of 2018 and much of the first half of 2019 crafting the thing to completion and thence, step by tormented step, into completion. One beta reader has finished it and says it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written. Another beta isn’t quite finished but tells me she’s thoroughly enjoying the read. More to come on that front soon, I dare hope.
This blog. Oy vey, ay caramba, uffda, and um Himmels Willen this BLOG. Since I can’t seem to keep the thing updated or in use or what-hast-thou, I have decided to set aside time every Monday evening for blogging. I’m aware that blogging isn’t exactly DONE anymore, and I certainly don’t owe anyone a blog post or whatever, but. The blogging thing is good for me. I realize and acknowledge this. Plus, my therapist wants me journaling, and since I can’t quite manage to keep up with that, maybe a weekly commitment here will stand me in good stead on that front, too.
I write too much on Twitter.
That’s all, folks.
(Am I allowed to say that? Like, legally?) *swan-dives into alternate dimension*
YIPPEE! I love these stories and am so excited to share them with you!!!
So, in case you didn’t know it yet — a few days back, I pubbed my latest book:
The Elven Dead and Other Legends of the Light-Walkers!
This one is an anthology of 5 short stories and one novella, all set in my Light-Walkers universe. Long story short (HA HA HA), I let this one linger on my back burner for two years before I stirred the pot a final time (READ: did final edits) and got the whole six-course meal served up in edible form. Yay for overdue follow-through and resulting accomplishment!
“Who are you? And who in hells am I?”
The Light-Walkers: an otherworldly people of magic, mystery, and soul-rending purpose.
The Light-Walkers: arrogance, love, desperation, and a fierce determination to protect their magical birthright and their world–even if it means destroying ours.
The Light-Walkers: always elusive, forever unreachable, and yet…among us.
Playful sorcery that brings down nations. The fear factor in a magical venom cocktail. Undead, astral-projecting elves. In five short stories and one novella, Courtney Cantrell offers fresh glimpses into the world she uncovered in Rethana’s Surrender, Rethana’s Trial, and The Dying of the Light. New characters, old friends, and base traitors populate this collection. Delve deep and sink your teeth into the marrow of the Light-Walker world. If the dragons don’t grab you, the undead elven soldiers will.
I always have good intentions, especially at the start of the year. New Year’s resolutions are fantastic! New Year’s resolutions suck! The age-old story of all human constructs, pretty much. I could philosophize further on that, but I’ve done that before, and regurgitation takes too much effort.
Part of my plan for 2019 is to pay more attention to the business side of my writing. The business side of writing, they tell me, must include an online location where readers can track me down and get more info on my books and maybe even rummage around in my life a bit.
(NOTE: anytime you’re rummaging around in someone’s online life, all you’re getting is their [carefully?] curated online persona; you never get the whole story of who they are or what they’re doing SO BE YE FOREWARNED THERE MIGHT BE DRAGONS AND ALL THAT YARN.)
Anyway, they tell me I need a platform.
I’ve abandoned Facebook (you’ll find me if you look there, but only because I haven’t gotten around to logging on and deleting that account), and I’m not faithful enough to Twitter to make that a real platform. Unless I am. I don’t know. I love Twitter, and I’m there daily again these days (after a 15ish-month hiatus last year), but I’m not sure how effective it is as an author platform for one such as I.
And by that, I mean an author-publisher who hasn’t established herself elsewhere first.
And speaking of that, I’m pondering trying traditional publishing again this year. But that is another post and shall be written another time.
ANYWAY again, this post you’re reading is my announcement that I shall, yet again, seek to be more present here? It’s a 50-50 chance I’ll actually follow through on it. Frankly, the main thing that keeps me away is that if I’m spending time writing, I’d rather write story than blogpost. There’s another full post in that thought, too.
I have a lot of those, which is, mayhap, an indication that I NEED to be here more.
Getting circular here, aren’t we?
Well-a-day. Happy 2019, y’all. Here’s to a new year full of light, love, compassion, mercy, generosity, inclusivity, and clarity. Maybe thoughts on those things will spill over to this blog, too.