Saturday, December 13, 2014

christmas and candlelight

The most wonderful time of the year.
- Digging out the good old Christmas cds, dusting off the stereo and Elvis Presley's Blue Christmas
- Waiting for a day of non-sub-zero temperatures to ferry all the Christmas trimmings from storage to the house (not hard this year when yesterday was 60*)
- Tweaking the nativity figurines a dozen and one times
- Hot chocolate is always on the shopping list
- Little helping hands and a large pitcher quench a thirsty tree (... and the carpet...)
- Stockings hung by the fireplace with care
- Innocent, wondering eyes reflecting the light of the Advent wreath
- Shopping the local boutiques for just the right gift, Blackbird coffee in hand
And every where the gentle glow of candles that whisper - not shout - the underlying hope of the season: He's coming!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Not-NaNo week 1

Word must have got out that I am "kinda-sorta-not" participating in NaNoWriM this year. I am as ill and muddled as a parrot in damp weather.

 My hope was that by saying I wasn't and by not officially signing up this year, I would avoid the bad juju that WITHOUT FAIL befalls me each time I have attempted the hallowed November 50k. Every year I've tried at least one of my animals has either gotten sick or run over, and I have come down with either the flu or some new headcold of horrors  (NaNo 2009, 2011, and 2012). Last year I said, "no way!", for the first time succumbing to superstition. This year, while still wary, I thought I could skirt the problem by not signing up, and instead of having a goal of 50,000 words, merely try to write every day.
  And now look at me. The end of week one and I've already been sick for three days. bah.

I hope you all are having better luck than I - how many of you are participating this year? You can leave a link to your NaNo profile below if you'd like!

No snippets from me this week (mostly because it would involve me having to get up and hunt for my notebook, and secondly, what I have written so far is pretty bare bones :/). I'll make up for it next week! In the mean time, here's a couple of quotes from (vastly - haha) different authors that have kept me going this first week...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

the lowdown on WINTERKILN

(it only took two months) 
Heeyyy, guys! Remember back in August when I was all pumped to do a short series on the story notebooks I've got my pen in? heheh... yeeah.
 I give up trying to figure out this whole "life" and "work" thing. I think by now we both know that I can't always get around it. Being a grown-up kinda sucks that way. But you didn't click over here to listen to me bemoan my nonexistent work/play/write routine.

I have always been intensely intrigued by the roles of angels, demons, and their spiritual ilk. How they might be involved in the physical world, what their 'jobs' are/could be,  and other threads & imaginings intensified by writer in the middle of The Screwtape Letters.
 Winterkiln came to be a sort of outlet for all the inspiration and ideas on the subject that sparked whilst I read parts of the Bible, the above mentioned, and various myths and legends.
 I want to make it quite clear up front that I am not attempting any type of allegory in Winterkiln. I don't want to limit myself by trying to interpret what the Bible has to say on the subject, as I have neither the smarts nor the courage to even try. This story, like most of my others, is certainly drawn from facts and real world inspiration, but is purely fantasy.
 So, in a nutshell, if I ever die famous like Lewis or Tolkien, I don't want you all to go picking about in it searching for heavenly revelations. That is all. ha

I can tell you that there are beings like angels*, creatures like demons*, and... well, Man. But he's just about as clueless as he's ever been so moving on.
 This is a story about the eternal battleground between good and evil, light and dark, black and white, and that awful grey betwixt them...

Unlike the Skyrian post, I'm not going to give a 'summary of so far', because there isn't much of a 'so far' yet. I'm still hashing out where I think the story is going (for now), and so really only have a couple of pages of draft. Though lots of character sketches, reference, snippets of scenes, and a blurry outline.

The World of Winterkiln
As far as real world era equivalent, I would put it around 280 - 400 AD, still pretty archaic as far as technology goes, since this is primarily set in the North. It reminds me of Roman Britain.

It is a world distinctly divided by race. 'Angels' are first and foremost servants of the 'Light' (whyyyy can't I come up with brilliant names in a pinch??), but secondly the guardians of men. The majority of them are soldiers, and all must attend a military school from a young age, though not all go on to be fighters. Some become government leaders, teachers, doctors, and the like. In the more populous and educated southern parts they live openly amongst Men, but in more barbaric regions must disguise their nature, for though they are capable of laying waste to entire armies of the dark, they may not defend themselves against the ignorance & suspicions of men. And thus the dog barks at the chained lion.

Men are still making mistakes, blunders, and learning things the hard way, while simultaneously building, exploring, creating, and living.

'Demons'. The buggers are giving me a heck of a time trying to figure them out. I know what I don't want, and that's shadowy figures with red eyes creeping on the innocent. Nor are they all Lucifers with power to rival arch angels. No, the majority of these are more crafty underlings, whose strength is in numbers and deception. Shape-shifters and changelings. But there are greater demons, too, and who can forget the King of Sheol with his appetite for the power of human souls.
The land is also torn in half by a strict border between the angelically perceived Light and Dark, a no man's land well guarded by the Light in order to hold back the insidious forces beyond. And also the riffraff. Man lives in nearly equal parts on either side of the border and their foolish insistence on mixing and tearing down the border's walls causes great headaches for the angels.
 Other than that, the good land is a lot like anywhere. It's warm in the south, where the Light has its seat of power in the golden city of Qumrana, where angels and men live side by side. The North (that's with a capital n), however is frozen and buried in snow nine months of the year, and its people are poor and often hostile to outsiders.

Meet the MC
Hadriel: the (angel) through whose eyes we will see the world.
Daughter of the ex-general Hadrian, Hadriel is a graduate of Qumrana's elite military academy. Recently completing her first assignment in the city, her rank allows her the opportunity to volunteer for a post in locations across the country. Expected to remain near the capital and rise through the ranks like her father before her, there is only one place that stirs her strong sense of duty: a remote border post far away in the frozen North. It's dangerous, it's remote, and it's in need of a new captain. Precisely what she has been training for.
Only one problem: she's engaged to be married.
I love Hadriel. She's who I want to be when I grow up. She is a soldier, a master of her craft. Calm and calculating, never revealing all her cards. Intensely driven by her duty and incredibly capable of carrying it out, no matter the challenge. She defines quiet confidence.
At least, she all these things before I send her north... (insert diabolical laughter)

There are of course supporting characters I could talk a little about, but the plot does move very quickly and two of them play pivotal roles that if I blabbed about could give everything away. And the lesser ones don't have pictures yet. You see my dilemma? I'm afraid you'll just have to gaze upon the pale beauty above a wonder about her future since, I realize, I've given you very little of the actual plot. I'm saving 'story mode' for another post. Sorry!
In the meantime, have a look into Hadriel's world...
the capital city of qumrana
better days: young hadriel & her father

northern outpost
by tony diterlizzi

Oddly, it has been much easier to find pictures that evoke the feeling and bent of Winterkiln than it ever has been for Skyrian. Which really surprised me since medieval-esque stories are more or less 'in' right now. But whatever. I'll take my pins as they come. :)

*if anyone knows of better names for these creatures, give me a shout! I've been hunting in different languages, Hebrew, Hindi, Gaelic, and Arabic but haven't found anything satisfactory.

disclaimer: i of course own none of these pictures, all were found via

Monday, October 6, 2014

it's HERE: PLENILUNE cover reveal

(so basically, if you haven't heard about this by now - you live under a blogger-rock. 
i'm a tad late to the festivities due to the fact that we were cutting firewood today :)

It's here, you guys! The brand-spankin' new glossy that will adorn the front of Jennifer Freitag's much anticipated Plenilune! And it is glorious.
The fate of Plenilune hangs on the election of the Overlord, for which Rupert de la Mare and his brother are the only contenders, but when Rupert’s unwilling bride-to-be uncovers his plot to murder his brother, the conflict explodes into civil war.
To assure the minds of the lord-electors of Plenilune that he has some capacity for humanity, Rupert de la Mare has been asked to woo and win a lady before he can become the Overlord, and he will do it—even if he has to kidnap her.
En route to Naples to catch a suitor, Margaret Coventry was not expecting a suitor to catch her.

Baited, much?
I am exceedingly interested to see how the 'planetary' part of the fiction plays out. (What is planetary fiction?) What new realms of imagination and scene await us beyond this cover? Only October 20th can tell us.
 You can rest assured that I will be snapping the is up directly on the 20th (unless it's available for preorder, in which case it's already mine.) Few know this about me for I tend not to spread it about as it annoys and alarms some bookworms, but I do not like buying 'new' books. Too often I've been hopeful about well-reviewed books and spent hard earned money only to be bored, amazed (at what gets published these days), surprised (at what slips by editors), and downright disappointed (I'm looking at you, Divergent). In the end I'm basically paying and average of $20 for a Paperback Swap credit. *dying whale noise*
 So I request a lot of books at my library, and buy only the ones that knock me off my feet. My bookcase may be small, but I will be buried with the ones that line it.
That beings said, Plenilune is a safe gamble for me to take. I have read and loved Freitag's first novel The Shadow Things, and I am beyond excited to see how her writing has matured since.
Still wavering? Here's what advance readers are saying, interspersed with pins from the author's pinboard:

I'm in love.
coming october 20th, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

prairie rain

Here the rain tastes sweet, the air a soft hush, the grass quieted underfoot. The birds tuck in, the ducks paddle about, and the cottontails scrub their little faces.
 The geese are leaving, and the turkeys are gobbling, and I try to listen for the meadowlark's last song, not ready for the snowy silence they will leave behind.
I have drunk more tea in the last two days than I have all summer, and I can't help but think how nice it is to be cozy again.

p.s. Winterkiln post is in the works! i just have to find the all-important sheet of facts that i - err - misplaced...