Thursday, February 26, 2009

Un petit crise de nerfs (A little nervous breakdown)

I woke up this morning and was doodling around on Facebook when I came across the website of a bonafide, published, best-selling writer. Looking at this guy's material made me realize that what I have written over the past two years is nothing more than 80,000 words of some of the most amateurish muck ever composed.

I had to walk away from my computer to keep myself from deleting the whole folder on my hard drive with The Golden Gryphon in it. So easy to do... just highlight it and press "Delete?" "Are you sure you want to delete this folder and all of its files and subfolders?" "Heck, yeah! Burn, baby, burn!"

I didn't delete it, but I have gone back to the beginning again. As Inigo says in The Princess Bride: "I am waiting for you, Vizzini. You told me to go back to the beginning. And I did. So here I am." For those of you who aren't fans of the movie, when something goes wrong... go back to the beginning. Unfortunately, I don't have a crafty Sicilian to tell me what to do. I have to figure that out by myself.

Monday, February 23, 2009

78,235 words! I wrote the big battle scene today.

I can't believe that after two years the book is nearly finished. I'm just wrapping up loose ends, and then I have to go back and fill in some missing scenes. Then the first draft will be done and I can start revising.

Hallelujah!!!! I never thought I'd get this far... I really didn't.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My Prayer

Lord, help me to...
write only for You,
teach only for You,
and love and care for my family as if they were You.

May every word I say or write, every meal I prepare, and every lecture I give be an example of Christian truth and service.

Help me to be faithful in prayer, love, friendship and art.

Use me to spread Your truth. Remind me when I waste the time and talent you have given me. Take hold of me, chastise me, purify me.

Make me wholly Yours, so that I will not be ashamed when I stand before you at the Judgement.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Shelved again!

I'm afraid I'm going to have to put my manuscript on hold... again. Rats. I'm just falling too far behind in other things. I can't be effective when my mind is always "somewhere else."

Oh well, at least I made some really significant progress in the past few months.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fantasy Genres

I was just getting ready to exercise when something popped into my mind (doesn't that happen to all of us the moment we don our sweats?) I was thinking about the article I referenced, The Fantasy Novelist's Exam, in my last note. Michelle Gregory had posted about this also.

I was thinking that many of the characteristics of fantasy fiction that the authors of that scathingly humorous (or not so humorous, depending on the day you're having) article were making fun of, have to do with the distinction between the different subgenres in fantasy fiction. They are seemingly mocking so-called 'High Fantasy' in which the fate of the whole world is in the balance, as well as "Sword and Sorcery" which tends to focus on the baser pursuits of wandering heroes.

I had done some research when beginning my own book, and found some very good articles on Wikipedia on Fantasy Fiction and Subgenres of Fantasy Fiction. Here are a couple of tidbits that others might find interesting:

"The term High Fantasy (also Epic Fantasy) generally refers to fantasy that depicts an epic struggle between good and evil in a fantasy world, parallel to ours...

The moral tone and high stakes — usually world-shaking — separates this genre from Sword and Sorcery, while the degree to which the world is not based on a real-world history separates it from Historical Fantasy."

Kristal Shaff's book The Emissary is probably in the High Fantasy category, though it could also be considered Heroic Fantasy.

Heroic Fantasy
is described as "A subgenre touching high fantasy on one hand and sword-and-sorcery on the other. A hero is usually the main character, and is usually on a quest, and often is carrying one or more magical items."

Sword and sorcery (S&S) "is a fantasy subgenre generally characterized by swashbuckling heroes engaged in exciting and violent conflicts. An element of romance is often present, as is an element of magic and the supernatural. Unlike works of high fantasy, the tales, though dramatic, focus mainly on personal battles rather than world-endangering matters."

Michelle Gregory's book Eldala would probably be considered Romantic Fantasy,as would mine. (Ouch! That is definitely not what I was going for.)

Here is a summary description from Wikipedia.

"Characters may start as solitary wanderers in romantic fantasy, but they never remain that way for long. One of the key features of romantic fantasy involves the focus on social, and to a lesser extent, political relationships. The characters all find close friends, lovers, and other companions with whom they either live or travel, as well as a larger social circle where they all belong. In addition, many character have significant ties with the larger world. Many of these characters have noble titles, or a sworn duty to their kingdom. The rootless travelers of sword and sorcery novels are rarely found in romantic fantasy..."

"Attitudes toward magic in Romantic Fantasy are usually very different from that expressed in most high fantasy or sword and sorcery. Rather than representing an alien and corrupting force that destroys its practitioners, or a complex, secretive body of lore that isolates magicians from normal society via long study and seclusion, magic typically takes the form of innate abilities that are natural and simple to use...Magic is thus presented in the narrative as an innate and positive part of someone's nature, and by extension a "natural" part of the world."

According to the article, one of the typical plot archetypes is this: The hero(ine)..." saves her kingdom from outside invasion. Such characters are rarely warriors, and normally uncover the plots through a combination of intrigue, luck, and use of their powers. In the course of this adventure, the character typically falls in love and, by the end of the novel or at least by the end of the series, her lover becomes their life-partner. The complexities of this romance form a significant focus in these novels."

I'd say that pretty accurately describes The Golden Gryphon. However, the story does roughly fit the Heroic Fantasy description as well, as far as the heroine being the main character who possesses magical items and is on a quest, although in Marenya's case her quest is mainly to protect those she loves. The same could also be said of Eldala. Clearly these subgenres overlap quite a bit.

As far as the publishing niche for this type of fiction, according to the Wikipedia article,

"Romantic fantasy has been published by both fantasy lines and romance lines.

"Some publishers distinguish between 'romantic fantasy' where the romance is most important and 'fantasy romance' where the fantasy elements are most important. Others say that 'the borderline between fantasy romance and romantic fantasy has essentially ceased to exist, or if it's still there, it's moving back and forth constantly'."

Interesting to know!

Here are the links:
Fantasy Subgenres
Romantic Fantasy

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gryphon Update

My eyes are bleary and my hands are stiff, and I haven't done a lick of schoolwork yet today. But I did write about 1200 words. In 3 hours. That's an average of 400 words an hour. I type 40 words a minute, so that's the equivalent of... ten minutes.

The reason it takes me so long is that I can't usually write nonstop. I write a sentence, get up, pace, sit down, write another sentence, get some coffee, pace, sit down.

See, I just did it again! I wrote those few lines, got up, walked through the house, looked out the window for Jeffrey, paced, stuck my head out and called for him, reassured myself that he was in the yard, then came back in.

It's like I can't think unless I'm moving. I do that when I'm talking on the phone, too. Does that mean anything?

I've been stuck for a few days, both on the plot and on having too many other things to do. The number of undone chores around here is staggering. I have to grade papers, and do lesson planning, and make my notes for tomorrow's classes. And pay bills, and put away laundry, and go grocery shopping, and pick up the dry cleaning, and, and, and....

However, the story is all kind of coming together now, to a natural denouement. I'm already missing my characters; in my mind the book is nearly over. It's like that sad feeling you get when you realize the movie is ending, and you have to throw away your popcorn container and go home.

But! There is always the sequel. Or the prequel. I am starting to think that what I have here is really the second book in a series, not the first one, and that what I need to do is go back and tell the story of how the two main male characters first met and became friends, and the stuff that led up to the war preceding my current story.

This was prompted by an article that had me laughing so hard I couldn't stop. I couldn't breathe; tears were streaming down my face. I was making strange gasping sounds that summoned my husband from the basement to see if I was choking on a grape.

Here it is: The Fantasy Novelist's Exam

The thing that prompted me to think about a prequel was item #27: Does your novel contain a prologue that is impossible to understand until you've read the entire book, if even then? Now, I know this is a dig at Tolkein's prologue to the second edition to The Lord of the Rings, which was an attempt to answer many questions from fans about Middle Earth in general, and Hobbits in particular. However, it made me think about the prologue I had originally written for The Golden Gryphon (which I was told was unreadable), and the problems I have had trying to insert sufficient background information into the story.

My next favorite item is #56
Does anybody in your novel fight for two hours straight in full plate armor, then ride a horse for four hours, then delicately make love to a willing barmaid all in the same day?

My other favorites are #52 "Do you ever use the term "plate mail" in your novel?"

and #42 "At any point in your novel, do the main characters take a shortcut through ancient dwarven mines?"

along with #65"Do you not realize it takes hours to make a good stew, making it a poor choice for an "on the road" meal?

This whole post is an example of a new term I have coined called "Novelling." I spend a lot more time novelling than I do writing. That is, I spend more time talking about, thinking about, blogging about, doing pointless "research" on the Internet for, daydreaming about, planning and doodling illustrations for my novel than I do actually working on it.

Perhaps that is why, at my 2 year anniversary of the beginning of this project, I'm still not done. But I'm sure having a lot of fun!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Central Casting

It's kind of fun to "cast" the characters of my novel for the "movie version." I know who they are in my head, but it's a challenge to come up with the right actors to play them.

Faldur has always been Hugh Jackman. He has a very Faldur-like expression on his face here... not giving anything away.

Mel has always been Jason O'Mara. (aka Fergal from Monarch of the Glen.)

Pelwyn is Carey Mulligan, from the PBS Masterpiece productions "Bleak House" and "Northanger Abbey." You may have also seen her on Dr. Who.

And, after much thought, I decided that Marenya should be Anna Paquin, who played opposite Jackman in "X-Men" as Rogue. I really liked the subtle chemistry between them. She was my first choice, and I realize now it was an instinctive one. It's amazing how similar she looks to Carey Mulligan, which I didn't realize until I put the photos up here, but their resemblence is a key plot point in the novel.

Cirian Hinds has to be in this. I don't know how, but he does. I wanted so much to put him in a good guy role, but I can't help thinking that no one could play Synedd as sympathetically as he could. I really intended him originally as King Elmoran, Mel's father. Let's keep him there for now.

Here's an idea... let's put Mel Gibson in as Synedd. He does crazy really well, and has the voice to go with the role. Even without being able to use his eyes (Synedd is blind) he could do this guy perfectly, and would be a terrific foil for Hinds' sympathetic portrayal of Elmoran. I like it!

I also really want Mark Strong in this as the grasping Lord Chalmeth. He does good guys and bad guys equally well.

For the battle-hardened Lord Tarnbel, Pelwyn's father, I think I would use Daniel Craig. And I want Jodie Foster as the Queen.

And, of course, Nighfala would have to play herself.

P.S. I almost forgot!!! Lloyd Owen as Lt. Harth. (aka Paul from Monarch of the Glen.) See the male-to-female ratio? That's intentional. (LOL!)

Sean Bean!!! Where's Sean Bean??? I need him, too. If Daniel Craig's not available, he could be the stern and mighty Tarnbel.

And Karl Urban (aka Eomer.)

So many actors, so little time. I'll have to save some for the sequel. (Notice how most these guys are wearing black for their head shots? Maybe they think it makes them look thinner. ???)