Apr 24, 2014

Earth - Chapter Twenty


This serial is presented in draft form and will be updated each Thursday. Your comments are always welcome!

Ch 1 ~ Ch 2 ~ Ch 3 ~ Ch 4 ~ Ch 5 ~ Ch 6 ~ Ch 7 ~ Ch 8 ~ Ch 9 ~ Ch 10 ~ Ch 11 ~ Ch 12 ~ Ch 13 ~
Ch 14 ~ Ch 15 ~ Ch 16 ~ Ch 17 ~ Ch 18 ~ Ch 19 ~



There was an adorable little frown on Chloe's face as she digested his last statement. "For what it's worth," Zephryn said, "I'm glad you weren't born in the compound."

Her gaze met his and then dropped again and a faint flush suffused her cheeks. He found that adorable too. But as much as he'd like to act on his attraction, he needed to be careful. All the signs pointed towards her being close to her tespiro and he certainly didn't want to trigger anything that neither of them were prepared for.

He couldn't stop thinking about the story Ravi told him about the fire elemental, Pyre, and the tragedy that preceded his tespiro. He'd been with a girl in the barn the youth of his village commonly used for trysting. But the emotions had been too much for him and he'd lost control of his element. Both the barn and the girl he'd been with had gone up in flames. The only thing that saved him was the fact he was the source of the fire.

Chloe was no teenager, and her gift was just as powerful, if not more so, than Pyre's. There was no telling what might happen if her tespiro was triggered, catching them unaware.

"Chloe . . ." How was he supposed to broach the subject with her? He could really use Da'nat's help right about now.

The truth is always the best.

Zephryn gave a start. Da'nat? Then he realized what the Illezie's voice in his mind meant. Stop reading my mind!

You must tell her the danger she faces. That we all face.

Why don't you come and explain it to her then?


But the Illezie's presence vanished again. Zephryn ground his teeth together.

"Is something wrong?"

"No, sorry. Just something else I was thinking about." He sighed. "We need to talk about what your mother said, about me helping you . . ."

"Oh. That." She sat back in her chair, looking down at the table. "I don't know what mother told you about my little situation, but it's not exactly new."

"Little situation?" Zephryn was shocked. Between her power and her age, tespiro was more than just a little situation.

"I've been dealing with Gannon for years. I don't know why he's suddenly renewed his interest in me, but it's nothing I can't handle on my own."

"He's what?" A cold wind swept through the room before he could stop it. "What exactly has he been doing?"

Chloe's eyes widened as she watched a small whirlwind form on the table between them. "Nothing special," she replied, eyes captivated by the swirling wind. "But he's made his interest plain. And yesterday he asked me into his office for a glass of wine to celebrate my crew finding a rich vein of ore."

"Of course you refused," Zephryn stated flatly.

"What? No, of course not." She tore her eyes away from the spinning air to look directly at him. "When the mine master calls you into his office, you don't refuse." Her gaze was drawn back to the tiny whirlwind. "How are you able to keep it so contained?"

His brow furrowed in concentration and the wind dissipated. "I'm sorry," he said a little sheepishly. "I usually have better control than that. But just the thought of this Gannon trying to take advantage of you . . ."

She shrugged. "Like I said, it's nothing new, but I'm surprised mother was even aware of it."

Zephryn hesitated, torn between wanting to find out more about what Gannon was up to and the need to clear the air about what her mother really wanted his help with. "Chloe . . ." He loved saying her name. It had such a beautiful cadence to it.

All at once he felt the mental equivalent to a slap in his head. Da'nat!

If you're not going to help, then don't eavesdrop, he told the Illezie.

Then focus on the task at hand.

"Are you sure you're all right?" Chloe asked, concern on her face. "You keep wincing."

"Just a slight pain in the head," he said dryly. "I'm sure it will go away on its own.

"If you say so."

"Chloe, your mother isn't concerned about Gannon. At least, if she is, she hasn't mentioned it to me."

Her perfectly arched brows pulled together in a frown. "If it's not Gannon, then what does she think I need help with? It was me she was referring to, wasn't it?"

"Yes, it was." Though he'd grown up unused to alcohol in its many forms, if there was ever a time he could use a drink, that time would be now. "The thing is . . ." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "You've been getting headaches lately, haven't you? And they're getting worse."

"How did you--"

"And your control over your element has been slipping. I imagine you're having to be very careful outdoors, near any plants. Your gift has been getting stronger."

"It means something, doesn't it? Something . . . bad." The frown was replaced by a troubled look.

"How old were you when your mother created the cave?"

"The cave? I don't know - fourteen, maybe fifteen or sixteen?"

He nodded. It made perfect sense. "Do you remember when I talked about tespiro?"

"You said it was some kind of rite of passage, when an elemental's power manifests."

"The thing is, Chloe," he reached across the table and took one of her hands. "You never went through it."

Her hand tightened fractionally in his. "I don't understand," she said. "If I never made this transition, then how am I able to use my gift?"

"When a gift is strong enough it can sometimes manifest before tespiro. And it's even been known to delay it a year or two."

"A year or two," she repeated. "It's been more than a year or two for me."

"I know."

"This is bad, isn't it?" Her hand was cold in his. "Just how bad is it?"

Again he hesitated.

"Tell me!" The ground rumbled beneath them, but quickly stilled.

"It could be catastrophic."

Apr 23, 2014

Wildcard Wednesday

. . . On Taking Breaks and Finding Focus

I lost my focus last night. And I know where I lost it too. I lost it somewhere in the mall when I was wandering around before I went to see Transcendence. See, we're a one car family. Both the bowling alley and the cinemas are located at the mall (and very little else these days). Tuesday night is cheap night for the movies, but it's also the hubby's bowling night, so I end up having some time on my hands before hand 'cause the movies never start at the same time as bowling.

Anyway, yesterday was rather grey and dismal, so I fell behind with my precious list - namely the reading and writing parts of it. I got the post done for my Current Projects blog, but then I spent way too much time switching the links on my Writerly Advice page so that they open in a new page. And even though I hadn't done my post for here or my daily word count, I went to the movies anyway, figuring I'd catch up when I got home.

Only I didn't. Somewhere in the mall I lost my focus 'cause I sure couldn't focus on the tasks at hand when I got home. Or maybe I lost it during the movie, which I think I need to see again 'cause a lot of it went straight over my head. And towards the end things were happening so fast I was finding it hard to follow.

Let's just say it was no Captain America. ;-)

Anyway, today's Wildcard post was supposed to be about breaks. And a long winded explanation of how I've been writing pretty much forever and somewhere along the way I got it into my head that that's all I should be doing 'cause I'm home all day, and all the stuff that I used to do as well as write, but I stopped doing them and now I'm trying to start doing them again, blah blah blah. How's that for a run on sentence?

When I got home from the movie I found my enthusiasm for the subject had waned. In fact, I didn't really know where I was going with it in the first place.

I do recall what brought this on though. It was that post by Chuck Wendig on how to get a novel written in a year. One of the things that caught my attention was the no writing on the weekend advice. I tried it over this past weekend and I gotta say, it was really freeing.

Normally I try to get as much writing in as possible on the weekends, 'cause it's the weekend and that's what writers are supposed to do, right? Only most weekends I end up sitting in front of the computer staring at the screen or worse, playing games, until the day is gone and I've nothing accomplished except for a big case of the guilts for not having done anything.

But this past weekend I did not have writing on my to-do list and I got all kinds of stuff done without the accompanying guilt. And it felt great. Furthermore, I had a great idea for the blurb for An Elemental Earth and I got it without being chained to the desk.

I learned an important lesson. Breaks can be a good thing. It's okay to take a break every once in awhile. In fact, I'd say they're necessary to the creative process.

So go take a break. Right now. And I'll go do the same. :-D

Apr 21, 2014

Myophobia Monday

myophobia ~ fear of mice

Happy Easter Monday!

Personally, I'm happy that the holiday weekend is over with. LOL I was busy busy the whole weekend, which actually was actually kind of a nice change from my usual . . . not busy.

Saturday morning I started my day by making a list. Actually, I made a bunch of lists. First there was a master list of everything I need/want to accomplish, and then I broke it down into categories, like . . . things I need to do daily, weekly, occasionally or just once. Then I made a to-do list specifically for Saturday and again on Sunday.

I did better on Sunday than Saturday as far as following these lists go, but that's because I failed to take into account the sheer size of one of the projects I was trying to undertake on Saturday. Namely, indoor gardening. I like plants, and I have a lot of them. But sometimes I forget to water them for like . . . a month. So they tend to die on me. And if I trim a plant I'll stick the cuttings in water 'cause, you know, you wouldn't want to throw a healthy plant out, right? So then I end up with four hydroponic Wandering Jews, which only really works when you remember to replenish the water. :-)

But I had help with my indoor gardening. First there was Taz, who felt it necessary to inspect the plants I was repotting in case they were tasty:



Then Julius joined him on the table while Dante waited underneath for them to throw him some vines:



I'll spare you the list of all the plants I potted and/or repotted. But here's a few of the ones on the bookcase in the dining room:



And on the kitchen window sill:



And I hope you noticed my pineapples. I'm particularly proud of them. There's one in a pot in the dining room, and one I've just started in the kitchen. And that little container beside the cat pot has some bird house gourds in it. They were an impulse purchase at the dollar store - the kit came with the little cup, a peat pellet that you pour water onto to rehydrate, and three seeds. You're supposed to be able to create birdhouses with the gourds these plants produce. But I guess we'll have to wait and see.

This week didn't start out so great for me, but it picked up as it went along. Among other things I fixed one of the tabs at the top so it reads Current Projects and if you click on it, it'll take you to my writing blog where all I talk about is my writing. And I fixed that blog as well. It's fairly new and went through some growing pains, but after trying out many different backgrounds and styles, I finally settled it down to look pretty much like this one.

I also started a new crochet project. When I was working on the catghan, Dante (he's the cat on the floor in the picture of my helpers) really wanted to snuggle into it, so I promised him I'd crochet him his own afghan when I was done. So I've started one for him. It's all in one piece, six-sided, and so far it's just burgundy (for some reason cats really like the colour red - or at least my cats do) but I think I might add a couple of rows of navy to it, just for variety.

This week's lists will include lots of writing. Even when I was doing all that messing about with plants I had a couple of good thoughts about some of my current projects, which I promptly wrote down when I took a break. I think taking the weekend off from writing was good for me. I'm itching to get back at it.

It's about time! :-)

Apr 18, 2014

What I'm Reading




Have you ever noticed that sometimes you're in a mood to read a certain kind of book? Or is that just me? LOL

We had a lot of grey, miserable weather during the last week, and then it turned cold on us - we're talking sub zero temperatures again with snow - and I was in dire need of some comfort reading, so I started a new book. Or rather, an old favourite. And other than that, I didn't get a whole lot of reading in.

Electronic Books

The good news is, I found the books I was reading on George (my Kindle). Apparently I'd created a folder for books I have on the go and lo and behold, that's where they were. But the bad news is, I didn't get any reading done on any of them. So there was no progress on The Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian, or Mr. Love by Sally Mason, or Dark Love by Claudy Conn. And after reading the poorly written Atlantis/merpeople story in the Darlings of Paranormal Romance anthology, I was a little leery of starting the werewolf story. Maybe I'll give it a go over the long weekend.

Books

You know, although I had trouble putting Dreamwalker, by Kathleen Dante down, once I did I never got around to picking it up again. I'm not sure why . . . I think it just went along with the mood I was in and my general lack of reading last week. I didn't get back to Hunting the Corrigan's Blood by Holly Lisle either.

Re-Reads

I did get a couple more stories under my belt from Sword and Sorceress IV. I'm taking my time with it because I enjoy savouring the stories. And my comfort reading was Memory and Dream by Charles de Lint. I've read all his books (at least the ones I own, I believe I'm missing a couple) more than once, and they're my comfort food of the reading world. This is one of his Newford books, the city he invented that has a whole cycle of books and stories. It's an urban fantasy revolving around an artist named Isabelle Copely. Reading it is like re-connecting with an old friend. The only problem is, for a hardback the print is a little on the small side, so I'm only able to read a little at a time. Maybe I just need better light . . .

Apr 17, 2014

Earth - Chapter Nineteen


This serial is presented in draft form and will be updated each Thursday. Your comments are always welcome!

Ch 1 ~ Ch 2 ~ Ch 3 ~ Ch 4 ~ Ch 5 ~ Ch 6 ~ Ch 7 ~ Ch 8 ~ Ch 9 ~ Ch 10 ~ Ch 11 ~ Ch 12 ~ Ch 13 ~
Ch 14 ~ Ch 15 ~ Ch 16 ~ Ch 17 ~ Ch 18 ~



"I should take some breakfast to mother," Chloe said, rising from the table.

"No need," Granny told her. "I left a plate on her table. I couldn't get her to wake up to eat but it'll be there for her later."

Zephryn looked from one woman to the other. Chloe had a worried look on her face and even Granny looked troubled. "I take it this isn't normal for Tierra?"

"She probably just tired herself out from all the talking she did last night," Chole said. She shot him a small smile. "She's not used to having company."

"Granny?" he asked. She was, after all, the closest thing they had to a healer.

The old woman shrugged. "It's been an eventful few days. Enough to throw anyone off."

Zephryn's eyes narrowed. It was the kind of answer an Illezie would give - a generic non-answer. As if she could read his mind, Granny's manner became suddenly brusque.

"I've things to do," she said, dusting her hands off on her apron. "I've filled your canister with my special tea." This was directed at Chloe. "If you get the chance I'd appreciate it if you'd talk to my herb garden."

She was gone before either of them could say anything.

"Is she always that . . ."

"Odd?" Chloe finished for him. She laughed. "Mother used to say Granny was as changeable as the weather."

"What did she mean about you talking to her herb garden?" Zephryn asked. He knew about gardens, but he'd never heard of anyone talking to one before.

Chloe held up the tea pot and he gave a nod. She refilled both their cups before sitting back down across from him. "In return for Granny's help, I use my gift to help the plants in her herb garden to grow."

"You can do that?"

"You look surprised. Have you forgotten already that my gift is the earth?"

"No, it's just unusual that you can both move the earth and manipulate plant life." It wasn't just unusual, it was extremely rare. Normally an Earth Elemental could do one or the other, not both. It took an incredible amount of power for them to be able to split their focus.

"Oh." Chloe caught her bottom lip between her teeth. "Is this a bad thing?"

"Not at all." He reached over and placed his hand on top of hers where it lay on the table. "It's part of who you are so it can be nothing but good."

A smile broke over her face, as he'd intended.

"I believe you're trying to flatter me."

"Is it working?"

"Maybe a just a little." Her smile dimmed and she withdrew her hand. "What was it like, growing up with people like you?"

"People like me?"

"Other Elementals." She stumbled over the word. "Not having to hide your abilities."

"Ah." He sat back in the chair. "For all that we were bred to become more powerful with each successive generation, and were given training to control our elements, we were not encouraged to use them. You recall I mentioned the inhibitors?"

She nodded, wide-eyed.

"To be perfectly honest, it was easy to forget that being an Elemental meant we had any kind of gift. All we had was our power rating." He held out his wrist and turned it over so she could see the numbers burned into the skin.

"What is that?" She reached out a tentative hand and touched the markings.

"WE-02-47-04 - Wind Elemental, second generation, forty-seventh result, power level four. That was my designation. The name I was known by in the compound."

"That's awful!"

"I was so proud of my power rating." He shook his head. "Power ratings were everything in the compound. So imagine our surprise when we arrived on Ardraci and discovered that our ratings meant nothing. An Elemental was judged on his ability to control his element, on how easily he could manipulate it, not how powerful he was."

"It must have been hard for you," she said, voice laced with sympathy.

"It was . . . disconcerting. So was seeing different Elementals in committed relationships."

"What do you mean?"

Zephryn shifted in his seat. "Every Ardraci is born with the potential for all four elements, but one is usually stronger than the others and when an Ardraci passes through tespiro the predominate one becomes their gift. Arjun was trying to isolate the gene sequence for each element so that his test subjects were born with the potential for one element only."

"That sounds horrible. But what has that got to do with--"

"I'm getting to that. To achieve this, Arjun created the breeding program so that Water Elementals would only have children with other Water Elementals, fire to fire, wind to wind, earth to earth."

She stared at him wide-eyed and he thought she was going to say something but she apparently changed her mind.

"So as a Wind Elemental, I was only with other Wind Elementals. My friend Ravi is a Water Elemental and he was only with other Water Elementals. When we arrived on Ardraci it seemed almost blasphemous to see a Fire Elemental with a Water Elemental, or any other combination of Elementals."

"And if I'd been born in the compound?"

"If you'd been born in the compound, we would have never met."

Apr 16, 2014

Wildcard Wednesday
Show and Tell

Previous articles in this series: Finding Ideas; Finding Time; Pantser Vs. Plotter; Characters;
Point Of View; Dialogue; Setting

We've pretty much reached the end of this series. I'd like to leave you with just one more pearl of wisdom. Next to “write what you know”, the most popular piece of writing advice is “show, don’t tell.” But what do they mean by showing?

Showing is when you reveal things about your characters, your story, their world, etc., as you advance your story. With telling, you stop the story in its tracks, kill whatever momentum you had going, and back up like a dump truck to dump a ton of information onto your reader.

Good writing should evoke sensation in the reader – don’t just say “it’s raining”, help the reader experience the storm. Involve the emotions. Take fear, for instance. Fear is a strong emotion with a great many ways to describe it - the stomach gets tied in knots, breaking out in a sweat, shivering, uncertainty in the eyes, huddling in a ball, a strong urge to run away. . .

Telling: She was afraid of the approaching storm. Showing: She stared, frozen in place as lightning lit up the sky. Her heart sped up and she choked back a whimper, shivering as a breeze swept over her sweat dampened skin leaving goose flesh in its wake.

You want your reader invested in the character. You want the reader inside the action. That's the sign of good writing . . . to pull the reader out of his ordinary life and put him in the middle of someplace else.

Many writers resort to telling because they believe the reader won't get the point if they don't. Often writers tell, then show, to make sure they get their point across, in effect treating their readers like morons. But the truth is that when you take out the telling, the showing remains. And that's all the reader needs in most cases.

Fiction is all about forging an emotional link between the author and the reader. One of the best ways to do this is by creating vivid images that immerse readers in the world of the fiction — not merely telling readers what’s happening, but showing it to them.

You want to make your writing vivid enough to grab a reader’s attention and draw them into the story. Showing them is an important way to do this. To help you show instead of tell, keep in mind the following:

Avoid overusing adverbs. Instead, use strong, specific verbs.
Use the five senses.
Don’t simply name feelings, let you characters experience them.
Use expressive dialogue to show the characters’ emotions and outlook.
Generate emotion through vivid writing and characters’ reactions.
Use well-placed details to bring scenes to life.

Does this mean all telling is bad? Not at all, telling does have its place. Use it for:

Slowing things down – a story that’s non-stop action can be exhausting for the reader. Telling, through narrative summary, can give the reader a breather after an extended, action-filled scene. It also varies the story’s rhythm.

Condensing recurring action – once a scene has been shown and the reader knows what it consists of, it doesn’t need to be stretched out into further scenes. It can be summarized instead. You can also summarize minor scenes that are similar to a key scene that will take place later on.

Minor characters – if a character doesn’t warrant a full scene, needed information can be delivered without straying unnecessarily from the plot line.

Transition between scenes - a brief event can smooth the way between bits of action or character interaction, without leaving an illogical gap or a sudden, unintentional jump in time.

The mark of a good writer is the ability to use both showing and telling to their best advantage. A successful story is one that has a balance between the two, and only you, as the writer, can decide how much should be shown, and how much should be told.

Just in case anyone out there finds this series useful, I've created a new page to hold the links to these articles. You'll find it at the top under the heading of Writerly Advice. :-)

Apr 14, 2014

Mucedinous Monday

mucedinous ~ mouldy; mildewy

Well . . . I gotta tell you. I didn't do so well with my daily goal of 500 words last week. Unless you want to count emails and blog posts, and I had someone tell me that blog post words should count because they're new words. So maybe I didn't do too badly after all. :-)

I really have to stop writing these posts in my head. Or at the very least start jotting notes down during the week. I think of all kinds of interesting things to include throughout the week, but I don't think to write them down so by the time I get around to writing this post they're gone forever.

Let's see now . . . For my new TV craft I decided to finish the navy cardigan I started knitting myself a couple of years ago. It's pretty slow going because the light's not good in the living room, the yarn is dark, and the pattern is intricate. Instead of the stockinette stitch the pattern calls for, I'm using a lacy stitch instead, plus it's got a double cable going up each side. I'm about halfway done the back and unless I start picking up speed I predict I'll have it done in time to wear in the fall.

I'm drawing a blank here. Serves me right for writing this at 3 a.m. What can I say, I started watching a Ghost Mine marathon and couldn't seem to stop. I baked both bread and cookies last week. With the help of the hubby I managed to get the cats' nails cut. Got some reading and some writing in . . . all in all it wasn't a bad week.

Oh! Except for my tooth. Somehow I managed to lose the filling from one of my root canals when I bit into a piece of bread. And it wasn't even crusty bread! I know it was from a root canal because the little post they screw into what's left of your tooth came out with it. And our dental insurance doesn't cover root canals. But it's an old root canal, so it doesn't hurt, so I'm in no hurry to go to the dentist to have it looked at. :-)

The spring pick up starts this week, which meant all those limbs that came down in our back yard during the ice storm needed to be cut up and dragged to the front of the house. Here's a reminder of what it looked like back there:



And here's what that corner of the yard looked like after the hubby and the son-in-law spent the afternoon getting rid of all that brush



And in case you missed it, here's a closer look at the visitor we had back there.



And just after I snapped that picture he jumped into the pond and one of his buddies came waddling under the fence and joined him.

It must be spring, the ducks are back. :-)


***Just a reminder***
Don't forget to pick up your copy of An Elemental Water while it's still available for only $1.99. The price will be going up at the end of the month!