One of the themes of the epic fantasy, Another World’s Song, is summed up in the African proverb, “the blessing is next to the wound.” It’s something I believe strongly–wherever you have a deficit, you will find a gift nearby.
A few years ago i started taking classes in hopes of becoming a surgical tech, and, eventually a nurse. I made good grades and was filled with excitement. Just as I had finished my prerequisites and was admitted to the program, I was diagnosed with essential tremor. This promised a better outcome than Parkinson’s, the disease it mimics, but the tremor was enough to permanently douse the tiny flame of my future career. I spent about six months in a funk and was even suicidal. But I wrote the entire time. I have been writing my entire life, but now it nurtured me in a new way. It filled all of my empty spaces.
I had tried off on and on for years to publish my work through traditional publishers to no avail. I had flirted with self-publishing, posting a few short stories on Amazon. I took the plunge last year and published the erotic romance novel, The Inquisitor’s Gift. I started writing full time soon after. (Not because I was a great success, but because my husband allowed me to pursue my dream.) With my anxiety and temperament, I probably would have been a miserable surgical tech. I’m a happy writer.
I had actually written Another World’s Song prior to my diagnosis, but that theme now resonates with me even more deeply. No curse comes without a blessing.
Jahern is a character in the epic fantasy series, The Astralasphere Spiral. In Another World’s Song, he is introduced as Lycian’s Primemaster, the first master of an apprentice. Mage Jahern was also the Primemaster of Taven, Mylinka’s father, who is the Guardian of the Astralasphere.
Stern, arrogant, and stubborn, Jahern is a hard man. He is an antagonist because he’s abusive to Lycian, but he’s complicated. In his own way, he loves Lycian. Jahern is the poster child for cognitive dissonance. He clings to his comfortable beliefs even when he’s faced with new evidence.
I don’t have a drawing of Jahern, but if I could pick anyone to play him, it would be the late, great Peter O’Toole. He had such range! If you love historical dramas and have never seen The Lion in Winter, you should really check it out.
Here’s a longish-haired O’Toole. He needs ivory horns and beige cloak.
Huntmaven Quindolyn Byronwlyth Mildargn, Curatrix of the Silver Hall, called Quin by her friends and Ahryu-yi by wolves, is a character in the epic fantasy series, The Astralasphere Spiral. She has many names and is many things–a warrior, a leader, a healer, a mentor. She is a survivor who bears a curse and is haunted by a dark past.
Her kindness and bravery, her willingness to see the good in others while examining her own flaws, set her apart as one of the series’ truly heroic characters.
Sometimes I get writer’s block because I’m out of ideas for a story, stressed and having trouble relaxing or focusing, or just need to get a better feel for the backstory. These are all things that can be solved rather easily through writing exercises, or simple things like mediation, bathing, or going for a walk.
However, for me, sometimes I have writer’s block because I’m depressed. It’s almost a warning sign that something is wrong with me. In that case, taking a quick inventory of what is happening in my life can sometimes help me track what might be causing the depression. Clinical depression is serious. If you think you may be clinically depressed, please seek help. I’m bipolar, so I see a therapist on a regular basis. I also see a psychiatrist periodically and take medication for my illness.
For me, the red flags that I’m not just having writer’s block but am sinking into depression are:
Either sleeping too much or waking up too early.
Not paying attention to personal hygiene. (Like wearing the same clothes several days!)
Overeating (especially sweet stuff.)
Withdrawing (more than usual–I’m an introvert, so I’m always somewhat withdrawn.)
Not wanting to do anything, not being interested in anything.
Number 5 is where writing comes in. I’m interested in and passionate about many things, but writing is where my heart is. If I’m not writing–and maybe not even wanting to try some writing exercises–I know that’s a big, flashing warning sign that I’m not okay.
One of the worst bits of advice I ever got regarding writer’s block was someone online suggesting to take a break from writing and not write until you feel like it. Maybe that works for some people, but for me it sent me into a downward spiral of not writing that lasted over a year. Not writing led to more not writing, and I became more and more depressed. Once depression gets a toehold, it’s easier for it to get worse.
So, instead, I recommend being mindful of how your body is functioning and how you’re feeling. Make sure that your writer’s block isn’t a cue that something else is going on.
Sometimes trying to write can be daunting. Here are some questions I ask my POV character when I’m having trouble getting into a scene.
1. Who are you?
2. What are you doing?
3. What do you want?
4. Are you alone? If not, who are you with and how do you feel about them? Why?
5. What are you wearing? Is there anything significant about anything you’re wearing?
6. Where are you? What does it smell like? What does it feel like–emotionally and in a tactile sense?
7. What do you see?
8. What do you hear?
9. What day, month, year, season, time of day is it?
10. Is there anything significant about today?
These things will usually get me moving. Happy writing!
The title for Under the Shadow comes from a song composed by a Gailfen woman named Ruvella, one of Mylinka’s friends. The motif of weaving and needlework is important throughout the series, because the major Gailfendic deity is Jairra, the sun goddess who weaves the tapestry of life. In “Loom Song,” there’s the idea that Jairra weaves both good and bad into one’s life. If you’ve ever seen a loom, you know there are fibers that are stretched vertically (I stretched them across cardboard as a kid) and these are called the weft. A new fiber is threaded through, over and under, these stretched threads. The pulled thread is called the weft (or, sometimes woof.) Like a life, the thread dips down and rises up, now overwhelmed, now overcoming, over and over.
So Ruvella sings:
“So these are our lives,
And so these are our lives,
And lo, these lives are ours,
And though these threads be tangled and worn,
The Weaver’s stitch is sound,
As under the shadow and over the light
Our lives are wrapped and bound.”
Under the Shadow tests Lycian and Mylinka. They find themselves in light; they find themselves in darkness. How they cope with the plunge into shadow reveals much about their temperaments and who they really are.
Evening Burnwick lives in a land where young men and women are entombed underground to make the crops grow. She craves more than a peasant life, but she feels crushed beneath the foot of the landlords. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she is poaching on the Church’s lands and runs into an irritable shapeshifter with problems of his own.
This short, charming, coming of age fantasy contains LGBT characters and encourages everyone to find their own truths.
Evening and Owen are two of my favorite characters. I hope you enjoy their story. Someday, I may write more of their adventures.
Mylinka is one of the heroes of the epic fantasy series, The Astralasphere Spiral. When we meet her in the first book, Another World’s Song, she is a mischievous Gailfen girl on the cusp of womanhood. She lives on the legendary island of Malyndor and is the daughter of the world’s most celebrated and powerful mage, Taven, the Guardian of the Astralasphere.
Mylinka wants to learn how to wield magic, but magery is, traditionally, a male pursuit. Although Taven is not a traditional mage, the Guardianship weighs heavily on him, and he doesn’t fully support his daughter’s dreams. The bulk of his thoughts are occupied by the Astralasphere–a great, magical orb from which mages can draw power. He believes the mages’ use of the Astralasphere is damaging the world, so he is engaged in a power struggle with Lord Mage Asfret. This struggle ends with Mylinka being taken far from her home.
This is where the second book, Under the Shadow, finds here. As the foster daughter of Lord Murdoth, she takes the name Teg N’guul. In this book, she is older, and her life has made her fiercer. She is pragmatic, doing whatever she believes needs to be done to accomplish her goals. In this sense, she is something of an antihero, like Han Solo from Star Wars. She is, at her core, a good person, but a difficult life has given her a hard outer shell.
Fearless, stubborn, and complicated, she is one of my favorite characters to write.