Loom Song

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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.

 

Free Fantasy Short Story!

ES_cover  Get your free copy of Evening’s Secret now!

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

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.

Mylinka
Detail from the cover of Beyond Jairra’s Veil: Book Three of the Astralasphere Spiral, cover by Sicarius8.

 

Lord Mage Asfret

Lord Mage Asfret is one of the main characters of Under the Shadow. While Lycian and Mylinka are the book’s heroes, Asfret is one of its villains.

When we meet Asfret in the first book in the series, Another World’s Song, he is a dashing, leonine figure dressed in red velvet robes. He is angry and blustering, full of self-importance. As an adviser to Queen Livian of Khydgel, he has encouraged the criminalization of magic there–reserving its use for military purposes or in some other service of the crown.

Asfret looks a bit different when we first meet him in Under the Shadow. In the world of Cith Lor Mahl, as in our world, actions have consequences. I don’t have a picture of Asfret except in my mind. Although Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t look exactly like I imagined Asfret, I think he would play him well. So, here’s a photo of a blond Cumberbatch–he just needs horns and an entitled smirk.

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Lycian from “Under the Shadow”

Under the Shadow: Book Two of the Astralasphere Spiral, follows three main characters–the two protagonists (heroes) Lycian and Mylinka, and the antagonist (villain) Asfret. Today, we’ll meet Lycian.

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Lycian’s story begins in Another World’s Song: Book One of the Astralasphere Spiral, when he is the young foundling of a mage named Jahern. Although Lycian has an ability for magic, Jahern has decided that he is a wyrm–one born to magic who isn’t allowed to use it because of some curse. Wyrms are often deformed or have some outward manifestation warning of their cursed status. One of Lycian’s horns is crooked. (All Gailfen have horns, but most are symmetrical.) He also has purple eyes. Unfortunately for Lycian, they are considered a bad omen, for the demons locked in the Void also are reported to have purple eyes.

Lycian is far from being a demon, however. He tends to be honest and kind, sometimes to his determent. He loves animals and champions the downtrodden. Always, he tries to look for the good in others.

In Another World’s Song, Lycian became fully aware of his power and began learning how to use it. In Under the Shadow, he must learn how it should not be used. To me, this seemed like an important part of growing up. It’s one of the struggles not just mages, but all young adults, have to face as they come into their own. We all have power, we  have only to face it.

Different Types of POV

brown-eye  Lately, I’ve noticed some writers having problems writing POV. POV stands for point of view. It can seem challenging, but it’s actually easy. Once you get the hang of it, it can even help you sink deeper into your character’s skin.

There are three types of POV. First person, second person, and third person.

First person: I love cats.

Second person: You love cats.

Third person: He loves cats.

Easy, right? Most fiction is written in either first person or third person. First person is pretty easy, since we all use it every day. It is definitely useful for getting immediately into a character.

Third person is either omniscient or limited. Third person omniscient is sort of like god mode. This POV sees the characters in the scene like a camera. Sometimes you might dip inside a character’s head, but the POV isn’t confined to one character in a scene and is often above or outside of the characters. This POV was very popular in the 1970’s. In contrast, third person limited is limited to one character per scene. It feels similar to first person, but uses he or she. it allows a deep connection to the POV character by going inside his head. Most modern third person fiction is written in this POV.

Head-hopping is when POV shifts rapidly from one character to another in the same scene. This is bad. Don’t head hop. It confuses readers and breaks up scenes. Here’s an example:

 She sat in the café and wondered when Ben would show up. She sighed. Maybe he wouldn’t like the little red slip dress she wore. Maybe he would think she was desperate. Tim thought she looked great. He was so attracted to Rosemary. Every time she ordered a mocha, he always turned the ‘o’ into a cat face. He wondered if she ever noticed his shy way of flirting.

Even if we split the two character POV’s into separate paragraphs, it’s pretty choppy. It looks amateurish and basically screams that you don’t know what you’re doing. Don’t head hop.

Don’t confuse head-hopping with third person omniscient. Head-hopping is schizophrenic and confusing; third person omniscient can be cinematic, as it’s like viewing the action in a movie. In this example, notice how the POV shifts between the two characters in the scene. There’s a transition.

In the aromatic café, a woman in a skimpy red dress glanced, yet again, through the plate glass window. She traced the name, hastily penned in black, on the paper cup. Rosemary. She sighed. Red lipstick clung to the cup’s white plastic lid.

Shouts on the street outside made her spine stiffen. Rosemary stared out the window in horror. She recognized Ben’s wild blue hair instantly, but she didn’t know the four guys circled around him.

On the street outside the café, five men squared off. One was smaller than the others, lean and sinewy, with sapphire blue dreds. Facing him was the largest of the group. He wore a faded jean jacket with the arms cut off. “I said ‘git,’ fruit loop .”

Ben grinned. He was going to love taking this jerk apart.

Third person limited confines the reader within the body of one character at a time. We experience the world through that character’s eyes. Pretend you are wearing a costume and peeping through the eye-holes of a mask. It’s sort of like that. You can shift from character to character, but you need to have scene breaks or chapter breaks to do so. This keeps everything neat and tidy.

Rosemary sat near the window so she would be able to see Ben coming. She pulled down the hem of her red dress, wondering if it was too much. Sure, she and Ben had been in the same art class for three months, but she didn’t really know him. Did she look desperate?

She traced her name on the paper coffee cup. Tim always added cat ears, dash-eyes, a dot nose, and whiskers to the ‘o.’ She knew he liked her. She always attracted guys like Tim. Safe guys. She wanted something else. Something exciting. Something like—

Shouts outside sent a chill down her spine. She stared out the window and recognized that blue hair immediately. Ben!

Her breath caught in her throat. He was surrounded by four men. One of them was big and burly. He stood tensed and bull-like, menacing the smaller Ben. She clenched her fists as she watched the men. She wanted to do something—wanted to help. She fished the little can of mace from her purse. As she started up, steeling herself, she looked once more out the window. The grin on Ben’s face surprised her.

***

Ben’s heart raced, but his mind remained calm. He would take Jean Jacket out first, then he would kick the crap out of the Winchester-wannabes backing him up. This was going to be fun.

See how easy that is? I wrote Because Faerygodmonster in first person and will continue to use it in the Chainmail and Velvet series, but I love working in third person limited. Both of these points of view enable the writer (and the reader!) to go deep inside the emotional landscape of a character.

Whichever POV you decide is right for you story, remember to stay consistent and avoid head-hopping.

Happy writing!

Truth in Fiction

My fantasy stories might not seem autobiographical, but I use elements of my own past and emotional landscape when crafting my characters. I know what it’s like to lose a parent (not to death, but to other things)–but what if that loss had been the result of a brutal murder? I take the pain I know and extrapolate. I mold and twist until I’ve wrought something unique from my own experience. I do this over and over, constantly.

I think it creates realistic character emotion and depth, and it’s extremely therapeutic. When I write, I do so with the knowledge that there’s a possibility no one will read that book, no one will connect with it, it will exist forever alone and unloved. But that’s okay, because it gave me the chance to fight my demons again, to win the battle, to put them back in their cages once more.