Thursday, September 9, 2010

Structure in a story

Structure in a story is a theme right now in my life. James has been teaching me how to make a story tighter and how to bring out the main plot even when there might be several smaller side stories going on. His wisdom in this has been sooo valuable.

What is structure and what makes a plot work? When we are writing, we often say things like working with an outline will hinder my creativity. I myself can't work off an outline. However, I have learned that putting one together when your finished will give a clearer look at what has been created and helps in the editing process. I myself am working on one with I AM WOLF, if for no other reason than so make sure James and I are on the same page. (no pun intended...well maybe...) He will be receiving this today. It is something I have just learned. I hope it makes it easier for both of us.

The reason for this is because when you are being edited, there are a lot of changes that take place. The story may be GREAT, but any writer worth his or her salt in words knows that changes will be made and an editor is a necessity. It's that second set of eyes that sees things where we, the lowly writers-don't.

The point is this, while characterization and description are a huge part to what makes a story GREAT, if the plot doesn't work, or the structure is wrong then no matter how wonderful the story is, it will end up being weak.

I recommend always listening to your editor, they are only trying to make it work and writing an outline either before or after. If for no other reason then to make sure you both know what's going on...smiles...just a little something new...smiles...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chaos and the Beltane Chapter 2

Jack, the only name he is known by in Beltane went by many names across the Four Corners. Secret names. He sat in the back corner of the tavern watching the door, never once taking his eyes off it. He had been sent by the Priory to find a kid and wasn’t told what he looked like. All he was given was a name…Nicolai.

Still he was sure if he waited around the Tavern long enough he would find someone who was familiar with the name. ‘If you ever want to know something about some one, go to the tavern.’ He always said when he was given such an assignment. He never paid attention to the person who assigned his tasks, only the coin in the purse. He didn’t mind it either. He enjoyed being able to travel from place to place and making those who hired him, pay for what he wanted and needed. A request from the Priory always made him question what was going on, but in the long run he didn’t care as long as the purse was good.

The Tavern began to fill with all sorts of people, Vale and Walkers alike. Jack wasn’t a huge fan of the Vale. He thought it was unnatural the way they were looked and hated they were born with innate magic. It wasn’t right as far as he was concerned. Most of the taverns in the Four Corners didn't serve their kind but Beltane was different. They were a tolerant sort of people. It was something Jack never understood but he stayed in the Beltane for this reason....Vale or no Vale. It was for all in tense and purpose, his home.

Live music danced through the smoke coming from the patrons. A loud wentch with a tray of ale walked to the table next to him. A big burly man with missing teeth and sweat poring off of him grabbed her and pulled her to his lap. Her loud boisterous laugh hurt Jack's ears. He got a kick out of her when she slapped the man. For a minute it looked like he was going to have step in, just so he could continue watching the door. A since of satisfaction rushed through him when she walked away. There wasn't any purse in a bar fight and most of the time it ended up costing you.

A woman walked in wearing a long hooded robe. She walked over to the bar keep and handed him a note. Jack didn’t miss a beat. He watched her sit next to the door. She moved like a woman out of place, like she didn’t belong. He waited to see what would happen next. A young man walked in and sat next to her. She removed her hood and smiled at him.

“A secret rendez vous.” He thought.

Too far away to hear the conversation, Jack was glad he had picked up the ability to read lips. It was something that came in handy on more than one occasion.

“Why involve Nicolai, he’s a good kid. He doesn’t know anything about any of this. I’ve known him my whole life,” the young man said.

“He is the key,” she replied.

“The key to what?” He asked.

“To retrieving the Chaos that is protected by the Vale,” she said.

‘No wonder the Priory wants him so bad. It has to be. For a Walker to be able to retrieve Chaos, well, that’s damn near impossible. Then again, an innate Walker, well that’s rare indeed.’ Jack thought.

He watched the conversation continue.

“You want to be with the fair Aleria, don’t you? There will be more than enough gold to make a good life for the two of you,” the woman said.

The young man had a disconcerted look on his face. He just nodded his head in agreement. “He’s not to be hurt. Is that understood?” The young man replied.

The woman nodded in agreement. She smiled at the young man and held up her cup to toast. She was the first to get up and leave, she handed him a purse, no doubt filled with coin.

‘How many people are after this kid, and does he even know?’ Jack wondered. He finished his pint then waited for the young man to leave.

Jack listened to the bell tole, and knew it was time to head to the Temple of the Goddess. The between time was coming soon. His soul gave a quiver, telling him the spirits would be lose soon. Their time was now and he didn't want to stick around to find out how many would be coming his way. With all the blood on his hands, he was surprised he was haunted by one of them, if not all. Still it didn't matter as long as the purse was good.

He left the tavern and headed to the temple. On the way, he watched people of the Beltane dance and sing, celebrating the time of the between. In some ways, perhaps in just this one. He was sorry he had to hide out. His eye caught a glimpse of a woman dancing with a little girl. Her smile lit up the night. Her hair waved in the breeze and for a moment, he could hear her laughter. It was the most peaceful sound he heard in a long time. She looked over at him, shaking him a little inside. With a tilt of his head, he continued about his way.

The clock was going to strike again. The between time had come. Getting the kid would have to wait. Still, he had a face to picture while he was attacked through the night. Perhaps that single glance and cheer in the lady's laugh would help him. He knew he didn't deserve it, but what else could he do?

The Temple of the Goddess located in the Beltane was by far the simplest, and still it was the most beautiful. Upon entrance, there was a fountain to wash your feet. It was called Bathing in the light. A single hole in the ceiling let the light from the night in and allowed the rays of the sun echo off the statue of the goddess during the day. Candles were lit all around. Each section was set up in different colors depending on the prayer. The marble floors were shined to perfection, often during the time of the between, the spirits of the past could be seen in them.

A special room was designed for those who were in need, those like Jack who needed protection from the spirits. The room had long satin blue curtains that flowed from the ceiling to the floor. They waved in the night’s soft breeze. Hanging fire hovered in the middle of the room. Soft pillows lined the floor in a circle. He was thankful he was alone tonight. Something about the magic in the air sent a shiver throughout his body. He didn’t know why because he knew what to expect. He has been going through this since he was 13. Over twenty years of doing the kind of work he does, that’s enough to send even the sweetest spirit after him. He worried about one thing, maintaining his sanity.

The bell banged out the last strike, now it was the between time. It comes once a season, and strikes on the midnight hour. The gates open to the spirit world letting the wronged come out and face their doer.

Jack sat against the wall with his head down, while the Temple Mistress focused a prayer over him. With her arms raised in the air, she spoke.

Spirits of the night be true

Know that I am watching you

Come and say what needs said

Just remember from this thread

Let no harm come to his soul tonight

So says the Goddess of the light.

Her spirit shined from within, purity on all levels. Jack knew she was a strong Temple Mistress. He could feel the magic around him and the protection from her spell wash over him.

His mind filled with the screams from the first person he killed. Jack was racing his father’s carriage along the road. He wanted to push the horses as hard as he could, with every whip of the reigns, the carriage went fast and his adrenaline pumped. He didn’t see the little girl coming out of the field. Just when she stepped out, tried to stop. He didn’t want to run her over. Had it been the neighbor, it would have been different. The carriage careened against the tree and flung him forward. He landed in a patch of grass. Sore, but not broken, he got up and walked to the girl who caused the accident. He watched the breath fall out of her.

“Water,” she said.

“You broke my father’s carriage. Get it yourself,” he replied.

Jack learned that day words like guilt and remorse didn’t apply to him. Even now, with the between time at hand, he didn’t feel anything for the lives he had taken.

Here she was as always, standing in front of him. “You took my life and couldn’t give me a drink of water?”

He looked at her and smiled. “You taught me who I am,” he said.

His mind wondered back to the woman dancing with the little girl. He wanted to know what it was like to feel that normal. To feel anything would be better then feeling nothing at all. The little girls wronged spirit taunts raged on then faded into the background, making way for his master. Sullivan. That’s the only name he knew about, Sully for short. He taught him how to use a blade. Sully was the first person he met when he ran away from home the day he killed the little girl. It took two years to learn all he could from him. Two years of slashes with the whip to gain the knowledge he wanted. It seemed like a small price to pay. He took out his blade one night and slashed Sully’s throat while he slept. He didn’t want a partner. Too many things can go wrong and often did.

He felt scratches on his back, and a punch in the ribs. His mind faded back again. He knew without a doubt who it was. Renier, a young man he actually thought he loved. Renier stood tall. His eyes were still of the innocent. Perhaps that’s what drew him. The two of them became friends. The sailed on a merchant ship. When they came to port. He was introduced to his fiancĂ©’, Mary. She was and still is the most beautiful woman he had ever met. It was out of jealousy that he killed Renier.

It was a clear night and the moon hung high in the sky. The streets were busy and all the whore houses were packed with patrons who had been out at sea for months. Jack and Renier walked to Mary’s home. She welcomed both of them, but gave him a small glare. Renier just learned her father was going to give him a ship to captain. He was so excited, he begged Jack to celebrate with him. After a few drinks, Jack couldn’t hold the jealousy any longer. He pulled out his blade and stabbed him. “You’re life should be mine,” he said when the breath left his body.

Mary didn’t do what he had hoped. She didn’t turn to him. She turned instead to her own poison. Jack knew the two of them would show tonight. It was the anniversary and they always came on the same night every year.

Jacks body ached from all the punches to the gut. It’s amazing what the body can survive. The protection spell didn’t work on those who had been betrayed. Only those he took for nothing more than coin. The three of them, Sully, Renier and Mary threw blow after blow at him. His face was covered in scratches from Mary. He looked down at his hands to see they were covered in blood. The sound of a whip flew past his ear. Sully’s favorite tool to use. He arched his back in pain. He felt the stinging blows from Sully’s whip and heard the cries of betrayal. “I’ll whip you like the dog you are.” he said.

A piercing high pitched shrill went through his soul. He felt Mary’s pain. It was the first time he ever felt the pain he had caused. Curled up on the floor, he looked up at the Temple Mistress and begged for her help.

She looked down at him. “There is only so much I can do for a soul as dark as yours. You must find a way to redeem yourself for all you have done. I warn you, most black souls never return. You are in pieces inside. All I can do, I have done,” she said.

He rolled over and waited for the sound of the bell again. The whips kept coming as did the pain from Mary and Renier. He longed for it to be over. The several pieces of his soul began to scream out for the pain to stop. The Temple Goddess repeated the one line in the spell she knew would make them stop. “Let no harm come to his soul tonight,” she said. The spell took hold again.

With her hands held over his body, she brushed aside the spirits who attacked him. The pain and the screams subsided, giving him a moment of relief. It was something he knew he didn’t deserve. All the real pain he caused so many countless nameless others crashed into his heart and he cried. The Temple Mistress looked down at him and said, “Perhaps there is hope for you yet assassin.”

He looked up at her warm eyes, thankful, then put his head down on the pillow. His body was sore from the attack, but his heart hurt more. What was it to live a normal life? He didn’t know. He had never known real pain. He had never regretted anything he had done. Not until now. What made this night different from the rest? His hardened broken soul could only think of one answer, he was suppose to do something different. The question now was what?

‘The kid.’ He thought then fell into a deep sleep.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Choas and the Beltane

I'm writing again...this time it isn't about wolves. Although I have been working on a sequel to I AM WOLF. I can't share that though because it will give too much away about the novel and I don't want to do that. is a fantasy I'm working on. Along with an off the wall romance that will follow.

Chaos and the Beltane

When the time of Beltane plays

At midnight hour it is the power
Unto a ritual it is for told.
Seek hallowed ground
From dirt that’s old.
To hide from sins and thoughts that dwell
Let all the ghosts sleep from this spell.
Now the Seeker can not glean
All the trouble that follows thee.
There is magic in the air tonight.
A wave of song and mystic light.
The Seekers Prayer

Chapter 1

“Strawberries, I want strawberries,” she said. Her big blue eyes were so innocent to all the ways magic could harm. In her little hands, with her small excited voice, Isabelle could do no wrong, and Nicolai couldn‘t help but grant her small desire. He placed a rose in her hand.

“Cover it with the other hand and close your eyes,” he said to her.

She smiled with joy when a warm sensation flooded her hands. The curiosity was almost too much to bare and so she squeezed her eyes as tight as she could.

Nicolai gave her a quick peck on the cheek, “You can open them now,” he said.

With wondrous surprise, she opened her eyes to see the most beautiful red strawberry she had ever seen in her life. She raised it to her nose and inhaled the sweet scent, then took a bite from it. “It’s real,” she exclaimed.

“Of course it is. What did you think it would be, a rock of some sort?” He laughed.

She looked at him with a glittering light in her eyes. “Are you going to the Seeker today?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t decided. Why would I want to know what I’m going to do in the future if I don’t know what I’m going to do today?” He asked.

“When my coming of age is here, I can’t wait to see what the Seeker says,” she smiled. She picked up a handful of grass and tossed it on her brother’s head then raced off to the house.

The hanging fire was lit for the two of them and a note sat on the table. “Off to the market. Fresh bread in the cupboard. Mind your brother.” Ma.

Though it was unusual for a woman and a peasant at that to be able to read and write, their mother was taken in by an old woman a long time ago who wanted a maid but couldn’t pay in coins. Instead, she gave their mother a gift that lasted for generations. It was the gift of knowledge. What more could a curious young woman want when she had no husband nor any thoughts of children? Knowledge, she knew that would take her places. She accepted the offer and stayed with the old woman long after her contract was up, because of this, when she passed, the old woman left their mother with a dowry fit for any noble woman. There was only one small request, her children had to be taught the old ways. So it was written and so it was done. Little did she know then, that her children would be blessed with innate gifts. Some how she knew, the old woman must have known.

Nicolai watched his sister’s eyes light up with glee. “We can go to the Seeker tonight,” she said.

“I already told you. I don’t know if I want to know,” he said.

“Please, there isn’t anything else to do. Besides, I want to see if any of my friends are there. Most of them have already reached the age and you, you’re way past it. I want to know,” she said.

Nicolai contemplated while he watched his sister plea. She was right, he was two years past the age of knowing and still hadn’t stood in the line. “I don’t want to hear a single word about it if it turns out that I’m nothing more than I am right now. Got it?”

She jumped up and down for joy. “Yes!” she said.

She packed a small bag of food to take with them in case they got hungry. A little bread and cheese and even a little of the smoked pork. She carried the small bag around her waist and raced towards the door, then stopped. “Wait. We need the fee. You can’t see a Seeker without the fee,” she said.

She’s just like mother, she doesn’t miss anything. I’m not going to get out of it this time. he thought.

Nicolai could tell it was just late afternoon because the sun was sitting just to the west. He knew they wouldn’t reach town for another hour and still that gave too much time to stand in that awful line. It wasn’t so much the line itself that bothered him, it was the way the Seekers looked. Seekers were born of the Crystal Vale. They didn’t look like they were from here. They all had ivory white skin and pointed ears. Their eyes looked like a cats and their fingers looked longer than normal. They either had silver hair or black hair, nothing else. Nicolai didn’t know much more than that, their robes hid everything else there was to hide. He did hear they all had some sort of weird tail, but so far, that was just a rumor. As rumors went though, that one made him the most leery to enter the line. The Vale had what most called innate magic, where as most Walkers, as the Vale called humans, weren’t born with innate magic. Nicolai and Isabelle were special. Neither of them knew their father and still, it didn’t seem to matter. They were Walkers, that meant they may have been poor, but they were still a leg up on the Vale.

Some how though, none of that bothered Nicolai, it was the tail that bothered him the most.

The two of them could already hear the sounds of the market even before they crossed over the hill. Flutist played while a juggler juggled fire. All the market was alive with people trying to get their wares noticed. All accept their mothers booth. Hers was always busy. Men and women came from all around to get some of her soaps and pretty fragrances. They were legendary across the Four Corners. Nicolai watched his mother carry herself with more grace and elegance then some of what you would call the upper class. Her smile was radiant and her curly hair was put in a lose bun. A light wisp of her hair had fallen out from the soft breeze.

Nicolai watched his sister race up to her and jump into their mother’s arms. He laughed in spite of wanting to yell at her for interfering with their mother’s business. He waved when Isabelle pointed him out. He could tell she was telling their mother about him going to see the Seeker after all this time. Their mother smiled at him and waved him over.

‘Here we go.’ He thought.

Nicolai walked over to his mother’s booth and smiled at her. He couldn’t help but notice when she looked to see how short the line was for the Seeker.

She’s going to make me go this time. I just know it. The time of the Beltane is rising and now I have no choice but to face it.

Hesitant of standing in the line, his mother excused herself and walked over to her son. “What’s the problem. It’s long overdue. Come on, you have the fee. No more excuses. Go see what life is going to give you,” she said.

As much as it pained Nicolai to admit, he was a little curious about what he should and would be doing with his life. He knew he was going to miss the everyday surprise life had to offer. The closer he got to the line, the more his stomach weaved into knots. He couldn’t see the Vale because of the curtain door, but he knew without a doubt the Seeker was there. When he stepped closer to the front of the line, he realized why he was afraid.

He was afraid of what the Vale would think of him being an innate Walker. Those are rare indeed and he and his sister were both innate, born with powers they didn’t understand and even worse, couldn’t always control. Such a thing could be used for the wrong reasons. Even Isabelle was old enough to understand that.

“Who is next?” the voice called snapping Nicolai out of his thoughts.

He walked into the curtain and sat down at the table. The Seeker came forward and looked him in the eyes. She was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. All the rumors of tails and what not, were nothing more than that. Her deep marble blue cat eyes had a since of wander and wisdom. She stood about a foot smaller then Nicolai and had a soft sweet voice. Nicolai felt enamored by her and couldn’t help but do what she said. He was sure if she would have said go rob the booth next to him, he would have.

There was glowing soft light from the hole in the center of the table. Hanging fire glittered along the walls of the tent without catching it on fire. The magic that was in the air made him feel even more powerful inside.

“You’re innate,” she spoke.

Nicolai held his breath. “I am,” he said.

“An innate Walker. That’s a rare find. Guard your power well,” she said.

The Seeker closed her eyes and took his hands. She brought them over the hole in the center of the table. Sure he was going to be burned, Nicolai was surprised by the cool sensation that came from the hole in the table.

“What is that?” He asked.

“That is nothing more than a crystal taken from the Chaos past the wall where all Vale are born,” she said.

“Chaos, is that why you look different. Because you were born so close to the Chaos?” He asked.

“It is. You are a curious boy who catches on quick. That is going to come in handy in the days to come. Your sister is also an innate Walker. Be careful of the Priory. He is looking for the two of you,” she warned. “That is why the old woman was sent all those years ago. She was sent to teach your mother so that she could teach you. Take all that you know and keep your wits.”

Her face squirmed a little and her eyes filled with pain. Nicolai didn’t know what she was talking about but could tell there was something she wasn’t saying. “What is it?” He asked.

“There is going to be a death. Someone close to you. I can’t see more. You can stop this though. That’s all I see,” she said.

Nicolai’s heart dropped. He couldn’t understand who would want to kill anyone he knew. He was a poor kid from a poor home.

The light from the day passed, taking with it all the bold beautiful colors. Nicolai was thankful for that. At least the worry on his face would be hidden from all the Seeker said. The tower of the Beltane rang in the distance, letting everyone know it was time to pack it in for the day. They all gathered around the bonfire and danced and sang, sharing food and wine from the days trade. Music played in the air and a few of the people headed for the Goddess’s Tower to ask for protection from the coming of the between. The time when all the long dead spirits of those who you have wronged can come back and take what they deem is theirs.

Nicolai sat and watched his mother dance with his sister. To him, they were the only two people who mattered in the whole world.

A young woman about his age sat next to him. She had on a long purple dress with silver bead work that glittered in all the right places. Her long wavy curly red hair and fair skin made her look like something from a story. He looked at her, just a glance was all it took. She was beauty beyond compare.

“My name is Nicolai,” he said.

“I’m Jocelyn,” she said.

The thoughts of the day were gone along with the warning from the Seeker. All he could see before him was the fair lady, Jocelyn. She smiled at him and he blushed a little.

“I have been sent here to find you,” she said.

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's the middle of the night

Today, I felt sick most of the day. It's just a small cold but it made me sleep a lot this afternoon. So now, I can't seem to sleep at all. I keep tossing and turning, waiting for the final analysis of I AM WOLF.

The truth is, it can always go either way. There are so many talented writers out there with so much to share and say. It makes me wonder how my small voice is going to be heard among the millions that are working to achieve the same as me. I'm very proud of the story I have written and very humbled by the awesome response it has received, especially since it isn't with a publisher yet.

What a great thing it is to create something from nothing, no more than just mere words on a page. There is no greater joy than that accept for my family. What would I do if this doesn't go right for me? I don't know. I do know that I can't stop. It isn't in me to do that, not this time. I have been stopped so many times in the past by situations that were not in my control. This time though, life has stepped in and given me a way to make it all work. What would any of us do with such a small opportunity like that?

So, here I am, waiting for my cold medicine to kick in, and I have to say I hate the way medicine makes me feel. Tired. Fogged. Loopy. I think being sick is a waste of time. I don't know how some of my friends who live with sickness everyday are able to get through it. I have such a great amount of respect for them. They are the brave ones, not I.

I guess soon enough I will know the answers to all the questions that I have been asking myself. The last thing I need to work on is the synopsis. What a pain in the ass those are to write. With a single piece of paper I can be tossed in the slush pile, all the work for nothing. What a lot of pressure that part is for me. Truth be told, I have no idea what to put in one of those. I have read many many articles about them. All of them seem to say something different. They are all bound in the same philosophy that it takes a good one to make someone want to read more. Yet none of the articles clearly define what makes the magic happen in a synopsis. What is the potion for a good synopsis?  Be clear, but not too clear. Draw them in, but not too much. Make sure you're vague about the ending, but don't make it too vague. It makes me wonder if any of the people who write those stupid articles even know what makes the magic work themselves. Probably not. It all sounds good in theory, and others have found it for themselves. So where is the magic for that?

In the simplest of terms, the only real question that should be asked is this: Did I entertain you? If the answer is yes, then I have done my job. All the pomp and circumstance aside and the working to make a name and even all the talk boils down to that single question. Hmm so much goes into that, if it didn't it wouldn't be worth doing.

I AM WOLF. Who would have thought such a simple title would end up meaning so much? I sure didn't when I came up with it. I even thought about changing it. Glad I didn't now. Anything else would have been ordinary, and that is something I always strive to stay away from. Who wants to be like everyone else? Not

Yawning now. This is good. I need to sleep a little more and hope this cold goes away before it's a full blown case of what ever is roaming out there in the world. Once again, above all else, entertain. That's it. That's all there is to it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What my editor said!!

James Weil "I need a few days off to finish Joann's manuscript. I promise you guys are going to love this story. I Am Wolf is captivating, and Joann's writing is so filled with passion you will be swept off your feet. What talent this woman has!"

I'm completely blown away by this. He has been a real friend and a real support. Now he is editing my novel and loves it!! What a compliment that is!!

I can't wait to see what happens next on this journey...smiles...

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