Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Hazards of Ferret Syndrome and Hyperfocus

Okay, so I haven’t been updating like I would like to be.  I’ve got several chapters prepared, they just need slight editing and I really need to go back through the other ones and edit in some details, but I’m afraid that I have fallen victim to my own nature.

I can hyperfocus on things.  Sometimes it shows when I’m reading something and the rest of the world just vanishes.  World War Three could be raging around me and I don’t even hear it.  It’s a useful trait sometimes because it allows me to lock in on something and ordinarily I have issues with focusing.

That’s because I also have Ferret Syndrome.  Distractions abound in the world and the least little shiny thing can pull me away from what I need to be doing.  Like, say, working on getting my stories written.  I’ve had them living in my brain for the better part of my life in some cases, and I really want to share them with the world.  That’s difficult when I get so easily distracted.

The worst possible situation, though, is when I somehow manage to hyperfocus on a distraction.

Which, sadly, is what has taken place.  The Mysterious Co-Writer finally managed to pester me into trying a Pokemon game (yeah, me, grown woman playing Pokemon… I swear the world is coming to an end) and Pokemon Black now owns my soul.  There will likely be fanfiction written and I can almost guarantee that the concept of domesticating monsters for self-defense and some of the moral and ethical questions relating to it will show up in original fiction.  I’ve already got the beginnings of a plot in mind for the Steampunk era of the world of Kien-Altair.  I just need to let it simmer until it doesn’t look so much like the source influence.

Any fanfiction will likely be posted to my Fanfiction.net account of MrsGrizzley.  Original Fiction will take much longer to develop.  And, sadly, new chapters for Castellan Dreams will be slower than I like.  Chapter Six is up, by the way, in case anyone is interested.  I appreciate your patience.

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Explaining Chapter Five

I’m not usually one for obscure references and such, but there are things I come across in reading and wikiwalking around the Internet that are just too fascinating to me and I simply cannot resist the chance to use them.  Case in point, the line in Chapter Five about Destiny being “one part Moirai in a single body and one part Tyche, with all the complicated roles and positions implied by both…”.  Now I realize that most people won’t know the Moirai or Tyche by those names.  “The Fates” and “Lady Luck” are much more commonly familiar terms.

But I just couldn’t help myself.

To be completely honest, the figure of Destiny Dreamsail is very intentionally crafted around the old mythological figures and their symbologies.  She was envisioned from the beginning as a physical embodiment of those concepts and so I built her abilities and her limitations around the concept of Fate and all those complicated relationships that are part of such a role.  She has always been strongly telekinetic and associated with weaving, both as a mundane endeavor and as a magical one.  Sometimes I chose to interpret her role somewhat more creatively than the literal aspect of weaving.

Sometimes, I use the most literal interpretation possible.

I’ll be honest, though, sometimes these connections surprise me.  While Destiny was intentionally crafted to be a Fate and an embodiment of “Lady Luck”, other figures were not so purposeful in their mythological underpinnings.

Case in point: Goldeneyes Dreamsail, who is Tresoria Dauris’ mother.  This version of the Castellan Dreams story is called “The Firebird’s Daughter” because Goldeneyes has taken on many of the traits associated with the Firebird and the Phoenix.  I found this out by sheer chance sometime in the past, I’m not sure exactly when, when I was doing some Wikiwalking around the legends and such surrounding certain Asian figures.

In fact, it was during the preliminary lead-up to the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project that I called “The Phoenix and the Dragoon”, which was about Goldeneyes and her romantic counterpart, Cearnach a’Pendrac.  Coincidentally, that project was what put the final nails in the coffin of the previous version of Castellan Dreams.  Cearnach eventually became Kenshin and Kenshin was not going to tolerate his Goldeneyes in the arms of another man…

In any event, as I was researching the Four Beasts, or whatever they’re called (the Firebird, the Dragon, the Tiger, and the Turtle) as a possible reinterpretation of the Major Houses of Faerie in a world setting I call FaerieEarth (yes, I’ll get around to posting stories in that world, but I want to get Castellan Dreams going strongly first), I started seeing more and more of the traits of the Firebird/Phoenix in the figure that was Goldeneyes at the time.

Whenever a writer finds these connections, these resonances, then there is a choice that can be made.  I could change Goldeneyes to avoid the issue; I could ignore the matter and leave things as they were; or I could embrace it and run with it as a theme.  Effectively saying “I meant that” and invoking “it’s a feature not a bug”.

Generally speaking, if it’s at all possible, I choose to run with things because I just like these sort of things.

So Goldeneyes became Lady Firebird and I began to consciously invoke Phoenix-like images in telling her story.

So as a point of explanation, here is a series of links to various locations that should help explain some of the references which I was making within Chapter Five of Castellan Dreams: the Firebird’s Daughter.

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Contemplating Setting Aesthetics

I’m in a strange sort of mood tonight and I got to thinking about something I’m calling Setting Aesthetics.  I don’t know if someone’s described this before; I’m just working with what I’ve got inside my brain.  In case you were wondering, no, I’m not actually trained in writing.  I took a couple Creative Writing classes in college, one for prose and one for poetry, but neither really told me anything I didn’t already know from years of self-education.

So I consider myself self-trained in writing.

In point of fact, the Prose Creative Writing course was the worse of the two.  I am not exaggerating to say that the only benefit I received from the class was meeting my husband.  I was already skilled past the ability of the professor to teach and I was not, by any stretch of the imagination, as skilled as I am now.  I had worlds of growth left to do, and still have, but all he was prepared to teach was Grammar and Mechanics in Written Form; he had not read for entertainment in longer than he could comfortably remember (said he didn’t have time for it); and had the audacity to correct grammar in dialogue!

I believe that professor is no longer teaching that particular course, but I don’t know for certain.  At the time I was attending classes, the idea of Creative Writing as a viable minor or even major was unheard of in my area.  If I’d known that I could have gotten my whole degree in it when I’d gone looking for universities, I’d have gone to a school specifically for that.  To say that I took my writing seriously at a young age is not exaggerating the issue.

I’ve been self-training since I was six, consciously so since I was about twelve.  Writing and Storytelling is part of what I am, ever so much more than simply what I do.

I got my hands on an actual book for helping writers and it was about some unknown concept called “voice”, which was something I not only have never had a problem with, but wasn’t even aware was a factor.  It was never brought up in any of the English and Literature classes I’d taken, except as a slight aside relating to Hemingway which meant completely nothing to me in 7th or 8th grade.  It was never even considered as a factor in grading any essays I had written through four years of college.

So, needless to say, it didn’t really help me in any way except, maybe, to make me suddenly insecure about this unknown concept that I’d never thought could be a factor in writing.  Go figure.

In any event, this idea popped into my head for “Setting Aesthetics“, the look to any given setting type.  It has to do with the way a setting looks to the characters.  It’s more a factor for my stories than for some others because, let’s face it, my characters encounter a lot of different settings.  The same character could be wandering through your standard Sword and Sorcery Fantasy World one day and end up in a Post Apocalyptic Wasteland the next.

My favorite Setting Aesthetic is actually Steampunk.  Founded in the concepts and inventions of Leonardo diVinci (brilliant man and one of my personal heroes), the look and costuming of the settings can run the gamut from 15th Century all the way through 19th Century (that’s 1400’s through 1800’s, in case you were wondering), making it the most adaptable Aesthetic next to the ever popular Standard Fantasy, which can range from 1066 up to 1600… give or take a century.

I find a beauty to the wood and fabric and metal of Steampunk that simply is not present in some of the other possibilities.  Some of the Future settings, in particular.  Post-Apocalyptic is simply too dark to really be beautiful to my eyes and the super-clean and smooth aesthetics of some of the space settings just… there’s no humanity to it.  Which, admittedly, can be part of the point if that’s what the setting is supposed to communicate.  That, and I just prefer an older look all around.

That said, Star Wars rocks aesthetically.  But that’s because there’s a very strong Asian influence to the look of things and that’s a timeless aesthetic.

Which brings me to another of my favorite points to make; Science Fiction is just like Fantasy except that they default to shouting “Dinosaur!” instead of “Dragon!” when the humongous lizard shows up.  Is it a Fireball Wand or a Flamethrower?  It performs the same action, has the same result, but the difference is purely semantics when each side is sufficiently advanced. (If you don’t believe me, ask Isaac Asimov and Mercedes Lackey, from whom I got the beginnings of this concept.)

You can tell the exact same stories, the exact same plots; ask the exact same questions about the nature of humanity and morality and ethics on both sides of the coin.  The only difference lies in Setting Aesthetics.

What does everything look like?

Is it a robot or a construct (golem or similar crafted being)?  Is it magic or is it psychic phenomena?  Are they Aliens or are they Elves?  Every single convention of Science Fiction has a corresponding convention in Fantasy.  Drawing the line between the two is simply a matter of semantics and aesthetics.

I’m sure there’s a point in this mass of words somewhere.  I’m liable to keep going for ages when I get a soapbox and a topic I find interesting.  I hope that I didn’t bore anyone and I hope even more that this was able to help someone, if only a little bit.

*Note: Chapter Five of Castellan Dreams: the Firebird’s Daughter is now available, if anyone is interested.

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Updates and Developments

Greetings all, and I hope everyone is having a good day.

I just managed to post the third chapter of Castellan Dreams: the Firebird’s Daughter.  I’m able to post them fairly quickly at the moment because I’m still working largely with material I have been able to salvage from the previous version of the tale.  That will likely change as I get closer to Chapter Eight or so, depending on whether the Knight remains a Knight or becomes a Prince.  I have written scenes in the past with him in both roles and it’s simply a matter of finding the one that is the most interesting and causes the least amount of headaches later on.

However, if any readers might have an opinion one way or the other, please, let me know what you think.

In case anyone is curious as to the process that I follow with something like this, it’s very simple.  I have discovered that the best way to test whether a given scene is going to work or not is to simply write it up, or in the case of material developed with my Co-Writer, discuss it with him, and see how the consequences fall.  Given that I am fully aware of just how strongly my characters rate on the Mary Sue Index, consequences are my saving grace, so to speak.

It’s a matter of knowing how actions affect each other, Cause and Effect.  If Event A happens, then what will that trigger in the immediate future, or perhaps further down the line?  How will the characters react to said Event?  If Mary Sue B decides to show off and go all God Mode, how will that affect how others, in universe, perceive her?

Though, I will admit, some of the questions The Mysterious Co-Writer asks make me stop and blink at him because he’s asking about things and considerations that I, simply, never took into account.  It’s why working with a Co-Writer is such a fascinating endeavor for me.  It opens up a whole range of options that would never have been possible without the influence of a second mind, a second viewpoint.

It’s why I say that his contribution is invaluable.

In any event, I hope that the story is meeting with approval.  I know there’s not much of it so far, but it would be nice to think that it’s going well.

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Opening the Den

Welcome to The Grizzley Den, which will house original fiction that I write, sometimes with the assistance of my co-writer… though he rates his contribution closer to that of a ghost writer… and I think he values himself too little.

I am still deciphering the means of building this site, so it’s likely to remain in development while I figure out what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it.

At the moment I plan to begin posting the first tale, preliminarily titled “Castellan Dreams: the Firebird’s Daughter” as soon as I can.  It is a revision of an old series that was left unfinished because the characters involved started… well, let’s just say that there was no way to get a happy ending given some of the dynamics that were developing.  Even a positive outcome would have involved tragedy on some level and I wasn’t prepared for that because it would have broken several rules of fiction regarding the trust between author and audience.

I do take the relationship between author and audience very seriously.  This is why I’m a writer.  I like seeing the reactions of my readers and I especially enjoy taking those reactions into account when crafting a tale.  For the major epics, like I anticipate Castellan Dreams to be, I tend to closely plot several chapters ahead, but anything beyond that is a vague limbo that can be altered to adjust to an audience and their preferences.

In some cases to a greater degree than others.

“Castellan Dreams: the Firebird’s Daughter” is predicated on several other tales that I will also be publishing through this site to the best of my ability, so there is some interaction between the epics.  Hopefully this will not become too complicated for a reader to follow, I’ve been working with these characters, in some cases, for most of my life in one form or another.

Now, I need to get back to going through the particulars of setting things up.  Have a good day, and thank you for stopping by my Den.

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