Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A to Z Challenge: Z is for Zzzz...

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

Z is for Zzzz...

Which is what I'm going to do for a nice, long time after today! Congratulations, A to Z-ers: WE MADE IT! Any bets on how many people will use the same 'word' for today's posts? I'm guessing at least two other people, personally.

Believe it or not, I do have a snippet related to this topic: it's another brandest of the brand new bits from the lifetime in India. Refresher for all newcomers (are there any at this point? If so, I salute your perseverance!); if you know all of this already, feel free to skip to the next paragraph: soul #1 is Emma, the the daughter of a British Civil Service official, living with her father in India around 1890; and soul #2 is Aryahi, Emma's mysterious new Indian maid, who doesn't act like a servant at all, is far too beautiful, and who seems much more interested in Emma's father's military intelligence than she does in cleaning the house. Oh yes, and who also happens to be an incarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga.

Today's snippet comes at a moment very early on in this story, when Emma is allowing herself a moment to rest (or 'zzzz') before she continues working on her monumental list of tasks for the day. It's a bit long, I know, but it's the LAST DAY of the challenge, so I thought, why the heck not? It really is brand new - I free-wrote it as a brainstorm a few days ago and haven't even read it again since - and I'm also experimenting with POV, with mixed results, as you'll see:
It was the third most important day of her life, but of course Emma didn't know that until many years later. Had she known, she might have dealt with the new maid quite differently; but then the future is always much clearer once it has already passed. Exactly what she would have done differently is something only Emma herself could say, and she refused to speak of the events recounted on these pages for the rest of her life.
But that was much later. On this particular day, when everything was about to begin, Emma leaned against the door frame of the parlor and allowed herself a moment of stillness. All around her, the house chattered with an urgent list of items that needed her attention; she closed her eyes, and listened instead to the city. Sound streamed through the window, bright and clear and hot as the sun: tea sellers hawking their sweet, spiced wares in strident Hindi and broken English; the clatter of wheels and hooves on the packed streets; bicycle horns; shouts and laughter and arguments in at least five different languages; in other words, all of the churn and chatter and joyful misery that was Calcutta. 
Emma told herself often that she quite liked this new life in India, and so she was surprised, that hot spring morning, to find tears of homesickness in her eyes as she rested against the door. She brushed them away with quick, impatient hands, and straightened. There was plenty more to do; no time, she thought, for mooning about London. She had thought this many times over the last few months, and would think it many more in the months to come, and indeed if she ever stopped to wonder why she had to tell herself so often not to long for England, and to enjoy her new life, she would have been quite puzzled by her own emotions. Luckily, Emma was at that time exceedingly stubborn and determined, and so blissfully ignorant of her own internal life that she was able to escape the depression and frustration that such awareness of her feelings would have brought. She therefore lived in a state of relative contentment, marred occasionally by unexplained bouts of dissatisfaction and anxiety, which naturally irked her exceedingly, but always passed. That is, she had been able to remain ignorant and content, until this exact spring day, at this exact hour, which brings us back to the reason for this story.
Emma shook herself out of her silly stupor (or so she called it), and walked briskly down the hall to her father’s bedroom, where the bedclothes had to be aired, and the windows cleaned, and the fire set for the evening, which were only the first in a long mental list of her chores for the day.
Imagine her surprise, then, when she walked through the door and found all of these tasks already completed. She stopped, frowning, until she saw the slight form kneeling by the fireplace, placing the last of the kindling in the freshly-swept hearth. Then her brow cleared.
"Good morning," she said, "You must be the new maid." 

Thanks to the very smart Nicki Elson, I realized that I forgot to add a closing statement. Oops! Here 'tis! Congratulations, A to Z-ers!! We made it! A huge THANK YOU to the creators and hosts, who I know worked much harder than everyone else - and considering how sleepy I am, that's truly amazing. You guys rock! I'll be back on my regularly scheduled Wednesday posts next week. Thanks to everyone for coming by!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A to Z Challenge: Y is for You, Only You

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

Y is for You, Only You

Updated with new addendum at the end...

I know I may have stretched a little for yesterday's post, but today's is better. Not much better, mind you, but better.

At its heart, this novel I'm working on - and blogging about incessantly - is about love. I can't call it romance, since it doesn't really fit that genre, but it certainly has romance in it. Above all, it's about the long, as in millennia long, journey two souls undergo together.

In every lifetime, these same souls find each other, over and over and over again. And in each lifetime, they find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another, no matter how many seemingly insurmountable obstacles stand in their way, their own fears very much included. They couldn't be more different, and yet they can't find happiness without each other.

So that's today's theme, in its essence: that gut-deep feeling that the person standing in front of you is vitally important; that you are somehow connected, in ways you may never fully understand; that this person, despite all of their faults and weaknesses, belongs in your life. This person is your person, for better or worse.

It's the feeling that each soul will have, over and over again, as they look at the other soul standing in front of them: "You, only you."

The feeling exists, strong and sure, in each lifetime, but the human capacity for ignoring these feelings is endless, until at last the pain caused by this avoidance is worse than the danger of true intimacy. And there is the story.

Now, this is where the original post ended, but blogger Stephanie Faris helped me realize that this post is a bit misleading: the message of the book isn't that these souls are each other's "one and only". As I noted in a response to her excellent comment, the overall message is about overcoming fears and obstacles to be true to who we are. In this story, that's about being brave enough to love. My concept is that we get second and third and tenth and more chances, from life to life, to grow and change, and that's part of why these two souls keep ending up in a romantic situation together. I imagine that these souls always turn up in each other's lives, but not always as lovers. I hope that makes sense...


Monday, April 28, 2014

A to Z Challenge: X is for Xinjiang Fine Wool

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

X is for Xinjiang Fine Wool

Yes, I have a perfect 'X' for today! So, Xinjiang Fine Wool are a breed of sheep. And sheep appear in not one, but TWO of the lifetimes in my work in progress, in VIWs (Very Important Ways)! TOTAL connection, right?! I feel super lucky, 'cause X might be a really tough day for people, but I'm all set with my awesome sheep!

I mean, Xinjiang Fine Wool Sheep are from China, and yeah, OK, of my two shepherds, Damon is Greek and Taylor is Australian, but still, another lifetime in this book takes place in Tibet, and Tashi's family probably has sheep, and Tibet's, like, SO close to China!

Right???

OK. I know.

I give up.

I admit it, I'm seriously reaching for a topic today, but... Well, no 'but'. I'm just reaching. I really did try to find an appropriate 'X' for today, but this was the best I could do. I wish I could tell you that tomorrow and Wednesday will be back to normal, but, um, considering that the letters are 'Y' and 'Z', they kind of won't.

But while I'm pretending that Xinjiang Fine Wool sheep have anything at all to do with my novel, I should at least give you a picture of them, right?

Here you go:

Image courtesy of http://www.sheep101.info/Images/Breeds/Xmerino1.jpg

Cute, aren't they? Now I'll have to make sure that Taylor, at least, has some sheep that are part Xinjiang Fine Wool...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A to Z Challenge: W is for Wind

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

W is for Wind

Everything I've read about Tibet - and at this point, that's getting to be quite a list - invariably talks about the landscape, and the weather. This is understandable: when your country is nicknamed "the roof of the world", it's for some very good reasons.

Take this, for example:

Photo courtesy of http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/17/the-roof-of-the-world-melting/

And this:

Photo courtesy of http://phoebettmh.blogspot.com/2011/06/tibet-roof-of-world-om-mani-padme-hum.html

And this:

Photo courtesy of http://nickykelvin.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/the-roof-of-the-world-tibet/

I mean, I can only imagine, looking at these, that the natural world plays a huge role in the life of most Tibetans.

This was the jumping-off point for my next snippet, which takes place, of course, during the Tibetan lifetime, around 600 CE. I will say that I'm not sure that this is going to make it into the book, but I'm posting it anyway, because it's about wind, and that is today's theme, after all:

It was a cut-wind day. Tashi felt it as soon as he opened the roof door, and rose into the dawn light; felt it on his hand as it held on, in the joints, the slice and cold cutting of the air. He called for his wife, and as his mouth made her name, he remembered. She died, a long time back, too long a time for the remembering to hurt. It was his duty, once hers, to wake at first light, and climb to the roof, and make the offerings.
But the wind. The wind was cutting, not a good omen. He hovered on the ladder, the top of his head just edging into the sky, and thought. It would be better, maybe, to skip the offering, and retreat into the house, and not let the wind slash him (and he laughed to think this, because his brothers – his dutiful, stupid brothers – would pale and faint to know he even dared to wonder about not lighting the fire). But then again, if it was a bad day already, he needed help. 
Tashi sighed, and forced his legs up the ladder. Hips creaking, another bad sign, maybe just age, but maybe the day, too. He lit the yak-dung as quickly as he could, shielding the sparks from the wind, and burned some dried fruit in the flame. The smoke lifted, a curling sweet-smelling flag. With the offering came the feeling better, as it always did; the warm spreading light in his limbs, the easing open of his chest. He nodded to himself, and even dared to stay on the ladder a few minutes longer, resting his arms on the roof, and watching. Watching as the other fingers of smoke rose all around him, thin black lines against the blue-ing sky and the high wall of mountains, as his family woke and climbed and prayed, and the sweetness of their offerings – barley, fruit, butter – filled the air, and softened the edge of the wind. 
He was feeling so much better that he almost didn't see it. Almost. Tashi was keen-eyed, though, always had been, and age had left his eyes alone even as it pushed down on everything else. So through the good feelings, and the ease, and the rush of color over the snowy peaks, he caught the wind in its moment of spite. A slice; a quick lashing; right at the smoke over the Big House. No more reaching finger; no more flag of offering. The smoke tattered, and wavered, and broke.
Tashi sucked in a breath and felt the cut hit his lungs, cold and sharp, and withdrew into the house so fast he almost fell off the ladder. He stood at the bottom, panting, pressing a hand to his chest; now he knew. 
It was a cut-wind day, because it was a day of death. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

A to Z Challenge: V is for Vow

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

V is for Vow

For today's letter, we have to head back to our two souls when they're in Ancient Greece, where (and when) Apollo is busy falling in love - or at least, his definition of love - with Damon.

Before I explain what today's theme is about, I have to also explain that while I was researching and plotting this particular lifetime, I kept coming up against a character who just wouldn't go away: Artemis, Apollo's twin sister, and the virgin goddess of the moon, the hunt, and childbirth, among other things. She insisted on being involved, and who can resist a goddess?

Not me, certainly. Besides, she's Apollo's twin, and appears with him in far more myths than either of their parents (Zeus and Leto, for those who are curious) - and the mythology of twins, their bonds and relationships and stories, is nearly as rich as Greek mythology itself. Add to that the fact that Artemis is a sworn virgin who destroys any mortal man who threatens her chastity, in total contrast to her serially love-stricken twin, and you have a recipe for some slow-cooked delicious conflict.

Which brings us to vow. Remember, when we enter the story, Apollo has sworn off all love affairs, due to the regrettable fact that every single one of his affairs ends badly - death, transformation, and rejection seem to be the three main options. The key here, though, is that he has sworn them off; he's taken a vow - at Artemis's urging, and to Artemis herself - that he'll never love again.

Now, vows might not seem all that important to the Greek gods (marriage vows in particular tend to be about as binding as scotch tape), but Apollo takes his promises very, very seriously - and so does Artemis. They both believe that there are serious consequences when a vow is broken, and for a Greek god, beliefs can become manifest very, very quickly. Apollo would be the first to say that he should be punished for breaking a vow, and what Apollo thinks should happen very likely will. You might say, after all, that Apollo is a bit of a stickler for rules...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A to Z Challenge: U is for Unknown

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

U is for Unknown

Confession time: I was totally going to fudge the letter 'U' today, and make today's topic 'Ugh, Research', which, yes, would definitely have been cheating. But, if it counts, I didn't do it! My conscience got the better of me.

Instead, I'm going to be honest and talk about what I don't know. No, not the unknown unknowns, but the known unknowns. I've spent all of the letters up until now posting about the characters and settings and themes in my WIP that I've explored, and at least started researching. Today, I'm going to talk about the one that I haven't.

You may have noticed that I keep saying that there are going to be six lifetimes for my two souls in this book, but I've really only talked about four of them: Ancient Greece, Tibet, India, and modern Australia. That's because of the other two, one - near-future London - is only hazily sketched out, and the other - pre-Columbus South America - is a big, fat I HAVE NO FREAKING IDEA. At least for London, I know who the two characters are, and how their love affair is going to take shape (the you're the last person I'd ever love plot is going to be featured pretty heavily there). South America? Nada. Zip. Zilch. All I have is a brainstorming scene I wrote months ago, and the vague idea that it's going to involve a nomad shaman who's the last remaining member of her tribe, and the young chief of a new tribe she encounters in her travels.

Which is to say, I really don't know what the heck I'm doing. South America is my giant Unknown. And that's OK, because eventually I'll start doing research and finding the story, but, well, it's just gonna be mostly left out of this particular A to Z Challenge.

Just for fun, here's the beginning of that brainstorming scene I wrote, months and months ago (and no, I'm not posting the whole thing, because a) it's too long, and b) it's literally full to the brim of stuff I just completely made up, with notes everywhere saying "research this"). This is it, guys; this is all I've got for South America, for now. I can pretty much promise that all of this, including the name, is going to change:
The rushes feel hard and cold under her skin. She presses her face into Nahuel's back and breathes in the smell of him: salt and fur, rain, and the cool edge of something metallic; all together she imagines his smell as dark, rich brown, like the earth of her childhood after a long spring soaking. The earth here is different. Dry; red; parched. Even the air feels cracked and arid, and she is never sure she isn't thirsty, no matter how much water she drinks.  
She is already wrapped around him, her breasts to his back, her knees tucked in the curl of his thighs, and her arm pressed as far around the flat planes of his stomach as possible, but she moves closer, as close as possible, and he shifts a little in his sleep. She freezes, holds her breath, until he settles against her again. Then she relaxes, just for a moment, she tells herself, and breathes him into her, again, again, over and over.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A to Z Challenge: T is for Taylor

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

T is for Taylor

I'll preface today's post by asking you to forgive the strange grammar I'm going to use, here. I explained this at length back in November, but Taylor's gender is never revealed in the book - and indeed, I've made no decision about it one way or the other, either. I wanted to explore whether or not souls have gender, and what it means to love, and I wondered if love between souls could transcend gender. I did notice that every commenter so far has assumed that Taylor is a man, but I'm guessing that's because the love interest is a woman; if there are other reasons, though, I would love to hear them!

This decision, unfortunately, makes it not so easy to talk about Taylor in the third person...which is of course why this lifetime is told in the first person, from Taylor's own POV.

At any rate, as you all know by now, Taylor is a sheep farmer in Australia in the 1950s or 60s. Taylor lives alone, and has for many, many years; before Nat arrives, Taylor's only company were the sheep, and the neighbors, who live out of eye- and earshot, and only visit occasionally. This might sound lonely, but Taylor is a naturally solitary person, and loves this stable, predictable life. Yes, Taylor is of course our Rule Abider soul.

Needless to say, Nat comes in to this quiet life like, well, forgive the Miley Cyrus reference, but, a wrecking ball. Against Taylor's better judgement, they begin a no-strings-attached affair that should be uncomplicated and easy, and quickly becomes anything but, as Taylor realizes that not having anyone to love doesn't mean that the heart stops working altogether. It just hibernates for a while, until someone comes along and wakes it up, and then the heart finds that it's wide awake and ravenously hungry.

Things go well for a little while, until, of course, they don't. We enter their story as readers after things have gone south: Nat's gone for good - at least, that's what she said - and Taylor is desperate to find her. I'll let Taylor tell you a tiny bit about it (and once again, I'm making all of the sheep farming stuff up until I can research it, and correct it):
It all started because I was crazy enough to hire a local kid as a favor to an old friend. If I’d listened to myself, I never would have let the kid on the farm, and then when Nat came knocking I wouldn't have had a job for her, and she would have left. And that would have been the end of it. I wouldn't be here in my truck, leaving my flock at the height of the season to search for a ghost. 
But I didn't listen to myself; that was my first mistake. I ignored the kid's skinny arms and long hair, and gave him a chance. Holding sheep for shearing is no joke; a full-grown ewe can weigh more than a teenage boy, and will buck and kick and blow that boy’s shins out if he’s not careful. The kid took one look at the jostling crowd of dirty white backs, and did a runner. And left me short-handed with one thousand head of sheep to hold, shear, and cut loose. Bloody idiot. Me, that is, not the kid. 
I’m thinking about all of this because I have more time right now, sitting in my truck, than any person should have. We’re not made for driving around the country, scouring the grass for a shadow. At least, I’m not. Nat's different. In every way I can think of.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A to Z Challenge: S is for Sneaking

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

S is for Sneaking

...as in, sneaking around: spying, snooping, and generally being sly. Amazing how many 's' words there are for deviousness, huh?

I chose this particular word for 'S' today for the express purpose of posting the brandest of the brand new of snippets, written just days before I wrote this post. I thought it might be stupid ridiculous fun to post something I've barely even read myself!

I think the A to Z Challenge might finally be getting to me...

At any rate, because this is so brand-spanking new, I really have no idea if it's going to end up in the novel at all. I do know that the reason for it will, though.

Before your heads all start spinning, let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up (and points to any of you who got that quote without clicking on the link): this is from my Indian lifetime, where the two souls are Emma, the 18 year old daughter of a British army officer, and Aryahi, their mysterious new maid, who is also an incarnation of the goddess Durga. Aryahi is definitely not in Emma's house to just be a maid, and is also definitely snooping around, so something like this snippet, where Emma catches Aryahi in her father's study in the middle of the night, will happen in the book. I just have no idea if this will be it. Well, read and enjoy (I hope) anyway!

There had been a flash of light – something gleaming, flecked with gold – that woke Emma from sleep, and pulled her from her bed.
“Is someone there?” She stood still in the doorway of her room, her eyes straining to pierce the darkness, but the night was completely, bizarrely black, as if the sky itself had thrown down a heavy curtain over the house, blocking all light. Not even the stars could reach her here.
She heard a shadow of sound, as if someone had opened a door with slow, deliberate care. She shivered.
Emma crept forward, trailing one hand along the wall for guidance. All was silent and still. And yet, her nerves were singing; she knew someone else was here with her, in the thick, unnatural darkness at the end of the hall. She frowned; only her father’s study lay there. Who could be in it in the middle of the night, besides her father? But her father was away, until at least the end of the week; she'd seen him off herself only the day before. 
In the deep black ahead of her she saw it again: a glimmer of light, like the pale gleam of an eye, or a tooth. She drew in a sharp breath and pushed forward, faster now, her hand quick and sure against the grooves of the wall. In seconds she was at the door to the study. She put out her hand to feel for the knob, but her fingers met only space: the door – the locked, sturdy door that only her father had the key to open – was already ajar. 
She eased into the room, her heart in her throat, and paused. She knew she should stop, and wake Manesh, and get him to help her, but some instinct held her motionless, waiting. 
There was another whisper of sound, but lighter this time, as if a tiny wind had swept through the room. And then the air’s strange, heavy curtains parted: the utter blackness lifted, and starlight shone, pale and silver, through the window. 
And Emma could see, not well, but enough. There was another person in the room: a woman, by the slightness of her frame, standing by her father’s desk, her body twisted, as if she’d just suddenly turned towards the door. 
“Who’s there? What are you doing?” Emma whispered.
The woman flinched, and then her body seemed to relax.
“Emma?” came the whispered reply.
“Who is that?”
The woman moved towards her, and her movements were so easy, so curved with simple grace, that Emma knew who it was long before she saw her face.
“Aryahi,” she breathed, and then Aryahi was there. Her skin gleamed in the starlight, and her eyes seemed lit with flecks of gold, and Emma knew she was staring, but she couldn't stop. There was something different about the maid, here in the deep stillness of the night, here where she had no right to be; something certain, fluid; something that hummed with urgency and power. 
“Emma,” Aryahi answered, and then she was close, too close, standing so near that their bodies were almost touching. A thread of heat coiled up Emma’s spine. Aryahi reached up, and curved her palm around Emma’s cheek, and for a moment, Emma was certain she was about to be kissed – and then Aryahi smiled, and was gone. 
Emma stood alone in her father’s study, her heart pounding. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

A to Z Challenge: R is for Rule Abider

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

R is for Rule Abider

Yes, I know I'm conjugating that verb in strange and incorrect ways, but I'm calling it artistic license, so bear with me.

Let's go back in time for a moment, all the way back to April 7th - two whole weeks ago! - when this year's A to Z Challenge was in its toddler-hood, and we were all only posting about the letter 'F'. That day, my post was 'F is for Free Spirit', and I talked about the first of my two Uber Characters.

Once again, that's a made-up term, which I define as the umbrella character for every mortal person in each lifetime that a soul has. Since this novel is going to follow two souls from life to life, I thought I needed to decide what defined each soul: the traits, needs, and basic sense of spirit that are innate to the soul, and that would carry through from life to life.

So, the first soul was a Free Spirit - fiercely independent, suspicious of rules and authority of all kinds, and a bit wild, often in unexpected ways. The second soul, of course, is the Rule Abider.

This is Uber Character #2: cautious, controlled, and a lover of stability. This is a conservative person in the  true meaning of the word: not necessarily religiously or politically, but in attitude and outlook. As Google defines it, this is "holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation." In other words, this soul is just as likely to be a dominatrix as it is to be a priest. I know that sounds strange, but it really depends on how you define 'traditional.' Think about it: this soul would be a lover of rules and control - perfect for a dominatrix - who adheres to age-old traditions about that dominant role, and who keeps strict, ironclad boundaries between his/herself and clients.

See what I mean?

Now, of course, we have two diametrically opposed Uber Characters who couldn't be more different - and yet who find, over and over and over again, from lifetime to lifetime, that they are inexplicably and inextricably bound to each other. It's a case of each soul helping the other to grow where it needs it the most. Like yin and yang, or even simple puzzle pieces, they just fit together. The problem, of course, is convincing them of that fact, and that's where conflict, and fun, come in.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A to Z Challenge: Q is for Quiet Life

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

Q is for Quiet Life

Sometimes we first meet the people we love in casual, simple settings - dinner with friends, a blind date, the grocery store - and sometimes they come barreling into our lives like a runaway freight train.

For Taylor, who lives what you might call an absurdly quiet life on a sheep farm in Australia, Nat's arrival on her motorcycle is like that train: just as wild, just as unexpected, and it leaves just as much chaos in its wake.

These two characters, as I've mentioned (too many times, probably), live in Australia in the 1950s or 60s, and it's their story that will carry us through the rest of the novel. The book will begin and end with them, and their story will weave throughout the other lifetimes. At least, that's the way I've planned it for now.

Taylor's life is so quiet that Nat can't help but wonder why, the more she learns about it. Here's a little excerpt about it from one of my brainstorming scenes (and as always, standard disclaimers apply, including the fact that I totally made up the sheep farming bits). And as a side note, on 'N' day, some of you mentioned wanting to see Nat's take on Taylor. Well, that's not really possible (and come back on 'T' day to see why), but today's snippet gives you a small insight into how Nat sees Taylor. :

“There’s not much to tell.” We were in the fields a week or so later; the dogs were running the flock back and forth, so I could watch for any lame ewes.  
Nat smiled. “Come on, I tell you stories all the time. I want to hear one of yours.” 
I shrugged. “It’s a quiet life, living on a farm. Nothing like traveling the country on a motorcycle.” 
“Well, tell me about the quiet life, then.” 
One of the ewes separated from the rest and made a move toward the open gate. I watched as Rafe, dense and black against the white flock, darted forward and nipped her back into line. Good boy. “You’ve seen it. This is it,” I said. 
“I’ve seen a tiny bit of it. That doesn’t count. What about all the rest?” 
“What do you want to know?” 
“I don’t know. Tell me about your family. Tell me about the other girls you bring over when I’m not around.” 
I shook my head. “There aren't any.” 
She laughed. “I don’t believe that for a second. Come on now, spill. I won’t be jealous.” 
“It’s the truth. There aren't any.”
Her eyes were hot on my face, but I kept watching the flock. “Really?” she asked. I didn't respond, just whistled at Rafe, who turned quickly to move the flock to the right. “Come on,” she said. “Not even one? What about that cute waitress at the diner – what’s her name? Susie?” 
I frowned and tried to think of what the waitresses looked like, but came up blank. “What about her?” 
“She was flirting with you, even with me right there.” 
“She was?” I thought back, but I couldn’t even remember what the girl looked like. I’d taken Nat to Brenda’s diner for lunch a few days before, because Nat said she liked diners. We ate eggs and bacon; I watched Nat’s face as she talked. Her hands moving through the air, helping her tell her story. The curve of her breasts under her shirt. Had there been a waitress? 
“Don’t tell me you didn’t notice?” Nat asked. 
I could feel my cheeks starting to burn. “I guess I didn’t.” 
“Lord, Taylor, she was practically drooling on you.” 
“You were paying a lot of attention. Why don’t you go after her, then?” I pushed myself off the fence and waved at the dogs, signaling them to bring the sheep back to pasture. There were a few I wanted to get a closer look at.  
“It wasn't me she wanted.” 
“Well, I don’t remember her.” 
Nat followed me around to the gate and helped me close it. “You really don’t, do you?” Her smile was light but her eyes were serious. 
“No, I don’t.” 
She was quiet for a minute as we walked across the field. “Men, then?”  
“No.” 
“I won’t be upset if the answer is yes. Either one is fine by me. Both, too.” 
I shook my head. “I don’t bring anyone here.” 
“No one? Ever?” 
“I told you it’s a quiet life.” I whistled the dogs off the flock, and patted their heads as they swarmed around us, tails feathered and waving.  
“That’s not quiet. It’s saintly.” 
“It’s just the way I live.” I watched the sheep settle in and start to graze. They were still a bit flighty, after the exercise, and I wanted to wait on walking through them until they were calmer. 
“Taylor…” Her tone was so serious that I looked up. She was frowning, the tiny lines around her eyes more pronounced. “Am I – I’m not your first?” 
I looked back at the sheep. “No.” 
“There’s no shame in it. Some people wait a really long time before – ” 
“You’re not my first.”

Friday, April 18, 2014

A to Z Challenge: P is for Polyandry

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

P is for Polyandry 

Confession time: I wrote today's post well before yesterday's, which is why this seems a little anticlimactic. View it then as more of an explanation than anything else...

Yesterday, I mentioned that Choden is engaged to Tashi and his two older brothers - yes, all three of them! This isn't a form of feminist matriarchal society, though; it's an adaptation to life in a place with limited fertile land, designed to prevent family land and wealth from being split between multiple sons, and it's called polyandry.

Yes, I did post about this once a while ago, but this post is different, I promise. Plus, it might perhaps be said that I was groping blindly for a topic for the letter 'P'. It's possible.

So, anyway, for all you newcomers, what is polyandry? I'm so glad you asked! As Wikipedia says, it's "a form of polygamy whereby a woman takes two or more husbands at the same time." And it just so happens that Tibet, which is where one of the lifetimes in my WIP takes place, is one of the very few areas in the world where it was widely practiced.

And that means that I get to write about what might happen when a woman is betrothed to three brothers, one of whom she's been secretly in love with since she was a young girl. Thank you, research!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

A to Z Challenge: O is for Outcast

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

O is for Outcast

I know I must be confusing everyone by jumping around through various time periods, mythological figures, characters, and Uber Characters, but that's what happens when you try to write a book about two souls in six different lifetimes. I don't blame you if you're a bit confused; I have to constantly check my own darn outline to remind myself of what I'm doing!

So, just to recap before we move on: so far during this A to Z Challenge I've talked about the lifetime in Ancient Greece, where the souls are Apollo and Damon; the lifetime in modern Australia, where they become Nat and Taylor; and the lifetime in India (probably), where the souls are Emma (most likely), and an incarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga.

With me so far? GREAT. Now I'm going to talk about the lifetime in Tibet circa 600 CE, where our two souls are living as Tashi and Choden - and Tashi is learning why he wants to be an outcast, and Choden is, unfortunately, learning what it means to fall in love with an outcast. They're both members of farming families, living in separate but neighboring villages; Tashi is independent, creative, and rebellious to the point of absurdity (what we might today call contrary purely for the sake of being contrary), and Choden is...well, since I have yet to reveal the other Uber Character (letter R, folks), let's just call her a little more traditional.

The basic premise is this: Tashi and Choden meet, by chance, as children, and their relationship develops slowly and naturally over years as they grow up, and eventually fall in love. Normally it might be hard for kids from different villages to spend time together, but I've mentioned that Tashi is a bit rebellious; it's no problem having a secret friendship when you like breaking rules. When they reach adulthood, they find out that this entire time they've actually been betrothed to each other, arranged by their parents since they were very young, of course.

Happiness, right? Lucky chance? Not so fast.  There are two twists: first, Tashi has sworn that he'll never marry the woman his parents want him to (contrary, remember?); and second, Choden is betrothed to Tashi...and his two older brothers. Yes, that's polyandry, my friends. Check back in on letter P for that one.

If Tashi refuses to marry Choden with his brothers, he'll be rejecting the woman he secretly loves, and dividing the family - there's an actual word for this in Tibet, which translates roughly as 'fission', and it's a very bad thing. He'll lose all right to his family's land and money, and be forced to strike out on his own, as an outcast...and he'll lose Choden before he ever even got her. What does he choose? Well, I did just write a post about heartbreak last week...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A to Z Challenge: N is for Natalie

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).


N is for Natalie

I teased you about this for far too long - but in my defense, it was t the alphabet's fault! 'B' and 'N' are just too damn far apart.

It's finally time to talk about Natalie, or Nat, as everyone calls her. A little refresher: Nat appears in the lifetime in 1960's Australia, and she spends her days driving around the country on her motorcycle. Yes, she does have the requisite leather jacket, attitude, and some seriously awesome - if also rather worn out and ratty - boots.

Nat is a true vagabond: she's in her 30's when we meet her, and since she was about 17 years old, she's spent her life on the road. When she runs out of money, she stops somewhere and picks up some work, but as soon as she has enough saved up, she's back on her bike again.

This is how she met Taylor, the other soul and of course love interest: she was near the sheep farm when her money ran out, and was lucky enough that it was shearing time, and that Taylor needed the help badly enough to not care that she had no experience. Taylor hired her on the spot, and the rest - well, the rest is the whole story. And yes, to find out more about Taylor, you are going to have to wait until 'T' day. Darn that alphabet...

If you haven't guessed by now, Nat is of course the Free Spirit soul. She loves the freedom of the road; it's the only place she's ever really felt at home. Late in the story, Taylor accuses her of running away, and it's true, she does run - but she has far too much haunting her in her past to stay too long in one place. If there's one thing Nat's learned, it's that no one can catch you if you just keep moving.

In fact, before she met Taylor, she never returned to the same place more than once. But now, no matter how many times she leaves, she keeps finding herself back at Taylor's farm, over and over and over again. If she's not careful, she might find that the road suddenly isn't enough for her anymore...

I'll let Taylor give you a little description of Nat. This is from the day they first meet, when Nat shows up on the farm, and Taylor is desperate for help (and all sheep farming stuff is utterly made up for now, so please forgive the blatant inaccuracies):
I was in the barn, trying to figure out how in bloody hell I was going to shear the sheep with no help, and I’ll say it now: I shouldn't have been around the sheep. Animals can tell when you’re off; they smell it and sense it on you, like oil or smoke. It’s one of the first rules of the farm and I’d known it since I was a kid, and I was busy breaking it anyway. 
At any rate, I was wrestling with a sheep when she appeared in the barn door. I wish I’d been doing something else, something stronger and calmer, but I wasn't; I had my arms wrapped around a crabby old ewe, trying to push her into the stall I’d rigged up, and she was crying out at the top of her voice and telling the whole bloody flock to run for the hills. 
“Need a hand?”
I glanced at the door and saw a person, a real live able-bodied person, and nodded. I didn't have breath left for talking. The girl came over and helped me corral the stubborn ewe into the stall; I caught a glimpse of long hair and fair skin, and an old leather jacket, and that was about all I had time for. The ewe was bucking and kicking, panicking, and I knew she’d hurt herself if I didn't let her out soon. I got her sheared as fast as I could. She was so wild she barely felt it; she kept crying out, poor thing, and as soon as I was done I kicked open the stall door and let her go. She ran for the far wall, near the water, and stood there glaring at me. 
I turned away. She’d forgive me soon enough; more likely she’d forget before she could, and would let me handle her with the same irritated patience she always had. I let the ewe be, and took a good look at my helper.
She was older than I’d first thought; there was a leanness to her freckled cheeks, and a few fine lines around her eyes, that told me she was well out of her teens and through her twenties, and stepping into her thirties. She was shorter than me, and slighter, dressed in a black motorcycle jacket and jeans so old and worn that they looked like they’d been painted on her body. Not because they were tight, but because they’d stopped trying to have their own shape, and conformed to hers instead. 
“Thanks,” I said.
“Sure.” She smiled, a flash of white teeth and brown eyes, and for the first time, but definitely not the last, I felt like I'd been blinded. Like the sun flashing off of metal, bright and too hot, when you're not expecting it. “I’m Nat, short for Natalie,” she said. She held out her hand. Her skin was soft and her hand was small in mine.
I’m not the kind of person to make bold statements. I like to keep things simple and straightforward, and I stay away from pretty language. So now I don’t know how to say what happened. I looked in her eyes, and...something happened. Something quick and bruising, like a high wind blowing or the sharp kick of a ewe’s hoof. 
“I’m Taylor,” I said. I dropped her hand like a hot stone.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A to Z Challenge: M is for Magic

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

M is for Magic

Nope, not the kind you get in fantasy novels, full of sorcerers and spells and potions; and not even really the kind you find in romance novels, where one look from that person's eyes makes your stomach flutter (although, to be fair, there is certainly some of that kind in the book); but instead the kind that comes and goes without rhyme or reason, in our very own world, here on planet Earth.

I'm talking about magical realism, which is the genre I'm attempting right now in my WIP. It can be hard not to slip into the fantasy sort of magic, but it can also be fun. This is the kind of magic I get to just use whenever I want, however I want, and I don't need to explain a damn thing about how it works, or why, or who can use it, or how. In fact, I'm not supposed to explain it. How often do writers get to say something like that?

I'm still working on how to use it in the text, but I've got a little brainstorming snippet ready for you, to show you what I mean. This is from the modern Australian lifetime, and it's Taylor's POV, referencing another time that Nat came roaring in on her motorcycle, unannounced (standard disclaimers about quality, as always):
All I had to tell me either way was another one of her notes, short and light as always, saying, “See you soon.” 
Well, “soon” was “a lot later”, but she did come back, one bitter cold afternoon. It was one of those winter days when the air freezes and the wind is sharp as a knife, and any part of your body that’s exposed to it ends up turning straight to ice. I didn't believe it until I saw it for myself, and then I never forgot. It was before James was born, so I was about five years old. The cold came on so sudden and unexpected that we didn't have time to get all the sheep inside, and we had to stand at the window and watch while five of our ewes hardened into ice right there in front of us, their bodies slowly turning to sheer crystal. We could see the fence they were standing by right through their translucent bellies. When the cold snap broke a day later, all that was left of them was five sets of hooves sitting in little puddles of water. We saved the hooves, and let the rest of the melted sheep sink into the earth. 
The day Nat came back was one of those days. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

A to Z Challenge: L is for Love

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).


L is for Love

Note: The excerpt here is definitely PG-13. Nothing explicit, but quite a lot suggested. Not appropriate for younger audiences! 

There are so many different kinds of love: even romantic love takes so many forms. Infatuation (as some of you recognized from that snippet I posted); obsessive love; young love; falling out of love; mature, generous love. My WIP is going to move through some of these different kinds, from Apollo's dramatic crushes in the Ancient Greek lifetime to, eventually, a truer, deeper, braver love between Nat and Taylor in the modern Australian lifetime.

That deeper love takes quite a lot of time and effort to get to, though, and there are a lot of bumps in the road along the way. Many times both of them are sure they'll never make it; in fact, they're shocked when they realize they even want to make it. Both Nat and Taylor have scars and baggage in their histories, and neither of them trusts easily.

Remember, Nat is a wanderer; she spends most of her time on the road on her motorcycle, and her affair with Taylor evolves during many visits over a long period of time. The format is always the same: she shows up at Taylor's farm without warning, stays for a while, and leaves again, without warning, over and over. Here's a snippet about one of her visits, told from Taylor's POV. In many ways, it's about the strange things we do and say when we love but are afraid, especially as our pasts get in the way. I know, it's ridiculously out of context and too long. Oh well...what are snippets for?? As always, I make no foolish promises about quality, and all standard disclaimers apply:
I was fixing fences the next time Nat showed up, months later. She rolled into the yard early one morning in a racket of rattling metal and whining gears, and took the bike right into the barn without saying a word. I heard the clatter but I was fields away, patching a rotting fence, and by the time I made it back she already had parts scattered across the floor. 
I leaned against the door and watched her work. “What’s broken this time?”
She flashed me a smile, and as always it was like squinting into the sun. “Everything,” she answered. “Of course. Stupid bloody thing.” She gave the chrome frame an affectionate pat, and then went back to work. Nothing else.
So I went back out into the fields and hammered planks into the fence with so much force that I splintered the wood, and had to go back to the shed and cut myself some new pieces, so that the whole thing took three times as long as it should have. By the time I’d finished putting away my tools, and was washing up for supper, I knew what I had to say, down to the last word. It didn't involve her staying. 
I went inside the house. “Nat?” I called, “I need to talk to you.” The whole house, though, was filled with the smell of herbs and the sizzle of fat; I walked into the kitchen to find Nat pulling a well-browned roast out of the oven. 
She blew her hair out of her eyes and gave me another brilliant smile, and said, “Perfect timing. Come and sit.”
I followed her into the dining room. There was salad and mashed potatoes and this still-sizzling roast, and glasses filled with red wine, and two places set. “I got the meat out of your freezer; I hope you don’t mind?” she asked, settling the steaming platter onto the table. “I wasn't sure if I’d have time to thaw and cook it before supper, but I managed.” 
I shook my head, and picked up a wine glass. “Ah,” she said, her eyes laughing at me, “That I brought with me. I know you don’t drink during the week but I thought I might convince you to make an exception.”
“What’s the occasion?” I asked.
“No occasion,” she said, sitting down at the table and spreading a napkin over her lap, and avoiding my eyes, “I just wanted some wine. Are you going to sit down or what?”
I did sit, and even though I knew better, I drank the wine, which was rich and strong and full of smoke, and set my head spinning. 
Nat started spooning food onto my plate. “What did you want to talk to me about?” she asked, dropping a mound of potatoes next to the giant slice of mutton in front of me. 
I watched her fill her own plate; it was the first chance I had to get a good look at her. She was thinner, too thin, her cheekbones standing out in her face, and there were heavy shadows under her eyes. “Oh. Nothing important,” I said. 
She looked up and caught me staring, and then looked back down at her plate, and she didn't ask me again. Instead, she started eating in silence, so I followed suit. I was about five bites in when she dropped her fork and gave me a look so bright I could feel the heat of it across the table, and then she grabbed my chin and kissed me. Before I knew what was happening, she was in my lap, unbuttoning my shirt. We did eat, later, but we had to reheat the food. I didn't get a chance to tell her how good it all tasted until the next day.   
The rest of those three days were just the same. She would disappear into the barn for hours at a time and couldn't spare me two words strung together, no matter what I said or asked, and then she’d come up behind me in the field, or suddenly get up from working on the bike, and have her hands inside my clothes so fast I didn't have time to blink. One time, just before supper on the third night, she came up behind me while I was washing my hands at the outdoor sink, and shoved her hand down my pants. I jumped about five feet in the air and grabbed her wrist, and turned around to face her, expecting to see her laughing, but her face was so intent and so full of naked desire that I ended up making love to her right there, where anyone driving by might have seen us. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A to Z Challenge: K is for Kiss

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

K is for Kiss

As my fellow blogger Leandra Wallace once wisely noted, kisses are one of the most common acts you'll find in a love story - and yet they're one of the hardest things to write. This seems counter-intuitive - what's so hard about describing two people pressing their lips together? - but as soon as you think about it, you realize that it's true.

The first problem is that you can only say, "they kissed," or ""she kissed me," or even "he pressed his lips to hers" so many times before you start to feel like a broken record (am I dating myself by using that metaphor??) It gets hard to be creative after a while, and there's always a danger of getting, well, weird when trying to creatively describe two people touching their body parts to each other (and that previous sentence is a great example of that creepiness. *shudders*)

The second problem, though, and the bigger one for this WIP, is that you also need to infuse each kiss with meaning, especially that all-important first kiss... And I have six lifetimes going, with six or more different love affairs, which means at least four first kisses, and boy is it going to be challenging to make them all sound, not to mention be, as important, and as different, as they need to be.

So I'm practicing writing kisses these days. I'll spare you and won't post any examples, but let's just say most of them are fairly awful. It also occurs to me that writing is a really, really weird job sometimes...

Friday, April 11, 2014

A to Z Challenge: J is for Jealousy

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

J is for Jealousy

Ah yes, jealousy: that green-eyed monster. What kind of love story would I be telling if jealousy didn't factor in at all?

A pretty dull one, I think.

After all, jealousy is one of those strange, precious literary gems: a vicious, corrosive emotion we hate to feel in our own lives, but one that we love to read about our characters struggling with. Because it's human, and so very real, and highly incendiary when tossed on a pile of blazing love-denied/love-forbidden/love-rejected plot embers.

I haven't worked out all of the details yet - or, ok, fine, most of the details; this is a work in progress, after all - but I already know that jealousy is going to be the death (perhaps literally, at least as far as the participants are concerned) of one love affair, and the reason another one never happens at all - and therefore a reason for the characters to suffer from yet another corrosive literary gem: regret.

Creepy, isn't it? Thanks to http://cher-homespun.blogspot.com/2011/10/firewater-friday-jealousy-is-all-fun.html for the image...

I love that image: it's just as tangled and fierce and even diseased as jealousy often feels. I might have to keep it on my desktop as I write...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A to Z Challenge: I is for India

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

I is for India

...well, maybe. Yes, I'm doing that again. But that 'maybe' is looking more and more like a 'yes', because the basic plot I'm working out for this lifetime, if it is in India around 1890 (although I may change the year), is looking like more and more fun. So E very likely is going to be for Emma, and I really might be going to India. Metaphorically speaking only, unfortunately. I really need to find that rich, generous patron one of these days...

Anyway, my concerns about researching and accurately writing about India - and Indian people - during the British Colonial Era haven't gone away, but the plot is getting...well...too delicious to ignore. Yes, Ava, you were totally right - the whole situation is rife with conflict. Emma, I think, will be engaged to a proper British gent, chosen for her by her beloved dad, and although she's not in love with this fiance, she's happy to be a dutiful daughter, and he seems like a nice enough bloke, and everyone keeps telling her she'll fall in love with him over time, and so on and so forth.

Yes, it's the perfect engagement, and the wedding plans are so lovely and everyone is so happy, and then along into Emma's house comes this strange, compelling, mysterious Indian servant-woman, who doesn't act like a servant at all, is far too beautiful, and who seems much more interested in Emma's father's military plans than she does in cleaning the house.

And poof, now we have all the makings for a truly complicated forbidden love story, between two people who absolutely should not and cannot and must not fall in love - for every conceivable reason you can think of, and then some - and yet who find themselves inexplicably and inexorably drawn to each other, almost as if they'd known and loved each other in a previous life, or even lives...

Now come on, how fun is that?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A to Z Challenge: H is for Heartbreak

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

H is for Heartbreak

Ah, heartbreak: that terribly awfully perfect piece of a love story. Most of us love happy endings, but if we're honest, we also love to see some heartbreak before our heroes and heroines get what they want. After all, happiness is all the more precious when it's hard-won, and to set aside humor for a moment, we all know what it's like to suffer, and feel like we won't survive it. It's part of being human, that awful grief - as is the rush of light when we come out on the other side, and find that somehow, miraculously, we're still alive. But I already wrote about that in Cloudland.

In this novel, I get the delicious fun of adding heartbreak into six different stories, and of subjecting my two souls to a variety of different forms of heartbreak. I mentioned this at length in an earlier post, but I'm planning on using quite a few of the love story plots at my disposal.

So I'll have heartbreak because someone isn't loved; heartbreak because someone is and the love isn't reciprocated; heartbreak because love is forbidden; heartbreak at being rejected, not once, not twice, but three times, by the same person; heartbreak at once-perfect love being destroyed; and quite a bit more.

I'm not just being sadistic, here, although that is fun. I'm trying to build a story arc through six different lifetimes - which means, really, that things can't work out perfectly until the last story. What a pity, right? ;)


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A to Z Challenge: G is for Gods

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

G is for Gods

I'm going to tell a very, very brief story (no, really, all evidence to the contrary, I promise it'll be short): Once upon a time, I set out to write a magical realism novel, and instead, I wrote Cloudland. Which has some magic in it, yes, but really isn't magical realism at all.

See? SUPER short story. I'm getting better at this brevity thing. Anyway, when I started my current WIP, I thought, "OK, this time I'm really doing magical realism." And as soon as I thought that, I decided that meant that I could have gods as characters. Readers of this blog won't be too surprised by that; I already mentioned both god characters I'll have in previous A to Z posts.

Why? Well, the better question is, why the heck not? This is magical realism: I get to play with reality! I get to have these incredibly powerful beings waltz around Earth, wreaking havoc, breaking hearts, and generally acting like normal human beings who just happen to also be (almost) omnipotent and (nearly) immortal. Oh yes, and incredibly gorgeous.

Now what isn't fun about that?! The only small issue was that I wanted to have each soul reincarnate as a god in one lifetime...which meant that the gods also had to die. Hence the parenthetical modifiers in the previous paragraph. This bothered me for a little while, until I remembered that I'm the writer, and I get to make up the rules. So, in my world, gods can die. It's not easy to kill them, and they won't ever age or die of a disease, but they can (and will) die.

I really love being the writer sometimes...

Monday, April 7, 2014

A to Z Challenge: F is for Free Spirit

This year, I'm participating in the insane awesome A to Z blogging challenge, which entails posting EVERY SINGLE DAY during the month of April, except for Sundays. Each day's theme corresponds to a different day of the alphabet: 26 days, 26 posts. I'll be blogging each day this month on some aspect of my current work in progress (WIP).

F is for Free Spirit

No, I'm not selling jeans (more's the pity, too. I always wanted to be cool enough to be in the fashion industry); I'm creating Uber Characters.

Don't look that up; I coined the term. At least, I think I did, just now, as I was writing this. You see, as I've mentioned (yes, I know, ad nauseam, but there are NEW visitors here thanks to A to Z!) my WIP involves following two souls through six or more lifetimes. While that means that each soul will have a new name, history, appearance, and even personality in each lifetime - i.e. the normal characters I need to create - there also needs to be some core identity, some essential piece of each soul that is the same in every life. My hope is that the reader will be able to say, "Oh, I bet this girl is the Damon character from that Greek story," or something like that, anyway. To put it simply, each soul should is some important way be recognizable as itself.

This of course leads to some very metaphysical questions - "What is the essential piece of a soul?" being just one of the many totally unanswerable ones - so I decided to deal with this the best way I knew how: by making each soul a sort of umbrella character for every mortal person in every lifetime it has. You know, as in an Uber Character. One of the first things I did when I started working on this novel was to create character analyses for both souls, complete with detailed psychological profiles.

So this is Uber Character #1: fiercely independent, suspicious of rules and authority of all kinds, and a bit wild - although that wildness can take some very different, and unexpected, forms.

This is the soul I call the Free Spirit. What is the other soul, Uber Character #2? Well, it'll appear somewhere during the A to Z Challenge...but I'm not telling which letter, because it's way more fun that way. Any guesses?