Tishta the Crystal Orb: Finished Part Three!

Well, I did it. I made it through the last chapter of Part Three: Travels and Battles, Chapter 20: Strong Magics. I’ll have to see if there might be one or two more scenes to add here, or if they fit better into the flow of the next chapter. I’m really excited to be moving forward.

I added three entirely new chapters to this section, plus many new scenes in the existing chapters. It was good to flesh out some of my secondary characters, especially Gillan, and to a lesser degree, Toran and Gentu. I also made Criften more interactive with his people, as well as having him communicate with Maglin and Eido, sometimes sharing his fears and concerns that he doesn’t share with his warriors.

I like the way my characters have evolved from the first draft. They feel more real to me now. The children received a lot more attention from the adults and also from each other. The first death among the group happens near the end of part three, and I gave the adults a chance to express their grief. I think, early in the next chapter, all of the children will get a change to talk some more about what happened and deal with their own grief. Coltan will also be dealing with the loss of his lover, and I need to include how he copes with losing his sexual outlet, as well.

In part three, I found numerous ways to include backstory and exposition about things like how magic works in this world, what it means to be a wizard or a witch, why my main antagonist hesitates to strike out at my wizard, and how people don’t always get along or even like each other. One of the complaints my editor, Anne, had about the first draft was everyone got along to well all the time. I hope I have been able to make their relationships a little more real.

In the last two chapters, especially, I showed how an angry Gillan copes with her grief while trying to maintain her position as leader of the warrior. It’s a lot of pressure and she deals with it by keeping things inside until she starts snapping at people, especially Coltan. I put a lot of myself into this. I remember doing similar things while I was dealing with the terminal illness and death of my husband. I hope some of it comes through as authentic for readers.

I also have my vampire dealing with his anger at his master, Criften, when he’s losing his lover. The question I’m trying to elicit is, how much free will does Coltan actually have? I have exposed more about this in other writings, both back story and things in the next book, but I thought it was important to include some of that in this book.

I’ve got lots of new ideas for things that need to be included while the group visits the castle, so that should be fun, but that doesn’t come for at least another chapter. Currently, there is only one chapter before they arrive there, but I think that might turn into two by the time I add details about what happens to Gentu, Toran and Gillan as they travel away from the group to take Gentu to Maglin (and my new character Inla—I’m still deciding how much she can be trusted, and that’s what Maglin will have to discover).

I hope I can get through the next part a little faster than this one, but I think there is quite a bit of content to add. I’ll know more soon. I had planned to be done with part three by the end of last year, so I’m three weeks late getting started on part four. I adjusted my expectations to be finished with the edit by the end of March.

Copyright ©2014-17 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.

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RustyCon34 or What I Did On My Weekend

In January, each year, Seattle has a little SciFi and Fantasy convention, RustyCon. This year—its 34th—it was held January 13 – 15, 2017. The theme was “A Gathering of Guilds.” Hundreds of people gathered over the three days to express their love of science fiction and fantasy through events like games, costuming, an art show, writer’s panels and readings by authors from their latest works.

Special guests included Robin Hobb, a fantasy novelist known for Assassin’s Apprentice, Michaela Eaves, an artist and author, and Bill Doran, a professional prop maker. After having the chance to hear Hobb read from her new book, I had the good fortune to spend ten minutes alone with her, during which she validated my writer’s voice. I expressed my concern that the fantasy writer’s voice had changed in the years since I was a heavy reader of the genre–many new books I’ve read or heard part of have a very different feel from what I remember. My voice is similar to Hobb’s—she called it the fairy tale voice—”once upon a time…” No experience can compare with a novice listening to a master of her trade.

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Robin Hobb reading from ‘Fool’s Assassin’

I wandered through the game room, the art show and the marketplace, where I learned all about armor. I talked to an artist who draws anime and he shared some tools of the trade with me, like a flip book app on his Nintendo device for making animations.

Mainly, I went for the writer’s panels, of which there were plenty. If I had chosen to, I could have filled every hour of the conference with a different panel, usually being forced to choose between several. As it was, I went to thirteen over the two days I was in attendance. They covered diverse topics such as online publishing; world creation; writing characters—women, villains, powerful protagonists and antagonists; and sex—keeping it real, how far to go, relationships outside what might be considered ‘normal.’

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Robin Hobb, G R Theron, Tom D Wright and Shannon Dilley on the Creating Your World panel

Because the convention is so small, the panels were intimate gatherings of three to four panelists and a small audience ranging in size from ten down to one, me. In the smaller ones, it became just conversations among writers. I saw the same panelists on many of the panels, so got to know a few of them over the course of the two days. It was enjoyable.

One person I had met before was Elizabeth Guizzetti. She was one of the guest readers at a monthly writer’s group I frequent, Two Hour Transport, which meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month at Cafe Racer in the University District of Seattle. They have an open mic followed by two invited guest readers. The genres are SciFi and Fantasy. I love to read from my book at the open mic–five minutes in front of a live audience. The guest readers are icing. It’s so much fun to have people like Guizzetti come to share with us, and to hear their works with their own voices. She read from her indie-book, “The Grove.”

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Elizabeth Guizzetti, John Lovett, Sienna Saint-Cyr and Rebecca Birch on the Bechdel Test panel

Guizzetti was on four of the panels I attended. Other frequent panelists I saw were Rebecca Birch, John Lovett, Timothy Trimble, Anthea Sharp, Tod McCoy, Tom D Wright, G.R. (Grant Ryddell) Theron, Sienna Saint-Cyr, Manny Frishberg and Richard Gilmore. They all had different things to add that enriched the discussions.

I’m so glad I got to meet and get to know all these storytellers. A number of them talked about going to NorWesCon (April 13 – 16 in SeaTac, WA). I hope to meet some of them again when I attend it and other local conventions.

Thanks to the dedicated organizers of RustyCon. I know it was a huge amount of work to put this together and run make a success.

Copyright ©2014-17 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.

Tishta the Crystal Orb: Only One Chapter to Go in Part Three (Reprise)

Well, as things always seem to go, I didn’t realize how much grieving would happen, once I let my characters go there. I thought I had only one chapter left in Part 3: Travels and Battles, but, over the last two weeks, I wrote a whole new chapter, and I still have that final one left to get through. It was good, though.

I discovered some things I didn’t know about a lot of my people—how they process grief and guilt; how compassionate they can be. They will continue to work through their emotions in the next chapters. I have a lot more to go on, now.

Chapter twenty—I called it “Sorrow”—let me dive, especially, into Gillan’s head. She is the one going through the greatest agony and, also, the most guilt. Like a lot of us when we experience the loss of someone close to us, her initial emotion is anger—and she takes it out on Coltan. Maybe she recognized he is the one person in the group who would understand. I have some ideas about how these two will resolve some of this.

I have found that the deepest feelings come out of my characters at night, which seems right to me. They talk when they’re on watch—it’s really the only private time they get with another individual. I think that’s why so much of my dialog happens then—I’ll have to get more feedback on whether there is too much, but it’s such a great way for me to get into the characters’s heads and to show how they come to trust each other, and it also provides a nice vehicle for exposition. The other private places are inside the wagon or next to the campfire when everyone else is sleeping, neither of which ensure that no one else is listening.

This chapter takes place over the course of one night. Coltan is on watch. It’s one of Gillan’s orders to him, to stand every watch—and it makes a lot of sense—they are now short on people, and he can sleep during the day—so he doesn’t argue. Because of this, Coltan ends up talking a little to each of the other adults. It’s the first night after the death, and everyone shares something with him—even Criften, who is the only one to ask him how he’s doing (and who also has Eido to confide in). Coltan shares very little, but Criften reads him pretty well. They’ve known each other a long time.

The adults are so absorbed in their own grief, that the children are pretty much ignored, except when they are comforting the adults. There is a short scene where they the children among themselves. Brant is the only one who expresses, out loud, what he is feeling, although Mar lets a tear fall before setting them all back on task. Coltan will engage with Mar in the next chapter, as the two of them become more firmly bonded. I think Brant will have to wait until he finds time with Gillan, and this will be good for both of them. Toran will get the opportunity to talk to Gillan early in the next chapter, but Brant will need to wait until much later in the chapter.

Kano moves from person to person, touching them and using his power to calm people, but doesn’t share anything about what he’s holding inside, until he goes to Gillan—in the middle of the night, sitting next to the fire with everyone else asleep—and even then, he shows emotion but doesn’t really say what he feels. I think he needs to, and soon. It will likely be Coltan or Criften who draws something out of him, but might be better if it is Malcan. Lots of food for thought with this little guy.

I’m looking forward to the opportunities I’ll have to delve some more into the characters and to expand and enrich their relationships with each other. And, I’ll be happy to finish the next chapter—and Part 3.

Copyright ©2014-17 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.