WIPjoy #13

From your antagonist: what’s your deepest regret?

Hmm. Let me ask Richard, since he’s the most antagonistic of the characters in Faebourne.

Richard: I would not say I regret anything. Perhaps . . . Perhaps I am a little bit sorry I never gave Edward and Adelia more opportunity to venture out in the world. But I was only keeping my promise to our mother and following in the footsteps of our father. If it was good enough for our parents, then surely it is good enough for us.

WIPjoy #12

Yes, yes, I’m still slowly making my way through this list.

Share a line from the MC about food.

Duncan doesn’t talk about food (at least not so far), but he does think about it.

And then as though from thin air a footman appeared at Duncan’s elbow to set a heaping plate before him. Toast with jam, eggs and ham crowded the china.

“I hope it is to your liking,” Adelia said.

“It looks and smells delicious,” Duncan told her as he waited for the others to be served. A second footman came around with tea for the gentlemen, though he brought hot chocolate for Adelia.

Well, I guess he says something.

Years ago, when I was in high school, I used to write a kind of ongoing soap opera that got passed around before the notebook would be returned to me so I could write the next chapter. And I’ll always remember that one of my classmates said, “You never write about what they eat.” Now I worry I’ve since overcompensated by writing too much about food! I know in Manifesting Destiny I write about it a lot. But I’ve yet to hear anyone complain. (Please don’t start now!)

Lessons by the Foot

Someone mentioned the other day that I was taking the whole broken foot thing rather well. I had to stop and think that over. And I guess I feel very fortunate, really. I’m lucky in that I have good health care, for example. I’ve been through times when I didn’t, so I can certainly appreciate it now.

In fact, I appreciate everything in life, or try to. I’ve come a long way, and as a child I don’t think I could have imagined living the way I do now. Oh, sure, I imagined things like being a famous magazine editor in NYC, but let’s be real. A lot of people don’t move very far from where they start in life. I mean that in distance but also economy, experience. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have opportunities to extend myself. I’ve traveled, I’ve lived a lot of different places.

And this isn’t to say I was raised in a ghetto and had a tough childhood and somehow clawed my way out. I had an amazing childhood, filled with love and friendship and steady upward mobility. Which is exactly why I can appreciate what I have now. Because I’ve been through this sort of spectrum of life. I try not to take any of what I have for granted because I know what it’s like not to have as much.

To be clear: I always had enough. I always had the important things. Well, except maybe that health insurance…

So what’s a broken foot in the big scheme of things? An inconvenience? A funny story, which for a writer is always valuable. And a reminder of all I have to be thankful for.

Help! Which Organizations Should I Join?

Writing is a solitary endeavor a lot of the time, which is why I find it important to have a critique group and attend conferences—basically, to be around other writers. We need that support, and honestly, I also enjoy giving that encouragement to others.

This isn’t some recent thing. Writers have been gathering for centuries. If not to network and workshop, then at least to drink and grouse about writer’s block.

But besides these forms of connecting, I’m thinking now of joining a professional organization. I’ve heard more than once that it’s a good idea. I’m just not sure which to join. Authors Guild? RWA? (Now that I’ve written one Regency romance and am working on another?) Or, since I also write YA, should I look at SCBWI? Maybe there’s an indie author organization I don’t know about? Should I join more than one? All? None?

I feel really overwhelmed by this, which has kept me from making a move in any direction. I’m sure there are pros to all these organizations, but as someone who writes in many genres it’s tough for me to figure out where to put my weight. And I can’t afford to toss money in every direction. So at most I’d really only consider one or two.

For a couple years I was a member of the Dramatists Guild. When I quit writing as many plays, I allowed that to lapse. Ideally I’ll next join a group where that won’t become an issue. Which is why I’m looking at the broad umbrella of the Authors Guild. I’ll always be writing, but I’m never sure what genre(s). What if I join RWA and then quit writing romances? Sure, right now I can’t imagine that happening, but . . .

I’ll also always be mostly an indie author. So again, maybe I should find a good organization for that.

Anyway, if you have any thoughts or experiences with professional writing organizations, I’d love to hear about them! Tell me about it in the comments.

Foot Saga

So last December, I injured my right foot. It’s a stupid story; basically, I was coming in from taking out the trash, and I moved to block the cat from trying to get out the door, slipped on the threshold, and hurt my foot. It was evening, we propped my leg up and iced my foot, but in the morning it hurt and was swollen, so (it being a Sunday) we went to Urgent Care. They x-rayed me, said it wasn’t broken or anything, and sent me home with crutches and an ACE bandage.

That week, I went to my doctor and she said to stay off it for a couple weeks and see her again if pain persisted. Well, my foot got better. Or so I thought. But every now and then I’d get a twinge, or I’d have a bad day and find myself limping again. So when I went for my annual physical a couple weeks ago, I mentioned it to her. She referred me to a podiatrist, and today I had that appointment.

Turns out my foot is broken.

And probably has been since December. Or at the very least it was fractured then and has since broken completely due to me, you know, using my foot for stuff like walking.

Urgent Care apparently did not see this fracture or break in the x-rays. Maybe because of swelling, or just the way they took the x-rays (with my lying down rather than having me stand). But boy howdy, when I looked at the x-rays they took today, even my untrained eye was like, “That’s not right.”

The podiatrist wasn’t sure how I’ve been walking all this time. But now I’m in a boot that goes almost to my knee because we not only need to hold the foot immobile but the tendon that runs down the inside. They’re setting up things like MRIs and bone stems. I’ve had plenty of MRIs in my day, but I have no idea what a bone stem is, and I’m kinda scared to look it up. It sounds like it hurts.

In the meantime, I’m not supposed to drive (har) and minimal walking (double har).

“You must really push through the pain,” the doctor said.

“Well,” I said, “I do come from a military family.”

No cute sandals for me this summer. *sob*

ETA: I’ve just learned it’s bone “stim” as in “stimulation.” It’s designed to increase blood flow to my foot in order to help it heal more quickly.

World Building

My oldest son has taken to writing, and he’s been quizzing me on world building. Most of what I learned about the process came from the late, great Dr. Douglass Parker. I feel so fortunate to have been mentored by him.

Anyway, taking a page from my parageography studies, I had told my son to first make a map and, if so inclined, a language. Then write some texts in that language. I think doing so—writing texts for the world your building, that is—requires you to have or create a sense of said world. When I was creating AElit with Dr. Parker, I wrote a book of proverbs in AElitian, as well as some play fragments, prayers, and the first couple chapters of their holy book. The AElitians, as it turned out, were very religious.

My son asked, “After you’ve drawn a map and made a language, what do you do?” Um . . . World building is no light thing. You basically have to create an existence as full as our reality. So I gave my son some things to consider:

  • What is the political structure of this world? Who runs things and by what authority? Are there elected officials? Is there a king? A noble class? Some combination of these things?
  • What are the natural resources? Is this a farming/pastoral society? If so, what’s the system for land ownership? Is there mining? If so, for what? Which leads me to
  • How does currency work? Is this a bartering society? Is power defined by wealth? Say there is a mining culture and various colored gemstones—are the different colors worth different amounts? How rare are any of them?
  • Are these people religious? If so, how religious? Do the priests hold power? Do they actually run the world? What is the belief system?
  • If there’s magic, how does it work? Is it learned or inherited? Is it considered good or evil? Do they burn witches, exile them, revere them? Is there a correlation between power and magic, religion and magic?
  • Basic things: animals, plants, modes of transportation. Clothes—where do they come from, how are they made? How technologically advanced is this world? Do they have, say, watches? A calendar? Two suns? Do they read? Do they have art? What do they eat? What is an average day for an inhabitant of this world—do this for each class, or at the very least each main character. After all, a story starts when someone’s average day is disrupted. So what’s an average day?
  • The terrain. It may form natural boundaries that make a difference in your world. In AElit, for example, a ridge of mountains separates the AElitians from the D’robeans. While the AElitians are very religious, the D’robeans are not. Being exiled to D’robe is considered the worst thing that can happen to an AElitian, as D’robe is godless. How does geography work in your world?

Obviously this is not a complete list, just some things to consider when world building. And when you write, you probably won’t put most of this in your book. But it’s important to know anyway, to be thorough, because it shows when you write, even if you aren’t being explicit. An author who knows his or her world—it shows. The confidence comes through in the writing. It’s the difference between telling someone about a place you’ve visited—maybe even lived—versus a place you only kind of know about or read about somewhere once. LIVE in your world for a while. Even if you’re eager to start writing, don’t until you know your world inside and out.