Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Plaid Nessie

Gosh, I have an awful lot of friends, don't I? Well, here's another one of them. Her name is Ernestine, and she is, yes, another writer. I've nicknamed her Nessie. But I'm mentioning her here because she used the dress pattern I posted on here a few months ago to make a very lovely, red plaid medieval dress.

Darling Nessie. ^.^

Lovely, eh? She did a very nice job, in my opinion.  Well done, Nessie!

Dia duit,

Friday, October 19, 2012

For The Greatest Good -- Part X (Penny)

Part X – Account by Penny Kearney

  The more I searched for a solution, the more hopeless the situation appeared. I paced the length and breadth of my cell.
  Trapped. Cut off completely. Helpless, useless, alone.
  No! There has to be something!
  I slammed my uninjured fist against the stone wall in pure frustration. I would not give up! My brothers, Dana…. The Order itself. If for nothing else, then just to keep from allowing Set to win. The memory of his smug expression turned my stomach, and the fear tugged me again. Fear that Set had already won. I just hadn’t accepted it yet.
  I lowered to my knees in the center of the cell.
  No. There must be something.
  Dana, please. Just…
  “Turn back.”
  I opened my eyes with a start. I thought for sure I’d said that out loud, but…I hadn’t. My mouth was closed, no voice echoed in the silence.
  My pulse skipped, and for a long moment I stared at the ground. Then, I tried it again, venturing cautiously, conjuring the same sensation in my mind as before.
  “Dana…? Can you hear me?”
  The feeling in my mind strengthened. This was no dream; something was happening. But I received no response. I rose to my feet, pressing my mouth into a line and focusing with every ounce of will I had. This was my last chance.
  A sound, like the whisper of leaves on a fall day, trickled through my mind, then a faint, familiar voice replied. “Pen?”
  I forced my thoughts not to wander, lest I should lose whatever I’d just found. “Dana, where are you?”
  His voice came stronger now, though it did not echo; more as if he were talking softly next to me. “In the catacombs, below the dungeons. But…how….what are…”
  “Just never mind that for now.” I replied, ignoring the confusion in his tone. “Listen to me, you have to stop. Don’t go—er, come any further.”
  The confusion in his tone intensified. “What? What do you mean? If I can free you and the others, we can escape and meet up with the other force.”
  “Set is waiting for you.”
  “I know.” He said. “It’s the only way I can make it in without getting trapped; my path leads to him. At least, I’m pretty sure it does…”
  My patience threatened to fray. I knew he needed to be brought up to date on a number of things, but I didn’t know how long I could hold this connection.
  “Have you stopped walking yet?”
  “Then do it.”
  “Give me one good reason.”
  “Please…” I whispered, both in my mind and with my mouth.
  Silence. Then, “Alright. I stopped walking. Now what?”
  I let out my breath in relief. “Now listen to me.”
  “I was already doing that, but go ahead.”
  “You can’t kill Set.” I said, emphasizing each word. “If you kill him, you will die, as well. You cannot kill him.”
  This time the silence stretched for a long moment. I frowned. “Dana?”
  He sighed. “You spoke to him.”
   “You… knew that already?”
  “Yes. Ever since he came into existence; he will only be gone when I am.”
  Seating myself again, I shook my head. “Why? Dana, why didn’t you say so? Do you know how many times we’ve almost killed him?”
  “Your point?”
  “My point is that in doing so we almost killed you!” My thoughts shouted. “Why didn’t you tell us?”
  “What was I supposed to say? ’Oh, sorry, but you can’t kill that genius captain the enemy has because it might affect my health?’”
  “Look, I appreciate your concern, but I can’t consider it that way. If he’s gone, Ross loses a valuable ally, and one of our strongest enemies is defeated. Besides….” He paused. “It’s my fault he’s here, and you’re all there.”
  I ran my hands over my hair. Everyone accused me of being the stubborn one…
  Blast you, Dana!
  “Dana, don’t you dare take another step. As Head of the Order, I forbid it!”I stood again, and glared down at the stones, towards the catacombs; the closest I could come to giving him that expression in person. “There has to be another way; you’re always saying so yourself, there’s always a way.”
  “And this isn’t the way?”
  “It can’t be the only way!”
  Once again, he replied with silence. My pulse pounded in my ears. If he decided to ignore me, I wouldn’t be able to stop him.
 Please, Lord…
  “Maybe…” He began. “All right, we’ll do it your way, but you have to trust me. You understand?”
  Normally, his unusually firm tone would have made me defensive, but right now I didn’t care.  Leaning my forehead against the wall, I closed my eyes.
  “And that has to be the first time I’ve seen you pull your rank before.”
  To this I gave a mirthless laugh, not knowing if he could hear it or not. “I swear I’ll do it again if I have to.”
  Footsteps in the hall slammed shut whatever mental doorway I’d found, sending a brief spurt of pain through my head. Wincing, I moved to the center of the cell again as Set came into view. A terrible expression of wrath contorted his features. He inserted the key, unlocked the door, and yanked it open, drawing his sword with a savage flash.
  “You…. What have you done!”
  I pulled back, clamping my mouth shut and meeting his gaze.
  “You have forced me to advance my plans beyond my normal accustomed speed.” He pointed his sword at me. “I was even going to spare you! But how….” He narrowed his eyes. Suddenly, his expression cleared, and he lowered his sword. “Oh well. It matters little anyway. Whatever gift you’ve found, you’re about to lose it, as well as your head.
  I fought to bring back the mental connection with Dana, steeling myself for Set’s blow.

Friday Music #12

Today we're going to do something a little more Asian. This song is soft and sorrowful, with threads of wistful longing to speak of something forever lost, or the price paid to gain a greater good.

Dia duit,

Saturday, October 13, 2012

NaNoWriMo ~or~ Penny's Crazy

My Mother told me the other day that I should try NaNo. My first response was, "You're insane."

For the past several months I've been attempting to finish up writing projects in order to get back to editing my novel, The Land Between Time. As you can see, that hasn't worked very well. But I was still tracking. The second I got a chance, I would pounce.

But NaNo? Me? With all the writing things I'm trying to get done?

Of course she said, "Why not?"

I didn't list reasons why not. At least, not right away. But my Mother is seriously telepathic. She could tell I wasn't excited about the idea. So she brought in the cavalry. Later on I got an email from one of my Mother's good friends, Chautona Havig. Mrs. Havig is a long time author, and I've gone to her before with questions about how to proceed as a little upstart writer. Well, this email urged me to do NaNo this year.

"It's great!" She said. "It will really help."

Well, sheesh. I can't hardly ignore all that. So I said I'd consider it. We talked, me to Mom, and me to Mrs. Havig, and weighing all the pros and cons..... I've decided that the pros outweigh the cons, and I'm going to give it a shot.

So. Beginning November 1st, I am going to start work on the first fifty thousand words of the sequel to LBT, Dagger Quest.

"Wait..." You're saying. "You haven't finished the first one yet."

How very observant of you! I have such intelligent readers on here. It's true, I haven't finished the first one. However, speaking with Mrs. Havig as well as Mrs. Havig's marketer, I have decided to follow a course of action that will lead to the publication of my books that is slightly different from the course I'd initially planned. However, in spite of that -- because I'm ridiculously stubborn -- I still plan to have The Land Between Time out and published by late in Winter 2013.

Fell free to shake your head in disbelief, if you like. About a million things could happen between now and Winter 2013. But hey, such is life. I'm still going to give it my absolute best shot.

I am not certain how FtGG will fare during November, but I'm still going to attempt to get my promised 'one installment a month' out, if not more. Thankfully Dana and I haven't gone through all the skype transcripts yet to where we have to continue the story via skype before being able to transcribe anything. Still have a short ways to go before needing anything new.

So. This is my craziness for the rest of the year. On the bright side, I really am quite unhappy when I don't have an ongoing writing project. Even more so than I am when I get bogged down by the bajillion writing projects I heap upon myself.

As usual, Mother is always right. Love you, Mum. Thanks for looking out for me so well, even when I think you're nuts.

Dia duit,

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Q&A -- Imagination Game Basics

Trinity, a faithful follower of my blog whom I very much appreciate, left this comment on my last post:
I'd be really interested in hearing more about how you organize your games. We've tried to do similar games, but they always end up falling apart. Possibly because we have so many littler children.
 Since my reply turned out to be too long to fit in the comments (what a shock), I decided to toss it up here on this blog post. Here you go, Trinity!

It depends on what you mean by orginizing. Having littler children does tend to dampen the story aspect, as they are generally more interested in the action than the plot. But it's not impossible to let them join in, it will just fall on the older participants to carry the storyline, while the young-uns are given characters who are more secondary and who can run amok causing conflict for the main characters while not being expected to make profound story advancements on purpose.
In order to make an Imagination Game successful, storyline is essential. One must remember to play more for the story than for anything else. One does this through the characters chosen by the players to play. Conflict! Conflict is what moves a story forward. A band of friends is great, but a misfit or dysfunctional band provides far more drama to work with. Villains, hidden amongst the heroes, or stalking them, each with their own motives. Try to make as many possibilities for conflict as possible outside of the usual goodguy vs. villain interaction. Embrace challenges and imbalances within the story. Consider them not as unfair -- the other team has more people and weapons, etc. -- but as obstacles for the characters to overcome in resourceful manners. That's one of the most fun things one can do in an Imagination Game. Accept challenges, don't try to make everything an even playing field all the time. Even playing fields kill conflict.
Another thing to remember is that Imagination Games are NOT competitions. Treating them like one will almost invariably lead to dissention amongst the players (not the characters, the players). And when players bicker, the story grinds to a halt, and the game disintegrates. Just because the villains are fighting against the heroes, and even if the villains capture the 'flag' or steal the special object by no means translates into the villains 'winning'. It just means the heroes have to go after them now and get back what was taken. Unless you have purposefully set up the game so there will be a winner, due to time constraints or some such, then the only kind of winning there is is the victory that comes when the story is being driven forward, and everyone is having fun.
Here are some basic things to remember when playing an Imagination Game. We've learned these things through trial and error. Imagination Games go most smoothly when:
1) Players play for the story
2)Players are good sports about everything, including about other players not being good sports, and embrace an uneven playing field as an in-story challenge for the characters to overcome.
3)Players remember that 'winning' is when everyone has fun. Consider complaints, but players who continually whines about an aspect of the game should be referred to 1 and 2.
As a last note, I'll say that the dynamic of an Imagination Game changes depending on the ration of reality to imagination. For example, it's far easier to do combat IGs with real (read: PVC or foam) weapons because when someone gets hit, it's undeniable. However, when using more reality and less imagination, it's harder for people to play characters that are out of their skill range because they aren't, in fact, dead shots with the bow or fearless swordfighters. Also, it's much easier to remain in character when you're in costume. My advice is that, in either case, one should be realistic about the types of characters one is able to play well.
There are many little tips, tricks, and twists that we've learned over time that I could go into, but what I've related here are the basics. Timewise, two thirds of the Imagination Games we play are spontaneous, but for more complex games it helps to plan a little bit.
Hope some of this helped! Feel free to ask any more questions, because I could talk about this topic all day.
Dia duit,

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

We Still Got It

It's been quite some time since I and my family have played an Imagination Game just with our family members. Usually we play them with either Dana's family or Siani's, but I wanted to make sure that I and my siblings still had it in us to LARP on our own.

We got dressed up, and lugged our weapons to a park not far from where we live. Percy wore the Robin Hood costume I'd made him a while ago, Seph wore his King Arthur coat-vest, and Rosie, Pippin, and I all wore our gowns. Initially, we hadn't planned on playing a game so heavy on combat as it turned out to be.

One of the things I figured out when it comes to playing less complex Imagination Games is that it helps to structure it around another type of game. For example, tag, hide and seek, capture the flag, or king of the hill. This helps provide the initial style of conflict, then the basic storyline is centered around that conflict. It helps to do this when time is limited to a smaller ammount. More complex storylines that aren't based on another game take time to develope, and it may take a while for the interesting part of the story to really get under way and make the game worthwhile.

We chose a cross of hide and seek and capture the flag for the basis of our quick IG. Seph and I, along with one of our younger brothers, played the part of bandits. Percy, Rosie, Pippin, and another of our younger brothers played nobles travelling to the castle (which was the fenced in playground nearby). We laid an ambush, and waited for them to pass by, then attacked!

Unfortunately, we were uncoordinated, and they made it into the castle, closing the portucllis so we could not enter. A siege ensued, until finally Seph called to charge the castle and leap over the walls to take it. Through a prolonged, confusing chain of events, in which arrows were flying back and forth and swords clashing, Percy and his team vacated the castle, and I managed to get the portcullis closed.

At that point, it turned into more of a game of king of the hill and capture the flag. We bandits didn't need the castle, but it helped to have a defensible position. We plotted, trying several times to nab our prize -- which went from Pippin, to the keys Pippin had on her belt -- without losing the high ground. The fight drew out, the archers taking pot shots at each other, and Percy making many attempts to jump the walls. Rosie was quite an adequate bodyguard for Pippin, and I could not get through her to nab Pippin.

That is, not until Pippin made a grave mistake. Instead of staying with her guard, she took off running completely unprotected in the face of an attack in which Percy and Rosie very nearly gained control of the castle. I siezed the oppurtunity, and bolted after her. She noticed only too late. Threatening to kill her staved off her guards as I put my back to the castle wall, and ordered Pippin to remove the keys. All was done, Seph and our other consort providing adequate cover to keep me from being killed for my somewhat reckless action. I tossed the keys over the wall, shoved Pippin towards her teammates, and hopped back over into the castle.

I'll note that all of this I did in my long green dress. Those of you who think one can't do anything in a dress, I have proven you wrong. I not only swordfought, but ran and also climbed in that dress, and it no more impeded me than a tunic.

Seph called to abandon the castle with our prize. At that time, we decided we should probably head home, as we'd been away for some time. Sticky and winded, we fell into two by two formation, and marched home to six or seven celtic war songs that Percy sang out at the head of our little band.

And that was our Sunday afternoon.

Dia duit,

Monday, October 8, 2012

Legend Post #11 -- Halloween

The black cat, along with dogs, toads, and other small animals
were believed to be Familiars -- demons in animal form
sent by the devil to assist witches and wizards.
October's here, and with that month, comes the anticipation of the widely enjoyed holiday of Halloween. Costumes and candy -- what could be better?

Obviously, Halloween has a rather glaring dark side. Monsters, ghosts, black magic, and undead. While not the main focus, fear and evil are certainly a large part of the Halloween tradition today.

But why? Where did it all come from?

Not surprisingly, this holiday has evolved greatly over time, originating with the Celts.

Around 2,000 years ago, the Celts, who lived in what is now the United Kingdom, Ireland, and northern France, had a festival commemorating the end of the year. Their New Year was November 1, and this festival was called Samhain, pronounced sow-en. The end of their year signaled the end of summer, the end of the harvest season, and the beginning of a long, hard winter that often caused many deaths of animals and people. Weaker livestock were often killed and eaten during this holiday, since most likely, they would not survive the winter anyway. Because of this, and the cruel winter to come, this time of year signified death to the Pagan Celtics. They believed the night before the New Year, that the wall between the living and the dead was open, allowing spirits of the dead, both good and bad, to mingle among the living.

From the beginning, Halloween has been rooted in pagan religion and death. It is interesting to see how the circumstances of life dictated the various traditions and holidays. Much of life revolved around the seasons. It seems like the only thing nowadays that is dictated by the seasons is fashion, but long ago, the seasons were forces had the power to determine one's very destiny.

As time passed and outside influences became stronger, Samhain evolved, growing closer to the form of the holiday we celebrate now.

Samhain was considered a magical holiday, and there are many stories about what the Celtics practiced and believed during this festival. Faeries were believed to roam the land during Samhain, dressed as beggars asking for food door to door. Those that gave food to the faeries were rewarded, while those that did not were punished by the faeries. This is reported to be the first origin of the modern "trick or treat" practice.

In the First century A.D., the Roman Empire had taken over most of the Celtic lands. The Romans had two festivals also celebrated at the same time of year as Samhain. One was Feralia, also in late October, was the Roman day honouring the dead. The second festival was for Pomona, the Roman goddess of trees and fruit. Pomona's symbol was the apple. These two festivals were combined with Samhain in the Celtic lands during the four hundred years the Roman Empire ruled over the Celts. The goddess Pomona's apple might be the root of the Halloween tradition of bobbing for apples.

Over the next several hundred years, Christianity had spread to include the lands inhabited by the Celtics and the Romans, but the festival of Samhain was still celebrated by the people. The Christian church reportedly did not like a festival with Pagan roots practiced by Christians, so a replacement was needed. Pope Boniface IV designated May 13 as All Saints Day to honour dead church saints and martyrs. Samhain continued to be celebrated, so in 835 A.D., Pope Gregory IV moved the holiday to November 1, probably to take attention away from the Pagan Samhain festival and replace it. Since All Saints Day was sanctioned by the church, and related to the dead, the church was happy, but many Pagan traditions of Samhain continued to be practiced, including bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costume. All Saints Day was also known as All Hallows, or All Hallowmas (Hallowmas is Old English for All Saints Day). Since Samhain was celebrated the night before November 1, the celebration was known as All Hallows Eve, and later called Halloween. In the year 1000 A.D., the church designated November 2 as All Souls Day, to honour the dead who were not saints, and they eventually became combined and celebrated as Hallowmas.

As you can see, Halloween has been pulled and tugged from all angles by the powers that happened to be at the time. This is true, I believe, for many holidays celebrated today. Eventually, the Reformation came about. Since Protestants do not have saints, the celebration of All Saint's Day was abandoned.

The majority of settlers that later formed the United States were largely Protestant. As such, Halloween was only practiced in some Southern states, and didn't make a mass appearance in America until the mid 1800s, when Catholic Irish families fleeing the potato famine in their homeland immigrated, bringing their traditions and holidays with them.

By the mid 1800's, immigration increased, and many Irish immigrants, mostly Catholics fleeing the potato famine, brought many Halloween traditions with them. Jack o'lanterns found a new face, the pumpkin, which was very plentiful in the New World. Catholics and Episcopalians sought to preserve their traditions, so started an effort in the late 1800's to popularize and make their holidays known to the general population. By campaigning to put these holidays (Halloween and All Saints Day) on public calendars, magazines and newspapers started to publicize these holidays, and soon became popular in the United States more as a community and family holiday, rather than one of great religious and supernatural importance.

By the mid twentieth century, Halloween turned into a secular holiday, community centered with parties city-wide, parades, and great costumes. Halloween is mostly aimed to children, but young and old enjoy this holiday, with events and parties for both children and adults. Starting in 1950, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) started a campaign for children to collect money at Halloween for underprivileged children around the world. Halloween is the United States' second largest commercial holiday, spending approximately $6.9 billion a year.
[exerpts taken from www.halloween-history.org ]

So now you see where Halloween has its roots. Knowing this, it's easy to see why the fascination with darkness comes into the limelight around October.

There are many who care not to look into the origins of this holiday, accepting the modern view of the holiday. There are many who also reject Halloween because of what it is today, and some who can make a good guess at the origins without needing to look it up. In Christian circles, Halloween is one of the more controversial topics, and I have seen many various ways of dealing with it.

Being Christian myself, and devoutly so, I have no great love for the glorification of evil that comes out around this time of year. It gets under my skin. However, I do and always have enjoyed dressing up, and anyone who knows me can tell you without hesitation that I have a major sweet tooth. Costumes and candy; what every kid thinks Halloween is really about. So while I find the ghouls and witches, screams and fear distasteful and even damaging, I don't condemn the other aspect of the holiday. The aspect where imagination comes to life for the entire country once every year, and Mom allows us to buy bag upon bag of candy that is meant to be for trick or treaters but gets eaten more often than not by the kids who take turns manning the bowl.

I think the Catholics had the right idea, in a sense. Practicing a holiday that had great importance to the culture of the time, yet in a Christian manner. In our house, October 31st is called 'Dress-Up Day'. It is the day when everyone dresses up, though not everyone does it in a Godly manner, and gets candy. We participate only to a certain point, condemning the evil but not ignoring the good that can be claimed.

As I said, this is a controversial topic, and I'm sure there are many who would disagree with our way of handling this holiday, or even with our entire perspective on the holiday as a whole. All I can say is that, as Christians, we ought to do what we believe is -- not what we want to be -- acceptable and pleasing to God, based on His Word. We are all unique; we will not come to the same conclusions, but if in our hearts we can say with confidence that we believe we are pleasing God with our choices, then that is acceptable. That is what He commands.

For non-Christians.... Well, there isn't much I can say besides what I've already said, is there?

Dia duit,

For The Greatest Good -- Newsflash and Behind The Scenes


Just a heads up to all those who are following the story Dana and I are writing on this blog. I was very busy last week editing a short story -- the fourth draft of which I have completed now -- and am going to be busy this week reading various stories that several friends and aquaintances of mine have written. I'm not very good at balancing both writing and reading, which is a deficiency on my part that I'm attempting to work on. All writers really should be avid readers, as well.

So the next installment of For The Greatest Good may not come out for a little while. Certainly not this week; I'll have to see about next week.

For those who may be interested, I'll explain the process FtGG goes through before it's finally posted on my blog.

Behind the Scenes

First of all, you must understand that Dana and I are storytellers at heart. It takes only the slightest nudge to get us off on tangent involving story. And not only story, but storytelling. Dana's much better at verbal storytelling than I am, but when both of us are IMing over skype, all it takes is the right cue, and we'll begin a completely unplanned little skit. Back and forth we'll weave a tiny adventure that can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, depending.

Such was the case with FtGG. What began as a casual story tangent, turned into an adventure far too intriguing to abandon. And that was even before the creation of Set, which is a story in and of itself. Beleive it or not, Set came about completely by accident, and his existance as a character -- outside of the story, mind you -- is mostly my fault.

But I digress.

One of my personality quirks, I guess you could call it, is that I have a tendency to want to share everything. Especially things I find fun or interesting, and especially with those close to me. So once FtGG started shaping into something more than just a passing tale created by two incorrigable storytellers, I ran through the skype history and copied down all the sections where Dana and I had 'told' FtGG, and printed them out for my siblings to read through. They found it just as interesting as we did. So we continued.

However, at that point, FtGG was just the copied and pasted skype transcript, far from the prose that it is here on the blog. After Dana and I had done a few sections, I got the idea of turning the whole adventure into a book someday. Later on, I started this blog, and then the idea of putting it on here came to me, and stuck. Dana liked the idea, so I went for it.

Now, taking skype transcripts and turning them into prose... It is an interesting challenge.

I had to take this...

[5/12/2012 9:58:45 PM] Sir PenSage: So sorry to have kept Rex here, I kind of bumped into his patrol.
[5/12/2012 9:59:05 PM] Lady PenWarrior: But.... We thought you.... After the battle, when....Not that we blamed you, we couldn't....
[5/12/2012 10:00:02 PM] Sir PenSage: *I raise an eyebrow* I gave the order to run for it, didn't I? I certainly hope the others payed attention, that was a nasty blow over the head I got. The other fellow got worse, though, so it's fine.
[5/12/2012 10:00:29 PM] Lady PenWarrior: We thought they'd imprisoned you.
[5/12/2012 10:01:07 PM] Sir PenSage: *I smile slightly, slightly humored as well, but serious* there is always a path, even when one cannot see it.
[5/12/2012 10:01:27 PM] Lady PenWarrior: Dana, that ENTIRE valley was overrun, how could you POSSIBLY have gotten out?
[5/12/2012 10:02:32 PM] Sir PenSage: As I said, there is always a way.

[5/12/2012 10:02:47 PM] Sir PenSage: Let's just say we ought not to overestimate their patrol patterns.
[5/12/2012 10:03:14 PM] Sir PenSage: Besides, I'm one of the order, aren't I?
[5/12/2012 10:04:48 PM] Lady PenWarrior: *I smile, and then laugh slightly* Yes... yes you are.
...And turn it into this.
It couldn’t be.
“So sorry to have kept Rex,” Dana continued. “I sort of bumped into his patrol.”
I stared, I admit, if only to convince myself this was really him.  “But… we thought you… after the battle, when… not that we blamed you, we couldn’t…”
He raised an eyebrow, his hand resting easy on the hilt of the sword hanging at his side. “I gave the order to run for it, didn’t? I certainly hoped the others paid attention, that was a nasty blow over the head I got before I was captured. The other fellow got worse, though, so it’s not so bad.”
“We thought they’d imprisoned you.”
At this he smiled, that curious mixture of soberness and humor quirking his mouth. “There is always a path, even when one cannot see it.”
  “Dana, that entire valley was overrun, how could you possibly have gotten out?”
  He merely shrugged. “As I said, there is always a way. Let’s just say… we ought not to overestimate their patrol patterns. Besides, I’m one of The Order, aren’t I?”
  “Yes…” I couldn’t help but smile, and a short laugh escaped me. He had no idea what a relief it was that he had turned up.
Dana has to do the same thing for the sections that are written from his perspective.
As I said before, it is an interesting challenge. The skype transcripts are very succinct, and not very descriptive when it comes to thoughts and feelings. It's very action based, showing the external far more than the internal. Prose, on the other hand, leaves open for thoughts, emotions, and also sensations.

On the technical side, I open both the document containing the transcript and leave it open on one side of my computer screen, then open the document containing all of my transcribed segments and place that on the other side of the screen. In this way I can write the prose version of whatever section I'm working on without having to switch back and forth between document windows constantly. I can see both of them at the same time and reference each as I need to.

One of the difficulties with transcribing is filling in the gaps while staying true to the pace of the original transcript.  I have a natural tendency to jump straight to the abstract and forget the concrete. I go to the meaning without writing the symbol, as it were. This isn't as much of a problem as it has been in the past, but it does rear its ugly head more often than I'd like. It's a conscious effort to remember the facts as well as the meanings. So when I fill in the gaps, I must keep myself from rambling on explaining emotions. At the same time, however, the goal of turning FtGG into prose is to have the freedom to present the facts in a better, more descriptive manner, not create a replica of what was in the transcript to begin with. It's a balance, and like all balances, it must be continually strived for.

I would have to ask Dana what he finds to be the most challenging aspect of trancsribing, and add onto this post later.

Not surprisingly, the prose sections are much longer than the transcript sections. As such, there have been close to eight prose parts posted on here, while there were only about five parts to begin with. Words add up. As with my other writing, I use my Writer Sense -- an author's super power -- to guess where I should cut off each prose segment. I can invariably tell where to cut a segment off just by knowing it when I come to it. However, I do attempt to keep the segments restricted to a certain length so that they'll be longer than a regular blog post, but not so long that readers will get bored before it's over. I'm not sure if I've succeeded, but I do try.

Once the prose section has been finished, I send it to Dana for him to look over. He checks it for reaction mistakes on the part of his characters. (More on character control later.) Once the proper edits have been made, viola! I post it on my blog for all to see.

Even onces it's posted, however, my wonderful best friend Siani Delaney will read through the latest section and point out any glaring errors I have inevitably missed. Most of the time its a spelling, tense, or grammar error. She's a lifesaver when it comes to the technical stuff, because that is not my area of expertise at all, but it is very much hers.

And that's how it works! The thing, I think, that makes FtGG a little more unique is that it's being written without any prior knowledge to how it's going to turn out. Neither Dana nor I know what is going to happen next until it happens. But both being storytellers, we are able to pull it all together without it becoming a chaotic, aimless mess.

I know this post is getting rather long by now, but I thought it would be interesting to list the characters in conjunction with which of us is writing him/her. Obviously, Dana and I play ourselves within the story, but here are the others.

Characters Written by Dana
Captain Wesley

Characters Written by Penny

Those are all the characters featured at the moment. I'm sure more will come in later on, but for now these have been sufficient. And now I will end this exeedingly rambling post. Hopefully it's been interesting, at least, or even helpful for those who would like to do a blog story of their own.

Dia duit,

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Introducing Wynter Croix

Wynnie dear. Isn't she lovely?
Now at long last I shall introduce you to Wynter Croix. Wynnie is a dear friend of mine I met on the OYAN forum, and is an effervescent young lass who kindly agreed to write the legend post for me a couple weeks ago.

As well she joins Dana and I in our love for Scotland. Though there have been a few minor disputes on Campbell's vs. MacDonalds, but I attempt to keep those to a minimum.

Wynnie is working on several novels ranging over various genres, including a historical fiction one set in Scotland that she and I are writing together. She also contributed greatly to Celtic Day at the Summer Workshop in Kansas, and has a lovely voice. I'm going to see if there is a way for us to record ourselves singing The Last Rose of Summer together. But as she lives in Wisconson and I live in Florida, this might be interesting to figure out.

Campbell clan tartan.
So, yeah. That's about it for this intro. I was going to tack this onto the Rahab post, but as you can see, I didn't. This Christmas she's going to get a new medieval costume, and I will wheedle her into taking some pictures of herself in it to post on my blog. I also have a new outfit on order, and Percy has some exciting new weapons. Sometime next week -- after I get this dratted short story of mine edited -- I will take some pictures of Percy's things. I haven't been able to get a tutorial out of him yet. He's been doing a lot of experimenting with varous weapons, so he when he's been at the forge, he was never sure if the project he was working on would be of any use by the time he was done. I'll get on him about tutorials for some of the ones that did, 'cause they're pretty epic.

Alrighty, time for me to head to bed. I should attempt to get to sleep earlier tonight, even though I'm not the least tired. But we all know what happens when I stay up late. Odd blog posts...

Dia duit,

Monday, October 1, 2012

For The Greatest Good -- Part VIII (Penny)

Part VIII – Account by Penny Kearney

  The bleeding from the cut on my hand stopped. I sat in the corner of the cell, safe, for now, amongst the shadows. It was actually a relief to be left here alone, considering. I was exhausted. Here I could rest and not worry that anyone would prod me, either physically or mentally.
  The memory of Set’s distant gaze peering through me, and the sensation that accompanied it, made me shudder. Or maybe that was just the cold. None of the warmth from above ground reached the dungeon.
  And here, I could be afraid without the wrong people finding out. Even with my usually hopeful outlook, I could not deny that this situation had the likelihood of becoming very dire. What happened next would determine lives. Making the wrong move just wasn’t an option.
  I leaned my head back and stared at the ceiling. Closing my eyes meant seeing Rex’s dead face again. I couldn’t do that, so I forced them to remain open.
  How many of Percy and Seph’s troops died after we left? Had Ross allowed the wounded to be treated?
  Probably not.
  I clenched my uninjured fist. A mouse squealed outside my cell, and scurried away. I watched it go, but another shadow caught my attention. Surprise streaked down my spine.
  Set stood in the shadows, staring into my cell at me. I’d been listening for his approach, but hadn’t heard a single sound. Yet there he stood.
  Set stepped more into the dim light that filtered in from some cell window down the hall. Curiosity glinted behind his eyes. “You are so strange, Lady Kearney. A balance of warrior and peacemaker, leader and follower, mentor and friend to many.”
  Remaining in my place at the back of the cell, I let the darkness hide my frown from him. I wasn’t sure if he’d come to gloat, or do what Ross had told him to and activate my ‘gift’. As much as he seemed to be working for Ross, I couldn’t quite believe that he was doing it for Ross.
   “Should I bother asking why you seem to know me so well?”
  The corner of his mouth twitched, like one with an impish secret. “And what if I do?”
  “I don’t see how you could. I generally associate with folk far more congenial than yourself.”
  “Congenial…..” He seemed to ponder the word, then shrugged. “I have my ways. You wouldn’t understand them.” He stepped forward once more, standing not three inches from the bars. His gaze shifted from curious, to intent. “But you could.”
  I narrowed my eyes at him.
  “Why don’t you believe in the gifts, Kearney?” He asked. “Your ‘friend’ seemed rather set on their existence.”
   So that’s what he’d come for. I glanced towards him, letting my gaze linger. Hearing him speak of Dana with such disdain needled the embers inside me that had just begun to go down. Guarding my hand, I rose, and walked to stand just out of his reach by the bars.
  “I believe Dana has something special.” I matched my tone to the quiet atmosphere. “But he insists on saying that all of us do. I don’t.”
  “And what makes you so sure of that? Why should you be any different?”
  I shrugged. “Why should I be the same?”
  “Ah, but there you are wrong.” The unnerving smile returned. “One can be the same, and yet different. You are human. I am human. And yet we are worlds apart in difference.”
  My gaze sharpened.  “You are not human.”
  Though I’d thought those words several times, saying them out loud confirmed this reality.
  Set’s laughter filled the hall, a desecration of the cold, somber quietude. “Ah, there you are quite right. But you get my point; you have a gift, you simply deny it.” His expression suddenly sharpened again. “Why is that?”
  I blanked. What was I meant to tell him? That I had more important things to do? That even if I could, I wouldn’t take a power, that I had enough things to figure out, to worry about, without adding some abnormal ability on top of it?
  That I wasn’t sure I could be trusted with one?
  “I don’t want it.”
  “Is that so…”  He narrowed his eyes. “What if this gift could have saved your precious soldiers?”
  My throat tightened. I forced myself to continue holding his gaze.
  “What if this gift would have been the one thing that could have won the battle against Ross. And you must admit, it came within a hair’s edge! But…you lost.” He snapped his fingers. “Just like that. Just because you….didn’t want it. How selfish. All those dead….”
  “I know what you want!” I snapped, smothering my conscience. “They’re dead, for whatever reason. Whatever gift may or may not have saved them can’t save them now, and I’m not going to give it to you.”
  Set shook his head, chuckling, eyes twinkling. “You honestly think I want to use your precious power, don’t you?”
  I frowned. No, but you’re definitely up to something.
  “No. I do not. Leave that to Ross, whatever his plans are.” He waved his hand in a gesture dangerously close to scorn. The twinkle died, replaced with a glint of pure, sadistic anticipation. “What I want….is to see your friend, Dana, suffer. I want to see him fail, despair, loath life and his actions that backfire upon him! And I’m doing that quite well, thanks to you.”
  In spite of wishing I could bash his face against the stone wall, I searched his expression. “Why? What has he done to you?”
   “Nothing!” He grinned. “Nothing at all. Isn’t it splendid? That’s not to say he doesn’t deserve it, eh? But that aside, the fact that he doesn’t makes it all the more sweet.”
   This man was insane. I’d been right. He really wasn’t human. At least, not anymore. The desire to hit him returned.
  “Go on.” He said. “Become angry once more, it will serve no purpose but to tire you even more. The only thing that will help you…” His tone dropped. “Is to find your gift. Why do you thnk Campbell and Ross feared you all, tried to destroy you all? It certainly wasn’t because of your skills, I can tell you that. No…. the guardian knights are gifted. Even Ross knows that, and yet you refuse to. How interesting.”
  The recklessness that comes with the warmth of anger rose inside me, and I moved closer to the bars, giving Set a taunting look. “I’m stuck here. Whether I find my ‘gift’ or not, I’m still stuck here. So what makes you think that I am going to just hand over the one thing you’re asking me to give, just like that? Why shouldn’t I frustrate you as long as possible, since it doesn’t make any difference to my outcome anyways?”
  “Because…” Set grasped one of the bars with his hand, holding my gaze. “He is coming.”
  I narrowed my eyes. He?
  “Your end will not be at Ross’s sword.” Set said. “My twin is stronger than those fools think, and I did not kill all your forces. Even they know that. You must be ready to fight, for you will. And if you do not have an edge…. Who knows what will happen this time, hm?”
  My thoughts raced again. Set had a maddening way of seeming to know everything and telling everyone nothing. Until, that is, he saw fit. None of this made sense. Not only the appalling idea that Set had a twin, who for all I knew could be worse than he was, but also how this affected me in any way. What did my forces have to do with any of that? Was his twin opposed to Ross in some way? And if so, what gave him the idea that I would help? Unless his twin also had wicked designs on myself and the other members of The Order.
  “You’re lying.”
  “Am I?” His stare was unblinking. “That, I cannot do.”
  For some reason I believed this. Maybe because amidst so may evil traits, it seemed ironically fitting that he would have one good one that he could twist to his will.
  “Why should I fight this…..twin? Why shouldn’t I just let him destroy you all?”
  Set shook his head, like I was missing the point. “Who could possibly be my twin, Kearney? It should be obvious. How else would I know he’s coming?”
  How was I supposed to kno—
  My thoughts halted. “You don’t mean—“
  He nodded, his smile growing once more. “He will always find a way. Even I cannot alter that.”
  Of course…. Why had I not thought of this?
  No, I knew why. Because as much as Set looked, and even sounded, like Dana, he was just too evil for me to associate them with each other in any way beyond aesthetics. When Set had said ‘twin’, I’d thought he’d meant someone like him. Not his complete opposite. And perhaps I didn’t think of it because I wanted to believe that Set was nothing more than a look alike. A coincidence. I didn’t want to believe that he and Dana had anything in common besides appearance.
  But now I understood what Set meant. Dana was coming for me, and if we were to be successful in escaping – maybe even completing our original rescue mission – we would need an advantage.
  “What do you want from me, Set?” I said, gaze leveled on him. “You’re working for Ross. You should not be trying to convince me to use my ‘gift’ against him.”
  Set chuckled. “Good, you’re using your head. Now, whoever said I was working for Ross? I like to call it a ‘convenient acquaintance’. Temporary, of course.”
  I’d suspected something like this. “Then what do you want?”
  “That I’ve already told you. You have a poor memory.”
  “That cannot be it. If it is, then my ‘gift’ has nothing to do with it anyways.”
  “Then what, oh wise one, could it possibly be? I cannot lie.”
  Ugh, he was maddening. “Even if I have a gift, it’s of no use to you, so why bother.” I abandoned my position to return to the shadowed corner. I was done. I wanted him to go away so I could think.
  “Because if you die, your friends die with you.” Set said, tone ominous. “And if Dana dies, so do I.”
  I paused, frowning at the grimy stone wall.
  “You see, I am rather….” He searched for the right word. “Invested, in his survival.”
  “Do you mean to say that the only way to kill you is to kill Dana….?” I turned my head to watch his form out of the corner of my eye.
  He beamed. “Good girl, using your head!”
  “Oh, shut up!” I snapped. “You’re so childish.”
  “Now who’s being childish, the one who refuses what’s staring her in the face, or the one who is nothing but honest in speech, hm?”
  I made no reply, turning my gaze on the back wall once again. My hand throbbed.
  Set’s footstep scuffled against the ground. “As you wish, then. I’ll leave you to your pondersings, but remember: you do not have forever.”
  Just leave.
  “No….” He paused. “No, you have even less time than I thought.”
  A tingle ran down my spine, and I glanced back at him. His smile was gone, and his gaze distant, as if seeing something else. “He comes to kill me. Good…”
  My stomach twisted. “It works both ways, doesn’t it?”
  Set glanced me a smile. “Rather ironic, isn’t it?"
  Dana, you fool!
  Without another word, Set left, his footsteps fading almost the instant he vanished from sight into the darkness.
  My entire body trembled. I lowered to my knees. Thoughts spun in my head so fast they almost made me dizzy. If I couldn’t figure out what to do, Dana was going to walk right into a trap.