Monday, January 09, 2012

Writing updates #8

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Writing updates, short and sometimes odd.
Often with pictures.
NEVER with spoilers.

If you want to go back to the beginning:

Or you can just start here:::
A Resurrection of Magic is a trilogy. Two books are finished: ((see the books))  and I am writing the third one now. In these books there are two voices and two stories that go back and forth, every other chapter. The stories begin  200 years apart and the first one causes the second one...

Yes, I am doing some writing consultations and critiques when I can fit it in. Here's the what and the why:


1.9.  2012

Two people might be dead. 
I can't find them.
No, they aren't real, but they are--to me. Writing a trilogy is a long, life changing thing sometimes.  These books have dragged me into the dark woods of my own ethical  connundrums. Today's writing  is going to hurt, I think....which is why I am fiddling here, on the blog , instead of writing. By the time anyone reads this, though, I will be back in Limori, walking the paths that connect South End with Ferrin Hill. I intend to stay well below Market Square. I don't want to know if Thomas Marsham had anything to do with this. Not yet anyway. 

This is a Beaucarnea Recurvata with a nearly 200 year old broad leafed vine climbing inside it. I watered the vine too much (or too little) this year and killed it. Every time I think about that, I wince. I should not be trusted with exotics. I should plant beets. I know how Sadima feels this morning.  


1.13. 2012

Thanks to everyone getting in touch to say they are waiting for the book. It helps me with the hardest thing of all--the first few sentences of the day. I wrote this at about 7:00 am :  

 The paths were less used here. It was quiet. Too quiet. No birdsong, no rustling in the deep carpet of pine needles. Everything seemed wrong. Her hopes felt too big for her body. Her fears were sharp and close. 

Then I wrote seven more pages. I also played in my little late-season garden and made a compost heap and trimmed the bougainvillea in the back yard. A lovely day.  Thank you all. 



There are things I have wondered about since the beginning of this trilogy.  The answers are finally emerging and they make perfect sense. People who send their children into the cliffs are not simply seeking a connection with the wizards. It isn't that simple.... how could it be?

     I clicked this picture while traveling because these children (and the dog) were overtired, flushed with heat, crying, (panting) wanting to get out of the crowd.  I overheard the parent on the left lecturing  his daughter, insisting she would remember everything she had seen on their journey. She started kicking and chanting  "No I won't, No I won't" which embarrassed him into setting her down. And then he walked away. He walked slowly, but without looking back. I assumed she would run after him but....she hesitated for so long that I wondered if I should intrude, or at least follow to make sure she found her father. Then the train came and she ran after him and I lost track of them in the crowd.  Her father's need to remind her that he didn't have to take care of her--and her hesitation--made me wonder about a lot of things that have ended up in this trilogy.

1 . 21 . 2012

 Yesterday's writing was painful for me. Painful but true.  I tend not to plot, not to know what will happen next. I birth characters in order to follow them around and record what happens. And yes, that sounds silly to me, too, but there it is. For me anyway, book-people are real.

This Jacaranda tree came up from a seed about 10 years ago. I noticed it hiding before it was an inch tall, barely rooted in a tiny crack between the driveway and an old railroad-tie planter.

I admired its courage and tenacity, then forgot about it until I realized it was almost a foot tall. I kept thinking I should transplant it, move it, but it was fascinating to watch it shove back the old asphalt bit by bit and, somehow find enough water and light to keep growing.

That's what I am hoping for the people I love in Limori.  Some of them are missing now and no one knows why. Including me. I want them to find light and water, but I know they might not.


1 . 27 . 2012

6:15 am here in CA USA.
I have a routine. I am usually up by six, and usually start writing about an hour later, after I tend to FB, twitter, this blog, and answer at least a few fan letters then do a critique or work on a presentation or speech, etc.

Today, I woke up with a character explaining something to me. I don't usually hear characters' voices until my hands touch the keys, but this was important. I know where to look for one of the missing people now and even though the city of Limori is dangerous, I am almost sure she is safe. Oh, I hope so, she has helped so many people in South End.

This is a ginger bloom. They are patient and last for months, each layer unfolding so slowly that the changes are impossible to see day to day. They should write novels.

2. 2. 2012

The updates are getting farther apart. It's getting harder to say anything without giving away the story.    

Limori--the name of the city where people I have come to love are trying to stay alive--is a real gypsy word. It means "graveyard".

The magicians and the magistrates (who almost all come from what were once royal families) are preparing for another war. South End boys are being hired, scrubbed up, given swords, training, and colored tunics. For the first time in their lives, they find themselves standing up straight, looking at the well-dressed Ferrinidies families in Market Square with their chins up, shoulders back. And they glare at each other if their tunics are different colors.

  When they are marched to the many warehouses in South End where they live now, sleeping on cots, eating decent food, they have no idea that they are the twentieth generation to feel this misplaced pride, this same false promise of respect.

And none of this will change unless the people I love most in Limori can somehow the impossible.

This NYC.....but it could be Limori's Market Square, if you could fly over it like the magicians can.  Somiss has changed the Square since you saw it last,adding paths and buildings -- and the trees have grown over time. To the right is Middle Park, the center of the city where Sadima lived almost 200 years ago. Beyond it, out of sight, are the beautiful hills and the scattered, grand old mansions where the Ferrenidies live. South End is the curved, smokey, distant jumble of buildings straight ahead. Beyond it are the docks, the bay and the river that Hahp saw six years ago from the seat of the carriage once the pony had pulled them high into the air. That was the  day his father gave him to the magicians. He almost jumped out of the carriage, knowing the fall would kill him. He wanted to. For a long time, he thought it was cowardice that had held him back, but it wasn't.


Tomorrow I will get on a train. I love trains and this one will be going through beautiful places, taking me to a writers' event. I have my whole class figured out, I know what I am going to teach, so I will be taking the first 70 chapters of the third book with me, to read and ponder. I am beginning to see the light cast by the ending of the story, but isn't clear to me yet. I will just have to keep writing toward it, staying hidden, being silent and invisible, standing in the shadows, watching , listening, hoping.

The moon, the trees, the wind, and the clouds, all in my back yard.


pic taken by Roxyanne Young, friend and author   

I spent a day in San Louis Obispo, teaching serious writers that there are no freakin rules. They were kind enough to let me pace the floor, sit on the table, and listen to them read aloud with my eyes closed. I love writers. They notice everything. They are awake..they keep me awake.

On the train up and back (14 glorious hours of train) I reread the first 70 chapters of book #3. The story is telling itself, or so it seemed to me. And now....onward.

PS.  One writer got in touch to thank me for being the only writer she had ever heard say there were no rules who then did NOT provide a sequence of rules to follow. I should probably add that there were no beginners in the room. But even if there had been, I am convinced that craft often overwhelms art and our books are not what they could be because of that.

*a few days later::  I am NOT saying art will bloom if craft is not learned. I am saying that once craft is strong and solid--which can be a long learning curve for many of us--art should probably run the show whenever possible.

This is the cover art of the first book I ever wrote--

Just a quick note. I am buried in the last book of my trilogy ( A Resurrection of Magic). I just wanted to thank everyone who gets in touch to tell me they are excited about the third book because they loved the first two.

 I can't begin to explain how much this helps any writer...keep writing, write deeper, stay brave, stay honest.          ........Thanks.


After a few days of straightening out an emotional arc and condensing two chapters in one strand, then adjusting the other strand to fit that change.....I am moving forward again on book three. YAY!  But I am headed toward the scenes that are going to be really painful to write.  Ten boys were marched into the cliffs in the first book. Most of them will not be walking out. Maybe none. I have to write what's real and I never know what that is until I write it. All I can do now is chase the story....

Two crows.  The whole flock --at least a hundred birds---went overhead while I dug my camera out of my backpack.  I barely managed to fit the last two into one frame. They were talking to each other, call and response, like an old church song, like coyotes, like friends.


Climbing roses.
They take over if you let them. Like books do. I am writing writing writing

Sadima is alone. She has dropped a cooking pot.   We are both listening to its clanging on the stone floor...we are both waiting, holding our breath, hoping no one else has heard it.


This is weird. I am seeing elaborate set ups in books one and two that I had no idea I had put in...but that totally pave the way for things that are emerging now. Sorry for the vagueness, but you know....

When I finish this trilogy, the research and idea materials will finally be put to bed. On the other side of this pile, in the black file cabinet, there are drawers stuffed with articles, cavers and trapped miners interviews, stacks of notes about the city of Limori, accounts of historical toppled kings, the gypsy dictionaries, the maps I have drawn, etc. (and more etc.)


Something about one character has finally come clear to me today. It fits, perfectly, all the way back to the first time I met him in Skin Hunger (Book One)  I just somehow never saw it before. I should have. It obvious.

Below are the keys Sadima once found inside the cliffs. I have put them up here before, a long time ago. I thought they were lost forever to her, to me.... but maybe not.  

(these keys belong to a school principal in Abu Dhabi, who was kind enough to let me stay in her house while I was there appearing at schools.)


I am rereading chapters 1-70 for continuity and progression--and rewriting some sections as I go. I am also dreaming my way through the last 10-15 chapters, asking the characters what happens and why. Their answers are stunningly different than what I thought before I dropped back to do this read-through. So it's good I gave them time to think....

Sky, Cloud, Sea, and land.... This place looks almost exactly like the coast off  South End, up past the marshes where the Eridian's held their meetings for years until the night of the fire...

And this is in my backyard. Every few years an acorn lodges in a palm trunk and starts to grow. I try to transplant them before they have time to remind me that oaks win most their arguments.


Morning update:
Fifty chapters are polished up, dead end stuff taken out, the emotional arcs making sense. All three of my digicorders (each one holds 1,000 entries) are almost full of details to check as I go.  The next 10 chapters have almost no mark-ups from the recent train-ride read-through. The characters are completely running the show now...

This was taken in Fez, Morocco, in the medina, a maze-like ancient city that is now surrounded by the modern city. This is a student's window, a place to study with enough light to read without a lamp most of the day. There are many places in Limori's cliffs that are this old, this interesting. I wonder sometimes if the boys will ever find them. If they don't, I will move them to the next book somehow. They are too amazing to leave unfound.


4. 11. 2012

 Sadima passed a point of no return late last night.  She can't go back and I can't see any possible way to go forward. I will just have to spot her in Limori today, follow her around, try to keep her from coming apart. She couldn't have stopped what happened. I only hope she can live with it.

In the woods, full-moon-night, trying to see though the trees, trying to understand what the magicians are doing...and why.

A tiny bit of yesterday's writing: 

“I can hear you breathing,” the boy whispered. “Are you lost?”
“Yes,” I whispered back, and it was the truest thing I had said in a long time. 
“I can show you the way out,” he said quietly. Then, after a hesitation, he said this: “I have to get back to my parents, too.” 
I quieted my breath, trying to think. Parents? Was he real?

  Shhh. Hear that? It's the last of a hard rain rolling down the wet, dark stone. The moon is rising above the forest that separates the magicians' cliffs from the city of Limori.  And Sadima is crying.