Alderpod #25 – Castledeck and the Arabella

No, don’t adjust your feed. You’re reading it right: twenty-five episodes and counting! *throws confetti*

It just so turns out that today’s Alderpod is a little divergence from the norm, but within the realm of the Aldersgate Cycle nonetheless. It is a reading, or I should say performance, of my short story “Castledeck and the Arabella” which takes place some three years hence. Performed and produced by Arri Gaffer, with Anima Zabaleta providing the sweet voices of the lady characters, it’s quite an exciting take on the story!

I hope you enjoy listening as much as I did, and stay tuned for a #26, swiftly making its way to your ears…

Alderpod #24: Chapter 22 – Lady Vezina

Finding a little time on my hands this rainy day, I have recorded Chapter 22, Alderpod #24. I am trying hard to make up for lost time, and now that the book is creeping toward the final climax, that’s only fitting.

So, without further adieu!

I have started a wiki! After months of deliberation on the subject, I decided to jump in and just go ahead and do it. It’s terribly addicting, I’ve found, and a little overwhelming. Having never put much of this stuff down, it’s been sloshing in my head, and I’m a little staggered at the sheer number of red links.

So, if you happen to be intrigued and would like a little more of a window into the world of The Aldersgate, you can visit Alderwiki. Most of the articles are currently in the barest of states, and some are even replete with spelling errors, etc. I am ashamed to admit my pitiful spelling capabilities, that I blame entirely on the advent of the spellchecker; in this instance, the built-in Firefox spellchecker doesn’t like the wikia forms, so…

Check back often, and hopefully it’ll start to look better soon (and be equally informative!).

I was given two copies of the Tales of Beedle the Bard for Christmas, attesting to the fact that my family knows me quite well. I hadn’t explicitly asked for it, but people often think of me and think of magical worlds, and well, the book makes sense (especially since you can find it everywhere from Wal-Mart to your neighborhood gas station, I’ll warrant).

I didn’t crack it open for a few days, just because I had other books to read. But when I did, I wasn’t expecting much. I must say I was a little disappointed by the end of the whole Potter series, though undeniably still attached to the characters. This book appeared to me as well, a little reaching. Sure, I knew that it was going to be for charity which is good. But the whole debacle between Rowling and the Harry Potter Lexicon has made me a little wary of the lady. Sure, we’re all entitled to our opinions on the subject, but I have a much freer definition of creative license than she does.

What’s surprising to me about the book is how genuine it feels. Even as a purported children’s book, it’s very, well, medieval. And it’s supposed to be. (Beedle and Bede? Yes, there’s got to be a connection there.) I think the least effective of the tales is the one from the books, “The Tale of the Three Brothers”–and yet it rings particularly medieval, due to its characterization of Death, etc. I suppose I was waylaid by the silly names, like “Babbity Rabbity and her Cackling Stump” and “The Wizard’s Hairy Heart”–but what struck me was how these stories are, like many medieval tales, a bit on the gruesome side. There’s little candy-coating there (not that Rowling does that much to begin with, but I assumed she would here).

And of course, there’s the whole frame of the book; that it is, in fact, edited by Hermione Granger with commentary by Albus Dumbledore. I thought this would be distracting, but I was surprised to find that, reading Dumbledore’s commentary, I found I actually missed the guy quite a bit. As for Ms. Granger’s presence, there really isn’t any detectable. Which makes sense for an academic like she is.

All in all, it’s a surprisingly good read. Certainly nothing on par with the whole series, but a great little supplement. And certainly a treat that gets a chuckle from those of us with medieval leanings. I think Rowling certainly did her homework on this one.

A moment’s reflection on the hard numbers of The Aldersgate as it stands right now.

  • Total completed chapters in current draft: 22
  • Total chapters in original draft: 30
  • Total current word count: 119,115 (not a word less)
  • Total P.O.V.’s: Cora, Brick, Emry, Ellin, Sylvan, Kaythra (six even; half gals, half gents… listed in order of ages)
  • Total chapters expected in final draft: 30
  • Total chapters podcasted: Twelve (thirteen counting the prologue)

Just in case you were curious. Suffice it to say I’m ten chapters ahead of where the podcast is. As the New Year approaches I want to start getting the podcasts out every week to week-and-a-half, and try to keep it on a more strict schedule. I have some other projects brewing, including finishing my NaNoWriMo book but I’d like to see the next eight chapters written as soon as possible. We shall see. This “Editing” section is the most difficult, as the end of the novel is vastly different than the original–such things happen.

But I can do this. The end is in sight. I tend to pick up my pace a great deal when I know the end is near. Last time I finished (the first draft, that is) I printed it out at Kinkos, double sided, and read the thing to myself over a couple of days. I plan to do the same this time. Then, comes a resting period. Then, more editing. Then? Well, hopefully we’ll have made some good progress, and I’ll have something ready to submit.

Movin’ right along. Footloose and fancy-free.

I wish I could tell you that I had a magic formula for writing. It’s what we all want, isn’t it? That alchemical balance of heat, light, and air, with perhaps a dash of electricity to evoke the perfect environment for creative ecstasy.

But unfortunately, save for a scarce few writers in the world, writing is just work. Oh, sure it’s fun. It’s fun to think about, and fun to create–but the actual act of sitting down and putting the ideas in your head in verbal format is just hard work. That’s it. End of story.

Mostly, anyway. I have my routine. Sometimes I can woo the words with candles, music, and beverages (this sounds… rather seductive, but I promise you it’s not even remotely that exciting). Green tea, for instance, if I’m feeling sleepy; wine if I’m writing certain other characters. But when the rubber meets the road, there’s nothing that will decide what happens other than my own fingers.

That said, and the NaNoWriMo month being over, the most important thing to remember is… well, don’t get in your own way. There are always going to be distractions. Billions of distractions. And the more you give in to distractions, the less you’ll write on paper.

See, I happen to think that writing isn’t just about physically telling the story with words. It’s about a state of mind. The more you think about your book, the more you let your mind wander (in those spare moments which, as the mother of a two-year-old, I know the scarcity of) into the depths of imagination, the easier it will be to write when the time comes. I think many new writers don’t make a habit of this. They consider time at the computer as their only writing time. But I see it more like an iceberg. There are billions of words, feelings, descriptions, and nuances beneath the surface of a book–that’s what’s in my head. What’s peeking out is the best, the easiest to share; I can always delve deeper if needs be.

At any rate, and in spite of my rambling… if focus is your problem, consider scheduling some time for yourself. I’m personally awful at this, but I find if I can mentally pencil myself in for writing at some point in the evening. I don’t always do it, but sometimes I can trick myself into thinking I will–so, even if I don’t get to the actual act of writing, I’m thinking about writing. And for me, that’s often as productive as anything else.

While not may people “get” my love of fantasy, a few blessed souls do. It has everything to do with my childhood, and with C.S. Lewis, mostly. I never believed in anything as surely as I believed in Narnia, when I was a little girl. It was a certainty in my life, a palpable force, a knowledge that magic was real, and that some day–even though I expected it at every turn–I would get myself to Narnia.

Sure, when you’re a kid, there’s a lot of things you don’t know. But I think too many people grow up too fast. They disregard fantasy stories and fairy tales because they don’t believe they’re applicable. But this is as far from the truth as can be: fairy tales are the truest tales we tell, in some sense, because they themselves are spun out of the truest stories of our kind. We, as paltry human beings, have never been able to fully explain the word around us, and fairy tails help us do that, and will brilliance, too.

The thing is, as a child, you feel more. You haven’t been bruised or ruined, disappointed or embarrassed, disregarded or degraded–at least, on the whole, not as much as later on in life. You are new; the world is full of possibilities. Every toadstool is a fairy cove, every cave a dragon’s den.

But we lose it; we leave it. Bit by bit, it falls away. Imagination gives way to reason, and fancy fails when faced with reality.

Yet, some of us can’t give it up. Every book we pick up brings us back again, every word we write in some way is connected to that golden moment of our childhood when it was all possible. I’ve been listening to what I write, lately, concentrating on what it is I’m saying–what my own self is saying about magic, and science, reason and fancy. And it’s rather fascinating. There’s a great deal more tension than I think I expected… I am wary, I am jaded. It’s never as easy as Abracadabra… yet I keep writing it.

I suppose as odd as it sounds, it’s because a part of me simply refused to believe that this is all there is, and recognizes the magic power of words. Magic doesn’t have to be hurling balls of fire or raising the dead. Sometimes, it can be much quieter. It can be hope; it can be love. It can be sharing stories across times, cultures, borders. It can be, in every way concievable, the most basic of human powers…

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