As I’ve mentioned before, my sister and I had a certainly magical childhood. Much of my love of writing came from the stories we put together ourselves. I was writing novel-length books when I was a teenager, and she was often my collaborator–sometimes literally. We wrote a book together!

Well, Llana is not only a more remarkable and talented woman in her own right, but she’s also currently fighting Hodgkins Lymphoma; her last chemotherapy treatment is tomorrow, in fact.

About a week ago, I was telling her that I needed some extra music for Alderpod, and asked her if she’d put something together, if she wanted. She’s done instrumental work before, and I had a feeling that she might enjoy doing something apart from feeling like crud. I told her a cross between Unforgiven or Young Guns and The Lord of the Rings, then really let her just have at it. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d hear back from her for a while.

We’ve collaborated musically and imaginatively all our lives, so I should have expected it. But when I heard her piece (which is 6:00 long!) I was absolutely blown over. I still can’t listen to it without tearing up. There’s something about the art produced from people that have had the same upbringing, who have steered the same steely seas together, and it’s quite beyond words. So, I’ll leave it there.

So here, for your enjoyment, is the piece of music, which will be featured in the last few Alderpod episodes as I gear up (pun intended) for the very end. As everything on the site, it is Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0, etc.

The Territories

To learn more about Llana, and read about her fight–and her art–you can visit her website at Llana Barron.

This the .mp3 for Beyond the Veil, separate from the post before, which was causing issues in iTunes.

There is an ENTIRE chapter, not just a song. Apparently, iTunes chose the song portion and not the podcast as the “podcast”. This should fix it! Let me know if you have issues like I did!

Alderpod #20. Yeah, it’s kind of a big deal. It turns out that the episode has a full-blown song in it, with guitar and voice, so I’ve got to get that down before I set it free, and I want it to be good. So, knowing me, I’m going to spend an inordinate amount of time on it. Hopefully by “inordinate” just a few more days will be enough, so I can get it out the door; I’m itching to get the rest of the chapters out.

So, thanks for the patience and the awesomeness as always. I think I’m also going to release an .mp3 of the song itself, because the quality always dies when it comes to compression.

Anyway… yeah, that’s the status report this morning. 🙂


Alderpod #16 – Chapter Fourteen: The Nithings

Yes, I totally say “fifteen” and “thirteen” at the beginning of this. I will fix. Numbers confuse me even when my mind is running at full capacity. – Yay fixed!!

After a lengthy, and unintentional break, Alderpod is back! Coughing, sputtering, and sneezing are hardly conducive to a successful episode, so I do hope you forgive me.

Notes on this episode: More about the Nithings, and back to Cora. While this isn’t an action-packed episode, I think it’s important to have a little lull. I like the dialogue, and love the Cora/Emry/Ezz dynamic going on in this chapter. It’s more of a character building chapter, I suppose, setting up some important facts for later on in the story. But I like characters! So, there.

And, we’re back to original music, and a new piece. It’s the first music that I imagined playing as Emry, and it’s done with the tenor guitar I acquired a little before the holidays. I finally strung him up, and got him ready to play–I’m happy with the final result, and even managed a string of melody (as I’m a rhythm guitarist!).

I talk about bards more than, say, the normal person. Though I’m far from a skilled bard myself, the importance of music in my writing can’t be stressed enough. Many writers outline, sketch, plot, sit at desks or in parks or at coffee shops and plan, plan, plan, then plan some more. They fill up notebooks with voluminous notes, details, and references. They know exactly what’s going to happen, and when it’s going to happen.

I am jealous of these people inasmuch as, well, that’s not how I work. I’d love to say that I have a Tome somewhere with all the secrets of The Aldersgate Cycle down to which dress Cora is wearing when she… well, you get the idea. But I don’t. I know where the story is going, I have my first draft for that. But the actual details literally, well, appear.

After the birth of my son, I dealt with a lot of uncomfortable issues, postpartum depression being the big troll in my proverbial closet. The world didn’t seem right to me. Creatively I was devoid of inspiration, physically I was exhausted, and emotionally I was numb. It was a scary time. Any person who’s dealt with depression knows it’s a tricky little bastard, and women who’ve fought through PPD know how much of a thief it is. It’s a special kind of cruelty that robs the mother of those months with her child, at least from a mental standpoint, but that’s not my point, exactly.

When Liam was about three months old I started listening to WCPE. This magical station can be heard all the time, from anywhere, but it happens to be located right here in NC. Though I’d always loved Classical music, I don’t think I’d ever taken the time to really, really listen. To notice the variances, the currents, the melodies that meld and grow, twirl and change.

I would drive to my parents’ house almost every day and listen to the station, and during those 20 minute intervals, thing would appear to me. Scenes, conversations, words forming in front of my eyes like some strange spell. And that’s how I’ve been writing The Aldersgate. Although many of the particulars of which composition I was listening to at the time elude me, I know that the words and music are part of the same Source, whatever that Source really is. It’s a bit like going into a trance, but not so deep that one can’t drive. It’s deep, deep thinking.

Sure, it’s a little unusual. But what’s neat is that, over the last few drives, I’ve been thinking about my NaNoWriMo book–and lo and behold, the first few chapters are already written, in between Brahms and Bach; the first scene, especially, is crystal clear. A New England winter, right after the holidays, when the snow is two feet deep, the snowbanks encrusted with salt and grey with mud; you can hear the trees, then, crackle in their frozen state. That’s where it starts.

Classical music has a bum wrap, unfortunately, especially in the younger generation. Many people believe it’s boring, or old fashioned. I tell you it could not be more untrue. The variety of what can be found in Classical music, from period to period, ensures that, somewhere along the way you’ll likely find something that speaks to you. While Bach has always been a preferred composer of mine, I was surprised one day to hear Samuel Barber for the first time–his Adagio for Strings, Opus 12 played on a rainy day as I made my way to Target, and though the details are mundane, the experience was religious. Seriously. I burst into tears.

Just a suggestion. If you’re out there writing, and you’re stuck, and if you’ve not found something interesting, tune in to WCPE. I’m particularly fond of Deana Vassar and David Ballentyne and their shows “Allegro” and “Rise and Shine” respectively. You may find something surprising there between the notes.

The Alderpod

Alderpod 11 – Chapter Nine: Remembrance

Yay! Alderpod #11 is alive and kicking. I must say, due to variety of characters in this particular chapter, I had more fun reading this than any other of the chapters to date. As someone who’s always loved the banter between knights, and the whole concept of a group of traveling companions (who doesn’t, honestly) I find that these Asp chapters are sincerely enjoyable. In fact, on account of that, the whole Brick narrative has been edited and written far ahead of the others. Which is odd, if I think about it, because I would never say that Brick himself is as “close” to me as say, Emry and Cora are. He’s not at all like me, but he’s easy for me to write.

At any rate, I hope you enjoy it even a little bit as much as I did making it. Again, it contains some original music, this one a little more “industrial” in parts than classical, with some beats and whatnot. I thought it fit with the Asp, myself.

The next installment is awaiting editing (though I’m revisiting some of the same problems in this one as in the #9… grr), so there shouldn’t be so long of a wait. In the job search I’m finding a surprising amount of time to read and record.

The Alderpod

Yesterday was ideal for podcasting. Don’t know why, exactly, but as I sat down to FINALLY finish #10, I decided to go right ahead and record #11. #11 is Chapter Nine: Remembrance, which is Brick’s next chapter, and one of my favorites. Being able to do all the voices of the knights is just fun beyond measure; it’s like I have my own little one-woman show going on. But on top of that I was able to record a new bit of music to go along. So far I’ve written about five different themes for the book. It’s an immensely rewarding process, though I do wish that my keyboard allowed for a little more range of color and tone to the notes. It’s not a weighted keyboard, and working with digitial instruments (especially the strings) can occasionally lend a synthetic air to the whole thing. Ah well. I do it for fun, and perfection be damned.

I always pick up momentum toward the end of writing/editing a book, and this time is no different. I can feel the chapters moving, feel the plot and characters–at this point it becomes more of a spectator sport. So I’m trying to keep ahead of the game by recording the chapters two at a time; I decided to keep #10 as is, and deal with my own editorial annoyances later, and #11 is in the can and ready to roll. As soon as our FTP is back up and running, I’ll send ’em out (likely one today and one tomorrow, or sometime this weekend).

I’ve decided to go easy on the job search today. Too much full-kilter is driving me a little bananas, and so I’m kicking up my heels a bit this morning, doing laundry, and contemplating the finish of the book. It would be awesome if I could have the bulk of it done before NaNoWriMo… but we’ll see what happens.

Anyway, to those who listen: thank you. It really makes my day.

The Alderpod


I present to you now Alderpod #8 – Chapter Six – Man of the Open Road, mostly completed… There are sections of this that may or may not be in the final version… but I have always liked this chapter as it is all about Emry; he’s the only one with dialogue in the whole thing, and most of it involves talking to himself (a habit I took from my own idiosyncrasies).

You’ll notice that there’s music throughout the whole podcast, but it’s really intended just for this episode. Music plays such an important part in Emry’s life, and in this chapter, that I thought I’d try to weave it in.

That said, I’m super excited about the next few chapters, and once I get my voice back up and running you’ll have a chance to experience more of the story. We’re moving toward the point where things really start to pick up, both in the macro and micro plots. You’ll be introduced to a new character, too, for the next podcast..

(I just noticed that the intro got cut off… I’ll fix that later. But the whole chapter is in tact at the moment, so I’ll leave it be for the time being)

When I have the spare time, I find one of the most useful brainstorming projects I can do is to write music for my novels. So far, in every book I’ve written, music plays a very important part. The first dealt with music as a power, as magic. One of the main characters weaves all her magic through songs and music, as opposed to other more traditional practices. The character, Tasha, is by and large one of the most trustworthy and “good” characters in the whole tale, I think, and her music has a lot to do with it. Music is disciplined, mysterious, and powerful, and she wields that responsibility well.

This time around is a little different. Magic in The Aldersgate is extremely watered down. The world has suffered, and is lost. Magic is believed, for the most part, to be myth. However, as the world begins to change quite rapidly, a few people begin to feel odd stirrings inside of them. Emry Roy is one of those people. Though trained classically as a bard, he’s never had training in magic because, well, barding is simply believed to be a discipline of academics and talent, and nothing that has to do with what they call seidcraft.

But what happens when your talents become your curses? As Emry travels through the story, he learns that his abilities do not come without consequences. He discovers just what terror the wrong (or right) chord can wreak, especially if weilded by unknowing hands.

This piece of music was written last night to accompany the podcast that introduces much of Emry’s plight. I use bits and pieces of it throughout, but I wanted to provide it in its entirety for you if you so wish. I’m pleased with the outcome so far, but am far from a trained musician–I write by ear, you see. My abilities to read music are limited to one line at a time.

Emry’s Theme – mp3