Chapter Eighteen: Departure

This is the real Alderpod #20–forgive me if anyone accidentally ends up with doubles, but there was an issue with iTunes taking the song .mp3 rather than the podcast.

If anyone is having issues still, please let me know. Remember you can always find the entire archive at Alderpod.

alderpodlogoAlderpod #18 – Chapter Sixteen: Tarnish

Back to the castle, and the doings of Sylvan and Ellinora (yes a chapter with two…two…TWO PoVs!). News of the dissolution of the Order of the Asp has arrived, and Libby is not happy. Meanwhile, Ellin meets the new Alderdaughters finally arrived from the Territories and beyond, and she even makes a little vialc-laced speech.

And even though Sylvan’s supposed to kill Ellin’s husband, it doesn’t quite turn out that way.

The music is all me, and again I’m turning to real instruments: i.e. my voice and my guitar. So, some harmonies, which I thought made sense considering all the gals in this particular chapter. I had a little trouble with this chapter, but after a ride this morning, and some editing, I’m happier. So, yay.

I’ve already recorded the next chapter, which picks back up with the Asp and Brick, and just have to add music.

And if I should a little more nasal than usual, don’t adjust your speakers. Lingering cold/allergies. Sometimes I just have to keep going, and hope you’ll forgive me!

I am determined to finish this edit in a week, and so, I’m up now, and I have a dizzying scene in my head, trying to weave in my ends (to use a knitting metaphor).

As you know, The Aldersgate is told in a multiple-POV. Every chapter, a different POV. This, of course, can’t last forever. I’m not as clever as George R. R. Martin, and I need to bring them together, and shift perspectives now and again within one chapter.

But boy, is this hard. I’m in the pre-climax. The chapter before the Big One, and all of these characters are coming together, and it’s like a thunderstorm; hot air, warm air, hail and rain. Toss in a gunfight between three factions with a fourth there for good measure, and you’ve made for one exciting little maesltrom.

I have geared bullets that bore holes into you, and keep boring, unless you get them out (and someone is currently working on getting said bullet out of someone elses’ thigh). I have blood and fear, I have betrayal and anger. I have a demon (of sorts) on the loose. I will not say more at the risk of being a total spoiler for those of you following along, but let’s say this… I’m juggling a lot of things. And some of them are knives, or fiery brands, or whatever dangerous things jugglers throw into the air. I started this chapter this morning, and I’m at the halfway point as we speak.

It’s 11:30, but I feel like I’ve got days of work before me if I ever want to get to sleep.

alderpodlogoAlderpod #17 – Chapter Fifteen: Figments

No, you did not read this wrong. Yes, I’ve recorded another chapter. Sure, part of it is because I feel bad I haven’t been able to do the whole biweekly thing with the cold, but more than anything it’s because the chapters meld into one another. It’s a continuation from the last chapter, and I thought since I was on a roll I might as well go with it.

Notes on this chapter: This chapter scared me. I mean, scared. I don’t usually get creeped out by the things I write, having a good distance. But once again, since Emry is a little closer to home for me… well, you’ll hear I suppose. This is when things start to go really wrong. Sure, things have been bad, but this chapter is the hinge on which one of the main mechanisms balance: this is when we get a glimpse into just what happened in Barnet, we figure out how Cora busted out of her cell, and, in the meantime, learn about the Sibs in general. Gotta balance, right?

Next up is back at Hartleigh Castle with Sylvan and Ellin, and the arrival of the Alderdaughters. Plus: more intrigue, political upheaval, and the first POV chapter from Kaythra Bav. Then, we’ll be heading back to the Order of the Asp… and, unfortunately, things aren’t getting any brighter for Brick, either.

Ah, the joy of apocalyptic steampunk fantasy. But I promise! Not all is boom and doom… this is just the hard part to get through before hope emerges.

Thanks for listening, and look here for more chapters soon!

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And chapter 12, aka, Alderpod #14…

I discovered cabernet sauvingnon to be a good accompaniment to this particular piece. And I will admit to you two things: the beginning is a little wonky, but bear with me–I spliced two chapters together and combined them for brevity, etc; and also, the pacing is a little on the slow side. But this is intrigue people, not battles and hellfire and all that jazz. Sylvan and Ellin are my romantic leads, the sort that deserve the quiet and calculation of the palace setting.

Ellinora, or Ellin as she’s most usually called, is always a challenge to write, but frequently a surprise. Her perspective really moves the second half of the novel, so get ready to get to know her. I think you’ll enjoy the ride. And it’s high time I introduced my other female POV, don’t you think? (There is a third, oh yes, but that waits, precious.)

#15 was recorded, and almost ready to print, when I had some terrible background noise pretty much foul the whole thing up. Now I’ve moved the writing/podcasting station upstairs, I think it’ll make a significant difference both for mental and actual quiet.

At any rate, the next chapter, entitled “Iniation Rites” brings us back to Brick Smithson, the Order of the Asp, and the goings ons of the Territories, before we head back to the Nithings. So stay tuned; I may be late, but I will deliver. Even through the holidays. Or at least, I’ll pass out trying.

Since the birth of my son, I’ve had a very different on perspective on being a woman. The new view came from a purely biological fact: that I survived a pregnancy and (barely) a birth, and brought a new human being into the world. From the moment of conception, the fate of the human race is in our hands. It’s as simple as that.

After childbirth, I felt empowered beyond belief. I never thought I would feel so different, so changed. People thought I was crazy to have a child without pain medication, in this day and age. But for me, it was something I felt was necessary. I wanted to feel connected to the generations of women that came before me, that had their children without modern medication. I felt that going through childbirth in such a manner would literally be a kind of spiritual connection… and I was right. It was even more profound than I can explain to you here.

But you see, it’s gone beyond that. I’ve been going through my writing in the last 28 months, and noticed that, whereas most of my protagonists in previous works were men, nearly every single novel and short story is female-centric. My NaNoWiMo novel, Pilgrim of the Sky is, in fact, what I would even call a feminist novel. Sure, it’s fantasy. Sure, it’s alternate history. But at the heart it’s about what it is to be a woman, what powers we hold, the oldest powers…

Yet in spite of characters like Maddie and Cora, I am careful about writing women. Because, I feel, many so-called feminist characters are, well, masculine women. A woman with a gun, or with the ability to kick lots of ass (not that it isn’t cool, mind you) doesn’t make a feminist. It makes for a good story, and one that likely will be appealing to all genders, but I don’t think it gels with my personal vision of feminism.

I’ve purposely moved Cora’s progression in the AGC very slowly. She’s young, she’s smart, and she’s powerful–but not all at once. Too many fantasy novels begin with a young person realizing their talents right away and going on to do amazing things. But I want to be true to her as a woman, as someone who’s a lot like me, who moved slowly from realization to application. I don’t want to write her as a woman warrior, because she’s not. But she can hold her own in many other ways.

In some ways she’s the hardest to write of the bunch, because she’s seventeen. She can be annoying and emotional, romantic and selfish. I find myself cringing writing some of her chapters because, well, I was all those things, too. And it’s hard to write the ugly side of seventeen. But it’s essential for her, as she grows; I want to present a character as realistically as I can, even if she’s in a made up world. And so far, from what I’ve heard in the way of reactions, it’s working.

Too much SF/F is just… unrealistic. And sure, there’s magic and science, and capabilities we don’t have in this real world. And as scarce as women are in fantasy–especially those who aren’t either debutantes or warrior maidens–I take what I do very seriously. I want the women to be real, capable, and moving without buying into stereotypes or cliches. I’m just sick of it.

Aside from Cora, though, there is Princess Ellinora. And with her, there is even more difficulty. First, she’s a princess, of course. Physically, she’s weak. Emotionally, she’s weak. She’d addicted to vialc, an opiate, and in spite of her marriage of three years, she is still barren. The Queen doesn’t take her seriously, her husband abuses her, and the love of her life is banished from the castle. She is abused physically and mentally… and yet… yet… I find in her a great deal of strength. No, she is not the likeliest of heroines, true. But she is something special, and her journey is a fascinating one.

Lastly, there is Kaythra Bav. If Cora is the maiden, and Ellinora is the mother (at least, hoping to be), then Kaythra is the crone, of sorts. At least, she’s past childbearing. But she is an unusual woman–having risen to power both on her wit and her proximity to the Queen (once her lover). While on her exterior, she is tough-as-nails, inside she’s fragile. She doubts herself constantly, in spite of her perceptions as High Counselor to the Queen. Though she doesn’t figure into the story until the last third of the first book, her presence is felt throughout–she is abducted by Soderon rebels while on a diplomatic mission, and this news riles the Queen and everyone at Hartleigh Castle.

These three women are at the center of the AGC. Not to discredit my boys, they’re important, too. But these women are the ones that drive me to keep writing; their stories are my stories, shared in a way that, even if I tried, would not be likely with the others.

(more…)

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Chapter Eleven: Dalliance

Huzzah! After hitting 25K for NaNoWriMo, and the official halfway point, I celebrated by recording Chapter Eleven of The Aldersgate. I won’t be able to stay away come December, I tell you. I’m just itching to get back, though I have to admit I’m very pleased with where Pilgrim of the Sky is at the moment.

This is a Sylvan DeLoire chapter and, although I read it a little too fast I think, I’m happy with the outcome. It’s a hybrid that actually includes some of the most recent edits, since I flipped some chapters around a bit for the podcast. The next installments will introduce Ellinora–the aformentioned princess–and get us up to date with Brick and the Order of the Rose.

Thanks, all, for being patient through out this!