The Magic and the Writing

Like the old chicken-or-the-egg conundrum, sometimes I don’t know which came first: the magic or the writing. Was the magic born of storytelling, or did the storytelling spring forth from the soil of spirit, from the earth and ground where I first found a deeper self?

Once, there was a small knoll that served as a bridge; as my brother and I crept up the gentle slope, we’d peer down the low but steep sides, wondering if the troll would emerge to exact its payment. Fallen trees made the walls of castles, and patches of briar and thorn hinted of dungeons perfect for villains. In such a world, knights and wizards and warriors were possible, and a deep magic stirred. Many days, that world meant more to me than a world of school buses and math problems. I was on to something—telling stories, but only to myself.

As I grew older and the world grew harder (yes, harder than it should have been, but that’s a different story), I made a mythology for this world of magic and tales. Mythology of seasons, of goddess and god whose love enveloped me like the scent of ferns. Grapevines and oaks, maples and beech trees, foot trails of deer and songs of birds, their world of mystery called me. The wind carried their silent voices. “Ask questions; find answers beyond words. Struggle for words; find they fall away. Walk deeper, deeper into us; find your true self.”

That’s where the stories were born. That’s where the goddess daughter, child of earth, star-gazer, moon-watcher, one whose blood hums with poetry and story, that’s where she found herself, her calling. It was a place of unquestioning truth, acceptance, and quiet guidance. I walked out beyond the words, to the edge of the world of humans, into the wild. An untamed part of me walks there often, and that belief in magic is what pulls me to the page and allows me to speak. Walking out beyond the words, I found the words. Speaking in an enchanted language, I weave the myth and the magic, the fae and the mundane, and deeper truth emerges from the quiet soul.

So, in the world of magic, I find the stories.The world of spirit is the birthplace of all art, which tells the stories alive, breathing, but hidden and formless in the everyday: in cups of tea and sidewalk cracks, in rumpled sheets and messy hair, in shadows and sunlight, behind eyes haunted or laughing.

Feeling the swell of the stories and poems is easy; they have a gorgeous, vibrant energy that sets me on edge—a wonderful, dazzling desire, like a longing to hold the stars or see the sunrise. Tapping into that deep energy is what gives me the strength, the courage, and honesty to transform those stories into words on the page.

Yet part of me still wonders whether I would hear the haunting melody of magic that runs through all things if the stories didn’t call me there. Did the magic of language draw me toward this deeper magic? Which did I find first? Since I’ve known the joy of both, perhaps that’s a stone best left unturned.

So song of love and sorrow, song of night and day, I call to you; you call to me. I thank thee. Blessed be.

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Boy Talk: Writing the Male POV

I’ve been writing fiction since age 12 (if not earlier), and I’ve almost always written from the female POV. In my early years, I attribute it to a couple things: one, a leaning toward “write what you know” (i.e., as a girl, I found it easier to write from the POV of my female characters); and, two, my desire for fantasy books featuring strong female leads. I had a strong hunger for novels by writers like Tamora Pierce and Marion Zimmer Bradley. I realize that I was writing the kinds of books that I wanted to read, and those books involved strong female leads.

Considering that I grew up with two brothers and am married to a man I’ve known more than a decade, I assumed writing from the male perspective would come more easily. I often find myself pausing to think, “How would this man (character) approach this situation?” Our cultural upbringing has led us to communicate differently; where one places value and sees importance, how one handles a given situation, how one approaches conflict or strong emotion is driven not only by personality but also by gender. It varies from person to person, and gender is a part of that equation.

Getting inside my guys’ heads is always interesting to me; I often worry that I might fall into the trap of writing a male POV in a female voice. Since my novels and short stories are written from both the POV of the male and female protagonist, I don’t want to fall into the trap of writing the man’s perspective in my female lead’s voice. I strive for the depth and complexity that I know is in each character; I want them to be alive—deep and rich and passionate and electric. I want each word and phrase to hum with the energy of that character.

Perhaps because my latest character, an elf-investigator in a short story, is so different from me, I’ve found him a more challenging character. This is perhaps what I love most about him, that he’s somewhat of a mystery to me, that he isn’t just telling me who he is and is leaving me to figure him out. I find myself following him through his life in his world, trying to discern what motivates him, what his pet peeves are, his mannerisms, his thought processes. More than any other character before, he makes me try hard to get into his head and find his voice, his spirit. It’s a great challenge. I find that he’s one of those characters who will challenge me as a writer and that, even if I only get to spend a short story with him, he’ll be in my head for a while.

Writers like Cheyenne McCray and Sherrilyn Kenyon have provided me with examples of strong, well-developed male leads with wonderful voices, so I’m sure in the days to come I’ll be pouring through the pages of some of their works. McCray’s Keir in Wicked Magic has always fascinated me; there’s something about the tough male character whose ability to work as a delicate artist (whittling in careful detail) hints at an inner gentleness. The edginess of Kenyon’s character Dev in “No Mercy,” his temper combined with an off-the-wall sense of humor, makes him a fascinating read (I never know what’s going to pop into that man’s head next!). So here’s to hoping that this character can speak to me with the same strength that I’ve seen in other works, and that I can have the same dialogues with him that I do with some of my female characters. *cough “Zoe” cough*

Ren Faires and Imagination:

I spent yesterday in a world full of lords, ladies, and even the occasional faerie. It was great to be transported to another world, a fantasy world that blends our fascination with the Renaissance era of royalty and peasantry, with the modern conveniences of our society. We’re willing to readily overlook that they didn’t wear Nike shoes, drink Pepsi and strawberry daiquiris, or eat tacos in the Europe of ages long past. We get the privilege of showing skin, including our tattoos of pentacles, dragons, crosses, roses, etc. proudly showcasing our nostril, eyebrow, and lip piercings, without the dark shadow of religious persecution hanging over our heads. In other words, we get to fulfill our fantasies of living in Shakespeare’s world while still embracing all of the liberties and conveniences of the 21st century.

Like Disney World without the rides, Renaissance Faires provide us with some of that “good, cheesy fun”, a place where even grown-ups get to let their imaginations run wild for a day. From glass-blowing and iron-forging demonstrations, from a man who swallows a two-foot sword to a game with human chess pieces who duke it out on a life-sized chessboard, we let go of our big screen TVs and air-conditioned homes for a while. I hardly saw anyone texting–which is rare because, really, when are we not texting? It’s immediate and convenient, a prime example of just how fast modern life moves. At the Faire, jousting, swordplay, pirates and knights are all there, consuming our attention, and we get to be something we’re not–or, perhaps, something we are. Continue reading

Welcome!

I thought I’d use my first post as a way to introduce myself to those of you who might be stopping by. I’m an aspiring paranormal romance writer. This is my story so far:

I’ve loved storytelling most of my life. I spent a lot of my younger years roaming the forests around my family home, where I made up my own fantasy worlds. In middle school and high school, I did a bit of everything. My friends and I wrote, directed, starred in, and edited our own full-length feature film. I wrote short stories, poetry, articles for the school newspaper, skits for our student television channel, and even penned a novel. Continue reading