Tag Archives: YA

Javelin: a sharp, lethal weapon

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Javelin, Jelly’s story.

Javelin, book three in the Sanctuary series, is like all of the series, pure fantasy. The best part of writing fantasy is that you get to make things up. You get to play god in creating situations that could be, better yet, the way they should be and then you get to put characters you care about into those worlds and see what they do.

A writer’s attachment to their work should come from the investment they have in the ideas that work represents and from the affection/disgust they feel towards the characters living in that work.

The characters  live. If they don’t why read the book? There should be a point in a good book where the reader steps into the world and lives inside the head of at least one character. I know there are  books written without a single sympathetic entity included. I won’t invest  more than reading 25% of a book if I can’t find someone to” love”. The character may be flawed (all the better) beaten up like an old stuffed frog, but if there is a shred of something I can identify with, I’ll keep reading.

Writing a book is a series of choices. Every word is a choice, set in place like stones in the walls of places like Machu Pichu. No cement, no masonry, just precision and tension. Sound like a good book? It does to me. The plot should undulate like the earthquakes that shake and wiggle the high places and the words should be able to withstand the pressure. Ok, enough metaphor.

Machu picchu temple of the sun inside

Machu Picchu is over 560 years old. The walls were built without mortar, like a good book, built to stand the changes of time.

Words often get in the way. For me, there are times when I want to shape the story with my hands not my words. I want to paint the faces, show a movie of the actions and create a scent that would expose the motivations of the characters. I want to make it real.

I’m blessed and cursed. I can draw and paint but not with the skill I need communicate at the level I desire. I can write but I struggle with the same limitations. When one reader tells me that they get the character or the story, it means that the magic moment of connection has been achieved. Writing, like most things creative, is lonely, often a singular journey. The difference is the reader.

In Javelin the third book in the Sanctuary series the main characters are surrounded by walls of their own making. In self defense they keep others at a distance. The theme is that love conquers all, even broken hearts. Sound a little different from what you expect from high fantasy, well all fiction is fantasy. This series tells the old stories through the minds and actions of species nonhuman and human, characters ultimately not afraid to open their minds or hearts.

If you like to wonder what if, wander in Sanctuary for a while.

Overview: Javelin—Jelly Jones’ story. Follow the coming of age of Lunabel’s best friend. Jelly has the warrior spirit of of an Amazon princess and a heart that knows no gear for retreat.

 

So, why fiction? Especially, why fantasy?

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We can learn empathy, new ways to sort our perceptions or escape in fantasy.

 

We  search for meaning in our lives. Most of us  strive to live in ways that are rich, empowered, and authentic. At least that’s what Carol S. Pearson wrote in The Hero Within. I subscribe to that theory. I don’t hear people recommending fiction as a way to do this, nearly often enough.

An article published in Brain Connectivity says that reading novels allows us to be more empathic to others. Most novel readers already know this. But the article says that not only do novels allow us to escape, try on new ways of looking at things, and experience feelings  outside of our lives, but the study asserts that reading novels actually changes the chemistry of our brains—causing chemical effects that can linger for days.

When I read, and I read everything, including box labels, highway signs, non-fiction, which I love, and most especially fiction. I expect to fulfill one or all of the aspirations above.

  • I want to enrich my understanding
  • I want to know about my options (do I really want that 34% fat content for a snack? Probably yes, sigh, I don’t guarantee that understanding my options will mean making the best choices)
  • I want to feel some thing that will add authenticity, joy, or excitement to my life.
  • Or, I want to forget for just a moment, lay down my awareness and slip into a safe and soothing place.

It surprises me how many times I’ve heard people ‘admit’ they read fiction but only—insert a current critics’ darling, or the most recent break out best seller from the most prestigious bestseller list. These poor souls’  behavior suggests that they only read as a way to improve themselves or stay abreast of cultural core knowledge. They imply that reading fiction is a duty, and reading the ‘right’ things seems to make them feel righteous.

But there is a solid core of  people  contemptuous of fiction (which by definition means a work that is partially or all made up, something that is not true, which may even have issued from the fevered imaginings of people like Edgar Allan Poe or J.R. Tolkein). Just the facts, Ma’am and anything that isn’t  is an unsavory past time. Or,  you infer from some people’s reactions that reading is a waste of time

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Classic fantasy is often a metaphor for universal truths or archetypal passages in our lives

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Too bad for them. I won’t waste  time on people who worry about the value of fiction or the significance of what they read.  Worry cuts into my reading time.

I am a word slut, a  novel addict, and sometimes a self admitted escape artist. Don’t get between me and my drug of choice.

While I can admire the strength of a well crafted sentence, the power of a well hewn paragraph or the structural beauty of literary  fiction, sentences, paragraphs and beautiful form are only devices, tools to deliver the guts of the work, like the brushstrokes of a painting. For example, ‘Starry Night’ has several levels of impact. If you would deconstruct the image, each stroke becomes a personal statement. But the real impact is viewing the image as a whole. Like all of Van Gogh’s work, it vibrates, it is alive, and it can grab me by the throat across the room. I can feel it with my back turned.

If I notice careful crafting, or sense that the writer is a little too conscious of what they have wrought or if the structure begs to be admired for it’s brilliance, I’m pulled out of the story. I can admire but admiration is a cerebral response and I’m in it for the game-changing-gut-wrenching-soul-blowing whole enchilada.

I want it all, I want to respect the competence, even the artistry of the writer and I want to be lifted out of myself by the story.  If I can’t have it all,  I’d rather have the emotional lift and save my intellectual gratification for architecture. Sorry but that’s the way I’m wired.

For me, story is the point. Words are just abstract marks unless they translate into thoughts or feelings, most hopefully both. Words are just elegant symbols if they lack the means to evoke understanding.  I can appreciate beautiful writing but without the good bones of a story and engaging, authentic characters, beautiful writing doesn’t move me.

Fiction should push us beyond our present understanding, expand our experience beyond our current knowledge, escape mundane or even impossible situations and/or give us a push, either a feel good-rush, or a terror-buzz or a connection to something you’ve never quite felt in touch with before.

Good Romance fiction is a great means to accomplish that. Don’t roll your eyes. I’m talking about the original definition of Romance.

Unfortunately, Romance and romantic fiction, (though there is nothing wrong with romantic fiction) have become interchangeable in the general vocabulary. This misunderstanding has diminished the impact of one of the most powerful implements for achieving  meaning in our lives.

Traditionally, firstly, fundamentally, Romance was a medieval tale based on legend, chivalric lore and adventure, or the supernatural. Think of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, The Golden Arrow or Ivanhoe. Romance is also a prose narrative with imaginary characters involved in events, remote in time or place and usually heroic, adventurous, or mysterious

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Story can inspire, challenge our standards of right and wrong or suggest a way to live that rises above and beyond our daily experiences.

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I write fantasy romance. While I write in  other genres, fantasy romance will always be the most appropriate genre to convey the best I have to offer. 

I once  heard Tamara Pierce say that she wrote fantasy because it was the one genre where you could talk about honor, integrity and impossible goals without embarrassment. We should expect fantasy to thrust us into a journey that requires the best and brightest to meet the worst and most destructive forces; to triumph and  come out on the other side of their quest as even better, brighter and stronger beings who leave the world a better place. 

We are flawed, we can rise above it—that is the bottom line for Romance. Life is big, we are small but Romance should suck the best stuff from deep, deep inside us and show us what we can achieve.

When you add the third definition of Romance,  a love story in the form of a novel, you have a pretty complete understanding of why I write what I do.

The Sanctuary series is high fantasy set in an Urban environment, based on themes like: love conquers all, be true to one’s self, good overcomes evil and life trumps death.

This blog will be about creativity, fiction, the world of Sanctuary and fun. Yeah, because in the end if this isn’t fun, or at least interesting I’m taking  myself too seriously.  I’m counting on someone pointing that out, immediately.

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Some of my favorite go to books of fantasy romance: The Stand, by Stephen King, The Thomas Covenant books by Stephen R. Donaldson, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, Briar’s Book, Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce, all the Wild Magic series by Tamora Pierce, Tithe, Valiant and Ironside by Holly Black, to name a few.