"Draw your chair up close to the edge of the precipice and I'll tell you a story." ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

22 December 2011

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A TinyLetter Email Newsletter

So, just in case the sporadic postings on here aren't enough (haha), I've decided to try out this "TinyLetter" thing... maybe I'll be a bit more regular about it, like once a month.

Though I have no idea where this writing journey will take me, I am anxious to keep moving forward on the road I see before me. Most of the time I can't any more of the path than the little section on which I'm standing, but I'm learning to live with it. After all, as E.L. Doctorow said, “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

I'm definitely not moving fast enough on this journey to feel like I'm driving, so to me I guess it's more like walking with a flashlight. Well, maybe more like a candle...

13 December 2011

another baby step

So, I know it has been just about forever since I posted anything on here. Things are pretty crazy right now, it's true, but in all honestly I haven't been writing on here because I haven't really been doing anything with my writing lately. All that has changed recently, though.

I have found the next place I'm going to send my story, known here as DPG (Dream Publishing Group). This time, I am supposed to send a cover letter to introduce my story and myself, a 3-10 page (nice range there, huh?) synopsis that gives every major plot point in my story, and the first 3 chapters. According to the submission guidelines for DPG, every submission gets "reviewed by at least one member of the editorial staff." (I'm going to pretend, just for the sake of keeping my sanity, that that doesn't mean the intern who is assigned the slush pile for the day.)

I'm in the process of writing my synopsis and cover letter right now. The cover letter hasn't been started, but I've worked on the synopsis quite a bit. I typed up 3 pages a couple days ago. However, I then realized that I had somehow managed to write a 3 page synopsis that only covered the first page of my story. At that rate, my synopsis was going to turn into something close to 1,000 pages--for some reason, I don;t think it is supposed to work that way! How is it that I'm finding it more difficult to write about my story than to actually write the story?

Now time for a little brutal honesty (coincidentally, I would be more than happy to let someone read my story if I knew they would be totally, brutally honest with me, but I digress...). It is my dream to write. I've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating, partly for my own benefit. By that, I don't mean I want to be a famous author. I want to write because I can't not write. Of course I want someone to read my writing--it's no fun to tell a story if there's no one to tell it to. Despite this, though, most of the time I feel crazy for wanting this dream. It seems like one of those things most people grow out of, not a dream that keeps growing no matter how much I try to stifle it. I've always been a very logical person, someone who weighs the pros and cons of just about everything. I look at probability and statistics (though I really wasn't a fan of that class in college) and tend to shy away from doing things there's not a very high chance of succeeding at. If you look at the numbers, becoming a novel writer is definitely not something I would consider to have a high probability of success. My scientific, mathematical mind tells me it doesn't make sense to keep chasing this dream.

The deepest part of me, though, just won't let go of it.

for that reason, I'm going to keep writing. I'm going to finish this story and send it out to everyone I think might have an interest in a new, unproven writer. While I'm doing that, I'm going to write more. As crazy as it might be, I've got about 4 more stories floating around in my head right now. I'll write those and send them out, hoping someone out there wants to take a chance on me.

No matter what happens, I'll write because that's the desire of my heart.

07 July 2011

the (next) first step

So, yesterday marked the beginning of the next leg of this journey--I sent out my first query letter to an agent. Deciding on the right person took a while, but now my letter is waiting in his inbox. Or at least that's what I'm going to tell myself, because otherwise it means he read it already and decided he didn't want to read any more.

This may sound totally unreasonable, but writing that letter and choosing who to send it to has been so much harder than writing the story. Don't get me wrong; writing the story took me pretty darn close to six years, so it was by no means easy. However, that query letter was crazy hard! I never knew how difficult it would be to write a 200-word summary of the main theme of my 115,000-word story. Plus, you know how many reputable agents out there are interested in a new writer with no publications to her name and who decided to write a fantasy? Let's just say, not as many as I would like.

So, now my letter is out there. This is just the first agent I'm contacting. I'm being realistic and expecting to send this darn letter out to most likely a dozen more. My hope is that I'll catch the attention of that one person who is going to have faith in me, love my story, and be willing to take a chance on a physicist-writer.

01 July 2011

why I write

“This writing that you do, that so thrills you, that so rocks and exhilarates you, as if you were dancing next to the band, is barely audible to anyone else.” ~Annie Dillard

When I was younger, I wrote all the time. I was one of those journal girls, and I felt like I had to write something practically every night or I would burst (so, maybe I was a bit overly dramatic--guess that’s where Raiden gets it from, huh?). Besides journaling, though, I also wrote stories. I loved writing so much that I made that one of my IEP Goals in junior high, and Mrs. Blythe, my Advanced Studies teacher at Bonner, thankfully obliged me. I have no idea how many stories I started during my teen years, but I do know that getting 30 pages written on the same story seemed like a huge accomplishment. Kind of crazy to think that I’ve got a story sitting at 370 pages right now when I look back to those days, but I digress…

As I got older and closer to graduating, like always people started asking me what I planned on doing. When I got to college I went through multiple majors and finally graduated with a B.S. in Physics and a minor in Biology. The ever-present giggling teenage girl in me finds the “B.S.” title rather amusing, let me tell you, but that’s beside the point. This fall, I will start teaching 7-12th graders Biology and Earth Science, a job for which I am extremely grateful, but about which I also keep experiencing this other feeling that jumps back and forth from excitement to nervousness. Ten years after starting my senior year of high school, I will be back in a high school classroom.

I say all that to say this: when people started asking me what I wanted to do, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I think even back then I knew that what I truly wanted to do, what I still want to do, is write. That’s not to say that I don’t want to teach--part of my heart will always belong to education, no matter what else I may be doing. The scientific side of my brain is screaming at me right now, telling me to think logically (note: you have to hear Mr. Spock to get the full picture, but then I guess there wouldn‘t be any screaming from Spock). The odds of becoming a published writer are…well, lets just say it’s a very low probability. Why in the world would I want to write?

It’s not that I want to become a best-selling author, the next Stephen King or Dean Koontz. I would be lying if I said I don’t dream of something like that happening, but that’s definitely not what drives me to keep struggling to string words together in hope of getting the picture in my head down on paper. So, why do I write? I write because it is one thing I do that doesn’t ever feel wrong. I’m not saying the words don’t ever come out wrong, because that happens quite often. Maybe it’s the scientist side of me coming out--experimenting, trial-and-error, and a whole lot of guessing all play major roles in the writing process for me. What I mean is, when I start writing, I don’t feel like I should be doing something else. There may be a hundred other things that other people think I should be spending my time on, but that fades away.

I’ve read where some authors say that characters come to them and ask for their stories to be told. To be honest, that sounds a bit creepy to me! I mean, really--if that statement was made in everyday conversation (“I have people talking to me that nobody else can hear, and they want me to tell you about them”), would you or would you not feel the need to call for the men in white coats? I don’t hear the characters talking to me. Maybe a concept comes creeping out from the back of my brain, blurry and still mostly hidden. It isn’t until I actually start writing that the characters take shape and come to life for me. So, okay, maybe somebody should be calling the white coats to come for me, too…

I write because it is great to see the development of an imaginary world that no one else has ever seen. Just like I get lost when I read, I get lost when I’m writing, too. For a little while, the rest of the world fades into the background. Nothing can happen unless I let it happen. I guess a bit of the problem I have with wanting to control things comes into play here. At the same time, though, it can feel like I’m not in control at all when I write. Creativity is a strange thing, something that isn’t often encouraged in the math and science courses that have made up the past few years of my academic life. For that matter, it’s not something encouraged in education in general all that often any more, but that’s a different story.

I also write as a way to understand myself. Starting way back with the teenage journaling, I have been able to make sense of things much more when I see them on paper. That’s still the case, although it is a much different thing when I’m writing a story. When I write, I think part of me goes into the story. It may not be recognizable to other people, but I can see parts of myself in different characters--good and bad. Writing lets me pour part of myself out onto the page without worrying about what other people are going to think, because chances are that whoever reads my story won’t see what I see. I hope, though, that they will see something “real” in the characters I make, something they will recognize.

I’m a quote junkie, so besides the quote at the beginning of this mess that may or may not have made sense, here are a few quotes I’ve found in various places and from a mishmash of people that explain a little more about why I write.

“I have tried simply to write the best I can; sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.” ~Ernest Hemingway

“For the time of writing, I am nobody. Nobody at all. I am a conduit, nothing but a way for the story to come to the page. Oh, but I am terribly alive, then, too, though I say I am no one at all; my every sense is keen and quivering.” ~lee Smith

“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.” ~Alan Alda

“Life is a risk.” ~Diane Von Furstenberg

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human can fight, and never stop fighting.” ~e.e. cummings

“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” ~Walter Bagehot

Fair warning: I debated quite a while about putting this last one in here, and the reason will be obvious to those who know me. In the end, the quote won out, despite my hesitation ,just because it is completely true in my opinion: “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” ~Nathaniel Hawthorne


24 June 2011


I've been working on my summary today. When I get it all finished I'll post it and hopefully somebody can tell me if they would buy the book after reading the summary on the back. If not, I'll rewrite--an agent won't be interested in my story if the summary can't sell the book, because that's basically what they would be pitching to a publisher.

I have found that I'm not very good at this whole summary thing, as I think I've mentioned before. I either write a paragraph that would make me want to toss the book in a bargain bin, or I end up writing a page that I would never take the time to read on the back of a book. Rather frustrating, but oh well. This is the next step if I actually want to get somebody to look at my story, so it has to be done. Here's hoping I get it written tonight so I can start working on my first query letter tomorrow!

10 June 2011

The king's order

“How is it you have failed me for so long?” The question was presented calmly, but Euroin knew his answer could be the difference between life and death.

“My King,” he began, bowing low before the golden throne, “forgive your servant. I have failed you until now, it is true, yet soon the Healer will no longer be a problem. She cannot escape my powers any longer.”

Simann stared at the Wizard, his blue eyes cold and lifeless. “Perhaps not. Or perhaps it is as I have heard whispered around my castle as of late--there exists still a True Wizard with powers which greatly exceed your own.” Euroin tensed, but he did not speak. In King Simann’s court, one did not speak unless given permission. “It is only by my mercy that you and those other four fools were not executed the moment you let that mere boy escape.” Crossing his arms over his broad chest, the King leaned back in his ornate throne. “Your magic has proven worthless thus far. This Healer--from where does she hail?”

“The girl is from Lurn, my King,” the Wizard answered, still bowing, for Simann had not granted him permission to stand in his presence.

“Bring me the Master of the Guard,” the King called out. Standing, Simann walked across the throne room to look out over the courtyard. He was a handsome man, and when the sun touched his blond hair it shone like the purest gold. His muscular frame moved gracefully, almost like a dancer, as he walked across the room. Within minutes the tall guardsman, Erik, was entering the room.

“You called for me, my King?” he asked as he bowed, slightly breathless from running to the throne room.

Without turning from the window Simann spoke. “You will go to Lurn with my army. Find all the traitors and execute them. When the Healer shows herself in her hometown, bring her to me. Leave me now,” he said, not once looking at either man. “It is tiring to have to do everything on my own. Send the Healers to my chambers.”

“Yes, my King,” Euroin said, quickly leaving the throne room. Once in the hall he stood straight, his eyes burning with indignation at being forced to cower before Simann. After passing the King’s demands on to a servant standing outside the door, the angry Wizard stormed out of the main tower of the castle and back to his small cottage in one of the many courtyards. He threw the door open without touching it and sent chairs, tables, and dishes clattering against walls. His black cloak billowed around him as the Wizard stormed through the room, though there was no breeze. With only a glance from the irate Wizard, a fire roared to life in the hearth.

“You seem upset.”

Euroin spun at the words, for the first time seeing the Wizard seated in the corner. “Wizard Uylti, why are you here in my quarters?”

Uylti quickly walked across the room to stand in front of the older Wizard. “Please forgive me for intruding, Master Euroin. I have some urgent news, but I was told you had an audience with the King when I arrived back at the castle so I came to wait for you here. I’m sorry for not waiting outside, but I was weary from---”

“Stop blubbering, you fool,” Euroin interrupted. “I do not wish to hear how your jumps around the kingdom put a drain on your limited powers. Tell me your news.”

“Of course,” Uylti said quietly. “As you are well aware, I have been in Nelthien searching for the traitors.”

Once again the older Wizard interrupted. “Do not tell me what I already know, Uylti. What is so important that you did not simply send word?”

“I- I thought I should, well,” he stammered, his head slightly bowed, “I thought it best to come aid in the training of the lesser Wizards, so I decided to tell you in person. On the border of Finley, in Wykel, there are rumors of a rebellion forming.”

Euroin stared silently at the other Wizard, waiting for him to continue. When it became clear that he had no more to say, the Wizard Euroin asked, “Is that all? Your ‘urgent news’ is that a rebellion is forming? We have known that since Simann first took the throne.”

“But Master Euroin,” Uylti added quickly, “this is different. There have been wagon loads of swords intercepted in Wykel as they were being sent across the border into Finley. This uprising appears to be more than just a few unhappy farmers as in the past. I believe they are forming an army.”

Euroin’s laugh surprised Uylti. “Once again, is that all? King Simann commands the greatest, most highly trained force in Tundyel’s history. They wield the finest weapons in the kingdom, weapons forged in sorcerers’ fires. Do you truly fear field men with inferior blades?” He sat down before the fire, calmer now, before continuing. “And even now all the Wizards in Tundyel are within the castle walls, learning wards and spells as we speak. Since you did not ride back from Nelthien, I suppose you did not encounter the walls Ilcren has been teaching them to weave, walls no ordinary man will be able to breech. Despite their belief in themselves, these rebels will not be able to strike so much as a stone of Castle Tundyel. Our own soldiers would not even have to lift a finger were it not for King Simann’s insane order that they go to Lurn!” Uylti said nothing, unsure of how to react to Euroin’s sudden mood change. Instead he stood quietly as the old Wizard continued.

“I have taken care of the girl myself--soon she will not be giving aid to anyone. Yet Simann is so sure of his own plan that he will have all the people of Lurn killed off before admitting that his order was not needed. Once this… annoyance is taken care of, how does that man expect us to be able to cover his reckless deeds? It proves difficult enough to weave a web to cover the ruins of a swift defeat, yet he expects us to keep the people of his kingdom from knowing that he has wiped out a city one by one!”

“I suppose,” Uylti said, “it must be almost impossible for someone without our powers to understand the complexities of a web of secrecy. Sometimes it seems as if we could better serve a King who possesses the gift--at least to some degree.” Uylti’s eyes widened as he realized the danger of speaking such words aloud and he began rapidly trying to qualify what he said. “Though it would be easier, I would want no other King, even should an heir of Rilso be found. Not that I believe an heir of that family still exists---” A knock on the door saved Uylti from digging what was quickly becoming a deep hole, much to his relief. The younger Wizard knew Euroin would not hesitate to reveal his peer’s uncertainty to Simann, should doing so raise his own status in the King’s Court and give the Wizard more power.

Without even flinching, Euroin opened the door from where he sat across the room. Uylti’s brow furrowed slightly in confusion, for he had never seen the older Wizard move objects without so much as a hand gesture. However, he soon shrugged the thought aside when Alek entered the room, Ilcren close behind. While they were giving reports about the training of the lesser Wizards, Osidius appeared in the doorway. Unlike the younger Wizard Uylti, the other four Wizards had long ago mastered the art of shifting and could easily move around the Kingdom of Tundyel in an instant. Osidius was more precise than the other Wizards and could shift into buildings, something none of the others practiced for fear of shifting into a wall or some other stationary object.

“Master Euroin,” Osidius began, “the prisoner has been sighted moving south through the district of Meinsley. A farmer who arrived in Lurn for the spring market was heard speaking of a man who he spotted running across his land two, perhaps three, nights ago. I ordered the farmer brought to me and questioned him myself, and I believe this man is the traitor we seek.”

Euroin stood facing the other four Wizards of his order. “Perhaps the King’s plan will not prove so worthless. Though he will not be able to draw the Healer out, if this traitor is of any importance to the rebellion forming we may be able to wipe out their force sooner than expected,” he said, the strange light sparking up in his eyes once again.

06 June 2011

something different...

So, I haven't written on here in months, but I figured I finally had something worth writing about.

Just after midnight on Saturday/Sunday, I wrote the last sentence in my story. That doesn't mean that it's finished--far from it, I'm sure. I still have a section in the middle I have no idea how to write and then there will be a BUNCH of editing that I will need to do, but the last sentence is finished. Wow. Kinda hard for me to believe. I started writing this story when we moved out to Oregon in October 2005 and now it's almost like I don't know what to do.

The first part of the journey is done (more or less) and now comes stepping out and actually putting myself out there into the big bad world. Nathan has promised to read my story in the next few nights while he works--he's refused to read more than a sentence or two so far--and then help me write the back-of-the-book-type summary that I need in order to be able to send out query letters. I started a summary, but apparently that is not my forte. I would have had no desire to read the book I was describing, so I know I wouldn't have been able to sell it to someone else!

Since I know nothing about the publishing world, (beside the fact that it's big, scary, and super intimidating) I figure my best shot is to try and get an agent. Hopefully I will be able to find someone who believes in me and is willing to take a shot on a physicist-turned-writer. Well, in all honesty I was a writer long before I became a physicist, but I digress...

So, I will post a little more of my story here from time to time, but from now on this will be more a record of all my attempts to get somebody to read my story. It will at times be the place where I moan and groan about how I haven't heard back from Mr. SuperAgent or about getting yet another rejection. Hopefully, though, one day it will be the place where I post how Ms. AmazingAgent has requested to read my manuscript. Who knows--maybe one day it will be where I post that Fantastic Publishing House has agreed to actually put my story in print--and then I will shamelessly tell you where you can buy it :)

So, fair warning: Lots of emotion will follow!

06 January 2011

A Delay

Hearing water rippling close by, Syndria pushed her way through briers and thorn bushes to collapse on the bank of the small stream. She dropped the pack Tamara had prepared for her next to her lap, then leaned forward and dipped her hands into the clear water. The stream flowed from a spring to the north, so it was surprisingly cold. Splashing some on her face, Syndria gasped as the icy water quickly snapped her out of the trance-like state she had walked in for the last few hours. Wiping her hands on the cleanest spot she could find on her gown, the girl untied the pack in anticipation of a chunk of Tamara’s sweetbread. Her eyes widened in delight as she took in the pack’s contents. Besides the sweetbread, Tamara had packed a hunk of salted pork and fresh cheese. There was also a small bundle tied in red trim, and Syndria’s mouth watered as she realized the pretty little bundle held molasses candies she had helped Lyddie make. Once the food was out of the pack, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Syndria tore off the soiled gown she had been wearing and tossed it aside. There in the bottom of the pack lay the deep red dress Tamara had first altered for the girl. She splashed the cold water from the stream over her body, more concerned about not getting the dress dirty than with the sting she got from the icy stream in the morning breeze. She pulled the red gown on over her head, smiling with delight at the thought of Tamara’s loving gesture. Feeling refreshed in the new gown, Syndria settled down to eat. She tucked the candies into her pocket for later, knowing that if she ate even one now she would devour them all. Just as she took a big bite out of the pork, she heard a twig snap in the forest behind her.

Lowering the pork to her lap, the young Healer cautiously peered over her shoulder into the trees. There, crouching low and almost invisible under the thick brush, waited a large tan cougar, its golden eyes intent on the girl by the water. Its haunches quivered as the cougar prepared to leap, and Syndria felt a chill run up her spine as she watched the beast lick its lips.

She rose slowly to her feet and turned to face the beast, hoping it would not be brazen enough--or starving enough--to pounce while she matched its gaze. Much to her relief, the cat didn’t leap. However, that relief soon changed to a different kind of terror as the tawny mountain lion began to inch forward.

Syndria stood frozen, her wide eyes never leaving the cougar. Never before had she seen a wild animal so boldly approach a human. There had been a man in Lurn when she was a child who had tamed a wolf, but he had raised it from a pup. As the cougar crawled out of the bushes into the light, the Healer could see what had made the beast desperate enough to risk coming near. Its right hind leg was bloody and badly mangled. Patches of hair were missing and in one place low on its leg Syndria could see the white of a bone showing through.

Immediately all fears flew out of her mind as the compassion of a Healer pushed aside all other feelings. Stooping slowly so as not to frighten the injured animal approaching her, she picked up the salt pork from where it had fallen onto the ground. The cat stopped in its tracks, unsure of what to do next. Its eyes darted back and forth, looking from the meat in the Healer’s hand to the woods behind. Tossing the large chunk a few feet closer to the cougar, Syndria moved back toward the water’s edge and sat still. Cautiously the cougar hobbled forward, a wary eye constantly on the human just a few yards away. Once it reached the meat all thoughts of Syndria seemed to vanish as the big cat devoured the pork, seeing as how it never once looked at the girl.

Syndria’s heart broke as she watched the poor animal. Judging by the ravenous way the cougar attacked the pork, it had not eaten since the injury. Since she was so young when her gift had been revealed, Syndria had often managed to sneak away from Nedra during her training and use her gift on injured animals. She had healed birds with broken wings and kittens with thorns in their paws. She knew that she could help the mountain lion if only she could place her hands on the terrible injury. However, Syndria had no idea how she would be able to get close to the devastating injury without coming into contact with the teeth that were tearing into the salt pork or the terrible claws already extended.

Syndria settled in by the brook, watching the starving animal. The meat vanished quickly and the cougar began sniffing the air. It soon spotted the fresh cheese and sweetbread still lying on the untied pack halfway between it and the Healer, but was too wary of the human to approach. Syndria looked away from the cat and sat silently watching the brook trickle over smooth stones. Though she knew staying in one place for too long while she was running from the castle was dangerous, the Healer’s empathy won out over the girl’s fear, and Syndria waited for three hours before the injured animal drew close enough to eat the bread and cheese. Another long wait found the large cougar limping up to the small brook, now starting to ignore the girl just a few yards upstream.

After drinking its fill, the big cat lay down beside the water and began licking its hind leg to clean the terrible wound. Soon though, the cougar seemed to finally give in to what must have been excruciating pain and lay still, its golden eyes watching Syndria with only mild curiosity. Slowly the young Healer began inching toward the big cat, careful not to look at it. The cougar didn’t move or tense up; it just lay watching the girl. As Syndria moved into the mountain lion’s reach she made herself stay calm. Her breathing was slow and steady, her movements smooth as she reached out toward the cat. The Healer had no idea what would happen next, but she knew she had to be ready for the worst. What happened as her hand got closer to the animal, though, was like nothing Syndria had imagined.

The cougar looked away from Syndria, seemingly unconcerned with her presence. The Healer didn’t hesitate, afraid even the slightest hesitation would unnerve her or make the cougar reconsider its trust in her. As she placed her hands gently on the wounded leg and let the healing life flow through to the cat, nothing else mattered to Syndria. She no longer worried about her own safety from either the cougar or King Simann because everything she was, was now focused on healing. She drew the big cat’s pain into herself, a little shocked at the intensity. Finally, she could sense that the animal was whole again. Immediately the cougar’s muscles tensed under Syndria’s touch and he jumped up, knocking the Healer off balance in his haste. In a flash he was back in the trees, no sign of his presence left beside the stream. Looking around her, Syndria almost wondered if the injured cougar had been part of a dream, that maybe she had fallen asleep beside the stream and just imagined the whole thing. She soon pushed that thought aside, though, for she could feel the drain healing the cougar had put on her gift. She sat still for a moment to gather herself before moving on. Standing a few minutes later, she picked up the pack Tamara had sent with her. Not a crumb was left of the food and now Syndria’s stomach began to rumble as she remembered how hungry she was. The Healer shrugged her shoulders, for she knew there wasn’t anything she could do at the moment. Turning back to the water, Syndria decided to follow the brook southwest. Maybe she would come upon someone living along the water before reaching Saun who would be willing to spare some food. It would be safer if she could find someone outside of the city, since they would be less likely to know her as the Healer running from King Simann. A smile crossed her face when she remembered the small bundle in her pocket. Pulling it out by its red ribbon, Syndria took out a candy and popped it into her mouth, savoring the sweetness and hoping the sugar would give her enough energy to hold her over until she could find someplace to get some food.