I’m back. . . but not like Johnny.

A: . . . because it’s Christmas, not Halloween.

D: That you make the distinction amazes me.

A: There is a a huge distinction between Christmas and Halloween.

D: Really?

A: Okay, in terms of colors, yes. In terms of pagan-ness? No.

D: Thank you.

A: I try.

D: So you aren’t in a snow-bound hotel fielding ghosts, but you are…

A: In a lovely home lighted by a million fairy lights and sung thematically to my sleep every night.

D: . . .

A: I have a lot of Christmas music.

D: How much i s a lot?

A: Um . . . 1, 2, 3. . . 641 . . . Sorry, numbers really aren’t my thing.

D: Numbers hurt Johnny, don’t they?

A: Yes. If only Mr. King had known that.

D: (With apologies to Mr. King)

A: (Ditto)

D: (Wait, you agree with me?)

A: (Only on every other Wednesday)

D: (Ah, I see . . . are we going to stop speaking parenthetically at any point?)

A: (How about now?)

D: Indeed. So, A: what brings you to the blog? I thought you had “better” things to do?

A: Oh, don’t get all moody on me, Druid. The play was spectacular. The time with the boy was even better, and the editing? My goodness, it was  a breeze. Is it a bad thing that I liked reading the story?

D: Maybe.

A: I gave you three more scenes.

D:  Oh well, in that case, I think it stupendous!

A: Thought so.

D: Does this mean. . .

A: Yes, D?

D: Does this mean, you are actually done with Book One?

A: Well. . .

D: Come on, A . . . don’t leave an old Druid hanging!

A: I guess. . .

D: Yes??

A: . . . Book One is done!

(The heavens erupt with joyous praise. . . oh wait, that’s just D breaking out his 1-man-band).

D: I knew it!

(Dancing and singing ensue. Best get a large mug of mead. This is going to go on for a while).

A: So, I know I’ve been absent from the blogosphere, and that makes me a very bad blogger, BUT!

D: And it’s a big . . .

A: Really?

D: I have been in your head for over 13 years.

A: May the Gods have mercy on your soul.

D: Well said. Anyway. . .

A: If you ever had any interest in being a beta reader for D&A/The Changelings Series, now is the time to say AYE! PDF copies of Book One, The Changelings: Into the Mist, will go out on Friday.

D: In other words, if you ever wanted to give A —

A: Or D —

D: What-for, now is your chance.

A: Thanks, D. (Check out the “Contact us” form at the end of this to sign up for a chance to read The Changelings: Into the Mist as a beta reader!)

I also want to say, to those who are still reading after our several-week hiatus, thank you. It wasn’t easy coming out of blogging-retirement, but at the same time, the absence  of connection made it necessary. It isn’t about platform, it isn’t about some amorphous “thing” for the published-author-in-waiting that makes me come back, it’s all of you. I’ve missed you.

I purposely put away email and connection, except for Facebook (still had to promote the play locally, of course), for a few weeks and it’s been kind of lonely. I’m usually okay with lonely, but this time around, not so much. So, I’m back. I’m back and I’m focused on capturing the Christmas Spirit, whatever that means. I want to share with all of you my Christmas love, which I normally have in abundance. It starts with music. I grew up with only 2 Christmas records: The Magic of Christmas and Bing Crosby’s Christmas Classics. Since then, I’ve amassed over 600 Christmas songs. The one below, it is my current favorite. Over the next couple of days, I’ll share my Christmas song highlights.

What do you think? What is your favorite Christmas/Holiday song? I mean absolute favorite? 

PS: If you want to be a beta-reader for The Changelings: Into the Mist, let me know in the “contact me” form below, or in comments.

Cheers and much love,
Katie

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Broken

Courtesy Google Images

Courtesy Google Images

I am a collector of broken things. Usually I’m the one who did the breaking – butterfingers is a kind term for what happens when breakable objects come within reach of my hands. And broken things linger; I have a spot for them – a home – to wait until I get around to applying the glue that will make them whole again. It can take years before that happens, however. Once broken, it takes me a long time to find edges that match and patterns that connect. The piece waits to tell its story.

This is the story of a book I broke.

I didn’t know I was doing it at the time. In fact, I thought I was fixing it. I thought that the character that had been handed to me would make the book. I thought he would save it.

I wasn’t fond of him, that Druid interloper, but as his story spun itself out in my head, I knew he belonged. It was his story, just as much as it was mine – just as much as it was the story of the characters that populated it long before he made his appearance.

So I broke it – even as I kept writing the second and then the third book in the series, I was working with a mutilated thing, a limping shadow. It had so much potential, but I couldn’t find it. He felt out of place, as though he hadn’t had time to come to love the other characters as I did. And they – well, they resented him almost as much as I did. His edges and patterns did not match. I was afraid they never would.

I relegated it to a dusty corner of my mind, to wait with all the other broken things, until I could see it fully. It took a decade.

When the Druid stepped out of that corner, fully himself, I realized the book could be whole again. I sat down right away and started typing. I called it a revision at first, but it became obvious, as I wrote in my 500-word-a-day chunks, that it was more than that. I was putting the story back together, the way it was supposed to be told.

The edges – where the Druid started and the story he adopted ended – were mended. The patterns – the weave of his life as it affected the clan who made him – burned brightly. Instead of a jumble of pieces, it became a tapestry. Each thread was lovely but the tale they told left me breathless. Good or not – quality fiction or not – that it gave itself to me, and waited for me to fix it, means a great deal to me.

The story that was broken is now whole – and I love it. I even admire, just a little, the Druid who trusted me enough to wait until I was ready. Thanks, D.

This was for Prompts for the Promptless at Queen Creative: Kintsukuroi is a Japanese noun meaning “to repair with gold”; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

Check out these other “Broken” prompts:

The Druid Asks the Questions of Briana Vedsted

Me and Billy the Kid, by Briana Vedsted

Me and Billy the Kid, by Briana Vedsted

A: D. D, put down the hat.

D: What are you talking about? Briana’s coming!

A: Yes, but she does write other things besides westerns featuring Billy the Kid. Besides, the hat just looks–

D: Don’t you say it, A. Billy liked it, and that makes it just fine.

A: Whatever. Just make sure you don’t smack Briana in the face with the fringe on your shirt.

D: (eye roll). As if it were long enough to do that, sheesh. With that, ladies and gents, it is my great pleasure to welcome to the D/A Dialogues, Ms. Briana Vedsted.

D: You are a prolific writer, Ms. Vedsted – tell us a little bit about your upcoming novel, Me and Billy the Kid.

B: Me and Billy the Kid is fictitious tale about the infamous western outlaw Billy the Kid and some other characters from the time, including Jesse Evans, Richard Brewer, and the legendary Sherriff Pat Garrett. New to the tale is Billy’s young girlfriend, Angel, who quickly becomes the object of Garrett’s fascination.

D: I hear you have a publisher for Billy – what has been your experience with indie publishing versus traditional publishing?

B: Tate Publishing, the company who I’m working with for Billy, is more of a vanity press, and so far, I admit that indie publishing is my favorite. It’s a lot more stress-free and I have more control. I still have my hopes on publishing the traditional route one day, but for now, self publishing is the best I’ve found.

D: Where do your characters come from? Are they people you’ve known all your life, did they come knocking on your mind’s door, demanding to be written, or is it a combination of all of that?

B: My characters are a combination of people I know and people that just popped into my head. It is by far easier to take real life people I know and make them into characters, for me. With most of my characters who are imaginary, I usually see them very clearly when I start writing, but after awhile, appearance starts to change and I have to make a list of each color’s eye color, hair color, age, etc.

D: Of all your characters, who would you rather spend a day with? What would you do?

B: I would of course love to spend a day with Billy the Kid! Even though my character is slightly different from the really William H. Bonney, to be able to hang out with a legendary old west cowboy would be amazing. And I would just sit and listen to him talk all day long. I’d want to hear the stories he could tell!

D: Who is your least favorite character? Who, if they were to be in the middle of a stampede of cattle, would you save last?

B: The character I’d let the cattle trample would probably be Maggie, the main character in The Untold Story of Margaret Hearst, alias Maugrim Valletta (a.k.a. The Ballad of Margaret Hearst). She’s a foolish, rebellious teenage girl who falls in love with the wrong man and does everything she can to be with him. She is the only character I have that I don’t like. And actually, she turned out just the way I planned. I think I hoped she would have developed a new personality, but alas, she was a very obedient character and went alone without arguing.

D: What genre would you like to try – if you haven’t already?

B: I’ve actually tried writing every genre I could think of. But so far, my favorites are fantasy and western.

D: I hear there is a vampire-and werewolf-like story in your future? Care to share a spoiler-free sneak peek?

B: Here with the Wolves is about werewolves and the human-like Slayers who kill them to protect humans. Here’s a piece from the first book in the series:

 “Well, well, well, if it isn’t Ness, the conquering hero.”

My hand dropped to my knife blade, and I had to remember that it was kind of illegal for an alpha to kill a member of her pack, no matter how annoying he was.

“Hello Malcolm.” I turned to face the dark faced aggressor. His blue eyes took in my bloody appearance, my bandaged arm, and the don’t-mess-with-me-right-now-or-I-just-might-rip-your-head-off look with amusement.

“I guess I was wrong about you: you were able to kill a wolf after all.”

You could have knocked me over with a feather. Was Malcolm actually giving me a complement?

Then he opened his infuriating mouth again, “Or did Kenneth do it for you? Were you scared? However did you manage to spend three whole nights out in the woods? Did you have to borrow your little brother’s teddy bear, or maybe his security blanket, huh?”

He laughed coldly, and again, the only thing keeping his head on his shoulders was Dustin’s hand on my arm.

Kenneth started to stick up for me, but I waved him away. I wanted to show him I could handle myself. I shook off Dustin’s arm and stepped right up in front of Malcolm. The sound of my own voice surprised me, it was so low and gravely, I don’t think it even belonged to me. “As your Alpha, I command you to hold your tongue. If anyone is going to do any lecturing, it will be me. Unless you are severing the bond, bow before me so as to prove your loyalty to our pack.” This was the first time I’d ever pushed anyone. Never before had I summoned up my alpha ability of dominance to order anyone around.

And now Malcolm was faced with a dilemma. He could choose not to bow (which I probably would have done) and be turned out of his pack (okay, maybe I would have bowed, for Kenneth’s sake), or he could bow to his mortal enemy and remain in the pack.

He chose the second option.

Falling to the ground, Malcolm groveled. (It was a bit much, in my opinion.)

Embarrassed and a bit ashamed for pushing him so harshly, I cleared my throat, “Uh, okay then. Rise Malcolm. You have proven your loyalty.”

Blue eyes like daggers, his dark face shockingly pale with humiliation, Malcolm got to his feet. His voice dripped poison as he said, “I honor no alpha but Kenneth. The day his reign is over, I’ll come after your life.”

A Girl Named Cord

A Girl Named Cord

D: Thank you for sharing that with us, Briana. How much of your family’s work on its ranch has influenced your storytelling?

B: All I know about horses and cattle I learned from experience. Living on my family’s ranch has helped inspire the majority of my stores, western or other genres. Ranching can be a dangerous occupation. I know what it feels like to get bucked off a horse, come face-to-face with a lion, and get lost in the middle of nowhere. Great joy comes with the territory, as well, and so does sorrow. Living the life I do has given me lots of opportunities, and I try my hardest to accurately describe all events I write about.

D: A and I both loved your post I am an Author. What advice would you give to other young and aspiring authors out there.

B: Really the only thing I would say is that you’ve got to love this craft. I mean it. If you don’t love writing, it might be the wrong job for you. But if you do love it, then just keep writing. Everything gets better with practice. Yes, there will be naysayers along the way, but you have to be strong.

D: All right, Briana – I love asking this question of people who have a myriad of characters at their disposal: It’s a Druid showdown – me vs. a character of your choice. Who do you think can take this time-travelling Pict warrior down?

B: I’m going to have to say Kenneth, alpha of the Slayer pack from Here with the Wolves. He’s the most level-headed character I’ve ever come up with, and a born fighter. I’m not sure he could actually take you down, D, but he is an archer, as well as an extremely good swordsman. And if necessary, he’s all for flaunting his martial arts skills. If you bother his protégée, Ness, be prepared to face the wrath of Kenneth!

D: Yikes, I think I’ll leave Ness alone!

Well, there you have it folks, Ms. Briana Vedsted. To learn more about Briana and her work, head over to When I Became an Author. You can also buy her books, The Night I Walked Off Boot Hill, A Girl Named Cord and The Ballad of Margaret Hearst
on Amazon.

Me and Billy the Kid will be released on November 5, 2013.

Gods do swear

Gods do swear,

I had years,

Of stolen breath.

Living trouble?

Wrong.

Living god.

D: A, A, why are you doing this to me?

A: Doing what?

D: Torturing me!

A: Thanks for the support, D.

D: You are the first person to admit you’re not really made for this sort of thing. I mean, there’s that up there and then there was the response to Dean’s September 1 prompt at the Community Storyboard. It really must end.

A: I know D, but I’m trying to learn.

D: . . .

A: Fine. Put it this way, you are made for this sort of thing and you fail, on many occasions, to impart your wisdom. What is the point of having a centuries-old Druid camped out in your brain if he won’t teach you how to turn a bit of prose now and again?

D: Job security?

A: D! You are a Druid – you are a born tale-teller, a master at words, an orator and mystic. I can do an okay limerick.

D: Sometimes.

A: Exactly.

D: I still don’t get it.

A: (Sigh) You’re a 7th century Pict. They had a written language, but much of their histories and stories were told through song and oratorical extravaganzas. Since the next two books spend a fair chunk of time in the 7th century, it would behoove me to at least be able to give a few lines here and there of your mastery.

D: Ha, you said I had mastery.

A: D, pay attention.

D: (snicker) I have mastery!

A: D!!

D: Okay, fine. Do I understand you correctly in that you would like to learn how to write a stylized oratory extravaganza in order to do my mastery justice?

A: I don’t know why I even try talking to you some days.

D: Because I have mastery.

A: (Eye roll) Fine. Yes. I want to learn. You’re the one who plopped the Ballad of Dubhshìth and Mairead in my lap at the last minute (name changer!) and I want to do it justice. At least, I want to fake well enough so you sound marginally eloquent.

D: Oh! So now I’m eloquent and masterful.

A: Someone shoot me.

The Druid Tells the Tale

D: Because I’m masterful.

A: I take that back – can someone shoot the Druid?

D: Oi, I’m talking here!

I criticize A all the time. Of course, it is rare that she listens to me, which is why you have this blog. If you have an eagle-eye for detail and would like to be told the truth of your own work, check out Diamonds or Dust, an unbiased critique group for serious writers.

A: There is so much fun at the Community Storyboard, but please check out the first-ever, CSB chain-story event, Squirrels: This Time Its Personal. Each episode just gets better and better.

D: In case you didn’t see it the first time, Ionia Martin, Queen of Readful Things and all of us, her minions, beat cancer. Can we give the lady the biggest hug the blogosphere has ever seen? Please? Tell her the Druid sent you.

A: D – I think Ionia might like this:

D: . . .

A: She said something about a pole dancing, and I’m just wondering if this is what happened after.

D: You mock me, but I am sill masterful.

A: I’ve created a monster.

Speaking of Ionia and Queenlieness, Part 2 of the Query Letter Series is now available. This post series is helpful, to the point, and takes a lot of the fear out of creating something an editor or an agent – or rather, their hapless assistants – might want to read and (gasp!) respond to in a positive fashion!

D: Speaking of which. . .

A: Editing, D. Editing.

D: So you say . . .

Since A is editing, take your fill from a published writer, a one Charles Yallowitz, Scribe of Windemere, whose work “Sari Fairy Tale” is available for view at wePoets Show It.

What was the wackiest thing (to you) that you learned to do in order to write a story, get a job, or do that thing that you’ve wanted to do so learning to walk on your hands backwards really didn’t seem so wacky after all??

 

Say my name

The mess called my desk

Somewhere in this chaos is Dubh Súile’s real name.

A: Guess who just finished her book?

TC: JK Rowling

A: JK Rowling can kiss my a*s

(No disrespect intended to JK Rowling, or her work, of course.)

* * *

A: Clocking in at a terror-inducing, unedited 112,865 words, the first book in the Changeling time traveler series is done. Theoretically. Until tomorrow. When edits start {sob}.

D: Would you stop crying? You did enough of that last night.

A: Which was totally allowed! It was emotional, D what with the . . . and the whole other . . . and that . . .

D: . . .

A: I’m not sure if you’re speechless or mocking me.

D: Can’t it be both?

A: Perhaps. Speaking of both. Or three or how about five? I am not speaking to you.

D: That made no sense. I’m not even sure you can mock the English language like that by declaring that coherent in any way.

A: Don’t you want to know why I’m not talking to you?

D: Not especially.

A: D!

D: Well, I already know why, and you’ve been yelling at me ever since you found out.

A: Do you blame me? You changed your name D! You changed your name in the book’s home stretch. Changed your name. You. Name-Changer!

D: I don’t know why you’re so upset. I didn’t change it so much as reveal my birth name. And it had to be done that way – you couldn’t know until everyone in the story knew. It wouldn’t have had the same emotional oomph otherwise.

A: Emotional oomph? D, it’s a book. I’m a writer – we aren’t going for on-screen reactions. You are not a director!

D: Yet.

A: (Eye roll) Seriously, D. It was a little disconcerting to find out that the name I thought was yours was not, in fact, your real name. 13 years I’ve had that name in my head. 13 years.

D: Exactly, A – 13 years I’ve had to put up with you not knowing my real name.

A: Don’t change the subject. What if I told you A isn’t my real name, hm?

D: I know it’s not your real name, A. See, I do know all your names and A is simply a title you’ve given yourself.

A: . . . Stop looking smug.

D: You made me.

A: Name changer.

D: I’m still not seeing the problem.

A: Fine. At least when I spell it wrong it makes a dirty word, and that makes me smile.

D: You are my punishment. I know that now.

A: Cheers, D.

Want to know what D did while I finished writing the first book of his series? Check out Green Embers’ highly entertaining response to the “where did summer go” prompt at the Community Storyboard: The Bad Plot to Steal Summer Forever. I’m still giggling.

Tell me your best story about how the characters in your head defied your whims, your expectations, and some of the most fixed ideas you had about them. Please. Because I know I am not alone in this! 

My Name is D

D: Take that, A! Here’s my side of the story.

A: Don’t think you’re getting the last word, D.

D: I’d never think that, A. I just know that mine is the *best* word.

A: Whatever, Druid. “Bloody lunatic,” indeed.

While this was originally hosted at “wePoets Show It,” that site has shut down. Below is Part 1 of the in-progress “My Name is D” saga in its entirety. 

My Name is D – Part 1

My name is D. My parents gave me this funny pseudo-Irish name. According to the birth certificate, I’m Dubh an Súile mac Alasdair. New age hippies.

Yeah. Just call me D.

I have been living on the road for fifteen years and let me tell you, I’ve had some . . . . Excuse me; I’m trying not to swear. I know there are ladies present and I’d rather not, but gods’ breath, I’m in trouble. I’m on the run – and it isn’t even my fault. I could see if I had robbed that bank, or I had stolen that car, then maybe, but I didn’t.

I was just a chap in the wrong place at the wrong time. Believe me or no, it’s the gods’ honest truth.

Let’s just say that I was fingered. It might have been my past catching up with me, or it might have been simple bad luck. There’s a story there, and I’ll let you judge for yourself. In the end, though, I got away. I always get away.

I didn’t anticipate A, however. I don’t think anyone can anticipate A.

A – I think it stands for Amelia – is a bounty hunter, a madwoman. She kept me hostage for ten of those fifteen years. Apparently keeping me around was worth more to her than turning me in for the bounty. She is an odd duck. It took me those ten years just to find some of her weaknesses – give myself the opportunity to slip away. I don’t know if I’ll ever really get away. Ten years – gone. Bloody lunatic.

Oh, don’t look at me like that. I look young, there’s hardly any grey in my black hair and the wrinkles around my blue-blue eyes appear to be from laughing, don’t they? I know. I’m lucky. I’m older – a lot older – than anyone suspects. Luckily, with age – and torture – comes a certain wisdom.

Of course, I’m not sure wisdom was with me when I rolled into this town.
I only knew that I needed a way to put gas in my old jalopy. Well, not mine exactly. Old Johnson’s boat of a Buick wasn’t particularly what I was looking for in a getaway car, but it worked in a pinch. And, judging by the look of this place, the car fit in pretty well.

But, I digress. I needed gas, and for that, I needed cash. Banks weren’t an option. They still have my face on posters – never mind my protestations.

Then I spied the café. A cyber something. Fancy. I wondered . . .

I pulled my now-rattling boat up to the curb. It was making noises that would make my grandmother – gods rest her soul – blush. I had people, distant people, who might be able to put me in touch with someone – make a connection, you know?

I opened my door. Regretfully, I was not paying attention to my nearest blind spot, so worried was I about watching the road behind me. A – she was dangerous and she was pissed.

I smashed the unknown woman in the leg. I heard the crack. I heard her scream and my heart sank. Oh no, not again. . .

Read more in the My Name is D series

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

My name is D. My parents gave me this funny pseudo-Irish name. According to the birth certificate, I’m Dubh an Súile mac Alasdair. New age hippies.

Yeah. Just call me D.

I have been living on the road for fifteen years and let me tell you, I’ve had some . . . . Excuse me; I’m trying not to swear. I know there are ladies present and I’d rather not, but gods’ breath, I’m in trouble. I’m on the run – and it isn’t even my fault. I could see if I had robbed that bank, or I had stolen that car, then maybe, but I didn’t.

I was just a chap in the wrong place at the wrong time. Believe me or no, it’s the gods’ honest truth.

Let’s just say that I was fingered. It might have been my past catching up with me, or it might have…

View original post 407 more words

Now a word from our sponser

A: D!! D, Where are you?

D: Over here!


A: D, what are you doing? Are those weights?


D: Green Embers gave me a face, A. But he also gave me pects.


A: Did he ever! Isn’t that the greatest? Plus, now I can call a pecty-Pict! Ha!

D: You have no shame.


A: None whatsoever. So, what’s with the weights?


D: I just want to make sure I live up to my image.


A: Oh dear – we may have created a monster: The Hunky Pecty-Pict. This could get ugly.

D: Ugly, A? Hardly. I think I’m rather dashing – in a rugged sort of way.

A: Great. Say thank you, D.


D: Green Embers, you have my deepest appreciation for breathing life into my words! Now maybe I can get some sympathy around here.

A: (Not bloody likely). Thank you, Green – D looks fabulous!