It’s a Smorgasbord

Hi-SmileyEmoticonA lot has happened in a short time, and much of my free time has been taken up with, albeit good things, but time consuming nonetheless.  I have had very little time to do the things I enjoy, like writing here.

Hi!  I hope you’re all well.  Today I’ve decided to share a little bit of everything, I’m so very behind. 😉  There’s some good news, a quote, and a writing prompt.

So the good news.  I got a new job and start this week.  Yay!  This has made it necessary to buy a “new to me” car, which is where all my free time has gone – research mode.

And then the best news of all, my pilot advanced to the semi-finals of the Fresh Voices contest.  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  (Happy dancing ensues!)  Positive feedback is hard to come by in this, my chosen field, so you can imagine the boost to my psyche upon learning such wonderful news, which I had to read four times to see if my eyes were deceiving me, in part because I was having this weird side effect of water drippage. 😉

Now, the quote.  This is about staying positive, which is sometimes hard to do:

Life

 

And then there’s this Writing Prompt, number 101, for those of you up to the challenge:

Something Dumb

I hope to be back to the old routine soon.  Wishing you all the very best in your endeavors!  Happy Writing!

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Writing Prompt Challenge Accepted #18

First off, I am thrilled to share the work of simplysimplymeblog, who accepted the Writing Prompt Challenge.

Remember, any time you’re inspired, please share what you create.  You can either post it here in the comments, or on your own page, just be sure to link the post or my site so I know it’s out there. 🙂

YellowBrickRoadA scenery so beautiful, that has become lost over time, it hides many stories of those who walked it’s path. Maybe it was of lovers, who enjoyed it’s peace and serenity, creating memories to share with those to come. Or of those who were parted by destiny, yet met here to maintain their promises, or of those who revisited in remembrance of lost lovers. The secrets it withholds shall be tied within its ageing beauty, as the old marks fade, the new emerge.

The secrets shall remain undisclosed, the mysteries unwritten, the abandoned scape still echoes the laughter and whispers of those who have gone …

~

Thank you again, Sobia for sharing your words!

I only wrote one flash fiction piece this week, because as I stated in a recent post, I was trying to make the deadline I set for myself for the rewrite of my pilot.  I almost made it.

StandingInTheLight

The Chase

He knew from the moment they had met that he would eventually find himself here – standing in a cell the other had once occupied. They had been playing a game of cat and mouse for years, years beyond comprehension, so it was no wonder one of them had eventually found themselves in such a place. He had lost track of the other sometime in the Victorian era, this must have been where he disappeared. There had been rumor of the man who did not age; he was the inspiration for a number of myths and tales, because he had the unlucky fortune of being caught. It was discovering the source of those stories that had brought him here.

The world continued to move forward, yet this place held the remnants of the world it had once been a part of. It still smelled and felt like it had hundreds of years ago, when it was new. He stood in the center of it, feeling the warmth of the setting sun streaming in upon his face, and smiled to himself. There in the stone, a set of markings had been painstakingly carved. The game was on, again.

~

I’d also like to share a little snippet of the fanfic I wrote the other day at work.  It’s a WIP.  It hasn’t been edited or rewritten yet, so please forgive any errors.  For those of you unfamiliar with this topic, I am not exaggerating, nor am I ashamed/embarrassed to admit, when I say, “I am obsessed with (the video game series) Dragon Age.”  One slow day at work, I just randomly started writing fan fiction.  30,000+ words later…yeah.  It’s one of my goals to write for the series, in any shape or form.  Just putting that out there.

If you’re interested in reading what I’ve written so far, chapters one and two are available under the “Scribbles” heading.  There’s some adult content in chapter 2, so you’ll have to click a link to a site that confirms you’re of age. 😉  It was my first attempt at writing, oh, let’s call it what it is, smut.  It was so much fun!  Don’t worry, the following is smut free.

DA2WardenMageTo be a mage was to be a bit of a show off. While we cast spells, we are alight with magic. We flash with a rainbow of colors, imbued with powers from the Fade. We twirl our staves in a great display. For any mage, their staff is an extension of themselves. It helps to focus our hits, it directs with greater accuracy, but it also needs to bear quite a burden. I knew with each passing fight, I was not only developing new skills, but I was also capable of more than I had been before.

I was stronger and my mana drained at a lesser rate than it had even a few weeks earlier. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I outgrew my current staff, but while in the Temple of Sacred Ashes nearly overwhelmed by heretics and creatures of every variety, I cringed upon hearing a sound every mage must dismay at hearing.

I twirled, casting spell after spell, some deadlier than others, when I felt my staff shudder, and in the strange silence that follows any flurry of spellcasting, the inevitable groan of the staff splintering under its current burden. I cringed. Many of the senior mages in the Circle still had the same staff they passed their Harrowing with. As I was quickly learning with my ever-expanding cache of spells, I wouldn’t be so lucky.

As we had finally found a moment’s reprieve, I sat in silence, despondent at the state of what I regarded as an ally, or an old friend. We had been through quite a bit together, and I would be sad to put her to rest.  I gently traced my fingertips along the fragmented edge, thinking back on the journey we had undertaken so far, and how we had arrived at such a strange place, a hidden temple, a ruin.

~

*A special thank you to rooster82 at DeviantArt for the stunning mage Warden, Devene Amell.

Dragon Age Fanfic Update

DA-MageI’ve been updating my Dragon Age fanfic weekly over at AO3 (Archive of Our Own) and because I was initially sharing my writing here, I felt a little careless that I had ignored the updating here as well.

I write under a pseudonym on the AO3 because I wasn’t sure of what kind of writing I was going to explore through this avenue, and this may sound odd, but I thought I might be embarrassed.

Truth is, I really enjoy writing this story, and I have written a “mature” chapter (or two) which involves a little smut.  I like that word.  It’s totally tame, especially compared to some of the stories I’ve read on the site, but it was something I wanted to challenge myself to write.  There’s a first time for everything, right?!

I will not be posting the more mature chapters here, but will share the link when they go up, as you have to choose acceptance for such content before continuing on the site.  That’s for any of you minors out there.  😉

I appreciate your continued support, and would love your feedback when we get to those racier scenes as it’s so different and new for me, but until then, enjoy Chapter Two of Redcliffe and The Circle.

~

The village had been under siege for days from a horde of undead from the castle, and the lad had been on lookout duty awaiting reinforcements, as they were ill prepared to survive another attack.  The people had taken refuge in the Chantry, hence the silence.  We followed the path that twisted down the hillside past the windmill, as the boy tried to catch his breath amidst prayers and thanks.

The heart of the village had been built on stilts and it rose slightly above Lake Calenhad. I do not know why I found this odd. Perhaps because I could not understand how it was defensible? I found that having that idea was odd as well. The silence had been deceiving. From a distance the village seemed almost abandoned, but there was a great amount of noise coming from the Chantry, and we were informed that the leaders of the town could be found within.

Villagers and soldiers moved quietly about, looking beleaguered and downtrodden after many days of turmoil.  The few knights present seemed to be gathering supplies and organizing what they could in preparation for yet another onslaught.  A small training area was filled with young, inept men, and it was clear that if they were going to survive the night, they would need help.

The doors to the Chantry were heavy, probably reinforced, which was good, and took a little effort to open. The stench of fear was palpable. The villagers were like refugees in their own town, huddled together, praying for mercy.  I overheard conversations of plans to leave the area, traveling to destinations outside Ferelden in the hopes they might outrun the evils here and the Blight.  I heard mention of Kirkwall, a city across the Waking Sea that was taking in refugees, and it reiterated to me that no matter what, we had to succeed.

The moment that thought settled in my mind, I shivered.  “No matter what” was a broad phrase with many meanings, but how many dire circumstances could one country survive?  An undead army was on the march in Redcliffe, the Brecilian Forest had had werewolves, darkspawn were scorching the earth in droves with an archdemon at their backs, and civil war was tearing us apart at the seams. Then there were the other facts, such as the king was dead, the Wardens betrayed, and there were only five people (and a trusty mabari) trying to unite all the inhabitants of Ferelden against the Blight.

A man stood in the center of a small group of soldiers and Templars, clearly the one in charge. When the men disbanded, I saw him rub his face in exhaustion and frustration – the burden of responsibility. We could sympathize.

His name was Teagan, the brother of the Arl, and he remembered Alistair as a boy.  His appearance softened, and he greeted us warmly, even referring to me as “my lady”.  I was relieved that he bore mages no ill will, despite the magical nature of the attacks. He even made a remark about my beauty to which I could not help but blush.  He was sly in his flirtation, and I was compelled to return the compliment. I was unsure how Alistair might respond, but it was all so new and unfamiliar, and honestly, it was harmless. I was starting to feel more like a woman, and less like a thing…it was nice to discover there was a distinction.

We learned from Bann Teagan that the castle had been inaccessible for days, and no one had been heard from, including the Arl and his family.  He had been duty bound to protect the village and its people, but with many of the castle’s soldiers scattered in search of a cure for the Arl’s strange illness, they were unprepared and incapable of doing more than riding out the storm behind the Chantry’s walls.

We took it upon ourselves to do what we could to help the situation by recruiting those in the village who had abilities to lend.  In our efforts we discovered an elven spy, who, after some persuading, offered us Loghain’s name as his contractor.  That man had his claws dug deeply into every region; playing a game we knew nothing about.

I knew very little of the politics outside the Circle, we had our own, but from what I understood the Arl was a powerful man with a swaying voice in the political circles.  This was one of the reasons Alistair suggested we seek him out. He would be a strong ally against Loghain, and that was something we desperately needed.  Obviously, this is why he had been singled out with hostile intent, so he couldn’t offer us his help or stand against Loghain. Rescuing him now seemed a priority, and in order to reach him we would have to defeat this current threat.

Night fell, and what came with it was something I could barely believe.

My time in the Circle was a time of study. We were taught about demons and spirits and the dangers of blood magic, but for the most part, it was clinical, with the exception of the Harrowing.  The Fade was an elusive entity, almost beyond study.  The ever-present threat of possession and the possibility of becoming an abomination were always at the back of a mage’s mind, but within the Circle walls, for the most part, these things were just ideas. We, as mages, had little experience with fighting, let alone actually defending ourselves against a legitimate threat.

I’ll never forget that moment I saw my first darkspawn in the Kocari Wilds.  My stomach sank, and with it my heart, that something so truly horrific could exist. They were beings of anger and hatred, with no other sense then to fight and kill.  They had no language beyond the garbled noises they made, and yet they could unite and strike in formation, leaving death and devastation in their wake. They scorched the very earth and left twisted remnants of themselves behind as reminders to those lucky enough to survive, that true evil existed and was living among them. Or below them, as it were.

I learned quickly that they were almost as frail as any mortal, as they were made of flesh and bone just as we were, so when I got my first glimpse of the creatures that now stormed towards us from the castle, I almost felt a sense of relief.  They were half skeleton beings with fleshy remains that hung like ribbons from various body parts.  Some wore bits of armor and carried weapons and shields, but they appeared fragile in their bony state.

They descended upon us in a cloud of bright green magic, and as I struck them, I realized their frail state was merely an illusion. The magic that bound them was powerful, and it took more effort than I could have imagined to defeat them.  Wave upon wave of the undead came from multiple directions, and for some time, I feared it may be never ending, but in the end we were victorious, but not without a few close calls.

Alistair, Sten, and Keiko had run into the thick of battle, and there were a couple of times when I saw them nearly surrounded and a panic and fear I had never felt before crept in.  I would yell out commands to both Morrigan and Leliana and somehow we were able to hold back the impending doom that seemed inevitable. This would be one of those arguments for why it was best to avoid personal connections within ranks – impaired judgment – something I would deliberate over when I was alone.

I sent out healing magic when I saw each of them wane in strength or stamina, and I was overcome with relief when the last of the corpses were struck down with no others on the horizon.

The Circle had definitely not prepared me for this.

We reunited in the main square and I looked everyone over in case they needed additional healing, but other than being exhausted from battle, everyone was miraculously unharmed save a few minor cuts and bruises. I made a mental note to remember to ask the First Enchanter for more training in spells that would be useful in protecting my companions amidst battle when we traveled to the Circle for aid. Maybe even Morrigan could teach me a few new tricks.  I would ask her when we were next in camp.  For now, we had to plan our next move.

~

Fanfiction Madness Continues…

Origins-WardenShieldYou may be wondering, “Why are you wasting your time with fanfiction writing?” And I would respond with a blank stare, before I started stumbling around for a way to make you understand.  People who are “fans” of something, and I mean devoted fans, get it right away, for others it takes a little more persuading.  Plus, I’m hoping the creators of the Dragon Age series will find me and offer me a job.  😉

Until a couple of years ago, I had no idea what fanfiction was.  Surprising, right?!  I had written an episode of the TV show Alias in college, but that was to build up my portfolio and to learn to emulate an existing voice, I never thought of it as fan fiction, although that is exactly what it was.  I was taking characters someone else had created and I wrote my own story.  I’ve been planning on writing a post on fandom, and this sort of ties into it, because there is no telling what will strike a chord in you.

Dragon Age to me is what Star Wars is to The Sis.  I’ll expand more on this in the other post.  As a fantasy enthusiast in a first person game, it’s easy to get swept up into the adventure and romance.  Not all my friends like fantasy and sci-fi so they may not understand, but how does one not want to be chosen to save the world, wield magic, create unlikely alliances, and find romance with a powerful witch or a sassy assassin or a sweet warrior?!  Well, I guess non-fantasy people.

Anyway…the other side of this coin is that as a writer, you have a fully flushed out world with fully realized characters, and there’s no pressure, it’s just fun to explore.  I love to write, it’s what I want to do, but as writers we place so much pressure on ourselves to get it “right” that we often lose the spark, especially when we’re still considered novices.  We don’t have anyone waiting for our next great piece, we don’t have fans coming to us in droves wondering what happens next…((pouts))

I’ve been doing a lot of this fanfic writing while at my serving job, because I often have long spaces of time with nothing to do.  I can come and go in this story without feeling any loss of momentum, or having to get in the right frame of mind, and at least I’m writing something – and I really like it.  To think about characters I have come to know in situations not previously explored is just fun.  Which brings me to my next installment in the Dragon Age story.  I hope you like it.  If you want to see where the madness began, with a writing prompt image, click here.

RedcliffeVillage

Redcliffe Village

The village of Redcliffe was famous for its hilltop windmill, and after hearing about it for years from the Templars who traveled Ferelden in search of what they considered uncontrolled magic; I was excited to finally see the twirling sails for myself. What I was not excited about was the eerie silence of the village that followed. As a Circle mage, my life was limited to the walls of the tower; silence was my old friend. Approaching a place that should be bustling with life, only to find it quiet, was to put it mildly, unsettling – as was the conversation with Alistair before we moved any further.

He asked to speak to me alone for which I received some knowing looks from the rest of the party who continued forward, allowing us some privacy. I was immediately tense. I found it easy to continue to maintain my distance from Alistair while on our journey, and although done purposefully, I hadn’t thought he had noticed. The events in the cave, the magnitude of what lay ahead of us, in addition to my irrational thoughts about a nonexistent relationship weighed heavily upon me, and I felt it best to recapture my level-headedness, through distance.

The Circle, although full of people, allowed each of us a great amount of time to find solitude, especially as we grew older. As children, there were always elders to watch over us, but even as a child I remember keeping my distance from the others; the bitter taste of betrayal from my family lingered for some time. Being sent to a strange place, to be treated like a dangerous object, to never be free…I didn’t know that was what lay in store for me when the Templars came for me, but my parents had.

But I digress. I know I had grown quiet since leaving the Brecilian Forest, but it was a habit, a coping mechanism, or whatever you want to call it, because retreating to the safety of my own mind was where I found comfort. I had not intended it to be alienating, especially to my companions, and I said as much when Alistair asked if I was all right.

I was also troubled by how the world suffered. Being locked away, sheltered, I only had the smallest of insights into what everyone else had to deal with on a regular basis. So far, each time we traveled somewhere new there was a new threat. The darkspawn were a recent development, but villagers had to deal with civil war and in-fighting, dragon attacks, bad crops, bandits, and so much more while trying to raise a family and just live their lives. The Dalish had been dealing with werewolves and were continually on the move due to a variety of fears and threats.

The mages only had the Templars to worry about, and the constant fear of possession, and the threat of tranquility – our world was contained, limited. So much more could happen on the outside, and I found it oddly thrilling. When Duncan recruited me, I had no idea what he was truly offering me…I’m not sure if he knew either, but what he had done was open the world to me…and then there was Alistair.

Not only did he want to talk about me and my well being since the cave, he bombarded me with news so surprising I was left literally speechless. As if our challenges weren’t already great, he shared with me that he was the bastard half-brother of the late king, making him the last in the Theirin bloodline.

I can only imagine the look I had upon my face, because he had to stifle a laugh. He shifted uncomfortably under my scrutiny as I tried to make sense of what this meant. Not only did this completely change him in my eyes, it affected our entire mission. Maker’s Breath! He could be the next king and he was wandering the countryside, killing darkspawn…I wondered if Loghain knew, which of course he did. As Maric’s former friend and advisor, I was sure he was privy to any number of the old king’s secrets.

Alistair assured me that this changed nothing, that he was devoted to our cause and the Grey Wardens, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was the beginning of something so much bigger. The Arl of Redcliffe would know what to do. Our only hope was that he had recovered from whatever strange illness he had contracted.

I joked with Alistair about being a prince and the look of horror that dawned was one of the funniest things I had ever witnessed.

And then it happened– closure, or what I hoped it would become. His confession was what I needed to regain that perspective I was so in need of, and I got it (although I soon discovered it was to be short lived). The decision had been made for me, and for a moment my heart ached at the loss. I swallowed hard, and with it, the intention of burying my growing feelings. I suppose Morrigan’s suggestion offered us at least a chance at something, a connection, but it rang hollow now. It always had.

There would be many who would want to utilize this information to their own benefit, even if he chose to remain a Warden, his name would always hold sway, and should he become king, I was a mage. He could also be considered a threat to those political factions vying for the throne for their own purposes, and a target for anyone wishing to exploit such a connection. We would have to do what we could to conceal this knowledge.

I stared at him for a moment, longer than I intended, as I tried to wrap my head around the idea of him becoming king. He was a strong and brave warrior, but there was a vulnerability about him, something Morrigan disliked in him, which of course I found endearing. He would need to be protected, and although I disliked the idea of telling all our companions, we had to watch over him. He could not be allowed to charge into the fray, or take unnecessary risk, although I would never tell him that.

We had speculated that we were probably the last two Grey Wardens in Ferelden, but now knowing that he was also the last in a royal line…and I thought we had problems before.

~

This post got really long, so if you’d like to read the rest of the chapter, you can find it here.

Have a great weekend!

Discrepant Writer Reviews – Death Comes to Pemberley

DeathPemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley recently popped up on Netflix, and as a Jane Austen enthusiast, I was excited to see they had picked it up.  I had been seeing articles, set photos, etc. for some months, so I made the effort to watch it almost immediately.  If you are wondering why I hadn’t watched it sooner, it’s because we haven’t paid for television in over 3 years.  So yes, I’m fairly out of the loop on most things.

Based on the novel of the same name from 2011 by P.D. James, I have to say I have been less inclined to read any of what is basically fan fiction of one of the most famous love stories in all of literature.  This is not a judgement in any regard.  I love fan fiction, I write some myself, but what I have discovered in some of the reading I have done is that it lacks the…hmm, what’s a good word…magic?

Jane Austen ran in the circles she was writing about.  Modern day writers can only emulate what they’ve studied, read, and seen because we have not lived it first hand, and again, by no mean is this a shortcoming.  I love period pieces, and if we only wrote about what we “know”, we wouldn’t have the wide range of diversity we do in any medium.  As writers, we each have a voice, and when it comes to something as widely beloved as Pride and Prejudice, you have to get it just right.

So here is my quick review.  Twoandhalfstars

The film was broken up into three parts.  I’m pretty sure it could’ve been told in two.  Anna Maxwell Martin and Matthew Rhys play our leads, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy in their sixth year of marriage planning their annual ball when tragedy strikes.  A murder.  Because of the people involved, a wedge is slowly driven between the couple and we are given a glimpse as to the repercussions of following one’s heart instead of one’s head – or at least in the minds of these characters.

The actors are both very good, but I felt Elizabeth was cast incorrectly.  She was not the same spirited woman I have come to love and this is where I blame the writing.  She seemed weak, and that spark that had attracted Darcy to her in the first place was replaced by insecurity and she was kind of dull.  Darcy was too distant, even from the beginning of the film, and because so little is really known of him from the original material beyond those honorable traits we know and love, he too came off a bit dull.

Now, I haven’t been married, so maybe after six years of marriage in this world, they’re a little bored of each other, but when we leave them at the end of Pride and Prejudice, it’s not that I expect the permanent happily ever after, because it is based in “reality”, but I expect more than this.  Of course there will be hard times, etc., but I also expect that the challenge they presented to one another would carry over.  They should have spirited debates, and still have some spark…well, I think so anyway, and that was missing entirely from this tale.

I didn’t feel/see any spark between these characters, and I almost felt like the obligatory “romantic”, oh, let’s call it what it was, the sex scene was meant to reassure us that they did indeed have “something”, but that doesn’t happen in Jane Austen’s stories, so I know it was meant specifically for modern day audiences, and for me it felt out of place.

There’s an odd side story involving Wickham, played by Matthew Goode, and that does have some bearing on the story overall, but in the vein of a mystery, it was still rather convoluted.  The other failing was the absence of Jane and Bingley, the two people dearest to our main characters.  I think there were two scenes with Jane, and they didn’t amount to much.

I love the idea of seeing more of two of my favorite characters, as I’m sure does every Janeite, but I would almost prefer to imagine their fates as an open-ended tale without any real knowledge of what happened.  Looking back on what I’ve written, it doesn’t sound that promising of a film, but it had its moments, and I was glad to have the opportunity to watch it.  If I were flipping channels and it was on, I’d most likely leave it for a bit, but it’s lack of overall charm doesn’t compel me to go out of my way to watch it again.

Well, that’s my take anyway.

Happy Sunday!