Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Only one more week...

My writing persona has been put aside for a few days as I try to get caught up on some sewing. The jobs aren't too bad. I took on three prom dresses but I'm just doing alterations. The work is going quickly and I hope to get them finished as much as possible before the end of the week. Even though my fingers are holding a needle and thread instead of typing, my brain is thinking ahead to the LDStorymakers conference.

I can't believe I'm leaving for Utah next week. It's always seemed so far away, and now I'm looking at just a few days to prepare everything so I can go. There is the job of picking just the right section of my book for bootcamp. I want to get the most out of the session so I hope to pick the section that needs the most help, though I'm not sure which part that is yet.

Then there is the pitch session. Having never done one before, I'm at a bit of a loss how to prepare for it. I received some excellent advice from a friend, and it's helping, but I'm still a little nervous about it. I just keep reminding myself that it will be a good experience and I have an opportunity to ask an editor a few questions and share my excitement about my current project.

To top it off, I get to travel to Utah with my aunt and once there, I get to meet up with many writer friends I've made over the last few years. The hardest part is leaving my family behind for a week. Yesterday my son admitted that he will miss me when I'm gone. Good to hear. I do believe if I leave once in awhile, they'll appreciate me that much more when I get back, and every mother needs a little appreciation once in awhile.

I just plan on enjoying every moment. Before I know it, this conference will be just a distant memory and I'll be looking ahead to the next one.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Brass Dragon Codex by R.D. Henham

"Never start a conversation with a brass dragon--it might never end! In another volume of the companion series to A Practical Guide to Dragons, orphaned baby brass dragon Kyani ventures out into the desert to find something to eat, and finds a gnome named Hector instead. Hector is not so sure he wants a chatty, hungry brass dragon following his every move. But several groups ready to go to blows over the marvelous invention Hector guards with his life, he may need the help that only a fun-loving brass dragon can provide."

Rebecca Shelley, writing as R.D. Henham has once again delivered a fast paced interesting book. I invited my youngest daughter (let's call her J) to help me review this book. J read Red Dragon Codex and loved it. When she heard about the Brass Dragon Codex, she couldn't wait to get to the book.

She said the book is full of adventure and interesting characters.
The characters grow in the book and learn the importance of truly listening to others. I think it is a wonderful story and lots of fun to read aloud with the kids. I asked J to come up with some questions to ask Rebecca.

J: How did you come up with the interesting names?
Rebecca: Krynn is a shared world. The Dragonlance books have been around since I was a kid, so there are a lot of characters and places that existed long before I got a chance to write in this fun world. Many of the characters that appear in Brass Dragon Codex originated in other Dragonlance books.

We have the author Dan Willis to thank for the names (and the wonderful characters) Mudd, Heira, and Hector and, I think, the name of the gnome town, Haggersmoore (introduced in Dragon Well and Dragon Knight). The author Stephen D. Sullivan came up with Syndall, Connal, Ariana, Amber, Shara, Shem, Goldmane, the Bronze Giant, and the city Kaal, and town of Purespring (appearing in the Goodlund Trilogy).

I could go on with many other authors and what they've contributed to this world, not the very least of which are Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman who wrote the original Dragonlance Chronicles and brought the Dragonlance world into being, but that's probably enough on this subject.

It is fun to write in such a deep and rich world and add my small part to it. I came up with the name Kyani (tumbleweed). In the Practical Guide to Dragons it shows the baby brass dragons as a tarnished brass color (a somewhat greenish black with flecks of lighter brass.) that is similar to a mineral called Kyanite. So that's where I got his name. Here are some links to images of Kyanite.

Of course a dragon can't go telling everyone his true name. It's said that if someone knows your true name, they can have power to command and control you. So, since he lived in the desert, I thought the name Tumbleweed would be appropriate, especially since he tends to wander around aimlessly like a tumbleweed.

The captain, Peyote, also has a desert plant name. The peyote is a kind of cactus. I thought that would fit since Peyote is kind of prickly in the story.

J: Why did you make the brass dragon so talkative?
Rebecca: Great question. Since the dragon codex books are companion to the Practical Guide to Dragons, I got to make my brass dragon fit what it says in the book. Here's what it says in the Practical Guide: "The brass dragon loves to talk, and it often ensnares unsuspecting travelers in a bout of long-winded conversation. . . . like its elders the wyrmling is born with the gift of gab. It will talk on and on and on, at times about seemingly nothing. It will talk to animals that can't talk back. It will even talk to itself if no one is near."

I can't wait for you next book. What are you working on now?
Rebecca: Right now, I've just started a book tentatively called The Elves of Lincoln Junior High. We've seen so many books about vampires, werewolves, witches and wizards in school, I thought it was high time the elves got a chance to shine, or at least get to blow things up in some seriously fun North vs South type action with a little romance thrown in along the way.

J: What other books have you written?
I've written the Red Dragon Codex, which started the dragon codex series. In addition, I've written a number of other books that have yet to be published. Here are three that are currently being looked at by publishers.

Take Monkey, a literary genius with flatulence; Bean, a science and math guru with a dangerous bug collection; Vinny, a computer whiz who can't keep her mouth shut; and Art, an artist who can shoot a basketball like a pro, confront them with a mess of fourth grade trouble, and watch the fun explode in the Smartboys Club, a chapter book series.

Mist Warriors is a retelling of "Chylde Roland and the Goblin King" aimed at a middle-grade audience. When Robby Chylde's sister, Ellen, rollerblades around the church and vanishes into the mist, Robby sets out to find her. His search leads him into the Goblin Kingdom where he discovers a goblin plot to conquer the Faerie lands. Now it's up to Robby to battle savage goblins, defeat the Goblin King, free Ellen, and save the Faerie Kingdom.

In Screepy and the Egyptian Curse, Screepy witnesses another girl killed in a car crash with a vehicle carrying relics from King Tut's tomb. An artifact damaged in the crash releases the spirits of ancient evil priests and plunges Screepy and the ghost girl into a three thousand-year-old mystery, which they must solve before the priests take control of the city and enslave its inhabitants.

J: Those all sound fun. One last question. What is your favorite mythical creature?
Rebecca: It's a tie between dragons, elves, and fairies.

Thanks Rebecca. This book can be found here and visit Rebecca's site here.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Another Day at School

Many times when I sub at the school, I'm bored silly. I can see the value of having educational assistants in the schools - especially for the kids that really need the extra help - but as a sub, there is often nothing to do, just lots of sitting and listening to classes that were boring 25 years ago and haven't changed. One teacher asked me last week when the last time I used sin, cosine and tangent applications. I smiled back at him and said, "high school". Math interests me even less now knowing that I haven't used most of it in 20 years.

Today was a pleasant boring as I sat outside and watched a grade seven class play kick ball. Still hard to stay awake, but how wonderful to feel the warm sun on my back, hear the birds sing and breathe the fresh spring air. Did I mention I am really glad to see the snow finally gone? I'm sure we'll get a good spring storm at some point, but I'm going to enjoy the sunshine when I can get it.

To beat the boredom, I've learned to take a notebook with me when I sub in the high school. There are lots of moments when I can take a few notes, jot down story ideas or even do something as mundane as make a grocery list. School is a gold mine of characters and ideas. A few teachers know I'm a writer and always ask if I am busy writing them into my next book. I just laugh and shrug. You never know.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Why Am I Doing This?

I think all the creative ideas fell out of my brain some time ago. Not sure when it happened or how, but right now, I'm sure there is an empty space where I used to keep all my writing thoughts.

Too many times in the last little while I've opened up this blog feeling like I needed to say something, but ended up shutting down because nothing came. Maybe my life is just too boring. Maybe I feel like my silent audience doesn't really care if I continue. Some bloggers refuse to post again until they receive a certain number of comments on the last post. Some bloggers ask their readers for questions and then blog the answers.

But it's really not just the blog. The rest of my writing is suffering too. It's quite frustrating. Three days ago, I determined I should quit. Never write again. Not waste my time pecking away at the computer and wondering if my time could be better spent elsewhere.

A few ideas are floating around my head, but nothing is sticking. I do know it's temporary. I'll keep pushing forward and something will click. The creative thoughts I'm missing will return and be stronger than ever, but for now I just can't seem to get it together. Somehow though, I know the next book is in there somewhere. Waiting to get out. I just have to find it.
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