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When the Hero Comes Home: Volume II

Excitement!

I’m in an anthology entitled “When the Hero Comes Home 2,” the second volume of the acclaimed “When the Hero Comes Home.” The Hero anthologies (along with “When the Villain Comes Home”) are about what happens after “ever after.” When the journey is over, the battle done, and the hero returns in victory or defeat…well, then what? Can you really come home again?

This theme is close to my heart; I got my invitation to submit only a few months after returning from New Zealand. So basically, the conversation went like this:

Gabrielle: Hey, Katie, do you write short fiction?
Me: Um…I could.
Gabrielle: You know you’re getting an invitation to Hero 2, right?
Me: I do now. (thinking) So, I totally just came home from a long adventure to the other side of the world….

I don’t usually gravitate towards writing short stories. But it’s something I’m trying to do more of, so I was really grateful for the opportunity to write something for Hero 2, especially because the theme was so meaningful to me. In the end, I’m quite pleased with the way my story (“After the Winds”) turned out. Things change while you’re away from home: not just for you, but for the people you left behind. How do you deal with the fact that you’ve all become different people who have grown in different ways, at different rates?

(And my usual rule applies: I’ll shamelessly borrow places (oh hai, NZ!), but nothing else.)

The coolest thing about Hero 2? All the other authors in there. There’s some serious talent here – I work with really cool people. 🙂

So where can you get this wonderful book? Well, it’ll be off the printer and on Amazon very shortly. In the meantime, the ebook version is available early…at a discount!

EPub

Kindle

There’s also a Goodreads page!

And more excitement! Dragon Con is this upcoming weekend, and I will be there, despite the fact that my con preparation looks like this:

Oh, yeah, Dragon Con…mmm, that’ll be fun…
Hey, what day is my flight?
What TIME is my flight?
Lalalala, writing away on a new book…
…I guess I should edit Strix more, because I’ll see Gabrielle soon…
…at DRAGON CON! When is that, again?
I guess I should pack soon.
Where am I staying again?
Oh yeah. Ok. I know where that is.
Don’t I have a confirmation number or something? Hey, when do I need to be at the airport?
What’s my name? Who am I?

If you’re around, come say hi. I’ll have a few copies of Hapax on hand to sell in back alleys. I suspect I’ll be mostly lurking by the podcasting and alternate history tracks (not on any panels, but always looking to learn things!).

See you soon!
KT

A Room of One’s Own

I blame P.C. Haring.

My nemesis (*shakes fist*) was telling me about some upgrades he was planning to make to his studio. Of course, we were Skyping as I sat in a jumble of books, papers, pens, iThings, and headsets. It looked like a bookshop and electronic store had delivered an unholy child on my desk, and then said hybrid had exploded from sheer self-horror.

It was not pretty.

More to the point, I didn’t feel pretty. By which I mean productive, which sometimes feels similar, in a weird sort of way. But books crowded my elbows as I tried to type. Pens eluded me. A tottering pile of books threatened to spill on the floor, and the cords of my various microphones and headsets tangled around my chair.

And in that moment, talking to P.C., I had an epiphany (the last time P.C. inadvertently gave me an epiphany, I ended up podcasting Hapax, so there you go). If I’m a writer and podcaster, that means I spend a lot of time at my desk. Sure, Erik and I invade coffee shops every two weeks or so, but the majority of my work is done in this one small room. If that’s the case, shouldn’t it look like a vaguely-professional space? Or at least, a space in which I can be vaguely professional?

Perhaps I secretly just wanted to procrastinate. Also, it was my off-day from the dayjob. Those never end well.

Whatever the reason, I spent some time this morning cleaning and organizing my room. The desk area was my main focus; I found space for the books, chased down the pens, cleared space for the iThings. Coolest of all, I found some wee hook things, and used them to mount my headsets on the wall (I always think I have too many, until I remember that each one has a discrete purpose).

End result? I feel great. It’s an inviting space, a space that I want to spend hours in. Writers are like opera singers: you ought to be able to practice your art anywhere, in any position (I’m thinking of Tosca and Vissi d’arte here) but some places and positions work better than others.

WritersDesk

Also! Excitement! After mulling it for weeks, I took the plunge and got a new microphone. It’s quite different from my trusty headset, but the more I play with it, the more I like it. Having a radio announcer-style mic apparently makes me more hyperactive and talkative.

Making friends with Nessie (yes, my mic has a name. It is Nessie).

Making friends with Nessie (yes, my mic has a name. It is Nessie).

Sound quality is good (almost too good—it picks up a lot more, which means more night-recording whilst our neighbours renovate) and you can un/mute it by tapping the base, which is cool. Also records differently for voice and music. Most importantly, because it is not a headset, more than one person at a time can use it….

…which may or may not be important, as I return to my spiffy desk to send out some scripts. 😉

– KT

Making Magic: Questions for World-Builders

When world-building, certain elements grab my interest and focus more than others. Generally speaking, I am not hugely interested in political science or economics. Those who read Hapax may have noticed a distinct lack of court intrigues (though I totally implied that the City is run by councillors—somewhere in chapter 19, I think! It wasn’t hugely important to the story). That’s not to say I have no clue how my characters are feeding themselves, I just tend to spend less time on it than I do on the theological/magical side of things.

And magic is what I wanted to explore today, because I’ve just had to create a new magic system for The Next One. After working so long and so thoroughly with the aither, it’s very strange to say, “Well, actually, now magic works this way.”

But it’s been good to revisit the process of crafting magic systems. Honestly, it seems like most of my process is just asking myself questions and running thought experiments. Here is a by-no-means-exhaustive list of the sorts of questions I ask myself:

TO START:

  • Is there magic?
  • Where does the magic come from? Is it a natural process of this world that can be harnessed like fire or electricity? Is it inherent to the magic-user? Was it always there and a goddess woke people up to it in a desperate attempt to save the world?
  • To what extent is magic related to this world’s gods? Is it at all?
  • Can magic in this world be explained by natural laws, even if these laws aren’t “natural” as we understand them in this world? If so, what are these laws? (Did you, for instance, butcher a corrupted version of string theory?)
  • What does magic actually look/smell/feel/taste/sound like? If there was active magic around, who would notice, and how?
  • What can magic not do? (And there ought to be something magic can’t do. Otherwise, it ain’t magic: it’s a problematic plot element at best, and a deus ex machina at worst.)

MAGIC-USERS:

  • Does everyone have magic, or just some people?
  • If just some people, what percentage of the population, roughly?
    • If just some people, how do they learn about/learn to control their magic?
  • Closely related: do only humans get magic, or do other species? Does their use of magic differ?
  • Come to think of it, how does the use of magic vary among various magic-users?
  • How do people get magic? Do they always have it? Does it come naturally with other changes at puberty? Do you sacrifice a goat at the Harvest Moon to receive it?
  • How do magic-users view themselves?
  • Can you make a living with magic? Why or why not?
    • If so, how is that organized? Unions, freelancers, guilds, alchemists locked away in ivory towers turning iron into gold?
  • Have the magic-users formed their own unique subculture? Alternatively, is magic so ingrained in the culture that the two are impossible to separate?
  • Can a magic-user lose their magic, or will they have it forever?

USE OF MAGIC:

  • Walk me through the casting of a typical spell. How does it work?
  • What materials and/or equipment, if any, do you need to perform magic? Where does one obtain these items?
  • Is magic more point-and-shoot (i.e. Harry Potter), or does it require hours of special preparation?
  • What is the cost of magic? (HINT: Magic always has a cost. No such thing as a free lunch, especially not in stories.)
  • What sorts of spells is a magic-user most likely to perform?
  • How does an individual magic-user’s traits (age, gender, intrinsic skill, experience, occupation, place in the religious/magical/social hierarchy) affect the efficacy of their spell-casting?
  • Does magic work differently in different locations/at different times, or is it equally accessible at all times and in all places?
  • Do magic-users mostly work in groups, solo, or a mix? What determines this?
  • What could cause a spell to go wrong? What does “going wrong” look like?
  • What happens if a spell goes wrong?
  • Has the use of magic changed throughout history? If so, how? Why?
Apollo-era Mission Control. Not going to lie, this is not unlike how I picture the creation of an MCB. (Source: www.fineartamerica.com)

Apollo-era Mission Control. This tense focus, cooperation, and attention to detail is pretty much how I picture magic in Hapax.  Except without computers.  (Source: http://www.fineartamerica.com)

MAGIC IN SOCIETY:

  • Does magic require years of study to master, or can any idiot mumble some words out of a book and cause some result? Is it an inborn trait that cannot be taught, only refined?
  • Who’s doing the teaching?
  • What impact does magic have on the economy? (See? Even I get to economics eventually…)
  • What impact does magic have on the government? The military? Are there parallel organizations running alongside the non-magical, are they all heavily integrated with magic, or are magic-users too few/weak to make a difference?
  • To what extent has magic replaced science? If you have magic for enough years, will you wind up inventing a magical refrigerator? Transit? Or God help us…magic androids???
  • How does society at large view magic and magic-users? Positively? Negatively? Ambivalently? Better to call a magician than a plumber?
    • Have these attitudes changed in the past? Why or why not?
  • Are there “magic only” institutions? If so, what are they?
  • Is there art/literature/music either inspired or actually created by magic?
    • If so, do we then get into a debate about who’s the “real artist” – the guy painting with a paintbrush by hand, or the girl making colours appear in the air with her will?
  • Are there any industries/areas of life that magic does NOT touch? If so, what? Why?
  • Do magic-users abide by different laws? Either their own separate code, or a subset of society’s laws? Are they considered above the law, unfairly persecuted, or neither?
  • How do you discipline/penalize someone with magic?
  • Are some groups of magic-users seen as “better” than others? Why? By whom?

LOOPHOLES!!!!

  • Can the laws of magic be broken? If so, when, how, and with what consequence? (HINT: you generally don’t want to be breaking your own rules, unless you have a very, very, VERY good reason for doing so.)
  • Are your magic-users unaware of some laws/aspects of magic, and/or have they gotten some things wrong? If so, how and why?
  • Does the nature of magic ever change?
  • Are there any remaining apparent contradictions in your magic system? If so, what? Also, can you resolve them in such a way as to enrich the story?

Again, a good start, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. If you want exhaustive, check this one out. It may look a bit daunting, but a good rule of thumb? Build what you need, and imply the rest.

– KT

Finding New Worlds

I am pretty comfortable in the world of Strix/Hapax. At this point, it’s like being a native Torontonian or Dunedinite or New Yorker: you know how things work. I feel like I’ve carved myself out a nice little niche in this fictional world.

So it’s a bit strange to be exploring a new one. In my slightly confusing and apparently hereditary manner of code-naming projects, The Next Next One has become simply The Next One—the Victorian-feeling dark fantasy which has nothing to do with Hapax, and about which I can’t really say more because it will fly right out of my head.

It’s a bit like baking bread, really. You can’t go around showing it off to people while it’s rising, or it won’t turn out properly.

But I digress. After so long thinking about Angels and Seraphs, aither and dimensions, it’s exciting to dive into a new world with new rules (though technically, I’m not done with Strix yet: there are still edits to be done). Crafting magic systems (on which I may do a separate post later) is ridiculously fun. It’s a thought experiment, basically. “If this, then that. And if that, then this other really cool implication too.” And so it goes, asking questions and gradually exploring all the little tucked-away corners of your new world.

Because this one is set in a Victorian-ish milieu, I do have a head start. “Hmm, I wonder what a nineteenth-century country inn would be like… OH HEY, I’M IN ONE ALL DAY, MOST DAYS!!!”

Historic inn, for the win.

Historic inn, for the win.

As is probably quite clear, I love my dayjob. Times like this, I really appreciate it.

That being said, there are still specifics that I don’t know yet. I had a decently detailed map of the Ecclesiat and a rough idea of the City’s layout. In this new land, I’m not quite there yet. Oddly for me, I don’t have the theology totally worked out. I’m not sure where things stand in relation to each other.

That’s all world-building, and that involves more research and mulling. In terms of plot, I think of my outlines as roadmaps. I know where I’m starting and ending, and key landmarks along the way so I (hopefully) don’t get completely lost, but there’s still room for side trips. In that way, starting a new novel, especially one set in a wholly new world, is a bit like embarking on an expedition. I have my map (sort of). I will know the terrain. And, very importantly, I know the people with whom I’ll be journeying.

PLUS: NEWS AND SUCH

Speaking of dayjobbery, I’ll be adding “blogger” to my list of job titles and contributing much more frequently to the Black Creek Growler. It is a blog about beer, brewing, and beer history. It makes me happy. You should read it. 😉

Stories We Tell Ourselves

In some ways, Strix has ended up being a story about stories (apparently I’m getting all meta in my old age). While I had fun creating parallel mythologies that approached the same events in different ways, I couldn’t help thinking about the implications of story and myth. Marie Bilodeau and I talked about this at Ad Astra. Certain stories stick around. Sometimes, you can trace their movement through conquest and migration (think the spread of Mesopotamian and Greek gods); sometimes, you see very similar tropes emerging independently (there’s a Native American flood story.)

I think certain stories persist because we need them, whether as a society/culture, or as individuals. In different guises, the same messages come through again and again. Love Prevails. Good Beats Evil. One Person Can Make a Difference. Different narratives wax and wane as society changes, too. The closing of the American Frontier in 1890 had profound psychological ramifications precisely because the story of “Young Man Goes West and Finds Success” could no longer work. A new story was needed, so we got the terribly nostalgic “Chasing the Dream,” which is basically The Great Gatsby in a nutshell: striving so hard for something you can’t catch, and which may never have even existed in the first place.

If you want to understand a culture, look at its myths. They both reflect and shape the way we understand the world. When we grow up surrounded by a certain narrative, we (consciously or unconsciously) try to recreate it, whether that’s by getting the white picket fence and 2.4 kids, or by assuming a role we think we ought to have (which is explored far more articulately and profoundly in this essay here).

You can also think about stories affecting things on the individual level. For myself, I’m a sucker for robot stories. More specifically, I’m a sucker for the specific story “Artificial Life Attempts to Reconcile and Cultivate its own Humanity.” I’m drawn to emotional androids/cyborgs— Rommie, Seven of Nine, heck, even Ciris—and they’ve cropped up in my own fiction (River, anyone?).

He may be my nemesis, but P.C. wrote a really cool story…

The converse is also true; the Borg and Cybermen simultaneously terrify and fascinate me. I will take a fleet of Daleks over one Cyberman any day, but I can’t stop watching them, even when I feel physically ill. Yet it wasn’t until recently that I realized their story was the mirror image: rather than artificial life embracing emotions and humanity, the individual is subsumed into the unfeeling collective.

I’m scared of the guy on the left. Oswin Oswald aside, Daleks generally just kill you. That doesn’t make me go cold inside the way upgrading/assimilation does. (image courtesy http://www.bbc.co.uk)

When I consider my own occasional difficulty in accepting and expressing my emotions, this preoccupation with feelings suddenly starts to make a lot of sense.

We’re all the hero of our own life story, but it’s interesting to stop and really think about what that story is. What tropes help us figure things out, what plot points do we already anticipate? Essentially, I guess, stories are a mirror in themselves. How we use them is up to us.

And the story of Hapax and Strix?

As is the nature of fiction, I’m sure everyone sees different things. For me, Hapax has always distilled down to “Hope Beats Fear.” As for Strix…

“Hope Beats Fear, Even When Things Look Really, Really S***”

-KT

Balticon Round-Up

Sunday morning at Balticon, PJ Schnyder and I were eating waffles.

“I love cons,” she said. “But doesn’t this make you want to run home, and just…”

“Write all the words, ever?”

“Exactly!”

“Yes!”

I do love cons. They are great for recharging batteries, recapturing your fire and inspiration. The more cons I attend, the harder I find it to distill the experience. I could talk about midnight pulled pork and ogling steampunk goods. I could talk about feeling the bass thump along my sternum while watching Ditched by Kate and the way I was literally trembling before moderating my first panel. I could talk about the old friends, new friends, and first-time-in-real-life friends (including but not limited to: Tim Dodge, Scott Sigler, PG+Chooch+Viv, Lauren “Scribe” Harris, Veronica Giguere , Myke Cole, Mur Lafferty, Heather Welliver, Chris Lester, Nobilis, Nutty Nuchtchas, PC Haring…) I could talk about the hugs and the laughter and the incredibly cool discussions…

Or I could talk about where I am, post-Balticon.

P.C. Haring and K.T. Bryski: we're nemeses, I promise!

P.C. Haring and K.T. Bryski: we’re nemeses, I promise!

Strix is roughly halfway done. In a stunning occurrence of déjà vu, I’m hoping/planning to get it back to my editor before I leave for Virginia. This has been the most frustrating, challenging, stubborn thing I have ever written, but it will be worth it. I did attend a very interesting panel on “Female-Centric Faith Systems,” and a lot of things applied to Serafine and the world of Strix/Hapax. It’s encouraging to see that I’m on the right track, at least thematically.

I feel all warm and fuzzy inside because I got to see some old friends, meet some friends in person for the first time, and make lots of new friends. On the last day of the con, Christiana Ellis shared her metaphor of cons as “friend farms” (by this point, “creative projects” had become “squirrels” and “energy” was “spoons” – Doc Coleman, you are awesome). Basically, the first time you go to a con and don’t know anybody, you plant the seeds of friendship. Then you water it, and wait, and by the next con, it’s blossomed into a full-grown friendship, and you then plant more seeds. I like this image—and it definitely seemed to hold true.

Which brings me to my next, long-distance goal. I know what kind of writer I want to be when I grow up. I want to be the author that pulls in the newbie and helps them find their feet. I want to be the author who encourages, and helps, and makes them feel worth the time. As a young, newbie writer, I have been so lucky. So many authors have taken me under their wings, helped me out, and mentored me. Trust me, it’s made all the difference. And while there’s only so much I can do to pay it forward right now (n00b), I’m going to try now, as much as I can.

So that was my Balticon: a wonderful weekend, professionally, personally, and creatively. 🙂

Butterflies and Hurricanes: The Importance of Throwaway Lines

WARNING: HERE THERE BE HAPAX SPOILERS

Writing prequels, I’m finding, brings unique challenges. Like sequels, they are to an extent dependent on the book(s) written previously. However, there’s a small-but-important difference.

For a sequel, Hapax would be a jumping-off point. For Strix, it’s an end point. Anything and everything I write in Strix has to plausibly lead to the events in Hapax. And since Hapax is published and out, I’m utterly bound by what I already wrote.

Mostly, that’s fine. The vague, overall eschatological arc was kind-of-sort-of in place when I wrote Hapax, and since I was relatively sure I would be writing a prequel during the proofing stage, I did get to go over sections referencing Strix’s time period with a fine-tooth comb. I was very aware that once it got to print, that part of the narrative would be set in stone.

It’s those darn throwaway lines and details that get me.

At one point, I was merrily filling in the gaps of Aelist liturgy, imagining how pre-flood Aelism differed from post-flood. I was mostly reusing material from Hapax. And then I stumbled across Serafine’s line:

Where there was no time, before there was any place, the first Word of Ael sounded. And all the vastness of eternity shuddered.”

First line of the Tablet (the Aelist religious text). No big deal, right?

Except then she continues speaking: “I’ve never heard the Hapax described like that.”

A complete throwaway line. Honestly, I don’t remember why I chose to have her say that. But it has several important implications:

  • If people were describing the Hapax that way before the flood, Serafine would have known about it.
  • The fact that she did not tells us that people were NOT using that language to describe it at that time.
  • Therefore, this version of the Tablet post-dates the flood.
  • So, what changed in the interim, when, and why?

I ended up finding a reason that pleases me, and (hopefully) adds more to the story than, “The Tablet just always started that way.”

There are many other examples. There’s a brief reference to Islanders at one point; Gaelin assumes Serafine is one of them, mostly based on her name. I never developed the Islanders beyond surface allusions to their emphasis on kin groups and beer drinking—since they were a red herring, it wasn’t necessary.

Except now, in the rewrites, I need to explore the history more fully. Who are these people, that they would still be willing to name their children after the Beast? Who were they to Serafine? Suddenly, three facts become the basis for a whole culture.

It’s often the little details that provide the key to the greater story. Like the proverbial butterfly causing hurricanes halfway around the world, word choices can affect things far more than you would ever imagine.

It’s a lot of fun, making sure that the threads between prequel and sequel align. In fact, it’s exactly the kind of detail work that I love. But it goes to show: you can’t take anything for granted.

Ad Astra Round-Up

Ad Astra caught me by surprise this year.

It’s not like I didn’t know it was coming. I’ve known I was going since the last Ad Astra, which I missed due to being in New Zealand. But in the haze of the final weeks of my final semester, and the insanity of the last few months, I didn’t connect the dots until I was scrambling to ready my case of books.

(Actually, Ad Astra is still going on today—I’m skipping out to deal with the schoolwork a bit more.)

It was a good con. Friday was exciting because my friend and colleague Leah Petersen was launching her latest book: Cascade Effect, the sequel to Fighting Gravity. I read and loved Fighting Gravity, so I snagged my copy of Cascade Effect, right after the incredible Ed Greenwood. And then there was a penthouse party, with good food, cool people, and a very excellent reading (yes, Leah, I could hear you!). My copy is currently on my bookshelf, next to its mate, awaiting the wonderful day when I conquer academia.

Saturday was also fun. I mostly sold books and wandered around, though I did attend a very helpful panel on agents moderated by Adrienne Kress. Naturally, I knew her name, but I’d never been able to match a face to it. Plus, you know, information and such.

Otherwise—I mostly just talked to people. There was a mingling of DMP authors Saturday night, which was fun, and also really interesting. Although I met Marie Bilodeau in November at World Fantasy Con, I’d never had the chance for an extended conversation with her—and I’m so glad I finally did. We talked for a long time about how myths and stories spread and evolve (“Stories control people. That’s why I became an author!”), and then the chat turned to our own upcoming projects. And then she said something that caught me by surprise:

“You sound so energized, with this new book. That’s so good to see!”

People have called me many things in the last few months. Energized is not one of them. Nor had I really felt much energy all weekend. But it’s true: this project has nothing whatsoever to do with the Hapax universe. Exploring this new world has been such a rush, and it will be such a departure for me, and I’m still in the dewy-eyed honeymoon stage of, “This story is gonna be so awesome and I’m totally forgetting how much work it will actually be to make it come out the way I want.”

But I digress. My point, I think, is that Marie’s comment just confirms that I’m probably on the right path, in terms of writing something about which I’m passionate. Incidentally, Marie’s upcoming projects sound awesome, but I shall leave the discussion of them to her. 🙂

I’d been able to talk earlier with Robert J. Sawyer and a few other authors I hadn’t met before, but the other extended conversation of that night was with Ed Greenwood. Ed is almost frighteningly smart; the man is a fount of knowledge. But we talked about the forgotten bits of Toronto: the secret passages in the old buildings, the tunnel network under Queen’s Park and various bits of downtown (not the PATH: way older and much cooler), the phantom subway stations, the lost rivers…

All of that fascinates me. It’s the notion of the in-between space, the space that isn’t really part of anything, but links to everything, the lost space, the ghost space, the space once thought forgotten….

I’m not sure when or how all that will play into a book, but I know that it will. It’s definitely in my mental file of “Things That Keep Me Awake At Night.”

So yes. A good con.

Is this real life?

Sometimes people ask me how much of life shows up in my writing. I never find this question easy to answer. After all, I write fantasy. It’s all made up, right? How much life and research goes into that?

Well….

Imagine you’re making a cake. You start with some recognizable ingredients—eggs, butter, milk, flour, sugar—and then you change some of them. You separate the eggs, or cream the butter, or chuck some chocolate chips in on a whim. Then you mix them all together, and suddenly, it’s hard to tell where one ingredient ends and the next begins. And then, you throw it all under high heat, and when it comes out, it’s delicious and totally does not resemble the elements going in….although you’ll certainly notice if a cake is lacking sugar. Likewise, you’ll notice the chocolate chips, or extra spices, or what have you.
Writing is kind of like that.

176

I put coffee in this. NOM.

Take a lot of different things. Change some. Mix them together. Let them react and transform. See something very different come out—with maybe a specific flavour distinguished here or there.

For me, it’s always interesting to see what gets chucked in. Writers are like kleptomaniacs at a grocery store. Random ingredients somehow end up in our mental baskets, and they sometimes get used in unexpected ways.

For instance:

Looking for firewood in Australia one afternoon, our guide showed us how to knock over small, dead trees. In the current draft of Strix, three of my characters work together to knock down small, dead trees. At the time, I didn’t think about the experience as fodder for fiction. And then it was, and it was exactly what I needed. Kind of cool.

Likewise, I have a short story in the February issue of Black Treacle Magazine, wherein I shamelessly riffed on Black Creek (with the important caveat: I shamelessly riff on places, not people).

Likewise, the numerous times I’ve smiled at the delightful children’s doodles scrawled across my choir music wound up in Hapax—Praeton likes the random sketches and notes too.

222

This will make sense later.

Of course, sometimes you don’t know things, which requires research. I’ve never been flogged. Nor am I a celibate priest in his fifties. Nor have I ever gone for days without water. My list of Google searches would likely leave a few people scratching their heads.

And then, the magic of fictionalization happens. I guess that’s like tossing everything in the oven.

Assorted bits and bobs go in, and the results aren’t always predictable. Random bits of life that you don’t necessarily think about until the moment comes, and it just fits. Really, it’s just a reflection of the old saying, “Write what you know.” Write what you know, but watch it become transformed as you change it to suit the needs of the story.

New Year’s Post

For a while, I thought about not doing a New Year’s post.

With my loss still so raw, and the grief only now really hitting, I have rarely been happier to see the tail end of a year. Except then, I got to thinking. Taking the entire year into account, 2012 was too big to be ignored. It was a year of immense growth and opportunity: from backpacking through the South Pacific, to meeting (and befriending!) some pretty incredible people, to strengthening friendships back home, to publishing and podcasting, to discovering where “home” really is for me.

Like I said, a big year.

It was a year of heights, of suddenly finding myself on mountaintops (literally and metaphorically) and wondering how on earth I’d gotten there. There was a LOT of good in 2012. It’s important to remember that: that oftentimes, I was stunned by how happy I was.

2012 started with a bang, but it definitely ends with a whimper. Some of my personal dreams came true this year, but so too did some of my nightmares. I had tears in my eyes as I stood atop Mt. Victoria and finally gazed across Wellington. I had tears in my eyes as I stood in the cemetery.

From one extreme to the other.

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But it’s no longer 2012. My Twitter-pal (and one of the charming hosts of the Roundtable Podcast) Dave Robison recently said something about New Year’s being just another day, that we can make changes any day of the year.

It’s true, but I think the start of the year is a good time to take a breath, to mentally prepare for those changes and plans.

2012 was a great year, writing-wise. I’m optimistic 2013 will be even better. Frankly, I have a better idea of what I’m doing. Graduating means I’ll have more time (as was helpfully pointed out to me, my “day job” will really be just that—something on the side, a daytime diversion as I put my energy into writing). Oh man, when I think of all those hours spent reading articles, going to class, and writing essays…I’m so excited to put that time into fiction.

As I start putting the shambles of my life back in order, and figure out how to live around this huge, gaping hole, I’m more grateful than ever for what I have. I have some pretty awesome people in all parts of my life. Tired and sad as I am, I’m actually kind of cautiously hopeful for 2013. It feels like 2012 was a build-up, December was a breaking point, and 2013…

Well. I guess we’ll find out.

With thanks,

KT