Monthly Archives: May 2014

Satus update– Writing Demons

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Having trouble with the Blog right now. My hands can’t art and even the simplest circle is causing problems. Between severe thunderstorms, checking on my basement to see if it’s flooding, and migraines, my writing demons have been tormenting me and I have to exorcise. It’s not as bad as that one time back in ’07 when I stopped eating and sleeping for two weeks. It’s not even a constant thing, it’s just 20 ideas seizing me and pulling me in a million different direction. I feel like a wine-glass player trying to play Owl City’s Fireflies.

So among the many brain diseases in my head, are the following:

1) Creation story and mythos for the Paracelos Books (Linus Saga and Madame Bluestocking’s Pennyhorrid)

2) Madame Bluestocking Pennyhorrid Book 2 (working title, the Lost Mines of Nadoras)

3 Linus Saga Book 3 Edits 

4) Linus Saga Book 4 finishing

5) Weird elseworld involving the cast of CRIT! in Arkham MA with Lovecraftian Monsters (trust me. this will come in handy)

6) Skeleton Crew scripts, current one featuring another Dunstan and Avi flashback.

And various other ideas and projects of indiscernible value. 

If you would like these projects to keep existing, please consider helping me to afford a new computer while my old one continues to die tragically.

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So please donate and share my Gofundme.

Next week will proceed as usual with various posts and Character Wednesday of Orin Weedwhacker.

Character Spotlight: Thisbe Weedchacker

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We’re on to Linus’ brood-child number three with the irascible middle-child Thisbe.

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Thisbe Weedwhacker by Monica Marier

We get to know Thisbe in Runs in Good Condition. She’s in every way a typical middle child of a large family. She chafes at the authority her older sister, Irene, has over her and in retaliation likes to exploit any weaknesses in her sister’s armor. Thisbe is clever and has a sharp tongue and even sharper ears. A born tattle-tale with a thirst for gossip, she’s always the first to tease a sibling over a supposed crush or troubles with classmates in school, or any trials like new glasses, stunted growth, pimples, unruly hair, or (in Irene’s case) being skinny and flat-chested. She also terrorizes her younger syblings in an attempt to wrest control from Irene and bosses the life out of them.

Linus and Deirdre take a lot of her antics in stride. Linus in particular is familiar with sisters fighting like cats in a sack and turning into little generals. He’s at a loss as to how to deal with Irene, however, and lets a lot of her antics go unchallenged and ignored, which is precisely what Thisbe doesn’t want. She constantly feels at odds with her siblings for attention and feels like the lowest rung on the ladder. Her hard work goes unnoticed because Carson and Irene have done it first and done it better, yet she isn’t coddled and comforted like Orin,Fia, and the babies because she’s too old. 

Her only chance to shine is in her innate gift of keeping house. Thisbe is better than her parents and her sister at cooking, cleaning, sewing, and in addition is a champion knitter and crocheter. And yet she feels ashamed that being a good housewife and mother is her highest ambition, as other siblings go on about university careers, and travel. She’s not a bad kid by any means; she’s industrious, generous, open, and honest. Her desire for attention, however, is going to lead to her lashing out, especially in my next book.

FUN FACTS:

*Irene adores and idolizes her brother Carson, even though she’s closer to Orin in age and tastes.

*Irene has a huge crush on Morfindel, and most of her acting out in The Linus Saga, is done to get Morfindel to notice her.

*She learned to sew without her parents knowing, simply because she wanted her hand-me-down dresses from her sister to look like it was a different dress. Without asking, she managed to sun bleach the dress, add a lace collar, and embroider it with pink thread. Her father actually scolded her because he thought she had stolen a dress, until Thisbe proved it was her own work. After that, Linus made sure she was well-supplied with any wool, thread and lawn he could get at a good price.

*While Thisbe loves to knit and make pretty dresses for herself, most of her work is selflessly made for her family members. She makes the most things for Carson (and later on, Morfindel), and makes the fewest things for Irene. The pieces she makes for Irene are usually intricate and advanced pieces. These are mostly to rub in Irene’s face the fact that she can’t knit or sew.

* It’s been mentioned that the Weedwhackers have been hosts to several cats over the years. These were all strays that were brought home by Thisbe. 

*Thisbe has already decided that her husband is going to be a shopkeeper with brown hair and a cleft chin. Their children will be named Garth and Louisa and they’ll have a white cat named Marzipan.

 

That’s it for Thisbe. Next week we’ll look at Old Soul, Orin Weedwhacker.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider donating to my fund for a new computer so I can keep making more.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Where it Starts and Where it Ends

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This one was HARD to write, so apologies in advance.

So, I’ve been posting some character sheets every Wed. and while I’ve answered a lot of questions (some of them mine!) about each character there’s still a lot of questions I don’t know the answer to, especially regarding some characters like Linus.

When people ask me how I map out a plot, I always joke that I start with an A and a Z and everything in between is improvised. That’s not exactly true, while I do start at the beginning of the book, I never start at the beginning. There’s just too much. Some of it is because I myself haven’t thought up everything, and some of it is because after a few hundred pages my books get too heavy to cart around.

The other day, my cover artist (who also reads my books) saw my post on Linus’ wife Deirdre and asked me, “So what happens when Linus dies? Does she turn back into a dragon? Does she go first?”

I had to stare at the wall for a while after that one. It was a bit like that beginning of the Pixar movie “Up.” I saw that with my husband and we both started crying. And it wasn’t just us; every other couple in the theatre started crying because they knew there was that inevitable certainty ahead: “someday we’ll have to say good bye, and one of us will be left behind.”

Yes, I know Linus is fictional, yes I know I get to choose the manner of his demise, but then it’s still hard and it will happen in his timeline. I might never put it on paper, and if I do you lot may never get to read it, but it does happen. It’s a fact that Linus is dead by the time of Madame Bluestocking’s Pennyhorrid. 250+ years is too long for even a Half-elf to live. All of this made me really moody and upset, because these are thoughts I don’t usually deal with—that I don’t WANT to deal with.

And I didn’t deal with it, until one night when I got out of bed, grabbed a stack of card stock and the nearest pencil (sorry, it’s red) and started sketching Linus. Half a dozen drawings of him at all different ages. I wanted to find out more what this person was like all through his life, not just the little window I’ve shown him in:

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Here’s Linus when he was about 6 or 7. He was a happy kid, with fewer siblings, and who still thought his parents were perfect, he would always be safe and loved, and who didn’t realize yet just how poor his family was. While his brothers picked on him a lot, they weren’t blood enemies, and Linus was still able to have times where he was the sole attention of his mum and dad. 

 

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Linus at twelve was a different story. We know know little about him except that he and his brothers used to burn their spots off with pokers. The picture looks surly, disappointed and maybe even hurt. This is a kid that lost his illusions fast, as most low-income kids do. He’s had a lot of growing up to do, maybe before he’s ready. He’s almost done with school and then he’ll be parsed out to the workforce like his brothers. Maybe he’s feeling his parents aren’t so infallible after all, and why is he stuck in a house with too many kids and not enough to go around?

 

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This is Linus at 17, and he looks like he’s a good deal happier. He’s completed his training and is a fully fledged E1. There’s a lust for freedom in his expression. He’s handsome and he knows it will let him get away with a lot. His mentor is a cool, savvy, 30-something who keeps a long leash on him and sometimes joins in his shenanigans. And under it all is a streak of that wounded young man from the last picture. There’s the tiniest spark of cruelty as well—a desire to mete out justice, or his version of justice, anyway. He’s been hurt, he’s still confused, he’s still not a grownup, despite being given free reign. He’s oarless, rudderless, and without a destination. But who needs direction when you have endless potential?

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Well, apparently direction counts for a lot. This is Linus in his late 20’s before meeting Deirdre. His eyes are tired and jaundiced, he’s emaciated due to forgetting to eat, and prone to tremors when he doesn’t drink enough. In short, he looks like a miserable addict who’s burning his candle at both ends. His friends all hate him or have died horribly. He keeps getting in trouble so he gets drunk so he can ignore it, which gets him in more trouble. His mentor is becoming even more friendly in a manner that’s worrisome, uncomfortable and unwanted.  He has the look of a caged animal that can’t decide if it’s more afraid of the cage, or what’s outside of it. 

 

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Miraculously, he does get out of the cage to become the Linus we’re familiar with in the novels. His hardships have made him tough, surviving them has given him the gift of hindsight and laughing at his mistakes. A wife has made him passionate; fatherhood has made him tender; being loved has made him lovable. And despite all the defeats and setbacks and disappointments, he’s already won the game of life for simply making it this far and getting the chance to try again. This second try is the focus of our journey with Linus, in that casting off the past, one can take a look at the now and make the right choice.

 

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And then I made myself draw this one and had to stop myself from crying. Given his projected lifespan, Linus is probably about one-hundred-and-ten in this drawing.The chiseled jaw is gone, the hard forehead is gone. The eyes are milky and rheumy. The cheeks are hollow and jowly. His hair is snowy white and downy. His clothes have changed to reflect a newer style and someone, a daughter or son perhaps, has draped a blanket over his shoulders. Yet he’s still got a roguish grin on his face as his faded eyes blink mistily at you. You can hear him wheeze with a deep growly voice, “I could still kick your arse, kid,” and you would just nod and smile at him, because it wasn’t true anymore.

*SIIIIIIIIGHHHHHHH* Anyway…

So yeah. This experiment made me realize that there’s a lot of things I haven’t considered when it comes to character creation. I have no idea if this last picture is canon. Maybe Linus doesn’t make it that far, maybe something else happens. I don’t know, but it’s a fact that we all get older and we all die, unless you’re an Elf.

Lousy stinking Elves. 

Again, I have to point out that these blog posts might disappear suddenly because my computer is on the blink and going fast. Help me to keep writing and updating by donating to my GoFundMe to help get a new computer. Find out more about Linus in my Linus Saga series, Must Love Dragons.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting about Linus’ perpetual middle child, Thisbe.

Thanks for reading!

Character Spotlight: Carson Weedwhacker

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In keeping with the Offspring of Linus theme, this week’s spotlight is on Linus’ oldest son, and second-born, Carson. 

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Carson Weedwhacker by Monica Marier

We first get to know Carson as a sharp-tongued 13-year-old in Runs in Good Condition. Carson is in every way a typical teen-aged boy of the intelligent bookish variety. He’s opinionated, insightful, sensitive and has the cynicism of a 70-year-old crank. Carson has had frequent troubles with bullies in his peer group (as mentioned in Must Love Dragons) and it’s made him a bit fragile and distrustful of others. It doesn’t help that Carson has inherited some magical ability from his mother’s side and wants to be a wizard more than anything. His dad, Linus, (who has had more near-death experiences by the hands of wizards who “had meant well” than by any other cause) is horrified and disappointed. Carson deals with his frustrations by venting them out his mouth most of the time. If he inherited magic from his mother, he’s definitely inherited his father’s mouth and inability to know when to shut up. We all know he’ll go far one day if he can survive puberty.

FUN FACTS:

*Carson is more-or-less based off of all of my brothers (a grand total of 5).

*Like his other siblings, Carson is the spitting image of his Elven grandfather, with blond hair, long pointed ears, and green eyes. As time rolls by we’ll see that of all the children, he looks the most like Hilmiel.

*Carson’s middle name is Rudolph, after Linus’ favorite brother who died when he was a young man. 

*Carson will one day be mentor to another wizard, the Great Meriwether Maydock (his grandson) who will grow up to be the idol of Evelyn Kelly of Madame Bluestocking’s Pennyhorrid. The whole story of their meeting was written in a holiday short story Called “Meri’s Christmas.” You can read the whole story FREE on my old blog. It also reveals some later facts about Carson’s life.

*When at University, Carson has a great magical adventure with his sister, Irene, and their transvestite cousin, Kevin. That story may one day get its own book, and will not be told in any future Linus novel, since Linus isn’t in it. A rift in dimensions, a mirror, an afternoon tea, and a hedgehog are involved.

*Carson will try to learn a trade in the next book to please his dad. 

That’s about it for Carson. Next week, we’ll take a look at Thisbe, the impossible girl. 

As always, please consider donating to my GoFund me, to help me get a new computer. Every little bit helps me keep earning for my family.

 

 

 

What Flavour is Your Fantasy?

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So the number one thing I’ve been asked about Paracelos in the Linus Saga, particularly about Runs In Good Condition is, “How come your fantasy isn’t so fantasy?” Which probably means, “why isn’t it set in the medieval/renaissance period?”

Now, I for one think that the rule with fantasy genre is “my world my rules” which is why I have 1930’s union turmoil, pop stars, working women, and chainmail all in the same world. Despite these “anachronisms” (if that word even applies) I still wanted to give everything a unified theme so about 80% of my world is based off of Regency Period England (Late 18th cen. Early 19th cen.) a.k.a Jane Austen’s time period.

Why? Because I wanted Elves dressed like Mr. Darcy.

I’m sure there was more to that decision, but I’m drawing a blank. I think if there was anything else, it was because I wanted something a little different from the usual Camelot crossed with a Renn faire vibe, and I was already very interested in researching the late Georgian period anyway.

I found a great site to do my research on; most of it came from janeausten.co.uk . This is a site dedicated the life, times, and historical sites in Jane Austen’s life and in her novels. There’s ton(ne?)s of articles on the Regency period: what they wore, what they ate, how they entertained themselves, and how they behaved. In the articles I got a lot of inspiration for scenes and items that were featured in my books.

Not surprisingly, Linus and his family’s clothes were close adaptations of regency fashion, down to the cravat and black dance slippers.

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Regency Man With Daughter

The scene were Linus gives Deirdre a cameo necklace is based off a popular jewelry craze in the Georgian period.

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Victorian Cameos

And then there are just some crazy coincidences. I had already written a passage about Linus making a ton of raspberry vinegar punch. That idea came one hot day when I had gotten a free sample of raspberry vinegar punch at a Korean market. It was only later when I was looking up recipes (there are some great recipes on janeausten.co.uk!) that I found an article about how raspberry vinegar punch was all the rage in the late Georgian period!

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Raspberry Vinegar Punch

I love doing research like this. It’s one of my most favorite things about being a writer!

For people who are interested in creating their own world, I have this advice: Be original. Don’t try to make another Middle Earth or Pern or Prydain, but for all that: pick a time and pick a place. Find out what they wore and why, what they ate and why, how they worked, how they played, how they loved. It doesn’t have to be 100% accurate, and feel free to mess it up and get your hands dirty, but it’s a great jumping off point for creating a fleshed out, 3-demensional world that feels real.

And have fun with it! If you’re having fun, chances are we’ll have fun reading it!

So until next post, Happy hot chocolate and syllabub, and don’t get your pink tights in a twist! ❤

Don’t forget to stop by my GoFundMe and please consider sharing or donating!

 

 

 

Images via janeausten.co.uk

 

Des thee haef de lernig?

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A few weeks ago I posted as a joke some Elven “worksheets” on the site. A lot of people have asked about my Elven language for Tereand about how it started, why I did it, what’s it based on etc. Well, I never intended to have a complicated language for my world, for starters. It started out as sort of a phonetic Glasgow accent mixed with Beowulf-age Old English/Germanic and spoken with a Welsh accent. And then I actually had to start writing stuff down and remembering what words I used and what syntax I agreed on for everything. It was definitely a micro-to-macro process that got more complicated as I went and required more and more effort with each passage. And as I went, it was more and more imperative that I practice learning real languages.

I’ve always been a big polyglot. I love languages and I have varying-to-middling proficiency in Polish, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, German, Norwegian, and Czech. Some of these I studied in school and college and some of these I’ve been studying on an website/ap called Memrise. It’s a great crowd-sourced language site that helps you study by giving you a chance to make your own images and mnemonic devices. It also makes you take it slow, learning a little at  time every day. It’s been a valuable tool to helping me get a feel for the languages I want to imitate and how they differ from English.

For example, Tereand Elven relies heavily on German syntax and word construction, even if the words are more Celtic sounding. In my next book, the Halflings have a few words which are based heavily on Norwegian language. Eventually, as I expand to other regions of Tereand I’ll be dabbling with other languages (I think I just heard my editor burst into tears!) with bases in Greek, Hindi and Polish. For now I’ll just keep a GIANT excell file with all my madness intact.

I also highly reccommend The Language Creation Society which gives you lots of tools for creating your own language.

Remember kids: Friends don’t let friends become xenolinguists and every time you write in Elven your editor cries.

Good night.

 As always, Please consider donating to help me provide free web content and continue earning money for my family.

Character Spotlight Irene Weedwhacker

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This week I’ve heard requests for info on Linus’s kids. So starting with Irene, I’ll introduce everyone to the whole brood. This week’s kid is Irene Weedwhacker.

 

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Irene Weedwhacker (age 15)

 

She’s mentioned first in Must Love Dragons but we really get to know her in Runs In Good Condition. She’s Linus’s oldest child and pretty much third in command at the Weedwhacker household. She’s not much based off of my real-life daughter, but rather based instead on my experiences as an oldest child helping to raise very young children. We’re going to watch her grow up in this series as she comes into adulthood and some of the decisions that entails.

So why is she in a relationship with a 20-year-old in the book?

I have to say, that as far as characters not behaving themselves, those two are the worst. Irene and Morfindel can not and will not listen to me and so this very awkward and not entirely wholesome attachment is just beyond my control. I think I feel about the same as Linus does about it—furious and offended.

The reason it happened is probably because of two things:

a) Irene is very mature for her age. The eldest child of seven is the one who grows up the fastest. She’s been momma number two since kid four was born and has had to shoulder a lot of responsibilities and duties that most teens don’t have to endure. This has made her very stoic, level-headed, and impatient to be recognized and respected as an adult. If she already has to have the duties of an adult, why shouldn’t she be treated like one?

b) Morfindel is very immature for his age. Since Morf spent most of his childhood cloistered away with other boys, he’s got a lot of growing up to do still.

So what we get here is the meeting of two people, seven years apart, who mentally are the same age. We’ll see in the series if that playing field stays level or not, but considering Irene and Morfindel are already “engaged to be engaged”…

Facts about Irene:

1. She’s not much of a hausfrau and has no ambition to be. She’s very good at watching kids and organizing things, but she can’t cook, or sew, and hates cleaning. She prefers to read books and socialize with girls her age, even if she feels that the other girls don’t always understand what she’s talking about or share her opinions.

2. Irene has been trying to get her Dad let her go to University and it is for one reason only: so she can get two blessed minutes to herself for once. Irene has become painfully aware that her entire life has revovled around doing things for other people and is starting to wonder who she really is. Terrified that she might be roped into being unofficial nanny to the family for the rest of her life, Irene wants to get away by the only outlet that a self-respecting girl of an upper-middle-class family can achieve it: school.

3. Irene, and all of her brothers and sisters, look exactly like Linus’s dad, Hilmiel. I will reveal why in a few books, but there’s a reason for it.

4. In Tereand, Irene’s age group has a few ways to keep themselves entertained.
* Assemblies Big parties with local young people. Some are simple card parties where groups can play whist, cassino, or quadrille. Some have a band playing music and lots of food and dancing where young people can meet and interact in a chaperoned environment.

* Chocolate Houses Coffee houses are so last year! The young people in Tereand meet eachother at Chocolate Houses to sample drinking chocolate (laced with spices), to talk about the latest song books released by their favorite artists, new trends in clothing, and occasionally to hear a whiny ponce play the guitar or recite poetry

*Parks There are many public parks in Tereand where groups can meet to play battledores, croquet, cricket, boules, or simply bring their easel’s to paint or sketch

Some would think that Irene would never be at a loss for things to do or people to do them with, but then some have never tried to get dinner into six other children when Mum and Dad were both running late.

That’s it for this week’s spotlight! Next week I’ll do Oldest Boychild Carson.

Thanks for reading, and please consider donating to my art: