Tag Archives: magic

Episode 13: The Test – Part One

Episode Twelve of The Multiverse Chronicles is now up!

Trish goes about her week at camp, facing trials of textbooks and tack…

The Multiverse Chronicles

The Multiverse Chronicles

SEASON ONE: EPISODE THIRTEEN

“The Test – Part One”

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The Multiverse Chronicles: Trials of Blood and Steel - Silent Morning

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Trish chewed on a granola bar from the mess hall as she crossed the campground. The early morning sky was dark. Cool air whispered through her hair and across her cheeks, helping her wake. The stable tent stood as a dark silhouette on the distant hill, mostly silent except for the few wolves prowling nearby in search of a wild snack.

At 0430, Trish had plenty of time to make the journey up the hill, which was fine by her. The chilly air raised gooseflesh on her skin, but lately, the still mornings were the only downtime that could calm her nerves.

At least, the only downtime she’d found.

This was her seventh day at the camp in Francia. Thus far, her training had consisted of textbooks, tests, practicing basic commands with her pterosaur—which…

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Episode 12: The Keeper of the Deep

Episode Twelve of The Multiverse Chronicles is now up!

The prince and his bodyguard meet the Keeper of the Deep–an eccentric witch in the middle of a mysterious forest.

The Multiverse Chronicles

The Multiverse Chronicles

Season One: Episode Twelve

“The Keeper of the Deep”

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The Multiverse Chronicles: Trials of Blood and Steel - The Witch's Cottage

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Spots of sunlight danced between the trees as Alia and Alfons made their way through the thick undergrowth of the Deep. A cinnamon-colored rat scurried along the bramble, unhindered and well-ahead of the two humans.

Alfons rolled underneath his covers and tugged them to his chin. Some dream. Dreams were not usually so memorable. He could almost believe he had woken in a jail cell, escaped under the guidance of a rat who claimed his fiancé had been murdered, ran from mechanical soldiers into a magical forest, been duped by mischievous fairies, and finally been captured by a man-eating witch.

At least his dream had ended with his capture and not after being fired, baked, or broiled alive.

He sighed and stretched, but his feet smacked against a footboard.

Odd. Had his bed shrunk?

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Thoughts on Publishing – A Video Blog Post – Reading Chapter Seventeen of Magic’s Stealing

I finally got the next reading (chapter seventeen) of Magic’s Stealing uploaded! Enjoy. 🙂

Click here for the link if you can’t see the video.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

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Episode 7: Perplexing Conundrums

Episode 7 of The Multiverse Chronicles is now up! 😀

The Multiverse Chronicles

The Multiverse Chronicles

Season One: Episode Seven

“Perplexing Conundrums”

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The Multiverse Chronicles: Trials of Blood and Steel - Dungeon Door

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Captain John Bess rolled his letter into a thin tube and shoved it into a small green canister. He screwed the canister shut, strapped it onto a pigeon, and checked that the harness was tight. Then he opened the cage and sent the pigeon on its way.

Your Majesty,

 

It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that your daughter, Princess Cassandra, has been murdered.

 

At this time, we are uncertain as to the identity of the perpetrator. However, we are working closely with Prussian security in this investigation, and they are fully cooperating with our efforts. Current evidence suggests that the rogue agent who killed our princess may have been a Prussian defector. We are unsure of the perpetrator’s motives, but I will keep you informed of any updates.

 

 Regrets,

Captain…

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Thoughts on Writing – Formatting Telepathy in a Novel

There’s a section I’m currently working on formatting in Distant Horizon, which has a lot to do with telepathy. And of course, that had me puzzling over the best way to format telepathy.

Originally, I had planned to designate telepathic sections using colons and italics, like this:

:This is a thought that you hear in your head,: the blogger thought to her readers.

However, I had several beta-readers say they didn’t like that formatting (never mind that I loved it in Mercedes Lackey’s Magic’s Pawn), so, since I want to make the book easier on the readers to read and enjoy, I made the change. They suggested keeping with simple italics, tagged like dialogue to note that it’s telepathy.

That worked well in Magic’s Stealing, where telepathy is mostly limited to communication.

Then we get to Distant Horizon.

*Flop.*

There are several forms of telepathy in the Distant Horizon universe. Most telepaths specialize in one or two abilities, but a really powerful telepath can do any of these:

(Note: These aren’t their formal classifications, just how I’ll refer to them for the moment)

  • Communication (Sending thoughts).
  • Mind Reading (Getting a sense of what someone else is thinking).
  • Perception Manipulation (Changing what someone thinks they see/hear/touch, etc.)
  • Possession (Taking control of someone’s body through a mental link).

(…Hehe. I feel like I’m writing out optional skills for a role-play character. Let’s take three points in communication and two in perception manipulation, please…)

The problem I’ve run into is how to denote each of these things, among other normally italicized sections.

Originally, I used italics to denote a few different things: telepathy, flashbacks that the characters is “experiencing” at the moment,” and telepathic attacks, in which what is happening is perceived entirely in the narrator’s mind.

When I was using the colons, it was easy to show that someone was communicating via thought, versus a person was having a short flashback, and when someone was communicating via thought during a flashback.

Fun, right?

Now, however, things have gotten a little more difficult.

For example, if the main character is thinking to herself, it usually isn’t too hard to switch the italicized parts to a non-italicized thought, given this story is 1st person, past tense.

For instance, this:

He winced, then handed me the notebook. “Look– I don’t know about either of us, okay?”

Wait. Either of us?

I gaped at him. “You’re not taking the pill, either?”

Becomes this:

He winced, then handed me the notebook. “Look– I don’t know about either of us, okay?”

Wait. Either of us?

I gaped at him. “You’re not taking the pill, either?”

No big change, and in fact, I like it better. Otherwise, it really felt more like it was italicized for emphasis.

I read an interesting article that mentioned using italics for thoughts creates greater narrative distance. Since I want readers close to the MC’s perspective, removing as many of these as possible could prove beneficial. (Plus, it makes Isaac happy. He never was a fan of all the italicized chunks I had in the earlier drafts).

But what about thoughts that are active? Thoughts that, by all right, should be 1st person present?

“What about you? Do you have this so-called persuasion power?”

He inclined his head. “Yes.”

You’re admitting to it? “You were using it last night,” I tested. “To get me to come with you.”

If I try to remove the italics, the paragraph doesn’t read right (or maybe it does, and I’m just being finicky). Technically, I could change the thought to “He was admitting to it?” and the sentence would read fine, but I’m thinking it sounds punchier if she’s directing an active thought toward him.

So I’m considering removing italics for thoughts that flow with the the past tense prose, or rearranging them into past tense when feasible, while leaving italics for thoughts that are in present tense, along with thoughts which are directed toward another person, even if that person can’t hear them.

The reason for this is that there’s a scene in which the main character unintentionally uses telepathy (I won’t say how, to avoid spoilers). However, some of what she’s broadcasting isn’t actively targeted, at least, it wouldn’t appear to be at first glance.

He gave me a pointed look. “Be careful with that thing.”

I winced. “I don’t plan on using it.”

“What you plan to do and what you do are two different things.”

“Yeah,” I mumbled, ducking my eyes from his scowl. All I wanted was a stupid reminder.

“And what you’ve got is trouble,” Inese retorted. I stared at her. I hadn’t said—

“Now stop worrying about the shiny. We’ve got work to do.”

See what I mean?

If I remove the italics, it won’t be clear that the narrator broadcasted the thought. But it isn’t directed at anyone, either, and kind of reads as if it’s just being emphasized.

But what if I only italicized thoughts that she knows is telepathic. She’s new to the concept of superpowers. If the characters around her react appropriately, she doesn’t have to realize what she’s doing, and the readers will learn at the same time she does.

Try reading this passage again:

He gave me a pointed look. “Be careful with that thing.”

I winced. “I don’t plan on using it.”

“What you plan to do and what you do are two different things.”

“Yeah,” I mumbled, ducking my eyes from his scowl. All I wanted was a stupid reminder.

“And what you’ve got is trouble,” Inese retorted. I stared at her. I hadn’t said—

“Now stop worrying about the shiny. We’ve got work to do.”

Since Inese is commenting directly on the narrator’s thoughts, and the narrator reacts with confusion, we can guess what has happened.

Plus, this allows for a lot of fun when she’s dealing with high-end telepaths. After all, they’re strong enough to manipulate her mind without her knowing that they’re changing her thoughts. Neither the narrator, nor the reader, actually know what is real and what isn’t, and which thoughts are actually hers.

Unreliable narrator, anyone?

Now, the problem with doing it this way is that there’s always the chance that the larger scenes involving telepathy (and there’s a huge one at the end of the story that prompted this particular blog post) may be confusing for the reader. That’s why I’m hoping to find a proofreader for this style of formatting before Isaac and I release the book. But for now, I think I’ve settled on this:

  • Thoughts directed toward someone/something in present tense will be italicized.

He inclined his head. “Yes.”

You’re admitting to it? “You were using it last night,” I tested. “To get me to come with you.”

  • Telepathic communication (when the narrator is aware these are not her own thoughts) will be italicized.

Brainmaster clucked her tongue. Poor Miss Nickleson… Let me show you what happens to the people who rebel.

  • Flashbacks/memory attacks, where the narrator is experiencing them but does not know this is a flashback will not be italicized. Tags may need to be included in the prose to help aid the reader.

Brainmaster clucked her tongue. Poor Miss Nickleson… Let me show you what happens to the people who rebel.

A rocket slammed into the ground, blowing a beast to bits. Sun scorched the back of my neck, and the stench of burnt flesh tainted the air. A blast of heat rolled over me. I shielded my eyes while debris pelted me with dirt. Something smashed into my chest. I removed my hand from my shirt and found it hot and sticky. The pain threatened to destroy my vision—

(Since the main character cannot distinguish the manipulation from reality, this is not italicized).

  • Flashbacks/memory attacks that the narrator is actively experiencing and is aware of, will be italicized.

The winding corridor opened to rows upon rows of floor-to-ceiling tanks, each filled with thick, greenish fluid. Bubbles traveled up the tubes, passing over occupants who had been stripped of everything but a breath mask. A helpless, sickening sensation spread through me. I stared at the liquid, petrified.

Brianmaster dragged me into a tube and shoved me inside, the numbing liquid surrounding me, slick against my skin. Burning.

I needed to escape, to breathe, to run—

“Let’s not open these doors, ‘kay?” Jack said, jarring me from my nightmare.

(In this scene, Jenna is having a memory attack, and though she can’t escape it, she’s aware that the attack is happening).

  • Flashbacks where the character is “remembering,” but not really “experiencing” will not be italicized.

He put the training weapons aside and sat on the floor, stretching his fingers to his toes. “Besides, the Community’s boring. There’s no excitement. Do you remember when we used to pick blackberries off the neighbor’s bush?”

I nodded.

Walking home from school, we used to take the back ally to our parents’ houses. One time I noticed a dark blackberry poking out from a broken slat in the fence. It was ripe, and touching the berry left a deep red juice stain on my fingertips. The neighbors could’ve been fined because the fence hadn’t been repaired in a timely manner.

(She’s recalling a memory, but she isn’t “experiencing” it, per se).

And, of course, I’ll use italics to emphasize certain words. And also for sound effects, foreign languages, etc, though I’ll try not to overdo it. 🙂

So, now that I’ve got this sorted out in blog-post form, I’m off to finish formatting the italics in the manuscript. It’s not perfect, but hopefully the formatting will be smoother now.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful. 🙂 Have you ever had to make a particular type of formatting distinguishable?

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Cogling Blog Tour for Fellow Author – Jordan Elizabeth

Today I’m participating in a blog tour for a fellow author, Jordan Elizabeth!

I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, since I had the privileged of beta reading one of her earlier drafts of this book. I’ll soon be reading the new version, so I’m super excited to see how the book turned out. 😀

In the meantime…

COGLING

Young Adult Steampunk-Fantasy

Jordan Elizabeth - Cogling Cover

The beautiful cover is thanks to Mandie Manzano.

When fifteen-year-old Edna Mather tears an expensive and unfamiliar pocket watch off her little brother’s neck, he crumbles into a pile of cogs right before her eyes. Horrified, Edna flees for help, but encounters Ike, a thief who attempts to steal the watch before he realizes what it is: a device to power Coglings—clockwork changelings left in place of stolen children who have been forced to work in factories.

Desperate to rescue her brother, Edna sets off across the kingdom to the hags’ swamp, with Ike in tow. There, they learn Coglings are also replacing nobility so the hags can stage a rebellion and rule over humanity. Edna and Ike must stop the revolt, but the populace believes hags are helpful godmothers and healers. No one wants to believe a lowly servant and a thief, especially when Ike has secrets that label them both as traitors. 

Together, Edna and Ike must make the kingdom trust them or stop the hags themselves, even if Ike is forced to embrace his dark heritage and Edna must surrender her family.

 

Jordan Elizabeth - Cogling Cover Wrap

 

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Excerpt:

Green smoke snaked up the side of the tenement and drifted over the sill of an open window. A breeze blew the vapor into a column before it solidified into the shape of a stout, young hag. She shook her crimson curls away from her face and straightened the hood of her cloak to keep her kohl-lined, silver eyes shadowed.

The scent of lavender clung to her robes, washing over the small room. Two brass-framed beds crowded the floor. Blankets covered sleeping children. A little boy wheezed against the head of his stuffed bear, drool dripping onto the wool.

The hag squinted to see the goldenrod dream cloud above his head—a dream about seeing his father again. She frowned at the other bed, where a sleeping teenager lay with a threadbare blanket tugged around her chin. Even squinting, the hag couldn’t make out a dream cloud. The girl was too old to be of any use.

The hag slithered to the boy’s bed and, from the folds of her cloak, drew out a rectangular box four inches long, with a circular indentation on one side. She set it on the floor to remove a vial and rag from her skirt pocket, the rough wool of the rag irritating her fingertips.

“Do it, Simone,” the hag muttered to herself as she willed her hands not to tremble. “Make the Dark Mother happy.” She couldn’t fail at her first mission.

Holding her breath, Simone dribbled three drops onto the rag, yanked the teddy bear away, and shoved the drugged cloth against the boy’s mouth. His eyes opened, his gasp muffled, and his body jerked. Simone stiffened.

The girl moaned. Her mattress rustled as she rolled over to face the wall, brown curls shifting over her pillow.

Simone’s heart thudded. By the seven Saints, she should’ve cast a sleeping spell over the girl. The Dark Mother preferred humans to think hags were harmless healers, not thieves who kidnapped children.

The boy writhed, squeaks emerging from behind the rag. Simone pressed harder. She needed his breath in the wool to disguise and fuel the machine.

The potion took hold and the boy collapsed. Simone’s thick lips curved over her broken teeth. She lifted a pocket watch from around her neck and positioned it into the crevice in the metal box. As the two pieces connected, a chime rang out. She set the box beside the limp little boy and draped the rag over it. Even though she should wait to make sure his breath stuck in the machine, she couldn’t risk waking the girl.

The metal stretched to become his replica as if it were made of putty. With a second chime, the metal shimmered and dulled into the pale peach of his flesh, becoming an exact duplicate of the child.

“Mine.” Simone hefted the little boy into her arms, leaving the duplication on the bed, and transformed to smoke before the chimes awoke the girl.

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Check out COGLING on GoodReads and Amazon.

About the Author

Author - Jordan Elizabeth

Jordan Elizabeth, formally Jordan Elizabeth Mierek, writes down her nightmares in order to live her dreams. She is the author of ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW, TREASURE DARKLY, and BORN OF TREASURE. Check out her website, JordanElizabethMierek.com, for more information on her books, contests, and bonus short stories.

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Click here to enter her Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a steampunk necklace!

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Thoughts on Publishing – A Video Blog Post – Reading Chapter One of Magic’s Stealing

Today I’m continuing the trend of doing a weekly video blog post, but instead of doing a reading from 1000 Words, I’m reading the first chapter of Magic’s Stealing. 🙂

(And  a Youtube link in case you can’t see it).

This is a day late–I normally try to post on Fridays– but this time I edited the audio to remove the more obvious stumbles where I tripped over my words. It’s been a while since I used  Premiere Pro, so it’s not perfect (and I caught a couple spots I missed once I listened to the full video), but hopefully the edits will make the overall listening experience smoother.

As a side note, I started doing the video blogs as an experiment in seeing whether or not that would help shorten the amount of time I spent producing material for the blog.

Did it?

Nope.

I want the videos to look and sound at least semi-professional, so I practice the reading at least once beforehand, so that the actual reading has as few stumbles as possible. Since I’ve now rediscovered how to use Premiere Pro, removing obvious stumbles also takes time, and then I have to export the edited clip from Premiere Pro and create a “movie” image in Movie Maker for the book (because I haven’t quite figured out the video options in Premiere Pro). Then I upload the different clips to Youtube (I do the reading separate from where I talk beforehand). Depending on my internet speed (which has been lacking as of late), those clips can take a while to upload. Then, once uploaded, I need to splice them together using Youtube’s video editor (handy thing, though limited), listen to transition points to make sure those flow smoothly, and create the new video. Once that’s uploaded, I listen to the full thing to make sure that everything has correctly processed.

It’s a lot more time-consuming that I thought it would be, but I suspect part of that is the learning curve involved with each program.

I still enjoy doing the readings, however, and I hope you enjoy them, too. 🙂

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