Magick and The Stones of Power
This is a reposting from Tara Lain's blog from 2014. The giveaway is no longer happening.
Hello lovely people! My name is M.D. Grimm and I will be your host today. But first, I want to thank Tara for letting me be on her blog. Thank you!
Now, let me share a little about me:
I'm a Pisces born on February 29th. I've wanted to write since the second grade, and I am forever grateful I had parents who never told me I couldn't. They encouraged me to write, but also told me I should get a day job that would pay the bills, since writing isn't always lucrative. So, I grew up with a practical view of writing. I never did it for money. Don't get me wrong, I like being paid for doing what I love, but I would do it anyway. I have to write. It's a compulsion. I know for a fact I would be mightily depressed if I didn't write; if I didn't continue to create characters, stories, magic in the most ordinary circumstances.
I am an intense reader, escaping from mundane life and living vicariously through characters. I write what I love to read, which is escapist stories. I'm not ashamed of that. I read and write to escape. And sometimes I draw to escape, though I haven't been doing that for a while.
I know not everyone will like my stories and characters. That's fine. I'm still growing as a writer and as a person, so I know not every book will be perfection. I like to read critical reviews, however, to see if they have any suggestions or valid points to make about the story. But if the review is just to be cruel, then I just roll my eyes and move on. No one is going to stop me from writing. No one is going to scare my muse away (she's a tough old bird).
Now that my bio is done, I wanted to inform all of you that this blog includes a GIVEAWAY. Your favorite kind, right? Well, it's going to be very simple. If you leave a comment on this post you get put in the running for a free copy of my two "Stones of Power" books: "Ruby: Lost and Found" and "Peridot: War and Peace."
I will write the names of those who post on slips of paper, put them in my dragon baseball cap (cool, right?), and will draw two names out with my eyes closed. Those two people will get free copies of my books. I will announce the winners on my own blog on March 14 (Friday) with more details on how to collect.
My blog link is: http://www.mdgrimmwrites.com/#!blog/cqsg
(I will also post this link on my facebook page, so if you’re a friend of mine, you can see it there)
Here's also a link to learn more about these books, such as blurbs and excerpts: http://www.mdgrimmwrites.com/#!the-stones-of-power-series/c150v
Now I believe we can finally get to the blog post. What's the topic, you ask?
Fantasy (seems fitting, really, since the two books above are fantasy).
For some people, it's a selling point; to others, it's a turn-off. It's one of those subjects that seem to firmly divide people. You either like it or you don't.
For the realist it's hogwash, utter b.s., a waste of time, and doesn't address the important issues of the day. To a fan, it's a way to transcend beyond the borders of reality and to become something or someone else. It's an escape hatch but one that does have real-world applications, because it gives them confidence. If a magically-inept wizard's apprentice can become the greatest wizard of all time, well then, why can't I?
I can see both points of view rather well. Both have their good arguments and their bad, (like most things in life). For myself, I like the sort of fantasy that is grounded in reality, or at least, real-world themes. The best sort of fantasy author addresses issues and challenges that people in reality have to deal with. Let's take "Lord of the Rings" for example (yes, unashamed Tolkienite here): that book is fantasy. Complete and utter fantasy. Orcs and wizards and flaming eyeballs, oh my!
But it seems so real. Why? Well, it has real world themes running all the way through it: war, conquest, friendship, sacrifice, survival, corruption, salvation, forgiveness... you get the idea. So, despite the elves, flaming eyeballs, and magic rings, which are just window-dressing, that story is really about themes that everyone can relate to. I believe that's what has made it endure, and it will continue to endure for ages to come.
In my humble opinion, the best sort of fantasy author deals with real-world themes in otherworldly settings. But the fantasy world is just trapping, a way for the author to have fun and let loose their imagination, but the heart of their story should always be the characters and their evolution. Feel free to disagree... this is only my opinion. But why am I talking about fantasy for this guest blog? Well, the above issues are what I've been dealing with while writing my own fantasy series, "The Stones of Power" which is published by Torquere Press (see what I did there? Shameless promo).
Writing fantasy is hard. I think it's harder than writing in present-day real world settings. If you base your story in Washington, D.C. in the current day, well, there are some details you don't need to think about. Most people have general knowledge about that city, or big cities in general, and you can go from there. You already have a firm foundation and can build from that. A little research and you can understand the economic climate, the politics, the structure of the city, and the more dangerous sectors of the city. But with fantasy, you're basically starting from scratch.
How will you structure your world? What creatures reside in it? How big is it? What's the weather like? Is the sky blue, or purple, or orange or...? Do the trees talk? What sort of magic exists in that world? What's the name of the world? You get the picture. There's a tankard load of questions you need to ask yourself and even if you don't include all the answers in the books themselves, you as the author need to know the answers, at least generally.
I'll admit, I didn't know half these answers when I wrote "Ruby: Lost and Found" which is Book 1 of my Stones of Power series. I know a lot more now as I'm working on Book 5. I suppose it depends on what an author's protocol is before they start writing. Some have everything planned out in major detail before they can even think to write. Others know only the vaguest idea and start. I'm in the middle, I suppose. And it truly depends on how connected I am with the characters and events, and how clearly I see the story evolving. I knew the basics of my world, which I named Karishian, and worked from there. With each book, I expand my world a little each time, discovering new creatures or places.
But the core of my stories, beyond the fantasy elements, is the main couple: Lord Morgorth (a dark mage) and his mate, Aishe (pronounced "ash").
Those characters are the central focus, their love, their challenges. I've truly fallen in love with these guys over the course of the books. Sure, I had affection for them and I knew they had potential when I wrote Book 1, but I'm truly invested now! The amusing thing is: they still surprise me. I thought I knew something about Morgorth in Book 1 that turned into something completely different when I wrote Book 3. I realized he was somewhat of an unreliable narrator... even to me! I ask you, how is that even possible? Sheesh.
But, it all turned out great and the revelation added more depth to his character.
Aishe was also a surprise. While the first two books are in Morgorth's POV, the third book, "Amethyst: Bow and Arrow" is in Aishe's POV. That book was a real struggle to write but I'm very proud with the end result. I had to write an entire bio for him to understand his personality, his motivations... what he thought of Morgorth, his new life with the mage, his past, and the world around him (among other things). Aishe is a very strong character and though he might be perceived as "simpler", his motivations and desires clearer, he is just as complex as Morgorth, but in a different way. I think they complement each other very well.
You could say I started the series based on their relationship and built outward. But I always made sure I grounded my fantasy in real-life relationship issues as well as broader themes. ALSO: my magic has rules. I even have a document on my computer with "magick rules" as the title, so I don't contradict myself. I have thirteen books planned for this series, and I don't want to forget a rule I made for Book 4 that applies to Book 10 as well, for example. There's nothing that irks me more than magic without limits. Everything has limits. Everything should have limits. It especially creates more drama if a person with magic isn't all-powerful.
One of my favorite examples of how a fantasy writer restricts magic is in Jim Butcher's urban fantasy series, "The Dresden Files". Love, LOVE that series. Anyway, enough gushing... Butcher uses physics to guide magic: every action has an equal and opposite reaction, or something like that. Don't look at me that way, I'm no physics major. My point is, the restrictions heighten the drama and tension in pivotal scenes and makes the main character, Harry Dresden, have to consider his spells and whatnot before he actually uses magic.
For myself, I consider magic as a muscle. (I was on a big fitness kick when I wrote the first book, so everything was seen in terms of exercise) Like any muscle, it needs to be exercised or else it goes flabby. Also, if you slack at exercising and then try to do something to big, you can pull that muscle. Same with magic. Mages are born with an extra muscle, you could say, and that muscle is magic. They gain access to it at puberty, when it has reached maturity. Then they become apprentices to older mages and learn how to use it. Not everyone has the same level of power in their magic "muscle" which makes some more powerful than others, or more talented in one aspect of magic, such as spell-casting or potions.
For me, this makes sense and it's a concept I can carry through to the end of the series. That's another thing to remember if you write a fantasy series: make sure rules you apply in Book 1 can hold up in Book 20. To my mind, the only exception is if your world is falling apart, which means anything is possible.
Another reason I enjoy fantasy is that I can create my own origin mythology. I am a huge fan of all mythology, and honestly, if I'd furthered my studies (I have a B.A. in English Lit. but that's it), I would have been a Grad studying Comparative Mythology. Seriously, that's a field of study. I would have loved every minute of it, I'm sure. But, alas, I have full time-pay-the-bills sort of job that won't allow time for that. *sigh* (I know, play the violin).
What was I saying? Ah, yes: mythology. I got to create my own genesis story for Karishian and I ended up putting it into a song which is presented in Book 2: "Peridot: War and Peace." The song is shown in fragment in the story, but the entire thing is located in the back of the book. I also have it posted on my website. You can find it here: http://www.mdgrimmwrites.com/#!reign-of-the-mother/c143q
You can actually sing the song if you can sing (I can't), as I used a melody of an actual song I like to listen to. I had a lot of fun writing it (I was actually one who liked poetry class), and it took me a couple of months to finish it, as I allowed myself to write it slowly and methodically, a little bit at a time.
I truly believe that fantasy isn't for those who don't want to face reality, but rather, those who want to face reality with snappy decorations and trimmings. Why deal with a guy who has an abusive past, deep anger, and some self-loathing in the "real" world when I can dress him up as a dark mage named Lord Morgorth? It's so much more fun to write (and also to read, I think) a character who can contort the earth like it was putty with just word of magick; or have that character fight zombies... (yes, that's in Book 2 "Peridot").
That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I hope you enjoyed my lovely ramble on fantasy! And, please, check out my books if you're interested. If you could kindly leave a review at the website of your choice, that would also be much appreciated! If I don't get my guys some more attention, I might not get to continue their epic story (and I really, really, want to!).
Once again, please leave a comment and enter into a drawing to win a chance at getting free books! Two names will be drawn and they will receive free copies of "Ruby: Lost and Found", and "Peridot: War and Peace."
Please check my blog on Friday (March 14th) to see if you won! More details will be given there. Link: http://www.mdgrimmwrites.com/#!blog/cqsg
(BONUS—excerpt! From Ruby: Lost and Found):
The revenai fixed its hundred eyes on me, and I gulped, wishing my mentor was here, or at least Enfernlo. I've never fought a demon before, and I honestly didn't know where to begin. Their hides were tough, almost magick-proof, and they had excellent range with their poisonous spit and their venomous spikes.
It lunged at me, and one of its heads spat drool at me. I flung myself to the side and rolled, trying to kick-start my brain and body into battle mode. I had wished for something to unleash my pent-up frustration on... I really should be more careful what I wished for.
The revenai turned toward me, and an arrow went flying at it and stuck in one of its eyes. It roared, and four arms swung around toward Aishe, but the dialen was quicker and dodged out of the way, another arrow already singing through the air and puncturing another eye.
"Get up, Morgorth!" Aishe roared. "I can't do this alone!"
I shook myself and prepared to unleash everything I had at the monster. I sucked in a breath and ran forward as the revenai tore at the arrows, its other hands tearing at the trees, sending them crashing around us. I weaved around them, flinging some out of my way with force, and others I sent right at the revenai's feet. I had to find a weakness; every monster or creature had a weak spot. For payshthas like Enfernlo, it was the soft flesh of their stomach; the rest of their bodies were scaled. For truls it was their armpits because, again, the flesh was soft, and if punctured at the right angle, a blade could stab their heart.
The revenai had to have one as well.
Their eyes were a good start; I gave Aishe points for that. Thick blood dripped from its two ruined eyes, and I shot a lance of fire at one of its heads. The head jerked back and drool was flung everywhere, eating through everything it touched, like acid. I snarled and aimed for the eyes as well but those arms were a problem. It swung its claws at me, and I jumped and ducked before one hit me and sent me straight into a tree. I slammed hard and the air was knocked out of me. But I managed to duck as it came back and attempted to rip my head off. I rolled away and gasped for breath, flinging up a protective shield as a fist came down. I was slammed to the ground under the sheer strength and felt my bones creak, threatening to snap.
Someone roared, and the weight lifted. As the stars before my eyes faded, I looked over to see Aishe straddling the revenai's wrist, stabbing it with a short sword and causing black, viscous blood to gush. I sucked in a breath and struggled to my feet just as Aishe leapt off of the revenai. Another hand came to grab him. He ducked away and rolled, and I kept on the opposite side of him, trying to divide the demon's attention. Five heads were enough to deal with.
Aishe and I couldn't keep this up, and I tore through my brain, trying to find a way that would end this conflict as fast and as bloodlessly as possible.
Before I'd found a satisfying idea, the demon got a hold of Aishe and proceeded to squeeze the life from his body. Fury, so intense I wondered why I didn't explode, whirled through me as I created a blade of pure force and flung it at the revenai's arm, cutting it cleanly in half. The monster roared, Aishe fell, and more blood gushed.
The dialen didn't move.
"Hey! Demon shit!" I bellowed, my magick amplifying my voice. The revenai turned to me, the lust for death in its eyes.
"Follow me, if you have the guts!" I ran deeper into the forest, hearing the lumbering beast close behind me. Fury gave me power and focus, and I used it. I gasped for breath, my muscles burning, as I emerged at the river where only minutes before I had seen Aishe naked. I ran along the bank, the revenai emerging seconds later, lumbering awkwardly, ripping up trees as it went. I swung around and churned the water, lifting it into the air and flinging it at the charging revenai. I continued to lash the monster with water, and it swung its hands around uselessly, becoming more enraged. When I had enough water whirling around the revenai, I took a deep breath and blew it out, causing the water to freeze.
The revenai's thrashing ceased, and the drool froze on its lips. I knew it wouldn't hold, but maybe it would contain the thing long enough for me to find out what to do with it—and to find out if Aishe was even still alive. I ran around the large, frozen demon and nearly collided with the dialen as he emerged, whole, from the trashed forest.
I skidded to a halt, and my heart was drumming in my chest, relief making me dizzy.
"Thank the Mother," I gasped and before I could think better of it, I flung my arms around the dialen and hugged him hard. It lasted for about a second before I jerked back as if electrocuted. I grimaced, and Aishe looked shocked.
...to be continued.
May dragons guard your dreams,