Excerpt. Prologue of Eternity’s Sacrifice and a little bonus

Okay, I’ve been promising my Tweeps that I would post an excerpt from my novel. So, here’s my prologue. It goes way back in time, but gives a hint about what’s REALLY going on here. This is still a first draft, so bear with me if it’s a bit rough. But I kind of like it. So, without further ado:

He awoke to discover a letter on his desk. Or rather, that one of the blank sheets he had on his desk was no longer blank. His cartographer friend had news for him. Perhaps this was it. Perhaps what he had been looking for for over a millennium had been found. His hands shook as he picked the letter up.

Nicolaus,

You asked me to be on the look-out for strangely named towns on my tour of the western continents, and while I have found a few that I had thought at the time might interest you, and mapped them out, the one I found this week is of particular interest. Despite you not telling me why you asked, I believe I have found what you were looking for. On the bank of the Mississippi River, in a territory where most of the town names are either French or native in origin, I have found one that is decidedly Italian. Though its origin is the smallest oddity of it, for the name itself is possibly the oddest choice possible for a town. It is called Sangue Collina, which I have been told means Blood Hill. Discreet inquiries have given no indication of any kind of battle having taken place in the area. And in fact, most of the citizens we spoke with had no idea why it was named thus, and could only say that it “always had been”. Indeed, the citizens seem to know nothing of the name’s meaning, and we chose not to enlighten them. After all, we were starting to nurture our own theory about just who it was that founded and named this town, and to speak of such thoughts would have either gotten us laughed out of town or led to quite the witch hunt. I am sure that you can guess just where my mind has been going with it.

It seems that our nocturnal friends have reached the new world before us. Though if I am correct in this thinking, they have been cautious stewards, as there have been no more unexplained disappearances, or odd deaths, here than anywhere else on this continent. I see no reason not to leave them to their town, though if you have reservations about such a thing, please let me know. After all, I am but a simple cartographer, you are the one best suited to see possible future implications of either action or inaction. Barring any word from you to the contrary, we will be leaving here by the end of the week.

I hope you see why I believe this to be the town you were looking for. Everything about it is quite odd, not just the name. Though that is extremely strange. I have mapped the area to the absolute best of my abilities, and will send the maps to you. And, of course, the town has been added to the main map so you’ll be able to find it. If this was not what you were looking for, let me know, and I shall keep you informed of any other such towns, as well as send you information on the others we already found.

Your friend

The moment the name of the town was given, he knew that his friend had indeed found exactly what he was looking for. He went immediately to the large map on the table in the other room and found the Mississippi River. He traced down the river until he found it, then stuck a pin in that spot. Every Time Mage in the world would now know, as soon as they looked at their copies of the map, that Sangue Collina had been found.
He stared at the map, unable to pull his eyes away from the place, half a world away, where the fate of the world would someday be decided.

And now for a short little thing I found. I have no idea what I had planned to do with it, since it doesn’t fit anywhere. Possibly it was meant to be a prologue. But, since I like my OTHER prologue better as a prologue, this poor little paragraph has nowhere to go – except here.

Sangue Collina. It’s name means blood hill and many a historian has spent far too many hours hunched over old records, trying to find some indication of the battle or tragedy that earned it its name. They looked in vain. Those that know the truth about who founded it have their own theories, though. Perhaps one of them, or even both of them, is correct. Those in the know suggest that it was to the founders what a name like New Hope or New Haven would have been to a human. A hope for a brighter future. For the founders of Sangue Collina, a land flowing with blood would have been a mecca. Others, those who know even more, suggest that the battle it was named for simply hasn’t happened yet.

Sexuality, Religion, Discrimination, and the Nature of Sin

I never intended for this blog to get political in any way. It was supposed to be a place for me to talk about my writing, with occasional forays into randomness, because – let’s face it – I am a bit random, sometimes. Then I posted about my religion, and I think I started to realize that this just might end up being about more than writing.

And you know what? I’m okay with that. I’m through shying away from big issues because of worrying about offending someone, or whatever my problem has been. And there have been some things going on, lately, that I can’t just stay quiet about. And maybe nobody really cares about my opinion, and maybe some people will say that since this doesn’t affect me, I should just shut up. But, in a way, the fact that it doesn’t affect me is precisely why I want to talk about. Because the people that ARE affected by it need to know that there are some of us that aren’t, that still care about it, and are still willing to take a stand. So, here goes.

My twitter feed has been blowing up the past few days with this Religious Freedom Restoration Act crap. And I have been wanting to throw something. I am all for freedom of religion. After all, as I mentioned in the other post where I talked about my religion, my biggest religious tenet is that nobody has a right to tell anybody else what to believe. And since I also adhere to the Wiccan Rede, I am all for letting people practice their faith in whatever way they want – as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.

But, that’s the thing. These laws are specifically designed to hurt people. Whatever the lawmakers involved try to say about it, the fact that businesses are to be allowed to refuse service to people on the grounds of religious belief is giving them the right to hurt people. Of course, it seems that most of the businesses that want to take advantage of this are owned by so-called Christians. And the people they want to exclude are LGBQT. And I have so many problems with this.

First of all, before we get to anything else, why THIS particular “sin”? (And I’ll come back to whether it’s really a sin, in a bit.) Of all the “rules” in your bible, why is THIS the one that has you so much in arms? I mean, there are so many things your bible speaks out against, and forbids that are so much worse than simply falling in love with someone who happens to be the same gender as you. So, will you also refuse service to those who break any of your other religious rules? I’m genuinely curious, here.

And really, the funniest (I mean most ironic) part of this is that your very acts of discrimination – the very act of taking advantage of this new law – is in itself a sin. I’m not a Christian, but I pretended to be for the first 18 years of my life. I’ve been to Sunday School, heard the sermons, and while I haven’t read the entire Bible, I’ve read parts of it. So, let’s take a look at some of the things Jesus – the man whose teachings you supposedly follow as the very definition of being a Christian – has said about this. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” “Love your neighbour as you love yourself.” “Judge not, lest ye be judged yourself.” And my personal favourite: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

I admit I’ve paraphrased the quotes. But the meaning has been preserved. But see, I find this interesting. So many things He has said were about NOT discriminating. So, by exercising your “religious freedom” to refuse service to people you consider to be “sinners”, you are in fact sinning yourself. Wouldn’t it be funny if TRUE Christians used this same law to refuse service to those who are using it as an excuse to discriminate? Except they wouldn’t – because they would be doing unto others as they would have done to them, and loving their neighbour, and not judging others, and not casting stones. Too bad. It would be a fun little ironic twist to have it come back to bite people on the ass. (Though perhaps there’s nothing stopping certain Pagans from refusing to serve bigots, depending on how their own moral code interprets things.)

But, there’s also another point to this. Another question I have. And that is whether even declaring being LGBQT to be a sin, might in itself be a sin. One of the people I follow on Twitter, who happens to be both LGBQT and Christian pretty much summed it up “Why must I concede my sexuality is “sinful” when I find it to be a gift from God?” – Eliel Cruz. Take a good look at that quote, and think about it for a minute. And I’m going to use another Bible quote for you. “Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” I have the actual chapter and verse, this time, because I had to look up if something like this was really in there. The Bible pretty much says that God is infallible. That He doesn’t make mistakes. He is perfect, His work is perfect.

Think about that. Think about what Eliel said. Your God made them this way. And your God is supposed to be infallible and perfect. If God doesn’t make mistakes, and God made them this way, what does that tell you? It seems to me that saying that their sexuality makes them sinners is saying that God fucked up. But that isn’t supposed to be possible. So, who is the “sinner”, here? The people who accept the way God made them, or the ones who are insisting that their very existence is proof that God isn’t as infallible as the Bible claims? Because that is what they’re really saying. That God made a mistake. Ironic that sins made by choice seem to be so much easier to forgive for these people than the “sin” of honouring God by accepting the way He made you. Food for thought.

Anyway. There was probably more that I wanted to say, but I’m afraid that if I try to remember what it was, this will turn into even more of a rant than it already is. So, I’m going to shut up now, but I’ll leave you with another quote from Jesus himself: Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” It seems rather fitting, tonight.

Reading Challenge 2015 Books 1+2

Books one and 2 in my reading challenge were A Little Princess and Teh Secret Garden, both by francis Hodgson Burnett

I’m combining these two books into one post, because a lot of what I want to say about them, is about them both. With both of them being children’s books by the same author, it’s also easier for me to combine them try to decide which one I’m counting as “a book from my childhood” and which one is “a book at least 100 years old”.

A Little Princess is about a young girl named Sarah Crewe. She was an English girl born in India, whose mother died when she was very young, leaving only her and her very indulgent father. When she was seven she was sent to boarding school in England because “the air in India was not good for children.” I admit that that cracked me up a bit. First of all, the air in India seems to be perfectly fine for Indian children. But, more importantly, it begs the question of why that same air that “isn’t good for children” is just fine for infants? What magic happens at seven or so that makes them suddenly unable to handle the air in India for the next ten years or so? But, since at the time the book was written it was a contemporary story, not a historical, that is more a question to ask society at the time than the author of the story.

So, young Sarah is sent to this boarding school. And another idea you get from the story is that this is a year-round school. In other words, girls are sent here and don’t see their parents for YEARS. I suppose it was normal at the time, and I really want to do some research into it, now. But it’s such a frightening thought, really. Anyway, she’s sent to this school, and is treated like… well, like a princess. But then her father dies, and she’s left penniless due to a bad investment before he died. The woman running the school somehow get guardianship of the girl because… who knows, really. But, again, that could honestly be the timeframe and she had no other relatives, so. I don’t question it – at least not too hard.

Sarah is taken out of classes, put in the attic, and used as an errand-girl, and pretty much considered a slave. Until a man moves in next door and “magical” (in the eyes of a young child, at least) things start to happen.

The Secret Garden is about Mary Lennox. She is also an English girl born in India, though she had a very different life than Sarah did. Mary was spoiled by her Indian servants, and completely ignored by her parents. But she wasn’t spoiled out of love, she was just given her way in everything to keep her from throwing temper tantrums. Her parents and several of the servants die of cholera, and Mary is left alone, abandoned by the remaining servants. She’s found by people searching the house for… maybe they were looking to see if anyone survived the plague, maybe it was something else they were looking for. I’m not quite sure. Anyway, she’s found and sent to her uncle in England.

Where she is once again left pretty much alone. She’s there for weeks before she ever meets her guardian. But, things actually get better for her, because her new maid is nothing like her servants in India, and makes her do things for herself. Eventually she meets and befriends her maid’s younger brother and finds the key and door to a garden that has been locked up for ten years – because her aunt died there, and her uncle can’t bear to look at it. Then she finds her cousin.

Colin, like Mary, has been spoiled rotten by servants trying to avoid temper tantrums, and ignored by his father his whole life. he’s said to be an invalid who won’t live long. Mary befriends him, and tells him about the garden. Colin wants to see this garden and so willingly goes outside for the first time in his life. The fresh air, working in the garden, and Dickon’s friendship end up doing wonders for both children.

Okay, I’m horrible at summarizing, but you get the idea. And really, the main reason I wanted to give some kind of summary, was because I wanted to touch on a rather interesting theme that appears if you look at both books, together. Mary, Colin, and Sarah were all rich kids, given every material thing they could think to ask for. But, Sarah had a very different temperment from the other two. And I think the reason why is rather obvious. Sarah was also given something that money can’t buy – she was given love, and attention. So that even when her world turned upside down and inside out and she was made into a slave-girl living in the attic of a boarding school making friends with the rats – she never gave up on her dreams, and her imagination made everything seem better. For Mary and Colin, it was the garden, and Dickon that turned them around. It was having people that cared about them that turned them from being little shits, to actually caring about other people. Meanwhile, Dickon – who was poor as they came – was always a kind, gentle soul.

Basically, it all comes down to the idea that material things don’t matter. That what children need more than anything, is love. And with taking the two books together, that theme really becomes quite clear.

Anyway… Another thing I wanted to talk about is language. These were children’s books. Probably Middle Grade by our current classification system. And yet, there were words that I, a grown woman of decent intelligence, had to look up. Some of them were because these books were old and so there were words that are no longer used. (And also, it’s set in England, and I have no idea what a shilling is…) But, some of them were long, difficult words. And it got me to thinking about the current publishing industry – and educational system. As writers, we’re told we should try to write at about a 6th grade level (I believe), for ADULT books. These were books written for probably like 4th and 5th graders, that were written at a higher reading level than most adult books today.

And it’s sad, really. Not that these books were so “hard” but that today, everything is expected to be so easy. We keep dumbing everything down. We talk and write down to our children, and make it so that we have to talk and write down to other adults. These hundred year old books are proof that if we talk to children like they’re human beings, and give them the chance to figure something out from context – they will do it. I never would have heard of these things back when I was a kid, if they hadn’t stood the test of time. And I didn’t even remember that there were “hard” words in them – I just remembered they were interesting stories, that I wanted to revisit as part of this reading challenge.

I think that children are smarter than we give them credit for. When my oldest nephew was three, my parents got a new bathroom scale. It was blue, which happened to be my nephew’s favourite colour at the time. He saw the thing, and came out into the frontroom and told my mom “Grandma, me like your new blue weight measurer.” He didn’t know the word “scale”, you see – so he pulled a word most people think he shouldn’t have known out. They can learn big words if they’re exposed to them. If we don’t talk down to them – then we won’t NEED to talk down to them. See how that works? They understood that a hundred years ago. And well-brought-up English children were also taught French from a young age. Now, most kids don’t start learning a second language until high school. But think about this, for a second. For the first five or six years of our lives, our brains are hardwired for language acquisition. By the time we start language classes, we’ve long-since lost our ability to learn a language easily.

Basically, we do everything backwards. And I think it needs to stop. We need to start giving kids more credit, treat them like the intelligent human beings they are capable of being. We expect them to grow up so quickly in all the ways we should be keeping them children – but not giving them the tools and education they need to handle that, keeping them babies in all the ways we SHOULD be letting them grow up.

Okay, that turned into a bit more of a rant than I intended. Leave it to me to turn a book review into a rant about the education system. I’m in the process of writing a piece on fan fiction that I’ll post in a few days.

I’m Back!

Well, sort of. I’m sitting in the media center, because I still don’t have a computer that plays well with the internet. But, I’ve decided that it’s past time I get back to blogging. This new site is still a work in progress, but I’ll be working on getting it the way I want it over the next couple months.

So, what have I been up to in the time since I let my other blog fall to the wayside? A lot, though I don’t know if I really have much to show for it. I have decided that I’m definitely splitting Eternity’s Price in half, and so I have a completed (though still not exactly in order) first draft for the first half that I am leaning towards calling Eternity’s Sacrifice. I’m working on making a very detailed outline, and on Sunday (first day of a new month, and all) I’ll start working on the edit/revision/rewrite whatever it ends up being.

I’m a bit afraid of that, really. I’ve never done a full edit of a novel before. I’ve never finished a complete first draft of a novel before. So, this is going to be an adventure, I think. Though in reading through it to write the outline, there are some parts that I really like. And some parts I kind of hate. I’m discovering some characters that need to be given a bigger part, and others that need to go away. My biggest editing nightmare is going to be the fact that I still haven’t designed their political system. That definitely needs to be done.

In other news, I wrote a little over 100,000 words during nano. I guess in some ways I cheated, because that wasn’t all on one thing, but I’m counting them. In the meantime, some of the random things I was writing just to get words down have given me ideas. I’ve had a middle-grade series in my head for years. I started part of it in November, and while it’s a mess, I have actually gotten a much better idea of where the heck I’m going with it, now. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually get the thing finished while the child who inspired it is still young enough to appreciate it.

I’ve already started making plans for this November. My tentative goal is going to be 250k, and I’m letting myself take a break from Sangue Collina and do some “crack-fic” that is actually looking to require more research than my Sangue Collina books. One is a Romantic Thriller about a woman in the witness protection program who is found by the people she’s supposed to be being hidden from. The other is an Indiana Jones-esque Adventure story about a geologist who gets sucked into a quest for… something… after his friend brings back rocks from the top of Mount Everest that are the exact same as rocks usually found on the bottom of the ocean. I swear this makes more sense in my head than I’m currently making on paper, but it’s still a bit of a nebulous idea that I need to do a lot more research before I can figure out what the heck is going on in it.

I’ve also started a reading challenge for 2015 that I’m a bit behind on. But, I think I’ll blog it, and post some kind of review of the books I read for it. Which means that I have two reviews to write, already, and hope to finish the third book by the end of the weekend.

Well, that’s enough rambling for one day. Tomorrow I’ll either post a review of the first book I read for my reading challenge or a bit of commentary I’ve had writing itself in my head for the past couple days about a mini-series I watched this week. Until I get the RSS feed and other sign-up things figured out on here, I’ll post links to these posts in my old blog so people can find me. And eventually I hope to figure out how to migrate my old posts.