Coming Out Of The Dark

January is never my favorite month. The holidays are over, so all the pretty decorations are gone. It’s cold and damp and there’s not anything in particular to look forward to. So my mood tends to drop pretty badly in January. Most of the time I can tough my way through to spring, but this year was hard. We lost David Bowie and Alan Rickman (and now Glenn Frey, because damn.) A family member of mine has suffered a loss, and I’m dealing with an unpleasant work environment. So I was not at all strong when I ran across an article about an upcoming book that sounds very nearly like the one I already wrote. Coming from my publisher, too. I crashed into an emotional wall. Did that author steal from me? Are there enough similarities for me to complain? Is there anything I could do? Would it even matter? […]

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Research — Looking at Other Art Forms

From the very beginning of my time here at Magical Words, I’ve advocated reading outside of genre. Not that we shouldn’t read within genre, too — we should — we must. But rather that, in addition to genre reading, reading outside of genre will open our eyes to different ways of telling a story, crafting a scene, playing with dialogue, or any other aspect of writing fiction. Today, I’m going to take this idea one step further and suggest you also explore beyond the art and craft of writing by delving into a different art form and see what you can bring back with you.


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Finding Real Magic in Writing

The magic system in my first series — the LonTobyn Chronicle — had three elements: the mage, his or her familiar (usually a bird of prey), and a crystal or ceryll, as I called it, that focused the power sourced in the psychic connection between bird and mage. Each person’s crystal, and by extension, each person’s magic, had a different color. Blue, red, yellow, green, purple, silver, gold, orange; there was a ceremony each year in which all the mages of the land processed through the capital city, and I pictured it as this winding, glowing rainbow of light and birds and people in cloaks. As I wrote the three books and introduced new characters, I had to assign each one a magic color, and I have to admit that I did this pretty randomly. “Hmmmm. I’ve used shades of blue and red a lot. Better make this one pale […]

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Changes in the Light

This morning, instead of my usual workout, I hiked out to one of my favorite viewpoints here in my home town (we sit atop the Cumberland Plateau) and I spent an hour taking pictures. The viewpoint overlooks a narrow valley which opens out into some farmland. The opposite slope is completely undeveloped and covered with white and red oaks, red and sugar maples, tulip poplars, shagbark hickories, and a host of other species of trees that I can’t name. In the spring I come here and take pictures of the forest as the trees leaf out in myriad shades of green. Today I was after fall colors, and they were wonderfully intense.

Visual artists do this quite often — return again and again to a spot they’ve painted or photographed, looking for different patterns, different tones of color, different qualities of light. My brother is a professional artist and he […]

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Quoth the Raven…

I’m supposed to blog today… About writing. Factual stuff. Stuff you guys can use. And all I can think about, all I can remember is the raven….

See, there was this raven (I blogged about in my MySpace, and LJ sites) and I’ll paste a bit about it here….

>>As I started the run [of the Nantahala, my kayak] was out front of my paddling friends, with them in a long line behind me like bobbing buoys on the water. It isn’t my favorite place in a line of paddlers, as I like being in the middle somewhere. But for a moment I was at point, feeling alone on the river, watching the sunlight light bounce off the wave-tops, glorying in the feeling of solitude though there were likely a hundred people within shouting distance. I glanced back.

And… this raven flew along the length of the river, between the […]

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Paul Newman and What Being an Artist Means to Me

A Different kind of post this week:

For those of you who somehow missed it in the news this weekend, actor and activist Paul Newman died on Friday at the age of eighty-three. Newman has always been one of my favorite actors, and even knowing that he had been sick, I was saddened by the news of his death. Over the last few days, I’ve been trying to think of what made him so good at what he did, what it was I loved about his work and admired about him as an artist.

The realization I’ve come to is both simply and profound: Paul Newman was the kind of artist I’d like to be.

My favorite Paul Newman movies include Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, The Verdict, Absence of Malice, […]

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