Thoughts on Writing Sequels and Natural Order Peek

Lately I’ve been pretty focused on the subject of sequels. Before I started college this last fall I got e-mail from my publisher stating that my sequel for Ancestral Magic (currently named Shadow Magic), didn’t have enough back story. Now I admit, as a woman who enjoys a good fantasy or paranormal book series, nothing irritates me more than feeling like a previous book is being retold in the following one. Fortunately, for my sake and that of my readers would’ve been politely nudging me for the sequel, I finally got over the creative speedbump and now the newest version of Shadow Magic is in the hands of my publisher.

Since then I have been working away on my newest project, National Rebirth, the sequel to my novel that came out last month, Natural Order. It’s crazy hard. It’s been so long since I wrote the first one, I had to really reacquaint myself with the story, and the little details. Timeline was a huge one. The characters, those seem to always remain with me, but setting, dates, even name sometimes, those can be tricky. I found the easiest thing was to become a scholar of the first book, before I even started working on the second. While I have enough back story this time with all slowing the pace? Who knows. But I now have a better respect for the authors I used to be irritated with as I waited for the sequels and continuing sagas of their work.

So for my readers who have enjoyed getting to know the wonderful folks in the community of Green Grove, and who are waiting patiently to revisit there, I invite you to come and get to know the Archiquette family and their newest daughter, Elizabeth.

Here’s a sample of that community from my newly released novel, Natural Order. Elizabeth has recently lost Dusty, the woman she loved, to a violent crime, and now she’s going to live with Dusty’s family in northern Wisconsin. She is pregnant, weighed down by grief, and watching her life seemingly go on without her control. She is currently riding in a truck with Dusty’s brother Orion, a gentle natured Oneida man who has been Elizabeth’s support system since his sister’s death a month ago.

Chapter 3

The farmers’ fields were aflame with crimson and gold fire, and the air was crisp and clean, like a fresh canvas for the painted sunset displayed in the early evening sky. Beth watched the farmhouses and grazing livestock disinterestedly as they passed, at times closing her eyes as the cool air stung her face through the open window. The short nap helped, but now the churning in her stomach made sleep difficult. A wall of cold air was preferable to the waves of nausea that seemed to worsen in the enclosed vehicle. Dusty had tried to get her to drink special teas, but there was a part of Beth that never trusted “alternative” remedies. It was one of several things she and Dusty had spent a long time butting heads about early in their relationship, before deciding just to agree to disagree. As the next gut-turning wave hit, she grimaced, wishing she hadn’t eaten all her saltines that morning.

“I picked you up some ginger ale in town today.” Orion jerked a thumb toward the space behind the seat. “It’s back there if you want it. The soda’s warm, but Dad used to make it for Mitexi when she was pregnant, and it always made her feel better.”

Beth looked over at him in surprise. “How did you know I was having morning sickness?”

“I just pay attention, something my father taught me long ago.” Orion flashed her a boyish grin. “Told me the girls like it when you pay attention.”

Beth laughed and reached behind the seat. She found a flat box that held several glass bottles, and retrieved one. She read the label critically, raising an eyebrow. “All natural organic ginger ale. Sounds tasty.”

Orion chuckled at the sarcasm in her voice. “You’ll get used to it. As I’m sure Dusty told you my family runs an organic farm. Free range chickens, wild game, organically grown fruits and veggies, hormone-free milk. We rarely ever eat anything we don’t make ourselves.”

Beth looked at the bottle, and tipped it, the light from the sunset shimmering inside the amber liquid. She moved the soda around and the bubbles fizzled and popped excitedly. It looked normal enough. “Dusty used to drag this sort of food into the house all the time. I never touched the stuff.”

“Think of it as an adventure.” At the raised eyebrow he received in response, Orion smiled. “I promise. It’ll make you feel better.”

Without her typical fallbacks like saltines and toast, the ride was looking to be a miserable one. As sick as she was, Beth was ready to try anything to make the nausea go away. Besides, she told herself, Orion had taken very good care of her these last few weeks. Beth had learned to trust that, even if his ideas often sounded strange, there was wisdom behind the words that came from his young lips. With one more uncertain glance at the bottle, she unscrewed the cap and raised the glass in toast to him. “Bottoms up.”

She took a long drink. It wasn’t as sweet as what she was used to, but had a bite to it that was interesting. She finished the rest and set the empty container next to her on the seat. As they drove, Beth saw houses and barns that were adorned with intricate symbols. Each was unique, but they were all circular in shape. Some were brightly colored, while others were simply black and white. Common symbols caught her eye, but the details were more difficult to make out from a distance. She remembered reading about the use of similar symbols amongst the Pennsylvania Dutch. They were hexes used to ward off evil magic they believed could affect the health of their family and livestock or cause crops to fail. It was a fascinating superstition, but not a practice she was familiar with this far west.

By the time Beth saw the sign for the Fox River, the nausea was fading. She wasn’t willing to give up on modern medicine just yet, but this time there seemed to be some credence to “traditional” remedies after all. Whether or not she was ready for the full organic experience, Beth got the feeling that over the next few months things were going to be very different. They drove over the Fox River Bridge, speeding past cables that hung down from the steel arch. It reminded her of bars on a birdcage. Looking away from the cables, Beth’s gaze fell to the river below. “Dusty said you all live close to the river. Must be nice.”

“Sometimes.” Orion opened a small rectangular tin with one hand and threw a white mint into his mouth. “But you have to be careful where you fish or swim. There are people trying to clean up the river, but some of the local factories spent several decades screwing it up. Gonna take a lot of work to heal the damage they did to the water.”

He offered her a mint, and she shook her head. Beth remembered Dusty liked those things but they had always been too strong for her. “Heal? Now you sound like Dusty. You talk about the river as if it had been burned or cut, as if it was a real person or something.”

“The river is a living thing.” Orion’s eyes remained on the road, but a deep sadness crept into them. He spoke with great reverence and love. “She’s timeless in her beauty and strength. Without her, none of us can survive. She is sacred to my people, Beth, sacred to anyone who hasn’t forgotten how to listen to the land.”

Beth was uncertain how to respond to this, so she turned back to the open window and watched as the truck turned up a long, dirt road. In many ways, Orion was like Dusty. They both took their beliefs to heart, and it permeated every part of them. Beth envied that conviction. What did she really believe in?

39 Days of Prayer – Day 27

Day 27 – A Morning Prayer


On this day I am blessed Spirit’s love and light

And I pray that everyone I come in contact with

feels the positive influence of the hope and joy which fills me.

Thank you Goddess/God/Spirit.

Blessed be.

39 Days of Prayer – Day 26

Day 26 – For the World Leaders


I pray for the governments of this world,

that those we have chosen as leaders will be enriched with the wisdom and compassion of Spirit

so that they may lead our countries with honesty and integrity.

May our presidents, our kings, and our queens

be reminded of the needs of the people, and may their need to serve and heal

outweigh the desire for power and riches.

Grant our world leaders the power of discernment, Goddess/God

May their hearts be empathetic and strong, so that their actions reflect

what is best for all living things on this planet.

Teach our leaders to love the truth,

and supply them with intelligent advisors and competent staff who do the same.

I thank you Spirit, for supporting humanity in this.

Blessed be.

39 Days of Prayer – Day 25

Day 25 – All-Purpose Prayer for Another


Goddess/God

I raise my voice on behalf of ______________

That he/she may have joy.

As you are the ultimate supply, Goddess/God

I pray that you provide ___________________  with everything he/she needs in order to be healthy and whole.

May her/his spirit find peace

and may she/he know that she/he is loved.

Blessed be.

Ancient Calendar: June 18, 2010

One of my favorite things about doing Ancient Calendar is that I get to educate myself on a God/Goddess or Legend not on the latest of trends. Today is a good example. And on this day in Ancient History, I give to you…MIN.

Now while we may know the classic Egyptian stories and names of Isis, Osiris, Thoth, Ra, and some others, Min may be one that bogs the mind. However, today was said to be the DAY the Egyptian god Min made his grand appearance in the skies of Egypt.  So maybe we should have a brief study of him now.

 

In short, Min’s tale began in a much more earlier Egypt, and he became famous or important, because he represented fertility. He was often depicted in statues and paintings with an erection, while his spread arms created the shape of a V. Remember, the V shape came to represent women, their sacred sex, and so on.

Now, unlike many other deities who later came and concentrated on WOMEN being given the powers to conceive, Min was quite different. Egyptians, in their grand wisdom, must have realized that the problem with those who are childless may not always be the fault of the woman….

So Min was there to offer MEN his aid with his divine sexual powers of fertility. Men of Egypt knew that Min was in their corner, having the power they needed to make heirs, and that is always important. *winks*

Hope you enjoyed today’s Ancient Calendar…

C.H. SCARLETT
www.chscarlett.net

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Learning to Fight

I offer a thing I have learned about myself this week, on the off-chance that it proves useful, or interesting to others.

There is nothing that takes me apart more thoroughly than not being able to do anything. Give me a hopeless cause, a fight I can’t win, and I’ll get in there and fight anyway. I’ve no aversion to banging my head against a brick wall. If the cause is good, then futility doesn’t actually scare me that much, so long as I can do something – be it ever so useless. This is part because I know that futile gestures sometimes have long term consequences – you might not solve the problem now, but you might inspire someone else who can, or outrage enough people that they take action. Futility is often a short term problem, if you think about it in the right way. I suspect this means that I would be willing to risk martyrdom for the right cause, although I’d have to be sure I stood a chance of achieving something by doing it.

What I can’t bear, are times when I see no way to fight, no place to stand, no action I can take. When the only thing to do is wait for someone else to deal with it – pretty much all contact with officialdom is like this, and is probably why it makes me so soul-sick. I don’t need to be able to believe I can win, but my god do I need to be able to see how I can fight.

Our heroic ancient ancestors did not have many problems (so far as I see it) where a blade didn’t provide some kind of option. You could always challenge someone to a fight over it. The greatest fear becomes a death of old age and infirmity, bed ridden and facing the one foe you can’t hit with something sharp. People who didn’t want that death chose a life that wouldn’t take them there. On an emotional level, this makes a lot of sense to me.

We have given away so much of our scope for self determination, and the reasoning is all about safety, civilisation, progress. Sometimes I wonder how much ‘progress’ we actually make. I’m not advocating hitting people with swords, but so much of what determines our lives is out of our hands.

There is a story about Cuchulain meeting The Morrigan on the road, when he is young. She offers him the choice between sword, and shield. The good life, lived gently and with honour into old age, or the heroic life that burns brightly but may well turn out to be brief. I had thought, given the choice, that I would take the spear. I’m not afraid of fighting, but I am terrified of being unable to act or take a stance.

Perhaps the question I need to keep asking is ‘how do I fight’? And I think the answer comes not from the way of the warrior, but the way of the bard. I fight with words. Language is my weapon, my shield, my battleground. I fight with stories and ideas. I resist by speaking, by sharing, and by refusing to give up. Bards of old could apparently raise boils on the faces of their enemies with the power of their satire. The pen is alleged to be mightier than the sword. I may only be one small voice, but I am not going to shut up, or go away, or give up. I think I now have the rock I need to tie myself to, and the sword to hold. The cause right now is my own life, my lover, my child, my future. Things it is worth risking everything for.