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I hope to describe to a listener/reader what it's like to play the fourth movement of the Elgar Cello Concerto. It might bring you closer to the music, even if only in some small way.

Please use this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUbg0slzNDg Jacqueline DuPre is the performer - one of the greatest who ever lived. Her fingers turned numb at the age of 26, when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. DuPre played like fire. I will use the timing of her recording to describe what happens from moment to moment. Fair warning: The Elgar has always been a duel to me. It's a fight for survival.

(You can donate to Multiple Sclerosis research at http://www.nationalmssociety.org/donate/index.aspx )

***

It begins with a terse nod from the orchestra. The players are ready to duel. They tighten the belt at their hips, widen their stance, stamp their feet upon the floor. The cellist reaches for the thick silk of her skirt and swooops into a low, exaggerated curtsy. Her fingers begin to tremble upon the strings and her bow arm flexes its muscle.

She takes a deep breath.

(:30) She slides up the fingerboard. The thin metal digs into her flesh, and it's the meeting of two lovers. The players try to cut in but she reaches further, two fingers meeting wood and steel while her other arm sinks down. The cello is putty in her arms. She can't resist a quick caress all the way down and up the fingerboard. She leans into its comfortable embrace, slowing down, knowing there's a journey yet to come.

(1:00) The players are kind. It isn't normal. She calls into the silence, but there is no answer. She becomes agitated and calls again. Still o reply. She screams into the crowd for acknowledgement, and the challenge is finally accepted. A breath, then the duel begins.

(1:33) The cellist states her terms. The tips of her fingers dance along the top string while the players listen in. Tiny bolts of electricity flicker down her left arm. She's at the beginning of momentum. The players begin to state their agreement but the woman cuts in. It's been too long, and the cello is her lover, it's her drug. Her arms take on lives of their own. She finishes the statement and gives into the electric impulses that drive her into a premature, stunted climax.

(1:57) The players take over, gleeful at their success in goading the womam. They mock her incomplete bargain and imitate her with a corrupt melody.

(2:21)In the aftermath of ecstasy, the woman sees her folly and begs for her life. She struggles to gain control of her bow, but it richochets off the cello. After the second attempt, she manages to find purchase and steps carefully from string to string, higher and higher until she's reached the topmost range of the instrument. Her slowly gain miniscule volts of electricity, and she hopes that it is enough for what she has planned. She slowly ascends the instrument.

(3:00) The slow dive is dissonant, mad, seemingly nonsensical. She has tricked the players into thinking they've won. They lapse into silence. Then she begins to spin her web. Her hands move so rapidly that none can keep track of their movement. Her movements are a blur that only the fastest can intercept, and only for the briefest of moments. Soon a few begin to move toward her, very slowly, in hopes that she'll be too busy to catch them.

(3:30) The tactic works. The game grows tighter still when the players begin to cut in more quickly. The cellist knows that she's running out of time and increases her range, but the players have surrounded her. She ascends but can't get a tight grip. They drag her into hell for a while - her hand can't touch the cello while the open strings ring - but she bites in with a sharp pluck of the strings.

(4:00) The players strike with a fast, somber statement of her original terms. She begs them to forget them, ascends into the high ranges to gather momentum and quicken the electricity shooting through her hands. She lashes out with another stream of quickfire attacks. The players try to emphasize her faulty terms but they can't beneath the rapid onslaught of so many notes.

Her hands have almost competely recovered from the stunted climax. Her bow moves over the strings like wind over water. She is a forest fire and her sweat is gasoline.

(4:30) The players break through her wide-range attack, and though she resumes with vigor, the recovery is short-lived. They parry back and forth until she is left ascending the cello once more, recovering stamina for what might come next.

(5:00) They pull her into their midst and croon a low, derisive variation of her plea. She is forced to play along. Her fingers cannot move with their usual sweet tremble. It is a sparse, unfamiliar mockery of everything she stands for. She is outraged, and grabs the players by the scruffs of their necks into her own song, making sure to scream loudly at the end.

(5:30) She is exhausted, drained of all regenerated electric stamina by the strain of pulling so many players. They continue their foul verse, until she gathers enough strength to beg them to leave her alone. Her bow stumbles once more. This isn't good. She leans into the high range to coax life back into her arms and hands.

(6:00) After a breath, she takes baby steps to gather any remaining vestiges of hope. She finds something and dives down into chaos, not knowing where she's headed. The result is dissonant but at least it's a spark.

(6:24) She plucks the instrument instead of using the bow. It's a better way to gather stamina. The players take over her song, triumphant in their superior position. She carefully plays along with a variation on her original terms, then stuns the players into a single note with an ascending scale that borders on holy. She takes advantage of their weakness by singing a few high, ululating notes with something akin to white fire in the tips of her fingers.

(7:00) Now she has their attention. A few of the players flock to her side and harmonize with her. At this point the instrument has molded to her flesh. It digs into the soft insides of her knees. The first notch of her right index finger digs firmly into the bow, spraying rosin into the air. The friction of steel against calloused fingerpad is felt through the hand, the arm, the curled toes. Her entire body is filled with something unnamed. Something that flows into the instrument and out the f-holes and toward the players who resent it and hate it and want to stifle it.

(8:00) More players have joined her side. She has abandoned her terms and has resorted to a plea. For her cello. For her soul. She continues to ascend and descend the wood-and-steel ladder, hoping that the white-fire tension in her fingers is as palpable to the players as it is to her. The players leave her side once she has gained enough force to defend herself, and again it is a duel.

(9:30) The higher her range, the more silent the players become. They whisper among themselves.

(10:00) She is beginning to tire. The players know it.

(10:30) She has lost. These notes are from the past, a reflection from a previous journey. She's remembering. The strength has gone from her hands. They're tingling. They hurt. There isn't much time left. The players hum in the background. She ascends, gathering strength. There is nothing left but pain and memories. She welcomes the end.

(11:26) A final statement. A fierce embrace with her lover. The strength disappears almost immedately, but this will end with a bang, not a whimper. She slides into a low growl, jumps higher but slides back, higher and higher, fingers alight with white fire and blazing in pain until the players finish her off.

Cellofire

The Virtues (and vices) of Fanfiction

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In a world where "Anna Karenina" is a neurosurgeon, Fanfiction is the "drunk homeless guy who hangs outside of the ER" (thank you for the quote, +Rick Wayne).  It is considered the lowest form of writing.  Fanfiction is a popular territory for teenage fangirls/boys who want their favorite characters to kiss, make out, and do other naughty things.  It was the spawning ground for E. L. James' "50 Shades of Grey."

So why defend it?  What virtue can there be in high jacking someone else's characters?  Isn't that some form of plagiarism?  Don't these thieves have any imagination of their own?

I defend Fanfiction because, as +Monika Ullian said, "most writers begin playing in someone else's sandbox."  Nothing is original.  Steinbeck's "East of Eden" was a retelling of "Cain and Abel." "Star Wars: A New Hope" was a retelling of  Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress."  "The Lion King" was a new take on Shakespeare's "Hamlet."

Here are a few reasons to dabble in Fanfiction:

1.)  Lack of experience.  A budding writer might have the beginnings of a working plot, but no characters to interact with the themes evolving in their mind.  They might wonder how Buffy, Naruto or Doctor Who might fare in their imaginary world.  It's a place to start.

2.)  Feedback from a real audience.  By "real," I mean non-serious writers (for the most part). The writer might have an entire novel at the ready, but instead of using unique characters, has substituted them with popular figures from a television show in order to get immediate feedback.  When I was writing Fanfiction, I would get around 100 (or more) hits per update. That adds up to a lot of reviews, and a very good idea of what people think of your plot.

3.)  The fun of it!  Haven't you ever wondered what would happen if Darth Vader wasn't Luke's father after all? You could spawn an entire alternate universe (like what they're doing with the new Star Trek movies)!   Or you could write a kissy-kissy romantic scene between Harry and Hermione.  Whatever suits your mood.  And you would not get sued, so long as you wrote a disclaimer.

4.)  If your Fanfiction gets enough hits, it can draw the attention of outside forces.  Whether that's an agent (I can say from personal experience that 1000 hits per day do matter) or someone who likes your ideas enough to commission you to build an institute - you just never know what can happen when you've got your heart invested all the way.

5.)  Networking.  Large Fanfiction communities like Fanfiction.net are a great place to build a fan base, should you decide to take your story to the next level.  These are people who will support your blog, beta your chapters, fan your enthusiasm when you're feeling dejected, and be there for you in general.  Please don't take them for granted.

Now for the vices:

1.)  You're not going to make any money.  Not unless you change the character's names and sell the story under a different name.  (ahem, E. L. James)

2.)  Your story is ripe for the plucking.  Anyone could happen by and say, "hmm, this is a great idea, I could make a lot of money if I put it into a novel."  Nothing is protected and everything is up for grabs.

3.)  Flames.  If your story is good, you're bound to get good reviews, but there's always a danger of hate mail.  Even more so if you begin a story and don't finish it.  I recommend making a new account if you fizzle out before completing an epic.  It's an easy way to make enemies, because some fans will take your work very seriously.  How would you like it if J. K. Rowling never wrote book seven?  Again, don't take your fans for granted.


That's it for the virtues and vices.  I'll be posting a few of my favorite works of Fanfiction in the next couple of days. You might be surprised at what these drunk homeless guys are capable of. Stay tuned!

I won a writing competition!

Kanagawa
For the first time in my writing "career," I've won a writing competition.  Granted there were no prizes aside from self-worth, but it felt really good!  The Writer's Discussion Group on Google+ has 11k + members, and I actually won their competition with my 600 word story, "Horace and the Wretch."  The mods release a picture prompt, and we writers need to exercise our little grey cells to give the picture an interesting back story.  Here's the picture, and what I came up with:


The story: Horace and the Wretch

Hanna Aywood rubbed her fists against her swollen eyes.  Her knees trembled from the effort of sitting still, but she daren't move from her perch on the kitchen stool.

"Ungrateful wretch."  A rotund woman shook a wooden spoon at the dirty-faced girl.  "I got my eye on you."

"But it weren't me, Mrs. Connel.."  Hanna bit her lip to keep from crying.

"No more!" the older woman cut in.  Bits of frazzled red hair fell away from her kerchief as she shook her head.  "I've heard enough of your excuses to last a lifetime.  Now tell me where my money's gone, or the week's meals are coming out of your earnings."

"I don't have it," Hanna whispered, and swallowed against a hiccup.  "It were your boy, Horace, like always.."

Mrs. Connel reared back and cackled at the ceiling: "Horace, Horace, Horace!"  She spat on the ground.  "It's always that boy, with you.  It's time to put an end to it."

Hanna frowned.  "An end to what, Mrs. Connel?"

The woman reached into one of the kitchen drawers and pulled out a butcher's knife.  Hanna's eyes widened, and she backed herself into a corner, brandishing the stool like a four-pronged shield.

"I'm not as bad as bad as all that, child," Mrs. Connel chuckled.  "I'll not hurt you.  Put the stool down."

"I don't believe you!"  Hanna cried, backing further into her corner.  Mrs. Connel took a step forward with the knife, and Hanna's face went pale against her fair hair.

"Mum?" came a boy's voice.   Predator and prey turned to face the boy in the striped shirt.

"Is that a knife?" the boy's voice cracked.  He ran toward Hanna, tossed away her stool and put himself in its place. "What are you doing??" he demanded.

Mrs. Connel narrowed her eyes at the boy.  "None of your concern, Horace," she said.  "Get out of the way."

"I know she's a brainless wretch, but that's no reason to kill her," Horace insisted, dark red brows lowered in a challenging glare.

"Out of my way, son," she ordered, and knocked him onto the wooden floor.  Before Hanna could take a breath to scream, Mrs. Connel had taken a lock of her hair in a chunky fist and sawed it clean off.

Hanna's mouth fell open in a silent 'o.'  Horace was too shocked to move.  Mrs. Connel took advantage of their silences by continuing to hack at Hanna's hair until it was as short and uneven as a boy's.

"There," Mrs. Connel stood back to admire her work.  Hanna's ears stood out awkwardly beneath her yellow hair, and her nose appeared too long for her face.  These were flaws that a boy of Horace's age was sure to notice.

Hanna fell against the wall and hugged her knees into her chest.  She hid her face, but Horace could hear her weeping.  He felt a tremdous stab of guilt.  Hanna blazed like the sun when she was angry - that was why he pranked her.  Even with short hair, Hanna was the most beautiful creature in the world to him.  He would move the earth for her.

"It was me, Mum," Horace said.  "I threw the money into the lake.'

Hanna looked up at him, shock registering on her face.  Then she smiled through her tears.  Horace's heart picked up speed, and he felt his face begin to flush.

Mrs. Connel snorted.  She left the room, and came back with two fishing nets.  "Fetch the money, the both of you.  And supper while you're at it."

---

These contests take place every week, so I will be sure to compete each round!  It's a great exercise for the mind.

Guest Post: Runes Trailer

Kanagawa
Ednah Walters is releasing a new YA book titled "Runes."  Here's what it's all about!
Runes
What reviewers are saying: 
 

HOLY RUNES!I really enjoyed this story especially Torin *swoon*. Ednah did a wonderful job on Runes! It is a must read for fans of YA books!...Breanna-http://two-tall-tales.blogspot.com/

 

Wow! I’ve got to start by saying that it takes something original and excellent to surprise me, and this book did just that! I found myself about 75% of the way through the book with my mouth hanging open... Carrie Williams (Goodreads)


 Oh HOLY COW! This book was a mind blowing surprise! I loved the way it turned out and I am literally going crazy over the ending. I was not expecting it to turn out the way it did....Maida...full review May 23-http://loveaffairwithabookreviews.blogspot.ca/



Heres the link to the book trailer, which will not be mde public until May 12th.
Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsTcQwXCafc

 Links: where Runes will be avialable for a sale price of $0.99

Amazon Pre-order link for print:  http://www.amazon.com/Runes-Ednah-Walters/dp/0983429766/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1367437599&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=Runes+ednah+walters  

Amazon links:
Kindle (US): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CP4YKTG

Kindle (UK): https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00CP4YKTG

Kindle (CA): https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00CP4YKTG


Barnes&Noble link:  

Smashwords:  Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=ednah+walters

 

Runes Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Raine Cooper has enough on her plate dealing with her father’s disappearance, her mother’s erratic behavior and the possibility of her boyfriend relocating. The last thing she needs is Torin St. James—a mysterious new neighbor with a wicked smile and uncanny way of reading her.

 Raine is drawn to Torin’s dark sexiness against her better judgment, until he saves her life with weird marks and she realizes he is different. But by healing her, Torin changes something inside Raine. Now she can’t stop thinking about him. Half the time, she’s not sure whether to fall into his arms or run.

 Scared, she sets out to find out what Torin is. But the closer she gets to the truth the more she uncovers something sinister about Torin. What Torin is goes back to an ancient mythology and Raine is somehow part of it. Not only are she and her friends in danger, she must choose a side, but the wrong choice will cost Raine her life.

About Ednah Walters:


EDNAH WALTERS grew up reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys and dreaming of one day writing her own stories. She is a stay-at-home mother of five humans and two American short-hair cats (one of which has ADHD) and a husband. When she is not writing, she’s at the gym doing Zumba or doing things with her family, reading, traveling or online chatting with fans.

Ednah is the author of The Guardian Legacy series, a YA fantasy series about children of the fallen angels, who fight demons and protect mankind. AWAKENED, the prequel was released by Pill Hill Press in September 2010 with rave reviews. BETRAYED, book one in the series was released by her new publisher Spencer Hill Press in June 2012 and HUNTED, the third installment, will be released April 2013. She’s working on the next book in the series, FORGOTTEN.

Ednah also writes New Adult paranormal romance. RUNES is the first book in her new series. She is presently working on book 2, IMMORTALS.

Under the pseudonym E. B. Walters, Ednah writes contemporary romance. SLOW BURN, the first contemporary romance with suspense, was released in April 2011. It is the first book in the Fitzgerald family series. Since then she has published four more books in this series. She's presently working on book six. You can visit her online at www.ednahwalters.com or www.ebwalters.com.


Contact Ednah:

Website:  http://www.ednahwalters.com/index.html
Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4188120.Ednah_Walters
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/EdnahWalters
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ednahwalters

Also there is a giveaway that will go along with the trailer reveal.  This is for US mailing addresses only.  Here is the Rafflecopter link:

<a id="rc-aaca3942" class="rafl" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/aaca3942/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>
<script src="//d12vno17mo87cx.cloudfront.net/embed/rafl/cptr.js"></script>

On Revisions

Kanagawa
The final book of Robert Jordan's "A Wheel of Time" has been out for a while, but I only finished reading it yesterday.  I cannot imagine the pressure Brandon Sanderson must have been working with, beneath the shadow of such a literary giant.  But he pulled it off without leaving Jordan's vast imagination by the wayside, and remained true to his own style of writing.

This entry is not meant to be a review of "A Memory of Light," the fourteenth book of 'A Wheel of Time." Rather, it is an homage to the inspiration both of its writers have wrought.  Jordan taught me that there can be no limit to the elasticity of our minds - he proved this with the enormous variety of peoples, powers, ways, Waygates, and spirits that work independently - and yet must be in harmony in order for the series to come to its ultimate completion.

Sanderson took up where Jordan left off.  He took that mountain and wasn't afraid of it. He made me laugh and cry till I shook beneath the covers. ma I was a walking husk at work.  I needed more.  And then I came to the realization that I had more, in my own mind.  For the first time, my male protagonist was made clearer to me.  He could not be a child for the story to work.  I'd been clinging to an idea that was more of a technicality - a firework, some fancy display of false writer's showiness - than a person.  And he was resentful.  I don't blame him.

I've got a week free from Anatomy (thank you, Professor Hazell!) As of today, I am re-writing the first few chapters of "The Waverunner."  Ren is no longer a child.  He never was, and never could be if he were to have voice. For any of you struggling authors out there, Brandon Sanderson's amazing 2011 writing course is available here:

http://www.writeaboutdragons.com/home/brandon_w2012/

I learned so, so, so much!!!  The real beauty is that Sanderson could have pulled it down, but he's such a good guy that he left it up for us struggling authors to learn from.  Thank you, Brandon Sanderson.

Ready for classes to END...

Kanagawa
I'm so ready for classes to end!  I start working with a professional editor in May, and there are some major changes I want to make before I send her my manuscript.  Mainly, my original plan was to have the POV shift every other chapter.  Admittedly, this was influenced in a big way by Brian Selznik's "Wonderstruck," but it's kind of hard to pull off without those amazing illustrations.

I still want to try it.  The book would start out with Maclaren as a child, then alternate to Nia, a teenager.  Will this work?  Can a reader handle the shift from an eleven year old boy's POV to a 17-year-old girl's' POV in the first two chapters, and keep making the shift for the following six or seven?  If it's done well, I'm convinced that they can.  I won't underestimate the reader's intelligence - reading Diana Wynne Jones taught me that lesson.  Her book, "Fire and Hemlock," really challenges the young adult reader.  It's a big puzzle that we're left to figure out as it goes on, but it's compelling and completely worth it for the brilliant ending.

If you read my post on strange loops, that's what I'm trying to achieve here - the book is a puzzle, but it's also a love story.  And I want it to unfold in a way that's a gift to the reader with each completed chapter.  Like any writer, I want to keep the reader up at night, to have their minds buzzing at who Maclaren really is - what is his relationship with Nia? What is the Waverunner? What does any of it have to do with choice, and a poem by T. S. Eliot?
How does it all fit?

Agh... Anatomy and Phonetics can't end soon enough!  Granted that I love the subject material, but I'm straining to hold myself back and keep from diving into the Waverunner before it's time.  It would be the worst sort of torture!

Thank you to anyone who is reading my random rambles:)

How it all started

Kanagawa
Since most of you who are reading this are probably my Doctor Who FanFiction fans, I'll tell you what's been drawing me inexorably away from my precious Doctor and his Rose.  I never saw it coming!

It began two years ago, when my friend Michael was on the move to Shanghai.  For whatever blessed reason, he decided to give me his entire library worth of books!  Among a sea of books whose topics covered everything from the Mexican Revolution to Neuroscience to Jane Eyre to ... everything, he handed me Hofstadter's (not the dude from 'Big Bang Theory) "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid."  Said I'd particularly enjoy that one.  I've still only got through the first few chapters, because it's SO MIND-ALTERINGLY BRILLIANT, but it's done enough to make an impression.

GEB taught me about strange loops - where you start somewhere, go on this huge journey and somehow, inexplicably, end up right back at the beginning.  Right after I read this chapter, I listened to an amazing episode of Radiolab (science podcast from WYNC, definitely worth checking out) about Loops, and they covered the same topic.

So I'm thinking, hmm...... what's a strange loop everyone can understand?  Something people encounter in their daily lives?  Something that's been dramatized over and over again?

Love.  It's like Maxine Nightingale said:  "Love is good, love can be strong, We got to get right back to where we started from,"

So that's where it all began.  And I'll continue blogging this.  I've completed the manuscript - it's a young adult sci-fi novel - and been rejected by one agent, but hey, that's just one.  I've cut a bit out, tightened some corners, and it's in dire need of editing, but Vickie Motter over at http://navigatingtheslushpile.blogspot.com/ has indicated that she might be interested in editing it.  And wouldn't that be a dream!!

More later.  Again, sorry about the fan fiction, my friends, but I've got to follow my heart on this.  Hugs to you all!!

~Laurel

To all of my "Doctor's Reward"' fans:

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I am sorry - I'm so sorry - but I'm going to put "The Doctor's Reward" on the shelf for a little while.  Speech pathology courses, the upcoming wedding, and trying to get my novel into marketable condition are applying too much pressure.  I just do not have the time to write anymore Fan Fiction and do it justice.  It would be worthless crap, and none of us want that for the Doctor, Rose or Jack.  And so I'm putting it on hold.  Hopefully it will not be for more than a year, but I cannot make any guarantees.

However, since you've all been so wonderful (10000 reads  on whofic! WOW!), I've decided to send each of you a sample chapter of my new novel, The Waverunner..  It's complete, yet unedited.  And don't think it hasn't been influenced by the good Doctor!  So to anyone who wants it, just comment on this post and I'll get you a sample chapter, stat.

Again... I really am sorry.  But at least I didn't leave you in a dark place, right?  There's definitely hope.

Yours always,
Laurel

New Banner!

Kanagawa
Got locked out of the study group tonight because it wouldn't load on my netbook.  So I passed the time by making a banner for this story.  So excited!
Banner

"In silence," Chapter Three: Interference

Kanagawa
More time for Rose, Jack and the Doctor to adapt to one another.  The introduction of some plotty stuff, but lots and lots more to come!  Look out for a cameo dedicated to tkross, one of my wonderful reviewers over at Teaspoon.  Want a cameo? Let me know! 

Chapter 3: Interference



The Doctor's hearts skipped a beat, and he turned quickly to face Jack, reaching out a hand to pull him up from the couch. "How about it, then? The old team?" He lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "Shall we set this TORCHWOOD ablaze?"Collapse )