The Crystal-Witch of Valparaiso, Chile

Posted on 8 CommentsPosted in Chile, Gifts from the Multiverse

Valparaiso rises up out of its harbor into a bustling, modern port and skyscraper packed city and then up onto forty-five steep hills, each a maze of winding streets lined with colorful houses and post-colonial edifices.* It’s filled with fabulous street art. And street vendors are everywhere. The best way to navigate the city is by taking the funiculars, steep railroads with two counterbalanced cars that go up and down the hills. Valparaiso has fifteen of them, nine of which actually work. Near the top of one of these funiculars we passed a woman sitting beside a table full of copper jewelry (Chile has huge copper mines). She was one of dozens of vendors that we’d walked by that day, but something made me stop and look at her work more closely. Most of the pieces were made from fine copper wire that had been crocheted into chains and settings for crystals. It was pretty stuff, but not any prettier that the other handmade jewelry… Read More »

The Water Dragon of Los Pozones Hot Springs, Chile

Posted on 10 CommentsPosted in Chile

Chile’s Lake District feels a lot like the Pacific Northwest.* It’s green, rainy, full of trees and mountains and, of course, lakes. But when we looked a bit closer, we realized that those oh so familiar green slopes were covered not with Douglas Firs but with evergreen beeches, myrtles, and eucalyptus trees. And there were a few more volcanoes on the horizon than we were used to. And lots of hot springs. Termas Los Pozones, my absolute favorite, lies nestled in the hills beside the Rio Liucura, just an hour’s drive from Pucon, a scenic resort town on the shores of Lake Villarrica. Lola, Todd and Alex’s camper van, is not a rugged, all-terrain sort of vehicle, so we parked in the upper parking lot and walked down over a hundred river-rock stair steps. There are six pools lined with river-rock. The hottest one is where the steps come down and they get cooler as you go downstream. I only tested three. The first one… Read More »

Fact and Fiction in Storytelling, or, How Do You Really Forge a Blade?

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Forging the Blade, Major arcana, Tarot, Writing, Young Adult Fantasy

If you want to tell a story that keeps your readers turning pages, you must convince them that perhaps it could be true. Or, at the very least, convince them to suspend their disbelief for the duration of the story. This won’t happen if they spot even small errors in your work. It breaks the spell and they stop reading–something writers strive to discourage–and say “Wait! That’s not right.” And even if they then continue to read, they will be suspicious of everything else you tell them. In chapter 14, the Temperance chapter of Forging the Blade, the Damian goddess, Brigga, forges a magic sword for Molly, the main character. She uses Molly’s blood to bind her to the blade. As the sword is forged, Molly is also forged into a warrior. I figured that forging a blade would be a perfect metaphor for Temperance. This is a key chapter in the book, and to make it work, the reader must totally believe in the drama of a… Read More »

Molly, Astrology, and Character Development

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in Astrology, Forging the Blade, Writing, Young Adult Fantasy

  When I began writing Forging the Blade, the concept of character development was a total mystery to me. All I knew was that I had this teen- age girl in my head that wouldn’t go away, but steadfastly refused to give me any helpful hints about who she was. When I would ask, all I got was a petulant, “You know who I am, write the freakin’ book.” Our twin boys had just graduated from high school, and I had watched, listened, and learned as they went from freshmen to seniors. Fortunately they were (and still are) bright, adventurous, active, and healthy. But they are also impulsive, assertive, quick tempered, and tend to assume that the world revolves around them. OK, this is a personality type that I knew and had been dealing with for years. Could I make Molly—that was definitely her name— a female version of my kids? “Yes,” she replied, “I’m like them, but I’m not them.” Fair enough. Todd and… Read More »