26.10.11 | By: Megan Langham

NaNoWriMo Questionnaire: Days of Entwining

By virtue of November's shadow looming in the very near future, they're doing something a bit different over at the original home of Beautiful People. Instead of answering ten questions concerning an individual character, we've been given a short questionnaire involving an entire book: the one we've chosen to tackle during this year's NaNoWriMo.

Off we go, then!

1. Sum up your novel in five words, or less. Young girl searches for answers. (Yes, that's utter rubbish. But do you even know how difficult this question was?)

2. Novel title? Days of Entwining.

3. Sum up your main character(s) in one word. Mairead: emotional. Cynewulf: faithful. Rowan: kind.

4. Advice for newbies in three words? Write. Every. Day.

5. Tell us about your secondary characters, how do they affect the story? Cathal is the disrupting factor, an obviously attractive young man who is both more and less than he seems. Eanwin is the steadying influence, a sweet and sensible girl with fierce and unlikely loyalties. Aethelwald is the current bishop of Lindisfarne, with a good heart and a distractible mind. Emma is his wife and the closest thing to a mother that Mairead and Rowan have.

6. Do you plan on staying up till midnight on the 31st? Only until midnight? That wouldn't do much good. No, I'll start at midnight and keep writing until my eyes go bleary and my mind mists over. It's a bit mad, but then NaNo is a bit mad, isn't it?

7. How many years have you done NaNo? This will be my third year.

8. What came first, characters, or plot idea? Actually, neither: the inspiration for this story was a gloomy and rather gothic image of a young girl kneeling beside a grave. There was a monastery nearby, and a priest with an Irish name, and the sea-waves in the distance were breaking on the rocks. Though this idea has since changed (drastically, I might add), it was undoubtedly the original spark of inspiration.

9. How much prep do you do before November? The answer to this question varies every year. My first year I mostly neglected to plan and I was sorry for it later. My second year I overplanned a bit, but I did manage to leave a little room for last-minute inspiration, which proved helpful and healthy. This year, I have only the scantiest of outlines, five pages of working notes, and two fractals; my historical research, however, is sound.

I'm still waiting for that glorious year when I'll finally strike the perfect pre-NaNo balance.

10. Now be honest, how do you really feel about NaNo? For me, it’s a helpful thing because it balances my well-meaning eagerness with outside motivation and some kind of stricture. I wish I didn’t need that, but I do; and while I can complete projects on my own, an imposed goal makes the completion profoundly easier for me.

(I'm wondering now whether I ought to try for the second challenge, which is one great big Beautiful People post focusing on a single character for whom you answer ALL THE QUESTIONS! I think perhaps I will, if I can get it done in time for a Grand Posting on November 1.)
23.10.11 | By: Megan Langham

The Wine of Blessedness

I'm writing this on a mild, peaceful Sunday afternoon. Nothing spectacular has happened today, no thrilling adventure has presented itself; but it has been a good day all the same. Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in sweeping epics and profound melancholy that one loses sight of the simple things which make life what it is: gentle, mysterious, quietly alluring.

So on this peaceful, mild afternoon I've scribbled down some little things that I tend to take for granted. And I've also tried to imagine my life without them, which is quite a difficult exercise!

the little things
  • Long and loving letters, creased with rereading. 
  • The pungent smell of fresh cilantro crushed between my fingers.
  • My cat's warm tongue on my skin.
  • Lamplight glinting off my silvery ring.
  • A small child's infectious laughter.
  • Steam from my teacup tickling my nose.
  • Ivory piano keys, smooth and polished under my hands.
  • Firm round grapes bursting open in my mouth.
  • The tickling sensation just before a sneeze.
  • "Because you're my sister, and I love you."
  • Long calm walks on a crisp October afternoon.
  • Brown eyes deep with sorrow and alight with strength.
  • The warm drowsy moment between sleeping and waking.
  • Late nights around a crackling campfire.
  • Playful banter between brothers.
  • White-haired couples holding hands.
  • "I'm glad you came."
  • Warm soapy baths by candlelight.
  • Waking early in the morning before anyone else.
  • Finishing a paper just before the deadline.
  • The smell of old books.
  • Salty sea spray on my lips.
  • Leaves crunching beneath my boots.
  • Winter's first snowflakes on my tongue.
  • My mother's hugs.
  • "You have beautiful eyes."
  • The revelation near the end of a mystery novel.
  • Songs sung in Italian.
  • My puppy's nuzzlings.
  • Bright smiles.
  • Afternoons spent writing at a coffee shop.
  • English country cottages with roses climbing the picket fences.
  • Misty forest pathways.
  • Sehnsucht. 
5.10.11 | By: Megan Langham

Beautiful People - Lord Iorweth Pengrych

In my "Beautiful People" post late last month, I mentioned that Rhys had just narrowly passed Lord Iorweth in my choice for character-to-be-questioned. It was a very narrow win.

So here I am, putting Rhys's commander through Rhys's ordeal. I must say, the questions this go-round were even more eye-opening than they were before. There's just something about villains, I suppose--especially the oddly compelling ones.

1. Does he have any habits, annoying or otherwise? His usual conversation is heavily strewn with sarcasm, even at times when sarcasm is inappropriate. When he is hurt or surprised he smiles instead of letting his feelings show, though he can easily feign distress if that is what is needed to accomplish his purposes.

2. What is his backstory and how does it affect him now? His backstory is too intricately bound up with Volunteer Mission's plot to be revealed here. Suffice it to say that it was a tragic story, dark with pain, and that it has shaped his life in ways nobody could have foreseen.

3. How does he show love? By doing. If he truly loves someone, he will go to the ends of the earth to fulfill even their slightest wish. He isn't one for profuse reassurances of love, or even for tender words at all; he is at all times a man of action, in love as well as war.

4. How competitive is he? Extremely. By rights Lord Iorweth should have lost the need to prove himself a long time ago, but it is part of his nature that he will never let go of that restless ambition, that drive to do better than his best.

5. What does he think about when nothing else is going on? He tries not to think much about his own life, particularly his past. Generally his mind is focused on the task at hand--because whatever else may or not be happening, for him there is always a task at hand.

6. Does he have an accent? Nothing but a slight Northern Welsh lilt.

7. What is his station in life? As the second cousin of the Lord of Rhos, he is minor nobility. Due in part to this (but far more to his own abilities) he has become one of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd's most trusted commanders.

8. What do others expect from him? As a high-ranking officer in the confidence of Prince Llywelyn, a great deal is expected of Lord Iorweth. Countless people rely on his decisions every day; in no small way, the future of Wales depends on his discernment.

9. Where was he born, and when? He was born on the 18th of January, 1242, in Gwynedd, Wales.

10. How does he feel about people in general? People in general mildly interest him, but he doesn't care enough to involve himself in anyone's life beyond what is necessary for his work. Though he can be incomparably charming when he wishes, his interest is seldom sincere.

Lord Iorweth folded his hands and looked up at Evan. Even when he was sitting down and Evan was standing up he did not have to tilt his head back far to look straight into Evan’s eyes. 

“You disappoint me, Evan Dynge. I confess I should not have expected to hear such words as those from a man so recently promoted to a position of honor and confidence. If you wish to shirk your responsibilities and trade in your chance of glory for the hope of creature comforts, then I will not stop you. But it will have been the first time in many years that Lord Iorweth Pengrych made an ill choice.”