10/18/2017 Weekly Update

10/18/2017 → Wednesday Skype & Write

We skyped, we discussed, we wrote.

A few things are happening right now.

First off – a new blog post is up at the Perfect Coven site. For October, James is discussing the limitations on witchery, an excellent read and much food for thought for those of us writing the Perfect Coven series.

James has put Jasper’s Song and Cat’s Cradle aside for the next three weeks. He’s pursuing a lead on a publisher looking for high fantasy, and he just happens to have Even A Wizard lying about, looking for a home! So, he’ll spend a bit of time polishing that manuscript and sending it off. Everyone send him good wishes!

Mickie will be sending Sid and James her manuscript for Charlie’s Web this week. While she isn’t completely happy with it, and is continuing her stitching (she writes her plot points, opening, and ending, then goes back and adds the narrative elements to tie everything together), Sid and James have persuaded her to let them see it (not that either of them just want to get their hands on it or anything, oh no, this is purely altruistic. They’re helping. Really.), and she has agreed. Really looking forward to this!

Sid is working on the November blog post, and trying hard with the revisions to Cursebreaker’s Dance, but things are moving slow. As John Scalzi (among many others) pointed out, writing, art, dancing, singing, any creative pursuit really, is difficult with the constant turmoil and chaos in the world. We have to try, but the facts are that things are going to be slower and harder than they used to be because our minds and energies are being pulled toward other things and that makes it difficult to create. So, Sid has resolved to do what she can and stop berating herself for not doing better, and hopefully that will clear her mind enough to get the creativity flowing again.


The Limitations of Witchery

Witchery is a powerful force in the world, and witches have always been able to achieve deeds that seem nearly miraculous.  Yet, despite millennia of practice, there are some goals that witchery seems unable to reach.  Perhaps appropriate workings have yet to be designed, or it may be that witchery – like most other human endeavors – has some firmly established limits that cannot be exceeded.

Following are five of the most classic goals that no witch has yet been able to achieve, though classic studies of witchery insist that they should be possible.

Living human flight

Air witches have long sought the secret of flight.  Some witches of a particularly strong Air Talent have been known to levitate or slow their rate of descent in a fall, but flight itself has not been achieved.  No fewer than thousands of witches have crafted workings designed to bestow the power of flight upon themselves or other humans.  The closest to living flight yet developed was the Air witch Pierre Duplaise in the early 1900s who created a working that would allow him or any other person to rise into the air and hover for an indefinite period of time.  Duplaise could move himself about in the air by pushing off objects and drifting in his chosen direction, but if there were no sufficiently large objects for him, he was limited to mere levitation and hovering.

Some witches have even managed to control their fall from great heights.  Not merely controlling the rate of descent, but even allowing themselves to move about in the air.  Though close to flight, their movement continued toward the ground, albeit much more slowly than were they purely at the mercy of gravity.

When asked why witches could not fly under their own power, renowned Air witch Orville Wright (who learned to use machines to do what witchery could not since his own Talent was so minimal as to be almost non-existent) replied, “It might be because people aren’t birds!”

True shapeshifting of humans

Witches have long known that a species of shapeshifting supernaturals exists, or at the very least once existed.  This has caused many witches of various Talents, primarily Earth, Shaman, and Druid, to seek to create workings that would allow humans to change into other creatures.

An innumerable list of workings and even worked objects have been created with the intention of turning human beings into other animals.  None have been truly successful.  Some of given the human in question certain animalistic features:  cat eyes, donkey ears, kangaroo legs, scaly skin, etc.  Bestowing animal abilities onto humans has long been a standard working for many witches, but those have never been more than short-term modifications to a person’s abilities.  Even this, however, is limited to enhancing what humans can do rather than bestowing completely new capabilities.  For example, a person can be given the agility of a cat, but that is only an enhancement of a human’s natural abilities.  A person who is paralyzed, for instance, will still not be able to move, no matter how many “Agility of a Cat” workings might be placed on him.


Witches are far, far from the only people who have sought a way to bypass death and live forever; no one group can put an exclusive claim to that particular ambition.  Witches, however, have resources for the work that are not available to Orthos.  Given their connection to healing workings, it is not surprise that Earth witches have been very involved in attempts to achieve immortality.  Less expected is the fact that many Shamans have also put effort into immortality; their rationale is that there are creatures that are effectively immortal, so the potential to become so is inherent in nature.  However, they have not yet found a way to make this potential open up to any except those few creatures for whom it is already a reality.

Witchery is certainly able to increase a lifespan and to heal a broken or diseased body.  But the increase to a lifespan seems to be limited to what has already been known to occur naturally in humans.  Witchery can extend a life past the century mark, but to date no witch has ever managed to live or make another live past roughly one-hundred-twenty years.  Even this degree of life extension has required repetitions of the original working; when the working is not done on a regular schedule, the passage of time seems to catch up with the person in question a very short order.

Creation of life

Folklore, religion, and literature are filled with persons who create living beings either from pure nothingness or by bestowing life upon previously lifeless matter.  In the world of the Perfect Coven, this endeavor has been attempted by witches, as well.  As might be expected given their affinity for material results and healing, Earth witches have been among the involved in attempts to create life.  Equally engaged in pursuing this creation have been a number of Augers.  This Talent with its ease of ability to deal with spirits has long given a drive to bring those spirits into a more purely physical existence.

Many Earth witches have physically crafted a variety of objects, duplicates or imitations of living beings, and sought to bring these things to life with their witchery.  While the Earth Talent gift for healing is able to mend and repair a living body, it has always fallen short in the attempts to create one.  The bodies crafted by these witches have gained a measure of animation, able to move and act, but no Earth witch has yet succeeded in doing more than creating a moving object.  There has been no actual life, awareness, nor volition in these creations.

Augers have taken a similar, but slightly altered approach to the goal.  They begin with the same creating of a form, but then call a spirit to inhabit it, rather than attempting to animate it with their own witchery.  This has resulted in some amazing imitations of life, but the “creatures” brought forth have had no biological functions, the bodies do not develop nor do any of the normal things that living bodies do.  These, too, are nothing but witchery-created automatons.

Some scholars have theorized that if an Earth witch were to craft a body and an Auger were then to summon a spirit to inhabit it, the resulting combination might be closer to alive than any other witchery has yet achieved.  The difficulty in this has always been the odd quirk in the Auger Talent that makes an Auger working with any other witch so challenging for any save the most skilled witches.

Create lasting emotion

This goal has been the ambition of many Psi-witches and more than a few Bards.  Both Talents are well-suited to working the emotions of humans.  The creation of a new emotional state in human beings is second nature to Psi-witches.  With the power of music as their primary tool, Bards are almost as skilled in evoking emotions.  Both of these working can create very strong, but temporary emotions.  While in effect, the emotions created by witchery are very real, and the person experiencing them responds as if the feelings were his own, created through normal means.

Love spells exist in plentitude in legend and literature, but true witchery has never been able to make one person truly love another.  Creating infatuation is simple for Psi-witches and Bards (a simple working for one, and an empowered love song for the other), but any witch can do a working to raise amorous feelings in a human being.  This “love” is powerful, all-consuming, and intense.  It is also temporary.

The same applies to any emotions created through witchery.  Fear is an easy emotion to create, but it fades and loses its power over the subject.

Real emotions have not just a cause, but they grow, evolve, and adapt.  Falling in love is one event, but living in love with someone requires adapting to new experiences with that person, learning more about him/her, and sharing time together.  Emotions created by witchery of any form are incapable of this growth, and will thus fade away in time when they prove unable to adapt.

Given that witches are human, for all of their extraordinary abilities, it is a given that attempts to bypass the limitations of witchery will continue.  No human endeavor is likely to ever be allowed to rest on only what has already been done.

Perhaps there are some hard and fast limits to what witchery can achieve, perhaps not.  Most serious students of witchery believe that Orville Wright his upon a serious truth in his sarcastic response, and that witchery can never change the true nature of anything, only make slight and temporary alterations.

Others disagree.

No matter what the truth may be, witches will continue their workings, and someone may someday find a way to live forever or to soar through the air under his own power.

Mickie says:    I love this.  It gives a nice dose of reality that even magic can’t do everything.  It also provides us story tellers with some limitations to follow in the future.  There will be no immortal wizards coming forward to answer all our questions.  It also shows the balance in our shared world between magic and technology.  And when one falters, the other steps forward.

Sid says:  Humans, Witch or Ortho, will always attempt to reach past their actual grasp. In this, as in many other endeavors, people will always ask “could we”, but rarely (if ever) ask “should we”.  It has been speculated that perhaps limiting that grasp is one of the functions of a familiar – steering a witch away from what they should not attempt. However, witches will never know the truth of this, as familiars do not give away their secrets.

Looking at this from another perspective – as one of the writers involved in this series – having defined limitations on witchery makes for a more complex, interesting world. If all problems were easily solved with a bit of witchery, what reason would we have to write? James has given us some of the big limitations; it’s up to us (and our characters) to determine their individual limitations within these parameters, and others we will discover as we work in and continue to build PCEarth.


10/4/2017 Weekly Update

10/4/2017 → Wednesday Skype & Write – MONTHLY MEETING

Wednesday was our monthly discussion night.   We covered a broad range of items, from our overall story arc to our end of year blogs to our pitch plans for next year!

James is working on the October blog and it should be posted soon.  Sid is already hard at work on the November blog and has been teasing us with some details.

We’re starting our research for agents so we can be ready to pitch at the beginning of the year. If you’re an agent or know an agent you think may be interested in our work, please feel free to name drop!  Our blogsite has our emails as well as a contact form.

We’ll be back at the typing next week.  Same Bat Time – same Bat channel!

9/27/2017 Weekly Update

9/27/2017 → Wednesday Skype & Write

Skyping and writing, skyping and writing….

And that’s really it.

Mickie re-wrote a pivotal scene in Charlie’s Web, and has determined where it needs to go in the book (she initially had it too early on), so now she’s polishing her transition.

Sid added 93 new words to Cursebreaker’s Dance, and is now 17.11% through her revisions.

James has outlined the first three chapters of Cat’s Cradle, which led to an interesting discussion about familiars and secrets they may know or not…and that’s all I’m saying because spoilers!

There is a tiny update to the Other Projects tab on the blogsite. Sid is planning a webcomic-type project, and the link is now on the site here.

Next week will be our monthly planning meeting, so tune in for details then!

Writing Is Hard, Except When It’s Easy, And Then It’s Still Hard

This writing gig is not getting easier.  I have flashes of brilliance where the words just flow like wine, but for the most part, it’s torture getting the idea in my head down on paper and trying to describe the scene I can picture clearly in my imagination.  When I think I’ve gotten it done, a read through shows that a huge amount of detail is missing and I have to go back and try to layer it in.

There are times when I just write the dialogue between characters, just to get the story moving, but then I have to go back and create the context for the conversation.  Going backwards is tedious and soul-sucking, and you feel like you are in a riptide: constantly swimming towards shore and never getting any closer.

I’m assured that this is normal, and that very few people write in a linear fashion, from start to finish.  One frequently has specific scenes that will tie the story together, and it’s not unusual to focus on those scenes, then flesh out the rest of the tale.  I started out linear – I wrote my first four chapters this way, then got mired down.  I jumped to my plot point scenes and wrote them, then went back and started stitching it all together.

I’m also assured, not just by my writing partners, but by anyone who has ever written a book, that despair and dismay are a part of the process.  Being convinced that you’ve written drivel, that you are failing your writing partners, or editors,

I still haven’t gotten a finished product to my writing partners.   I’ve got to finish my stiches on the second half.  To be truthful, I had it nearly done, and lost my work.  It’s somewhere in the cloud I think but I can’t get my work back.  So, another trip backwards is required.  It shouldn’t take this long. They’ve seen the first half and gave me their edits and suggestions, and now I’m going back and re-writing it, which trying to place my pieces in the correct order on the second half and making sure it’s not just random scenes with no rhyme or reason.

The thing I’ve learned is that ideas are easy to come up with. Even creating the world and the characters is easy.  I have a talent for it.  But telling the story?  That’s a craft and it’s one that’s difficult to grasp and hold.  It requires dedication, and will, and practice.  I’m determined to master it, but it’s obvious that I’m going to need to work much harder if I want to move forward.

Life gets in the way.  When your craft is something you do as a hobby, or in your spare time, it’s way to easy to get distracted.  This last year has been a bitch, on a personal level, and I’ve let my woes wear me down.    it’s hard to be creative when all you can think about is what’s going wrong and trying to come up with ways to deal with it.  But like anything, you have a choice: you can drown under the weight of your problems – real and imagined, or you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps and start climbing.

Well, it’s time for me to start climbing!

James says:  Mickie encapsulates the life of a writer pretty well.  It’s a form of emotional and psychological masochism that we voluntarily engage in.  Well, voluntary as in we don’t have a choice once an idea gets hold of our brains.  It is, as Mickie says, easy to come up with ideas, worlds, and characters.  Writing an actual story is harder than nine kinds of hell!  And, yet, it is one of the things I enjoy most in the world.  And I think most writers feel that way about it.  Which means we could probably all go in together and get a discount for group therapy.  Although, honestly, knowing how the three of us operate, I’m fairly sure the therapy group would just end up with a new collaborative series to work on.

Sid says: LOL – what James said! Definitely sure we’d end up with a new project; after all, that’s close to how this one got started!

Now for the serious bit: writing is hard, and not everyone can do it, though everyone thinks they can. Writing is even harder when the world is going up in flames around you. Everyone – from people who write fanfic* as a hobby to people who make their living writing – have talked about how hard writing has been this year. Doing anything creative while the world burns seems like a waste.

But it isn’t. Art is rebellion, especially art that is inclusive when the world seems bent on being exclusionary.

Art is easy when everything is groovy. Making art when everything is falling apart takes courage. Not everyone has that courage. So, it’s no bad thing to let people see just how hard it can be.

*Fanfic is a whole ‘nother beast and should never be disparaged as “not real writing”. It takes skill and dedication to make your work meld seamlessly into a world you didn’t create.

9/20/2017 Weekly Update

9/20/2017 → Wednesday Skype & Write

Yesterday was the day. We skyped, and we wrote.

Simply writing makes for boring updates, but there you go. The updates may be boring, but the more we write, the less boring the books will be.

Mickie worked on a new scene for Charlie’s Web, and got most of it knocked out. She also finalized the September blog post, and sent it over for James and Sid to add their comments. That post should be going up soon.

James is working on the precursor to his outline for the sixth book, Cat’s Cradle. He says he has a pretty solid foundation, most major plot points nailed down. He’ll be fleshing out that outline over the next few weeks, then he’ll be writing that book!

Sid has begun her revisions on the (hope hope hopefully) final draft of Cursebreaker’s Dance. She’s 16.44% through the revisions right now, and honestly, it’s going well. There are a couple of things she needs to go back and look into (because she misplaced her notebook with all the notes she’d made from earlier discussions with Mickie and James, but she found it yesterday, yay!).

The blogsite has been updated with a lovely, teasing synopsis (courtesy of James) for Cursebreaker’s Dance here.

And that’s all the updates for now. We’ll be skyping and writing and updating again next week. See you then!