Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies

The Guardians: Book Three

by William Joyce

“this was the dream she had given him when all seemed lost during one of their first great battles with Pitch!” (Joyce, 55).

Chapter Five – Chapter Eight

In the morning, the entire village of Santoff Claussen boards Bunnymund’s egg-train and journeys to the Lunar Lamadary. There’s another hint at the time frame of the story as “[t]rains were still not invented yet (Bunnymund would secretly help the credited inventors some decades later)” (31). This indicates that the story occurs prior to major, widespread modern industrialization, and additionally that it takes place a couple decades prior it. To me that would be three to four decades, so still probably in the 1700s.

This chapter prominently serves to re-introduce the Lamas, the yetis, and what exactly the Lunar Lamadary is. This is conveyed through Katherine answering the other children’s questions. But near the end, Katherine is suddenly uneasy. She no longer feels quite right with her old friends. Specifically, “[s]he didn’t really know where she wanted to be — with the children or with North and the other grown-ups. Even Kailash didn’t comfort her. She was betwixt and between” (37). It has become about Katherine’s change and growth.

Katherine eventually joins the other Guardians, ruminating on why Nightlight seems distant. She speculates it’s because he misses the battles. She also wonders the same about North, but in contrast to Nightlight the former bandit has changed a lot. And while it isn’t what Katherine notices about North’s change, I loved how he

“still loved conjuring up new toys for the children. (Just that morning he’d brought the youngest William a funny sort of toy–a round biscuit-shaped piece of wood with a string attached to it’s middle. When jerked, it would go up and down almost magically. North call it “yo-yo-ho”) (43-4).

And that’s just adorable! I love it. North created a yo-yo, and I just–I really like Santa Claus, okay?

Additionally, Katherine notes that, unlike Nightlight, North “didn’t seem sad or melancholy or lonely” but instead “[h]is face was alive with excitement” (44). Even with all the danger he’s lived through, he can still invigorated by new projects and ideas and it’s just… Yeah, keep being an awesome inspiration, North!

They arrive at the Himalayas and the Lamadary and it’s beautiful: “the cool , serene, creamy glow of  its moonstone and opal mosaics” (47). It’s short, direct, but visually sumptuous.

Another pretty description is for the horn Yaloo blows; it was “a silver horn forged from ancient meteors” (48). I like it not only for its visual spark, but the underlining story — ancient meteors used to make beautiful objects. There’s a sense of mystery to it that I find appealing.

They contact the Man in the Moon and he, after saying that none of his moonbeams have spotted any signs of Pitch, tells that he believes “the world is on the cusp of a new Golden Age” (52). And I want to know if this is linked to the Enlightenment. I hope not. The Enlightenment was a fine time, but I’ve never been a big fan of it. For reasons. Which I may go into. Sometime.

Either way, with the coming Golden Age, the Man in the Moon tells the Guardians that it will be their responsibility to guide this new age. Upon hearing that North steps forward and – remember that dream Katherine gave him? About a wondrous center of learning and protection? He presents the blueprints of this new city, saying that how it “‘was a gift, one that I now pass on'” (53). And I’m just so emotional and flailing with happiness. Yes, you share that dream, and just, yes~

Using Ombric’s mantra of believe, he conjures up a model of the dream city. It’s incredibly sweet that he acknowledges Katherine’s role in its creation; without her belief in him, seeing the goodness she felt he had, he never would have had this dream in the first place.

North tells the Man in the Moon that he has

“‘a plan for building new centers of magic… One village like Santoff Claussen is not enough, and to expand it would be to change it. What we need instead is are more places where all those kind hearts and inquiring minds–inventors, scientists, artists, visionaries–will be welcomed and encouraged. Where children will always be safe and protected and grow to become their finest selves'” (55).

Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes! Notice how it doesn’t have to just be artists, but it’s not just scientists either. It’s people with imagination, who want to learn, investigate, change things. And place for children to grow and not be hindered — I am a hundred percent okay with this idea. It’s such a beautiful vision. I love it.

After North’s explanation, we get a glimpse of his vision:

“There was a great castlelike structure in its center, surrounded by workshops and cottages. A tiny Nicholas St. North could be seen striding through the village center, with his elves and Petrov, his horse, by his side. And a herd of mighty reindeer. The Yetis too were there” (56).

And it’s a visual of what it will be like but also a visual with traces of Santa Claus’ mythos – workshops, elves, and reindeer. Yeah, I can’t wait for this to become a thing in the story.

 

 

Words:

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no words

Quote:

Bunnymund: “‘I mean to say, I’ve met them, I’ve talked to them, I’ve read their minds and they’ve read mine, but do I know what they’ll say or do next at any given moment or what underwear they wear on Tuesdays and why? Do I? Do I really know?'” (40).

Works Cited:

Joyce, William. Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies. New York: Atheneum Books, 2012. Print.

Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies

The Guardians: Book Three

by William Joyce

“So Nightlight felt most perfectly at peace when watching over Katherine as she slept” (Joyce, 17).

Chapter Two – Chapter Four

Although Santoff Claussen is in spring and a rewarding sense of peace has descended on the characters, the Guardians have enough sense not to take it for granted that Pitch has truly been defeated. They all continue to be on the look out for Pitch:

“Nightlight…scoured the night sky for signs of Pitch’s army” and “Bunnymund kept his rabbit ears tuned for ominous signs while burrowing his system of tunnels, and Ombric cast his mind about for bits of dark magic that might be creeping into the world” (13-4).

The chapter revisits the mental/emotional connection the guardians formed in Book 2:

“Their bond of friendship was so strong that it now connected them in heart and mind. Each could often sense what the others felt, and when it felt like time to gather, they would just somehow know (15-6).

For some reason here it seems less nonsensical as it did originally. It’s sweet now. The kind of comradeship that comes from understanding and being in sync with others. Also, I’m also a sucker for friendship. In particular, it makes a point to remind us that “[Nightlight] and Katherine’s bond was the greatest” (16). After what happened at the Earth’s core, I can believe it.

The chapter expands a bit on how it feels to them and I wanted to share:

“The two never tired of the other’s company and felt a pang of sadness when apart. But even that ache was somehow exquisite, for they knew that they would never be separated for long” (17).

Unfortunately, or so Nightlight feels, the one time he cannot join her is when she is sleeping or dreaming. Since he never sleeps, the whole experience is foreign to him. But the part that worries him is that, while asleep, “Katherine was there but entirely. Her mind traveled to Dreamlands where he could not follow” (17).

This strikes me as an interesting way to interpret dreaming; it’s like being somewhere. Not necessarily a dangerous place, but being asleep is not the same as being awake. When you dream/sleep there is a part of you that isn’t quite there. It’s a different state.

Also, literal dreams — not simply dreams of what one wants or wishes — take root in the story.

While watching Katherine sleep, Nightlight spies a tear on her cheek. He can’t understanding why she would be crying. Everything  is good now; what is there to be sad about? Additionally,

“[h]e knew about the power of tears. It was from tears that his diamond dagger was forged. But those were tears from wakeful times. He had never touched a Dream Tear. But before he could think better of it, he reached down and gently plucked it up.

Dream Tears are very powerful, and when Nightlight first tried to look  into it, he was nearly knocked from the tree” (18-9).

Dream Tears are strong stuff. Which makes sense. Sleep is when we rejuvenate from our lives and dreams can be inspirational, therapeutic, frightening — so it’s easy to imagine they would pull a powerful punch. Here, they are undiluted windows into the sleeper’s self.

And what does Nightlight see in Katherine’s Dream Tear? Something that “[f]or the first time in all his strange and dazzling life,” made Nightlight feel “a deep, unsettling fear” (19)? Pitch himself, “haunting her dreams” (19).

At the guardians current meeting to discuss any news of Pitch, Nightlight remains silent on what he saw in Katherine’s Dream Tear. Every other guardian says there has still been no sign of Pitch. But “[i]t was the first time Nightlight had ever lied” (22). Will that effect him? Being a lighthearted spectral boy of laughter, will doing something that can create weight (via guilt or worry) create any changes?

This detail being unknown to others, Ombric declares that “‘It’s now been eight months since we last saw Pitch. I think before we declare a victory, it would be best to consult the Man in the Moon” (22). Which means a a visit to the Lunar Lamadary in the Himalayas.

But this time, the whole village joins the guardians. They turn it into a big pre-visit party. celebration.

Before the story gets to that, the text reminds us of the five relics and how, if Pitch really is defeated, might there no longer be a need to retrieve them. My question: When will the rest show up? And further more, how do they get or decide they need them?

I do want to say that I think (so far) Book 3 has the strongest emotional throughline of growing up vs. Nightlight and Katherine.

Now the party! It full of wonderful treats and decorates and is just ♥! To list some of the delicious and delightful parts that I loved:

“eggbots whipped up frothy confections…[f]ireflies circled their heads, making halos of green-tinged light…Bunnymund’s newest chocolates–a delectable blend of Aztec cacao and purple plum…[and] [e]ven the crickets came out into the moonlight to play a sort of insect symphony to the delight of everyone” (26-8)

It’s the best.

Afterwards when everyone has gone to bed, Katherine cannot sleep. She is worried about Nightlight. He was the “only one who had not joined the party that night. And it bothered her” (28). But aside from Nightlight’s odd behavior, Katherine has found that at quiet times, her mind will wander to Pitch.

Katherine muses on Pitch’s relationship with his daughter, and how “Ombric and North were like a father and brother to her. But that wasn’t the same as a real family, was it? (29). That’s a significant question. How will it be answered? In this book (if it will be) and in The Guardians Series at large. Where does the family line exist? How significant is blood in the definition of family?

She also decides that “[s]he would find out what” was wrong with Nightlight. In doing so, “[s]he would make him happy once more. And then maybe she’d be happy too” (30). And this right here — this is why  said this book has such a beautiful plot. Katherine is working through her own feelings: what family means, what Pitch means as a father and an enemy, and why Nightlight is unhappy. But he’s unhappy because of her preoccupation with Pitch. Their feelings are a cause and effect of each other. Katherine’s decision is motivated by what Nightlight has learned but won’t tell. Everything is stacked so beautifully to make sense. I utterly love.

Finally, Katherine drifts to sleep but if she had been awake she would have “felt uneasy, as though she were being watched by a force nearly as ancient as Pitch” (30). I won’t say anything except: It’s HER. It’s striking in a re-read since Katherine was just thinking about Pitch and his daughter. I also, as I recall, believe this detail is relevant to the plot. I will wait and see.

Words:

source

no words

Book Quote:

“Bunnymund’s ears twitched. These humans and their emotions, he thought. They are so odd. They are more interested in feelings than chocolate” (21).

Works Cited:

Joyce, William. Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies. New York: Atheneum Books, 2012. Print.

Writerly Notions: Stress & Focus

This morning I spent a few hours calibrating and analyzing what causes me stress and my stress levels. Or more specially “needling things that send me into a mental whirlwind panic/confusion.”

I won’t go into the details. Suffice to say, the categories of Creator, Writer, and Promotion feed off one another to create the highest levels of stress and the highest amount of stress. Additionally, as with this blog, some of the trouble comes from the simple question of: what am I doing? What do I intend? (I hope I’ll be able to post my thoughts on that, which have been waiting in my drafts, soon.)

A few, unrelated tidbits I learned about me and my writing today:

  1. a playlist I made of songs I can listen to over and over without getting sick of them lend themselves to worldbuilding and character development in Nights of Heroes. Which is interesting since it may imply that if left to it, I might think about that series a lot.
  2. I realized the third section in my recently complete novel (which is in revision) is more incomplete than I realized. Getting a handle on the chronology has helped a whole bunch (i.e. cementing dates so they don’t wiggle around; I have a tendency toward flexible dating…) Additionally, I realized why the second section comes off as different than the rest — it has subplots! The trouble is I’m unsure how much the content of those subplots plays into the larger story. So anyway, it gives me focus. I can work with that.

Sorry if this was a short and brusque.

I took an iPad photo of by analysis notes, if anyone’s curious.

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Writerly Notions: The Right Revision

I apparently struggle with revision.

So, it’s not hard to conceptualize a pattern of how to revise. I theoretically break revision up into multi-steps, to address more detailed attention. Like start with making sure the structure works, and so and so until you reach sentence structure. So, yeah, I get that.

But I realized there’s an aspect of revision that really throws me:

how do you know what the right order of a story is?

I can string events in order in my mind, especially if I write it out, but how do I know whether that order — event to event to event — is the best order for the story to unfold in? My criteria right now is whether it flows smoothly; does it seem as if it fits together and does the previous events seem to hook up with the following event. But how do I know for sure it’s best?

Some of this is probably predicated by how I feel writers (and creators) often operate on a “what if?” scenario basis. Which is really odd to me. If I write a story one way, that’s the way it is. Characters might change. Ambitions might change. Plot might change. If it changes as a result of discovering and revising the story, sure. But consciously sitting down to play out different scenarios is kind of…weird to me.

I guess what I’m getting at is that my impression of writers is that they mix and match events (or scenes) to get the best string of events (or story).

My question is then, how do you know which pattern is the best story?

And that gums me up in revision because I don’t know. Or don’t feel like I know. I wish there was a criteria to let me know when I’ve reached the best string of events for my story. That would really help. But I don’t think that exists.

As always, feel free to share your experiences or thoughts. I can’t guarantee I’ll respond quickly, but I wanted to extend the offer.

Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies

The Guardians: Book Three

by William Joyce

“But that was past. This was a different day. And through the friendship he now knew, he could change bad men to good and stone back to flesh” (Joyce, 12).

Chapter One

This book has a beautifully structured plot.

Like E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core! this one begins in Santoff Claussen with the children. They are playing games and it’s actually cute: “In this new game of Warrior Egg tag, to be scrambled meant you had been caught by the opposing egg team and therefore, had a lost a point” (1). There’s a touch of cleverness with the children’s game-naming.

This opening, rather than feeling out of place, works for me. I don’t mind the other children so much. My previous association and attachment to them from Book 1 and Book 2, makes me glad to see them happy. Additionally, the peaceful, happy set-up into story is a relief after the battle at the Earth’s core and North’s near death. I feel good seeing the characters this way.

The chapter proceeds to explain what the children and the Guardians have been doing since their last fight with Pitch. One thing I liked was how

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Writerly Notions: Characters & Negativity

One thing I’ve found out about myself, and which is part of why I’ve begun to think that I’m not future-author material, is that I can’t see the appeal of writing about sad or difficult things.

To be a little clearer:  if I’m feeling crummy, why would I want to actualize my dense, dragged-down, twisted, tangled feelings into words? Won’t it just leave me more exhausted and drained and defeated?

Additionally, why would I want to write about characters’ (whom I like) suffering, be it mentally, physically, or emotionally? (Okay, that’s not entirely true; there is a kind of…satisfaction from watching a character go through struggles and change as a result.)

I suppose it’s truer to say that I have a hard time getting why a writer would create characters who do intentionally terrible things.

I can get characters doing what they think is right or characters acting on their own sense of identity and integrity. But that that identity or sense of right would be to compromise the humanity of others…like why? What’s the appeal?

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Writerly Notions: Worldbuilding & Copying

I’ve realized why my writing often lacks a “spark”. Most of the writing sources I follow or consume (and how my mind interprets them) indicate that fantasy — culture, customs, history — are just copies of this world. And copies are just reflections. More to the point, it’s hard to believe a copy-world is real on its own terms. Which makes it hard, I’d wager, for others to believe in fantasy world that doesn’t feel real, that is only a copy.

On one hand, I want to create real imagined fantasy, advice and convention tell me I have to copy. But if that’s all I have to do, why would I write at all? (If I wanted to do historical fantasy, that would be great, but I think I lean more toward imaginary fantasy. That is, fantasy that isn’t heavily historical.)

Once I started trying to “get serious” about writing a lot of the spontaneous imagination dropped out. While research is necessity for good writing, if the initial groundwork is just trying to copy the exact replica that is (or might be) the inspiration for a fantasy culture, will that seem real?

For me, a lot of rooted worldbuilding comes from percolating off nature and creating myth (the moon is a dragon’s eye, four bats created the world). Or if not nature, than fairy tales. And if not fairy tales, than just…ideas? (flurma birds that roost on the tips of crystal trees where fluff grows, whose plumage turns blue before they migrate)

The trouble is figuring out  what this-world culture I’m inspired by and taking conscientious actions. Often with humans, I do know, but that’s in a copy-&-paste way, rather than deep roots. (Other than one or two fantasy human cultures.)

Writerly Notions: Revision & me

So, for awhile my approach to revising stories, be they short or long, was to either literally revise in-text or to re-write from scratch. The latter was not…the best idea. To wit, I rewrote a 68k word story, to make it fit better with where the story had gone (which is now obsolete), and it ended up at 111k words, having only made it to 2/3rds of the original plot. In other words, it became even more rambling than before.

Recently I came across a suggestion that for revision one should rewrite, not from scratch, but from the already written story. Which I took to mean following its scenes and its order, rather than letting the story meander on a completely new path. (Nothing wrong with letting a revision go to new places, I think, but not letting it just be a new story.)

I’ve always had a puzzle with revision. If I rewrite completely, with only a loose thread, I’m afraid it’ll be a new (worse) story. But if I do the rewrite I read about, it becomes the struggle of not rewriting each scene word by word from what I just re-read so I can remember what’s in the each paragraph/scene.

I wish there was a step by step procedure that would let me know I’m hitting the right “marks” to let me know when I’m revising my story in the right way. Or getting my characters right. Or whatever I need to do. It’s not very clear.

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Writerly Notions: What to do?

So I’m in a bit of a muddle. (Also, don’t mind me, I’m just clearing my thoughts.)

What should I work on? Okay, scratch that. Should I write the final section of my long, long, long overdue demon mythology story, even if I’m not 100% sure it actually makes sense, nor do I know what’s happening? Or should I try to make it all fit together?

And see, that’s the hitch. A lot of ideas I’ve had post 2010 (Romance of Three Jewels, The Painting Story, NIAR, 12D + Bluebeard) actually have structure. Story structure. Conflict. Character arcs. Story stages. Do I know every detail? Probably not. Do I have enough to see how the plot connects and how my characters will grow and get from one story stage to the next? Oh, yes.

But I have at least three major projects that came before 2010. And it’s a pain because they’re not, well, as well structured.

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Writerly Notions: Experts and Imagination

So I was re-reading Histoire d’Aladdin ou la Lampe merveilleuse (as one does), and I was forcibly reminded that writers need to know what they’re writing about. If say, I write about a character baking a cake, I have to know what kind of cake they’re baking and, more importantly, I need to know how that cake would be baked. And that’s where experts and connections and all that is important. Knowing who to ask and getting input from people who know what they’re talking about. Experts.

But what I think is interesting is that I couldn’t write:

She baked a werthor from a bowl of leftover isluuma blossoms, dried up after last winter’s molt and stored by her grandmother. After all adding a dollop of yurna berry juice, with just the right thickness to keep the center stiff, she popped the feathery dough into the fire-orb, watching as it expanded into a firm round werthor.

Because it’s not based on an actually recipe or method of baking.