Make Mistakes Great

I’ve mentioned here before that I’m working on Magic Most Deadly‘s sequel, right? (I know, I could look it up, but … who has the time?) I’ve hit a couple of snags with it, coming up against errors or “oops” moments from the previous book. One little thing was when I wanted to use Sophie and Owen from If This Be Magic, but I realized that I’d given Owen the same last name (Maddox) as Maia’s friend Constable Maddox from Magic Most Deadly. Uh-oh!

I came across a more egregious error when I remembered that I’d let Len use magic to dispel a hangover in Magic Most Deadly, but according to the rules of magic I laid out more clearly, any direct use of magic on a person, whether yourself or someone else, is evil and against the law. These rules play an enormous role in this current book, whereas in the first one they were only a side note, so I didn’t notice the mistake until I came to this one.

That was a big oops.

What to do? I couldn’t go back and change it – the book is already published. I could ignore it and hope that no readers picked up on, but that felt like cheating. Besides, even if nobody else ever caught the mistake, I would know about it, and it would bother me. Forever.

I wrestled with it on and off for a couple of weeks. Then, this morning, the answer came to me, laid out as a beautiful scene. Not only can I use that to add another layer of nuance to magic, laws, and Magical Intelligence work, but I can also use it to add further depth to Len’s character.

Even though I’m not at the point in this story where I can work the point in, I sat down and wrote the scene out as soon as it came together in my mind, so that now it’s ready to insert when I get to that part.

As a bonus? At the end of that scene, a little bit of romance snuck in! (I know some of you out there are Len/Maia ‘shippers!)

And that’s the story of how a mistake turned into something that made the characters, and the world, even better than they were before.

I hope all my human errors in these books turn out as well!

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Top Ten Books About Friendship

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1. Betsy-Tacy et al, Maud Hart Lovelace. I know I rave about these books a lot. But I love them, and they don’t get half the recognition they deserve. The friendship between Betsy, Tacy, and Tib (and various others who dance into and never out of their lives) is a beautiful thing, and my Joy has been searching for a best friend to be a Betsy to her Tacy ever since we first read the first book.

2. Chronicles of Prydain, Lloyd Alexander. Another series that doesn’t get half the recognition it deserves, and that I love dearly. The Chronicles are about many things, but among them is friendship. The final scene in The High King (not giving any spoilers in case you haven’t read it!) makes me choke up every time.

3. The Year of Secret Assignments, Jaclyn Moriarty. This book was recommended heavily to me on Twitter, and so I picked it up from the library even though contemporary YA isn’t usually my thing. And I’m so glad I trusted the recommendees’ judgements, because it was such a beautiful portrayal of modern day friendships, and the pitfalls and joys therein.

4. Anne of Green Gables, Anne of the Island, Rainbow Valley, LM Montgomery. All of the Anne books have friendship woven through them, but it’s a much bigger theme in these three. The friendships Anne forges with Diana and the other Avonlea girls, and with Matthew, Marilla, and even Mrs Lynde, are such an integral part of AoGG. I personally think the bits of AotI between Anne, Priscilla, Stella, and especially Phil, are the best (well, maybe except the end, between Anne of Gilbert!). And Rainbow Valley, featuring the friendship between the manse children, the Blythe youngsters, and Mary Vance, is a sweet tale of childhood.

5. The Horse and his Boy, CS Lewis. Not necessarily about friendship, per se, but it is a strong thread woven throughout the story. The friendships between Shasta and Bree, Hwin and Aravis, Aravis and Shasta, Hwin and Bree, and Shasta and Corin are all fabulous, and I like the portrayal of friendship between kingdoms, too, with Narnia and Archenland being so close-knit.

6. The Grey King & Silver on the Tree, Susan Cooper. The friendship between Will and Bran in these books is meant to reflect the friendship between Merlin and Arthur, and without those strong bonds, the Old Ones would have fallen and the Dark would have risen forever. And in the end, it is only friendship that saves Bran, and saves the world.

7. Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens. OK, I did put this one in mostly as a joke. But seriously, I do enjoy this book, and it does revolve around one central characters who connects all the others (the titular “mutual friend”), so it isn’t that far out there.

8. Sorcery & Cecilia, Patricia C Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. Yet another book on my list that isn’t technically about friendship, yet would be nothing without the relationship between Kate and Cecy, and between Thomas and James.

9. Heroes of Olympus series, Rick Riordan. If these books aren’t about friendship, then I don’t know what is. That’s all.

10. Breadcrumbs, The Real Boy, Anne Ursu. I first read Breadcrumbs last year, and I read The Real Boy in one fell swoop last night, and oh, they are so good, and the friendships so poignant and truthful, full of the perils of everyday friendships as well as the ways they are our salvation. Read them! They’re good.

There you have it, my Top Ten. Check out more lists at the Broke and the Bookish.

Back Off

When the news about the Star Wars cast came out, I was beside myself with delight. Not that it was unexpected, but the thrill of knowing for certain that Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie were going to be back on the big screen, that these heroes of my youth were coming back, as much older as I was, but just as heroic? Thrilling.

I promptly went on Twitter to share my joy. Instead, I got barraged with innumerable tweets complaining about the lack of diversity, especially gender diversity, among the cast.

I get that. It’s a problem. As Michael A Stackpole put it so well, it’s a problem especially in Star Wars because the Empire was oppressive, misogynistic, xenophobic, elitist, and to not show a diversity in the cast now undermines much of what the Rebellion was fighting for.

Here’s the thing, though: at that moment, when I was nearly turning cartwheels over the thought of Princess Leia being back on the screen, I did not need to be overwhelmed with negativity. (Never mind the fact that I would be happier with ONE character with the depth of Leia than a dozen stereotyped “strong sexy women” on screen – I find those caricatures as offensive as the lack of women in general). I just wanted to share my thrill over my heroes.

And I do understand that for others, their need to share their disappointment was as strong as my need to share my joy. I’m not criticizing people for their honest reactions (although I am unhappy that negative reactions seem to shame positive ones – I felt like I couldn’t say anything happy about the Star Wars casting for fear of people throwing stones at me, as well). But for me, it illuminated a deeper problem.

I love social media for its ability to bring people together, and to allow us to connect with people we otherwise would never meet. I love that I have found other authors through it, people I can talk with about writing. I love discovering shared fandoms. And yes, I also like finding shared dislikes. But it’s getting to affect me too much.

The Star Wars tweets killed my joy. Slew it right in its tracks. And I don’t want that! I don’t want to be so tied in to social media that it can have that power over me.

Yesterday, I took almost the entire day off from the internet. I pulled out my old Gilmore Girls DVDs, and watched them while I made strawberry scones, washed a zillion loads of dishes, worked all afternoon on my niece’s quilt, made supper, and then worked on the quilt for the rest of the evening.

And it was great. It was exactly what I needed. Even Emily and Lorelai’s bickering seemed uplifting in comparison to the negative, swirling morass of Twitter and Facebook.

So, I’m stating this here, so you guys can keep me honest. I’m backing off social media. Not giving it up entirely, because I do have friends I don’t want to lose, and I do like to keep up on the world outside of seminary. But much, much less. Because it’s turning into an unhealthy relationship (okay, if I’m honest, it’s been unhealthy for a while because of how closely it hovers to an addiction, but now it’s becoming so obviously unhealthy I can’t ignore it any more), and because, of all the stress in my life, this is one I can most easily remove. I’ll still be on Twitter once in a while, still on FB occasionally, probably even still blog sometimes, but nothing like as pervasive as it all has been.

I am slowly untangling the death grip of social media’s tentacles around my throat, and I’m looking forward to being able to breathe unimpeded again.