Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Imagination and Inheritance

A quick note about the High School Short Story Writing Contest that I'm judging. It's in it's third year and is titled Imagination Begins With You! I helped judge the first year and really enjoyed it, stepped away the second year but came back this year! Holy Cow!

There were over 700 entries from all over the country. Each of the four judges are reading about 300 pages worth of stories and picking their favorite 8 or so from them. This has been so hard! There really wasn't any specific guidelines for the teens, just write a short story 1500 words or less. How do I choose from so many great and totally different stories??? Well, I finally came up with a plan. I would read and write notes on the ones I really liked and delete the ones I didn't. Here was my "delete" criteria:
  • not a story with a beginning, middle and end
  • too many grammar and mechanics mistakes to the point I couldn't see the story
  • travel log
  • so confusing that I had no idea what just happened
Everything else got notes until I had read everything. Then came the hard part. Whittling it down to the 8 favorites. At this point it was mostly just subjective. I picked what I related to, understood, just LIKED best. I found myself wishing I could send notes to the ones I liked but had to cut. There were so many really good ones but I couldn't pick them all!

On April 15th all the judges' picks will be combined and we will start the reading and choosing all over again from the smaller pool. There are some great new writers out there!

And now, the wonderful L. Blankenship is also going to talk to us about Inheritance and the role it plays in her novel The Disciple.
Wodenberg, the kingdom in my hard fantasy romance Disciple, is a small nation controlled by three saints. Saints are powerful, long-lived magic-users, so rare and strong as to be considered sacred. How they govern their nations depends on their individual personalities and the traditions of the people they rule; therefore Wodenberg is a bit different from its neighbors, and its inheritance traditions are one of those differences.

The inheritance of titles is especially important in Wodenberg. The kingdom is constantly on guard against invasion and its nobility must always be ready to defend its borders. Thus, Wodenberg's saints have added the following requirements to the ancient tradition of passing titles to the eldest child:

1. The inheritor must have earned knighthood. This requires extensive training, commitment, and natural skill to meet Saint Woden's high standards. Unlike tradition in our world, knighthood can only be bestowed by the saints or a small number of saint-approved judges.

This requirement does not exclude women; if a daughter has the fighting spirit to take up the sword, she's encouraged to do so.

2. The inheritor must be currently capable of serving in battle. This is a constant requirement, though allowances are made for recovery from wounds or illness. Chronic illness or disability can result in one's title passing to the next claimant.

Only the title and the holdings directly tied to it, though. One cannot be stripped of personal property because of illness or disability.

3. The inheritor must be able to document his or her blood lineage to the clan which held the title in antiquity. This serves to choose between equally qualified candidates, and the preference here will lean toward the older sons. But the final decision will be made by the saints, and especially Saint Woden.

Wodenberg is a small kingdom, so its feudal structure is not too complicated and the list of inherited titles is limited to: king, duke, margrave, and baron. These positions are primarily concerned with military functions -- mustering the populace into companies, maintaining supply lines -- and the economic aspects of the kingdom are handled through a separate structure of guilds and civic offices.

Because of Wodenberg's traditions, these military titles are never complicated by being passed to a spouse with no martial talents, or hampered by a regency if an eldest child is too young to lead.

Inheritance of all other property is influenced largely by the people's faith, which holds that all one's children are valued members of the Flock and deserve some portion of their parents' estate.

War is coming to Wodenberg, in Disciple. Its entire populace will be put to the test, especially Kate -- she has studied hard to be ready to serve as a physician, and she wants to save lives. But...

Back cover of Disciple, Part II
The prince first kissed Kate Carpenter for fear of missing the chance if they didn’t survive the journey home through the monster-prowled mountains.

Now that kiss seems like a fever dream. It’s back to work for her, back to the fellow physicians jealous of her talents and the sneers of an infirmary director who wants her shipped off to some tiny village. Kate means to be on the front lines to save lives. She’s worked too hard to overcome her past to let them deny her the chance to serve her homeland when the enemy’s army reaches their kingdom.

The grand jousting tournament is a chance to prove she can manage combat wounded, and at the royal Solstice banquet Kate means to prove she isn’t an ignorant peasant girl anymore.

But the prince’s kiss still haunts her. Their paths keep crossing, and the easy familiarity they earned on the journey home is a welcome escape from their duties. It’s a small slip from chatting to kisses.

This is no time to be distracted by romance -- a vast and powerful empire is coming to slaughter anyone standing between them and the kingdom’s magical fount.

Kate ought to break both their hearts, for duty’s sake.

Disciple, Part II on sale now
along with Disciple, Part I

More information, updates, and extras at Disciple of the Fount

Disciple, Part III coming in late 2013
Disciple is complete in six parts and will make a lovely doorstop
when all 400k words have been published.

Goodreads links: