Swimming the Willamette, part 2

Welll, I made it about 1/3 the way across this morning. A giant squid didn’t grab me; I had to stop because my new fins were too heavy and weighed me down instead of propelling me across the river. Plus, I’ve been training in a calm water pool and wasn’t prepared for the slappy little waves. I panicked when I started choking on the water and signaled the safety kayaker to tow me back to the dock.

It was a gorgeous day and the water was refreshingly cold. I’ll be back, but first I need to train harder so I can keep up the pace, buy lighter and shorter fins, and figure out how to breathe without inhaling the river.

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Wild swimming

Tomorrow I’m doing my first open water swim across the Willamette River. It’s a half mile round trip, so not that far, and I’m going with a group of experienced swimmers, plus a swim buddy to watch over me.

I know I can do it, but I’m scared. I’m afraid that something that doesn’t exist, like a fresh water giant squid will grab my feet as I kick past and drag me underwater. We’re swimming by a bridge with enormous stanchions sunk deep into the river floor. I don’t want to look down and see that dark mass underneath. I’m sure that’s where the creatures live.

I was on swim teams when I was a girl and used to frighten myself into swimming faster by imagining I had to save my baby brother who had fallen into the deep end of the pool. With the fear I’m generating in my mind, I’m going to fly across the river to escape that squid.

I’m balanced between wanting to swim in open water and being afraid of the unknown.

I’ll try to remember it’s just me and the water.

Here I go.

Trilogy becomes a Duology

Change of plan, my three Ysabel books are of such uneven lengths, from longish to very short, that a trilogy won’t work unless I shove a new plot into book three, which I don’t want to do.

So, the trilogy becomes a duology. I have to figure out how to recut the three books into two books of fairly similar lengths, with each one standing on its own. There is a natural resting place in the middle of the whole story, but I’m not sure that it’s the best place to end one book and start another.

This is the topic of my next meeting with my editor. To prepare, she has given me the task of describing Ysabel’s hero’s journey. This has been an excellent way to find holes in the story and find a better place to divide Ysabel’s journey.

Speaking of holes, my editor found a gigantic one that affects the entire second book. It’s a sinkhole of a hole and I’m embarrassed that I didn’t catch it.

I mean, it’s this big:

sinkhole_guatemala

The fix isn’t hard, just a lot of rewriting.

Writing a trilogy

I have neglected you, little blog. Book 3 of the Ysabel the Summoner trilogy is demanding all my attention. The story is there, many chapters have been written, and now I’m in the middle of a major rewrite. I’m fleshing out moments I flew past. And of course, there are a lot of them

Writing a trilogy has been a new challenge. A reader may read only one of the books or read them out of sequence, so I have to decide, book by book, which backstory details are necessary to keep coherency and carry the story along.

I also learned to keep a story bible to manage the many, many details that appear throughout the trilogy: clothing, eating habits, locations, names, titles, etc. This eliminates spelling the same name several different ways (King Breyyker, Breykker, Breyker) or hurriedly flipping through a book to figure out upon which finger the snow witch wore the dead woodcutter’s red crystal ring.

Killing our darlings

Though I hate to do it, sometimes it’s for the best. I’m working on book three of my Ysabel series and was stuck trying to fit in a long scene that I liked, but it overly complicated the story and trying to make it work was pushing a boulder uphill.

Once I got rid of it, the story stood up in my mind and I could see it in its entirety, which has never happened to me before.

That was a great moment and that is the prize, to see the story appear, sound and whole.

Hammerheads

The first part of book 3 of Ysabel the Summoner takes place underwater. This series is a YA fantasy, so the more fantastical the creatures, the better.

Enter the hammerhead, prowler of the deep.

ham shark1

Who, me?

ham shark2The facts: Great hammerheads can grow up to 20 ft. and weigh up to 1k lbs. Their big eyes capture the dimmest light, allowing them to see in the dark. Sweeping their popeyes back and forth gives them a panoramic view. They detect electrical impulses given off by prey hiding in the dark and under the sand.

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What was that?

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I hope never to see this coming at me.

ham sharks underview

Or looking up at this.

Next are Japanese spider crabs, aka tall-footed crab. My girl is going to meet some scary creatures.

Manta rays, the giant kind

My undersea adventures continue. I’m looking for companions for Ysabel when she’s underwater with the mermaids in book three of Ysabel the Summoner.

First up, giant manta rays!manta swimming2

These fabulous beasts swim gracefully through temperate ocean waters all over the world. They can grow up to 30 ft. wide and can weigh almost 3,000 lbs.

mantas feeding2

They feed on plankton, opening their long mouths wide (please don’t eat me) to funnel in plankton-rich seawater. Gill rakers, thin cartilage filaments in their mouths filter plankton from seawater.

manta jumping1

They can leap completely out of the water. No one knows why; maybe as play, or a courtship display (big and fit!) or to communicate with their kind; the splash of their reentry can be heard for miles.

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Swimming with mantas is popular with divers. But no touching, as apparently this disturbs the mucus that coats their skin and protects them against bacteria and microorganisms.

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They’re vulnerable to becoming entangled in fishing lines and nets, and are hunted for their gill rakers as an ingredient in Chinese medicine.

mantas feeding

These huge, gentle fish are unable to live in captivity. The biggest aquariums do not have sufficiently large pools. If captured, mantas refuse to eat and die within days.

They seem so sensitive; Ysabel may have to admire them from afar.