Back from the Abyss

Surprise! I bet you guys thought I’d fallen off the face of the earth, considering how quiet this blog has been this year. All I can say is life happens and things don’t always work out the way you plan. Fortunately, sometimes things also turn out better than you expect, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Despite all this inactivity, I did have one event I wanted to share with you guys. Up until this summer, all the writing I’d done was on my NaNoWriMo novels, or short stories and writing prompts with my BFF. Some of them have appeared on this blog–see the menu links above–but most have been only in Scrivener or rattling around in my head. Then M emailed me and said (and I’m paraphrasing), “Hey, will you do the 24 hour short story contest with me? The entry fee is only five dollars.”  I was curious enough that I went and checked it out and said, “Sure, why not?”

So, come July 18th I found myself sitting in the library with M, not-so-patiently waiting for noon to roll around so we could go to the site and find out our prompt and start writing. After a couple of refreshes, there it was.

Aaaand that’s when the trouble began.

While M got her idea almost immediately and started researching and writing within the first hour, I struggled for a good two hours trying to find a way to use a character I’d created for a different short story that I’d wanted to use again. I admit, frustration almost got the best of me until I decided I needed some air and tossed my key chain onto the table.

I looked down at the clunk, and grinned.

WWLegoFigure
Wonder Woman LEGO character from “The LEGO Movie”, aka the one on my key chain and the story’s inspiration.

You see, earlier that day during lunch, M had given me a souvenir gift from her trip to LEGOLand® with her boys. She knew how much I loved Wonder Woman swag (and I have A LOT of it), and she’d found me a key chain sporting my favorite super-heroine. I was so tickled I’d immediately attached it to my car key ring. At that moment, seeing her laying face up and smiling at me, inspiration struck like she’d tossed out her lasso and whacked me in the head.

I could use Wonder Woman as the heroine in my story!

Well, once that thought took hold, I was off to the races. I’d remembered the beginning of the first episode of the 1977 “Wonder Woman” television show had taken place on Themyscira, Diana’s homeland, and so it was easy to picture exactly what the fabulous Lynda Carter looked like as her princess persona. On top of that, since I am quite familiar with Greek myths, I also pulled in one of my favorite small screen bad guys in the form of the character the late Kevin Smith as Ares, God of War from “Xena: Warrior Princess.”

Following a little research into the Amazon legends and myths, I found one that perfectly suited my story idea, and in no time my fingers were flying across the keyboard. A few hours later, I’d written 1136 words, and it was time to cut that down to the limit of 950. After a little reworking, I had a story I was happy with and sent it in.

Waiting the seven weeks to find out the results was maddening, although I’m not sure why I thought I’d win my first time out. I do find it interesting that this was one of the few times I didn’t immediately think “Nah, I won’t win anything, I never do,” but instead thought positively on the outcome. In the end, I was among the hundreds of folks who, for whatever reason, didn’t make the judges’ final cut. It took a day or so for me to be okay with that and just be happy I’d not given up and had sent in a submission. I think that’s why I like NaNoWriMo so much; while you may be in the same competition as your friends, you’re really only competing against yourself and the word count. In fact, I’ve already started prepping for this year’s entry. :)

I hope you like my story of what happens when a former superhero returns home to her paradise island and embraces her old traditions, only to find things aren’t what they seem. It is also posted as its own page, which also includes the prompt from which this story came, under the “About Nik’s Stories/Writing Competitions” menu above for future reading.

Isn’t It A Wonder

Diana, princess to Themyscira (Lynda Carter) from “Wonder Woman”
Diana, princess of Themyscira (Lynda Carter from “Wonder Woman”)

Diana carefully stepped down into the grotto and settled onto one of the underwater benches, sighing as the cool waters soothed her overheated skin. Catching sight of her sibling, she waved, glad she’d been able to attend Drusilla’s twenty-first birthday party despite her condition. Nearly everyone in the commune was also in attendance, laughing and enjoying the sun and surf, not to mention the picnic the queen had arranged.

As if summoned by thought, Queen Hippolyta joined her at the edge of the pool.

“How are you feeling today?”

“I’m fine, Mother. You can stop hovering.”

“I’m allowed to hover,” she argued. “You’re carrying my first grandchild, and she’s going to be the first Themysciran princess born in centuries. The gods may have gifted you with beauty, strength and wisdom, but you’re still a mortal and my daughter.”

“Yes, but even we Amazons slow down a little when it comes to childbirth,” Diana said, reaching for her sister’s hand as Drusilla settled down beside them. “Enough about me. How are you enjoying your party, little one?”

Dru grinned. “I’m great! The gift table is stacked with presents, I’ve snacked on every treat at least twice, and I’ve finally worn Atalanta down. I start my archery lessons next week. I couldn’t have asked for a better day! Thank you.”

“It’s our pleasure,” Hippolyta returned, smiling affectionately at her youngest child. “Now, I’ll leave you to your celebration. I still have work to do and last minute details to finalize.” Rising to her feet in that graceful way all queens seemed to possess, she bent to kiss each daughter’s temple.

Suddenly, a loud, shrill whistle cut through the air. In the silence that followed, the thunder of fast-approaching horses could be heard. A moment later, Hippolyta’s assistant rode up to them with two horses in tow and reined in hard. Ephiny acknowledged the queen with a quick nod.

“Majesty, we appear to have an emergency situation regarding tonight’s shipment.”

“What happened?” the queen asked.

The blonde briefly glanced at Diana, who didn’t like the panic she saw in her normally unflappable friend. “It seems one of our pets has somehow managed to free himself, and… Well, my Queen, we can’t seem to find him.”

Hippolyta wasted no time. “Drusilla, help get your sister onto her horse then return to your party,” the queen ordered, taking a set of reins from her assistant. “Tell anyone that asks we’ve gone to handle the preparations for the rest of the evening’s festivities.”

Ephiny cursed under her breath when the queen kicked her steed into a full gallop and took the path back across the sand. Diana reached for her sister’s hand and climbed out of the pool, then hauled herself onto the unfamiliar sidesaddle, following at the much slower and frustrating pace her condition required.

As she approached the island’s southern edge, she saw her mother, Ephiny and Tania the stable mistress deep in conversation. As Diana did not see any of their pets waiting to be loaded onto the docked ship, she surmised they’d been returned to their stables until the situation could be resolved. Dismounting awkwardly, she joined the discussion.

“Where have you searched for him?” Hippolyta asked. “He can’t have gotten very far.”

“We’ve searched everywhere he might have gone in the time since the midday feeding when he was last seen, Your Majesty,” Tania replied. “The second and third Circles hunt for him still.”

“What of his restraints? How did he break the chains?”

“That’s part of the problem, Majesty,” Ephiny admitted, crouching down to the pile of chain at her feet. Diana watched as her friend pushed aside the ring that Tania must have pried loose from its proper place on the wall and sifted through the thick, heavy links until she held up an undamaged manacle. “He didn’t break the chains, nor did he pull himself free. Even the lock’s still intact. It’s like he simply…slipped free.”

Hippolyta handed back the shackle and frowned. “You still haven’t told me to which pet these belong.”

Ephiny tossed the restraints back to the sand and straightened, her gaze capturing Diana’s. “These are Kairos’s chains.”

At this news, the Queen turned and regarded her daughter, disappointment etched on her face. “Diana, I had hoped that your agreement to participate in this, our oldest of traditions, meant that you’d finally embraced your true heritage once more. Please, daughter, tell me you had nothing to do with the freeing of your pet.”

Ares, God of War (Kevin Smith) from “Xena: Warrior Princess”
Ares, God of War (the late Kevin Smith from “Xena: Warrior Princess”)

“She didn’t.”

The warriors reacted instinctually to both the male voice and the amusement they heard in it. Spinning around to confront the intruder, each woman’s hand rested on the dagger at her hip. All were shocked to find the pet they’d been searching for casually leaning against the gate that led to the family’s private quarters, especially Diana.

“You knew the rules, Kairos.” Diana held her ground when he straightened and advanced, the prey now becoming the predator. “You served your year in the stables and earned your freedom. Why do this now?”

“It’s simple, princess. I want my child. I’m not going to let you kill him when he’s born.”

Her hands flew to her belly, the feminum bracelets she wore on each wrist glinting in the afternoon sun. “My child doesn’t belong to you, Kairos. She belongs to the Amazons.”

“Oh, my dear Diana, how wrong you are,” he drawled, and with a flick of his wrist vanished his disguise. Ares, the God of War, laughed delightedly as the women began to back away from his true identity. “That child isn’t just an Amazon, he’s also a demigod. Isn’t that a wonder?”

Author’s Note: no Greek gods or legendary characters were harmed in the writing of this tale. A few myths may have been slightly bent, however.

Now, anyone see where I put my Wonder Woman television show DVDs…?

Writer’s Blocks Story Weekend

It’s the end of July, and Meagan and I were scheduled to meet for our monthly writing session. We chose a new place to eat on Sunday, and surprise, it was a order and go sit kind of place instead of a restaurant with actual waitstaff. As a result, we had a lot more time to kill than usual before we could head off to the library.

Did we sit and chat about our lives while eating copious amounts of yummy queso? Of course.

Did I show off my writer charm bracelet that I’d made and had worn for inspiration, and smile when it tinkled? Yep.

Did I dig into my laptop tote that I brought inside with me because I didn’t want my chocolate covered raisins to melt into a big blob of ickiness while sitting inside my trunk in the Texas summer heat to find that tiny little pouch containing my writer’s blocks? You betcha.

writersblocks0727We spent the next half hour or so rolling those little dice onto the tile tabletop of our booth and seeing how they landed. We laughed at some options, and I groaned each time ‘horror’ popped up. I started handing Meagan the die that rolled an option I didn’t like for her to do the re-roll, and she the same. By the time we left, I had seven options to choose from and she five.

We arrived at the library, settled in, and the deliberation began. Which option do we choose? Meagan did a coin toss to pick between her two favorites. Me, I just picked one that sounded interesting.  Here’s what I selected, with the further explanation provided by the little insert that came with the set (click the image to see it full size):

  1. Hero — Non-human
  2. Genre — Fantasy
  3. Plot — Revenge — hero means to take vengeance on some other characters
  4. Plot Twist — Betray — major character unexpectedly dies

This then prompted a discussion as to what constituted a non-human. I made the argument that alien non-humans fell more into the scifi category, and supernatural creatures such as vampires and werewolves would be non-humans in a fantasy world. She gave me an “uh huh” and ignored me to work on her own story.

Having just had a SyFy Channel “Bitten” binge watching session not that long ago, I knew just the werewolf that I wanted in my head when writing, although I didn’t use his character but my own. I wrote this one directly into Scrivener versus long hand, too. It didn’t write itself very fast, but it’s a good beginning of something. So here it is, coming in at 2,748 words and edited a little for content. Let me know what you think. Oh, and it’s been added as its own story page, so you’ll always know where to go and find it when you want to re-read it later. :)

Read the story: A Brother’s Betrayal

Writer’s Blocks Scene 4

AM_ROM_DTH_ESC1Hello once again, blogosphere! It is finally time to post the last of the scenes written with my Writer’s Blocks (for more on this, see the related “Writer’s Blocks” posts under “Past Musings”). Unlike the previous rolls, which were relaxing and had no time limit per se, this one came about because M and I had been at it for hours and were about to pack up for the day. That’s when she challenged me to do another roll. I stared at her, as there was barely a half-hour left on the clock before we’d be kicked back out into the Texas heat once the library shut its doors. Then I said, “Why not?” and we threw the dice. Here’s how they settled, with the further explanation provided by the little insert that came with the set (click the image above to see it full size):

  1. Hero — Male adult
  2. Genre — Romance
  3. Plot — Escape — hero must get away from an enemy, a place or an internal conflict
  4. Plot Twist — Death — major character unexpectedly dies

It’s going to come as no surprise that two of my apparently favorite elements returned, but this time throwing me a loop with a male lead in a romance. For a “lightning round,” it would be quite interesting. I’m just glad I didn’t get something much more difficult like horror genre and quest plot or some other equally hard combination. As before, included below are the actual notebook pages; click on a page to bring up the full size version.

AM_ROM_DTH_ESC2 AM_ROM_DTH_ESC3

For the time constraints, I’m surprised there’s even fewer marked out sections. Then again, perhaps it’s because of the time limit I just wrote and didn’t rethink it too much.  So I present to you the final transposed scene. It’s going to be a bit cheesy, and anything in [brackets] is edited for content due to the subject matter. You can probably guess what I edited out to make this PG-13.

Scene 4

John dragged Anna into the darkened hotel room, giving her one last kiss before tossing her on the bed. She smiled up at him and beckoned, and he didn’t waste any time. Stripping fast, he watched as she did the same, and pounced as soon as she revealed all that smooth white skin. She felt as good as she looked and while he would have preferred taking things slow, they were on borrowed time. It sucked to be on the run, but when a cop set you up, they set you up good. She pulled him back to the present with a hand on his [hip], and he kissed her hard. Taking the hint, he stroked a hand down her long body and they both groaned when he [joined] her. Moving fast, it didn’t take long for them to crest together. He managed to roll sideways before collapsing, and smiled when he felt her snuggle against him. He drifted in and out of sleep the next couple of hours until he finally gave up. Easing out from Anna’s embrace, John headed for the shower. Turning it on hard and hot, he stepped inside and drenched his head, hoping the water would wash away some of the cobwebs and he could think of their next move.

The banging on the bathroom door shocked the crap out of him and he heard Anna yelling that she thought she heard sirens. Not thinking Edwards would be that dumb but not wanting to risk it, he shut off the water, dried off and threw open the door. Anna was nearly dressed and he was damned glad all he had was jeans, shirt and boots. Dressing nearly as fast as they’d undressed earlier, he held out a hand and squeezed hers once. She squeezed back, then picked up the .45 that had been kicked under the bed and handed it to him. She kept the Smith & Wesson for herself.

God, he loved a woman who knew her way around guns.

They bolted out of the room and sure enough there were sirens too damned close. They made it down the stairs but had to abandon the car as the cruiser screamed into the parking lot. John dragged Anna into the hall that led to the back of the hotel, and dove for cover as bullets erupted around them.

Apparently, Edwards had drafted the local sheriff to flush them out.

Reaching out for Anna, he panicked when he didn’t find her beside him. Spinning around, he saw her lying just five feet away. She’d caught one of the stray bullets in her stomach, and was bleeding badly. He started toward her, but she shook her head. John refused when she told him to go, then smiled when he saw she still held her gun. Telling her goodbye was one of the hardest things he’d done, but they both knew she wasn’t going to make it and he wasn’t going to waste the chance she’d given him.

He flinched as another volley of bullets rang out, and the rage at seeing Anna shot in the head nearly did him in. Realizing he had only seconds before he was surrounded, John cursed Edwards and bolted.

That’s it for now on the Writer’s Block scenes. I’ll be meeting up with M again sometime this month, and we’ll see if we get our homework done or choose to work on other projects. You never know, I might pick up the dice at home and give them a toss to see how they land…

Writer’s Blocks Scene 3

CF_MYS_DE_ESCHello and happy Friday, readers of my blog. Today I present to you the third (of four) scenes written with my Writer’s Blocks (for more on this, see the related “Writer’s Blocks” posts under “Past Musings”). The third roll has some familiar elements, and a couple of new ones, with the further explanation provided by the little insert that came with the set (click the image to see it full size):

  1. Hero — Female child
  2. Genre — Mystery
  3. Plot — Escape — hero must get away from an enemy, a place or an internal conflict
  4. Plot Twist — Dead End — trail has grown cold, or led the hero astray

Apparently, the dice feel I need to write stories about young girls making their escape from enemies or situations, as these two elements also popped up for Scene 1. The different genre helped, but as I re-read the pages, I did notice a slight element of fantasy in there. Oh well, write to your strengths I guess. Hee. Also included below are the actual notebook pages; as with the dice image above, if you click on a page it will bring up the full size version.

CF_MYS_DE_ESC1 CF_MYS_DE_ESC2 CF_MYS_DE_ESC3

Interestingly, there’s only a couple of blocks of crossed-out lines so I must have hit a groove while writing this scene. Perhaps because it was the third in a row I could think faster or craft plot more quickly — or simply didn’t edit. In any case, read on for the transposed pages (and yes, they include minor edits, too).

Scene 3

Olivia cracked open the last of the journals, hoping yet again that it would be the one that gave her the final clue to finding where the Guild had hidden the Chalice. She’d been reading the leather-bound volumes for months, whenever she could sneak out to the Library and away from her too-watchful parents. They thought she was doing her homework and had given up on the foolish stories her grandmother had told her at bedtime. They might not believe, but she did.It was the curse of being a ten-year-old genius with a love of mysteries and adventure.

She’d almost forgotten about the stories until the strange man had come to the house asking after Grandma Bonnie’s journals. Her mother had denied knowing anything but Olivia had seen her father tense and fidget, two things he never, ever did. After that, she’d spent any free time she had writing out the stories she remembered. It was two months after that when she’d figured out the first riddle. It didn’t take long to figure out the second and third clues, the last of which had led her to the musty basement of the Guild’s main library. She’d shouted in elation at finding the little black safe buried under the boxes of old card catalog files, and clapped her hand over her mouth, sure she’d been discovered. When nothing happened, Olivia spent three days trying to open the voice lock on the safe with every story she knew. Finally, in desperation, she’d tried the last words her grandma would speak before turning out the light:

“Rings of gold will ever hold the faeries in your dreams.”

At the faint click she’d smiled and carefully opened the safe door. Inside, resting one atop another, lay six journals with faded red leather covers, each tied closed with a ribbon. Olivia had opened the first one that night only to find it written in a language she didn’t understand. Locking them safely away again, it had taken more research to figure out the language was one the Guild had used long ago for secret missives so they couldn’t be read were they to fall into enemy hands. Yet more research to find the key to that code and finally she could read the journals.

It had been a surprise to discover her grandma had been one of the Guild’s best agents when she was a young woman, and stranger still to find that she’d been tasked with hiding away the talisman that represented the power of the Guild. In each of the journals she’d found a clue, and now she was so close to the sixth and final one.

Pulling out her notepad from her bag along with a pen, she scooted over to where the light coming in from the high windows was brightest and began to read. She got caught up in her reading and just when she was about to give up she found it! Writing furiously, Olivia added the details to her notebook, double checking to make sure she had her notes correct. Smiling, she tucked away her pad and pen in her bag and lovingly touched the pages full of her grandmother’s words. Not wanting to put it away, she flipped through the remaining pages until she came to the end.

Her hands stilled as she read the last sentence written on the page. The handwriting was the same but the ink wasn’t faded as much and the penmanship was not as fluid. It had obviously been added much later and once Olivia had deciphered the words, her heart sank.

There was a seventh journal!

She searched the safe to no avail, finding nothing to tell her where it could be. Deciding that there must be something in the final pages she’d yet to read, Olivia sat down and flipped to where she’d left off.

The loud bang of the heavy door that lead to the basement startled her, and she looked up to find it was much later than she’d intended to stay. When the tower clock in the square began to chime the hour and she heard five bells, she panicked. The library closed at five, and with no way out she was trapped unless she could find another exit. Putting the journal back in the safe, she had almost locked it when she heard a familiar — and frightening — voice.

“It’s down here somewhere. Find it!”

Knowing the voice belonged to the stranger that had spoken to her parents, Olivia was now doubly scared — and positive they were after the journals. Taking precious seconds, she shoved her bag in the safe with the journals just in case. Then, making sure it was locked up tight and once again buried under boxes, she crept forward to the hallway and saw the jumping lights that had to be the others. Turning the other way, Olivia headed to the opposite end of the floor, hoping to find a way out…

And…scene. Okay, that expression is more suited to film-making than fiction, but it still works. Check back next week for the final Writer’s Blocks scene I’ve already completed. As for my homework, good thing there’s no deadline on that one…

Writer’s Blocks Scene 2

AM_SF_DTH_REVHello again! It’s time for the second of the scenes written with my Writer’s Blocks (for more on this, see the related “Writer’s Blocks” posts under “Past Musings”). Here’s how they came up on that second roll, with the further explanation provided by the little insert that came with the set (click the image to see it full size):

  1. Hero — Male adult
  2. Genre — Scifi
  3. Plot — Revenge — hero means to take vengeance on some other characters
  4. Plot Twist — Death — major character unexpectedly dies

No, you’re not seeing things. I rolled “death” a second time. According to M, it makes perfect sense as in my last year’s NaNo novel, I killed off just about every character but the hero and heroine. Once again, here are the actual notebook pages containing my scribblings. As with the dice image above, if you click on a page it will bring up the full size version. On the first page, you’ll also see my homework assignment above the separator line, so this one’s beneath that.

AM_SF_DTH_REV01 AM_SF_DTH_REV02 AM_SF_DTH_REV03

For the second exercise, I didn’t have as many scratch outs, and it’s anyone’s guess as to the reasons why. While the locale of the story might seem familiar, it’s not a stretch when you consider I’m a fan of many scifi tales that take place on spaceships — the Millennium Falcon, Serenity, the Enterprise, and the Nostromo just to name a few. Without further ado, the transposed pages with minor edits, because one should most definitely not change tenses in mid-story, let alone in mid- first sentence…

Scene 2

Charging down the passageway, Jack flinched as the laser blast missed him by inches. Flinging himself through the nearest open doorway, he slapped at the wall and managed to close the door just before the troops thundered past. He didn’t breathe again until he was sure they hadn’t doubled back. Tapping the comm device in his hear, he quietly said, “Hey Jones, you still alive?””Barely,” came back the crackling reply. “Those bastards are better shots than we thought.”

“Where are you?”

“Deck 37, level 4, I think.”

“Damn. I’m four decks above that and our ship’s five more below you. Got any weapons?”

“Just the peashooter I swiped off the recruit who tried to blow my head off. Ain’t enough to get me down to the hangar but ain’t gonna stop me neither. You?”

“I’ve still got my rifle but I ran out of ammo a score of bad guys ago. Where the hell is the armory on these monstrosities?”

“Deck 34, if our intel was any good. Think we can make it?”

Jack grinned. “They don’t call us the Rough Runners for nothing.” He levered himself up and leaned against the wall, knowing if they made it out of this their reputations would be golden for life. But that was one big “if.” He hit the release to open the door, and poked his head out. When it wasn’t blown off, he took that as a good sign. “Alright, Jones. Heading down to you and we’ll make the final run together. I’ll check in again when I’m on the same deck.”

“Roger that, Jack. You better hurry, I can’t stay hidden forever.”

Jack heard the click of his co-pilot signing off and slipped into the hallway, hugging the wall. When he reached the huge hub that connected the passageways he knew he’d have to risk it. He needed to get to the one hatch that would let him descend unnoticed. Unslinging his rifle even though he knew it was empty, he sent up a prayer, took a deep breath and headed for the second passageway to the left at a dead run.

When he made it unnoticed and unscathed, he slung the rifle on his back again and kicked through the hatch to the crawlspace. Ducking inside, he began climbing down the ladder and damn near slipped in his haste. Slowing only a bit he kept going until he got to the hatch marked “D-37.”

Carefully and with as little noise as possible, Jack cracked open the hatch and dropped to the deck. He froze at the sound of a pistol charging to full strength. Slowly rising from his crouch, he turned to see Jones sprawled out cold on the deck and the weapon trained on his prone body. What he didn’t expect to see was the woman on the other end of the weapon.

“Lara. Nice to see you. Is that a new outfit?”

“That’s Colonel Miles to  you now, Jack, so yes it is. Some of us take our military service seriously.”

“Seriously? Oh, please,” he scoffed, even as he began to worry that Jones hadn’t so much as twitched. “You got drafted same as us. I just figured out sooner which side was the right side.”

“And now you make your living as a smuggler?”

“Beats being stuck in a giant tin can for decades.” He crossed his arms and faced his ex-wife. He hated to admit it, but the blonde looked really good in that uniform. “You got him, you got me, and you got our ship. What’re you gonna do now, turn us in?”

“Of course.”

“Just like that? Hell, Lara, don’t I even get to make one grand plea?” She lowered her weapon and settled into the all too familiar parade rest stance. She gave him a slight nod. “Is it going to make a difference?”

“Not really, no.” Faster than he could react, her hand came forward and she blasted a hole through Jones’ head. As the body jerked and rolled, he now saw the matching hole in his chest that had been concealed as he lay on his side. Automatically his right hand lifted to go for his rifle, but he froze once more as she tsk-tsked him and trained her pistol on him. Slowly he lowered his hand and tensed as she crossed the distance between them. He stiffened at the pleased gleam in her eye.

“You really do only care about the recognition and advancement bringing both of us in will give you, don’t you? He was your brother, for gods’ sake.”

“And I loved him until the day he died. Thing is, the bounty says dead or alive and dead is just so much easier.” She stepped back and aimed for his chest. “Any last words?”

“Oh yeah,” Jack said, dropping his arms and spreading them wide as if to welcome the shot. “I’ll avenge Jones, count on it, Colonel Miles.”

Then he threw himself forward just as she pulled the trigger.

There you have it. Stay tuned – there’s two more scenes to go, and the one I have for homework. Why, oh why did we agree to homework? Sigh… :)

Writer’s Blocks Scene 1

CF_FAN_DTH_ESCIn my last post, I talked about my newly acquired Writer’s Blocks, a fun new way for getting my creative juices flowing. As promised, I’m posting the first of the scenes I wrote from the roll of the WB dice that kicked the whole exercise off. Here’s how they came up, with the further explanation provided by the little insert that came with the set (click the image to see it full size):

  1. Hero — female child
  2. Genre — Fantasy
  3. Plot — Escape — hero must get away from an enemy, a place or an internal conflict
  4. Plot Twist — Death — major character unexpectedly dies

I thought it might also be interesting to show the actual notebook pages on which I wrote this exercise. In some ways, it was much more fun than using my word processing program and my laptop; you don’t get to do scribbles and cross-outs like this on a computer screen. Then again, my right hand doesn’t cramp up when I’m typing like it did with all this writing. As with the dice image above, if you click on a page it will bring up the full size version.

CF_FAN_DTH_ESC01 CF_FAN_DTH_ESC02 CF_FAN_DTH_ESC03

I am not surprised to see that my writing is much more normal and legible at the start and then gets smaller and more slanted as the scene progresses to the end and I’m rushing to get it on paper as though I’m racing a deadline clock. On this exercise, I struggled with the name of my villain. In the end, I took the name from a good guy character on a favorite television series and made him a bad guy (sorry, Castiel).

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the transposed pages with minor edits (because I just couldn’t publish errors from the draft pages online). Please forgive the repetitions; it’s just an exercise and not a true draft.

Scene 1

Trapped behind the glass and powerless, Keana could only pound against the barrier as she watched Castiel lift his sword high. Her scream echoed in her cage as the sword plunged down and robbed her of the little brother she loved so much. Castiel braced a foot on Jory’s back and pushed, shoving the young boy off his blade. As he stood there gloating, he pointed the end dripping with blood at the young man chained to the floor.”Give it to me now, Keana, and I’ll spare your other brother. Deny me again, and he’ll lose his head.”

“I can’t!” she screamed. “I haven’t inherited it yet! Not…” She shut up when she realized what she’d been about to reveal.

“Go on, tell me,” castiel demanded, stepping forward to rest the edge of his sword on Liam’s neck. “Or do you want to lose your last remaining brother?”

Save yourself, little sister, came Liam’s voice in her head. You’re the most important of us anyway.

Never! she shot back, her hand on the glass as she met his gaze. I’m nothing without my family so shut up and let me think!

Keana’s head dropped forward and pressed against the glass, trying to figure a way out. She knew what it would take to finally have her magic but wasn’t sure she was strong enough for it. But better she have it when she wasn’t ready than losing her family — or her magic — to someone like Castiel.

Backing up as far as she could in her clear cage, she lifted her arms and began to chant. The words she’d learned upon turning twelve flowed easily even though she’d never before spoke the old language aloud. When she finished, she stood there, waiting, but nothing happened.

Perhaps the gods didn’t think she was ready.

“See?! I told you! I can’t give you what I don’t have, so let my brother go!”

“I don’t believe you, little girl,” Castiel said, taking a step back and lifting his sword once again. “And your brother will now pay dearly for that.”

Keana screamed again as she watched the bloodied blade begin its deadly arc toward Liam’s neck. When her hand slammed against the glass this time, a sharp crack carried over all the other sound in the great room. Castiel barely checked the blow that would have killed Liam, and stared at the spiderweb cracks in the prison he’d paid handsomely for that the hag had promised was impenetrable.

Suddenly, Keana staggered back, and dropped to her knees at the sudden pain centered in her chest.

Ride it out, sister, and we can go home.

Concentrating on Liam’s voice, she put one hand [over] her heart and lifted the other skyward, and once more recited the chant. This time, the air above her outstretched palm began to glow and pulse. By the time she spoke the last word, her hand had already closed around the hilt of the long slender [weapon] known in legends as the Blade of the Gods. She could hear Castiel cackling in glee outside of her prison, but ignored him as she grasped the sword with both hands.

Until that moment, she’d never really believed the legends might be real.

“Now! Give it to me now, witch, or do you value the blade more than your brother?”

She stared out at the man she’d one called uncle, seeing he’d once again put his own sword to Liam’s neck.

“No, my brother is everything,” she replied, dropping the sword to her side. “Release me and it’s yours.”

“Gladly.”

Ignoring the screaming from her brother not to give in, she simply stood as the glass cage shimmered then disappeared. Keana slowly walked forward to where Castiel held her brother at his mercy.

“Now release him. Where can he go chained to the floor?”

In his eagerness, Castiel didn’t notice Keana had stepped too close, his attention riveted to the object he’d been searching for all his life. It wasn’t until he heard Liam throw himself to the floor that he realized her intent. A moment later, he shrieked in outrage as Keana skewered him through the heart with strength well beyond a fourteen-year-old girl.

“For Jory,” she said softly as she sharply twisted the sword in his chest. The killing blow dealt, Castiel collapsed, his weight sliding him off the long blade and onto the ground. With one more big swing, Keana’s blade broke the shackles keeping her brother tied down, and finally they were free.

Who knows? Maybe someday this will become a scene (albeit one much better written) that inspires a YA novel.

Writer’s Blocks

This weekend, my BFF and writer buddy M and I got together for our monthly get-together where we do something writing-related, whether it’s working on a current project, procrastinating on a current project or just feeding off each other’s writer energy as we toss out ideas and chat. As we reclaimed our favorite spot in the back corner of her local library, we talked about what to do that day. She dug out a book of prompts she’d been given, and as I flipped through there were quite a few that sounded interesting. My thoughts, however, kept straying to the little black pouch and the four dice within that sat in a pocket of my laptop tote. That’s them in the picture below. I found them on a whim from a Writers Digest Shop email, and they’re called “Writer’s Blocks.”

They are the coolest. Thing. Ever.

WDS_writersblocks2I’ve seen other similar sets, and M herself picked up one with pictographs, but after experimenting with this set this weekend, I’m really pleased and tickled with how fun they are to use. Here’s how they work:

  1. The red HERO die tells you who is your protagonist. It can be a male or female adult, a male or female child, a non-human or an anti-hero of either gender.
  2. The green GENRE die provides the type of story/scene to tell: fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, horror, romance or straight literary fiction.
  3. The blue PLOT die directs the narrative for your Hero, be it an escape, a quest, a rival, redemption, revenge, or protection.
  4. The orange PLOT TWIST die adds a complication of death, a new character, a trap, illusion, betrayal or a dead end.

It’s easy to imagine all the combinations that could happen from the tossing of the dice. We started out rolling just to see what kinds of combinations would pop up; some were funny (most of the non-human ones), some were downright awful (neither of us wants to go anywhere near the horror genre) and others came up very doable. Apparently, I have a knack for hitting “escape” plots with a “death” twist nearly every roll.

By the end of the day, we’d rolled and chosen four combinations and written four scenes in long hand. M dared me to do the last one in the final half hour before the library closed as we had rolled the same genre, plot and twist but a different hero. My handwriting was pretty illegible, but we made the time limit.

All in all, the dice were great fun, and although our hands hurt a little from all the scribbling and longing for our laptops, we both liked having completed some writing exercises and banking a scene or two that could become a future project. I think we’ll use them again either on our own or at a later get-together.

Yes, yes, I know, I know. I’m the last person who needs to add another idea to her project list. The important thing to remember here is I was writing, and any little bit of writing will eventually lead me back to my real projects. Right? Right.

Stay tuned for posts of the four scenes/stories generated by the Writer’s Blocks!