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.
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 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.”
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…?