Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The First Time

The first time is always memorable. No, not THAT first time (get your head out of the gutter.) I'm talking about the first manuscript. The first time a writer decides she is going write a book, and she does. Day after day she returns to the keyboard to pound out the next word, the next scene, the next chapter, until she hits those two magical words 'the end.'

For some writers, this process may take only a few weeks, but for others it takes years. Some will attempt it many times, but for various reasons, not reach those two words on a novel length project. For me, the journey took years, and during that time I acquired a graveyard full of false starts and half finished stories that never went anywhere. Some of these stories were worked on only a short amount of time before being abandoned, others were labored over for three or more years before I finally gave up on them.

After years and years, the first book I finished took only three months to write. (first draft, of course.) Since that first manuscript, three to four months is typically how long it takes for me to write 'the end' on any given novel length project.

You might be wondering what changed. Did I finally find the perfect writing guide? No, but goodness knows I looked. In fact, I searched high and low, reading all the writing books I could get my hands on from the time I was twelve on, and every time I read a new guide, I learned something new, something I'd been doing wrong. That of course, meant I had to go back and edit the 20k or so words I'd already written. After all, how could I go on when I'd made mistakes? As I only wrote when the muse struck, this led to a lot of very polished beginnings to books that never went anywhere.

This ugly cycle is why most authors I've spoken to advise new writers to "write the first book in a void". What does 'the void' mean? It means you don't join a critique group, read lots of guide books, or join writers loops before the book is finished. Why? Because all of these things make you want to edit, and editing doesn't help finish the book. (**NOTE: This is just what I've learned and may not be true for everyone.) There will be plenty of time to fix a manuscripts flaws once the first draft is done, so write it first, and then edit. (Sure wish some of the guidebooks I read would have told me that.)

The other big secret I learned, and this one is arguably even more important, is that if you want to write, you have to write. Okay, yes that seems obvious, but did you see where I said I wrote for years when the muse struck me? Meaning I wrote only when I was inspired, and when I was dry...well, lets just say I avoided the keyboard. When I finally got serious about writing and realized that sitting in front of my keyboard once a month wasn't going to get me where I wanted to go, I made a point to make writing a habit.

The first couple days were great. I had a new idea and enjoyed running with it. But inevitably, the dreaded writers block hit. Then I had to drag myself in front of the keyboard. Everyday (or at least most days out of the week) I forced myself in front of the keyboard. There were days I wondered why I was torturing myself, but you know what? It got better. The block broke, and I wrote like a madwoman, almost giddy with it. Of course, over the three months it took me to finish that first draft, I got blocked several times, and I learned I had to write my way out of it. Even if I only wrote a couple sentences, it was something, and eventually I would find my muse again. At the end of it, when I finally wrote "the end" for the very first time, I laughed out loud and then called my husband (who worked nights then) to let him know. It was a rush, and every moment I fought with words or characters--totally worth it.

Those of you who are writers with finished manuscripts, what was it like the first time you wrote 'the end'? What type of process took you to that point?

Happy hump day everyone. I hope you've enjoyed this look into my writing past!

Pass the Plot 2, Scene 2

“Hurry up, Sneezy.” Doc shifted his grip around the edge of the cardboard box. The other dwarf ran down the stairs. Wind caught his chef’s hat and whisked it away. Doc just let it go. The putrid odor of rotting garbage tickled his nose. They were coming to the bottom of the stairs now. They had to get the mirror out of the castle. Doc’s feet pounded to the ground and he slid a little on the gravel.

“What are we going to do with this when we get back to the cottage?” Sneezy sounded out of breath. The other dwarf huffed and puffed and then…”Achoo.” There must be a cat nearby. Sneezy couldn’t be near them without getting congested in an instant. “There’s doh roob for a mee roar of dis size.” There was no room in the cottage for for a mirror of this size. Sneezy was right. Doc hadn’t thought that far ahead. He only knew that they had to get the mirror out of the castle.

“…someday when my dreams come true.“ The soprano voice pierced his eardrum before trailing off. Doc didn’t bother looking over to where the young princess was singing. He redoubled his pace and headed for the East Gate. He couldn’t let the prophecy come true.

“We’re not going to take it to the cottage.” Doc took a deep breath. They would take it to the mines. The would put it deep underground where the queen and her minions would never find it. “Get the gate will you, Sleepy?” Doc gestured to the third dwarf that had crept up behind them.

Sleepy opened the gate. There was a wagon filled with hay waiting just outside the castle walls. They tossed the mirror into the bed of the wagon and climbed in the back with it. Doc watched Sneezy remove his chef’s hat and replace it with his miner’s slouchy hat. Doc put on his own hat. Together, they shifted the box that contained the magical mirror until it was hidden in the hay. The wagon lurched away from the castle walls. They had to make it to the safety of the forest or all would be for naught.

“Are they coming after us, Doc?” Sneezy whispered. The younger dwarf looked terrified. He had good reason to be. Heads would roll if they were caught.

“I don’t know, Sneezy. I just don’t know.” Doc’s eyes searched the lane behind him as the wagon pulled into the traffic on the main road.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pass the Plot #2 - Scene 1

I'm starting a new pass the plot. Same rules as always.


"There she is again, the little witch." The queen gripped the window sill as she watched Snow White waltz across the castle gardens, carrying her basket of apples and singing to the little birds circling the black tresses piled on top of her head.

"Who does she think she is, anyway -- the fairest of them all?" The queen scratched her razor-sharp fingernails against the glass, sending a high squeal reverberating through her bedchamber. "Oh mirror!"

She spun around to face her magic mirror, the gleaming surface reflected back her own pinched expression. "Who, dear mirror, is the fairest of them all?" Her face continued to sneer back at her in the center of the glass. "That's right. That's right." She patted her cheek and chuckled.

"Lalalalala! My prince will come." A sickly-sweet voice like candy over a poison apple wafted through the castle walls. Snow White's voice. "My prince will come."

The queen ran to her window and threw it open. It crashed against the stone wall and shattered. "Would you shut up already?"

"My queen!" One of the dwarf sentries entered at the massive double doors. "The mirror! The mirror! It's been stolen, my lady!"

"What are you talking about Dufus?"

"The queen's magic mirror," Dufus said. "The cooks stole it."

"What do you call that?" She pointed at her smiling image on the wall. She had spinach in her teeth. Leaning into her reflection she picked at the green sprig.

"I beg your pardon, my lady, but look!" Dufus gestured out the window. The queen peered into the mirror's reflection of her open window. Two dwarves, wearing chef's hats, ran along the castle wall, carrying a large, flat parcel between them.

"I don't know what they are stealing, but it's not this mirror!"

"This is a fake my lady. They must have swapped it for the real one." Dufus shuffled the curled toe of his slipper. "I heard them bragging about it in the kitchens. That's when I came up to tell you. To warn you. They have your magic mirror."

"We'll see about that!" Swinging her arms wide as if to embrace her image, she faced her mirror. "Mirror, mirror on the wall! Who's the ugliest of them all?"

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Drabble #16

Yea for I have claimed the Wednesday posting spot for my own this week. But I have nothing erudite or learned to say, unlike my predecessors. What I do have is an experimental drabble. Switching voices back and forth. Inside and outside voices as well.
Comment freely, just... be gentle. :)


Simon hated to do it but there was no other seat open in the shop. He cleared his throat to get the reading man's attention.

The sound slowly percolated through the haze of words and Umberto muzzily looked up. The man he saw was slender and dressed in a grayish blue suit. Corporate, he thought, and dropped back into his book. But the cough came again.

"Sorry, but is that seat taken?" Simon motioned with his latte filled hand, the other more encombered with his laptop. The book must be engrossing because as the reading man's eyes, green as ferns, came up from the page, Simon knew he had no idea where he was, much less if the seat was occupied.

"No. Feel free." Umberto moved over slightly to make room on the bench. The man in the suit had a nice voice. And he wasn't imperious, like suits usually were. The second surprise was that he didn't immediately put his laptop, leather case, nice, up on the table and power it up. Instead he rubbed his eyes and breathed in the steam from his drink.

Simon could feel the reading man looking at him, and wondered if he had spilled something on himself earlier without noticing. The steam from the coffee was full bodied with the aromas of slightly fruited beans and rich vanilla. It made some of the day's stress retreat, and he breated it in.

I shouldn't bother him; his eyes look tired, was Umberto's thought. He focused back on his book, but even so, was aware when the suit finished his drink and got up to leave, quietly.

I wonder what he's reading? But I won't bother him for the title. I've already disturbed enough. Simon took extra care in getting up form the bench, trying not to jounce the table, which wobbled a bit anyway.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pass the Plot #1, Scene 6--End

What could she say? She was here because ever since she could walk she’d been told it was her duty, her privilege, to wear the necklace, to come to the lake, to meet her fate face to face.

She’d been lied to.

“Why Grammy?” Rhea-Anne whispered. When the time comes, be brave and do what you must, her Grammy had always said. Be the sacrificial-idiot was more like it.

Lucas gazed into the dark water above him. “It’s time,” he said.

Rhea-Anne flailed against the weeds holding her. “Wait! I—I”

“I can’t wait anymore!” He cut through the water, stirring up sediment.

Miranda fidgeted with the silver spike, allowing it to float between her hands. “I still don’t think she understands—”

Lucas grabbed the spike. It arched through the water, and Rhea-Anne squeezed her eyes closed. This was it—how could this be it?

The spike sliced through the weeds binding her wrist. Her eyes flew open.

They were releasing her? Dark shapes swarmed around her, glowing gazes watching, waiting. Maybe she had a chance. If she could reach the surface… She swallowed a mouthful of thick swamp sludge. Running was probably exactly what they wanted.

As Lucas sliced through the last weed, Rhea-Anne let herself float into an upright position. She wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction of a chase.

“I’m ready,” she whispered, her voice coming out stronger than she felt.

Lucas’s jaw clenched, his eyes cold, but he nodded. Grabbing her arm, he pressed the handle of the spike against her fingers.

“Take your blood-debt, princess,” he said, throwing his arms wide to bare his pale chest.

Rhea-Anne gaped, but Lucas didn’t move. She looked down at the weeds that had held her. “You tied me down…I was…”

Miranda swam forward, bowing at the waist. “You were fighting the swamp, princess, and clutching your throat. We were afraid you would rip off the locket and break the water-breathing spell. We meant no offence.”


“Enough.” The water vibrated with Lucas’s voice, and his clawed fingers pressed against her cheek, forcing her too look into his drawn face. “End this princess. Free my people.”

Rhea-Anne glanced at the silver spike, and then back up at his exposed chest. “I—I can’t.”

Lucas dropped his arms, his cold eyes imploring her. No, not cold. Terrified. Rhea-Anne gulped. She’d probably had that same look moments ago.

“Please, princess. Make it fast. Take your blood, your revenge.”

She shook her head and kicked her feet to swim out of his reach. Lucas’s expression twisted, and he charged through the water, invading her space.

He grabbed her arms, his claws digging into the skin but not breaking it. “We have faithfully met you for the blood-pact for the last 400 years. You will not deny us now, when we are about to be free.” He shook her. “Do it.”

Rhea-Anne’s fingers tightened around the hilt of the spike. Be brave, her Grammy had said. How many others had been in her shoes over the last 400 years? She looked at all of those gathered around her. No wonder they hate me.

“Do it,” Lucas commanded again, but then his voice broke. “Please. Make it quick.”

Closing her eyes, she nodded and gripped the spike tighter. Be brave. Do what you must. Her eyes flew open, and she swung out. The spike cut cleanly through the water, but when it encountered flesh, shock ran up her fingers.

A white slit appeared on Lucas’s bicep and then filled slowly with darker liquid. A tremble shook him, crawling into her arms.

“You would draw it out?” he asked, his voice a low rasp.

Rhea-Anne shook her head and dropped the spike. It floated down into the weeds below her feet.

Thin tendrils of blood drifted out of the shallow wound in his arm, twisting in the sedentary water. As the first thin strand reached her, the Brantley locket glowed lightly.

“I have taken my blood,” she said. “Your debt is paid in full.”

Rhea-Anne saw the shock cross Lucas’s face, but the glowing locket soon blinded her. No, it was more than the locket, light was bursting from the shadows around her.

A wave of dizziness hit her, and she fell to her knees, pebbles bruising her skin. Her lungs were heavy, wrong. She coughed up water and it splashed against the ground.

She blinked. That wasn’t right. There couldn’t be splashes underwater, unless—-she wasn’t underwater.

All around her, men and women pushed themselves off the ground. A handful of children took cautious steps on wobbly legs before finding the stride it took to jump, to run. At her side, something warm moved, and Rhea-Anne whirled around to see a man studying his fingertips.

Lucas looked at her and smiled, his flat teeth reflecting the moonlight. “Thank you, princess.”


Friday, May 16, 2008

Writing is a Craft

Writing is more craft than innate talent, more discipline than intellectual gift. Yes, I’m stating the obvious, but sometimes we are viciously reminded of the truth. I’ve spent the last two weeks staring at a blank computer screen waiting for the first line of my Bite re-write to magically flow off my fingers onto the page.

Guess what happened?

You got it. Not a thing except that two weeks went by without me writing a word on my Bite. Last night I went to the library with Kalayna. I sat down at my computer, determined to pound out something…anything at all. So I did and about halfway down the page, stuck in the middle of a paragraph, there it was. The first line of my Bite. Finding the first line of my novella has enabled me to write the first two pages without further ado and all because I decided to stop waiting for the first line to magically appear.

My father was a basketball coach and a math teacher and he always told me that math and basketball were similar in at least one way. You have to practice to be good. I think I would add writing to this list.

With my awkward segue and attempt to relate writing and sports, I would like to leave you with a quote that I read this week from the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin.

“The one common bond that the really successful people I've met have is they're ridiculous dreamers. I'm a ridiculous dreamer. Continue to dream. Don't let the reality of the world diminish those dreams.”

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pass the Plot, Scene 5

“The blood of ancient sorceresses runs through your veins. Surely you knew that, child.” Miranda laid a comforting hand on Rhea-Anne’s shoulder. Rhea-Anne could feel the tips of the woman’s claws biting into her shoulder.

“I didn’t know.” The words came out as a squeak. Rhea-Anne looked around the circle. The glowing creatures stared at her with varying degrees of dislike. Of all the fantastical stories that her Grammy had told her in her childhood, Rhea-Anne could have never imagined this. “ I swear I didn’t know.”

“I’m not sure that I can believe you, princess.” Lucas’s voice was raspy with disuse. Rhea-Anne looked down at her flexed toes. “Your kind has deceived us before.” He stroked down the side of her cheek with a claw. Her skin prickled with awareness. She sucked in a deep breath and almost choked on the water.

“I’m not a liar.” She said it when she caught her breath. The pressure in her chest eased.

“We believe you, sweetheart.” Miranda squeezed Rhea Anne’s shoulder and looked pointedly at Lucas. “If you would let me finish the story……”

Lucas backed away. Rhea Anne looked up. The blue eyes that slammed into her with the force of an oncoming freight train were decidedly human. She let out a loud gasp.

“Yes, my dear. We were once human.” Miranda’s voice grew louder so the other creatures could hear the story being told. “In 1588, we lived on Roanoke Island eking out a living. It was a hard winter and some of our men went out hunting and well they captured young Indian maiden.” Miranda paused as if lost in memory. ” We won’t speak of what they did to her, but suffice it to say that they paid with their lives. The Indian maiden was a powerful shaman. She found us, came into the town that we had built, and cursed us all to become this.” She gestured to the creatures surrounding them. “It was an instant transformation. For twenty years there was open war between us and we killed many of her tribe. When the new colonists came, we struck a bargain, a bargain that has been honored by your family for 400 years. “

A cacophony of voices rose up around them, the glow emanating from each one seemed to get brighter. Rhea-Anne gulped. These creatures hated her and she still didn’t know why.

Lucas growled and held up his hand. The creatures quieted. “The bargain demanded a blood sacrifice to be made by her descendants every 40 years for 400 years. You are the last sacrifice.” He stepped closer and his voice softened until only she could hear. “It must be done princess.”

“No, I can’t be. “ Rhea-Anne pushed the words past her lips. “I’m not Native American. I can’t be the descendant of this shaman lady.” Her lips tightened into a firm line.

“Then why are you here tonight, princess?”

Rhea-Anne had no answer.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Pass the Plot #1, Scene 4

Rhea-Anne struggled more sharply. While she hadn't considered it before, the idea of her actually being a sacrificial lamb to repair the errors of the past suddenly seemed like a logical conclusion. Grammy had bandied those types of terms around, but then again, she had also been Pentecostal, and Rhea-Anne had long ago learned to ignore some things that Grammy said. All of a sudden, she strongly regretted that.

One of the other figures reached out and stopped the figure with the silver spike from going closer. "Something is wrong, Miranda. This is not the right one."

Lucas was suddenly at the center of the rest of the figures' attention. "She had the locket. She had the passphrase. She is the one." He made a motion with his hands as if he was flicking water away.

Miranda slid the silver spike back into her hair. She came closer and at a wave of her hands, the water weeds parted, freeing Rhea-Anne. Miranda reached out and helped her to sit up. "Child, how did you get the locket."

"My grammy gave it to me." Rhea-Anne was trapped in the figure's gaze. Its eyes were hypnotic pools of light green.

"Who is this person?"

"Nettie Broadly." It was all Rhea-Anne could do to keep herself from bursting into tears. This was not at all what she had expected.

"Daughter of Edwina Small, daughter of Margene Whidlock?"

Rhea-Anne nodded.

"You are the right one, my child."

"Miranda, this one has no idea what she is doing." It was the figure who had prevented Miranda from doing whatever she had planned to do with that spike.

"Ignorance is no excuse. The debt must be re-paid. That is the law. Without the payment, we war."

The words were said simply, but suddenly Rhea-Anne knew that if there was war, she would be on the loosing side. She felt very small, very young, and very cold.

"If this one does not understand what she is doing, how can she repay the debt?"

Miranda gave her full attention back to Rhea-Anne. "Did your grammy," she paused around the word as if she wasn't quite familiar with it, "explain the debt?"

All Rhea-Anne could remember was her grammy's insistence that in the 40th year, and at the first full moon, she was supposed to be in the swamp, meet someone, and then... and then... Grammy had given her the words to say, and the locket to wear. It was important that she do this but... If she didn't do as she was instructed, bad things would happen, she knew that, but... Now that she was concentrating, Grammy had never actually explained the how's and the whyfore's. Their conversations had been cloaked in storybook terms, to hide it from Rhea-Anne's mother, who according to Grammy, didn't take real things seriously, and that partially explained the lack. But even when they had had their private chats... Rhea-Anne understood now that she had been used. By the one person who she would never, ever, have believed would do this.

"You have a choice. The debt can only be repaid by someone, knowingly. You, it is plain to see, do not know anything." The brusque words were softened by Miranda's tone.

"Will you explain it to me?" Rhea-Anne still believed her grammy enough to be worried about what would happen if she couldn't hold her end of the deal, and the words about war didn't help.

"We will do that. But you must agree to be bound by our rules until the explaining is done."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Inklings

Inklings: 1. vague ideas or notions; slight understanding 2. (slang) small pen marks 3. writers group created and attended by C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield, Warren Lewis (C.S. Lewis’s brother), Charles Williams, and others 4. individual members of writers group called the Inklings.

I just finished reading The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community by Diana Pavlac Glyer. I picked it up because it is about the writer’s group that two of my favorite authors were a part of and I wondered if the Tri Mu couldn’t learn a thing or two from them.

The Inklings met weekly to encourage each other, argue with each other, edit manuscripts and support creative community. They would get together around 9 p.m. every Thursday, Warren Lewis would brew tea, and C.S. Lewis would ask “Well, has nobody got anything to read us?” Someone would read aloud from a manuscript he was working on and the others would critique it as it was being read. The manuscript genres varied from Tolkien’s 15 years with The Lord of the Rings to Owen Barfield’s poetry to C.S. Lewis’s Christian apologetic works to Warren Lewis’s histories of 18th century France. The group would go until well past midnight; joking, arguing, critiquing and reading sometimes until dawn. In addition to their weekly critique meetings, the Inklings met in other venues both professionally and personally. Several of them worked as Oxford dons, so they visited each other on campus. Also, members of the group met for a social Tuesday morning breakfast at the Eagle and Child Pub (affectionately known as the Bird and Baby). They even took part in week-long walking tours of the English countryside where they wrote farcical poems about one another and “Passed the Plot” around as we are doing online right now.

Glyer’s book encouraged me as a writer because it gave me a glimpse into the creative processes of people I consider literary giants. J.R.R. Tolkien rewrote The Lord of the Rings several times in the years he was working on it and nearly gave it up more than once. As C.S. Lewis says, “He has only two reactions to criticism: either he begins the whole work over again from the beginning, or else takes no notice at all.” According to Glyer, Tolkien would never have written the book at all if not for the encouragement from the Inklings. He preferred digging into the back-story – his languages and histories – to writing the novel and may never have pushed himself through the 15 years of effort it took to write his “new story about Hobbits.”

C.S. Lewis’s creative process took on a different form than Tolkien’s. He would ponder an idea for months without writing. He compared the process to a pregnancy – to being “with book.” He also tried ideas out in different literary forms before landing on the perfect genre. For example, the second book in the space trilogy, Perelandra was originally a poem. Lewis also talked his ideas out with friends and colleagues before he set them down. However, once he started writing, he wrote in a fury. Each of the Chronicles of Narnia took six months to write, and he finished a draft of Pilgrims Regress in two weeks. He did little revision work after setting pen to paper, although he did edit and focus his stories based on advice from the Inklings.

The premise of Glyer’s book is that creativity, specifically the extremely successful creativity of the Inklings, is not an isolated event, but occurs in the context of society. She highlights five main activities of all artistic groups - encouraging, challenging, editing, collaborating, and offering public support. So far, the Tri Mu has taken part in all of these at different times. Encouragement keeps us going. Challenges sharpen our ideas. Edits strengthen our writing. Collaborations exercise our creativity. Support gets books sold (or at least gets us comments on our blog entries).

So, to officially kick off our Modern Myth Makers’ blog, I want to remind everyone that “No writer is an island, no idea is original, no effort is a solo effort. We stand upon the shoulders of giants, we collaborate with our colleagues and with the immortal words of our dead literary ancestors. Literature – indeed, all human effort – is dignified and uplifted through collaboration and cooperation.” (Cory Doctorow)


Pass the Plot #1, Scene 3

The water closed around Rhea-Anne. Her hair fanned out behind her like the water-weeds tickling her leg. For a moment nothing moved. All seemed suspended in silence.

Lucas gripped her arm again and dragged her down.

She tried to swim with him, but he pulled with such force, her kicking feet only got more tangled in the weeds. Her throat tightened and her head ached. She opened her eyes, hoping the moon might lead her to the surface and to air. But instead of the blackness of a swamp in the dead of night, though, she saw a preternatural glow emanating from the body beside her. She tapped his arm with her free hand. He ignored her, dragging her deeper into the silt at the bottom of the bog.

She struggled against his grasp. All her will couldn’t keep the panic from rising in her chest. She scratched at his grip on her arm. He didn’t even flinch. She punched his side and thrashed her legs. The weeds twisted around her toes and slashed her skin open. He turned, the green light glowing from his eyes blinded her. She screamed. Water filled her lungs and she passed out.


“Rhea-Anne Baker XIII, it is time to repay your debt.” The words, thick and deep, seemed to bypass her ears, shake her mind and pierce the ground beneath her.

“I’m here.” She didn’t say the words with her mouth, but heard them reverberate through the air, slowly fanning out like ripples in a pond.

“Open your eyes,” the voice said.

Rhea-Anne obeyed. A crowd of glowing bodies stood over her, their green eyes sending beams of light down into her body. She couldn’t see their bodies clearly; they seemed to merge within the thick brown fog. Each had a mass of thin, wavy hair that floated in the air around its head, disappearing into blackness beyond the ethereal glow.

She gasped, the thickness of the water caught in her throat. Struggling to rise, she saw they had tied her to the earth with water-weeds.

One of the beings cocked its head to the side and pierced her mind with the lights from its eyes. “You said you knew what you were doing. Why do you fight your chosen fate?”

“Lucas!” Rhea-Anne heard her thoughts burst from her brain, “I’ll do whatever you want. Just let me get some air! Please. I need to breathe.”

“You are breathing,” he said.

Rhea-Anne looked into the glow. She tried a breath. The thick, sludgy water entered her lungs and she exhaled the same brown liquid. Her chest rose and fell.


“Never mind that now,” said the voice that had waked her. “We have wasted enough time already.” The being pulled an object out of its hair.

The green light glinted off the tip of a long silver spike.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pass the Plot #1, Scene 2

Rhea-Anne steadied herself with another deep breath and closed her eyes. She could do this—she had to. But the feel of that claw…She shivered again, just thinking about it. That hadn’t been in any of the stories her Grammy had told her. Still, she was born to do this.

The night sounds had fallen silent, like the whole world was holding its breath with her. Not even the boat rocked. Only the breeze tearing at her cheeks moved. It cried mournfully through the trees, reminding her that somewhere behind her was Lucas, her fate, and the fate of everything she held dear. She would do this.

Opening her eyes, she turned.

He waited three feet from the edge of her boat, his dark eyes on her. She expected to see the scales she’d felt, but his skin was smooth and so pale it glistened in the moonlight. His hair, soaked with water, streamed over his shoulders to form rivets of darkness in his pale chest. Only his torso was visible, his hips disappearing beneath the dank water.

This was it.

Rhea-Anne shrugged out of the thick leather jacket. The bathing suit she wore underneath did nothing to stop the night breeze, and a chill immediately sank below her skin. March was a stupid time to jump into a swamp in the middle of the night.

She hesitated, dreading leaving the boat behind. Lucas’s eyebrow arched, his head cocking to one side. “This is your choice, Rhea-Anne. You must decide to make it.”

She nodded, swallowing hard. “I know. I…” Her mind blanked out. How many times had she imagined this night. She cleared her throat and started again. “I, Rhea-Anne Baker XIII, am here to fulfill the blood-pact my family holds with your kind. I have full knowledge of what I am doing, and I accept it.”

A smile cut across Lucas’s face, a dozen needle pointed teeth flashing. “Good. Come then, Rhea-Anne.” He held out a hand, beckoning her into the inky darkness of the still swamp.

She clenched the locket one last time, and then let it swing loose against her sternum. She could do this.

Choice made, she slipped over the side of the boat. The water lapped at her chest, numbing her legs, her lungs. She kept moving.

His hand wrapped around hers, his skin rougher than it looked. Sharp claws pressed against her wrist, and she cringed. When she hesitated, he tugged her forward.

“I suggest you hold your breath.”

It was all the warning he gave her before he dragged her below the dark surface of the swamp.

Monday, May 5, 2008

What do you think? - Mystery

Which do you think is more exciting -- to be surprised by an unnexpected twist (i.e. "Luke, I am your father.") or to know something the character does not (i.e. "Don't go through that door, you stupid idiot!")?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Pass the Plot # 1, Scene 1

From Tori...

No special rules for this Pass the Plot. My fellow Tri Mu s can take the story in whatever direction they see fit. Hopefully, I don't kill this one before it begins.


The wind rustled the Spanish moss that hung from the cypress trees surrounding Rhea-Anne’s flat bottom boat. It cut between the trees and right through the thick leather of her jacket. She shivered as the cold air sliced into her skin. It hadn’t been so bad at dusk when she’d rowed to the middle of the swamp, but with each passing hour she grew colder and colder . If she had to stay here until dawn, she would be an ice sculpture.

She jumped a foot at the sound of splashing in the distance. The boat rocked and teetered nearly tipping her into the chilled water of the swamp. “Maybe it was just an alligator.” Rhea-Anne reassured herself aloud. Her hand gripped the locket that hung around her neck. The cold metal of the heirloom bit into her hand.
“Oh Grammy. You never told me that I would be this frightened.” She muttered the words under her breath. The sounds of night surrounded her. Chirping crickets. Croaking frogs. Lapping water. Hooting Owls. She started at every noise. “I just wish he would hurry and show up already. It’s the third moon of the fortieth year.”
Her eyes strained as she searched the darkness for any tell-tell movement. Grammy had told her not to worry that he would find her, but that didn’t stop her from looking. She loosened her grip on the locket and began running her thumb over the clasp. The locket was to be her identification when he found her. She didn’t want to lose it. She inhaled, taking air deep into her lungs before exhaling just as deeply. She needed to calm down. She concentrated on breathing In and out. In and out.

“Rhea-Anne Baker, I presume.” A voice hissed in her ear.

“Eek” Rhea-Anne flinched away from the sound of the voice. “Yes.” Her voice wavered a little. She swallowed the lump that had lodged into her throat. Her voice was firmer when she spoke this time. “Yes, I’m Rhea-Anne Baker. Here’s the Brantley locket” She moved her hand away from the locket so that it could be seen
A claw scraped down the side of her neck before lifting the chain so that he could get a better view. She felt the dry scrape of reptilian scales against her collarbone. She fought the urge to shudder.

The locket fell back onto her neck when he released the chain. The boat rocked a bit as he stepped away before steadying. “Rhea-Anne. You may call me Lucas.”

Thursday, May 1, 2008

What is this PtP thing

To celebrate the blog's launch, we've decided to do a Pass the Plot (PtP) challenge. I believe Tori will be posting the first section tonight, but before she does, I thought I should explain what exactly a PtP challenge is. (Not that we came up with it, but some people might be unfamiliar.)

Basically what PtP boils down to is a collaborative story. One person starts it, and then someone else picks up where she left off, and then another--so on and so forth until we hit the end. Pretty easy, except we don't plan the story out with each other, and once we hit send, the characters are at the mercy of whoever picks up the next section. It can lead to really unexpected twists.

The rules:
-No plotting or discussing the challenge with each other
-Sections are 400-600 words long
-Sections should answer some questions but leave others dangling for the next person.
-Twists are great, but new sections should still make sense with what came before.

That's about it. Tori might add some special rules (we had some on our last challenge) but those are the basics we work with. We've done two PtP challenges privately on our discussion loop in the past, but this will be our first public one. I'm personally looking forward to seeing what Tori (and everyone else) comes up with. I hope you are to, so check back soon! ^_^

Roll Call: Tori

Hi I’m Tori and I’m channeling one of my many personalities to write this intro. I’m ADD when it comes to writing.

I’ve written one book set in Charleston during World War II. I’m writing a Nocturne Bite set in Charleston. I’m plotting the first book in a series targeted at Nocturne where my heroine is from….you guessed it Charleston. Charleston, SC is the perfect setting in my opinion. 400 years of history collides with modernity with a fascinating result in my opinion. Charleston has ghosts, pirates, superstition, hurricanes, history, and modern people living on that fabulous peninsula. I can’t resist using it as a setting.

I’ve written other poetry and short stories not set in Charleston, but only if I’ve got another compelling setting stuck in my head and to me, very few settings are more compelling.

Roll Call: Vert

...verts comme des haricots...

And now that I've given a non sequitor to start things off, I don't feel the pressure quite so much. You know, to write some sort of intelligent introduction and all.

I'm Vert. Been writing on and off since I was in grade school. For a few years I shelved the writing and tried just living in the reality that surrounded me. But that didn't go so well, so I am returned to the safe, warm, comforting arms of pen and paper.

My preferred genre lies somewhere around science fiction, subgenre being speculative computer technology. And therein lies an irony, because I am not all that fond of technology, computer or otherwise.

Thus far, I have 2 completed manuscripts languishing for want of revisions, and myriads of story seeds waiting to germinate.