NaNoWriMo: Snowfall (Excerpt)

Malinda’s eyes widened and she found her mouth suddenly dry. It took her a moment to find her voice, and when she did at last speak it was hesitant. “Bastet,” she said, as though not sure it was possible. An Egyptian goddess incarnate, standing in her living room?

“Indeed so, Malinda Rae. Do you not offer homage to me?” asked the goddess incarnate standing before the fire still. “Do you not ask my blessings upon the fullness of the moon?”

The witch was still at a loss for words. Esmerelda broke the silence with a plaintive meow which caused Malinda to giggle. “I’m sorry. I’m just not very used to goddesses appearing in my home,” she said finally.

Bastet nodded, her slitted eyes betraying a kind spirit. “I know, though I suspect you will need to get used to it rather swiftly, my dear. That child who Osiris claimed on your steps left you with a charge, and I fear you accepted it.”

Huntress: Waterfall

The weather was cool this afternoon as Sera trod silently through the forest bordering their new home. She could smell the changes in the season even, the heady aroma of already fallen leaves becoming fertilizer on the forest floor. So many think that Springtime is the most fertile season, but Sera argued that the Autumn was when that fertility began. She smiled when she came upon a small clearing in the trees where a herd of deer were grazing. They had not heard her approach, only lifting their heads in alarm when she came into view. The elf considered drawing her bow, but then thought We have stores enough for the coming winter. You don’t need to worry.” As if hearing her thoughts the deer put their heads down, resuming the urgent grazing to fatten themselves for the season of cold and scarce food.

Exploring their new world had been enjoyable for both the elves, their children now old enough that Sera and her mate could venture out without the entire clan in tow. Sometimes she left her husband to his tinkering though, and took paths through the woods on her own. She promised him she would not explore too far without him, that she would return if she found anything of interest. Zui often looked at her skeptically when she left alone, but he trusted her. She never explored too far without returning for him.

Leaving the deer behind in their clearing Sera moved on along the path she had found a few days ago while playing with their youngest in the woods outside their home. It was old, overgrown to be sure, but still noticeable to the huntress’ keen sight. As she walked she marked the path slightly, breaking branch tips carefully or gently lifting bits of bark away. It was a trail only the most experienced of trackers might find, and she knew her husband was among the best. If he came looking for her, he would be able to follow her path.

She heard the water long before seeing it, the soft rush of a stream moving lazily over rocks. Unable to gauge the time except by her own internal clock, which told her it was barely mid-morning, Sera decided it was late enough that she could pause for a small bite, and perhaps the stream would prove drinkable. Still following the path she found it edged toward the stream, and was delighted when she saw the sparkle of water through the old, mossy tree trunks.

Though now she had to veer from the path slightly Sera stepped through the trees and onto the stream bank. It was thick with lush green moss and edged with drying grasses. The stream itself was rather wide and shallow in this place, but her hearing could pick up the sound of roaring water not far upstream which meant it was likely deeper. Counting on her boots to keep her feet dry she waded a bit into the stream and found a stone she could mark this place with. The stone she chose was wider at one end, and somewhat flat, slick with the sort of algae that usually grew in moving water. She placed it carefully on the mossy bank, the smaller end pointing upstream, then headed along the bank in that direction.

She startled a few rabbits along the way, the small creatures come to drink from the stream where it formed small still pools. “No doubt the deer came here to drink as well,” she thought. As she moved upstream the roar of water grew louder and she began to recognize the sound: a waterfall. From the sound of it, she was either very close, or it was massive. She received her answer not long after that realization came to her.

Several huge stones remained immovable by the stream, and so formed a sort of pool where the water collected before becoming the stream which she had followed here. The stones were in a semi-circle, and where they ended the earth was higher than at the mouth of the stream, helping contain the water falling from the cliff at the back of the pool. The fall itself was not terribly high, perhaps four times her height, but it was high enough to cause the roaring sound water makes striking both stone and water. The pool was not still, but it was calm on the far end.

Sera peered into the pool and was delighted to see that while she could see the bottom it was not shallow. Likely it was deep enough to swim in. “That bears exploration,” she murmured to herself. She began to make her way around the edge of the pool, carefully after nearly slipping on the slick stones. The mist caused by the waterfall made everything damp, including her face and hair as she walked steadily closer. Gazing up, she saw the tall cliff where the stream above created this fall; perhaps caused by a shift in the ground ages ago – although in this world it could easily have been from a dragon attack, or a giant, or wizard’s battle too.

The momentum of the water pushed it outward from the cliff to fall at the edge of the pool, where rocks again formed a slightly less rounded ring containing the water. She found the fall itself hid an overhang of stone about eight feet from the edge to the back wall; it was almost a cave but not quite. She moved more carefully now, examining the site for any indication of inhabitants that were not creatures of the forest. Her bow would be useless, but she drew a long dagger from her boot and held it out at her side. Her brief inspection did not reveal anything that would alert her to a non-animal presence, but she decided to return home and not explore further without Zui’s presence. Retracing her steps to the far edge of the pool Sera looked back at the waterfall and smiled. “He will enjoy this place,” she thought.

Today’s fragment was inspired by the October 1 Fiction prompt from Creative Writing Prompts.

The Serpent Queen: Messages

Manasa sat upon her throne, turned to look at the carved stone seat beside her own. She smiled and reached to touch the lion carved into the armrest; her people had taken Siris’ heritage into consideration when they’d made their new King’s throne to accompany her own. She sighed, and looked to the scrolls that had been brought to her by the couriers. Messages from far-flung outposts of her people, stories of strange tribes moving in the mountains, and in one of the seaside cities there was some sort of gathering.

The former was of some curiosity for the Serpent Queen, for she herself had come from the mountains in her youth, but it was the latter that drew her concern most of all. There were old stories of the people of another kingdom, stories passed on to her from the Queen who had died to give her the crown, that told of them stealing ophidae children and enslaving them. Of course there was no indication now of any non-ophidae races living anywhere close to current settlements. The leonide were the nearest, and even they were several days travel from her clutch. Her ophidae kept themselves remote from other cultures, save for the few traders who ventured to their underground river.

“Royal Highness.” The voice was that of Desiran, one of her council. She was the representative of the craftsfolk living in her clutch. Manasa lifted her gaze to her and smiled, beckoning the woman closer. Desiran stepped closer, gathering the flowing silk that she wore around her waist and bowing low to her Queen. “Highness, I heard from Velash that you have word from the mountain clutch.”

Manasa nodded, putting aside the scrolls she’s been reading over. “I have a few tales, yes. You are from the mountains as well, are you not?” asked the Queen kindly. Some of the clutch in the foothills were from the mountain clutches like she herself was, though most had lived here in the main territory of the ophidae. The craftswoman nodded lightly, and the queen smiled. “They send word that there are strange tribes moving in the high mountains. Tribes not seen in almost a hundred years, perhaps more.”

Desiran frowned in thought. “I remember some of the stories, told by my ancestors, of a people from a land beyond the mountains.”

The queen touched a bangle on her wrist as she considered the message from her mountain subjects. “I heard some of them as well.” She too had come from the mountains. “I do not yet know what to make of this news. It could be nothing at all, or it could be the return of an ancient enemy.”

“And if that is true, Your Highness? If one of the ancient tribes is rising again?” asked Desiran.

Manasa inhaled slowly, tracing her fingers over the arm of her husband’s throne. “If they threaten our people, Desiran, I will put them down. We will put them down,” she said, her voice clear and firm. “The ophidae and the leonide will not allow our enemies to endanger our futures.”

The woman standing before her smiled warmly. “Our King is a good man, Highness. We are most pleased that you allowed him to live, that he became your husband, and father to your son.”

The queen smiled just as warmly, glancing to the passage which led to the royal chambers from the throne room. “I am as well. Allowing him to live was one of the best decisions I have ever made.” she said, laughing at the irony in her words.

NaNoWriMo 2014 Preparations

Yes, I’m going to do it again. I’m going to be crazy enough to write 50,000 words (or more!) in 30 days. On top of that, my work schedule is more hectic. I’m full-time now, training five days a week starting very soon. Luckily, I’ll have a month to get myself in a habit of writing daily again, and probably more on my days off. Unless things change, those’ll be Tuesdays and Saturdays, which are good for me. It means I’ll have a day I can spend with Jason when he does have a day off, and a day which I can devote to long bursts of writing. Plus my schedule will now be set, which means I can get up and write before work, knowing exactly when I’ll be working. This is what I wanted, a stable schedule in order to have more regular time to write.

I still have no idea what I’m going to write, though. I haven’t even edited last year’s novel. It desperately needs it, honestly, but I’m not going to ‘cheat’ and use NaNo 2014 for that. It’s going to be all writing, something new. Maybe I’ll finally get to writing Thirty-Three Days into something real, or maybe I’ll start the second part of the novel which I started last year for NaNo. Or maybe I’ll rewrite the concept I started last October. I really, really enjoyed the concept, it just became really disjointed, and I think I can take the ideas and write them more concretely now that I’ve had some time to think on it.

Of course that brings me to the dilemma of what to do in October.

I don’t want to run the risk of basically writing all my ideas for NaNo 2014 in October, but I really need to get into a writing habit again, since it’s been a long time for me. I love writing, and I feel like I’m happier and healthier when I’m writing, but after a year almost of not writing I know I need to get back into the habit. I also need to learn how to work it into my daily/weekly schedule. I suppose I can use the month to work through a backlog of writing prompts, and that will help me get into the habit of writing both for a word-count and on a regular schedule. Both will be good for me.

I found myself wanting to read through some of last year’s novel, and I noticed something interesting. I didn’t remember a lot of it. I don’t know what that means, really, but there were a lot of details I didn’t remember whatsoever. I guess that says two things: first, that I really need to sit and read the story so I can edit it, and that a lot of that story came to me in flashes of pure inspiration, but didn’t stick with me. Is that a good thing? Maybe not. If it wasn’t memorable to me maybe it wasn’t memorable at all. Though realistically, it’s a rough draft. It’s a first draft, and by no means a finished novel. It needs a lot of work before it’s a finished novel. I haven’t even considered really publishing it somehow. I think it has the bones of a series, but that requires work I haven’t been able to put into it yet. Yet.

Trifecta 110: Quaint

Morgan’s eyes drowsed as she rode in the carriage towards the nearest village. She felt poorly rested, and it was no wonder; the gala had gone on nearly until dawn after her coronation, and she had only a few hours of sleep before Gracelyn was at her bedside, rousing her with the tempting aroma of breakfast.

Of course, she’d known that being Queen was not going to be a life filled only with parties and dinners and strolling through the gardens. She had been prepared for the work as well as the enjoyment. It was just that she hadn’t planned for it to begin immediately following her coronation.

“We will arrive soon, Your Majesty. Do you need a cool cloth for your face?”

Taregan was touching her hand, now beringed with the signet of her noble house, trying to rouse her gently. She blinked once, then smiled at him, sitting up a little straighter.

“No, thank you Your Grace. I just perhaps need a little fresh air to revive me. It was a long night.”

Her words made the Lord of Elves color slightly and he nodded. “Yes, Your Majesty, it was indeed. I am honored that you chose me to spend so much of the night with.” His color immediately darkened as he heard his own words, but Morgan only giggled.

“I know what you meant, Taregan.” She murmured, using his given name instead of his title. She glanced out the curtained window then, and sighed. “We’ve arrived. Do I look alright?”

He smiled and nodded. “You look glorious, Your Majesty,” he said, a warmth in his tone that was only ever there for her.

When the carriage came to a stop in the village green Taregan stepped out first, and lowered a small set of stairs, helping the Queen to descend with her hand in his. She had once thought it such a quaint image: the nobleman helping the lady down from the carriage. It was natural for her now, however.

A slight post-script that will no doubt be added to the novel when I get around to editing. Finally at least one of my characters has a name! Written with inspiration from the prompt at Trifecta Week 110, which gave us the word “quaint”.

Twilight Garden Update

It is finished. No. It is done. It is far from finished. Done, not finished is what I always call my knitting projects before they’re blocked and have ends woven in and buttons sewn on, so that is what the novel is. Done, but not finished.

My word count is 64,334. That’s a lot of words, especially for me. I think all of my poetry over the last couple of years might in total be about twenty thousand, so writing over sixty thousand in the span of a couple of months is incredibly impressive to me. I suppose it’s impressive to anyone, really, though I know there are people who do this regularly. There are people who finish NaNoWriMo every year, there are novelists who write several books in a year, there are other writers whose word counts I feel certain far surpass my sixty-five thousand in one year.

But this is an accomplishment for me. It proves to myself that I can do it if I don’t allow myself to give up. That I have a lot more willpower than it sometimes appears (unless it involves going walking in sub-freezing temperatures – then I have none). That I can write a book, goddammit. And I think it’s a pretty good book. The one person I’ve let read it so far (don’t worry, there will be more, I just wanted to wait until it at least had an ending) says it’s pretty good.

There are things I do need to finish though. People and places need names. There are a few names at the beginning, but even in the beginning I didn’t bother naming places. It was too distracting to try and “get it right” so I left things named CoffeeShopName and BookshopName and CityName. Then there are characters who still need names, and characters whose names I’m not certain fit who they truly are in the story. Midway through the first twenty thousand words or so, several of the characters decided to be something other than I intended, so the names I chose for them probably should be changed to reflect that.

Because of that flip-flopping, I really need to edit. I had a hard time not editing as I went anyway, so I did do a little, but there’s a lot that needs to be filled out, not unlike an over-thin but otherwise healthy stray. There are most certainly plot holes you can at least drive a Mini Cooper through, if not a tank. There’s a lot of missing information. Scenes I think are important probably need to be expanded. There may even be some things I could condense where it’s not absolutely required for the plot. I think I skipped something entirely, now that I’m thinking about it.

So I know it needs editing. A lot of it. I’m putting it away for a little while though. At least a couple of months. In March, perhaps, I’ll bring it back out, give it a read. See what needs fixing, see how it reads if I do it straight through. I may even let Larissa read it, though doing so is a little unnerving. She’s published, and her first book (I haven’t had the privilege of reading the second yet) was amazing, and far more finely crafted than this effort of mine.

Twilight Garden Excerpt

Slowly the doors creaked open, and it seemed that the entire room gasped in unison as Morgan stepped into the doorway. Gracelyn stood behind her, arranging the train of her opalescent gown. Morgan felt like a bride as she took her first step down the long aisle, and especially as her gaze rose to find the elven lord and she saw the expression on his handsome face.

“Lords and Ladies, people of all reaches of MagicalWorldName, please rise in welcome.” It was the King Regent’s voice, and he smiled as he stood, along with the Council, followed by the entirety of the crowd filling the throne room. Somewhere in the wings music began to play, and Morgan strode slowly down the aisle towards the throne. Her gaze focused upon that seat – because if she looked anywhere else she was afraid she might cry – and she was barely aware of the smiles and warm words of those sitting near the aisle, greeting her as she passed.

As she reached the steps to the dais she paused, and the Lord of the Forest and the Lady of the Fae each approached her, taking her hand to help her ascend. Gracelyn remained behind her even as she turned to face the room, and she paled slightly. “It’s alright missus. You’re doing fine.” Gracelyn whispered from just behind her, before the maid touched her hand and then moved away.

The King Regent turned to the crowd, holding up a hand. “Lords and Ladies, it is my duty and my great honor to present to you Her Highness Morgan Aliah Draeleen, your undoubted Queen.” He paused then, inclining his head slightly to Morgan. “We come together today to serve as witness, to offer homage, and to pledge fealty to Her Royal Highness. Do you, people of MagicalWorldName, swear to do the same?”

I’m working on the Coronation, and the ball that follows it, currently. Once this is finished, I think I can call it done, and put the novel aside until later in the year so I can edit it. Which means starting on a new project. Yay!