Weekend Writing Warriors #11

I am sticking with Across the Darkling Sea this week. In this excerpt Evelyn has returned home after discovering she is not Evelyn after-all, but instead a Changling left in her stead. She’s picked up her own name now, ‘Ling. She is crouched below an open window listening to her parents argue. This is the tail end of that argument.

And hey – don’t forget to check out all the other awesome authors participating in the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop.

The excerpt:

Her father stopped his pacing and stared at her mother as if he’d never seen her before. His eyes had a liquid gleam in the firelight and she gasped as she realized his eyes were filled with tears. He collapsed onto a chair as if his muscles didn’t have enough strength to hold his body upright any longer. “What would you have me do?” He asked. She’d never seen him so defeated.

“She can’t stay here.”

“You want me to chase a child away from her home,” Her father’s voice was flat and lifeless.

“I want you to chase a demon out of our midst,” Her mother corrected.

 

Across the Darkling Sea is about a young woman who awakens one day to discover she’s not who she believes herself to be. Indeed, she is not even human. She is a changeling, a curse, put on her family by a traveling warlock many years ago. Adventures and trials ensue as she seeks out the warlock who did this to her and her family and a way to break the curse. The novel is targeted for release in early 2016.

Share

It’s Only Temporary

When I was ten years old I used to say I could run as fast as a horse. I ran everywhere too, hair streaming behind me in a wild tangle as I imagined the steady drum of hoofbeats over the top of my own two thudding feet.

When I wasn’t running, I walked along holding two towering sticks out to either side, swinging them in long arcs, pretending I was a Landstrider.

In short, the world I inhabited was suffused with creativity, imagination, and a deep sort of joy. It was filled with magic.

Last week I took a trip back to the town I lived in when I was ten. Most of my family lives there still, my cousins all with children of their own now. I love to visit, I love and miss my family, but I hated living there. I’d come from the city and had a hard time adjusting to small-town life. The people were cruel, and the children particularly so.

I didn’t wear the right clothes, didn’t read the right books, didn’t have the right toys. But perhaps more than anything, I didn’t play right. I was teased relentlessly because I wanted to run as fast as a horse and because I pretended to cross flowering meadows with the huge ground-eating gait of a Landstrider.

Most of my family enjoyed and encouraged my imaginative play, but one of my cousins found endless entertainment in teasing me about it. Every few years when we came for a visit she’d laugh and talk about how I’d made some story up or played at being something or another. She wasn’t cruel but her tone was clearly mocking.

Once when I was about sixteen I ran into my nemesis while visiting. She was the one who’d instigated a lot of the teasing while I lived here. To this day I have no idea why, but she hated me as much as I hated that town. We were at the roller rink (still the only thing to do in town even after so many years) and she sent a small boy over to my table to call me a horse. He went to particular pains to explain that it was from Her. For my part, I had no idea what he (or She) was talking about or how that was even an insult (we had much more… interesting… insults where I was from, even at that age) and I brushed it off with a shrug.

During my visit last week I met up with one of my dearest friends from those days. I’ve not seen her since fourth grade but we’d recently reconnected on Facebook. I told her the story about my nemesis calling me horse and she laughed and mentioned that I’d always said that I could run like a horse and that’s probably what She had been poking at. I laughed too, but truth be told I was a bit astonished. All these people who knew me then and the thing they most remember (and in many cases most loathe) after three decades(!) is my imagination when I played as a child. Didn’t we all pretend and imagine at that age?

I’m sitting on a plane now, ears vibrating with the loud drone of the engine, the patch-work landscape of northern Michigan falling into the distance behind and below me and I can’t help but wonder about the desire of some to crush the spirit of others.

I lived in that town for less than two years before we moved on and I’ve never encountered a place quite so crushing in all my life, before or after, and I’ve lived in many places. Is there something that happens in certain places that breeds such a thing? Sort of like the violent malaise of Derry Maine?

Creativity and imagination among kids must be as common as crust on bread. It’s this teasing and taunting and the fear it creates that results in the impression of it being so rare. If Beverly, Bill, Mike and Ben could win against that dread clown so can we against our own bullies. Stay strong creatives. It’s only temporary.

k

Share

Weekend Writing Warriors #10

Greetings Weekend Writing Warriors! I’m a smidge late with my post today. I’ve been traveling and visiting family this week and completely forgot to get this post scheduled up in advance. Regardless, welcome!

This is a snippet from my current work in progress called Across the Darkling Sea. The novel is about a young woman who awakens one day to discover she’s not who she believes herself to be. Indeed, she is not even human. She is a changeling, a curse, put on her family by a traveling warlock many years ago. Adventures and trials ensue as she seeks out the warlock who did this to her and her family and a way to break the curse.

In this excerpt Evelyn has just been told she is a changeling and is struggling to come to terms with what this means.

And hey – don’t forget to check out all the other awesome authors participating in the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop.

The excerpt:
Evelyn’s question hung between them and though they sat within an arms reach of one another the spaces between those words seemed to stretch for an eternity. The laughter drained out of her until she fell silent, waiting.

“This is not the first time you have learned this truth.”

Evelyn’s eyes widened slightly but she clamped her lips tightly against the litany of questions that threatened to bubble out.

“You have come here every day seeking solace from the cruel treatment of the townsfolk, seeking information. You think this is the first, but you have lived this day many times over.”

Evelyn stared, wondering if Witch had finally gone made with age. “How many days?” she asked.

“Every day for five years, child.”

Share

Weekend Writing Warriors #9

Greetings Weekend Writing Warriors! I hope you all had a wonderful week and had much time for writing and imagining!

If you are not familiar, Weekend Writing Warriors is a wonderful blog hop of talented writers sharing bits and bites of their stories. It’s a perfect way to spend a Sunday morning. You can check out all the writers at this link.

I think I might have found a name for this WIP, after months of agonizing. (I am a terrible, terrible namer-of-things, oddly.) I’m thinking: Across the Darkling Sea. What do you fair folk think?

This excerpt picks up immediately after the previous. Evelyn has just been told she’s not a human girl at all, and in the most extraordinary way. Here we get to see a bit of her reaction.

The excerpt:

Evelyn stared at Witch for several breaths. The older woman stared back, her mouth relaxed eyes gentle, not a glimmer of humor in her features. Nevertheless, a giggle formed deep in Evelyn’s chest, rose relentlessly into her throat and burst out her mouth. Once the first escaped others followed and soon Evelyn was sprawled on the table laughing until her eyes watered, her cheeks burned, and her stomach ached.

Through it all Witch sat still as a lifeless pond on a windless day, hands folded demurely in her lap as she waited. Beneath Evelyn’s hilarity an odd sort of desperation stormed. Humans bled when cut, she hadn’t, therefore she was not human. She was something other.

Share

Honey Bees: Inspiration in a Hive

Food & Drink

Inspired by a character who has been floating around in my head for ages, earlier this year I decided to take up beekeeping. I took a class, bought a package, and have been a happy beekeeper ever since. They are the easiest critters I’ve ever kept, and, they give back as much as they get. I provide them a snug safe home, and they pollinate my vegetable patch and (hopefully) provide me a bit of honey come fall.

The girls have been kicking it! Check out this perfect comb, the lighter colored stuff around the edges is honey, the darker area in the middle is brood (baby bees) and pollen. I’m quite impressed at how industrious these ladies are! (Fun fact: Most of the bees in a hive are female and are all sisters. They literally do all the work. The males hang out just in case they need to fertilize a new queen.)

Bee Hive

Honey!

I started down this path just as an experiment. I have a character who is a beekeeper, I wanted to get to know her better. I never expected it to change me, but it did. The last three months of being a beekeeper has totally altered the way I think about yards. I began seeing the large expanses of green lawn as suburban deserts – they suck up a whole lot of water, but provide nothing in return. Nothing for us and certainly nothing for the bees. Lawns are monoculture at it’s worst, and they are everywhere.

And thus, a movement of sorts was born. In the front yard we planted three fruit trees (apple, plum, peach), several currant berry bushes, several elderberry bushes, blueberry bushes and a strawberry patch, thus eliminating large swaths of grass as well as providing food for both us and our bees. Our front yard is quite large and it will take us many years to eliminate all of the grass, but our goal is to have a lush, dry-weather appropriate front yard garden that looks beautiful and feeds us as well as our native wildlife (our bees, wild local bees, and birds – we are in the city, not much wildlife here).

We all know books can change people. Every reader can list at least one  (and probably many more) books that forever changed the way they saw the world. Turns out writing them can change us too. Sometimes in surprising ways.

k.
author, and accidental homesteader

Share

Shouldn’t You Be Writing? (comic)

Writers get sucked into everyday life just like everyone else does, and sometimes our writing get’s pushed to the back burner. The difference is that for us, the voices… well…

You Should Be Writing!

The Writing Life is a monthly comic blog about the adventures of the writing life. They are posted the first Wednesday of each month. You can find more by clicking the Writing Life category over there on the right.

k.

Share

Weekend Writing Warriors #8

Greetings Weekend Writing Warriors! I hope you all had a wonderful week and had much time for writing and imagining!

If you are not familiar, Weekend Writing Warriors is a wonderful blog hop of talented writers sharing bits and bites of their stories. It’s a perfect way to spend a Sunday morning. You can check out all the writers at this link.

For this excerpt we are still in chapter one of ‘Ling, but have jumped to the very end of the chapter. Evelyn has had a rough day and she’s fled to her favorite place, Witch’s cabin. But she’s about to learn something that will change her life forever.

The excerpt:

“But I saw you stab me, saw the point go in!”

“You feel any pain?” Witch asked, dropping her knitting needles to the table.

“Of course I feel the pain, you stabbed me!”

“No cut, no blood, but you feel pain?”

Evelyn nodded, for the first time in her life that she could remember, mute.

“Remarkable,” Witch said.

“Witch, what am I?” Evelyn asked.

“Child, why do you call me such after all these years? I don’t call you changeling, though indeed you are one.”

Share

Galeru, The Rainbow Serpent

http://vsbattles.wikia.com/wiki/Rainbow_Serpent_(Yurlungur)

http://vsbattles.wikia.com/wiki/Rainbow_Serpent_(Yurlungur)

Myths and folklore are fascinating things. They reveal much about the people that create them, what terrifies them, and what they hold most dear. I found this gem at the end of a rainbow, in a small puddle more dirt than water, but precious nevertheless.

The Galeru came from deep beneath the earth, raising mountains, ridges and gorges as it pushed it’s way to the surface of the earth. It is an immense creature, and inhabits all the deep stores of water on and beneath the surface, creating gullies and deep channels filled with water as it slithers across the landscape. When a rainbow is seen in the sky, it is said the Galeru is traveling from one waterhole to the next. A waterhole with a Galeru never dries up, even during the longest drought.

The most common Galeru myth is the story of two sisters, the Wawalag sisters, traveling together across country. The older sister gives birth, her blood flowing into a waterhole where the Galeru lives. The Galeru eats the sisters and the child, only to regurgitate them after being bitten by an ant, allowing the Serpent to now speak in their voices and teach sacred ritual to the people of that land.

Sacred ritual was born of this tale, including a blood ritual in which aboriginal men symbolically recreate the Wawalag story by cutting their arms and/or penises and letting their blood run over their own bodies, each other’s bodies, or into a woman’s uterus. Sometimes they will mix their blood with menstrual blood, letting them flow together, celebrating and recreating the intermingling of the two sexes.

The Galeru is an Aboriginal myth born in the bone-dry deserts of the Australian outback, where water is, perhaps, the most precious of things. A rainbow, harbinger of water and rain, would be a most yearned for sign decorating the sky. It is no surprise the cultures living there would associate it with a benevolent (and sometimes dangerously angry) deity.

I love stories like this. They can provide little nuggets that grow, in time, into full stories of their own. But they also provide a glimpse into the beautiful diversity of thought, perception, and culture in our world – giving inspiration for the cultural tapestries of our own stories.

 

Share

Weekend Writing Warrior #7

Wow… it’s been a very long time since I’ve participated in Weekend Writing Warriors! Sometimes life just gets in the way, and this time around it was quitting a job that was terrible for my health and well-being, starting a new job, then buying a new home and all the fun stuff that goes along with moving.

My blogging has been feeble (understatement!), but my writing has been somewhat better. I’m roughly 40k words into a new novel, tentatively titled ‘Ling, about a young girl who wakes one day to discover she is not who she believes herself to be. Rather, she is a Changeling. A curse put on her parents by a desperate Warlock five long years ago.

Don’t forget to check out the other talented Weekend Writing Warriors posts today. You can find the full list at the following link.

 

These are the opening eight lines for the novel. I hope you enjoy them!

Mornings were the best part of every day. Other’s might dread them but to Evelyn they were like the first page of a new book, the first leaves of spring, or like the burst of sweetness from the first raspberries of summer. Morning had potential. Adventures to be had, conversations to be enjoyed. Anything could happen.

This potential is what drove Evelyn from the depths of her soft sheets and plump down bed every morning with a smile on her face and a glint in her eye. It was what forced her to jump hurriedly into the clothes she’d abandoned the night before and dash down the stairs without even running a brush through her long brown hair. It was this potential that caused her mother to roll her eyes, scold dramatically, and chase Evelyn back up the stairs until her hair was properly braided and her body properly stowed in freshly washed clothes.

Share

Adventures in Fantasy – Beekeeping

Like many fantasy readers, at least those of us who seek out the epic variety, I’m fascinated by all things medieval. I also am pretty hands on. I like to try things and learn things. I especially like to try things and learn things that relate to characters in my books.

I’m also a tree-hugger, I’m not gonna lie. I shave my legs and arm pits, but my house is filled to the brim with energy saving light bulbs, we’re about a year out from installing solar on our rooftop, I refuse to use any sort of pesticide or herbicide in or around the house, and I budget in the extra cash to ensure all our produce and meat are organic and free range.

So perhaps it makes perfect sense that I’ve decided to take up beekeeping. Most of us are aware of the dramatic population decline of the honey bee, and most of us understand the implications to our food supply and botanical biodiversity should the little buggers die out. I’ve been intercropping native blooming plants in the garden for ages, but I felt compelled to take more direct action.

Plus, there’s Bug. A little character in a little story that’s been stewing in a dark shadowy corner of my mind for ages. Bug has an affinity for the multi-legged multifaceted creepy crawlies of the world – particularly those of the buzzing variety. And of course… she’s a beekeeper.

What better way to get to know your character than by learning to do what she does?

Earlier this year I took a beekeeping class, and I just recently hoofed it across town to pick up my very own package of bees. Picking them up was a breeze. A quick in and out at the local bee shop with about twenty of my beekeeping colleagues and I had my package. Installing them in the hive was a bit more of an adventure, and I thought I’d share it with all of you.

The queen comes in a separate cage, called a Queen Cage. Most packages come with a newly bred queen, and if she’s released in with the rest of the bees before they’ve fallen under her thrall they will kill her. So the first step of installing them into the hive is to get the queen transferred over.

Queen Cage

Queen Cage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you’ve got the queen properly wedged in the hive it’s time to dump the bees into the hive. Yes. I said dump. You literally shake them out of the package you transported them in and onto the open box of the hive. I’m not going to lie, I started sweating at this stage. There are roughly 10,000 bees in a package, and they were all tumbling out of a box I was unceremoniously shaking, crashing into an open hive below.

Pouring bees from the package

It’s Raining Bees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I expected a bloodbath.

But they were completely disinterested in me. They were too busy checking out the new digs. And probably stretching out their wings – they’d been awfully cramped in that transport package.

Bees in the hive.

That’s a lot of bees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this point they all made their way into the hive, I gave them some pollen patties (bee food), put on the lid, and called it a day. I hope these ladies stay this docile forever! I’m not looking forward to that first bee sting. Or subsequent stings for that matter. I *am*, however, looking forward to exploring my character Bug through this process. And to the honey of course.

Share