When and Where

I recently join the Bannerwing Write Club. It has become a great source of inspiration, commiseration, and celebration when it comes to my writing. We decided it would be fun and challenging to do a round robin story. I am starting it here today, and several other bloggers will be continuing it and finally ending it over the next couple of weeks. None of us have any idea where the next person will take it. Next week you can catch the continuation of When and Where on the blog of the one and only Angela Amman, who, I am sure, will put me to shame. 

The crunch of the gravel under her feet was deafening. Even the pebbles were screaming at her to turn around. Yet her flashlight beam continued to play across the path in front of her, and she followed. Every few steps she would sweep the beam to the right and then the left, reading each name, stopping when the age of the carvings made them hard to decipher.

“Robin, don’t do this. It isn’t necessary,” Paul appeared at her left shoulder.

“Paul’s right. Please, you can turn around, get in the car, and go,” Phoebe added from her right.

Robin squared her shoulders as she checked another tombstone. “No. It’s time. I can’t put it off forever. Better sooner than later.”

“You’re not ready.”

“Says you.”

“Says me who has a century more knowledge and experience than you.”

Robin glanced at Paul. “Is it really experience if it happens after you are dead?”

Paul scowled. “Semantics? Really? ”

Phoebe snorted and said, “That’s Robin. Arguing the minutiae of death when her life is in the balance.”

Robin’s jaw tightened, but she didn’t say anything. The twins may have seen more in their afterlife than she had in her physical life to date, but she knew her own power and limits. Fate was leading her and follow she must. She just wished it didn’t scare her so much. It was taking actual mental effort to keep her hand from shaking and bouncing her light all over the place.

The flashlight played over another grave marker, covered in water stains and lichen. She couldn’t make out the name, but her gut told her it wasn’t the right one. Reading the names was probably a useless gesture. The one she sought would make its presence known when she found it.

Paul said, “If you are going to insist, at least wait another week or two. We can be better prepared, study the manuscript more closely. Gather more information.”

Robin stopped and turned to look at Paul. “You have been waiting for this for a hundred and fourteen years. I would think you would be more anxious.”

“Those years have taught me patience and caution. I can wait another few weeks to insure that you are truly ready for this confrontation. If you aren’t then all those decades are for naught.”

They held each other’s eyes for a long moment. Quietly, Robin replied, “I understand the gravity and the consequences of my actions. But I also know that waiting any longer will drive me mad. I am filled to the brim. If I don’t release this power at the appointed target, I will burn out in a matter of days if not hours.” She paused and stepped closer to him. “Please, Paul.” Phoebe moved to face her brother as well, now making a united front with Robin.

Paul sighed. “Very well. When we find it, you must promise to listen to my instructions exactly. Everything must be precise. It will be the only way to direct the storm you are holding inside.”

Robin went back to crunching the gravel and sweeping the light beam back and forth, path to stone, stone to path. Read. Move on. They came to a cross path. Robin closed her eyes and let her arms drop to her side. Her left hand, the one holding the flashlight, rose and pointed down the left path. She turned and walked that way for another twenty yards. Abruptly, she stopped. The beam scanned the stones around her as she read.

Finally, it came to rest on a very old one. It was brownstone, squat and heavy, like a malicious toad guarding its treasure.

“There you are, you bastard,” Robin whispered.

Gateway

This is a continuation of a story I have only written in response to WOE prompts. Here are links to the first three.

Motion

Halt

Intrude

The man did not move a muscle, but Melody sensed it was not because he was afraid of her bullet. His hands were still in the pockets of his trench coat. Locking her hazel eyes with his blue, she said, “Take your hands out of your pockets, and put them on the back of your head.”

He laughed. She almost took a step back in surprise. He did not take his hands from his pockets.

“Your gun cannot hurt me, little soldier,” he said. He then did take his hands from his pockets and gestured wide. “Take your eyes off of me for a moment and look around.”

At this point, Melody did what any good soldier would. She deferred to a superior. “General?” She got no answer. Finally, she took her eyes from the stranger for a quick glance at her commander.

He stood stock still, eyes glazed over, his arms at his side, completely unresponsive.

At this point even Melody’s training couldn’t stop her human response. She dropped her gun to her side and ran over to him. She shook him and yelled his name. Still no response. She moved to the tent’s flap and looked outside. Everyone in view was in the same state.

She whirled around to the stranger, her gun back in her hand and pointed at his forehead.

“What have you done to them?” She barked out.

He sighed and crossed his arms over his chest. “Nothing permanent. But they all would have reacted just as poorly to my presence as you did, and that would have been more of a fuss than I need at the moment.”

“Since I am the one with the gun, I think my needs are more relevant,” she replied. “Fix them.”

“No.”

They stood eyeing each other, the impasse thick between them.

Melody fired her gun, not at his head, but at his shoulder. The man simply held up his hand. In the middle of his palm was a metal disc. It glowed purple and a beam of light shot out towards the bullet which disappeared.

“I told you,” he smirked.

Melody moved in to hit him with the butt of her weapon. He just aimed the disc at her, and she disappeared.

Melody was aware of colors and lights and sounds moving past her. Or was she moving past them? The speed seemed great enough to crush her. Yet she did not feel the effects of movement. There was no air to whip her hair or coat about.

She was back on the subway platform, in a dark corner behind a support pillar.

It was chaos. Everything seemed to be burning. Heatwaves filled the air. People were everywhere, in every state of helping, hurting, dying imaginable.

Melody’s eyes fell on a small boy. He was cradled in the crook of his mother’s arm as he sucked his thumb. His mother’s eyes were empty, unblinking.

A paramedic noticed the boy and gently pulled him from his mother’s last embrace, walking toward the light from the stairs.

“You opened a gateway to Hell,” the man’s voice said in her ear. “You unleashed demons on these people.”

Melody fought back tears. She choked out, “I did it to fight the demons. The greater good.”

He laughed a mirthless chuckle. “The rallying cry of the thoughtless and obsessed.”

 

Memories Have to Begin Somewhere

John and I like to camp. We have taken the kids camping twice. We both blogged about it. John’s account. My account.

Last weekend while John was playing in the pit for Batboy: The Musical, I had the opportunity to take the kids to my cousin’s family cabin in the mountains just above Carlisle. And I jumped at it because I couldn’t take another night at home alone with the kids camping! Now this camping is not tent camping. I mean there were mani/pedis. IMGP9921 IMGP9920

Really the only camping element was the campfire, but that is the best part as it cooks the hot dogs and the marshmallows.

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We ended up spending the night because so much fun! My cousin kept saying it was the first of many sleepovers at Tee Tee’s cabin. And I hope so. We often don’t realize we are making memories until we flip through old photo albums or scroll through our facebook timeline. But sitting at the fire, laughing and chatting and watching CJ be a little pyro and Leila jump on the trampoline…

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…I knew these were moments that are meant to last, maybe not in vivid detail, as each visit blurs into the rest, but the feelings, the warmth of the fire and love will live on. Plus, there is this blog post. I do hope it pays testament to the beginning of many years of cabin visits, campfires, and cousin sleepovers.

Write on Edge

I am not currently working on any fiction because I want to use all of my “writing” time to work on revising and editing my rough draft of “Oops,” Said God. But I miss writing. So I am trying to give this here blog a little more attention. An easy way to do that is to use online writing prompts and link ups. Thank you, Write on Edge Ladies!

Anladele secured the image of home in her mind as she entered the portal. When she emerged, she was looking up at the dome of the portal center. The rough dress and pinching shoes had disappeared. She stretched out her arms and her pebbles came rolling from the pile where she had left them. They spread over her body like armor made of tiny, flat, thin rocks, leaving enough space in between so movement was easy. Anladele relaxed under the reassuring weight though they were lighter than they might look.

At the base of her neck, where her collar bones met, she placed the two stones, the prison and the guard. With quick steps, she left the entry hall and made straight for the cleansing chamber.

The guard at the opening put a spear across her path. Anladele stood silently and still as the guard held a hand over her chest and closed his eyes. Then he turned to a large, flat rock on the wall and place the same hand on it as he hummed deeply from the chest. After a moment, he turned back to Anladele and said, “They have prepared. They are waiting and ready.”

Anladele nodded and walked through the sheet of water that curtained the archway.

On the other side, she was greeted with the expected sight; three elders stood at three points of the compass. In the middle was a delicate pedestal made of coral. The fingers of coral formed a shallow bowl on top of the thin spiral base. Anladele walked forward and placed the prison stone in the shallow bowl. The glow from within pulsed and an amber mist started emanating from it. Anladele crooned quietly as the stone still on her breast grew warm. The glow quieted, and the mist was pulled into the stone.

Anladele turned and took her place at the south point, closing the circle. As soon as she was in place, the four fey started humming, East and West weaving a melody around the strong harmony from North and South. As their voices reach the high top of the dome, a single translucent pebble at the apex slide aside allowing a thin stream of salt water to enter. The music of the fey voices encircled it, keeping it a stream, not allowing it to disperse. It flowed onto the stone in the coral basin. There was a loud screech from the stone. The honey colored mist started to appear again, moving like it was trying to dodge the water, but there was nowhere dry for it to go. The feys changed their counterpoint, willing the minerals and deposits in the water to enter the microscopic spaces between the stone’s atoms, pushing the gelatinous prisoner out of the water’s way. It fought but weakly. The mist became a heavy miasma dripping from the stone and through the porous coral, all the time being dispersed by the water’s flow. It grew less and less until nothing but clear water ran.

The elder fey at north point spoke. “The evil is dispersed.”

This is a continuation of this story.

Santa, The Easter Bunny, and Leprechauns, Oh My!

I got into a short discussion on Twitter about lying to kids in reference to imaginary beings who infiltrate our homes to do weird things like leave presents, hide eggs, steal teeth, or just make a mess.

I have to say I have never understood the idea that it is lying to kids. To me, it is just a way to incorporate some magic and imagination into childhood. I mean, my kids think the Muppets are real, why not Santa and his crew?

The make believe of the holidays is such an ingrained part of my memories of growing up. I remember being sure I hear reindeer on my roof. Santa called us at Christmas time. (My uncle does a great Santa and reindeer fart impressions.) We giggled forever over the sheer audacity of the leprechauns who wrecked havoc on our second grade classroom. We had to make sure the dogs were locked inside on Easter because they ate the eggs otherwise. I got a treasured teddy bear pin under my pillow because the tooth fairy forgot my tooth three days in a row and felt bad. I want the same fun in my kids’ lives.

Maybe I am inclined to keep the myths alive because my discovery of the truth was not traumatic. No one burst my bubble too early. I didn’t have a schoolmate or a relative slap me in the face with the knowledge that parents are conniving. Somewhere between third grade when I wrote an eloquent persuasion piece about Santa and the reindeer on my room, and fifth grade when we got to write responses to the second graders’ letters to Santa, I stopped believing. But I have never felt like I was duped or lied to. The fun was worth it. The magic was worth it.

Kids have so much access to information today, good or bad. The world is open to them in ways each previous generation cannot comprehend. It’s a lot of truth and a lot of facts but not much magic.

I want my kids to have as much magic as possible for as long as it lasts.

My Writing Process

OK, first, everyone (or probably just John), Mandy thinks I am a writer! Yes, I write, but there is totally a difference between a writer and someone who writes sometimes. And Mandy? Is a Writer. Not only has she had a blog for over ten years, but she’s getting published. For realsies. Like a publisher is going to put her words on pages, add a cover, and sell a book with her name on the cover. So I am honored. And should probably do more to earn the title. Ahem. Especially on this poor lonely blog that’s, despite what it may look like, purpose is not to celebrate birthdays. Those that is one of the purposes. Just not the sole purpose.

Anyway, Mandy tagged me in a blog tour about writing process. There are four question. Here are my answers.

1) What am I working on?

I am trying to revise and edit my very first completed manuscript titled “Oops,” Said God. Finishing it took over ten years, mostly because there were whole years when I never even opened the file. It is a story that I started from just an idea. I had no real notion of plot. So I would get brainstorms for the plot that would lead to energetic writing sessions that would inevitably fizzle because you need more than one plot point. Finally, in and around 2009, I managed to write an outline for the entire plot. Then I became a mom. Then I had to finish my masters and be a mom. So it took another four years to finally finish writing it.

I am stymied in the revision. First, my voice as a writer has changed, naturally, over ten years. Those are really the easier fixes to make, but I was really pounding my head against the exposition. There was a lot of it in just the first ten pages, and while I think it is important stuff for the reader to know, it was boring. I was telling. I wasn’t showing. I didn’t know how to fix it. Last week, I think I stumbled onto the fix. Now I just need to find another brain to tell me if I did, indeed, fix it. I just contacted an online writers’ group, I am hoping will help. That and whining to friends about it. Friends like Mandy who are patient.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This has proven a hard question for my predecessors, and I concur. Genre can be tough to pin down. When someone reads “Oops,” Said God, my hope is that they will laugh and get drawn into the adventure. So comic adventure? Some who have read piece of the whole have likened it to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so whatever genre that is in. My story is not quite so far flung or farcical. I like to think it is on level imagination-wise though.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I tend to write what I like to read which is fantasy. My manuscript does not really fit that genre, but most of the other ideas I have and the few short stories I have written fall into that category. I like that anything is possible in fantasy and that it can often incorporate aspects of a lot of other genres like romance or mystery.

4) How does your writing process work?

It usually ends up something like this….

In the shower in the morning, I think, “Tonight, after the kids go to bed I am going to make myself write 1,000 words no matter what.”

Fast forward to 10:30 PM when my son has FINALLY fallen asleep. I open the laptop. I open Google docs. I open the doc. I sit with my hands on the keyboard while I watch Buffy or Doctor Who on Netflix because I no longer can remember how to write a sentence let alone make them string together.

What I finally did to finish my manuscript was to take my sleek little Chromebook (Thank you, Honey.) everywhere. Waiting rooms were writing time. Kid TV time was Mom writing time. If I found myself scrolling Facebook or Twitter, I would make myself write instead.

It is all about the willpower of which I have little. (Proven by the cinnamon sugar doughnut I just owned.)

So next up is Tricia who is one of my favorite bloggers. Her sense of humor in the face of mothering her twins, Search and Destroy, is truly wonderful. And she will also be a published author in the near future when her children’s book, The Little Boy Who Was Afraid of the Dark is released. Thanks for taking part, Tricia.