Friday, December 30, 2011

The New Year

Happy New Year, everyone. It's about that time. In keeping with the holiday, I decided I'd look it up and see what I could find. I knew the beginning of a new year was, and in some places, is celebrated on different days in different places around the world. What I found out was really rather amazing. Thanks to Christianity, The day of our new year was decided by the circumcision of Christ. I didn't know that. Such occurrences can be put to use in your writing as well, whether Christ is included in your story or not, or whether the event is a circumcision or some other rite such as a rite of manhood. I use puberty as a major event in a life to trigger some occurrence. Since I have quite a bit of magic in my writing, I picked puberty as the time in a young person's life for it to show up; so many things change at puberty. Whether you pick that time of life or not is up to you; your story is yours.

Throughout the ages, the most popular time for the new year revolved around the spring equinox in March, either right on the moment of equal day and night, or at some point shortly thereafter. I'm sure the logic was that being the beginning of the planting season - new life and all that it entailed.

Many middle eastern cultures celebrated the new year as late as April and some even in June. I'm lumping these cultures together so if I screwed something up, please forgive me.

With the influx of Christianity, the popularity shifted to January and it was some time before it finally settled on what it is today.

My point is, it's important to do your research when including holidays, just as it's important to include the logic behind them, even if it's an unconscious logic. Rituals and customs are different in different countries, and they could be no other way.

If you are writing about another world, the same truths must hold there too. Never assume that an entire world will have the very same culture and beliefs, though they may have the same laws. There will always be different religions, different views, and different holidays and customs. This entire world might recognize Christmas but that doesn't mean that they observe it. Just as the new year around the world is accepted as January first, once upon a time, and for completely logical reasons, it was something else.

Never be afraid to add such variety into your stories, just make sure you keep it straight. If you need an outline or notes to do that, by all means keep them. Who knows, they might provide the fodder for a sequel.

Happy Writing

Friday, December 23, 2011


Christmas is an awesome holiday, especially in writing fiction. I Googled it today and found a great post about the history of Christmas - - Christmas is a great thing to include in your story, but research is very important if you're doing anything historical. Even if you're not, it's worth looking into. Christmas has gone through quite a bit of evolution through the ages, and if you write fiction, holidays are something that should be considered as part of your world, and it's only understandable that they should continue their evolution. Of course, what evolution the future holds is in your capable hands.

Holidays came to be for a variety of reasons, few of them of a religious nature, at least to begin with. Of course, that depends on your definition of religion too. In fact, some sort of religion has always been around. Worship of the different aspects of nature were likely the earliest samples. This fact is something you should never neglect in your story. It is small background details like this that add life to your story. Even if it's nothing you actually describe, your character's thoughts and actions will reflect some sort of religious teaching, even if it's no more than superstition.

In my book, King by Right of Blood and Might, I took the Christian religion and crushed it, but as we all know, Christianity does not crush well. Through the whole book, I never mentioned Christianity or Christ, or any known form of worship we are familiar with today. I did however keep the statue of the Virgin Mary, but only by description. The worship was more like meditation than worship, and rather than in some kind of church, I went for an outdoor setting not unlike the early worship of the Greek gods with at best a small temple frame, with or without a roof, where offerings could be left. I also connected this worship to something we might call Mother Nature, but as close as I got to that reference was 'the Mother'. I even gave her a presence, a mind, a purpose. I was curious if I would get any comments about all of this, but I'm not sure if anyone actually made those connections, Harris was a much more up-front character.

I'm curious, you that have read my book - Did any of you notice what I did with religion in my book?

Friday, December 16, 2011

28 Months of Blogging

Yep, it's been 28 months; my how time flies when you're having fun. It's also amazing to look back and see how this blog has evolved over the months. When I first started, I was very nearly scared. I had no idea what to do with a blog. In fact, I kind of stumbled on getting one because of troubles I had commenting on other's blogs. I still don't really know why I couldn't comment then; it's been a long time since I've had such trouble.

Way back at the beginning, the only thing I could think of to share was various scenes from the different stories I've written, but I knew there would be only so many of those I could post without managing to post the entire story, and if I did that, what would be the point of publishing them. All you'd have to do is put the pieces together and figure out the order - haha - talk about putting a puzzle together.

But then I started developing an opinion on various tricks of the trade of writing. I have gone to great lengths to read and pay attention to those I consider in the know, but we all know that eventually it all must find its own nook under our skin and behind our eyes. Now, of late, some of that has started leaking out and onto these posts. I'll never claim to be right. Right is something we all have to decide for ourselves. Just like all the advice we get from beta readers, editors and even publishers, the final decision needs to be our own. The story is, after all, our story.

I've heard several tales about some changes requested by publishers. The worse, I think, was to totally change one of the characters to make the book more marketable. That issue was a long time ago and it happened to someone else, but the change was drastic. A character, like a person, makes decisions and even acts in a certain way largely based on who the character is. If you change who he or she is, they are going to act differently and make different decisions. For instance, if you change a character from a man to a woman (or the other way around), can you imagine what that would do to the thread of a story? Or lets look at another drastic change. Lets change a character from white to black (or the other way around here too). Not to play any kind of race card here, but in most cases, especially in fiction where drama is highlighted, a person of a different race, any race, will make different decisions taking the thread of a story in a totally different direction.

But I digress

As I said, I have an opinion about writing now, though I'm still learning all the little tricks. Recognizing an issue is now fairly easy and in most cases it stands out above the content of the story itself, making it rather hard for me anymore to read books.

Currently I'm reading a delightful story, but there are way too many perfect characters. I am liking it though. I haven't read anything like it before and it does have my favorite element in it - magic.

Ach - I digress again - or did I. Such is the evolution of my blog. It has taken on being my place to post my opinion on some subject or other to do with writing. From time to time, you'll still see a sample from one or another of my stories, and if there's anything you'd like to see in particular, let me know. I do love hearing from my readers.

I hope you all find my blog interesting, and like always, if you have a question or suggestion, I'd love to hear it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Nueve - an idea

In the interest of enhancing military strength, the Tactical Flight (TF) experiments were initiated. Experiment number TF-1539 was their most promising endeavor; however, the cylinder in which he was grown was too small. So, at the relative age of nine years of age, TF-1539 was birthed. Though programming had been the plan, growing and training would help the scientists to know if this particular DNA mix was worth continuing.

TF-1539 soon came to be called Nine in those first few months of training, and it was soon discovered that he was a very intelligent, very normal boy in everything but his appearance, the most noticeable of which was the addition of enormous, dark brown wings. It was the unexpected size of the wings that prompted his early ‘birth’. They doubled his height when they were folded and stretched to nearly thirty feet when he held them wide.

Once one got past that first overpowering sight, other anomalies could be easily spotted. His arms were the next noticeable difference; they were approximately one third shorter than normal and were displaced to the front of the shoulder joint by the wings that dominated that joint. Though the arms and hands were strong and agile, such tasks as lifting heavy weights were very difficult since the muscle and bone structure around the shoulder favored the wings over the arms.

The next thing one noticed was his eyes; they were overly round and alarmingly yellow. Not so readily noticed as different, was his hair. It covered major sections of his body from the top of his head to the talons on his feet and it was all brown. Though it appeared to be merely hair, in actuality, it was a cross between human hair and soft feathers. Each hair was lined with barbules that held the hair in place next to its neighbor better than hairspray. These barbules faded with the length of hair - wearing off with age. Another detail not easily noticed was the fact that his wings had nothing that resembled pennae or contour feathers. His wings, were made much like a bat’s, stiffened by very long finger bones instead of stiff feathers though he used them like a bird’s wings; his tail was similar, stiffened by long fine bones and manipulated by a muscle structure that went up his back.

During the first months in the lab, Nine wore a loose fitting gown that reached below his knees. From there to the floor, Nine was very bird, though he had five toes instead of four - four toes faced front and one extended back acting like a heel. They were covered with a thick layer of soft brown hair like the hair on the rest of his body. Every bit as flexable as a hand, Nine’s feet could do nearly everything his hands could do, with the exception of writing, since the claws made it nearly impossible to hold a pencil. The claws that tipped each of his toes were hooked under, two inches long and very sharp. They were useless on the hard floor, but promised a sure grip on any other surface and a secure grip on whatever he chose to carry.

Under his gown, Nine was covered with more soft brown hair, but none covered his belly or his genitals - hence the gown. His back, chest and shoulders were heavily insulated against the cold mountain winds. His tail brushed the ground, looking like a wayward piece of material at first glance. Obscured by his chest hair, was the fact that his chest was especially constructed to support the action of flight giving him the look of being barrel-chested - which, in fact, he was.

Over the first year, Nine learned to read, write and do math. He learned military history - intimate military history of each of the military branches. Very little that was outside of a military application, was ever mentioned. He was also strengthened and tested over and over again until his physical strengths and weaknesses were well known.

By the time he was learning about dogfights, he was permitted his first real attempts at flight. His first efforts were in a wind tunnel with cushions on the floor. It was a good thing too, because the gown he customarily wore confused his aerodynamics and caused him to tumble upon landing every time he tried. Doing without solved that problem, but with his belly and privates exposed to the air, flying outside would be very uncomfortable if not debilitating.

The first person to consistently call him Nueve was the woman who cleaned his room and took care of him in other personal ways such as seeing to it that he took a bath every day - she helped him with extremities that he couldn’t reach. She also helped him overcome his clothing problem. Out of llama skin that was as brown as his hair, she made him something like an apron. It covered his belly with a wide belt that tapered to a buckle at his back. It was padded with brushed cotton to protect against chafing and cushioned with a layer of down to add warmth. In front, the belt extended almost to his knees, the last three inches of that distance was the combed hair of the llama. She had done some creative decorating of the front by braiding designs into the brown hair, occasionally working in colorful beads. It was a fine piece of work and Nine took to wearing it all the time.

Once Nine had mastered take-off and landing, he got his first introduction to outside. He was given specific directions in which he could fly with the promise of punishment if he disobeyed in this. Though he was not a disobedient boy, he had been punished severely for any transgressions. Something as big as flying in the wrong airspace would be a very big transgression - all the films and histories that covered flying in enemy airspace had taught him that. Being just a fledgling, Nine couldn’t begin to defend his airspace, or protect himself from such an attack. He had no desire to test his luck just yet.

With the vastness of the open air he was given, he had no problem keeping within his boundaries. Each time he flew, he was told to rehearse the dogfights of specific filmstrips, learning the maneuvers though he couldn’t hope to match the speeds. He did so gleefully, pushing his limits every chance he got. He also took to watching the birds in his field of view, which was, happily, quite far. Nine was able to spot something as small as a falcon on the wing at upwards of a mile distant - something that pleased the scientists very much.

In an effort to imitate those larger birds, Nine tried to land in the top of a large tree. He had been unprepared for the movement of the tree in response to his weight and the branch he had chosen did not support him. The tumble had been a hard lesson, but one he had fortunately been able to walk away from. With his wings torn and strained and two toes broken on one foot, Nine was unable to fly back home or walk very far.

Nine wasn’t missed until it was too late to look for him, but he was quickly found the next morning. When he was permitted out on the thermals again, he had no desire to land in the tops of trees - rock outcroppings were plentiful.

One thing learned from his fellow flyers, was hunting. Though he was unwilling to hunt his fellow hunters, Nine decided to take a basketball up and use that as a target instead. He quickly found out that a round ball was difficult to hang on to when caught at those kinds of speeds so he switched his toy to a stick - sometimes they broke, but they were easier to catch and hang on to and there was no limit to sticks. He didn’t give up on the ball though - he could kick it, launching it far further than he could throw a stick and if he did it high enough, he had time to make several attempts at catching it. His sharp eyesight enabled him to spot any balls he missed entirely, and most of the time he was able to retrieve them. All of these efforts sharpened his tactical flying skills and spotting small objects far better than anything the scientists could come up with, so he had a bottomless supply of balls.

By the time Nine was sixteen relative years old, he was consistently called Nueve. He considered himself highly skilled at aerial acrobatics and he was beginning to test the authority of the scientists who controlled his life.

He was given fairly loose reign over his day as long as he came around every night and was there whenever the scientists wanted to test him in some manner. In return, they added a room to the top floor of the building especially designed for him. It was very spacious inside and all four walls were mostly window made out of Plexiglas for strength. There were two large sliding doors on either side of the room that accessed a wide railless balcony. His room could also be reached by normal people through a roomy stairwell in one corner. Nueve could use the stairs too - there was enough room to accommodate his wings as well as his feet, but he preferred to fly down to the ground from one of his balconies. The room was also equipped with a roomy bathroom and any equipment he might need in order to work on his lessons.

Late one evening, after a cramped day of lessons and, then frustrating exercises endured through the heat of the day, Nueve took flight from his room to cool off and enjoy the sunset. Just before the sun was completely hidden by the glittering horizon of the far away and forbidden ocean, Nueve heard a shrill call that didn’t sound like anything he had ever heard before.

Using his ears to their avian best, he circled closer. He had chosen to fly in one of the forbidden directions in order to have a better view of the coast and the sunset. By now, he knew the restriction was because of the town still fifty some odd miles away, but he figured if he couldn’t see them, they certainly couldn’t see him.

The shrill noises continued, but they weren’t as desperate as the first sound he had heard, though there didn’t seem to be any less fear, and for the first time he thought he heard words. As he got closer, the light was fading, but he still had a couple hours of sight left before he would be forced to land. He spotted a person clinging to the face of a cliff dangling from two scarce finger holds and one toehold; the other foot scrabbled for some purchase, but found nothing.

As soon as he saw this person - the source of the shrill cries - Nueve spotted another standing looking over the face of the cliff.

“Help! Help me!” cried the person on the face of the cliff.

“Fall, why don’t you,” said the person at the top of the cliff. “You should have minded your own business. Mr. Luis doesn’t want his doings known by just anyone.”

“Help me! Oh god, please help me!” cried the girl on the cliff.

Nueve had never met a ‘girl’ before though he knew several women. Their words helped Nueve decide his next action. He had never killed before, but this man deserved it. Though he had never been taught this in so many terms, instinctively, Nueve knew that women and children needed to be protected. Someone who would kill a woman was too dangerous to allow to continue.

Nueve continued his circle, swooping as if to catch the man as he had learned to catch fish from a river. Instead of catching the weight of the man, he kicked him over the edge of the cliff and sent him plunging onto the rocks far below. He didn’t scream his death - the blow likely broke his neck; if not, he at least was not aware of his fall.

Then Nueve circled around tightly and came at the girl and the face of the cliff. He took the brunt of his weight on the cliff before grabbing the girl and falling away. She was stunned as she was buffeted into the rock face by the unorthodox landing that was not a landing, so she was unable to fight for her life as the claws of his feet and his hands gripped her legs and arms and pulled her tight to his body.

He tumbled away from the rock face then righted his trajectory. Flapping hard, Nueve clung to her extra weight tenaciously. He didn’t fear dropping her, but he was unwilling to dangle her upside-down from his feet; it would make landing highly dangerous for both of them.

Straining hard, he managed to attain the top of the cliff again. By then his passenger was beginning to stir. Moments before he landed, she let out a breathy “Oh my god” and stiffened up.

Between the two of them, their landing was only slightly clumsy - no one was hurt and neither of them fell.

Released to her own balance, the girl took another couple steps before turning to see where the huge wings had come from. “Oh my god,” was all she could say as Nueve rubbed his screaming shoulders.

At his first clear view, Nueve could see that the ‘girl’ was several years older than he was, though she was smaller and younger than any other woman he knew.

“Who are you?” she asked in a shocked voice, then followed it with a rapid “What are you?”

“I am Nueve, and I am what I am,” replied Nueve. “Are you safe here? I don’t think I can carry you any further, but I could go for help.”

“I’m fine,” she said as she looked closer, trying to get a better look at him in the waning light. “My pack is right over there. I can move about a mile from here and camp for the night. Then I think I’ll leave the area completely. Where’s Etienne? I’d rather not run into him in the dark.”

“If you mean the man who wanted you to die on that cliff, he took a dive and I didn’t try to catch him.”

It took her a moment to understand what he had just said and she rushed to the edge of the cliff to look down. It was too dark to see anything at the bottom.

“I have to go,” said Nueve. “Will you be okay?”

“Yes, yes, I’ll be fine, I’ll be fine.”

She seemed preoccupied, but Nueve could see no alternative and it was rapidly becoming too dark to fly. He launched himself off the cliff only a few feet away from her and heard her gasp with surprise. As he circled around to head home, he could see her white face searching the sky for him. He knew he was invisible to her in this light.

The next day, he flew high over the cliff and watched as men with ropes repelled down to recover the body. The girl was nowhere to be seen. He wondered what her name was - he had forgotten to ask.

Friday, December 2, 2011

If Only... What Future for Me?

As I follow the successes of my internet friends, sometimes I say to myself 'if only'... If only I had chosen a different publisher. If only I had picked a different book to publish. If only I would use Lulu or CreateSpace, or even SmashWords. But when I think back on the choices I've made, I know I would have done nothing different. Living in the wilderness has it's drawbacks - I know, I've said it before, but I really like my life, and my biggest choice was to give up my life for the publishing and advertising career, or simply plug away as best I can. All things considered, I guess I'm not doing too bad. I have a book out there, and #2 is finished (#3 is stubbornly residing behind a writer's block mountain). I also have a book coming out in March, and #2 and 3 will follow, so in a couple more years, I'll have 4 books out there.

I've also submitted a story to another publisher, though I haven't heard back from them. This one to be an eBook one day soon, I hope. And let's not forget my blog novel. Chapter 97 just went up today and there's only 117 chapters total. That means, sometime in April, it will be complete. I'm wanting to publish it then and sell the book for a maybe a couple bucks - some people don't like reading from a computer screen. I'm also thinking about closing the blog and charging for people to read it then, but I'm not sure how, or even if, that can be done. I don't plan to charge much - a dollar or two maybe. I would really like for someone to tell me some more about that - even if you think it's a bad plan. Reader feedback is invaluable - at any rate, I don't want the blog to just drift off into the aether.

Also, would you all like me to start another blog novel when The Fortunes of Magic is complete? Would you read one with longer chapters? That's the biggest reason I chose this book for a blog - the chapters were so short. My other stories average five to ten pages in length, that's two to four times longer than the average page length of this one. It's funny how a book will do that, just fall into chapter lengths, though I admit I aim for it to a certain degree. So tell me what you think. I really do love hearing from you.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Beta Reader

According to Wikipedia, A beta reader (also spelled betareader, or shortened to beta) is a person who reads a written work, generally fiction, with what has been described as "a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, characterization, and general style of a story prior to its release to the general public." Believe me, a valuable resource, one not all that easy to find, and I know why. Having been asked by several writers to 'take a look at' their work, I have found it to be a time-consuming project. Don't get me wrong; I love to help other writers. By doing so, I get to read some really awesome stories, and I know how valuable a fresh pair of eyes can be. Sometimes one's own brain just keeps reading what it wants to read, not seeing the little mistakes.

I'm not educated in the english language and my spelling skills are mediocre at best, but after having put enough words into my computer(s) to fill over a dozen books, I've learned a thing or two. I also have a much varied life of experiences to draw on for trivial information. Also, since acquiring an internet connection, I've learned a few tricks about the skill of writing itself. I'm no expert; there are several writers which I follow in one way or another who I consider a far better expert than I am, but I do try to pass on what I've learned.

The most frustrating thing about helping beginning writers is their desire to take my word for it all. After however many pages of corrections, suggestions and comments, it's very disheartening when you get another installment and exactly the same kinds of mistakes are still being made. It makes me wonder if my comments and corrections are being read or if they are simply all being blindly accepted. And I do believe this may well be the biggest reason beta readers are so hard to find.

'Voice' is a very real thing; you might say it is a writer's fingerprint, and we all know that fingerprints are very individual. 'Voice' is likely one thing a reader falls in love with when they read your books; it is something that can draw people to buy anything you write rather than just judging by cover and title. If you allow a beta reader to dictate all of your corrections, you risk your 'voice' becoming muddled if not completely usurped. So, my advice to writers who religiously use beta readers ---> LEARN from what they say. They are experience. They are a fresh pair of eyes, They are an opinion on some matter you may have overlooked. And absolutely none of them will be the slightest bit bothered if you don't make a change they may have recommended. In fact, it is entirely possible, them recommending some change is a way for you to see that they missed the point you were trying to make.

I have asked for a little help from time to time without much real success, not the kind I was looking for, however I have worked with now two professional editors. Both have suggested different spellings for names; one I agreed with rather blindly (in that regard) to my regret, the other I agreed with and then changed my mind. Be willing to learn from anyone around you, but also be willing to disagree in order to preserve your own 'voice', your own story.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Investigation

In my current manuscript, Druid Derrick, I have been bothered by the fact that I have relatively little information from the other side of the 'looking glass'. You see, my character kind of walks in two separate and distinct worlds. There's the world you and I are familiar with, and then there is the hidden life of a druid, a life where he must protect the other sentient species that inhabit this earth. Races like centaurs, elves, dryads and pixies, and many others have hidden for centuries, and druids like Derrick help to ensure they stay hidden for their protection.

It bothered me that my story was rife with adventures in Derrick's side of the 'looking glass', but next to nothing from our side. Then I got the idea to add a few chapters to that end. Just a few - nowhere near half.

In the chapter I'm adding now, I decided my detectives would be going around to all the different people most closely involved in, or closest to, either the crime itself or to Derrick. A month has passed and I'm really having fun getting the different points of view from the different people.

Remember that different people will see the very same event and each one will have a totally different opinion or translation about what happened.

Derrick's mother can't even think about that night without breaking down.

Derrick's father rules the family with an iron hand. He has strong opinions about what his son should and should not do.

Derrick's uncle refuses to believe he could have done the crime but the evidence is pretty strong. Ultimately, he's just plain furious about the whole affair and determined to find Derrick at any cost so that he can clear his name once and for all.

From Derrick's best friends we will get the best insight into what might make Derrick tick. It remains to be seen if the detectives can pick up on that though.

What do you think? How would you use such an investigation? Or would you do something different?

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Germ with a Collective Intelligence

I have been hashing out with myself a scene in my current book that deals with vampirism. I wanted it to be realistic. Though I can understand where the sparkly idea came from, and I can even imagine it being true, I'm more interested in how traditional vampirism could occur.

As we all know, vampirism is transmitted by a bite, one that breaks the skin. We also know that if the victim is sucked dry the germ isn't transmitted, or at least it cannot grow. Therein lies my theory, and I am really interested in knowing what you think of it.

Just so you know, this is only for a single scene. There is not going to be another vampire book out there. I know you are all heaving a huge sigh of relief.

In two and a half years (book time) Derrick will encounter a rogue vampire. Before anyone else finds him, Derrick must hunt him down and either kill him or return him to the hidden vampire society where his 'family' can deal with him. Yes, just like in Twilight, vampires move among us with some restrictions, but they have agreed to be obscure. It's either that or eradication.

At any rate, the fight will go pretty much as expected. Derrick will win after a fashion, but he will also lose - he will be bitten. Rapidly weakening, he must go to the closest place he can reach, the grove near his home. This grove is a focal point of magical energy, plus a clan of dryads live in the oaks around the perimeter. Between Derrick's magic and that of the dryads, Derrick and the vampire are bound on the surface of the cromlech to await the coming sunrise and their demise.

A druid dying in his grove is the worst thing that can happen to a grove, but Derrick couldn't go anywhere else, he didn't have the energy or the time. The dryads, however, opted to do what they could to keep Derrick alive. They 'fed' him. They gave him what he needed to live. What they didn't realize was that dryad blood wasn't what the vampire germ needed to survive. Herein is my theory. Dryad blood is like unto tree sap; it does for trees and dryads what blood does for people, and since it's dryad blood, and not tree sap, it did for Derrick what was most needed at the time. It fed Derrick but not the vampire germ.

The vampire germ has a collective intelligence - the more of the germ grows in the body, the more intelligent it becomes, and the more it takes over the body. As it multiplies, it of course kills the body, but it also keeps it animated, an animated body is needed in order to continue to feed the germ, and the brain is the perfect location for the germ to collect its intelligence. Thus develops the vampire.

New vampires need to feed. The germ grows at a furious rate right at first, devouring what blood is contained within the host, thus sparking the insane hunger that drives new vampires. Derrick couldn't help but feed, and he couldn't stop himself. Fortunately, he wasn't the one in control. Being bound, the dryads could dictate how much he fed off of which one. They could then retire to their tree to recover.

Derrick's elf friends came looking for him and they continued the treatment. It was obvious something was working because the ashes of the vampire were still there, but Derrick, though very ill and very pale wasn't even sunburned.

At the Crystal Palace (the elvin home in the Rockies), the dryad colony was much larger. Therefore the donation pool was also much larger, taking the strain off the grove dryads. The germ was tenacious though, and the human body fabricates new blood all the time. So, in the hopes of eventually starving out the vampire germ entirely, the elves hooked Derrick up to a dialysis machine to keep feeding him dryad blood and to clean human blood from his system.

I'm having this take days or maybe weeks (I'm open for suggestions here). During this time, Derrick goes between a desperate vampire personality and the extremely weak human druid who isn't sure how many dryads he managed to kill in his grove. At some point, his wife is brought in in the hopes of giving him reason to continue to live. If he gives up, nothing will keep him alive. Of course she has some extra news for him, news that works even better than just her being there cheering him on. She's going to have his baby.

Well, that's my idea. What do you think. I've left out much of the drama that will occur, and the fight scene is still a blur in my head. What do you think?

Friday, November 4, 2011


November - National Novel Writing Month - NaNoWritMo - I'm sure many of you have heard about it.

Here are the rules:

Participants' novels can be on any theme and in any genre, and in any language. Everything from fanfiction, which uses trademarked characters, to novels in poem format, and even metafiction is allowed; according to the website's FAQ, "If you believe you're writing a novel, we believe you're writing a novel too." Starting at midnight November 1, novels must reach a minimum of 50,000 words before 11:59:59 PM on November 30, local time. Planning and extensive notes are permitted, but no earlier written material can go into the body of the novel, nor is one allowed to start early and then finish 30 days from that start point.

Participants write either a complete novel of 50,000 words, or simply the first 50,000 words of a novel to be completed later. While 50,000 words is a relatively low word count for a complete novel, it is still significantly more than the 40,000 word mark that distinguishes a novel from a novella. Notable novels of roughly 50,000 words include The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Brave New World, and The Great Gatsby. Some participants set higher goals for themselves, like writing upwards of 100,000 words, or completing two or more separate novels. To win NaNoWriMo, participants must write an average of approximately 1,667 words per day. Organizers of the event say that the aim is simply to get people to start writing, using the deadline as an incentive to get the story going and to put words to paper. This "quantity over quality" philosophy is summarized by the site's slogan: No Plot? No Problem! This is also the title of Chris Baty's book of advice for NaNoWriMo participants, published in late 2004 by Chronicle Books. There is no fee to participate in NaNoWriMo; registration is only required for novel verification.

No official prizes are awarded for length, quality, or speed. Anyone who reaches the 50,000 word mark is declared a winner. Beginning November 25, participants can submit their novel to be automatically verified for length and receive a printable certificate, an icon they can display on the web, and inclusion on the list of winners. No precautions are taken to prevent cheating; since the only significant reward for winning is the finished novel itself and the satisfaction of having written it, there is little incentive to cheat. Novels are verified for word count by software, and may be scrambled or otherwise encrypted before being submitted for verification, although the software does not keep any other record of text input. It is possible to win without anyone (other than the author) ever seeing or reading the novel.

In October 2008, the self-publishing company CreateSpace teamed up with NaNoWriMo to begin offering winners a single free, paperback proof copy of their manuscripts, with the option to use the proof to then sell the novel on


When I first heard about it, the first thing I thought was that since I already had over twenty stories written, long and short, the last thing I needed was to speed-write another one. As I understand it, the goal is to just write it. No worrying about spelling (much). No worrying about grammer (much). You can fix all that stuff next month when the contest is over. Trouble is, I always worry about spelling and grammer. Those quaint little red and green squiggly lines would drive me nuts if I ignored them. I have enough fun figuring out what my computer is trying to tell me as it is.

I never timed myself when I came to my writing. About the best I've accomplished is ten pages a day. At roughly 300 words per page, that's not bad. However, now that I have this very addictive distraction called the internet, of which Facebook is probably the worst, accomplishing ten pages in a day is a thing of the past, I'm afraid.

Maybe I'll give this a shot when I get more of what I already have cleaned up enough to hand over to an editor. How about you? Are you doing NaNoWritMo? If you are, tell us a little about the story you're writing. Here is where you can test your hook.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The History of Halloween

by psychic Gina Rose (gleaned while searching for information about Celtic holidays for my current manuscript, Druid Derrick. I thought you might find it interesting.

Halloween dates back well over 6,000 years to the ancient fire festival of Samhain. Celts celebrated this day on November first -- this is their New Year marking the end of Summer and the third and final harvest of the season.

November Eve was believed to be the veil between realms -- the veil so thin that the ghosts and the dead came back into our world. During this time, Celtic Priests made predictions about the future, and people found these prophecies important sources of comfort and direction during a long, dark, harsh winter. Costumes were worn, fortune telling was told as well as story telling. The hearth was extinguished early on November Eve and re-lit from the sacred bonfire to protect them during the coming winter.

By 43 A.D. Romans conquered most of the Celtic territories, but not without a good fight. Within the course of 400 years, two Roman festivals were combined. Feralia -- a commemoration of the passing of the dead -- and a day to honor Pomona, the Goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, which is how bobbing for apples became incorporated into Samhain.

By the 800s Christianity spread through the Celtic lands and Pope Boniface IV designated November first as All Saints Day, to honor all saints and martyrs. The Pope at this time was trying to replace the Celtic festivals with a related, but church-sanctioned holidays.

Then around 1000 A.D. the church made November second All Soul's Day which was celebrated with big bonfires, parades, dressing in costumes as saints, angels, and devils...together these celebrations were called Hallowmas.

Halloween Comes to America
As Europeans came over with their different costumes, beliefs and ethnic groups as well as American Indian beliefs, a distinct American version of Halloween was born. Play parties, apple bobbing, celebrating the harvests, neighbors sharing stories of the dead, fortune telling, dancing, singing, Bonfires...etc.

By 1846, America was flooded with Irish immigrants fleeing from the deadly potato plague... this blended an Irish-American tradition of dressing up in costumes and going house to house asking for food or guessed it, this is where Trick or Treating comes from.

What started as festivals celebrating the harvests and the dearly departed has since become largely a holiday fostering community and neighborhood goodwill.

Have a Happy Halloween

Tell me all about your Halloween plans

Hmmm since fortune telling was such a big deal back then, I may have to break out my Tarot cards and tell my fortune. Anyone want to guess how it will turn out?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Reading come Writing

Once was the time when I read every book (almost) I could get my hands on, as long as it took place somewhere else or some-when else. I read about dragons, space travel, mind reading, time travel, you name it, for the most part. There was very seldom when I didn't have a book open; I even had to restrict myself and make myself finish a book before I started another, and further, to wait until the next day before starting another book. It gave me a little time to digest one story before starting another one.

Being the Libran that I am, I loved books that were a series, but I hated getting the second of a series (or whichever) and not being able to find the others, so I refused to buy a book that was part of a series unless I could get all of them. That didn't apply to those books given to me, so I ultimately ended up with some of those odd books. Needless to say, I read them anyway, frustrating though it was.

When we moved out here, I had to give up my collection of books - we simply couldn't move them, and even if I'd managed to be able to bring them out here initially, at some point during the multiple times we've moved since, I'm certain that my collection would have had to be sacrificed somewhere along the line.

Since then, I've accumulated quite a few books; sadly, few of them are the kind I like - the long story that covers several books - and finding any remnants of any of my old collection is impossible. Another obstruction is the fact that I can't just go to a book store; I'm doing good to go through the book stands in Walmart or Fred Meyers or some other big store, if there's time. Another rather frustrating thing about my books is that they are mostly in boxes stashed either in the top of the woodshed or upstairs stuffed in a corner buried under other boxes or shoes or clothes or whatever else it stuffed up there. Space is at an extreme premium here in this little cabin in the middle of nowhere.

To satisfy my desire to read, I have, from time to time, jotted down a story. While I was working on the military base (before we moved out here), we were required to take three breaks during every work day. They were fairly boring breaks, though not really all that long - an hour all together. To fill the time, not long enough to enjoy a good read, I started writing a story, long hand, in a loose-leaf notebook. This notebook is the one book that came with me when I moved out here. This notebook was unfortunately one sacrifice because of one of our moves. Some items had to be left behind, and when I finally got the chance to retrieve the duffle, the notebook was gone. Sigh

Several years later, I decided to start another story in another notebook. The kids were both done with school and there was all this paper left over. One day, my son comes home with this little laptop computer. I'd never seen one before. It was really rather cool. He taught me how to use it and he taught me some things about Word, other things I learned along the way with occasional help from my son when he was home. Since then, I have worn out that poor little computer. My second PC started getting a hiccup in the music program and my son said it might be some kind of internal problem. So, since I've managed to write over twenty stories which I didn't want to lose, I now have my third computer, a MAC.

Yes, I said over twenty stories. They are all lengths and I've talked about them before in this blog. I have discovered the new way to read. I have satisfied my desire to read new books. If I can't go to a bookstore, I can create my own books. I can do it, and you know what, I love doing it. The new stories that evolve on my computer screen don't have a book trailer, they don't have any advertising yet, they don't even have a rumor friends can pass on. You can't get much newer than that.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Evil Behind a Sweet Face - From Druid Derrick, a work in progress

During his new moon’s fast, both the Lady and her consort visited Derrick. The Lady’s touch left him staggering, but Actaeon’s massive hand kept him on his feet until he could retain his own balance. Though their visit was silent and quite brief compared to other visits, the Lady’s smile and Actaeon’s nod were infinitely more preferable to her displeasure and his punishment.

For the first time, Derrick didn’t pass out when the new spells were crowded into his brain, but none-the-less, the overlarge boulder rattling around between his ears kept him indoors for several days, moving from his bed only when his stomach clamored for some attention, or when he couldn’t put off going to the outhouse any longer.

When his headache finally lifted, he had to catch up on spring chores and patrols, and he had to send a message to the Grand Druid; he’d never gotten around to sending one last time.

He was just returning from the mountain and his Fertility Ceremony, two weeks after the Lady’s visit, fully intending to be spending the night in the grove for the full moon, but he found a halfling pacing back and forth before his door. Waiting for his arrival.

“I have news that may interest you,” he said, even before Derrick had crossed half the yard.

“Who died?” asked Derrick. Seriously, he couldn’t think of any other reason for the halfling’s distress.

“My brother’s sister’s cousin’s oldest son saw a girl heading this way and more humans are following her, chasing her. She means trouble if you ask me.”

“Where?” asked Derrick, finding it hard not to smile at the family tree string the little man had felt the need to clarify.

“When I got the news, she’d already passed my cousin’s sister’s place. Has everyone in an uproar, she does.”

“Tell me how to find her, so I can make sure she doesn’t find anything she shouldn’t.”

“Well then, you might cross her track if you head south east of here. I’m sure she’s passed my old gaffer’s place by now.”

“And her followers? What can you tell me about them?”

“They’re humans.”

“Are they carrying weapons? Are they out to do damage to the girl? Can you tell?”

“Three men and a woman. They make a lot of noise. Don’t know anything else about ‘em.”

“Okay. Thanks for the warning. I’ll see if I can find her. See if she’s in trouble. Keep her out of trouble. You go on home and tell everyone to stay out of sight.”

“Eh. Nobody sees…” but the halfling was already trotting off and what exactly nobody sees was lost by distance and decreasing volume as his words rapidly decreased to a mutter.

Smiling, Derrick stepped into the house and collected his bow and quiver, then, thinking to increase his chances of finding the girl, he changed into a wolf. It would allow him to travel faster too.

It was midafternoon when he found her, but he didn’t really have all that much trouble; she wasn’t trying to hide. She seemed to be more interested in traveling fast than anything else.

Not wanting to frighten her, he shifted back before stepping into her view. Not that he was any less dangerous as a human, but at least he would be upright and a safe sight.

As soon as she saw him, she turned to run, but he called out, “Wait. Are you lost? Can I help you?”

At Derrick’s words, she spun on the spot, tears suddenly streamed down her face and sobs shook her voice. “Oh I’m so glad I found someone. I was so afraid I’d be lost forever. Help me please. There are people chasing me. They’re…” But then the tears vanished and whatever else she was going to say, never got said. Instead, she said, “Cyr cestal,” then did a small happy dance right there. “I’ve never had human magic to play with before,” she said. “It tastes different.”

The sudden tears and sobs, and the equally sudden lack of them weren’t nearly as stunning as the result of the elven words she’d uttered. She’d used his own magic against him and he was too surprised to resist. And though she’d called the spell using ‘hold human’ rather than ‘hold person’, it had worked well enough. What he thought was merely a six-year-old little girl – maybe an albino – was really an elf, but never before had he heard of any creature being able to make use of another’s personal magic; there were scrolls and potions enough for that.

“Ailos,” she said next, her word allowing her to inflict whatever damage she chose, fortunately, she only elected to cut the tendons at his heels; it wasn’t life-threatening damage, but without healing, he’d be unable to walk. The hold person spell did nothing to support him, nor did it shield him from feeling the pain, but it did prevent him from crying out, though he thought he might explode with the need.

She watched dispassionately as he was toppled onto the grass and then she pulled his weapons away and tossed them out of reach. Lastly she pulled his cloak free and started going through the pockets, giggling with glee at every discovery.

At the sound of a far away call, she said, “Shar os sys,” drawing a close circle around them with a wave of her hand, her words causing a wall of thorns to surround them and cutting him off from any hope of reaching his weapons. Nothing, but the smallest creatures were going to get past the three-inch thorns and his weapons were now beneath them.

When it started to sprinkle she looked up with indignation, as if ‘how dare nature spit on her’, but then the appropriate spell was there for that too. “Aelesi tyr,” she called out, touching herself in the center of her chest, but endure elements wasn’t quite what she wanted. Though it was a bit chilly, and now damp, there was no damage being done, not yet, and her coat was warm enough. Furious, she turned to Derrick. “Why didn’t it work?” She flipped the rain from her fingers at him saying, “Cori mae,” turning each drop into a tiny, very sharp projectile.

It was like getting a dozen sudden paper cuts and all of them laced with salt, and now that the hold person spell was just wearing off, Derrick was free to voice his pain, now redoubled since this new assault caused him to move his feet, which felt like they were on fire.

Desperately trying to get a grip on himself, he clamped his jaws on any further outcry. “Why are you doing this?” he asked through clenched teeth, the words nearly making room for another cry of pain, but he managed to keep it to a gasp. He was trying to buy time, time to gather his wits and his strength, time to figure out what he could do.

“Because I can,” she said suddenly quite happy. “I’m thirsty. Taeri sharaes,” she said, creating a pitcher of water and winning a groan from Derrick. Then suddenly, once again, she spun on him, totally furious. “Why isn’t there a cup? Cori mae!” she screamed, and then let out an even louder scream of pure frustration when there was no more drizzle for her to turn into knife spray. Derrick was thankful she didn’t think to throw the pitcher of water at him; it would have killed him in an instant.

Once again her mood switched with the speed of a thought and she turned away, drinking deep from the lip of the pitcher, and then she set it over to the side of their space, safe for later.

Derrick had never been so stunned. Every spell she cast felt like she was grabbing at his magical energy with a hard cold fist, yanking it to her control with force enough to take him to near fainting each time. Every spell she cast was every bit a blow as any affect the spell itself had.

Her thirst slackened, she swept down on him and pulled his shirt open. There was no retreat. He couldn’t move beyond her reach. He couldn’t think. She combed her fingers down his chest and then flattened her palm right above his thumping heart. “It’s been a long day,” she said with exaggerated sweetness. “Paer caer,” she said so sweetly as to belie the intent of the death knell spell. It was supposed to be used on an already fatally injured creature. Their final life force going to bolster the casters energy, thus giving him vital energy needed to continue whatever battle he was fighting for a little while longer, perhaps long enough to survive the encounter. The spell worked best that way, but it worked to a certain degree no matter what. Cast on a relatively healthy person, the victim was only weakened for a while. The energy she took from Derrick must have been sweet nonetheless, because she let out a sigh of relish, or perhaps it was just more over dramatization.

Derrick remembered the one time he’d used this spell. The man had died. Had he died from the spell? Derrick found himself wishing for that end – briefly.

Derrick had never felt the like before; not only was she sucking at his magical strength like a vampire sucks at blood, but she was damaging him too – only a little here and a little there, but mind-numbing damage just the same. This was more insidious even than a wraith’s touch. He rolled up with a growl to reach for her.

“Ailos,” she cried, and as if he had just put his hand through a glass window, his arm was shredded from his hand to his elbow.

Derrick recoiled. “Stop this,” he yelled.

“Oh no,” she said with a very sweet smile. Her smile looked truly evil coming from such a young and innocent looking face.

Returning to an earlier tactic, she said, “Vaerorali.” Making him wonder why she wanted a resistance spell. But then she examined a pinch of something very fine sticking to her damp fingers and she smiled through slitted eyes. “Aili mys,” she cried as she flicked the bit of damp dust in the air with an exaggerated flourish.

Derrick took some satisfaction from watching her realize that her resistance spell wasn’t as much protection from her ice storm spell as she expected, but she took shelter under Derrick’s cloak and then hunkered down close to her thorn wall and so took remarkably little damage. Derrick wasn’t so lucky. Sprawled out under the full brunt of the short storm, he thought he might die. If the storm had lasted longer than a few minutes, he would have died. He threw his left arm over his eyes to protect his face from the snowball sized hail stones, but that left the rest of him vulnerable, though he rolled over onto his side to protect his vitals. By the time the hail stopped, he was left with broken ribs, a broken arm and hand and deep bruises. Just before he passed out, he heard the girl let out a whoop of glee as if it had been the height of fun for her.

When he woke, he found himself upright and bound tightly in the thorn bushes that made up their barrier. She was pacing back and forth in front of him. What did she have in store for him now? Though he had used all of his spells at some point or other during his existences, he had never done so to only one enemy and never with such meticulous glee. It was as if she couldn’t wait to cast the next spell and do the next bit of damage, though that last was more than just a bit of damage.

As soon as she noticed his eyes tracking her pacing she said, “Thaes os Pys,” effectively combining two spells into one command by telling him to fear his doom without bothering to tell him what his doom was supposed to be. She didn’t really need to though; he already felt doomed and he had never been so afraid – not ever. The pain of the sharp thorns helped him resist struggling though; it wasn’t healthy to struggle while in the grip of a wall of thorns. Was it the magical energy she relished, or was it his pain? He couldn’t tell. For the life of him, he couldn’t remember ever encountering anyone like this little girl before.

Much to Derrick’s dismay, she apparently wasn’t satisfied with the amount of damage her thorns were doing, so she cast another minor wounds spell, ensuring that each spot where a thorn touched his skin did indeed pierce, allowing a trail of blood to escape from each puncture.

Derrick spit blood from his mouth. The pain from her spells was forcing his chest muscles into immobility making breathing nearly impossible and making his head spin. She didn’t seem to be in the slightest concerned as she cast thornwrack saying, “Sys shas,” and drew a scream out of him, drowning out her giggles of delight.

Over the next ten eternal minutes, Derrick’s ribs grew jagged thorns of their own. One thorn at a time, eight in total, drilled its way slowly out through his skin from the inside until the bur was several inches long and had torn an inch wide hole in his flesh, then they began to recede, infinity slower than they had grown, grinding their way back through their wound. Derrick was helpless, but to cry out and writhe against the thorn barrier. By the time the bony thorns were gone, Derrick was drenched in blood.

Long before the spell was over – long before even half of the thorns had burst through his skin – the girl grew bored. There was no variety, just screaming and squirming and bleeding, so “Shaer tarn” were her next words, and her fingers turned to razors, and with them, she played ‘connect the dots’ by tracing slow and careful cuts from thorn to thorn as they appeared and even including some of the dots created from exterior thorns.

Derrick heard a sound that might have been a voice, but then the girl said, “Shi paes” and all sound was wiped away. Even if her pursuers were close, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to muster enough air to call out to them.

A few moments, and another spell, later he felt her mind in his. Not that she’d said much before, but now Derrick could taste her demented reasoning.

Unfortunately, the spell worked both ways and his revulsion pissed her off. She took a swipe at his belly with her razor clawed hands, but the beast claws spell picked that moment to run out – at least his guts were still inside where they belonged. That didn’t stop her from using a cause light wounds spell to do some of the damage she’d intended with the claws, and what was whole of the skin across his chest and belly grew more cuts.

And then to further torture him, she said, “Caes os si shaes.” Casting bear’s heart to falsely emboldened him and feed him strength to draw out her game, but he knew it wouldn’t last long enough for him to accomplish enough, so, though he felt stronger, he horded it carefully. When the spell ran out, it would tax him enough without spending what it offered, and he didn’t have much left to fall back on.

Finally her thoughts turned toward furthering her escape, this game was getting boring and her care-jailors were getting close – a thought Derrick relished. An end, any end would do, even death. Hastily, she started to cast spells on herself, or for herself, as the case may be. She created food and wrapped it up in his cloak then she made fire seeds twice to arm herself with eight acorn firebombs. Then she cast death ward, barkskin, magic vestment and endurance on herself as fast as she could put them together – each spell leaving Derrick feeling deflated and weaker. Blood dripped from the corner of his mouth; he no longer had the energy to spit.

In the middle of that, bear’s heart wore off and Derrick fainted. She woke him with more pain, though he hurt so much already, he couldn’t determine what other damage she’d done, and then she said, “ai tystal o sais hi molail.” He was a moment understanding the elven words, but the command silenced him just as well. In her place, he would have simply left himself unconscious, but no, she just had to wake him. Another spell told her which direction was north and then wind walk took her away.


Did she get away scott free? You may have to wait until the book comes out. A little sweet talking might get you an answer though.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Meet My Guest, Stacy Eaton

I belong to a forum where writers gather to share their experience and thoughts - - this is where I met Stacy. A couple days ago, she posted some excerpts from her books and I was intrigued. Paranormal I'm familiar with. Police stories are also common, especially on TV these days. Never before have I seen them combined. What would a police officer do when confronted by a real live vampire. I plan to find out. I fully intend to buy one of her books ASAP. At any rate, I invited her here to introduce her to you.


It is with great honor that I get the chance to grace the Anna’s Obsession blog.  I met Anna on the website and I am honored that she asked me to join her here to tell you a little bit about me and about my current books.  So thank you Anna and here I am.
Hello, my name is Stacy Eaton, and I’m an author.
Currently, I work full time as a police officer for a small township in southeastern Pennsylvania. While my current position is that of a patrol officer, I spend a lot of my time doing investigations and crime scene processing.  Forensics is something I love and I take my job very seriously.

I am also a wife to a police officer and with our constant schedules life can get very hectic in our home. I have been blessed with two children, a son who is currently in the United States Navy and I am very proud of him for what he is doing and for serving his country. My daughter is a priceless princess who loves to help me market my books to teachers and other parents while she is at school and church.

When I am not working the job that currently pays all the bills I work on my business. Yes, I have my own business too.

I have two Shiloh Shepherd dogs, Garda and Callie. They are larger and less aggressive than the normal German shepherd and they have more fur!  Man do they have fur!!!  Garda has a face that resembles a wolf, which makes me love him even more. (You can see by my photo that I wear a wolf pendant). Garda actually means "The Guardian" in Irish. It is also the name of the Irish Police.  Rather fitting for our family of officers don't you think?

In my spare time... I write…

The first two books that I have written will intertwine the reality of police work and the paranormal world of vampires.  By weaving bits of these two worlds together, I feel that I have given the world of paranormal a bit of down to earth reality.
My Blood Runs Blue, the first book in the series, will introduce you to three main characters; Officer Kristin Greene, Julian Hutchinson and Alexander Armstrong. While Kristin is busy investigating a homicide, her life enters the world of the paranormal and she finds things out that she never knew existed. She will also learn things about herself that will forever change her world. There are twists and turns in there that will surprise you. Especially as you try to figure out whom Kristin will choose in the love triangle that has been around for over 30 years.
Blue Blood for Life is the second book and was just released on September 30th. Kristin returns in this book, as does Alexander and Julian. You will meet Kristin’s three best friends and find out how she reveals the changes in her life to them. When Alex is kidnapped, Kristin will work with Julian and Gabe (you will meet Gabriel in book 1) to try and locate him. There is another hot and sexy vampire that enters the scene here, Trent Myers. You are going to see a whole lot of changes in this book, and quite a few new names and faces.  The twists and turns of this book will keep you intrigued and in a constant state of suspense as you follow the four main characters through the story.  Everyone that has read it has said they were extremely surprised by the ending and loved it!
Both of these books will give you the direct points of view from the character who is talking at that time. You will always know whose head you are in by the chapter title. In book one, Kristin, Alex and Julian will share their thoughts and feelings through their words. When you get to book two, Trent joins the chorus of voices.
Of both of the books, Blue Blood for Life is my favorite.  Why?  Because I love the choices and challenges that Kristin is faced with, both in the vampire world and the police world that she is such a part of.  You will follow her through shifts at work and see her as she touches people’s lives. She will show you that no matter who or what you are, you can always show your humanity.
Thank you Anna for allowing me to visit your blog
I truly appreciate it!!  If your readers are interested in seeing more about my books, they can visit my website at
They are also available on Amazon as Kindle downloads
Do check out her books. I'm sure they are well worth your time.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Nightmare of Show and Tell

My nightmare anyway. We all walk through our lives showing others all manner of telltale ways. Think of all the major emotions we all have. Ha - I just looked up 'emotion' on Wikipedia and there's an awesome list there. I highly recommend you go there and read it. There's a lot of information about emotion you just might find helpful.

These emotions are broken down into six categories - Angry, Sad, Happy, Excited, Tender and Scared. Under each category are seven common emotions. It might not be a bad idea to take note of the words; they might come in handy in some of your writing. Maybe they'll help keep you from getting into a rut for lack of words.

But I digress. For the sake of this post, I'll use these six words.

Angry: You can write something like 'he was so angry he could spit stones' and that would get the message across, but what if you took it a bit further. How would you show that he was angry? Think of the phrase and take a close look at the picture it generates in your head - now write it down.

His face started to go all red and I could see the muscles in his jaw jump and jump, but he wasn't chewing anything. And the way he clenched his fists, one finger at a time, and so tight the muscles on his arms below his rolled up shirtsleeves bulged, I thought he was going to hit me - or something.
What do you think? Does it look like he's about ready to spit stones?

Sad: 'She was so sad, her heart had to be breaking' That's pretty sad, don't you think? But can you feel it? That's what you are trying to do, make your reader feel these emotions. For sadness, the meter I set for myself is to see if I can make myself cry. I've managed it a couple times, but then I'm an easy crier. Still, it's a good gauge to go by.

She sat there, tears running between her fingers to drip off her elbows onto the pale tattered dress she wore. Her face was hidden behind her thin hands. She made no move to stem the tide. She just sat there, her shoulders shaking with every sob; each sob the only breath she took.
Well, I've done better, but I think you get the idea.

Happy: 'She was the happiest she had ever been in her life' This is very generic and you want to avoid that at all costs. Such a state just might be different for every person who ever reads it and could generate a different feeling which just might screw some other things up. Remember to always be specific.

She was smiling so wide I thought all her teeth were going to pop out of her head. Her eyes were brimming with tears. She was hopping up and down, though her feet weren't leaving the ground. It looked as though she was going to burst or just take off into orbit at any moment.
Now that was kinda fun.

Excited: This is very like Happy but we'll see what I can do with it. 'He was so excited about his new gift' I almost said 'job' but though someone might be excited to get a job, I'm thinking it would be lesser that what we're looking for here.

He opened up the present, peeling the paper away with anticipation. When he finally opened the box and saw the contents, he whooped with glee and started jumping around, hugging everyone in the room scarcely taking the time to actually wrap his arms around anyone before spinning around with his treasure and then almost hugging the next person only to go off spinning again.
I don't know; he looks pretty excited to me. What do you think?

Tender: We can calm down a little now. Being tender is a quiet emotion. 'She looked down at the newborn and smiled'. Who doesn't smile when they see a newborn?

She gazed at the newborn as it kicked at air for the first time. She smiled as she watched the baby try to find the finger that seemed to be way too illusive. With a soft chuckle, she gathered the infant to her breast and gently rocked it.
I think that's pretty tender. What do you think?

Scared: We have all felt fear at one time or another, but writing about it, conveying it, might be a little difficult. The reason being, no one wants to remember what it felt like when they were afraid. And yet that is one of the most common things a writer must do. Fear is one of the greatest hooks out there. 'The boy cowered in fear as the monstrous creature stalked by'

He wanted to scream his terror, to call his father, his mother, but he dare not. To make a single sound, to move an inch, would only attract the monster to his hiding place and it wasn't all that great a hiding place. He clenched his lip between his teeth and pulled his coat tighter as if doing so would make him smaller still. He glanced down at his hand; it wasn't shaking - yet. He'd have time for that later - if there was a later.
Eh well, it's more the scenario than the emotion, but sometimes that's all you have. Trying to make your reader fear the problem as much or more than your character does.

So tell me, how would you convey these emotions? Show me please. I'm certainly willing to learn how to do it better. I'm always wanting to learn how to do this better. It's my nemesis. I know, I've said that before about different writing tricks, but this has got to be the biggest.

Friday, September 23, 2011

How They Met

For those of you who might be curious about last week's post, this is how Derrick and Melody met.

Broken Heart

Derrick went directly to the grove. He stared at the pond morosely; he’d missed the solstice, and his observances of the moons were diminutive at best. He climbed up to sit on the cromlech in an effort to find some kind of calm. I thought I had recovered from what Alexina did to me. Am I so vulnerable? And then another thought bubbled its way to the surface of his dark thoughts. Why did I bring Hollie here? I can’t have a woman here, not a normal woman. How could I possibly be so selfish?

Next thing he knew, his mouth was being wedged open by fingers that smelled of green and earth, and a sweet liquid was being dripped in. His throat was absorbing the liquid before he could make the muscles there move enough to swallow. The sun’s heat alternated with the moon’s chill twice while the sweet liquid trickled down his throat, but when Derrick remained unresponsive, a hard hand rocked his head first to one side and then to the other.

“What are you trying to do, human? Do you wish to die? Would you curse this place with your death?” The hand struck again. “Wake, human. If you must die, go somewhere else.”

Derrick tried to move, but nothing responded. Not even the knowledge that his death here would curse the grove could motivate his mind with enough cohesion to move his body away from this place.

The sweet water continued to trickle down his throat and the heat and chill of the outside world continued to pass over. The voice changed from time to time, but the words were much the same.

Sometime later, other hands came and Derrick felt motion, and then he was no longer lying on stone. His final resting place was soft and warm, and the voices he heard were smooth and slick; the only thing that hadn’t changed was the sweet water that continued to trickle down his throat.

Another stretch of time passed in that dark warmth. Dimly he was aware of being moved again. His resting place was less soft, less warm, but not cold. No more of the sweet water trickled down his throat. The slick voices were replaced by a soft, but persistent beeping.

Eventually the beep brought a spark…and then, quite unwanted, came memories. At first, they were just snapshots…faces…emotions…words. The faces grew identities…the emotions turned into tidal waves…the words began to string together – to make sense – to spark more emotions and more faces – faces that laughed – faces that cried – faces he loved.

He yearned for shelter from the faces and what they brought with them, but there was none. Each woman appearing before his mind’s eye brought up such sweet memories, and such painful ones. Words of endearment caressed his heart, and news of death ripped it to shreds.

Sometimes he was the one to die first and there was unbelievable regret, and sometimes the face didn’t pull at his heartstrings so hard, but it was the times when she was the one to die first that came near to killing him.

Most of the times it was death that separated them; the times when she turned away were hard, but understanding shored up some of the shredding.

Somewhere along the line, he realized that those memories were coming from those other lives drifting in the back of his mind. They came forward now to show him that he had survived before; that he could do it again. The only difference was that, always in the past, it had been her to turn away. This time, it had been he who had sent her away and understanding did nothing to cushion the pain – not this time. All true, but the fact remained; he’d survived before, he would survive this time too.

The beeping put the memories where they belonged, but the tidal wave still washed. Renewed grief over a dozen painful losses pounded at him all at once. He opened his eyes; over there, standing in front of the window, was a woman. Her honey-brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. Suddenly breath came in painful gasps and the change caught her attention. She turned to see Derrick’s tear streaked face.

“Oh, lord.” She was beside him sitting on the edge of the bed. She pulled his arms apart and he wrapped them around her. Not sitting up, he buried his face in her belly and sobbed, his entire frame quaking with the force.

Long minutes later the sobs let up, leaving the tears still and he pushed himself away, ashamed that he’d gotten Anya’s shirt all wet. He sniffed and used the corner of the pillowcase to dry the tears that continued to flow.

She handed him a Kleenex from the bedside table and he blew his nose and soaked up more tears. “I’m glad to see you awake.” She was looking into his face, hoping for answers.

“I’ll…survive,” he said as more tears rolled.

“What happened?” she asked. No one knew and this was so unexpected. When a renewal of the sobs threatened, she stopped his attempt to answer. “Later. Save it for later.”

As he continued to gulp at air, she rolled his bed up some and poured him a glass of water, then she reached over and turned off the machine and its beep.

Drinking the glass of water showed Derrick the needle in his arm and the plastic tube that led to a bag hanging from a tall rack on the other side of the bed. He drew enough air to speak and forced his chest to stop convulsing. “How long have I been here? Where is here?”

“You’ve been here for a couple weeks, and here is Los Angles. The Los Angles Medical Center, where I work, in California. I told you once, remember.”

“I remember,” said Derrick, but then he frowned. “How did I get here and why here?”

Anya smiled. “Well, I’m glad you can ask questions. The elves brought you here. Aramil found you in your grove. The dryads had been doing what they could for you, but you wouldn’t wake. Not even Lord Galánodél could get a response out of you, so they brought you here. Nobody knows what happened. You sent Aramil home some three weeks before – if he hadn’t come back to check on you, who knows how much longer the dryads would have been able to keep you alive.”

Derrick gasped. “The grove.”

Anya watched the blood leave Derrick’s face. “Take it easy. The grove is fine.”

Derrick shook his head and then closed his eyes, dropping his head in shame. “I really messed things up this time. Maybe I should go back to my father’s house and give it all up.”

“No, Derrick. You’re a good guardian, maybe the best that’s been for hundreds of years, and if you hadn’t gone to the grove, you’d have died. Tell me what happened.”

Derrick sucked a deep breath and found that breathing wasn’t so difficult now. He’d been distracted enough that at least some of the words might come out with some kind of reason. He dropped his head back on his pillow and stared at the ceiling. “I’ve been in contact…from time to time…with the detective who was looking for me from the first. He handles cases like kidnappings and child abuse. Aramil and I were out hunting – sort of – when we came across a manhunt. I recognized one of the detectives…he was the partner. I asked him.” Derrick’s eyes traced contours in the ceiling while his mind ordered events. “They had lost their quarry. I had to find them or the hunt might penetrate too far.” Derrick closed his eyes and shook his head. “I took the girl home…to my home. It was so sudden…so fast. I think I would have died for her…I would have taken a bullet to protect her…her very existence was my life. He had beaten her and she was so afraid and so ashamed. She wouldn’t go to her home…not like that, so I took her with me. In truth, I could do nothing else. I made her a promise though – a promise I vowed to stand by. She had to tell me everything, no lies, not one; if she lied…” Derrick gasped hard three full times before he continued. “If she lied, I’d wash my hands of her. I don’t know what I would have done otherwise, but I was trying to think of a plan. I wanted her to stay. So bad, I wanted her to stay. I’d have done most anything…I think.” Tears were rolling down Derrick’s cheeks again, but his voice stayed clear. “She couldn’t do it; she told me a lie and it wasn’t just some little white lie, it was a big one, an important one. I think I died then…inside. I kept her there for another week and I think most of her lying habit had been broken. I taught her a few things and she grew confident…but I’d made a promise…a promise I had to keep. She’d lied to me. She had to go. I took her to the detective’s house and left her there. I remember going to the grove.” He sniffed and looked up at the ceiling again with red eyes. “I don’t remember much else in real time.” Anya handed him another Kleenex and he blew his nose again. “I had dreams though. Other wives. Other girlfriends. Me dying first. Them dying first. Sometimes old, most times young. Them deciding not to stay with me. I think I must be doomed to love too much – too hard. But if they died or they left…I survived.” He closed his eyes again and drew another deep breath. “I survived.”

“So this girl’s lie brought all this on? It must have been a pretty big lie.”

“Her lie was irrelevant – part of a fabric of lies she’d woven around herself to justify hating the man her mother had married. It’s just that…I wasn’t prepared. You see, she looks – looked like…like – ha, I can’t even remember her name now. I thought I loved her too. Her lies were all to cause my death, and I don’t remember why, but they did – one of the few deaths I can remember.” He looked at Anya directly. “I can tell you this now because I remember it now – what’s left of the memory that is, but I remembered none of it then. I think the rest of me did though. I think the rest of me tried to repeat history. I don’t ever want to feel like that again.”

Anya reached out and brushed some hair away from Derrick’s face. “The life of a druid isn’t always easy. Especially the kind of life you lead. Most of us have a job and a family, children. You know, there’re only two groves in the United States and you guard the oldest one. The other one is up in Yellowstone right out in the open. Nothing like yours, but a grove just the same and carefully watched over by several of us who work there.” She smiled a sympathetic smile. “Maybe you’ll meet someone at moot. You’ll feel differently then. I hear you’re fourth now. You’ll be getting a formal invitation to attend soon.”

“It’s fifth now, since…well, for almost three months now, I guess. I can’t ask another druid to join me,” said Derrick.

Anya’s smile grew a little wider. “Fifth? Amazing. The Grand Druid is advancing you so fast. He must want you to catch up with others of your age. And don’t worry about girls, though only druids and sometimes elves come to moot, that doesn’t mean that some of them don’t have daughters at home.”

“Ah no; you’re not going to play matchmaker on me, are you?”

“You never know what a rumor might accomplish,” said Anya. “The bathroom’s right through that door. As soon as you feel strong enough, why don’t you take a shower? I’ll lay out some fresh PJs for you.” She disconnected all the wires and removed the needle from his arm, then she went over to the cabinet by the door and pulled out folded material that she put in the bathroom and then she left, still smiling.

Derrick had to smile too, though it was more from dread than anything else. He wondered how many fathers would seek him out when he attended moot. He wondered if any of them would look him up before then. And then he thought about what she’d said about the Grand Druid. She doesn’t know that the Grand Druid hasn’t promoted me even once. He must be keeping it a secret. But why would he keep such a secret from the council? And then he remembered. I never sent him word of the Lady’s latest visit.

He lay there puzzling this out for a while longer, but lying in bed was rapidly getting old; he didn’t even have the beeping from the machine to keep him company.

When Derrick rolled over to get up just as he always did, he discovered that a lot of his strength had leached away over the last however long, forcing he to test his balance slowly and carefully, forgoing all efforts to tend the gown that was only tied at his neck. It was such an embarrassing piece of material and it was more of a hindrance than of any use, so as soon as he could balance on his own two feet alone, he untied it and discarded it. He had just reached the center of the room – two or three steps from the bed and still two or three steps left to go – when a young nurse came in.

“Oh,” she said when she saw Derrick in his altogether. Then she blushed and tried to hide a smile as she stepped forward to help him cover the rest of the distance. With his grip safely on the bathroom door, she asked, “Will you be all right, or would you like me to send in a male nurse?”

Derrick looked down on the dark golden knot at the back of her head. Her hands had been strong and solid despite her furious blush. Now, she was purposely facing away from him though she had not moved. “I think I’ll be fine. I’ll be careful.”

“Okay. Since you’re already up, I’m going to change your sheets. Just call if you need any help, or there’s a buzzer in there by the sink and one by the toilet.”

“All right, thanks.”

She stayed where she was until Derrick turned on the shower before going to his bed to strip the sheets.

Not since before he had gone into his mountains, had Derrick been shy about his physique, but he’d never been in a position where he had made some girl blush. The dryads and the Lady didn’t count and they certainly didn’t blush. It was a pleasing feeling, though he couldn’t be certain if it was his physique or his being nude that had been the cause. It didn’t matter really; it was another Band-Aid on his already rapidly mending heart.

He adjusted the water so it was far less than hot. He hadn’t taken a civilized shower for years, merely washing from a bucket of warmed water right there on the hearth or bathing in a creek on hot days.

He was just wishing for an accommodating branch to scratch his back when the nurse’s voice sounded from the door. “Can I help you wash your back? You’re still weak and it might be difficult for you.”

Derrick jumped and he dropped his soap, but he recovered quick enough to answer. “You must be a mind reader; that would be nice. My back really itches.”

Her hand scooped up the soap from the floor of the shower and then gently pulled the washrag from his. “The water’s pretty cold. Are you sure you don’t want it warmer?”

“It’s hot enough. I’m not used to a hot shower. I haven’t taken a shower at all for a long time.”

Her hand lifted his hair to in front of his shoulder and then started scrubbing the soapy rag up and down his back. His back did indeed itch and her firm hand was winning a purr from his chest.

She chuckled. “Are you purring or growling?”

“Yeuhmm, both. Don’t stop.”

She rinsed out the rag and soaped it up again. This time, her reach went up his neck and around his ribs. Derrick was in heaven.

“I’m going to set a stool in by your feet. Sit down and I’ll wash your hair.”

Derrick did as he was told while her fingers combed some sense into his hair before adding the shampoo. It didn’t take long before her fingers renewed his purrs and she chuckled again. She pulled the showerhead loose from its hook to rinse the soap from his hair. She repeated the process three times before she was satisfied.

“Do you need help back to bed?”

“Na, I think I’ll just fall asleep right here,” said Derrick, thoroughly calmed and soothed.

Her humor was leaking into her voice. “Oh no you don’t.” She dropped a towel into his lap and then used another to mop up his hair and dry his back.

Derrick moved the towel up his chest and buried his face in it.

“Do you think you can manage your pajamas? I could call for some help.”

“I’m not sure I can manage this towel, but don’t call anyone; you’re doing just fine.” Secretly, he wanted to see her blush again. He turned around and she dried his feet and lower legs before threading them into his pajama pants and pulling them up past his knees, then she spread her towel on the floor for him to stand on while she caught his towel as he pulled his pants up. Using his towel, she dried his arms and shoulders, squeezing more water from his hair, and then helped him with the pajama shirt.

Though he was steadier on his feet than before, he needed her support to negotiate the vast distance back to the bed.

“Do you feel like a chair? I could comb out your hair before it dries.”

Derrick doubted he could stay awake for another five minutes, but the offer of more pampering was irresistible. Sitting in the chair while first her fingers and then a comb ordered his hair with a light touch, Derrick first slipped down and then ducked his head a bit…and then fell asleep. Her touch melted into his dream…a dream where Mahentee did the same each night and again first thing in the morning. It was almost his favorite part of their relationship. Then his heart gave a painful lurch and Derrick jumped awake. Mahentee had died, leaving him with a newborn only days old.

“Are you all right?” asked the nurse.

Still reeling from the so vivid memory, Derrick said, “I’m fine, Mahentee, just a bad dream.” The moment he said the words, his dream slid back to its place in the background of his memories and the present took its place.

“My grandfather used to call me that when I was a child. He said it was his grandmother’s name. He told me he had a portrait of her and that I was going to look just like her. I never saw it.”

“You do,” said Derrick, and then regretted those words too. How could he possibly know? He didn’t tell her that Mahentee had worn her hair in a knot too, but only when he was away; when he came home, she’d let it down loose; her thick hair reached half way down her back. It always fanned out wide across her back when it was loose and it always smelled of…of her.

“Well that’s what he said.”

Her voice interrupted his thoughts and Derrick breathed a quiet sigh. She thought that was a question. Better shut up now.

Though his hair was still wet, she braided it loosely and had Derrick climb back in bed.

“What’s your name?” he asked before she left the room.

“Melody,” she replied.


A touch on his shoulder and a timid “Mr. Johnson? Supper” woke Derrick with a start, causing the girl to step back. “Sorry sir, but your supper is here. Can I roll your bed up?”

Derrick glanced around and saw that the sun was dimming outside and the various apparatuses he had been hooked to had been taken away. These people move around like ghosts. “Sorry. I didn’t hear you. I’m not usually such a sound sleeper. No, leave the bed the way it is please.” Derrick sat up in the middle of his bed while the girl placed his tray on a wheeled table and rolled it to within easy reach. “You’ve been sleeping for a long time.”

“Were you watching over me?” asked Derrick, knowing better, but wanting to see her reaction.

“Oh no, sir. I’m only here after school, but sometimes the door was open.” She ducked her head in an effort to hide a smile.

Derrick smiled back at her. “Thanks…for supper.”

She smiled even wider. He might have won a blush from her too, but she was much darker than the nurse and it didn’t show.

“Lorie, come on,” called a voice from the hall.

“Coming,” called the girl, Lorie, in return. “I gotta go. I’m glad you’re awake.” She hurried from the room, her white shoes making no sound on the tile floor.

Derrick watched her go. Fascinating creatures, women – girls too. He pulled his tray in front of him and after taking one look at the contents, considered making something else, but then he’d have to explain where the different food had come from or why he hadn’t eaten what was left behind. In the end, he decided he’d eat what he was given and make more if he was still hungry – he wasn’t.

After eating, he looked around for something to do. Without moving closer, he could see nothing from his window, and the rest of the room, though intended to feel comfortable, was merely functional. Having never been one to merely sit and do nothing, Derrick decided to explore both the limit of his endurance and his surroundings.

He wandered down the hall and found his way to a balcony on his first try. There he stood and watched the sun peek out from under a thick bank of clouds just as it disappeared below the horizon. Those clouds were way out there and didn’t show much sign of moving ashore. Here it was hot and dry. With a sigh he made use of the space and tried a few of his exercises – he just didn’t have energy for more than a sample of a few unarmed routines learned from the elves. He did, however, acquire an audience during his brief workout.

“I’m Nurse Carlyle. You’re Mr. Johnson? You just woke up this afternoon after a two-week coma and you’re able to do that much already?”

“This was pretty pitiful; I only managed a few minutes. But Anya says I’ll be here for a few more days. Perhaps you would like to join me.”

“I don’t think so. I’m very busy. You better get back to bed now. You did only just wake up.”

“Yeah, my thoughts exactly.” He headed back to his room; nurse Carlyle quickly leaving him behind.

Derrick woke early the next morning and made his way to the balcony again, preferring the leftover heat from yesterday to the artificial cool inside. He knelt in the center of the space to meditate, intending to stay there until full light. He wished for a small flame, even the rising sun, but neither were to be had – not here. Renewed and refreshed, but still feeling weak from his long sleep, his next order of business was to rebuild his strength as quickly as he could. He worked his way through the animal kingdom from the small squirrel to the fleet deer, touching on each one only briefly because he wanted enough energy left do some unarmed exercises and maybe even get up to speed.

He was just reaching a medium pace when his energy ran out and he was forced to a faltering halt. Breathing harder than he had in a long time, he clutched the railing of the balcony.

“There you are. I’ve been looking for you. Your breakfast is waiting.” It was the nurse, Melody.

Derrick spun around at the sound of her voice and then stumbled to a knee.

“Are you all right?” said Melody as she rushed forward to help him.

Using the rail, Derrick climbed back to his feet and Melody’s hands were a solid support. “I’m fine. I just stumbled. I’m still weak.” Though his words were true enough, that wasn’t the only reason for his stumble. How could I have come across two women – on opposite ends of the continent to be sure – who remind me so much of long dead wives? Though he had seen her in his room, he had been more concerned with maintaining his feet. Yes, she’d reminded him of Mahentee, but he didn’t realize just how close her resemblance was. As if her pale brown hair, streaked with sun and her fair skin, glowing with a delicate tan weren’t enough to remind him, her light brown eyes, nearly golden, was the final piece.

Oblivious, Melody pulled his arm over her shoulder. “What you were doing didn’t look too weak to me, but that stumble sure did. Come on, I’ll help you back to your room. Your breakfast is waiting.”

Derrick moved slowly; he didn’t lean on Melody, but with a hand on the wall and her arm around his waist, he made his way back to his room, and once she had seen him settled with his meal in front of him, she returned to her rounds.

After breakfast, Derrick lay in his bed for a while, sleep was far away and the energy he’d spent was rapidly returning, so he decided to do some more exploring. Instead of heading for the balcony, he went the other direction. The nurses’ station was the hub of four corridors so Derrick turned right intending to explore the remaining two…eventually. If the balcony faced the ocean, this corridor headed south, unfortunately, it didn’t end in a balcony. Instead, it ended in a roomy lobby with a large, many-paned, darkly tinted window using up most of the southern wall with a padded bench in front of it. Off to the right, there was a TV with three couches facing it, and in each corner there were a cushy chair beside a tall lamp. Six people, all of them dressed in the going hospital attire, occupied the room.

Derrick looked around at all of them. He’d seen something like this once before though the physical activity had been much more. At the bus station, people had been boarding the bus and people had been leaving the bus and the station to go home – none of them had looked directly at another. Here, the TV was on, but only one person sat on a couch and watched it. Two people sat in the chairs picking the chairs opposite of each other as far apart as possible, one read a book, the other thumbed through a magazine. Another person sat on the bench with his back to the window reading a newspaper and a man stood near the edge of the window looking out. The last person was standing not far from Derrick, looking through the bookrack and its offerings of reading materials.

Derrick sighed, such a loss; all this company and everyone was so alone. How could a species that guarded their young so closely allow itself to become so fractured at the same time? Maybe he could heal the fractures in this room at least.

He walked into the room and pushed the empty couches to the walls. “Hold on,” he said to the ancient lady who sat on one watching the TV. He flashed her a wide smile and her surprise melted into one in return. Clearing the center of the room also attracted everyone’s attention. After he turned the TV off, he spread his arms and turned a circle first one way and then the other, meeting each person’s eyes as he found them. “If you could be anything else – anything at all, what would it be?” He turned again his question for any of them who wished to answer. “Anyone?”

“I like birds,” said the old woman sitting on the couch.

“A bird it is, then.” He sank down in the middle of the floor and pulled himself into an eggshell. He didn’t want to go too far back, so he first started to twitch here and there and then his head broke through the shell, next came his feet as he kicked the shell away. Keeping his hands resting behind his butt, he tested his newfound legs by chasing bugs and worms on the floor. After every two or three finds, he stretched, spreading his wings wide and arching his back to look up at the beckoning sky. The next step was to test his wings, strengthening them, learning how to make use of them, learning how to make use of the air. He still had to eat though so he learned how to hunt, chasing flying bugs until they led him off the ground. He was bigger now and bugs weren’t enough. He hunted mice and other small rodents, graduating to rabbits and even fish. As he got stronger and faster, he targeted other flying birds in complicated aerial battles. He finished the life of his bird by flying off into the sun. His actions won a few giggles and a gasp or two, but for the most part, everyone just stared.

He was sweating freely, but his soul still soared. He turned to the people. “All right, it’s your turn. Come on now; you have no idea how good it feels to fly.” In the end, he had to physically pull some of the people into the center of the room with him, some weren’t well enough to do this and so they watched. They were all weak from their illnesses so he only took them as far back as a baby chick hunting bugs. Talking them through everything he did. At first, they were self-conscious. The flying part finally drew his small class into the activity. Everyone was giggling as they dove and hunted; Derrick was pleased when one, and then another, admitted missing their target. No one liked to admit a miss, but in truth, hunting birds missed more than they caught while hunting – unless they happened to be very lucky.

When his flock had all flown off into the sun, they sat on the couch and bench by the window breathing hard, but smiling and laughing with each other.

Two of the people hadn’t been able to join their flight – the old woman and the man who’d been reading the newspaper with his back to the window. He had a thick cast on his leg and on his forearm. A bandage covered one eye as well. He was smiling though. Derrick helped him to move to the couch by the old woman. “It’s your turn. We’ll make it simpler for you two.” He brushed the cheek of the old woman. “You might like birds, but you get to be a flower today. You can be a bird when you’re stronger.”

He started from a seed. Talking this time from the beginning, he encouraged a feeling foot to take root and then a tentative leaf to reach for the nourishing sun. Then there was another leaf followed by longer branches and more roots. The whole exercise took far less overall time than the bird did, but slow stretching and growing was taxing to their limited abilities. It was very rewarding to see their smiles widen even further when Derrick explained that the flowers they were pretending to be were smiling at the sun.

When he was finished, he saw three nurses watching from the door. He smiled a mischievous smile at his flock and his flowers, and swept the nurses into the center of the room. With them, he became the hunting wolf and they became three young rabbits for the wolf to play with. His words led them into the scene and under the encouraging laughter of the patient-spectators, the nurses played along. They dodged and tried to flee, hanging close together, each taking turns trying to hide behind another. Laughing, the nurses looked nothing like rabbits, but the threat of Derrick-wolf was unmistakable as he played with them. “I’m not very hungry, I’ve just eaten breakfast, but I will take one of you if I can’t get more. Who knows when my next hunt might be.”

He carried the hunt until his quarry began to tire and then he allowed them to perceive an escape. As they fled past, he pounced, carrying nurse Melody away from their line, causing one to run out of the door faster and the other to turn back into the room.

Irresistibly, Melody let out a shriek when Derrick’s teeth touched her throat where it met her shoulder.

Laughing, Derrick held Melody until she caught her breath recovered from the embarrassment of actually screaming. Everyone was laughing out loud, his three most recent prey were more tentative about it, but they still laughed.

Their less than subdued antics caught other attention and Nurse Carlyle was now watching. “This is a hospital, not a playground. People are trying to sleep.”

The three nurses all filed past her murmuring some sort of “yes ma’am” if they said anything at all, leaving Derrick standing in the center of the room. “Play is healthy. It builds strength and confidence. With strength and confidence comes healing. You can plainly see the difference.” He took a step closer to her. “Or are you more interested in keeping your patients as patients than you are in seeing them heal?”

No emotion showed in the woman’s face. She merely said, “Go back to your room. Dr. Federal will be making her rounds soon.”

Derrick turned to his impromptu class and said, “Same time, same place.” Then he too walked past the woman, moving slowly, staring at her eye to eye until she glanced away. Back in his room, behind his closed door, Derrick sank into his chair. He was exhausted and the morning was scarcely half-gone. Just as he was starting to doze off, he made himself get up and take a shower. The less than warm water revitalized him.

He was just heading for the bed when Anya came in. With his head buried in a towel, he didn’t see her. Not until he turned to sit on the bed did he know he had company and by then she was holding out clean pajamas for him. The smile on her face said she had been there for a few minutes at least.

“You really should wear clothes all the time around here,” said Anya.

“So I see,” said Derrick as he dressed himself.

“How are you feeling today?” she asked as Derrick was tying the string on his pants; he left the shirt on the chair.

“Weak as a baby,” said Derrick. “It’s really rather frustrating, but I’d rather go home. I can recover just as well there as I can here.”

“Possibly, but I’d rather keep you here until you’re more yourself. Your breakdown has me concerned. You’re not strong enough to weather another one by yourself.”

“I don’t think I’ll be breaking down again, not like that. Tell me something though. Who exactly is Melody?”

“Melody? Oh, you must mean Melody Sanders. I don’t know much about her personally. She’s been working here two years now and she seems to be a very reliable nurse. Why do you ask?”

Derrick sighed, but he’d started this conversation so he had to finish it. “You know about my memories?”

“Yes.” Her word was tentative.

Derrick sucked in a breath and plunged ahead. “I think she may be one of my own descendants. It’s rather unsettling.”

“I should think so. What on earth lead you to that conclusion? You didn’t say anything to her, did you?”

“Those kinds of memories are hovering rather near the surface just now and it popped up, and no, I didn’t say anything to her, nothing that she caught anyway.”

“Well don’t, she would never understand. Saying things like that could get you a padded cell all too quickly.”

“I certainly don’t plan on saying anything to her, or to anyone else. I just thought you might know if it was true. I thought she might belong to a druid family or a branch of one. It must be just a coincidence; a child was born but I’m not sure if there were any other descendants. It must be just a coincidence. Another thing; Nurse Carlyle, are you sure she has her priorities right?”

“She’s head nurse for this floor during the day shift and she runs a tight ship. Why do you ask?”

“She was very angry with me when she saw some of her patients laughing.”

“She was? They were laughing? I think that’s wonderful. I’ll have to have a talk with her. Why don’t you get some rest? I need to continue my rounds.”

“I am resting,” said Derrick.

“Then get some sleep,” she said, chuckling as she turned for the door.

Derrick watched her go. He liked her, a lot. She was easy to talk to and she seemed honest in her answers, but he hated sleeping during the day without very good reason. It generally didn’t agree with him very well. Though he hadn’t had any night terrors since he’d regained his memories, he preferred to sleep at night unless he could earn a day’s sleep by staying up all night.

He elevated the head of his bed some and lay back. If he fell asleep, so be it. If not, well, he still rested. He slept.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And if you'd like to know what led up to Melody's need for protection, just ask and I'll post that next week.

At this point I've decided that the druid joining is off. Derrick will keep his distance, though continuing to protect her.