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.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Writer's Block

Since Druid Derrick is unfinished, I haven't talked about it much. Not since March before last has there been a post about this story. In fact, there hasn't been much work on anything new for quite some time. Promoting my book, being social, building a fan base (I hope), not to mention my personal life and a couple Facebook games I spend way too much time playing, tend to get in the way of actual writing.

I have thought about this book a lot, in fact one scene plays through my mind over and over. When I get there it will pour out of my mind like water from a faucet. But first I have to get there. You see, I have a dilemma. Writer's block, to me has always meant that I'm trying to push my character in a direction he really doesn't want to go. Should I continue to claw my way past this, or should I do some rewriting and make some rather major changes?

My character is in a relationship that started out as a measure to protect her life. Though there is plenty of love, anything close is, and always will be, impossible. To further her protection, she needed a name change and a location change. To hide the danger from her family and friends they got married, but my character isn't a Christian so I thought it only proper they have a Druid Joining as well. This is where I'm having my problem.

Since the relationship, marriage not withstanding, will always be distant, should I go ahead with the Druid Joining or not? Or should I go back and rewrite the whole relationship, tone down the love or even make it only a friendship, make her an object of protection only and no marriage at all? That means I'll have to think of another way for her to have a name change and another reason for her to move to the other side of the country.

Derrick goes to great lengths to be neutral in all things. He sees it as his duty to protect his grove and all the secret, sentient citizens within his reach - the centaurs village, the entrance to the dwarf and gnome caverns and the dryads that people his grove among others. With a few exceptions, humans are not included under his protection. One woman and her daughter are the majority of those exceptions. A police detective and his partner are tolerated, but only if they don't intrude too far or push too hard.

Shortly before this latest relationship, the one that's giving me so much trouble, Derrick has been going through an emotional roller-coaster, and maybe it's too much for too long. I suppose I could have him simply change his mind. What do you think? There is a spell on his place still in effect that prevents anyone from telling lies. It would work on him too.

Currently, I've decided to read through another of my works, and then I think I'll read through the last part of this one and see what I can do. Any suggestions would be most welcome. I would even really welcome someone who has the time to read through the whole thing and give me some feedback. There's nothing like another pair of eyes behind a different brain.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Prince in Hiding, Book 1 of Making of a Mage-King

Young Sean Moselle, sixteen years old, was leading a very normal life until the night his mother died mysteriously. He was just starting to function again, after a fashion, when his father died a year later, so very close to the anniversary of his mother's death. Before he could grasp it all, he was thrust into a whole new life, a life one only finds in movies or in books, a life filled with knights and warhorses and even a few damsels in distress, though not from any dragon. No, the 'dragon' in this case was his uncle, an uncle he never knew existed, in fact, his whole past wasn't really his past. Oh sure, he did all the things a kid growing up in New York does, mostly, but it was all a cover, and he never knew a thing. His father, Elias Moselle, wasn't really his father. His mother, Analeace, wasn't really his mother either. His real father was the heir apparent of a kingdom somewhere else, and his uncle had had him killed. His mother was so close to term that she didn't survive the escape, leaving the infant Sean alone in a strange land with an odd collection of bodyguards.

Young Sean wasn't just the rightful king of this strange land somewhere far away, he was very magical. As a product of some careful breeding, he was supposed to be very powerful indeed. He was handicapped though. Most children begin to learn how to use and control their magic around the age of six or seven. Sean was ten years behind; he had a lot of catching up to do if he was ever going to reclaim his throne.

But it wasn't the throne he went back for, nor was it the power that went with the crown. Only a small part of his reason for going back was revenge against the man who had deprived him of the family and the life he should have had. No, he went back to save the people from the so very evil dictator who sat on the throne. He was the only person who could stand a chance of pulling it off.

Ok, I know (now), this is so very cliche, but then again, this is pretty much where the cliche ends. Sure, he gets the crown, but it certainly didn't come around at the end of a long, glorious battle. No, it happened so quickly, so easily, that no one knew anything had changed. It wasn't until he started undoing his uncle's damage that word got around. But this is reaching into book 2. And along through book 2, we discover that Sean is on a much larger quest, one he can't puzzle out. Not only is he driven to undo the destruction his uncle went to great lengths to foster, but he was driven to get it all done 'in time'. In time for what, he didn't know. By the time we reach book 3, Sean is driving himself, and those closest to him, to near insanity as his nights were riddled with confusing dreams and his days were spent pushing his magical limits to the max. What is this bigger goal? Well, maybe I'll give you a hint, but only if you ask. But if you're at all diligent, the answer is on my website.

Prince in Hiding is coming out in October. Are you looking forward to it as much as I am?

Friday, September 2, 2011

What is Social Media to you?

Social Media – just what is it? According to my dictionary, ‘social’ is considered an attribute. It is ‘of or relating to rank and status in society.’ It is also ‘relating to or designed for activities in which people meet each other for pleasure.’ ‘Media’ is actually the plural form of ‘medium’ – I didn’t know that – it’s increasingly more familiar usage is in reference to television, radio, newspapers and the internet – generally regarded collectively. So, taken together, social media could be people getting together via the internet either for pleasure or to attain rank and status.

Now that we have analyzed the definition of ‘social media’, what exactly does it mean? I’m on Facebook and as of today I have 789 friends. Granted a goodly number of them are friends because I play a couple games and having Facebook friends make some aspects easier. Regardless of why they are friends I always welcome new friends into my corner of the world. It is my hope that they will take a look at my profile, and then maybe they will dig a little deeper and take a look at my fan page.

Now, I do things every day in an effort to keep some aspect of my writing visible (hopefully I’m not spamming everybody’s wall – if I am, no one has told me so), but that’s not all I do. I try very hard to be sociable. I scroll down my main wall in an effort to keep up with everyone. I am also a member of several blogging groups and I browse through them too, all at least once a day and sometimes twice.

I am also on Twitter. I confess, though I go to Twitter every day, it’s only to advertise, though I do keep track of any mentions and answer any messages, if I get any. If any of my tweets get re-tweeted, I make sure to say thanks. I mean, good manners, especially on line, are very important. I spend a little more time there during the winter. There’s #FollowFriday and #WriterWednesday, and I really should participate. It’s part of being social.

I also have three blogs, this one, my blog novel, and one about my personal life, where I hungrily await any comments.

I also belong to a few other writing groups. Throughout all of this, it is my greatest hope to make real friends, or at least as real as the internet will allow. I like to think I live by the Golden Rule. I do to, and for, others as I would like to be done to, or for, me. Oh sure, I'd like to 'improve my rank and status' in our society, but I see that as a byproduct of making friends.

I love to write, and I’ve combed the internet in an effort to become a better writer. I know the struggle to get a story onto the ‘paper’ on your computer. I’m more than willing to share what I’ve learned, or my interpretation of it all. I’ll happily direct you to a source upon asking, but I’ve a list here to the right, and on my website, I happily give credit to whoever for whatever tip I’ve listed.

Something I like to say all the time is ‘There’s no such thing as a dumb question.’ Never be afraid to ask me anything. I’ll tell you what I know and I’ll also tell you if I don’t know, then I’ll try to find the answer. After all, if you don’t ask questions, how are you going to learn?

This is how I define and use ‘social media’. What do you do?