Saturday, March 31, 2012

Introducing Prince Lua

Chapter 5 - EXILE (in Quest to go Home, book 3 in The Quest Collection)

Lua slipped from rock to rock with an occasional glance back; already he could hear the protests as the guards disturbed the sleeping villagers in their search for him. They would run out of houses soon and their search would widen. Even though it was night, and only the herdsmen and fishermen frequented the beach, likelier locations would run thin and eventually, someone would think to search here too. He had to get beyond the surf before they were anywhere close.

“Lua, where are you, boy?”

It was the unmistakable inner voice of his once dear uncle, the man who had poisoned his mother and father; the man who now held the throne, or at least he would if he could ensure Lua’s death too. With no daughters born to the family, the throne should have rightly fallen to Lua to hold in trust until he married. But now Lua knew the man had only ingratiated himself into the family to this end, and Lua strongly suspected he had no intention to marry.

“Makita Lua, you answer me. I know you can hear me.”

Lua schooled his mind to silence and waded out into the surf until the water was deep enough to dive under. The change flowed over him like the sweet salt sea and he was off swimming quickly. He didn’t dare cast about for predators lest the guards, and most importantly, his uncle, hear as well. Instead, he was forced to rely on his sharp ears and eyes, but the night was very dark away from the street lamps of the city.

The danger of him not seeing the approach of danger was very real. The faint phosphoresce caused by the disturbance wasn’t much warning. With that thought in mind, he tried extra hard to keep the glow his own movements caused to a minimum.

To that end, he swam beneath surface as long as he could hold his breath, coming to a full halt and drifting to the surface carefully and only long enough for a breath or two and a quick glance around.

By dawn, he was exhausted, but he was also out of sight of land. All he could see was the faint whiff of smoke from the volcano that was the center of their islands.

After drifting for a couple hours to rest, and for no better reason than that it was the direction he was already heading, coupled with the desire to put as much distance as possible between himself and his uncle, Lua headed into the morning sun once again.

When days stretched into weeks, Lua began to despair starting out on this journey, not that he had much choice. He was well known and going to any of the closer islands would only have delayed the inevitable. Not that he was suffering from hunger, but he longed for a stretch of land; he felt so small and vulnerable out in the middle of this vast ocean.

Now that he was so far from home, he was confident any thoughts of his would be obscured by other mental noises and concerns, so, though he kept his search to a minimum range, he was confident he could avoid any predator, but that didn’t help how small he felt. Those he touched were huge, bigger than anything he’d ever heard of even in children’s stories told to encourage good behavior of the rowdiest of boys.

The only thing that interrupted his daily grind of traveling and hunting was the occasional storm, some worse than others. Even surfing the waves soon lost the thrill of fun, though he did it as often as possible in the interest of expediency. Finally, just has he was beginning to wonder if he would ever see land, a storm churned the water into surf and he was washed onto, and nearly completely over, a tiny island.

He clung to the surface through the night. When the rising sun showed him his discovery, he started to laugh. With tears running down his face, he stood turning a full circle. He knew the island was small, but he expected something just a mite bigger. As it was, one or two steps in any given direction and he was in the water once again. He stayed there until the next morning just because if felt good to be on solid ground for a change, but he couldn’t afford to stay any longer.

Over the next blur of days, there was a new interruption to what had become his daily grind of moving east, staying out of the reach of any sharks or whales in the area, and finding enough food to stay alive, now there was the occasional surf-washed island to test his legs on. It felt good to sleep on a solid surface once in a while. He even found a few that required walking some hours in order to reach the eastern-most shore. His choice of direction had long since become routine and he kept moving only because staying put was pointless, they were only smooth spots of beach scrubbed clean by every storm that passes and baked in the sun that followed.

One day it occurred to him that the seasons might be changing. He had long since lost count of how long he’d been traveling; it had all become a blur; if the storms lasted more than a few hours, it was only possible to count the passage of days by whether he could see the next wave coming or not. It seemed that the storms were becoming more frequent and were perhaps more vicious, it was hard to tell being merely a piece of flotsam, and it might be merely that the elements were wearing him down. He did find a real rock protruding up from one of the islands; the scraped bruise all down his side reminded him of that.

After being able to count the waves coming for three days, the sounds changed drastically, but it was now pitch black and there was no way to know which direction was safe, not that he had the strength to fight clear. His only choice was to keep trying, and pray to the Mother that she see fit to preserve his life. She had after all, kept him alive this long. Surely it wasn’t merely to dash him against the rocks of this foreign shore.

He thought of his mother in her last moments as she clawed at her throat, her eyes wide and black, the corners of her mouth turning blue as she struggled to take just one more breath, even as the rest of her body crumbled. Just past her, his father lay sprawled on the floor, already dead, his face horrifyingly dark and something darker drooling from the corner of his mouth. It was in that moment he caught the stray thought of glee coming from his uncle, an unmistakable touch that was felt both ways. In that moment he saw his own, very similar, death. He was supposed to be suffering the same fate only Lua had been out, missing supper in the company of an accommodating girl.

Just as the morning began to make the waves discernible, the cliff loomed out of the last wave. Desperately, Lua dove through the wave he was riding, hoping to put as much distance and water between himself and those unforgiving rocks.

He wasn’t entirely successful. He didn’t fail entirely either; surely this much pain did not exist in the Mother’s comforting arms. Now if only he could keep his face in the air enough to keep from drowning after all.


This isn't long enough to satisfy me but I can't think of anything to add. Any suggestions would be most welcome.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Inspiration, Dreams or Haunting

Where does your inspiration come from? Much of mine come from dreams. Yeah, I know, if you could read any of my stories, you'd know how odd my dreams are. I won't give away which parts were fueled by my dreams, or maybe I already have somewhere here, you'll have to look and see. haha

My strongest dreams usually involve some location, usually a building but not always. These dreams are also usually recurring after a fashion. The first of this kind involved a hotel and there were three in this series. The first was me (a me that was not me in any way) at about four or five years old. 'I' was skipping up and down the hall way of a hotel. In some dim way I knew where I was but not exactly what floor, just not to bottom floor - some mid to upper range floor, though not a top floor either. I was dressed in little girl patten leather shoes and white socks. I had a fancy little dress on with a wide gathered skirt held full by a many-ruffled slip. 'My' hair was brown, shoulder-length and very curly - something like Shirley Temple only longer. These are all details I distinctly remember about the dream, just as I distinctly know the 'me' in this dream bares no resemblance to the actual me at any point in my life.

During my skipping, I discover a small square door in the wall. Being curious, I go in and find a narrow hallway of regular height. It goes in a little ways, a few yards, and then there is a set of four or five stairs. At the top of those stairs, to each side is a regular door. I have a choice. Which door do I choose to explore first? I choose the left-hand door, and behind door number one is a child's bestest play room anyone could imagine. There was a wall of shelves stuffed with all manner of toys and the floor was crowded with the bigger kind including a carved wooden rocking horse, among other things. I think I was so surprised it woke me up. That was the end of that dream.

The second installment of this series was 'me' back at this hotel some years later. The timeline in my dream bares no resemblance to the timeline out in the real world. I remember that door and decide to go in search of it, after all, there is another door to explore, and the amazing room behind the first door needs a little verification. I don't find that little square door.

The third installment was even shorter. This time 'I'm' an adult, maybe in my twenties and I'm looking up at this tall, dark, square building. No lights in the windows anymore, though this is the first time the outside of this building was in my view. I approached the building from the sidewalk but couldn't get in. End of dream sequence but still very vivid in my memory.

Another series of dreams, equally as vivid and equally as chronological, was also wrapped around a building. In the first installment I entered the front door. To the left is the living room. This room bares a very strong resemblance to my real aunt's living room, to include a small solarium behind the living room couch, and I'm certain the rest of the house in that direction does too, but it's just an assumption, I don't go that way.

To the right, any resemblance to my real aunt's house is totally gone. There is a wide double door in the wall there leading to what I expect to be a formal living room only instead of fine furniture, several twin beds are crowded in here. They are all empty and white, looking very hospital but without any hospital feeling. This is a place that rents beds.

The outside wall directly on the other side of this room from the double doors is all glass, or at least mostly glass, and outside is a wide flowerbed in full bloom. Standing in this double doorway I look to the left and see a door. On the other side of this door, among other things, I know there is a doorway to upstairs, but this door is locked. I'm not sure why I woke up, but that is the end of this dream.

The next part, I figured out how to get beyond that locked door. Somehow I got past that glass wall, but I don't remember there being glass doors, so there's a possibility I simply walked around the outside. At any rate, the next room did have glass doors so I gained entrance to the room from there. To the left, hard on that outside wall, was the door to the upper floors. At the top of a long set of stairs was two doors, one on each side and a blank wall straight ahead. I looked into each room and they were empty bedrooms with empty closets.

The next part, I'm in the right-hand room upstairs, and for the first time there is another person in the dream. A little girl is sitting in the middle of the floor playing with something quietly. I cross the room and look out the window, which is heavily frosted - it's winter outside now. For some reason I look in the closet before leaving the room again - the doors are close together - I find a hand-made rag doll, all brown and seeming old. I never speak to the girl sitting in the middle of the floor.

I heard it said in another forum that such dreams are something akin to paranormal channeling or some sort of out-of-body other-where/other-when experience, and to a certain degree that may be true. If these places, and others that visit my dreams, exist, I have never seen them. Other buildings have been in recognizable neighborhoods but no such building was ever in that neighborhood.

What do I do with these buildings? Nothing so far. They don't have a history. It's like now that they have been dumped into my memory, they are satisfied. I haven't visited them since.

Other dreams I have are very different. Though no more than a scene or two, these dreams have a history - a story - a life. Now, most of these have been poured out onto my computer's paper. The end result isn't quite like the dream, but the dream seems to be satisfied with the story I've woven.

Do any of your stories come from your dreams? Do they haunt you until they are told? or at least until they are viewed?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lucky Seven Meme

A fun thing happened last night. Shell Flower, from Tangent Shell left a comment here telling me I'd been tagged in the Lucky Seven Meme. Here are the rules:
  • Go to p. 77 of current WIP
  • go to line 7
  • copy down next 7 lines, sentences or paragraphs & post them as they’re written
  • Tag 7 other authors
  • Let them know 
The WIP I was working on didn't have 70 pages so I turned to another. Actually, I had two choices but on one, page 77, line 7 ended up totally between everything and taken alone would have been confusing. My other choice was much sweeter. I hope you like it.


The ruckus of the fight attracted the attention of the town constable and he came closer to investigate. He remained unobserved; blood had been drawn, but he knew the troublemaker for what he was and was reluctant to arrest his opponent without further information, so he stayed out of sight and watched.

The fight continued. Anella stopped overtly playing with him and allowed the duel to happen, inflicting other small cuts here and there as well as a black eye and a split lip during the close exchanges. The final insult was a broken nose that laid him out on the cobbles. Stepping up to him, she rested the tip of her sword at the base of his throat and said, “You owe me the price of your meal, which I paid for before coming out here. Do you owe anyone else here? If you do, now would be a good time to consider paying them.” She retrieved his sword with the tip of her own and slid it over within his reach before stepping back.

With one hand on his bloody nose and his other grasping his sword, the man climbed slowly to his feet and stood swaying in front of her. He stood there looking at this boy who appeared to be fourteen at best and he hadn’t been able to touch him. Wiping his bloody hand on his pants, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a leather coin purse. He hefted it once, still considering, and then tossed it at her feet and stumbled off down the street. No one followed him. The last of his friends was nowhere to be seen.

Anella picked up the coin purse and went back into the inn. The innkeeper preceded her and met her at the counter where her coins still lay. “What does he owe you?” she asked as she opened the purse.

“That would be a might hard to calculate, sir,” he replied. She didn’t see the constable standing behind her.

Looking into the purse, she fished out two silver coins and handed them over, “Will this cover it?”

“That’d go a long way towards doing that, thank ye.”


 Now for my tag-ees:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Are you Alone?

In pursuant of last week's post, what do you do with a character who is alone, you know, when there's no one around to talk to? Conversation and thoughts are very important ways to transmit information to your reader, but just like you can't tell your best friend or neighbor something they should already know, you can't very well tell yourself things like that either. So what do you do if there's no one around to stimulate conversation and therefore release information? There's always thoughts. What do you think about when you're alone? You may plan out your day, or at least the next few hours. Some people talk to themselves, muttering their concerns or venting their circumstances. If a person is under physical trials, jogging to the next point of conflict or perhaps walking through the desert, it helps to distract the mind from the long and tiring task. What would you think about as a distraction? Actually, that's entirely dependent on the situation and the desired result.

If you're opening your book with a solitary character,  you're faced with the need to hook your reader without much help, so you need to plunge you character right into the middle of their life-threatening problem and force them, and by association, your reader, to figure out how to get out of their predicament and do it quickly. Urgency is a good hook, but urgency needs quickness.

If the solitude has to stretch, it is acceptable to skip over those long lapses of nothing but walking. Who knows? Perhaps your character blanked out as well and just kept moving automatically and then looks up surprised to see he's reached his destination and hasn't made any plans as to what to do next.

Keep in mind though, motion is very important. I've read in several different places that without motion - physical motion of some sort - the story grinds to a halt, so keep your character moving through the story in some way all the time. I'm not talking about just walking or running, but also hand movements and facial expressions, even sitting and standing, or turning and reaching.

So, even though your character is alone, he is looking at things, thinking about things and making decisions all the time. Maybe you character paused to rest and leaned against a tree, but as soon as he touched it, he snatched his hand away. Why? Was the tree covered in sticky sap? Did he put his hand on a bug that bit back? Or did he just lean against the tree and drink in the shade? These are some ways of thinking in images. No real string of words are used, but a sigh of relief or a hiss of pain or disgust will clue your reader into his opinion of the desired situation.

Eyes are also important. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, so use them. Is you character constantly looking over his shoulder? There is a hint of urgency there. Is someone or something chasing, or at least following? Why? Is your character always keeping an eye pealed for possible hiding places? All of these small motions don't need to go with thoughts all the time. Many of them might be instinctive, only to be noticed when such a spot was found.

There are many things a person does while they are alone, going about their day, and the variety of thought-forms can be endless. What do you do with your character when you simply can't skip over those solitary times?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

What are You Thinking

And how do you actually think? Have you ever thought about it? I do, sometimes, especially when I'm writing up a character who can't talk, or one, like me, who doesn't talk much, someone too shy to do much more than watch, watch and think.

Do you think to yourself in words? I do, sometimes. Every once in a while, when something happened to me that really pissed me off, I'll go on about whatever I'm doing, but in my head I'm saying all the things I'd really like to say to the person face to face. I'll never say it, not really, but it's nice to get it all said, even if it's only in my head and never out loud.

But how about for other things? Let's say you're planning your day. My days at work are generally laid out and are much the same from day to day, but in the interest of efficiency, I give some thought to planning some of the smaller details. You know, something of this sort is done more in images.

So how do you write these kinds of things in your stories? The thinking in words part is easy enough; it's just dialog without the quotation marks and italicized - something I didn't know until recently, so it's something I need to change in all my manuscripts. I also need to add such thoughts. Many are already there but in third person. People don't think in third person much, unless they're thinking about someone else.

That leaves writing in thought images. But think about it for a moment. We all write in images all the time. Turning it from a seen image to a thought image isn't all that different. In the interest of consistency, changing it to first person and italics would clue your reader into the fact that it's an internal thought.

Another thing about thoughts, or more accurately, the word 'thought'. Using the words 'he thought' after you've done all the previous mention work can be a bit redundant. Saying 'he thought about doing this or that' is good, but if you have a sentence like, If I could only think of something interesting to write about, I thought. The words 'I thought' are a bit of overkill. Not that it's wrong; I'm reading The Hunger Games, and I see this frequently. I'm sorry, I know the book is very popular, but every time I see this, it just jerks me out of the moment. You never want to jerk your reader around. Don't get me wrong; I love the story, but I've seen several cases of incomplete sentences too. Who knows, maybe the editor got too carried away with the story and overlooked some of the errors. I can certainly see it happening. We're only human, and it is a captivating story. That's one reason it's always wise to have someone else edit your work. Even beta readers have their value for this reason. They don't expect what is coming and so see what is written.

So tell me, how do you handle thoughts?