Heritage · Writing

Heritage – Part 4

Greetings one and all! I’m back from vacation! You’ll be getting some extra blog posts this week hearing about that, but for right now, here’s the next part of my story. Be sure to vote at the end!

* * * * *

Noshli wasn’t sure where she was going, but she was sure about one thing. Althea was going to be a problem.

She was a nice girl, probably one of the nicest Noshli had ever met. But years of living stifled in a family who didn’t appreciate her had left Althea a little . . . talkative. Or in other words, she never stopped talking unless she was sleeping. And at times, she talked in her sleep too. Althea seemed to be everywhere. Her voice. Her crazy hair. Althea was larger than life

It was enough to drive a person mad.

Still . . . it was nice to not be alone any more.

“What’s with your name?”

Noshli looked up across the campfire. Althea stared at her with a quizzical expression that Noshli was starting to recognize as the prequel to a long, drawn out discussion. It had been a tiring day, full of what seemed like endless meandering through endless repeating landscape. They were getting nowhere and it was wearing on Noshli. All she wanted to do was go to bed, but instead she let out a long sigh. “What do you mean, what’s with my name?”

“It’s just that, I mean, I don’t want to be offensive or anything,” Althea said quickly, her eyes widening. “But your name is a little bit strange. You’re half elvish, yes? And half human? But your name sounds more dwarvish than anything else. It just seemed a little bit out of place.”

Noshli chuckled. “I guess it does, a little,” she said. One glance at Althea’s expectant face was enough to prove that nothing would stop her until she had a satisfying answer to her question. “Well, it’s like this,” Noshli said. “My mother had a mean sense of humor. She was very unhappy when my father left, so when I was born, she came up with a way to insult him in the best way she knew how. He now has to live with not only the shame of having a half breed daughter, but one that bears a dwarvish name. Trust me, it was very deliberate.”

“But that’s, that’s awful!” Althea said. “Your mother shouldn’t have done that! It’s your name!”

“It doesn’t bother me,” Noshli said with a shrug. “As a half breed, I never expected to be well liked. No one has ever asked about my name before. They’ve never cared.”

Noshli stopped talking at the uncomfortable look on Althea’s face. “It’s fine. As I said, it doesn’t bother me.”

“Did it work?” Althea asked “Was your father angry?”

“I’m not sure,” Noshli said. “I’ve only met him once. He didn’t say anything about the name. Actually, he barely spoke to me at all. He mostly just arranged things with my mother so that we would be taken care of.”

“That was something, anyway,” Althea said, her smile returning. “It must have meant he cared, at least a little bit.”

“I suppose,” Noshli said. She shoveled some dirt over the fire with her hands. “Can we not talk about this?”

“Sure,” Althea said, looking uncomfortable again. She started rolling out her bed blankets. “But I’m sure he cared. He’s your father. My papa and I had our differences, but I know he cared about me, in his own way.”

“That’s just it,” Noshli said. “You had a ‘papa.’ I didn’t.”

The next morning, Althea seemed content to ignore the tension from the previous night, a fact for which Noshli was grateful. She hadn’t meant to say so much about her past. They packed up quickly and headed down the road. They had only gone a few miles when it was clear that they were finally getting somewhere. The road smoothed over with freshly pressed gravel. They soon came to a crossroads with a wooden sign stuck into the ground.

“Aerindan,” Althea read off the sign. “I’ve heard of that place. It’s supposed to be a fairly large town.” She turned to Noshli, her grin firmly planted in place. “We should be able to find out some information there, and we should arrive just before nightfall.” Noshli flinched as Althea grabbed her hands. “We’re finally getting somewhere!”

“So it would seem,” Noshli said. Althea had finally let go of her hands and darted down the road. Noshli hitched her bag higher on her shoulder and followed. They walked for hours, the sun streaming through a wonderfully cloudless sky. Noshli felt the first inklings of hope. They were getting somewhere indeed.

The sun was setting as they reached Aerindan, streaking the sky with pinks and purples. The city was surrounded by stout walls made out of large, squared off logs. The road they were on led directly into a wide gate, which stood open. Noshli pulled her hood over her head and shoved Althea in front of her. “You go first,” she said, her voice instinctively dropping to a whisper, even though there was no one nearby. “I’ll be just behind.”

“I’ve never seen anything this big,” Althea said in an awed voice. “Where should we go?”

“Through the gate would be a good start,” Noshli said. “We will need to find somewhere to stay for the night, if possible. I still have some money left. We’ll try and find a small inn and go from there.”

“Right,” Althea said. “We can do this.”

They stepped into the city. Noshli kept her eyes focused on the ground as they passed the guards posted at the gate, but they ignored the two girls. Noshli breathed a sigh of relief once the gate was behind them and took a good look at the city. The first thing she noticed was a fat, black cat sitting on the stoop of one of the shops. It stared at them for a long moment, before disappearing inside. For some reason, it made her uneasy.

“Let’s keep moving,” Noshli said quietly. “We don’t want to attract too much attention.”

Heritage · Writing

Heritage – Part 3

This will be the last entry for two weeks, since I will be on vacation. Enjoy!

* * * * *

Noshli kept walking, ignoring the voice. She didn’t know why anyone would want to speak to her in the first place. If she was lucky, whoever it was would go away. It had started raining again, a light, misting rain that soaked through Noshli’s clothes within minutes. Stopping was the last thing she wanted to do.

“Hey!” the voice said again. “Elf . . . lady! Wait a moment!”

Noshli stopped in her tracks and closed her eyes in weariness. She didn’t want to deal with people right now. Maybe if she gave in, they could do whatever they wanted and then leave her in peace. She turned around and gasped.

Standing in the middle of the road was a very tall, very thin woman. Noshli would have almost taken her for an elf, except for the bright red hair that spiraled around her head. She had never seen an elf with hair like that, riotous curls going every which way. The girl, whoever she was, seemed surprised that Noshli had stopped. Her eyes were wide, a bright grass green, and she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear with a sheepish grin.

Normal human ears. Definitely not an elf.

“What do you want?” Noshli said. She couldn’t help being angry. That tavern was one of the first places she had been warm since setting out and now she had been driven from it as though she had done something dreadful instead of saving several of their lives. And now one of the neighborhood kids wanted to come have a look at the freak, did they? Her eyes narrowed as she looked at the girl, who seemed to be all arms and legs, a gangly thing.

“You are the elf girl, right?” the human girl said. “The one who helped the people at the Fox?”

“That’s not how they saw it,” Noshli said, her anger giving way to confusion. This girl believed that Noshli was helping? “They thought I caused the mess.”

“Of course they did,” the girl scoffed. “Closed minded, the lot of them. It’s part of why I wanted to leave in the first place.”

“Leave?”

“Sure!” the girl said. She seemed to have gotten over her nerves, her smile wide and friendly. “I grew up in this sorry town. My parents wanted me to settle down with some nice village boy, cook his meals, pump out a dozen babies or so. It . . .” her voice trailed off for a moment. “It’s not the right life for me.”

“I can understand that,” Noshli said. “What does that have to do with me though?”

“Well, you’re obviously not from town. And no one in their right mind comes here to stay. So that tells me that you’re a traveller. I’ve been looking for someone who I could travel with, just for a little while, so that leaving might be a bit easier. It’s one thing to want to leave, it’s another thing . . .”

“To actually do it,” Noshli said, nodding. She understood that feeling.

“Anyway,” the girl said. “I know how to set traps and to catch and clean fish. I won’t use up any of your resources, and might even bring in a few of my own. Just let me travel with you a ways. I won’t be any trouble, I promise!”

Noshli was overwhelmed. She had never had anyone, other than her mother, seek out her company with such purpose. There was something about this girl, her open honest face, that made Noshli trust her immediately. “What’s your name?” she asked.

The girl smiled even wider. “Althea,” she said, bouncing a little on the balls of her feet. “I have my things stowed in that pile of logs over there,” she said. “I’ll go grab them and then we can be on our way!” She took off at a jog towards the wood pile.

“You don’t even know where I’m going!” Noshli said. “I don’t even know that!”

“It’s all right,” Althea said, hefting a bulky burlap knapsack over her shoulder. “Anywhere is better than here.”

Heritage · Writing

Heritage – Part 2

Here’s the next installment in “Heritage!” Be sure to vote for your choice this week!

* * * * *

Noshli spun around and stared at the front of the room in shock. A large tree crashed through the front window, sending shards of glass flying in every direction. Several patrons ducked down at the first sound and missed getting hit, but there were a few who held their faces in pain, trickles of blood seeping through their fingers. Noshi dashed down the steps as another tree limb slammed against the side of the tavern, the whole building shivering at the impact. A creaking noise, barely loud enough to be heard over the raging storm outside the broken window, was the only warning Noshli got. One of the beams in the ceiling began a slow descent towards a group of people, a few who had been hit by glass, and a few more who were trying to help them. Noshli dashed further into the room, her arm raised towards the beam.

“Orean ceall pakres scollen naedri,” she shouted. A surge of energy filled the pit of her stomach, flowing up through her body and towards her outstretched hand. Her hood slipped off her head as magic flowed from her fingertips and coated the beam and the walls. The beam stopped in midair and hovered over the people, who had finally realized that they were in danger. They scattered, the injured grasping at the others for help. Noshli held the beam up until the last one was safe. After what seemed like an eternity, she let it drop. The table where the people had been sitting was reduced to splinters.

Noshli took in several gasping breaths. It had been a long time since she had summoned any magic. She tried to breathe slowly, to bring her heart beat back to normal. Her legs felt jittery and she had to lean against the railing of the stairs to keep from falling. As she got control of herself, still weak but at least able to think, she realized that everyone in the tavern was staring at her. She put a hand to her head and felt that her hood had fallen off, her cat-like features vividly on display.

“What’re ya on about!” one of the men shouted. He had been hit by the glass, but not badly. The thin red line on his face wasn’t bleeding any longer, but the rest of his face was contorted in anger.

“It’s one a’ them elves,” another man hissed. “We shoulda known.”

Noshli’s heart sank. Her eyes darted back and forth between the faces staring at her, looking for someone who might take her side, but there was no one. A hand touched her shoulder and she whirled around. It was the bar man, presumably the one who thought it was funny to name a tavern after a fox in a monk’s habit. He didn’t seem to have a sense of humor now. “You need to get your things and leave,” he said. “Now.”

“But sir,” Noshli said. “Please . . .”

“I’ll not be havin’ your ilk tearing up my tavern,” he said, gesturing towards the window, which still had most of a tree stuck through it. Noshli understood. They thought she had caused everything, instead of only intervening when people were in danger. It would take too long to explain, and no one would believe her anyway. She should have known better. Drawing her hood back over her head, she dashed back up the stairs as tears dripped down her face. Luckily she had few belongings. She hadn’t even unpacked anything. She hoisted her rucksack onto her back and made her way back downstairs, hoping they would just let her leave and not try to take things any further.

The tap room was quieter. The storm, having made its point, was beginning to die down now. The people downstairs had decided to ignore Noshli as she made her way to the door, a fact for which Noshli was grateful. She passed the bar man and felt as though she should say something, but when she met his cold gaze, she found that no words would come out. With a sigh, she opened the door and stepped out into the drizzling rain. She’d have to find shelter somewhere on the road.

The road, however, was less accommodating. Noshli had hoped to find some sort of abandoned building, or at least a grouping of trees that could provide some shelter, but the land stretched on either side of the road, perfectly flat except for the occasional scraggly, useless tree. If I can’t find good shelter, I might as well keep walking, Noshli thought. The decision made her legs feel heavy, each step taking more effort.

“Hey!” said a loud voice behind her.

Heritage · Writing

Heritage – Part 1

Greetings and welcome to my new weekly feature! Thanks to your participation in last week’s polls, we have the beginnings of what I hope will be a fun story.

Here is part one of the story, loosely titled Heritage. At the end, you’ll have a chance to choose what happens next. Hope you enjoy!

* * * * *

The storm outside raged on, the lightning briefly illuminating the few scraggly trees outside the Virtuous Fox Tavern. Noshli gazed out the window, watching the trees thrash violently in the wind. She had been lucky to reach this place before the storm hit. Another traveler had tipped her off about this place, praising its food and the lack of bugs in its beds. “You can’t miss it,” the man had said. “Just look for the sign with a fox dressed in a monk’s habit.” Apparently the proprietor of the tavern had a sense of humor.

It was a good enough place, although anywhere would be good on a night like this The tap room was crowded, the roaring fire in the fireplace filling the room with welcome heat. Noshli watched the people who came close to her table and made sure that the hood of her cloak stayed put. The last thing she wanted was for anyone to find out what she was.

The cloak worked well, as long as she didn’t have to look directly at anyone. The hood hid her sharp, pointed ears that poked through her blond hair, but it did nothing to hide her eyes. They were silver, with narrow pupils like a cat. They were her father’s eyes. Elven eyes. The eyes of her people.

Or half my people, Noshli thought. She was grateful that the rest of her features were safely human. It had helped her blend in back home. Her mother, Gemma, had had the unfortunate luck of falling in love with an elf, whose tribe passed through her village. Noshli had only met her father once, but she could understand why her mother had been so entranced. Tall, blond, fair, with the piercing silver eyes of his kind, Naleniehl was an impressive sight. Noshli hoped he would remember her, but assumed that he would. Immortality did have its benefits.

The trouble was that Noshli had no idea where to find him. Humans and elves generally did not get along and tended to stay as far away as possible. Elves were nomads, who didn’t stay in one place for long. There were rumors of an elf encampment near Rirha, so that was where Noshli was headed. Her father was her last hope. Since her mother’s death, the villagers back home in Finna had turned against her, driving her out of the village, calling her a “filthy half-breed.” These were people Noshli had known all her life, who suddenly only saw her as an abomination. It had only been out of respect for her mother that Noshli had been tolerated at all. She shivered and drew he cloak closer around her shoulders, her finger tracing a long scorch mark on the wooden table in front of her. Her father would help her. He was her last chance.

She hoped the elves would be more accepting, despite the fact that she looked much more human than elvish. Where they were tall and thin, she was short and, well . . . not thin. Her skin was a warm, sun-kissed tan, a direct contrast to their ivory tones. If it hadn’t been for her eyes and ears, Noshli knew that her secret would have been safe. No one would have known about her elvish heritage.

But there was no point in dwelling on it. I am what I am, she thought, her head drooping slightly. She shook herself, deciding that it was probably time to go upstairs to her room, before she fell asleep at the table. Tomorrow, she would continue on her journey, but tonight . . . tonight, she could rest.

She was halfway up the steps when she heard a loud crash behind her.

Be sure to vote for what you want to happen next!

Storytime · Writing

A New Feature

Happy Monday everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July holiday!

I had an idea for a new weekly feature here at the blog. Something that would be fun and creative. I’ve been wanting to take on another writing project, something that wouldn’t have to be quite as serious as my main manuscript. And I thought it might be fun to include some of you lovely people who read my blog.

Here’s what we’re going to do together. Each Monday, I will post a short excerpt of a story, probably about 500-1000 words. Afterwards, there will be a poll with several options for how the story will progress. It will be kind of like those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books we used to read as kids. You’ll have up until Friday to make your choices, and then which ever plot line gets the most votes will be part of the next excerpt posted the next Monday.

I will be using some random generators (Chaotic Shiny and Seventh Sanctum) just to keep things interesting. That way, there’s no way that I can prepare ahead of time. Also, sometimes the generators spit out the weirdest stuff!

This will also be a fantasy story, since that’s what I usually write. Whether it turns out being traditional fantasy or urban fantasy will depend on how things go.

So what do you think? Want to help me write a story? If so, here’s the first two polls, just to get us started.

Let’s see where this goes!

Drabbles · Writing

Weekend Writing

I spent a fair amount of time at the library this weekend, which is something that I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. Not to look for books necessarily (gods know I have way too many of those), but to have a nice, quiet place to work on my writing.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I finished the first draft of my novel, the working title being Children of Light. This will (theoretically) be the first book in a trilogy, although I haven’t completely worked out what will be happening in later books.

I have a love/hate relationship with writing. In a way, I love it. I love being a writer and talking about writing. I like blogging about writing, although I don’t do it very much. I like the idea of finishing my manuscript, of being creative, of finding ways to make it better and better.

But the actual day-to-day, sitting down and writing the darn thing? That’s the hard part. I have a really hard time doing it. My mind keeps wandering, my fingers hover over the keys. And I can usually find excuses (good ones) for skipping my writing goals for the day. I had a really bad day at work. I don’t feel well. I have to clean something (I don’t use this excuse that much, to be honest, but it’s still a good one).

It took me over a year to get the rough draft together. And believe me, it is ROUGH, especially what I wrote during NaNoWriMo last year. I haven’t looked at it much, but I know that for several chapters, I used the word “strange” a lot. Like, over and over, several times in one paragraph. Everything was strange!

I have no idea how long my first revision will take, although I finished revising through chapter 2. I’ve already changed a whole bunch of things. The entire political situation. My main character (the writing group said he was boring and passive before – well, he isn’t anymore!). A lot of things will be in a completely different order.

This is all good. It’s all progress. But it’s also extremely daunting. I still wonder whether I am up for this. I think that’s why I read so many author blogs. It helps to know that pretty much every single author believes that their writing is terrible at one point or another, no matter how many books they’ve had published. If they can do it, so can I, right? Right?

I hope so. Cross your fingers for me!

Also, I have a shameless plug here. I’ve mentioned several times that I co-host a podcast with my friend Jess – Bibliophiles Anonymous. We’re getting ready to revamp our website and include not just podcast episodes, but also blog posts with book reviews. A lot of these will be from digital ARC’s that we get from Net Galley, which we don’t have time to include on the podcast, but don’t want to miss. So please go check it out! We will start this in the next few weeks or so.

Writing

Revision

I mentioned several times that I was participating in a writing challenge during November (and partially in October). Actually, I think I mentioned it on nearly every blog post written during that time. And I mentioned last time that I had finished the rough draft of my book, a fact that I still can’t quite believe.

My manuscript currently has 78,983 words in it, broken into 26 chapters. I sat down last night and figured out where the chapter breaks would be, since I had only organized it by scenes and point-of-view characters. I will be spending the next week fixing up any typographical errors and seeing how the scenes flow the way I have them lined up. Then I will send it out to the members of my writing group so they can tear it apart and help me put it back together again.

This book is the first book in a planned trilogy. I say that because a trilogy sounds like a good idea, not because I have big ideas for two more books. Oh, I have ideas, don’t get me wrong. But the next books are still mostly a mystery. Surprisingly, this doesn’t worry me. After all, most of this book was a mystery to me until I started breaking things down and writing it.

These books are Young Adult Fantasy, which is a booming genre right now. It’s a lot to live up to. What will make people pick my book up when there are so many out there? It’s a funny thing to think about, especially when I haven’t even finished the darn thing, much less convinced someone to publish it.

I’m looking forward to the revision process. It’s the first time I’ve ever done it, since this is the first time I’ve had a writing project that actually came to fruition. So I have left the Truby exercises behind and moved on to Maass. Which means more writing exercises, of course, these designed to take my writing to the next level. I can’t wait to see what happens, what changes will be made. And of course, I will keep everyone posted on my progress on the blog.