Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Vote for your favorite magic scene - I'm a finalist!

My last post was about Laura and Tessa's blogfest--as it turns out, I am a finalist in the competition they had going on! I can hardly believe it--amidst so many wonderful and intricate magical scenes, I feel deeply honored by this!

So, go to either of their pages and vote--for whomever you like! (I think you can also vote for more than one.) And then, check out their blogs--both are pretty cool! I am glad I found them through this blogfest.

Happy Wednesday, and end of March! Here comes April...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Nature of Magic

Tessa at Tessa's Blurb is co-hosting a Nature of Magic blogfest with Laura B Diamond. There was so much I wanted to share with you--we are limited to 250-1000 words (which is good, and keeps me from getting too verbose!), so I can share only a snippet.

This is from a short WIP I just started a few weeks ago, when I was battling laryngitis. I think it could use a little work, but I find that the nature of the magic here is similar to the nature of the magic I use in many of my stories. I hope you enjoy, and let me know if you have any comments! Oh, and check out the other bloggers. :)

Can one say Bon Apetit for others who are about to read? Because I'm going to, right now!


If you live in the Cave of Miracles, it really doesn’t matter that you can’t see the sky. The Cave is made up of more rooms and caverns than you can fathom, and in one of the caverns, it’s always bright as day, and the stone shines in blues and grays. An illusion of the sun rotates around the ceiling, and clouds drift along the ground. Another cavern mirrors the darkness of night. Tiny, floating pinpricks of light form the constellations. If you can catch them, you can draw them closer, spin them around, examine them. When you let go, they flick back into place, as if they’d never gone.
There are other caverns, too. Rooms full of ice and snow, of colored lights, of healing ponds and waters of youth, of golden treasure, silver treasure, heirlooms so valuable and guarded that they have been forgotten even by myths.
The different rooms sometimes shift around, but even when they don’t, they form a maze that no man or woman could maneuver. Except for her. She was born there, in one of the caverns, somewhere near the center, amidst an array of purple, gold and red pillows. She had woken, conscious, clothed, and alone.
She grew up there, over many years’ time—more time, in fact, than made up the lifetime of some men. And she was on the cusp of leaving this childhood when the first one came. She didn’t see him arrive, but she heard him, every one of his steps echoing across the stone. 
She found him standing in the fork of a long tunnel that she had never been in. He was not a part of her world; he smelled of sweat and metal. His body was covered in animal hides and golden plates, and he held a spear, which he thrust point-out toward her as she approached. When she stood fully in front of him, in the stony hall, he lowered his weapon, and chuckled.
“But you are a girl.” He spoke in the common language. “The stories tell of someone older.”
She raised her chin, annoyed, but responded in his familiar tongue. “Welcome here, sir, but do not tarry. What do you seek?” The words came smoothly and felt right.
He seemed all too at ease. “I seek great power, to rule my kingdom.”
When he said power, she understood exactly what he meant—his thoughts could not be contained in his own self, and the taste of gory battle, of utter violence pushed into her mind. She didn’t like the look of him. She thought of the many artifacts that could grant him what he longed for. They were as real in her world as they were in the world beyond the stone walls—much like the stars, and the tiny sun. But even if they were her own to give, she could not, to this man who smelled of war.
She felt a pushing, though, and she realized that she had to leave him with something. He had not happened upon her without reason.
“Come,” she said, and she pulled him through twists and turns she knew he would not remember.
She took him into the room that unfolded like a map of the world. It showed her everything and everyone she needed to see. She traced his path. “There is a tree near the high mountains of this land, which blooms in jewels. Half the tree blooms red in garnets and rubies. Half the tree blooms white, with diamonds and pearls. A two-day journey will get you there.” She could see the hunger growing in his eyes. “And guarding the tree is a dragon that never sleeps.” The dragon’s image formed and floated beneath her finger. “The dragon guards the tree as its treasure, and so it is protective. But one talon from its hand will make a fearsome weapon.”
This was not what power meant to her, but she could still feel his thoughts as he stared at the spot she showed him. They will never see me coming.
                “The treasure is not for you,” she continued. “You must not touch the treasure.” Growing so close to the natural heat of the dragon, touching any of the gems would surely burn him alive.
                He stared some more, than turned his gaze to her. “You must grant me a boon,” he said. “So I may slay the dragon.”
                She did not like this idea. The dragon would certainly give a claw in exchange for something other than its life. Its claws would grow back. “You need not kill the dragon; just cut it from his hand.”
                His thoughts were overpowering. “A boon.”
                She took him back to where she found him. “Wait here.” There was an herb that would allow him to withstand fire for one minute, if he put it under his tongue; she brought it back to him. “Chew this, if it begins to flame. It will help for but a minute.”
                He smiled, and nodded.
                If I slay the dragon, I can take all of the claws. I will be invincible. And the jewels will be mine, too…
                He wouldn’t listen. She sighed, and watched as his figure receded. She hadn’t liked him, and she hadn’t liked helping him. But somehow, she felt it was her role. There were reasons for everything, and her reason was her purpose here. To guide.
                Still, she worried about the dragon. Though creatures like that had a way of returning themselves, even after death. In any case, she checked the room that mapped the world, every day, for ten days. In the end, the dragon was there, alive. She did not see any sign of the man, though she realized she did not know his name.
                Nor did she care.
                He was her first.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Drunk at first (second?) sight - part 2

Last year, Jon Paul posted a Drunk-at-first-sight blog challenge. This is what I wrote. This year, he issues the challenge again. So here I am, once more writing. To me, this is one of the most difficult blogfests! But it is a lot of fun.

I wrote this just now, but I am feeling half-asleep, so beware of snaggy errors. Otherwise, please enjoy yourself--and the ride! Warning--it is fairly long, but it was hard to pick a selection. It all seemed so necessary. So read what you want and then skip on out to others. And remember that there is always time and opportunity to take part, yourself!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


“You want another?” the barkeeper pointed a thick, stubby finger at Shane's glass.

He wasn’t even done with this one. He shouldn’t.

“It’s on me,” a man said. He had light brown hair, and a slight accent. Sort of German-sounding, Shane thought. He was wearing all black, except for a fake green carnation, which he had pinned to his shirt.

“Thanks, but I’m fine.” Shane held up his mug. It was light—he looked at it. It was empty.

“I’d say you’re fine. Fine and dandy.” The man was not old or young. He snorted. “You dandy.”

Shane didn’t really know what to say to that, so he accepted the drink. The barkeeper poured green liquid into his glass.

“None of that swill for me,” the man said. “Give me ale, real ale.”

“We don’t serve—”

“Check again.” The man pulled some large coins out of his pants pocket, and slid them across the table and directly into the man’s hands.

“Right, sir,” the barkeep said. He stared at the coins, then looked at them with big eyes. He came back with a pitcher of ale, which he poured out for the man, slowly.

“Bombs away,” the man said, and as Shane watched, he downed the entire amount. He put his cup down, coughed, and wiped some amber drops away from his mouth. “Thirsty, weren’t we?” he asked.

“You certainly were,” Shane replied.

“Both of us, I’d say.” The man nodded at Shane’s mug. Again. Empty.

“Another round,” he called out. “Shane’s treat.”

Shane tried to remember if he had told the man his name. Well, of course he must have. Otherwise, he wouldn’t know. It was as simple as that. Then he realized what the man had said.

“No thanks, I’m done. You can treat yourself.”

“I saved your life, Shane. You’d best repay me with a drink. It’d be rude, not to.”

Shane shook his head. “How did you save my life?”

“You needed more beer. And I got you some.” The man chuckled.

Shane stared at him, then beckoned to the barkeeper. The man hurried over, filled his cup again—this time, with ale as well. He refilled the man’s cup, too, and then walked away, staring at them intermittently. “I’m sorry, do I know your name?”

“No, of course not. It’s Tom.”

“Tom.” He nodded. “We haven’t ever met before?”

“I’m sure you’d remember, if we did.” Tom took a sip, and then sighed. “Perfect. Just perfect. Have a sip of yours.”

Shane did so, automatically. The ale bubbled over his tongue. It really did taste good.

Allie bobbed over. “Are you having fun?”

She was always pretty, but even prettier drunk. And she was. He glanced over his shoulder. Per was standing, guardedly, watching her. And him, probably. He was friends with Shane, but he served as her boyfriend (and bodyguard) first. She wouldn’t get into any trouble tonight, then. “Sure, I am. Good. Good, good.”

“Great!” she slurred. At least Shane wasn’t that drunk, yet. “I’m going to go.”

“Girl you want, mate?” Tom asked.

Shane blushed. “Lower your voice.” He paused. “Mate.” Maybe the accent was Australian, instead of German.

He kept talking in a normal tone. “I think she likes you, too, to leave her boyfriend in order to see if you were having a good time.”

“Well, she’s like that.” He took another sip of ale. Maybe he was starting to feel the buzz. He drank a little faster, and tried to change the conversation. “How did you come here?”

“I walked,” Tom said, and his eyes seemed to twinkle. “How did you come?”

Well, that was Allie, again. So insistent. Per couldn’t say no. Shane said no all the time—just not to her.

“You do like her, don’t you?” Tom finished his ale, but a few minutes later, his mug was filled again. The barkeeper stood to the side, looking increasingly suspicious as Shane sucked down more of his own, and held it out.

“No more until payment,” the barkeeper said.

“Pay the man, Shane,” Tom said.

Shane pulled out enough money for the three rounds from earlier, a few other drinks that he had enjoyed earlier, and for two more rounds. The barkeeper stood there and counted. “I need payment for one more round, for the two of you.”

“Tom said he’d get it.” Shane put his wallet back in his pocket.

“Pay it for me, Shane, and there’s a good man. For saving your life.”

Shane pulled his wallet out again, dug out the money, and handed it to the barkeeper, who immediately filled his mug and then scurried into the corner. He looked at Tom.

“Wait a minute. You didn’t save my life.” His brain was working slower, and his mouth felt mushy. He was getting drunk.

“Give a guy a break.” Tom looked off to the side, almost dreamy-like. “I used to work here, you know.”

“You’re getting me drunk,” Shane said. Or slurred. Maybe not yet.

“What do you think of the décor?” Tom asked, suddenly.


“The décor. Think, man. You can’t be that wasted.”

Shane stared around. “It’s nice. Nice. Nicey-nice.” He stared. “Could use a few more crappy lep-er-kans, though.”

For a second, he thought he saw Tom’s eyes flash. Of course, he didn’t. But he imagined he might have.

“You may imagine a lot,” Tom said, but the voice was in his mind.

It seemed like gold coins rained down upon them, and a huge cry went up throughout the room. Music swelled, and Shane stayed where he was.

“Why did you come here?” Shane asked again.

“It was mine, once. I didn’t bog it down with this trash.” He fingered the foil shamrocks. “So I come back, every so often. Because I must.” He looked away. “Here comes your girl, again.”

He felt her hands touch his back before he turned and saw her. She was grinning, her hair falling at times across her face. “Hi, Shane.” She began to rub his shoulders, then his back, and then her hands were going everywhere. And he tried to mind, like a good friend. He tried to dislike it.

“Shenanigans going on, Shane?” Tom took a leisurely sip of his ale. “Ah. I don’t know why ale is always so rare to come by.”

Shane’s glass was empty, again, and the room felt like it was spinning. Then Allie was gone, and Tom was there, but he was poking him in the back, again and again.

Everything went black at some point, and he and Tom stood in the midst of a green plain. Tom was turning in circles, talking to himself. “There is treasure. I know there is treasure.”

“There is treasure,” he mumbled.

“Oh. You’re here.” Tom smiled, then walked over. He was shorter than Shane had realized. Tall enough.

“Where is here?” Shane asked.

“The edge, baby.” Tom motioned him to come closer, and he did.

Tom punched him. Hard. So that he fell to his knees. Shane felt the air whuf out of his body. He tried to catch his breath. And then Tom kicked him in the face. “Leprechauns aren’t crap, you son of a dog. Let that be your lesson.”

Something wet dripped down his face. He was bleeding. He wiped at it with his fingers, but that didn’t staunch the flow. “What the hell?”

Tom smiled, and patted Shane on his face. “I do like you, though. And you like the girl.” He looked around, then smiled even wider. “It will do. You will need to get me some coinage, though. Even from the old country, we desire coinage.” He laughed. “And ale. Not like these new upstarts.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The treasure, my boy!” It echoed, melted, and Tom was gone. The green faded into brown, into black.

He didn’t remember leaving, but when he woke up the next day, Shane wasn’t at the pub. He wasn’t at his apartment.

But he was holding Allie. She moved when he did, and pulled away. With some relief—mostly relief—he realized she was still dressed from the night before. So was he.

His face twinged.

“You got into a fight, didn’t you? With Per.” She was moving around, tucking strands of hair behind her ears. She was prettier when she was drunk, but she was at her most beautiful when she woke up in the morning.

“I don’t know,” he said, and he stretched, and rubbed his face. It was crusted over.

“I’m sure you crushed his face.” She gave him a friendly peck on the cheek. “I’m sure he deserved it.”

“How did I get here?”

“I don’t know.” She snuggled into his arms. “My head is killing me.”

His head hurt, too. But all he could think of was something from his dream, something about that Tom character.

Had he only been a character in his dream? It was hard to say. But now he placed his accent. It was actually quite obvious, and he had no idea how he had missed it.

It was Irish.

He smelled Allie’s hair as she began to snore gently beside him and wondered where he could find some coins.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Oh where, oh where did my poor voice go?

I don't know about you all, but I'm having one heck of a winter. I keep getting sick. I got a stomach virus around Thanksgiving; I had a sinus infection at the beginning of last month; now this month, I have a cold which has left me with a sore throat and no voice.

Now, on the plus side, I otherwise feel pretty well. And, since I stayed home from work because of it, I did get to work on my writing (when I wasn't dozing or downing fluids). On the negative side, I am supposed to sing on Sunday in church. And I teach two fitness classes between now and then. Plus I am supposed to work Saturday.

Yes, this is not the best timing. We'll see what will happen.

In other news, since I did do a bit of writing, I want to mention that Eric Trant has been talking about this particular magazine that you can submit to, though March 15. It's called "An Honest Lie," and the theme for this year is Justifiable Hypocrisy.

I'm planning on entering, though I am not sure if the story I think I'm going with is the one I ought to. I have two that sort of fit the bill, but I just sort of think I want to use this one. Eric asked us to post a 330 word excerpt (no more!) from what we are considering using, so, what the heck. Here it is:

Annie wouldn’t leave him alone so easily, though. “What are you working on?” She tilted her head to the side and leaned over his shoulder, and he could smell something like cinnamon.
“A new case.”
“Oh.” She moved slightly, shifting the stack of papers in her arms. The movement pulled her shirt up a bit in the front, and he could see the lower part of her belly button. “What’s it about, anyway?”
“Normalcy,” he said shortly. He didn’t think it was proper to talk about his cases casually, and she definitely was asking casually. “More depravations of human nature.”
She wrinkled her nose, and even then, Emerson couldn’t help but think that she really didn’t look so young. More like she was twenty-nine than nineteen. “Everything leads back to depravation for you.”
“Such is the case with law.” He sat back, frowning, but pleased despite himself. “Keep this in mind, if you choose to continue in this line of work, Annie. Only we keep our clients from sinking into an abyss of grievances. It is our duty to remember that all delinquents may re-enter regular society. Whom would you rather have living next door? Whom would you rather work to keep off the streets? There may be comparative degrees of depravity, but there is no differentiation, in the end.”
She made a very attractive noise that emerged from the back of her long, slender throat. “So, that’s your excuse?”
He snapped his gaze up at her. “What?”
“Depravation—that’s why you think you put all those people away. When you’re actually really a workaholic.”
He stared at her through his glasses. “I choose to devote my time to justice. Some agendas must be accomplished. Some things are more important than going home when the hour is up, as you know.”
“I know.” She seemed to lean forward, though she didn’t move. “So, what’s the case about?”
“Murder,” he said in a voice that was intended to end the conversation.

Okay. In other news, blogger Jon Paul is actually hosting a second drunk at first sight/St. Patty's Day Blogfest! Not only should you sign up--you should read them. I'm taking part. I took part last year, too. This was one of the hardest blogfests I've ever taken part in! And it was tons of fun. So. Check that out, and keep your eyes peeled (not literally!) for my and other entries for this very fun fest.

There you are! My updates, not in a nutshell, but hopefully not painfully drawn out, either.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Library book sale

Two times a year, our public library holds a book sale. Imagine: you walk into a room. There are tables lining the walls, running up and down the center of the room. Each table is covered by the lids of cardboard boxes. Inside each lid are books of all types and all varieties and all ages. Usually there are so many that they are in lids under the tables, that the books are refreshed at various times throughout the three-day sale. Children's and teen's books generally have their own room; last time, so did the mysteries. There are romance novels, science fiction, historical, language, and fiction and nonfiction labels popping up around the area. Cookbooks, too. And records, cassettes, DVDs and VHS (yes, the old technology is not completely gone), sheet music and magazines, all piling up on the floors, in bags, in people's arms.

It's warm, too--because of how tightly so many bodies are packed into the rooms. Craning over the spines of books, hunting for just the right ones.

Did I mention that these books are sold by the pound? $1 per pound for softcover, 50 cents a pound for hardcover (if I'm remembering right).

Now you know what it's like.

Each sale, my brother and I take off a few hours from work, and the Thursday morning (always the first day) of the sale, we go there. It starts at 7:00; by 8, I always have tons of books.

These are books from all over--discarded library copies, books people have donated that never sold at their garage sales, books people donated to the library, anyway. I've found the greatest things there, too; like a fairly complete set of Louisa May Alcott books, a box of Agatha Christie novels, The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop (and a special love of mine from way back), a gazillion copies of The Wind in the Willows, A Wrinkle in Time, and other classics from my childhood. Mary Poppins, for one. Not the movie version--the original book. (Read it, if you haven't.) My favorite spot is the children's room. I'm not above recommending my favorite books to children when I'm in there, either. I hate to see them sitting forlornly on the shelf. They must be read!!!

The sale was yesterday, and although there were definitely fewer books, and I spent the least amount I ever have, there (only $19! The money supports our library, though, so it's totally worth it), I still came away with a ton of treasures. Including a book of poetry that includes the Lady of Shalot! (I'm an Anne of Green Gables fan. I had to get it.)

On the way in, though, some of the ladies standing in line around me were chatting about e-readers. Now, I haven't made up my mind about e-readers--in some ways, I so want one! In other ways, I'm just so reticent--I love to hold a book, to see them on the shelf. (But not to move a library full of them. That's just no fun.) I thought it was such an odd contradiction, to discuss the most recent technology for reading while waiting for a sale that would allow you to pick through (often) dusty books from Beatrix Potter to copies of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám to Tony Morrion's Beloved to Eragon to Isaac Asimov to French-, Spanish-, Latin-, German- and even Arabic-English dictionaries...well. You get the idea. (I have bought all of these examples at this sale, by the way.)

I'm still on the fence about the e-reader, but I think I've made it a goal to get one. In the meantime, though, and even after, I'm sure, I will always love my books. And I will remember the moment I had yesterday, when I grabbed a book from the box lid and thought, "Some day, maybe some of the bloggers and I will have something laying in these boxes. And maybe somebody will even recommend it to someone else."

It was enough to give me goosebumps.