Thursday, October 25, 2018

Wording Wednesday - a Blue Moon Series story - White Stone

She wipes her hand across the mirror, which is spotted and blackened with age. The dust coating it comes off on her hand.

If anyone finds out just how far her family fell from grace, they'd say things that shouldn't be said by heretics and heathens. She has to keep this quiet. She has to silence anyone who dares to speak ill against her family. She has to change the story, no matter what the cost.

Snow tilts her head to the side, gazing at her reflection with her last good eye. Trading sight for sight. Eye for an eye. It's an old saying, but the meaning remains the same. Squaring her shoulders, she observes as the last blue color in her iris fades into a milky fog. On one side of her vision, she sees everything. Through the fog, it becomes shapes without definition or color, a world seemingly devoid of meaning.

Her father had traded the witch for what exactly? These powers? For her?

She stands, flattens her hands against her skirts, and marches to the window. Pushing open the wooden frame, she gazes out into the darkened sky. One eye sees the bright illumination of colors, blues ranging from turquoise to midnight, stars as far as she can see. Her other side shows dark splotches along the horizon.

"Come," she says, keeping her voice low.

"With this," her father had told her, "we will be able to rule the world."

"We already rule, Papa."

"No, Snow. No one believes a woman able to lead. You, you are the key to changing all of that. I have given my sight for you, and soon, you will give yours too."

She had been too young to understand then, but now in her blossoming years, with her breasts just starting to peek along her skin, her father had made the fourth trade—her first eye.

From the shadowing darkness ahead of her, a single crow soars in gracefully. When it gets close to the window frame, it flaps its wings, causing her newly whitened hair to shift in the breeze. It caws at her, a cackling sound that she had never heard up close before. It's piercing, and there's something devastatingly beautiful about it.

She gained emotional fortitude for her father's eyes, wolves for her hair, crows for one eye. When the witch comes for the other, she'll have unimaginable powers.

Snow had asked, "Why crows for an eye? Aren't wolves more dangerous? Shouldn't they be worth more than hair?"

Her father touched the tip of her nose. "Wolves are dangerous, but crows have sight. And with sight, comes power. We are trading for power, Snow."

Reaching out her delicate fingers, Snow strokes the crow down its back. The outline of it resembles a cat in her bad vision, and she's not sure if she'll ever be ready to give up her other eye. Sight is power, after all.

The crow caws again.

"I want to see what you see," she whispers, sorrow filling her voice as she realized she would never see the same again.

The crow launches itself into the air. Snow blinks and rubs her eyes, but still, there's another side to her vision. Out of the milky fog, she is soaring alongside the crow. No, that's not right. She is the crow, seeing the world below. All the thick outlines of buildings, the trees cropped out of the forest, and she realizes that she has sight without sight. She's given up one experience for another.

She waves the vision away and sits in front of the mirror, looking at her reflection for a long time. What will they say when they see her? What will they think and say? Everyone will know what happened with the witch. They'll know.

As if answering her sorrow, a howl sounds in the distance. Snow clenches her fits and sits up straight. No, they won't know how she became. She will not allow it. She simply is and always will be the Queen.

- - - - -

This is a spin off from the Blue Moon series (In a Blue Moon already released, Bolt from the Blue coming soon, Greener on the Other Side coming sooner). All titles will be based on color idioms, and I do plan on giving Snow her own story one of these days.

Story prompt from the Wording Wednesday group on MeWe. Based on the art in the link below:

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Wording Wednesday - a Ferals short story

Dirk stops short at the edge of the alleyway and glances over at Shepherd. "Did you hear that?" His voice is tinny, high despite being almost old enough to get into the agency program. He considers himself an adult now, with his birthday only two months away.

Shepherd takes a long look down the dark alley. No lights, the partial moon covered by clouds, nothing to see by. He cranks the flashlight in his hand and sweeps it across the shadows. Four pairs of eyes light up, staring straight back at them. Shepherd jumps back, fumbling with the flashlight and nearly dropping it.

Dirk stares, brown eyes wide with terror.

"What day is it?" Shepherd whispers, his fingers shaking around the flashlight as he turns the beam back up toward the eyes. The two pairs glow in the light, still looking straight down at the boys from their perch on top of the garbage containers.

"Two days," Dirk states. He shows his watch to prove the point; though, neither boy can see the face of it in the dark.

Dirk got lucky after the Spread. He managed to be one of the few people who came across a watch that wound whenever he took a step. An ongoing, perfect watch for a place without much, if any, electricity or access to batteries. Best yet, his shows the cycles of the moon. A daily reminder of how much danger he is in, or is not. Two days should be plenty of time.

The taller boy lets out a long, slow breath. "Okay, then. We're fine, right?"

"We're fine," Dirk echoes. He can't peel his gaze away from the creatures.

One of them has long fur, off-white with a dark patch on its chest. After a moment of watching at the boys, it licks its paw and rubs it along its face. As if it weren't one of the deadliest creatures in the world, as if it were nothing but a ... "House cat." The thought escapes Dirk's lips on a whisper, almost like a dare. He's an adult now, and he should be able to call them like they are. Cats.

Except they aren't. They haven't been cats for a long time.

"Whatever, man. Let's go." The flashlight turns off for a second, and the sound of the mechanical hand crank fills the silence between them.

"Do you think their inoculated?"

"You want to stay and find out?" The beam comes back on, and Shepherd aims it at Dirk.

"No." Dirk puts his hand up, shielding his eyes from the light. "But if they aren't, then"

"Then the TNR Agents will deal with them."

Dirk stands up straighter. "We could bring them in."

Shepherd aims the light back down the alley. Only one set of eyes gazes at them now, the off-white one missing from the scene. "You want to try to catch it? Be my guest."

Taking one step forward, the boy shakes with nervous, giddy energy. Dirk glances around the opening to the narrow path. He freezes when he sees more eyes appearing out of the darkness, blinking into existence from out of oblivion. He gulps down a breath, stumbling backwards. "A pride."

"Not just a pride." Shepherd's voice dissolves. "A colony."

The boys take three steps back, then four, both almost tripping over their own two feet.

"It's not the full moon," Dirk whispers, voice whimpering with disbelief and fright.

The beam of light winks out again, and with their hearts pounding, the boys turn and run as fast as they can. Their feet launch off the pavement, and they sprint. Faster than they did in survival class, faster than they did during their exams, faster than they ever have run before. They run so fast, they feel like they are flying.

But that's the thing about Ferals; no matter how fast, no human has ever outrun them.

- - - - -

I rarely write in third person, let alone present tense, but I've been writing a few stories in present tense as of late and wanted to try third person. I figure if I'm trying new things, it should probably be during writing prompts. This prompt is curated by Andy Brokaw, a lovely YA writer, and she used "The Cats' Rendezvous" by Édouard Manet to inspire our first piece for Wording Wednesday, a writing group on MeWe.

If anyone else is on MeWe, feel free to add me!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Powering Through

Being creative is hard work. It takes effort, commitment, time, dedication, and tenacity. I've seen artists become successful on a local level, but I also know how many years it took them to get there. Writing and editing are no different from other forms of art.

Writing for me comes naturally. My first drafts are messy, convoluted, and sometimes need a huge overhaul, because I do a little bit of outlining and a bunch of pantsing. I go into writing with vague ideas that end up getting fleshed out halfway through, which means I always have to go back. Rewrites are a big part of my writing process, and they are also more time consuming than writing.

There's something about re-reading the first words I've put down that makes me a bit disheartened. I think in my head, "This isn't good." I second guess myself and my art. It pushes me to the edge of wanting to give up, because the words didn't flow the way I wanted them to.

Rewriting is where I get stuck. It's the part of the process where I have to power through and just "do it." The only person holding me back is the inner editor inside me that dislikes (hate is too strong of a word) my first draft.

Drafts are not supposed to be this shiny, perfect thing that you can push out into the world. Drafts are for shaping and folding, mending into the story you want it to become. This part of the process should be fun (at least on some level). I have this novel in my hands that I created, and now I just have to make it better. I should look at this as enhancement, but I always struggle to get through.

All writers struggle with some part of the process, and despite the struggle, you should never give up.

Being creative takes time and dedication. You have to forgive yourself if it's not perfect, and then you have to work on making it better. I could throw this book aside and say, "Eh, I'll get to that later." But if I stop now, I'll lose momentum. I'll, essentially, give up.

What is your reason for powering through when you are struggling creatively?

Mine is the characters I create. I know they have a story worth sharing, which makes me want to finish what I've started. Even if the story is over, the characters never really leave me.

Friday, January 5, 2018

New Year, New Planner

I'm a saver, not a spender, and as such, I hardly ever buy things for myself. Sure, sometimes I splurge with this "I really need this," but I have to justify it to myself, much like a child would a parent. I have to explain to myself how vitally important this item is.

One recent purchase was The Simple Elephant Planner. I tried doing the bullet journal thing last year, but I found the page set up to be tedious. I wanted my planner to look cool with awesome spreads, and I spent so much time making each calendar month look great, that I spent less time actually doing the items on my list.

This year, I decided to try The Simple Elephant, and so far so good. It's simple and goal-oriented. It has to list the five most important goals for you to do this year, and it comes with a few easy instruction guides to give you advice on how to set up your goals.

Mine are:

  1. Shop Dissimulate to 50 Agents
  2. Publish two additional works
  3. Better Overall Health: Mental breaks, meditation, and lowering waist size
  4. Read 50 books
  5. Take a Vacation
Ideally, I won't reach 50 agents with Dissimulate, but since "get an agent" isn't a quantifiable goal, because it depends on the agents I shop to. So, I've decided on something more straightforward and gave myself a number to shop by the end of the year. Dissimulate has a lot in it though: a futuristic sci-fi theme, existential discussions, and a GLBT main character. This one will find a home.

I wrote most of it for NaNoWriMo, took December off to get Overwatch loot boxes (I'm a bit obsessed with opening shiny treasure boxes in that game), and I'm finishing up the book now. I'm at 64,000 words and approaching the end. My rough drafts always skimp on description, so the rewrite usually adds 10k in story and descriptions.

While it is only January 4, I feel really great about the simplicity of setting up this notebook. It breaks down overall goals into monthly goals, breaks down monthly goals into weekly ones. Then, it helps recap your week with successes as well as what can be done better.

Now, I know I have to have Dissimulate done by March for shopping. Now, I know once that's finished I can pursue the other two titles I wish to publish this year. I expect big things from myself in 2018, and you should expect big things from yourself, too.

What are your plans for the new year? Any big goals? What are you using to track your progress?