Thursday, November 29, 2007

Friday Snippets, November 30, 2007

My baby brother Mike would have been 38 today. I wanted to give him a birthday present, so I wrote this poem for him, and that's my Friday snippet.

Please do not repost or quote anywhere. Thanks!


The wandering year comes 'round
to loss keenly felt
As if no time had passed.

Do you care? Are you aware
of the pain of absence?

Stark branches claw the sky
In mute supplication;
Life lays cold in the ground.

Do you see tears? Feel the fears
that on these days abound?

Winter shakes the grasp
on fragile, seedling hope--
A quick lift of prayer.

Do you know? Will you show
us faith's budding flower?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

LOL Cats

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Snippet, November 23, 2007

It was either something old or nothing at all. Yes, it's been that kind of week. Seems like I'm busier around the holidays than any other time.

This is from a story that I started but never finished. Somehow I didn't feel I could do the story justice. It's based on a true story, and is one of the odder, unsolved murder mysteries in the area where I live. I wanted to fictionalize it, and give the story an ending, but I never could move more than a scene past the murder itself. Some day, maybe.

Please do not repost or quote anywhere. Thanks.

Sarah Moreland’s life changed on February 14, the day Missy Taylor’s life ended.
Lives cross, parallel for a space, then separate---but sometimes lives intertwine and never come apart. Later, she would realize this truth.

January had been a grueling month. February didn’t look much better. The winter months dumped a record snowfall on the metro area, and the life of the city moved, but grudgingly, like an old woman with arthritis.

Sarah paused by Chinana’s to look in the window. Her favorite coffee shop sported only a few customers this morning, and she decided to stop for a cup of coffee. Hers always tasted like soap. She never could seem to rinse out the taste.

Chinana’s occupied the west side of Rafael’s, one of the city’s most posh hotels. The coffee shop opened onto Fifth Street-- one of those upscale places that served a corporate clientele. Sarah termed the d├ęcor urban bland—a mishmash of signage and artfully placed three-dimensional objects.

The seat by the window, the one Sarah always liked to sit in, was occupied, so she sat at the table next to the elevator, as far from the drafts that came in each time the front doors were opened as she could get.

The waiter brought coffee, straight, no sugar, and Sarah let it cool in front of her while she made notes about possible story leads she could pitch to Barnes, editor of the Metro News.

She sighed and took a sip of her coffee. February wasn’t a good month for news. A plethora of car accidents because of the bad weather, and people starting house fires trying to save money by using alternate heating methods.

The elevator dinged. Sarah looked around at the sound. The sight of the hotel concierge, white and shaken, piqued her interest. She watched as he stepped from the elevator, and put a shaking hand to his lips. With the other hand, he kept the elevator doors from sliding shut.

A draft touched her legs. She turned to the front doors and saw a man walk in. He immediately looked at the concierge and some unspoken message passed between them. Almost without thought, she snatched her purse, and stood up, walking quickly to the elevators. The concierge didn’t even see her as she slipped into the elevator ahead of the man. She slid to the back of the elevator car, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.

“What took you so long?” the concierge said to the man, his voice agitated. “She’s in Room 447.”

Maybe nothing more than a domestic disturbance, Sarah thought. Perhaps the concierge just didn't like confrontation. But her reporter's instincts prodded her now.

The men crowded onto the elevator with her. Neither noticed that Sarah hadn’t made a floor choice. The elevator dinged and stopped at the fourth floor. The concierge and the man exited the elevator. As the doors started to slide shut, Sarah scooted out, following them, her feet silent in the thick carpeting.

“That’s how we found her,” the concierge said.

The door to 447 stood wide open. Sarah saw the man stop in the door. He swallowed.

“What are we going to do, Mr. Townsend?” the concierge said, nearly frantic.

She came up behind them and got an unobstructed view of the room. She saw the woman lying in the middle of the floor. The carpet was red, but it wasn’t, it was blue---except around the body. Stab wounds covered nearly every exposed inch of the woman---except for her face. Her head lay at an unnatural position, neck obviously broken, but the face pristine and lovely, delicately made up. Black hair fanned out from that face, and fixed blue eyes stared at Sarah. Blood everywhere.

Horrified, Sarah leaned over and vomited.

The man named Townsend turned around and spotted her.

Sarah turned and fled. She heard the men shouting at her.

Down a short hallway, she found a set of stairs leading down. After a couple of false turns, she found herself back on the lower level in the main lobby of the hotel. Sarah drew a deep breath, composed herself, and walked over to the front desk.

The clerk at the front desk looked up with a pleasant smile on her face. “May I help you?”

Sarah said in a low voice, “Call the police. A woman’s been murdered.”

The desk clerk looked at her with fright in her eyes. “W—what did you say?”

“Mr. Townsend asked me to have you call the police. There’s been a murder. A woman in 447.”

The desk clerk picked up the phone and dialed. When Sarah heard her shaking voice ask the dispatcher for the police, she turned and walked out the front doors.

Only later did she realize that the murdered woman’s room had contained dozens of red roses.

Valentine’s Day.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Friday Snippet, November 16, 2007

This has been a strange week. I've mostly done everything else but write, and it shows. I'm tired. I'm trying to gear up for the holidays and feeling kind of out of step with the whole concept. Hopefully, I'll get over that attitude.

Continuation of last week's post. Mueli has swung her sword at Shaelin's head. The end of this snippet is not a natural break point, but this is pretty much all I've written in a week. *sigh*

Please do not quote or repost anywhere. Thanks.

Mueli found herself flying through the air. She landed hard and lay still, staring up at the sky. Her sword arm felt as if someone had stood on it for a good long while. Her rage cooled to gray ashes.

She slowly pushed herself into a sitting position with her good arm. She checked to make sure her other arm was still with her and peered blearily around until she located her sword.

Moving like an old woman, Mueli stood and retrieved her sword from the dirt. Feeling the cool metal of the grip in her hand gave her the courage to look Shaelin in the face once more.

Shaelin hadn’t moved. She met Mueli’s hard stare with a direct gaze.

“Why? Why did you leave them to die?” Mueli asked in a hoarse voice.

Shaelin tilted her head. “A better question would be why you did not remain behind.”

Mueli refused to ask.

“As you wish,” Shaelin said.

She removed the scabbard from her shoulder and slid the Godsword inside. As soon as the blade disappeared, Shaelin dropped the sheathed Godsword and put her hands over her face.

Mueli turned away from her, and wondered what to do next. She had the girl and the Godsword, and both were safe for the time being. The thing to do would be to make their way back to the relative safety of the Shield Temple from here. Wherever here was. No use in asking Shaelin. She would have no more idea where the Godsword had brought them than Mueli did.

She looked at Shaelin. “Pick it up. Never drop it like that again.”

Shaelin leaned over and picked up the sword. “Where are we going?” she asked in a timid voice.

“We’re going to make our way back to the temple,” Mueli said. She carefully did not say that they were going to make their way back to the Shield Temple through potentially hostile territory with only one warrior to guard one of the most famous swords in history.

With no supplies.

Mueli pointed at an outcropping that rose above the treeline a good two hour’s walk from their present position. “We’re going to that rise. I can orient us from there.”

“Does that mean we’re lost?” Shaelin asked.

“We’re lost when I say we’re lost,” Mueli said, her anxiety making her short tempered.

They made for the outcropping. The terrain rose and fell, full of deadfall and underbrush. Mueli hadn’t counted on the roughness of the terrain and Shaelin tiring so quickly. Darkness found them before they reached their destination.

“We’ll have to climb in the dark,” Mueli said.

“I’m tired. Can’t I just stay here until you return?” Shaelin said.

“No. We’ll be spending the night up there. Safer. Unless you want to sleep down here by yourself?”

Mueli saw the pale glimmer that was Shaelin draw closer. “I’ll go with you,” she said.

They were lucky enough to find a path. Both women were breathing hard by the time they reached the top. Nothing but a few scrawny bushes grew on the outcropping.

Mueli found a good-sized boulder. She sat down and propped her shoulders against it, feeling every ache, cut, and bruise.

“Aren’t we going to have a fire?” Shaelin asked.

“No. Attracts attention. Besides, there’s not enough firewood up here to keep a fire burning for long. Relax while you can. We might have a long walk back to the temple.”

Shaelin sat beside her, propping the Godsword against the boulder. After a moment, she spoke. “Are they really dead? Tima, Dorwir, Canin, all the others?”

The night air felt harsh in Mueli’s throat when she answered, “All.”

“Why?” Shaelin asked in an anguished voice. “Why would the Godsword lead us into an ambush?”

Mueli shook her head. “I don’t suppose it led us into an ambush,” she said bitterly. “It just didn’t warn us not to take that road.”

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Friday Snippet, November 9, 2007

I'm sneaking in a short story amongst all the novel writing. This is really first draft. I'm too tired to edit it. Sorry for any errors.

The story opens with a battle scene. Any input on if it sounds realistic****cough* Gabriele *cough*** would be appreciated.

Please do not quote or repost anywhere. Thanks.

[Edited to address the sword-over-the-back issue.]

Shield Warriors have been the guardians of the Godsword for a century or so.

The sound of screaming and the smell of battle rolled over Mueli like a poisonous tide. She moved her back foot just a little to brace for impact, and her foot rolled on something soft. A sword connected with her shield, and Mueli went down. Clanging metal and defiant screams continued over her head as someone filled the gap.

Mueli blinked up at the confusion of motion. Anxiously, she looked through shifting legs at the eye of the storm---Shaelin still stood in the calm center, surrounded by of a ring of yelling, fighting soldiers. The girl shivered and shook, and her hand crept toward the handle of the sword in the scabbard that hung from her shoulder, but she still stood and the Godsword still rested in its sheath.

Someone tripped over Mueli and crashed to the ground. Blood and something Mueli didn’t care to identify splashed her chainmail. She saw one of the attacking Corgans break through the ring. Galvanized by the sight, Mueli rolled through the legs surrounding her, enduring the kicks and curses. She swung her sword from her prone position and sliced through the Corgan’s right calf. He screamed and fell to his knees. Intent on Shaelin, he hadn’t even seen Mueli. She drew the man’s own dagger and stabbed him where his neck met his shoulder. He collapsed.

Mueli stared straight into Shaelin’s eyes for a fleeting second. The girl didn’t look like Godsword material. Her eyes were white-ringed with terror, and her knees barely held her upright. But the Godsword chose its wielder.

Whirling, Mueli threw herself back into battle. As her sword rose and fell, she felt Death’s breath in her face. The Shield Warriors were surrounded, and more fell under Corgan swords with each second that passed.

The Corgan pushed the Shield Warriors into a smaller circle around Shaelin until only a few were left. And, still, they died. Mueli kept stabbing and hacking, her arm like lead, her heart sick within her. Shaelin and the Godsword would fall into Corgan hands, and Mueli’s last hope of justice would be lost.

“Draw the Godsword, girl!” Mueli pitched her voice to be heard over the din of battle. “Let God punish their insolence!”

A sudden space opened before her. Mueli stared before realizing that even the Corgan feared God’s wrath.

“I can’t!” Shaelin wailed like a lost child. “It won’t let me!”

Mueli stood directly in front of Shaelin, her jaw set. She would make the Corgan pay for her disappointment with her last breath.

“Shield Warriors, to me!” she bellowed.

Heads swept up, and dull eyes lighted. The Shield Warriors tightened a thin, ragged circle, matching Mueli’s position. They roared their defiance at the Corgan.

Mueli felt a light touch on her shoulder, and then the world turned inside out. When she caught her breath and her eyes could see again, her bewildered gaze took in the sight of Shaelin, Godsword in hand, standing nearby.

Wildly, Mueli looked around. No battlefield, no Shield Warriors, no Corgan. Not even her original surroundings.

“What did you do!” Mueli yelled.

“I removed the both of us from the battlefield,” Shaelin said, voice calm and face full of purpose.

She’d left the remaining Shield Warriors to die. Not even Mueli’s hope of justice was worth that sacrifice.

With a cry of sheer rage, Mueli swung her sword at Shaelin’s head.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Friday Snippet, November 2, 2007

I guess I'm sticking to this story for a little bit. I'm still writing about Nikki and Tasha, but I'm just trying to build my word count in that book.

This is a scene I've rewritten a couple of times. I'm still not sure I'm happy with it, but here it is.

This material is first draft. Please do not quote or repost anywhere. Thanks.

A continuation of last week's post.

Carlie woke and stared up at the ceiling above her.

So she hadn’t died after all. Despite the aches and pains, Carlie felt alert and aware.

A nightmarish memory of strange faces, and traveling in some sort of wagon brought a puzzled frown to her face. She remembered flashing glimpses of mountains and snow, and feeling cold all the time, but she must have been dreaming. The nearest mountains were hundreds of miles away.

She slid her hand to the ache in her back and her fingers encountered a bandage. Carlie probed the bandage with gentle fingers but it seemed to be firmly in place.

The ceiling above her seemed to be made of cloth. Odd kind of ceiling to have in a hospital. How long had she been here? She had no idea. That wasn’t good. She needed to find out if Jason had survived.

Carlie sat up, feeling weak and washed out, and started to swing her legs over the edge of the hospital bed. She stopped, and stared. The bed was larger than any bed she’d ever seen before outside of a museum. The bedposts rose up in thick wooden, carved columns that supported a canopy overhead. Partially drawn bedcurtains surrounded the bed. What part of the room she could see through the gap in the bedcurtains looked expansive and made of stone blocks, with large colorful hangings on the walls. Carlie could just make out a fire in a fireplace big enough for her walk into it without ducking. Despite the fire, the air was cold to her unprotected face. Was this some kind of ski lodge? What kind of sense did that make?

She gathered up one of the thick covers on the bed and drew it around her shoulders. Carlie slid out of the bed, her feet glancing off a step placed at the side, apparently to assist people in and out of the high bed. She nearly fell, but recovered and stood, shivering in the cold, her back hurting, her sense of balance off.

Carlie noticed that her perspective was wrong. She was farther from the floor than she should be. She looked at her hands. Long and thin instead of short and stubby. Carlie frowned, struggling to comprehend what she was seeing.

A mirror on the wall at the other end of the room caught her eye. Carlie crossed to the mirror on shaky and uncertain knees. She saw her reflection and froze. The blanket dropped from her shoulders.

A tall woman in a blue wool nightdress with dark, almost black, hair and blue eyes looked back at her. The strange woman paused and stared and did not say a word.

“No,” Carlie whispered, and so did the reflection. Too much—it was all too much to deal with.

The strange woman’s mouth opened, but no sound emerged. Carlie’s hands raised to her face, and the mirrored woman’s hands faithfully echoed the movement.

Confused images of her ex-husband with a knife, but of yet another man and another knife, the memory of struggling to live whirled in her mind. She remembered waking up---somewhere else---and people she’d never seen before.

In the mirror behind her, she saw a portrait hanging on the wall. With a strangled scream, Carlie whirled, nearly tripping on the blanket.

The portrait was that of Jason—in an odd woolen hat and jacket--but still Jason.