Monday, November 30, 2009


My brother, Mike, would have been 40 today. My birthday present to him is to finish Wintersland. The story is dedicated to him. Happy Birthday, Mike. I know you're in a place where age holds no meaning. One day I'll see you there.

NANO--Last Day

I didn't make 50,000 words. Far from it. I clocked in at 20,000, but that's good for me. I'll take it.

This snippet is from Chapter Five. Something is about to get in the way of Katie's plans to rescue her sister from Old Man Winter. First draft, and rough. Please don't quote or repost.


For awhile, Katie just skated and was pleased enough not to think about all the things that perplexed her. She was content to just be.

A woman screamed. Katie jerked and almost lost her footing. The man and woman down the lake stood, looking up at the sky.

The sun disappeared.

"What--?" Katie began, but Hulaf's grip on her arm tightened to the point of pain.

"Skate," he said in her ear, intense. "Skate like never before."

Katie obeyed. The world moved by in a dizzying whirl as Hulaf drew her on, faster and faster. As they skated, the day grew progressively darker. Katie wanted to look behind her, but Hulaf didn't give her enough time. He nearly threw her up on the bank when they arrived.

"Get those skates off!" he said. "Quickly!"

Katie fumbled with the straps. As she worked, snow whirled through the air and flung itself straight at them.

Hulaf gave a little sound that sounded like a groan. "Hurry!" he said.

The last of the straps gave way and he seized her hand, dragging her up the pathway toward the Hall. "Run, Katie Medina!"

And Katie ran. The fear she heard in his voice infected her as well. She thought she heard something large moving through the air behind them. In near panic, she fought to breathe in the sudden gale. Snow fell in sheets so thick that the Hall became invisible, although it had loomed large before.

Hulaf said something, but his words were lost in the gale.

"What?" Katie yelled.

He yanked her close and shouted, "I'm not sure we're going to make it! Don't let go of me, whatever happens."

Snow and wind became something that conspired to hold them back no matter how hard they struggled to move forward. Memory of the abandoned town she and Treyga had visited rose in her mind's eye. She could feel the malice in the wind that blew in their faces, nearly drowning her in snow.

Now she couldn't see Hulaf even though he held her arm. Nor could she hear him. The wind whistled and moaned like a live thing. The cold pierced and bit, savage and searing. It became conceivable that she and Hulaf would die out here, lost, within shouting distance of the Hall and its people. She reached into her pocket and her fingers closed around Mel's image.

"I'm sorry, Mel," Katie whimpered.

And, in the midst of the snow and the wind, something grabbed hold of her upper arm and pulled. It felt like a helping hand. Katie followed, pulling in turn at Hulaf. He did not resist. The tug at her arm persisted for several long moments, until she stumbed on the first steps of the Hall.

With a cry of relief that was immediately snatched from her lips, Katie hauled Hulaf onto the steps with her. She could barely see him even now, just a dark figure in the whiteness of the air.

Moving against a wind that tried to push them off the steps, Katie and Hulaf struggled up the steps, and searched for the doors with fumbling, frozen fingers. Eons later, Hulaf found a latch and the door fell inward, dumping them on the floor.

Attendants surrounded them at once. A couple of them forced the door shut against the wind, and the howl immediately reduced to a low rumble.

"Did we make it?" Hulaf said, confused and exhausted-sounding.

"We made it," Katie said in a hoarse voice.

She lay and let the attendants take her outerwear and wrap her in a blanket. Warmth began to steal over her, and her numb face and hands tingled awake. The attendants rubbed her hands, giving them much-needed warmth from the friction.

Katie blinked as the room resolved itself into the entry hall. The chandelier hung directly overhead. They had come in the front doors.

Hulaf reached out and touched her face. "Are you all right, Katie Medina?"

"I think so. What just happened?"

"You saved our lives," Hulaf said.

Katie turned her head and saw his dark eyes, blinking and serious.

"If you hadn't found those steps, we would still be within the frost drake's reach," he added.

"The frost drake is here?"

Hulaf stood and gave her a helping hand. "Yes."

Wind rattled the doors. When Katie listened, she thought she heard roaring behind the wind. She shivered. Memory surfaced and she clutched at Hulaf's arm. "The other two people. What happened to them? Where are they?"

"They might have made it," he said, but he didn't really believe it, she could tell. The look on his face said it all.

Katie gave a great, gasping sob. All the pain she'd felt when her father told her about Mel came flooding back and pooled in her chest. She felt like she couldn't catch her breath.

Friday, November 20, 2009

NANO Day 20--Snippet

My God, this is tiring work! It's like a full-time job. You don't "show up", you don't "get paid."

My snippet is from the current chapter I'm working on--Katie has come to ask the Winterlord for help.

First draft, with all its roughness; please do not quote or repost.


Just when she thought she had overloaded herself with the sights and sounds of the Winterlord's hall, Hulaf stopped in front of a set of double doors. The doors were wood, with high reliefs carved on them. The reliefs depicted an evergreen, its limbs laden with decorations, in the middle of a wooded area. Carved animals and people surrounded the tree.

Katie reached out a wondering hand and stroked the wood. "The Wishing Tree," she murmured.

Hulaf shot her a glance. "Very good."

He pushed on the doors, and the Wishing Tree split down the middle, right where the hidden seam of the doors were. A vast room opened up before her. Light, heat, and noise hit Katie in the face. Conversation and laughter rolled over her dazzled senses.

But just as she noted all the sensations, another took precedence. A cold wind rushed around her legs from behind, pushing into the room and visiting the conversing people and hissing against the fires burning in the multiple fireplaces. People cried out. The fires guttered in the fireplaces. The wind tugged at clothing, blew out candles, and caused tapestries and decorations to sway. Until the wind reached a richly-dressed, imposing man who sat on a dais along with six or seven other richly-dressed folk.

With an exclamation, the man reached for a staff made of wood and banged its end on the floor. The wind scattered into dozens of little breezes that harmlessly dissipated in the vast room.

"Who are you who brings death into my hall?" the man rumbled, his eyes fixed on Katie.

Katie felt light-headed under that gaze. The Winterlord's head might have reached her shoulder, but his own shoulders were nearly as wide as he was tall, and his arms were nearly as big around as her whole torso. He looked as if he could snap a sizable tree in two. His wild dark hair and beard, along with his glare from underneath busy eyebrows, suggested he would find snapping her in two no real challenge.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nano Day 11 -- Snippet

I probably won't have 50,000 words done by November's end, btw. I'm clocking around a 1,000 words a day, and that seems the best I can do. I'll take it.

Rough draft, may change, please do not repost or quote anywhere else. Thanks!


Katie stood, her feet cold in the snow, and watched several people decorate a huge evergreen tree on the outskirts of a town, singing while they did it. At least thirty to forty people stood around the tree, dressed in warm fur coverings, leggings, and knee-high boots, wearing colorful scarves covered with intricate designs. Most of the people were older--older even than Katie's own parents.

Crunching snow to her left drew her gaze. A girl who looked about seventeen, red hair framing her face, freckles across her nose, approached her. The girl had an open, friendly expression.

“Hello!” the girl said. “I’ve not seen you here before. Have you come to make your wish?”

“Wish?” Katie repeated.

“Yes. This is the Wishing Tree. Did you bring your decoration?”

“I’m sorry, I have nothing,” Katie said.

“Oh!” the girl said. She reached inside her fur coat and brought out a tiny doll made of sticks and cloth. “Here. I brought her in case someone lost or broke their decoration. You can have her.”

Since the girl held out the doll with an expectant look on her face, Katie took it. She looked at the doll and marveled over the handiwork. The doll wore a cloth dress that seemed to be made of some pliant leather and decorated with the same kind of intricate designs she saw on the girl’s scarf. The doll’s face appeared to have been hand-painted in exquisite detail.

Katie looked up at the girl, lost. “What do I wish for?”

The girl cocked her head. “Surely you must have some desire in your heart.”

I only want one thing, Katie thought. I want my sister back.

The intensity of her expression must have caught the girl’s attention. She reached out and caught Katie’s sleeve in sympathy. "Are you in pain?"

“Just my heart,” Katie said.

The girl let go of her sleeve, and Katie walked forward. The people around the tree parted to let her through. She found a branch and hung the doll from it, smoothing the tiny dress with her fingers.

An expectant hush seemed to fall over everything. Katie felt the weight of it pressing down on her. She opened her mouth, and what came out was altered from what she had meant to say.

“I want to see my sister Mel again.”

The wind sprang from nowhere, gale-force, flinging snow in faces and tangling Katie’s hair. She heard people cry out. The wind circled the Wishing Tree, which remained untouched.

Snow whirled, coalesced into a visible shape. As Katie watched, Mel looked back at her, an agonized expression on her face.

Katie reached out.

“Don’t!” someone said.

Katie hesitated. The girl,again at her side, hung on to her arm.

“She is a Yule Ghost! Touch her, and you will share her agony!”

“How can I help her?” Katie asked in a trembling voice. Her sister’s visibly tortured features shredded her insides.

“I—I don’t know,” the girl admitted.

The wind slowed, subsided to a sigh. Mel lost form and being, dissipating on the last breeze.

“Mel!” Katie whispered.

Leave me, Katie. Save yourself.

From somewhere the anger boiled to the surface, and Katie screamed after her sister's shade, “How dare you leave me!”

Monday, November 2, 2009

NANO - Day Two

Just a shade under a 1,000 words. Blech. Phone calls can eat way into your time if you're not careful.

Probably won't post every day from here on out. I'll let the progress bar do the talking.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


And so it begins. 6,000 words.