Posted by: Caitlynn | March 24, 2011

New Blog

I have a new blog!  It’s pink!  And it’s called “Bubblegum & Wonderment”…link:  http://bubblegumandwonderment.wordpress.com/

Let’s face it, folks.  I really neglect this blog, and there are very few people who read it, anyway.  This new blog o’ mine will become my writing blog and the one I spend the most time on.  I’ll still keep this one, but when I update it, it’ll likely just be here’s-what’s-happening-in-my-life-right-now stuff.  Or something like that.

Posted by: Caitlynn | October 20, 2010

NaNoWriMo Goodies!

I’ve been working on a fake cover and a banner for my NaNoWriMo project. Here’s what I have for the cover at this point:

Strays of Nor

And here’s what I have for a banner…though, this one will probably change…

Strays of Nor 2

Posted by: Caitlynn | October 9, 2010

An update, just because

I’m really bad at updating this, aren’t I?

Well, the only thing to really comment on is that I’m currently in the midst of developing a decent novel idea for NaNoWriMo. To my nonexistent readers, you should join the noveling fun in November, too. And if you do, make sure you sign up on the official website.

The story I think I’ll be working on is pretty strange. It’s fantasy, something dealing with twins that are part cat, and…other stuff. I’ll work on a better summary, I promise. But I also need a working title to run with. At the moment, I’m leaning towards, “The Strays of Nor.” But…eh. We’ll see if that changes or not.

Posted by: Caitlynn | September 3, 2010

Sweet Victory (or something like that)

Last night, just before 2 AM, I finished the first draft of my most recent WiP (temporarily being referred to as “Dreams of the Sky” but likely to change titles another 500 times by the end of next week). It is a happy, glorious feeling. Never mind the fact that it has so very many things wrong with it… :P

At any rate, to celebrate, here’s another character sketch (the only one I’ve already made up that I’ve yet to post). I won’t reveal this character’s name just yet, but she plays a pretty important role at various points in the story.

Posted by: Caitlynn | September 1, 2010

Now Presenting…Leo!

Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking:  do you do any actual writing anymore, or do you spend all your time thinking about writing and drawing character sketches in Adobe Illustrator? Well, for your information, this doodle was done yesterday. I just didn’t post it because I didn’t want to detract from my second sketch of Jayne. And today, instead of making another character sketch, I was actually a good little writer girl an got another two chapters pumped out. After a few more chapters, I’ll be satisfied enough with what I have to label it as my first draft and move on to bettering it and, mostly, expanding it. (Considering my first draft will probably only be about 35K, it’ll need LOTS more detail. I already have some pretty good ideas about what details will need to be added and where, though. I just can’t turn back to fix them all now.)

So, in celebration of my mild productivity, I shall now introduce to the blogging world…Leo, Jayne’s love interest!

With a little luck, he might even be interesting by the end of the second draft… >_<

Posted by: Caitlynn | August 30, 2010

Jayne — Second Doodle

Productivity is soooo overrated. Who cares if my first draft could potentially be done by the end of this week? I had to make another computer sketch of Jayne. After all, she does have two separate looks:

Posted by: Caitlynn | August 27, 2010

Character Sketch

I got the sudden desire today to make a little computer doodle of the main character from my current WiP, Clockwork.  (That is, by the way, only a working title. It’s lame and needs more awesomeness, but I’ve yet to come up with anything better.)  So, officially introducing…Jayne!

Steampunk Protagonist

Posted by: Caitlynn | August 26, 2010

Questions I ask myself while writing…

Do you ever find yourself asking questions about your WiP as you write through it? And by questions, I mean questions that may indicate that something is seriously wrong with how things are progressing.

I’m 67 pages (just over 17,500 words) into my current noveling venture, and a few of these pesky questions keep popping up. My favorites, so far, have been:

Wasn’t this supposed to be steampunk?

Wait, did my protagonist just faint two chapters in a row?

Does…does my nineteen-year-old protagonist seem to have better chemistry with the thirty-eight-year-old doctor than she does with her twenty-one-year-old love interest? >_<

These sorts of questions are already on top of things I know and expected to have to go back in and fix. Large chunks of missing plot, setting details, a few last names that I skipped assigning, better physical character descriptions, setting details, setting details, and, oh yeah, setting details. And some of these additional questions that pop up may very well end up getting fixed as I patch up some of the other stuff. The steampunk elements, for example, might be more evident once those pesky setting details are all in place. Filling in the missing chunks of plot will make it to where my protagonist isn’t fainting two chapters in a row. Other things, however, such as the lack of appeal her love interest has or the lack of attention he’s receiving in recent chapters will need a little more work.

But even in spite of all this, I’m honestly enjoying writing this novel. It’s nice, because I haven’t felt this way for a little while. The story I tried writing before this was a bit more “literary” and purposeful, and failed miserably as a result. This story is just fun. The main character is stronger than most of my other female protagonists are, in spite of the fact that she has more of an excuse to be weak. She’s almost a bit of a “tsundere” (sigh…anime terms keep sneaking their way into my vocabulary) but she’ll need a little more work before she seems consistently inconsistent rather than bipolar. The other characters…have potential, but haven’t quite established their voices yet. But when they do, I’m sure it will be awesome.

So for now, I’ll just continue writing and see how things develop. And if more fun questions pop up, maybe I’ll even post them. ;)

Posted by: Caitlynn | August 25, 2010

Meme!

(Gotten from my sister, Dara, who got it from Lynda Schab.)

What’s your favorite genre of writing? Fantasy

How often do you get writer’s block? It depends on what I’m writing and the pace I’m writing at. If the story is interesting and I’m squeezing it in or rushing to get it done, then it doesn’t pop up too often. But once I lose interest or focus on a project, I get writer’s block nearly every time I sit down to work on it.

How do you fix it? I have to change my tactics each time to ward off the writer’s block…it’s tricky and knows how to adapt. :P My current solution seems to be sipping on coffee while listening to strange “Vocaloid” songs. Caffeine and music usually help. Oddly enough, changing the time of day I write during also helps a lot (the writer’s block must not be able to find me…haha).

Do you type or write by hand? Mostly type, especially for novels. If it’s a short story, sometimes I’ll write it by hand first.

Do you save everything you write? Yep. At least, I started doing so once I became a little more serious about my writing.

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it? Definitely, but the original idea usually ends up getting altered quite a bit by the time I’m done.

Do you have a constructive critic? Hmm…I used to have a writer friend who I exchanged a few stories with, and we’d provide some constructive criticism for each other. Haven’t done that in a while, though.

Did you ever write a novel? Unpublished novels needing LOTS of revisions and rewrites count, right? If so, I’ve written three, and I’m working on a fourth.

What genre would you love to write but haven’t? I’ve already experimented with most of the ones that’ve caught my eye, but I really haven’t done many mystery stories. I’d love to be able to write a good detective story once in my life, but I don’t know if it’ll happen. I’d also love to write at least one good historical fiction story and action story, but they also seem difficult for me.

What’s one genre you have never written, and probably never will? Um…….smut? Ha! Not sure that that’s really a genre, but I can honestly say I’ve never written it and NEVER will.

How many writing projects are you working on right now? Actively, only one. But I have quite a few waiting for me once I’m finished.

Do you write for a living? Do you want to? Currently, I can’t even claim to be making a living at anything. So no, I don’t really write for a living, but I have been doing a little freelance writing online. I would love to make a living out of it, though.

Have you ever written something for a magazine or newspaper? Only my college newspaper.

Have you ever won an award for your writing? I got a small amount of scholarship money once for a paper I wrote in college. The paper won the regional undergraduate scholarship at the Alpha Chi convention during my junior year.

Do you ever write based on your dreams? Sometimes. I have a few story ideas waiting to be worked on that originated from dreams, but I’m not sure if I’ve actually written any of them out yet.

Do you favor happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers? Happy endings, without a doubt. I prefer reading stories with happy endings, and they’re just about the only thing I can write, too. Even when I try to write a sad ending, I usually end up changing it into something happier at the last minute.

Posted by: Caitlynn | July 1, 2010

Excuse #2 — Manga

Ah…one of my biggest weaknesses…

I spend entirely too much time reading manga, I think. This morning, for some odd reason, I suddenly recalled a scene from Fruits Basket that I wanted to take a look at again. So, after flipping through the volumes I had, I finally managed to track it down (it happened to be in Volume 6, by the way). I read through it, and was content. For about 5 minutes. And then I wanted more.

Trouble is, I can reread the volumes I have, but there are still about 10 more volumes that I don’t have and can’t really afford to run out and buy right now. And it’s hard to reread a series when you don’t have the ending accessible to you.

So, I visited my trusty online manga sites — http://www.onemanga.com and http://www.mangafox.com — to see what interesting manga I could read on there. (Fruits Basket, by the way, is not available on either. It was taken off once it was licensed, I believe.) And, as is the case on most days, I managed to find something to get completely caught up in. Hence, my morning (and early afternoon) were lost.

As addicted as I’ve become, though, I’ve also become more critical. The same shojo romance plots are starting to become tiresome, and I may just be developing an allergy to love triangles. Ugh. Even the phrase is starting to turn my stomach. :P And the worst ones are either those in which the heroine ends up with the complete jerk instead of the guy who treats her right, or those in which the reader has to go through chapter upon chapter upon chapter of an oh-noes-the-rival-is-using-trickery-to-sway-the-love-interest situation. Ones that don’t fall into either of those two categories are, at least, tolerable. But I’m still getting weary of them, too. :P

Sigh…and as a side note, I also hate when stories that are all happy and fluffy and light suddenly decide to kill a main character. If the tone is dramatic from the start, then so be it. But to start something off as comical and take it there without warning…that’s just…mean… :(

Ahem. Anyway. I’m addicted, see?

I probably read more manga than real writing, nowadays, which has both good and bad side effects. The good thing about it is that it’s a means of digesting a lot of stories in a short amount of time. The bad thing is that, as with anything else a person reads, it can have an impact on my writing. The simplest example is that, while I think I’m getting a little better with dialogue, I’m not improving any with description, as the vast majority of what I read has little need for descriptive prose. What’s worse than that, though, is how it’s affected my stories and characters themselves. I once had a friend who, at the time, knew very little about me, read over a portion of WoSWoL. From that alone, my friend was able to conclude that I watch anime / read manga. It was very shocking for me to discover how obvious it was. :P

From that point on, I’ve caught traces of it in much of what I write. A good portion of my short stories are safe…but when it comes to longer works…well…not so much. The characters sometimes act like characters I’ve read in a manga, and the storylines sometimes play out in the same strain. Yes, oh yes, even those blasted love triangles are known to make an appearance in my writing. I hate it. I hate it, but I love it at the same time. Strange how that works, isn’t it?

Well, for the time being, I suppose it is what it is. I probably shouldn’t worry too much about how reading manga has affected my writing. After all, even with it being like it is, people have still told me they like it, so…it works out, I suppose. There’s one problem taken care of. Now if only I could figure out how to stop my addiction from taking up my writing time…

Posted by: Caitlynn | June 28, 2010

Excuse #1 — Mooncakes

This afternoon, I had a few good free hours, with which I could’ve done some writing. Instead, I baked. Just what did I bake? Mooncakes.

My guess is that these were not authentic mooncakes. I’ve never actually had one, so I can’t say for sure, but something didn’t quite seem right. Don’t get me wrong…I followed the recipe, and they turned out great (very yummy, as a matter of fact), but the recipe was suspiciously easy and convenient for Western cooks/bakers. Moreover, the finished product comes out nothing like what a traditional Chinese mooncake looks like.

Traditional Mooncake:

My Mooncake:

Well, but authentic or not, they do taste really good. If anyone else is looking for a distraction from their writing and happens to find enjoyment in baking, you can find the recipe here:  Easy Chinese Mooncakes

So, as you can see, I was far too busy making these earlier to get to my writing. But maybe this evening I’ll have better luck…

Posted by: Caitlynn | June 28, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

I’ve realized that if I spent half as much time writing as I do making excuses for not writing (or finding suitable distractions to keep me from writing), I’d probably have a heck of a lot more to show for myself than I currently do. So here’s where I come clean about my laziness. For the next couple weeks, I’ll be blogging about some of my favorite excuses. Everything from the honest “lost track of time” distractions to the blatant, outright attempts to ignore the voices in my head demanding that I write about them. (Er…wait…that didn’t come out right…)

Look forward to it.

Posted by: Caitlynn | June 26, 2010

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words…

I guess I ought to be updating this thing more often, hmm? ;)

Well, I’m not really sure what to write about, so I’ll do what a good little sister does and copy my older sister, Dara, by posting about my WiP through pictures. Only, I feel inclined to be a little different, so instead of posting a bunch of pictures that inspire me for one story, I’ll post a bunch of pictures that inspire me for a bunch of stories. Make sense?

Truth is, I often wonder if I have creative ADD. :P It’s hard for me to focus on one story at a time, because I usually have a few stories floating around in my head at once. The ideas I get are for stories of various lengths: some I see as novels, some I see as short stories, and then others…well, others are “misfits,” stories that I’m never quite sure what to do with because they scream to be an awkward length deemed unpublishable by a good portion of the publishing community. But, meh, I love these stories all the same.

So, the following pictures are pictures that inspire me for my misfit tales. The first two connect to my current WiP, Muse of Promises Past, which I’ve decided to indulge in writing even in spite of its awkward length issue. None of these photos/pictures are mine — I got most of them off weheartit.com and a few from deviantart.com. If I were a good little girl, I’d link/source each one individually. But, I’m not, so if you’re curious about where a particular picture came from, let me know, and I’ll post the info for it then.

Aaaand…that should about do it.

Posted by: Caitlynn | June 15, 2010

Changing It Up

Question:  when working on a longer piece of fiction — such as a novel — do you write straight through it, from “Chapter One” through “The End,” or do you have a tendency to write scenes out of order?

I usually write things straight through. My mind organizes things in such a way that one detail builds on another, eventually forming (ideally) a cohesive whole. I make use of outlines and stick to them, not necessarily down to the last detail, but at least with a fair amount of accuracy. To this day, that’s how my lengthier projects have always been managed. And, while they’re all early drafts and definitely flawed, 2 out 3 are actually relatively decent. So this process seems to work for me.

Or, at least, it usually does.

Right now, however, I find myself struggling with my current WiP, and I’m beginning to wonder if it would help me to write a few of the scenes out of order. I’ve gotten through the first chapter, and I’m satisfied with it enough for the time being to let it rest, but nothing I do for the chapter immediately following it seems to work. I have a few basic plot points I know I want to hit, and essentially, next to no idea of how to connect them. Might it help, then, to create those points, see them in print, and figure out how to link them together later? Would something like that even work?

Any thoughts on this would be appreciated. How often do you keep things in crisp, clean order as you write, and how often do you allow your imagination to run with whatever scene it feels like at a given moment?

Posted by: Caitlynn | June 10, 2010

Meme!

Writing-type meme…because my sister, Dara, tagged me, thus twisting my arm into doing it. Or something like that. At any rate, here are the questions:

1. Name/Blog Name.
2. Right handed, left handed or both?
3. Favorite letters to write?
4. Least favorite letters to write?
5. Write: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
6. Write in caps:
CRAB
HUMOR
KALEIDOSCOPE
PAJAMAS
GAZILLION
7. Favorite song lyrics?
8. Tag 7 people.
9. Any special note or drawing?

Number 9 is at that top of mine because I ran out of room at the bottom. Sorry for the poor quality scan. Oh, and yes, the pink paper was absolutely necessary. ;)

Posted by: Caitlynn | May 20, 2010

Uninspired

Now that college is OVER, I finally have the time to write.

…And I have never felt so absolutely uninspired before.  >_<

Ugh. Well, I’m sure I’ll get over it soon enough. I just need to figure out how.

Posted by: Caitlynn | March 29, 2010

New Writing Dilemma

I have no time to write anything fun or story-ish. It’s my senior year of college. Aside from multiple papers that need researching and writing, I should also be attempting to find a job. It’s probably important that I actually do something with my life.

And yet…

Why does inspiration keep hitting me? Is it Spring? Is it the pollen? What keeps messing with my mind to fill it with all sorts of imaginative yet potentially time-consuming plots and characters?

So now I must decide. Do I devote time to write these out, even though it seems slightly irresponsible? The inspiration is with me NOW. And so, I want to make use of it NOW.

And if I do decide to write, should I continue along with the story that I began a month or so ago? Or should I just write whatever I’m content with writing at the given moment?

Oh, decisions…

Posted by: Caitlynn | February 20, 2010

A Change of Pace

A couple weeks ago, I did a very foolish thing:  I started work on a new writing project.

If all goes according to plan, this one will turn out to be a novella. Granted, it’s been two weeks, and I’m only 30 pages / 8,250 words into it, so my pacing is a bit slower than usual. And part of that was also stuff that I stole from a short story I wrote a little while back, so not even all of those 30 pages are recent ideas. Bah.

It’s so strange, though. It seems this one is tied more closely to my mood than most of my other WiP have been, which makes it a little more difficult to motivate myself into writing once I finally manage to squeeze in the time (usually when I have to “squeeze in” writing time, it means that I’m busy…and probably not getting enough sleep…and therefore, slightly to extremely irritable).

At any rate, I figure it has something to do with the fact that it’s a real-world setting rather than a fantasy one. It’s harder to escape into my novella’s world because, oh look, it bears a marked resemblance to my own. Imagine that. Aside from that, I can’t quite decide what genre to classify this as, either. It has some romantic elements, but the overall story is more based on friendship, so I’m not sure if it’d qualify as a ‘Romance.’ So…what then? Literary? Hmm.

And then, I still have the problem of setting. I realize that, for as difficult as world-building is in fantasy books, adapting a story to fit snugly within the confines of reality is a challenge in and of itself. Especially for someone like me, who has seen very little of the real world yet. :P

I’m also not sure if I like how it’s going so far. I’ve already changed one scene several times, and still feel slightly discontented with it. Moreover, even though it’s not a fantasy story, I feel like it still needs more “magic” to it. I’m not sure how to infuse that in there, however.

So yes. Foolish me, starting a new work while I have two perfectly good ones standing by, patiently waiting for me to revise them. And during my last semester of college, too. I must be mad.

Posted by: Caitlynn | February 15, 2010

Excerpt Monday — Voices of Penance

Excerpt Monday Logo

Once a month, a bunch of authors get together and post excerpts from published
books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other. You don’t
have to be published to participate–just an writer with an excerpt you’d like to
share. For more info on how to participate, head over to the Excerpt Monday
site!
or click on the banner above.

—————————————

(The following is a random excerpt from a random chapter of the novel I worked on over NaNoWriMo, Voices of Penance.)

—————————————

Penance ran as fast as her feet could carry her, fixing her gaze upon the palace. She didn’t know what she might do upon arriving there. Could anything even be done at all? Still, curing Sarah was the task at hand, now. And if there were any antidote to the poison, it would be there at the castle.

Yet, for all her efforts, the palace still seemed so far away, and her feet were already weary and aching. She began to despair when, suddenly, she heard the sound of hooves rapidly galloping from behind her.

“Whoa!” the voice of Daegan cried out as he galloped ahead and turned the horse in front of Penance. “Easy there,” he said, patting the horse. Then, looking down at the girl, he said, “If you mean to go to the palace, you’re insane.”

Her eyebrows knit together, and she attempted to move around the obstacle, only to be blocked once more.

“Do you even have a plan?” he prompted. After a moment, she hesitantly shook her head no. “Who do you even plan to meet with? The prince?”

She would not budge; would not look up at him.

Exasperated, he continued, “I suppose he’d be the one most likely to have it out for the minstrel. And I can’t imagine there would be anyone out for the life of an innkeeper’s daughter, after all.”

Penance blinked rapidly, giving a small sort of nod to affirm his suspicions.

“You won’t be able to see him so easily, you know,” Daegan cautioned.

She continued to stand still, still refusing to make eye contact.

“And even if you do manage to get an audience with him tonight, how do you propose to explain the situation to him?” His tone was sharp. “It’s not likely he’d be able to understand a mute, you know. Even we couldn’t, not with Sarah unable to interpret.”

Her fists clenched tighter.

After another moment or two, Daegan sighed. “Well then. At the very least, have the sense to travel there more rapidly than by foot.” He extended his hand down to Penance. She looked up at him, startled and suspicious, but grabbed his hand nonetheless and allowed him to lift her up onto the horse.

“Good. Now then, off to the palace,” he said, prompting the horse to gallop once more.

Together, the two raced off. Daegan could feel Penance tense up against his back; the moment she did, thunder rumbled in the near distance.

“I don’t suppose you had anything to do with that…?” he questioned, glancing back to the girl.

She made no response, however. She merely clung to him tighter, hoping that the horse would go faster. In a short time that seemed like forever, the two arrived to the palace, darting past the relaxed outside guards and barely giving them any time to react.

“Hey!” the voices from behind shouted out, but Daegan did not stop the horse. Together they rushed into the palace, only abandoning the horse when they could ride him in no further, and running faster than ever before once they did.

Surprisingly, they managed to evade most of the guards, but with every movement they made, they alerted someone new to their presence. It was only a matter of time before they were surrounded by armed guards. The two were very near the Prince’s quarters. So close, and yet…

“You!” one of the guards stepped forward. “What is your purpose here? What mean you by barging in like this?”

“We need to speak with the prince,” Daegan said matter-of-factly though out of breath.

“What?” the guard questioned.

“Oh, right,” Daegan added snidely. “Prince Silas. I suppose you have more than one prince, hmm?”

“That’s not what I meant, you fool,” the guard said, drawing his sword and pointing it towards them.

Penance gasped a little, and Daegan gently pushed her behind him. “Now, now…no need to get so agitated…”

“You raced in here on horseback. You have no permission to be here what so ever. And you, complete strangers, are rushing off towards the prince’s quarters as though it were nothing at all.” The guard glanced at Daegan’s belt, noticing the scabbard. “And what do we have here, then? A sword? Just what were you planning on doing once you reached his majesty, aye?”

“I’ve not drawn my sword in a very long time,” Daegan began as the point of the other man’s drawn blade crept closer. “I am prohibited from doing so.”

“Then why keep it?” the guard prompted.

“As a reminder,” Daegan said solemnly. “A reminder of who I’ve been, and who I need to be.” He swallowed hard and thought a moment before adding, “And part of who I need to be includes seeing the prince now. Please. I am unaccustomed to begging, however…however, it is a matter of life and death.”

The head guard looked over at Penance and nodded to some of his other men. “Search the girl. Make sure she doesn’t have anything…hidden…anywhere.”

A few of the men moved in closer. Penance inhaled sharply and tried to back away. One of the guards grabbed at her roughly, though, and pulled her away, causing her to yelp.

“Don’t touch her!” Daegan shouted. In one swift movement, he drew the still-sheathed sword from his belt and knocked the weapons from the nearby men’s hands.

“Stop him!” he heard the head guard shout. The two were quickly rushed and completely surrounded.

“Stay low,” Daegan instructed to Penance. “And whatever you do, don’t let anyone grab you.” He grunted as one of the men grazed him with a blade. “Hide if you can.”

Penance wavered, unsure of what to do, but was soon forced to comply and move away. She watched as Daegan was rapidly overwhelmed by the guards. Skilled as he was, there was only so much he could handle, especially when only armed with a sheathed sword. With some reluctance, she darted off in one final, desperate attempt to make it to the door of the prince’s quarters. It was within sight when, suddenly, she felt a tug on her hair.

“And just where do you think you’re going?” one of the guards asked her gruffly. “Off to see the prince on your own?” He twisted her hair tightly, causing her to gasp in pain. Glancing back, she could see Daegan, badly beaten and quickly losing steam. The words caught in her throat, and yet…and yet, the words were there, that close to the surface…

“Well then?” the guard prompted as he dragged her back into the midst of chaos. “Have you no words, no defense for yourself?”

She closed her eyes tightly, willing herself to break free…not from his grasp, but from something far more ancient, more powerful. A sudden roar of thunder cracked right above the palace, the lightning being so near that the ground itself seemed to shake. The moment it passed, Penance screamed out in a loud, clear tone, “Help!”

Daegan looked up towards her, bruised and bleeding though he was, in utter amazement. “She spoke…” he murmured.

“Help! Help! Help!” she continued shouting, her eyes welling up with tears. Daegan tried to break free to reach her, but the other guards held him back.

“Can’t you say anything more than that?” the guard who held her asked in aggravation, pulling his hand back as if to strike her.

“Stop,” came a new voice, prompting all the guards to stop and come to attention. Looking up, Penance saw a familiar face – youthful, with blue eyes, and framed by golden locks.

“Your majesty,” the head guard addressed the man, bowing deeply. “These two broke into the palace. We have reason to suspect that they posed a threat to you.”

He looked them over. First, he turned to Daegan, who was now held in place by several guards, yet still clung to his sheathed sword. Then he turned to Penance, and his eyes widened in immediate recognition.

“Oh yes,” he replied sarcastically. “A man who refuses to draw his sword and a girl whom I have already befriended during a previous meeting.”

“…Befriended?” The head guard’s face went pale. He motioned to the guard who was grasping onto Penance’s hair for him to release her.

Upon being let go, Penance wobbled a few steps towards Prince Silas, before falling to her knees. He moved over to her and gently placed a hand on her shoulder. “Please, forgive my men,” he started. “They acted a bit rashly, I’m afraid. But you must admit, if what they say about you and your friend rushing into the palace unannounced is true, then they did not act without some merit.”

She panted heavily, squeaking out with no small effort, “Help…please…help…”

His eyes grew wide with concern. “What’s wrong, my dear?”

“Help…Sarah…Sarah is…” she choked out, her eyes welling up with tears.

A grim, knowing look passed over Silas’s face. “Ah…that’s right, you were friends with Sarah…” He stood up and looked around, adding in an embittered tone, “Well then, where is she? Surely she should be here with you? Unless, of course, she chose the other alternative?”

“She lies dying in her bed,” Daegan retorted, finally regaining his breath. “Dying from a poison she took from vial with the royal seal on it. Tell me – for Penance will not, nor could not, prior to this moment – why might that have happened?”

The prince started. “Sarah…is dying?” He gulped. “But…the poison…there was no poison meant for her…”

“She loves him,” whispered Penance, the coming more easily with each passing one. “She could never…never betray him…”

Prince Silas stumbled back a few paces, running his hand through his hair as a look of utter confusion crossed his face. “I don’t understand.”

“Is there an antidote?” Daegan prompted. “That’s all we require now. Your understanding, and your acceptance, are inconsequential.”

The prince stood still a few minutes longer, struggling to make sense of the scenario.

“My liege?” one of the guards finally interrupted. “What would you have us do?”

He blinked a few times more.

“Please,” Penance begged one last time. “Sarah…”

Looking at the wearied girl, Silas finally managed to shake off his confusion. “Release them. Both of them,” he ordered. “And send the fastest rider to the Smiling Raven Inn. There is a very ill patient there. The palace physician will have a challenge on his hands tonight.”

“Aye, sire,” the head guard replied. “You heard his majesty!” he said, turning towards his men, who promptly released Daegan and followed the prince’s orders.

“Come,” Silas told the two after the guards had scurried about. “It seems we’ve some preparations to attend to at the moment. That is, if we intend to save your friend.”

———————————-
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Posted by: Caitlynn | February 3, 2010

…And everybody dies at the end.

Maybe I ought to kill off more characters.

I’ve been thinking about it a bit. With both of my fantasy WiP’s, I started out with the intention of killing at least one major character. Because, at the time, I thought the most affective endings would require those deaths. Oddly enough, by the end of my rough drafts for both, the characters fated to die somehow miraculously survived. Imagine that.

I think I must be a wimp. It’s not that the endings I’ve come up with are any better than those I had originally planned. If anything, in the case of WoSWoL, the current ending is probably significantly weaker than the original one. Of course, now that the character who was supposed to die weaseled his way into VoP, I suppose it’s too late to turn back now. I’ll just have to press forward and see what I can do with it now.

But speaking of VoP, I can’t help but wonder: how in the world did I end up figuring out a way to save all those characters? The one character has lived long enough; by all rights, she should’ve died a long time ago. Yet, somehow, there she is at the end of the book — alive. Comatose, admittedly, but that’s only a temporary thing. And, if I were to be even the least bit realistic (yes, it is a fantasy story, but the people still need to be realistic characters and the plot twists need to be believable) then I’d be forced to conclude that the one girl should probably also die. Because the good ones always do, and she has a close encounter with death anyway, so…

I don’t know, though. Let’s say I can figure out how to make the endings of these two stories meaningful without killing anyone off. Then what? If I keep writing, there’s a good chance that I will eventually have to kill a character off and — y’know — actually keep them dead. I have such trouble doing that, though.

Hmm. And does thinking about all this make me sound emo? lol :P If it does, I’m sorry. I blame my lit classes this semester. Nothing quite like trying to cheer yourself up after reading Conrad’s Heart of Darkness by reading Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. :P

Oh well. No matter what I decide on, I really feel like working on revising one of my WiP now. Or both. Too bad I have far too much in the way of schoolwork to do before I can even consider it…*sigh* Well then. Back to it!

Posted by: Caitlynn | January 20, 2010

Genre #15 — Ghost / Paranormal

(For more information on my Genre Self-Challenge, read previous entry here.)

————

“A Slight Surprise”

————

“Ugh…” Lisa moaned as she regained consciousness. “What happened?”

She slowly dragged herself up, wincing as she put pressure on her ankle. “I wonder if I sprained it,” she muttered. “That’s right, I remember now. I fell down those rickety stairs. But…didn’t it almost feel like I was…pushed?”

Lisa stared at the old steps for a few minutes before forcing out a laugh. “What am I saying? I’m the only one in here. And there is absolutely no such thing as ghosts.” She turned around and began walking away. “I can’t let what the others said get to me.”

As it went, Lisa was only in the condemned house due to a dare. She had next to no interest in the house, but rumor had spread that it was haunted, and anyone who went in would be cursed or, worse, killed. She refused to believe anything so nonsensical, but these tales were quickly gaining popularity. And so, by accepting her friends’ challenge to spend the night inside, she could dispel the rumors once and for all.

As much as she hated to admit it, however, a small part of her regretted her decision now.

“It’s not ghosts I’m afraid of,” she whispered, walking along with careful steps and methodically searching the room she was in with her flashlight. “But, well, who knows what…no, rather, who, might be hiding in here. All sorts of dangerous people pass by, I’m sure.”

“That is unexpectedly true,” a voice came from behind her.

Lisa let out a startled scream and dropped her flashlight. The other voice laughed lightly. “Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

She got down on her hands and knees and quickly retrieved her light. When she shone it in the direction of the voice, she sighed in relief. There stood a very normal-looking, very corporeal-looking, young man, not much older than she. Then, chuckling a little, she said, “No, I guess I’m just a little on edge.”

“That makes sense,” he said, taking a few steps toward her. “You are in the famed haunted house, after all.”

“It’s not like I thought you were a ghost or anything!” she protested. “I don’t believe in ghosts. I’m here on a dare, but it’s not like I actually believe any of the stories about this place.”

He chuckled a little, and she felt the tension lessen a little more. “He actually has a nice laugh…” she mused.

“And,” he smirked, “just what did you think that I might be?”

“A murderer…or…criminal, of some sort, maybe,” she trailed off.

He chuckled again. “Well, I’m not, if it makes you feel any better hearing that. Of course, I doubt my word means much in a situation like this, but…”

She took a few steps back, suddenly noticing that he had closed the distance between them earlier. “No…no, it’s fine. I think I believe you,” she assured him regardless. “Anyway. Why are you here? Are you on a dare, too?”

“Something like that,” he said, backing off some upon seeing her uneasiness. “At any rate, perhaps it’s best to get you out of the house now.”

“I can’t,” she replied hesitantly. “I mean, if I leave now, those rumors will never go away.”

“Why do they need to?” he shrugged.

“Because they,” she paused, not quite sure of how to explain it. “Well. They’re not true, that’s why! The whole idea of ghosts and spirits is preposterous to begin with.”

“Ah, I see. So you’re one of those people who are uncomfortable with anything supernatural, I take it?” he said, turning around and walking towards the door.

“Uncomfortable?” Lisa could feel herself becoming defensive. “That makes it sound like I’m avoiding some ‘truth’ or something.”

“Maybe you are,” he retorted.

“And maybe you’re just—” she began.

Suddenly, the creaking in the house became louder, and a strange wind began to hum inside of it. “It’s almost like…whispers?” Lisa muttered unsure.

The look on her companion’s face changed drastically, though, and he spoke with a renewed sense of urgency. “You have to get out. Now.”

“I already said I couldn’t, didn’t I?” she snapped back.

“…Leave…” came a whisper.

“Cut it out,” she scolded the man. “I’m not falling for it.”

“That wasn’t me!” he shouted back. Then, upon seeing her doubting expression, he added, “I’m serious.”

Her resolve weakened for a moment, but she quickly recovered, saying, “Well then, someone else must be in here, too.”

Lisa moved toward the door as well, standing close to the stranger. “Hey,” she muttered. “I never asked your name.”

He gave her a sideways glance before mumbling, “Rick.”

“Nice to meet you, Rick. I’m Lisa.” She moved past him, saying, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a house to finish exploring. I’ve covered the upstairs and the main floor, so now all that’s left is the basement, I believe.”

“No!” Rick shouted. “Not the basement. You can stay in the house, if you really need to, but don’t go down there.”

This time she was the one to smirk. “What? Don’t tell me you’re frightened?” she teased.

“That’s not it,” he sighed. “I’ve actually…been down there already. Please, just believe me when I say that it’s best to avoid it.”

“Okay, okay, I understand,” she said, turning away from him.

“Are you certain?” he insisted.

She glanced over her shoulder at him and, with a laugh, answered, “No!” At that, she darted off to the basement stairs.

“Lisa!” he called after her. “Don’t—”

She ran faster than he could keep up with, though, and before long she had descended the steps into the cold, dank basement. “It’s so dark here,” she muttered casually. “I can hardly see anything, even with my flashlight.”

Just then, her foot hit something soft and vaguely warm. “Hmm?” she wondered.

“Don’t look!” Rick instructed from the top of the stairs, racing down to meet her there. But it was already too late. She had shined the light directly at the object she ran into. And there, at her feet, she saw…Rick!

She screamed in sudden shock. “What…why…who…?”

Rick—or, at least, the Rick she had met upstairs—appeared behind her. “That’s me,” he answered quietly. “When I ‘woke up’ a few hours ago, my body was lying there like that.”

“No,” she whispered. “No. That can’t be right. That would mean you’re—”

“—Dead?” he finished. Shrugging his shoulders forlornly, he continued. “I guess so. Of course, I couldn’t check for a pulse or anything, so I can’t say for sure. But being like this, I guess I really must be.”

“A pulse,” she repeated, letting the words sink in. “A pulse! Of course.” She bent over the body to check.

“There’s no time for that,” he said, a little flustered. “I didn’t get that way by accident. I was attacked.”

“Then that’s more reason for me to check,” she replied. Her hands shook as she touched the body.

“No, that’s more reason for you to get out,” he insisted. “There was a man…”

But before he could finish, someone came up from behind them and grabbed Lisa, causing her to drop her flashlight. “No!” she screamed before he covered her mouth with his hand.

“That’s him! That’s the man who—” Rick began, stopping before he finished his sentence. Instead, he began shouting, “Let go of her!” He rushed forward but passed through the man without being able to gain hold of him.

Lisa struggled against the attacker, who muttered, “Two in one night? What fun. I chose the right basement to hide away in.”

Rick screamed in frustration. “Someone help! Please! Save Lisa, someone!”

No sooner had he finished, the entire house shook, the creaking became louder again, and the strange whispering wind could be heard once more. “…Leave…” it repeated. A clanging could be heard at the other end of the basement. “…Leavethem alone…”

Neither Lisa, Rick, or the attacker could see quite what happened, but an object suddenly shot from the other side of the room, smacking into the criminal. The gruff man let out a yelp, releasing Lisa.

Leave!” the whisper came again as more objects shot at the man. Lisa ducked and felt around for her flashlight. When she could finally see what was happening, the vagrant was unconscious, with a variety of blunt objects lying around him.

Rick stepped toward her. “That’s a relief,” he sighed. “Now go, quickly, before he wakes up again.”

“But you—” she started.

“Don’t worry about me!” he interrupted. “I’m already dea—”

“—You’re alive!” she shouted. “I felt a pulse. It’s faint, but it’s there.”

A surprised look came to his face. “Alive?” he whispered, gradually breaking out into a disbelieving smile.

Lisa clenched her fists. “I’ll go outside,” she muttered. “But only to call for an ambulance! My cell phone doesn’t get any reception in here.”

He nodded as she ran up the stairs. And before long, the sound of sirens—both police and ambulance—could be heard racing down the street.

Two days later, Lisa found herself stepping into a clean white hospital room. “Rick?” she called out hesitantly.

“Yes?” came a familiar voice. “Who’s there?”

She turned the corner, coming into view. “I…I don’t suppose you remember me?”

He studied her seriously for a moment. “Of course I wouldn’t. I mean, you’re only the girl who I shared my weird out-of-body experience with. Why would I remember you?”

Lisa couldn’t help but grin. “Well the whole thing seems fuzzy to me, even, and I was conscious the entire time.”

“I know. I can hardly believe that there was a wanted felon hiding out in the basement of that old house,” Rick sighed.

That’s the part you’re struggling to believe?” Lisa asked dubiously. “You nearly die, you communicate with me via some doppelganger thing, and just when all hope seems lost, the house attacks the bad guy and saves us both. And the part you struggle to believe is that there was a criminal hiding out in an abandoned basement.”

“Well, you just never think it’d happen in your neighborhood,” he chuckled. “But I guess that other stuff might have been slightly out of the ordinary, too.”

“Only slightly, hmm?” she replied, sitting down at the foot of his bed.

“Yep. Only slightly,” he nodded back to her. “And what about you? You were so sure that things like this weren’t real. Change your mind?”

She smirked, glancing at him out of the corner of her eye. “Only slightly.”

Posted by: Caitlynn | January 18, 2010

Genre #14 — Urban Fantasy

(For more information on my Genre Self-Challenge, read previous entry here.)

————

“The Mark of Fae”

————

“What’s this, Mom?” Betsy asked, holding up a slightly worn envelope wrapped with a dirtied yellow ribbon. “It has my name in it.”

Her mother took a quick glance at the letter. “It’s in your grandmother’s handwriting.” She held out her hand, and Betsy gave the envelope to her. “Yes,” she said in a quiet whisper. “I think I remember now.” Then, handing it back to her daughter, she explained, “Your grandmother wrote that for you when you were only seven. She must’ve known even then that her time was almost up—she was like that, always with a sense of things no one else could predict—but at any rate, I remember that letter very vividly, now that I think about it. She handed it to me one afternoon, telling me that you and you alone must be the one to read it, and in your own time.”

“Could…could that time be now?” Betsy questioned, a little excited. “I don’t remember much about grandma. She’s been gone eight years now.”

“Well, I suppose it very well could be,” her mother answered with a smile. “She did say ‘your time,’ after all.”

Her mother walked away, leaving Betsy to eye the letter for a few minutes more before taking it with her up to her room. Sprawling out over her bed, she opened it up and began reading:

-

My dear Betsy,

By the time you read this, I will have long since passed away. I don’t know when you’ll finally open this, but I imagine that, when you do, you’ll most likely remember very little about me. All the same, I have a secret I would like to share with the ‘growing up’ you—a secret that the ‘child’ you already knows.

Yesterday, as I understand, you came into your house crying, with scraped up hands and knees and your face dirtied with tears. Your mother tells me that you had gotten into some sort of scuffle but refused to share the details with her and your father. When I asked, had you said nothing at all?, I was greeted with a small sort of nervous laughter.

“Oh, she made up some story about pixies and magic and such. It was surprisingly detailed, too, and very creative. But that imagination of hers…honestly, her father and I asked her over and over again, but she wouldn’t veer from that story of hers. She wouldn’t tell us the truth.”

I asked, did it seem like you were lying, or had you entered into a dishonest phase of your childhood?

But with a sigh and another laugh, your mother informed me that, no, you seemed to believe you were telling the truth. She was worried, quite frankly, that you actually believed your story. Moreover, you had yourself so worked up that you had even fallen ill! So I told her that I would check on you.

Poor dear, I’ll never remember how pale you looked when I came into your room and saw you lying in bed with a fever. Nor will I ever remember the struggle evident in your voice when you called out to me, “Gramma…”

The instant I took your hand, I could tell that it was no ordinary fever that overcame you. I asked you to share what happened to you earlier, and you hesitated, wary of not being believed again. But when I assured you that I would trust your story, you shared it quite readily.

Seems you had wandered well past your backyard and into the woods just behind it—a very reckless action that, even you, at your small age, knew to be dangerous. But it was as though you were being called somewhere, and you felt inclined to go. And so you traveled beneath the trees and sunlight until you came to a strange patch of mushrooms forming a circle. This circle is commonly known as a “fairy ring,” and while most wise adults would simply explain the science behind it—how the mushrooms drain the soil of water, changing the color of the grass above them—legend has it that these rings are the gateways into the land of fairies.

You were cautious, but ultimately, drawn to the fairy ring. Without fully intending to, you soon found yourself stepping inside it. Nothing unusual happened at first, which would have seemed a little disappointing, I imagine. But when you tried to step back out, you found yourself stuck there. And before long, the ground around you began to shimmer and glow. Tiny specks of light surrounded you, you told me, and when they got real close to you, you said they looked like tiny people with wings.

“Were they fairies, Gramma?” you asked me, eager to know.

I nodded solemnly and urged you to continue with your story.

The fairies told you to go with them, but you told them you couldn’t. It was almost lunch time, and your mother and father would be worried if you did not return. They begged you a second time, and you refused again. But then, they asked you once more, a third time. Instead of an entirely negative answer, however, you hesitated, telling them that you would like to accept their invitation, but were unsure. This indecision was taken as an opportunity. It was then that they attempted to take you back with them.

You trembled a little as you described the sensation to me. From what I gather, the ground under your feet faded away into light, and the tiny fairies who had introduced themselves to you began tugging at your clothes and pulling you beneath the ring. And then, from the light below, a hand only slightly larger than yours reached up, and a voice beckoned, “Come, my dear child.”

However, the moment his hand touched your wrist, you let out a terrible cry in pain, which startled he and the other fairies away. The light stopped, and you were left in a normal circle of mushrooms once more. You darted home, where the events that your mother had mentioned to me took place.

I asked you if your wrist still hurt; you told me that it did, even showing me where. I examined the spot. The normal human eye would only see bare skin; I, however, could see the mark of fae left on you by the fairy boy on the other side of the ring. It had left you fairy-struck—a strange sort of illness, rare and inexplicable by modern medical knowledge. I gave you an antidote and told you to rest, all the while knowing that your memory of what happened would vanish with your fever when you awoke.

For all your knowledge then, my dear granddaughter, there was one thing you did not know: I am what some would call a “fairy doctor.” I have the ability to cleanse and heal those stricken by fairy illnesses. And, as my descendent, my fairy doctor blood runs in your veins as well. It was never awakened in your mother, for she never had contact with the world of fae as a child. I made sure of that. But now, you most certainly have.

Being a fairy doctor is very important, Betsy. Little girls are often called into fairy rings, just as you were. It is less common nowadays than it once was, I admit. And most escape, so long as they have some attachment holding them to our world. Yet, even if they escape, they will be left with the mark of fae on them, and will become dreadfully stricken with fever if they are not attended to. That is why it is important for those of us with fairy doctor abilities to make use of them, so that those who are in danger can be healed.

You are probably all grown up now. And as such, I expect you that you are probably very skeptical about the existence of fairies. If, however, you are even the least bit curious, then I will tell you how to remember your encounter with the fairies, and how to awaken the fairy doctor blood within you.

Find the fairy ring from your childhood. Don’t think too hard about where it might be; just let your feet guide you there. Stand inside, and wait. Now that you have matured and have already been once healed, you should be safe from becoming fairy-struck.

Best of luck, my dear. I’m proud of you, no matter which choice you decide to make.

Love,
Gramma Violet

-

Betsy reread the letter several times before refolding it and putting it back into the envelope. “Fairies,” she mumbled. “As though I’d believe something like that.”

And yet, that evening, just before the sun went down, she found herself wandering through the woods near her house, following along a strangely familiar path that she had no recollection of going down before. And there, at the end of that path, appeared a fairy ring.

She could hear her heart beating loudly in her chest, and her throat became immensely dry. “It’s not as though anything will really happen,” she tried reassuring herself as she approached. Then, very cautiously, she stepped inside, holding her breath and squinting her eyes shut as she did. And…

Nothing happened.

Betsy heaved what should have been a sigh of relief. “Of course,” she said, laughing at herself. “Like I said. Nothing would happen. Nothing possibly could.” Then, glancing down at her wrist, she muttered, “And yet, I almost wish…”

No sooner had she admitted it to herself, her wrist began to tingle, and a strange mark appeared on it out of no where. She examined it a little more closely: it was like a butterfly, only thinner, and it seemed to move as she did. Dropping her wrist back down to her side, she looked around and noticed the ground shimmering. The air around her warmed. Betsy closed her eyes and inhaled, smelling a fragrant blend of lilacs and lavender and other sweet flowers, and as she stood still, she could hear a jingling that sounded vaguely like laughter. She remained like that a few moments longer, soaking it all in and recalling that time in her life when she experienced something very similar.

When she opened her eyes, everything around her had returned to normal, just as though none of it had even happened. At first, she wondered if it had, perhaps, all been a daydream. But then she glanced down at her wrist again.

The strange butterfly mark was still there.

Posted by: Caitlynn | January 18, 2010

Genre #13 — Western

(For more information on my Genre Self-Challenge, read previous entry here.)

————

“The Silver Pistol”

————

“Get on outta my saloon, boy,” Mr. Smith said as two large men shoved young Billy Evans out the swinging doors and into the dusty dirt road. He stumbled and fell flat on his face, causing a roar of laughter to erupt from within.

“Aw, but Mr. Smith, sir,” Billy protested.

“Not another word from you, hear?” the older man cut him off. “Now I’m Maybelle’s father, and I don’t need advice from the likes of you on what’s best for her.”

Billy stood up, not bothering to dust the dirt of his clothes. “But that George Richards is nothin’ but a snake!” he shouted after the barkeeper. “He don’t love Maybelle, not like she deserves.”

“And who does? You?” a gruff voice mocked from inside the saloon, sending its owner and the other drunkards into another fit of riotous laughter.

He tugged on the rim of his hat to shield his reddening face. “I…I don’t s’pose I was gonna suggest anything of the sort…”

At that point, however, nobody was even listening to the scrawny young man anymore. He looked down, kicking absent-mindedly at the dirt and loose pebbles at his feet. When he glanced up, first at the saloon doors, then at Maybelle’s room, he caught a brief glimpse of her moving away from her window.

He sighed. “I reckon she probably heard all that,” he mumbled.

Billy hesitated a few moments more before deciding that Maybelle would most likely not return before he began shuffling down the road back home.

After he had walked for a good while, though, he heard the trot of horse hooves approach. He initially just stepped to the side so the rider could pass, but then he heard, “Well lookie here! If it isn’t little Billy Evans.”

Billy grimaced inside, forcing himself to look up at the other man. “George,” he answered curtly, quickly tilting his hat and attempting to walk past.

“Not so fast there,” George said, steering his horse in front of Billy. “Where might we be coming from, hmm?”

“It ain’t none of your business,” the smaller man spat out.

George got off his horse but still towered over Billy. Taking a step forward, he said, “Now sure it is, Billy-boy. You were off visiting my Maybelle again, weren’t you?”

Billy turned his head to the side, pretending to ignore the other man. This only served to anger George further, however. He grabbed Billy by the collar, saying, “You answer when your better asks you a questions, understand?”

“Sure,” Billy smirked, raising his eyebrows. “Soon as someone my better asks me something.”

George smacked Billy across the jaw and released him, sending the smaller man stumbling back. “Don’t get so arrogant just because Maybelle fancies you a bit…” he muttered, stopping himself from saying anything more.

Billy looked up in surprise as he rubbed his jaw. “She fancies me?” he asked, his voice quiet at first. Then, upon seeing the flustered look on George’s face, he couldn’t resist adding, “Well now, I guess she’s not so much your Maybelle after all, is she?”

The brawnier man grabbed Billy by the shirt again and dragged him to his feet. “She will be,” he hissed between gritted teeth. When Billy continued smirking in response, George became even more furious. He punched the boy until he was bloody before roughly tossing him against the wall of a nearby building. Billy collapsed to his knees again, and George mounted his horse. “Mark my words, Billy-boy,” he called back over his shoulder as he began riding off, “she’ll be mine soon enough.”

It was shortly after the sound of trotting hooves disappeared that Billy collapsed completely and blacked out.

When he came to, the first thought he had was, “Maybe I ought to go and visit Maybelle once more tonight. Something don’t feel quite right.” He began scrambling to his knees again. “‘Course, not that I’d be much suited for her, either,” he grunted. As he was pulling himself up, his hand brushed against something cold and smooth. He looked at what he touched: a shiny silver pistol he had never seen before.

“What’s this?” he asked to no one, picking the gun up to examine it more closely. “Well, I s’pose I ought to ask around about it,” he said, taking it with him. “Now to see Maybelle.”

When he reached the saloon, though, the barkeeper and customers were all in a frenzy. Concerned, Billy approached the crowd and asked, “Mr. Smith, sir, what’s going on?”

“Going on? Maybelle’s missing, that’s what’s going on,” he scowled. “We heard a shriek, an’ by the time I got up to her room, she was no where to be seen!”

Suddenly, George’s words passed into Billy’s head: “She’ll be mine soon enough.”

He grit his teeth. “That snake,” he muttered. He ran up to a nearby horse and swiftly got on.

“Hey—” its owner began.

“I’ll be borrowin’ this,” he called back as he rode off.

How he knew where to go is anyone’s guess. When asked later, not even Billy himself could say. But before long, he caught up to them at a secluded spot on the outskirts of town. George was advancing on poor Maybelle, who was all in disarray but clearly putting up a good fight.

“Hold it, Richards!” Billy shouted.

“Billy!” Maybelle cried upon seeing him. “Thank goodness.” She put all her strength in delivering the final, well-placed kick that all otherwise defenseless damsels know to place, succeeding in temporarily sending George back a few paces. The moment his grip loosened on her, she dashed away from him and flew into Billy’s arms.

“Maybelle,” he sighed into her hair. “Are you okay? Please tell me you are, or else…” he trailed off.

She nodded. “I am now. But you got here just in time, I reckon,” her voice shook out.

Billy forced himself to pull away, stepping in front of Maybelle to shield her from George, who had managed to rise to his feet again. “I’ll be takin’ Miss Smith back to her daddy now,” he said. “And I’ll let him decide what to do with you, too.”

He turned his back to George and moved towards the horse. Before he could get there, though, Maybelle cried, “Look out!”

Without even thinking and in one fluid motion, Billy spun back around and drew the pistol he had found earlier, shooting the gun George had in his hand before the snake could fire.

George looked stunned. Maybelle looked stunned. Even Billy looked stunned, continuously glancing back and forth between George’s wounded hand and the silver pistol in his own. “Now how did I…?”

Billy brought Maybelle back to her father safely that night, and her father, upon hearing what had happened, granted Billy his daughter’s hand – which Billy, of course, readily accepted. George slithered away and was never seen or heard from in that town again. And when Billy meant to show off the gun he had earlier discovered and made ample use of, he discovered that it had mysteriously vanished. It, too, was never discovered again.

Posted by: Caitlynn | January 16, 2010

Genre #12 — Creative Nonfiction

Okay. This is based on true events, but probably riddled with inaccuracies (at the very least, the dialogue is entirely made up). Mother Riccarda and Mother Mary Elizabeth were both real people, however, who did hide Jewish refugees during WWII. There’s also the potential that Mother Riccarda might be made a saint at some point in the (near?) future. So I thought it was worth writing a bit about.

My only regret is that I didn’t have time to read more about her. As it stands now, this piece is fairly short, so I’d recommend that you read one of the news stories about it here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6814075.ece I assure you, what I have written and posted does not do her life justice. And this isn’t just me being modest, either.

(For more information on my Genre Self-Challenge, read previous entry here.)

————

“Mother Riccarda”

————

June 4, 1944

“Reverend Mother,” the other nun called out, scurrying to catch up. “The cars…”

“I know, Mother Riccarda,” the former replied. “I heard them. We can’t be sure if they’re the police or not, though. It’s difficult to tell from here.”

“God will watch over us,” Mother Riccarda nodded. “He always has. I pray that whoever is in those cars either keeps moving or otherwise means us no harm.”

“As do I,” the Reverend Mother agreed. “Nonetheless, you had best check on our guests. Make sure that they are prepared if the Fascists come tonight. At the very least, I’m certain they must have heard the cars as well. They may be in need of some comforting.”

Mother Riccarda gave another enough quick nod before briskly walking away to find the Jewish refugees being housed in her convent on Piazza Farnese. She moved swiftly—time was of the essence—reciting a heartfelt prayer along the way for everyone’s safety. When she reached the door she was looking for, she paused, taking a deep breath so that she might be a calming presence in the room once she entered.

“Good evening,” she said, opening the door.

“Mammina!” one of the younger boys shouted.

“How is everyone tonight?” she smiled. “Mother Mary Elizabeth sent me to check on you.”

“Are we in danger?” one of the mothers asked, tightly hugging her child.

Mother Riccarda paused a moment before cautiously replying, “I trust you’ve heard the cars outside.”

Nearly everyone in the room nodded.

“Well, we haven’t anymore reason than usual to think that it’s the police,” she stated calmly. “At least we can be thankful for that. Until we know for sure, however, we’ll continue to keep watch.”

“I’m scared,” one of the children sniffled, tugging at Mother Riccarda’s arm.

She glanced down and patted the young girl on the head. “The Reverend Mother and I will do everything in our power to protect you,” she assured her. “And if trouble should come, all of us at the convent are prepared to face it.” Looking back up at the adults in the room, she added gently, “Though, it would not hurt for you to be prepared as well, of course.”

“Yes, of course,” one of the men said. “We have long been prepared for the worse. But, mammina, thanks to you, we have at least survived these past six months in fairer conditions than many of our more unfortunate family and friends.”

“We are very grateful indeed,” some of the others chimed in. “You have done so much, sacrificed so much for us. If we are discovered here, then your fates may very well—”

She held up a hand, cutting them off, and returned a warm but sorrowful smile. “All of us here are merely doing as the Lord would have us do.”

Just then, soft footsteps could be heard quickly racing down the hall. Everyone inside the room tensed slightly, wondering what the news might be. Before long, a young nun burst in, breathing hard.

“What is it, Sister?” Mother Riccarda asked, trying to mask the worry in her voice.

The other nun took a few moments to catch her breath. “It’s amazing news. We’ve just received word,” she said, her face breaking into a smile, “the Allies have liberated Rome. You are all safe again.”

The room remained silent for a few minutes as the news soaked in. Once it did, however, everyone broke into exhausted cheers and laughter.

“Thank you, Lord,” Mother Riccarda whispered with a smile.

Posted by: Caitlynn | January 15, 2010

Genre #10 — Mystery

(For more information on my Genre Self-Challenge, read previous entry here.)

————

“The Death of Dr. Robertson”

————

The faculty offices had been desolate after Dr. Robertson, the math department chair, had died.  Investigators had ruled that it was a suicide—there were no signs of struggle or foul play, and he was found slumped over his desk with household poisons in his system—but as I now recall, even I found the news very peculiar when I first heard it.  Dr. Robertson was a kindly old man who made friends easily. Though I hadn’t had many classes with him, he had always seemed so happy that I couldn’t imagine him ending his own life. But, like most other students, it didn’t take me long to accept the idea. That is, until the rumors started.

“Did you hear?” a girl in my philosophy class whispered to her friend. “They say Dr. Robertson’s death may not have been a suicide after all. Some are saying it might’ve been murder.”

“No way!” her friend replied a little too loudly. “That’s too creepy…who would’ve done such a thing?”

“Who knows,” the first girl continued. “Another faculty member, maybe? Or a student with a grudge? Or maybe,” she leaned in, getting even quieter and making it harder for me hear, “that strange student worker of his.”

A shiver ran down my spine as I eavesdropped, not only at the thought of Dr. Robertson being murdered, but also at the mention of his student worker, Edda. She was, oddly enough, an English Literature major employed by the Math Department. Stranger than that, she had no known friends, never smiled or spoke in class, and could typically be overheard mumbling to herself with a blank expression on her face. She was also known for being scary smart.

“Definitely an odd one,” I mused, “but…murder?” The thought unnerved me, so I pushed it to the back of my mind and tried to move on with the rest of my day.

A strange thing happened that afternoon, though. I was sitting at a table in the library, studying, when I heard a chair across from me being pulled out. When I glanced up, I saw none other than Edda sit down in it. I could feel myself seizing up as I recalled the conversation I overheard earlier.

“Why does the atmosphere around her seem so dark to me…it’s only a rumor…” I tried reminding myself. “It’s only—”

“—Murder,” Edda mumbled, causing me to start in sudden shock. She looked up at me briefly before looking back down at her book. I followed her gaze and noticed that she held a volume of Shakespeare’s plays in her hands.

I laughed at myself. “She’s probably talking about something from that,” I reassured myself. Then, feeling a little guilty for jumping to conclusions and listening to rumors, I decided to attempt conversations with the oddball in front of me. “You know, the only Shakespeare play I can remember reading is Romeo & Juliet. So romantic…and so sad, too. It’s terrible that they die like that.”

“Not really,” she said bluntly. “They drove themselves to their own deaths. I can’t pity them.”

A very heavy, awkward silence fell between us, and I felt myself shifting in my seat. Just as I thought to get up and leave, however, I felt a tap on my shoulder from behind.

“Sorry, you’ll have to excuse Edda,” a guy’s voice said. “She’s just always been this way: unsociable and rude.” I looked up at him and saw him smiling as though he meant to tease her.

She sighed, otherwise ignoring him, and continued reading.

“How cruel!” he shouted, feigning offense. Then he looked at me and smiled, adding, “Don’t you think so, too? Here I am, her childhood friend, and she ignores me as I cover for her lack of social graces.”

I chuckled a little nervously, hoping not to offend her. “Oh, so you’re childhood friends?”

“Yep. My name is Wiley,” he extended his hand.

I took it in mind and allowed him to shake it in a much exaggerated, playful manner. “Lottie,” I said in return.

“Lottie? That’s a beautiful name.” He turned to Edda. “Right? It’s very girlish, isn’t it, Edda?”

She slammed her book closed and got up. As she began walking away, she looked at us coldly, saying, “Just because we went to the same high school does not mean we’re ‘childhood friends.’”

Once Edda was gone, Wiley sighed and looked at me again. “I really am sorry about that,” he said in a serious, apologetic tone. “She’s a good girl. At least, she always used to be. Please, I hope you can forgive her.”

Okay, so I admit that I was a bit charmed by his obvious show of concern. But I really did mean it when I tucked my hair back behind my ear and answered, “It’s no big deal. Don’t worry about it.”

He smiled gratefully. “Thank you. I just don’t know what to do anymore, though. I can’t keep a watch on her forever.”

“Were you really childhood friends?” I asked, jealous of Edda if the answer was yes.

“In spite of what she says, I’ve known her since we were ten or eleven. We lived on the same street.” He sat down in the chair next to me. “She’s always been on the introverted side—her nose always in a book—but at least back then…well, maybe I’m boring you.”

“No! Not at all,” I turned my full attention towards him, closing my notes and textbook. “Please continue.”

“It’s just,” he began, suddenly seeming distant, “well, it’s not that she’d bad or anything. But since she’s come to college, it’s like she’s forgotten how to smile. It must be that she’s worried about maintaining her scholarship. It’s all that’s keeping her here, and if her GPA drops too low…” he shrugged. “Plus, she was struggling in math for a while. The curse of English majors everywhere, I’m told. Since I’m a math major, I offered to help, but she refused, saying she had her own solution.”

Suddenly, I felt a twinge of alarm. “Wait, but…doesn’t she work for the math department? If she hates it, then why?”

Wiley suddenly looked flustered. “Uh, I may have said too much,” he stammered, getting up again. “You’ll get the wrong idea.”

“No I won’t!” I tugged at his sleeve without thinking. “I just want to understand.”

“Well,” his eyes darted from side to side before he leaned in and whispered, “okay, but you can’t tell anyone else. I still don’t know how much is true, but her math grades improved dramatically once she started working for that professor. Sometimes, I almost wonder if something more wasn’t going on.” He stood straight up again, clearing his throat. “Of course, like I said, I don’t really know anything for sure. But she’s definitely not the same girl I knew when I was a kid.”

After that, Wiley left, leaving me to struggle in vain with my studies. I felt too distracted, however, and before I knew it, hours had passed without me absorbing a single thing. It was now dark and well past the time I meant to stay.

“I guess I should head home,” I sighed, gathering my things and leaving the library.

On my way out, I happened to pass by the building with the majority of the faculty offices in it. “This was where Dr. Robertson died,” I thought forlornly. On a sudden impulse, I decided to walk inside. I’m not really sure what I hoped to accomplish, or what I expected to find. Maybe I figured that the ‘criminal always returns to the scene of the crime,’ or something. At any rate, I only meant to glance at the math department area from the hallway, but when I got to the door, it was unlocked. “No,” I realized upon looking at it more closely, “It’s more like it was forced open.” I peeked inside and looked towards Dr. Robertson’s old office. Someone was there. My heart nearly stopped when I realized who it was: Edda!

Panic-stricken, I dashed down the hallway again, taking out my cell phone to call the police. Before I could manage, though, I ran into someone else, letting out a shriek.

“Lottie!” Wiley whispered urgently. “It’s only me; calm down. Thank goodness you’re all right. I saw you walk in, and I was worried, so I followed.”

My head was racing. “Edda, she…” I began, frantic. “She…she’s there, in the office.”

“Oh? Is that so? What a shame,” he replied, his tone suddenly cold and stiff. “Go home, Lottie. I’ll take care of this.” He let go of me and immediately went in Edda’s direction. I hesitated, half wanting to leave that very moment, but ultimately deciding to follow at a safe distance.

By the time I got back to the office area, they were already talking. “It’s no use,” Wiley said. “It’s over now, Edda.”

“You’re wrong,” she shot back, her voice shaking.

Suddenly, I remembered the recorder function on my phone. Thinking that a confession could be close at hand, I took it out and discreetly began recording the conversation. I was not quite prepared for what I’d end up getting, though.

“Face it,” Wiley spat out, taking a few steps closer to her, “the old man is dead. Everyone’s convinced he did it to himself.”

“You and I both know that he didn’t,” she protested.

Wiley laughed, sending chills up my spine. “Wait, just what exactly is going on?” I wondered, breathless.

“Even if you say that, who’ll believe you? Do you have any evidence?” When she remained silent, he smirked, concluding, “Then it looks like I’ve gotten away with murder.”

Do you know how, sometimes, the one thing you don’t want to do is the one thing you end up doing? Well, as stupid as it sounds, at that moment I couldn’t help but gasp and drop my phone.

“Who’s there?” Wiley snapped.

I hurriedly scooped up my cell and took off. The video had saved, I noted. Now I needed to call the police. My fingers slipped on the buttons as I tried to dial the numbers, and I could hear Wiley’s footsteps quickly catching up to me. Before I had a chance to react, I was grabbed, and my phone flew from my grasp again.

“No!” I shouted, trying to fight back.

“You’ll regret not going home when I told you to,” he growled.

In the midst of the struggle, however, it seemed that neither of us heard the sirens approach. And so, when the police rescued me, it came as a shock to both of us.

The recording I took earlier was, thankfully, unharmed. With that and additional evidence that investigators later found, Wiley was eventually tried and convicted of Dr. Robertson’s murder. It seems that the lame motive he had tried pushing on Edda was actually his own: he was failing Dr. Robertson’s math class and was in danger of losing his scholarship—and, more importantly, his pride and reputation—because of it. When the professor suggested asking for help from Edda, an English major whom Wiley had always bore a grudge against as an academic rival, Wiley had had it. His plan was to kill of the old professor and, in the midst of the resulting chaos, alter his grades without being discovered. He had only succeeded in the first part.

Later, I spoke with Edda again. She told me she had called the police earlier that night, anticipating Wiley to attach her and be caught in the midst of it.

“That alone wouldn’t have been enough to connect him to Dr. Robertson’s death, though,” she told me. “It’s good that you were able to record his confession. Thank you.”

“You were fond of the professor, weren’t you?” I asked hesitantly.

She nodded slightly. “I respected him a great deal. He was the only one who didn’t treat me like I was strange. He allowed me to by myself, and even treated ‘myself’ as someone worthy of respect instead of scorn and strange looks. That’s why I loved working for the Math Department. I was appreciated there. Well, plus, I’m one of the few English majors in existence really good at math,” she smiled vaguely, though her eyes were still distant. “But I’ll always be thankful for that respect. Which is why I would’ve done anything to get justice for him.”

I looked away, feeling ashamed for having misjudged her earlier. “Edda, I…” I began, turning back. But when I did, I found myself surprised once more. Edda was crying. Trying desperately not to, but crying nonetheless.

I gently touched her shoulder. When she glanced back at me through her tears, I returned a tearful smile. “He would’ve been grateful, I’m sure,” I said. “Maybe somewhere, he actually is.”

She hid her face in her hands. “Thanks,” she muttered, nodding her head. “Thanks.”

Posted by: Caitlynn | January 13, 2010

Genre #9 — Children’s

(For more information on my Genre Self-Challenge, read previous entry here.)

————

“Susie’s Shadow”

————

Susie Smith and her parents had just moved to a new house in a new town. They spent all day moving boxes and unpacking, but every time Susie tried to help her parents, they always told her “This box is too heavy” or “That will break if you’re not careful. Don’t touch it.” Finally, her parents sent her outside to play.

“Come inside when you start getting too cold,” her mother warned. “It’s still winter.”

Her father added, “And don’t wander too far away. Stay in the yard.”

After they finished bundling her in her coat, scarf, hat, and mittens, Susie went into the backyard to play. It was huge, much bigger than her old backyard was. At first, this made her happy, and she ran around laughing and playing in the snow. She got bored very quickly, though, and sat down next to a large pile of snow to rest.

“What good is a huuuuge backyard without anyone to play with?” she said, sighing. “I miss my friends. I wonder if I’ll make any new ones when I go to school. But what if the other kids don’t like me?” She sighed again. “I just wish I had someone to play with right now. Being eight-years-old is hard.”

“I’ll play with you,” the voice of a little girl said.

“Who’s there?” Susie asked. She looked around, but didn’t see anyone. “Where are you?”

“Down here,” the voice said, and Susie looked down. “It’s me, your shadow. I’ll play with you.”

“Are you really talking to me?” Susie questioned in surprise. “I didn’t think you could!”

“Of course,” her shadow answered. “All shadows can talk to their owners. But their owners have to be lonely enough to wish for a friend. That wish is what brings a shadow to life.”

“Oh, okay. I think I understand,” Susie replied. “Well, what should we play, then?”

“Let’s visit the Snow Kingdom!” her shadow suggested. “There are lots of pretty things to see there, and lots of fun games to play. I can even stand up like a normal girl can if we visit the Snow Kingdom. I won’t be stuck on the ground like this.”

“I can’t,” Susie said sadly. “My dad said that I have to stay in the yard.”

“It’s in your backyard!” Her shadow said, giggling. “All you have to do is dive into the pile of snow behind you. It’s just on the other side.”

Susie stood up and looked at the snow. It seemed ordinary, and she wondered if there was really a kingdom on the other side. She had been in plenty of snow piles before, and none of them had ever had anything inside. Finally, though, she decided to try what her shadow had said. Susie backed up some, then ran at full speed and jumped into the snow.

At first, all she could see was white. She was little scared, so she closed her eyes. But then she heard, “We’re here!” And when she opened her eyes again, she saw a magical place where the ice shone like the sun and the snow glittered like jewels.

She looked over to her side and saw her shadow standing there beside her like a normal girl. “You look like me,” Susie said, shocked. “Only…you look grayer.”

“That’s because I’m your shadow,” she replied, “so I’m supposed to look like you. Now, come on! We have a lot of things to play with!”

Together, Susie and her shadow raced off, eager to explore this new land. They went ice skating on the frozen pond, ate snow-cones, had snowball fights, and made snow angels. They also saw many beautiful things, like a palace made of ice. They played and played for hours.

Just as Susie began to feel tired, she heard her mother’s voice. “Susie! It’s time to come inside!”

She frowned. “I don’t want to stop playing,” she said to her shadow. “It’s fun being here.”

Her shadow smiled at her in response, saying, “Every day has to end. It’s almost nighttime now.”

“Will we get to play again soon?” Susie asked as they began walking back to the entrance of the Snow Kingdom.

“Only if you get lonely,” her shadow answered. “But, school will be starting soon, and I’m sure you’ll make lots of friends there.”

“I want to keep playing with you!” Susie shouted. “I won’t need any other friends if I at least have you.”

But her shadow shook her head no. “Make human friends, Susie. That’s what you’re supposed to do. Besides, I’ll always be with you, if you ever do need me. I’m your shadow, so I’ll always be a part of you.”

After that, Susie climbed out of the pile of snow that led her to her magical play place and went back inside the nice, warm house. And that night, when she went to bed, she dreamed of ice palaces, glittering snow, and shadows come to life.

Posted by: Caitlynn | January 13, 2010

Genre #8 — Sci-Fi

(For more information on my Genre Self-Challenge, read previous entry here.)

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“To Be Human”

————

“We all bleed…” a soft voice murmured.

Darien groaned and opened his eyes. “Where—?” he began. When it suddenly hit him that he was not in his house, he darted up to a sitting position.

“Hmm? You’re awake?” came the same gentle voice as before.

He turned in its direction and studied the young woman he saw sitting there. She had faded green eyes and wavy black hair. Her skin was very pale, and her stature thin and frail. There was a strange sort of beauty about her, he thought, but he remained tense. This could still be a trap.

She tilted her head quizzically. “What’s wrong?” she asked. “Are you in pain?”

For the first time upon waking, Darien realized that he was, in fact, very sore. He thought back to the last thing he remembered, now recalling the surprise blow to the head he had received the instant before passing out. If he had no reason to be suspicious of this stranger before, he had one now.

“Who are you?” he asked cautiously. “And where are we?”

“I am Isabella, and this is my home,” she answered plainly. “I brought you here because you were hurt.”

Darien raised an eyebrow. “You brought me here all by yourself?”

“Oh, but we’re quite close to the spot where I found you,” she insisted. “It was exhausting, but I managed somehow.”

He examined her more closely, then breathed a sigh of relief. She seemed a little off, maybe, but not much of a threat. He turned his attention to the room he was in. It was small and dank, with no windows and little furniture. “This…is your home? You must be an urchin, then.” When she looked at him questioningly, he clarified, “This is still the abandoned warehouse district, right?”

She nodded.

“And you most likely have some…condition…that prevents you from keeping a job or qualifying for assistance?” he prompted further.

She looked down, embarrassed, but nodded again.

“Then you are what the rest of us commonly refer to as an ‘urchin,’” he said, straining himself to stand.

“Oh…” she replied quietly. Then, noticing his efforts, she moved to help him. “You’ll hurt yourself worse if you’re not careful.”

“Thanks, but it’s fine. I have a job to carry out still. Besides,” he said, beginning to scold, “you should know better than to take people into your home at random. I thought urchins usually had more sense than that.”

She shrugged and pulled something out of her pants pocket. “This was near you,” she said, handing it to him.

“Oh, my badge,” he noted. “So you realized I was a hunter, hmm? But you should’ve understood that it was a reprobate that got to me before, then. It would’ve been best for you to have left me.”

She shook her head defiantly. “No. You were hurt.”

“Well, suit yourself,” he responded before moving toward the door.

“You’re leaving already?” Isabella asked, concern in her voice.

“Of course,” his tone was annoyed. “Like I said before, I have a job to finish. That reprobate is still out there.”

Before he quite made it out, however, she blurted, “Why do you hunt them?”

Darien stopped in shock and turned around sharply, wincing from the sudden pain as he did. “Don’t tell me you’re a sympathizer?” he asked sternly.

“I…I wouldn’t quite say that…” she stuttered. “But, I never understood why the reprobates and the humans don’t get along. They were human once too, weren’t they?”

“Only once,” he answered, disgust evident in his voice. “They sold themselves to technology, though, and live as machines. They don’t die natural deaths, and they don’t die unnatural deaths very easy, either. Takes a certain type of weapon, and only a select few of us are authorized to carry one. This is a fact they take full advantage of. They might look like you and I, but they certainly aren’t human.”

“And…what is it to be human, exactly?” The woman responded. Rather than replying, however, he merely raced out the door and out of the building, down the street, trying to discern where he was in relation to where he needed to be.

“Now let’s see,” he said, taking out his tracker. “According to this, the reprobate should be close. Better send the signal for back-up this time, just in case,” he noted, pressing a button. As he continued looking, he heard the sound of footsteps nearby. Slowly, carefully, he reached for his gun. The footsteps got louder and faster, and he could see a shadow out of the corner of his eye. Whipping around, he pulled his gun and shouted, “Hold it!”

And, standing there, was a very startled Isabella.

Darien sighed. “Listen lady,” he reprimanded, “I don’t have time for this. Things are about to get ugly, so if you don’t mind…”

Her eyes widened. “No!” she shouted, dashing toward him suddenly and knocking him to the ground.

“Wha—” he started in shock, but was suddenly silenced by the sound of rapid gunfire. “The reprobate!” he thought in a panic as he remained on the ground.

Isabella stood above him, acting as a shield. Even Darien, who had seen more than his fair share of gruesome sights, felt some twinge of horror for the poor stranger who had just offered herself as a sacrifice. When the bullets stopped, she collapsed. Without thinking, Darien caught her in his arms. In spite of his job, he felt some strange sense of responsibility, so he dashed away from the attacking reprobate with Isabella in his arms to a temporarily safe spot.

He crouched low to the ground. “Poor little fool,” he muttered, looking at her bloodied body. “She had no reason to die.”

But as he looked at her, Isabella suddenly opened her eyes. He let out a small gasp and dropped her, backing away quickly. “You…how could you be alive still?”

She looked at him pathetically, struggling to pull herself up.

“Unless,” he realized, drawing out his gun again and pointing it at her. “You’re a reprobate, aren’t you?”

Isabella did not answer right away, but continued attempting to pull herself up. “I was scared,” she eventually whispered. “So scared that you might die. I didn’t want you to.”

“And why not? I hunt your kind, remember?” he scowled, his finger itching to pull the trigger but his curiosity holding him off.

“No more death,” she whimpered, looking down. “No more…I hate it. I hate it! I’ve seen so much. And so, I was happy to save you. And I’m happier to have saved you twice.” She finally managed to pull herself to her feet, though she still remained weak and unsteady on them. “I’ve lived long enough, so even if my life ends tonight, I’m still…” she looked at him again, smiling, “happy.”

Darien’s resolve wavered. “I should kill her,” he told himself. “I should. So why am I hesitating?”

The two stood facing each other, each frozen in place. At that moment, though, Darien heard the familiar sound of sirens. His back-up had arrived, and it was safe to assume from the subsequent sounds of gunfire that they were hot on the trail of the attacking reprobate. It wouldn’t be long before they’d come by this way.

He glanced at Isabella and hesitantly lowered his gun. “Go,” he spat out.

Her green eyes widened, clearly surprised. “But…why?”

“Because you’re hurt. And…we all bleed,” he replied. When she still had not moved, he shouted, “Go! Before I change my mind!”

That seemed to snap her back to her senses, and Isabella ran off on her still unsteady feet as fast as she could. He watched her as she disappeared, then went off to find the other hunters.

“All taken care of!” a man shouted over to him once he had caught up. “Seems there was a small group of them gathered here. We disassembled six. Anymore over that way?” he asked, nodding in the direction Darien had come from.

Hesitating momentarily, Darien finally answered, “No. No, that’s all of them.”

“Good. Then let’s wrap this up and get back,” the other man said. “I’d prefer human company tonight.”

“I wonder,” Darien muttered, “just what is it to be human?”

“What was that?” his companion asked. “I didn’t quite catch what you said.”

But the former only shook his head. “Nah, it’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.”

Posted by: Caitlynn | January 12, 2010

Genre #7 — Friendship

(For more information on my Genre Self-Challenge, read previous entry here.)

————

“Encounters with Merfolk”

————

“Hey Jen,” I began tentatively. “If…well, suppose things like mermaids were real. Do you suppose they’d be the size of a normal human, or might they be smaller?

“Mermaids?” she laughed. “What sort of question is that?”

“And then,” I continued absent-mindedly, “what do you think a male mermaid would be called?”

“Uh, a merboy?” Jen laughed again. “Cassie, are you feeling okay? You’re acting a little strange.”

“Ah, is that so…” I mumbled.

“Yes, it is.” Her tone was more serious now, causing me to snap out of my daze. I glanced over and met with worried eyes.

I smiled forcefully. “Sorry. I just have something on my mind, that’s all.”

“Is it—?” she began.

“—I’m worried about Moshe,” I interrupted, not wanting her to finish her question.

“Moshe?” she asked, and I resisted the urge to smack myself on the forehead. Bringing up Moshe was a mistake.

“Yes…Moshe is…” I trailed off, unconsciously lifting the grocery bag that had his food inside it.

“Oh!” she exclaimed. “Is Moshe your cat?” She nodded her head toward the bag. “You were buying cat food at the store when I ran into you at the store earlier, right?”

“Oh, yes…a cat. Moshe’s my cat,” I replied. “And, well, it’s past his supper time. He gets fussy when I’m too late.”

Jen laughed again, and I felt a wave of relief pass over me. “Well, that’s fine. Actually, I should be going soon too.”

“It was nice seeing you after all this time,” I said, getting up from the park bench. “I hope we run into each other again soon.”

I began walking away when I heard, “Cass? You do know, right? About Ken?”

I turned around again, making sure to continue smiling. “His wedding is this June, right? It’s great news. I’m really happy for him.”

Jen sighed audibly. “Right. Anyway, take care of yourself.”

“Thanks! You too,” I returned with a wave before making my way back to my apartment.

“Oooh, if only I could’ve explained things properly to her,” I bemoaned as I opened my door. I looked around the living room cautiously before moving to the kitchen and setting the grocery bag down on the counter.

I took out a can of cat food that proclaimed “Made with Real Salmon!” and opened it quickly onto a cheap plastic plate. “Let’s hope Moshe eats salmon,” I sighed before picking up the plate and walking to the bathroom.

I clicked on the light. “Moshe? You’re still here, aren’t you?” I crept over to the bathtub, peeking at it through the fingers on my free hand. “Moshe?”

And there, swimming around in the water, was a four-inch mermaid…scratch that, four-inch merboy. Right where I left him this morning.

“I really must be losing my mind,” I laughed nervously as I crouched down over the bathtub. The tiny merboy finally noticed my return and looked up, a smile on that clearly human face of his surrounded by iridescent scales. “Yep,” I sighed, “definitely losing my mind.”

I hesitantly held my hand over the water, holding a piece of the salmon cat food above it. Moshe—as I tentatively decided to name him—swam up to the surface and peeked out of the water. He looked at me for a few moments first before sniffing the food. Then he scrunched up his nose, and a strange sense of worry crept over me.

“Please eat,” I whispered, my voice shaking a bit. “This is the second day you’ve been here, and you haven’t eaten a thing. I already tried fish food…this is all I can think of now…”

He watched me for a few moments more, his head still above the water and his eyes clearly studying me. Finally, he moved back to the food and nibbled at it.

I laughed, strangely relaxed now. “Good,” I sighed contentedly. “You’re eating. I wouldn’t want you to starve just because I didn’t know what to do with you.” I continued watching the strange creature, adding, “Of course, I’m not sure who would. I doubt I’d find anybody over the age of eight who believed in the existence of merfolk. I doubt many people would’ve even stopped if they saw you there, splashing around in a shallow puddle like that.”

By now, Moshe had eaten until he was content and began swimming around again with renewed vigor. I couldn’t help but chuckle as I watched him eagerly move along the perimeter, soaking in every detail of his new surroundings.

“I wonder how you even came to be there in the first place,” I mused. “Or how it was that I was the one who happened to find you. I wonder. Maybe I just never grew up, hmm?” I rested my head on the rim of the tub. “I guess that’s why Ken ended up with someone other than me…”

At that moment, Moshe stopped his patrolling and swam back up to the surface to watch me again. His head tilted from side to side, and his little mouth frowned slightly.

Then I realized it. “Heh…are you actually worrying about me?” He continued to watch intently, inching as close as he could to my side of the tub.

“Don’t be silly,” I continued. “You should be more worried about yourself, after all. I’m just…a plain, naïve sort of woman who…who’s still so much of a child that she can believe in something like mermaids and merboys,” I said, forcing myself to laugh as I fought against the tears welling up in my eyes. “Even if I’m alone, even if the man I love—well, at least, who I thought I loved—is marrying someone else, it’s certainly nothing when compared to your situation.”

I couldn’t help myself any longer. The tears flowed freely, rolling off and creating ripples when they landed in the bathwater. When I managed to see through them, I looked back down at Moshe and was surprised to see him with one strange, webbed little hand reaching up to me. I chuckled softly, touching it with one finger. It was surprisingly warm, and for the first time in a while, I couldn’t help but really smile.

“Thank you,” I whispered. “Even without being able to speak or understand everything, you’re trying to comfort me, right?”

Seeing my response, he smiled and darted back under the water, swimming around happily.

I laughed, a little more cheerfully this time. “I really should figure out where you came from and how to get you back,” I said. “But in the meantime, it seems like I’ve made a new friend. Maybe tomorrow I’ll go back to the store and see if I can find some toys or something for you.”

He splashed up to the surface again and grinned at me. I grinned back.

Posted by: Caitlynn | January 11, 2010

Genre #6 — Action/Adventure

Before I realized it, my “action/adventure” story quickly turned into a spoof of an action/adventure story. Still lots of fun to write, though. ;) But, please, don’t take it too seriously. :P

(For more information on my Genre Self-Challenge, read previous entry here.)

————

“Alfonso Goodfate and the Emerald of Supreme Might”

————

“I swear by my fathers and their fathers before them,” Alfonso Goodfate cried, “I shall get the Emerald of Supreme Might back from you yet. You’ll never get away with this, Count Lune!”

“Oh, but I believe I already have,” the villain replied, smugly fiddling with his mustache. “I believe I already have. You may have somehow survived my pit of venomous serpents with that wretched snake-charming technique you picked up in India, as well as the poison darts with the immunity you managed to build up to various poisons while traveling in Africa, but there is absolutely no way you can survive the hundred foot fall into the river below. There are too many jagged rocks for even you to avoid, Goodfate.” At that, he burst into a hearty laugh.

“Uh…s-sir…” a timid man at Lune’s left began.

“What is it!?” the villain barked. “Can’t you see I’m enjoying an evil laugh?”

“Well it’s just…uh…” the henchman stuttered.

Lune was rapidly becoming irate. “Out with it, man!”

“Mr. Goodfate has already begun climbing up the bridge we cut, sir. In fact, he’s almost reached the other side already.”

“What?!” The count spun around to face his other dozen men. “Well, what are you waiting for? You have bows and arrows, don’t you? Shoot him!”

The others quickly moved to the edge of the cliff, readying their bows.

“Haha!” Alfonso laughed, pausing his climb to turn and face his foe on the opposite side of the expanse. “Do you honestly think a single one of your lackeys could ever hit me?”

“We shall see,” Lune muttered. “Fire, men!”

One by one the henchmen shot off their arrows. The first few were no where near Alfonso, so he took the opportunity to climb up the rope of the severed bridge a few more feet. But after a few smacks and threats from the count, his men suddenly and dramatically improved their aim.

“I guess I have no choice,” Alfonso said, drawing his sword with one hand while hanging onto the rope bridge with the other.

The first arrow drew near him. SHWACK it went as he hit it away with his sword. Then the second—SHWACK again. Then the third, the fourth, the fifth, and so on. He successfully deflected each arrow, though each made him slide further down the rope as he swung around and struggled to keep his grip, bringing him nearer and nearer to the bottom.

“It’s no use!” Count Lune laughed. “This time, you shall surely meet your doom, Goodfate.”

No sooner had he said that, that two arrows came at Alfonso simultaneously, making it impossible to block both. The brave young hero struck one down, bracing himself for the impact of the other—an impact that never came. He turned just in time to see the other arrow deflected by a different, foreign arrow with violet and pink stripes. Glancing up, he saw the figure of someone standing above him on his side of the cliff. The stranger wore a hooded cloak that bore the same colors.

“Climb!” the newcomer said in a rather high voice. “I’ll cover you as you do.”

“Hmm,” Alfonso thought. “That’s a rather odd voice for a man to have. No matter!” Alfonso resumed his earlier climbing, rapidly making progress towards the safety of the land above.

“Don’t let this odd fellow distract you,” shouted the count. “Your objective is still to kill Goodfate. Keep shooting!”

His men did as they were told, but this time, instead of having their arrows deflected by the shining steel of Alfonso’s sword, they were put to waste by the violet and pink arrows. The cloaked stranger made quick work of the enemy’s attack, and the young hero was almost within reach of the cliffside.

“Curses!” Lune shouted. “Well…no matter! Even if you survive this, Goodfate, you’ll never take back the Emerald of Supreme Might!” He held up a brown sack tightly sealed shut with rope. Inside rested the very powerful and very dangerous stone.

From underneath the newcomer’s hood, a smirk could just be discerned. “Perfect,” said the high voice. At that, the figure grabbed a special arrow from the quiver, one with a rope attached. It was shot with perfect aim, rapidly flying over to the other side and hitting the sack with the emerald in it. Before Count Lune realized what was happening, the stranger began reeling back the arrow with the sack attached, safely getting it back from the villain.

“Double curses!” Lune shouted. “Who are you, mysterious stranger? Some ally of Goodfate’s? What sort of man are you to be able to accomplish all this?”

“I am no man,” the stranger spoke, removing the hood to reveal the face of a woman with shimmering blonde hair.

“Princess Starlight!” Alfonso cried out in shock. “How…why…what are you doing here? The king would die of worry if he knew you were in such danger!”

“Which is precisely why he doesn’t know,” she retorted. “Besides,” her face suddenly became sullen, “how could I stay cooped up in the castle, knowing that my beloved was out risking his life for some silly trinket?”

“It’s the Emerald of Supreme Might!” both Count Lune and Alfonso shouted at once.

“Whatever.” Starlight rolled her eyes. “Either way, I couldn’t leave you alone. I would’ve been the one to die of worry…”

“My dearest,” Alfonso replied softly, just as he placed one arm by the princess’s feet on the safe land at the top of the cliff, “I am grateful for your concern. Truly, it is both an honor and a pleasure to see you, my love.”

“Oh, Alfonso!” she cried, dashing into his arms.

“Er…wait…” he tried to warn, but it was too late. In her excitement, both she and Alfonso lost their balance. She slipped off the edge, and he had no choice but to grab her with the hand not still on the rope of the severed bridge. The two slid down a grave distance, stopping just before the end.

“Starlight!” our hero shouted in concern. “Thank goodness! Are you all right?”

“Yes, I believe so,” she said, a little shaken. “Only…oh no! I have the emerald, but my bow and arrows are still at the top.”

“Wait…that means…” the gears in the count’s head turned. “They’re defenseless now, men! Shoot! Shoot!”

The henchman to Lune’s left tried to interrupt. “Sir, if you do that, then…”

“Just shut up and shoot!” he shouted. And so, they did.

“Now what?” Starlight whimpered, desperately clinging to Alfonso’s hand as arrows whizzed by unsuccessfully. “How will we ever escape?”

“Hmm,” he replied, looking around. “We only have one chance. Starlight, my dearest, my love, do you trust me?”

“With my life,” she replied with utmost sincerity.

“Good,” he nodded. “Because it is our very lives that are at risk now. Hold on tightly to me. I’ll be letting go of the rope.”

“Letting go?!” she shrieked. “But how will we ever survive? There are far too many rocks in the river below us. If we plummet from here, we are far more likely to be impaled than to reach the water.”

“Perhaps,” he said cautiously, “but you’re forgetting one thing.”

“And…what’s that?” she questioned quizzically.

“I am Alfonso Goodfate,” he answered. She nodded, and at once, he let go of the rope. The two descended quickly to the depths below—SPLASH—landing successfully in the water. Minutes later, they were safely making their way downstream, the Emerald of Supreme Might securely in their grasp.

“Triple curses!” Count Lune shouted. “Foiled again!”

Posted by: Caitlynn | January 11, 2010

Genre #5 — Historical Fiction

(For more information on my Genre Self-Challenge, read previous entry here.)

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“Yes Sir”

————

“Your head is so hard, Blake, that if a Yankee bullet ever hit it, it won’t go in,” Captain Williamson spat out. “Plenty of other men agree with the decision. Why can’t you just abide by the same opinion?”

“No sir.” George Blake furrowed his brow. “Even if the whole world decided against me, my thoughts on this would be unshaken,” he replied. “Donaldson don’t deserve to be an officer. He ain’t done nothing to warrant it.”

“Donaldson is a reliable soldier. At the least, he understands responsibility and regulations. Unlike certain others I could mention,” the Captain eyed George sternly.

This only solicited a scoff from the other man, however. “Maybe certain others just don’t like being run all over, be it a Yank or a West Pointer doing the running,” he retorted. “Maybe they just have a healthy dose of fightin’ spirit. This is a war, after all. I’d of thought that’d be important, but—”

“Well save that spirit for tomorrow,” Williamson said, cutting him off. “And that’s an order. We march into battle then. It’ll be a long day.”

Sure enough, the next day, the infantry moved out. Throughout the ensuing chaos of battle, George hardly even stopped to blink. He fought long and hard alongside everyone else. But in spite of their best efforts, they found themselves hurting badly.

On the second day of battle, worn and wearied, he somehow found himself to have fallen behind. As he was running to catch up, though, he heard Captain Williamson’s voice call out to him, “Fall back, Blake! You’re already injured.” He gestured, “Your shoulder, Blake. The blood is soaking through your shirt.”

George knew all too well about the injury on his shoulder; it had been burning for several hours to the extent that it had almost gone numb. He shook his head, though. “I can’t do that, sir. McKinsey, Johnson, and some others are fighting just up yonder. I need to catch up and lend ‘em a hand.”

Williamson shouted, “Go and get your injury treated, soldier, that’s an ord—”

“No sir!” George called back, running ahead.

Soon enough, gunfire drowned out the voices, and he found himself once more in the midst of battle. Finally catching up to the others again, he rejoined the fighting and stayed there past his own known limits. The wound on his shoulder was soon forgotten about completely, and if he coughed from the smoke and gunpowder, he no longer noticed. He kept on fighting, unable to distinguish one explosion from the next, until one of them finally hit the mark.

“Ah!” he screamed as a blazing hot pain shot through him. “What in the…”

George could feel himself falling to his knees and struggled against it. He tried to lift his gun, but instead, it dropped to the ground beside him. Cursing under his breath, he used all his strength to stand there, determined not to slump down. It was no use, however. Sounds were gradually fading out and his world was rapidly becoming darker. Before he could stop it, his eyes closed, and he collapsed.

When George opened his eyes again, the Captain was standing over him. “Well Blake,” he said with a hint of smile, “that was a close one, but you pulled through.”

“‘Course,” he grunted, moving to get up.

“No you don’t,” Williamson continued. “Conscious or not, you still need to take it easy. Wasn’t long ago you were found half-dead on the field. The litter-bearers almost counted you as dead.”

“Ah, I couldn’t of been that bad off,” he returned, wincing slightly as he leaned back down.

“—How’s the patient?” interrupted the army surgeon, walking over to Blake. “So you’re conscious, then. That’s a good sign. We were worried ‘bout you for a while.”

“I reckon you never needed to,” he smirked in response.

“On the contrary, son,” the surgeon answered, “you’re mighty lucky to be alive. Your forehead was struck by a glancing conical ball. Ran under your skin and came clear out at the back of your head.”

“Wha…” For the first time, George was stunned speechless.

“Like I said before, Blake,” Captain Williamson remarked, his smile becoming more evident, “your head is so hard, not even a bullet could pierce it.” Seeing that the other man remained quiet, he concluded, “Now get some rest. And that’s an order.”

The Captain began walking away. “…Yes Sir…” George muttered, barely audibly, at his back. “I believe I will.”

Posted by: Caitlynn | January 9, 2010

Genre #4 — Superhero

(For more information on my Genre Self-Challenge, read previous entry here.)

————

“A Bit of Fire”

————

“I can’t believe I got myself into this…” Marie thought, sighing.

“Ah, what a sappy movie!” exclaimed Andy, a little too loudly. “What did you think, Marie?”

She glanced over at him, a look of annoyance on her face. “I guess so,” she shrugged. “But it was a romance, after all. And it practically had ‘sappy’ written on it from the very start. Why did you choose it in the first place?”

“Why?” This time, it was his turn to sigh. “You honestly have to ask that? This is a date, after all.”

“So? Who says we had to watch a romance just because of…that…” she returned, her eyes narrowing slightly. “If you think acting like some sweet, loving guy is going to win my affections, you’re mistaken. I told you, this is a one-time only sort of deal.”

“That’s not it,” he protested, grabbing gently at her arm. “That’s not…well, that is…I’m not trying to fool you into thinking I’m someone I’m not. But I thought if we went, then you…” he trailed off, letting go of her arm and looking away.

Marie frowned. “That I…what?” she asked, sternly.

He laughed, trying to appear more aloof. “Well, I wanted to see your ‘crying face.’”

Her scowl deepened. “…Sadist,” she retorted before quickening her pace.

“No! I didn’t mean it like that!” Andy called after her, catching up. “I only wanted to see you get emotional, that’s all. I know you must be more passionate than you seem, and I just thought—”

“—You’re mistaken,” she cut him off. “I’m just bland and cold-hearted. Such people do exist.”

“They do,” he answered, quickly adding, “but you’re not one of them. You have fire in you, Marie. I’m certain of it.”

“Hmm…fire…” she muttered scornfully. “And just what is it that makes you so certain?” Marie asked. But before he had the chance to answer, she turned away again and began walking. “This should be enough, right? You said that if I finally agreed to go on one date with you, you’d leave me alone. Movie’s done; date’s done. Good-night and good-bye.”

“Wait,” he called after her, trying to keep up. “I—”

She swiftly evaded him, however, darting this way and that down different paths and, finally, into an alleyway.

“Phew,” she whispered, looking back. “I’ll never understand why he’s so persistent.” Then, after a hesitant pause, she added, “Well…but I’m sure this is the best for both of us.”

“Oh? What have we here?” came an unfamiliar voice, followed by a gruff hand. Marie was spun around, coming face to face with a shadowy man in baggy clothes. “Such a pretty little thing shouldn’t be out wandering alone…” he said with a wicked smile, his grip getting tighter.

Her face paled, but before anything else happened, she heard Andy’s voice. “Let go of her,” he demanded, out of breath. “Or else…”

The other man laughed. “Or else what?”

Andy charged forward, causing the man to let go of Marie and face him. In the darkness of the alley, not much could be seen, save for the glint of steel immediately followed by a pained grunt. Andy slumped over, and the other man quickly shuffled away.

“No!” Marie shrieked when she saw Andy fall to the ground. She rushed over to him and quickly noticed the blood soaking through his shirt. His breathing was heavy, and his eyes were shut in pain.

“Andy…” she whispered. “No…hey…come on, now. You’ll be okay. You have to be.”

His eyes squinted open, and his mouth moved, but the words were too quiet for Marie to hear.

She leaned forward. “What?” she asked, her voice shaking. “No…never mind. Save your strength. Whatever it is, you can tell me later, all right?”

He chuckled softly and shook his head as much as he could manage before forcing himself to speak louder. “Tears…” he muttered. “I knew…that…” he moved his hand to her face, and as he did, she noticed for the first time that she had begun crying. “I want to see…even more…of your expressions. From now on.” He winced in pain.

She grasped his hand, gently removing it from her cheek and bringing it back down to a more comfortable position. Closing her eyes, she muttered, “You think that now, but…” Then, chuckling painfully, she finished, “Well, but there’s really no other way. You saved me, so now it’s my turn.”

Andy looked at her questioningly as she stood up. “Mar…”

She turned in the direction that the attacker ran off in. Andy stared down the path along with her, but as he did, he saw fire—small at first, but quickly expanding—form around her feet. Before he realized what had happened, a burst of flames, almost like a flare, exploded above them.

“Now, to stop him…” she muttered.

“What just…” Andy tried to ask, but he was either too quiet to hear, or she just chose to ignore it.

“Thank you!” she called out tearfully as she ran off. “For everything!”

She darted out of the alley and ran down the street with all her might, her eyes darting. “There!” she whispered, spotting the criminal driving a car a little ways off. She continued running, making sure to keep her eye on the man. Somehow, she’d have to catch up to him before…

Sirens.

The man obviously heard them as well. His speed increased slightly as he became determined to put as much distance between him and the alley as possible before any police came.

“No you don’t,” she murmured, coming to a halt and focusing on the car’s tires. “It’s a good thing so few people are out tonight.” All at once, each one imploded on itself, sending the car into a spin.

The man sat in his car, bewildered. Before long, a figure appeared in front of him. He had expected the police, but was surprised to see a woman’s shape instead.

Taking care to hide her face in shadows and dim light, she raised her hand toward the car. “So you have a fear of sirens, do you? Let’s see if we can’t fix that.”

The man suddenly felt warmer. He took his eyes off her for a moment, looking around the inside of the car. “Ah!” he let out a scream, seeing that the entire back seat had caught on fire. “What the—” He turned back to the woman, but she had already disappeared.

The sirens became louder.

Several days later, Marie stood behind the counter of the coffee shop where she worked. “I suppose Andy won’t be coming in anymore…” she mused a little forlornly. “Still. I wonder how he’s doing.”

No sooner had she thought that, the door opened and a familiar face strolled in.

“Marie,” came a voice from the other side of the counter. She spun around to look.

“Andy…” she whispered. “I…I didn’t expect…” she shook her head to steady her thoughts. “How are you feeling?” she asked quietly.

“A little worse for wear, but otherwise…” he shrugged his shoulders. “The doctor said I should be fine. “Lost a bit of blood, but as long as I ‘take it easy’ the next couple of days, I should be back to my full strength in no time.”

“That’s good,” she said, letting out a small sigh of relief. Then, she added, “Thank you for…before…”

An awkward sort of silence fell between the two, and Marie found herself wondering just how much he remembered from the other night and how she should begin explaining.

“It’s strange,” he began after a time. “The police said they found me because of some sort of flare.”

“…Oh?” she asked, looking down.

“Yes. And, stranger still,” he probed, “the suspect was caught shortly after, just a little down the road. Seems his tires had all blown out. The rest of his car was in flames, too, and he was practically begging for help by the time they reached him.”

“Is…is that so…?” she asked quietly, a little afraid.

After another few moments of silence, Andy laughed. “Well, whatever happened, I’m sure thankful for it.”

She looked up, surprised.

He smiled warmly at her when their eyes made contact. “Now, onto a different topic…I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep my promise to you.”

“Promise?” she questioned, a little confused.

“Yes. You know…about me leaving you alone and not coming back after one date. I’m far too interested in you now.” His smile widened considerably as he leaned in. “It’s like I said before,” he whispered teasingly, “you have far too much fire in you.”

Marie shot back a few steps, causing him to laugh good-naturedly. “Don’t worry, don’t worry…it’s our secret, okay? I wouldn’t want anyone else to start paying attention to you, after all.” He winked. “But that’s it for today,” he said, moving towards the door. “Until later.” He opened it and left with a quick wave.

She stood there for a few moments longer, still a bit stunned. Finally, however, she let out a small giggle of her own. “Well…until later, I suppose…” she mumbled to herself before getting back to work.

Posted by: Caitlynn | January 7, 2010

Genre #3 — Romance

(For more information on my Genre Self-Challenge, read previous entry here.)

————

“Breaking the Ice”

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“Don’t do that, Sally…” my little sister called out. “Mommy and Daddy will get angry.”

“And why’s that?” I shouted back. “The pond’s frozen solid! It’s perfectly…”

…CRACK…

“Perfectly…” I trailed off, looking down at the splitting ice beneath my feet. My eyes widened as I saw the ice start to break, and in a panic, I tried to run. But it was too late; the next thing I knew, I was immersed in the cold, black water below. And then…

My alarm clock rang.

“Ugh…” I groaned, forcing myself out of bed. “Morning already.” Then, with a yawn, I recalled the scene from moments before. “Hmm…a dream? Or a memory from when Cassie and I were younger, maybe?” I shrugged my shoulders and glanced over at the calendar. It was Tuesday, which meant it was my turn to open the bookstore. I quickly got ready and rushed out the door.

It was snowing pretty heavily, and by the time I reached the store, I was both completely covered in large white flakes and completely terrified from having to drive on such slippery roads. With the little used bookstore being so hidden away already, it seemed unlikely that many people would stop by today. Nonetheless, I dutifully turned the key in the lock on the front door, same as every Tuesday.

I worked by myself for quite some time before I heard the loud jingle of the bell at the door. Peeking around the corner, I saw Mrs. Johansson walk in carrying a small white box. She was a frail old woman who inherited sole ownership of the little bookstore after her husband, whom she had first opened it with, passed away a couple of years ago. I approached her quickly, taking the box from her and helping her to dust the snow off her coat.

“My, it sure is a cold one today,” she remarked with her standard pleasant smile. “And what a blizzard! I’m surprised you even came in today, Sally. The others all called me to say they couldn’t make it.”

“Well, to be honest, I hadn’t realized how bad the weather was until I was already out in it,” I laughed. “Besides, it was my turn to open. I had to come.”

She patted my arm. “That’s what I like about you…” she trailed off, and when I looked at her questioningly, she switched topics. “I sure feel bad for the bakery down the street, though. It just opened, and already it has to face a day like today.” She shook her head sadly. “I couldn’t help but stop by there this morning on my way in. That box you’re holding has some goodies in it, so help yourself.”

“Oh, thank you,” I said, setting it down on the front counter and opening it up. The smells of cinnamon and brown sugar rushed out at me. “Mmm,” I mumbled. “It’s such a warm scent. Almost nostalgic, even.”

The rest of the day passed by without much activity. A few customers came in, but not many at all. After I bid Mrs. Johansson good-bye come closing time, I drove back to my apartment, white-knuckled all the way.

As it just so happened, Cassie called me that night. “Geez!” she shouted over the phone. “I can’t believe you went into work when there’s a blizzard over there! Just how reckless can you be?”

I chuckled, hoping that doing so wouldn’t make her even angrier. “I couldn’t help it. It was my turn to open, after all…”

“And what does that matter?” she sighed. “Seriously…but I guess you’ve never really grasped the dangers of winter. It’s just like the time when you were eight and fell through the ice in the pond. And that was, what, over twenty years ago already?”

“Wait a minute…what was that?” I asked, suddenly remembering my dream. “That really happened?”

“Of course it did! You mean you don’t remember it?” she replied in disbelief. “I kept telling you to get off the ice, but you wouldn’t listen, and suddenly you just fell right through. If it weren’t for that boy who had been walking past…”

“There was a boy?” I prompted for further detail.

“Yes, a boy,” she continued. “He was just a few years older than you. Jimmy was his name. At any rate, somehow he managed to get you out of the pond safely and carried you back home.”

“I bet Mom and Dad were worried,” I said, stating the obvious.

“Of course they were. But anyway,” she interrupted, “you really don’t remember it at all? Not even Jimmy? Poor guy. He was your first love and everything…”

“What?!” I shouted into the phone.

“Haha, not so loud, that hurt my ear…” she chuckled. “That’s right. You two spent a lot of time together that winter. We used to tease you about it, and finally, one day you proclaimed ‘That’s right! I love Jimmy! So?’ Mom and Dad laughed so hard at you,” she said, her giggle becoming louder. “But he disappeared in the spring right along with the snow, and we all just dropped it afterwards. Apparently, your memory disappeared, too.”

“Well, I am the single one of us, remember? Guess I never was much of a romantic,” I said a little mournfully, before changing the topic.

That night, after I got off the phone with my sister and went to bed, I dreamt the same dream again. Only this time, it continued until the icy darkness disappeared and a red-headed boy with deep green eyes hovered above my face.

I was woken up the next morning by a phone call rather than my alarm. “Hey, Sally,” came groggy voice at the other end. “It’s me, Pat. Listen, I know it’s my turn to open today, but I’m snowed in. Seems the blizzard still hasn’t let up. Think you could do it for me? You live closer, anyway, and I hear it’s not as bad in your area. Me, though, I probably won’t even be in today at all.”

“Fine,” I sighed, a little grumpy at having the responsibility pushed on me, but reasoning, “I’m already awake anyway now…I might as well.”

Just as I was about to step out the door, the phone rang again. “I sure must be popular this morning!” I exclaimed to no one. “I wonder what this person wants. A kidney, maybe?” I answered the phone with the irritation of being newly-awoken still in my voice, but quickly changed my tone when I heard the Mrs. Johansson on the other end. “Oh…yes…yes…I see…” I replied into the receiver. “No, it’s fine. I’ll still open today. Yes. Yes, I’m sure. All right, Mrs. Johansson, I hope you feel better soon.”

As it turned out, the kindly old lady had slipped on the ice that morning and was too still sore to make it in. I hesitated, debating whether or not opening today was really worthwhile, before resigning myself to go. After all, I had already promised two people that I would.

On my way to the bookstore, I paused at the little bakery. It was open again today, which surprised me some. Curious, I decided to stop in.

“Hello!” greeted the man behind the counter. “What can I do for you?”

I looked in the glass display at the baked goods. “Sorry that there’s not much selection,” he began, “but it’s only due to this weather. There’ll be more once it clears up some and the traffic here increases.”

I nodded and smiled. “I’m sure there will be. The food that Mrs. Johansson brought in to the bookstore yesterday was really good. Ah! It was that,” I pointed.

“Mrs. Johansson?” he questioned, but upon seeing what I pointed at, he nodded. “Oh, that must’ve been the kind old woman who came in yesterday morning. Come to think of it, she did mention something about a bookstore. I bet you’re the employee there she was praising, too,” he grinned. “The one who always comes in no matter what the weather’s like?”

I laughed. “Well, I am an employee, and it’s true that I’m nearly always there, anyway. I’m Sally,” I said, extending my hand across the counter.

“Nice to meet you. I’m the baker here, and currently, the only person willing to show up myself. The name’s Jim,” he returned, shaking my hand.

“Jim…” I paused, suddenly recalling my discussion from the previous night. “Haha…what a strange coincidence.”

“And what about Mrs. Johansson?” he asked. “Is she in today?”

I shook my head. “No, I’m afraid not. She slipped and hurt herself this morning.”

He frowned, adding sincerely, “That’s a shame. I sure hope she’s all right. Is there anything I can do?”

“No, I don’t think so, but thanks.” His obvious concern for a woman who was practically a stranger to him moved me a little, and I added, “She’s tough for such a petite, elderly woman, though. I’ll be stopping by after work to check on her, but I’m sure she’ll be just fine.”

He seemed to relax a little. “That’s good to hear,” he said, smiling slightly.

I bought some baked goods and left to open the bookstore immediately after. Compared to the deadness of today, yesterday had almost been busy. Left with very little to do aside from various small tasks such as organizing some of the books and double-checking—actually, more like triple-checking—the inventory, I found my thoughts drifting back to the man at the bakery. Something about him caught my interest, though I couldn’t quite place it.

I was on a small ladder, reaching up toward the books on the highest shelf, when I sighed, “Hmm…he wasn’t wearing a wedding band. Then again, he’s a baker, so he could’ve just taken it off?” I let out a sudden laugh. “What the…what am I even talking about? It’s a good thing no one else is here today.”

Just then, I heard the jingle of the bell as the door opened. “Hello? Sally? Are you here?” came Jim’s voice.

Startled, I lost my footing on the ladder and fell backwards. “Eee—!” I cried, falling to the floor and causing several books to fall with me.

“Sally? Sally!” Jim shouted, running towards me.

I opened my eyes to the worried face of a man with red hair and deep green eyes. A sudden bolt of realization passed through me and I shouted, “Jimmy!”

His face turned slightly red, and when I caught a hold of myself, so did mine. “Ah…sorry. I didn’t mean…” I trailed off, allowing him to help me sit up. I cleared my throat, saying, “This might sound a little strange, but…” I chuckled nervously, looking down. “I don’t suppose that…that you once saved a girl from an icy pond twenty-one years or so ago…”

When I didn’t immediately hear a response, I forced myself to look back up at him. His expression was one of surprise. “Sally…” he muttered, half to himself. Then suddenly, he put his hand to his forehead and let out a loud laugh. “Sally! I can’t believe it’s really you!”

I laughed along with him. “So it was you, then? The boy who rescued me all those years ago. And you really remember me?”

“Of course I remember you,” he continued. “You were my first love…” His face suddenly became bright red, even more so than before. “Ah…sorry, I didn’t mean to say something so awkward. I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong impression of me or anything. Besides, I’m sure your boyfriend wouldn’t appreciate someone hitting on his girl…”

I laughed nervously, feeling my own face become hot. “Oh…well…one of those…I don’t have…ahaha…” I turned away again. “That is, I’m single.”

“…Oh.” A pause. “So am I, actually.” Another pause. A longer pause. Suddenly, he cleared his throat and stood up, offering his hand to help me up as well. “Anyway, I just came by to see how you were doing on your own. And also, to bring that,” he said, pointing to a white bakery box he had left on the counter. “For Mrs. Johansson. When you visit her. It’s on me, of course.”

“Thanks,” I said, smiling and straightening myself up. “I’m sure she’ll appreciate it.”

“Good,” he said, returning the smile. We stood silent for a while, just…looking at each other. It was odd, but the longer we stood, the more familiar it seemed.

“Well then,” he finally broke off, heading to the door. “I should be going. Try to be more careful, okay? And give the kind old lady my regards.”

“Will do,” I said, following just behind him.

He moved to open the door, but paused once more, and turned back toward me. “If…if you’d like…do you think we could meet again soon? Maybe Friday, or something, after work. To catch up. And…” he trailed off, laughing. “Well, to be truthful, I’d just be interested in getting to know you more,” he finally forced out.

I could feel my smile growing wider. “Sure, Friday after work would be great.” I answered. “Until then…”

He grinned. “Right. Until then,” he said, and left out the door.

When he was out of sight, I let out a huge laugh. “Perhaps I’m more of a romantic than I thought…”

Posted by: Caitlynn | January 6, 2010

Genre #2 — Coming of Age

Oh, the angst…

(For more information on my Genre Self-Challenge, read previous entry here.)

————

“Shale Creek”

————

You’re only kids, they said. You don’t know a thing yet…live a little more life before you start acting like you know what you’re talking about. And maybe they were right about us, just being kids, often unaware of what adults find so obvious and apparent. But sometimes I wonder if maybe we knew more back then than we do now.

Back then, I used to see pixies and fairy dust everywhere I looked. I talked to the trees and the brook and the grass as I laid down in it on a warm, sunny Spring afternoon. I talked to my shadow like she was a girl from another realm, waiting for me to come play with her in a world that existed just beyond the sidewalk. As cliché as it sounds, I think I even talked to a few walls in my day. And all of it talked back to me, because back then, all the world had life.

Of course, I talked to quite a few people, too. But my favorite was Levi. We met during the seventh summer of my existence, eighth of his. He was a neighbor boy with a good sense of humor but sad eyes, who liked talking to trees and shadows almost as much as I did. On a standard day, we’d run into the woods and to the old creek, to a spot where shale covered the bottom and shone like magic beneath the water and the sunshine. We’d talk and run around and laugh until our sides were sore, then we’d run back home just before it got dark.

But then, when I was eleven, Levi and his mother moved away. “Don’t cry,” he said, patting my head. I stubbornly insisted that I was fine, but his melancholic sort of smile told me he knew otherwise. And with that, he got into his mother’s car, and they drove off. Maybe it was just my age—the fact that I was transitioning into that adolescent stage of life—but it seemed to me that all the magic left at the same time. It was as though Levi packed it all away in one of those dull brown boxes and stacked it into the moving van with the rest.

For the next few years, life continued on as well as could be expected for someone entering the awkward phase of life known as the “teenage years.” I made friends, I made enemies. Standard stuff. Standard, boring, normal reality. I wrote letters to Levi for a while, but…within a year of his departure, he stopped writing back. Shortly after, so did I.

My freshman year of high school, though, a familiar car drove down the street again, and with it came a familiar friend and his mother. They were moving back into the neighborhood. When my parents told me the news, I was so excited that I burst out the front door and ran down the street to their house, not stopping long enough to hear my father’s warnings or see my mother’s worried expression.

I was out of breath by the time I pounded on the door. His mother answered and recognized me almost instantaneously. “Levi!” she called over her shoulder. “It’s Alice. Come say hello.”

To be honest, I’m not sure what I was expecting. Maybe a part of me had hoped to see the twelve-year-old boy who patted my head good-bye four years earlier. I certainly didn’t expect the six-foot, seven-inch giant of a sixteen-year-old who was soon towering over me in the frame of the door.

“Alice,” came a deep voice that unexpectedly gave me goosebumps. “Hey, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?”

“Yeah,” I laughed nervously, looking down at my shoes. “It…it has.”

Seeing my reaction, Levi laughed at me, and so I forced myself to look him in the eye. “I’ll get a strain in my neck at this rate,” I thought to myself. “Why do I have to be so short?”

He smiled confidently at me before turning back to his mother. “I’m gonna go take a walk with Alice,” he said, stepping out the door and shutting it just as she agreed.

“Don’t you have to finish unpacking still?” I asked. “There’s plenty of time to catch up later if you’re busy now…”

“Nah,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “The sooner the better. Besides, I wanna see the old creek. I haven’t been there for so long.”

“Right!” I said, my previous excitement suddenly returning. “The creek! I just about stopped going after you left; it just didn’t seem the same anymore. I haven’t seen it in a while, either.”

We walked along the once often-used trails, veering off at the portions that had now become overgrown. Even they had changed so much in four short years. Our conversation was light, but we were laughing again, and I felt relief wash over me. Before long, we could hear the familiar sounds of moving water, and we rushed forward until we saw our much-beloved shale creek.

“Beautiful,” I whispered.

“Yes,” Levi agreed, but when I looked at him, he was staring intently back at me.

I felt strangely uncomfortable again, so I took a few steps toward a large stone and sat down on it, facing the water. “On…on second thought,” I continued, “the water is a lot dirtier than I remember it. Maybe ‘beautiful’ wasn’t quite the right word after all.”

I heard him follow me after a few moments, and he sat down beside me, brushing his shoulder against mine. The goosebumps came again, and I rolled my eyes at myself for reacting this way. And yet, when I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye, I was suddenly very conscious of his form. “He’s grown up so much,” I mused to myself. “Not at all like the kid I used to know. He so much more…” My eyes darted away again in mild shame before I could finish my thought, but I soon forced myself to look him in the eye again.

“Levi…” I began, fully intending to start a conversation yet finding myself trailing off. Our eyes locked, and I found myself unable to pull away, even though I wanted to.

His hand grasped mine, and he leaned in to kiss me. “Wait!” I said in alarm, backing away. The hand on my wrist grabbed on tighter, and with his other, he spun my face back towards his and forced our lips to meet. I tried to push away gently, but that only caused him to pull me in more fervently. With one final burst of strength, I kicked him away and caused him to fall into the creek with a loud SPLASH.

“Serves you right!” I shouted as I ran off. But when I looked back at him over my shoulder, sitting there in the murky waters with his head in hands, I could see the reflection of the eight-year-boy I first met all those summers ago. And the seven-year-old girl who never stopped adoring him was moved to pity.

I walked back over to him cautiously, getting ready to bolt if need be. Surprisingly, however, I heard him mumble, “I’m sorry. I’m just…so, so sorry…”

The concerned part of me was quickly taking hold, and I took a few more steps toward my old friend. “Levi?” I prompted worriedly.

He looked up at me, and his eyes were the same sad ones I remembered from before. “I messed it up, didn’t I? The sanctity of our hiding place. And after everything it used to mean to us…to me…”

“Well…it’s okay…” I muttered, only half-convinced myself. “We can always forget about what just happened. Besides, we still have a lot of catching up to do.”

But wherever his thoughts were, they weren’t in the present any longer. “You know,” he said, forcing himself to laugh bitterly, “when we were kids, coming here was the only thing that kept me going sometimes. My mom used to hit me. Being here with you was like a safe haven where no one could touch us.”

I started back in shock. “Wait…what do you mean she hits you?”

Hit,” he corrected. “Past-tense. She can’t do it anymore. I think she’s scared of me now. Besides,” he said, running a hand through his damp hair, “she’s more concerned with her boyfriends nowadays than she is with me.”

I stood there in silence, the water up to my ankles, not knowing what to say.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered again. “I should’ve never acted that way…I should’ve…should’ve never treated you that way…”

I inched closer to him, still a little hesitant, and sat down beside him in the muddy water. “It’s gotten a lot murkier, it seems,” I babbled. Feeling beneath the water, I added, “The shale’s still there, though. Of course it would be.”

“Yeah…” he muttered in response before we fell into another awkward silence.

“Do you think,” I began, but stopped, feeling foolish. He looked up at me curiously. “Well…that is…I wonder if the magic goes away, or if it’s just covered up too. I wonder if it might still be there, underneath all the layers of mud and filth that have gathered up over the years. Even now that I know what I never realized back then…even though things can never be like they once were…I can’t help but hope that…” I pressed my hands to the sides of my head, cutting myself off. “I must sound like an idiot. Here you are, revealing your darkest secrets to me, and all I can talk about is creeks and shale and magic.”

The corner of his mouth turned upward in a sort of half smile, and he shook his head. “Nah, it’s fine.”

I returned a half smile of my own, and we fell into silence again, watching the creek until we convinced ourselves that the water was shimmering.

Posted by: Caitlynn | January 5, 2010

Genre #1 — Steampunk Fantasy

(For more information on my Genre Self-Challenge, read previous entry here.)

————

“Clockwork”

————

“Take care of the clock, Jayna. Never lose it, and never let it unwind. Understand? This is very, very important.”

I stared at the mirror, paying close attention to the reflection of the watch that hung around my neck. It had been there for as long as I could remember. My father insisted on keeping it that way, and it seemed as though, for an equally long time, he had been warning me to take especially good care of it.

“What an annoyance,” I mumbled to myself. Of course, it’s not as though it was a particularly difficult clock to maintain. In fact, for at least fifteen years, it had never once broken or needed to go to a specialist for even a minor repair. Compared to all the others in the watchtower of our estate, its gears were remarkably high-quality and consistent.

All the same, it was still a source of utter aggravation at that moment.

“Though, not nearly as annoying as this room,” I sneered, looking around my bedroom. More clocks adorned the walls, interspersed between a vast number of bookshelves; my bed, armoire, and desk seemed lost and overshadowed among these. “For fifteen years, I’ve been confined here,” I continued to myself as I walked over to the single window, brushing my fingers against the gilded bars that separated me from the outside. I had always been told that they were there to keep my safe—I was, after all, several thousand feet above the ground, and a drop from here would be fatal—but after a while, they began to feel more like prison bars than anything else. I felt trapped.

But today would be different. I would escape, just as soon as Leopold came for me.

Leo was a young pilot and an acquaintance of my father. He was also the man I fell in love with, and the only friend outside of the family estate whom I had ever had. Shortly after obtaining his piloting license, he had set about constructing his own personal steam-powered flying machine, successfully completing it within the year. This, when matched with his young age, won him a certain notoriety across the countryside. It was only natural, then, that my father would request to meet him. As one of the wealthiest academics in the kingdom, my father had every right to demand such a visit. And what good would such a visit have been without a demonstration?

I sighed presently as I gazed out the window, searching for the familiar aircraft and recalling that first night I had seen it. “How peculiar, I had thought. “A grown man flying about like that in such a small thing. And what use is it? Why, it couldn’t be large enough for more than one or two people to sit in.” But as I continued to watch, I became enraptured. The tiny flying machine was swift and able, turning about rapidly one moment, then coming to a suspended pause in mid-air the next. And when Leo got close enough to my window and saw me staring out of it, he winked, and flew off.

More visits would follow from that. Most were done in secret, as Leo had never obtained permission from my father to speak to me. On the contrary, I believe that he had probably been warned by the estate’s servants to cease his ventures to my window on more than one occasion. Thankfully, he never listened, and my father never discovered us.

One night, however, something changed. “Why do you stay up here like this, Jayna?” Leo had asked. “Don’t you ever get lonely, or bored, or restless?”

Suddenly it was as though all the years of painful isolation burst out of me, and I tearfully expressed a desire for freedom that even I had not previously realized I had.

“Why not ask to leave?” Leo prompted, to which I was forced to explain how strict my father was with me, and how I was rarely even allowed out of my room, let alone out of the estate.

Leo had been deep in thought for quite some time as I revealed the entire truth of the situation to him. When I had finally finished, he sighed, and very quietly said, “I’ll come for you. Tomorrow. I’ll come at the same time, and I’ll get you out of here. And together, we’ll fly away.”

Just as I recalled those words, I heard a familiar hum and pumping of steam approach my window. “Leo!” I said excitedly as he approached. “Have you really come to take me away?”

He nodded as he pulled his craft right up to the window, flipping switches and pulling levers to get it to stay suspended there for a few minutes. “Quickly,” he said, grabbing a key from his pocket and working it into the outside lock of my window. “We must be hasty, before we’re discovered. It wasn’t easy, but I took your father’s key.” The key clicked inside the lock. “But I’m afraid he will discover soon enough that it’s missing.” Then, swinging the bars open, he extended his hand to me. “Come, Jayna. You’ve been cooped up long enough. Let me show you the world.”

I only hesitated for a moment before taking his hand and allowing him to pull me out. “The breeze is surprisingly cool,” I muttered vaguely as he sat me behind him on the flying machine.

He chuckled. “I’m afraid it might get a little cooler before the night is through. But don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.” Securing me in, he finished, “Now, hold on tight to me, okay?”

And just like that, we were off, soaring through the skies. My heart raced in excitement and wonder as the world below us whizzed by and the watchtower of the estate disappeared further and further into the distance. It was magical…and dizzying. Perhaps more dizzying than anything else, even.

I clutched at my chest. Something wasn’t right, and I suddenly felt lightheaded. “The watch,” I whispered, remembering that I had forgotten to wind it before I left. “I…”

The world began spinning even more, and a sudden flash of memories drifted upon me. The faces of a man and woman whom I barely recalled came to mind, and it was as though I could hear them speaking.

“Please, doctor, there must be a way—”

“Sir, madam, I’m afraid we’ve done all we can already.”

“But…but she’s our daughter!”

My world now became cold and black, and I felt my grasp on Leo loosen before I disappeared into darkness. The face of the man I called my father now appeared in my memory.

“Remarkable, simply remarkable.”

“Yes sir, she’s my finest work yet. Poor girl was only four before her heart gave out. But by giving her a new, mechanical heart, she can live on like any other.”

“And you say all it needs to maintain its functions is this little watch around her neck?”

“That’s correct, sir. That watch is directly linked to the heart. When you wind it, you’re actually keeping the heart wound.”

“Simply amazing! This technology…why, it’s beyond anything I’ve ever seen. I must have her. She would make an excellent addition to my collection.”

Before long, even the memories stopped, and all was still. But remarkably enough, the light soon returned to my eyes. I looked up and saw Leo hovering worriedly above me.

“You really had me frightened there!” he exclaimed upon seeing my eyes flutter open. “First you almost fall off, then I nearly couldn’t wake you up. If you hadn’t mumbled something about a watch just before you blacked out, I might’ve lost you.”

“Lost me…?” I whispered, looking around. We had landed somewhere, but we were still safely away from the estate.

“That’s right. You stopped breathing and everything, but as soon as I wound the watch around your neck, it’s like you came alive again,” he smiled. “Just like magic.”

I shook my head and allowed myself to fall into his embrace. “No,” I whispered, scared about the images and voices I had recalled, but happy for my current situation. “No, it’s just clockwork.”

Posted by: Caitlynn | January 5, 2010

Genre Self-Challenge

For the next two and a half weeks — J-term — I find myself in a peculiar sort of situation:

I’m on campus, yet I have no class.

As a result, I have an unusual amount of free time. And so, I thought, what better time to give myself a writing challenge? I have selected fifteen different genres/sub-genres that I don’t usually write in, and over the next couple of weeks, I shall write a short story in each genre as I draw them from my nifty little ‘genre box.’ My hope is to get one done a day. And, assuming that none of these stories are so awful as to make eyes bleed, I may even post them here on my blog.

So…let the writing begin!

Posted by: Caitlynn | December 28, 2009

DONE!

Great news! After a long, loooooong month of procrastination and lack of motivation, I FINALLY managed to complete my rough draft of Voices of Penance. Yippee! Go me! :D

It’s horrible, of course, and the end of it is the worst. But I figured that a lousy ending was better than none, right? Besides, I’ve been so fixated on what I need to do to revise it that I’m a little shocked about even managing to reach the end at all. It’s a little shorter than I had hoped, as a result, but…meh. Oh well. It’s still done, and it’s still the longest piece I’ve yet to write. (After I make my revisions, I imagine it’ll be much longer, as well.)

My biggest disappointment is merely that this book decided it wanted to exist in a series rather than as a stand-alone work. Not only that, but it decided to drag down my first novel — Wings of Shadow, Wings of Light — with it. Poor WoSWoL! There it was, minding it’s own business, when…POOF…it suddenly was made into the first book of a (three book?) series. I’m blaming Daegan, the only recurring character from both stories. It’s his fault that this got so elaborate and out of hand. Oh sure, he saved this book when I needed something to bring it to life, but at what cost? Now I have to somehow figure out the plot of a third book so that I can wrap things up for him and my other characters. And I have no clue where to even start. Bah. :P

Before I worry about that, though, I think I’ll have to go back to WoSWoL and complete another draft of it. There were things I already knew needed to be fixed in it, and now, with its connection to this other book and some of the things I’ve learned about my characters and the land in which they live as a result, I have even more things that I need to edit or add as a result.

So it seems that the term “done” is relative, at best. I’m done with my first draft of VoP, but there’s still a great deal more for me to get working on…

Posted by: Caitlynn | December 8, 2009

Writing-Related Goals

With NaNoWriMo now over, I figure I need some cool new writing-related goals to obsess over.

First of all, I should probably finish my draft of my NaNoWriMo novel. While I made it to the 50K mark, I still have another 15K or so to go until I reach the end of the first draft.

Then, I should also go back through my first novel for another round of massive revisions. And this time, they shall be even more massive than before. The basic plot is — thankfully — decent enough, but I need a lot of work with the setting, and a bit more character development never hurt.

Those are my two “responsible” goals. Y’know. The ones that seem to follow a logical order.

I have two other writing goals, however. The first is to write a novella. Which, really, after writing another 50K of a novel in a month, a novella doesn’t seem like it should be too awful. The only problem is, with the story I have in mind, it’ll probably take more effort to piece together than this past novel did. Otherwise, things might get too confusing too fast, and I fear I’d run the risk of losing even myself in the process. :P

The final goal to mention is simply that I want to experiment with short stories more. Well, more specifically, I want to experiment with different genres via the medium of the short story. I’ve written fantasy, a little bit of horror,  a little bit of romance…and while there are certainly genres that seem easier for me than others, I want to push myself a bit and challenge myself to write in genres that I don’t usually touch. Y’know, get those creative juices pumping at full force. Or dry them out completely. Either way…lol

So now all that’s left to do is figure out when to do all these things. If I were more focused, I probably could’ve been nearly done with the first item on my list and partially into the second. Hmm. Maybe I ought to give myself deadlines or something…hehe.

Posted by: Caitlynn | November 22, 2009

This is why I shouldn’t stay awake past midnight.

Me:  What are you doing here, Daegan?

Daegan: Well…I just thought your NaNoWriMo novel could use some improvement, that’s all.

Me: Fine. But do you really have to steal the show like this?

Daegan: You know, you are the writer here, not me…

Me: Yeah, but I never intended for you to be in this book. I mean, I still haven’t decided if you survive WoSWoL yet. What am I gonna do if I decide to kill you off in your original book?

Daegan: *shrugs* Then don’t kill me off. I’m fine with that. I rather like being alive.

Me: Get out of my book.

Daegan: But I’m improving it.

Me: Get out! You don’t belong in this one.

Daegan: Oh, come now…it’s basically a sequel to the first one, anyway.

Me: Not really. At best, it’s loosely connected.

Daegan: Well, now the connection is a little tighter, that’s all.

Me: …Come on, now. You’ve had your fun. Leave.

Daegan: You need me.

Me: N-no…no I don’t…

Daegan: You know you do. *puts on his most charming smile* Your word count would still be stuck in the 30K range without me.

Me: I would’ve figured something out…

Daegan: Perhaps. But how long would you have taken to do so?

Me: I…I…

Daegan: You know you love me. Admit it. I’m just too magnificent a character to not love.

Me: Don’t get full of yourself.

Daegan: Am I wrong? If I am, then why did you try so hard to save me in your last book? Why did you write me into this one? It was your decision, after all, not mine.

Me: I…grr! Fine. It seems that…perhaps…I do have a slight attachment to your character.

Daegan: *grins* So I can stay in your WriMo book, right?

Me: For now. At least in this draft, anyway. But only if you promise to behave yourself and let the other characters have their story.

Daegan: Can I have a love interest in this story, too? You know, Sarah is relatively attractive…

Me: Whoa whoa whoa, hey, no, don’t push your luck, buddy. Sarah belongs with Kip. You go after her, and so help me, I swear I’ll revise WoSWoL right now so that you do die after all.

Daegan: Haha…okay, okay, fair enough. I’ll settle for this then.

Me: Good. Now, go back into my head where you belong for now. I need sleep. :P

Posted by: Caitlynn | November 3, 2009

Can’t Talk. Noveling.

Those are the words I shall be saying quite often this month. That’s right, folks:  National Novel Writing Month has finally arrived.

It’s the morning of the third day, and I’m already 8,391 words into my novel, Voices of Penance. (Sad thing is that I know people who have several thousand words more already!) It’s awful, of course — the characters are poorly developed thus far, the pacing of the plot is horrendously off, and there are already several large, gaping holes in the overall storyline. But! I’ve been a good little NaNo’er and have been completely disregarding all of this.

It amazes me how much it helps to have family/friends participating, though. My sister is taking part, of course. I have a few friends here at college doing it this year, too…and I’ve sort of stumbled into (so far) friendly competition with at least one of them. :P

It also amazes me how much spare time I can actually find in a day…I mean, 8K…on top of homework, work, and other responsibilities that people like to give me. Granted, it’s only the third day, and I may very well end up feeling overwhelmed at some point this month. But so far, I’ve been keeping up pretty well.

At any rate, I ought to end this and get going…I have some stuff that I want to get done, and since I can’t work on my novel any more today until I finish this list…I must finish it as quickly as possible.

Posted by: Caitlynn | October 11, 2009

NaNoWriMo ’09

…Is almost upon us!

First of all — sheesh — it’s been a long time since I updated this. That’s sad.

Anyway, moving on to the topic at hand…I’ve finally decided what novel to work on for NaNoWriMo this year! Woot! I shall be writing Voices of Penance, come this November. I will have no time for it, seeing as how I hardly even have time to update my blog this semester, but…meh. Don’t care. Doing it anyway.

And I WILL reach the 50,000 word count goal, too. :P

Wish me luck! (I’m gonna need it…)

Posted by: Caitlynn | August 24, 2009

NaNo Badges!

Look!

Thanks to my sister for alerting me to the 2009 NaNo badges, which can be found on the official NaNoWriMo site.

Ah…I can hardly wait for November…

Posted by: Caitlynn | August 20, 2009

Because being productive is overrated…

No.  I still haven’t decided which idea to go with for NaNo.  Nor have I done any brag-worthy amounts of world-building for WoSWoL.  In fact, there are many other things, writing-related and non-writing-related, that I should be doing, but have yet to do and/or begin doing.  So, what exactly have I been doing, you ask?

…Sketching.

Meh, so I decided that I wanted to sketch out the female protagonists for my different story ideas (only the girls so far since, whenever I sketch out guys, they always end up looking almost exactly identical to one another).  They’re nothing grand, mind you, and some of the character designs need work still, but it’s good enough for now to get a vague picture in my head (and procrastinate for a bit).

So without further ado, allow me to introduce:


Penance, from Voices of Penance

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Sola, from Lonely Miracle

————————————————


Estel, from Teardrop Knight

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Ruby, from Journey to the Gray Lands (accompanied by Soto, who is a fox, in spite of the fact that he doesn’t look much like one…)

————————————————

And, just for added fun and procrastination…

Lorna, also from Journey to the Gray Lands

————————————————

And, Maria Clairmont, from my last Excerpt Monday post (and the MC of a few other short stories…)

Well now…that was lovely.  Anywho, as I mentioned before, these really aren’t set character sketches…with each one, there’s at least one thing that isn’t “quite right” or that I’m not entirely satisfied with.  But still.  It was fun to work on these, at the very least.

I will say, at least, that I may be close to narrowing it down to two…Voices of Penance being one of them, mainly because most people I talk to seem really drawn to that idea, and partially because it has the most direct connection to WoSWoL.  The other being Journey to the Gray Lands, even in spite of the fact that nobody I’ve asked has picked that one out, because its characters are being the most talkative with me right now.  I still like Lonely Miracle and Teardrop Knight, though, so I’m not 100% ready to completely take them off the list, but…unless they do something soon to really draw attention to themselves, they’ll probably drop off in the near future.

At any rate, I really ought to go and do something more productive now.  Or, sleep.  Sleeping is productive, right?

Posted by: Caitlynn | August 17, 2009

Indecision

I’m still having difficulties deciding on a project for this upcoming NaNoWriMo. I originally had five ideas that I was torn between…then that exploded into ten ideas…and now it’s back down to four. This is when being such an indecisive person is a really, really bad thing.

I’ve already asked my sister and mother for their opinions. I’ve also made mock book trailers for myself, to get a feel for which story I could get the most excited about.

…All to no avail.

I am desperate. So, in my desperation, I shall now post the brief summaries I shared with my family, in the hopes that someone might come across this blog post and offer me their opinion.

Enjoy:

Journey to the Gray Lands
Genres: Epic Fantasy (with a secondary Romantic Fantasy twist)
{see Bridge to the Gray Lands for a sneak peek)
A young woman befriends a mysterious girl from a strange village within the Gray Lands. But when her friend’s village is destroyed, she sets out on an adventure to determine what happened, if her friend is still alive, and why so many people seem wary of traveling to the Gray Lands…

Teardrop Knight
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Estel always knew she was different, but when a mysterious woman told her that she was half-elf, she could hardly believe what she was hearing. Even more difficult was finding out it was true. Now Estel must bridge the gap between two separate worlds — the human world and that of the elves. But there are dark evils lying in wait just beyond the walls of this new world, and only Estel has the power to stop them. With so much to learn, though, will she be able to manage? Even with the help of some new friends, will she be able to master the Sword of the Teardrop Knight?

Voices of Penance
Genre: Epic Fantasy
A mysterious girl rises from out of the lake, dazed and mute. There are only two people who notice her arrival, and it is up to them to protect her and keep her safely hidden from those who might harm her. This is no easy task, yet the two can’t help but feel drawn to discover her purpose here. When they discover an ancient legend of tragedy and betrayal, they wonder how the girl — dubbed “Penance” due to the strange brand she bears on her right arm — plays into it all…and are awed by how they, too, might play into things as well.

Lonely Miracle
Genres: Romantic Fantasy / Epic Fantasy
A young man cursed to become weak whenever he physically touches someone…A young lady cursed to stay emotionally distant, or else, face dire consequences for herself and those she loves…When these two star-crossed travelers meet, neither holds much hope for rescue. But in the end, could they be exactly what each other need?

Posted by: Caitlynn | August 10, 2009

Excerpt Monday — August — Collision

Once again, Excerpt Monday has arrived! Due to slightly unforeseen circumstances, I don’t have another snippet from my novel, Wings of Shadow, Wings of Light, to post.  (World-building is taking me longer than I anticipated, and I haven’t been able to press forward with more revisions since…well…since last Excerpt Monday.)  So instead, here’s a short story I wrote recently. I’ve written another story with this particular character since then, and will most likely continue writing about her in short stories to come.

So, without further ado…

——————————-

“Collision”

“Gracious,” Maria exhaled as she watched the steam-powered locomotive slowly come to a rest at the station. “I never realized it would be so large.”

She continued watching as people of all shapes and sizes stepped out. Children clinging to the hands of smiling parents, serious and straight-faced elders, women dressed in the latest fashions, and eager young men with the glint of hopeful expectation in their eyes…all were present and accounted for.

“Yes…yes, this must be the way,” Maria thought, taking a few more deep breaths. “I’ll escape for sure this time.” Now all that was left was to figure out how to obtain passage on it. She knew it would cost money, but thankfully, she had managed to save a few coins. She prayed they would be enough.

Looking around, she tried to determine the procedure for getting on board, but to no avail. Too many previous passengers were still getting off, greeting loved ones and hustling about, and soon she lost track of who had gotten off and who was looking to get on next. Confusion gave way to impatience, and impatience gave way to panic, until, finally, she decided to ask someone.

“After all,” she mused, “it’ll only be one person. I’m sure I’ll be fine.” She swallowed hard before calling out to the nearest person, “Excuse me! Ma’am! I have a question…”

The woman either did not hear her, however, or chose to act as though she didn’t. Maria tried a few others, but each responded in the same manner.

“Well!” she cried, stamping her foot on the ground. “People nowadays sure have gotten rude!”

It was then that she heard a chuckle from behind her. “That’s an odd way for a young miss like yourself to speak,” said a man who appeared to be in his late thirties. “You sound as though you’re an old woman.”

She turned red and looked down. “I wasn’t aware that anyone could hear me,” she mumbled.

“It certainly doesn’t seem as though anyone is listening, I’ll grant you that. But try not to hold it against them; I’m sure they’re just eager to get back to their friends and family,” he replied, his eyes becoming glassy as he finished. “Speaking of which, I really must be getting back to mine. Good day, miss.”

Maria stiffened as he began walking away. “Wait!” she called after him. “Please! I need to ask a question, and you’re the only one who has even acknowledged me so far.”

The man paused, then hesitantly turned back towards her. “Very well,” he answered. “What is it?”

“How do I…” she trailed off, suddenly unable to find the right wording. “Well,” she began again, stumbling. “I need to go…on…uh, that…” She pointed to the train, mentally scolding herself for forgetting what it was called. “Uh…how…that is, what do I need to do…”

He laughed again, in a similar manner as before. “Are you sure it’s a wise idea for you to take the train when you don’t even know how to buy a ticket?”

“Please, sir,” she said earnestly. “It’s important.”

The man sighed as if in understanding. “Ah, I see. Well then, see that man over there?” He pointed towards a uniformed gentleman standing behind a counter. “He will sell you a ticket. Furthermore, he should be able to answer any other questions you have about riding the train.”

Maria beamed at him in response. “Thank you, sir!”

He smiled and placed a hand on her shoulder. “My pleasure,” he returned. “Good luck to you now, and stay safe.”

But as he released her and walked away, a sudden shock passed through her body. “No,” she thought, pleadingly, “not again.”

The images started to develop before she could stop them, however. A rapidly moving carriage. The man standing in the middle of the road, paused, distracted. Dazed? The startled horse.

Collision.

The dark pool of red…spreading out…the only thing moving at a moment when time seemed to cease.

Strangers, dressed in black. A fragile woman, shaking, her eyes swollen and red. Two small children in her embrace, weeping. A family. A broken family. His broken family.

The future. His future. And his end.

Maria blinked furiously as the images subsided, their intensity still seared into her rapidly beating heart. She looked around; the man had already disappeared from sight. Without thinking, Maria chased after him, not even sparing a backwards glance at the ticket counter.

The crowd was huge—had there always been this many people here? Her eyes frantically searched for the doomed man. It seemed nearly impossible. She eventually broke out into the street, and her heart nearly stopped: there he was, just standing, the same dazed look on his face as he had in the vision. She could hear the quickening –clop–clop– approaching. Her feet moved with its rhythm, and her arms extended until, finally, they made contact with the man, who stumbled out of the carriage’s path. His widened eyes were the last thing she could recall before the sudden pain shot through her and she plunged into darkness.

When Maria opened her eyes, it was a different sort of darkness that wrapped around her—that of night. She looked around at the unfamiliar room of the unfamiliar house, made even stranger to her in the dim candlelight. Voices murmured from a neighboring room. She strained to listen.

“Rest, darling,” said a woman. “I can keep watch.”

“No, I can’t sleep.” A man’s voice. Familiar…of course! The man from earlier. “It’s my fault she’s like that, after all. It’s my life she saved.”

“And it’s a favor we all owe her; we would have been lost without you.” The woman’s voice shook, obviously filled with emotion. “I’m sure she’ll wake up soon; I’ll fetch you when she does. But you need your rest, too. You’ve been up and around all day, and it’s nearly midnight.”

A surge of panic welled inside Maria. Midnight. She shot out of the bed and bolted for the door, ignoring the spinning room and willing her uncertain feet to move steadily in the dark. Without stopping to greet the hospitable strangers, she left, running in the direction she thought the train station might be in.

Truth be told, she didn’t have a clue where she was going, and she knew it. Just as she knew she’d never make it there in time, nor would she even find a train available to her even if she did. Yet, she ran, fast as she could until the midnight bell tolled and the air around her chilled significantly. Her feet stopped, against her own will; she was frozen in place.

“Well,” came the smooth, mocking voice of a woman, “another failed attempt, I see.”

From the shadows emerged a tall, thin woman with porcelain skin and ornamental dress. “Celene…” Maria muttered.

The other woman smiled. “It’s midnight, Maria. Your day is up.” Celene let out a short, shrill laugh. “It’s all a part of our bargain, remember? You have one day a year to escape from me. If, at the end of that day, I cannot find you, then you’re free for good. Otherwise…” she waved her long fingernails and chains appeared around Maria’s hands, feet, and neck.

“Yes,” Maria choked out, “of course.”

“Pity…” Celene laughed. “Did you even get his name this time? Or did you just sacrifice your chance at freedom for some nameless stranger?”

Maria averted her gaze as the chains tightened and started to glow. “He had a family. I couldn’t…”

“For all you know, he could die within the month.” The witch came closer. “That would almost be as tragic as how things turned out with the first person you sacrificed freedom for.”

Maria made no reply. By this time, she, too, had begun glowing faintly.

“I remember it perfectly. Oh, you were so in love with him. Then one day, you foresaw his death.” Celene grabbed Maria’s face and forced her too look her in the eye. Maria fought her own emotions, refusing to weep. “‘Please, please, save him!’ you cried. ‘I’ll do anything!’ And so we made our little pact: in exchange for his life, you would only be allowed to live one day a year.”

Maria let out a cry, but not in sadness. And then, as before, she felt a sudden burst of pain followed by a deep darkness. But before she fell into numbness, she heard the witch’s voice finish the story.

“I’ll never forget your face when you found out, that following year, that your beloved married only shortly after your disappearance. It was wonderfully wretched…”

Moments later, Celene began the walk back to her home, carrying a small doll with sad eyes securely in her grip.

——————————-

Thanks for reading! Look forward to another excerpt from WoSWoL next month (hopefully)!

In the meantime, be sure to check out more posts from other Excerpt Monday participants:
Dara Sorensen, Historical Paranormal (PG 13)
Babette James, Fantasy Romance (PG 13)
Julia Knight, Fantasy Romance (PG13)
AJ O’Donovan, Poetry (PG13)
Stephanie Draven, Paranormal Romance (PG 13)
RF Long, YA Paranormal (PG13)
Bria Quinlan, Rom Com (PG)
Shawntelle Madison, Paranormal Romance (PG 13)
Jeannie Lin, Historical Romance (PG 13)

…And the complete list at: Excerpt Monday

Note: I have not personally screened these excerpts. Please heed the ratings and be aware that the links may contain material that is not typical of my site.

Excerpt Monday Logo

Posted by: Caitlynn | August 1, 2009

NaNoWriMo is only 3 months away…

August just started, yet I already find myself wondering about the novel I’ll be working on in November — for National Novel Writing Month. Is that crazy?

Last year, I worked on a sci-fi book, only to discover that I’m not very good at writing sci-fi…lol. So I’m leaning towards another fantasy novel this time around. That seems easier to manage. The only problem is that there are three or four different ideas that are bouncing back and forth in my head. Three months should, in theory, give me plenty of time to narrow it down. Either that, or several more ideas will pop up to further confuse me. Who knows… :P

Of course, with all the craziness going on in the realm of politics, a nice, timely sci-fi book would be amazingness. If only I could just figure out how to write a more effective sci-fi book. Hmm………

Posted by: Caitlynn | July 30, 2009

Commissioned Artwork of Riona

A short time ago, I decided to commission SilentReaper @ deviantART for a sketch of Riona, my MC in WoSWoL. Earlier tonight I received an email with the final result, which I loved so much that I had to show it off:

If anyone has a character they need sketched and an extra $10, I would highly recommend considering this artist. Again, the link to her site is http://silentreaper.deviantart.com/.

Now all I need are pictures of Aidan and Daegan…haha, but I probably won’t consider commissioning anyone for those for a little while. My justification for getting this sketch done was that I managed to finish the second draft of my novel, and I needed a reward (as well as some encouragement/motivation to push me onward towards world-building and my next revision). Until I reach another similar achievement with my novel, I think I’ll hold off on treating myself again. ;)

Posted by: Caitlynn | July 29, 2009

Decisions, decisions

After much deliberation, I have decided upon the names for the two folks in my background legend. (See previous post.) The winners are:

Meris, “Of the Sea,” Latin, male
Celestyn, “Heavenly,” Polish, female

The guy’s name was fairly easy to decide on; when I actually thought about it, Meris was the only name I really liked out of the ones I found. The girl’s name…well…I like it, and I think I like it slightly better than the rest, but…it was a little harder for me to narrow it down. Overall, however, I think I’m content with both names. For now, anyway.

I’ve also decided on names for the continents in my little fantasy world. Took me long enough, too. For a while, I was just calling them “Northern Continent,” “Eastern Continent,” etc., but I finally decided to give them actual names, instead. They are as follows:

Northern Continent / Zima
Eastern Continent / Wiosna
Southern Continent / Lato
Western Continent / Jesienią

There’s a bit of a theme connecting the names, so bonus points and a gold star if you’re able to figure out what they correspond to. ;)

I’ve also been working on some other world-building fun, such as histories and legends, creatures and animals, plant life, and — my absolute least favorite — geography. It’s a slow process, but it’s starting to come together.

Posted by: Caitlynn | July 27, 2009

Oh, to be an artist…

As in, one who can actually draw. :P

I adore having pictures of my characters, but my own artistic skills are somewhat lacking; I can’t draw people very well. But whenever I start working on a story, I end up really, really wanting pictures of my characters, especially the protagonists. Unfortunately, the only picture I have of Riona is this:

It’s a cute lil’ sketch thing that I did on my computer a few months back. But…eh…it just doesn’t do the trick. I mean, c’mon, she doesn’t even have a face. :P

I might try to draw a better picture here soon, but odds are, my perfectionist self will have a difficult time dealing with the fact that I’m less-than-grand at it, and will either give up as a result or finish but never show the drawing to the outside world.

I’m also tempted to have someone do a cheap commission picture of her…twice before I’ve had others draw my own characters; in the first instance, I was THRILLED with how it turned out; the second, slightly less so, but it was still a fun experience. Cheap commissions can be a bit tricky to find sometimes, but not impossible, since college and art school students sometimes offer them as a means of making a bit of extra cash. In fact, someone whose artwork I’m familiar with via DeviantArt recently announced that they’re doing $10 sketch commissions. Let’s just say that I am very, very tempted right now.

But, oh, if only I had better artistic skills of my own… :P

***UPDATE

So I did end up doing a quick sketch of Riona, which I then scanned into my computer and played around with a bit. It’s nothing fantastic, but..meh…it’s something, at least:

Posted by: Caitlynn | July 23, 2009

Time to choose some names!

I really loathe trying to decide on names for characters… :(

Anywho. When I began to work on my worldbuilding for WoSWoL, I realized that I should first probably decide on a few names for characters who I had attempted to leave nameless in previous drafts. :P

Just some quick background on the two characters I’m trying to name: they’re a couple from a centuries-old legend who have a tragic-and-cliche-star-crossed love. The guy is the prince of a water-dwelling tribe, while the girl is just a maiden who happens to belong to a winged tribe. (Hmm…I should probably give their tribes/races names, too…dang it). So I decided to give them names corresponding to their respective tribes. Here are a few that I’ve narrowed it down to:

Guy:
Meris, “Of the Sea,” Latin
Dillan, “Son of the Sea,” Welsh
Moshe, “Drawn out of the Water,” Hebrew
Nen, “Ancient Waters,” Egyptian
Calder, “From the Wild Water,” Scottish

Girl:
Caelia / Cælia, “Heavenly,” Latin
Kailani, “Sea and Sky,” Hawaiian
Celestyn, “Heavenly,” Polish
Elysia, “Heaven,” Latin
Sema, “Sky,” Turkish
Nalani, “Heavens,” Hawaiian

I have a few other names as well, but…meh. These are the ones that seem to strike my fancy the most. Any leanings? Or any names not listed that you’d like to suggest?

I’m also considering whether or not to add another character to this whole little background legend. She’d be sort of a jealous rival for the water prince’s affections, and she’d act as a catalyst to the disasters that follow. But I’m still not sure about that.

Bah…then, after I decide on all this, I should try to decide on geographical names for the different locations in my fantasy world. I started working a bit on that the other day, and I have some ideas, but I definitely need to do a lot more work with it.

*sigh*……………… :P

Posted by: Caitlynn | July 22, 2009

To revise, or not to revise, that is the question…

Alrighty, so I definitely know that I need another revision of my novel; there’s no question about that. What I am wondering about, however, is whether I should jump straight into it or hold off a little while longer.

The benefit of jumping back into it now is that the characters are all still fresh in my mind, and I’m still fairly excited about pushing forward with it. Plus, the sooner I start revising, the sooner (in theory) I’ll be able to finish.

The primary downfall, however, is that I still have a significant amount of world-building to do, and rushing into another revision before I have all that done might mean that it doesn’t get done right. An additional downfall is that I’ll probably slack off on my other writing projects (mainly short stories) that I’ve been meaning to write and/or finish for some time now.

Any suggestions?

Perhaps I’ll work a little on my world-building for the time being until I figure this out…  :P

Posted by: Caitlynn | August 17, 2010

New WiP?

Knock on wood, but I think I have a new WiP to focus on.

It’ll be a steampunk story, novel length (most likely). Well, I say steampunk, but we’ll see how that goes. Right now, it looks like the first half is really heavy on the steampunk elements, while the second half reverts back to my magic-curses-creatures fantasy roots. But whether it turns out to be die-hard steampunk or not, I’m actually excited about it. I wrote out a pretty detailed outline last night, and if I can write it out even half as well as I can imagine it, things are gonna get EPIC near the end. :P

Today, I start writing Chapter One. But not for another few hours. I have some writing to catch up on for Demand Studios that, thanks to the virus that infested my computer this morning, I didn’t get the chance to do earlier. After I can get at least a minimal amount done, though, I’ll start my noveling venture.

I can hardly wait. :D

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