Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Snippets: Shadows Taller Than Our Souls

And we're back with Dell this week. After the nuclear blast in Columbia killed her friend Daniel, Dell rescued her neighbor's young son, Caleb. Since then, she has made her way through Columbia with Corleone, her cat, and Caleb. Wounded and exhausted, Dell makes the decision to hand the boy off to some soldiers in a jeep above the drain where they are hiding. She writes his information on his arm in permanent marker and he begs her to let him stay with her.

Let me know what you think and please leave a link to your own Friday Snippet!

Copyrighted, do not reproduce, material liable to change. Etc.
Crouched there in the dark under the street side drain pipe, Dell saw Caleb's face and ash frosted his shoulders like snow. The jeep was rumbling above them, purring and coughing. She had to send the boy up, let the soldiers take care of him. And then the jeep rumbled on, down into the fire-eaten city, and Dell was still staring at the boy gulping down sobs in front of her. Her vision blurred and tears burned in her dry eyes.

Caleb flung himself at her, throwing his permanent-inked arms around her neck and choking on his tears as he tried to talk. She closed her eyes, shaking her head. She told herself she would not regret this decision. She'd done that before, when she sent her brother away. The last time she saw Math alive, he turned in the door, smiled with the early sunshine at his back and was gone into the morning. Dell forced her eyes open. Not now. Matheson had no place here in a world of ash and broken glass.

The last time she saw Math alive, he turned in the door, smiled with the early sunshine at his back and was gone into the morning.

She let Corleone into one of the pillow cases, letting him enough room so he could stick his head out to investigate, then slung both cases onto her back. She stood, Caleb's ear pressed against her chest, his arms smearing ink around her neck. He wrapped his legs around her waist, and under the shadow of leaning office buildings and skeletal skyscrapers she carried him.

She kept her distance from the wounded and the blind, those burned and staggering through the ash-drifted streets. She turned his head, forcing his eyes away and covering his ears.

"Where are we going?" Caleb mumbled against her.
"We're going to a friend. Now close your eyes," she said. "Roy will know what to do and we're almost there."

She was running before she knew it, and each step was agony up her back. She wanted to take off her shoe, the pressure of it like a vise, but she was struck by the strange fear that all of her blood would pour out if she did so. She swayed on her feet, stopped. Caleb looked up at her.

"What's wrong?" He was yelling. She could only hear him as if from a great distance, from deep down under dark waters. Dell was on her knees, ash puffing up phantom-like around her. Caleb stood beside her, trying to pull her to stand. She put out a hand to steady herself.

A man moved toward them through the smoke and his eyes were heavy lenses reflecting ruin and fire.

A man moved toward them through the smoke and his eyes were heavy lenses reflecting ruin and fire. His face was masked, monstrous with old faded leather. She was on her back then and she saw only sky, clear blue above the roll of heat. Shadows swept around them, heavier and darker than space. She wondered at that moment if Math ever saw the sky one last time before...she flinched away from that again. She turned her head.

The man with the mask loomed over them, their faces reflected in his light-white lenses.

So say we all.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bri (Not Quite) on Fire: A Comic Story of Thursday Night

Funny story and then I'm off to sleep.

Tonight, the fire alarm went off in our dorm. Understand, this noise is so loud you think you're bleeding out of your ears. So we all go downstairs to the courtyard where we wait for the firemen to come. They'll turn the thing off and chastise the Honors kid who forgot how to make easy-microwave popcorn. This is the normal routine.

But this time, something sinister was afoot. Very soon, we were all herded around front and made to cross the street, thusly blocking traffic with about one hundred students. We think this is a silly (read: awful) idea. Why would we cross the street and block the firetrucks coming to put out the fire in our dorm? Why would we not instead, go to the courtyard - where we've gathered, without incident, every time this has happened for the past year?

Anyway, back to the story. So we're waiting across the street. And it's hot. The RC (Resident Coordinator) comes out of the dorm with a policeman and yells at us from across the street. There was traffic so I only heard bits of what she said.

It went something like this: This was a drill! And you failed! If you don't want to die/be on fire don't be lazy! Get up when you hear the alarm! And don't go to the courtyard! The firemen need to get back there if there's a fire!

My first thought: Failed? Am I on fire? No, no. I'm good. Ok.
My second thought: The closest exit - the back flight of stairs - leads into the courtyard. The other exit (which does lead to the front) is around the hall...instead of six steps to the back. Hmm...
My third thought: Why didn't you tell us you didn't want us in the courtyard two weeks ago when you had our hall meeting?
My last thought:
Lazy? If I was lazy, I'd still be upstairs asleep, ignoring the drill. Obviously, I'm out here, sweating with everyone else. Are we done? I have loads of homework...Man, it's hot.

Ah...the weirdness that is dorm. Graduation, how I long for thee.
So, how's your week going? I hope you're looking forward to a Friday Snippet tomorrow!

So say we all.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

On Hideously Rude People and Adorable Diagrams!!

I'm glad everyone loved the photos! I use a Fujifilm FinePix S700 (10x zoom and 7.1 megapx), for those of you who wanted to know. For those pictures of Robespierre, I used natural light and a macro setting on the camera. That's right: I was horribly brave. To get that sort of shot, I got about two centimeters away from him, careful that the wind did not blow him into my face. Now that I think about it, I sort of shiver.

Also, I'll post about all my classes tomorrow once I'm done! :D

Bri Meets Two People With No Manners and a Mean Streak
Today was the most outrageously rude day I think I may remember. When I went to my science fiction writing class this morning, all ready for a great day of creativity, two people were standing outside of the Writing Center. I realized fairly quickly that they were discussing the Center and how "blanking useless" they thought it was. Of course, my first thought was sophomoric. Nuh-uh, your mom is useless. But instead, this was the conversation:

Dude: "Yah, and you know the Writing Center is so f-ing useless."
Girl: "Yah, I agree. The people who work there are so-"
Me: "Excuse me? Yes, um...pardon...but I work there, by the way."
Girl: [sneering] "Yah? Well, it's f-ing useless."
Dude: "Absolutely."
Me: [O.o]

I know. I was amazed that someone could be so monstrously rude and horribly ugly. The tutors at the Writing Center are paid at or less than minimum wage and students bring in papers that need catastrophic amounts of corrections or direction. I make sure that the students I work with leave, happy. And most of them request me for future sessions - CONSTANTLY. Needless to say, I was offended. All through class, those two ignored the rest of us and made friendly with the professor.

The line to the Caff (the pit of hell where we eat :D) was out in the street, so I went to the C-Store . But they had no soda or sandwiches (I guess it wasn't lunch time at the C-Store). So I came to my room and had turkey, grapes and cheese - but no bread. We're out. All of fifteen of us on my hall are out. But, enough about the day! Look below for an adorable diagram!

A Cute Diagram for Explaining My Story

As far as Sweating with Sven goes, I'm coming up on the last scenes of Act II, so I have made it through the Wastelands of the Middle. While I know how the end comes, I'm a little nervous.

The thing is, I view a story like a series of flooded hallways. Weird, I know. This is how it works. The first part of the story is not so tense and your characters are in about ankle deep. But then there is an event that pulls the characters in. They can't turn away, so they make a choice - and I usually think of that as them opening the first door.

Instead of finding relief from soggy boots or their problems, our heroes find themselves up to their hips in deeper, darker waters and darker problems. So they scramble for a decision; because there is no going back, they open the next door...And so on, until you get to the end. By this point, the tension is so high you could snap and your characters are almost drowning.

Beware, Sven!! I approach the last door!
How's the week going for you guys?

So say we all.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

On Clubbing, Spiders and Photoshop's Appetite

Clubbing with Sven
Anna Black's 1000 Word a Day Club is starting up September 1. This week, I'm getting together some scrapped short story ideas to revive for this challenge. Who knows I may have a few stories within the next few weeks to submit to a mag or two. I can't wait for this to start! One of the things I loved most about the Challenge with Sven is the community of writer's I've found who are just as dedicated to writing as I am. I'm looking forward to a similar experience with the 1000 Word-a-Day Club.

Speaking of Sven - since moving in, I've been scrambling to catch up on the word count. What is most frustrating is hitting a brick wall creatively, in a situation like this. Just when I need the ideas, desperately, they all go on vacation. So, I'm working on another WIP for a day or two to let my batteries recharge. Also, I'm working on the structure of the entire series - and forcing myself not to go back and revise.

How is Sven working with you guys?

I've started walking in the evenings, and on the way to the Fountain, I saw a few very lovely things. Tomorrow I will be sure to take my camera. For now, I am proud to present Mr. Spider. For purposes of this post, we will deign to call him Robespierre.

Robespierre lives near my dorm and every morning and ever evening, he waits. He waits for lunch! And today was the day he ate! In honor of the occasion, I requested a photoshoot to which he, at long last, acquiesced. So, for your viewing pleasure, I present the honorable Robespierre, Garden Spider Extraordinaire, with Mr. Lunch:

My class schedule is lining up nicely. I get to work more than I thought, which is great. I also have two science fiction classes, one for reading, one for writing/marketing. The other class I believe I might thoroughly enjoy is called The Evolution of Rhetorical Theory. I know I sound like a nerd for that, but I love theoretics that can be applied to a practical art or discipline. The teacher is a fellow Texan and worked in an impressive university writing center. Interesting? Just a little. :D

I drew a picture of a very cool and sexy man for today, but Photoshop ate it. I'm working on reconstructing the image (lineart survived!) and I'll try to post it later in the week. Let me know how it's going!

So say we all.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Snippets: When the Centre Cannot Hold

Sorry for the sporadic updates this week, but I promise that once things settle down, I will have a more regular update schedule. This week is our last with Iris for a while, so I hope this helps endear her to you guys a little more. Next week, we join back up with Dell in Columbia and we'll be neck deep in the action (imagine the trailer guys deep voice over this).

Let me know what you think and please leave a link to your own Friday Snippet!

Copyrighted, do not reproduce, material liable to change. Etc.
“The governor? The National Guard?” the man behind the barricade chuckling now, a terrible sobbing sound that sent shivers through Iris’s chest. “There is no state, man. No state, no government, nobody. We’re on our own.”

“If there’s no state, by whose authority do you hold the road?” Iris called, “Please, just let us through. All we want is news of what’s happened!”

“By whose authority?” the man called. All of his laughter had fled. “By this authority.”

He stood, a heavy gun cradled in the crook of his arm like some horrible monster. Sweat slid down his face despite the morning cool, a heavy ammunition belt slung low on his hips. Iris drew back; the man saw it and smirked.

"What's happened, little lady, is that the world's gone to hell," he said. He took a pull on his dying cigarette, his face twisting in disgust. He flicked ash and ember.
“I was there two days ago when the nukes hit. Governor’s dead.” The gun swung across the road and held them in its sights.

"What's happened, little lady, is that the world's gone to hell," he said.“I was there two days ago when the nukes hit. Governor’s dead."

“They got Raleigh in the first wave – with D.C. Portsmouth, and Charleston. Atlanta, Chicago, and St. Louis in the next half hour. All gone. Anything else you wanted to know?”

Under her arms, Iris felt Andrew blanch. "Our cars, our radios?"

"The EMPs from the bombs. One nuke would done most of it," the man said. "But all of those? There's nothing left except a few old cars that might still run. Now get off our road."

Andrew's chest had gone tight. Iris knew what they heard from the thieves on the road was true; what Andrew feared in the burned wanderers was true. Iris bowed her head against his back.

“You can at least let us through to the Traveler’s Rest,” Andrew tried. Iris could hear the desperation in his voice. And she knew if she could hear it, the men could hear it, and she knew what that meant. The man with the gun smiled, and it was all teeth.

"I've heard this before," he said. He popped his pack of cigarettes against heel of his hand and pulled on free. The lighter flared like the morning through the dew. "You'll go to the Traveler's Rest, you'll go to Ashville. And then you'll want to see the cities for yourselves. Then you'll want medicine, then our doctors, then our guns and ammo. So, in the end, anarchy is loosed upon the they say."

The grenade sailed out against the cold blue morning sky, black and streaming smoke in a tattered banner behind. When it tinked across the pavement, Iris felt Andrew wind tight. She reached around, gripped his wrist and dragged down on the reins. The horse reared. The detonation took the beast full in the chest and the concussion rolled over them in almost visible waves. There was nothing but smoke.

Iris rolled into the ditch, dragging Andrew after her. The roar of the barricade gunfire was deafening, but Iris wasn't sure she could have heard her own heart beat in those blind moments. And then her chest was aching. She couldn't breath. The sun had climbed up high, and she could hear Andrew calling her. He was beside her, forcing her to stop. Her throat was raw and her shirt hung heavy with sweat. The road was far behind.

She slumped down against a jut of stone, covering her face with her hands. She couldn't seem to think of words to say and that she could only wipe at snot and sweat, flushed with fear and embarassment. But Andrew was beside her.

"You know that's why I love you, don't you?" he said. The words were like a rush of cold water. He said, "Because you'll always look me in the eye."

He was talking, and his voice was a strange lull of nonsense and comforting phrases. He cradled her face in his hands, pushing back her blood-stiff curls. Her tears made mud on her cheeks.

“Iris,” he said. “Iris, I want you to look at me.” And somehow, she did. He smiled and it was strange on his pale face and the smear of purple bruise across his cheekbone. “You know that’s why I love you, don’t you?” he said. The words were like a rush of cold water. He said, “Because you’ll always look me in the eye.” And that was when he kissed her for the first time.

So say we all.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Guide to the Seven-Walled Room!

Behold! The Seven (7) Walls - not Wonders - of Bri's Room! Yesterday, I finally finished unpacking and I've nested, as you can see.

I'm far behind on my word count and catching up with Sven will be a chore, no doubt. Good news: I got a little more than 3K words today. I'll post more coherently later, and get the Friday Snippet ready.

How are you guy's doing? It was great getting to catch up with your blogs. Hope you enjoy the pictures!

So say we all.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On Moving In and 50K Undead

And we're back I'll be sure to catch everyone's blog before the end of the day to say hi. I hate to give bad news, but I am a little behind Sven. And by a little I mean 5,579 words. I can probably get that after tonight and tomorrow, but I hate being behind.

The move threw off the writing mojo a little. The different setting (brown cardboard boxes everywhere, books piled in the floor and furniture with no feng shui) isn't helping much.

Right now, I'm relaxing and watching my friend Charlie play Dead Rising. It is a fantastically wonderful game where you kill zombies. There are over 50K undead in the game and, yes, my friends, you can kill them all...for great justice. He has killed a horde of them with a katana (as you can see).

Either tonight or tomorrow, I'll post pictures of the room after I get it completely decorated. We won't begin to go into how stupidly designed my hall is.

I'll mention two things:
1. My room has seven (7) walls. Four wasn't enough.
2. My bed fits only in one place, on one wall.
(A) If I turn it, I can't get the door closed.
(B) If I move it down the wall, I can't get out of it.
(C) The only other wall that I could put it on is too short.

Other than that, I have done little else but unpack and other college-esque things. I promise that I'll be by your blogs to say hello before bed tonight. That's all. :)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Move Out!

Today, I packed. And tomorrow I move out. I'm returning to the land of university and normal life! I got everything I own in two cars and my room at home is barren and lonely. I'm ready to go. Once I'm moved in, I'll show pics of the dorm room (it has 8 walls!) Then I'll catch up on the word count and check in with Sven.

How's it going for you guys?

So say we all.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Snippets: The End of the Line at Omega

I changed my mind. Iris gets a snippet next week to finish this section. Figured she needed another and I like her so far - she has potential to be a great contrast to Dell.

I identify much more with the Dell character, so naturally, it's the easier for me to write. Who do you see yourself as? Are you a Dell or an Iris? An Andrew or Caleb? If any of you are Corleones (Dell's cat), you rock so hard.

Anyway, this week picks up from the last snippet. Journeying from Andrew's farm in Greenville, they are robbed of one of their horses and very nearly their lives. But they do learn Ashville has been nuked. After Iris rescues Andrew from the thieves, they flee into the night. So, this week...

Let me know what you think and please leave a link to your own Friday Snippet!

Copyrighted, do not reproduce, material liable to change. Etc.
Iris stirred, dew heavy in her hair. She dreamed fire and mushroom clouds, bones bleached under the sun and oceans burned to ash. She dreamed of home and the long summers after graduation when she sat on the beach alone.

Half-awake, she felt for the silver chain around her neck, hidden below her shirt. The smooth metal against her fingertips and the pendent over her heart were reassuring. She opened her eyes in the dark before dawn. Andrew’s jacket covered her but the place beside her where he should have lain was cool. She sat, shouldering into the over-long sleeves.

Andrew sat across from her, his face a blur of shadow. She shrank back when she saw the long gun across his knees.

“What’s wrong?”

“Iris,” he said. His face was very pale. When they stopped their mad ride from the thieves on the road, both had agreed to sleep the night through and continue in daylight. His hair was ruffled and wild. He looked as if he hadn’t slept.

“Iris, there’s something you need to know. While you were sleeping, I saw–” He cleared his throat. He wouldn’t look at her. “I saw others on the road.” Iris felt something cold settle against her heart. Her fingers clenched around the sweat-stiff fabric of his coat. “They were burned, Iris. From head to toe. And they didn’t speak. I don’t think they could.”

He shivered, his face twisting horribly. She could smell his sickness and her stomach turned. She wrapped her arms around herself, imagining ghostly figures slurring out of the fog. Andrew’s voice dropped. He seemed to look through her. “They didn’t see either. They just walked. We can’t stay here.”

“Jesus, Drew.”

“They’re coming from the Traveler’s Rest,” he said. “I just wanted you to know when we ride down there…I wanted you to know what may be waiting for us.” She nodded, swallowing nothing but fear, like freezing fire. He mounted and pulled Iris up behind him; when they stepped tentatively onto the road, her eyes widened.

Through the morning mists and dawn shadows, a large track tank crouched like a nightmare in the street.

As their horse reared, Iris clung to Andrew; she could feel his heart thundering through his back. Through the morning mists and dawn shadows, a large track tank crouched like a nightmare in the street. Behind concrete barricades and sandbag hovels, men in olive drab sighted down machine gun barrels. A voice, thin with stress called out in the dusky morning shadows.

“You are under orders to turn back. No civilians are allowed past Checkpoint Omega. Return to your homes!”

“We’ve come for news,” Andrew called. “Our power’s been out for about three days and nothing – not cars or cell phones or computers – nothing works. We’re from Greenville. What’s going on? Has the governor called out the national guard?”

And that was when the man behind the barricade began to laugh.

So say we all.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Answer me this....

Yah, a guy named Brian and a family friend's baby sister. Meh. Never knew either of them - my parents adored them though.

Last night. Splitting sinus headache.

It's so mediocre - like the John Doe of handwriting.

Smoke Turkey...thin and toasted...mmm.


Probably. I have a fairly sufficient grasp on pop culture and a few deep subjects. I could carry on a pleasant enough conversation...or we could just play HALO. It'd be great.

Meh...not so much. Sometimes, if it will work for a joke. Otherwise, if overused, it can be obnoxious. :)


I'd like to think I could. But no. I don't like heights or falling or vertigo. Nope.

Cheerios - the plain ones. :)

No. Because then I have to retie them.

I'm a short person. And I can carry heavy things for short distances. But otherwise, no. Not really.

Chocolate chip vanilla.

With girls, I notice their hair and mouth - are they froufroued or petulant or pleasant and unassuming. With guys, I notice eyes and hands. If a guy looks me in the face, we start of on a good foot. And hands, just because.


Sharp words that I don't notice I say.


Hrrm...if I say yes, I look like a narcissistic weakling, if I say no, I sound like an unfriendly
person. Not a nice question.

Blue jeans and no shoes.

A Waffle.

Stuck in the Middle With You by Stealer's Wheel (Reservoir Dogs w00t!)


Warm bread, magazine pages, new books, old books and taco seasoning.

My mom.

Meryl is awesome!

Baseball. Without a doubt. Baseball.

The Sultan of Swat, the Colossus of Clout
George Herman "Babe" Ruth at Yannkee Stadium

And my two favorite catchers: Javy Lopez and Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez (possibly the greatest defensive catcher in history).

Reddish/darkish brown.


Nope. But I do wear computer glasses. Sven brings the eyestrain. Grr.

Ravioli and baked tortellini.

Scary movies.

Howl's Moving Castle. Mah-velous. Absolutely mah-velous.

Forest Green.

Winter. I love scarves and coats and floppy boots.



I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson and Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Don't use a mouse pad.



Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One Step Ahead of the Plot

In real life, we're counting down to the move. I've had everything packed for about a week or more, but this Saturday we load up the car. Sunday, before morning, we travel back to University! I'm so excited. What's on the docket when we get back, you ask?

1. Writing - CURSE YOU SVEN
2. Drawing with Photoshop - w00t!
3. Firefly - Need I say more?
4. Starcraft (lots) - Ditto because we lurv the scifi
5. Decorating! - Don't worry, I'll take pictures. Be assured it will be quite a lot of fun.

The Sweaty World of Sven
I'm still up on the word count but I'm dealing with some structural probelms. I've divided my story into four separate POVs - my hero, his sister, his brother, and his best friend. I'm considering a fifth - an older family friend. His POV would not be as frequent, but could offer a different perspective and some important backstory. The problem with this fifth is that he is a character capable of seeing fragments of the future.

I would consider the whole "prophecy/oracle" tropes one of the great negative aspects of fantasy. Almost all of the stories I've read which deal in prophecies are very poorly written. They do a few things that annoy me.

The Few Things
1. They give away certain plot surprises I'm sure I would otherwise enjoy.
2. In giving the prophecy, it seems like the author is giving up any attempt at subtlety or foreshadowing. Instead, he gives you a road map and says, "Now, hang on for the ride! See how cool it's going to be?!"
3. The prophecy is so vague or so mystical, it could mean anything and doesn't really help the story along at all.

Because of this, I am very tentative to try my hand at it, even to the point of maybe not adding this fifth character's POV for fear that he may be required to talk about what he sees. The strange thing about this character is that his past is infinitely more interesting than what he could see, and I think I might be able to play with the irony there. We'll see.

So say we all.

Monday, August 13, 2007

What I Found in a Flood Plain

Yesterday, while driving down through the flood plain west and north of town, I ran through my current WIP several times, looking for plot holes and character slips. But as I passed the old home places of family members and friends who have moved off or passed on, I found a surprising story I'd never considered.

There was the house where a family friend lived during the flooding in the sixties when the levees broke. Her dad would troll her up to the bus stop for school in a john-boat because the water was up over the ten-yard-bridge. There was the house where my dad shot skeet off the back porch with friends and the land where my grandfather kept his cows, broke horses for side money and decided not to be a sharecropper like his father. I'm not sure what to do with these stories. I don't want to write anything with actual family - that gets complicated way too fast. But I think the material needs to be written down.

As I was considering this, lo and behold, I slowed the car and stared. A great flock of Canadian geese, probably resting in the flat lands on their way north, waddled across the road. They were quiet, hissing every now and then at looming dragonflies or a frog hopping across the road. All total, their brigade numbered in the thirties. They stepped out of the my car's path and into the grass, heading toward their pond at sunset, not giving me a second look. :)

I got a little ahead of Sven this weekend and so today, I'm taking time to clean up my draft - just a little - plan for what's coming next. I have broken the half-way point in the novel, and wander now in the dreaded middle. But, because of the woven story lines between my hero, my heroine (his sister). their other brother and their friend, I don't think the middle will be sagging.

Otherwise, I have developed a motley supporting cast around my heroine. While these characters surprise me - considering that they didn't exist until they suddenly walked in - they are turning into a really interesting group. We'll see. This week, I'm also assessing how the novel as a whole stands in getting me closer to my thesis (due this Spring).

How are you guy's doing with Sven?

So say we all.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday Snippets: Glass Parking Lots

Alright - this snippet picks back up with Andrew and Iris on the road to Ashville. They have just been attacked. Iris was grazed, but Andrew fell from his horse. Whether or not he is still alive is uncertain. If you want to catch up, check out the menu bar above and scroll over the Friday Snippets section! (Isn't that cool?)

You know what else is cool: the illustration by my friend Jocelyn. Have a look. :)

Next week is our last week with Iris for a while - but don't worry, she's still going to Ashville. We'll be jumping back to Dell in Columbia where she has to find a way out of the ruined city, obtain arms and munitions and some form of transportation (read: a sweet motorcycle).

Let me know what you think and please leave a link to your own Friday Snippet!

Copyrighted, do not reproduce, material liable to change. Etc.

Shadows stepped out of the dark, moonlight silvering the indigo metal of their guns. Iris pressed her heels into her horse’s flanks and bolted. The gelding took the roadside fence in a single bound and thundered across the open fields. The men’s laughter echoed across the field. A few fired half-heartedly after her.

With a strong arm, she dragged on the reigns, pulling hard left. The gelding reared, spun on his back legs, pawing at the air. They came down hard. Iris hunched over his dark mane, whispering and patting his neck reassuringly. When the men lost her in the dark, they lit little lanterns and circled Andrew’s horse and his body.

Her heart hammered and hot shame crept over her face. Blood burned in her right eye, and she clenched her fists to stop from screaming. Andrew was still there. Lying in the road. She closed her eyes. She heard the men’s voices like a low rumble of thunder but could not make out what they said.

Andrew was still there. Lying in the road. She closed her eyes.

They dumped Andrew’s pack onto the pavement. They passed the peanut butter jar between them, dividing up the canned fruit. And then she saw them bend, hook their arms around Andrew and lift him between them. The sound of his voice telling them what they could go and do with themselves may have been the loveliest thing she heard in her whole life.

But that was when one of the men lifted his gun. Iris bared her teeth. Without a sound, the gelding streaked over the field, back toward the road. The wind threw Iris’ long auburn hair back from her face and in a moment of weightlessness, she cleared the fence again. Andrew turned and she saw the smirk in his eyes. The men holding him up gawked at her and dropped him. The gelding crashed into their midst, his hooves, cutting down the man with the gun.

Iris wheeled. One of the men reached for her. Just as she had seen Dell do when they were young, Iris slid out of the saddle, putting the horse between them. The second her feet touched the asphalt, she bounded back over, swiveling her gloved hands around the horn. Her feet caught the man in the face. She saw his teeth scatter out across the black tar. Mounting again, she darted past the other shadowy figures, slung low over the left flank of her horse.

She saw Andrew, crouched low. She caught him around the waist, clothes-lining him. She heard him grunt, but she pulled him up with her momentum, throwing him across the bows of her saddle. She rode down a boy who stood up out of the dark a pistol in his hand. She swallowed a wail as his face disappeared in the dark under her horse and she blazed on.

She rode and rode, until the horse lathered and she thought they might outrun the fear racing just at her back. Andrew’s hand clutching her wrist was the only thing that dragged her back to herself. She brought the gelding up sharp. Andrew slid off, clutching at his middle. She dropped down beside him.
“Are you hit? Move your hands, let me see!”

“Dammit woman,” Andrew groaned. He gestured to the saddle, waving his arm as she had when she grabbed him up. “That hurt.”

“I could have left you, Drew,” she said. “You big baby. I could have gone on to Ashville without you. Just for letting them take the peanut butter, I should have left you.” She could feel a laugh in her throat, but tears burned in her eyes. He looked up, frowned at the blood on her temple. He reached to touch her face and the heat from the road dazzled up around them.

“About that,” Andrew said. “I heard those men talking before you came back. They came from Ashville.”


“They said it wasn’t a city any more.” He looked away, pulling his hand back. “They said it was a glass parking lot. Just shadows and dust and radiation.”


So say we all.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

When Math Fails You, Sven, and the Universe

Today, I was incredibly far behind (read 4,000 words) on the Challenge and Sven was angry. So, I wrote like a fiend. So, when I did my word count, I expected to find myself gaining ground. But...I forgot to count a section.

When I tallied up my word count, I thought I wrote ALL DAY only to have it add up to less than 400 words. I almost cried. Math had failed me. But then I realized my mistake. I actually went a little over my requirement. Take that Sven, you sweaty little jerk. :D

A Few Thoughts on XIII and the Challenge
  • I am almost 3/4 of the way done with my heroine's story arc. She has become this powerful and persuasive young woman and I absolutely love writing her. The men who love her are also fairly sweet (read: teh lovelies) as well.
  • Writing these scenes makes me want to draw. Curse you, Sven! You make me focus. Le sigh.
  • A great thing called positioning has wandered into my writing life. I picked up this idea from a book called Chapter After Chapter. Pretty much the idea is that just how little kids get their stuff together the night before going to school, writers should do the same. So every night, I go over what I need to do the next day...and what's cool is that I usually end up dreaming about it, or at least thinking about it a lot more than I would normally.

Other Pleasnat Happenings and Wonders

  • That little menu bar below my header took me two days to code. Mind you, I had to learn how to code first. But it looks pretty sweet. Don't worry, there will soon be things to see up there. Right now, I'm too pooped to add the links.
  • I might set up a blog for XIII since that story consumes so much of my time. But I can't think of a good name for it. This is on the back burner for now.
  • I have ideas for short stories...lots of them. What a wonderful world.
  • I wrote 4,000 words today (in case you missed it above). My fingers are flipping out.
  • I called Jocelyn and read her a tremendously long scene. She gave great comments, though she was tired. She wants to draw costumes for my characters, which I hang up beside my computer for inspiration. She is full of awesome.
  • Charlie is also drawing up some characters from my short story What is Now: Easter Sunday. Whoorah for artists. He is also the coolest.
That's all for now. I'll check back in later on Thursday and then Friday Snippet Time! Jocelyn is doing an illustration for me this week and I'll be posting some of her other artwork for the postapocalptic chick lit. Prepare yourself for a day of cool.

If there are any typos in the above post, please forgive. Night.

So say we all.

Monday, August 6, 2007

On People Watching, Haiku and What I Found

When you sit in a Barnes & Nobles, you don't expect to hear a man read aloud from his unpublished manuscript, repeating various lines to get the language exactly right. You don't expect to hear four convicts discussing their jail time and how the system screwed them over. You don't expect to see an obscenely overweight nine-year-old shuffle-running through the aisles looking for a quarter she misplaced among the books.

But my friends and cohorts, see these things I did. Yesterday, my mom and I drove down to Shreveport to spend the day and witnessed all of the above and more. We had a smashing good time people watching and trying not to laugh.

A Few Haiku for the Port of Shreve
Under Construction!
Pedestrians dart and dodge
your reckless driving.

Power lines swoop low
new buildings in old downtown
murals of mute jazz.

Muddy river swirls
Slot machines clack, good times roll
Your city is broke.

New grown shopping malls
Eateries and car dealers
Hustle and bustle!

Shreveport, your streets wind
through boulevards of green shade
I watch, sip my coke.

As we have already seen, I have a habit of looking for the perfect pretty notebook. What I didn't tell you was that this strange habit carries over into software and organizing stuff. Somewhere on some astral plane, there is a Form of the perfect program, notebook, organization tool - and I can't hope to find it in this world (yay Plato).

Anyway, these urges to look for the greatest (insert thing) only hits me near the start of each school year. Probably because subconsciously I know I'll live in chaos for the next nine months and I'm grabbing desperately at some measure of civilization and sanity :D

Anyway, here is a product of one of my searches, and I thought some of you writerly types might find it fascinating. Because not only is it cool. It's free.

This new program I found is called Keynote - you can look it over or try it out, whatever strikes your fancy. It's like Microsoft OneNote, but free and open source which can allow you to do some pretty awesome things.

So far, I've added all of my characters, their info, the back-stories of their respective noble houses, some world-building stuff and a scratch pad for ideas with a to-do list. Sure most of that is for me to stay consistent in the story, but it also helped spawn a great slew of ideas.

I also imported the current WIP, and so now - EVERYTHING - I've written on this project, from concept to finished product is all in one place. If I need to search for some obscure detail, I have the ability to cross-reference everything to find it. While I'm not trying to make a sales pitch for this program, I figured a few of you might be able to use it and get some inspiration like I did.


As far as Sven goes, today I begin my heroine's story and I'm incredibly psyched about it. She's maybe one of my favorite characters and this will give her brother, the hero, a chance to chill out for later revisions.

So say we all.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Friday Snippet: Looks Like We're in for Nasty Weather

Alright. We're back with Iris in the hill country outside of Greenville, SC. She's just asked her friend Andrew for a horse so that she can make the ride up to Ashville, NC. Almost two days have passed since the end of the world and all cars, electronics and means of communication are dead. Just in case you don't know, the referenced song is Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival (they make everything better). Let me know what you think and please leave a link to your own Friday Snippet!

Copyrighted, do not reproduce, material liable to change. Etc.

“You want to go right now? Tonight?”

“Yes,” she said. He shook his head, running his hands back through his shortened hair. He sighed as if frustrated, as if he forgot taking the scissors to it that morning. His mouth twisted in a frown.

“It’s a long ride to Ashville,” he said. “We could make the Traveller’s Rest by early morning. They’re sure to have some clue, y’think?”


“Sure,” he said, turning to the house. He left the door open as he rummaged through the front closet. “You won’t be going alone, that’s for sure. And one of my horses doesn’t count for the plural. I’m coming with you.”

“The Traveler’s Rest it is then,” she agreed. He emerged, sneezing. He flopped blankets and a few belts into her arms and slung a dusty army rucksack over his shoulder. She followed him into the kitchen where he packed canned goods, bread and some Cheerios.

“Peanut butter,” she said. He made a face and she said, “I know, I know. You think you’ll suffocate on it. But I shouldn’t have to be without because you’re a baby.” He gave her a put on frown, but tossed the jar and a knife into the sack.

“Do you think we should take weapons?” Andrew asked, lifting their supplies under his arm. Iris strapped two of his belts around the roll of blankets and slung them across her back.

“Weapons? Really Drew?”

“Yeah,” he said. They stepped into the evening and he locked the door. “Like guns.”


“It can’t hurt,” he said, smirking. She stopped, leaning her hip out and crossed her arms. He grimaced. “Sorry. Bad joke. But I think we probably should.”

“You have guns?”

“My father left me a few,” he leaned against the barn doors, the scent of hay and horses rolling over them in thick waves. That smell always reminded her of summer and kittens hissing at rats in her father’s loft.

“I don’t want a weapon,” she said.


“No. You can play cowboy, Drew,” she snapped. Maybe a little harshly. She shrugged it off and said, “I’m just going to find out what happened. You know?” He shrugged, and she followed him into the swallowing shade of the barn. They saddled in rush of cricket song. As she lead her gelding into the yard, he stepped into the tack room.

Fireflies flickered dazedly in the heat. When he stepped out, she saw a long gun broken over the crook of his arm. He loaded it with a shell thicker than her thumb, snapped the barrel into place.


“I know you don’t like it,” he said. He never looked at her as he slung the over his back by a wide leather strap. “But I shouldn’t have to do without because…” He sighed. He shook his head, and with a tap of his heels, his horse cantered through the gates. Iris followed wanting to say something, anything. And then Andrew pulled up, waiting for her to come up beside him.

Silver filled his eyes, the strange wheeling stars above usually swallowed by the city light. He smiled and she was glad for the dark as she blushed. Then as if in relief, he leaned back lazy in his saddle as they sauntered on. He tilted his head back his profile harsh against the sky.

I see a bad moon rising, I see trouble on the way, he sang. He kept his voice low, as if he shared a secret. Hope you got your things together… She laughed as his voice rose and he played air guitar, picking furiously and running his fingers down the invisible chords.

“Come any closer and we’ll shoot!” a voice cried out of the dark. Andrew pulled his horse up sharp. The mare reared. Thunder roared through the dark. Something hot blazed against her cheek. Blood splattered her shirt. Andrew sprawled in the road, the contents of his pack rolling in the dust. Iris screamed.

So say we all.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A Few Apologies, Followed by Encouragment and Fighting Words!

I know, I know. I said I would blog about series, and I put up a post like I promised. But then I didn't like what I wrote so I put it back as a draft. I need to get it all well and organized and understandable before I post it. I should have known with the Sven challenge and packing and other stress factors, that I would not be as coherent with it as I would like. So if you'll forgive me and bear with me, I'll be able to deliver a much better post on those topics in the next week or so. Again, apologies all around.

In the meantime, I'll tell you about how I'm doing with Sven. I know a lot of your are going through some frustrating moments with the challenge but I hope you keep going! This past week was awful (I got about four days behind). But since Saturday, I've made wonderful progress: the word count and time limitations won't let me edit excessively (my kryptonite).

While I've read that the challenge is stressful for some or overwhelming for others, if you have a few productive days, you know it makes up for those when Sven was a jerk and the writing was more painful than stubbing your baby toe on a table or that public humiliation you suffered in grade school.

So if you're frustrated, if you're behind, don't give up! Keep going! Sven can't have the satisfaction of beating us.

So say we all.