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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

1435

This was a challenge for a short story on one of my yahoo groups.  We had to finish the story after the first paragraph.  This is what I came up with.  Enjoy.



"A box arrives from the attorney of your missing, though quite eccentric,
Uncle Harry. Opening it, you find it is full of worn books, mainly classics,
but near the bottom you find an untitled journal. When you open it up, a
note and a small metal disk falls to the floor. Opening the piece of
parchment paper, you see its a wanted poster with your Uncle's name on it,
dated 1435. When you pick up the disk, it begins to vibrate in your hand.
You start to feel dizzy...."

Ms. Parker looked up at us over the flat top of her glasses and her lips puckered into that tiny smirk. 

It was time. 

The eraser end of my pencil froze in mid-bounce off my lips as my eyes met hers.  My fingers twitched to flip over the paper on my desk.  Already thoughts were spinning in my head.  Ideas.  I was being swept away into a story of my own making.  I could hear the steady tick of the second hand, one, two three...

"Go!"  Her smile launched in full now as the flutter of paper flipping across formica desk tops filled the room. 

I turned my paper over fully, my pencil poised above it.  Thoughts and images formed in my mind's eye.  A scene played out before me.  I could go with the obvious--time travel--the disk a portal back into 1435.  I would go with the obvious.  I had precious little time before Ms. Parker would call, "pencils down."  And collect our stories. 

Mine had yet to be her favorite. 

When we were to write about lost socks, my sock took an arduous journey through burr infested forests, narrowly escaping mouse fangs and a bird snatching, to try and find its way back to mother sock and his identical siblings.  Ms. Parker thought it "creative".  But picked Jenny's pristine presentation of a sock that fell from the laundry basket out in the yard only to be found later, under the porch, with the cat and her new baby kittens.  Awww, how sickly adorable.

And the story about the father and son fishing trip had been no different.  A beast the size of a great white shark, ascended the depths of the placid pond to overturn the crude row boat in my story.  Leaving my characters to sink into the abyss, only to be rescued by a school of sea monkeys--very different from the traditional variety--so they can help defeat the monster of the pond.  I needed more time on that one, to flesh out the details, but really, Bobby's story about the boy saying, "Daddy, daddy, look!  I caught one!" and ending right there.  While it was sentimental, since the father did hand his son the fishing pole with a fish on it unbeknownst to the son...c'mon, really?  Bore me!

But this time, this time I would have the advantage.  This time she is asking for--no begging for--the supernatural! 

Oh, I was listening in history class.  I know all about the mysterious Joan of Arc.  Ms. Parker is going to just love my rendition of Ms Arc's unknown child--the one with the same powers her mother had.  The one that good ol' Uncle Henry (Joan's lover) takes out of 1435 and brings to present day, for me to protect and befriend.  Only Uncle Henry's been taken back!  And it's up to me and Joan of Arc's daughter to go to 1435 to rescue him, without getting caught.  Hold onto your spectacles Ms. Parker, 'cause this one's gonna blow...you...away.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Angel Falls


Fairwolf trotted across the forest floor, the scent of blood rich in his nostrils.  He stopped and listened.  The winds tickled the tree leaves.  The air smelled wet.  It would rain soon.  Detecting no threats, he crouched under a steady tree and devoured the young rabbit he held in his jaws. 

Finished with his prize, he padded toward the stream.  His ears twisted at each new sound.  Trips to the stream were dangerous.  For him.  Fairwolf bore dog’s blood in his veins and the true wolves didn’t like dogs. 

Fairwolf’s ears picked up the soft stepping of several paws.  More than one wolf approached.    Sometimes they waited for him here.  He hid.  Without the cover of snow his brilliant coat would betray him if he wasn’t careful.  He’d learned to hide deep in the brush.  Graypaws and the others slipped out from the trees.  They nosed the bank.  They weren’t here for a drink.  They were here to kill.  Fairwolf could sense it.  He stiffened, holding perfectly still, but Graypaws’ yellow eyes met his through the brush. 

Growls unleashed from the other wolves’ throats as they sprung forward.  Fairwolf dashed out of his hiding spot, the thick branches entangling him.  Graypaws caught him.  The other wolves circled in.  They would smell his fear.  The snarls echoed in his ears and Fairwolf felt teeth in his shoulder.  Teeth in his side.  He bit at anything he could, but they continued spilling his dog blood on the ground.  Fairwolf could think of only one way out.  Slinking backward he felt cool water on his paws.  He let the stream swallow him. 

Graypaws huffed and the other wolves fell back.   The stream separated them from men.  The other wolves could cross the river, but they wouldn’t.  Fear kept them from the dogs.  From the men.  Fear had kept Fairwolf from crossing too, but the safer woods were no longer home to him.    
Graypaws and his posse howled triumphantly as Fairwolf’s dog blood stained the river and he let himself be swept to the other bank.  Graypaws gave one last departing glare, and Fairwolf recognized the threat.  He could never go back.  He pulled himself onto the bank and dashed into unknown territory.  

Fairwolf finally stopped running.  His coat was near dry; his wounds no longer bleeding.  They weren’t deep.  He would survive.  He had escaped.  His worst cut was from the stream.  His forepaw had slipped on something deep in the river, something with a bite.  He would have to be careful so it would heal.  Each step cracked it open. 

He rose and tested the air; it was sweet.  He nosed the ground, it was traveled mainly by smaller animals, foxes, rabbits and mice.  He listened.  The babble of a creek drew him closer.  The water smelled clean; strong with fish.  This would be a good home. 

A new sound touched his ears.  Fairwolf ventured out toward it cautiously.  He peered through the brush and into a strange clearing.  A meadow.   It smelled of something strong and heavy, something he could not identify.  His paws carried him out into the open.  He felt his body slink closer to the earth when the cover left him.  He stopped startled when the earth changed.  The hard substance under his paws was like rock, only flat.  He backed up slowly, but the sound brushed his ears again.  A soft humming.  It drew closer.  It sounded fast.  Angry.  The hair on his back rose and his tail tucked between his legs.  The forest was within reach, but Fairwolf had tasted curiosity, and wanted another bite. 

The beast approached.  It was faster than he’d expected.  And larger.  Fairwolf dove back into his cover frightened.  But the beast flew by.  The same heavy scent trailed it.  A screeching sound cut through the air.  Was the beast hurt?  He peered ahead and saw the great creature had stopped.  It was coming again!  It had seen him.  He knew he couldn’t outrun it, so he remained frozen in the brush.  The creature stalked him.  Its drone was still loud, but not unkind.  It stopped.  It lingered in front of where Fairwolf sat.  He was afraid to move.  Slowly the creature regained its speed and ran away. 

He ventured again toward the hard meadow.  The beast had spotted him and gone.  The hard meadow began to quake and a soft hum approached again.  Fairwolf darted into the woods. 

***   ***   ***

“Bill!  Stop!”  The car came to a screeching halt.

“What in the name of—“

“Did you see it?”

Bill looked back at his deputy’s stark face.  He put the car in reverse. 

“A little farther.”  Drew wouldn’t take his eyes off the road.  Bill didn’t hesitate.  Didn’t ask questions.  When his deputy looked that scared, something was wrong.

“There!”  The word came out in a harsh whisper.   

Drew pointed into the roadside woods.  Bill saw it too.  Huge.  White.  Most assuredly a wolf.  His heart all but melted. 

“You don’t believe—“

“Shh!”  Drew hissed. He watched the creature a few seconds.  “Drive.”  

Of course he believed.  Rock Falls hadn’t seen a white wolf in hundreds of years, since back when it was Angel Falls.  Bill swallowed.  

Drew turned to him, some color in his cheeks finally.  “What do you suppose it’s here for?”

“It’s a wild animal.”  Bill shrugged trying not to let superstition grip him.  “Drew.  Listen.  Until we can say for sure what we saw, don’t go—“

“Bill!  They show themselves to people to warn them!  You know that!  I know that!  Honestly Bill the whole town knows it!”

“Legends, Drew.”  Bill reminded.

“Legends you can’t get away from!  White Wolf Inn.  Ghost Wolf Tavern.  Blood Brothers Hardware.  And the—“ Drew broke off.

“The cemetery?”  Bill’s bravery was returning.  It didn’t matter what all the legends said.  The town wasn’t haunted.  There were no white wolves guarding the place; protecting the innocent.

“You don’t believe?  That’s just great.  Now it’ll come after me.”

“Come after?  Andrew, you are a good man, you help people.”

“That’s right.  That’s why it sought us out.  There’s something wrong in the town.  Some heinous crime or else it wouldn’t have warned us.  Some crime I don’t want to be the last to find out about.” 

Bill pulled the car into the gravel parking lot outside the station. Drew gave him one last look before he hefted himself out of the car and slammed the door. 

“Drew.”  He called out glumly.  But the other man didn’t turn.  

Bill rubbed his fingers across the day-long stubble on his chin.  Drew had gut feelings about things often.  And he was never wrong.  Bill believed in following your instinct.  It’s what made him a good sheriff, a good protector.  It made he and Drew a good team. 

He knew what Drew would do.  He’d look into the new family that had purchased the little cottage on the creek. 

For different reasons Bill had wanted to do a background check on the man who’d bought that place.  Well, different but the same; his instinct had nothing to do with a white wolf sighting.  It had everything to do with the man’s son; Johnny.  Absently Bill fingered his scarred left forearm. 

***   ***   ***

Fairwolf had stayed near the hard meadow for a time.  More of the heavy-scented beasts passed by.  None but the first had looked his way.  When the rain came the heavy scent grew stronger, as if the meadow itself was a part of the beasts.  Yes.  They had marked it.  It was their domain.  As long as he stayed clear of them they would leave him be.  They reminded him of the Elder wolf.  The Elder wolf had spared his life, but his gaze had warned Fairwolf to run. 

He wondered if the other beast had been trying to give him the same warning.   But he didn’t feel compelled to run.   Not yet anyway. 

He wandered back to his new home.  The fish creek was near.  He followed it for a time, and as the mist settled, new smells enveloped him, calling to his curiosity once more.   The scents were new.  All but one.  Blood. 

Across the creek, he pinpointed a splashing sound.  On the shore, not far from him, stood a curious creature.  Fairwolf smelled. The blood scent came from it.  It crouched near the stream.  Not an animal Fairwolf could identify.  Curious, he stepped closer.  The animal stood and looked at him.

Fairwolf froze.  Fear encompassed him.  The creature stood on two legs.  Before it had been hunched on all four, but now it was unmistakable.  This was a man.  It looked at him and cocked its head in a birdlike manner.  Then it got down again.  Its front paws didn’t touch the ground though.  It stared at him.  It cooed.  A soft sound.  Fairwolf wanted to flee.  He also wanted to stay. 

He stepped closer and the man reached out.  Its paw was bloody.  Fairwolf stiffened as the creature reached toward him.  He looked into its eyes.  Something about this man reminded him of a pup.  Fairwolf bristled as it drew closer to him, but waited.  The man pup touched him.  A strong emotion filled him, something like belonging.  He hadn’t expected the man pup’s touch to be soft.  He looked into the man pup’s eyes.  He smelled scared too.    

***   ***   ***

Johnny gingerly leaned toward the white dog.  It looked lost and dirty and thin.  And it was hurt.  Like him.  He reached for it.  It watched him with those careful yellow eyes.  So wolf-like.  It had been limping. 

“You’re hurt?”  He said softly.  Then he reached in slowly.  “It’s okay, we can be friends.”  Johnny explained.  He held out his hand.  The dog sniffed it curiously.  Johnny smiled.  “Fishing line cuts deep if you aren’t careful.”  He said.

The dog tilted his head and then tentatively placed his wounded paw in Johnny’s hand.  Holding the dog’s paw in the cup of his hand, he met the dog’s eyes.  He was no ordinary dog.   He was a smart dog.  A caring dog.  Then he felt it.  The dog lifted his paw and backed away snarling.  Johnny looked at his hand.  The dog’s blood was sinking into his cut.  He could feel it.  It pulsed through his veins.  It changed him somehow.

“Johnny, quick!  Your father is almost home!”  He heard his mother’s warning and a cold shiver spread through his skin. 

***   ***   ***

Fairwolf felt the change.  It scared him.  The man pup had infiltrated him somehow.  Through his blood. 
“Keep hidden.”  The man pup said.  Fairwolf bristled.  The words made sense to him.  “My father doesn’t like dogs.”   

“I’m a wolf.”  Fairwolf was startled at the strange thoughts he uttered.  The man pup was too for he turned and stared like a frightened deer.

“What is your name?  My name is Johnny.”  He crept closer.  Fairwolf heard one of the beasts from the hard meadow.  He backed closer to the woods.  “It’s my father.”  Johnny said softly.  Fairwolf smelled fear.

***   ***   ***

Johnny crept out of bed quietly.  He dressed in the dark before the dawn.  It was Saturday and his father was home, so he had to leave earlier.  He took some cheese and bread and lunchmeat and went out back.  Fairwolf would meet him there.  He had all week.  Johnny would go off and play with him in the woods.  His father had been suspicious at first of Johnny’s daily excursions, but when he came home with scrapes from climbing trees and bruises from falling on the slick rocks of the creek, Johnny’s father had smiled.
Johnny wished his mother had a friend like Fairwolf to keep her from the dangers of his father.  Fairwolf seemed to understand.  His pack had abandoned him. Hurt him.  He was Johnny’s best friend.  But no one could ever know about him, or his father would take him away.  Johnny opened the screen door and breathed in the damp morning air.  Everything was perfect.

“Where are you going Johnny?” 

Johnny dropped the food.  “T—to the woods, S—sir.”

“Do you know who stopped by here just the other day?”  Johnny’s father leaned casually against the side of the house and Johnny let the screen door slam shut behind him.  He wanted to run back in.  But he’d learned that running was never a good idea.

“No sir.”  Johnny looked at the ground.

“A police officer.”

Johnny’s eyes snapped to his father’s and he wished they hadn’t.  Johnny hadn’t done anything suspicious.  Nothing.  He avoided the police.  They brought nothing but trouble…from his father.

“Why do you think the police visited Johnny?”

“I don’t—“ A bruising grip tightened around Johnny’s arms and he felt himself being lifted off the ground.  He willed himself to look into his father’s eyes.  He couldn’t though.  The terror ran through him.

“You did something Johnny.  I am your father, and if you disobey me, I will punish you.”   He didn’t shout.  He never shouted.   Johnny opened one eye to look at his father’s face.  “Tell me what it was.”

“I didn’t do anything!”  Johnny pleaded.

“He wanted to talk to you.”  His father was almost whispering.  Johnny swallowed.  “So it seems you’re lying.”

Johnny tried to recall anything he’d done.  He couldn’t even think of any stranger he’d talked to other than the man at the ice cream shop that he’d bumped into and made drop his cone.  All he’d said was sorry.  Other than that Johnny had stayed clear of everyone!

“He mentioned meeting you at the ice cream shop.”  His father taunted.  Johnny closed his eyes.  “I knew you were lying!”  His father shook him.

Johnny’s eyes opened.  Growling pierced the morning.  No!   Johnny turned.  “No Fairwolf!  Run!  Run!”


***   ***   ***

Fairwolf didn’t run.  He understood.  This man was to be feared.  He was evil.  Fairwolf would not leave Johnny. 

He crouched low and let the growl fill his throat.  The man stared back at him and Fairwolf tasted his fear in the air.  The man slowly lowered the boy and Johnny raced toward Fairwolf.  He put his body between the man and the pup.  He exposed his teeth. 

The man stepped back.  Fairwolf could feel Johnny’s shaking fingers in his fur.  

 “Run.”  He urged again.

“No.”  Fairwolf replied.  The man did not seem to hear him, only Johnny.  The man grew braver.  His gaze held anger.  He turned and grabbed something near the house.

“No Father!”

“It’s a wolf!”  The man yelled.

“He’s my friend!”  Johnny sobbed.  “Please, don’t hurt him!”

The man raised the object.  It was long, like a tree limb, but the end was flat, its tip pointed.  Fairwolf recognized the scent of attack.  The man advanced and Johnny ran out in front to stop the blow, but Fairwolf wouldn’t let him. 

“John!”  The woman came out and ran toward the man to stop him.  She shielded the blow.  She crumpled to the ground.  Fairwolf faced the man again, but Johnny had gone to the woman.

“Look what you’ve made me do!”  The man grabbed Johnny and pointed the object at his throat.  

Fairwolf had seen enough, it was time to fight.  He launched forward, the man buckled under his weight.  He sunk his fangs into soft flesh and shook his head.  Men were not as formidable as they seemed.  The pointed limb smacked his head.  Fairwolf released his grip and staggered backward.  Then he heard the beast.  The beast from Hard Meadow.  It was here.  Fairwolf snarled again, keeping the man from Johnny and the woman.  Maybe this new beast would help him.

***   ***   ***

“Bill, there’s a call from the Hunter’s house.  Shouting and screaming, it sounds like the boy—“

“I’m on it.”  Bill snapped angrily.  

He’d known the boy was being abused by that man he called father.  Drew flew out the door with him barely making it into the passenger’s seat.  Bill sped to the cottage and pulled into the drive.  He could hear it.  Snarls, shrieks and screams.  It sounded like a wild animal!  Bill and Drew quietly exited the car.  Weapons in hand they stalked around the side of the house. 

“Don’t hurt him!  Please!”  The boy flung his arms around the white wolf and Bill froze.  Next to him Drew cursed.

“What’s going on here?”  Bill asked.

“That wolf attacked me and my wife!”  John Hunter said holding his bloodied arm.

“No!  My father was going to kill him!”  Johnny said.  Bill looked back at the boy.  There would be no way to save the wolf, not if it attacked a man.  Bill looked into the animal’s eyes, regret filled his own.  The way the boy clutched his neck he knew that it had tried to save him.  Then the wolf looked back at Bill; it nodded once and departed.

“Shoot it!”  John Hunter yelled and leapt for Drew’s gun.  Drew pointed it at him and he fell back.

“I need to know what happened here.”  Bill raced over to Mrs. Hunter and checked her pulse.  “She’ll be all right.”  He whispered to the sobbing boy and dialed for an ambulance.  Johnny had sunk to his knees on the dew covered grass. 

“You hit her with the shovel?”  Drew said angrily grabbing John Hunter’s collar.

“She got in the way!  The wolf was trying to kill me!  I was using it to ward off the wolf.”

Johnny remained silent.

***   ***   ***

Fairwolf hid in the brush.  The man that smelled like the beast from Hard Meadow had warned him.  His stare had been the same as the Elder wolf.  Fairwolf waited.  He would make sure Johnny was safe, always safe.

***   ***   ***

When Mrs. Hunter came to, she didn’t talk.  Johnny wouldn’t talk.  Only Mr. Hunter would talk, and he came off sounding like a valiant man protecting his family from a rabid, white wolf. 

“Do I have your permission to kill the wolf on sight?”  John Hunter asked as Bill was leaving.

“No!”  Johnny opened his mouth.  His mother cringed.  Bill knew the truth, but he couldn’t reveal it. 

“What’s the matter with you Boy?  It tried to kill me!”  John Hunter’s eyes were cold.

“He was protecting me!”  Johnny stood.  Bill stared at the shaking boy.  He caught the horror in Mrs. Hunter’s eyes.  He remembered the day his own courage had come.  It was the day he nearly died by his father’s hand.  He wouldn’t let that happen to Johnny.

“Son,” Bill started.  “I know you love the wolf, but he’s a wild animal.  Call us if you see him Mr. Hunter.  We’ll take care of it.”  He headed out of the house after tipping his hat at Mrs. Hunter.

Outside Drew stared at him.

“There was nothing we could do.”  Bill said to his deputy once they entered the car.  “But I’m going to circle right back.”  Drew breathed a sigh of relief and didn’t bother buckling his seatbelt.  They were going to catch this man.  Bill hoped it would be in time.

***   ***   ***

Fairwolf watched the creature go.  He waited in the brush until he heard the woman scream.  His muscles propelled him from hiding and in bounds he was across the yard.  He heard the loud noise, heard Johnny cry, heard the woman pleading. 

He howled.

The man met him outside, threat on his face.  He carried long narrow object.  Fairwolf showed his teeth.  Johnny and the woman raced out after him.  Johnny’s face was covered in blood.  Fairwolf lunged.  The object cracked into his side and sent him to the ground with a whimper.  Johnny screamed.  Fairwolf rose; it hurt to shake himself off.  But he had to save Johnny.  He leaned back again, ready to spring. 

“No Father!”  Johnny cried.

The man turned and swung the object at Johnny.

The scent of the beast of Hard Meadow filled the air.

Fairwolf launched himself at the man’s arm.

“He’s going to kill him!  Help me!  My husband is going to kill my son!”  The woman screamed.     

***   ***   ***

Bill licked his ice cream before it could melt all over the squad car.  He watched the children playing on the baseball diamond as Drew drove passed them.  Then he caught Johnny Hunter walking home, dirt on his shirt, water residue on his jeans, fishing pole in hand, and that amazing white wolf at his side sporting a new collar.

“You were right about the Guardians returning.”  Bill admitted. 

Drew just smiled.  “If anyone deserves a Guardian Angel, it’s that boy.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What A Character


When you write, it is important to become your character.  This is not to be confused with pretending to be your character.  It's deeper.  

It's about feeling what she feels, tasting what he tastes--be it regret or sorrow or bitterness--thinking like she thinks, acting like he acts, doing what she does.  Becoming a character is more than guessing, it is knowing; knowing in your gut, in your heart and in your soul.  It's an art.

Well done, it causes audience investment.  Readers will see your character as a real being.  They'll start to feel a bit of what your character experiences.  They'll get nervous when your character crawls into a dark tunnel and hears a rumbling growl.  They'll feel that warm tickle of happiness when the hero grabs his love in the pouring rain and finally kisses her.  They'll cry when a faithful companion takes an arrow to the heart so your character can go on.  Like I said, it’s an art. 

How do you become your character?  It seems easy as an author, right?  I mean you created the character, gave him a desire, an end, and a means to get there.  You colored his expressive eyes and gave him stubble.  You hand-picked idiosyncrasies you noticed on the subway, and you made her someone you would like to meet, or loathe on sight.  You gave him mystery, intrigue and a flaw to die for.  You even put a slice of yourself in there--well, you had to, the character came from your own thoughts--be it your desires, your quirks, or what you hoped to never have to face, you poured a part of yourself into the character that to you so easily breathes and talks and picks up a sword or pen, or leash for her cat.  

It isn’t enough.  What?  Blood, sweat and tears aren't enough?

Well, now that character isn’t you.  No one wants to read a book about ten little yous running around.  Maybe, if you were writing a multiple personalities story where you don’t know the characters are all the same person until the very end.  But I digress.   

You have to separate yourself, then become one with your character.  It's not counter-productive.  You can't let your character fly on his own until you cut the strings.  

Create a past, understand it, derive from it your character’s desires and motives and emotions.  Know where she comes from and how that will make her act in different situations.  Will she flee at the sight of water because she watched her neighbor drown as a girl, but jump into a burning building to save a stranger because someone saved her?  Will she let people tease her about her appearance, but dole out knuckle sandwiches to those that taunt her little brother?  Is she submissive to teachers, unless they resemble her Aunt Ginny?  Why?  The audience will never know every subtle nuance that makes your character unique, but if you do, the reality of who they are will shine through.
 
I always think it funny when I am writing my novel and there’s my character, painting the story for me and we hit a fork in the road.  I have a mind to go down the left path, but my character doesn't.  It is usually better.   Scratch that, it is ALWAYS better to stay true to your character.  Even if it means veering right and derailing your current train of thought.  Sometimes you just have to jump on that horse and see what the next train has in store.  Then, if you have to get back to the first train--well that's a whole new adventure!

And that is what I mean.  You can’t just write a character and then make him hop through your story like it’s one of those scripted murder mysteries you play at a party when everyone just reads the card.  It’s your new creation being true to the personality you’ve given him.  The story isn't fiction to your character.  It's real.  Your character becomes alive there.

Living and breathing ink.   

Let your character show you how the story ends.  But don’t be afraid to throw some big problems his way--you can't let life get mundane!  After all, the character makes the story, but you still have to write it.  

Happy Writing!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One Smart Dog: Nemo's take on getting around the problem

So my dog blew me away with his intelligence yesterday.  You would think I'd know how smart he is by now, but he can still get my heart to swell with pride.

Of the two boys, Nemo is the sweetheart who loves to play fetch, and Cory is the resource controller--read: if it's in Nemo's possession, he wants it.

So, Nemo wants to play fetch with me and he knows Cory is going to take the FIRST toy he brings.  Then I'll tell him to get another for us to play with together.

Cory's been favoring this pink, plush octopus--well, really it's a hexa-pus anymore--so Nemo get's that, and his favorite earless squirrel.  He carries both toys over to Cory and drops the pink octopus at his paws.

Then prances over to me, squirrel still in his mouth, and he promptly drops it at my feet.

Did it work?  You bet.  Cory and I play tug with the leg losing octopus and Nemo gets to play fetch with his first pick.

Life throws us challenges, sometimes your best way around them is a little creative genius.

So go out there, and write the best you can.  Sooner or later, someone will notice.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Write From the Heart

It takes a brave person to write from the heart. 

If you write from the heart, you put a piece of yourself out there.  In print.  Vulnerable.  Others can freely read, react to, critique, laugh with, enjoy, and even own. 

Own? 

In a sense, yes.  Once someone reads your words they become a source of thoughts or emotions in that person.  It's like irreversible change.  It gives readers a feeling of belonging with your words; a sense of ownership, pride even.  

Think about it.  What's your favorite book?  That's right, YOUR favorite.  You already have a sense of belonging associated with that specific story.  Human emotion is so clingy that way.  You read it, you own it.  Somewhere, in your heart.   It becomes a part of you. 

Your words create impact each time someone gets lost in them.  Scary, because something so potent can be easily dismissed if the impact isn't there, or shunned if the wrong emotions or thoughts are provoked.  The thing is, you won't elicit the same feelings from everyone.  It's a risk you take when you put your heart--read: writing--out there. 

It's downright scary even.  But also exciting when your passion becomes someone else's!  Since you can't please everyone, why not write what's in your heart?  

The passion isn't in the pencil, it's in the heart, the words should come from there. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Night at a Space Bar


“Where’d you get those?”  Tuck leaned over and whispered.  The power of his beverage of choice a little too evident on his breath.

Jasper cradled the eggs carefully in his jacket pocket.  The three others at his table eyed the specimens intently.  They were real, sure.  Real eggs.   Jasper was certain they wouldn’t hatch real dragons.

He leaned in over the table as if he were getting to the good part of his story.  He looked around the crowded bar first, to make sure no one else was listening.  He was good at the sale.  He didn’t keep things friendly like Sly, he didn’t grunt in response like Rhaspion, whose species had a completely capable language, and were well known for speaking the inter-galaxy tongue flawlessly.
  
Jasper was rugged.  His hair was nearly always matted; he only took his hat off for his deals.  His shoes always bore some kind of dirt, even though he made a show of kicking them clean at the door.  He was a mercenary and he dealt with rarities.  He had to look the part.  Play the part.  Heck, he even had to give genuine deals, because when he played the con, everything went into the sale. 

“I won them, in a game of cards.”

“Sssssssss.”  Rhondo hissed.  His blue-scaled tail twitched in vexation. 

Janx leaned back in her seat; frustrated, she tossed her silky, purple arms in front of her.

Tuck, the drunken man that passed lightly for a human, slapped his hand angrily on the table, disgustedly releasing his alcohol-imbued breath in a wet spray.

“How will we know it’sssss real?”  Rhondo’s thick accent wouldn’t be denied its Reptilian hiss.

“You can’t prove it.”  Janx crossed her purple arms in front of her strangely human form.  Jasper always thought Drandon females beautiful.

“The man I won them from claimed he got them from one of the lush planets.  He climbed a cliff from the bottom and plucked them from a nest.  I saw the pictures.  Besides, I did my research; these are real.”

“I’m a drunk.  And even I know they aren’t real.  You’ve been swindled.”  Tuck rubbed his thick stubble.

“Swindled?  Sw—Tuck, since when does Jasper Jayne get swindled?”

“I can think of a time or two.”  Tuck huffed.

“With something like this?  What do you take me for?  I know they’re the real thing.”

“No.  You don’t.”  Janx wasn’t out yet.  Even though sat with her arms crossed, her golden eyes were still interested.  Jasper set the eggs carefully on the table.  She looked from them right into Jasper’s eyes, her purple eye brow cocked.

“Okay.  I admit it; I believe they’re real.”  He glanced at Tuck who scoffed.  He couldn’t bear to be left out.  If the others were in, Tuck was in.  Rhondo was harder to read.  His blue-scaled face rarely gave any indication of what he was thinking.  But that was why Jasper had him sit on the end; Rhondo’s tail betrayed him.  He wanted an egg. 

It was said that dragon’s fire alone could melt Ahemian weapons.  Dragon’s scales regrew, everyone in the system knew that, and they made the finest shields.  In fact dragon’s fire could melt dragon scales, and you could forge weapons from them.  If Jasper ever got his hands on a real dragon’s egg, he’d keep it.  But his rugged adventuresome outlook made him appear more trustworthy than was true of his mercenary heart. 

“But I’ll give you all a break since it has been pointed out that I can’t prove they’re real.”  Jasper gave a hard glance to Tuck who bobbled his head as a satisfied smirk grew across his face—yes, Tuck was in.  “You give me half now.  As always, the money is non-refundable.”  He smiled politely.  “And if you don’t get a dragon, I’ll give you a deal on my next trade.  If you do,” Jasper allowed himself a crooked grin which produced a simper from Janx and a slight lean in from Rhondo.  The hook was set.  “Then I collect my other half.” 

“You are too easy.”  Janx’s smooth voice accompanied her accepting posture. 

“Hardly.”  Jasper smiled at her.  “I tracked you all down tonight, didn’t I?”
Rhondo chuckled.

Mya returned to their table balancing their drinks on her tray.  It was well-known that Mya loathed Jasper.  At least it was a widely accepted fact.  Even Jasper was pretty sure she hated him.  Most of him.  Her eyes fell on the eggs and opened magnificently. 

She gently set their drinks on the table and collected empty glasses.  “You brought dragon’s eggs to my joint?”  Her hiss rivaled Rhondo’s. 

“Shhh.”  Jasper motioned for her to keep it down.  “You want everyone in on our deal?”

“What makes you call these dragon’s eggs?”  Janx voiced the right question.

“You take me for a fool?”  Mya eyed each of them.  “I know a dragon’s egg when I see one.  But I’ll keep your little secret if you cut me in on the deal.  I see five eggs and four of you.”  Her eyebrows shot up with a challenge. 

“I think that’ssssssss a good idea.”  Rhondo actually smiled.  Jasper nearly shuddered at the Reptilian’s sharp fangs.  Why one of his race needed a dragon was enough to scare Jasper, a little. 

“How much are we talking?”  Mya asked. 

“Ten thousand now and ten thousand after the hatch—if they’re dragons.”  Jasper specified. 

Mya looked at him incredulously.  “Rich bloods.”  She looked at the eggs.  “Cut mine in half or I spill your secret.” 

“Mya, Mya, Mya.  We all come here…regularly.”  Janx even sounded sweet when she threatened. 

Mya’s eyes darted between the eggs and everyone at the table.  “All right.”  She conceded. 

“I’m in.”  Janx said.  She had her proof it seemed. 

“I’m in.”  Rhondo agreed.  Jasper smiled.

 Tuck sat pressing his fingertips together under his chin as he eyed Mya.  He was always last to commit. 

 “You already know my offer.”  She said back to Tuck’s lifted eyebrow.

“As always, it’s a pleasure doing business with you.”  Tuck grinned at Jasper.

“Good.”  Jasper wiggled his fingers.  Money bags were placed on the table.    

“I’ll be right back.”  Mya turned on her heel to get her coin.  When she placed it on the table she eyed the eggs greedily in a way that made Janx seem even more sure of her decision. 

“Janx, first to commit, first to choose.”  Jasper motioned to the eggs.

“Mya was first.”  She nodded to the woman.  Mya eyed the eggs carefully and took the one from the middle.  The one most heavily speckled.

Janx snatched the one similar to hers and Rhondo took the largest.  Of the two left Tuck chose the one Jasper eyed.  If he eyed something it made Tuck choose faster.

“I’ll be seeing you soon.  And for your sake, I hope I’ll be giving you money.”  Janx sang sweetly.

“Hey, we all risked together.”

“Oh, I understand Jasper.”  Her smile was even pretty.

“Tuck,” Mya started.

“Don’t worry, I’m hitching a ride.”  He laughed and patted his coat pocket gently.

Rhondo’s tail slithered happily as the Reptilian exited.

Jasper walked up to the bar and Mya sauntered over to him.  She poured him the usual.  She set in on the counter and smiled.  Conversations were thinning; only the drunks remained.

Jasper emptied his glass.  “Perfect timing, as usual.  And your performance was superb.”  Jasper winked at her. 

“Save your flirting Jasper, it doesn’t work on me, remember?”

“Yet, I’ll still try.”  He emptied some coins on the bar counter and slid her cut to her.  She looked at the money for a moment.  

“Where did you find the eggs?”  She asked casually as she poured a refill.

“Some creepy cave on Blue.  They looked exotic enough, and large enough.”  He drank again. 

“I really don’t know where you get your ideas.  I mean, dragons?  Really?” 

Jasper had to laugh.  It was a crazy thing to sell, but he’d pulled it off.  So far.  He was sure he’d have to do some favor for both Rhondo and Janx, but favors were his specialty.  And they meant more deals on other planets. 

The last customers were leaving, and again, Jasper closed the bar.  He grabbed his heavy jacket from the stool next to his, the last egg still lay nestled inside.  He put his hand in his pocket and fingered the soft shell wondering for a moment what was inside.  What he should do with it.

“You going to keep it?”  Something in Mya’s voice made Jasper’s gaze snap to meet hers.  She eyed his pocketed hand with a smirk. 

“You going to keep yours?”  He asked skeptically.

Mya’s only reply was a sly smile.  “See you around Jasper.”
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