Prologue

So I thought I’d throw up the prologue to Pendraline here, as a bit of a preview.  It’s Friday, it’s summer, and my brain is already turning off.

 PROLOGUE

The old merchant watched the dancers from the dark shadowy corner of the tavern. He raised his mug of ale to his lips and grimaced as an exuberant couple jostled his table, knocking the leg against his knee.

“That’s it,” he said. Throwing some coins on the table, he took a final swig and rose from his chair. The crowd of dancers was thick; a mess of bony elbows and swishing skirts. He tried to make his way through as best as he could, searching for gaps between the couples. There weren’t many. As he made his way across the tavern floor, a young man tripped over his partner’s feet and the couple crashed into the merchant’s back.

“Oh, so sorry,” said the young man, his eyes on his rebellious feet. His partner looked up at the old merchant and gasped. The merchant glowered even harder at them. The girl turned back to her partner, tears in her eyes and away they danced.

The crowd was so thick, it made the tavern door look even farther away. He looked around to find the edge of the throng; there seemed to be no end to it. The long hall was packed from wall to wall. “Just have to plow through,” he muttered. The dancing was more lively now, the music frantic and wild. He pushed his way to the center of the dance floor. As the dancers bumped into him, more and more would stop their whirling and stare at him. A red-haired youth slammed into the old man from behind, knocking him to his knees. The merchant cursed as pain shot through his legs. A large brown hand reached down towards him.

“Sir, I’m sorry, I…” the words trailed off as the merchant lifted his face to look at his assailant. The young man took a step back, moving in front of his partner as if to shield her. The merchant glimpsed a pair of dark brown eyes under a mess of tangled blonde hair looking over the young man’s shoulder. There was soft cry and the head ducked down behind her partner’s broad shoulder. The young man stood still, staring at the merchant’s face.

The room grew quiet; the music died down and the shuffling noise of feet on the wooden floor came to a halt. The dancers had stopped and they all slowly turned towards the scene in the center of the tavern. Cries of dismay could be heard throughout the crowd, gasps of shock and whispers spread around the room.

The merchant looked around him. They were all staring at him. Young clear faces, their wide eyes open in horror. Is there something wrong with my face? he thought. He raised himself off his knees and stood up. The crowd backed away slightly. He touched his hand to his face. There was his beard, yes. His long nose, his eyes, his cheeks.

“Is there something on my face?” he asked, turning to a matronly looking woman at the edge of the crowd. She clapped her hands over her mouth, choking back a scream as she backed further away. He turned to a tall skinny fellow, hiding behind a wooden pillar.

“Please, what’s wrong? Why are you all staring?” The fellow’s face seemed to drain itself of all blood as the merchant addressed him. He grabbed the man’s shirt. “Tell me, what’s wrong with me?”

Around him, the whispers were growing louder.

“What is he? A monster? Diseased, maybe?”

“Disgusting, it is. What a fellow like that is doing, goin round with people…”

“It’s so awful! How can he bear it?”

“I’d rather die than look like that, oh gods, how terrible he looks.”

“I can’t look any longer! Tell me when he’s gone!”

The merchant frantically raked his hands over his face. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Everything was there; nothing missing. No cuts, no boils. What were they talking about?

“Please someone, what’s wrong with me?”

A child broke through the crowd, running to see what everyone was whispering about. Before his mother could grab him, he’d burst past the onlookers and came face to face with the old merchant. He raised his eyes to look at the old man’s face and let out a long shrill scream.

The merchant woke up, the scream still ringing in his ears. The dusty morning light shone through a small window in his room and he blinked twice, his eyes adjusting. Still feeling the stares of the dancers on him, he slowly touched his hands to his face. Like the dream, it felt normal. His eyes lit upon his packs in the corner. A mirror. That’s what I need. There was one in the bags. He swung himself out of bed, knelt in front of the bag and undid the straps, his fingers sliding and fumbling in his rush.

There it was. He pulled out the mirror and unwrapped the thick cloth that surrounded it. It was large for a hand-mirror, and heavy. Holding it in his lap, he pulled away the last bit of cloth, exposing the shining glass surface. The sunlight glinted off the glass and with shaking hands, he held it up to see his reflection. A sigh of relief escaped him. He was normal; he was all there. The dark ruddy skin, the graying beard. The long nose and thick brows. He was all there.

He settled himself more comfortably on the floor and sat for a while, gazing at his reflection. The sunlight was warm on his face, but the mirror remained cool to the touch. Tracing the edge of the mirror with his fingers, he stared at his reflection, reveling in its familiarity, its comfort.

A knock at the door made him look up. “Coming!” he shouted. He looked back at the mirror in his hands. What a thing to be doing, sitting here, gazing at myself like some fine lady! Chuckling to himself, he reached for the cloth to wrap the mirror up again. The sunlight seemed to shine more brightly across the mirror’s surface and for a moment, the merchant began to tilt the mirror to see his reflection again. Another knock at the door woke him and he shook himself out of his daze, wrapped the mirror in the thick cloth and placed it back into the bag.

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Mental Hand-Wringing

I’ve been struggling with writing the short story this week.  I haven’t actually written a short story in years (really, since college) and it is hard. It keeps threatening to get away from me and become lengthier and more verbose and I keep trying to trim it back. Combine a character here, trim this nonsense passage there. I keep having this urge to embellish and embroider a scene. Or two. Or three.

But I’m trying to discipline myself. I have a tendency to over-write (and thus the passages tend to be overwrought) so discipline is good. Succinctness is good. KISS rule and all that.

Why oh why is that so difficult?! See, overwroughted-ness there. I’m wringing my hands in my brain as one cannot physically do that while typing.  I should put a mirror above my laptop so that I can glimpse my redonkulous anxiety face as I make it.  I don’t know if it would help or just distract me even more though.

I know that it’s partially my overly-ambitious, dreamer nature taking over, I know that. I have all these PLANS and IDEAS and the desire to do them but well…. yeah.  I start a project and drop it for something else that’s new and fantastical and taking up brain space. But if I actually FINISHED a project, then that brain space would be permanently vacated but of course that logic escapes me half the time.

Gyah, finishing things is so hard. I’ve never been good at conclusions. So. Keep it simple, silly. Finish the story. Move on to the next. Focus on one thing at a time. Do not get distracted by Youtube.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Quiet

It’s Tuesday. I’d hoped to get more done but I haven’t. It’s been one distraction after another and then earlier, and my focus is completely off. But it’s finally quiet, household things are done, people have been talked to, animals have been fed, and I can settle down to peaceably write and knock out some thoughts.

Which is all well and good and dandy, until I get to a point in my writing where I turn a corner in the maze of the plot and accidentally hit a wall.

Well, actually, it’s more like there’s a wall in this universe, but right next to me is a trans-dimensional portal that will take me to another universe/story and I can see an entirely new world and character just waiting there. But I’m trying to finish one thing at a time, damn it! No dimension-hopping for me, not yet. I’ll just take a couple notes until this wall clears in front of me.

I’m never really at a loss of something to say–except when I’m working on a blog. I can start stories and poems and songs, no problem. They’re all jumbled in my brain, waiting to come out. Details may escape me for a short time, but actually having nothing to say or type? That doesn’t happen.  Unless, of course, I’m blogging. Then my mind goes blank; I can’t think of what I’m supposed to say or do or write about. (Thus this semi-babbly post.) Really, I’ve started like several different posts today and nothing stuck. Ugh.

Anyways, I’m writing myself out of the wall. I think of it as a bit of a jailbreak sometimes–like carving out the wall with a spoon. Here a sentence, there a sentence, everywhere a sentence. Chuck the empty space over my shoulder and out of my way and keep carving until I see the light.

 

A flibbertigibbet, a will-o-the-wisp

So yesterday, I successfully wrote several pages of a short story. BOOOM. Felt good about that, I might actually finish it by the end of the week, which would leave next week for revisions (man, do I hate revisions) and maybe then I can concentrate on the REAL books. Again.

Focus is always my biggest problem. I can’t tell you how many stories/novels/daydreams I’ve started and I have all these lovely threads in my brain that just want to be woven but I CAN’T FOCUS ON ONE. It’s like I’m sitting in a field of dandelion wisps and watching each one float by me and trying to catch them, while going “OOOOH, lookit that one! No wait, oooh that one’s pretty!”

My last couple of jobs were entirely anti-focus jobs; it was a perpetual drop-something-do-this-now, oh-wait-this-needs-to-be-done-too, NO-WAIT-GIANT-EXPLOSION-OF-DEADLINES-FIX-IT-NOW kind of job and retraining my brain to be able to focus on one thing for more than 15 minutes is HARD. So hard. It’s like multi-tasking (which really isn’t multi-tasking, but you know) is now so ingrained into me that the idea of working on one single solitary project for an extended period of time sounds so…. agonizing. And slow. And unproductive. Which I know it really isn’t, but it FEELS like that.

But no, that’s how I’m going to get shit done right? One thing at a time. One thing. At a time.

Oh frak.

Whew

After a weekend of pure busy-bee running around, I finally was able to write a bit yesterday. Not anywhere near as much as I’d like, but I at least got a few hundred words down and a few plot points dreamed out. And then I finished “The Beastly Bride” last night which sent me into a new spat of daydreaming and thinking.

It was a really great collection of stories and poems. I loved “Children of Cadmus” by Ellen Kushner. (I have a light obsession with Greek Myths starting from the 3rd grade) and “The Monkey Bride” by Midori Snyder was just lovely.

I’m really sad to return it to the library today. That’s the hard part about books you borrow–you don’t really want to give the ones you love back!

Is there anything more pitiful….

…than a cat getting a bath? MahHubs and I just gave The Chunky Bear-Cat (also, our first-adopted, raised from kittenhood cat) a much needed rinse and soak. She is now sitting by my desk, back leg straight in the air as she tries to respit-herself.

I don’t know if we didn’t do a good enough job of cleaning her, or if she feels like she needs more cleaning.

So I did it.

Finally after all these years, I finished book #1. And with a push from my dear partner-hubby, I stuck it up on Amazon as an ebook.

Can I just say how Gods-awfully terrifying that thought is? It’s been up for one week. I still have an incredible urge to yank it back into me. Like I’m serving under-baked cookies to guests or something.

But no, it’s out there now. For all the world to read, should they want to. I can move on to the next book, and the next project and finish all those lovely daydreams rattling around in my brain. At some point you just have to finish a project.

So that’s what this blog is for. Keeping me on track, giving me an outlet and teasing out the knots and tangles in my brain. Of which there are many.

Also, feel free to purchase my novel and send me critiques and comments!