Weekend Writing Warriors:10/20

This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

Here’s a new WIP–“Discovering Gremlins.” Seth had a bad day at work–hit his head and saw a monster, which he dismissed as his imagination, despite a shadow following him home. The next day, he breaks his phone screen, his shower sprays water everywhere, the subway car he’s on is delayed more than an hour–after lunch Harry (she of I.T. fame) pushes him into her office and tells him she can fix his gremlin problem–and sends him to buy an expensive sound system, then wait for her before he enters his apartment. Seth goes in alone.

Previous snippet:

The noises had stopped, but he could hear, faintly, the whoosh of something breathing, right behind him. Small, sharp points pressed into his back, digging into his shoulders into two arcs—claws, he realized, as they just broke the skin.

A warning.

He could still hear the breathing, and the beginnings of a growl, and behind him, something else, bigger, moving closer.

He clenched his eyes shut. They wanted him to look at them. Why? He didn’t know, but his gut told him he shouldn’t open his eyes.

Through the spike of panic clogging his throat, he forced out, “I’m sorry,”and truly meant it this time.

The louder gremlin giggled, high-pitched and raspy.

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This was it. This was how he died.

The heat from the claws digging into his back vanished, and as he knelt there, eyes clamped shut tightly, he heard the faint rustle of something—several somethings moving behind him.

Four, five… he couldn’t tell. Much more than two, which had been terrifying enough.

The door thudded against the wall as someone shoved it open, and a familiar voice shouted something in a language full of liquid syllables.

“Harry,” Seth said, as his frazzled brain provided him with a prosaic piece of information amid the screaming terror of the last few minutes.

“Just stay put, Seth. Keep your eyes closed until I say otherwise,” Harry slid in between the lilting words of that other language.

A rough-edged voice, with an inhumanely deep tone, answered, the burble of sounds still as pretty as a stream, answered, moving away from Seth as it did so.

*    *    *

Gremlins have camouflage magic, and a way of making people who catch just a glimpse forget them. This is good for humanity, because they’re powerfully ugly, and react violently to being discovered. But when Seth hits his head and lands on the floor right next to a gremlin, he sees it… and it notices that he’s done so. Things are about to go downhill for Seth.

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Weekend Writing Warriors:10/14

This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

Here’s a new WIP–“Discovering Gremlins.” Seth had a bad day at work–hit his head and saw a monster, which he dismissed as his imagination, despite a shadow following him home. The next day, he breaks his phone screen, his shower sprays water everywhere, the subway car he’s on is delayed more than an hour–after lunch Harry (she of I.T. fame) pushes him into her office and tells him she can fix his gremlin problem–and sends him to buy an expensive sound system, then wait for her before he enters his apartment. Seth goes in alone.

Previous snippet:

Seized with an almost uncontrollable desire to turn around, Seth clenched his eyes shut, and didn’t realize he’d tightened his jaw, too, until his teeth began to ache from the pressure.

The sound came from behind him, again—no, two sounds. One echoed deeper, louder, more of a growl, and farther to the left.

His skin crawled, but he eased up on his jaw without opening his eyes. “Harry– she works in the basement of my building, I think you know her–she said there was a ritual, but I don’t know the words, and… something happened to keep her from telling them to me.”

The noises were definitely closer now.

“I don’t know the words, but I am sorry, and—”

Stars burst across his closed eyelids, and a spike of pain drove through his skull. Then his knees ached, and somehow he’d fallen to them, hard from how they complained, his palms stinging, too from hitting the floor.

He should have waited for Harry, even if it took hours.

weekend_writing_warriorsveteransbadge

The noises had stopped, but he could hear, faintly, the whoosh of something breathing, right behind him. Small, sharp points pressed into his back, digging into his shoulders into two arcs—claws, he realized, as they just broke the skin.

A warning.

He could still hear the breathing, and the beginnings of a growl, and behind him, something else, bigger, moving closer.

He clenched his eyes shut. They wanted him to look at them. Why? He didn’t know, but his gut told him he shouldn’t open his eyes.

Through the spike of panic clogging his throat, he forced out, “I’m sorry,” and truly meant it this time.

The louder gremlin giggled, high-pitched and raspy.

*    *    *

Gremlins have camouflage magic, and a way of making people who catch just a glimpse forget them. This is good for humanity, because they’re powerfully ugly, and react violently to being discovered. But when Seth hits his head and lands on the floor right next to a gremlin, he sees it… and it notices that he’s done so. Things are about to go downhill for Seth.



Weekend Writing Warriors: 9/29

This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

Here’s a new WIP–“Discovering Gremlins.” Seth had a bad day at work–hit his head and saw a monster, which he dismissed as his imagination, despite a shadow following him home. The next day, he breaks his phone screen, his shower sprays water everywhere, the subway car he’s on is delayed more than an hour–after lunch Harry (she of I.T. fame) pushes him into her office and tells him she can fix his gremlin problem–and sends him to buy an expensive sound system, then wait for her before he enters his apartment. Seth goes in alone.

Previous snippet: 

“I brought you a gift, to apologize for my mistake,” he tapped the boxes, “so I’ll just leave it here for you, and—”

Something fizzed and crackled, and then, with a shower of sparks, the overhead lights in the living room and kitchen burst, a melody of glass sprinkling the linoleum. A few of the sparks settled on a stack of magazines on the living room table, and flames flickered to life.

Seth swore, smacking at the magazines with a towel on the nearby counter, sending sparks everywhere, scorching the table-top and his hand. He yelped, and lunged for the sink.

He wrenched both taps open, and the faucet emitted a rattling groan, but no water.

What could he use? He hauled open the fridge, yanked out a jug of juice, and poured it over the magazines. That got the fire out, finally, but left a sticky mess of orange juice swimming with ash and pieces of scorched paper.

Behind him, he heard a raspy chittering.

weekend_writing_warriorsveteransbadge

Seized with an almost uncontrollable desire to turn around, Seth clenched his eyes shut, and didn’t realize he’d tightened his jaw, too, until his teeth began to ache from the pressure.

The sound came from behind him, again—no, two sounds. One echoed deeper, louder, more of a growl, and farther to the left.

His skin crawled, but he eased up on his jaw without opening his eyes. “Harry– she works in the basement of my building, I think you know her–she said there was a ritual, but I don’t know the words, and… something happened to keep her from telling them to me.”

The noises were definitely closer now.

“I don’t know the words, but I am sorry, and—”

Stars burst across his closed eyelids, and a spike of pain drove through his skull. Then his knees ached, and somehow he’d fallen to them, hard from how they complained, his palms stinging, too from hitting the floor.

He should have waited for Harry, even if it took hours.

*    *    *

Gremlins have camouflage magic, and a way of making people who catch just a glimpse forget them. This is good for humanity, because they’re powerfully ugly, and react violently to being discovered. But when Seth hits his head and lands on the floor right next to a gremlin, he sees it… and it notices that he’s done so. Things are about to go downhill for Seth.

Banning Books

Banned Books Week is September 23rd to 29th. It’s almost over, but it’s not too late to celebrate!

Every banned book week makes me think about good intentions, and censorship. Some people, I’m sure, are trying to protect someone–often their children–from being hurt by the images a particular book contains in its pages.

And, yet… whatever terrible thing that happens in the book is still out there, in the real world, and is probably better addressed at an appropriate age and in the appropriate fashion, than ignored.

Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

Which is why I was wearing my banned book shirt today–ban ignorance, not books. Someone commented on it, because her sister is a teacher, and we talked about how knowledge really is a powerful force.

It’s nice to meet someone else who believes books are a spark to light up lives, not burn down homes.

Have you read a banned/challenged book recently?

Here’s the American Library Association’s list of frequently banned and challenged books, if you’re interested.

Top Ten Tues: Favorite Authors Neglected

Top Ten Tuesdays, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, feature lists related to all things bookish–characters, authors, titles, and favorites. They’re an excellent way to find new interesting books on a variety of topics, and to find bloggers that love the books you do.

Check out their blog for their top ten and lists by other bloggers!

September 25: Books By My Favorite Authors That I Still Haven’t Read

If you ask who my favorite authors are, I’ll list off a handful that changes from day to day–but here are some that I really like!

  1. American Elsewhere; Robert Jackson Bennett. I adored the first of the Founders series… so while I wait for the second Founders to come out, I need to read more of his stand-alones.

2. Kin; Holly Black. I do love a fairy tale! And this trilogy is complete, too.

3. Moab is my Washpot; Stephen Fry. I haven’t actually read any of his books, but I’ve enjoyed his comedy, which is close enough.

4. Crown of Vengeance; Mercedes Lackey. I’ve read so many of her books, but have a way to go before I’ve read them all!

5. Cold Fire; Tamora Pierce. Somehow I read books #1-6 in this series, and then #11!

6. A Slip of the Keyboard; Terry Pratchett. Despite how prolific he was, I’ve read most of his work except the nonfiction. I don’t want to finish too quickly, though!

7. Mistborn; Brandon Sanderson. I’ve been meaning to read these for some time, but I’ll get there someday.

8. Vicious; V.E. Schwab. The next book is already out, so I need to catch up!

9. Paper Girls vol 3; Brian K Vaughan. I enjoy Saga, so I thought I’d try this time travel story, but I keep getting distracted.

10. Place No One Knows; Brenna Yovanoff. I’ve enjoyed the three creepy fairy-tale like books of hers I’ve read so far.

Weekend Writing Warriors: 9/22

This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

Here’s a new WIP–“Discovering Gremlins.” Seth had a bad day at work–hit his head and saw a monster, which he dismissed as his imagination, despite a shadow following him home. The next day, he breaks his phone screen, his shower sprays water everywhere, the subway car he’s on is delayed more than an hour–after lunch Harry (she of I.T. fame) pushes him into her office and tells him she can fix his gremlin problem–and sends him to buy an expensive sound system, then go home.

Previous snippet: He checked his phone for a text, a call, an email–anything to tell him that Harry was on her way.

Nothing.

After a half hour, his rear numb, he pushed himself up, gathered the bag he’d tucked under his legs for safe keeping, and climbed the steps to his building. He’d be careful not to touch anything complex, and avoid all the electronics he could. Maybe he could make this apology on his own.

He couldn’t wait out here for hours–if Harry was really concerned about the danger, she’d have texted him back by now.

“How dangerous can they really be?” he muttered as he trudged warily to his room.

Seth set out each box with the sound system components Harry had listed, arranging them so the pictures and logos faced up, creating the prettiest circle he could.

“I’m really sorry,” he said to the empty room, keeping his eyes fixed on the boxes, “I didn’t mean to—I didn’t mean to upset you…”

Not a bad start, except for the stumble where he’d almost said something about their stupid rules.

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“I brought you a gift, to apologize for my mistake,” he tapped the boxes, “so I’ll just leave it here for you, and—”

Something fizzed and crackled, and then, with a shower of sparks, the overhead lights in the living room and kitchen burst, a melody of glass sprinkling the linoleum. A few of the sparks settled on a stack of magazines on the living room table, and flames flickered to life.

Seth swore, smacking at the magazines with a towel on the nearby counter, sending sparks everywhere, scorching the table-top and his hand. He yelped, and lunged for the sink.

He wrenched both taps open, and the faucet emitted a rattling groan, but no water.

What could he use? He hauled open the fridge, yanked out a jug of juice, and poured it over the magazines. That got the fire out, finally, but left a sticky mess of orange juice swimming with ash and pieces of scorched paper.

Behind him, he heard a raspy chittering.

*    *    *

Gremlins have camouflage magic, and a way of making people who catch just a glimpse forget them. This is good for humanity, because they’re powerfully ugly, and react violently to being discovered. But when Seth hits his head and lands on the floor right next to a gremlin, he sees it… and it notices that he’s done so. Things are about to go downhill for Seth.

Top Ten Tues: Fall TBR

Top Ten Tuesdays, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, feature lists related to all things bookish–characters, authors, titles, and favorites. They’re an excellent way to find new interesting books on a variety of topics, and to find bloggers that love the books you do.

Check out their blog for their top ten and lists by other bloggers!

September 18: Books On My Fall 2018 TBR

As usual, I will make this list from books I’m likely to read in the fall season–September 22nd to December 21st.

  1. American Elsewhere; Robert Bennett. A hometown with a dark secret. I enjoyed other books by this author, so I’m curious to try another.

2. Smoke & Iron; Rachel Caine. Books and magic are where it’s at!

3. The Land of Stone Flowers; Sveta Dorosheva. I need a fairy guide to the mythical human being.

4. Jane Austen, Secret Radical; Helena Kelly. Recommended by a friend.

5. Archenemies; Marissa Meyer. I enjoyed Renegades, a story about superheroes and supervillains, where it’s difficult to say who is who.

6. And the Ocean was Our Sky; Patrick Ness & Rovina Cai. A futuristic version of Moby Dick told from the whale’s point of view? So intriguing!

7. The Bedlam Stacks; Natasha Pulley. I heard the author speak a while ago, but haven’t gotten to her book yet. I’m impressed with her research, though.

8. Muse of Nightmares; Laini Taylor. Loved Strange the Dreamer. So excited for book 2! (Book 1: A floating temple, hidden children stranded on it, and an expedition to uncover the temple’s secrets.)

9. The Boneless Mercies; Genevieve Tucholke. Standalone of female mercenaries seeking glory. Sounds fun, right?

10. The Future is Blue; Catherynne Valente. A collection of intriguing sounding stories. And that cover!

Weekend Writing Warriors: 9/15

~~~~~*****Announcement below!!!!!*****~~~~~

This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

Here’s a new WIP–“Discovering Gremlins.” Seth had a bad day at work–hit his head and saw a monster, which he dismissed as his imagination, despite a shadow following him home. The next day, he breaks his phone screen, his shower sprays water everywhere, the subway car he’s on is delayed more than an hour–after lunch Harry (she of I.T. fame) pushes him into her office and tells him she can fix his gremlin problem–and sends him to buy an expensive sound system, then go home.

Previous snippet: At least his red, sweaty face helped sell that he felt ill from lunch, and soon he was on his way to buying that expensive apology.

He watched the digits climb on the register’s readout grimly, thinking that if Harry was messing with him, he’d slip laxatives into her lunch randomly for months.

At least schlepping the boxes back wasn’t as difficult as he feared. Like plenty of expensive purchases, they weren’t very large, fitting easily into a single bag. He folded his arms around the bag on the subway, watching every flicker of shadow out of the corner of his eyes, and flinching at every groan and lurch of the subway car.

He texted Harry, “almost home.”

She sent back a thumbs up.

“This better work,” he muttered, stuffing his phone back into his pocket. When he stepped off on his stop, his nerves had frayed from every creak and smudge.

Perching on a retaining wall outside his apartment, he waited impatiently for Harry to appear.

 

 

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He checked his phone for a text, a call, an email–anything to tell him that Harry was on her way.

Nothing.

After a half hour, his rear numb, he pushed himself up, gathered the bag he’d tucked under his legs for safe keeping, and climbed the steps to his building. He’d be careful not to touch anything complex, and avoid all the electronics he could. Maybe he could make this apology on his own.

He couldn’t wait out here for hours–if Harry was really concerned about the danger, she’d have texted him back by now.

“How dangerous can they really be?” he muttered as he trudged warily to his room.

Seth set out each box with the sound system components Harry had listed, arranging them so the pictures and logos faced up, creating the prettiest circle he could.

“I’m really sorry,” he said to the empty room, keeping his eyes fixed on the boxes, “I didn’t mean to—I didn’t mean to upset you…”

Not a bad start, except for the stumble where he’d almost said something about their stupid rules.

*    *    *

Gremlins have camouflage magic, and a way of making people who catch just a glimpse forget them. This is good for humanity, because they’re powerfully ugly, and react violently to being discovered. But when Seth hits his head and lands on the floor right next to a gremlin, he sees it… and it notices that he’s done so. Things are about to go downhill for Seth.

————————————-Announcement————————————————-

Do y’all remember the NaNoWriMo from last year I shared here? It started like this:

“We should have left the party earlier,” Alix said, glancing around the darkening woods, her stomach knotting with fear over what would soon be lurking in them. Everyone knew that the goblins that came to the markets during the day were pretty safe, so long as you followed the rules. But the goblins who came out at night… the rules about them were so restrictive, it was easy to go wrong.

“You worry too much,” her cousin Stephanie, hunched on her bike seat, slurred, then hiccupped.

They should have skipped that second drink, too. Then they would have been back at the dorm right now, safe and sound, but at the rate they were pedaling, they would be caught out by the night.

Alix’s stomach lurched, and so did her bike handles, veering to the side and dumping her to the ground as if her trusty ten-speed had transformed into a bucking bronco. Groaning, she rubbed her bruised rear, and tried to stand, the world swimming around her. Before she could get upright, she lurched to her hands and knees to be sick.

Behind her, Stephanie leaned her bike against a tree, and wobbled over to gather up Alix’s hair in one hand, and pat her on the back with the other, murmuring soothing and mostly incoherent phrases until the attack was over.

“You feeling better?” Stephanie asked, when the retching had stopped for a while, and Alix had sat back, scooting away. She released her cousin’s hair with a final pat on her back.

Grumbling a noise that vaguely resembled agreement, Alix stood slowly, and when the world—and her stomach—didn’t revolt, rummaged in her backpack for a stick of gum. Finding a battered lone survivor on the bottom, she held it up in triumph before sticking the gum in her mouth, and folding the wrapper into her jean’s pocket.

 Rubbing tears out of her blue eyes, she kicked leaves and dirt over the mess she’d left, then hunted for her cousin, just realizing that Stephanie wasn’t waiting for her against a tree.

“We should—” she began, but Stephanie cut her off with a laugh.

“Enough should for right now! I’m going to stretch my legs a bit. Come on, Alix!” She started walking, scuffing her feet though the fallen leaves, her stride wavering from side to side.

“Steph! Get back here!” Alix demanded, then regretted it when Stephanie tossed her head, curled sandy blonde hair flying around her face, and took off running through the trees.

I finally, finally got to the end of the first draft (the first time I’ve ever done so!), and I need Beta readers. Mostly concerned with continuity errors, repeated words, and any places that just don’t make sense or need elaboration.

Any volunteers? Send me an email through my “contact me” link at the top of the blog. Thanks for all your encouragement that helped me get this far!

Book Riot Read Harder 2018: August

Almost forgot this one!

Here’s the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge for 2018! There’s 24 prompts to encourage you to read harder, and I urge you to check it out if you want to get outside your comfort zone. It’s always great to see the new suggestions, and I’m still working on finding the perfect titles.

(Click the link to see the challenge, and to download a PDF of the challenge list.)

book riot

To quote the article: “We encourage you to push yourself, to take advantage of this challenge as a way to explore topics or formats or genres that you otherwise wouldn’t try. But this isn’t a test. […] We like books because they allow us to see the world from a new perspective, and sometimes we all need help to even know which perspectives to try.

  • Read a book of genre fiction in translation

Three Body Problem; Liu Cixin.

My response to this book can be summed up as “huh.” The various elements of it didn’t coalesce into a whole for me. The characters felt flat, difficult to relate to. They worked towards goals that weren’t often explained, or if they were, tended to be layers of lies.

In fact, there’s so much deceit and double-crossing going on, there are several “you were wrong” moments going on, like some terrible spy movie where the characters keep ripping off super-realistic face masks. You can never quite tell if what you’re being given is truth or lies.

It seems to boil down to a question of worth (of a civilization and of that civilization’s individuals) and the cost of survival. What sacrifices are okay? What aren’t? I’m not sure I grasp the answer the book is suggesting, if it is suggesting one at all. This is a book I’m going to have to think on.

  • Read a book set in or about a BRICS country.

Tsar of Love and Techno; Anthony Marra.

There’s something about a beautifully written book with pervasive sadness that doesn’t work for me. When the characters are helpless, or even complicit, in tragedy after tragedy. When they shrug off rape and torture and pointless executions as a part of life… I see the beauty, but I don’t, on the whole, enjoy it.

A tied together collection of short stories, united by the relationship between characters, a location, and symbolic objects (like the tape on the cover). Everything flows smoothly, each section giving more understanding to the stories that came before it. It’s heart-breakingly lonely, even when it describes moments of love and connection, they’re invariably tarnished and destroyed soon after.

Weekend Writing Warriors: 9/9

This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

Here’s a new WIP–“Discovering Gremlins.” Seth had a bad day at work–hit his head and saw a monster, which he dismissed as his imagination, despite a shadow following him home. The next day, he breaks his phone screen, his shower sprays water everywhere, the subway car he’s on is delayed more than an hour–after lunch Harry (she of I.T. fame) pushes him into her office and tells him she can fix his gremlin problem.

Previous snippet: “Oh,” Harry  brushed back her bleached-blonde hair, “I forgot you didn’t grow up on these stories. Gremlins hate to be seen, and they’ll mess with the tech around anyone who does, until something really bad happens. Or you apologize, by giving them a shiny new toy.”

Seth read the page, “A sound system?  But I didn’t do anything wrong!”

“You can’t expect gremlins to think like us, Seth.”

“This is crazy…”

“Everything that’s broken since you saw the monster that you didn’t see–imagine tomorrow is like that, and the day after, and the day after.”

“Sound system it is,” Seth muttered, folding the note and stuffing it in his pocket.

Harry called after him, “Better take the stairs!”

 

 

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At least his red, sweaty face helped sell that he felt ill from lunch, and soon he was on his way to buying that expensive apology.

He watched the digits climb on the register’s readout grimly, thinking that if Harry was messing with him, he’d slip laxatives into her lunch randomly for months.

At least schlepping the boxes back wasn’t as difficult as he feared. Like plenty of expensive purchases, they weren’t very large, fitting easily into a single bag. He folded his arms around the bag on the subway, watching every flicker of shadow out of the corner of his eyes, and flinching at every groan and lurch of the subway car.

He texted Harry, “almost home.”

She sent back a thumbs up.

“This better work,” he muttered, stuffing his phone back into his pocket. When he stepped off on his stop, his nerves had frayed from every creak and smudge.

Perching on a retaining wall outside his apartment, he waited impatiently for Harry to appear.

*    *    *

Gremlins have camouflage magic, and a way of making people who catch just a glimpse forget them. This is good for humanity, because they’re powerfully ugly, and react violently to being discovered. But when Seth hits his head and lands on the floor right next to a gremlin, he sees it… and it notices that he’s done so. Things are about to go downhill for Seth.