This 8 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!)

This is a snippet from my yet-to-be-completed NaNoWriMo story, Black Ink Plague, a fantasy about inkbloods, people who were left at the roots of a magic tree as babies, and can use charcoal from those trees to write and cast spells.

I’m starting with the inkblood origin story, which isn’t a happy one.

Note: “Jabberwock Keys” update below.


“The first inkblood’s mother was married to a woodsman, a big man, strong from his work, who drank to stay warm on cold nights. And he was angry. Angry at his pay, at his wife for failing to stretch the money he gave her as far as he liked, angry at her for losing a child, and then giving him a girl.

That girl child died young, and when she was pregnant again, he told her it had better be a boy he could train, or he would beat her, and kill the baby. But she gave birth while he was out working in the woods, and the babe was a girl.

Desperate, aching, the mother hid the baby in a hollow at the roots of a tree, wrapped in a blanket, and prayed that her child would survive the night. When her husband came home, he beat her when she told him the child was a girl, and that she had left the baby with a friend. He tore apart the house and little yard, searching for the baby, but he didn’t find her.”

*    *    *

NOTE: I polished up “Jabberwock Keys” a bit, and put it up in three sections on my blog.

One. Two. Three.

Happy Reading! And Happy New Year!



About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

18 responses »

  1. chellecordero says:

    My goodness, so dark and sad. I hope the baby will survive the night and the mom will find the strength to get away from the brute. Very intriguing snippet.

    • caitlinstern says:

      This is a big change from my previous snippets, I know. But this is another story that gripped me, and demanded to be told.

      And–in case you didn’t notice–for a lighter story, I put up all of Daisy’s adventures in the links at the bottom of this post. 🙂

  2. Oh, wow. This is quite grim. I hope baby girl has a long, interesting life ahead, away from her nasty father. Now I’ll go read about Daisy to get happy again.

  3. Caitlin, your imagination boggles the mind. Cliffhanger here as we wait for what happens next.

    • caitlinstern says:

      It isn’t a very long story–just an explanation between one main character to another–so I’ll be able to fit it all in a couple more snippets.

      Inkbloods are like the original fairy tales, I think–dark and magical, full of haunting forests and lurking dangers.

  4. Carrie-Anne says:

    That’s a really bleak world these characters inhabit. It’s so unfair how so many women have all this pressure put on them to produce male heirs, since not all couples are meant to have a boy first, or more boys than girls. I hope the baby survives and has a happy life with good people.

    • caitlinstern says:

      The kernel of idea that started this story was dark, and it led to a darker place than I usually write. This man isn’t representative of all the men in this story–but he does have some attitudes that some people historically have had, for sure.

  5. Alexis Duran says:

    A gripping start to what promises to be a very interesting story. Great snippet! ( don’t suppose there’s any chance the father will run afoul of Daisy?)

    • caitlinstern says:

      Hah! That would be one way to solve it!

      But I don’t think it’s safe to let Daisy out of her story. She’d go around eating all the bad guys, and then I’d have no conflict.

  6. Sarah W says:

    I like the tone of this, caitlin—it suits the story. I know it’s different from your usual, but it’s also very good. 🙂

    I’m off to read about Daisy!

    • caitlinstern says:

      Most of my writing falls into two categories–dark with snark, or absurd with adventure. Both are enjoyable to write, in their own way.

      Real magic, I suspect, would come with a high price. So in this story’s world, it does.

  7. Wow, a powerful story! I’m intrigued. Great 8.
    And I can’t wait to read Jabberwock Keys;).

  8. Well it is a grim beginning to the tale, but I’m intrigued by the concept of the inkbloods. Reminds me inagoodway of the original Grimms’ Fairy Tales, which were also really dark…well done 8!

    • caitlinstern says:

      It is a sort of fairy tale, about transformation and magic and sacrifice. No one will be eating hearts, or cutting off heels, or becoming air spirits–but there is a plague, as you might have guessed from the title.

  9. Oh my Gosh, I can’t take it, I’ve got to read more!!! Poor baby. Very dark and I love it!!! Did someone find her??? They have to have found her!!

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