Thursday, December 08, 2016

Flash Fiction # 228 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 12: Escape

We made an odd procession as we left the camp at midnight, lines and groups heading out the gate and into the desert.  None of the guards were up in the watch towers.  Both nons and the others were mingling now, so that last worry finally disappeared.
Several people were carrying out pieces of what would be boxcars when we got to a rail line.  Last of all came the image of an engine.  I watched it go by in disbelief, trying to imagine how it would be real enough to fool others.  I'd never known that kind of magic in my short association with Elsewhere.
I'd never known anyone like Tom, either.  He radiated magic now that he was in his true form.  Far more than Lord Cayman or Darman had done.  I wondered if this was even his true form, though the others accepted it. 
Honestly, I didn't care.  I was just glad that we were on our way to help others.  I didn't like the thought of Lord Cayman out there on his own.  I really disliked the idea of humanity moving against us because they were too blind to see the difference between Cayman and Darman.  I knew that was going to make things difficult.
But we were moving.  Lord Snow darted forward and nearly knocked me down in his enthusiasm to see me.  Edmond flew overhead and landed -- badly -- nearby.  He muttered a curse and folded his wings, apparently deciding to walk for a while.
The night felt cold but I don't think any of us cared.  I looked back at the camp and wondered how long some of the prisoners had been there.  I wondered what would happen when humans realized we were gone.  They'd come looking by morning, I feared.
I said so to Maggie when she came to walk with the cats and me.
"The humans there are all under sleep spells," she said with a glance back.  "Those will hold until at least noon and maybe longer.  As soon as everyone is out of the camp, I'm going to bring up a wind that will hid or tracks and also keep enough sand over us that no one flying overhead will notice."
"Good.  Maybe they'll just think we disappeared and won't really search."
"That's our hope," Bailey said.  "We just need to make certain we're not somewhere easy to spot."
"Not going to be easy for a group like this," I said.  There were several hundred of us, and at least half were nons.  Not many were nons like Edmond and Lord Snow, who were hard enough to keep hidden, but at least partly fit into this world.  Maggie, with her metal wings, was another difficult one -- though a cloak worked there.  But some of the others -- no, they couldn't be hidden easily.
"We have quite some distance to go to reach a set of railroad tracks," Maggie said with a shake of her head.  "We better hope we get there before light."
"What about other trains?" I asked.  I was starting to see a lot of problems here.
"We'll be on the lookout for them.  If we have to, we'll give a few of them problems to keep them back and hope that those tricks don't add up and someone will come looking for us."
The distance we had to travel was daunting.  Someone would figure out the direction we were going and there would be people searching for us.  If word got out --
"There is going to be panic," I said and Maggie looked at me, startled.  "Think about word of our escape getting out. Think about the people we know -- especially the ones like your parents."
"They'd be out there inciting riots if they weren't in prison," she said with a snarl.
"I didn't mean to --"
"No, you're right.  They're just the sort of people we need to be really careful about," she replied.  The anger had slipped away from her again.  I was glad she she thinking about it.
"I don't know how many of these people are from our reality," I said.  I shook my head, worried about the possibilities.  "We need to remind everyone that we're going to run into trouble long before we get back to the gate."
"You're right," she said.  Then she suddenly put a hand over my shoulder.  "I was worried when the others said you hadn't arrived.  At least Davis and I were together, but it was still awful."
"I suppose they had their reasons.  Do you know anything about Tom?"
"I know what he is. That's enough to worry about."
I didn't ask more.  If she had anything to tell me, she would.  I expected the same from Lord Snow, Edmond, and Davis.  We were a team. We were heading back from trouble, but at least we had allies this time.
Actually, more than allies I suddenly realized.  We were moving an army.  There had been several hundred at camp and all of them with magic.  I didn't know anything about their powers, but Tom would.  I knew he would be in charge and I was fine with that -- as long as he realized I likely knew more about both the area and the enemy than he did.
I didn't say anything.  I just hoped this would not become a problem.  I and my people were the strangers here and I noticed how they were staying by me.  I tried not to think there was a reason for it.
We were heading into battle.  I didn't want to find myself on the wrong side of Tom and of Darman as well.  This might be trickier than I had considered.  Of course, first we had to walk across the desert, pretend to be a train, and travel over halfway across the continent.
Yeah.  Complicated.

To Be Continued.... 

979 Words

Monday, December 05, 2016

Goals, Part 1

NaNo is over!   I have two lovely finished first drafts, both of which are now put aside for a few months.  I have learned not to edit too soon.  I need everything to be cleared out of my head so that I can see the story for what it is and not for what I expected to find there. I'll write another novel or two 

So here we are in December.  Lots to get done right?  Holidays and all of that stuff piling up around you.  School stuff for some, worries about winter for others -- and over us all the realization that 2017 is only a few days away.

I do not do resolutions.  Instead, I do goals.  Goals are things to work toward, not some sudden 'resolution' to change immediately.  My goals are almost always writing-related.  One of next year's goals, for instance, is to get more of my ebooks into print format at CreateSpace.  That's a nice little goal.  It means a chance to edit because books can always use another edit, and every time I make a breakthrough on some writing front, I want to go back and apply it to everything.  It also means new cover art, either expanding on one already done or an entirely new cover.  There is also all the formating that goes into the work. This isn't just a matter of grabbing an ebook version and slapping it between a couple covers.

That is a good goal.  How many should I do?  One a a month might be possible -- ah, but then there's November and that wouldn't work.  I think 8 to 10  might be a better goal, and include in that the new ebook/print combinations I publish since I now usually do the print version at the same time as a new release.

How many new releases?  Maybe four to six.  I am only certain of one (Raventower & Merriweather 2: War), but I have several others in the queue that might make it.  That means more editing, more cover art, more formatting, this time for both ebook and print.

Marketing?  There's a goal I need to work into this insanity.  I am horrible at marketing.  I know it.  I'm reading more articles and books, but I simply can't seem to make the right connection to what I should do.  Work harder at marketing in general is about as far as I can go with that one because I have such trouble figuring out what to do.

You may have noticed that so far I haven't said anything about actually writing. This is because writing is so natural to me that I don't have to make a goal of it.  Instead, I need to make goals that direct me to things other than the actual writing of new stories.  Those stories will happen.  I write every day.  I have for decades. 

If you need writing goals, though, there are simple ways to ease into a pattern of regular writing.  Don't suddenly think you're going to write thousands of words a day, every day.  That rarely ever works. When I decided to first start writing every day, I began with 250 words.  I was able to write every day, but some of you might want to limit that to Monday-Friday instead.  There is no reason you have to write every day.

250 times 365 days = 91250 Words
250 times 261 days (no weekends) = 65,250

In both cases, you will have gotten either most of or all of a  novel done if you stick to the story.  The truth is that by mid year you'll probably be writing more than 250 words because it starts getting easier once you write more often.

There are things that will keep you from writing, though, too.  I'll discuss some of the pitfalls of solid goals like this in my next week's blog!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Flash Fiction # 227 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 11: Others


I took a step back, worried about what was going wrong now.  I had no idea what to do.   Power enveloped the man in a shimmer of gold, but I didn't feel anything dangerous in it.  I was ready to move to protect others -- but I didn't think I needed to after all.

Tom was growing taller, thinner -- more silvery so that his hair almost glowed.  His eyes turned bright blue as they stared at me -- amused, I thought.  The transition did not take long and when I blinked he was still Tom, but different.  And he was, beyond a doubt, fae -- but not like any I'd ever seen before.  When he looked at me, I felt more power than  I had ever encountered before.  I stopped moving, uncertain of what I should do.  Was this good?  Bad? 

"Elder fae," Edmond said, his voice a little shaken.  He dropped down on the floor and settled by my feet.  "He's an elder fae, but that's not possible.  They never leave Elsewhere.  This can't be real --"

"Be calm, furred one," Tom said as he smiled.  He stretched as though he had been cramped in the smaller size for too long.  The others didn't look surprised, I noted.  Well, except for my companions.  Edmond backed up behind me, and I could see him peaking around the back of my legs.  Tom laughed and it was a bright sound.  "My name is Tosemin (Edmond mewed in distress) and I am an elder fae.  One of the top ten, as your little friend realizes.  I came here because there was a dire need, but I am limited in power and understanding.  I had to gather those with power and I used the humans' paranoia to do so."

It took me a moment to realize what he was saying -- that he'd brought us together to fight the enemy.  I didn't know if I should trust him, but Edmond was starting to come back out again and I thought he might be hopeful rather than afraid.

"What are we going to do?" Collins asked.  I was glad to have him back as the guard tonight.  I can't say I even knew when he came in.  Everything had been so confused that I wasn't certain I trusted anything right now.

But was there hope?

Tom gave a wave of his hand and a 3D map appeared in front of me.  "The Gate to Elsewhere is here," Tom said, his finger pointing to a spot that brightened.  "We are here, far across the high mountains.  They act as a barrier to whatever magic we have gathered in this place.  Darman created his army of weres in an area of the gate, which also is wooded and hilly so that what is out there is hidden, but we know there are far too many of them and they won't be easy to defeat.  We had to collect an army of our own to go up against him.  You cannot go back without us."

I started to argue, but Maggie had already agreed with an emphatic nod and I trusted her even more than I did Edmond.  I didn't want to put others in danger, but I also knew that I couldn't fight him alone.  We wouldn't get many chances.  The others all understood the situation and I had to come to terms with situation.

"What do we do?" I asked, committing myself to the group.  "We can't take over enough trucks as they come in.  How are is the nearest train tracks?  Do trains go by often?"

"We don't need a train," Davis said with a quick nod.  "Just make something that looks like one and illusion and magic can do the rest."

Tom looked pleased by this idea and I refrained from saying I had no idea how that sort of thing would work.  They did.  I had to trust that my allies -- who were far better trained in this than me -- knew what they could do. 

I had been fighting this battle almost on my own, I realized.  I'd had friends and allies all along the way, but it had been my work that brought us all here in the end.  I wasn't the most powerful person in this group, but I was central to everything that had happened.

I listened as the others talked about what they would need, what they could do, how much it would take to power this magic as far as they needed to go.  I needed to learn some real magic, but I feared there wouldn't be time before we started this journey. 

There was a feeling of urgency in what we were doing, as though we could sense that the trouble was growing even with the mountains between us.

"We have to move carefully," Smith said.  We'd had a quick dinner but no one had left the table yet.  "There are some humans who still believe we are docile prisoners, and if we start showing any thing to the contrary, it could get messy.  We don't want that kind of trouble now."

"The work is spread out among the different groups," Davis said.  "Everyone is being careful of the guards we don't trust, but mostly we'll be fine for tonight.  The next question is to decide when it would be best to go."

We were still discussing that possibility when someone knocked softly on the door.  Collins went to answer, while the rest of us stayed very quiet.  I couldn't hear what was said, but Collins took a newspaper from the person and pushed the door closed again.

He didn't look happy when he came back to the table.

Collins unfolded the paper and showed us the front page.

Battles, attacks in several places -- things were falling apart in the east.

"We don't have any time to waste," I said.

Tom nodded agreement.  "We go tonight."

To Be Continued....

989 Words

Monday, November 28, 2016

NaNo Week 4

I am writing this late on Sunday night, the 27th.  I believe that I'll make my personal NaNo goal for this year -- 200k -- without too much trouble.  I'm down to about 4k a day for it and while things might still go wrong (it's been that kind of month/year), I am going to hazard a prediction that I'm going to do fine.    Raventower & Merriweather 2: War is done at 128k or so and Silversun will come in at around 75k.  Not too bad, all things considered.

December is going to be nice.  I only have one novel left to finish this year.  I also have a bit of an outline to fill out, but that shouldn't be difficult.  There is one other story idea I'll write up as well, I think.  But the word counts are going to be low and I'm going to play with graphics and stuff, too.

I'm not certain how the weather will be, but I'm in my little office with the heater, so I'll be fine.  Just really don't want it to be cold and white too soon.  Though it does make nice pictures.  I need to get back to doing some serious photography.  NaNo has taken every bit of my energy this year, though.

What else?

I have crossed a million words for the year.  I've done this for several years, so it's not much of a surprise or anything.  Glad to have done it.  I have four new novels and a lot of rewritten ones this year, so that's good, too.  I expect next year to be much the same in that respect.  I want to get a lot of the older stuff in order and published, so I've been focusing on rewrites and edits rather than a lot of new things.  Besides, Silversun is my 102nd novel.  Less than half of them are published.  I need to get working!

I wonder if I can make up a list of things to publish in 2017.  A few new ebooks and a lot more print versions (because I can do print versions of ebooks that are already out).

For the moment, though, I am just glad to see the end of November in sight!

Next month I think I'll talk about goals.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Flash Fiction # 226 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 10: Truth

I pulled Edmond closer to me -- and Collins grabbed me by the arm and threw me inside the room.  I had the impression of guards coming our way and I quickly got out of sight.

"What the hell is going on?" Collins demanded before anyone else could speak.  "What was that?"

"Don't know.  Sounded like it hit your roof --"

"Not ours," Collins said.  I felt a little touch of magic with those words, just enough to make them seem more true than the others would have thought at first.  "I need to get the door closed before we have a real problem!"

The others agreed.  The door closed.  Collins waved me back from the opening and I retreated, holding Edmond close.  He was purring as I sat down and put him in my lap.  I had never felt such relief before.

"This -- this is Edmond?" Tom asked as he sat back down. Collins took a place across from us and seemed rather more happy than shocked.

"Yes, I am," Edmond answered for himself.  He looked at me, and I could tell he didn't get this reaction either.  Strange people.

"Edmond is a talking and flying cat," Tom said.  "You never said what he was."

Edmond was a non, and that suddenly worried me.  "How did you get here, Edmond?" I asked, trying to forestall other problems.

"Lord Snow put up a bit of a fight and I slipped into the cage with him.  He's trying to work with the non-humans, but they're not very cooperative."

I looked around with a frown.  "No one is. Is there going to be a problem about Edmond and Lord Snow since they are both non-humans?"

Edmond's ears went back as he looked at the others around the table, but I saw something odd in their faces.  Relief?

"There will be no trouble," Collins said.  "In fact, that was the last of the worries gone.  We found that the best way to test people trying to infiltrate was to find out how they reacted to non-humans.  Magical or not, we did not want anyone who couldn't work with nons as part of the inner group."

"But you said I should stay away from them," I complained.

"Just to see how you would react.   We couldn't get a feel for you," Tom admitted.  "You talked about your friends, and you never mentioned that some of them were nons.  We  hadn't thought to ask the nons about any new people with them."

"Maggie -- Davis --" I began.

"In other barracks," Collins said.  I didn't know if I should hit him or hug him for those words.  I'd been damned worried.

"I think it is time we have a meeting," Tom said.  "Get them.  I have the feeling we are going to be moving soon."

Those words gave me hope on several levels.  Edmond still looked around at the others with a bit of distrust, though.  I just wanted to see the others, though when Collins left, I did worrry.

"What about the guards?" I asked.

"Most of them are ours," Tom replied.  He leaned back in the chair and looked Edmond over with a bright smile.  I felt better again.  "And the ones who are not ours simply won't notice anything wrong.  We keep up enough show so that any one from the outside looking in will not notice anything worrisome here."

Show, I thought.  Most of this is show, but I couldn't put together why.

Lord Snow arrived before the others.  I was so glad to see him that I actually hugged the huge snow leopard which got a bit of a laugh, and maybe a purr, out of him.  "Edmond said you were here," Lord Snow said as he looked around.  "They have explained why they kept us apart.  I am glad that part of the business is over."

"Me too --"

Maggie and Davis came in.  More hugs, more sounds of relief.  I had been worried about Maggie, but her wounds were healed.  Her metal wings flickered a little now and then, which told me she was agitated and the glances she gave the others showed she didn't trust them much either.

Davis looked relieved, though.  I hoped that he was seeing things clearly.

"What about Lord Cayman?" I asked.

"He escaped back into the woods," Maggie said.  She didn't sound happy.  "That's going to be a problem if he goes up against Darman and Potilla.  We need to get back there and help, Mark.  Otherwise, we may lose the one real hope we have of winning.  If Darman defeats Cayman, he not only gets this reality, but he won't have much trouble taking over the faelands, either."

No one liked that idea.

"The best way might be to take the next delivery truck," Edmond said.  He'd clearly been watching things -- not trapped in a barrack like I had been.  "A group of us could head back to the real battle.  If we win, we can get the rest of the prisoners out of here.  If we don't go and help, we'll only make matters worse."

I nodded and so did Davis and Maggie.  We sat around the table and discussed what we could do.  Noen of it sounded reasonable, but at least we were talking about doing something.  The relief that I was back with my friends almost made me shaky.  If there hadn't been more trouble brewing, I would have been happy to just stay here for a while longer. 

I couldn't abandon Lord Cayman, though.  Not just because he was my father.

"I'm glad we're going to get moving back to where we're needed," Edmond said.  "Humans and their ideas of what to do are going to drive me crazy.  Why move us from where we might help?  Why not keep us close, just in case?"

"That," Tom said, "is a smart question."

And then he began to change.

To Be Continued....

995 Words