Monday, March 27, 2017

More Egypt


This is the last week of March?  A quarter of the way through the year already?  It isn't possible!

I still don't have Journey of a Thousand Truths finished.  It has stalled at a scene I simply can't 'see' yet, though I think another little piece of it came to me tonight.  I hope that it all comes to me in the next few days so that I can get to the ending.  I'm getting close.  It's silly to hold up here, but it happens sometimes.

Devlin 4 has been published and is selling surprisingly well.  I guess I won't wait so long for the next Devlin novel!

My current editing project is a major bit of work, though, and is going to take me a while.  I'm working on Raventower & Merriweather 2: War.  The chapters are long, and I am only getting through one of them a day.  Editing takes longer than writing the same amount of words, I think.  Or at least as long, but is more difficult.  Or something.  It takes a long time.  LOL.

The story is good, though.

I have watched ten classes on reading and writing hieroglyphs, and I am really enjoying what I've done so far!  In fact, I find more of my free time taken up in practice than in anything else right now.  The hieroglyphs are the simplified written style, of course, but once you start learning them, you can recognize the fancier versions chiseled in stone.  Learning to recognize letters is just the small step, though.  Learning to read them -- that's the fun part.  I'm beginning to recognize words!  As the instructor put it, we're mostly in the 'See spot run' phase, but I'm still amazed at how fast this is going.

I love learning new things.  This is probably one of the most challenging, and interesting, things I've tried to learn in a long time.  I love it.

And yes, something of it is bound to show up in a story at some point.  Russ pointed out how cool it would be to use in a mystery novel.  Back on 2/27/17, I wrote a bit about an odd story idea I had -- the letter one.  This might be another part of that plot, where perhaps the way in which someone writes a sentence points out that he or she was not trained in Egypt.  Oh, and there were female scribes in Egypt, though not many.

The reed pen is their child,
The stone surface their wife…
Death made them forgotten,
But books made them remembered.

Scribes sometimes wrote their name at the end of a text, apparently because of the Ancient Egyptian belief that 'to speak the name of the dead was to make them live again.'

Meanwhile, it's back to drawing the damned quail chicks (u,w sound).  I think I've finally gotten a reasonable vulture (a) and owl (m).  They used far too many birds in their writing.  I've never had a very steady hand, but as long as I can tell what I've written, all is good.  It's not like I'm going to go out and write hieroglyphs for a living.  Sometimes you just do for fun.



Friday, March 24, 2017

Flash Fiction # 243 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 27: Encounter


(Previous)
The soldiers brought their rifles up as soon as they saw me.  I heard someone shout 'it's him' and knew that couldn't be good.

"Go Edmond!" I ordered.  I saw the cat charge straight for the nearest tree and climb up.  That wasn't so his best move, but had probably been instinctive.  He'd be trapped --

No.  He would fly away when he got up high enough.  Time to worry about myself now.  If Edmond hadn't been with me, I might have convinced them that I was just a human who had gotten lost in the woods.  On the other hand, it might be just as well that I didn't lie to them.  That would not be the best way to help win them over.  They were nervous men and too ready for trouble.

An older man came out of the ranks and looked me over.  He apparently didn't like what he saw.  "Down on your knees, hands down in your lap.  Don't speak or move your hands at all, boy."

So they'd had some interaction with magic and I suspected it couldn't have been good.  I knelt and did nothing, though I was starting to feel itchy all over, like ants --

"Magic coming!" I warned.  "It's not good --"

"I said to be silent," the man reminded me, his hand on the pistol at his side.  "We've heard about you already, you know.  Where did the cat go?"

"I can talk now?" I asked, feeling annoyed.  The man glared and I decided not to be such a pain in the ass.  "I sent Edmond away.  I hope he can find us help, because there is something coming --"  I almost lifted a hand to feel it out and realized that would be a fatal mistake.  "I am not the problem, you know.  You've seen the problem, haven't you?"

"I've seen a lot of things," he admitted, but that didn't make him sound any more inclined to work with me.

Which was unfortunate, because the trouble rushed closer to us.  The others had begun to hear sounds in the woods, but they didn't realize the magnitude of the problem.  Whatever was out there was dark, twisted -- and probably coming for me, not them, though they'd be caught in the mess.

"Go!" I shouted.  I got to my feet despite the orders.  "Go before they get here!  They'll be coming after me --"

Too late.

Weres boiled out of the woods, a mass of claws, teeth, tattered clothing, and misshapen bodies.  The men must have seen such creatures before, but probably not this many at once.  They began shooting, but the sheer mass of the creatures would overwhelm them.  I lifted my arm and sent a wave of magic --

I should have expected one of the soldiers to shoot me.  The sharp pain left a trail of fire as the bullet tore through my uplifted arm, though it did not hit the bone or remain in the flesh.  I barely had time to hiss at the pain and I somehow held to the magic which knocked weres back and down. Surprise from the soldiers; I heard and felt that emotion and at least no one else shot me as I did my best to make certain the weres didn't kill the men.

The battle didn't take long.  The man in charge -- I heard him called Lt. Marsh -- gave quick orders.  Someone bandaged my arm and I nodded my thanks, staying silent again.  I thought about kneeling, too.  I was more than a little lightheaded from the wound and the sudden surge of power I'd used.

"We need to get out of here before more come," Marsh said.  He looked at me and nodded, though I did not see full acceptance in his face.  "You need to stay with us."

"Yes sir," I said.

I thought the reply took him by surprise.  We were moving soon, past the bodies and back along a wide path that had been recently cut through the trees.  I hated to see the destruction, but I understood the need.  The soldiers didn't have to go in single file here, and that gave them the opportunity to watch both sides of the  path.

I saw something moving through the air from the left and coming at us.  "Don't shoot!" I shouted, frantic.  "Edmond!"

"Don't shoot," the lieutenant ordered.   I counted him my friend then, even if he didn't feel the same.

"Darman felt that magic!" Edmond warned as his wings flapped frantically and he circled over us.  "He's on the way!"

"Damn!  Find the others, Edmond!  I won't be able to hold Darman back!"

"Hill," Edmond shouted and sounded breathless.  "Hill to the right.  Get behind it.  Think of the mountains!"

And then he flew off.

"We need to get behind the hill," I said.  "Or at least I do.  You might be safe if he keeps looking for me.  I think he will."

"Darman."

"The fae behind most of this," I said, frantic already.  I saw a trail in the right direction just ahead.  "He created the weres.  He's trying to take over the earth and use the power here to rule other places.  I need to go.  I can't stop him.  I need help for that."

"Is there help?" Lt. Marsh demanded.  He'd paused at the trail which was better than I had expected from him. 

"Some of my friends should have arrived in the last few days," I said.  I worried what had happened to them.  "Have you seen anyone helping you?"

"Everything has been chaos.  We'll go with you for now, boy.  I admit that the weres would have killed many of the men without your help, but that doesn't mean I can fully trust you."

"I understand. This way.  The hill will help block my magic.  It might be better, you know, to leave me."

"No," he said.  "That would not be wise, whether you are  friend or foe.  We'll keep you in sight for now."


To be continued....

999 Words

Monday, March 20, 2017

The End is Near




Devlin 4: Missing Persons is pretty much done.  Today I will be doing the final formats and then publishing at Smashwords and Kindle stores.

This is another of those books that simply should not have taken so long to edit as it did.  I knew something was wrong, though, so I kept bouncing off of it.  Once I fixed a couple problems, I moved very quickly through the rest of the work.

It happens.  You get to a point where you just know there is something not quite right with a story but you can't single out the problem -- or problems in this case.  I finally got everything to work together, though.

The other problem I am having is with Journey of a Thousand Truths.  It's not a huge problem, just a change in direction, more or less.  I had a certain set of scenes that I had planned for the end of the novel, but I realized that they don't work there.  They have to come sooner as the penultimate section of the story.  That shouldn't be such a problem, right?  But for some reason, my mind doesn't want to move to this part of the adventure, and I'm not sure why not.  This makes sense, story-wise.  I'm happy with it.

Maybe now that I have the Devlin novel out of the way, this one will fall back into place.  I like what is going to happen so I should get happy about writing it.

I also toned down some of the color in the cover that I posted last week for the Devlin book.  It was a bit too neon.  LOL.   

What else?  Hmmm.  So far this year I've come up with an idea for an alternate ancient world book (or series), a new Devlin novel (#10?), and now another book for the Inner World Council science fiction universe.  When I told Russ the idea, he thought it sounded great.  It will require me to do some research on other IWC books I've written (these include the Devlin novels and probably 20 or so others).  I need to trace the appearances of a certain character.  I do have a lovely Aeon Timeline made up for the IWC stuff, so that helps.  I just don't recall all the times the character has made an appearance.

Oh yes, and Amusing Grace, the sequel to Muse, is not moving quickly, but it's been fun so far.  Once I get Devlin out of the way, it should pick up.

Or maybe not.  I do intend to edit Raventower & Merriweather 2: War next.

Yes, that's one of the big parts of being a prolific writer. There is always something more to get done.  I need to do the pre-work on two ideas, the outline on one, finish two first drafts, and edit ... more stories than even I like to think about right now.

Oh, and did I mention the course on reading and writing hieroglyphs?  I'm having a lot of fun with that one!  I just need to find a way to set up my homework on it -- and I think I just realized what I need to do!  Notecards!  I have a ton of them around here somewhere.  I can sort them by letter and it will be far easier for me to find stuff.  I like it!  Of course now I won't be able to find the notecards that have been floating around here for a decade, right?  That's the way it always works for me.  I move stuff here and there and back again, but the moment I actually need it, the cats hide it somewhere.

Busy.  Very busy.  Having fun.

Oh, and it got up to 79f on Sunday!  SPRING!  A week ago, six inches of snow fell.  We could well have snow again.  We've had some incredible snow storms in April.  A couple years ago, it snowed on the first day of summer in parts of Nebraska.  I am ready for spring, though.  We're going to have a few days of cooler -- but not cold -- weather, but you can tell that warmth is on the way.  The big hope is that we don't leap straight into summer.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Flash Fiction # 242 -- Saving Everywhere. Part 26: Closer



(Previous)

We were well away from the soldiers before I began to relax.  Then I relaxed so well that I went to sleep.  It had been a long time since I felt safe enough to really rest.  Edmond curled up in my lap. I didn't think Lucy minded.  The couple times I lifted my head and glanced her way, she was humming away to music only she could hear.  My mother did that sometimes.  Maybe I'd get a chance to see her after I helped take care of Darman.

We got closer by the hour.  I could fell the edge of magic growing, even while I slept and eventually I could no longer ignore it.  I woke up to find a road sign saying we were only fifty miles for Crossing.  Home, I thought, with a little pang of hope, even though I knew that home had changed and it wasn't
safe.  I knew this area, though.  We'd gone this far on family outings.

Centered.  I knew this place better than I had anywhere else.

"Sorry I slept," I said and ran a hand through my hair.  Edmond was awake as well, and looking out the window, watching for danger.  He could feel the magic as well.  The night was dark, but he had the feeling of dawn not far away.

"You looked like you needed it," Lucy said with a glance my way.

"This was the first time I felt safe in -- I don't know how long," I admitted.  I told Lucy about our adventures, from finding the monster Tommy had become to trying to travel with the others back to fight Darman.  She kept glancing my way and shaking her head now and then.  I knew it all sounded incredible.  "And then you found us," I finished.

She remained silent for a moment.  "I thought you looked a bit worn and ragged, but I had no idea," she admitted.  "And you better get ready to go out on your own soon.  We're getting closer to Crossing, and there have been more National Guard and Army vehicles on the road."

"I wonder what they think they can do," I said.  "They have to know by now that magic will counter most of what they can throw at the enemy."

"So, you'll fight magic with magic," she said, and I nodded.  "Makes sense.  There's a rest stop just a couple miles up the road.  That's as close as I dare go or we'll draw attention whether they see you or not."
"That's close enough.  We're only about five miles from town, and the rest stop is right on the edge of the woods."  He smiled when she looked his way, surprised.  "I really did grow up around here, you know."

She pulled into the stop and gave him a worried look.  "You be careful, Mark."

"Thank you for everything," I said as they pulled into the stop.  Edmond even climbed over and rubbed against her arm, purring.  "If I do anything that helps here, it'll only be because you got us here.  Thanks."

"You take care.  Both of you."

She'd pulled up with the rest of the trucks.  I slid out of the truck and grabbed Edmond, draping him over my shoulders. The night was cool and damp, and if felt as though the mist held magic in every drop.  I headed straight into the shadows of the trees and then made my way to the back fence.  I looked back and could see Lucy's truck still there. She probably needed some rest.  If I went back, I didn't have any doubt that she'd take us on with her.

Darman would find me eventually.  What harm would he have done in the meantime?  Whom would Darman have harmed that I might have protected?

The place under the fence was still clear.  It had felt like years since the last time I'd been here, but I realized it couldn't have been more than a few months.  Bushes were blooming, so it must be spring or early summer.  We'd missed the winter.  Edmond went through first, and then I followed.  I looked back and wished for that calm and protection again.  I couldn't go back, so with a sigh, we headed into the woods.  I had a job now.  Sanctioned Protector -- the feeling came on stronger than ever before.  Others were in danger somewhere not far away and not just fae. There were humans caught up in this mess, and I felt an equal draw to protect them as I did any of the fae caught in this mess.  I wondered if I could find my father out there -- or my uncle, I supposed.  I didn't think of Darman as a relative.

I could not face this trouble alone.  Walking towards the magic gave me a clearer impression of what was out there.  I had the feeling of big and dangerous, which meant it was probably lots of creatures.  I could not distinguish one side from the other, so I had to be careful before I reacted.

"A lot of magic," Edmond mumbled at my ear.  I wore him like a collar again.  "I get the feel of a battle, but it's been a few days."

"I wonder who won?" I said.

"Neither side," he answered.  "If one side or the other had won, everything would be calmer, and the overlay would be that of the winning side."

"Can you tell one side from the other?"

"Not yet.  Maybe when we get closer," Edmond said.  "I'll know Maggie's magic.  And Lord Cayman's for that matter."

I nodded agreement.  We were already well into the woods and heading over the hill.  A little stream led the way down the far side heading towards town.  I wondered if there was any hope of finding help there, and decided not to try.

It maybe would have helped if I hadn't walked straight out of the trees and found myself in front of the army.


To Be Continued....

998 Words

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Last Edits



I am almost done with the edits for Devlin's Team # 4: Missing Persons.  This one fought me for three months and then suddenly fell into place  I give credit where it is due -- to the two new stuffed plot bunnies I sat on top of my monitor and who are keeping close watch on me, along with their larger companion, also new.  This is stuffed plot-bunny season, people.  Go out and buy yourself one.  Or two.  Or three.  And when you do that every year -- well, yes, I have run out of shelf space and they are on the monitor for a reason.  (Also don't forget chocolate plot bunnies.)

I do have a large collection of stuffed bunnies, bears, cats, and even a few penguins.  I like them. They make me smile.  Yeah, people look at me oddly as I grab stuffed animals, but I'm a writer.  I am allowed to be eccentric, right?

Ummm, right. Back to the novel.  Devlin's Team # 4 had to have a lot of rewriting and editing.  I added entire chapters.  I changed the ending.  I rewrote it again.  I am finally happy with what I have for the story.  I'm not as sure about this cover yet, but it does show the sort of neon, futuristic city where the team is heading to investigate why scientists are being lured to the world and then disappear.  Devlin comes in thinking this should be an easy case.  Ha!  It's one of the cases where she makes a major mistake.  It's a good thing she has the rest of the team this time!

I enjoy writing the Devlin stories.  She and 'the boys' are fun to write.  Because of their work, and because the series does go on for several books, they are able to cross paths with some people more than once.  That's going to start happening with the next book in the series, The Aldebaran Stopover.  Just a quiet little stop on the way home, right?

LOL

This novel, though, will be done by the end of March.  I'm determined to stop nudging at it and simply get the work finished.   I have that problem sometimes.  I get very close to being done and I slow down.  I want to have it done and published, but the little doubts come in.  I should change this scene, I should add this bit -- I should rewrite the entire novel from scratch again.  Those are all my versions of the kinds of doubts all writers get.  I have to push past them. The last edits are going well enough and I think I've made most, if not all, of the major changes.  Right now I'm down to correcting commas, changing words, and maybe adding a touch more information in some places.

After that, I'll be preparing Raventower & Merriweather 2: War for publication.  The book is written.  I need to sit down with it and do the edits, which I don't think are going to be nearly as difficult as Devlin's Team #4 have been.  The Devlin stories are much older and need a lot more care.  Raventower and Merriweather are new and better written from the start.  I also have the start of an idea for book 3 in that series.  It should be fun.

Journey of a Thousand Truths is very close to being done in the first draft.  For my birthday, I started Amusing Grace, the sequel to Muse.  I've had this outline waiting for years.  It's fun.  So I have a lot of odd little bits and pieces of things going on, including the first notes on the 10th Devlin Novel.  Oh and yeah, that other one about the Egyptians is still playing at my mind.  I just refuse to commit to it yet.

I am looking forward to spring getting here so I feel less confined.  We were supposed to get less than an inch of snow last night -- we ended up with about four inches.  Not a horrible amount, but still annoying when you keep hoping to see green again.  It is pretty today, but far too cold again.  I would like to see some colors out there and have it warm enough to take one of the cameras out and find pretty stuff. 

But right now ... time to work on the novel again!