Thursday, August 29, 2013

Flash Friday # 58: Surviving Elsewhere Part 6: Into the Water(Serial)

(Link to Part 5)

Something pulled me into the water and I flailed in panic.

"Be still!" a voice whispered. My head remained above water so I wasn't being pulled down by this -- naiad? "Do not draw their attention!"

I thought that wise when I heard the wolves moving closer. I found Edmond in the water as well, treading like a dog. He didn't look happy. Then I turned my head a little caught a glimpse of someone with long green hair and blue skin. She bent her mouth close to my ear, her breath cool enough to make me shiver, though being in the water had eased a lot of aches and pains.

"Take a deep breath," she said softly.

"Edmond --"

"I will take care of him as well." She reached out and snagged the cat by the scruff of the neck.

"I hate this," Edmond grumbled. "But do what she says."

So I did. One breath and then one deeper breath that set my head pounding.

She let go of me for a moment and reached out to touch my lips with long, blue fingers. She touched Edmond's as well. The wolves were far closer when she took hold of my arm and pulled me beneath the pond's surface.

Edmond dived under the water with us, looking like an odd, mutant otter. Cats aren't made for underwater swimming, though, and he was clearly having problems. I reached out with my wounded arm, ignoring the spike of pain, and pulled him over to nestle close to me. His claws caught on my shirt -- and some skin -- but I saw relief in his face . . . until he looked above us.

A shadow passed overhead.

I looked to see the distorted, drooling face of a huge wolf staring into the pond. His gigantic paw splattered at the water and I feared he would leap in. The naiad must have thought the same. She began to pull me farther downward into the water.

I didn't want to go. Panic at the thought of drowning nearly overcame the fear of being torn apart by the wolf --

And then I realized I didn't feel the need to breathe. Well. I stopped fighting and she pulled us towards the bottom, swimming past frogs, fish, and a couple startled turtles. The wolf followed along the edge of the pond which wasn't a large enough stand of water that we could get away from him. I saw him howl once, and even heard the echo of the sound reverberating through the water. All the smaller creatures darted for cover behind whatever growth or rocks they could find.

I wanted to do the same. The naiad began to look bothered. I wondered how long we could stay under water. I thought I might be starting to feel uncomfortable and Edmond had begun shivering.

We went farther along the bottom of the pond. I tried to take the experience in. After all, it wasn't often that a person got a chance like this. Though maybe this sort of thing was more common here in Elsewhere. Edmond had said something about hating it, after all. This wasn't his first time.

Yes, I was starting to feel uncomfortable. I looked at the naiad with worry, but she shook her head, green hair floating around as though in a wind. Then she patted my arm and let go.

She darted upwards and I almost panicked, thinking we were abandoned. However, we could swim to the surface even though that wasn't a safe place. So I held where we were, anchoring one foot around a rock. Edmond snuggled closer and looked up at me, worry in his eyes.

I watched the naiad. She had reached the surface and I saw her push upward as though she could rest her arms on the water surface. Then one hand raised and flash of light hit the wolf. I felt the tingle all the way where we were.

The wolf yelped and ran away. I couldn't tell if he had gone far though. Our protector swam back down, caught my arm and quickly moved on towards the opposite end of the pond.

We finally moved to the surface and came up amid cat tails and water lilies. I could hear something running away. The wolf was gone, at least for the moment.

"I am not a fish," Edmond mumbled.

"Nor are you wolf food, cat," the naiad replied. "Take that into account."

"My apologies," he said, and sounded sincere.

"Thank you," I managed. I gasped, but I think that came from the panic of never having learned to swim. "I didn't care to be wolf food, either."

"Polite human," she said and laughed with a sound that somehow reminded me of spring rains. She nodded to the boulders beside us. "Up the stones and you'll find a clearing the other side."

I carefully pushed Edmond up to the mossy stone. He scrambled up, looked frantically around, and then disappeared over the other side. I tried to follow, but my arm wouldn't hold me at all. The naiad gave me a boost and I scrambled up much like Edmond had. When I looked back, she had disappeared.

"Thank you," I said again, though softly. I could still hear wolves, but they weren't near.

I climbed over and down into a grassy field, settling with my back to the warm stone. Edmond was shaking water from his ears.

"Well that went better than I hoped," the cat said. "She didn't kill us."

"There is always the next thing," I said. My head pounded and my arm bled. Whatever came after us now, I knew I wouldn't be able to fight it off.

Then I heard the sound of a motorcycle. I was looking for a road when I noticed Edmond staring at the sky. I looked up and saw a motorcycle flying towards us.

"Well, that's either help or --" Edmond looked back at me, worried.

"Or trouble."


I wasn't even surprised.


1000 Words

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Flash Friday # 57: Surviving Elsewhere Part 5: The Pond (Serial)

(Link to Part 4)

One step and another. The wolves howled and I hoped they were farther away this time so we could rest soon. Everything blurred and my shoulder became a pinpoint of agony and spreading fire. How long since I had been shot? Where was Maggie?

The shadows gave way to bright light, all but blinding me. Behind us I could hear the whisper of trees: Go, go, go they said with a flutter of leaves. Edmond became nothing more than a black spot against a world where colors washed out in sunshine.

Follow the bouncing ball.

"We're almost there," Edmond said. "Can you see it? That's the pond. Just a few more steps."

I'd been looking at the ground. I brought my head up, gasping at the pain through my shoulder at the movement. Something glittered ahead of me; the reflection of light against the water. I could make out the shapes of trees nearby, which worried me -- but having a destination gave me a little more strength.

"We better keep moving," Edmond said with a glance back the way we'd come. I could see the movement of his head, the glitter of golden eyes. "The trees weren't very happy with us and they might not keep the wolves occupied for long. We need to hurry."

I started to argue, but it would take too much energy. I could feel blood on my arm and my head throbbed, so whatever magic Maggie had used was fading now. She was gone and I was alone with a talking cat who might be leading me anywhere. I told myself this was better than being completely alone, though I wished we would stop moving.

Light glittered in my eyes, so bright I had to close them.

"Sit down before you fall down," Edmond ordered and nudged the back of my legs.

That sounded like a good idea. I sat and my fingers dropped into water, startling me. I hadn't realize we'd reached the pond but as I blinked I could see a small stretch of impossibly blue water well-shaded by the trees, a few cattails, water lilies and an odd green frog staring intently at me. I waited, expecting an attack. The frog only stared, eyes blinking -- first the left and then the right. Never both of them at once.

"Yes? Yes?" I finally said in exasperation. I leaned a little closer, daring myself not to fall in and drown. "What have you got to say?"

The frog blinked.

"Mark? Why are you talking to the frog?" Edmond asked, sounding very, very confused.

"Because he's bound to have something to say about me being here," I replied. The frog blinked again. "Everything else has."

"Why would you think a frog could talk?" he asked, looking up at me with confusion.

"Cats talk. Trees talk. Why wouldn't the frog talk?" I asked.

"Oh." He smirked and then tilted his head. "You know, there's a kind of logic in that. Unfortunately, logic never works very well in Elsewhere. Sip some of the water; it'll help you feel better."

I wanted to be safe. I wasn't going to find it, I feared. "Why did I come here?" I asked, dipping one hand into the water.

"Because you killed someone."

That hadn't been what I meant and I hadn't needed the reminder. I shivered this time remembering Tommy starting to crouch, his lips pulled back in a feral snarl and the blood on his lips. I thought I would be ill, remembering the look in his flashing silver eyes.

"He -- he wasn't human."

"Yeah? So? That's not a good excuse here."

I turned to Edmond, startled and afraid. "Was he from Elsewhere? Was he one of you?"

Edmond blinked several times and stared somewhere else, as though he could see something over my shoulder. I feared to turn and learn what stood there.

"He was touched by something dark." Edmond's golden eyes turned back to me. "We don't accept that sort of evil any more than humans would. But you will have to prove it. Sip the water. We can't stay if Maggie doesn't come by. She'll be looking for us though. It won't be much longer."

"Good." I still felt shaken. I'd tried not to think about Tommy and killing him. I'd tried not to think about Sheriff Creston and the rage when he shot me. I concentrated on not falling as I dipped my hand into the water. The frog continued to blink at me. I still expected him to speak.

Wolves howled.

"Damn overgrown dogs," Edmond said with a hiss. He looked up in the air. "Come on Maggie."

The water did make me feel better, but I didn't think I would have the strength to run.

"I was starting to think there was no where safe on this side," I said, dripping my hand in the water again. I let some of it dribble over my aching shoulder and the pain eased slightly.

"Safe enough," Edmond agreed. "As long as the wolves don't find us here and Naiad doesn't take exception to us."

"Naiad?" I said. I remembered the term from mythology. Water nymphs --

The wolves howled, much closer. I could see the line of trees not nearly far enough away. Once they cleared that they would see us. There was no where to run.

"Go, Edmond," I said. "Run before they see you."

He seemed more a statue right then, the gold eyes unblinking as he stared at me. "More like Maggie than I thought," he said. Then he shook his head. "Get up. We can go a ways yet before they catch up."

"You should --"

"I am not leaving --"

The wolves howled and I saw movement at the edge of the trees. Too late. Neither of us would get away. They were charging across the glade, though not straight towards us.

I tried to stand.

And a hand caught hold of my arm and dragged me into the water.


999 Words

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Flash Friday # 56: Surviving Elsewhere Part 4: The Trees(Serial)

(Link to Part 3)

We hadn't walked more than a dozen steps into the stand of trees before even Edmond began giving them nervous looks. The limbs continued to move, the branches twisting and turning, dipping low so that sometimes I had to swerve to avoid hitting one that hadn't been there a moment before. A fog enveloped the trees as well, moving as though it too were alive. Did I fear the fog and the trees more than I feared the wolves? I couldn't decide.

I hurt. My shoulder sent waves of fire through my body with every step and I didn't know how I could keep going. I wanted to stop and sit down. Rest.

"Ed-mond," I whispered.

And then I was down on my knees.

Edmond turned around and darted back to me.

"This isn't a good time --"

"No choice," I said. Everything moved oddly. I thought Edmond was slipping away --

No. Something had hold of me by the leg, dragging me. Lifting me.

I couldn't get enough strength left to protest.

Everything went black.

I came awake with something jabbing me in the side. I slapped it away and gasped in pain from the little movement. This was the most uncomfortable bed I'd ever been on. I tried to move and heard the snapping of small twigs. Who made a bed out of twigs --

Trees do. I learned that as I opened my eyes and found myself held up in the limbs of a big old oak tree. A face stared at me from the trunk where limbs had broken off and left puckered circles in a triangle of three marking two eyes and a mouth. The eyes, dark and unfathomable, blinked with a sullen red glow that was not fire -- no, nothing like that in these woods. The mouth moved and I could hear the grinding of wood against wood. This tree was old, the bark weathered like the skin of an old man. He'd gone bald as well; there was hardly a leaf left on the snarled limbs of his crown.

Aware. Alive. I tried not to panic as I tested the hold of the branches. Too tight, but at least the tree had stopped jabbing me.

"Hu-man," it said and the branches that held me shook. I grabbed hold, afraid the tree was going to drop me. "No Hu-man allowed."

I started to speak, but other trees began to shout and grumble. The tree that held me seemed to tremble in rage and I dared not look at the others nearby. The sounds of wood scraping against wood made me fear they were closing in and I didn't like to think of trees chasing me. Then, as if on cue, I heard wolves howling, though nowhere near. Everything in thid world was turning against me. Why had I thought I would be safe in Elsewhere?

"You do not belong here, Hu-man." The tree shook me and I was starting to get annoyed. "You do not -- Ow! Ow!"

Edmond had arrived, clawing his way up the tree and then walking nonchalantly out on to one of the branches that held me. He turned around and sat down, casually cleaning one paw.

"That hurt, cat!" the tree grumbled. "You have needles for claws."

"I had to be sure I got your attention," Edmond replied. He leaned closer to the face and the eyes narrowed as though it feared those claws were going to strike. "Do I have your attention now? Do you know who I am?"

"Yes and yes." The words came with a growl of wood against wood again. Not a happy tree.

"Those are Fenris wolves after us. You do not want them to catch up with Mark and me."

"Why not?"

"Because then Maggie would be very mad since this is her cousin."

All the trees went very, very still.

"Maggie?" the tree said softly.

I hadn't expected such a reaction and it made no more sense than anything else that had happened since I crossed the gate. I stayed still and rested while Edmond took care of the problem. I couldn't say I even really cared if I survived by this point.

"I'm sure you saw her flying frantically towards the city?" Edmond said. He sounded rather smug, but then he is a cat. "Do you want to be the ones responsible for the wolves catching him? Because I will survive, you know. And I'll make sure she knows."

"No need, no need!" I heard frantic sounds elsewhere. "We can mislead the wolves a bit. There now. On your way."

The tree lowered us carefully to the leaf-strewn ground. The face had slid down the bole of the trunk and watched from ground level now.

Edmond gave a little nod of his head to the right and started away without a word. At least I'd had a little rest, right? But each step still hurt like hell and I feared I would not be going far. I wanted out of the woods, though. I could hear the trees moving again and looked up to see branches twisting and turning over our heads while a scattering of leaves fell.

I almost stumbled.

"Edmond," I whispered.

"Not much more to go," he said. He slowed and walked at my side. "Just keep going, Mark. Can you see the open glade there ahead?"

I lifted my head briefly and saw something brighter ahead. I looked back down at my feet because I had almost fallen. "See it," I mumbled. "Not sure I can walk that far."

"You will do it for Maggie," Edmond said. "We don't want to upset Maggie. No one in their right mind wants to upset Maggie."

"I don't understand," I answered. I saw Edmond look at me. "But not now. Don't try to explain anything now. Just get me where I can rest."

"Yes," Edmond said with a nod. "Almost there."

And the wolves howled, closer. . . .

998 Words

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Merry Go Round Tour # 25 -- Motivation

I have written 634,310 words this year.

I have written over a million words each year since 2002.

So what is my motivation?

My motivation is very simple and directly related to writing and nothing more: I have stories to tell and I want to see them completed. I think tossing aside unfinished work is a writer's worst sin. It is a waste of precious writing time that most people have to scramble to find. To see them waste it seems a horrible crime. Oh sure, for some there are works that are practice pieces and aren't really intended to be finished, but others will toss aside a story the moment they hit some plot snag.

I do not. I work my way through the problem, including massive rewrites, and I finish everything I start. I also do so within the year that I started the work because it would be far too easy to say 'I'll finish it later' and let the story sit for years. Finishing in this case means a current draft (or outline) and not all the way from idea to publication in one year. That will rarely ever happen with me, and only on shorter pieces. I know the need for editing and the power of letting the story sit for a long time before I pick it up to read and edit again.

Is my motivation also publication and readers? Yes, of course it is, but that's not why I write. I was writing for twenty years before I realized I might have readers. This was the fault of a teacher who told me that only people who went to college could be published. I came from a very, very poor family so I was not going to get that chance. However, I still wrote and held on to the love of writing and creativity that helped me create my own special worlds. Silky came out of those years. So did the first glimmering of the Devlin series and many others.

Eventually I learned differently about publication. I did well in the small press world and the early on-line paying markets. I started to become disenchanted with the world of traditional publishing when I realized I was finding fewer things on the shelves I wanted to read, and since I write what I want to read I knew this meant I wasn't going to find a publisher. My type of story was not popular.

So how does a person find motivation if they are motivated by publication and realize they aren't writing for the current market?

You can face it one of two ways:

1. Change what you write. Be careful of this one, though. If you try to follow a current trend, chances are the trend is going to be long past by the time you can write, edit, submit and resubmit to find a publisher.

2. Throw caution to the wind and leap into the world of Indie Publishing. I am not a best selling Indie Author, but I have made more income there then I ever did in the traditional route. I also hear from more readers. There are pitfalls, of course, but if you motivation for writing is to get readers, then go out and get them.

My motivation to write is that there is nothing else I would rather do. My motivation is my love of creating stories and if it were anything else, like making big sales or winning exceptional notice, I would have quit. That is, in fact, why a number of people do quit. They are not going to be the next big thing; the story they tell is only a ladder to get what they truly want.

Fame and fortune would be nice. All in all, though, I'm happy to be writing the stories I enjoy.

If you want to get to read about nearly twenty other writers, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Be sure to read tomorrow's post by Sharon Kemmerer

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Flash Friday # 55: Surviving Elsewhere Part 3: The Scent of Trouble(Serial)

(Link to Part 2)

I tried desperately to fight away the pain and fear as I slowly turned my head to the left in the direction of the howls. I had a bullet in my shoulder. I couldn't ignore it. But the howls seemed to tear at my very soul. I wanted away from whatever creatures came our way.

A dense forest stood close by with a line of tall trees and forbidding shadows. I heard the howls again; loud, keening noises rising in an unearthly chorus. A scattering of colorful birds took flight with cries of fear and then silence fell.

The howls rose again, cascading over one another so it was impossible to tell how many might be out there.

"What are they? What do we do?" I whispered, turning back to the cat.

Edmond was gone.

"Oh hell -- oh hell --"

"Shut up and get to cover, you fool!"

I saw golden eyes staring out from under a bush. I didn't need a second warning, especially when I could tell the howls were closer. I considered my options for cover. I could barely see the edge of the gate , but that wouldn't be a good escape, especially since I thought I saw movement the other side and suspected Sheriff Creston waited for me to come back through. He wouldn't realize I had always meant to run to Elsewhere and never come back out.

I clenched my mouth shut against any sound of pain and crawled towards the bushes, sliding on my stomach as I slipped under the tangled branches. By a miracle, the wound had not started bleeding again, but I had trouble turning so I could watch where Edmond stared, his tail ticking left and right in a steady beat.

"They're almost here," Edmond said, his words nearly a hiss. The cat dropped down on his stomach, ears back and tail still. "Say nothing."

I heard the beasts as they rushed out of the forest, a thundering of feet that seemed to shake the ground. The first of the wolves came into view. And then another and another.

They were as big as horses. Their huge snouts sniffed at the ground while paws tore up tuffs of grass. Lips pulled back in snarls showing teeth the size of daggers. I would have trembled if I'd had the strength. I would have burrowed into the ground like a badger if I'd had the ability. Instead, I could only stare as the creatures circled and snarled, moving closer to us.

Edmond slid closer to me, a warm body and reminder I was not alone, for all the good a small talking cat could do against these brutes. They were coming too near though, and I felt Edmond tense --

A shout drew my attention. For a moment I thought help had arrived.

Sheriff Creston charged through the gate and into the glade, obviously having heard something and thinking --

"Oh shit!" He shot at one wolf and then another. As far as I could tell, the bullets only made them angry. They were turning on the sheriff, growls low in their throat and legs tensing to leap.

Creston spun and ran back the way he had and through the gate, the wolves looping after him.

"We need to go." Edmond threw himself out from under the bush as soon as the wolves disappeared. "They'll follow him a little ways through to the otherside, but not far -- they don't want to lose what they are. It won't be long before they're back this way. Human blood drew them. We need to get to a stream and get you cleaned up so they lose the scent."

"I don't know if I can go any farther."

I was still on mystomach, aching and trembling. When I lifted my head I found myself staring straight into Edmond's dark-furred face, the golden eyes intent.

"You will do this for Maggie," the cat said. "She risked a lot for you, just in taking that compass out of Elsewhere. Only people from Elsewhere are supposed to have them so they can always find their way home. If some of the higher powers knew she gave it to you so you could escape after killing someone --"

"You know?" I pulled myself out despite fearing I would black out at any moment.

"I saw things," Edmond said. He backed up and turned his head the way the wolves had run. "And right now I see us as dinner if we don't get moving."

The wolves were howling again, still on the chase. It wouldn't last long.

I stood. The world went black around me for a moment, but somehow I locked my knees and didn't go down. I blinked the world back into focus.

"Good," Edmond said and gave a nod. "Good. Follow me."

"Careful. I'll trip over just about anything."

I wasn't certain if Edmond heard me or cared, really. I followed, holding my arm close to avoid bouncing it much . Blood still ran down the side of my face where the other bullet came so close to killing me. Now there were giant wolves after me and we were heading into a line of trees that I probably would have avoided at any other time. They were tall, stately, dark -- and dangerous. The wolves had come from here. Were there more of them?

I had to trust Edmond.

Trust a cat.

Welcome to Elsewhere. I hadn't thought about trouble on this side of the gate. I had feared I wouldn't reach this sanctuary, but now with giant wolves after me, my cousin gone, and my life depending on the help of a cat. . . .

I could do nothing except keep moving.

The moment we crossed from the glade into the trees I knew this was another mistake. The trees were moving, and no, there was not a breeze as leaves rattled and branches bent closer over me.

But I still followed the cat.

To be continued. . . .

994 words

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Monday, August 05, 2013

Which is easier to write?


Novels or short stories? Which type is easier to write?

I've been thinking about this since a Twitter post yesterday that said writing novels is easier than writing short stories. Well yes, it is for some because there are people who are natural novelists and their creative writing abilities are really focused in that direction. However, the reason for this 'professional' pronouncement wasn't about creativity. The reason was that it's easy to 'crank' out novels because you can ramble on and on and there is room to make mistakes.

Well, you know, if that's how someone writes novels, I can bet they aren't successful at it.

The rest of us who take a professional approach to novel writing avoid rambling and hope to avoid any mistakes. Many of us take years between first and final draft. So let's assume that cranking out novels is not what dedicated authors do. (Yes, I generally write fast first drafts. No, you don't see those novels for a few years while I work through editing them, usually multiple times.)

Short stories? They may often be faster to write, but they are by no means easier. Deciding on the limits of the story (what specific incidents to cover, how many characters are too many, etc.) can be really difficult. More than one author has found themselves with part of a novel rather than a true short story because they keep seeing beyond the limited time line and not bringing the story to a reasonable ending. The readers get that far and want the rest of the story that wasn't told.

Paring down the prose to fit within the limited space of a short story often means giving up prized descriptions, snippets of personality and peeks into the background of the story. It means a different focus. What happens here and now, not what will happen next.

Writing good prose in either case is equally difficult. The act of writing for either of them takes the same time and dedication for each word.

So let's assume that in an exchange of word-for-word, neither side is easier. They both require the same dedication to writing the best story you can. Novels, however, are more than simply longer short stories. Novels usually add dedicated subplots, a longer time line (with more things to track), additional characters (often with several POVs), more scenery and twists and turns of the plot.

They are obviously not easier to write than short stories.

Nor are short stories good practice for writing novels. They are good practice for sentence structure, discovering your particular style and voice, etc. However, short stories are not novels in small form. You cannot learn to write a novel by writing a hundred short stories and thinking they add up.

I mentioned that some people are natural novelists, but some are also natural short story writers. And some can do both with equal ease (and difficulty).

People who do not write fiction (or who have written so little they clearly don't understand how the process works) often make odd comments about what others do or should do. People who want to claim to be the head of the class need to at least learn what the basics of the class is before they start making really ridiculous statements.

We all say odd things now and then. We even often believe very strange things and that seems more than true of authors and work. How many times have you come across a 'you MUST' rule only to find out later that it was really a 'this works for me' pronouncement?

If people give you advice on writing, make certain they know what they are talking about and it's not just a glib statement meant to prove their soaring intelligence. If the person is not a fiction writer, how can you expect them to have a clue about actual writing of fiction pieces? If you want to know if they can really help you, make certain you can read their fiction somewhere. Don't listen just to pronouncements. You can't know if your style fits with theirs. You can't even know if they have a clue what they're talking about until you see it. No, blog posts (unless they are pieces of fiction) do not count. Neither do nonfiction books on writing. Anyone can write one without having a clue about the actual process.

Be careful what you believe, and even so, listen to everyone. You never know what little piece is going to leap out and be the one thing that truly helps you make the next big step in your writing.

And along with this, never believe that you already know everything. Accept that there are different answers for different people and that pieces of those answers might improve your own writing ability.

Oh, and novels are not easier to write than short stories. Short stories are not easier to write than novels. Good writing is equally difficult and rewarding, no matter what the length of the material.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

100 Word Leaps and JulNo Notes

July was a difficult month for me. Well, duh. You start out with a heart attack on the second and it's kind of hard to get your footing afterwards. New drugs didn't help, either. I slept a lot of July away.

Almost anyone in my position would have bowed out of JulNo.

I am not like most people. I was fretting over too many things -- my health, the cost of all this hospitalization and medicines, the worry about what to do next to avoid this happening again, etc.

Writing has always been my one real escape from reality. So I went back to it. People warned me that I was working too hard, but the truth is I was escaping from worries that were far worse than running on an adventure with my characters. There were still problems, though. The drugs were making it hard for me to work at all, let alone focus on the stories. I finally moved from Connor of Northgate to Devlin 9, which I had at least half outlined already. That helped considerably.

By the end of July I had over 100,000 words and I was in the top ten on the site. You want to know how I did it? Yeah, I sat down and wrote. But there is an easy trick that will add up to a lot of words without as much effort. It helps to have an outline, but it's not necessary.

You aim at 100 words at a time. You focus on that little tiny bit of the story moving forward by a paragraph or two. What do your characters need to see or say or do right at this moment in the story? Keep the larger view in mind, but focus on the immediate needs of this page.

You can write 100 words in a relatively short time. Then take a break and either do something else (a bit of house cleaning is my favorite or chat with others in the Forward Motion chat rooms), and then aim at the next 100 words. If you do that ten times, you'll have a thousand words.

Because you are focusing on a small number, the stress of getting those words written isn't nearly as strong as a goal of 2000 words by the end of the day. It may be difficult at first, but as you get used to the 100 word jumps, they become easier. Your mind stops flittering on to other things because you know you can get these few words done with relative ease. Your focus becomes better for writing.

You rarely hit 100 words exactly, of course. You'll go over a few. They're like freebie words that you get to add to your daily total.

Programs like Scrivener and Word make it easy to keep watch for the next 100 word mark, too. It becomes fun to see each jump in word count.

I am going to start using a #100WordLeap hastag on Twitter, posting after every 100 words -- though not every time I write. Feel free to use it too and see how you do. By posting your jumps on Twitter, you can track how many minutes it takes you per 100 words, either with or without breaks between. For many people, the amount of time it takes will lessen as they get used to thinking in this type of focus.

And let me know how you do. Remember to make this fun. There is no reason to make writing into a job of drudgery. If you hate the work, it's going to show in your writing. Find the fun again. Learn to love not only what you write, but the wonderful act of creating the stories, too.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Flash Friday # 54: Surviving Elsewhere Part 2: Arrival (Serial)

(Link to Part 1)

. . . . The bullet hung in the air, aimed at my head. I couldn't move, though I could clearly see everything in my field of vision, including Sheriff Creston's enraged face and the hatred in his eyes. He wasn't moving, either. I couldn't even breathe, but apparently I didn't need to.

I stared at death coming for me.

The bullet wobbled, came forward an inch --


And it did again.

"Grab him," a voice said by my ear. I couldn't see anything but a small piece of shadow near my face.

"I -- I can't," the other person said. "If I try to, I'll -- I'll lose the spell. I can't pull him out fast enough!"

Maggie, I realized. My cousin. Despite her words, she still gave me reason to hope. I was not friendless here.

"Deflect the bullet?"

"Same problem." She gasped and I thought the bullet wobbled again. "Can't move fast enough to do another spell, Edmond."

"Then you have to grab him. It's the only chance you have, Maggie. You can't hold this spell much longer."


Maggie moved within my sight and leaned closer, her hands reaching towards my shoulder. Her metal wings unfurled, casting a shadow over both of us as she paused, her face pale and covered with a sheen of perspiration.

"Roll to your right, Mark," she said, her voice steady. "Be ready."

Panic had been held at bay, as still as my breath. I couldn't answer her. I could only hope I could move.

She reached -- the air seemed to tingle and sparkle as she grabbed my arm and I rolled --

Something brushed against my head, like a whisper of fire. I knew it was going to hurt more in a moment, but I had moved fast enough before she completely lost the spell.

Seriff Creston made an inarticulate growl of anger and fired again.

And that one hit home somewhere in my left chest. I jerked with the shock and pain and thought the next bullet would kill me. Then I feared he would shoot Maggie and her companion as well.

"Go --" I said to Maggie. Or tried to. "Go --"

She lifted a hand, her face dark with fury, and I saw branches, leaves, dirt and rocks sailing through the air at Sheriff Creston. I heard his yell of pain as she dragged me up to my feet and literally threw me through the gate to Elsewhere.

I couldn't say I felt safe.

I rolled as I hit the ground, ignoring the pain while I tried to find Maggie and fearing --

She caught me by the arm and dragged me a little ways farther. I clamped my mouth shut against the pain and the panic. I could feel a lot of blood running down my chest and every breath seemed harder to take.

I didn't think she was going to stop. Then I heard a howl and a yell of fear, and I thought maybe we ought to go farther and faster.

Maggie stopped a moment later and gently lowered me into the grass. There seemed to be a slight fog around us, but all the colors stood out, as though unnaturally bright. Beautiful colors as though everything had been made of jewels. The birds didn't just make calls, they made music. Even the scents in the air were so sweet that everything combined to be overwhelming. Elsewhere, I reminded myself. Not home.

"Mark." Maggie knelt beside me and her hand brushed very lightly over my shoulder. The pain lessened to a throb and I thought the bleeding stopped. Maggie shook her head with worry though. The wings on her back fluttered with an odd, metallic sound. "I don't dare try to get the bullet out. I need to get help for you. That magic will hold for a little while. I'm sorry I wasn't there faster."

"Came for me," I said, trying to get my mind to work. "Creston --"

"Edmond scared him off," she said, looking towards the gate. I tried to turn my head, but even that hurt too much. "You okay, Edmond?"

"Yeah. He kicked me, but I scared the hell out of him!"

A cat suddenly moved closer to me; sleek black fur, bright golden eyes that stared into my face. Then the mouth moved.

"He doesn't look very good, Maggie."

I stared.

"I know. I need to get someone --"

"Davis." The lips moved again. Cat. Cat talking to Maggie. "And you better be quick."

Maggie leaned forward and touched the side of my face. I had a hard time looking away from the talking cat. "Stay still. I'll be back with Davis."

"Maggie --" I whispered, trying to find the words to say. "Thanks."

She gave a quick smile and stood.

The cat nudged at my hand. "Take the compass! You don't want anyone finding it on him."

"Edmond," she said, worried as she bent and took the compass from my fingers. "If you know --"

"I don't know anything except you better get Davis. Fast."

I managed to turn my head as Maggie took off running and leapt into the sky, the wings beating loudly against the air as she lifted. The silver feathers caught a glitter of light and shot random rainbows into the sky.

I finally looked back at the cat. He stared somewhere else.

"Edmond?" I said softly, thinking I must be wrong. Hallucinating. Something.

He blinked and looked at me. "If we have to, can you move? I didn't want to worry Maggie, but I think we're in trouble here."

"Creston?" I asked. I forced myself to sit up, though my head pounded.

"Nah. He wont come through. Not yet. There's far worse on this side than a human with a gun. And believe me, you don't want to meet up with them. Once they scent human blood --"

Somewhere off to the right, something howled and another picked up the sound. And another.

"Oh yeah," Edmond said with a sigh. "That's trouble."

995 words

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