Friday, December 12, 2008

Desert Blood: Chapter 2

A little late--but here is the next chapter, and I expect the third one on Monday. I will remember this time. :)

Though Athelia did her best to draw him out, Arioch did not cooperate. He answered in curt, one-word replies to her gentle questions. He never asked her anything.

After cleaning the dishes, they retreated to the main room. Athelia shivered, rubbing her hands over her arms. The desert radiated stifling heat in the day, but when the sun set, the heat evaporated. She bent down, tucking sheaves of tightly bound buffelgrass into the hearth. A cheery fire soon warmed the small room. When she turned away from the task, Arioch stood at the door.

"Where are you going?”

He glanced at her. “The barn. I thank you for the meal, but I doubt you want me to stay in your house. At least, not yet.”

She winced at the reminder. “I’d like to talk to you.”

One eyebrow arched. “You want me to stay?”

“No, but I do want to talk.”

His expression turned surly. “I can answer your questions tomorrow as well as tonight.”

“Can’t you talk to me for a little bit?”

He humphed and stepped away. Crossing the room, he turned to face her, his back to the fire. “Well?”

“You can sit down.” Athelia gestured to a pillow. Those served for chairs in a Mara household. Arioch frowned, but he obeyed. The tension in the air made the room feel cold. The silence was oppressive. She cleared her throat. “You came here from Eastar?”

“Aye. I came at Endry’s summons.”

“Do you always obey Endry?”

He flicked a glance at her. “He is my Fay-el.” His tone suggested there was no arguing with him.

“Did you know him long?”

“I have served him for a...few years.”

Athelia caught the hesitance. Her eyes narrowed. “How old are you?”

“Does it matter?” The impassive Arioch cleared his throat, eyes flicking to the side. “I have not asked you your age.”

“I’m eighteen, if that means anything.”

He winced. She pressed him again, “How old are you?”

“I served Endry for twelve years, after joining his army at the same age as you.”

Athelia’s eyes widened. She could add the numbers. “You’re thirty?”

“On the Harvest Moon.” His eyes flicked away from her, landing on the basket of books. “You read?”

She wanted to bristle at the surprise in his tone. Most women never bothered to learn their letters. “Aye, I can. Though the Old Dragonian is beyond me.”

“I see.” Arioch turned his head. She saw him hide a yawn.

“Are you tired?”

His eyes jumped to her. He shrugged. “Some. My horse and I rode through the night.”

“From Eastar?”

The edge of his mouth curved upward. “Aye, we left yesterday at the dawn.”

Athelia refrained from questioning him on that. Between Eastar and Lodear was a three-day journey, four if you rode at a sedate pace. But he was implying he had done it in two. She changed the subject.

“Do you believe the prophecies?”

Arioch shrugged. “I trust my sword, my horse, and my strength. I do not trust in things I cannot see, be they Kyda or tales of Eyrie.”

Athelia shivered. At least he had not used Azrael’s name. The Lord of Eyrie was not a name to fling lightly. She did not believe every legend. But, there was no need to take chances either. “I have a book with prophecies, but I don’t understand them.”

He grinned. “Few do.”

“No, I mean,” she shook her head. “They’re in a language I don’t know. I’ve heard those from Eastar know more than Common.”

“Aye.” He glanced at the window, his mood visibly darkening. “We know of many things beyond the Rim.”

“May I get that book for you to look at?”

His gaze returned to her. “Tonight?”

“Well, maybe no tonight exactly.” She felt the heat of a blush rising in her face and scrubbed a hand across her cheeks, looking away. “Could I just give you the book, and you could explain it to me later?”

Arioch shrugged. He stretched out half onto his side, propped on one elbow. “I doubt I could dissuade you.”

Feeling the rise of heat in her face again, Athelia hurried into her room.

A small window, set with imported Aquila glass, streamed the starlight in silver bands across her plain bed. Her most valuable possession rested at the foot of the bed. A cedar chest, it was filled with items that she wanted to preserve. A pile of neatly folded blankets, some of which had been sewn by her grandmother and great-grandmother. The wedding gown that her mother had worn, her sister, and now she was expected to use someday. Sooner rather than later.

Athelia shoved the thought aside and dug deeper. A stack of dusty, crumbling books snuggled in safety between two thick quilts. She retrieved the bound parchments and then paused. The barn would not be warm. Not that she cared that much, but he had no more choice about the situation than she did. After picking up a blanket, she headed back into the main area.

Arioch’s head was down. He had slumped onto his side, his head cradled on his hands. One glance at his steady breathing, and she knew he was asleep. Should I wake him? Athelia hesitated, bending over his form. If she did, he would be irritated. And then to send him out into the barn, where it was cold and, she wouldn’t do that to him.

Unfolding the blanket, Athelia draped it over him and stepped back. He muttered in his sleep, a line of words she didn’t recognize, and then stilled. She stepped away. Arioch slept on. Athelia left him there.

Returning to her room, she undressed and slipped into the sheer fabric of a linka. The thin, almost silk-like substance, woven from plants that only thrived in the Mara Desert, clung to her like a second skin. At any other time, she would not have minded. The fact that a man slept a mere room away, however, made her very uncomfortable. She satisfied her dread by draping a nightgown over the linka. It meant she would be a little warmer tonight, but she could sleep at ease.

That settled, Athelia set about preparing for bed. She pulled the pins and tight braids free, allowing her hair to fall free. It cupped against the middle of her back. The writhing curls made it a nuisance to comb, but she managed with gritted teeth against the pain radiating in her skull. She washed her face and slid beneath the coverlet on her bed.

Athelia stared at the roof above. The starlight streamed and rippled over the drab eaves. The shift from gray to black to a dark silver reminded her of Arioch’s own variable expressions. She shook her head. If she spent the night thinking about the situation, she would never get any sleep. Lady Madine would spread the word better than she ever could.

Athelia shivered. What if he asked for his right once the child was born? He could. She did not love him. Endry would always hold her heart. How could she bear this soldier instead? She shifted to her side. Closed her eyes. She needed to rest.

Tomorrow, she had to start working on Lady Madine’s gown and check on the spring. The last storm had left the shallow pool miry and unfit for drinking. She needed that water as much as the herbs she had planted around it.

She sighed. Why had Kree done this to her? She was dutiful in burning incense, lighting candles, and even sending the occasional bit of silver to the shaman. It should satisfy the goddess of women and land. Kept her safe on both important areas. And yet, this had happened. Athelia recited the Pleas, and fell asleep muttering a prayer.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

New Project

Long time, no see. :)

The holiday season always gets me busy, sometimes too busy. There's gifts to buy, food to eat, family to see...far too much for me to do and see and say at once. At least I seem to be able to fit in some time with my writing. :) Something my readers are sure to appreciate.

I decided to set up a new project, hence the title. Every Monday, starting this coming Monday, I'm going to be posting a chapter at a time in one of my newer stories. It will work similar to a serial. Hopefully, leaving you wanting more. :) I'm also hoping it will help me be more regular in posting for the blog. At least I'll be as often as weekly.

Look for the first chapter in Desert Blood on Monday. :)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Diving into my Work

Hi again

It seems as summer wanes, time does too. It's hard to stop and smell the roses, if you know what I mean. Anyway, though I have been busy, it has been writing on CN, so it's not time wasted. :)

I thought this time through, I'd just post a sample chapter again of CN. And fair warning: yes, it's a vampire story. But my goal is to make a "clean" one, relatively speaking. At this point in the story, Traci (human) and Azrael (vampire) are trying to rescue a mutual friend, Chax (vampire). They think he is being kept against his will in The Blue Hole. (Famous reef--off the coast of Belize. Google it. ;) ) And Traci and Azrael are getting serious in their relationship. (In the next chapter, Azzy finally says those three special words to her. :) )

The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost. --Gilbert K. Chesterton

“You know, this has to be the craziest thing I’ve ever done.”

Azrael quirked a grin, mischief dancing in his eyes. Traci shook her head. “You have the Chax look.”

His grin widened. He glided closer, resting his hands on her shoulders. She felt the warmth of his touch through the wetsuit. “I baptize you, my sister—“ and he shoved her backwards over the rail of the ship.

The wash of seawater clogging her throat cut off the beginning of a sharp retort. Traci kicked her fins, rolling onto her stomach as she fumbled with the respirator. A thin splash revealed Azrael’s own entrance. She straightened as best she could and glared in his direction.

He moved through the water with an eerie grace, trailing dark wings behind him. Water and light danced across the membrane in a subtle interplay of maroon and sapphire. Those would never fit in a wetsuit, and he certainly didn't need the equipment anyway.

With a firm kick, he glided up to her. Mischief still gleamed in his eyes. He rolled onto his side, sidling past her. One wing tapped her ankle, trailed across her thigh, lingered on a rib. He twisted away. Traci shivered. She swallowed hard, ignoring the burst of bubbles. So she had been holding her breath. It was nothing for him to grin about. She rewarded him with a stern expression.

And he laughed. No bubbles of any sort, but his head was tipped back, mouth open, shoulders shaking in silent mirth.

That is so unnerving.

He stopped. Tilted his head in a gentle question. She crossed her arms. The edge of his mouth twitched in suppressed humor, but he didn’t laugh again. If he does, Traci thought. I’ll slap him, vampire or not.

Azrael gestured downward. She followed the motion with her eyes. The sunlight’s rays ended abruptly about ten feet from her dangling fins. The somber blue water darkened to cobalt, shading down to black. A handful of fish darted through the water, scales flickering like tiny candles as they passed through the veiled sunshine.

Azrael moved slowly past her, one shoulder brushing against her. They had to go exploring, for Chax’s sake at least. An eel whipped from the dark water. A candle was snuffed out. The eel twitched once, revealing a profile of jagged teeth jutting over its lip, and then vanished again. Traci shuddered and stroked after Azrael. There were many predators in these waters.

She rubbed her tongue across the cool metal of the respirator. That was real, the ocean was real. The vamps, if their lair was here, were real too. But it was close to noon right now. If they were typical vampires, the sun, though not a mortal threat, was enough of a nuisance to keep them quiet. If they were not the typical vampires, then she might as well hang a “Free Lunch” tag on her shirt.

The silent swim set her nerves on edge. Cloying darkness enveloped them both. It enfolded Azrael in a cloak of black. Dimmed the gems of his wings into shards of ebony. Sinuous coils hid their surroundings, transforming mundane objects into creatures of dread.

Rocks became sharp-edged altars, stained brown with the blood of innocents. Spikes of stone formed a jaw of teeth crowned with split and broken molars. Seaweed entwined serpentine fingers around her wrist. The strands sucked at her fingers like hungry parasites. She jerked her hand away. Azrael glanced back over his shoulder. Concern flickered in his eyes.

Traci waved her hand in a shooing gesture. His head cocked. She saw his feet slow. Oh great. She shook her head hard. Forming a circle with her thumb and forefinger, she tried to reassure him she was fine. Azrael rolled his eyes and twisted away. The seaweed brushed against her ankles. Traci pulled her foot away and scowled hard at his retreating back. Good. He can obey orders … sometimes.

Something brushed the back of her head. Traci froze. She clenched her eyes closed. Counted to ten slowly. Probably a fish, wandering from its rocky home to investigate. Or a loose bit of seaweed. Blast, she’d take a wad of plastic wrap.

Opened her eyes again, into the fanged grin of a vampire. Traci screamed. The respirator popped out of her mouth and she gagged on the rush of water. Neither sound was loud enough for Azrael to hear. She seized the respirator and shoved it into her mouth, using the other hand to shove against the vampire’s chest. She sailed backward, and her shoulders connected with something hard. It was too warm to be a rock.

Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Reciting the mantra, she twisted away in a smooth turn worthy of an Olympic pool. The vampires were not impressed. Vamp 1 snapped his hand out and caught her wrist. When she kicked at his iron hold, his other hand imprisoned her ankle. The awkward position stretched muscles in a way they were never meant to be. Traci winced and clawed at his hand. It was like dragging fingernails across granite, and about as quick as erosion.

Vamp 2 didn’t want to wait. He yanked her head back, lip peeling away from fang in a silent snarl. His eyes were filmed over, his pupils a trifle lighter in color than true gray. Maybe blue beneath that hazy layer. His nostrils flared once, as if sniffing her scent out of the brine surrounding them. He twisted his head and jerked her against him. She bit her lip. Metallic blood flooded her mouth. Traci swallowed quickly. Better in my stomach than his.

Whatever had disturbed him eased, because his grip slackened. More like an enraged octopus than a crushing snake. Yeah, this is better. Dancing shadows reformed into a third figure. It was female.

Thick, tangled curls hung around her narrow face. Her eyes burned with an inner fire. Fangs peeked beneath her lip. She shivered visibly. One hand reached for Traci’s head.

Traci blinked. Felt her captor tug her closer protectively. Or just to keep his dinner warm. Not that it mattered. Traci stared at the clawed hand, at the curved talon replacing the woman’s thumbs. That could not be a good sign.

The woman’s lip peeled back in an obvious challenge. She tapped her hands together. The first vampire cocked his head. Traci’s owner tensed. Why do I always end up around fighting vampires?

With a twist and arch of her spine, the woman was suddenly inches from her face. Traci jerked back. Her chin connected with the nose of the vampire holding her. The water darkened. Blood. Uh-oh.

Fingers and claws alike yanked on her. She felt the twinge of pain as wetsuit gave way to flesh. A fang scraped down her arm. The straps for the air tank tore apart. The respirator ripped out of her mouth. She fumbled for it, twisting against their grip. A hand buried itself in her hair. Her head was craned back, neck arching painfully.

Metal. Bumping her arm. Traci snatched the respirator and pushed it into her mouth. She sucked at the air. It had never tasted sweeter. A talon flashed in the dim light. The tank shifted, its strap scraping across the open wound. It slid down her arm. She tried to grab it, curled her fingers around the edge of its frame. The tank was too heavy for a one-handed grab and slid free. Her air cut off again. She stared down at the slowly sinking tank. Traitor.

Her air supply dwindled. Her lungs burned. Dark spots taunted her, swooping past her wide eyes. An irritating buzz hummed in her ears. Traci closed her eyes. Teeth nibbled at her neck, climbing her throat in uncertain bites. An arm wrapped around her shoulder. She was pressed against the first vampire’s firm body.


Darkness twined around her. The seaweed wrapped her in a burial shroud. And the bite came, sinking through flesh into the vein beneath. Warm blood burned her neck. The jaw ripped free. She relaxed in the grip of another vampire. Just eat me already.

She couldn’t open her eyes. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t think. Numbness spread in comforting tendrils down her spine, hugging her chest, easing the burn of suffocation. The shadows surrounded her. They conquered her.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Playing Around

Found a song I like that makes me think of my writing, slightly. It has a celtic feel, for obvious reasons. I love Celtic. Fanatic!! lol But it has a speck of whimsy, and the old minstrel feel. Let's see if I figured out how to do this right.

Blackmore's Night Lyrics

It's hard working with html, at least to me. I have figured out bits and pieces with it, but as a whole, it's too complex for my tastes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Running in Circles

Ever feel that way? Like your mind has turned to mush, the plot line is stagnant, your characters hate you, and everything you read you just know you could write it better?

Yep, I feel that way too. The slump. Sometimes it hits me hard, and I can't even stand the sight of my computer. Sometimes it's just a little thing, like now. Just a feeling that what I'm writing or planning just isn't good enough. It's a rough feeling either way, but at least I've experienced it before.

One thing I learned the hard way: never try to edit your stuff, or destroy your stuff, while in the slump. I once trashed about 100 pages of a novel during a slump, and I still regret it. There was stuff in those pages that I can never retrieve, not from memory, not from hard drive. It's just gone.

Right now, I have been editing some on VA, but I've also got some beta readers working on it, so that helps. For example, I know I stink at commas, so I have the Comma Guru (as we like to call my friend) for part of it.

You learn your weaknesses. Correct them as you can. But realize everyone has them, and try to compensate for it. If I had a problem with adding, I wouldn't ask an English teacher for help; I'd ask a math teacher. If I have problem with a certain style or form of writing, then I ask someone who excels at that for help. Simple as that. :)

Anyway, I am hard at work at the sequel to VA, just in case. You never know how things will work out, and Chax needed some cameo time, as I said before. A good place to find pieces of VA, by the way, is (link in upper left) or in the Critique Central under Community. :) I'd love to see y'all there. (Yeah, that's a little hint, but I think those are the two best writing sites around, and believe me, I've tried others.)

Enough with my shamless advertising. Signing off for now.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Sorry about the delay in posting. I've been plodding along with life and writing in general. Things get hectic as the summer ends and fall rolls into view.


I am happy to say that Veiled Memory is completed. Ended. Fine. (Of course, I still have editing to do) But I'm very satisfied with how it turned out. In fact, I enjoyed the characters so much that I'm about 10 chapters into a continuation. I'm debating between titles--Hungry Waters or Feeding Frenzy--(and I'll probably change those too, as I plan to do for Veiled Memory)

For now, it's VA and CN (Chax's Nightmare) I decided to give Chax some cameo time. You know, the hotshot blonde with the saucy tongue? He kept stealing the show from Azrael, so I thought I'd give him a show of his own. He's a lot quieter now, so that's a good thing. ;)

The epic fantasy series has shortened, somewhat. I'm working with Wind Song and Desert Blood right now, chapter at a time, editing Crystal Fire, and working my way thorugh Emerald Dragon as well. So far, I think I've figured out the order I want to do them.

The Crossroads Series (a pre-series, if you will)

1. Dragon King
2. Broken Sword
3. Shattered Dunes
4. Wind Song
5. Desert Blood

The Rim Trilogy (these titles in the trilogy are...flexible :)

1. Crystal Fire
2. Emerald Dragon
3. Fire Storm

Think I have enough planned? Ah, the writer's life. :)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Summer Daze

It's only just begun, yet summer is firmly in place in my mind and schedule. A writer can't always enjoy the nice weather, but I have a few times now. It is enjoyable to sit and sketch an idea, or plan a particular plot twist, even a jot a few lines of poetry, while in the company of whistling birds and a the sleepily nodding heads of daisies and other flowers. I like it very much.

I did promise some samples, did I not? This novel is nearly complete now. I need to finish the last chapter and, of course, the dreaded editing and revision. But otherwise, I'm very close to finishing this "debut" novel. The others are pieces of a 6-9 book series, which I doubt any editor in his right mind would agree to publish. However, Veiled Memory has some promise, I think. I may be a little biased :)

Today, I'll post one of my favorite scenes. Loki is a villain, and a nasty one at that, lurking in a crypt at the moment.

Loki stirred, stretching his wings until the tips scraped against the wall. Moist stone and feathery mold poking between the blocks tickled the sensitive edge. He pulled them close to him again.

He blinked until his eyes adjusted to the flickering lamplight. Kerosene marred the musty air. Loki preferred the latter. It hinted at the work of years, even centuries, of decay. Down here, he would be difficult to find in the maze of corridors, dead ends, and hapless corpses. They had been stripped of their flesh a long time ago. Bits of frayed and fading cloth clung to the ivory skeletons. One skull had a family of rats living in it. Dark, furry bodies writhed and bulged out of the empty eye sockets and around the gapped teeth.

With the scanty light of the lanterns dangling from hooks in the ceiling, and the sporadic torches bolted to the wall, the image was of a spirit in eternal torment. Yellow-eyed parasites nibbling at the eyes, finishing the decomposition that the maggots had started. A few of the remains had flashlights, batteries as dead as them, sprawled beside limp hands. Lost, but not alone.

Loki smiled. A treasure trove of cadavers, these wandering men had helped feed his voracious appetite. Something lived in this place of death.

Timbers had been matched together in each corner with a crude design, as if to say here, there was no need for beauty or fine workmanship.

The cold seeped into his spine. His wings ached, like teeth gnawing between his shoulders. They did not function well in cold and damp. Loki frowned. He needed to warm them up, either by flying for a while, or feeding.

Swiveling, he tested his surroundings. Two large living things were close by. That would be Eric and Janet, the latter retrieved without Cassy’s knowledge. He could not feed on them just yet. Azrael needed to be able to sense them, to feel their presence and come searching for the couple. The alpha had developed a strange fondness for the humans; another sign Azrael was no longer worth his obedience.

Not too bad, I hope?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Summer Buzz

It's me again, slogging my way through life. :)

I can't wait for summer time in a few short weeks. Warm weather, laughing kids, trips to the park and the zoo, and the most important change: plenty of time to work on chapters and other works.

Veiled Memory may have a name change, to Dangerous Silence, though I haven't decided yet. Up to 50k words now, with three more chapters to go. But lately, with a hectic work schedule, I haven't had enough quality time to devote to it. Not that the muse is letting me forget about it. It is very much like an itch that can't be reached, nibbling at my sleep, jotting down quick notes, and embarrasingly, mumbling to myelf while at work. This usually ends with me trying to explain to a customer why I was staring slack-jawed at empty air and muttering cryptic words like "key of Conall" or "Silvren in spring".

Ah well. I'm a writer. I'm expected to be a lunatic.

Summer is coming. And I'm stoked. I hope to finish this novel by then, do another hard copy edit, and maybe start trying for publication with this one. Who knows?

Next post, I think, will be some favorite lines or paragraphs from the novel. Who knows? If any of my readers happens to be an editor, let me know. Boy, do I have a book for you. :)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Moving Forward

The writer's life is always rife with setbacks and encouragements. It's just a matter of seeing them in the right way and adjusting to them as they come along. My favorite novel so far has to be the one I'm still trying to finish. Veiled Memory (whose title I might change anyway) is up to 44k words now, and I know I'm getting close to the end.

Yeah, I know it's going to be a shorter novel, but that is always dependent on the storyline as it evolves and unfolds for me. I wrote a chapter on it today, and I plan to write at least half of another one by tomorrow.

The other novel that I'm halfway with, Emerald Dragon, has been giving me fits. Hence, I'm concentrating on the other, slightly easier, urban fantasy of Veiled. Or VA, as my short-hand goes.

Unfortunately, a great deal of Emerald Dragon relies on world-building and events of before that I'm not ready to study or detail out, just yet. Soon, but for now, I'm much too busy to sit down and ponder all those intertwined webs of culture development, plot lines, and other things. At least, not on that grand scale.

Writer's woes today. I'm hoping for happier times soon. :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


So it begins, the journal of the Wandering Quill.

Hello to all and welcome!

This blog will be my journal to things both good and bad in my life as a writer. Goals for the year, the month, the week and on, as well as projects started and finished. I believe that even these can be written well. I will try to stay on track as much as possible, but here is a place I can be a little random too. Hope you enjoy, my wonderful readers.