22 February 2010

Another excerpt...

yeah, another one; I don't really have time for anything else due to a family issue that came up last week. I will tell you, though, that this is an out-dated draft. I'm going to be making a lot of changes - cleaning up the prose, adding some characters, etc. Enjoy.

I wasn’t concentrating on what I was doing; that’s how they got me so easily. If it hadn’t been for Flint sounding off inside my head, I would have gotten the ice knife between my shoulder blades instead of in my side. And still, all I could think of as I lay bleeding between two cars in the parking lot of the University is how fitting an end it would be, and how I wouldn’t have to worry about Rafe’s letter any more. I wouldn’t have to care that he had bought a farm on the west coast and wanted me to come there with him to be his wife, and that if I didn’t accept that option, I might have to accept that he would leave. Forever. It really would have been a fitting end; an enchanted blade of ice from my ‘homeland’ putting a stop to the organic functions of the enchanted lump of ice that lived in my chest and served purpose as a heart.
It would have fitted but it didn’t end, because, right on queue, Rafe was striding toward me across the lot, the sun shining on his pure silver hair that stuck up in front no matter what he did with it and was getting too long in the back because he hated going to the barber. He knelt down and touched the blade sticking out of my side. It fizzled and sank deeper in. Chewing on the collar of my jacket to keep from screaming, I showed my teeth at him in the universal signal for displeasure. “Careless,” he muttered.
I know; that’s what I told her. Said Flint.
“Can you get rid of it here or do you need to get to your apartment?” he asked, trying as gently as he could to ease the ragged tear in my shirt away from the knife.
“Vaking Shoda,” I tried to growl, but it came out as an indistinct mumble. Pulling my teeth out of the cloth, I tried again. “I need some baking soda.”
With his help, I inched onto my feet, and he tugged at the flap of my jacket so that it covered the blood. We made a slow and painful way across the parking lot and through the hedge that was the shortcut from my university to my apartment building. I was in pretty bad shape when we finally got there; the two curses seemed to be feeding off of each other, and I was beginning to think I was going to freeze to death right there in the mid-seventies degree weather. Even my lips felt numb. The only part of me that was unaffected, as always, by my discomfort, was Flint. Baking soda! And you call yourself a sorceress. What can you possibly do with baking soda?
With great effort, fueled by great irritation, I formed the thoughts that would shut him up. Obsidian, be quiet or I’ll stop fighting it and just black out.
You wouldn’t do that; you’d die because Rafe doesn’t know what to do.
My physical body couldn’t quite manage it, but my mind’s eye of myself smiled grimly. Oh, you think I wouldn’t? Flint must have felt the ripples of my expression, because he stayed quiet and watched – he was always watching.
Rafe came hurrying out of the kitchen with a pack of baking soda in his hand and a doubtful expression on his face, as if he wasn’t sure if he had the right thing. Or maybe he doubted my sorceress abilities too. Maybe it was excusable for him to do so; after all, in over four years I hadn’t been able to break or lift the bleak magic ice-curse that resided in my chest. He knew that, he just didn’t know what the curse was about: him.
“Pour some into my hand, and then sprinkle the rest over the flat side of the knife.” I clutched my handful of baking soda and tried to breath. When the warm wetness on my side was replaced with cold moisture I knew it was time. Blowing a little into the air for good luck, I slammed my hand, full of powder, down onto the wound in my side. Although the baking soda had eroded what part of the blade was outside my body, there was still an un-melted shard squirming further away from the surface and toward my heart. After a while, I did black out, but not until I was sure the baking soda had done its job and I could feel the wound beginning to knit itself together again.
When I came to, I was on the couch and Rafe was sitting opposite me, staring off into space. He had a smear of baking soda on his chin and it was all over his hands and clothes. There was even a fine dusting in his hair. “What did you do, bathe in it?”
“You’re quite welcome; I’ll be happy to save your life any time, my lady,” he said evenly. I threw a pillow at him. It wasn’t that he caught it that annoyed me; it was the absent minded way he did it that got to me. But the curse that was still with me, the one that even baking soda couldn’t cure, wouldn’t even let me feel that little twinge of fury that showed I cared without seizing up and freezing a few more degrees.
I started to snap that it was all his fault for sending me that stupid letter, but stopped just in time. The farm in Oregon was the last thing I wanted to discuss right now. Instead I decided to instruct him in the arts of sorcery and household paraphernalia. “You know, Americans always swear by duct tape, but baking soda is really, really underrated. I mean, it’s white and powdery like snow, it absorbs bad smells, and it’s an excellent scrubbing agent. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.”
“It has symbolic purity, as well as the practical ability to render things clean,” I said, just to make it harder for him. Although actually, baking soda would probably only work for me, and not any other sorceress, because I was the only one who saw magic in it – the magic of the Trolling Wood Sorceresses worked that way; different for every one practitioner. It was something even non magical women could accept easily, but men, even Trolling Wood men, just didn’t seem to get it. The lack of structure and rules bothered them.
Rafe changed the subject before I could continue my lecture. “Is it getting easier for them to get to you? This is the third attempt in a month; before it was only one every couple of months.”
I sighed and rubbed my face. “We always knew, or at least I told all of you that the shield of breath and mirrors would only be a temporary solution. Yes, my continued life makes it harder for them to enter the Utherverse from the real world, but conversely, it becomes easier with my every breath.”
“Yeah, you told us, but all I remember is that it didn’t make any sense.” He grumbled morosely.
“It doesn’t have to,” I said in the patient tone of voice that is only used by people with very little patience.
“You sound just like your father when you talk that way.” Rafe looked at me unblinkingly. The flat tone of his voice was his equivalent of my pretending-to-be-patient one.
Ignoring the disapproving frigidity in my chest, I reached out and took his hand. “Do you think he’s still alive?”
Rafe squeezed my hand in response. “I don’t think even Srevnad could get away with killing him,” he said reasonably. I could tell he meant it.
I knew I shouldn’t be smiling, but I couldn’t stop the wry little twist that played havoc with the already odd proportions of my face. “Do you suppose he’s had enough magic by now?”
Rafe’s shocked expression dissolved as he choked on a breath of air and started laughing. It wasn’t the best kind of laughter, relaxed and happy, but with a hint of frayed nerves around the edges. It felt good anyway, and it eased the tension.
My father’s hunger for the magic he couldn’t have was what started this whole mess. Actually it’s what started the whole mess of my life; not to mention my sister and brother. My half-Nereid mother was at the peak of her promise as a young sorceress in the Trolling Wood when the king of Castle Sea – all the monarchs of which, down through the ages, had seemed unable to grasp that the Trolling Wood was something different and apart – had ordered her to become his concubine. He hoped thereby to instill some magic into the royal line. How unfortunate for him that he could drag the sorceress to the castle, but he couldn’t make her practice sorcery, and how stupid of him not to realize that my older sister, in his exact image, was the least likely to have any magic, whereas I, not only in the image of my mother, but also sheltering in my own mind the life of my twin brother whose body at birth had been too weak to live, was much more likely to be a sorceress. And lastly, how very lucky for my mother and me (with my brother in tow) that he ‘banished’ us back to the Trolling Wood.
“I think we should go up to New York and talk to Chip and Ja––Astor.” Rafe interrupted my thoughts with an unpleasant suggestion. Of course, I thought my sister’s alternate personality ‘Astor’ was a vast improvement on the ‘Jade’ personality she’d been born with, but I still couldn’t quite forget…

13 February 2010


As maybe you can tell, I'm on hiatus this week; I'll be back next Thursday. Have an imaginary day ;)

10 February 2010

The Paradise War

The Paradise War. Awesome title, from an author I usually enjoy (Stephen Lawhead). The plot? Meh.
MC and MC's best friend visit ancient cairn in Scotland, best friend gets sucked into other world, MC has nervous breakdown before managing to go after best friend. Ends up in ancient Celtic setting. In the first scene in Albion, the other world, a man's head gets chopped off (by the best friend, who has, due to inter-world-time-discrepency, been there four years) and the MC is forced to carry it. MAJOR graphic adjectives. Not the best way to endear the book to this reader.
I'm almost seven hours into it, and I hate the MC's best friend, the MC I'm not too impressed with, and the macho dudeness is really, really getting to me. The obligatory tough-gal narcissists aren't helping either.
...On rereading this entry, it seems kind of harsh. Maybe I'm just not the target reader. Maybe the narrator of the audio book is just annoying.

09 February 2010

Preparations and Dub vs. Sub

Good evening, imaginaries:
I'm really excited about doing my English paper this semester, because it's a Wolrd Lit class, and the teacher has given us free reign from the 1600s on ward. Anything goes. Authors, characters, books, etc. So with this vast sea to choose from, what shall I do? (As if I didn't already know.) I'm going to write about Baba Yaga! I've already got two books of fairy tales from the library, and I'm going to order this later tonight. I really should have been a folklorist. (was anybody else as breathless as me when they found out folklorist was actually a job?) Part of the final grade for this class is a visual presentation, and I like to prepare videos with a mixture of pictures and text with music - I already have the PERFECT music chosen out; I'll post it when I get it done.
In other news, I was sick over the weekend (very, very glad that I had the posts scheduled from Wednesday all the way to Monday), and so I didn't get to watch the four English dubbed episodes of One Piece that Hulu releases every Saturday until last night. Major anime-habit high. Now, I know there is a lot of, haha, let us kindly refer to it as "debate" in the anime watching community about whether dubbed versions or subtitled versions are better. I say, why does one have to be better than the other for everyone? Now personally, I prefer dubbed versions because, while I love listening to the voices, I manically HATE any and all subtitles. [Redundant] period. I can't watch English soundtrack movies with subtitles, and I can barely force myself to watch Japanese soundtrack shows with subtitles. I would literally rather watch it in Japanese without the titles and try to figure out what's going on by the actions of the characters. Once I (sometime in the distant and vague future) learn to speak Japanese, it'll all be good :D

08 February 2010

"Monsters from the id!!!"

So. Psychology. Fun. Right? Ha. Inspiring? Maybe. What if you wrote a short story where the id (subconcious), the superego (conscience - y'know, like the little shoulder angels) and the ego (conscious) were eternally bickering in a surreal landscape - except at first, the reader wouldn't KNOW who or where these characters were? What if it was a slow discovery process? And what if it ended with a look at the real world and had the unfortunate person to whom these elements belong doing something shocking while they are busy snarking at each other? That would be a good contest... Well, if you happen to stop by and think this sounds like fun, go ahead and send in your own version, meanwhile I'll be working on mine [probably].

06 February 2010

The Saturday Issue, vol. 2

Missed the first volume? Find episode one here.
Mockin’bird stood absolutely still; watching the circle of animals around her, mind flicking desperately through the spells she might be able to use. 'I haven’t been trained for this – heck, I’ve never even been to Faerie before! What can I do, what can I do?!' Spells of protection she knew by heart only that morning were now disjointed shreds on the pressroom floor of her brain. The leader of the pack circled in closer than the others, testing the air with his nose. He opened his enormous mouth, ringed with yellowed teeth.
“Passport, please,” Mockin’bird blinked.
“What?” she asked faintly. The wolf eyed her severely. At least, Mockin’bird got the impression he was being severe, and not – at least not intentionally – terrifying.
“No passport, huh? Well, that’s unlucky for you.” Mockin’bird gulped as she saw the other wolves licking their chops. Their manner was downright suggestive.
“Wait,” she tried, going up on her toes in an effort to get the words out fast enough to keep the lead wolf’s attention. “I’m not here of myownfreewill!” The wolf looked at her again and his nose twitched. “My cousin was tricked into accepting a dampener short-circuit charm, and when I tried to stop him, I was sucked in, too; we came here together,” she looked around helplessly. Ending rather weakly, she said, “Except he doesn’t seem to be here now.”
Mockin’bird tried not to flinch as another wolf, smaller than the first one but, oh goodness, still large enough, came up and sniffed her hand. It turned and said, “I smell it on her, Captain; she’s telling the truth. Also, I have the scent of the other human fixed.”
The Captain nodded. “Then all of you begin searching; it will be dark soon. If you need me, I’ll be escorting this one to Dyre Hollow.” Without a word, the other wolves turned and left, leaving nothing but the sound of their paws beating on the snow, soon fading into the wind. “Come on,” said the Captain, wheeling and heading off at a purposeful trot. Mockin’bird hurled herself through the snow drifts to catch up and blurted out, “What was that? Wh-who are you?”
“Border Patrol.” The wolf glanced sideways at her and asked, “Is that the new Sigil mach IV you’re wearing?” Mockin’bird touched her dampener, which was disguised as a choker necklace. She was already out of breath from trudging through the snow, so she just nodded.
Taking a few quick, short breaths, she added, “Gully… wasn’t, though. His is still… on order.”
The wolf nodded. “That’s why you got separated. The short-circuit charm wasn’t nearly as effective on the mach IV – in fact, if you had accepted it instead of your cousin – Gully, was it? – the charm probably wouldn’t have gone off at all.”
“So he was sent further in than I was?” Nodding curtly, the Captain said, “That’s enough talk; we need to make faster tracks. Get behind me and walk in the path I make.” Not daring to disobey, Mockin’bird did as she was told. It seemed like forever before she finally decided to pause and invoke a dry sock charm she had stored ready to use in her dampener. After she again hurried to catch up, it seemed like another forever until they finally got to what the wolf had called Dyre Hollow. Snow was once again beginning to dump itself all over the landscape as they entered the clearing, and Mockin’bird had to squint to see. Lining a path that crossed the open space were snow covered garden beds, visible by their outlines, and some small livestock sheds off to one side. At the other end of the hollow was a house that sat on two long poles. It was surrounded by a white picket fence. The wolf waited for her by the gate. At first she hurried, thinking of the warm things waiting for her inside the house, but halfway Mockin’bird slowed to stop. There was something wrong about the fence – and come to think of it, the poles of… the house…
“That’s Baba Yaga’s house! You brought me to a witch who eats babies?!” Mockin’bird turned and tried to stumble off into the woods, but the wolf was too fast for her.
“Listen! She does not eat babies. She could be persuaded to eat a little girl, even an agent of AAPIF, if she got angry enough, but the wolves out there that aren’t bound by the oath of the Border Patrol; they won’t need to be angry enough, just hungry enough. They’re – always – hungry.”
Mockin’bird stood still, thinking. The wolf paused, too. The wind and snow swirled between them. Looking over her shoulder, she saw that as dusk was falling the lights in the window of the house began to seem even more welcome than they had before - if you could just forget the bone fence in between. “And you’re sure she doesn’t eat babies?”
The wolf laughed, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth. “Come on, little one,” he said as he trotted toward the house. Reluctantly, Mockin’bird followed. TO BE CONTINUED…

05 February 2010

Figure Study Friday

My art professor tells me that we all tend to unconciously draw our own body type. That means that for beginners at least, or people who haven't been practicing [hangs head], it's easier for big men to draw big men, little women to draw little women and vice versa (hence the slightly feminine look of my first sketch, I suppose). That's why I'm really proud of myself for the figure drawing I've accolpished this week. Of course, it was a lot easier once I rediscovered Posemaniacs, which is a great and *FREE* resource for any artist looking to improve their human form drawing skills. Something I really like is a sidebar app called 30 second drawing. That's pretty much just what it sounds like; they give you a pose, you have 30 seconds to do a gesture drawing. The faster you get the entire body roughly outlined, the more likely it is that your proportions are right. Then you can clean it up and turn it into a finished piece. And yes, I drew clothes on the first one, but not on the second one. a) it's hard and I'm lazy b) I wanted to sketch a little of the muscle structure, something that Posemaniacs allows you to do. I know people can get a little weird about nude models and other disrobed aspects of figure drawing; some of those people live in my family. And I can understand being uncomfortable if you're not used to it. But figure drawing is art; there is nothing sexual about it, and I am going to imagine that my readers can accept this. So there's my little disclaimer thingy. I think I did better than last week.

04 February 2010


Hooray! Hooray for innovations! Also, hooray for code-speaking relatives! And hooray for Blogger Templates! I love free resources! So HOORAY!

Thursday 'View: The Complete Fairy Stories of Oscar Wilde

Good morning imaginaries: A book of Oscar Wilde's short stories was recomended to me by Craftypeople via a comment on the excerpt I posted as my first Sketches & Notes blog entry. And, although I don't think s/he is a regular reader (what kind of spot would that be on my imaginary record?) I would sincerely like to thank her/him. The stories are wonderful. Useually with an element of sadness, but *wonderful* sadness. Maybe it's because I haven't been reading as many classics as I was, say, before I started college (hey, you need to be sharp to read Dickens or Austen, and my pathetic attention span just gets eaten up by the class readings), but something about these stories really made me stop and think - of course, it might also be that Wilde has some very deep, thought-provoking messages in his stories. A lot of them, like so many others of that time, revolve around the ivory-towered rich and the in-plain-sight-but-still-out-of-mind poor. In others, a stronger element is a half-laughing, half-crying attitude toward the intelligentsia of the day. I still don't think I've caught on to all the nuances yet; this is definitely not a casual read. It requires as much mulling-over time as reading time. In other news, I plan to rectify my de-classified reading diet with [grits teeth] MacBeth (I'm glad you're all imaginaries, because otherwise I'd have to hide under the table to say that, no, all in all, I don't like Shakespeare. Bite me.) and The Great Gatsby. In still *other* news, an issue of world safety has come up, in that I, at nineteen years of age and being of slightly disturbed mind and pudgy body, am about to take my life (and probably the life of every other driver in North Carolina) into my hands and [try to] get my driver's license today. EDITED to say: @#%&!!! No license until the 16th.

03 February 2010

Coolest Plant on this Planet - Or Any Other

Something fun for all the imaginary readers - I can see that this is quickly going to become some kind of disorder where even if I ever get real readers I'll never quite believe they're actually there. I was reading the backlog of info-mails in my in-box (knitting, spinning, bird-watching, gardening, etc) and this plant happened to catch my eye. Isn't it like something you'd find in Baba Yaga's garden and therefore cool even if it HADN'T been cool in its own right? It's called Harry Lauder's Walking Cane, and Ah WAONTS meh wun.

02 February 2010

Old Mother West Wind

I just found out that 2010 is the 100th anniversary of the publication of "Old Mother West Wind" by Thornton Burgess. Now, I realize that some of you imaginary readers out there may never have heard of this crown jewel among books and royal gem among childrens authors, but keep in mind that I lived in the world Burgess created for a good part of my childhood - and I've been trying to get back there ever since I left - so bear with me while I rant on the greatness of the occasion. Burgess was born in 1874 (January, so I missed his birthday) and died in 1965. Because he had to support himself and his mother, he took a lot of different jobs as early as his teens. Some of the jobs were out of doors, one of them being at Discovery Hill Road, a wood-and-wetland nature preserve. This became the setting for some of the best. Children stories. Ever. Burgess was an original conservation NINJA and received several awards for his efforts. He grew up in Sandwich, MA, and there's now a museum and nature center there, kept up by the Thornton Burgess Society. And boy, do I consider myself lucky to have been there several times, even if it was over ten years ago. (Pictured is Blacky the Crow, one of my personal favorites of the Burgess characters.)

01 February 2010

The Last Mile

Fallen are the leaves all brown, Under Winter's frown now lies the city and the town. But Summer and Fall must first drown for Spring then to wear its crown. Spring soon will bear a brilliant smile; Sun will warm flagstone, floor and tile, So keep spirits in good style. Watch snow fall in drift and pile, And know there is but one last mile.