A Monday Moment: Homecoming

This is part of the scene I worked on a lot of last week. It continues past this, but goes into novel spoilers. Leahna is the secondary main character in “Pursuit of Power.”


After everything that had happened, Leahna could only think of one thing—seeing her dad. She waited until the morning and then went to the house where she had grown up. There was a sign on the door that announced the house would be sold to the highest bidder on a future date. Leahna stared at the sign for a full minute, trying to process it. Her father was moving out of her childhood home.

She tried the door, but it was locked. She knocked, but there was no answer. Though it was a little early for him to be at work, she went to the Academy anyway. There an old friend of the family told her that her father hadn’t been in for months. Leahna asked if the man knew where her father might be, and she was told to try her brother’s house.

After thanking the man and leaving, Leahna felt like she was in some strange dream. Her family’s house was being sold, her father wasn’t working at the job he loved, and he was staying with Ronald? In that moment, the year she had been away felt like ten. It was as if she was returning from being away at war for a long time, finding everything she left behind gone or different.

She ‘ported directly outside her brother’s house in Jaffna. She had only been there a few times, so she felt awkward as she approached the front door. At least there was no sign on this one.

She knocked tentatively, unsure what she could expect to find behind the door. Ronald answered, laughing at something to which Leahna wasn’t privy. As soon as he saw his older sister, his smile froze and his eyes grew wide.

“Leahna!” he said with exuberance. “You’re…here. You’re back.”

“Yes, I suppose I am,” she said, unsure how he even knew she’d gone anywhere.

“Are you…okay? Is everything okay?” he asked uncertainly.

There was no easy answer to that. “Not…exac—”

Her father appeared behind Ronald. As soon as he saw his eldest daughter in the doorway, he pushed past his son and pulled Leahna into his arms. She didn’t know how to react and simply stood still until he stepped back.

Once she could see him better, she realized that this was not the dad she used to know. He looked ten years older, and yet somehow happier.

“Come on in, Leahna, please,” he said. He backed up, and Ronald did likewise. All three of them moved further into the house. Abner led the way to the living room, where a woman was seated. She stood up when she saw who was with Abner and Ronald.

Betany reacted similarly to Ronald, asking Leahna if she was all right.

“I’m well enough,” Leahna said. She was staring at Betany’s stomach, where there was a noticeable protuberance. She looked to her brother for an explanation.

He offered a pained smile and said, “Betany and I are married, and she is five months pregnant.”

“You are going to have a baby?” Leahna asked, looking between her brother and his wife with some confusion. It was wonderful news; she didn’t understand why everyone looked unhappy about it. Even her father wouldn’t look her in the eye. “That’s wonderful, Ronald!”

He raised his eyebrows and let out a relieved chuckle. “It is?”

“Of course it is! Why? Is there something else going on that I do not know about?”

“No, of course not,” Abner said, going to stand next to Betany. “We just didn’t know how you would feel about Ronald and Betany being married while you were gone.”

“I am sad that I missed it, but I…I suppose I did not expect that you would wait your ceremony until I returned. When I left, part of me thought none of you would ever want to see me again after what happened.”

Her father’s face darkened, and Ronald sighed.

“We were probably harsher with you than we should have been after she died.” Ronald glanced over at Betany and added, “We were definitely harsher than we should have been.”

“What about Noelle?” Leahna asked. “Does she still feel such anger toward me?”

“It is difficult to say,” Abner replied. “We don’t see her much these days either.”

Daily Writing Check-in: April 21, 2016

Words/Time:  627 words of free writing, continuing what I started yesterday, a scene showcasing Leahna and her relationship with her family, which is usually pretty strained. It ended up being a lot more involved than I ever expected it to be. Whether I continue it tomorrow or not, I can’t say. I’ll be working for probably around 12 hours tomorrow, so when I come home, I can’t say what state my mind will be in. But having a scene to jump back into is better than starting something from scratch, so who knows.

I’m letting this free writing (which  might actually turn out to be producing scenes that will work very well in the actual novel) ease me back in after my break. I remember that my revision is stalled at needing to figure out how to start the novel (after the prologue) with the narrator, rather than forgetting that he exists. Until I can figure that out, the revision will go nowhere, but at least I’ve got something to do.

Daily Writing Check-in: April 19, 2016

Words/Time:  566 words of free writing. Before I stopped writing for a while, I was planning to focus on one character during free writing time for a while, to try to draw them out a bit. Some of the characters in “Pursuit of Power” aren’t as developed as I prefer. Back in February, I started with Leahna, the secondary main character in the novel. I’m going to stick with her for now, and today’s writing started with me asking her the question, “What do you really want me to know about you?” This was because, as I mentioned once before, though she has a very big role in the novel, she’s been mostly one-dimensional so far. I think she comes across as being nearly flawless, so I let her ramble on a bit about that today.

A Monday Moment: Between Life & Death

My first Monday Moment now that I am coming back to my writing is the piece that I’m strongly considering using as the prologue for “Pursuit of Power.” It introduces the reader to the main villain of the story, who as of right now doesn’t enter the story nearly soon enough. That’s one of a long list of things to work on. But for now, hopefully this will be of interest.


They think I’m an animal. Some kind of creature. They come into my home and disrespect me, and they’re offended when I break their necks?

Dressed in tattered clothes, standing in a large patch of desert grass and weeds that were matted down in the center, the “beast” stood over the most recent trespasser. The smell didn’t bother her, but the recent piling up of bodies was troublesome.

The first thing she really remembered was waking up in the sand, with blood all over her hands and clothes. She barely even noticed the bladed weapons at her side. For a while, she was in fact like an animal, with no real thoughts, only acting on instinct. At first, she killed only to eat. Then, somehow, her dwelling began to draw unwelcome attention. Then she had to kill to protect her home.

After a time of being around other humans, for as short of a time as any managed to live, she would hear them speak, and began to remember a past life. One in which she was an assassin, and a highly respected and greatly feared member of a powerful order. She was…

She was nothing now. A creature, a thing to be feared by man as death itself. She didn’t know what had happened to her, but she knew that she would never be the same again.

She kicked the body to the edge of the tall grass and brushed her crimson hair out of her face with a blood-stained hand. The sun would be up soon, and the only way she survived the day was to remove herself from it. She lay down amongst the tangle of grass and weeds and disappeared from sight.

At the same time, deeper out in the desert, three men hurried north, following a man mounted on a horse. The man in the lead, Drune, was leading his men—a Cleric, a Power User, and a Bowman—to the location east of Torreo where the creature was said to live. Their orders were to bring her back, but Drune had a feeling that wouldn’t be possible. He didn’t doubt that the creature was, in fact, his boss’s daughter, but he didn’t think she’d come willingly.

After a few hours of traveling, they could just barely see the lights of Torreo in the distance. Drune held up his hand, and the others stopped. He made a few other gestures, then moved ahead alone, slowly. The Cleric held up his hand and created a Power barrier around himself. When Drune called out a command, the other two men moved forward and stood on either side of him. They were thirty yards away from the nest of grass.

Drune sat silently for a moment, listening to the sounds of the desert around him. The approaching morning should have brought a plethora of animal calls, but all were absent. The only sound he heard now was the buzzing of many flies, a noise that clearly came from that large patch of grass.

“She’s in there.”

“Are you sure?” the Bowman questioned. “She’s a Shadow; she could be anywhere.”

“I’m quite sure.” Drune looked out at the horizon, where the first rays of dawn were chasing away the night. “Very few of the reported sightings and deaths happened during the day. She’s there. Go.”

Despite the command, all three remained still for a minute, as if waiting for something. Then, they stepped forward, positioning themselves around the perimeter of the nest.

The User knew it was his move next, but he hesitated for a moment. Regardless of what Drune had said, he didn’t hold out much hope for finding anything human amongst this graveyard of man and beast alike.

There were bodies, both fresh and in the early stages of decay. When his eyes rested on the small bones of a young girl, as evidenced by the tatters of clothing, he shivered. What could kill so indiscriminately? Would the force they brought be enough?

“Do it!” Drune snapped, obviously agitated at having to remind the User of his job.

The User removed a dagger from his belt and held it out in front of himself in trepidation. Finally, he waved his hand in the air. A bright light flashed around the immediate vicinity like lightning.

Then there, between them, appeared a woman with crimson hair. She was standing, no weapons drawn, but clearly ready to attack the intruders. When she realized she’d been uncovered, she didn’t make a move; she only waited.

The same ability that had removed her cloak, though, had also revealed others. A ring of Shadows stood around her, in line with the other three.

She stood still, only moving her eyes to take in the numbers. These new enemies brought the total who had come to stand against her up to thirteen. Then she looked at the Swordsman, still on his horse, who was moving closer to her. Drune stopped just outside the hedge his men had made.

“You know who I am,” he said.

Of course she did. She hadn’t lost her brain.

“We do not want to hurt you.”

I’d kill you before you could try, her thoughts mocked.

“We only wish to bring you back.”

Back? She cocked her head, communicating the unvoiced question.

“We are still your family; you belong with us.”

He said no more, giving her time to respond. She remained silent; she only stood and waited, empty hands at her sides.

In the growing light, Drune could see her better now, and he could tell something was different. The most obvious was her hair. It used to be black. Her skin was paler, her eyes were darker, and if it was possible, she even seemed taller. As she stared into his eyes, he felt her coldness and endless anger and hatred. She hadn’t exactly been compassionate before, but whatever callousness she possessed then was nothing compared to what he saw in her now.

Then she was gone. The User flashed his light again before Drune had to give the command, but it didn’t reveal her this time. Somehow she had moved fast enough to be out of the range of the light in only a second. In another second, the group’s Cleric grunted as his neck was snapped. She was there, behind him, and as his body fell to the sand, she was gone again.

“Find her!” Drune screamed. He felt his stoicism begin to fade. With every second that she remained hidden, her advantage grew. Fear was not something he was used to, as a man in such a powerful position within the Class of Morano. But he felt the fingers of dread creeping into him, and he did not enjoy the feeling.

There. The User’s light caught her. She was visible, and four men charged at her with weapons drawn. Drune watched as she drew her own weapons and threw each man aside as they came. She spun, kicked, stabbed, and sidestepped as the rest came at her at once. The User began to form a simulated blade in the air in front of him, but she cloaked herself again, appearing in front of him a heartbeat later. She buried a dagger in his chest.

Drune’s team was failing, and fast. But he didn’t move. His job was not to die with his men, and he knew it wouldn’t help anyway. She was like nothing he’d ever seen before. For as much as she scared him, she also intrigued him.

When every one of the dozen men he’d brought was lying in bloody ruins around her, she stood in the middle of them and looked at him again.

His heart began to race as she took slow steps toward him. He could already feel those blades slicing through his body. He wouldn’t die though; he could outrun her if he had to. But he didn’t want to leave.

“You don’t have to be alone out here. Morano can offer you so much if you come back.”

Still she walked towards him. When she was five yards in front of him, she stopped—and was suddenly gone.

He swore as he backed his horse up a few steps.

“Rusalki!” he yelled into the emptiness around him. “Your father wants to see you again. He wants you to come back!”

Nothing. He backed up a bit more, and was a heartbeat away from turning around and running when she suddenly appeared next to him.

Rusalki spoke the first words he or anyone had heard from her throat since she had died.

“I want to see my father.”

A Monday Moment: Growing Closer

The following is the main character of “Pursuit of Power,” Alexander, musing about his relationship with Leahna, the secondary main character. The musing is directed at Drear Dark, the narrator of this series of books, years after the events in the book would have happened.


I’m not sure I could tell you when Leahna and I started to become closer. I know you’re looking for accuracy and details for these accounts you’re compiling, but I’m not sure I can be very specific on this one. I’d like to say that’s because our friendship just grew so smoothly it’s hard to find the point where we became as close as we were by the time I met you. But the truth is, it’s probably just because I was so wrapped up in my own stuff, I didn’t pay that much attention. In fact, for a while, it was almost as if we were both avoiding becoming friends at all.

When we first met, we both kept our relationship professional, almost to an extreme. I was only intent on practicing my Power use, and on not giving her a reason to decide she didn’t want to train with me any more. I was paranoid about that a lot, after some time of running through Clerics. If it hadn’t been for my mom, I’m not sure we would have ever started to feel more like friends than training partners.

I will say that I probably faked familiarity for a while. Not on purpose, really, but I think part of me felt that if I made her feel a sense of loyalty to me, out of friendship, then she would choose to continue training with me, despite being very busy at the time. When you write about this, make sure you include that I felt terrible later for the way I treated her. Pretending to be her friend, all the while lying to her.

In fact, when I finally told her the truth, that’s probably when things changed at least a little bit. Well, and because of what happened shortly after that. You know how tragedy can put things into perspective? We certainly had our share of that.

It was probably when she started calling me “Lex.” If you know Leahna at all, and I guess you do, you know that she is very polite, even formal. My mom’s the only one who ever called me “Lex,” but there was a point that I first noticed Leahna was referring to me by that nickname. It was while we were in the desert. I’m pretty sure she’d been using it for longer than when I first realized it. It felt natural, not weird like I would have expected it to, out of her mouth. So I guess that’s about it, the answer to your question–sometime between me telling her the truth and our time in the desert. That’s when we became best friends.

Daily Writing Check-in: February 21, 2016

Words/Time:  455 words of free writing about the main character of “Pursuit of Power.”

I’m trying really hard to pull myself back into writing, since I’ve been doing even less than I’d anticipated (which was already less than normal for me) for the last few weeks. It is mostly because of the new job, but also because I think I was more burnt out than I realized after finishing the revision on my first novel. Trying to dive right into the next one was unwise, and instead of taking a break from revision, while still writing every day, I just…didn’t want to write or anything like it, at all.

But I also work for the weekend, though in a backwards way than most people. My new job is on Friday and Saturdays. Sometimes I feel like all week, I’m just trying to keep everyday chores and things caught up, so when the weekend comes, it’s as easy on my family for me to be gone for 2 days as possible.

On the plus side, though, the job is so much fun! If it wasn’t, this would all be pushing me to a point of exhaustion that could lead to horrible things. In fact, my bosses are planning to create a shortened-length escape room (normal length is 60 minutes, this one will be 15) to set up for one evening during a fundraiser at a local independent theater. I’ve come up with a lot of ideas for them, in the theme they’re planning, and they’ve asked me to help them plan out the room sometime this week. More work, but it’s just this week, and I loveloveLOVE the idea of helping to create an escape room. I was hoping this might be a possibility someday when I started working there. If it goes well, maybe I’ll get to help with their next full room.

A Monday Moment: Sisters

Leahna is the secondary main character in “Pursuit of Power” and has been pretty one-dimensional for the most part. I wrote this from a prompt, but I think I’ll keep her in the next few weeks’ free writing too, to try to draw out her background and life outside of the story.


“If you could ask God one question, what would it be?”

“That is quite a question,” Leahna said. She turned wide eyes to her younger sister who was laying across her bed. “Why do you ask that?”

“Because I know exactly what I would ask.”

“What would you ask?”

“I would ask if the Power really does come from him.”

The older sister gasped and stared at Noelle from her desk chair. “Of course it does! Why would you even question that.”

Noelle shrugged. “It seems to me that when we start to assume things about God, that’s when we get in trouble. Throughout history, that’s been a pattern, don’t you think?”

Leahna furrowed her brow. “I…I do not think you are quite correct.”

“Of course I am. Think about all of the times that people have done something in God’s name, but later they were judged to be evil, ignorant, or crazy. Joan Archer, the Crusaders, the Restoration Society, even the pharisees.”

“Oh, but you can’t…” She trailed off as she thought through the list of examples her sister had given.

“Does it say anywhere in the Bible that God would give us this great Power that would prolong our lives and give us special abilities?”

“No, it certainly does not.”

“Then why is the Church of Pithea so adamant that the Power comes from him?”

“From where else would it come?”

Noelle’s eyes lit up. “I don’t know, but that’s not really the point. If I can’t come up with the alternative, it doesn’t mean it has to be God. Maybe it was a spontaneous mutation. Maybe we’re all using evil powers without realizing it.”

“No!” Leahna jumped to her feet. “You will not defile the good that we do, the healing, the protection. You will not claim that it comes from a place of evil.”

Noelle shook her head, rolled her eyes, and sighed. “You sound just like Mom and Dad. I mean, is it really that big of a deal where it comes from? Like you said, we use it for good. So what if it doesn’t come from God?”

Leahna crossed her arms and took a few steps toward the door. “I would strongly suggest that you do not let Mom or Dad hear you say anything like that.”

“It doesn’t really matter, does it? They don’t care what I think about God or the Power. You’re going to be a Cleric, and they don’t really care what I do.”

“They care what you do. They want you to do whatever God leads you to do.”

“Yeah. They want you to be a Cleric like Dad, but whatever I feel like doing is fine, because I’m not the oldest.”

“I thought you were planning to become a Cleric too,” Leahna said.

Noelle looked down at the floor. “I was going to. But I don’t know now. I mean…I thought they would want that of me, but I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter to them. Just like they don’t care that Ronald decided to become a Swordsman and join a militia.”

“I thought you both would be happier if Mom and Dad didn’t force you to do whatever they want you to do. How can you complain that they are not forcing their will upon you?”

“Like they are you?” Noelle pointed out.

“Well…not exactly. I know they want me to become a Cleric, but I am okay with it. I enjoy my studies and learning to use my Power to help others. Do you and Ronald believe they’ve forced me into it?”

“Yeah, kinda.”

“And you wish them to do the same to you?”

Noelle shrugged. “At least then we’d feel like they cared.”


Prompt used: You encounter an omnipotent being who says they will answer only one question.

 

 

Daily Writing Check-in: February 11, 2016

Words/Time:  525 words of writing practice with a prompt.

I’ve decided to put off revision for a few weeks while I settle into a new schedule, with me working every Friday and Saturday. It affects the rest of the week, if only because I have to budget my time differently, not having those two days free. Two days ago, I realized there were some big things I need to figure out before I can really dive into my first full revision of “Pursuit of Power,” but I don’t have the focus I need to figure them out.

I’m going to keep up free writing as best I can for the next few weeks, now and then focusing that writing on how to solve some of these issues. The biggest issue is how to start the novel. When I wrote the first draft, I forgot to write it with my narrator, a man who is writing from 10-15 years in the future, compiling accounts from different people involved in the events of these stories. Writing from his POV doesn’t actually change a lot, because he’s not in much of the story, so it still reads like 3rd person. However, right off the bat, I have to find a way to introduce him, and it has me stumped.

I also want to do some free writing with specific characters in mind, focusing on a different character for several days at a time. I found this helped me while revising “Pithea” to get into the head of some side characters who weren’t very well-developed. Though I’ll probably start with the main characters.

All of this I hope will give me better perspective on the story as a whole when I am ready to revise again. And I’m still writing, just not on my main project.

Daily Writing Check-in: February 8, 2016

Words/Time:  638 words of free writing to try to develop a secondary character, and 37 minutes of revision, working up a possible prologue for “Pursuit of Power.”

Despite my beliefs that my little vacation from writing would still result in some free writing being done now and then, that didn’t happen after the first day. The truth is, once I step away for a day or two in favor of just being lazy and relaxing in the evening, it’s just too easy to not go back. That’s why I normally try to do at least a little writing work every day that I have any time for it. Without the habit, I’m lost.

In the end, the break turned out to be a really helpful thing. Not because I got any clarity in my writing, but because it was relaxing to just not worry about it for 10 days. I thought often about what I’d be doing when I got back to it, but I didn’t have any grand epiphanies or anything.

But the main reason it was helpful is because it kept me from stressing over whether I could get to my writing work or not this last weekend, when I had a huge change in my life. I started a new job. This is a pretty big deal, because I’m a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. I already work for my dad, but I work an average of a day a week, and I take my kids with me. This will be the first job outside of my home/family that I’ve had since before my almost 14-year-old son was born. The job wasn’t sought out, but was offered to me, and it will be part-time out of necessity (because I do still have 2 kids to take care of and homeschool during the week).

I’ll be working as a game master at an escape room company, which means I’ll be behind the scenes running the room when groups come in to play. For as much fun as playing a room is, watching others play it is the next best thing. I honestly can’t believe I’m going to be paid to do something so much fun.

My first day was last Friday, which was right when I was ready to start back to writing. I was set to work until around 11:30-12 at night, though, which is pretty much the end of my normal writing time. So I just extended my writing break until the end of the weekend. From this point forward, I’ll be working most Friday and Saturday evenings, so my writing time on the weekend might be severely limited in the future. But I’ll still have time the rest of the week, and it’s worth it for a job that promises to be a blast.