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Defamiliarization?

My fiction class has been fun and educational! One of the best workshops was about de-familiarization. This is all about taking ordinary things and making them extraordinary. It’s kind of like when you are driving on an east bound road at sunrise, and suddenly the back sides of the street signs are transformed into something you have never seen before, bathed in an ethereal orange glow. Here’s my shot at it! Enjoy!

Ink Magic

“Kaydan, Kaydan, move,” The Zoran’s voice pulled Kaydan out of her trance and she sat up, pushing her hair out of her eyes.

“What?”

The Zoran chuckled. “Kaydan, here move,” she said as her hands repositioned Kaydan’s shoulder and legs. “Ready?” she asked holding up the tattoo machine. The machine started buzzing, and the Zoran touched the needle to Kaydan’s shoulder. She squeezed her eyes shut against the pain and took a shallow breath inhaling the earthy smell of the incense burning around her, and let it out slowly through her nose. She let the pressure of the needle, the heat from the lamp on her skin and the buzz of the machine lull her back into a trance. Kaydan searched her memories to help her get through the tattooing.

She thought about how she had escaped from the army before finally making it to the Zoran’s village. The big man they called Hamlin had left her alone in his musty tent. She sat on the canvas floor, and took a long deep breath. She needed to reassess her situation, the mission was too important to give up or panic.

Hamlin had done nothing more than scream obscenities at her, as if that would get her to confess secret information. What she could tell him would mean nothing to him even if she did spill it. The coded message for the Zoran didn’t mean much to her either.
Kaydan needed to focus on escaping. She called her power to her and felt it glowing inside her chest. She pictured heat radiating down her arm and out to her fingertips and into a consolidated flame. She sent cool, wet wind down her other arm. She touched the tiny flame to back of the tent, while using the cool wet wind to keep the fire focused and controlled. It only took seconds, and then she ran through the dark forest. She called her power one more time and sent comforting warmth over her entire body, willing the power to turn eyes from her, so she would not be seen. The power would only last a few minutes, but she would need it to get past the sentries.
They had surprised her in the forest when she first came upon the army. She had not seen them in their suites covering them in the dark green of forest shadow then, but she picked them out now as she ran by them, protected by magic.

Kaydan opened her eyes to the Zoran patting her shoulder with a soft towel. Kadan looked up at her, “Why are you stopping?”

“I think you’ve had enough for one sitting. You need a break.”

“No, no. We have to get this done. I’m fine.”

“Kaydan, your magic started to flare; that’s dangerous.”

Kaydan shook her head. “The memory held magic. I won’t pick one like that again. I’m sorry, but that army is too close. We have to get this done.”

The Zoran sighed. “Ok. Let’s go.” She repositioned Kaydan on the table, and the buzzing began.

Gem grunted and grabbed Kaydan’s upper arm and pulled her up the last flight of stairs and into a candlelit room. The Headmaster sat behind a large oak desk. Kaydan folded her hands behind her back and stood very still.

The old man opened his mouth, “Ahh, there you are.”

“Yes sir.” Kaydan gave a small curtsy.

“I’m sure you are wondering why you are here.”

“Yes sir.”

“Gem tells me that your training has advanced nicely since you decided to start taking it seriously, and stop causing trouble. Can I safely assume that you are indeed taking this seriously and not planning some major plan to over throw the establishment?”

“No, sir, I mean yes sir. I mean, I am taking it seriously.”

The old man nodded and took a moment to truly look at Kaydan, causing Kaydan to become all the more nervous and uncertain. “Well, Gem, you are right, we have no choice.” The old man gave a nod to Gem, and Gem nodded back then turned to Kaydan.

“We have a mission that we must send you on.”

“What?”

“You are to leave now and travel until you reach Brampton village.”

Kayden interrupted, “What? Leave the school?”

“This is important, listen. War is imminent. We cannot afford to risk the school.”
Kayden shook her head. What Gem said did not make any sense. But still, Gem continued. “This is important,” she said firmly, slamming her hand palm down on the Headmaster’s desk. “You have to take this message to the Zoran.”

Kaydan jumped and opened her eyes.

“What?” The Zoran asked.

Kaydan shook her head. “It’s the memory. This last one seemed very real.”

“Hmm. That can happen. It means the magic will be strong. We need strong.” She turned Kaydan around. “I need to do your chest now for the head. This part will take a while, it will be painful, but it is very important.”

They put a gun to her head, the click echoed as the soldier readied the weapon. Dark green, almost black garments wrapped the soldiers from head to toe. They faded into the shadows of the trees, hidden. Others materialized, calling to each other; Blake, Scooter, Trent, Rylie. Take her to Hamlin. Is she one of them? Cut the chatter. Who bagged her? Cipher. He’s quick on the draw. I said cut it. Hamlin wants her. They shoved her around, hands pulling her through the woods, leaves crunching kicking up damp smells, knees pushed into the damp dirt, a tall figure looming over. He pulled his head gear off, eyes like cutting diamonds. What is it? You smell like witch. Witch, spy, slut, dog, beneath me, waste of time. We can just kill her now. Hamlin said no, take her to his tent. He leaned in toward Kaydan. She could smell garlic on his breath and sweat. How could he smell her through that? How did a witch smell like worse than that? She didn’t ask; she knew better. Cipher pulled her away and shoved her in the tent. He warned her with a look.

The Zoran gently shook her awake. “I’m done.”

Kaydan sat up and wiped sleep from her eyes. “I fell asleep.”

“Should I have stopped?”

“No. Is it really done?”

The Zoran nodded and handed Kaydan a mirror. She looked into it at the dragon head asleep on her chest. The green of the scales shimmered in the light as she moved; perfect. Kadan stood and used the mirror along with another hanging on the wall to see most of the back. The dragon wrapped around her shoulders, down her spine, and curled around her legs. The wings rested along her spine. “Wow.”

“Yes, wow, but now you need to rest for real. This must have taken a lot out of you.”

Kaydan started to protest, but Gem had drilled health and mental awareness so often; she could not ignore her exhaustion. She nodded. “You’re right.”

“Glad you finally realize that.” She laughed gently as she spoke, and Kaydan couldn’t help but smile.

Yelling woke her, and then she smelled smoke, burning. Someone screamed. It sounded like the Zoran, and Kaydan ran for the front door. Hamlin stood in the road looking down at the Zoran, who had been shoved down in front of him. One of his men hit her with the butt of his gun and she fell to the ground. Kaydan ran to her. “No!”

“Ah, here is the little witch-dog that got away. Cipher can finish you off, now.”

Kaydan looked up at the smug look on Hamlin’s face. Someone grabbed her by the arm pulling her away from the Zoran. She tried to struggle away from the man, tried to call her magic. She wanted revenge. They should never have touched the Zoran; she is sacred.

Hamlin laughed. “You are not getting away this time witch. Your magic will not help with a bullet in your head.” Kaydan glared at him. His eyebrows pinched together and he leaned forward. “I’m going to slaughter you and every dog like you. I’m going to wipe out all the scum-witches. Put her on the ground.” The soldier shoved her down and Hamlin started pulling his gun around from his back.

Kadan stilled herself, took a breath. She couldn’t do it for revenge or spite or even her own personal protection, but she could do it to save her people. She suffered hours under the needle for one reason, this reason. The message she gave the Zoran was not a coded warning, it was a prophecy. Kaydan would fulfill that prophecy for her people. She called her magic to her and pushed it into the creature on her back and chest. The power pushed her forward as the dragon pulled off her back. The tail slid around her leg and the wings pushed off of her shoulder. She looked up and watched her beast beating leathery wings into the sky.

The soldiers shot their weapons at it, but bullets cannot hurt what is made of pure magic and will. The dragon banked and soared toward them. Kaydan covered her head and felt the heat of fire the dragon breathed over the army. Hamlin, Cipher and the others ran, but Kaydan watched the green flames of her beast take them down.

Afterwards, the dragon found her and rested again across her back. She looked down to see the dragon’s head resting on her chest again. A small drop of blood dripped from his mouth.

She could pay this price.

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Writing Class!

I started my first writing class this week. We are working on scenes. Very interesting so far, and the best part is that I can use everything I learn immediately in my own personal writing. Our textbook is:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000SEI13Q/ref=kinw_myk_ro_title

It is succinct and useful. The first few chapters deal with setting up a scene, finding the beat, and focusing on the hot spot, or turning point. I like the idea of finding the beat. That’s like matching your actions to the rhythm of the story. The author of our text, Scofield, gives great examples.

So, I thought I would post my first writing assignment here. The assignment was simply to brainstorm different occasions that could give reasons for a scene, and then pick one to write a short story on. My occasions were:

1. At a red light, a woman pulls her vehicle behind another car being driven by a man, and then slams into him.
2. A man joins a group of troubled kids at a campfire.
3. A couple starts arguing over a song on the radio.
4. A woman leaving a room accidentally slams the door too hard and another woman from inside the room jumps up and starts screaming at her.
5. A woman walks into an auto parts store, looks around and runs to the counter and screams, “Please help me.”

After much thought, I chose the first one. The assignment was 1000-1200 words, which is so hard for me!! However, I’m happy with the results. Enjoy!

Truth and Consequences

I pulled my car up behind him at the red light. Did he know I had followed him for over a mile? We had wound through palm tree lined street, under the blinding sun. His little sports car was stopped directly in front of me, and I had to stop him. Brandon had killed my sister and thought he got away with it. No. I had to make sure that didn’t happen.

I slammed my foot on the gas pedal. Knuckles white on the steering wheel, I braced myself for the impact. The crash echoed down in my chest. Electricity danced under my skin and into my heart making it pound heavily. I swallowed and opened the car door. He was moving in the car ahead of me. He could kill me too. I had to do this right.

Leaning over, I reached beneath the passenger side seat and slid my fingers over the little gun. I didn’t know about guns; it was my sister’s. I only knew that if you pointed it at something and pulled the trigger, you’d get a reaction. Maybe it would be enough to scare him into giving me the upper hand. I needed to get the upper hand, or I would lose everything.

I stepped out of the car; gun in hand, confidence riding me like lightning. I pointed the silver gun at his rear tire and eased my finger over the trigger. I felt the explosion up my arm and into my shoulder. I saw the tire explode with a bang and a whoosh. I looked up and saw him. Brandon, in his pressed, sleek black suit, stared back at me with a strange look in his eye. Did his brown eyes show fear? Panic? What?

“Are you crazy?” he yelled.

“Maybe, but you’re a murderer.” I spit back at him.

“I didn’t kill her, damn it, I loved her. Why can’t you accept that?”

“Liar,” I screamed. How could he love her? His heart was nothing but an empty black box. He was all polish and fake charm, and his arrogance loved only himself. “You didn’t. You killed her.” I pointed the gun at his chest.

“Stop, just stop, Anne, I know you aren’t going to shoot me.”

They always say that don’t they? Well, he obviously needed to know I would. I lowered the gun, pointing at his leg, below the knee, and squeezed. I thought I knew what to expect this time, but the blood spurting out of his leg stunned me. I reached out and grabbed the edge of my car when my knees started to buckle. Brandon screamed.

His screams woke up something inside me, something happy to hear that screaming. Ah, the upper hand at last. “You bastard, you aren’t going to get away with this.” My legs stopped shaking and I took a few steps toward him. Brandon lay on the ground grabbing his wounded leg. He looked up at me and his eyes were like a wounded dog.

I cocked my head to the side to hear him whisper, “Oh God, just leave me alone. Leave me alone.” He closed his eyes tight, making odd little wrinkles across his face.

I heard sirens in the distance, shrill and warning of danger through the bright clear day. Someone had called emergency services, maybe the police. That could only mean time was limited. I swallowed hard and kneeled down beside Brandon, waving the gun around like a magic wand. “I can shoot you. Only your leg this time, but I’ll blow your fucking brains out if you don’t tell me the truth.”

“What truth? What do you want to hear?” His words were barely a whisper.

“Tell me why you killed her.”

“Didn’t. Accident.”

“Accident, my ass. You killed her. Now tell me.” I touched his forehead with the barrel of the gun.

His eyes flew open and he grabbed my wrist, yanking it upward. I fell across his body, pointing the gun over his head. “Get off me. Let go.”

I wasn’t prepared to do either. “No, Brandon.” I slammed my knee into his groin and he groaned, but didn’t let go of my wrist. “Let go.”

“Leave me alone, Anne.” His voice was low and gravelly like the pavement we were stretched out on.

The sirens grew louder making me want to look around and see if any police cars had made it on scene yet, but couldn’t. Brandon could not win this time. I pulled at my arm to get it free, bracing myself against his chest with my other arm for support. “Damn,” I grunted when he pulled my arm higher. It felt like he was going to rip my arm off or at least pull it out of the socket.

“Drop the weapon,” a dark voice behind me commanded.

It was over, I was out of time.

“And stand up slowly.”

I had no choice. It was the police. I didn’t care about jail time or even death if they shot me, but I knew something was going to happen, and I could just not let go, could not let Brandon escape. I leaned in and bit him. I sunk my teeth into the inside of his shoulder as hard as I could. He let go of my wrist and I pulled my arm free. I pulled my body up so I was straddling his waist and pointed the gun in a two handed grip right at his face. “Tell me. Tell me now.”

“Ma’am, drop the weapon now.” The policeman said again in his voice of command, but I heard a bit of panic underneath. He was afraid of what I might do. Brandon stared up at me with wide eyes, full of wonder. He was also afraid of what I might do. I swallowed my own panic because underneath that layer of confidence, I was afraid of what I might do.

“Not until he tells the truth,” I said between clenched teeth.

“Whatever I say now won’t matter.” Brandon tried to shake his head. I wouldn’t let him use reason.

“I don’t care. I need to hear the truth.”

“Anne,” he whispered. “I loved her. I loved her.” A tear slowly leaked out of the corner of his eye. Was it the truth? I couldn’t accept that.

“I don’t believe you love anyone but yourself.” I was vaguely aware of the voices behind us, but I couldn’t let them distract me. No, not when I was so close. “Just admit it. You killed her.”

“Why does this matter?”

“I need to know. I need to hear you confess.”

“I won’t tell anything else. I answered. I loved her. So, just shoot or get off me.”

“Ok, you loved her, but you still killed her. I didn’t ask if you loved her. You killed her.”

A shrill screaming pierced the humidity of the day, loud and animalistic. I realized they were my own. My throat raw with screaming and I had dropped the gun. Hands were on me pulling me away. “No,” I screamed. “He killed her.”

I watched paramedics swarm over Brandon’s fallen body. Police officers wrenched my arms behind my back and yanked me away from the scene. I would never know.

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Coming soon…

Selena is excited to have an entire summer in the Wolf Game. Shifting into the red wolf is only the beginning. She is positioned for greatness and she is ready to do whatever she has to in order to take control of the pack. But when everyone forgets it’s just a game, the stakes grow higher and higher. Who’s strong enough to save the pack? Who will be willing to walk away? Who’s going to survive? Wolf Games – coming soon!

I’m planning on publishing this next month, so I hope you’ll be looking for it!!   Wolf Games!

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Beta-reading Bliss!

Here’s part 2 of Facebook Lives… I just finished beta-reading a novel by another one of the Authors Critique Group writers. He is also in the process of beta-reading my novel, Summer Blood. I can’t wait for the feedback! In the meantime, I thought I should write a bit about his story.

It was an inventive look at wizards called Foundling Wizard. The first in a 3 part series, I believe. The author is James Eggebeen. James is a software designer from San Diego, California who has turned to designing books.

Foundling Wizard, to be released soon, is about a young wizard’s journey and how he learns and grows. He not only learns to use his powers, but also learns about life and responsibility. The journey is exciting and fraught with danger. The wizard comes to know himself and others in his journey, and yes, he has a mentor, a snarky old wizard that doesn’t always tell him everything he needs to know.

I also got a sneak-peek at the book cover which is startlingly beautiful. With the great cover and fresh writing, Foundling Wizard stands to be a success, so keep your eyes out for it!

For more on Foundling Wizard: http://www.jameseggebeen.com/

Follow James Eggebeen at:  @JamesEggebeen

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Are you relevant?

Apparently, I’m not. What?! How can that be, you ask! Well, I have no idea. How does someone just starting out become relevant? Further, don’t you lose your relevance if you are trying to be relevant? That’s like an oxymoron or something, right?!

I think that I’d much rather write what interests me, than to try to be something I’m not. If I cross the line over to relevant somewhere along the way, good on me! If not, I’m not sure I’m going to be overly concerned. Afterall, I think there are a lot of people out there like me that want to be entertained or read something they are interested in, maybe check out a new perspective, and I don’t think they are concerned about whether it’s relevant.

If you’re looking for relevant, maybe check out some political sites. I’m going more for, uh, you know…  fun!

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Query This?!!?

With my novel, Summer Blood, finally finished and sitting with my Alpha-Readers, I’ve decided to write a query letter to send out to potential agents. So, what goes in a query letter? How do I capture the attention of a good agent when I know 50,000,000+ other writers are trying to do the same thing? I have to stand out somehow, right?!

So, I google’d it. Of course…. I found a decent website right away. Thanks Google!

http://www.writing-world.com/basics/query.shtml

This site says there are five points to a good query. They are as follows:

  • The hook
  • The pitch
  • The body
  • The credentials
  • The close

I think the hook is the most important. If you don’t grab the agents attention in the first two sentences, I think you’re screwed. RIGHT~?!~!?

So, what’s my hook?  According to the writing-world website there are many ways to grab the agent’s attention, and many ways not to.  The “don’t do this” section seems pretty common sense to me. So, what about the “do this” part? None of these really work for me. These seem to be good ideas for non-fiction writing. But, I get the idea.

Be real, be interesting, but don’t come across like every other ding-dong writer begging for attention.  Then, the right agent will pick me!

Here’s my first paragraph:

Stories like True Blood and Twilight have been breathing life into the old classics making vampires HOT right now. My adult novel, Summer Blood, takes some elements of the classic vampire stories and adds new twists. These vampires leave blood, violence, and sex in their wake, and readers that love that will also love Summer Blood.

Does that grab your attention?

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Read this one yet?

I recently finished reading Chimera by Rob Thurman. It was a 5 star book on a 4 star scale, and if you haven’t read it you should.

I find it difficult to give a good summary of Rob Thurman’s books because they all have such incredible plot twists and surprise endings. Unlike some books I’ve read, Thurman’s surprise endings are credible and they work because she builds them up unbeknownst to the reader throughout the entire novel. That makes it very difficult to summarize without spoilers and I hate spoilers. But, I’ll give it a try…

Two sons of a Russian mob boss are riding their horses on the beach in Miami when they are attacked. The older boy, Stefan, falls and is pinned under his horse as he watches his brother’s kidnapping. Stefan spends the rest of his life searching for his brother, Lukas. Finally, he succeeds. This is where it starts getting interesting! Lukas has changed. He doesn’t remember Stefan, he goes by the name Michael, and he has a special power (as in supernatural power). He has been a victim of biological and genetic experimentation!

I can’t give any more of the plot without running into spoilers. I can tell you that Stefan and Lukas/Michael are fabulous characters that the reader will want to care about. Stefan is head strong, confident, but never fools himself about who and what he is and what his capabilities are. He tries to understand all the risks before taking a chance, but will take that chance anyway if it means saving his family. He has a very strong sense of family. Lukas/Michael spends his time in this book discovering who he is and becoming a teenage boy. Despite all of the horrors that have happened in his life, he remains true of heart. With Stefan’s help, he learns what it means to be family.

Together Stefan and Lukas/Michael drive the story and provide interesting and fun reading. Now, I can’t wait to find out what the heroes do in the sequel, Basilisk.

For trailers, more info and ordering:

http://robthurman.net/

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