Short Story, Boxes, Camp NaNo, & Inanimate Objects

Hi everyone!

Two things.

First:

I have a short story on a blog!

Hazel B. West (author of the amazing Blood Ties and An Earthly King) runs a cool website called Tales From a Modern Bard, and has writing challenges there from time to time.

The latest was “Inanimate Objects” and I couldn’t resist taking this excuse to write a story I’d been planning to write for ages.

So I wrote it for the challenge and Oh. Was. It. FUN. (Spoiler: Yes it was.)

And now you can read it!

My story is called A Tale of Two Boxes, about the adventures of… yes… two boxes. If you’ve ever wondered what the life of a cardboard box is like, and what they’re thinking, and how they get from one place to another, then this is the story for you. (If you’ve never wondered… well, few of us have, and now you’re wondering — I hope — so there you are.)

It also features some books arguing about how each of their genres is better than the others’. Yes. This did happen. 😄

I’d be ever so honored if you’d pop over to Tales from a Modern Bard and read my story, and maybe tell me what you think of it! Thank you! ^_^

It was actually incredibly fun to write a story from the perspective of a cardboard box. You would think a story about a box would be boring, but… it was actually fascinating! (To me, at least. XD) I had so much fun and totally fell in love with my cardboard box characters. ❤

(Be sure to read the other challenge stories from the other authors at Tales from a Modern Bard about other inanimate objects, if you have some extra time, because they’re all quite interesting — some tragic, some funny, but all unique. :D)

The second thing has to do with the first thing.

Second:

I’m doing Camp NaNo!

Yes indeed. A couple of writer buddies dragged me into this. 😄

Although I participate in November NaNoWriMo/National Novel Writing Month each year, I haven’t done a Camp NaNo session in positively ages. I kind of stopped doing word challenges for awhile there due to burn out.

But it’s been some time, and I wanted to try it out again. Plus you can set any sort of goal for Camp. So, hoping to get some small things like short stories done, I decided to go for it!

I… um… technically hit my goal and won Camp already? *coughcough* I set it for 5K, given how little I’ve been writing of late. But I’d like to keep writing as much as my busy schedule allows. 🙂

So far for Camp I’ve written 5,813 words this month (that was A Tale of Two Boxes, so far) and I’m having a blast! It’s a wonderful feeling to write again, folks. I’ve missed it.

So there you have my writing updates of late — I wrote a short story for you to read, and I’m doing Camp NaNo.

I know — gasp! — I’m actually talking about writing on my writing blog. The strangeness!

Speak to me, my Roadlings!

Are you doing Camp? (How’s it going?) Did you read my box story and what did you think?? And what’s going on in your writing or reading worlds? 🙂

Wintertale: A Short Story

wintertalecover

Note:

I’m posting this short story (written January-February 2017 — one of those comfortable plotbunnies mentioned in my December Ishness) in honor of Jenelle Schmidt’s February is Fantasy Month short story challenge, which is to write and post a short story of 3,000 words or less, which is fantasy and contains the word snow.

This half-written (at the time) story seemed to fit. (It’s slightly over 3K words, but close enough. ;))

I hope you enjoy. 🙂

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Acknowledgements

Thanks to Caroline Knightley for Kendric’s accidental name, Jenelle Schmidt for the finish-inducing challenge, Christine Smith and my sister for timely encouragement and much-needed support, and the epic sounds of Celtic Christmas music (including this one) which helped inspire this story. And to you, reader, for stepping for a moment into this little tale.

wintertalecover

Wintertale

by Deborah O’Carroll

Snow had fallen, snow on snow
Snow on snow
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago

In the Bleak Midwinter (Traditional Carol)

~ ~ ~

Dusk fell, and with it his restraint. He had to go—no matter the cost.

Kendric left the lonely woods and strode out across the moor. His long black hair was tied back at the nape of his neck, and a threadbare coat of midnight blue hung from his shoulders—little comfort against the unforgiving chill of this crisp winter night, but he could bear it—for love.

White clouds of mist swirled up from the cold hollows he wandered through as he crossed the moor, the heather touched with frost. His way was lit only by the sky’s silver-grey waning light, and here and there the touch of a will o’ the wisp or other fae lights in the growing shadows. The faerie lights glimmered through the winter-bare trees and shone through the white mist on the moor, as though the stars themselves had come down upon the earth.

More lights appeared ahead—the evening star hung directly above the old mansion on the moor, its dark bulk black against the darkening sky. Golden light filled the windows, brighter in the darkness, like the sun looking out of the windows of Night.

He drew nearer and stopped just outside, watching through the nearest window. Figures moved within, dancing, and strains of music came softly to his ears—the low half-melancholy purr of a violin, a harp like a tinkling brook, the distant strains of the pipes.

Kendric stood alone outside in the darkness as the snow began to fall, watching the scene inside the place he had long known.

A place from which he was forever barred.

“With the face I call my own, at least,” he murmured.

From within his threadbare coat, he took out a black mask like a raven’s face and pulled it over the top half of his face. He slipped inside the mansion through a side door.

Music enveloped him, along with a crowd of dancers in masks, through whom he pushed his way unobtrusively, brushing past the Steward of the house and other faces he knew behind their masks. The midwinter ball was well underway. Ladies’ full gowns twirled around the floor, and men’s dark coat-tails flew as they danced and spun their ladies about in the light of a thousand candles.

One lady was more radiant than them all, at least to Kendric’s eye. She wore a dress like snow, lacy, glistening, pristinely white. Fair hair piled in abundance atop her head, like a mound of sunshine, tendrils escaping to frame the white mask like a swan which graced her gently smiling face.

With one purpose, he approached her, and in the heartbeat between two melodies he whisked her away from her last partner who stepped away, and they were off into the next dance.

Laughing, she tilted her head to look up into his masked face. For a moment, she did not know him; the next, recognition brought a gasp which stole her laughter away. She mouthed his name, but no sound came to her lips as she stared into his smiling eyes.

Kendric gave a quiet nod. “Vanessa,” he murmured in acknowledgment as they continued to dance.

She tensed in his arms, worry creasing her brow, and threw a look over her shoulder—but no one seemed to pay them particular heed.

“How have you come here? Did no one see you arrive?” she whispered.

Kendric shook his head. “No one; unless the stars above or the stones of this house would tell of it.”

Vanessa relaxed. A smile bloomed on her face, radiant as the light through the windows or the sun-like hue of her hair. “Then we will be happy, and not speak for now,” she said. “Nothing in the worlds exists besides us two.”

Kendric smiled too. “As you say, love,” he said softly.

They danced. The music wove a path for their feet, and their hearts carried them together in complete harmony. In that moment, all was perfect.

But like the last glimmer of the sun before nightfall—like the evening star gleaming reflected in a still pool before a stone drops and destroys the reflection in a splashing ripple—it could not last.

The Steward of the house, one of the few who wore no mask, his face solemn, slim, and craggy as a stone, pushed his way silently through the dancing crowd. He had returned with his master—the young man with a black coat, fair hair, and a hawk mask, who was called the lord of that place. Lost in their bliss of dancing, Vanessa and Kendric did not notice them at first.

The Steward stood aside, and the lord of the mansion pounced like a hawk on the dancing lovers. Thrusting himself between them, so that they were forced to stop in sudden startlement, he tore the raven mask away from Kendric’s face.

The music ceased. The crowd stopped dancing—some of the couples moved away, creating a bare space around the two young men standing eye to eye, with the white-gowned lady at their side.

“Skandar,” she began, addressing the lord with hair as fair as hers; but he did not turn away from the black haired young man in the threadbare midnight-blue coat.

“Step away from my sister,” Skandar said—although they had already stepped apart.

Neither moved further. Skandar’s furious gaze through his hawk mask never wavered from Kendric, who did not back down and eyed him levelly, calm.

“You would show your face here?” Skandar demanded.

“I did not intend to, and in fact did not—until you knocked my mask off. You have only yourself to blame for showing my face,” Kendric said mildly.

Skandar clawed his own mask off and flung it to the floor. The quiet sound rang through the hall like a thunderclap in the still silence. Every eye present remained fixed on the two young men facing each other . . . they who once had been as brothers.

Skandar’s voice was dangerously even. “You were banished—a mercy too good for you, but I gave it. Did I not swear that if you set foot here again I would see you punished with death? You have come. And now you will pay for it.”

“Skandar, please,” Vanessa pleaded, taking her brother’s arm.

He spun to face her. “Kendric killed him—in this very mansion!”

“I know you’re upset—” she began.

“If anyone should be upset about the murder of the lord of this mansion, I should. It is my father we’re talking of,” Kendric said gravely.

Skandar’s voice tore from his throat like a wounded animal’s howl as he shouted in Kendric’s face: “He was like my father too!”

Vanessa turned desperate eyes to Kendric. Her voice cracked in an almost-whisper. “Why did you come?”

Kendric glanced at her. His look said it all: that he could not stay away. Instead of answering aloud, he passed her an expression which said plainer than words, “I love you.” Then he was gone—slipped outside past the standing figures before any could catch him.

“After him!” Skandar cried.

Several men in the room surged outside in his wake. Skandar urged them all to horse, and with their grim lord at their head, they galloped in pursuit of Kendric, who rode away across the moor on a black horse with the white evening star on its forehead.

Kendric looked back, once, before he was lost in the snowy midwinter darkness—looked back at the woman in white who stood alone on the steps outside. Their gazes met across the distance. Snowflakes fell around her like the melancholy chords of a harp now silenced as she watched her love ride away in the night.

Vanessa would have done something to help him—anything—if she could.

But it was night, and that was her brother’s hour.

It would be long before the dawn.

~ ~ ~

Kendric galloped hard through the night, the men on horses galloping relentlessly after him.

The chase left the whitening moor under a blanket of hoof-print disturbed snow as Kendric rode into the forest, snowflakes falling about him in the blackness, driving into his eyes with a bitter wind. His hair whipped back behind him, and his horse’s mane and tail streamed in the wind to meld with the embracing shadows as he galloped through the woods.

The bare trees welcomed him into their stronghold, and the shadows of their branches intertwined, lining the ground in interlacing patterns beneath the speed of his passing.

The hoof beats pounded unrelenting behind.

Kendric bent lower to his horse’s neck and rode for all his worth.

Faerie lights lit his way, and moved off in false trails in attempts to misdirect the pursuit. Shadowy and fae beings flitted in the shadows half-unseen, giving him what aid they could, which was little—they could not well come between these two lords. The trees made a way for him and the land beneath guided him onward, while slowing his pursuers and tangling their way with branches—for the land loved Kendric.

But Skandar rode after, disregarding the distractions and obstacles, almost unchecked; for he was Night, driven by a rage born of a broken love like a wounded animal, and nothing would stand in his way.

So they galloped through the night: quarry and hunters, matched; Kendric always a little ahead, but unable to escape completely.

When his horse could carry him no further, he released it and it melted into the shadows, save for the fading evening star which guided Kendric through the wood.

He ran on alone now, through the trees with shouts behind him. At times a stone would trip him, but still he ran. He passed a river which flowed in the winter night over a waterfall, its rushing sound like the wild call of the pipes as the wind sighed through the trees like a violin, the snow falling like the harp chords which had carried Kendric and Vanessa through their joined dance . . .

He could not run much longer. The night had been long and the sky began to silver with the hint of dawn. The snow ceased falling. In a last effort, Kendric scrambled up a rocky hillside through the thinning trees. The treacherous stones threatened to dislodge him with their slippery ice, but he made it to the top, his breath ragged wisps of white on the air.

Skandar and his men had dismounted and climbed behind him, gaining.

Stumbling forward, Kendric emerged from the last of the bare trees and onto a flat hilltop clothed in an untouched blanket of white snow in a circle of standing stones with a natural rock formation behind them. Kendric ran into the ring of standing stones which stood nearly black in silhouette against the sky just before dawn.

“Kendric!” Skandar shouted. He was mere steps behind, crossing into the ring himself, sword in one hand—with the other, he seized the flapping end of Kendric’s coat and wrenched at him.

Kendric swung around and pulled free of his grasp. Skandar swung his sword and Kendric took a couple of quick steps backward to escape it, but a stone hidden in the snow betrayed him, catching his heel.

Kendric fell backward and lay full-stretch on his back, his black hair, outstretched arms, and blue coat spread out to either side atop the blanket of white. The blade had merely nicked his arm, but he lay there without attempting to get up, looking up at Skandar, who stood over him with the sword pointed at him. They remained motionless like that for several heartbeats.

Kendric stared calmly, unblinking, unresisting, at the face of the fair-haired young man who had once been like his brother, who now held a sword ready to end his life. In Skandar’s eyes was only betrayal and anguish. A single drop of blood fell from the tip of the sword blade and blossomed scarlet on the glistening snow.

“Why?” came Skandar’s voice in a hoarse whisper with a wisp of frosty breath. “Why did you do it?”

“I’ve done nothing wrong of which you accuse me,” Kendric said quietly.

Excruciating conflicting doubt twisted across Skandar’s features. “Then who did?” he challenged.

Kendric glanced past Skandar’s form looming above him, to the other men from the mansion who stood fanned out motionless behind their lord just within the ring of standing stones. “Only the stones of the mansion could tell you that.”

“You can prove nothing of your own innocence?” Skandar demanded.

Kendric blinked passively. “Of course not. You have only my word.”

Skandar drew a hissing breath of indecision.

“That used to be enough,” said a new voice.

In their focus on one another, neither Kendric nor Skandar had noticed the new hoof beats.

Just as the sun rose in a flash of golden dawn light bursting from behind the rock formation, Vanessa rode around it into view on a horse as white as the snow all around them; as white as her gown. She swung to the ground—in a swish of her long dress with the lace like a bushel of snowflakes poured down the front—and landed lightly on the snow, the brilliant sunrise behind her sun-gold hair. In a moment she was beside Kendric.

Kendric got to his feet and stood by the lady, who slipped her arm through his as they faced Skandar together.

“He has done nothing,” Vanessa said. “And in your heart you know it, brother. I know you loved his father as your own, but you seek revenge and justice blindly, in the wrong place. Kendric loved his father beyond anything, except perhaps you and I. He would never murder his own father, as much as it may appear that he did. Can’t you trust him, as you used to? No one knows what really happened, but I know—and you should know—that Kendric had nothing to do with it.”

“No one knows what happened . . .” Skandar repeated, half under his breath. “. . . Only the stones of the mansion.” Abruptly, he spun on his heel, the flashing arc of his sword glinting in the sunrise as he still gripped the handle and strode toward the edge of the circle to return to the mansion. His voice turned to harsh determination. “Then we’ll ask them.”

Kendric and Vanessa shared a brief look before stepping quickly after him.

But as Skandar moved to pass between two of the standing stones, he ran up against an invisible force which flung him backward into the snow, sword flying from his grasp as snow exploded into the air around him. The ring of stones shook violently.

The blast made to knock the other men over too, and they all staggered. Kendric stepped before Vanessa to shield her from whatever was happening, keeping her from the brunt of the blast.

Everyone slowly regained their steady footing as the shudder of the stone circle stilled, and they looked at one another.

“The stones are keeping us here, my lord,” one of the men said to Skandar.

“Why would—?” Vanessa began.

Skandar regained his feet in an angry jerk and retrieved his sword, looking around as if for something to wield it on.

But Kendric had already spied the one man who stood outside the ring of stones, watching them distantly from his emotionless stone-like narrow face. Kendric lightly touched Skandar’s arm and wordlessly jerked his chin toward the Steward.

Skandar’s eyes fixed on him and he went suddenly cold and ominous. “What is this?” he demanded.

“The stones of the mansion will tell you nothing,” the Steward said coolly. “They serve only me. As do these.” He nodded almost imperceptibly at the ring of standing stones. “Just as the rest of the land will serve me when all of you are gone.”

Fury crossed Skandar’s face and he pounded his fist against the invisible force which held them within the ring. The stones shuddered again. “This was you, was it? Just let me get my hands on you—!”

“You will not leave this circle,” the Steward said.

“We’ll see about that,” Vanessa said softly.

But the standing stones writhed and began slowly moving inward, in jerks, as if reluctant. The men of the mansion uneasily backed toward the center of the constricting circle of stones, which would crush them if they continued.

Skandar fixed his gaze on the Steward a moment longer, then sheathed his sword, drew a calming breath, and stepped back. “It seems I was wrong about you, brother.” He placed a hand on Kendric’s shoulder and bowed his head. “I . . .” He looked back up and could not continue.

He had no need to.

Kendric’s face remained serious under the life-threatening situation of their traitor Steward, but Kendric’s eyes smiled forgiveness at Skandar—a forgiveness which had been there for a long time.

A look between brother and sister and all was right with them.

Then the three faced the Steward who stood without the circle as the stones continued shifting nearer the doomed group within.

Kendric spoke. “We call the stones to witness.” He glanced at the stones—still grinding forward inch by inch—and went on. “If he has unlawfully slain the former lord of this land and some of your number were witness to it, then show it now by disclaiming his power over you.” Kendric drew himself up, Skandar on his left—a hand on Kendric’s shoulder—and Vanessa on his right with her arm through his, and he went on, voice ringing clear in the frozen dawn air.

“The rightful lords of this land and its lady call upon the timeless stones to free themselves from their enslavement to this unfaithful one who has forfeit his authority over them by his base treachery.”

A deep shudder ran through the standing stones, which shook the ground at their base.

Then they stilled.

A calm fell across the circle. Everyone there could sense the absence of the invisible force holding them inside the ring. The cluster of men breathed again.

The three standing alone remained unmoving and looked across at the Steward. His craggy rock-like face twitched very slightly, but that was all, and his stony eyes stared back at them.

“As for you . . .” Skandar growled.

Kendric cut him off, calm but authoritative, fixing the Steward with an unwavering look. “Begone. Return to your mountain fortress or wherever you dwell, and do not come to this land again.”

The Steward seemed to bend against his will, crumbled stone-like for a moment, and an instant later was gone, leaving a bare patch of ground in the snow where he had been.

As one, Skandar, Kendric, and Vanessa all collapsed to their knees and the next moment had clasped each other in a three-way hug as they knelt in the snow together.

“I think you missed me, then,” Kendric managed to gasp out, half laughing, as soon as he could breathe through the tight clasp the other two held him in, which he returned.

“Missed you!” Skandar scoffed. “Why would such a scoundrel be missed—you interrupted my midwinter ball!”

“And you, brother mine,” Vanessa said, shooting Skandar a laughing look, “interrupted our dance.”

“And you interrupted my death,” Kendric remarked to Vanessa.

She smiled. “Always.” He smiled back.

Skandar sobered a moment, then recovered. “Well, that’s one we don’t need to continue. But for the other two—well.” He surged to his feet, the other two rising with him, and they turned to join the group of men who had been stamping cold booted feet in the snow and moving arms to warm them, murmuring about heading home but cautious of disturbing the lords and lady.

“Yes . . . for the other two?” Kendric prompted, still smiling, his arm around Vanessa.

“We’ll go amend their interruptions by returning to the mansion and finishing them properly, shall we?” Skandar said, a mischievous half-smile quirking his lips. “After all, there’s no interrupted ball or dance which can’t be even better when taken up again.”

Vanessa smiled too. “With all my heart.”

Kendric, Vanessa, and Skandar followed the others to the horses, Kendric in the middle with their arms about him and his about them, the three claiming each other as their own once more—dark head between two fair ones.

Together they left the ring of standing stones to the glistening snow under the brilliant light of a golden dawn.

i can’t see where the road goes

roadpoemnewyear

I can’t see where the road goes
As through the trees it turns
Though deep inside my heart I feel
A world of wishes burns

But still I follow after
The path my feet must take
Where what awaits is surely more
Than words or wishes make

So show me where the road goes
Or teach me: know I must
Beyond horizons veiled, things are
Awaiting me through trust

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(Part 2) Snippet Tag: The Library in the Stars

Part 2

And I’m back with Part 2 of my NaNo 2016 snippet sharing, with the second half of the Snippet Tag from Madeline J. Rose @ Short & Snappy!

See Part 1 of the Snippet Tag for more snippets, if you missed those, and for the rules etc. 🙂

Meanwhile, here are more snippets from my NaNo, The Library in the Stars! Enjoy! ^_^

Snippet Tag:

Part the Second

6. Share a snippet that gets you beaming with pride and you’re just like yep, I wrote that beauty.

The young man sat on top of a pile of rubble, his shadows wrapping around him and stretching down the pile of stones and debris in all directions away from him, in defiance of the laws of the sun, which sent its light between two other buildings and illuminated the area. The sight was a striking one—a person in shadows sitting in the middle of a pool of sunlight. It looked impossible—but Veronica was beginning to learn a few things about that word and its lack of applicability, as well as the word coincidence.

“That’s far enough,” the young man’s voice said, as they paused in the shadows of the building next to them. “Unless you want to lose your shadow, too,” he added, a glance from his black eyes flicking toward Veronica. The sun gleamed on his raven hair and his arms were folded and rested on top of his drawn-up knees, cloak or shadows or both spread around him.

“You were just who we were looking for, my lad,” Drayke said pleasantly. “Only one request for you: kindly return the shadows of myself and my space craft.”

“Love to,” the young man said. “Can’t.”

Drayke narrowed his eyes. “Is that right?”

The other sighed. “Look, I can’t help you—it seems I can’t help anyone, come to that—so I suggest you just go away.”

“Love to. Can’t,” Drayke said cuttingly. “You seem to have taken my ship’s shadow, and she says she can’t fly without it. So until you give it back, I and my good craft, as well as this girl here—unless she can time-wisp away, which seems to be uncertain—will be enjoying (if that’s the word I’m looking for) a stay in this rather depressingly desolate place.”

7. Share a snippet of genius, deliciously witty dialogue between your characters.

[Note: I couldn’t help picking a few for this one. And yes, Eon’s in all three of them. >.> Ahem.]

“We need your help breaking a friend of ours out of prison,” the blue haired girl spoke up cheerfully.

The hologram of Kelly was seen to drop her forehead forward onto her folded arms atop the table surface.

“And this is why the fate of the universe should not be in your hands, pet,” said the unseen Ether Eon.

“Curious,” Drayke remarked. “I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that before.”

***

“Eon, is your time working correctly?”

“I’ll pretend I’m not insulted. You’re welcome. Of course my time is working correctly.”

***

“I hate turning into tools,” Eon complained. “At least when I’m a pocket watch I’m moving and time is flowing through me… Why do you think I turn into the shapes of living things? But when I’m a wrench or a key or a grappling hook, I’m just… a metal thing. It’s annoying.”

“Very sorry,” Briley said, “but I’m sure it’s worth it for the rewarding feeling of knowing you helped me.”

“Don’t push it,” Eon warned.

“Well then try this: knowing that you’re the only shape-shifting Ether pocket watch in the galaxy and that I couldn’t continue in my measly existence without you.”

“Getting better,” Eon admitted.

“Or… how about that since we’re trying to find a way to fix time, we may very well be saving the galaxy, and that you’re a key part of it?”

That’s more like it.”

8. Share a snippet that makes you feel like an evil genius for thinking up such a malevolent villain (Mwa-ha-ha!)

“Lying?” Wilecka repeated.

“Oh, don’t pretend,” Damian snarled. “I never bought that thing about your finding me abandoned with no memory—I know you took my memories. And by the way, I would like them back.”

“I should have known,” Wilecka muttered as if to herself. “The blood that flows in your veins—of course you would betray me and steal what was mine! You were my son, and now you turn traitor! You want back memories, do you, you shadow-skulking traitorous cur? Oh, you shall have some, and more shadows too—see if that makes you happy,” she spat.

9. Share a snippet that leaves you breathless, in a cold sweat with action-induced intensity.

Drayke seemed to grow somewhat larger, his long draping green sleeves flapping and shoulder-length green hair flying about his head in the almost-wind, and his eyes—they seemed to be glowing green with a sort of green light of anger.

“Let. Us. Out,” he said in a steely voice.

The house moaned its refusal with mixed angry and sad emotions.

“At least let Veronica go!” Drayke shouted then, even more wrathful then before, with more force than she had heard him use yet. “I don’t care about me—I’m a space elf, I’m going to live a long time, and I imagine you’d get tired of my living here after a couple of hundred years; besides, it’s not like I have anything better to do. Keep me if you wish. But Veronica has a life to live—she has her brother to find. Are you going to keep her trapped here against her will? Look at her! She’s a frightened girl—like Aurora.”

The house rocked as if an earthquake had hit it at the mention of Aurora’s name.

10. Share a snippet of a most interesting first meeting between your characters.

“Well, since we seem to have run up against each other, and I am to be denied my solitude,” the space elf continued, coming down the white rocky slope toward her—he walked with an easy cat-like grace—“we may as well meet properly. I am Drayken Essengale. And yourself?”

“Veronica Coltridge,” Veronica said.

“A pleasure to meet you,” Drayken began, paused, and added, “All right, I’m lying there a little bit. The whole solitude thing, you know. Still.”

Veronica laughed. “Well, what’s politeness other than lying about one’s feelings because of social norms?”

Drayken’s green eyes—they were green, she saw—glittered into a sort of smile. “Aptly put.” He eyed her critically for a moment. “I take that back—it is a pleasure to meet you. You may call me Drayke, in fact.”

“Well… thanks. Pleasure to meet you too,” Veronica said, and meant it—she’d always wondered what meeting a space elf would be like; apparently it was unpredictable, was what it was. “I just wish…” She looked around.

“Ah, your friend,” the space elf picked up. “Maybe he’s waiting with your space craft—more visible than a little thing like yourself.”

“I don’t have a space craft,” Veronica said before she could stop herself.

Drayke arched one dark green eyebrow. “Then how did you get here?”

“I—” Veronica stuttered.

He looked very closely at her. “You’re not a space elf. How— Ah. You’re a Time Wisp.”

“So everyone keeps telling me, despite my lack of knowing it myself!” Veronica exclaimed.

Drayke blinked mildly at her. “So, what year is this for you, if I may be allowed to ask? What can I say—this traveler has picked up a taste for curiosity in his wanderings.”

“Four years before I was born,” Veronica said, then winced. “That… sounds strange when I put it that way.”

Drayke laughed, his teeth glittering white in the moon light and his long dark green hair swaying. “Not by half. I once knew a Time Wisp who was at least—” He broke suddenly off and became somber again, his face clouding as he turned to stare off into the stars.

Tagging:

2 to 5 bloggers… okay… I can do this.

I tag: Jenelle Schmidt || Tracey @ Adventure Awaits ||  Sarah @ Light and Shadows || Claire @ The Overactive Imagination. (Obviously no pressure to do it, any of you, just if you want. ^_^)

And if anyone reading this wasn’t tagged and still wants to do it… CONSIDER YOURSELF TAGGED! *waves magic Fairy Godmother Muse wand and makes it so*

Easy copy-pastable list of questions:

The Snippet Tag (created by Madeline J. Rose)

Rules:

-Include the fancy-shmancy graphic I included somewhere in your post. (Or make your own, just so long as you include a link back to my blog.)
-Answer all the questions, however you want to. Creative interpretation is key here! You can use the book you’re currently working on to answer the questions, or other books you’ve started or have written.
-Tag 2-5 other bloggers.

Questions:

1. Share your most gripping, fascinating, and hooking first line of a story.
2. Share a snippet that literally just crushes your heart into a million feelsy little pieces.
3. Share a snippet that makes you want to shout to the world that you’re SO. HAPPY.
4. Share a snippet that gives a bit of insight into one of your most favorite characters ever.
5. Share a snippet that literally melts you into a puddle of adorable, squishy, OTP mush.
6. Share a snippet that gets you beaming with pride and you’re just like yep, I wrote that beauty.
7. Share a snippet of genius, deliciously witty dialogue between your characters.
8. Share a snippet that makes you feel like an evil genius for thinking up such a malevolent villain (Mwa-ha-ha!)
9. Share a snippet that leaves you breathless, in a cold sweat with action-induced intensity.
10. Share a snippet of a most interesting first meeting between your characters.

What think ye of part 2? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Tell me aaall! ^_^ (And if you read all the first post AND this one… then, goodness, I don’t think I have enough cookies to give you how many you deserve. *does anyway*) Thanks for reading!

Snippet Tag: The Library in the Stars (Part 1)

Part 1

I was tagged! By Madeline J. Rose @ Short & Snappy (an extremely fun blogger — seriously, her blog is like sunshine and makes me smile so much — do go check out her fantastic blog at once!!) for a new tag which she created, The Snippet Tag! Thanks so much, Madeline! ^_^

I’d been planning to share some snippets of my NaNoWriMo 2016 space-fantasy, time-travel novel The Library in the Stars anyway, and this was the perfect excuse for that, so there’s some perfect timing right there. 😉

Aaand I came up with quite a large wordcount with these snippets I picked, so I’m chopping the post in half and sharing five today and five in another post later this week. So here is part one!

On with the tag and the snippets!

The Snippet Tag (created by Madeline J. Rose)

Rules:

  • Include the fancy-shmancy graphic I included somewhere in your post. (Or make your own, just so long as you include a link back to my blog.)
  • Answer all the questions, however you want to. Creative interpretation is key here! You can use the book you’re currently working on to answer the questions, or other books you’ve started or have written.
  • Tag 2-5 other bloggers.

Questions:

Part the First

1. Share your most gripping, fascinating, and hooking first line of a story.

[Note: I… already shared the opening (hooking or not) in my latest Beautiful Books post, so how about a snippet from the end of the first chapter? (More than a line, I’m afraid. ;))]

It seemed to Brendan that he had only been in his book for a mere few seconds (it may possibly have been a dozen chapters) when the doorbell rang again. For the third time that day. And right when the hero of the novel he was reading was in a particularly sticky predicament that even Brendan’s highly imaginative mind could not see a way out of… which was very bad timing, to be honest.

Jamming his bookmark in his place, he snapped the book shut, left it on the couch, and navigated the book stacks toward the door. He opened it and looked out, and shadow looked in at him.

A young man (perhaps eighteen, two years older than Brendan), dressed all in black, with black hair falling to his shoulders and seeming somehow rather wrapped in shadows, stood in the hallway. His piercing black eyes looked down into Brendan’s eyes, out of a face pale and drawn and somehow enigmatically displeased with something.

He was definitely strange, but all sorts of strange types could be met with in the inter-spacial Chronos University on Caligma, so it did not bother Brendan. He was only bothered with having to leave his book.

“Well?” Brendan said, more testily than usual.

The young man’s obsidian eyes stared at Brendan, unblinking, in the pause that was the following silence, while tendrils of shadow seeped past the threshold into the room.

“What do you want?” Brendan asked.

“What do I want?” the other repeated in a hoarse whisper, his voice low and seeming to come from the shadows that surrounded him and filled the doorway. “To make my own choices.” He spread his arms, the long black trailing sleeves morphing into darkness, and shadows wrapped around him and Brendan.

The next moment, the shadow took them both and they were gone.

2. Share a snippet that literally just crushes your heart into a million feelsy little pieces.

His ebony clothing and raven hair flowed into the shadows, becoming one with them, so that it was hard to tell where hair and shirt and pants and boots and flapping cloak—if it was a cloak—ended and where shadows began. In fact, the cloak itself could have been a shadow too—sweeping backward enigmatically. And all the shadows seemed alive, moving slightly as if they were being blown in a constant breeze, so that the cloak or shadow gathered behind him was flung back and flowing as if he stood on a hill with a strong wind before him. It was almost like wings, spread back behind him, though some swept around in front of him, cloaking him, his black eyes and glossy hair like raven feathers the only gleaming parts, the rest pure shadow, his pale drawn face staring out at them, his expression enigmatic and veiled, almost empty.

“Drayke…?” Veronica said to the space elf at her side.

His gaze was firmly fixed on the shadowy person in front of him, green eyes narrowed as he took him in. For a long moment there was complete silence as the two faced each other.

“What are you?” Drayke asked then.

The young man laughed, a hollow sound which seemed stolen by the light breeze, and sounded oddly devoid of enjoyment. “Isn’t that an excellent question.”

3. Share a snippet that makes you want to shout to the world that you’re SO. HAPPY.

“Of course it would rain today,” Briley said, stepping out to stand on the roof of the big clock tower, next to where her airship was perched. She glanced at the overcast sky and the other airships flying by overhead, and got some rain drops in her eye. “Oh well, what’s a climb down a clock tower without some rain to keep it interesting, right, Eon?”

Her only answer was silence.

“Speaking of keeping… Eon, get out here and keep me company. I want to talk to somebody.”

A muffled voice came from her pocket. “Of course you would want to talk to somebody right now when there’s only me. And I’m not coming out.”

Briley shook her now wet short blue hair out of her eyes, and put on an old-fashioned cap, with goggles on top, on her head. She pulled the goggles down over her eyes, tugged at a rope—connected to the side of the ship at one end and a harness brace Briley wore at the other—to test it, then snapped her fingers once and pulled a gold and brass pocket watch out of her pocket.

“Too bad,” she said cheerfully, “because I’m making you come out.”

The metal, gears, and glass of the small timepiece took on a fluid-looking form for a moment, morphing into another shape, solidifying into a gold and brass metal figurine shaped like a small clockwork fox.

It stretched in the palm of her hand—much more flexibly and real-looking than an ordinary figurine of metal should have been able to do—and then tried to dodge the raindrops falling and pinging quietly against the metal of its back.

“Ow! Have a care, then!” the little clockwork fox that was Eon said in the clipped tones of his singular accent. He shifted into the shape of a frowning little owl, hunching one wing and holding the other wing over his head, drops of rain running off his bronze feathers onto Briley’s hand. “You said it was raining; leave a chap alone, will you?”

“As if rain bothers you,” Briley said.

“I’m made of metal—of course it bloody bothers me, and if you—” He broke off in mid-speech with a slight yelp, for Briley had put owl-Eon on her shoulder, took a firm grip on the rope and a running leap backward a couple steps, and she purposefully fell right off the edge of the roof a few feet—laughing as the wind flew around her and through her blue hair—until the rope caught her and pulled her up short. She then commenced rappelling down the side of the clock tower.

Eon had instantly shifted into a lion shape, digging all of his many claws into the fabric of her shirt so that he wouldn’t fall off.

“This is what I’m talking about, love,” he griped into her ear. “Whoever thought it was a good idea to give a fifteen year old girl the job of clock tower maintenance—well, they should just have their brain examined is all I’m saying.”

4. Share a snippet that gives a bit of insight into one of your most favorite characters ever.

“I fail to see how being kidnapped by the minion of some crazy space elf lady is supposed to be protection.”

Damian winced. Veronica almost felt bad for saying minion, but not quite. Not enough to take it back, anyway.

“I never wanted to be a minion,” Damian said softly. “And I was supposed to find Brendan and bring him—”

“Don’t say that,” Veronica interrupted.

“Say what?”

“His name.”

Damian paused. “I was supposed to bring him to her,” he went on. “She needs him for… well, I don’t know exactly why. She always said there was something special about him, some reason she needed him in particular, out of all the Time Wisps she’s been collecting—”

“Collecting?” Veronica repeated in disgust. “You do realize how awful that sounds, don’t you?”

Damian nodded. “I never said I was a fan of this person. I mean, she did after all curse me for all eternity to live in shadows and eventually become one myself,” he said a little testily.

5. Share a snippet that literally melts you into a puddle of adorable, squishy, OTP mush.

(Note: [Translation of OTP for those who don’t speak fangirl-ese: One True Pairing, i.e. favorite couple.] There… wasn’t actually very much time for me to devote to my characters’ romantic-or-not relationships. Hence, I’m just going to go with a random section of Veronica and Damian. Since they’re adorable even though they don’t know it/haven’t had time to be yet. >.>)

Damian turned entirely into a shadow and went through the table in the blink of an eye, re-solidifying on the other side just in front of Veronica and flinging his arms and their accompanying shadows around her, at the same second that the force field on the door snapped open and the two shadow men surged through into the space craft. But just a split second before they reached them, Damian, with Veronica clasped in his arms, teleported out of the space craft and reappeared somewhere else.

For Veronica, it was terribly disorienting. She was suddenly engulfed in shadow, feeling Damian’s arms solid and yet somehow shadowy around her, and the next second she stood somewhere else—not entirely sure where else, but only sure that the space craft’s interior around her a second before was no longer there, and that her head was suddenly disoriented and scrambled and aching. She tilted dizzily, and as Damian released her, she started falling toward the ground. Her orientation and ability to hold herself up just stopped working. Damian caught her again before she could fall the whole way.

“Oh. Yeah. I forgot about that.”

“About what?” Veronica managed to croak through the haze of mind-numbing, head-pounding dizziness.

“The teleporting-with-someone-else thing,” Damian’s voice said from somewhere in the shadows above her head. “Not doing that again, then.”

“I’d appreciate that.”

Part 2 coming later this week…

So, what do you think of this little look at The Library in the Stars? I want to know all your thoughts! Spill ’em! 🙂 (And if you read this far, you get cookies; thank you, kind soul.)