A Tiny Update and Not So Tiny Excerpt (BEASTS: Chapter One)

I’m facing an interesting dilemma.

I feel good. I feel great.  I’m no longer alone. I’m living in a wonderful home with a loving family. Everything’s fantastic!

And I’m hardly getting any writing done because of it.

I’ve read it before how comfort can be deadly. I’m seeing first hand how that can be true. I’m also realizing just how much visualizing and fantasying your dream coming true is also dangerous.

Because feeling like I already have everything I wanted means I don’t feel any urge to do anything to get it, because in my head I already have it. Tricky, eh?

That said, I’m not giving in without a fight. I may have missed a week of blog posts, but I finally finished the first draft of the first chapter of my YA novel, BEASTS, which I’ve been working on since early February.

Needless to say, this is a cause for celebration.

So since today is Monday and that means Excerpt day, in order to make up for my unannounced absence, here is the entire chapter in all its flawed glory.

Who knows how much it’ll change when I finally send it off to agents (hopefully within a decade), but I’m not going to touch it again until the rest of the book is written.

Meanwhile, I’m going to contemplate about the actual benefits of suffering.

At least some amount of suffering. I finished reading War of Art by Steven Pressfield, which was amazing and related to what I’m talking about  so there’s a post in me on what I’ve learned from that book as well.

Until then…

Here is Chapter One of my YA Fantasy novel: BEASTS.

 

Warning: The following is over 3k words long. So take a bathroom break, get your mug of hot coffee and a cookie, sit back, relax and enjoy.

 

Continue reading “A Tiny Update and Not So Tiny Excerpt (BEASTS: Chapter One)”

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Excerpt Day: BEASTS

 

These last few days I been advocating the need for action towards ones goals. One of the reasons I disappeared for three months is because I wanted to finish a chapter for my YA novel and post that as the next post. That never happened cause I never finished it. But I didn’t want to post something else because I was starting to feel like I was all bark, no bite.

I didn’t just want to talk about what I loved to do or wanted to do.

I actually wanted to do it.

I still haven’t finished that chapter, but it’s nearly done. I have a few things in the works.

A nonfiction book based on everything I talked about last week. My YA Shapeshifter novel. And Savior, my superhero noir story that may become a comic.

So today is excerpt day. Proof to myself that I am doing the work and following the dream, not just talking a great deal.

Funny enough, it’s been nearly a year since I’ve shared an excerpt of a WIP.

Perhaps July is just the month of sharing.

Enjoy.

 

 

~~~~

Chapter One

Stars twinkled above Nicolai when he opened his eyes and he was struck with a painful longing for the Antarctic sky. The image of a dark carpet of colorful light stretched across the heavens was clear as day in his mind. Then it was gone, back into the abyss with the rest of his lost memories.

So desperate to cling to his forgotten past, Nicolai remained on his back for several more minutes, trying to reimagine the picture. But it was useless. It may as well been a dream for all he knew.

With a heavy sigh, he sat up in the darkness. Sniffing the air, he figured he was sitting in a dank alleyway and that a cat passed by recently and marked his territory on the dumpster he’d been sleeping against.

“Yuck!”

Nicolai climbed to his feet, rubbing his face and grabbing his green knapsack.  Plunging his hand inside, he pulled out a water bottle and dumped the small amount of liquid inside on his face. That woke him up—though he hadn’t been tired to begin with. He couldn’t remember where he was or how he got there. He stood in the darkness for a moment, straining his memory. The last thing he could remember was reaching the Capitol on foot around midday, but that could have been days ago.

He glanced at the sky. It was late. Probably midnight judging by the moon and past curfew. At the far end of the alley, he could make out the faint glow of streetlights. On the other side of the dumpster was a solid brick wall. Great place for a nap…if you can call “randomly blacking out” a nap. He wanted to at least stay off the streets when night fell. Find an abandoned building or something. The last thing he needed was to run into the cops first day in the Capitol. The street would leave him expose. Catching sight of a fire escape just above him, he repacked his water bottle and reached for the ladder.

“Good evening.”

Nicolai froze. He sniffed again. Cat pee – a great cover for an actual cat. His eyes followed the voice and fell on a male figure crouched on the top of the brick wall. The stranger grinned widely, like a Cheshire cat, the moonlight reflecting off a row of sharpened white teeth and large amber eyes with almond shaped pupils.  Nicolai estimated him to be at least a few centuries old.

An Alpha.

“I take it you’re new around here, eh?” The Alpha cocked his head to the side, like a cat eyeing a mouse. “Shall I welcome you to the neighborhood?”

Nicolai didn’t move, but tensed his muscles, ready to bolt.  He inhaled deeply. Was this one alone? No. Alpha’s didn’t hunt alone. Where was his pack? And what species was he? Definitely not a house cat.

“What is it? Cat got your tongue?” The Alpha laughed, revealing even more of his sharp teeth. “Oh, not yet, I hope. That’s the most succulent part.”

Nicolai turned his gaze to the tops of the buildings. At least six stood on the edge of the roofs on either side. All male, blond and muscular. One silently jumped down to a fire escape a few floors above him to watch, hands gripping the railing as if to jump.

The Alpha’s amber eyes narrowed as his Cheshire grin changed – less amused, more sinister.

“You’re not welcome here.”

“I’m not hurting anyone.” Nicolai slid one foot back, trying to make the movement as unnoticeable as possible.

The Alpha wrinkled his nose, the grin vanished and his entire face plunged into shadow. “Your stench is hurting my nostrils.”

Sweat slid down the back of Nicolai’s neck. He moved his foot further, watching the approaching cat above him out of the corner of his eye. “Sorry. Can’t really do anything about that.”

“Oh but you can.” The Alpha’s teeth flashed again. “You can die.”

His amber eyes flicked up to the others. Nicolai grabbed the corner of the dumpster.

“Get him!”

The cat above him leaped onto the dumpster’s lid, his boots leaving a dent. Nicolai wrenched the dumpster forward the moment he landed and the entire thing came crashing down. The cat stumbled and smashed face first into the opposite building. The Alpha jumped from the wall, snarling, his clawed hands reaching for Nicolai’s neck.

He ducked to the floor and the Alpha flew over him. The other five cats were scrambling down the buildings. Nicolai quickly jumped onto the dumpster and over the brick wall.

The snarls behind him grew louder, feral and inhuman. Nicolai could guess what was happening, but he wasn’t about to wait and find out. There was no way he could outrun real cats unless he put some serious distance between them, so he ran.

Plotting for Dummies

Right now, I’m working with plot in my Novel Course with Long Ridge Writers Group and working the initial plotting of my YA shapeshifter novel BEASTS (title subject to change) about a raptor shapeshifter looking for a home.

LRWG’s writing courses are designed for those who haven’t written a single story in their lives. So it’s all very basic. Since I’ve read a whole lot about how to write a novel and about story structure before and worked on PROPHECY for NaNo 2008-2010, I already have an idea of how a plot is structured.

So this lesson feels very basic to me. It’s a good thing though. These are the fundamentals that’ll support my entire writing career and are necessary to master if you want to be successful.

Without further ado, I shall give you my understanding of what a basic plot requires (basically what I learned so far from the course):

Characters

Duh.  But here’s the thing. Characters aren’t just people, they’re people with problems. Those problems are internal and external. Usually, especially genre fiction, external conflicts/problems are what push the character into action and start the whole thing going. It’s the Inciding Incident, as Les Edgerton in HOOKED would call it, and what complicates things and keeps the story interesting.  The internal conflicts are what make the story truly interesting and determine the characters actions and reactions to the external conflict.

My main character of BEASTS, Nicolai’s external conflicts include not having a home or a clan to belong, and a crazy twin brother trying to kill him. His primary motivation is survival and safety. Things are further complicated by the fact he’s one of the last of his species and shapeshifters in my world only stick to their own kind and are distrustful of all other shifters (especially strange ones like Nico), thus making Nicolai’s goal of resolving this problem, of being accepted into a clan, very difficult.

His internal conflicts are his insecurity and cowardice. Instead of facing his brother, he runs away from him and all his problems. His answer is to find someone to hide behind and he’ll discover this isn’t the best way to get what he wants. So as you read about how Nicolai needs to find a place to belong, his actions and dialogue (his methods of acquiring this goal) are rooted from his internal conflicts: his insecurity and tendency to flee rather than fight, which spice things up.

Climax

For me, the Climax comes along very naturally.  To explain it in my own words, it’s sort of a buildup of conflicts, of problems, piling on top of each other and reaching a peak before it all topples over in an avalanche.

It’s problem after problem, each getting worse than the last, and even though there are rests between problems where the character does something to ease the tension just a bit, something else happens  even worse until it reaches the climactic moment.

Every plot needs a climax.

LRWG teaches that the climax scene needs to be a Do or Die moment. All or Nothing.

Nicolai’s climax is when he can no longer run away anymore. He needs to face his problems or lose everything, including his life. And if he loses everything, the story comes to an abrupt end. He can’t just run away and try something else. It’s like literally putting your character on the edge of the cliff and poking him in the back with a spear. Turn back and get skewered, but take a wrong step, plunge and die.

So what happens next, what he chooses to do next in this impossible situation, is the climatic and most important scene of the entire novel.

Ending

The beginning was the introduction of the character and their conflicts or problems. The middle is the pile up of those problems till it reaches a Do or Die moment.

Then comes the ending.

I’ve heard this many times from various sources, not just LRWG, that it’s best to leave the story as soon as you’re able to. The climax is over, so basically the most interesting thing in the book is done. There is no longer any reason for the reader to keep reading so it’s best to wrap things up and not dawdle with a hundred-page epilogue.

Tie up all loose ends for THIS story. But I don’t believe it means you can’t leave some tiny threads for a possible sequel.

Unlike PROPHECY, it was much easier to plot BEASTS as a standalone story, even though I always intended it to be a series. Funny enough, PROPHECY had started out as a standalone story that ended up becoming a trilogy (and now possibly a series of trilogies).

BEASTS (unlike my other novels, so I feel like this could be the ONE) has a very clear question asked in the beginning of the story and at the end, it’s very clearly answered.

BUT it’s also easy to leave things unanswered that don’t necessarily need to be answered now. The answers that, in ordered to be explained fully, would need a story all themselves. In other words, answers that need a sequel.

I have a few of these lingering questions in BEASTS so if all goes well, that’ll entice publishers and readers to pick up a second book.

 

~~~~

 

A plot needs time.

The plot for BEASTS fell into place all by itself, but it wasn’t overnight. I say I was noodling with this idea since 2009 or perhaps earlier. From then till now, it’s been slow cooking in the back of my mind.

Needless to say, I have a whole lot of ideas to work with. Heck, now and then I work on scenes for the third or possibly fourth book (not exactly sure where this story lies in the chronological scheme of things). I also have origin stories, backstories that really serve no purpose for the story other than for my own personal amusement.

I feel a story will tell you when it’s ready to be written.  It goes from images and ideas, to characters, settings, and names, to scenes with action and dialogue. It’s usually around then that the call to begin writing (an outline, character sketches or the first draft) comes or maybe sooner, depending on the writer.

Don’t rush it. It’ll suck otherwise. But don’t let it burn either.

I know of stories, awesome stories or ideas for stories I still want to work on someday that I’ve lost because I never took the next step and wrote some of it down. It boiled over and became lost in my jumble of memories.

And there you have it more or less. Everything you need to know about plotting. The basic of the basic. And sometimes, basic is good.

If you’re also a writer, what have you learned about plotting thus far in your career or if you’re taking a writing course, what are you learning now?

If you’re not a writer, when it comes to stories you read, what types of stories do you enjoy? Full of cliffhangers? Fast paced or slow paced?

 

(LOOKING BACK:

The goals I had set in November are coming along nicely. I’m on track with BEASTS and the novel course; currently working through the orientation process with Remilon a writing job; and I’ve gotten more serious with practicing art thanks to the Crimson Daggers website.  So far so good).

When Things Don’t Go As Planned

Now I know why one of the key blogging advice you hear out there is to be sure on what you want to write about and have plenty of material/posts available ahead of time.

Otherwise, you get a sloppy mess like the current state of my blog.

If anything, this has become a blog showcasing what you SHOULDN’T do.

Learn from my inexperience and insecurity, damn you!

But I am learning. Slowly, painfully slowly.  But it’s happening!

So here’s a little update on what I’ve been doing and things that have changed.

First, NaNoWriMo.

Heh. Remind me to do a post of Self-Sabotage. My NaNo2011 had no chance of success from Day 1, mostly because I sort of pretended I was completely ready when I wasn’t. I still haven’t completed that outline. I don’t know how or why I convinced myself I could write 3k when I knew I wouldn’t start writing till the entire outline was completed.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t made progress.

In fact, I made a critical breakthrough!

I started a novel writing course from Long Ridge Writers Group () (I totally recommend their courses. The quality one-on-one instructor-student relationship is totally worth the price in my opinion) via email.  For the first Assignment, you have to submit to your instructor two novel ideas. I submitted both PROPHECY, my current 2008 WIP that needs to be DONE ALREADY, and BEASTS.

My wonderful instructor gave me insight I had craved for since the moment I finished the rough/zero draft of PROPHECY. She told me that the story, while strong, had an ending that wouldn’t work for a first novel from an unpublished author.

Thus, after two years of working on PROPHECY OF THE ETERNALS on and off (mostly off), I’ve finally decided to temporarily shelve the project and work on something else. She explained the reasons who clearly and logically, that I was able to do it without any resistance. It felt right.

So now I’ve started working with my YA urban fantasy novel, BEASTS. This time, I have no plans on taking 2 years to get to a second draft.

One step back, two steps forward…in a new and hopefully better direction.

Next, I need a better paying job.

I needed it yesterday.

But, as is painfully clear, I take forever to get around writing anything. So making any money from my writing anytime soon is out of the question. Putting pressure on myself just made it worse.

Okay, I’ll take off the pressure a little. I’m still gonna try to make it work, but even if I did get published or self-published I probably wouldn’t make what I need to make…or at least not soon enough.

Thus, I’ve decided to search for a bonafide job job.

One I can do from my computer here in Puerto Rico, until I can move to the States. One where I work with amazing people I WANT to help and learn from.

Still, with no college degree, this is going to be interesting.

Oh! I nearly forgot.

Thirdly! My return to college. It was a hard decision, but in the end, I decided to not do it.

The school I wanted to go to…well…wasn’t exactly cheap. And I doubt I can find any other college degree course that appeals to my extremely limited budget that doesn’t put me neck deep in debt.

Thus, I’ll take the more difficult path and carve my own way with the skills I have now.

So to whoever’s keeping score: that’s three plans/goals down the drain. They just wouldn’t work.

It’s hard to accept sometimes. But to realize something isn’t working than keep trying to force it to work and waste a lot of time.

In summary, my new goals:

–          LRWG Novel Course: Working on new YA fantasy novel, BEASTS.

–          Short Stories for submission and/or/maybe self-publishing.

–          A writing/publishing/entertainment related job.

–          Art Practice Habit – 3 hours a day.

What changed:

–          Not going to Art School anymore.

–          Not working on Prophecy anymore.

–          On the job hunt.

 

Have you ever had to drop plans and goals that just weren’t working out? When do you know it’s time to call it quits and try something else?

Love the Journey, But Don’t Forget the Destination

I took a good look at my surroundings and realized I lost my focus.

I lost my goal.

I lost my Destination.

It got lost due to new plans, setbacks, mini crises, and non!hiatuses. I’m still determined and committed. I’m not out of the game, but now my writing and drawing is only for the sake of writing and drawing, with no end game in sight. Well, that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing…though without any purpose, I seem to have lost some drive.

In other words, my productivity and consistency are still lacking.

We’ve all heard the many different yet still wise quotes about how important it is to enjoy the Journey and how little important it is to obsess over the Destination.

But now I’m starting to believe that regardless of how less important the Destination is, it’s still pretty damn necessary to at least have one.

Thus, it’s time to recommit and clarify my Destination—my short and long term goals.

What a better way than to list them all here where everyone on the internet can see and judge me if I don’t complete them in a timely way! Oh joy!

Writing Goals:

  • Finish Prophecy of the Eternals First Draft Outline
  • Complete Studying THE BREAKOUT NOVELIST by Donald Maass
  • Complete my many writing courses I participate in online (HTTS, HTRYN, LRWG Novel Course)
  • Receive a Positive Rejection with Comments from an admired Literary Agent (BREAKTHROUGH GOAL)
  • Finish rewrite and final draft of Prophecy of the Eternals
  • Finish first draft, rewrite, final draft of Blood of the Eternals (Book 2)
  • Finish first draft, rewrite, final draft of Avatar of the Eternals (Book 3)
  •  Finish Eternals Trilogy (BG)
  • Acquire a Literary Agent (BG)
  • Finish first draft, rewrite, final draft of BEASTS (Book 1)

 

The list can pretty much go on forever when it comes to my writing goals, so I’ll just leave it there. That’s good for the next ten years or so. …Damn, mortality is a bitch.

As for my art goals, since it’s a more recent path I’ve chosen, I’m not exactly sure where I’m heading. So here’s just a few I can think of.

Art Goals:

  • Get a paid commission to do fantasy art.
  • Win Crimson Daggers Golden Boy Award on ConceptArt.org Forums
  • Finish Art School
  • Get accepted to do a page for GUTTERS webcomic
  • Get a Job storyboarding, doing concept art for film or television or art for a comic
  • Get a Job as drawing fantasy novel book covers.
  • Get featured in an art magazine like ImagineFX (BG)
  • Freelance for Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, Whitewolf, or similar (BG)
  • Get a Job doing storyboards or art for a major film/show or art for a major comic book or graphic novel (BG).

 

All of these are probably too far reaching, but honestly until I can think of small steps, I shall leave it like this for now.

Note: All goals are subject to change.

Nevertheless, the Journey is still the more vitally important of the equation. After all, we spend more time journeying than reaching the destination (and we might not even reach it in the end anyways), so we may as well enjoy ourselves as we go.

Perhaps then, the Journey should dictate the Destination.

Something like…

“Since I want to spend my life doing *insert activities and events I want to occur in my life on a daily, weekly or monthly basis*, then the best direction for such a life is *insert goal/destination*.” 

Like, since I enjoy writing, drawing and daydreaming about my own stories and characters, then having goals such as finishing and selling novels, and going to art school and being paid to draw, are goals that will allow me to have a life, a Journey, where I get to do the things I love on a daily basis, and not just when I’ve finally achieve a goal.

This is probably the reverse on how most people plan their goal lists. The common way is to have the goal, then figure out what you need to do every day in order to achieve it.

I’m saying do the opposite.

I think it’s a good way ( or at least makes it more likely) to create a satisfying life we can enjoy right now instead of in the future, where each moment become mini-destinations and bad days aren’t so bad.

Life is short and my goals are lofty. I doubt I’ll reach all of them or even most of them, but at least I can be happy, enjoying the moments leading up to the Destination…for the most part.

Tell me about your Journey and your Destination(s).

What are your goals and the daily activities you’ve added to your life in order to reach them?

The Last — A Beasts Flash Fic

Celeste makes an appearance once again and comes to the rescue, saving me from writer’s block!

Enjoy?

~~~

 

The Last

 

Celeste ran as fast as her aching  legs could carry her, the forest a green blur streaking past. Branches whipped across her arms, her skin slick with blood and sweat. She tripped on a root and fell hard against the ground. The skin of her palms bled and her ankle throbbed, but she barely felt any of it.

Dead.

She gritted her teeth as tears ran down her cheeks.

Dead, all dead. The thought repeated itself over and over; banging like a bell  inside  her head. She clutched her fists, barely able to see through her tears and white hair that had fallen into her face. She wanted to sob, but now was not the time.

Her head snapped up as a shadow passed overhead. A chance!

Celeste rose to her feet, still bleeding. She followed the moving shadow even if it meant her death. Revenge would be worth it. The face of her mother, dead on the ground, was burned vividly into her mind.

The forest abruptly ended  and  she found herself on open ground. Her eyes—on the sky—were blinded by the  harsh sunlight. She looked away just  in time to  see  the large dark shape in front of her.

She stumbled onto the moist grass directly in front of it.  Looking up, her face burned with rage.

“Dragon,” she snarled.

It was one of the largest she has ever seen, its body stretched across the field. Its scales were a mix of black and dark crimson with a streak of bright red down its spine. She grinned at the sight of the gashes across its body and left eye, knowing it was the work of her clan. At least they  hadn’t died without a fight.

Neither would she.

She tried to rise, but a violent gust of wind pushed her back down. The ground trembled  as  another dragon landed behind her.

It was a black dragon and much smaller than the other. It too was injured, but less severely.

The black dragon laughed at her, displaying his blood strained, sharp teeth.

“The last one, Zander. You have the honor of finally ending this miserable war.”

There was nothing she could do. She didn’t even have the strength to transform. All the anger in the world wasn’t enough to avenge her family. She still refused to look away from the larger dragon`s eyes boring into her gaze.

“The last one.”  Its  voice was deep and powerful. “Has it really come down to this?”

“What are you muttering about?” The black dragon’s  voice  pitched high with annoyance.

Sweat ran down Celeste’s temple, but she continued to meet Zander’s stare. If she was going to die, she would at least die with dignity.

He smirked at her.

Furious, Celeste reached for the last once of her strength to wipe the smirk off its face, but before she could move, Zander moved first. It unfurled its wings and Celeste shut her eyes against the gust of wind as it took to the air. It was a brief flight and it landed between her and the other dragon.

“Traitor! What are you doing!!” the black dragon roared.

“It’s over, Nox.. Whether she lives or dies, it’s over.”

“It’s not over till they’re all dead! Don’t you want revenge for our kin? Revenge for our families?”

“It won’t bring them back.”

“Get out of my way!!”

The black dragon dove around the Zander. Celeste dashed for the nearest tree, but had gone only a few feet when a deafening roar stopped her. The sound was like honey to her ears –the sound of a dragon in pain.

Spinning around, she watched Zander on top of the black dragon, clawing and biting its neck. Breaking apart its scales, it inhaled deeply and let out its flame against the exposed flesh of its own kind.  The black dragon  died cursing Zander’s name. When it was over, Zander collapsed too, and its body melted away, leaving in its place the tattered body of a  human.

Celeste found her feet taking her closer to him.  In  his human shape, blood  spilled freely from his wounds, sluggishly  soaking  his knees. It was her chance!

With a burst of energy, she grabbed a large rock from the ground and raised it high. Before she could bring it down on his head, he turned his ruined face to her.

She froze, rock held high.

He smirked at her again.

“What’s the matter?” he asked. “I’m powerless. Exact your revenge as you see fit.  That’s what Nox was about to do to you. It’s fitting.”

Even in the body of a weak human, close to death, he had a deep, powerful voice. His dark hair was damp with blood and his bare chest  was striped with gashes from both friend and foe.

Celeste dropped the rock.

Her entire body trembled with fury, her nails digging into her palms until they bled.

“You think you get to decide how this will end? …How dare you!”

In an outburst of rage, she found the strength to transform. Her tall, blond human form was replaced with that of a majestic unicorn.

The dragon made no move as Celeste snorted in anger in his face. She could kill him with the slight flick of her horn, or kick him around until his every bone broke and all her frustration, rage and grief were extinguished.

His body remained stock still, accepting death without as much as a shiver. Celeste neighed loudly and reared up on her hind legs. Still, Zander did not move.

“I don’t understand!!” she screamed in his mind. “Why! Why did you kill your brother?! Wouldn’t it been easier to kill me?! I am the last! My clan was the last! If you wanted it to be over, why not just kill me?!”

She bucked and kicked and circled around him, kicking up clumps of earth and grass until she had spent all her energies and collapsed onto the ground, back in her human form. Her shoulders heaved with each breath she took.

“The last thing I wanted,” she cried, her voice muffled against the earth. “…was to be spared by the likes of you.”

There was stillness in the air, the silence only broken by her stifled sobs.

She felt a hand on her head and she stopped crying at once.  Celeste froze. She couldn’t even breathe. What was this?

The dragon gave a heavy sigh. “I deserve to die. I killed the last of my family to preserve the last real beauty of this ugly world. I will be waiting for you to finish this. Till then…”

She watched him walk away, unable to grasp the conflicted emotions raging inside. It was only until he was almost gone from her sight that she realized the millennium war was over and no side had won.

Celeste felt empty. A passing breeze felt as cold as the arctic wind..

By a power greater than her own pride, the last unicorn found herself following the last dragon.

 

Unicorn Flash Fiction!

After a brief hiatus of sorts (*nervous laughter*), here is some Flash Fiction prompted by Chuck Wendig’s weekly flash challenge.

 

 

Sparkly

Celeste knew she was in for some pain when the word “sparkly” was mentioned. She had lost her roommates in the mass mob that was the Holidays shoppers at the Shopping Center. She had wandered into a bookstore, attracted by the CLOSING SALE ad on its large front windows. Somehow she had ended up in the children’s section. The colorful covers might be something her roommate Li would be interested in. She was a bit birdbrained. Celeste wasn’t even sure she could read, despite being a thousand-year old mythological shapeshifter.

While she flipped through a picture book titled “Angry Birds: A Tale of Vengeance,” she heard it.

“Look at the unicorns, mommy! They’re so sparkly!”

A vein above Celeste’s eye twitched. Her head turned towards the voice as if against her will. In a corner of the colorful, but cluttered, preschool section was a whole display of glittery books with glittery unicorns and stuffed unicorn toys. It was surrounded by little girls squealing excitedly to their mothers.

Celeste’s feet took her to the shrine of sparkle and rainbow colors. She picked up a unicorn doll. It was pink. A pink unicorn! With silver tinsel in its mane and tail. There was also a strange tattoo on its butt of a vanilla frosted cake. The image was scented.

She wanted to puke. Is THIS how everyone saw unicorns? The toy’s plastic horns weren’t even sharp! It wasn’t even worth its $1.99 sale price tag. The books were just as bad. “My Little Unicorn” featured anthropomorphic unicorns involved in various humiliating activities, such as tea parties and frolicking in meadows.

Celeste glanced at the mothers, hoping maybe they would see what an atrocity this was. Nope. The female adults beamed and actually encouraged their children, looking just as excited as they picked up an armful of the horrendous toys and books to buy.

They were all human, but still. Had unicorn lore really fallen this low?

Celeste replaced the sacrilegious artifacts and was about to make a swift retreat when a scream pierced the air.

The crowd broke apart as a large rhinoceros charged through the window, showering the terrified customers in glass.

Humans! Your foul stench has tormented me for the last time! Celeste heard the telepathic message loud and clear, as well as any other shapeshifter in the area.

She figured Christmas shopping amidst hundreds of humans didn’t sit well with this one. Still, it was no reason to break a perfectly good window.

The rhino went berserk, destroying bookshelves and trampling over any poor human who didn’t run away quickly enough.

Celeste glanced at the cowering children behind her and grinned. It was the perfect opportunity to show what a real unicorn looked like.

Breaking one of her sacred rules, she stepped into the rhino’s path and shifted into her animal form.

A real unicorn appeared in the middle of the closing Books N Things. She was just as large as the raging rhinoceros, but still majestic — ivory white body, platinum blond mane and tail, three foot long horn as hard as diamond. Celeste made sure the long battle scars across her flank and along her neck were clearly visible by the children.

Not a single patch of pink or glitter to be seen anywhere.

The rhino stopped for a brief second by this dramatic and unexpected appearance. But his rage took over as it charged straight for her. Celeste’s warrior heart raced as she kicked up the floorboards and met his charge with her own.

The impact sent the intruder flying back through the window and into a pretzel stand outside.

Everyone stared. Celeste stood proudly. She had held back, knowing she could have well kicked the nuisance all the way to the parking lot outside, but felt the effect was dramatic enough. There was a minute of shocked silence and Celeste felt pretty good.

“OH MY GOSH!

She blinked. High pitched squeals threatened to rupture her brain. A flood of children from inside and outside of the store surrounded her. Small, dirty, smelly hands petted every inch of her beautiful body

She felt violated

“A real unicorn!!

“It’s so pretty!”

“Mommy, mommy, can we take it home!? Please, please, please!!”

Their voices made her queasy. Dizzy, she knelt down. A mistake. The tiny humans climbed on top of her as if she was an average pony, laughing, tugging on her hair.

Celeste’s last coherent thought was that next year her roommates were getting e-books.

The Introductory Post – Part Two (The Stories)

The Story Book Art Print by William Bougeureau (1825 - 1905)
The Story Book by William Bougeureau (1825 – 1905)

 

I don’t think I’ve ever actually talked about or introduced the stories that I write. Let’s change this, shall we?

I’m currently working on two book series, one of which I would like to publish myself online.

The two shall be codenamed: NANOWIN08 and YACHALLENGE. Why? Cause code names are cool! Shusssh.

NANOWIN08 is exactly that, my 2008 NaNoWriMo win, which I mentioned in a previous post.

Its current title is PROPHECY OF THE ETERNALS and I’m planning two more sequels, Reign of the Eternals and Avatar of the Eternals (with the titles subject to change of course).

PROPHECY OF THE ETERNALS is a dark fantasy, set in a medieval world where flesh-eating demons are killing off the human race.  Anya is a soldier pulled from retirement to protect and train Nathaniel, a young boy who was raised to believe he will one day kill the demon and save humanity as told in a prophecy. On his quest to awaken his secret power, Nathaniel and Anya run into a powerful and sadistic demon who calls herself the Mistress. One look and she knows Nathaniel isn’t what he seems to be. She lets them go only to place life threatening obstacles in their path, setting terrible monsters and easily manipulated humans against them in order to persuade Anya to tell the true story. Anya and Nathaniel run to the king for protection, but when he can’t help them, Anya must decide who to trust, her growing love for the boy, or her unshakable loyalty to the crown. Reveal the truth or keep her silence. What she didn’t expect was Nathaniel’s thirst for freedom to make her wonder, who are the real demons in this world?

By the way, that pitch is still a work in progress. I find it harder than writing the actual novel.

The first draft is complete and it’s currently being rewritten. My goal is to have it completed and submission ready by November 2011, before NaNo. I already have an eye on an agent I’d love to send it to…

YACHALLENGE is my personal challenge to the supernatural YA genre that’s taking everyone by storm. Well, maybe not as much as last year, but I believe it’s still pretty popular.  It’s basically my own take on the genre and it’s my first urban fantasy story.

It’s loosely titled BEASTS. It’s set in an alternate modern earth. Humans coexist with immortal shapeshifters who can transform into a specific animal. Shifter society is formed by clans where each species stick together and distrust all the others. A clan is a Shifter’s family and crucial for his survival. This proves very problematic for Nicolai, who doesn’t have a clan. His species is extinct. Well, except for him and a homicidal twin brother who wants to kill him in order to hold the title as the last dinosaur on Earth.  Every day might be Nicolai’s last, until he meets Zander, a dragon shifter who belongs to a clan of (supposedly) extinct mythological beasts. Nicolai thinks he found his new home…but only if he can convince them to let him join despite his brother’s assassination attempts and Nicolai’s forbidden crush on a human girl. But when his brother starts threatening Zander and the rest of the clan by resurrecting and commanding god-like Elemental Shifters, a line is crossed and Nicolai must stop running and face his real family in order to save his new one.

This one isn’t finished. I only have a few scenes and short stories done (and ideas for at least one sequel…which I LOVE). This novel is the one I plan on selling online. I think it would be more successful and more accessible to readers of this genre that way.  But we’ll see what happens.

There are other stories of course and these are definitely not my first or my last, but I sure as hope they’re the ones that will finally make me a published author.

I’ll keep updating with their progress and post a short story or two, or behind the scenes brainstorming. Hopefully, it’ll be as fun to read as it will be fun to write!

 

*This post comes late due to stage-fright. It’s always scary to talk about one’s work. And you only have one chance to make a good first impression. Let’s hope I did my stories justice.

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