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.

Girls Want to Save the Day Too – Part 2

 

 

No post yesterday….I’m going to say it was in protest of SOPA.

Yep. Totally in protest of SOPA.

*ahem*

So, continuing my feminist rant…

It’s best to read that post before reading this one, otherwise you’ll most likely be completely lost.

Let’s go back to Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows for a moment.

Game of Shadows has three active female characters in the whole movie.

Let’s take apart their motivations and actions (not personality).

Simza: Gypsy woman who joins and helps Sherlock and Watson by sharing information, giving them passage to enemy territory and getting them out of danger, all for the sake of finding and saving her brother. She was only in London in order to find her brother.  Once she was part of the anarchist movement, but left it when it got dangerous. Her only motivation at this point is finding and rescuing her brother, and I doubt she is interested in stopping a war or stopping Moriarty (though to be fair, she has no reason to care…that’s where I think the writers could change it and give her something more, expanding her role).

Mary: Well, though at the end she seemed very happy to be part of taking Moriarty down, her primary motivations is to hear from and see her new husband. She’s a tough cookie and protects herself and her husband when danger arises, but other than that, she has no other goals or desires. If it weren’t for her husband, she wouldn’t even be in this mess.

Irene Adler: She’s very special to me, and not because she shares the same name as my mother, but because she had the potential to be the female version of Sherlock Holmes. In fact, the reason she’s in the movies at all is that in the stories she is one of the extremely few and probably the only woman to ever outwit Sherlock Holmes. She is also the only woman Holmes acknowledged and showed interest in, which is a big deal since Holmes practically hated women (he saw them as a distraction).

In the first movie, Adler was awesome because still, she could outsmart Holmes, like when she drugged him, and this put her on the same level as him.

BUT they ruined it by making her not only a Love Interest but by also cheapening her character by making her a bit selfish and a criminal.  She was only interested in money, her job with Moriarty ….and okay interested in Holmes as well. Her role revolved around these two men and money and that was it.

In the second movie, well those who watched the movie know what happened with her.

And while it was great for the plot and for Holmes’ character development, for Adler and her role in the story it was…well limited and not at all living up to her true potential.

Often you will find female characters in these types of movies where their motivation lies strictly with money and survival. This is a trick. It makes it seem like they are strong, independent women, but that’s not equality. Why is it that for a woman to be seen as strong and smart, she has to lower her moral standards? This is not equality. I call it a trick because it fakes it. It looks as if they are strong and equal to men, but not really because they had to sacrifice something in order to get there and that’s not how it works or rather, not how it should work.

 

~~~~

 

So, how should it work? What is it that I’m looking for?

Well, to be very clear, this has little to do with the characters itself and her personality, and more about her behavior, motivations and role in the plot.

What she does, why she does it and how it influences the plot.

Take for example….

Claudia from Interview of the Vampire: Kills Lestat in order to be free, completely changing her life, Louis’ life and the plot from then onwards. She didn’t do it for Louis. She did it for her own desire to be free and get closer to know the truth about her kind and also the fact Lestat pretty much ruined her life. This she shared with Louis. They were equals, wanting the same thing (though with different ideas on how to get it). But her role is not the Hateful Bitch, because once Lestat was gone, her story didn’t finish. She didn’t dedicate her life for vengeance. He was just a temporary obstacle.

Lyra from The Golden Compass: She almost enters the realm of the Selfish Bitch (kind of hard to call her a bitch when she’s so young, so don’t take the title too literally), but she’s a kid. She lies to get what she wants, but she still has strong moral character. She also has a strong desire for adventure. She wants to find the truth of everything that is happening and wants to rescue her friends.  She is interested in the secrets of the compass, and to right wrongs. She also wants to find her father, but it’s not her sole motivation for everything she does. Being the main character, this might seem like obvious behavior, but her character is still very rare, which is why I love her so much.

In my opinion, the movies where female characters shine the most brilliantly and play roles truly equal to men are those with both female protagonists and female antagonists.

One of the best examples is Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke.

There are many characters in this movie. The best part is that for every male character, there was almost always a female counterpart. This could definitely be one of those rare movies where the female and male roles are equally distributed 50/50.

And this is also proof that just because a character is secondary doesn’t mean they have to fall into standard roles.

Without giving the entire movie away, Princess Mononoke is about a boy, Ashitaka, who finds himself caught between two worlds: the natural world and the industrial world.

He is also caught between two women (not romantically), who represent each world.

The movie has several named female characters with important roles, but I want to talk about the most important ones, San and Lady Eboshi.

San: A young girl, raised by a wolf-god mother (another very awesome female character with a very important role) and her pups, San wants to protect her forest and all the animals from the humans who are tearing it down. She fights for herself, her home and her family. Even after she falls in love, she doesn’t fall into any role and doesn’t change her values just because of him. In fact, she even attacks him after he rescues her sworn enemy.

Lady Eboshi: Leader and (I believe) founder of Iron Town, a city built on the edge of the forest known for its iron.  The city is practically run by women Eboshi took from the streets as prostitutes and gave them real jobs, a real future. She also took in lepers and takes care of them.  Despite her coldhearted way of killing the forest gods and cutting down the trees, her motivations are strictly practical. She’s not evil, but is simply defending her way of life just as San is defending hers.

Ashitaka is caught up between these two women who want to kill each other, but he doesn’t hate either. In fact, he understands them both and even though he falls for San, he still protects Eboshi, even when she nearly kills them all.

In other words, all three of them are equal, not one dependent solely on the actions of the other.

Watch the movie to see what I mean. It’s amazing.

 

~~~

 

Basically, it all comes down to equality.

That’s what I want.

This whole rant sparked inside of me years ago and it always comes back to the surface of my mind the same way.

I’m sitting in the movie theater, watching a kickass movie. One time, it was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. And I remember, after watching it for the third time, thinking:

“Why is it that I want to be more like Jack Sparrow than I wanted to be Elizabeth?”

 

This has happened to me again and again. My role models were all men.

Sherlock Holmes.

Jack Sparrow.

Iron Man.

Luke Skywalker.

Jesus.

Buddha.

(Oh Yes, I went there).

So this is the point of these posts.

I want more characters like them that are female.

A character like Sherlock Holmes, but female.

A character like Jack Sparrow, but female.

A character like Morpheus or Neo from The Matrix, but female.

A character like Jesus or Buddha, but female.

(YES I WENT THERE)

This would be TRUE equality.

Just because you give the girl a black belt in kicking ass, give her a large gun or make her sneaky, that doesn’t mean she’s equal to the guy right beside her who’s saving the goddamn world!

Thank you!

*drops mike, walks off stage*

 

What about you? Agree? Disagree?  Anything else to add?

Also, if anyone has any great recommendations of books, movies or graphic novels where female characters truly shine, please let me know in the comments. Lately, I’ve been running dry.

 

 

*Also, please forgive the religious cameos. I know they might have been or were real people and this post is about fantasy/scifi fiction, but please don’t take offense.  Not having a religious or spiritual female icon to look up is just as frustrating as everything else I mentioned and that’s why I included them. If you were insulted by their mention, I’m very sorry.

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.

 

Death of Borders, Birth of the Digital Era

the last borders
From Flickr

The last Borders, the only American bookstore that holds fantasy and manga titles in Puerto Rico is closing.

I went there as it held its closing sales. It was a flurry of activity. It was impossible to find anything and yet there was still so much good stuff there.

I wanted to get a fantasy novel, something I haven’t read, but been meaning to read. It was a tough choice and in the end, due to the fact I have plenty of books still unread and I’m trying to save money (it only had a 25% discount and I had five books in my arms), I didn’t buy any fantasy novels. But a strange thought occurred to me.

As I left, I remembered the book I had put back (I think it was the Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman), I actually thought:

“If it were an e-book and I had an e-reader, I’d totally get it.”

That shocked me because I never had that type of thought before.

Suddenly, I was hesitating more to buy a physical book than an e-book, when it used to be the opposite.

There’s still  something an e-book can’t provide that real books and real books stores can provide.

You can actually sit down and pick any part of the book you wish to view.  You can’t do that with an e-book. I believe it’s one of its weaknesses among other weaknesses. I may go into it in another blog post one day…

But with the last bookstore in my vicinity gone, and the fact I have no patience for snail mail, I am more tempted than ever to get an e-reader.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the very death of the bookstore will feed the e-book boom till it’s our main source of book consumption.

Of course, I’m sure I’m ten years too late with this revelation.

Well, I think it’s time for me to join the bandwagon.

So I ask you, Great Gods of the Internet, what’s the best, cheapest e-reader?

I really want an iPad, but they’re extremely expensive and I doubt they’re good for reading for long periods of time straight. My eyes will probably die after the third or fifth hour.

I’m thinking a Kindle, but I’m not sure. Does anyone own an e-reader or shopped for one have any suggestions?

 

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.

First Chapter Excerpt

fantasy forest environment

 

 

To prove I actually do this writing thing most of the time, here’s a rough excerpt of the newest rewrite of the first chapter of my fantasy novel, Prophecy of the Eternals.

~~~~

 

Chapter One:

The Soldier and the Boy

Anya felt the boy press tightly against her breast and prayed he didn’t wet himself as the demon stepped over them, its massive belly only a foot above their faces. She didn’t care about hygiene, but if the boy relieved himself, the smell would give them away. They were hidden inside a decaying log buried under dead leaves and loose soil. Anya could see the demon through the gaps in the wood, keeping her eyes open while the boy had his shut tight.

The colossus was an insect type, smooth, worm-like body, carried on pointy black legs. It only needed to shorten its step and they’d be skewered.

Slowly, Anya fingers crawled towards her spear that lay hidden beside her under the soil, gripping its handle.

The demon’s hind leg started to come down directly above her head.

Anya snapped the spear in half and plunged it into soft flesh above. Pale lavender blood spilled onto her arm, her scars burning on contact. The demon let out a pierced cry that made Anya’s head throb, her teeth shake.

It stumbled backwards, revealing the sun. The boy’s fear reached its peak. He scrambled away, throwing off their cover and ran for the trees.

“Nathaniel!” Anya jumped to her feet, the broken spear still in her stained hand.

She cursed the boy’s cowardice, but he stopped before he reached the thick trees that surrounded the narrow forest path. A large, looming shadow rose out of the forest until it burst forth another colossal demon, identical to the first, pushing down trees as if they were matchsticks, which barely missed the boy.

Anya noticed Nathaniel did wet himself where he stood, paralyzed in the monster’s path. But she didn’t care this time. They were saved.

The first colossus recovered and its circular rows of teeth began to spin, the sound worse than its cry, piercing her very bones, which can be grinded to dust by those jaws. It charged.

Anya tossed her useless weapon and sprinted towards Nathaniel, towards the other monster that also began to charge. She grabbed the boy and threw herself into the thick branches of a fallen tree as the monster’s legs brushed them aside.

The clearing was too small, too narrow. The demons clashed and began to consume each other. Unable to walk, the shrieking ruining their sense of balance, Anya pushed Nathaniel to crawl, their faces in the dirt.

They crawled for over a mile before the shrieking stopped.

~~~

“I don’t want to hear it,” Anya said for the fifth time.

She kept an eye on the sunlight raining down between the canopy leaves. It was reaching its peak in the sky. Noon. A whole morning lost to backtracking and wandering and still no sign of Ace.

“Please,” Nathaniel pleaded for the sixth time, picking his way through the jungle floor behind her. “It should be passing nearby. Less than an hour away, much sooner once we get Ace out on open ground.”

Anya gritted her teeth.

“It’s been a year since we’ve entered the Wilds,” the boy continued, obviously sensing he was getting on her nerves, taking advantage. “The Roads are safer.”

Anya trudged ahead without reply. The Roads are safer. What a lie. But the King needed to know the movements of his people and remind them they were was still some sort of human civilization. The Roads were for just that. The king’s soldiers offered a false sense of security, as if a handful of scouts, fresh out of training, can protect an entire caravan trail. At least in the Wilds, it was easier to hide and the monsters were tame unless provoked. On the Roads, demons went hunting.

“Anya!”

It seems the boy figured out she was ignoring him. She distracted him by pointing ahead.

“I found Ace.”

The boy’s face lit up instantly. Proof he had been terribly worried for the animal.

“Where?!”

Anya nodded ahead. The large stallion was grazing in a small clearing he managed to squeeze into. Nathaniel went to him, running his hands over his flank with obvious relief.

Anya never understood why the boy was so relived. Sometimes, she wished the boy was a pony. Demons never attacked animals….except on the Roads.

She bit her lip. Her hand snuck into the leather pouch on her hip. She could feel the warmth of only two vials. Two.

How long would that last here? …She needed a merchant. An Exile.

“Okay,” she said. “We’ll track down the caravan.”

She might as well as said they were going home by the look on Nathaniel’s face.

“Really?” He beamed when she nodded and threw his arms around her. “Thank you!”

God, she hated when he did that.

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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