Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Prompt #32: Any moment now, he's going to press the button. Are the cameras rolling?

            The wall-size screen was blank. White. But it wouldn’t stay that way for long.
            A bead of sweat dripped down my nose, making the skin itch. I didn’t scratch it. My hands stayed on the chair arms, purposely open.  Unlike the door behind me.
            I wasn’t alone in the too-large room. There was the sound of cloth shifting. Breathing. I kept my eyes forward.
            The screen turned black. Flashed bright. Color. Picture. Tristan.
            My hands shook from the effort it took not to clench the arm rest.
            The camera was set in the wall across from him. I couldn’t see his face because he looked down. Down at the button in front of him. Big. Red. Deadly.
            Or not.
            And that was the evil of it. Hope. They let you hope.
            The intercom was clear. “Mr. Donhoe, please press the button.”
            He shook his head, his hair flopping.
            “Now, Mr. Donhoe.”
            He raised his hand. It trembled. So did mine. He set two fingers against the button’s surface. Tristan pushed with his whole weight.
            It made a soft click when he removed his hand, popping back into place. The noise rung inside my ears.
            We both looked up at the same time, our eyes meeting, but not. We were frozen. Time was frozen. And then came the sound.
            The sound of one of the doors unlocking.
            The door on the left started to rise. My eyelid twitched, begging, pleading for me to close my eyes. I kept watching, waiting.
            Tristan’s eyes grew big. Then he looked down at his feet, his knees jerking, popping, trying to move. Metal straps made that impossible.
My lips parted with a sucking sound. “No.”
The word was lost amidst the whirring, as of a giant drill. It screamed through the speakers, first echoing off the walls, then the inside of my skull.
The source of the noise appeared through the doorway; a long piece of metal, sharpened to a point, spinning, rotating, headed for Tristan’s face. Right between the eyes.
I was on my feet, not remembering when I stood.
Tristan tried to move again as the death weapon inched closer. Again. An inch. Again. An inch. Again.
My mouth was open and something was pouring out, but it couldn’t be heard for the racket.
Tristan crouched, putting his hands over his ears.
The whirring stopped. The entire machine stopped. My screaming stopped, the last notes dying in the air. Tristan looked up. I moved closer. I felt that small flicker inside me. Hope.
The metal bit dropped lower, relining itself with Tristan’s face. The buzzing split my heart in two.
My hands hit the screen, the material stinging my palms. I hit it again. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. “No. No, no, no. Nononono.”
The picture cracked under my fingers, splitting the metal rod into two segments.
I paused, staring at the thin line, comprehending what it meant. And then, I balled my hands into fists.
The cracks distorted the image, changing shapes into mere colors. I could hear the contraption getting closer. Closer to Tristan. My fist broke through.
I pulled at the edges of the hole, ignoring the glass cutting into my skin. It didn’t matter. Someone grabbed my shoulder. That didn’t matter either.
At least until they tried to pull me away. There wasn’t time for that.
I brought my hand back, the last shard I had pulled away tight between my fingers. I didn’t hear the scream or cry of pain, just saw the blood that spurted all over my body.
My hands were too slow. I brought my foot up, kicking the glass inwards. Tristan sat on the other side, covering his eyes. I thrust my head through, my shoulders, clawing my way to him. I fell onto the floor and crawled.
Time was moving too fast. The machine was moving too fast. But I was moving too fast too. I slide between my little baby brother and the deadly point. He peeked between his fingers, his lips forming around my name.
Black. Everything went black. And it still is.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Decapitated Teddies and Crit Partners and Rules. Oh My!

I've got a secret. But I'll let you in on it. You know if you want. -looks around- About a month ago, I got -takes deep breath- a critique partner. Or two (one for each WIP, you understand). Their names? A secret isn't enough for you? Now I have to give you names, too? -huffs- Fine. -leans in close- Their names are Christina and Steph.

Recently, Steph (you know, my critique partner) passed along the Liebster Blog award. And guess who she gave it to? -points to self and mouths 'me'- How did you know?

There's one more thing I need to tell you concerning the award, but be warned, it is something so frightful you may sleep with a nightlight for the rest of your life. Those with squeamish stomachs might want to look away. Are you ready? Are you clenching a pillow in terror? Me too.

There are rules!

It's okay to admit that you screamed. -clears throat- But we're in up to our ears now, there's no going back.
  1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
  2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
  4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
  5. And most of all - have bloggity-blog fun!
Steph, I'm so sorry to have drug you into this, really I am, but in accordance to the -shudders- rules I must thank you. Thank you, Steph. You're a true liebster. (See rules don't just affect one person, they affect everyone.)

Whew! That wasn't so bad. What did you guys think? -looks at decapitated teddy bear- I see. Well, risking more danger to poor Teddy, we must move forward.

I'm going to let you in on another secret, the following five bloggers must have under 200 followers. I know, you're biting your fingernails at the scaryfyingness of this new rule. But I promise, we'll get through this. Even if we all end up with nubs.
  1. J at Concrete Pieces of Soul
  2. Teralyn Pilgrim at A Writer's Journey
  3. Izzy at I s a b e l l a
  4. Marlena Cassidy at The Words Behind the Writer
  5. Ella at Musings in Ink
Anyone need smelling salts? Anyone? No. Good. Oh wait, sorry I missed you in the back. I have some good news for you though, that may be better than smelling salts. We can skip over rule #3 because I already did that myself. Please, please, quiet down. I have one more thing to say. Anyone have a soapbox? Ah, thank you.

The five poor souls that I have passed this award onto, will have to face the -shudders- rules. But I have faith in them. I have faith that they will work through this and they will pass it on to others because there is nothing to fear, but fear itself. And to learn that, we must first face our fears. So have faith! And thank your lucky stars if you have over 200 followers.

Look at that. We completed rule four and you didn't even notice. You know, I've enjoyed watching you defeat your fears. It's been fun, this journey of ours. Which, guess what? Come closer. Closer. We've done everything the rules said so we can go back to normal where we do whatever the hell we please. Mwhahahaha!

Wait, before you leave, there's one more thing.  

Deirdra Coppel also gave me an award. One that I consider to be very special since she has to give it to you herself (this is because she created it), since she has to think you deserve it. The Powerful Woman Writer Award

And guess what (we're doing lots of guessing today)? There are no rules. Geez, I could hear your sigh of relief all the way through the computer.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Prompt #31: They're not mutually exclusive. It's like how all blood tastes salty, but not all salt tastes like blood.

            There were two sisters.
            Every night they each sat at the head of their very own tables. Huge basins, one blue, one red, were placed in front of them. They waited.
            And the basins would fill.
            The first sister’s bowl would fill with blood. The second sister’s bowl would fill with tears. Then they would drink.
            When the basins were empty, they were taken away and the sisters were sent back to their room.
            “I am so tired of tears,” said the second sister to the first.
            “And I am so tired of blood,” said the first sister to the second.
            “Tears are so thin.”
            “Blood is so thick.”
            They sighed.
            They looked at each other.
            “What if I were to drink the blood,” said the second sister.
            “And what if I were to drink the tears,” said the first sister.
            The sun rose and set. A knock came at their door just like every night before. They rose and walked to the dining room.
            The first sister walked to the second sister’s table. The second sister walked to the first sister’s table. They seated themselves as if all was normal.
The basins were wheeled into the room. The red basin was set in front of the second sister. The blue basin was set in front of the first sister.
The bowls filled, and the sisters drank.
When her bowl of tears was half empty, the second sister peeked at the first. When her bowl of blood was only half full, the first sister peeked at the second.
            “This tastes just like tears,” the second sister said to the first.
            “No, this tastes just like blood,” the first sister said to the second.
            The second sister rose to her feet. “Why didn’t you tell me blood tasted so salty?”
            The first sister stood. “Why didn’t you tell me tears tasted so salty?”
            “This is your fault.” The second sister began to cry.
            “Nay, I say this is your fault. And your tears will do you no good.”
            Anger boiled in the second sister’s belly. She picked up her basin, still half empty, and threw it to the ground. It shattered
            The first sister yelled as a shard bounced from the impact, cutting her arm.
            The second sister cried harder with shame and anger and disappointment. She could not stop crying. And the more she cried, the darker her tears became. Until she cried blood.
            The first sister pressed her hand against her wound. She would not stop bleeding. And the more she bled, the clearer her blood became. Until she bled tears.
            “Oh, what a bad idea this was. What are we going to do?” the first sister said in despair.
            “It’s obvious, is it not? I must drink the tears and you must drink the blood. That will put it all to rights,” the second sister replied.
            “But there is no more blood and you have broken the bowl.”
            The second sister dipped her hand into the blue basin and brought the tears to her lips. She didn’t answer her sister until her fingers scraped the bottom.  “Then you must find the blood somewhere else.”
            “Quick, let us catch your bloody tears,” the first sister begged, but the second sister no longer cried.
            The first sister continued to bleed. Salty water spread across the floor as her arm gushed tears. She struggled to get to her sister, but the water weighed down her dress. “Help me.”
            “I told you, you must find the blood somewhere else.” The second sister smiled and picked up her basin. “I’m sure it won’t be that hard to find.”
            “Give me some of your blood. Hurry, sister.”
            “I would rather not.” She wrinkled her nose. “Too painful.”
The second sister turned to leave but stopped at the door. The first sister held out her hand. The second sister sighed. “None of this would have happened if you had just been satisfied with blood.”
The first sister was alone.
She screamed and wrenched a piece of the broken bowl from the ground. More tears fell as she sliced through her other arm. She hacked at her skirt. The material dropped to the ground with nothing to hold it up.
Water splashed against her bare knees as she hurried through the house. “Sister, sister. Where are you?” she yelled. “Give me your blood.”
The pieces of broken clay twitched each time she called. And they stretched. And they grew. And they became sharks. And the sharks hungered for blood.
The first sister stepped out the open front door, soaked to her waist. Clouds hung heavy overhead and the thunder accented her voice. It began to pour as she stepped through the front gate.
A stream followed behind her, as did the sharks, as she searched for her sister. A lake grew, then a sea, then an ocean. Still she bled, and still it rained.
She sent the sharks to search and they were all too willing. The waters stayed pure for many days. Their hunger grew
Then, came the smell.
The smell of blood.
The sharks flew into a frenzy.
Her sister was merely scattered into leftover chunks of flesh when she arrived. She dipped her cupped hands into the red-stained water and brought it to her mouth. She smacked her lips at the taste.
The rain stopped.
She guzzled the water, sticking her face in it.
The bleeding, finally, finally stopped.
She looked up, watching her sharks snip at the last pieces of her sister. One last tear rolled down her cheek.

There were two sisters.
Now, there is only one.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Click With Speed!

campaign - n. an organized operation designed to bring about a particular political, commercial, or social goal

Third Writers' Platform-Building Campaign - n. a hell of a lot more fun

Are you a writer? Do you like to connect with other writers? Do you have a blog? Then waste no more time reading this! Run, gallop, and click with speed before you miss this great opportunity!

And if you haven't rushed off and left me in the dust (aka you're reading this), I love you. ^^

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Prompt #30: I knew something was very, very wrong when I found the wall of cookbooks in his kitchen. Not a single spine had been cracked.

            I’ve always had bad choice in men. They turn out to be abusive, drug addicts, convicts, and, occasionally, gay. Which was my first clue that he wasn’t all he was cracked up to be. The second was his kitchen.
            I sat at his table, staring at his perfectly white tablecloth that looked like it had never had a stain on it. A china cabinet sat to my left. Not one of the dishes had a single chip on it from someone setting it down too hard at Thanksgiving. A shelf of cookbooks peeked at me from the kitchen. Not a single one looked as if someone had ever opened it just to see what it would land on.
            He set a plate down in front of me. I smiled, trying to ignore that the apron he had just removed was clean of tomato sauce stains even though spaghetti was his favorite food. He grinned back, his teeth big, white, and perfect.
            My fork cut through the pasta. Before I put the food in my mouth, I prayed that I would gag, that the only thing wrong with him was mediocre cooking skills. Noodles and meat never tasted so good.
            So I faked it.
            I placed my napkin next to my plate and pushed my chair back. He raised his eyebrows. “Just getting some salt.”
            He pressed his palms against the table, ready to stand.
            “No, it’s okay. I’ve got it.” I caressed his cheek as I passed.
            The tile was spotless, no chips, no cracks, no hairs, no food droppings. Every other surface displayed the same.
 I reached my hands up, opening the first pair of cabinets. Their hinges squeaked in haunting protest. Nothing inside but stale air. I rose up on my toes to be sure. More air.
I closed them slowly, and there was more squeaking. The next set of cabinets was just as empty, and the next and the next. Not a single bottle rested on the lazy Susan. I squatted and wrenched open the doors to the cupboard under the sink.
Pipes spiraled back into the wall, shining as if they were still brand new. The usual arsenal of cleaning supplies seemed to have been stolen. My cheeks puffed out and then all the air rushed out, leaving me with puckered lips and no idea of what was going on.
I stretched my hand toward the back of the cabinet anyway. My fingers skimmed against the wood as I reached down under the pipes. When I bumped against something, I thought it was the wall. But the surface felt too cool and smooth to the touch.
Butterflies swarmed around my stomach. I moved my hand along, trying to glimpse what it was through all the metal. I found an edge and dug my fingers into it. Every time I pulled, one or three of them would slid off. I paused, glanced over my shoulder, and thrust both of my arms into the cupboard.
A red gas can emerged. I held it in both my hands as I knelt between the cabinet doors. Gas splashed around inside, the stink of it reminding me of child-hood road trips.
I stood slowly. Thoughts bounced around the inside of my skull. What kind of person had absolutely no food in their kitchen? What kind of person had not one bottle of cleaning solution when their house was spotless? What kind of person keeps gas hidden under the sink?
“Do you need any help in there?”
Everything stopped. It was like I was the little kid with their hand in the cookie jar who had just heard their mother open the kitchen door.
“I can find it.” I set the can back in the cabinet and shut the doors harder than usual for emphasis.
“Your food is getting cold.”
“I won’t be long.”
I placed each of my hands on the refrigerator doors. I checked the entrance to the dining room and opened them.
Cold air smacked against my face, raising goosebumps along my exposed skin. That barely had time to register before my mouth opened, a scream building in my throat. I slapped my hand over my face, biting down on my tongue.
The fridge side was empty, the see-through shelves sitting all lonely. But the freezer, the freezer was filled with pieces, pieces that might have been used to make Frankenstein.
A woman’s head, severed at the base of the neck, sat on the top shelf, eyes closed. Wires protruded from it and wound down to a lower shelf, where they connected to a heart enclosed in a glass box. The heart beat slowly.
A hand clamped down on my shoulder, and this time I would have allowed myself to scream, but another came down over my mouth. I twisted, trying to get away, but their grip would not release.
“Do not worry,” he said. “It is not painful.”
The heart started to beat faster, as the frigid air seeped out of the freezer. I watched it as he lifted my feet from the floor, backing towards the counter. It picked up the pace each second.
The hand was removed from my mouth. Something moved in my peripheral vision and then a needle pricked my neck. I finally understood the fear of shots. My neck burned, my own veins attacking my body. And it spread, down through my torso, my arms, my legs.
I screamed. No one could have stopped me. Over the screaming there was a pounding and I couldn’t tell if it was my heart or the one in the freezer.
My eyes were drifting shut, my hands only feebly grasping at my throat, when the head opened hers. They were blue, like ice. She blinked a few times, then stared at me.  Her eyes flickered up, then down, like my high school gym teacher’s had during volleyball.
Her lips were chapped and they cracked when she opened them. “I'm guessing it’s too late for me to warn you he’s a robot.”
 Yay! for finally finishing this story and Yay! for finally writing a story over 1k.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Two Reasons

Camp NaNoWriMo is almost half over. And guess what? Drum roll, please. I'm behind. Be-Hin-Duh. My word count is at 13,354 when it's supposed to be at 22,580. And that's fine. Because my goal wasn't to get to 50k, even if that would be awesome. My goal was to finish this rewrite.

The total count for THE LULLABY has reached 36,396 with chapter titles and 36,301 without chapter titles. These numbers are important for two reasons. The original draft of THE LULLABY was only 30,236 words and 35,000 is the halfway point to my goal of 70k.

I'm thinking I need to change my goal, however. 60k feels more appropriate for my novel and I don't think I'm even going to reach that, at least this time around. I can tell already I'm going to have to add some character development scenes for my side characters during editing.

Overall, Camp NaNo could be going better, but it could also be going worse.

What milestones have you reached lately?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Never Feel Bad About Squashing A.N.T.s Again

Recently, I was watching the reality TV show My Strange Addiction. The woman had gone to see a therapist because she could not stop eating dryer sheets. The therapist mentioned something that stuck with me.

A.N.T. = automatic negative thought

Imagine a line of ants marching. They can be marching across your kitchen counter, the sidewalk, where ever you feel comfortable placing that line of marching ants. Now, each ant is going to represent a doubt, or an automatic negative thought, that you've had. Are you still with me? Good.

Now comes the fun part. It's time to squash those A.N.T.s. You can even give them the faces of someone you hate if you're feeling extra down. My writing sucks. Splat! I'll never find an agent. Splat! I should just stop before I embarrass myself. Splat! Rinse and repeat until all A.N.T.s are gone.

Feeling better? I thought so. :)

No formicidae were harmed during the making of this post.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Making Something Simple Into A Game of Expert Level Minesweeper

I have always had a tendency to 'over think'. It's why I thought an ice box was a freezer. It's why I thought there would be a special way to wrap a pork chop in aluminum foil. It's also why I took something as simple as a meme and turned it into a game of expert level minesweeper.

Huntress (aka CD Coffelt) passed on a meme to me sometime in July. She could not have known what that would do to my 'over thinking' brain. The term 'meme' is what threw me off. Was it like a tag? Was I supposed to answer her questions or make my own up? What was I supposed to do?

My conclusion? Whatever the hell I want, as long as I answer some questions and pass it on.

So, the following is a mix of Huntress's questions (which she made up herself) and the meme that got passed on to her.

Are you a rutabaga?

Am I a brassicaceous plant having yellow- or white-fleshed, edible tuber? No. (definition from Dictionary.com)

Who is your current crush?

I thought Crush was a drink. :)

Upload a heartwarming picture of something that makes you smile.

Last time you ate a vine-ripened tomato?

I don't know if it was vine-ripened, but I ate a tomato (or two) with my lunch a few days ago.

Name one habit that makes other people plot your demise.

I tend to rub paper when I read. The noise seems to drive everyone crazy.

What is the weirdest/most disgusting job you’ve ever had to do?

Since I've never had a real job, I'll go with the time I cleaned out Lizzie's oven. After I scrubbed for a bit, the burnt crispies looked like a face!

Where da muffin top at?

Am I even old enough to have one of those?

What author introduced you to your genre?

Seeing as I barely know what my genre is, I couldn't tell you. When I was little, I would read whatever I felt like (whether that involved lost ponies or kids with special powers) until one day I just decided to sit down and write a story about a dragon.

Describe yourself using obscure Latin words.

Nescio quid latine.

And they tell me I can tag as many people as I want!
  1. Teralyn Rose Pilgrim
  2. Michelle Fayard
  3. Madeline Bartos
  4. Michael Offutt
  5. Theresa Milstein
  6. Trisha
  7. Angela Scott

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

First Rejection

In April, I submitted RUDE TO STARE, my first Chrysalis story, to New Writing Dundee's sixth anthology. I had been waiting (not so) patiently considering I was so supposed to hear back by the end of May. Yesterday, I felt my heart give a little jump when I saw their email in my inbox.

I am very sorry to inform you that your work was not chosen for publication in NWD 2011. We received roughly 300 submissions this year, and narrowing this down was a very difficult task.

Please do feel free to submit to New Writing Dundee again in the future. We will be accepting submissions again in December, and keep an eye on http://www.literarydundee.co.uk/newwriting.htm for information on purchasing New Writing Dundee and various NWD events.

Thank you again for your submission and your support for New Writing Dundee.

Best wishes,
(This is where it gets weird.) I had been wondering about this day for a while now. How would I feel? Would I cry? Would I walk around in a state of depression before becoming determined to show them they were wrong? The truth? I was elated!

And (after reading this post) I sat down and wrote 2k on THE LULLABY.