Thursday, August 29, 2013

Did procrastination pay off?

After over two weeks of hemming and hawing, it took a 2am sweat drenched, wake up to finally just start re-writing the beginning of SAMANA'S FLAIR. In a little over an hour, I wrote nearly 500 words. Job well done, if I do say so myself.  I think I will attempt some more sleep before Thursday is upon me and my household is awake for the day.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Building my resume with.... contests?

Earlier this week, I received the ever-coveted errand run nix the two children, and was told to take my time by the hubby.  Of course, I flat flew to get the "must-dos" on my list done and scurried to the public library.

Asking the reference desk for some listings on local publishers and/or agents, the librarian showed me to the reference 808 section and pulled out my new favorite book, Writer's Market 2013. (Click here to check out their website and subscribe!)  It was jam packed not only with contact information for publishers and agents,  annual contests and tons of writer's marketing, but I also walked away with nuggets like "never make blog paragraphs longer then four lines to give your readers a break. (oops!)  Electronic writing tends to lend itself to scanners, not full fledged readers, and they appreciate bullet style lists and quick, choppily formatted reads."

I learned so much from 90 minutes of reading that by the time I was done I felt like I had just completed a college course in getting published.  Immediately after I got home, I created a submission tracker in Excel and began formatting my manuscripts.  Um, can you say professional? They sure are now! And now I am using the notes I took to look for paying writing gigs at their suggestions. Even winning contests bolsters my resume.  I love writing for itself, but being able to write and make a little more money in addition to my health business would be whipped cream on the sundae.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Happy Tuesday!

Good morning and happy Tuesday!

Last week, I experienced a horrendous blow.  Apparently, as I wrote my novel, my subconscious borrowed WUZZLE from a 1980s Disney cartoon show with a copyright. Upon discovering this, I mourned and pouted for a few days. It's amazing how having to rename a main character feels like killing him.

But then my husband snapped me out of it with some tough-love style encouragement. Enlisting the help of friends and family via facebook, we renamed the creatures Gamooch, part of the word for rabbit in Micmac language. It took some getting used to, but by the time I finished writing Annalee's adventure, it felt close to normal to use it in the text.  Lesson learned: web search any "unique" names in your novel before you write it.  One more reason outlining might be worth considering.

So the good news is the novel is written and somewhat edited. I have submitted it to my writing group for full critique and will get more details back at the September 23rd meeting.

The better news is that while researching literary agents, I found one that I feel like will be a great fit. Against the suggestions of every querying blog and website I have read, and following my heart for once, I submitted her a query and the first 10 pages of my book.  To my writer friends and followers: don't freak out! I spent most of the weekend super editing those 10 pages and getting my query up to the agency's snuff.  They have 8-10 weeks to get back to me, and in the meantime I get to keep editing and cutting away at the rest of the manuscript. Once my writer's group gets back to me, I can put the finishing touches on the novel. And if this agency doesn't work out, I have a few more I am looking into that I can submit to late September.

Make it a great rest-of-the-week everyone!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Nearing the Novel's End

The very rough draft of my novel is nearing its end! I can't give you much more or I will ruin the ending for you. Below is your last little taste of Annalee's adventure.

But don't be discouraged! The desert elf story I mentioned a few weeks ago is being written as well and I am hoping to post some of it soon!

At that moment, another reddish rock fell next to the first. Annalee jumped up and moved against a wall, looking up at the darkening sky. Dozens of crows circled above her, each clutching chunks of red stone. They began dropping them like bombs, and each landing close to the others. For a few minutes, it seemed the day’s sky showered down in her sanctuary.  After a few minutes, the crows aborted their strike, flapping away in a furry of feathers and fuss. Annalee ventured out into the haze of dust created by their assault.
They had created a short hedge of stone around her pack and the eye-shaped crevice that held her Wonderstone.  Perched on that hedge sat the crow who had abandoned her yesterday. He cocked his head at her, and then fluttered down to her pack and began rooting in it.
“Stop it!” Annalee hollered, stepping over the enclosure.
The crow withdrew his head, a chunk of sage in his beak. He hopped toward her and dropped the sage inches from her.
“Oh!” Annalee exclaimed, recalling Numkumi’s instructions.
Annalee pulled the rest of the bundle out of the sack. She sniffed it, and sputtered at its strong, earthy scent. Untying the twine, she tossed handfuls of the herb like a flower girl might sprinkle rose petals down the aisle at a wedding.  Once sage littered the entire area, it looked like a nest.
“This must be where the spirits want me,” she stated to the crow, which dramatically bobbed up and down in response.  “I guess I ought to pray then.”
Annalee closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She thought about her journey on World above the sky: the narrow escapes, the dear friends she had made, the handsome Kaqtukaq she felt strongly for, and meeting her grandmother for the first time.  These thoughts churned and churned inside her, and before long, the churning became thanksgiving. So much joy had stemmed from the search for her father, and now the joy of knowing she might be able save him flowed freely as thanks to the Creator, whether he was the God she knew on earth or the one the Gamooch praised. Maybe they were the same one.
“Please,” she whispered, “show me the way. Show me how to save my dad and my grandfather so I can meet him. Tell me what to do.”
A sudden tug at her heart made her focus on the blue ball of power at her center. Something hesitantly tapped at it, a white hot wire of strength asking for permission to speak.  Annalee relaxed, and welcomed the magic into her own.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Munkwon (rainbow) Steps and the Pukulats

Please read my latest plot twist and comment with your opinion or feedback! Thanks!

“We’ve made it,” he exclaimed. “We’ve made it to the Munkwon steps’ grove.”
Chapter 17
            Annalee gazed up through the brush Innu held aside. In the pale shine of the moon, she saw a ring of birches perfectly spaced like Grecian marble columns around an open meadow.  In the center of this meadow, seven positioned stones jutted up toward the night sky. At the far end, the pattern of birches were interrupted, as several of their sentry brothers had been chopped down and rubbed smooth. Beyond them, a row of matching stumps gleamed, curving up and away like a wide, round staircase.
            All five of her party members moved soundlessly into the tree ring. A sensation covered Annalee as she passed into it, and she thought to herself, I don’t know how I know, but this is a sacred place.
            They crept near the boulders in the center of the space. Annalee spied markings all over them, symbols less elaborate then the tattoos of the Kaqtukaq. They each seemed to tell a story like the Egyptian hieroglyphics she’d learned about in school. People, animals and items in nature all were depicted, but among them strange symbols also repeated and varied in size.
            The old ones say this is the center of our world, where it all began.  Innu thought to her.
            They are ginormous!
            Skirting around the boulders, they came up to the birch stubs at the far side of the clearing. Annalee started at the width of them once she stood next to them. From the far side of the clearing, they looked large. But up close they exceeded large, being nearly five feet in diameter and so old that the edges had worn smooth and round. The age rings in the wood were several inches thick and rippled out in so many colors, it was staggering.
            “Munkwon means rainbow,” Cremoe muttered quietly. “Isn’t the name fitting?”
            “Yes,” Annalee whispered.
            “Let’s rest here a while. My leg is starting to ache,” Anewj stated.
            Everyone agreed. Innu and Annalee gathered some moss and leaves to make a cushion for Anewj’s leg to rest on, while Zidi and Cremoe set to work building a small fire.  Annalee wondered if camping in the sacred area was wise or would disturb anyone they may not want to cross. But everyone else seemed at ease and eventually, they all drifted to dreamland.
            The moon still glazed the world in sapphire when Annalee jerked awake.  She shivered, not because the fire had smothered to cool ash, but because the unshakable feeling that something unseen watched her. More than one actually.  She swept the perimeter with her eyes, but nothing moved or seemed out of the ordinary. She slumped back down on her side and closed her eyes, but they snapped back open when she began imagining heavy breathing and growls from somewhere outside the birch circle. She lay like this for hours, sweating in fear until the moon disappeared behind the mountain shadowing them and ruby sunlight blinked between the birch trunks. (D)
            “Kwe and tepgig, la.” Zidi said softly on her right.
            “Morning,” Annalee croaked, her dry throat telling of her long night.
            Their other three friends began to stir. Eventually, they nibbled seed cakes together.
            “Annalee, why do you wear your clothes inside out?” Cremoe suddenly asked.
            Looking down, she saw that her clothes hung on her body the wrong way.
            “What… how…” Annalee stuttered, looking around at her friends in confusion.
            From somewhere near the large stones, a jolly set of giggles erupted. All of Annalee’s party hopped to their feet.
            “Wait a minute, la!” Zidi exclaimed. She looked down at her leather wrap in dismay. Dozens of knots had been placed in the straps.
            Another wave of snickers burst from the stones.
            “Kwe and tepgig!” Cremoe shouted at them.
            “No need to SHOUT!” hollered a booming voice from the rock closest to them.  Additional chuckles followed his words.  The surface at the bottom of each stone began to writhe and shimmer, and then seven short bodies wiggled free. Their rough skin and broad faces reminded Annalee of the horned lizards she chased around Arizona’s low hills, and their pointy joints clacked as they moved, like puppets made of pebbles.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A glimpse at chapter 14

Here is the first two-thirds of chapter 14, written today! Please feel free to leave me a comment or two, any feedback really!
          Annalee shivered in her solid, stone cell and watched the water dribble down the wall and into a floor crack beside her.  After what felt like hours of pounding on and screaming at the iron door the Kaqtukaqs had thrust her through, she had flopped in a corner and sent her thoughts out, in vain, to reach Innu.  Even though her sluggish eyelids deceived her, still more questions stacked up in her brain: Why did Basque want the Wonderstone and to keep her hostage? Why did he want to get rid of Selome? Were Innu, Cremoe, Zidi, and Selome alive and okay? The picture of Basque’s sneering face when she slid the Wonderstone across the table increased her frustration. Tears burst from her closed eyes and sobs escaped her raw throat.  Who did they want her to be or to do? She was the Moon Daughter, which was someone important, right? Everyone here saw the light within her and seemed to respect her more than she did herself.
            A soft, blue glow flickered briefly across her eyelids.
            What was that? she thought.
            The blue beam gleamed across her blurry eyes when she opened them. She rubbed her palms flat against her eye sockets. When her eyes cleared, she realized the shining came from spots on the ends of her fingers and her hair. Though it freaked her out, it was a comfort in the darkness.
            For days, she sat in that prison without a visitor or meal brought to her. She never felt hungry, but she eventually slurped and licked water from the stream on the wall. To pass the time and keep herself from thinking too much, she focused on the newfound skill literally at her fingertips. If she cleared her mind and felt the power of her heart beat and bloodlines, she discovered that she could will the light to strengthen and when she freed that power, it faded away. No heat came from it, and the push and pull of power cooled the anger that welled up whenever she allowed her present circumstances to weasel back into her mind.
            As she awoke and sated her thirst the eleventh time, the iron door creaked open and two Kaqtukaqs that had once guarded her guest room door now lumbered into her cell.
            “Please follow us, Moon Daughter,” said the one whose skin swirled with spirals.
            “Where are we going?”
            They stayed silent, the swirled storm spirit in front and his companion behind her. They trekked in a line down a steep shaft with nothing more than purple torches lining the walls. Annalee stumbled not twenty feet outside of her cell; she had hardly stood for however long she had been captive and it hurt to be reminded.
            When they finally passed a series of doors, Annalee felt certain they were near the great hall, but she never saw it. They veered left at a junction of three passages, and ahead of them she saw a great archway lit purple from the room beyond. Seated in a stone pew along one wall, she spied Innu, Zidi, and Cremoe, whose paws were bound with lightning like sparking chains. At the far wall, a stalagmite chair held Basque. His form and tattoos contrasted with the white Wonderstone and bright yellow lightning band hanging over his chest. To his right, another Kaqtukaq with thick muscles marked in a starry design stood sentry.  Selome knelt before them, where lashes leaked blood down his back and wing feathers. He turned slightly to see her enter the room.
            “Ah, Annalee,” Basque said. “Might you stay and see Selome’s execution? We have you to thank for his betrayal since you convinced him to go with you. To kill an eternal brother, to snuff out his spirit and gifts, creates a deep hole in our existence.”  The other Kaqtukaqs muttered and shifted at his words. He shook his head and nonchalantly waved his hand, casting a lighting chain around her wrists, then continued, “The cubes were right in both their answers of you.  Such a shameful way to treat your hosts, young woman. Such a waste of a promise.”
            Annalee expected anger to blaze inside her at his words, but instead she felt her power retreat deep into her being, whispering promise, promise, promise. The word rang through her mind and she forced the surge out to her extremities. The blue glow of her body outshone the purple glow of the surrounding torches and she heard the entire room gasp as her chains dimmed and fell to the floor.
            “How dare you speak to me of promises?” she muttered, then raised her voice and her face to glare at Basque. “You, who promised us safety and healing for the stone on your chest! The only shame here rests on your shoulders for not upholding your clans honor!”

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A peek at Chapter 13

Here is a small part of the thousand words I wrote today! Please comment with any and all feedback!

             Anewj swooshed upright from his pillows and gestured wildly with his paws for all his friends to come closer. They crowded around him.
            “My friends, the conversation I heard as I floated back from sleep wasn’t meant for my ears. Basque and another of his clan were discussing Annalee and the Wonderstone. They intended to steal it from us at the river, but Annalee gave it willingly for me. They said something about it being the key to the future of the clan.”
            “La! That rat!” burst Zidi.
            Anewj nodded. “We must get away before his charity runs out. The sooner, the better.” He grew thoughtful a moment. “I hate to imagine that he may be in league with the Cheenos, but I am not sure how else they might have gotten past the wards.”
            Annalee piped up. “Selome told me that sometimes a leader sacrifices morals for power, even if not everyone he leads agrees. Was that what he was talking about?”
            “Maybe. But I will not have your safety risked by staying to find out.” Anewj replied.
            Selome’s radiant purple eyes re-appeared in the doorway, and he stepped back inside. “Basque has sent four more brothers with me to transport you all to the stump steps. He wishes you fairwell and fair weather. As soon as you are able, Anewj.”
            “Thank you Selome.”
            Annalee heard a hint of something in Selome’s voice, so she asked him if he would accompany her to the great hall to get a drink before they left. Once they sauntered past the four brothers outside the door, she grabbed his arm and turned toward him. “You told me earlier to keep my judgement sharp. So tell me, why is there a catch in your voice, Selome? What do you fear?”
            A single tear moved down the dyed tracks of his cheek. “I fear for you, Annalee. I don’t think Basque intends to let you make it to the fortress, and I can do nothing about it.”
            Annalee lightly touched his arm. “Maybe you can. If you come with us, we will have three winged travelers and three that must be carried down the mountain.”
            “Betray the brethren? That is the worst of sins among the Kuqtukaq. They will strike us with light bolts before we reach the ground.”
            “What will become of us if we are kept here? Please, Selome,” Annalee looked at her feet and felt her body tremble as she leaned against the slick stone wall beside her. First, she lost the Wonderstone and now she would be confined here forever.  Romantic deaths didn’t happen to prisoners trapped in high strongholds.
            Selome sighed heavily beside her and they ambled down the hallway in silence. As they reached the first carved column, two voices echoed toward them.
            “Why not take them now?” hissed one. “We already have the Wonderstone.”
            “Because,” replied the husky voice of Basque. “…if Selome’s soft heart convinces him to aid them then we have the reason we need to remove him from the Brethren without raising suspicion.”
            Annalee glanced at Selome’s face, whose mouth gaped open at the words he heard. She pointed back toward Anewj’s room and he nodded at her.  They dashed as quietly as they could and ducked into the crowded room.
            “We need to go, now!” Annalee gushed. “Innu, do you know how to mouse our way to the exit so we can get out?”
            “Yes, it’s not far! What’s going on?”
            “No time to explain. Anewj was right, we need to leave while we can.” She turned to Selome and grabbed his hand. “I like your ‘soft heart’ and want you to come with us. But I will understand if you decide to stay.”