Early Inspiration

The first stories I told as a kid were ghost stories. You know the ones I’m taking about. The mysterious drip that came from nowhere. The woman with a ribbon around her neck. The hook in the car door. The Lady in White. The list goes on and on, but they were stories we told each other at slumber parties, at recess, and especially at Halloween.

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As an adult, I look back at those stories with a hint of longing. Longing for the time when Halloween was atmospheric and eerie. Now it feels more repulsive and gory. Scary yes, gruesome no. Whatever happened to The Wolves of Willoughby Chase or The Watcher in the Woods? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please look them up as examples of stories with real atmosphere.

Being a writer has made me more proactive. If I feel there’s an absence of something I want to read, instead of complaining I write it. So, despite being a rather mediocre poet for some reason Halloween puts me in mind to rhyme.

All Hallows Evening

Quiet creaking

Gentle shivers

Paces seeking

Lighted slivers

         *

Moonlit pools

Carry secrets

Hungry ghouls

Hide in thickets

          *

Unsuspecting

Wander through

Anticipating

Only you

          *

Finding barely

What was sought

Knowing faintly

You’ve been caught

           *

Night of Hallows

Veils thin

Until the morrows

Stay in!

Magic and Mayhem Part III

Magic and Mayhem Part I

Magic and Mayhem Part II

The council was well under way when Mariana ambled in following Uriel. Nothing of note was to be discussed today, so she wondered why her father had insisted she attend. It was her custom to hold court at his side, but she had other matters today. Her preparations for Amara’s birthday surprise weren’t yet finished and Uriel had rudely interrupted her plans.

“Mariana, we thank you for your presence. I wanted your opinion regarding Amara’s present,” he said when she approached the dais. Her curtsey was correct to the point of rudeness. Of late she had been distant and deflective. He hoped seeking her out would warm her to him, but her feelings had yet to thaw. Since her mother’s departure he felt her feelings towards him change and not for the better.

“Father, I’m sure your choice is best,” she replied looking at him yet through him. Lately she’d been oddly deferential. Uriel had pointed it out and he had to agree. With Amara turning thirteen, he realized he had little time left. This was the birthday when they all his girls turned on him. At first he wondered if it was the change from child to woman that made them aloof from their father, but now he wasn’t so sure. At the heart of it, he feared his eldest was to blame and he meant to correct it before it was too late for Amara.

“Well, I’ve decided to take Amara away on a progress of the kingdom. She has such an adventurous spirit I feel the trip will be a welcome delight. What say you to that?” asked the king. Searching her face he found no reaction, but her cool manner reminded him of her mother, the queen. He awaited the argument that would ensue.

“I wonder that you never offered any of my sisters the same opportunity, but I would ask that you waited until tomorrow so I might give her my gift before you leave. She might have use of it on her journey,” she said with the same cool restraint. Only a momentary widening of the eyes alerted Uriel to her displeasure. The king, on the other hand, was grateful for her quiet submissiveness.

Magic and Mayhem Part II

Magic and Mayhem Part I

Thirteen Years Later…

Bronwen searched through an old trunk looking for a discarded dress of one of the older princesses. The garment still had usable fabric perfect for cannibalizing. If memory served, and little escaped her recollection, Princess Anora’s castoff gown matched Princess Amara’s perfectly. It was amazing that the youngest was now to celebrate her thirteenth year. Where had the time gone? With all the activity going on, Bronwen took it upon herself to make sure Amara’s dress was the loveliest at the ball. Her eyes began to mist thinking that this task should have been the queen’s, but she shook her head. She refused to let sadness to take root in any part of this day.

Rummaging through the trunk, she found more discards. Other dresses, faded and dried flowers, and a multitude of old dancing slippers padded the bottom. She clicked her tongue, fishing out the sought after dress and then closed the lid gently. What would she do with those girls?

“I really should tell them to be more careful. If anyone knew where they went…”

“And where do they go, Bronwen?” asked smooth and silky voice. Bronwen started and instinctively sat down on the top of the trunk. She could feel the heat from a banked fire warm her backside. Clutching the fabric to her chest, she regarded the intruder.

“Who said anyone goes anywhere? What do mean by sneaking up on old woman about their own business?” she asked with a sneer. The intruder merely raised an eyebrow and walked further into the room.  His eyes swept languidly across the scene in front of him.

“All that goes on in this kingdom is my business, or have you forgotten that I have the ear of the king?” he asked willing a confrontation.

“More like the soul of our king. And I would find that more impressive if I didn’t have the ear of the queen,” she replied looking towards the ground. The tears that had threatened earlier were coming to the surface, but she wouldn’t let them fall in front of this odious man.

“And where is she now? My sister has been gone these 10 years and most likely dead. At least I think of her as such,” he said. Her head snapped up at that remark as he knew it would. Goading her was just a perk, but her evasiveness made him curious. “What are doing?”

“None of your concern, Uriel. I’m merely making sure the Princess has her gown ready for the birthday festivities. Shouldn’t you be in council?”

“Yes I should, but I was sent to find Princess Mariana. Do you know where she’s gotten to?” asked Uriel watching Bronwen’s face very carefully. He knew the old woman was hiding something, but her face betrayed nothing. Her hands however were worrying the fabric.

“Try the rose gardens or the sword room. My lady has a penchant for all things sharp,” she replied noting his attention. Abruptly she put the fabric down, but did not rise.

“Of course. And by the way, perhaps we’ve overtaxed you with duties. You shouldn’t have to mend dresses when those lower than you could. I’ll take it upon myself to find you a useful girl to help with menial tasks,” he said over his shoulder as he went in search of the king’s eldest. Bronwen had a keen mind and knew that anyone Uriel gave her would be more spy than helper. Rising slowly from the chest, she emptied it of all the tattered and torn dancing shoes. Stoking the fire, she threw them all in and hoped Uriel hadn’t seen them.

NaNoWriMo—Training Lean, Mean, Writing Machines

The kind of post that will keep me sane when I participate in NaNoWriMo this year.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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Yesterday Jami posted about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and I really hope you guys take her class because she is truly a gifted teacher. Today, I want to talk a little bit about what writers (especially new writers) can gain from NaNo.

NaNo Teaches Endurance 

I remember years ago thinking, “Wow, if I could just write a thousand words a day, that would be AMAZING.” When I looked at professional authors, it was like watching a marathon runner—all the while knowing I couldn’t run a flight of stairs without requiring oxygen and possibly a defibrillator to restart my heart. I so struggled to get words on a page, and Lord help me if I saw something shiny.

Of course, after years of practiced discipline, I generally have a thousand words written by breakfast. When I fast-draft (which I do for all my books), my average is abnormally…

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Magic and Mayhem – A reimaging of the 12 Dancing Princesses

I’ve read quite a few versions of the 12 Dancing Princesses and even remember watching a TV movie or two. Basically, it revolves around a mystery. A king has 12 daughters who he locks up every night only to find that their dancing shoes are worn through every morning. He asks them where they go. The eldest tells their father that they never leave their room. How can they? He locks them in every night. So, he proclaims that the man who can figure out where they go gets the eldest as his wife. Of course plenty of eligible nobles try and fail, but a wounded soldier is able to follow them with the help of a wisewoman, who cloaks him in invisibility. He follows them to an underground kingdom where the girls dance with enchanted princes every night. After falling in love with the eldest princess, he tells the king the truth and marries the princess.

Call me crazy, but what kind of deal it that? Getting locked in your room and then when you try and have a little fun you’re sold to a snitch? I’m thinking of changing the name of this blog to Happily Ever After? because when you look at these stories it’s hard to see the up side. So I tried to write a story that would give these princesses their much deserved happily ever after.

Part I

An expectant hush pervaded the room. All that could be heard was the crackling of a stoked fire and the snoring of a lone drunk sleeping it off in the corner. The new arrival walked purposeful to the man who held himself slightly apart. Those around him instinctively took a step back in deference to his importance. Their visitor’s light tread faltered slightly when she reached the king, but she held her expression as blank as possible.

“What news? Is it done?” asked the king neutrally. The emissary wasn’t fooled seeing how tightly he held on the back of his chair.

“You have a fine daughter,” replied the woman and barely had the words out before the cheers and well wishes were declared in chummy unison. Movement suffused the space as men smiled and patted each other on the back. In a mass they all converged on the king, still gripping the back of the chair waiting for the woman to finish her task. She had yet to move and set his mouth in a grim line waiting for her next words. “And an equally fine son,” she continued in a whisper.

A burly man with a scarred face was about to clap his hand on the king’s shoulder, but quickly stopped his approach when he heard the words uttered. Another whispered in the corner to a confused witness, “It’s the prophesy. It’ll always have its say, it will. No matter how many children the king has it’s always twins, a girl and a boy.”

“Why should that make a difference? The queen is in good health and sons are always a blessing to a king with a large kingdom and enemies to spare,” replied the stranger.

“Not when the enemies are inside. The prophesy states that one of his son will inherit the kingdom while the king still lives,” he replied and didn’t have to add that a son inheriting a kingdom from a living king must have committed an act of treason to do so.

The happy bonhomie of a few moments ago became a stilted silence. Even the fire dimmed slightly. The king finally released his grip on the chair.

“Thank you, Bronwen. I will see the queen momentarily. Someone fetch the court sorcerer,” he said and exhaled audibly. No one met his eye as he sought another glass of wine and the solace of the hearth. It did little to save his mood.