The Choosing

I love to write fiction. One of my favorite things to do is to sit down with a blank screen and start typing with no idea what I’m going to write before hand. Those ideas often spring into fun amazing stories. Creating something from nothing is invigorating. It’s one of the wonderful parts of writing.

The rest of the writing process and marketing is not so much fun. I’m also very lousy at it. For a long time after I published my first book I only told close family and friends. When word spread a little farther, people would call me an author and I, sadly, would tell them that I was not. Fortunately I have changed that view and have come to love the different perspectives people have in regards to my stories. I love to hear what they think of the characters and their struggles. It has given me a greater desire to better improve my writing, and learn more of how to market and share my talent.

Today I thought I would share the beginning of a story that I started a couple of years ago. I hope to write more of it by the end of this year.

The Choosing

Gracen stood in the alley preparing himself for the heist. He was nervous and wasn’t sure why. This wasn’t the first time he’d stolen something. He had been stealing since he was twelve. This would be the most expensive item he’d ever lifted though. I can do this, he told himself. The owners knew him because he’d bought a couple of inexpensive items from them before and had browsed in the store several times. He knew they had come to trust him.

He took a deep breath and walked out of the alley and down the streets of China Town. When he got to the store front he walked in with a carefree ease that he’d done many times before. He nodded to the storeowner that was behind the counter reading a book. The man nodded to him and then went back to what he was reading.

Gracen walked lazily around the store and smoothly grabbed the expensive antique without breaking his casual stride. He continued to act bored and milled around the store for a couple more minutes as he made his way to the door. A sense of accomplishment and relief flooded him as his hand reached the doorknob. This piece would make it possible to get his mom and sister off the streets of New York.

The door squeaked as Gracen took his first step out of the store but that was as far as he got before he felt something hit the side of his head. Gracen fell to the ground stunned and in pain. Unsure of what just happened he tried to stand but someone kicked him in the gut, knocking the air out of him and causing the broken clay shards of the priceless antique to cut into his skin.

“Why, you’re a stinking thief!” The man said in surprise, when he saw the antique pieces drop from under his coat.

Gracen didn’t understand the storeowner’s surprise. Isn’t that why he attacked me, he thought as he tried to scramble for the door. The man grabbed him and lifted him up by his shirt and shoved him against the wall. Devin was surprised at the strength of the middle-aged storeowner. As much pain as Gracen was in at the moment he knew if he didn’t get away he’d be sent to Jail. Since he was only months from turning eighteen they would probably try him as an adult. With determination he started fighting and kicking to get away.

The storeowner pulled him away from the wall and smoothly torqued his right arm behind his back in such away that made him cry out and lean forward to try and relieve the pain. The Chinaman used his other arm to put Gracen in a headlock.

“After two hundred years this is who they choose to change. A lousy thief,” a feminine voice said.

A woman moved in front of him. She must be the storeowner’s daughter, Gracen thought as he struggled against the storeowner.

“Don’t even think of kicking her or I’ll break your wrist.” The man said in his ear.

Helpless to do anything Gracen watched as she held a large syringe in her hand and moved it toward his chest right over his heart.

Fear gripped him. What was in the syringe and what did she mean when she said ‘change’? Despite the pain Gracen struggled desperately to get away from the woman.

The sudden pain of the needle entering his chest was nothing compared to the burning he felt when she plunged the contents into his heart. He cried out in pain and the man let go of him. He fell to the floor and curled into a fetal position. The pain was quickly spreading throughout his body. Tears flowed unbidden from his eyes.

“Quick, we must get him into the back room before anyone sees.” The woman said. The two of them grabbed his arms and dragged him into the back.

****

Gracen woke up on a bed in a small room. I must’ve blacked out, he thought. He tried to sit up but was surprised when his body didn’t want to cooperate. After a couple of tries he could no longer keep his eyes open and drifted back into a dreamless sleep.

The sound of voices woke him, but this time he couldn’t manage the strength to open his eyes and quickly fell back into the black abyss. He got close to consciousness several more times but wasn’t able to pull himself fully awake. Finally he was able to open his eyes. An old Chinese women was sitting next to him. She put a hand under his head and lifted it enough so that he could sip from a cup. Immediately he felt a thirst that he hadn’t realized was there. He eagerly put his lips to the cup and swallowed.

He was so surprised by the unexpected bitter taste that he sputtered and coughed most of it into the old woman’s face. She calmly wiped the liquid from her wrinkled skin and then refilled the glass.

“You must drink. It will help you get your strength back,” she said as she tipped the glass toward his lips again.

This time he swallowed the bitter liquid. She gently laid his head back on the pillow. Gracen realized that he didn’t have the ability to lift it on his own.

“What did you . . . do to me?” Gracen asked, with a raspy voice.

‘There will be time to explain all of that later. Right now you need to rest.” She said as she got up to leave the room.

Gracen had never felt so helpless, not even when his dad had left them destitute. He wasn’t being restrained, yet he was completely helpless, void of any energy. I can’t even stay awake long enough to find out what they‘ve done to me, he thought as he felt himself begin to drift off to sleep again.

Hunger drove him awake this time. When he opened his eyes the storeowner was sitting next to him. He tried to sit up but only managed to lift his head.

“Good, you’re beginning to get some strength back.” He lifted a cup to his lips. “Drink it all. It has many things your body needs to recover.”

Gracen glared at the man, but did as he was told, to hungry to refuse. The china man refilled the cup twice more. Satisfied Gracen’s anger returned. “What did you do to me?”

“I’m a guardian, as was my father before me and his father. For centuries we have guarded a sacred solution. We were told to give it to the one chosen to protect this world.”

“Are you crazy.” Gracen said trying to sit up without success. “I’m as you said a thief and a 17 year old kid. I’m not up to saving the world. I can’t even help my mom and sister.”

“Look I don’t know why you were chosen nor do I agree with their choice, but you are without a doubt the man they wanted.

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Interests

My love of writing is only a small part of what makes me who I am. Actually if you consider the number of years I’ve been alive it’s rather a recent development. I have heard the saying “a Jack of all trades is a master of none.” I however love my multiple interests in life. It’s helped me relate and understand a multitude of people and circumstances. I also believe it has helped widen my imagination.

But as a result I do struggle to focus on just one thing, especially during the spring, summer and fall when the love of the outdoors sucks me out of my house and away from my computer. I decided that I wanted to be a successful author and that calls for deadlines and lots of work. So I’m learning to better balance all of my interests and responsibilities. I believe I will learn and grow as I better manage my time as a mother, wife, farmer, homesteader, author, etc. and fulfill personal goals that currently show little reward.

Today I thought I would post some pictures of what my day consisted of. Well a small glimpse anyway. No one wants to know about the laundry, dishes etc.

My son’s soccer game—

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I took my writing just in case I had a moment . . . I did not. But my daughter appreciated the opportunity to doodle on it while she watched her brother’s game.

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New chicks that I will be taking up to our property and the house we will be building soon. Aren’t they cute, well at least for another week or so before they get into the awkward teenage stage.

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Hope you enjoyed a moment in my life.

Mountain Treasure

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My daughter just found a hood ornament to a 1926-1928 Buick. We were up in the mountains and there was a piece of metal sticking out of the ground and she dug around it and pulled it out. I told her it looked like an old hood ornament. The funny thing is there is no car up there. We did find a rusted fender or something along those lines as well but that was it. No sign of a road or the rest of the car. It makes me curious to know how it got there. Now the rest of the kids want to go treasure hunting.

I love finding old things because it causes us to wonder about the past. Everyone starts to imagine different scenarios of what happened to the car. I happen to love the
imagination and am glad whenever something sparks it.

Current scenarios: The car crashed against a tree and then was left there and the whole thing rusted. Age 8

The car was left somewhere else, but bears and raccoons moved the pieces all over the forest. Also my 8 year old

The car bumped into a tree knocking the fender off and the hood ornament and then drove away. 18 year old.

What’s your idea?

Writing on the Go

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I have a sister that loves to organize. She amazes me at her ability to see a way to store stuff so neatly. I appreciate organization but am not natural about finding the right things to make it happen. As an author I do a lot of writing and revising when I am not at home. Up until now I’ve just grabbed an armful of things and take them with me when I leave the house. For a time I had a bag I just dropped everything into but it was inconvenient as well.

Fortunately for me, I have my sister who showed me this bag the other day. It’s perfect. I can put my pens in the pockets and store my small notepads, my writing helps and my binders and computer in a clean, organized way. I’m very excited to try it out. Hopefully it will make it much easier to just grab my bag as I’m rushing out of the house. That way when I’m at the school waiting to pick up my kids and learn that the coach decided to keep them a half hour longer, I can just grab stuff out of my bag and happily write while I’m waiting.

Story in First Person

Wow, I managed to write a post while I was on vacation but then once I was at home all of the tasks I needed to catch up on distracted me from posting. So sorry. I’ve been dedicated to posting regularly and yet somehow I lost a week.

I decided to post a story that I’m having a lot of fun with. I work on it a little here and a little there. It’s the first story that I’ve written in first person, so it is a bit harder for me to write. I read the story in my writers group and got some good reactions to it. Here is the first page. I hope you enjoy it.

I first saw him at Crystal’s slumber party when I was ten. He was older, like the cute guys in the movies that the girls all wanted to date. He was beautiful. I pointed him out to my friends but no one but me could see him. He moved gracefully to a chair and sat down watching us. They accused me of trying to freak them out before bed. In truth, when I realized I was the only one that could see him, it terrified me as well. He hadn’t stayed long that first time. No more then five minutes.

I saw him many times after that but always when other people were around. After that first experience I learned not to say anything. His presence never scared me; it was more the fear that I was crazy. I didn’t want to find out that I had schizophrenia or something. Whenever I saw him he would smile and wave but I never heard him speak. I yearned to hear his voice. I was always drawn to him, like he would keep me safe, but whenever I approached him he would disappear before I could reach out and touch him.

Then when I was fifteen, I was walking home from school and a car pulled over and two men jumped out and grabbed me. I screamed and kicked but nothing I did kept them from dragging me toward their car. Unexpectedly my attackers let go of me and I fell hitting my head hard on the sidewalk, dazing me. I pushed myself up onto my elbows and noticed the men scrambling into their car. As they started to drive away I felt someone touch my arm. I flinched away, “Its okay, I’m not here to hurt you.” I looked over to see him, my mystery man, kneeling next to me concern etched on his face.

“How’s your head? You hit it pretty hard.”

It took me a moment to realize he’d asked me a question. “I’m . . . fine,” I stammered.

He had taken me gently by the arm and helped me up. “You should get home and rest.”

I had reluctantly started walking home, but after a few steps I had turned and looked back at him. He had smiled his kind, beautiful smile and said, “go on.” I had walked to the end of the block and couldn’t help turning to get another look before I went around the corner but he was gone. I shouldn’t have been surprised; I knew he never stuck around long. This time I had felt different though, emptier.

That was the last time I’d seen him, that is until tonight. It’s my twenty first birthday and my friends had taken me out to a club to celebrate. There I was in the middle of laughing at something Crystal had just said, when I saw him. All I could do was stare. It’d been six years, I’d never expected to see him again and then there he was, smiling at me.

Editor

I just received some feedback from my editor for a short story I’ve written and am eager to publish. The writing process can be arduous but one of my favorite parts is learning how I can improve my writing. The first time I had my work edited, I didn’t know what to expect. What I discovered, was that my skills could jump to a new level by listening to the feedback given.

This time I haven’t had time to put into practice the things my editor suggested because I’m on vacation. Instead I find myself daydreaming the story changes in my head. Hopefully I’ll remember what those ideas are when I sit down to make the changes when I get home.

 

A Wizards doom, Naicik

Here is part of the first chapter of the wizard story I shared a couple of posts ago. I hope you enjoy.

Naicik hated gathering mushrooms in the forest. The dead, silent trees were creepy and the mushrooms hard to find. His grandfather kept telling him how lucky they were. Most people would give anything to have mushrooms fill their bellies. Naicik hated the foul tasting things. He much preferred the large scaly kallum. Meat was rare and thus of great value. This time of year the kallum were holed up deep in the mountains for warmth. In three days he would be sixteen and then, come summer he would be allowed to hunt them. They were extremely dangerous, but would feed their family and many others for months. Naicik’s family was known for their success in hunting the scaly creatures.

Although it had come at a cost. Naicik’s two uncles and one of his older brothers had died hunting the creatures. His father believed it was better to die by their three inch claws and large teeth than from hunger. Naicik couldn’t wait. “I’ll be the best kallum hunter in the family,” he thought.

After filling his basket Naicik headed home. His entire family lived in a one bedroom cottage at the very edge of an even smaller town. His grandfather told him that a long time ago their ancestors lived in the capital city of Admikal. They had a large estate but men had come at night and killed everyone but his great great grandfather Trist and his sister Amyt. They were starving when they reached a small village on the outskirts of the Admikal. The people in the village took pity on the two youth and nursed them back to health and gave them the cottage that Naicik still lived in.

His grandfather told him he should be grateful for the blessings of a home but all Naicik could think about was the large estate that used to be theirs. He dreamed of taking it back someday.

“What took you so long?! You weren’t daydreaming again were you?”

“No Runok, I wasn’t daydreaming. It just happens to take awhile to find the mushrooms. Maybe tomorrow you should gather them if you think you can do it faster.”

“Nah, I need to reserve my strength and energy for the upcoming summer hunts.”

“Well then so do I, since I’ll be hunting this summer as well.”

“Actually . . .grandfather is trying to convince dad that he should make you wait until your eighteen.” Yetin said, as he walked up behind him.

Naicik whirled to face his brother. “No way! The rule has always been sixteen!”

Yetin just shrugged, “I’m only telling you what I heard.”

Naicik opened the door and stormed in. He dropped the mushrooms on the ground and faced his grandfather. “Is it true?! Are you telling dad that he shouldn’t let me hunt the kallum?!”

“I have given your father the same counsel I gave when your older brothers turned 16, that he should wait till they’re a bit older. He hasn’t listened to me before, I doubt he will this time either.”

Naicik heard laughing behind him. He turned to see both of his older brothers laughing at him. He grabbed the stool at his feet and threw it at them. They dodged it easily enough which only made him angrier.  Having older brothers was such a pain. They treated him like he was just a kid but he was only three days from being a man.

His parents arrived home shortly after. His father raised his eyebrows at the broken stool. It wasn’t hard to miss things in such a small place. Naicik felt a sliver of guilt at his fathers look. He knew he shouldn’t have been so careless.

“Runok and Yetin were taunting me. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have thrown the stool. I’ll fix it tomorrow.”

His dad nodded and went outside to chop wood. Naicik knew his father meant for him to follow. All private conversations had to happen outside of the cottage. There was just no way to whisper quietly enough to avoid eavesdropping.

“Naicik, your brothers are always trying to get a reaction from you and you typically manage to stay in control. So what made tonight different?” His dad asked, picking up the axe.

“They suggested that you might not let me hunt the kallum this summer. They said that grandpa had convinced you to wait until I was older. When I confronted grandpa he said that he had tried to convince you before with my older brothers but to no avail. Then they started laughing at me. I am just so tired of being treated like a little kid. In three days I’m going to be a man. Why can’t Runok and Yetin see that.”

His dad began chopping wood without a word in response. Naicik started stacking the wood. His dad always took his time when responding. While they were working Naicik thought about the dead forest and all the wood waiting to be chopped. That’s one thing we always have enough of, he thought, laughing. His father stopped chopping and waited for an explanation. “We may always be on the brink of starvation but we will always be warm.”

“You’ve always been unique Naicik,” his dad said, putting down his axe “You see things in such a different way. Your brothers don’t understand that. They see it only as fuel to ridicule. You’ll make a great man and I think an amazing kallum hunter. We’ll start your training the day after your birthday. I want to make sure you’re trained and ready for when the kallum leave their caves. Come on lets bring in some wood for the fire.

Naicik stacked the wood next to the fireplace and then went and helped his sister Amyt and his grandmother wash and prepare the mushrooms for dinner. His grandmother was born with Qusan magic. Her gift was in cooking. There were many magical gifts from Qusan. His mother was also Qusan blessed. Her gift was as a healer. To have two gifted in a family was extremely rare.

Naicik had only tasted mushrooms that were cooked by someone other than his grandmother and had run outside to spit it out. So, as much as he hated the mushrooms he was glad his grandmother’s magic made it possible to eat them.

He wished he had been given the magical gift of the hunter. Then his brothers would have been jealous of him from birth. Oh well, I’ll just have to work so hard that I will be the best non-gifted hunter there is and then my brothers will have nothing to tease me about, the thought made him smile.

The next three days crept by. He marveled at how slow time could actually move. The day of his birthday arrived. He woke to a mouthwatering smell. His grandmother smiled at him. “We’ve been saving our money so that your day would be filled with great food. For breakfast I’ve made bread. It’ll be done soon.”

It had been months since Naicik had been fortunate enough to eat bread. Naicik tried to climb out of bed without waking his siblings. Which was difficult since they were all sandwiched in the same small bed. He went and warmed himself by the fire. Today was the day! It was unfortunate that he would have to wait until tonight for the celebration to begin. It was tradition to wait until the time of day in which you were born, before you celebrated your right to manhood. Naicik had been born during the lucky hour of twilight. His good friend, Sunder, however had the misfortune to be born in the early morning. A very unlucky time of day.

Fortune had smiled on his family in that aspect as well, none had been born during the dark hours of morning. Any other time of day was fine and was neither lucky nor unlucky. Except for twilight that is.

“Aww, the bread is finished!” his grandmother exclaimed.

“Shh!” Naicik said.

It was too late. His brothers had heard and were quickly scrambling out of bed. They all gathered around the bread in anticipation.

“We will wait for everyone.” His grandmother said

“Mom, dad, grandpa quick the bread is hot and ready to eat!” Naicik said.

“I think I will sleep a little longer.” His grandfather said rolling over in bed.

“Grandpa, please now is no time for your jokes. My mouth is watering at the smell and my stomach is grumbling in anticipation!”

“Alright, Naicik I suppose bread is worth getting up for.”

Everyone was quiet as they slowly ate the bread and savored every bite. When Naicik finished he gave his grandmother a big hug. “That was the best present you could have given me.”

“Now that we have full bellies lets get to work.” His dad said. “The villagers will be coming for the celebration and since granny is the only gifted cook in the village I’m sure we will have many guests. Runok and Yetin I want you both to gather the wood for the bonfire. Naicik and Amyt, I need the two of you to gather as many mushrooms as you can find. I would also like you to try and gather as many smolong as you can. You have four hours to collect so that your grandmother has time to cook them.”

“Come on Amyt.” Normally Naicik would have thrown a fit about having to gather the mushrooms and more especially the smolong but today he didn’t mind. Not when it was in preparation of his birthday celebration.

Naicik waited until they were deep into the dead forest. He had already gathered most of the mushrooms closer to the cottage. “Amyt you gather the mushrooms and I’ll collect the smolong.”

Amyt eagerly agreed. The smolong were hard to collect. They burrowed into the dead wood and the only way to grab them was to use a small tool that would reach into the hole and pinch their butts and then you had to pull them out. Naicik started inspecting the nearest tree. He only managed to find one.

Naicik was pleased with what he and his sister had managed to do in four hours. They had collected several bags of mushrooms and three buckets of smolong. They hurried home and presented their bounty to their grandmother. “Oh! Well done you two. We will have a feast tonight. Now go help get things cleaned and ready and make sure you leave time to wash up before everyone arrives.

Naicik helped his brothers finish the preparations for the bonfire and then helped his mother and father with the other outdoor preparations. Houses weren’t big enough to hold anything other then small family affairs so whenever there was a get together it was always held outside. His father had felled several small trees the last couple of weeks and Naicik helped roll them into place so that people would have places to sit. He also helped his mother put some boards over some stumps so that they would have someplace to set the food. When he finished the only thing that was left was the food preparation and his sister and mother were helping granny with that so he decided it was time to go clean up.

Water was a scarcity so it was reused. Dirty water was poured into a large container that had thick spongy moss that sat on top of tightly packed sand. The bottom layer consisted of a layer of carbon. The clean water was stored in a bigger container that sat on four-foot poles. It was there that Naicik went to get a bucket of water to clean himself. After ducking his head in the water and scrubbing with a bar of soap he then used a rag to scrub off the dirt and grime. By the time he finished his brothers were waiting to do the same. He went inside to put on some clean clothes and then wait the few remaining moments for his friends to arrive. I can’t wait, he thought, in a few minutes everyone will know me as Naicik the man. I will no longer be treated as a boy.

 Naicik’s grandmother was still in the cottage finishing the last of the meal preparations. She turned and grinned at Naicik. “You’re not getting nervous are you?”

“No way! I can’t wait.” His granny chuckled and then went back to cooking. He knew his granny could see right through him. He wasn’t real fond of being the center of attention and that was what this celebration was all about. Half of what I said was the truth, he thought, I can’t wait to be recognized as a man.

Naicik absently rubbed the back of his hands while he wondered how many people would show up. I know all my friends will be here, he thought, they promised me they would. I don’t know about the rest of the village though. I hope dad’s wrong and there won’t be as many people from the village coming, which would just make me more embarrassed. Naicik realized he was rubbing the back of his hands and thought it odd that they felt warm almost hot. Now that he was thinking about it he felt really warm all over. “Granny?”

“What is it Naicik?” She asked without turning around.

“Can you get mom. . . I don’t feel very good.”

Granny turned and looked at him and then yelled for his mother and came to his side. His mother entered just seconds later. She felt his head and announced to his gathering family that he had a fever.

Naicik suddenly cried out and cradled his hands to his chest. “The back of my hands burn!”

“No! It can’t be.” He heard his grandfather say. “Quick Amyt, pack a bag with as much food as you can. . . Runok, Yetin get everything he will need for a long journey. Now! We haven’t a moment to lose.”

“Grandad! What is this all about?” His mother demanded

“Naicik is a wizard. In a matter of minutes he will permanently wear the mark of a wizard on his hands.”

His mother started crying and his dad quickly left his side to help with the preparations for his urgent trip. This isn’t happening, he thought. Being a wizard is a death sentence.

Then just as quickly as the heat and pain began it stopped and two beams of energy rose from the back of his hands towards the roof.

“Now! You must go now!” His grandfather shoved his pack into his hands and looked him intently in the eyes. “Those beams of energy will last for one hour. The king’s guards and anyone else in the area including the villagers and your friends are likely to find you within that time. If you’re caught . . . you will be killed, do you understand? Naicik numbly nodded his head.

“You must run deep into the woods. Don’t stop. Even after the beams stop they’ll be hunting you. They’ll never stop. I knew a man years ago that boasted about knowing a way to leave this world, yet not by death. You must find him or die. His name is Seltyd. Last I heard he lived far south. Now go! There is no time to say good bye.” His grandfather practically shoved him out the door.

With fear now raging inside him he ran. This can’t be happening. This was supposed to be my moment of joy. Becoming a man was supposed to be something wonderful. Now I’m being hunted . . . by who . . . the very people that were coming to celebrate with me.