Tuesday, November 30, 2010

KPP3 and a Snippet Challenge

I am making good progress on KPP3, about halfway through it.  However, it is far easier to write when you have been making progress several days in a row than it is to write coming from a standstill.  For that reason, I need to make sure I keep writing five days a week.

I am starting a writer's challenge in which I post small sections of my work to my blog on a frequent basis.  The rules would be that I must snippet something every other weekday.  It must be of snippetable quality.  And it must come from recent content, dating no earlier than a week ago.  My only excuse would be when I post the next section of the novel.  In that case, the section posting would replace the snippet posting entirely for that day.

Well, them's the rules.  Let's see if I can keep to 'em.

Monday, November 29, 2010


While I am recovering from the holidays, company, and sneak-attack on our dog by a skunk, I am browsing the internet.  I found an interesting blog post about agent myths.  The comments are just as interesting as the blog post.  What do you all think?

By the way, I don't think I found anything as pervasively awful as the smell of skunk.  Dog's been washed twice, but the smell that seeps into the house takes weeks to go away and it will infiltrate every room and cabinet while it is at it.  I can't even stand doing my allergy medicine right now, because I don't want to smell right now.  Body spray, air fresheners, and even fragrant essences like you put on potpourri can do nothing for it.   And eating?  Forget about it.  That will have to wait until I am out of the house.  Gah!  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

On Deadlines and Holidays

I love the sound of deadlines whizzing by, such as the one I set for my nano novel.  I haven't been able to look at my novel for two days straight.  The last few days have been spent in Thanksgiving prep.  And for every preparation you start, two new ones beg for attention.  Hopefully before my family starts trickling in late tonight, I'll have a chance to work on writing again.  But I'm going to have to set new goals.  No shame in that.  As long as I keep moving forward, I have a chance at whatever goal I set.

Anyway, for those celebrating, Happy Thanksgiving.  I'll see you after it is over, if not before.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Short Fantasy Novels

Not too long ago on Query Shark, literary agent Janet Reid wrote that "VERY fast paced high octane crime novels clock in at 55,000 words. Science fiction, and the requisite world building usually start at double that. I assume she would say the same for fantasy. 

Part and parcel of that desire to "take a calculated risk" as outlined in my last post is the consideration of such information from prominent sources like Ms. Reid.  Seeing as how my goal is to write shorter novels whenever possible, I have some unique challenges in store for me.

However, I do admit to a contrary spirit whenever someone says something like this.  Usually that spirit results in a self-dare.  But I have enough on my to-write list as it is.  In fact, an entire multiverse, of which Walker Universe is one node, that is threatening to expand everyday.  I guess my ornery side will have to make do with Walker Novel 2, which I am actively working on to keep under 69k words.  Make do, for now that is.

Writer as an Entrepreneur

Mommy Millionaire author Kim Lavine listed the following as key characteristics of a successful entrepreneur:

  • Persistent
  • Goal-oriented
  • Willing to take a calculated risk
  • Possessing strong vision
  • Competitive
  • Self-confident
  • Creative

Lucky for me, we don't have to possess all of these from the get go.

Why do I bring this up?  Because when I first read it, I saw the strong correlation between being a writer and being an entrepreneur.  And if you choose to become a self-publisher of your own works, that goes doubly so. 

So what do you think, fellow writers?  How do you do according to this list?  Are you like me and have a little ways to go yet?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Walker Novel 2: Key Plot Point One and Two: Index.

Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise

(c) Jodi Ralston

Key Plot Point One and Two: Edit One

Important Caveat:  This novel is being written experimentally--that is, out of order.  I will post the correct reading order as I go on the Works in Progress Page.

Key Plot Point One, Edit One:

Place Holder Number One, Version One.  (For an essential summary of what happened between Key Plot Point One and Two.)  

Key Plot Point Two, Edit One:

Thanks for reading!

Walker Novel 2: Key Plot Point Two: Edit One.

Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise

(c) Jodi Ralston

Key Plot Point Two: Edit One

Important Caveat:  This novel is being written experimentally--that is, out of order.  I will post the correct reading order as I go on the Works in Progress Page.  

If you are interested in reading what came before this point, here are the links for Key Plot Point One's Parts. 
To know what events occurred between Key Plot Point One and Two, read this Place Holder Summary.  Thanks, and enjoy!


Sleep was a bygone luxury my nerves couldn't afford. The stones protected us, in theory, but deep down in my soul seeded doubt bloomed anew each time mist--and night--fell, and the eating began. Something I couldn't see and couldn't really feel kept the mist and the death at bay. How long could that last? Magic never lasted forever. Would I even know it when it fell? Would I be sitting here one night, and the predators swarm right in?

With thoughts like this huddling in my mind as I kept my solitary watch, I was lucky to snatch a few minutes here and there. Horse did better. He did not share in my uneasy vigils, instead sleeping for great spans of time, far more than any horse. Before, I would have taken courage by his seeming lack of concern. What was good for the horse was good for the man. Usually. Except that more than once, when the mist was weak at the beginning and end, he'd forayed amongst the monsters and carnage for dinner. In those brief moments, more one of them than one of us. Even so, he was still part horse, he never went far, would become skittish at sudden movement, and took great care to shake and rub of the ash-like mist once he sought sanctuary with me again. But in those moments, when his demon side would emerge and cavort with his kindred, I never felt more alone.

The night wore on the mind as much as the nerves unless you did something constructive. So, while the horse dozed behind me, belly full of things I could barely stomach watching, I was busy sharpening sticks. Not for the mist, but for the other myriad other nasty things out there. So far, only half-and-half creatures, the eggshellers and their shell-less cousins the crab-ticks, could invade the rings for forage. The things that crawled in the night preferred to crawl around inside you, in search of better, safer forage than the scraps the larger creatures left behind. In fact, they actually seemed to prefer it.

I held up my stick and blew off the sawdust. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched the progress of one of the eggshellers. It was a safer one, having crawled forth from the belly of the earth instead of the still twitching creature in the murk. Its little feelers twitched, inspecting its two succulent choices. A rather large but voracious demon horse or a punier but less threatening human.

It chose human, and trekked my way, skittering quickly, hoping to burrow where I couldn't reach him.

I stabbed down once he got his head under my curled up leg. After ten nights practice, I didn't miss. I held the squirming thing up before my eye. Its undercarriage eyes and mouth snapped as it tried to chew its way off the wood. Maybe given an hour it would. I carefully pulled it off, keeping its dangerous parts away from my fingers. The crunchy sound, much like that upon stepping upon a roach, in this world a roachepede, had me grimacing and then looking away. Then, I forced myself to look back. Tonight, I was about to put to the test the axiom: Good for the horse, good for the human.

I drew the line at eating the eggshell-like parts. I used a smaller stick and stuck it under the shell. After some doing, it ripped off, not without a certain amount of blood loss. "Gods," I almost tossed it from me. Then the growl of my stomach and better sense had me picking up and straightening my hold before the pinchers I felt on my fingertips could draw more than a dab of blood. I drew the line at eating something that had just swallowed down a piece of me--or the horse. Carefully I pinned it down on the ground and using my smaller sticks, pried open its back to expose the meat.

"Just like eating seafood. Just seafood," I chanted, and then before I gave up, I tore that bit out, popped it in my mouth, and swallowed. After some gagging, it went down. Quite unlike seafood. But not bad tasting over all. Just chewy--and twitchy. Almost nutty in flavor, for some reason--its only saving grace. By the time, I was sure it was staying put, thanks to copious amounts of water, I had already decided on my next marks, busy trying burrow under my leg and from there into me.

I acted first.

I would be lying to say it went better after the first, but after a day-old empty belly and a journey of uncertain length ahead of me to the City, I couldn't afford to be choosy. Eat or be eaten. I chose to eat.

After a dozen, the creatures learned to put me in the same category as the horse. Tempting, but too well armed. Only the desperate made the attempt. The problem was, you had to eat so many of them and not all of them were deemed "clean". About one in three carried the most prevalent and successful creature of this planet--the blister babies. Even the thought of those mosquito-like larvae making a home inside me made me itch and twitch.

The other problem was that eggshellers were hard on the poking sticks. I was sharpening a new point when I heard I heard it. It startled me so that I struck off some skin instead of wood off my poking stick. That single word.

My name.

But it was so much more. There was so much more in those words.

I sucked my finger. Listened harder, perched on my knees. Did I really hear--


My gods, yes. I stood. Horse rolled until its head was actually up. He must have heard it too. My name, and it sounded like, yes, others walking. Coming closer. I peered into the mist. This was the time when the boa-nosed mammoth usually fled. But they were not about, multiple trunks popping creatures like blisters before slipping the stringy contents into their mouth--or for all I knew, mouths plural. When they were gone, they gave way to the mistmen. This was their time, but they had not come. For the first time in ten long nights, no humanoid presences leered from thick, churning white.

I waited again for my name. No one knew my name here. I doubted the horse even knew. "Come on," I whispered. "Where--"

"Walker, where are you?"

The horse stood. It tried its best to dissuade me, but ten days too close quarters had taught me how to tune him out. I waited by the edge, hand pressed against my side of the, the side free from the living carpet of sharp-jawed roachepedes.

"Walker, mate, where the schiz are you."

When I heard that familiar voice, I almost wept. That could only be one person. This could be only one thing. Rescue. I could almost see my former classmate's face. His smile. I could hear his farewell words spoken as if a decade ago. "Don't worry, mate." Him clapping me on the back. "Once they see this is the real deal, they won't be able to get you out fast enough. Think of it as a vacation." It made sense; he'd want to lead the way to get a nip of paradise. But this wasn't paradise. And I wasn't out there to warn him. They had to watch out. There were unaccountable wrongness in the dark, but by some twist of fate he had stumbled across the right path at the right time. But any second now, the mistmen could come. Any second he could walk take one step and miss me entirely. Either way, lost forever. And with him, with them, my chance to get out of here. I had to get him and his recovery party here, safely, and in the morning, we'd leave. I wiped my mouth clean, with a hand that gripped my pointed stick. No more eggshellers. No more predators in the mist and dark. No more lying land. No more Paradise. Just safety. Just home.

But only if I got to them first.

The horse had restrained me before with his teeth, gently. This time he was not. He didn't care if I bled. He wanted me back, away from the outer ring I was trying to pass through.

"I'm not insane. You have to understand. That's my home calling." I shoved him off. "You're already home. I won't miss my chance." I don't know where I got the strength; maybe it was more that sharp stick in close proximity to flaring nostrils. Maybe I struck him, hurt him, unwillingly. Either way, he let go just long enough for me to lunge free. I stumbled free of the circle of stones for the first time at night.

Things began to land on me. Bite me. Crawl under my clothes and hair.

I didn't care.

I entered the mist.

It was more of a pale grey powder that expanded on touch of living flesh. It didn't burn, but it didn't feel right. Didn't feel right going down my lungs, either. I coughed into my fist, speckling it with blood. The sight of that stopped me. My side began screaming, doubling me over, far louder than the horse, whom I heard pound back and forth, back and forth.

"Walker, is that you? Over here, mate. Here!"

Someone was ahead of me. Moving closer. Saying my name, "Walker, here."

Doubled over, I reached out and staggered. I made it two steps into the mist. One, two. I made it two steps toward my new savior and person to be saved. One, two. And then the form was before me. It caught me by the hand, straightened me up. It said my name again in the same voice. But I knew what it was not now. Though it had a broad smile, it was not my friend, Hepren. It never had been.

I should have listened to the horse.

Walker Novel 2: Place Holder One, Version One

The following summary covers the more important bits that lie between the posted KPP1 and soon-to-be posted KPP2. For those interested in this novel for the story's sake, I hope this summary will help catch you up and not spoil your reading pleasure. For those interested in the writing method, the following hints at the nature of Events Level One method. Either way, this is a learning process. My own plans change from the experience gained by the actual writing process. I expect them to change even further, and many times over, by the time the novel is done. But instead of dreading it, I'm coming to rely on it in order to lift practical ideas from purely theoretical.


Summary of Main Events between KPP1 and KPP2.

  • ELO1 - Set immediately after KPP1/Beginning, it covers what happens that first night. It is a restless night, because this is where Walker discovers the true dangers of this world: the mist and the creatures it harbors. Creatures that would love to eat him and the horse if they weren't settled safely inside the stonehenge. So these make do with each other, noisily and messily outside the stonehenge's protective circles. The worst of all mist creatures come last, when the mist is at its thickest. These shadowy figures are the mistmen, and although, all they do is encircle the stonehenge, lurk, and leer, they fill Walker with the greatest trepidation of all. But the mist holds sway only at night, and as the sun rises for real, the mist retreats, taking its manifest horrors with it. By mid-morn, Walker feels it safe enough to venture out. He and the horse make for the second stonehenge in hopes from there he can make it to the Queen City. But soon Walker learns that the day holds its own share of monsters when he encounters the Hunger Grass. The Hunger Grass invites you to walk upon it, stabs through your body, and mires you in place--all so it can eat you. Once he frees himself, Walker shelters in the second stonehenge and takes cares of his wounds. But the problem is, the day is half gone and no other stonehenge is in sight. And there is no sign of the Queen City by far. The horse is aware of another stonehenge, but has never been to it. But either way, this all has taken him too far and keep him too long away from the first stonehenge. He has to stay within its vicinity to keep an eye on the schism, because rescue is promised to come any day now, surely before his week's worth of food runs out. So with reluctance, he heads back to the first stonehenge, to await his rescue and to rescue them from the unforeseen dangers of this world if need be. Anything to be rescued, and soon. Status: Now written.
  • Miscellaneous events between ELO1 and KPP2/Launch include an important decision of Walker's. It has been ten days since he was exiled, and now Walker has no recourse. He is out of food and needs to make the uncertain trek to Queen City to buy supplies. It means he might miss rescue, which has to be coming any day now. But if he stays, the only thing they can rescue, if they are lucky, is his corpse. He makes preparations to leave on the next morning. The night of this decision is where KPP2 steps in. But the events that lead up to the KPP2 should focus on Walker's basic survival and his expectations of (delayed) rescue, and how that wears on him. The material between ELO1 and KPP2 should showcase the slow breakdown of Walker's nerves as he fruitlessly seeks both his rescue and his much-needed half-day, there-and-back-again route to the City. A route he finally deems impossible right before KPP2. This stretch of the novel should also include more about the main predator of this world, the mistmen. Status: To be written at a later date, as it is no longer Events Level One material.

Other Notes.

After I finished writing ELO1 and finished the first edit of KPP2, I realized there was only one Level One Event between the first two Key Plot Points, and that is ELO1. It's because the original ELO2 was to be the deciding point mentioned above, where Walker has no choice but to risk missing his rescue to get supplies. But this section is beginning to feel dragged out, between KPP1 and 2. Furthermore, I got to thinking about balance, which was the real reason why KPP2 or Launch Point came into being. To balance Climax-Ending one, two punch. Since the Climax hugs the Ending, I felt that the Launch needed to hug the Beginning as much as possible. So, it just feels better this way, to have just the one ELO between KPP1 and 2. That means, I am down to nine ELOs. Correction, I am likely down to eight. One, later Event fits due to placement after a Key Plot Point, but it doesn't fit by feel or intensity or importance to the overall plot. Rather the Event in question, the one that follows KPP4, is focused on a subplot, and it is not my intention to have this level of Events focus on subplots. Anyway, we'll see how it feels, once I come closer to writing it. I have a while yet.

Final Note.

Placeholders like this post will be replaced from time to time. The summary gets updated after I write the Event. Later on, they will be replaced entirely by the text of the Event itself. This means, I'll come up with a handy post that puts story bits and summary placeholders in proper reading order. For writing analysis purposes, I will create some kind of post that includes the different versions of these posts for comparison purposes.

Anyway, I think I rambled on long enough. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the process so far. I know I am.

Walker 2 Novel: Update on Progress

Healthy progress so far. 
  • Events-Level One outlined--all 10 of them.
  • 1500 words on ELO1--but not done yet.

After I get a few more words on ELO1, I'll take a break and start on KPP2 edits.  Originally, I intended to edit and post the Events right after I write them.  The OCDish part of my brain prefers balance and wants to do edits on ELOs like I ended up doing on KPPs--that is, after all of them are written.  The part of my brain that dislikes so much editing agrees.  So that may work out better this time around.  Consistency.

So that is my new plan--ever-changing, ever-keeping me on my toes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Next Step

The whole point KPP system is that you write the most important parts first of your novel.  And then you fill in around it.  I had seven key plot points.  They are, in order: the beginning, launch, turning point one, mid point or turning point two, turning point three, climax, and ending.  As I am still new to writing out of order, I wanted to maintain some sense of linear progress.  That is why I wrote these in the above order.  I am saving writing completely out of order for a later stage, when my small attention span is under its greatest strain to stay focused to get finished with this novel.

So what comes after the KPP?  Well, it is time to return to the beginning and start writing the Events - Level One (ELO) sections of the novel.  In this sense, events are the next most important sections of the novel to write.  They are sense are as self-contained sections as KPPs are.  They can be a scene or a chapter or multiple scenes or chapters.  They are written in order like KPPs are.  But more importantly, ELOs support the KPPs.  Generally you have one before and one after each KPP.  Of course, the beginning and ending will only have one associated ELO, but generally so will the climax which abuts the ending.  Sometimes there is only a minor event between two KPPs.  If that is the case, that event is not written at this time.

However, I know of the following ELOs for sure:

  • One after the beginning.
  • One after the launch. 
  • One after turning point one.
  • One before midpoint.
  • One before climax.

My outline is not set in stone.  It becomes more focused with these KPP and ELOs.  However, I do feel there must be some more ELOs.  After I finish the first one, hopefully I'll have a better idea.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On Key Plot Point One: Plans Often Go Awry.

If Key Plot Point One (KPP1) were placed in a novel proper, it would encompass several chapters and scenes*. It was all that I felt the Beginning of the novel should contain. Even so, KPP1 did not go according to plan. Originally, meeting the horse was part of KPP2, but it fit better here.

Also, I originally planned on editing each KPP on the day after I wrote it, so I could maintain running edits throughout writing the novel. I had to adjust my plans for nano. For that reason, I am considering posting multiple versions of this novel as it goes through different editing phases for those those interested in the adjusted method for writing out of order.

I also planned on writing the one of the first Event PPs yesterday and editing KPP2, but fixing the formatting errors took longer than I thought on my posts. If you notice any lingering errors, please let me know. I just fixed a stray bold tag. I hope there are no others. But to return to my point, the writing and editing goal will begin today**.

That is all I have time for now. Next posts should include more information on KPP and Level One Event writing.  Perhaps even a posting schedule.



* Key Plot Points were originally called Key Scenes.  While I am not happy with either name, Scene is confusing since I use the term "scene" to denote a smaller, self-contained section of a chapter.  Sometimes a chapter is made up of just one scene.  To avoid confusion, I'm getting away from calling them Key Scenes.

**  As KPP2 is under a thousand words currently, it shouldn't take long to edit and post.  However, before I post, I have to figure how to properly summarize the content that lies in between it and that PP.  It will be spoiler-filled, for those more interested in the reading than the writing, I'm afraid.  That is another problem of writing out of order--it is hard to share your work. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Walker Novel 2: Key Plot Point One: Edit One. Index to Parts.

Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise

(c) Jodi Ralston

Key Plot Point One: Edit One

Important Caveat:  This novel is being written experimentally--that is, out of order.  I will post the correct reading order as I go on the Works in Progress Page.

Phew!  Finally all posted.  For reading ease, here are the links to all parts of Key Plot Point One.  Later on, I will add links to discussions on the technique I am using and how it is working out so far.


Walker Novel 2: Key Plot Point One: Edit One. Part Four/Last

Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise

(c) Jodi Ralston

Key Plot Point One: Edit One

This key point has been divided into several parts for easier loading.

You can find Part One, Part Two, and Part Three here.


Part Four (Last Part)

I didn't intend from the get-go to use the demon horse's stonehenge. It had a distinct lack of appeal, as the creature obviously wanted something from there and would go there when he woke up. He had sent me an image of it, placing me there too. If I could allow it a human level of reasoning, that all spelled one thing: a trap. All good reasons to stay clear and steer toward the woods.

But the nearer I got to the skeletal woods, the less I liked it. At certain angles, the woods looked more skeletal than I liked. Sickly. Diseased. And creepy. I couldn't quite convince myself things were not moving within, including the trees themselves.

The distinct lack of creepiness was what finally swayed me, and some better reasoning on my own. The horse could have killed me at the house. He didn't need to lead me into an elaborate trap--even if it could, which I doubted. If need be, I could lay in wait and set my own traps. I jiggled my pockets, palming another gold ball. There were a few more where those came from, and next time I wouldn't be so kind. The thing wouldn't wake up from his next nap.

That decided I changed course for the stonehenge, not far away. I sat down inside the outer ring, not really sure where to face, since apparently walking in this land could pop out of almost anywhere, especially anywhere that made the less amount of sense. By that time, my shoulder hurt like a bitch and needed more than some water tossed at it. Once the gore was cleaned off, it didn't even look as bad as it did back at the well. It wasn't even bleeding that bad. Nor the bite marks that deep. Maybe that worse of it had been a lingering horsy lie.

A damn painful one, if so.

Or maybe there was something to his image of grooming me beyond the obvious--therapeutic saliva? Well, if vamps could control blood flow by mind and bite, why not a demon horse this?

By the time I had my wound disinfected and wrapped, my stomach was growling from hunger. It wouldn't be denied any longer, despite the low throbbing in my shoulder. If anything, it made me even hungrier. I pulled out my provisions and laid them out before me on a handkerchief. Deep dehydrated, inch sized meat cubes, veggie mix, fruit mix, cheese mix, a grain mix, and a trail mix all on its own. A proper meal was a single cube of each food group. Any more, the rapid expansion in the stomach would kill you. But I was so hungry, I could eat it all, stuff it all in my face. I wanted to so badly, my hands were shaking. And that was the first moment I became suspicious.

Keeping my eyes on the food, I felt my scar with my fingertips. It had made a mark that I recognized only from my brief stay at the well, but I couldn't tell if those jagged lines, like a Z, with bursting points at the tips, meant the inhabitants of the house or the horse. Now I was pretty sure what it meant. Zorse? Nah, didn't like the name. Surely someone at Queens would tell me what the creature was, a better way of knocking them off their feet than a sleeper ball, and better yet, how to avoid them in the future. I picked up a food cube, one of the trail mix cubes, crushed it in my fist, and popped a sliver in my mouth. As I did so, I very clearly pulled out another golden ball and set it beside the food. And focused on that image clearly, as I chewed, until the great desire for food subsided to normal, human levels.

The image of the golden ball was replaced with the sun in the sky. That odd juxtaposition of thoughts had me looking up at the sun too. If I looked closely, I could see how it moved not at all. If I didn't look that closely, I could where the sun really was. An hour or two from setting. Crap.

My stomach growled again. Him, again. This focused on the contents of my meal. In great detail. No golden ball in sight. So strongly, I wasn't even sure until I reached out and felt it, where the schiz it was. Then the image came of the horse eating the meaty bits. His belly growing big. And he gave off a purr-like sound of contentment--the same contentment that filled my stomach after a feast.

"So you do eat something other than me? That's good news." That also meant, this reality had deep-dehydrated food here, since he had obviously eaten some before and liked it. Or maybe not. He could be just reading my mind that well, picking out the fact from my head what the small cubes of desiccated meat would become.

The horse came into sight, just outside the circle of stones, shaking his head. No longer a sheer beauty, not with his mouth stained green by the less than greatly-effective knockout gas.

Gas he did not like and wanted me to personally wipe off. This fact and desire he reminded of in great, meticulous, and repetitious detail.

I don't know why I did it, maybe because he had showed me a truth I hadn't caught on to. Maybe because I needed a guide and this was it for now. Maybe because I needed to break that cycle of repetitious imagery. Whatever the reason, I took out a cube of meat and I tossed it his way. He snapped it up in mid-air. While its mouth was thus occupied, I retrieved a sliver of one for myself. Even before he swallowed the tough, dry thing, he was imagining me sharing that one too. Did the thing eat anything but meat?

The answer was yes. And he filled me in on exactly all it ate in far greater detail than I ever cared to know. He was an omnivore. With a strong taste for the carnivorous pleasures in life, but it could make due with mere grass. He also had a tooth for sweets, especially today, but I didn't have any on me. He was greatly disappointed.

He was also very finicky about his appearance, since he re-imaged at me after another cube, the whole mouth-wiping thing.

"That's a great way to lose a hand," I said and rebutted with those images.

He showed me grooming again. The image that of me somehow overlaid or twisted, mind-warpingly, into the same as another horse. Grooming. Each other.

I shook my head and rubbed at my temples, to clear out that sight not quite meant for human minds. "Yeah. Right, demon. And do you usually try to eat your fellow horses?"

He snorted and stomped a foot at me. Lots of images and sentiment, strong images and sentiment, fast images and sentiment of sheer disgust entered my head. I waved him off. "I get it. I get it. Not cannibalistic, semi-cannibalistic, whatever. Fine. But that doesn't mean I'm stupid enough to go anywhere near your mouth. Again." The demon ate meat, and humans counted as meat to him.

He sighed, noisily, out his nostrils, and gave me another but half-hearted image of disgust. Then he came inside the circle. Once there, he began wiping his muzzle off on the nearest stone, all the while imaging the desire to rub it against my head instead.

I laid a blade beside the golden ball.

"Try it, horse."

He quieted, paused, then resumed rubbing against the stone some more.

That was when I realized as much as I was leery of the demon, the demon was leery of me too. And I didn't know why. And he didn't care to share that with me. If he were that leery of me, why in the schisms name did he follow me here? More than that, why did he  want me here with him? What good could I possibly do him? I couldn't feed him, not for long, and that was certainly of foremost interest.

I just couldn't figure it out. So, I stopped for now and began gathering my supplies together and checking out the sun. Nearly gone now. That's what my soft-look told me. By illusion, the sky looked afternoon blue, but it was really darkening beneath traces of blazing color.

The horse looked, too, then came fully inside and lay down in the center ring of stones. Though tight, somehow within there, he made himself full-stretch comfortable, and sent waves of sleepy contentment my way. Which reminded me: it was time to find my own rest spot. Which wasn't going to be here. There was some brush out there that looked that could make a temporary shelter. It would have to do, as I had just ran out of options. I stood.

The horse sat up and expressed a strong desire of us staying put, even going so far to blot out everything in my mind except this stonehenge. I fought it, but for long, nerve-shaking moments I couldn't see anything but what he wanted me to see. He could be anywhere, right now. He could be sneaking up on me right now.

I backed up a step. The image unravelled, and I broke free of it. He hadn't moved from his spot, but still. Damn. No way was I staying with that all night. I started to back out of the circle by feel.

In a flash he was at my side, my arm within his grasp again. But this time with a difference: he held my hand between his teeth as delicately as he did the ball before he crushed it. But he wasn't crushing, he was restraining. He tried to send me images, but they were too scattered beneath the horror looming in its head. I caught glimpses of blood. Lots of blood. I tensed. But was socked with screams and pain, blood and fear, shadows and mist--shadows in mist, rather. All twisting together in scared knot.

Wasn't much of that what I had to look forward to if I stayed here?

But he was gently restraining me. My hand felt hot and damp with saliva, but not blood. And no pain. He was taking care to not pierce the skin, despite all he sent me. That convinced me more than anything. Something outside this stonehenge at night scared him, and whatever could scare such a frightful beast that already scared me, would do far worse job on me than a gashed shoulder ever could. I said, "Alright", and pushed at his nose.

He didn't let go. Even though I had a hand on one of his most sensitive parts, he refused to let go.

"All right. You convinced me. I'm staying put. With you. In here. For the night." I patted his nose gently. "Alright?"

He let go and backed up, away from my touch, and found a new bed within the second ring of stones. This time, but kept a close eye on me. I made up my own bed within that last circle of stones--just in case--using my jacket. In return, I kept an eye on him and my hand in my pocket enclosed over a golden ball.


End of Part.
Links to Key Plot Point One Parts:

Walker Novel 2: Key Plot Point One: Edit One. Part Three

Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise

(c) Jodi Ralston

Key Plot Point One: Edit One

This key point has been divided into several parts for easier loading.

You can find Part One, Part Two, and Part Four here.


Part Three

I learned to adapt a soft focus. Soft on target, just to the point where if you looked, you saw something odd, a shimmer like crosshatching of one reality over another but not quite. Ghost like. What it took was time, lots of bumps and bruises and sore egos and sorer patience, to train my eyes to see differently enough. To focus on these different wavelengths of hatching. The clearest, crispiest ones were the ones that I did my best, fastest travelling by, no matter how indirect that route was.

Eventually, I put my hand on the door of the main house and let go of my focus. The illusion slammed back, and no amount of rubbing took away a bit of my headache. I squinted at my watch to figure how long the direct indirect route took me.

What it told me made me seek stronger confirmation elsewhere.

The sun said it was noon, or so I assumed. Hadn't paid attention to the sun before, but surely it was exempt from the magic illusions or the illusory aspect of the crosshatchings taking place here. By now I had assumed less than someone had something valuable to protect here, and more that this world had done what, in theory, would happen to the Twin Lands eventually. Merge.

No one ever saw it happen, or lived to tell about it. In fact, no one saw any realities closer to that eventuality that the Twin Lands. But I strongly suspected it had happened to this world and recently so if no one cared to warn me about it. While their grasp on law may be iron as Grip's grasp, my people--my former people who cared, my classmates and colleagues--they gave a damn about what they were doing. They went beyond the letter of the law to ensure I wasn't going to my execution. Just prison.

Well, leaning against the door in contemplation of theories made reality wasn't going to give me anything but a headache times two--and a likely a few splinters to match its wild brethren welcoming embraces. I was about to pick myself off the door when I heard voices and movement behind it, too low to register past my thoughts earlier. So there was life beyond my own here. Things were looking up, after all.

I managed to paste on an exhausted smile and knocked. "Hello inside. Can I get some water and information?" My own water was running on the low side, due to marching hither and thither to get in a straight line.

No response. I knocked again and said the magic words, "Please, I can pay you for it. I have gold."

Nothing. Keeping one hand on the building, just in case if by moving back a step I ended back up by the schism, I craned around the door, stood on tiptoe, and looked inside the window beside it. Nothing.

No life inside.

I didn't get it. I didn't think I wanted to get it. Because, when I looked out of the corner of my eye, looked like I had when walking the way here, I saw blurs of movement. I saw blurs of people. Schiz it, I was even beginning to make out bits of conversation. But when I looked directly inside I saw nothing, absolutely nothing but pretty curtains, pretty table cloth, pretty chairs and heck even pretty napkins laid out, besides a table laden with food and drink galore. Pristine as the road. Tons of food and seats for guests, but no one to neither eat nor serve.

The scholars had warned that when merges happen people can get trapped . . . in a sort of limbo. But when I soft-looked back, what I saw made me jerk back. Something vague was at the window looking out. Vague or not, looking at me. Until I lost that focus. And now my side was screaming in pain, that it had me crouching. And I heeded. I wasn't going in there, limbo-land. That was damn creepy. If I were honest, it was a whole lot more than creepy.

But then, there was a horse.

A horse that didn't look too vague from a distance.

From my angle I couldn't see the horse. It wasn't pressing itself up against the fence that hung off the building like limbo-inhabitants did, steaming up the window---creepy--and scooting shadows along the gab at the bottom of the door--creepy, too. But just because it wasn't in sight, didn't mean the horse wasn't real. The corral could have escaped the cross-hatching collapse. Better yet, there might be a well, or in this land a pump for water in that direction. And at least, it was further away from that befogged window and the door. I felt my way along the side, and heard noises inside again. Louder this time. And creaking as if of footsteps following my progress. From the corner of my eye, I even saw someone push aside the curtain. Didn't want to either. Creepy.

I--and my side--were really disliking creepy.

Nor did we like people that were there but not there. Perhaps this wasn't a limbo. If I were wrong about the scholar's theory in action, then these people were in another house entirely, miles away like I had been crisscrossing over the road, thanks to the magic illusion that infested this place it. And the oddness of such--the food and furniture, the sounds, the movement of the curtain, the breath-fogging the window, even the shadows under the door--could be explained away thanks to that illusion, too.

Possible. Creepy. But possible. Best to keep to my own, either way, not speaking, not drawing undue attention upon myself as I felt my way along the house to the fence which abutted the house. Once it came under my fingertips, I breathed a little easier and gave the house another look, to see what this angle had to tell.

There was no window on this side, according to my direct look. Only a closed door.

My soft vision had an opinion of its own to share. Yes, there was no window on that side of the house that opened into the corral, but there was a door and it was open. Creepy.

Very creepy.

Painfully creepy, I thought, rubbing at my side.

Maybe I should just move on. Forget the mystery of the horse.

When I saw movement at the door that was not-open but was open, I decided I should move on just that much faster. I let go of the fence.

And a swift movement caught my eye.

The horse was standing there. Right in the middle of the yard.

And he was beautiful. Big and black, of light draft, hair perfectly and pristinely feathering his feet. Nice, alert ears. Strong back. With extra touches: his body may be black, but streaks of white and gray wended boldly through its long black crinkly mane and tail. That it flickered like ribbons of satin as I watched, as if aware I was watching. He was even prone to arching its neck like a show horse to accompany its beautiful steps as it pranced to me, and at the perfect moment the horse reared, pawed the air, and tossed his head. Wow.


I unclenched the fence I hadn't realized I had grasped again and sat back on my heels. Mech beasts are different than the real deal, so my knowledge in this area was limited. But even a novice can recognize good horse flesh when they see it. This was one great horse flesh. Male and energetic, proud and beautiful, and . . . incredibly healthy for its rather sparse corral and abandoned nature. That idea hit me just as his promenade toward me ended up with him within touching distance. My scar warned me to let it come no nearer. The horse stopped and cocked his head, as if confused by me.

As if seeing me for the first time.

Up this close, he even looked well groomed. Mane like that, after all, didn't take care of itself.

But even so, I thought, gripping the fence again, for different reasons. I couldn't just walk away. Forget the idea of hitching a ride, an idea at some point I had unwisely picked up. No doubt that was what my scar was warning me about. But nor could I walk away and leave him to the same fate as that of the creepy house-dwellers. I could open the gate; let it out so it could at least find forage. I walked along the fence until I found a gate. The horse followed at an easy gait that sounded far lighter than it should, especially for such a high gait. If I didn't know better, someone had thrown a little cat into the genetic mix. Perhaps that was what I felt. Sometimes you get a cross-schism traveller who brings along some living potpourri of genetics, thanks to magic, but the problem was they didn't always breed true and you didn't always get what you expected.

Hence the scar's fretting my side into knots.

Even so simple an explanation as that, it was wise to be cautious. I didn't know this world. I didn't know this . . . horse.

The horse, starved for attention, was waiting patiently out of reach by the gate. I unlatched it and opened it up, careful to not get trampled. The horse came out and snorted and stopped by my side as I was securing the gate to the fence and dipped his head slowly, lowly down its leg in thanks.

At least that was what looked like.

So, I laughed. "You're welcome."

He dipped again and this time, as his head came up, butted against me, my shoulder.

I laughed again--see, he wasn't so bad, was he--and reached out to pat his neck. "Sorry, pal. No food on me."

And he struck like a snake, mouth latched onto my shoulder. With teeth. Teeth I got to see in great detail as they flashed down. Sharp, pointed, and too many. Fangs was more proper at term. His eyes glowed red, and eyes firm on mine, he gave me a shake with his head. Hard. So hard, an image popped into my mind too quick to grasp.

All this happened in the matter of seconds, and by the time my mind processed the attack and the shock and went toward conjuring up my training from dealing with keshets, I was already out of time. I had lost my feet in the shaking and was dumped to the ground. It had released me, and I had fallen.

Roll away, idiot. Roll.

Before I could, it leapt backwards, shaking its head, as the taste of my blood and flesh hadn't agreed with it.

By the time I got to my feet, it backed up, head low, and hissed at me as if I were the attacker here. "Hiss, yourself. That's my blood on your teeth." Crouched low, arms out from my side, I took one hand up and shook a fist at it. The one hurt.

Gods. Damn. It.

Through the pain, I saw very clearly an image of myself shaking a fist. Then wincing. And something more, something glowing and twisting at my hip, my hip scar. But other shining inside too, as if spreading from that mark. As if it were leaking out a hole.

What in the schism?

He had stretched his neck out to the utmost, nose pointed in my direction, nostrils wide, sniffing the air like a big, black dog. I very clearly saw that. Just the same, I very clearly saw myself clutching that leak, my scar, without looking at myself, and yes it hurt, thank you very much for the reminder. I hadn't paid it attention when I was being bit and shook like a ragdoll. But that was a very clear image from outside me. Undeniable, but real, despite the . . . viewpoint.

Dealing with long-tongued succubus taught me something or two about false images and their origin. This horse was sending an image at me. Horse . . . I was beginning to think that made for a poor description. Now that I knew what he--it--hid, I began to understand that warning from before. The whole horse-image was a lie. An illusion. And I thought, as I felt my blood and the accompanying pain drip down my arm, that it was one I could do without.

Problem was, you don't run from predators. Not unless you wanted to end your chase, collapsed under their weight and claws, breath heating the back of your neck just before the fangs descended. No, I could do without that, too. But I couldn't stand here. He had a ton on me. It wasn't just fangs I was worried about. He could stomp me far too easily.

He pulled his head back, ears pricking as an image came to me. Of him rearing up and me becoming squooshed and flat on the ground as he pranced that elegant little prance he did so well.

Well, crap. "You don't just send images and thoughts. You read my mind, don't you?" Stop giving it ideas on how to kill you, idiot. In fact, give it something to chew on. I sent him an image of me threatening him. With a mehnset--most animals hated snakes. Magical ones even more so. Didn't matter I had one or not. I sent that image, built on experience, of what a mehnset could do. What I could do with one. What I would do to it. In as excruciating detail as I could manage under the circumstances. "Understand that . . ." I sneered. "Horse."

The "horse" cocked his head. Then, it spooked, back wrinkling, and it looked up to the sky, then quickly back at me. His parry? And image of me getting on his back. Us clipping along a lightly shining path toward a stonehenge, but most of the rings of rocks were built upon a smaller scale than the one I had seen on another reality. At last, towards the outside circle they were not even belly height to him. As soon as he carried us through that first ring, a strong sensation of safety overwhelmed me. So strong, I found myself standing, relaxing.

For all of a few seconds.

Then I shook myself out of it and crouched back down, doing my best to look menacing.

Right, horse. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, I deserved the blood shedding. I touched my shoulder and it came away sticky with blood. But not as bad as I thought. Oh, it hurt, but not quite as bad as before it seemed. Even so, I needed to take care of it and soon. Who knew what things were in the thing's mouth?

The demon horse snorted. And sent me a strong image of a human with worse smelling breath and looking teeth than mine overlying my mouth. Great. I coughed. Damn, it could send other senses too? And emotions. Don't forget the emotions.

The demon horse took a cautious step closer. Sent an image of him licking my shoulder clean.

Hell, no. Without taking my eyes of the predatory thing, I reached inside my pocket with my good hand. Hungry? How about this! And I made a false image of sugar which made his ears perk up. Damn strong mind-reader. And I flung my weapon at him. Straight at his face.

Too bad he had quicker reflexes.

He caught my weapon in his mouth. Held himself very still. Mouth stiller. Fang tips just holding the golden ball in place. Then, he crunched with his fangs exposed. Folded back his ears. Growled. And sent a bite image, this one toward my soft parts.

Quick in reaction, not so quick on the more important draw. I smirked and waved night-night as green smoke curled out of the side of its mouth. Comically, he looked at his mouth. Dropped the device. He dropped soon after. Heavily. Smoke curling out if its nostrils like an overheated mech beast. "Take that, horse."

Now more than ever, I needed some place to hunker down for a while, collect myself, and think, and this place from passed out horse to creepy house was not it. But looking ahead at the open vista, kindling forest, and, yes, even the horse's stonehenge, I didn't have many options. At least, whatever my option, I was bound to walk off my adrenaline. But I was going to need some water, first. Felling demon horses made a man thirsty. Not to mention, my arm was going to need it. Water, than walk. At least, I had a plan.


End of Part.
Links to Key Plot Point One Parts:

Walker Novel 2: Key Plot Point One: Edit One. Part Two.

Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise

(c) Jodi Ralston

Key Plot Point One: Edit One

This key point has been divided into several parts for easier loading.

You can find Part One, Part Three, and Part Four here.


Part Two

The schism spat me out, face first, onto a road. As I pushed myself quickly to my feet, I expected an audience and the need to explain matters when I really rather not at best. Or a group of people who cut and took first and asked questions later at worse.

Didn't get any of that. I must have grown too used to the Twin Lands, where the reality overlaps are so thin, you see the next reality's neighbors marching around like ghosts, untouchable, whispering voyeurs. It was weird not to see that. Here. In ironically named Paradise.

The hard-packed, dirt road looked well-maintained, not a single rut in sight; that was something going for it, even if I didn't like the taste of it. It stretched out far before me, without a single person in sight. That much the better for me. Name or no, this was a prison reality.

And speaking of which, sometimes they lay in wait, coming from behind you.

I looked back. Beyond the glimmer I knew. Nothing. No one. Perhaps there was no point hanging around here, after all--if you tried to escape, at best, the schism would shove me out the other side. At worse, pop me out somewhere else in this reality.

Anyway, I was well and truly alone. And standing here, by myself, waiting on a rescue that would surely come, would only wreck my nerves. After my first ever rescue, I had lost whatever patience I had for any subsequent others. That didn't stop me from landing in situations which called for them. I stuck my hands in my pockets and jingled some coins. They had given me some gold, a week's worth of food, and some advice--"Follow the road. Go to Queen City."

Follow the road.

Go to the metropolis.


But not. Because walking away from here, as stupid as the sentiment was, was walking away from everything and everyone I cared about. Better not to. Taking an experienced vampire's advice, it was better to focus on what lie ahead than what had left you behind. Funny, that advice was no more palatable now than before, when Tesha had sold me into his harem.

I jingled my coin. I shifted on my feet. And I fought and gave in to looking at the schism behind. I started to march off in anger, then remembered some better sense and a better palliative, and knelt where I was. Before I left this area, I had to leave a sign of where I was going, even if answer was clear. Because. Because someone from the more friendly Land would be coming after me and taking me home. But I wasn't leaving anything to chance.

I pulled out of my pocket a piece of chalk. When I had packed it on me, even this small thumb-sized piece, I knew the mehnsets would stir. Mehnsettirs frowned on people bearing magical items into their exile. But well worth the risk of its confiscation, since whatever you wrote with it, would last as long as you kept a piece of that chalk with you. Damn hard to erase, in other words. There also wasn't much of it. So better not make a mistake. Just wished I had something handier--like a nearby tree or a building--to write on than dirt. I saw both, but they were too distant to be of any use. Dirt would have to do.

And I wrote my destination down, a quaint little town numbering a million, if projections were correct. Queen City.

Then I tested my chalk out, scuffing it with my foot. It still shown, right on through. Good. As long as graffiti wasn't a crime here. Hate to break the law on my first day out.

I pocketed my chalk, and focused on my next step. That building. Although, there were no life-essences slurping keshets here--in fact, as far as I could recall, no such magical plague ever infected this reality, hence its name--but even so, I didn't like to remain where I was for long. And it would be easier to walk to that place, than all the way to the city. Who knows, maybe by the time I got there, the schism would open up and I would be home again.

I began walking.

With each step I took, that thought accompanied me like a faithful dog.

That was, until some uneasiness shooed it away. After a couple minutes, the uneasiness settled, however vaguely, upon a source that made me stop dead in the road. What was twigging me was under my feet. The road was magically maintained, in pristine but dusty condition, even though it had lost all interest in the ditches. But the magic behind that was not all powerful enough to erase evidence of your passing as you indeed did the passing. My abdominal scar had told me that much while laying facedown on it. But something, something I couldn't yet put in words, felt off about it. Off enough that I decided to walk along side it, in the rather poorly maintained and overgrown ditch, to my first destination. Which--I squinted at it--should just be a mile down the road.

Worth a try anyway, and so, I walked. And I walked.

I had walked an hour--the hour I estimated it would take--it still looked like, no matter how I squinted, I was about an hour from my destination. I looked behind myself to see how far I had made it. That was when I put words to what was bothering me, and added a few new ones.

I hadn't made it but fifty feet from the schism and the mark.

More than that, according to the road, I had walked on the road, in fact, crisscrossed it many times, in the end tramping about in the broken brush as often in the other ditch as I had on this side's one.

What the hell.

There could be only one answer. That mind-eye-trick wasn't me. Something had to be following me.

Fine time for my scar to remain still and silent.

Nonchalantly, I knelt. As I eased a knife out of my boot--one that tended to fly blade first and ask questions later--I hid my intention with picking up some road dust and letting it pour from my fist. My side stitched a little at that, and as I looked about for my pursuit, and from this angle, the building closer. Much closer, about fifty yards away. And there was movement. A horse, black, running in the corral. I stood and the vision retreated back into the non-telescopic distance. Wonderful.

At least that meant I could return my knife. There wasn't some mind-meddling follower. This was simply some sort of magic illusion gone haywire.

Might as well walk blind.

I closed my eyes and shook my head in disgust.

At that exact moment, my scar woke up with a kick, trying to pinch my side in half. Now it told me: something was off. Way off.

That was one strong illusion to screw up my best--and only--early warning system of all things odd by that much. They sent me off with provisions and advice, but this they didn't think to warn me about?

I opened my eyes and staggered as the lie settled back over my vision. My side squeezed once, like a heart palpitation, but it had wised up, and remained tense as I. I rubbed at my side. I needed to get somewhere, off this mind-trap. But I wasn't going to get anywhere like this. Maybe I could . . . I closed one eye, left the other open, and crouched low. And took two steps. One, I counted. I teetered, feeling as if I were goose-stepping as my vision telescoped, then collapsed back. Two.

That second step found me unbalanced, staggering back into a bush--that hadn't been there earlier. After I disentangled and crawled out of it, after I took two more steps, I found I was right. The bush wasn't there. Though the stickers in my backside begged to differ. Damn. I whistled. Strong didn't describe that illusion.

Now what? Walk blind, I had thought earlier. Could I?

Why not?

And I walked front first into a bush and fell on my face.

When I opened my eyes out of reflex my vision slammed me a new headache, not to mention a few pricks there to match my backside. Wonderful.


I got up again, and crouching low, hands swinging wide out in front of me, I began to feel my way. As I did that, I felt an area where my scar's warning was less. I tried out my newfound intuition and followed that course. And that got me in circles and tripping over brush and ditch all over the place--literally.

I stopped and stood in the ditch. Ran my hand over my face and winced and removed another sticker from my forehead.

So, closing my eyes was out. There had to be something else; I had to do something else.

Crouching and walking, with my hand to the ground. I had felt something when I had picked up the road's inch thick dust, after all.

Why not?

And I accomplished sore back and legs, but little else with my eyes wide open, for my trouble. The buildings loomed closer, but if I stood, I was back where I started--or damn near it. And I couldn't feel that much difference with my hands.

Massaging my back now with both hands, I stared at my destination. Maybe that was the problem. Maybe I should focus elsewhere, say, on the area behind the farm and the trotting horse?

Better. I got closer. Then two steps later, I got further away.

But closer.

Massaging my back I stared at the ground. "This is going to take a while."

End of Part.
Links to Key Plot Point One Parts:

Walker Novel 2: Key Plot Point One: Edit One. Part One.

Walker Universe Novel 2: Working Title: Paradise

(c) Jodi Ralston

Key Plot Point One: Edit One

This key point has been edited into several parts for easier loading.

You can find Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four here.


Part One

It was a beautiful day to be exiled. Our party of eight stood in a schism's clearing, illumed by that giant, restless, iridescent spark. The air didn't suffocate. The sun didn't blind nor boil you. The mid-morning sky was a cheery clear blue between fluffy confections of . . . . Who was I kidding? Pretty or not, they were going to throw me through that schism never to return this reality again, for doing the right thing.

"Does the accused have any last words?"

Many, I wanted to answer Maha. But during my trial and sentencing, no one had said a word on my behalf. Not one. Not her. My former superior officer. My sometimes sister-in-law. My one time savior. The woman I loved. Had loved. Was still in love with. I had done my best to distance her from my current legal entanglement; she did better. I couldn't even look at her, because when I did, I only saw how much more the law, her job--the boarder-guards--meant to her than me.

This Land's Regulator's Spokesman stepped into my field of vision, away from his accompaniment of scribe and escorts. This spindly man with his spindly voice said, "You do well to think your words over carefully, for they will be the last this world knows of you, malefactor." He sent a look behind him at the escorts. He looked back at me. "You do well, if your thoughts were worth capturing. But the law is the law, and we do follow the law here; silence is no answer." With that, the spokesman gathered up his spindly courage and his spindly hate to hover over me, just hoping he could provoke me. Just hoping I would give him reason to use his "escorts" to "escort me along to the next life" instead of just from this one.

My gaze flicked over them. They stood out amongst the tunic-clad officials in more ways than their dark dress and pants: The muscular and especially muscular-armed male and his ice-blond, hard sister. Escorts once under my employ and acquaintance. They looked back. For fun, Grips cracked his knuckles. His sister never moved an elegant muscle--statuesque in more than one way.

I looked away first. Tired. They wanted my final words? What did they matter, when the truth hadn't? But it was all I could give. "The cure, it worked."

"'The cure, it worked.'" The spokesman waved forward the record keeper, who was already duly scribbling on his tablet, to start scribbling my response and his own interpretation thereof. "So you knowingly forsook your duty as a mehnsettir and citizen to aid and abet the illegal research and production of a 'cure'. You knowingly aided and abetted the subversion of a branch of our government--of several branches--responsible for the safety of our country. Our reality. And all you can say for yourself is, 'The cure, it worked'?" Snorting his disgust, he waved at the border guards. "Take the criminal away."

With that order, he had just overstepped his bounds and stepped all over his fine moral stance of "following the letter of the law, damn the consequence to all" attitude. The Pharaoh's Spokesman, disinterested in the whole affair, seemed not to care. She nodded and turned away. Now, the escorts approached and took me in hand, one on each side.

Somewhere inside of me something woke up. "Is that all you have to say? Do you hear yourself, Spokesman? You are charging me with success. The cure works. No more turning into monsters that suck the life out of people like a spider on a fly. You would think the Regulators would appreciate that. Schiz it, even give me a medal of honor. I know the flies would."

The grips on my arms tightened, picked me up, and turned me about-face. Grips gave me a slight shake of his head during this. His twin looked even more unmoved than Maha, but Diamond always did. Behind me, no doubt, a spindly man was holding together his spindly hands waiting for me to fight so that my escorts could break something on me. Like my arms. And I knew firsthand how easy it was for them, especially Grips, to break something, especially on me. All it took from him was one squeeze . . . .

I didn't give the spokesman the satisfaction. He had his scapegoat. He wasn't going to get a broken one in the bargain.

But while I had them by me, I had my only chance to ask about a reversal of my condemnation. Only a Regulator could close a schism; only another Regulator could have it opened again and something extracted out. Namely, me. "Did you get word to newlyweds?" The Regulator of the other Land was a little more on my side. Had to be, since by trick of law and fate, I had married into that mighty mess. Sort of.

"We worked something out," Diamond said. "Don't worry."

I breathed "Thank you" at my favorite twin.

The pain-in-my-everything twin waited until they were handing me off to the border guards to have his parting shot. "Watch your ass, Legs, because I won't be there to watch it for ya, no matter the incentive." And he planted his hand on my nickname's vicinity and gave me a shove that nearly bowled us all down.

"Easy there, Walker," Tesha's cousin, Bustis, said as she straightened me, brushed me off a little to well before taking one lightly bruised arm in her grip.

My former classmate took the other with a smirk before he got serious--well as serious as he ever got. The man was never without a smile. Even now. "Don't worry, mate." He clapped me on the back. "Once they see this is the real deal, they won't be able to get you out fast enough. Think of it as a vacation. To Paradise, no less. Someone is looking out for ya." He would have said more, but his mehnset was bothering us both by now.

Their mehnset tongued my arm from theirs, detecting something magical on me with their mechanical, snaky senses. But neither Cousin Bustis nor "Smiley" Hepren stopped to investigate. Instead, they jerked their wrists, and properly chastised, their mehnsets settled back down, impersonating golden snake armbands.


We were only a few feet from iridescent tear in the air, and I was already feeling better. But not well.

Just in case, it was truly time for last words. I turned to Tesha's cousin. "Ensign, Tesha--"

"I know. It's alright." She glanced back at Maha. "She acts cold now, but she'll do right by her sister. There's no law against that."

Cousin Bustis was right. Tesha was out there somewhere, infected, and normally the mehnsettirs killed keshets as part of their guard duty. Normally Tesha would leave behind an older sister, a daughter, and a sometimes--but usually reluctant--husband. Now mehnsettirs had a choice. Now Tesha did. Now all three of us--Maha, Denira, and I did--in our dysfunctional little family did. Because of the cure.

I looked behind at Maha as I was pushed through the schism. She watched me go without a kind look of any kind. Then, the world brightened. Whitened. Compressed. Ended. And began somewhere else.


End of Part.
Links to Key Plot Point One Parts:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Behind, behind, behind

I haven't worked on my nano for days.  Why?  You can read why on my Happy Freelancer blog post.  Winning nano this month isn't too likely, even if I get 50,000 words.  Why?  Because these words are out of order.  Even so, I am going to write everyday, but to boot, I am editing my Key Scene/Plot Points.  I only have the Ending left to write.  It will be interesting to edit the Beginning at the same time as I write the Ending, because the two will play off each other.

Anyway, I will not make nano this year, but I will write, at my own pace, and I will edit, at my own pace, too.  And as Sam Wyly wrote in 1,000 Dollars and Idea*, defeat simply means you have a new goal to set.  So, I will set a goal for this month.  To have the edited Key Scene/Points posted on this blog by November 30th.  And that goal and others will help me toward achieving my ultimate:  to have the entire novel posted on this blog** by December 31st.  



* Amazon Affiliate link. 

** That does not mean a complete novel, ready to be sold.  This is merely the first round of editing.  The novel will still have another editing session left.  Even then, I wait until the entire series is finished before I self-publish, and the series is somewhere in the range of 8 to 10 books, not including side projects.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nano2010: Progress - Week One

Most of my real progress on my nano novel is written down on notebook paper.  A couple days back I came up with what my novel was about and I did a ton of outlining and thinking.  I think a novel will let you know what it is about, if you haven't figured it out already in the planning stages.  Knowing what I know now, my Plot Points or Scenes have changed.  For instance, my Launch Point (the point between between Beginning  and Plot Point One) was the meeting with the demon horse, a character that would change Walker's life.  That Point got merged into the Beginning one and now Walker's capture by the evil, magical mist and mist-men is the Launch. 

So, with all of these adjustments, some Points are longer than others.  Launch isn't short, but the last Plot Point--Number Three--that I finished is long, weighting in around 6,000 words.  The one I am currently working on, Plot Point Four, looks to be of average length.  I plan on finishing it during tonight's session. 

But that brings up another point.  My plans for writing one day, editing the next, and starting the next section of writing doesn't working out well when I'm on such a tight deadline of one month, one complete novel.  I'll have to do something about that.  Not sure what yet, but it will mean changing my plans.

But that is all right.  After all, although Sun Tzu wrote "[the] general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought", he also wrote that "according as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one's plans."  Success as a writer relies both on the strength of your original planning and your ability to adapt when needed.

I'm adapting.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Nano2010: Day 1 So Far

Project:  Walker Universe Novel #2
Due to his actions in Novel 1 (Nano2009), Walker is exiled, but this supposedly paradisal world has gone to hell--being filled with a hungry mist and even hungrier monsters.  Worse yet, hell is catching, spreading to his home-world too.
Words:  644 words so far.  49,356 to go.
I stayed up late to write them.  It only took me a half hour to write that.  Stayed up till about 1:00 AM to work on my scene outlines.  They are very rough, and I will not be posting them until they are edited.
Plans:  To write Key Scene One today.
I plan on finishing writing Key Scene One today.  Tomorrow, I will start out by editing it and then writing the next Key Scene.  Want to know more about my method of writing and "Key Scenes", read this blog post.  Basically, I write out of order, writing the most important "Scenes" aka Story Arcs first.
Scene Info:  Entrance into the new world and first look at it.