Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Snippet - The NaNo WIP

Here we are again with a short bit of what I'm currently working on - "YA Fantasy" (because I still haven't found the right title). 

Our intrepid and untrained adventurers - on their way to the MCs' (Aryl and his twin sister, Lyra) home town to assist with a dragon problem - have stumbled across a nearby village in flames.  But it's not the dragon...

A woman ran past.  Lyra stopped her with one hand.  Aryl recognized her as the washer woman.  Sometimes Ma would hire out to help her with the laundry in the winter.
“What’s happening here, Ponta?” 
“Derbin said it’s a salamander, but damned if I ever seen one of them squiggles start a fire like this.”  She clutched her wash basin closer to her chest.  “Help if ya can, but I got to save my shop.”
And with that the woman skittered away, sloshing water everywhere.
“It’s not a salamander like you think,” said Dersok.  “What we got here ain’t nothing like the little wet things.  It’s hotter than the fires of hell where it was born.  If you see it, kill it with steel.  It’ll burn or melt everything else.  And for the Lady’s sake, don’t let it touch you.”
No sooner had the armsman spoke those words than they heard a horrible scream.  Ponta ran from her shop, her skirts aflame.  “Juqik!” Aryl shouted.  “Help her!”
The twins both broke into a run toward the woman.  The smell of burning flesh and her screams of pain nearly brought his lunch up.  He pointed and the others ran toward the shop where Ponta had burst into flames.
While the townspeople concentrated on keeping their village from burning to the ground, the students spread out around the burning shop.  The flames hadn’t gotten very bad yet and seemed to be concentrated near the center of what was Ponta’s sewing room.  Aryl nodded at Kip and the two of them entered. 
Through the flames, they saw what looked like an overly large lizard laying in what had to have been Ponta’s biggest wash basin.  From the steam in the room, the damn thing had decided it wanted a bath or some such nonsense.  He motioned for Kip to go left while he went right.
Kip ignored him and strode right through the flames.  The beast didn’t even bother to turn toward him.  It just sat there enjoying the remnants of the steam bath.  Aryl suspected once the water had gone completely, the thing wouldn’t be so docile. 
“Kill it quick, Kip.”
The boy just nodded and raised his sword.  Aryl kept his course to come up behind the thing.  He kept his sword in front of him like Polchik had taught.  His battle magic hovered around the edges of him, but he still had no idea what exactly to do with it.  All he knew was it was there and it would aid him in battle.  For a brief instant, he allowed unkind thoughts about his mother drift into his head.  If she had this magic, her withholding any information about it seemed unforgiveable. 
And with that thought hovering in his head, he almost missed Kip’s error.  While he was focused on setting up the perfect blow to strike the salamander’s head off, a second beast crept near the boy’s feet.
“Behind you!” Aryl yelled a second too late.  The beast’s mate scuttled the last few inches toward Kip’s boot and ran across his toes.  With each brush of its slimy flesh, a spark caught, engulfing his lower leg in unholy flames.
Kip screamed even as his blade lashed out.  It didn’t strike as precisely as he’d been trying for, but he did manage to slice the beast in the basin into two squirming pieces.  Its mate hissed angrily before running toward Aryl.
Aryl’s blade struck before he consciously thought about it.  The second salamander lay with a slice from its flat nose to halfway between its shoulders.  Instantly it turned to ash.  He didn’t have time to see what would happen to its corpse beyond that.  He was already turning toward his screaming friend.
“Put it out!  Oh Great Lady, it hurts!”
Aryl looked around the flaming shop, but the beasts had eradicated any source of water.  Their only hope was outside.  If Kip lasted that long. 
Use your magic, Lyra shouted in his head.  But he didn’t have the slightest clue what battle magic would do against the fire creeping up Kip’s leg. 
Battle magic is a combination of all magics, you dolt.  You’d know that if you paid the least attention in class.  Tap into the water magic.
He dipped into himself and found his magic waiting like a patient hound.  He’d never tried to call it before.  It was just there.  To try and pull one bit of it out of the rest seemed like an impossible task.  Kip’s blood curdling scream pushed his uncertainty away, and like the sword blow, the answer came before he knew what was happening.  Water poured from all around him, dousing everything. 
When it stopped, Kip lay drenched on the floor, coughing the excess water from his throat.  Aryl himself had to cough the few drops he’d breathed in so short a time.  All around them, the house was dripping black.  Not even a trace of smoke showed the house still smoldered.
“Dersok!” he cried, hoping the armsman knew enough about battle wounds to help Kip.  Either way, his friend might still lose his leg… or his life. 
When the older man arrived, he took one look at Kip’s blistered flesh and ran back outside.  Aryl hoped the man wasn’t emptying his stomach, because he really wanted to do that himself, and Dersok getting to before he did wasn’t fair.  He heard a shout from outside the building as he dropped to the floor.  The puddle underneath him splashed his arms.
“Healer!” He heard the shout taken up just as he closed his eyes.
It is definitely not perfect.  Just looking at this now, I'm itching to edit it.  But I won't.  That's not the point of NaNo.  You write as much as you can as fast as you can so you can end the month with 50K words.  Editing just slow you down.  December (or January) is for editing.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Snippet - Blink of an I

Here's a little bit from the middle of my first dystopian novel...

“Long before even our grandfathers were born,” Carl began, “a great nation stood on this very ground and beyond.  It survived through many centuries and many wars.  It stood as a banner to free men all over the world.”  All around the room, the townsfolk were nodding as if they’d heard this story many times before, and yet all were listening in rapt attention—the trio of travelers included.
“No one knows quite when it all started, but slowly the freedoms disappeared.  After all, slowly is the only way freedom can ever disappear from the grasp of man—little by little over time.  More and more people gave up little freedoms as fewer and fewer of them realized how precious even the little freedoms are.” 
“Always men have known freedom can only be taken by consent or by force, and certain types of men have used this knowledge over their fellows.  What these men learned, though, is freedom taken by force makes men yearn to have it back again.  If taken by consent, it is rarely missed.”
“Such was the way the nation founded on freedom died.”
Mary looked around at the crowd; several men were bowing their heads and a few of the women were dabbing at their eyes.  She could even feel a lump rising in her own throat.  The freedom people had once given away so freely was exactly what she wanted for her own home.
“History has told us,” Carl continued, “and we have learned their lessons well, that the nation was beset from without as well as within.  This was a time of great wars, and more than this nation’s land was ravaged by the bombs of men who would see freedom die.  Many were afraid the very freedom we hold dear was the cause of those other men’s hatred for the nation, and the people hurried to cast off the freedoms in order to save themselves.”
“When the great war came, their casting off of liberty meant little to their enemies.  Millions died to keep the nation safe, and millions more died trying to see the nation fall.  In the end, the nation won the great war, but in doing so, we lost the battle.”
“The people in their fear and dejection agreed to let their freedom melt away like so much snow on the mountainside.  They begged the government to take care of them, even more so than before.  They begged and the government gave them what they wanted, but at a price.  If they had only seen what the ultimate price would be, they would never have agreed, but the loss was so small and insignificant at first, no one thought ill would come of it.”
“We all know the results of that.”  A mumble went through the crowd.  “But perhaps our traveler friends do not know.  Or maybe,” he said, “they do.”
“This great nation was founded from the east, and so the center of its government was on the easternmost shores.  Mind you after a couple hundred years the nation had grown to stand from ocean to ocean, but the government still held its heart in an eastern city.  This was a cause of some dismay to the people who lived on the west coast.  They raged and railed as much as they could in a country based on freedom, but always their cries were left unanswered.  With technology, neither coast was really unreachable and distant.  The actual location of the government was nonessential.  But the time came when the west would have their prize.”
“After the great war, the nation’s capitol lay in ruins.  Its once-firm central government was without a home.  The west called out to the people, telling of their escape from the bombs and the poisons, and the citizens of the nation rallied around the cry.  Soon the center of government lay in a shining city on the ocean.”
Mary shook her head.  She wasn’t sure she wanted to know where this tale was headed, and yet she craved the knowledge.  Leaning forward with her elbows on her knees, she waited with expectant dread.
“With the change came a new force rising above the rest.”  He paused and lowered his voice to nearly a whisper—a whisper that reverberated through the hushed room.  “That force was the Union.”
Her heart sank into the very bottom of her stomach.  Suddenly the large and scrumptious breakfast rolled beneath her ribcage.
“I see from the looks on the travelers’ faces, they know whereof I speak, and they have my deepest sympathy for their experiences.”  Carl spoke to the crowd, but Mary could feel his words in her heart.  “The Union built upon the ideas that came before it.  They gave each person the little things they desired, but in return they took the freedoms required for such gifts.  Before long, the Union had all the freedoms and the gifts were no longer as pretty or as desirable.”
“It was then that a small revolution began to take place under the Union’s piercing gaze.  In small groups, the people gathered.  In secret, they made plans to get some of their freedoms back.  They planned to have a logical discourse, but they soon learned where there is unfettered power there is little room for logic.  They sent a group of representatives to speak to the Union.  Those representatives were never heard from again.”
“When logic didn’t work, they made plans for war.”
“Unfortunately, over the years the Union had taken so much from the people, they had little left to wage war with.  They gathered armies only to have them obliterated by the Union’s better equipped forces.  It appeared all would be lost until a small group of scientists found the technology the Union had kept from them.  They built a weapon so powerful the Union would have no choice but to capitulate to their demands.  Or so they thought.”
“The Union called their bluff, so to speak,” said another of the townsmen.
“Indeed.  The people built a weapon they didn’t want to use.  They paraded it in front of the Union and threatened its use.  The Union dared them to use it, and they couldn’t.”
“Taken aback by this turn of events, our forefathers tried to find a different way to obtain their freedoms.  While they were thinking of a peaceful way to approach their enemy, however, the Union was developing a weapon of their own—a weapon they weren’t afraid to use if it meant keeping their power.  By this time, they’d already been pushed back to the very confines of their city by the ocean, and they weren’t about to lose their hold on that, too.  So they told the people to bow down to them, or they would use their weapon.”
A young man behind Pola spoke, and his words sent a chill through the audience.  “They weren’t bluffing.”
“No, William, they weren’t.  The people didn’t do as they were told, and the Union used a nearby city as an example.  As far as we know, no one survived to tell the tale of that day.”
Mary choked back a gasp.  They were talking about the dead city, she just knew it and after the tale they’d just told, she had a feeling Carl knew it, too.  Her hand reached out and clutched at Daniel’s.  When she looked his face was as white as she assumed her own was.
“Over the course of many weeks, the Union used their weapon time and again.  Many cities were lost with all of their people inside.  Soon, the people were reduced to nomads and travelers, but still they refused to stop.  They discovered that while the Union’s weapon was perfect for eradicating cities, it was powerless against the individual.  In droves, they struck out across the wastelands to take matters into their own hands.  Too many bodies littered the dunes from both sides until a sort of truce was struck.”
“The people would no longer rise against the Union city if the Union would leave the people alone.  We were just a scattered few by that time, beaten and broken by decades of strife.  Technology lay in ruins and the citizens were too scattered to be effective any longer.  We only wanted to be left alone.  The Union seeing its own numbers decimated, agreed.  Thus the war stopped with neither side a true winner.  The people lost much, but they gained their freedom.  The Union gained their lives, but lost their power.”
“And we?  Our ancestors were the last men to fight.  They were the last to agree to a truce neither side was happy with.  Once the sides had settled into their uneasy truce, our ancestors disappeared into the mountains, where we live to this day.”
Tears streamed down Mary’s face.  Their story was her own, but unlike those people from so long ago, she was no part of the truce.  She had to fight the Union.  And if fighting meant losing everything, including her life, she would at least die trying.
“Don’t cry, Mary,” Carl said from beside her.  “It was a story from long ago.  The worst is over now, and we are beginning to build our lives back to what they were before the horrors began.”
She looked at him through bleary eyes.  “It isn’t over for us.  We have to go back.”
“I know ye do, dear, but hope is not lost for ye.  Our ancestors lost because we were many and the Union excels in controlling the many.  Ye have a better chance for success because ye are few.”
“And,” said another townsman, “because they’ll never be expecting anyone to fight them after all these years.”
Mary stood and looked as all the people gathered around their new friends from the Union city.  “Thank you for telling your story.  I’m glad the end was a happy one for you and your ancestors…”  She sniffled back the tears she knew lay behind her words.  “But I don’t think the story has an end for me just yet.  We have to go back.”

Sunday, November 3, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013 WIP

Okay, I never never never do this, but here's the beginning of this year's NaNoWriMo WIP:

Aryl looked into his sister’s green eyes through the iron bars separating them.  Her hair floated on the wind, dragging soft violet lines across her face.  He touched his own locks and knew without a reflection that they mirrored the color of her eyes, just as his eyes matched the dusky purple of her hair.  Twins.  But not.  Strangely mirrored—if said mirror had been stolen from the King’s funhouse. 
A whistle blew behind her off in the distance.  The wagons would be headed back to their village soon and if she waited much longer, she’d be left standing outside the gate while he was forced into the building he never asked to enter.
She should’ve been the one chosen.  Her heart belonged inside those stone walls.  His would rather be back home, tilling behind their sturdy oxen or chasing hares in the field.  She would’ve given her right hand to take his place, just as he would’ve given his left.  But she would never say so.  He said as much every time their parents would listen. 
If wouldn’t have mattered if they both put their hearts into the argument.  Aryl possessed the magic from their twinning, not Lyra. 
The whistle blew again.  Their parents had already begun the trudge back across the cobblestone streets.  Their mother gave him a kiss in front of the other boys while Da ruffled his hair and slapped him hard on the back.  The pride in their eyes made him feel like a fake as he closed the metal gate and separated them from his new life.  Only Lyra remained, clasping his fingertips while the rough flakes of rust chafed her arm.
“You have to go,” she said while she clutched at him tighter.
“As do you,” he replied, knowing he should pull away but unable to stop this last contact.  After today, he may never see her again.  After today, he would be in training and she would be in the outlying districts where any manner of things could happen.  Especially with the beasts growing bolder by the day.
If he could complete the training, he would have a chance to push the things back into the mist where they belonged.  That was the hope.  That was the stated purpose of the Academy.  At least that’s what the crier said when he stopped in front of their barn for a sip from the well.
“There’s troubling times ahead,” the old fop muttered while he quenched his thirst.  Da only nodded.  Already they’d lost a half-dozen wooly sheep to a flight of wyverns.  Before long larger things would come drifting out of the mist and the next thing ripped apart could be their oxen or their plow or gods forbid themselves.
“The King’s own wizard,” the man said when he’d drank his fill, “ordered men like me out into this dark land to seek those who could form an army.  Young, strong ones who possess the spark.”
Aryl had seen the look on his Ma’s face.  She didn’t want either of her children to be conscripted  into this deadly service.  She opened her mouth to tell the crier to leave, but Da shook his head.
“We all have to do what we must,” he said.  Then turning to the crier, he offered Aryl into service.  Aryl didn’t get a chance to object.  Not that he would’ve.  He knew what horrors could come.  He’d seen the scars on the trees from where the trolls sharpened their horns like two-legged stag approaching the rut.
“He looks puny.  You sure he’s of age?  The King will have no babies who will cry for their mothers at the first sign of battle.”
Aryl stepped forward, shocked by the implication enough to forget that he didn’t want to go.  “I killed my first boar two years ago.  If I can do that, I can do this.”

Yes, it has mistakes.  Yes, it needs work.  It's a first draft of a book in a genre I've never written before, so don't expect great things yet.  Having said that, though, I'm enjoying writing it.  And that's the important part, right?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Little Sunday Poetry - Personal Storm

I wrote this sucker back in 2001 - before I got married (hence the different last name).  Hell, this was before I started writing novels - when I was just playing around throwing words onto paper.  Not the best poetry ever, but it's mine.

Personal Storm
by B.E. Meissner

The rain has come again.
I expected more bluster,
But I have weathered much more pain
And courage have I to muster.

I can see the scraps of blue
Between the raging clouds
And as thunderclaps ring through
I’m throwing off the shrouds.

Shrouds of illusion that filled my mind
Fall softly away and I can see
That although my thoughts were blind
It’s not too late for me.

The mud rises up to hold me tight --
I’ve felt its grip many a time
And succumbed to its brown blight --
But this obstacle I must climb.

I can rise up from the clinging slop --
Shake away the unclean feel
Of years of endless duty. Stop,
And work toward what is real.

I alone have made the choice
To stand with back both straight and strong;
To use my mind; to use my voice;
To be the Man I am; to sing my victory song.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Little Sunday Poetry

I wrote this back in October of 2006 - when I was trying out some different things to stretch my muse.


She wanted to be totally different.
She knew just what she must do.
She went out and got just one ear pierced
And maybe a nipple or two.

She wanted to be totally different,
Never the same as the rest.
She went to a guy in the city who
Tatt’ed a rose on her breast.

She wanted to be totally different,
Not just another brunette.
She went out and dyed her hair purple
To coordinate with her ‘vette.

She wanted to be totally different;
Michigan wasn’t the place.
She went and found someone in Cali,
To give her a whole brand-new face.

She wanted to be totally different,
To be someone totally new.
She’s so much like everyone else now,
Her rareness is hidden from view.

Needless to say, I don't write a lot of poetry anymore.  ;o)