Holiday Weekend and DoW Snippet

Trust UR Story Neil GaimanIn the past, part of my “real” job was writing a weekly motivational message.  I was basically “ghost writing” as/for the Senior Executive Service level director where I work, but he never made any secret of the fact that I wrote his messages.  (That was a couple of “Directors” ago.)

People would ask me (especially if they knew there were stressful or disappointing things going on) how I wrote such motivating missives week after week after week.  Well, believe me there were many weeks that I didn’t think I could write a single uplifting word.  But whenever I got started writing a message, I found that I was encouraging myself as much as I motivated my audience.  And if I heard the smallest whisper that I had lifted someone’s spirits, it sent my own faltering heart soaring.

That’s how I feel here, when anyone says I’ve buoyed them up in some small way — and that’s what keeps me coming back with a new chapter for you every weekend.  So I hope never to leave you completely adrift.Lazy Cat fluffy sad

However, it’s a holiday weekend here in the USA, Memorial Day.  And I am in desperate need of recharging my emotional batteries.  I haven’t gotten to do any of the actual writing for the next episode.  Copper and the woman in trousers still stand in astonishment as the alchemist delightedly watches his submarine rise to the surface of the water.

I do want to provide some entertainment though.  So here’s a snippet from my unpublished work The Dead of Winter.  A few of you may have seen me comment that I’d love to see this massive book turned into an anime series.

Just like live-action television and movies, some anime is gratuitous (I’m sorry, the story isn’t more interesting just because you throw in over-blown gore in fight scenes, or nudity for no real reason. And a preteen in a garter belt is just plain wrong — I don’t care what your excuse is.  See what I mean?  It’s just like regular TV.)  But I find some anime preferable to other forms of film. It can be beautifully done, particularly the backgrounds.  Here’s a video with some examples of the kind of anime into which I’d like to see The Dead of Winter made.

(There are movie clips here.)

My story has a wide cast of varied characters, but the heroine is a twelve year old girl, Emlyn. The snip below is early in the story, from Emlyn’s point of view, in the cold place her world has become.  Within The Dead of Winter I also built a world with many nations, traditions, religions, styles of dress, and societies — and magic.  I hope you enjoy this little visit to the world I built.

From The Dead of Winter

First Dream – Winter Is Coming

It was neither light nor dark, though there was a strange half-light.  The dim shapes of furniture seemed familiar as Emlyn looked around the room.  She went to the window, but could not see anything beyond it other than gray darkness.  Goosebumps pricked her arms.  She took the shawl she was required to use to cover her hair and wrapped it around her shoulders.  She felt like she should know this room; and it disturbed her that she could not place it.  Worse she felt that she should remember not liking it.

She turned to go to the door and leave, but a musical tone pierced her ears, surging in volume, but then dissipating.  As the tone died she thought she heard a voice.  Emlyn shook her head, trying to clear it.  She moved toward the door, and the sound blended with the rustle of her skirts, but she was sure she heard it again.  She froze, listening, with her hand reaching for the doorknob.

“Winter is coming.”

Emlyn tilted her head.  Had she heard correctly?  Then it came again more clearly, but still little more than the sound of dry leaves, “Winter is coming!”

DoW 06-15-2013She turned toward the sound, but saw nothing more than the oddly familiar room.  Then suddenly he was there, across the room.  He was a stranger to Emlyn, yet she felt that she knew him, even though she couldn’t see his face clearly.  Shadow seemed to cling to him even more than it did to the rest of the room.  “Did you hear that?  Was it you who spoke?” she asked.  He seemed to rush closer to her, though his feet didn’t move.  She drew back.

“No,” he replied, “but it’s true.  Winter is coming.  The Winter.  The Winter of the ages.  I know those fools have tried to stifle knowledge, but don’t tell me you haven’t at least learned about that.  You of all people should know about the Winter.”

It was plain that she didn’t know what he meant, and that seemed to make him angry.  Her hands gripped her shawl tightly.  Suddenly afraid, Emlyn didn’t know how to respond.  The voice came again, louder, “Winter is coming.”  She blinked and he was only inches away from her.

Emlyn awoke with a start and sat up in her bed.  She let out a relieved breath.  She was safe in her little room.  Then she heard it in his voice.  “Winter is coming.”  He stood at the foot of her bed.  Emlyn thought the dream must be clinging to her, and she rubbed her eyes.  He was still there.  She blinked hard.  He moved toward her and sat on the side of DoW_Cvr_Art-1the bed.  As she felt the bed shift with his weight she screamed.

Her cry roused the household.  Afanen, her sister, was there first, and then her father and brother-in-law crowded into the tiny room, demanding to know what the trouble was.

“There was a man,” she said before she could stop herself.  Their expressions were first astonished and then scandalized.  Emlyn tried to take the words back by saying, “It was a dream.  Just a nightmare.”

Her sister cut her off and exclaimed, “I had gotten up and was on my way back to bed when I heard her – mumbling in her sleep about winter.  She kept saying that winter is coming.”  Afanen wore a bemused smirk that suggested Emlyn was just a silly girl and not to be taken seriously.  She had told people often enough that there was something odd; something wrong about Emlyn.

“If she’s dreaming of men in her room, then it’s time she had a husband,” Dewydd, her brother-in-law said, barely hiding his leer.

“It was just a dream,” Emlyn defended herself.  Her sister and brother-in-law left the room to go back to bed, whispering to each other.  She heard her sister giggle as the door to their room closed.

Her father sat down on the bed, on the same place where he had sat.  Emlyn cringed, wondering if somehow her father would be able to tell that someone; or maybe some thing had just sat there.  He had gone pale, and she thought his voice shook a little.

“Winter, you say?” he looked intently at her as he asked.  “Winter is coming?  As if it was more than just winter?”

“Well yes, that’s how it was in the dream,” Emlyn told him.  However, her father sat looking at her coldly.  He seemed to appraise her, trying to determine her honesty, as if he had caught her in some mischief.

“Where have you heard of this?” he demanded as he stood.  She only looked up at him in confusion.  “It is not allowed for this to be taught.  This is blasphemy!  Where have you heard it?  Have you eavesdropped on the elders when they meet?”

“It was only a dream,” Emlyn stammered, “a nightmare.  Why are you angry?  I don’t understand.  I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Foschi_Winter Landscape with Paseant Family

***

I promise to be back next weekend with Episode-18 of  Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

Update — I should have shared this to begin with. Now most of you won’t even see it… but here is a “pitch” for The Dead of Winter that will tell you about the story.  https://teagansbooks.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/pitchapalooza-the-dead-of-winter/

 

Copyright © 2012 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

Happy Halloween

DoW_Cvr_Art-1In celebration of Halloween, I’m re-posting an excerpt from The Dead of Winter.  This is probably my favorite sequence in the entire book.  I call it “Emlyn Ran.”  It comes from a ways into the story, so try to tell your brain not to worry about context or details you might not understand.  All “realms” [think of realms as realities] border one another — and young Emlyn learns that she can traverse them.  However, at this point in the story she doesn’t fully comprehend that.  I think it is one of my best sequences.  I hope you’ll enjoy it.

teagan

***

Emlyn Ran

Emlyn ran.  She panted for breath, but she dared not slow her pace.  She wasn’t sure why she ran, but she knew she must.  One minute she had been holding an ancient skull where she had fallen into a cave, and the next she was in a strange building.  The half-light and washed out colors told her she was in the Realm of the Dead.

The sense of him was overwhelming.  She shuddered.  She felt a horrid taint everywhere she turned.  It even seemed to coat her lungs as she breathed.  His name filled her mind and she could not escape it — Arawn.  Emlyn had not even known the name until the night before, but now it was as if she knew him and knew him well.  She could feel the blackness of his soul.  Arawn.  Everywhere she felt his presence, and she could not find the way out.  Worse, she felt that now he knew her as well!  Arawn.

She didn’t know how long she ran down one corridor after another, or if she had been running in circles.  Her side cramped.  The building seemed to be a palace, though it was empty.  She rounded a corner in the corridor, not knowing where it might lead.  She couldn’t see very far in the half-light of the Realm of the Dead.  However, something red stood out in contrast to the washed out dimness.  It was a window with heavy red velvet draperies.  Just beyond it another hallway crossed the one down which she ran.

She stopped, her breathing ragged.  Emlyn felt panic rise as she tried to decide which way to go; right, left, or straight ahead?  She also wanted to look out that window in hope that it would show more about where she was.  But she was terrified of what might be outside it, looking back at her.  However, she knew that in past dreams, which had taken her to the Realm of the Dead, she had not been able to see anything beyond the windows; only gray darkness.

Her trembling hand reached for the red drapes.  She hesitated.  Her ears strained for any sound of pursuit as she looked all around.  All she could hear was her pounding heart.  Cautiously she moved the drape just a bit.  The chink in the curtains revealed only the accustomed grayness.  Her hand shook harder as she pulled the fabric farther aside.

arawn2The laughing countenance of Arawn filled the window.  She screamed.  Emlyn didn’t know how she knew it was Arawn — she’d never heard anyone describe how he looked, but she knew it to the depths of her soul.  He tossed his straight black shoulder-length hair.  Blood was smeared across his mouth.  He wiped it away.  His long hard fingernails had blood under them.  He smiled at Emlyn in a dreadful insinuating way.

She ran ahead where the corridors intersected.  If she turned left it would seem to take her closer to Arawn, though she suspected it was possible for him to be anywhere he chose in this realm.  She knew he was toying with her.  The way ahead ended at a staircase.  She took a few steps closer to it, but as she looked up, she realized that the stairs went nowhere.  They stopped at a blank wall.

It seemed like she heard distant thunder, but it was likely the pounding of her heart.  She turned to the right and would have gone that way, but she heard a soft yip.  Emlyn turned back and looked up the staircase to find the great white wolf standing there.  She was certain it was the same huge wolf she had seen on her way to visit Osabide on that strange morning just before her journey began.

Stumbling backward, she turned again to her right, now running away from both Arawn and the wolf.  She skidded to a stop; stumbled and fell down to one knee.  The wolf stood before her; head down and growling ominously.  She gazed into its blue, blue eyes.  It bounded past her to the staircase, and looked from the stairs and back again to Emlyn.

She heard a voice, but she wasn’t sure whether it came from within her mind or from somewhere in the corridor.  “Hurry!  Winter is coming,” the voice insisted.

wolf-faceEmlyn took a shaking breath and got to her feet.  Could the wolf be trying to lead her?  “All right,” she whispered and moved toward the white wolf.

He ran up the stairs and disappeared right through the wall where the stairs abruptly ended.  Emlyn braced herself.  She closed her eyes and ran toward the top of the stairs, following the wolf.

She fell forward.  She was dizzy and unable to open her eyes.  Beneath her face and hands she felt damp grass.  After a moment Emlyn opened her eyes to see dew sparkle on green blades of grass.  Sunlight was warm on her shoulders.  She was back in the Realm of the Living.

***

A Back-Story: Innusha

LynnSexySaturday_buttonHave you heard of My Sexy Saturday?  Trust me — if you go check it out, it will live up to your expectations of the name!  It uses “sevens.”  That would be seven paragraphs, seven sentences, or just seven words.

It’s also a “blog hop” where writers can share snippets, and it gets your work noticed by readers in places where your writing might not always be seen.  Call it exposure.

Well, you know I’m trying to learn all I can about indie publishing, and that includes blog hopping.  My stories aren’t what I think of as “Sexy” whether Saturday or any other day of the week.  Okay, so “Atonement, Tennessee” has a moment or two where things warm up; maybe it even brushes against Romance territory.  However, “The Dead of Winter” only hints at relationships.

That said, I wrote a scene from one of the dozens of back-stories that roam around in my head for “The Dead of Winter.”  These two people are only briefly mentioned in the book, as the parents of the Zasha character.  However, the “Emlyn-verse” holds many stories that are yet to be written.  Here goes a snippet for My Sexy Saturday

Innusha

Innusah tossed her long dark curls and gave a joyous and free laugh.  The sudden and certain knowledge of what she was about to do was so liberating, so exciting, so… arousing.  From the moment she saw the amber haired stranger with his twinkling blue eyes and lilting voice she knew she wouldn’t let him leave her homeland, Rus, without her.  Oran was his name, and his accent rolled the “R” in a way that fascinated her.  Her lips puckered as she unconsciously tried to make the sound.

She hugged herself and twirled.  He meant more to her than escape from the frozen tsardom.  From the first moment he spoke her name Innusha never wanted to leave his side.  She bounced on her toes with anticipation.  She glided around her suite gathering the things she would need.

Even as she laid her plan, Innusha realized that if she went through with it, she probably would never see her country again.  Oran’s home was that far away.  Even her father, Count Bolyar, didn’t know anyone who had traveled there.  However, that only made her plan more exciting.

She hesitated for the space of a heartbeat.  She knew no other home than Rus and the lands within it.  But what was Rus to her anyway?  A Dažbog forsaken place where spring came so late that it was over before it arrived.  The sun god didn’t smile upon the tsardom any more than her father smiled upon her.  All of her younger siblings were already wed.  Innusha was neither of importance nor interest to her family.  Still, she would miss them.  She frowned for a moment.  Then she thought of his eyes and his musical accent, and her frown disappeared.

Her feet were light as a dancer’s as she ran to her hope chest.  The carved wooden chest was an object of ridicule from her family.  If they knew about the satin and lace sleep-shift she’d never hear the end of it.  It unfolded even as she lifted it from the trunk.  The golden satin poured down her body as she slid it over her head.  Its caress was cool against her skin and she shivered in anticipation.

She thought of the way Oran’s strong hands had been so firm on her waist as they waltzed.  Innusha twirled around her room, closing her eyes at the memory and imagining his hands moving to more intimate places.  The satin of the sleep-shift swirled around her ankles as she moved like a dancer in the royal ballet.

Still dancing, Innusha took her fur lined cloak from the wardrobe and tossed the cloak onto her bed with a flourish.  Then she spun faster and faster as she thought of Oran and remembered his warm breath against her ear, saying her name in a lilting whisper.  She twirled until finally she collapsed onto her wide bed, dizzy and spent.

***

Summer and Winter

The summer solstice has not yet arrived but… Winter is coming!

I’ve been toying with a cover idea for “The Dead of Winter.”  This is just an initial concept, but I had fun with it.  The image of the girl was so much like “Emlyn” looks in my mind, I thought I’d share.

DoW 06-15-2013 The border was better (dark red) before I had to edit the reflection I made… but you get the idea.  It’s hard to tell here, but I made reflections of the two human images, representing the part of the story that deals with both the living and the dead.  However, I’m tossing around ideas about how many “character” images I should show, wondering if something else might match the story better.  Or perhaps just the young heroine, the raven, and a wolf — also key to the story.  However, finding images of those creatures in similar styles proved very difficult.

Now back to summer.  June 21st is Midsummer, the summer solstice, the first day of summer.  It might be fun to read “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” again.  You can get it free at one of my favorite sites, Project Gutenberghttp://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1514

Happy Summer,

teagan

Emlyn Ran – The Dead of Winter

Emlyn Ran, Excerpt — The Dead of Winter

I’ve been a bad blogger lately, and haven’t posted much.  Maybe I’ve been too focused on the paying job – also known as work.  To make amends, here is a treat.  [I hope!].  Below is an excerpt from The Dead of Winter.  I call it “Emlyn Ran.”  It comes from a ways into the story, so try to tell your brain not to worry about context or details you might not understand.  All “realms” [think of realms as realities] border one another — and young Emlyn learns that she can traverse them.  However, at this point in the story she doesn’t fully know that.  I think it is one of my best sequences.  I hope you’ll enjoy it.

teagan

***

Emlyn ran.  She panted for breath, but she dared not slow her pace.  She wasn’t sure why she ran, but she knew she must.  One minute she had been holding an ancient skull where she had fallen into a cave, and the next she was in a strange building.  The half-light and washed out colors told her she was in the Realm of the Dead.

The sense of him was overwhelming.  She shuddered.  She felt a horrid taint everywhere she turned.  It even seemed to coat her lungs as she breathed.  His name filled her mind and she could not escape it — Arawn.  Emlyn had not even known the name until the night before, but now it was as if she knew him and knew him well.  She could feel the blackness of his soul.  Arawn.  Everywhere she felt his presence, and she could not find the way out.  Worse, she felt that now he knew her as well!  Arawn.

She didn’t know how long she ran down one corridor after another, or if she had been running in circles.  Her side cramped.  The building seemed to be a palace, though it was empty.  She rounded a corner in the corridor, not knowing where it might lead.  She couldn’t see very far in the half-light of the Realm of the Dead.  However, something red stood out in contrast to the washed out dimness.  It was a window with heavy red velvet draperies.  Just beyond it another hallway crossed the one down which she ran.

She stopped, her breathing ragged.  Emlyn felt panic rise as she tried to decide which way to go; right, left, or straight ahead?  She also wanted to look out that window in hope that it would show more about where she was.  But she was terrified of what might be outside it, looking back at her.  However, she knew that in past dreams, which had taken her to the Realm of the Dead, she had not been able to see anything beyond the windows; only gray darkness.

Her trembling hand reached for the red drapes.  She hesitated.  Her ears strained for any sound of pursuit as she looked all around.  All she could hear was her pounding heart.  Cautiously she moved the drape just a bit.  The chink in the curtains revealed only the accustomed grayness.  Her hand shook harder as she pulled the fabric farther aside.

The laughing countenance of Arawn filled the window.  She screamed.  Emlyn didn’t know how she knew it was Arawn — she’d never heard anyone describe how he looked, but she knew it to the depths of her soul.  He tossed his straight black shoulder-length hair.  Blood was smeared across his mouth.  He wiped it away.  His long hard fingernails had blood under them.  He smiled at Emlyn in a dreadful insinuating way.

She ran ahead where the corridors intersected.  If she turned left it would seem to take her closer to Arawn, though she suspected it was possible for him to be anywhere he chose in this realm.  She knew he was toying with her.  The way ahead ended at a staircase.  She took a few steps closer to it, but as she looked up, she realized that the stairs went nowhere.  They stopped at a blank wall.

It seemed like she heard distant thunder, but it was likely the pounding of her heart.  She turned to the right and would have gone that way, but she heard a soft yip.  Emlyn turned back and looked up the staircase to find the great white wolf standing there.  She was certain it was the same huge wolf she had seen on her way to visit Osabide on that strange morning just before her journey began.

Stumbling backward, she turned again to her right, now running away from both Arawn and the wolf.  She skidded to a stop; stumbled and fell down to one knee.  The wolf stood before her; head down and growling ominously.  She gazed into its blue, blue eyes.  It bounded past her to the staircase, and looked from the stairs and back again to Emlyn.

She heard a voice, but she wasn’t sure whether it came from within her mind or from somewhere in the corridor.  “Hurry!  Winter is coming,” the voice insisted.

Emlyn took a shaking breath and got to her feet.  Could the wolf be trying to lead her?  “All right,” she whispered and moved toward the white wolf.

He ran up the stairs and disappeared right through the wall where the stairs abruptly ended.  Emlyn braced herself.  She closed her eyes and ran toward the top of the stairs, following the wolf.

She fell forward.  She was dizzy and unable to open her eyes.  Beneath her face and hands she felt damp grass.  After a moment Emlyn opened her eyes to see dew sparkle on green blades of grass.  Sunlight was warm on her shoulders.  She was back in the Realm of the Living.

***

Winter Is Coming!

The Dead of Winter — Draft Complete!

Winter is coming…. Winter is coming!

Maybe there is something to be said for insomnia.  Before the first 24 hours of spring were complete, so was a draft of “The Dead of Winter.”  Even though there was less than an hour to spare… even though it’s a very rough draft (at least as far as the ending is concerned), I can honestly say “Draft complete!”

There is a huge amount of editing ahead of me, in order to make the ending plausible, and to keep it in line with my concept of that world, the characters, and the spirit of the story.  The work is far from over, but I do have a solid draft.

At the ending, my biggest roadblock was knowing that somehow my young heroine had to face the villain.  However, I had placed two issues in my way:  I wasn’t heavy-handed with the use of magic in this fantasy, and I didn’t want anyone to rescue her at the end.  Help – fine.  All out rescue – no.  That meant I have a little twelve year-old girl, facing a supremely powerful psycho-villain.  Making that plausible, while staying true to my concepts for the story, seemed impossible.

Then yesterday a friend asked how the book was going, and I mentioned those two issues.  She reminded me of the story of David and Goliath.  I realized that she was right – it could be done.  (No, there is no slingshot involved.  Ha-ha.)

I’ll tweak the ending, and go to a couple of places early in the story to make small adjustments that will make everything tidy at the end.  Then come April, I’ll put Winter aside and let it steep for a while before I do a final edit.

While Winter is steeping, or brewing, or what-have-you (if you think it sounds like I’d like another cup of coffee, you’re right), I’ll dive into my big experiment with indie publishing.  The National Novel Writing month book, “Atonement, Tennessee” will be the test subject for that experiment.  Indie publishing is also the reason why I started this blog – just getting my feet wet ahead of time.  Blogging is part of independent publishing.

Happy springtime, everyone.  Here’s to new beginnings.

teagan

Spring is coming!

My heroine in The Dead of Winter hears the eerie warning, “Winter is coming!” Well, the warning I hear is spring is coming!

I’ve thought so many times how badly I’d like to finish at least a draft before winter was over yet again. So a few weeks ago I gave myself the deadline of astronomical spring.

Now the vernal equinox is only a few days away [Wednesday, March 20th]. Also, I have to work. So wish me luck. I need it.