writing

For Her Brother's Sake

Dug this up while unpacking some things from my recent move - found a bunch of old notebooks with sketches and story snippets, and figured I'd throw them up here. Especially since I haven't posted in such a long time. 

- Alexis

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Here's a character intro about a girl with a bit of unknown magic. 

Danny was awesome. Annoying as hell sometimes, but always there when it really counted. That’s what big brothers were for, right? Like the time when I was five, and we were climbing trees in the backyard. Dad told us not to but we did anyway – like we gave a damn what “Dad” said, even back then. And when I fell out of the tree and broke my arm, Danny scooped me up and took me in to the ER or wherever, but he teased me about my crying the whole way there. Or when I was fourteen and had my first boyfriend ever – although calling him a real boyfriend now seems like a real joke… honestly, no one can seriously date at fourteen. You’re so confused about too much stuff, like starting high school and being one of the “young adults” of the world, and finally getting privileges from your parents (if you’re lucky), and learning to drive, and figuring out just what the hell it means to actually be mature (and meet other people who are just as “mature” as you are).

Anyway, the point was, when we broke up, Danny listened to my sob story and then promptly told me I was just being an angsty teen and that sooner or later I’d better get a grip on myself and realize that there were better people in the world than scumbags like that who would dump me for some sleaze. Later, I saw my ex with a black eye. I laughed at him and thought about kicking him in the shin, but decided not to (not because I was too mature… because my teacher was standing about four feet away from us and I probably would have ended up with a detention).

Yeah, Danny was awesome. He was the golden child of the family. My parents loved “their Daniel”: he was all A’s in school, played center on the soccer team in high school and got a full ride to college. Strong, handsome, smart, and just great. Girls couldn’t get enough of him, but he never dated anyone, that I know of. He knew they were all just shallow, sleazy girls who wanted a piece of the stardom. Danny was better than that.

He was better than anyone I had ever known… he was the only one who ever acted like they really loved me. I was the “oops” child, and my parents always regretted not having an abortion. Danny was twelve when I was born, so he was always looking out for me. Mom and Dad never cared about what I did – they just didn’t want to hear about all my screw-ups. So when I broke my arm falling out of the tree, Danny said we had been playing at the park and he pushed me too hard and I fell. He knew he’d never get punished, no matter what… and especially not for something as trivial as breaking the oops child’s arm. And when I got into a fight (that I didn’t start) at middle school and the principle sent letters home to the parents, Danny got the mail and stole the letter so they wouldn’t find out and punish me.

He never, ever left me alone with them if he could help it. I even started staying at college with him when he moved away, because we were afraid of what Mom and Dad would do to me if I was always alone in the house with them. Danny told everyone I was his niece that he had adopted because her parents had died. Everyone there loved me… it was weird, but nice. I had a family of college guys, and they were cooler and way better of a family than my “real” parents had ever been.

And when the strange stuff started, Danny refused to look away. He said that no matter what, he was going to stick by me. He wasn’t some crummy shithead like Mom or Dad who would dump me on the street because of some weird-ass vibe I had. He was going to try and help figure out what was going on… no matter how creepy it felt.

I was so glad to know that. The strange vibe, the “feeling” that had been surrounding me had been getting more and more potent, and it was starting to creep out some of the other guys. I remember one of them, Mike, I think his name was, coming by Danny’s room and saying, “Dude, you’ve got some major psycho thing going on here. What are you doing?”

Danny’s answer was that he was just tired and cranky because of some project or other he hadn’t gotten done yet that was due soon. Mike seemed to believe him. But as soon as he left, Danny closed his door and sat down next to me. “Millie,” he said, using his nickname for me (my real name was Amelia), “do you know what’s going on? What’s with this ‘Danger’ aura you’re sending off all the time?”

I had no clue. Apparently, I was surrounded by this feeling, this aura, that I was dangerous, and everyone else was picking up on it. I was nervous – what if I got Danny in trouble? Or if I got kicked out? I’d have to go back and live with Mom and Dad – and I sure as hell didn’t want to do that.

Danny didn’t get in trouble. I didn’t get kicked out. But I still had to go back to the house, because I couldn’t live at the college anymore. Danny was out late one night, at a party for one of his friends, and there was a party crash by one of the city’s local gangs. There weren’t very many of them, but they had been drinking… and they had guns. Danny took a bullet for the girl who had been having the party. She called an ambulance, but he bled out before they could save him.

The gang got busted and arrested by the cops, but I didn’t care. Danny was dead.

The girl came to see me. She was cute – pretty, even – and had puffy red eyes. She told me what Danny had done, how he had saved her life, and that she was really sorry for me. She offered to do what she could to help me, but there wasn’t anything to be done. She wasn’t going to be able to take care of me. Danny had been a part-time student and a part-time worker so he could earn enough money to take care of me. This girl wouldn’t be able to do that. I could tell just by looking at her. Plus, it wouldn’t be long before my “dangerous” vibe kicked in and scared her off, anyway.

I thanked her and left. Looking back on it now, I wonder if she and Danny were dating, after all… the way she talked about him, she seemed like she really cared about him, and that he was important to her. And I guess she must have been important to him, too, since he took a bullet for her and died for her.

Mom and Dad were pissed. They were shocked, of course, and totally upset and grieving that their son had died, but mostly they were pissed at me. They blamed me for Danny’s death. If I hadn’t been with him, he would still be alive. Why didn’t I use my freakish power and save his life? I was useless, completely useless. What a waste of a child. They couldn’t believe that their genes had made something so grossly pathetic and worthless. I should have died instead. Why hadn’t I died and let Danny live? I couldn’t even have done the only useful thing possible and traded myself for him?

Then they started to come after me with more than just words – and the words hurt bad enough. Mom got the first slap in, right across the face. I was a little surprised that she could hit that hard. I think that’s what caught me off guard for Dad’s turn. He landed a solid punch to my nose, breaking it on impact. It bled everywhere, making them yell and scream even more about how I was ruining the carpet and my clothes, never bothering to appreciate all the things I had before I just ruined them all with my useless, worthless self. As though I purposely kept the blood flowing, just to piss them off.

Of course, as soon as that thought crossed my mind, I decided to get a little revenge. I blew my nose into my hands and wiped the blood all over the front of Mom’s sweater.

Damn, but it felt so good.

The second punch to the stomach felt significantly less good. Dad stood over me where I’d fallen, winded, looking like his eyes were about to pop from rage. Behind him, I heard a drawer rattle. We were in the kitchen. “Here, honey,” I heard Mom say. “Use this, and finish the brat. I can’t stand the look of her anymore. The murdering, worthless bitch.”

She gave Dad one of the long, sharp, carving knives that you only ever see in horror movies. Dad stepped on my foot, pinning me down. He had this crazy smile on his face, like he was about to kill a fly that had landed on the wall.

I couldn’t scream; there was too much blood and I choked, instead. I put my arms up over my face, although it was a useless move because I couldn’t shield all the soft spots at the same time. I don’t know what was going through my head… something to the effect of Oh God, I’m gonna die. I don’t want to die. I’m gonna die. If I die, will I see Danny? At least I’ll be rid of these guys… I don’t want to die!

Dad swung the knife down…

…It shattered just above my face.

To say that it scared the shit out of all of us would be an understatement.

Mom stared. Dad kept driving the broken knife down towards me like some kind of deranged robot, but his fist kept hitting the air and stopping like it had hit a brick wall. I watched, frozen, my heart beating so fast I thought for sure it was going to break my ribs and beat right out of my chest. I do remember my thoughts then.

What. The Hell. Just. Happened.

I recovered from the shock first. I think it was my survival instincts kicking in (or possibly kicking me in the face). I screamed as menacingly as I could, waving my bloody hands in Dad’s face. It had the desired effect: he stepped back quickly, and my foot was free. I rolled to my feet and sprinted out the door. Behind me, I heard my mom screaming for me to get back here, and then for Dad to follow me and finish me off.

Bitch. I hated her then, and I still hate her now. Makes my power get all hot inside just thinking about her. Of course, back then, I had no idea what was going on. I reacted out of instinct. Protect myself, or die. Now I know how to use my power. I still give off that dangerous vibe, but there’s nothing I can do about that. Frankly, I don’t care. If people don’t like me, then they won’t get close enough to me to be able to hurt me, either. And since I seem dangerous, I’m not too likely to get jumped, either. And even if I did, I know how to take care of myself now.

The reason that the knife shattered was because I had thrown up a shield, using the air around me and hardening it until nothing could get through to me. If someone attacked me now, I could use another one of those shields, or I could make the air take on any shape I wanted… a rope to tie them up, a knife to attack them, or anything else that could come to mind. I bet it would be really freaky to get tied up by an invisible rope… or to get cut up by an invisible knife.

I want to try it, just to see. But I’m not a monster. I am not Mom and Dad. I’m not about to go out of my way to attack someone just because I can, and I sure as hell am not going to start a fight just to have an excuse to beat someone up.

I was raised better than that. Thanks to Danny, I am a decent person… even though something about my power screams to the world that I’m dangerous. Well, I guess I am dangerous, but only if you go after someone I care about. Which would only be me, at this point, since Danny’s already gone.

Thanks, Danny, for raising me to be better than scum like Mom or Dad, for showing me that I’m worth something. Thanks for teaching me how to survive in this shitty world. Thanks for helping me understand that there’s more to people than first impressions and first feelings. Thanks for telling me that I was loved. You saved me from a lot of shit, Danny, taking me away from Mom and Dad. But you saved me from even worse by loving me even though I was different. I’m sorry I couldn’t save you… but I will do my best to live a life you’d be proud of, so that when I see you again, I can tell you, and you won’t be disappointed.

God, I miss you, Danny.

Creation

I wrote a rough sketch for a creation story for The Shadowknives while I was travelling this past weekend and forgot to post it because I was staying with family and they have no internet. 

I hope you enjoy!

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Once, in a time before, we created the earth, man, and the Dark. And we slept beyond the earth which we had made.

In the beginning, man feared much and lived little. Over time, man began to grow and prosper, using the earth and all it offered for food and shelter,  until they overcame their fears. Where they once feared wild beasts, they now had knowledge of how to tame or kill. Where they once feared disease, they learned medicine. Where they once feared death, they developed religion. But they continued to fear night, for they knew of the Dark.

The Dark feared nothing and desired much. It desired power, so it frightened man and gained control over man’s emotion. It desired form, and fused with man’s souls to create new life - the life of our children, the children of the Dark. These children were powerful, and the Dark learned that it had no control over them. Still, the Dark was willing to let a small spark die in order to turn a man into a child of the Dark - for a man’s soul would not accept the Dark willingly, and required a sacrifice from the Dark in order to turn the man into a child of the Dark.

The cost of turning a man to the Dark made the Dark lose all grip on the man - or, more rightly, the child, for as soon as the Dark fused with a man’s soul, the two were caught up together and sealed away as the new soul of the new child of the Dark was born. This new soul could not be controlled by the Dark, but it remembered and retained some of the power of the Dark, just as it remembered and retained some of the power of man. For some, this meant they could change shape between the man they had once been and a beast of which the Dark found favorable; for others, it latched on to the powerful thirst for life man harbored in his soul. Just as a child of man inherited traits from both father and mother, so did the child of the Dark inherit and become a mix of man and Dark. And their kinds were as numerous as the stars.

Man’s numbers began to fall, and he began to fear death once more. The children of the Dark were strong, powerful - more so than man - and many could pass as man and hide amongst them with ease. Only the things which hurt the Dark could truly hurt the children of the Dark: the white blaze of silver, the scorching ray of the sun’s light… Man learned of these things and fought, but the children of the Dark resisted, for they now shared the earth with man and the Dark. And the children of the Dark overpowered both man and the Dark.

The Dark saw that it could not sustain itself through man or the children of the Dark. It tried many times to create something of a form for itself without the aid of either man or creature, but each attempt was met with failure. And for the first time, the Dark began to fear.

And from deep within the earth, we felt the fear of the Dark. We looked over the earth and saw all that the Dark had done for the children of the Dark. We saw the sparks of the Dark fade away as more children of the Dark were born, turned by the children of the Dark as they desired to increase their numbers. We felt the need of the Dark to survive even through its fear. And we reached out from our resting place, from the blackest void across time, and soothed the Dark.

And we awoke.

 

- Alexis

kluge sprichwort

June in Review

I'm pretty sure June was only two weeks long - definitely doesn't feel like a whole month has passed since I last posted! Lots going on so here goes:

Serial Killers! - I read a trilogy of books by Barry Lyga, which is a YA trilogy that follows Jasper Dent, the son of a serial killer as he tries to prove he isn't following in the footsteps of Dear Old Dad. The first one caught my eye because of the title: I Hunt Killers. It was a good mix of mystery and thriller that probably is horror for the YA genre. I liked it enough to reserve the second and third books from the library. 

The second book was my favorite. And I didn't think I would ever say that about a series, ever. But the whole concept was really cool. I can't tell you what without completely spoiling things, but it's the kind of thing I would like to see again with maybe another type? (That will make sense once you read it. Really.) And the ending was great! It was quite clear that it was a hook for book 3, but Lyga did it in such a way that you're not sure if what was wrapped up just a chapter ago is really solved, and how Jasper is going to handle the current situation. 

There were things I didn't like, but nothing that ruined the experience for me, and I don't want to ruin the experience for you so I won't detail them here. Final review: 4 stars. Absolutely worth reading once. The magic is gone after you know whodunit, so I won't re-read them, but I'm glad I pulled it off the shelf.

 

Akitis! - Progress is happening (is progressing?). Akitis is currently having a rather infuriating chat with a crazy man. Nyria is trying to find a new hireling since Akitis killed her first choice (RIP Dailon). Every time I sit down to write more of The Shadowknives, I get excited. It's such a great feeling! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Look for some more behind-the-scenes on it soon!

 

Old Favorites! - Several years ago, my mom introduced me to Dick Francis' novels, which would become my all-time favorite mystery books. Most of them are stand-alone, but there are a few that share protagonists. Odds Against and Whip Hand star ex-steeplechase-jockey-turned-PI Sid Halley, and I think I've read those books 15 times each. They're still good. Parts of them are a little dated, but they hold up so well as stories I don't even care. If you're in the market for a new author, I recommend Dick Francis. Final review for Sid's stories: 5 stars. 

 

Kallizar! - I submitted Fire in the Blood to some more agents, and received the related rejection letters. Such is life. There are a few requests still outstanding, so we'll see what happens. 

 

Gaming! - The Husband and I picked up Elder Scrolls Online for the Xbox last week, so we've been running around questing it up and sometimes saving the world. It's a good game but oddly difficult to play together, considering it's an MMO. Most of the time we end up just playing at the same time and meeting up every so often in town to do trading. 

 

- Alexis

kluge Sprichwort

Updated Book Info!

Go check out the new info on Fire in the Blood and The Shadowknives! You can find it under the Books section - just click on the title to see the new stuff. 

Things are coming together! 

Also, here's an updated look at the outline of The Shadowknives. Color-coded and with a pen balanced for scale. And yes, there's something on every card - I slid it around to hide spoilers. 

card stack
card spiral



-Alexis

kluge Sprichwort

Great Openings

There are some books that have the most perfect opening lines. 

My favorite is still from one of the Dresden Files books (Blood Rites, I believe), which starts off with, "The building was on fire, and it wasn't my fault."

The book I just picked up has a great opening as well - not even the first line, but the first page: "Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well." I have no idea what this book is about, but I need to find out now. Did it not end well because angels and devils can't get along? Or did it not end well because it was forbidden and now everyone's out to get them? Or something else entirely? 

I suppose I will find out. If you are interested, it's The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I found it on a random library wandering and thought the title was cool. 

 

-Alexis 

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