On the plus side, I’ve finally nailed down the main theme of Project B. I know exactly what the entire story should revolve around. And now that I know that, I can move forward at a much smoother and more consistent pace. I had an idea that this one particular section I’d written a few years ago might work as the true opening to the novel, and much to my surprise, it works perfectly in that position.
On the downside, I’ve cut two full chapters that didn’t relate to it all that much. One chapter I knew I was going to throw in the Outtakes bin because I was just writing something for the sake of writing and getting into the mood of the story. The other chapter was an older bit from a few years ago that I can actually still use later on in the story. So all in all, it evens out.
Still, I’m not too bothered by writing scenes that I won’t use. It’s all part of the writing process. I have tons of outtakes from different projects over the years hiding in folders and notebooks in Spare Oom. And like most writers, I might sometimes dig them back out to use elsewhere. Meet the Lidwells, for example, has quite a few scenes that were originally for a trunked idea of mine called Two Thousand, which worked quite nicely. And there are a LOT of Mendaihu Universe outtakes just waiting to be used elsewhere.
Sometimes I feel like I’m cheating when I do that, but I don’t feel too guilty about it, to be honest. I’m not being lazy, far from it. I’m recycling and reusing something that works much better elsewhere. Sometimes it’s a scene that I think is a fantastic idea, and I may have even written a rough version during a Daily Words session, just waiting for a forever home. But really, the most important part is when I place it where it’s supposed to go, and the entire project suddenly comes into clear focus and makes so much more sense.
That’s when I feel most proud of my work — when it all falls into place like I want it to!
I’ve been writing the first complete rough draft of In My Blue World in short daily bursts of around a thousand words on 750words.com over the last month and change, and I’m actually kind of impressed at how far I’ve gotten in such a short time. After writing various disconnected scenes earlier in the year, this is my first start-to-finish attempt. There’s still a lot more to go, new and old scenes inserted, as well as revision, but I’m quite happy with it so far. If I plan this out correctly, I might have a new book to push by the time Worldcon rolls around!
Meanwhile, here’s Take 2 of the opening of the story. Hope you enjoy it!
I’d been looking forward to this vacation for months, and now that it was here, it occurred to me that maybe I should have been better prepared for it. I had on the wrong pair of hiking boots and my feet were aching something fierce, and they we had a mile to go before we reached the cabin. I’d also made the mistake of taking the newer backpack, which ended up being slightly bigger than expected, and its corners were digging into my kidneys.
Not that I was going to let all that ruin their time at our grandmother’s cabin, of course. Once we got there, we could kick off their shoes, relax in one of the deep chairs on the open porch, and do absolutely nothing at all. After four months of dealing with online clients and impassive management, it was high time for me to forget about the goings-on in the world. Me and my sisters had planned this trip to the cabin since late last year, and now that time was here, and I wasn’t going to let anything ruin it.
The path loomed ahead of us, a slow but seemingly unending incline heading up the side of the mountain. To one side were the steeper foothills, and to the other was a gentle slope downwards to the large lake in the valley. Even though I should be watching my step and keeping an eye out for any unexpected animals popping out of the brush, I couldn’t help but glance leftwards to the lake. I’d been camping down there as well in the past, spending hours in the water, swimming with her family and friends. We’d be making multiple trips down there in the next few days.
Grandma’s cabin, on the other hand, was equally as fascinating. About halfway up the mountain, the path leveled off at a meadow, with a few wooden cabins lining the edge of it, just inside the tree line. There was always something mysterious up there. Grandma Patricia always kept weird things there, things from her old life as a hunter. She’d taught all three of us girls, showing us how to catch, clean and cook fish and fowl and other things that ran around these deep woods. We knew how to survive in the wilderness for the next few weeks.
That tear in the universe, though…that was definitely unexpected.
“Dianaaaaa…” Katie whined, dramatically dragging my name out. “Are we there yet?” She made a production out of slogging up the final hill towards the meadow, dragging her feet and hanging her head. She hung onto her boyfriend Greg as if he was the last shred of life force left in her. Greg said nothing, but I was sure his eyes were rolling right then.
“Almost,” I said.
“You are so lazy,” Allie laughed, hitching up her backpack and darting up the hill with a renewed burst of energy.
“Stay close!” I called out, but it was no use. When my youngest sister set her mind to it, there was nothing to hold her back. In the process I sped up my pace to catch up. Katie responded with another groan and trudged along. “Allie, how many times do I–”
“Oh, wow…” Allie had suddenly stopped short. “What the heck is that?”
My heart jumped, thinking she’d just found a dead animal, or worse, a sick animal, and sped up to join her. I sidled up next to her and stepped out just a tiny bit ahead, her hand out just in case. “What did you see?”
She pointed in a vague direction of the path ahead. “That! What is that?”
“Where? I don’t know where you’re–”
“That… shiny thing.”
I glanced up the path again, and sure enough, she could see something flashing. Something small but bright. A reflection of sunlight against something, perhaps? Even Katie and Greg had stopped to take a look at this point, and neither was quite sure what they were looking at.
“That’s too bright for a reflection,” Greg said. “Unless it’s a mirror.”
Katie shook her head. “That doesn’t look like a mirror. That–”
Her words were drowned out, as the air as torn in two.
The point of light sputtered and sparked to life, becoming as bright as the sun. I shielded my eyes and swore, blinking away tears and pulling my sisters back. The point of light began to grow; it expanded from a point to a line; a thick line of light, dripping with god knew what kind of plasma energy. And it wasn’t a smooth expansion, either. It was jagged, as if it was hacking away at the air and hitting resistance. Each time it ripped upwards, another growl of thunder filled the air. It expanded until it was human height, and stopped.
The silence was terrifying.
Then the girl stepped through the tear, screaming unrecognizable words in a strange accent. She held a glowing sword in her right hand and a thread of green light in her left palm.
“Ah!” the girl cried. “Krozarr!”
The wisp of light in her left hand burst into a bright green sphere, and she pushed against the tear. Pushed down on it with all her might. She growled more words that we couldn’t understand. The tear responded with just as much resistance, though it was no longer thunder… it sounded like heavy boulders sliding against each other.
Finally, with a final push, she closed the tear she’d just made and all was silent once more. The girl shook the globe of light out of her hand and it dissipated. The tip of her sword dropped to the ground. She stood there, panting from exhaustion.
She turned around, and saw all of us, watching her.
Somehow I’ve roped myself into working on three different projects at the same time. I’m revising Meet the Lidwells and writing the Apartment Complex story, and now I’m writing outtakes of my Magical Girl story for my warmup words (while listening to ELO, no less). Go figure.
Here’s an outtake I wrote Thursday evening. Hope you enjoy!
[Story so far: a group of college kids are on a camping vacation in the wilderness and witness a girl, clad in armor and wielding a glowing broadsword, tearing a hole in reality and jumping through to escape an unseen evil presence. The girl closes the hole, but faints. The kids bring the girl to their rented cabin to nurse her wounds, and a few days later she reawakens, though stricken with amnesia.]
Zuzanna stepped out onto the porch of the cabin and once again tried to remember who the hell she was. She was a solider, yes. Zuze was definitely her name, weird as it was. She was apparently a badass — Katie’s description, at least. She remembered ripping a hole in the fabric of time and squeezing through to get away from… who? Someone named Krozarr? A vague emotion stirred whenever she thought of that name, and she wasn’t sure why. This amnesia ate at her, frustrated her to no end. She needed to know who she was and where — and when — she was from, damn it all! And she knew she needed to get back and finish what she’d started.
“Hi, Zuze,” she heard off to her right. Katie was sitting in one of the wicker rocking chairs, kicking back and relaxing, enjoying the morning. “You doing okay today?”
Zuze hummed in response. She still wasn’t sure how to talk to this young girl who, in an odd way, reminded her of herself. Zuze had never had a quiet childhood, and her teenage years had been fraught with noise and stress and worse. Again — she knew the memories were there, but she could not quite connect with them.
“Frustrated,” she said. “And hungry.”
“I hear you,” Katie said, smiling at her. “The boys should have come back with more food and supplies by now. I don’t know what’s taking them so long.” She pulled the blanket closer around her legs, despite it being not all that cold. She seemed distracted, looking out into the front garden and down the pathway, wanting to say something but holding back.
“Do you mind if I sit with you?” Zuze asked, pointing to the other chair.
Katie blinked, the question unexpected. “S-sure, go right ahead.”
“Thank you,” she said, and sat down. She didn’t feel all that cold… in fact, she felt too warm. The others had been grousing about a cold snap earlier, but she alone hadn’t noticed. She wondered if she was just used to the climate back where she was from that this current one felt like bliss. She looked out across the garden as well, past the treeline at a large lake off in the distance. That body of water definitely looked familiar. Of course she couldn’t remember the name. She still couldn’t remember a lot of things.
“Zuze, can I ask you a questions?”
Zuze glanced over at the girl. “Sure.”
Katie frowned, thinking of what she wanted to say before she spoke. “You’re from the future, right?”
“I…I believe I am, yes.”
“You don’t know how far, though? You still don’t remember?”
She shifted uncomfortably. “I’ll… remember it eventually. Pretty sure I will, anyway.”
“Hmm.” Katie shifted herself, still frowning. “You were fighting someone. I don’t think any of us saw his face, but we heard his voice. Sounded like a big bad guy. I…” She drifted off, looking away, and Zuze let the silence linger. This was hard enough for her to comprehend, so it had to be worse for this girl. “I tried looking up his name online. Different versions of it. I couldn’t find a match anywhere. For you to jump through time to get away from someone like that, they have to be pretty evil. And they’d have made the news *somewhere*. So I’m thinking you’re from pretty far ahead.”
Zuze shuddered. “He won’t bother any of you, I promise,” she said a little too quickly.
But Katie smiled instead. “We’re not worried about that, Zuze. We’re worried about you. I’m worried. I want to help you remember. So I figure, if we can’t pin down exact memories, we can at least narrow the scope, right?”
Zuze blushed, equally warmed and embarrassed by her words. “You don’t have to do that, Katie,” she said. “It’ll come to me soon enough.”
But Katie wouldn’t relent. “Don’t you see? We want to help. You’ve dropped into our lives, Zuze. Literally. You ripped a hole in reality and jumped through, and we were all there to catch you. We’re your friends. We want to help.”
Zuze couldn’t believe what this girl was saying. She couldn’t bear to expose these young kids to the evils of her own time! She did not want their lives on her conscience. And yet… she found herself tearing up. She even felt a little cold that moment, and wished she’d brought a blanket of her own.
“I…” she started.
“We’re here for you as long as you need us,” Katie said, and laid a hand on hers. “We can be your safe haven for the time being.”
Zuze wiped the tears away, grinning like an idiot. “Th-thank you, Katie,” she said, her voice just above a whisper.
Postscript: Of course I’m going to give this one an anime-inspired title. Given that this one has ties to ELO, I’m going to call it In My Blue World for now. 🙂
A little something I wrote on Friday that may or may not have something to do with the Secret Future Project, aka the College Story. Enjoy!
[Note: the College Story is not a horror novel, nor is it only about the hedraac (my vampire-like characters that are also in the Secret Next Project universe, though the stories are not related). This is most likely going to be a New Adult coming-of-age story, which happens to feature many human and non-human characters.]
When I cross the quad, there’s always a sense of stillness there, even if other students are mingling about. They could be shouting political slogans, or grunting and shuffling about playing touch football, or practicing their scales and harmonies, or simply scuffling along on their own, but all that tends to get drowned out by the stillness in the air. Even on a windy or rainy day.
I haven’t quite figured out why I feel that, and sometimes I even avoid crossing the quad some days, and I’m not sure if I ever will. Perhaps it’s the ghosts of the campus, forever traipsing along the four corners of the flat grass, forever hovering in front of the brick buldings with blank books and styli long emptied of ink in their arms.
I can sense those ghosts. Not many of us can. Mostly the hedraac, but there are others. The faculty tend to ignore the ghosts. They’ve gotten used to them by now. You know who the new professors are, because like me, they get skittish when they cross this area. They’re not scared, just wary. Like me, they’ll eventually learn to cross the quad without a single worry.
I met one of the ghosts during one of my shifts at the radio station. I’d just entered Davis Hall and headed down to the basement, and I was just about to pull the heavy door into the station, when I stopped short. Hovering in front of me, maybe less than six inches off the ground, a young ghost of a student waited for me. He didn’t look threatening. Maybe a little overtired with heavy eyes and stress lines on his forehead, but other than that he looked like any other student here on campus. A weathered jacket, an overfull book bag slung over his shoulder, worn jeans, and very worn sneakers. He and I locked eyes for a moment. He smiled in response, and slid out of the way.
“Pardon,” I said, well aware that others could have just seen me talk to myself. But I don’t mind that… a lot of students do that here.
My shift started in another twenty minutes, and I always got there early to slide through the music library to pick out the evening’s play list. Another hedraac was finishing up his own show, and was currently running down his own play list. He caught my eye through the studio window and waved. I wondered if he could see the station ghost as well.
This was my third semester at the radio station, and I was slowly making my way up towards the position of music director, something I’d been wanting since I’d discovered college radio when I was a teenager. Some deejays are there for the extracurricular activity or because they have nothing better to do, but me, I plan to stay in the radio field as long as I can. I’m one of those music fans who obsesses over records and bands, knows far too much about them. I’m also one who loves the night shift. It’s not that I’m a night hedraac… I just like the ambience and the fact that I’m alone for the most part.
My shift started as normal and I set the mood by throwing on some of my latest favorites, a wide range of styles that I know most of my fans like to hear. Now and again I’ll get a few calls from them, asking for obscurities or well-known classics, and I do what I can to provide. I may be a music geek, but I’m not a snob about it. I’ve been known to play a few major label tracks now and again.
It’s entering the second hour of my shift when I start hearing the voice.
It’s soft at first, a quiet humming that I mistake for an open feed that I forgot to tune down, and after a few flustered moments of checking and double checking the faders, I realize it’s not going out on the air at all. It’s in the speakers, alright, but it’s not anything I’m playing.
It’s the ghost, and he wants to talk to me.
“I hear you,” I say into the air. “I can’t make out what you’re saying, but I can hear you.”
I feel a tap on my hand, which makes me twitch. He’s trying to guide me to open one of the faders to a test channel. I shiver, but at the same time I’m intrigued.
I turn up the fader in the test channel. “You’re plugged in,” I say, and wait for a response.