Monday, August 25, 2014

The Story of Notebooks

Like most authors, I have an addiction to buying new notebooks. There's something about their crisp, blank pages that calls for me to bring them home and paint stories across their pages, rather than condemn them to the dull alternate fate of mathematical equations. (Not that I have anything against math, and I've drawn my own fair share of them against notebook pages, but I personally prefer using a chalkboard and a computer).

This is my latest haul. With the exception of the lavender notebook at the bottom, I picked these sweethearts up last night at Walmart of 97 cents apiece. (The Lavender one has been in my possession for a bit longer, and I paid about 25 cents more at Target.)

Normally, I admit, I wouldn't pay so much for notebooks (much preferring a 50 cent label) but these notebooks are bigger than most. Not only are the 100 sheets in comparison to the normal 70, but they also have bigger pages, which means I can cram about twice the story into the pages. (Also, the covers are plastic in front and super-thick cardboard in back, so they aren't tearing up anytime soon.)

Thing is, with the exception of the dark purple one (which has been claimed by League of Royals), I have no idea what to write in these. So I'm going to put it up for a vote. Hop over to my WIP list (which has been newly updated to reflect a few new story ideas) and let me know which stories you think belong in each notebook (because choosing the right notebook can make or break a story).

Please try to stick with the stories that have "very little written," though if you are convinced that one of my nearly-completed stories belongs in one, I can always save it for the rewrite.

Have fun.

(Oh, and specifications on the colors: true blue, black, hot pink, and lavender. The dark purple one, as I've already said, has been claimed by League of Royals.)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Writing Update at Long Last

Last year, I did a pretty good job of updating ya'll about my writing once a month, until I got buried in Ankulen edits and became busy with other sorts of posts.

But I suppose you guys do deserve something of a update to let you know where I am in the writing world.

So, anyways.

For some reason, my brain just melts in summer, and this year, since I combined it with working, I did not get very much great writing done. HOWEVER, I have managed to bring Kingdom's second draft almost to the point where the first draft stalled. I'm liking how the story is flowing, a lot of the characters are getting some pretty good development ... especially Robin. I didn't mean for this to be "her" book, but she seems to be taking over, despite not having any POV. Most of the time, you see her through Eric's favorable eyes, or you get Arthur's rather overwhelmed opinion.

Also, the short stories are ... coming. Currently, Eric is at Casperl's house in Woodcutter Quince. I'm liking the scene, but um ... little secret here ... I'm not good with all-male scenes. I'm getting better, but despite the fact that Eric almost writes himself, Casperl ... doesn't always. I think that if I just sit down and push myself through the story, it won't actually be that difficult, I just haven't had the gumption to push myself through.

With Gift Exchange, I'm a tad bit more stuck. It's going to be a sweet little story, with good character development for the twins - perhaps the last time Robert fans will see him in full action, but ... even though I know exactly what I want to do with the book, it's slow writing, and I realized that I was going the wrong direction, and had to back up a few paragraphs to correct myself.

We'll not talk about Saffron's Even Bigger Plan. Despite the fact that I, again, know exactly where I'm going with the story, it only has half a page of writing.

I have two writing contests that I plan to participate in this year, Anne Elizabeth Stengl's Beauty and the Beast collection, and a cats in space sci-fi thing hosted by E. Kaiser. I know what I'm writing for both of these, and while I actually have Fairer than Beauty started, I still need to settle on a title for the sci-fi one. It's going to be about an alien people who are a cross between cats, vulcans, Chinese people, and computers finding earth for the first time and incorrectly assuming that cats are the intelligent life forms. It will be interesting, but I still need to figure out what I'm doing with it.

Speaking of Catlins (the name of the cat/vulcan/Chinese/computer people), they were huge characters in my sci-fi novel last November, and I'm sure all of ya'll are interested in hearing what great progress I've made with that story ...

Eh ... there hasn't been any progress. The story is just sitting on my desktop grinning at me with it's 50,845 words and 99 pages. But my mom and I sat down and did some plotting, (as well as some pretty cool worldbuilding for the fantasy sequel) and I think that I can write myself out of that block ... although I did have a panic session as I forgot who had the next chapter and I couldn't find notebook where I had written all of my notes.

But, the notebook has been found, so progress can resume. I'm really looking forward to sharing this series with you.

I finished the first draft of Water Princess, Fire Prince this year, perhaps my biggest achievement. However, as I've sat down to rewrite the story, it has ... resisted my attempts. The sequel, which I also decided to plunge into a rewrite, has not had the same problem. I've been wanting to start this rewrite for some time, however, and it is a story that I have finished four times already, so it's not surprising. I've wracked up 16 notebook pages, which isn't bad considering the time I've spent on it.

(Petra, stop tormenting Ashley. You're just going to regret it when you find out ... uh, I can't tell you what you're going to find out, spoilers and all that ...)

Also in notebooks is The Nine Gems of Virtue. I've almost finished the first chapter of this rewrite, and I won't hesitate to say that my version is better than my mom's. I don't have a huge infodump of backstory, but I do have lots of hints that reflect all of the worldbuilding and plotting that Mom and I have put into the story.

I also have Mermaid Footprints in the same notebook that I had written Sun Jewel Contest (a notebook that also contains the opening of Jeptha's Hill from back when it was going to be an book in the series, and some prewriting for future Bookania Quests. That's one lucky notebook there, something from all of my big three). So far, it's doing pretty nicely. Jen's on the scene at the moment, and it's interesting to see how she has matured since The Ankulen.

Speaking of the Ankulen, I know I told ya'll that I would try writing a sequel entitled Anka Jenifer. Well ... I've changed my mind. Instead, you guys will get Tales of Ooladada. Jen and her siblings will enter that series in book 3, and I think you guys will like it.

I believe that's about it, unless we mention the fact that I did break through on some block in HaV Academy, and now have three chapters for Roxanne, and one for Fiona, until I wrote myself into another block ... but I like most of the words I added (except for some random bit about a cow ... that is going to go ...).

Also, I broke my Ankulen back in January. I didn't mean to, but my sister was trying to hit me with a frying pan, and I defended myself with my hand (as I usually do) and the ring took the blow. My mom let me raid her jewelry box to find a replacement ring, and while I did find one, I'm not allowed to wear rings on any fingers besides the ring and pinkie fingers at work, and since I wear my Ankulen on my middle finger, I would dutifully leave it off. Except one day, I didn't place it where I normally do, and now I can't find it.

Currently, I'm wearing an heirloom ring that my Grandma gave me custody of on my eighteenth birthday to see if I can get the juices working, because I honestly believe that my lack of an Ankulen has been a good deal of my problem.

Also, speaking of work, I quit my job. Yesterday was my last day.

I've had the job for nine months (pretty much exactly) and I just felt that it was time to move on. For now, I'm going to focus on my writing and becoming officially done with school. I'm going to go visit my cousin Tenya (the one who designed the covers for the Bookania Quests) for the next two weeks, and when I get back, I'll start hunting for a new job, with the condition that I can start on December first. (I don't want to balance a new job and NaNo like I did last year, as I believe that's what happened to my inspiration for that story.)

Yes, I'm going to miss the steady income over the next few months, but I've found that I'm the best inspired in autumn, so hopefully I'll get some good words in, perhaps get the short story collection completely out. Also, I'm looking at getting my GiraffeCrafts knitting business up and rolling, which will be exciting.

So, on that note, a plate of eggs and bacon that I crocheted.

I'll be selling these (minus the plate) for 5.00 a set.

Monday, August 18, 2014

And Now the Post You've Been Waiting For!

You know, Kendra's a dear and all that, but sometimes she puts off doing things she should for far too long (case in point - writing my book). She was supposed to tell all of you who won the giveaways five weeks ago, but here we are ... anyways. 

Oh, and Kendra just told me not to use numbers.

Yeah, she has trouble with numbers, I have trouble focusing on what I need to get done. We all have our faults.

First off all, winner of the first $5 gift card from the interviews is ... Abbey! I'll need an email from you from an address attached to an Amazon account so I can send you the money.

Second, well, no one entered any official fanfiction, so I'm going to shift that one's prize over to the review giveaway. (and also because my brain forgot which contest had which prize). Therefore, Kiri Liz will be receiving a complete physical collection of my books. Not autographed, unfortunately, because I will be sending them to you directly from CreateSpace. However, when we have that LotR marathon (because it has to happen), I'll be sure to sign them for you. In the meantime, email me your mailing address, and I'll ship them off to you.

Winner of the Title contest is, by popular demand, Kathryn. She won by one vote. I'll need a email with an amazon attached so she can claim her $10.

As for the fan art, well no one entered any of the traditional sort, and certainly no hand-drawn stuff. However, Kiri Liz did submit some mock covers into the graphic art contest, and her Cayra has won her a $5 gift card. I have her amazon-attached email, so I'll send it to her at once.

Now that we're done with all of the giveaways that involve money, I get the keyboard. Each day, Kendra featured a game that promised one person a chance to read a sneak peek at something of her writing.

The first day, it was tag, for a chance to read Infiltration. The winner? Robyn Hoode. Lucky you. That's one good book there. (In other words, it's finished.)

Day three, it was Egg Toss to win a chance to read the openings of the first three books of the Rizkaland Legends. Winner? Kiri Liz.

No one played Red Rover on day seven, so no one gets to read The Nine Gems of Virtue. Now that's unfortunate, because it's a good book!

Stop with the numbers.


You're giving them the numbers out of order. Just say the game and the prize. Don't bother with the numbers.

Okay, fine. Days are hard to count, anyways, being insubstantial and all that. 

Moving on. Since she played Hot Potato so well, Kathryn will get to read The New Division. So far, your the first person who Kendra doesn't already have an email for, so shoot her one, and she'll send you this lovely story. (You can find her email on her FAQ page.)

The person who kept the balloon in the air and didn't pop it and will therefore get to read Cayra and Just another Sci-fi Novel, is TomWildRose. Kendra says she does have an email for you. Just a warning though, the Sci-fi Novel contains references to Doctor Who, and since ...

Maryanne, Tom is, I believe, a fan of Doctor Who (the classic series, at least). She won't mind references. Now get off your high horse about that show.

She has issues with it because the Doctor isn't a medical kind of doctor. Now get her on Merlin ... but we won't go there. Carry on, Maryanne.

Is é an Dochtúir falsa, ní cosúil le mo dheartháir. Anois, tá sé an dochtúir is fearr sa domhan.

Moving on again, the person who pinned the tails on the donkeys and gets to read Colinda and the Swan Secret is Miss Melody. Except that Kendra just informed me that you already have that story in your inbox somewhere (apparently, you won it at her birthday party) and that she hasn't added anything to it since that time, so you'll get to read The Nine Gems of Virtue instead. I'm sure you'll be happy with that one.

Because she was such a good scavenger, Jessy Jones will get to read Half-Hidden. That means you'll get to read about Stardrana. Ah, but she's a sweetheart. Of course, this was written at a stage where Kendra wasn't sure if Stardrana would know exactly what the Hidden were, but anyways. I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

Robyn Hoode was the only one who has done her Character Encounter this month, so she'll get to read the first ten chapters of Worth of a King. (With all of Jack's and my notes edited out of course ;) Don't want you reading spoilers or anything like that ...)

Robyn Hoode also was the one to burst open the pinata (figuratively speaking) so she'll also get to read HaV Academy. 

There was no game for the Ankulen's day. I think Kendra forgot about it, or simply couldn't come up with anything.

And finally, the only person to have taken a pitch with the horseshoes was Robyn Hoode (those were some great Haikus - worth of Haiku himself.) Since I happen to know that she's already read the first two books of the Bookania series, she'll just be getting Kingdom. She'll love it, that's for certain.

And now that that's done ...

It's not.

Yes, it is. We've given away everything I promised.

Ah, but I promised a dragon's egg.

Maryanne, there is no possible way for me to give away a dragon's egg.

And the winner of the dragon's egg is ...

Maryanne ...

Hush. And the winner is ...

Kendra E. Ardnek!

Via Pinterest
I heard you mention the other day that you would love to be a dragon rider, so I went and got you an egg. A purple egg, so you can name it Sunrise, just like you want to!

And a big thank-you to everyone who attended the party! It wouldn't have been half as fun without you!

Maryanne ... there are days ...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Awesome Dragon Tag

A few years ago, I decided to pull out one of my old books to write for my second attempt at NaNo. I wrote up a description for Infiltration, and plunged into the words.

One girl, at least, found this description intriguing, and sent me a buddy request. Since I liked her username, I accepted it. (And I know for a fact that my book's description was the reason she buddied me, because she told me.)

After my parents withdrew me from NaNo (the forums at least) I kinda lost track of her until she started commenting on my blog and many of my friends. She's guest posted over here once, a long time ago, because she wanted to take part in a tag, and she didn't have her own blog.

Speaking of tags, she's celebrating her birthday this month, and is doing some dragon-themed awesomeness on her blog, including a tag which I shall now dutifully fill out.

(Oh, and please stay tuned tomorrow for the announcementation of all the winners from my own blog party!)

1. Which was your favorite birthday you’ve had and why?

That would be my thirteenth birthday. It was perfect. I got up early that morning (err ... the Saturday after, but that's how it usually works in my family) and went on a nice daddy day, we went to the library, to the park, to ... well, I forget all where I went (except that there was Chinese food for lunch), but just as we were going to head over to the mall to play Lunar Golf, we got a phone call from my aunt saying she had left some cleaning rags at her house that she needed to clean the church with, and would we please bring them to her. So we did, and then we got to the church and there were a bunch of cars in the parking lot - including one person who goes to a different church (she has a very distinctive car), but my brain thought - oh, some sort of woman's meeting. I opened the front door, and the room's dark, but there's a bunch of people sitting on the floor - including my (at the time) two best friends, and all my cousins (who live down here, at least) and while I'm wondering why they're sitting there, they shout surprise, and three seconds later, as the light flies on, I realize that it's my birthday party.

(Big breath)

Yes, I can talk a person's ear off about that party. Seems everyone thought that I had figured it out - multiple people had slipped up about it - but I had been so distracted by my daddy day and a sleepover party that I had been planning a few weeks after that, it hadn't even occurred to me that they would be planning a surprise party for me.

A close second would be my eighteenth birthday, with my blog party.

2. Who is your favorite fictional dragon and why?

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That is ... difficult. I have read so MANY dragons. But ... since you're making me chose I'll go with ...

Oh, who am I fooling. I can't chose in this sort of epicness. Every dragon has its own reason for being amazing. They're DRAGONS after all.

I'm staring at my Goodreads list of dragon books that I've read, and still, none of the dragons are presenting themselves as my favorite. Sooooo ....

I'm going to go with Amber. The Lady Dragon. Because she was the first real villain I ever developed, and she certainly has the best developed backstory and arch even now. She's fictional. You didn't say it had to be a published dragon.

3. What is something awesome you’ve done this summer?

I ... I don't remember most of this summer ... my brain has been ... stressed. I had a blog party. Yes, that's pretty awesome. Which reminds me - don't forget to vote for your favorite story for the "fanfic" contest. (Entries being Water, Fire and Jessica's Summer.) You can let me know your vote in the comments below.

4. What are your favorite flavors of cake and ice cream?

I like lemon or apple cake and whatever ice cream looks lonely. 

Case in point, about four years ago, I went to spend a week at an aunt's, and at the halfway point to her house (she lived two hours away from us, and my parents met them halfway to drop me off to them) we stopped at a place for supper, and there was a blue bell ice cream shop inside, and the aunt got us kids each a cone. Since I'm sensitive to milk, I didn't get ice cream very often, so I had trouble picking, but the lemon looked lonely, and since I like lemon, I chose that. It was good ice cream.

5. Which quality of dragons do you think is cooler, the ability to fly or the ability to breathe fire?

Flying. But I think that their fire breathing is some hot stuff.

6. What is your favorite book that you’ve read this summer?

I have read maybe five books this summer ... but all five of them have been REALLY good (they had to be, because I'm not in the state of mind for the reading of mediocre books). I think I'll go with Secret of the Hazel Tree by Kirsten Fichter. No, it's not published yet, but hold on to your socks folks, this'll be one epic book when it is.

7.Will your age on your next birthday be an even or odd number? Would it also be a prime number?

It'll be an even composite number. But my age this year is an odd prime.

8. If given the choice, would you become a dragon rider?

Oh certainly. I'll have a purple dragon named Sunrise, we'll set all to right and we'll be epic. (Except that my eyes are blue, and I'd be luckiest riding a blue dragon ... eh, well, give the dragon brown eyes, we'll call it good.)

9. Do you actually make a wish before blowing out the candles on your birthday cake?

Doesn't everyone? I also wish on the first star I see every night and wishbones. I make wishes on dandelion puffs and daisies. I'm a bit addicted to wishing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

CE Tree - Roxanne

Via Pinterest
"Stupid tree! Stupid, stupid tree!"

I walk around the end of the house to find a girl hanging by her ankle from the cedar tree in my front yard.

"You lost the fight, didn't you, Roxanne!" I shout up at her.

"Is it that obvious?"

"Well, since you're upsidedown in a tree, and that tree's branch didn't use to be in that position, I thought it a good guess to say that your brother had something to do with it."

"I keep roots out of dad's lair for this very purpose!" she declares. I realize that she has some sort of rock levitating near her ankle - probably some sort of knife.

"I'm sure you do. Never let someone else have an advantage if you can help it," I observe. Suddenly, she's falling out of the tree, but it's clear that she's done this before since manages to grab the branch she's rapidly headed for and twirl around so she's on her feet. The branch that had been around her ankle has snapped in two.

Soon she's on the ground in front of me. "That's much better," she declares. "Honestly, that brother of mine cares nothing about me making a good impression."

"I don't think you do either."

"Yes, but it's a requirement for villains to always make a good entrance, and thus a good first impression. Hanging from a tree does not count."

"Ah, but I'm your author, and you're not in your costume, and as such, you don't have to worry about your impressions. You need to stop being so high-strung. How's school coming, by the way?"

"They say I'm doing good. I hate it."

"Oh, it surely can't be all that bad," I prompt. "Have you made any new friends?"

She shrugs. "That roommate you gave me is crazy. I think she actually likes being a villain."

"Well, there are people who do," I admit. "But you don't have to let it define you as she does. You can be like your dad."

She shrugs. "I need to get back home." And with a stomp of her foot, she disappears into the ground at my feet.


I know I meant to post the winners to the giveaways today ... but my brain has been in shutdown, possibly due to the fact that I've been working on book two of the Rizkaland Legends as well as the midgoal climax of Kingdom. Also ... while most of the giveaways will be easy to draw a winner for, I really can't decide for the "fanfiction" contest.

There were two entrants, both of which I love nearly equally. One chose to merely use the title of Water Princess, Fire Prince and run her own direction with it. (And it involved twins - major points there!) The other chose to use my plot idea as well as the title, though she rearranged the family structure. I'm thoroughly intrigued by her story, because it's clearly going a very different direction that I have my version going.

So I'm doing a poll of sorts. Do you prefer Jessy Jones' Water, Fire, or does Kathryn's Jessica's Summer speak more to you? Let me know!

I plan to post the winners on Friday, so all opinions about these two stories must make it to my desk by tomorrow night.

Also, comment moderation has been turned back on. Captcha is back off. You're welcome. (Honestly, I do prefer being able to moderate comments.)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour

There's been this tag of sorts going around, masquerading under the fancy title of The Writing Process Blog Tour. I've wanted to participate for some time, and nearly took advantage of one blogger giving the blanket whoever-wants-this-can-take-it tagging, but I persevered in hopes that one day, some author would remember me when doing up their post and lo and behold, it happened. I was tagged by Jaye L. Knight, one of my favorite authors. I'm thoroughly honored.

Anyways, on to the questions.

1) What am I working on?

Um ... the easy answer would be writing My Kingdom for a Quest and three more stories for my next short story collection ... but I write best when I multitask, and at the moment ... I have the following documents pulled up (Besides Kingdom and the short stories):

HaV Academy
The New Division
Just Another SciFi Novel
Water Princess, Fire Prince
Worth of a King
Bookania book 4.

PLUS, I have sitting beside me in notebooks:

The Nine Gems of Virtue
Rizkaland book 2
Footprints of a Mermaid

So ... I'm a bit busy at the moment.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

I'm not exactly sure how to answer that. When I write, I don't worry about how it's different. Much of the time, I just scavenge around for cliches that I can reuse and re-purpose. And I write in such a variety of genres - mostly fantasy, but even there, I cover all of the bases. Dragons, fairies, retellings, epic quests ... I try everything.

But no one has my brain, no one has written these stories before. No one has used my twists, my vision. I put a bit of me into every one of my stories.

3) Why do I write what I do? 

Because they are the stories burning in my heart, crying to be spilled through my fingers. I like taking old, tired plots and giving them new light. I like bringing up topics that people should think about it. I've been given stories to write, and write them I shall.

4) How does my writing process work?

As you can probably guess from my list of books I'm working on write now, it's a bit chaotic, but after the publication of four books, I've developed something of a rhythm.

I start with an spark, which could be anything from the idea of dragons who take on a human form after they are slain to the idea of a girl who has never been allowed to cut her hair. I mull on this idea for a few days to a few months, until I discover the heart of the story, which may be directly connected to the spark, or it may have nothing in common and I end up throwing that original idea out entirely.

Eventually, I get excited enough about the story that I feel that I'm ready to start writing it. I make it about two to five chapters before I realize that I started in the wrong place, or I'm going the wrong direction, and, armed with this knowledge, I scrap that notebook or document and start over.

This time I (usually) make it to the end, and once I reach those delicious words, I put the book away and work on something else. (Although sometimes I hand it off to my Grandma or someone so they can tell me what they think of it). Once I get back to it, I decide it needs a complete rewrite, so I plunge into that. It's usually a painless process, rewriting, though it isn't always.

Once it's rewritten, I send it off to my editors, do up a cover art, then hit the publish button.


And I tag ... Jack.

Jack claims the title of Author, which makes her feel like a Time Lord when she capitalizes it. She has a sonic pen which deepens her Time Lord claims. She enjoys a good Science Fiction story though spends most of her time writing Fantasy and Steampunk, or a mixture of both.

You can learn more about Jack's other published work and upcoming books at her website,

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

You May Think That This is the End ...

Hola! Maryanne here! Yesterday was the last day of the party, and I'm sure all of you are eager to hear who won all of the lovely prizes.

However, let me let you in on a little secret. Last week, Kendra bought a bed. A really tall loft bed. Which is smart, because she has a smaller room that she's trying to cram a full-sized bed and four desks inside.

Kendra is not the best person at thinking things through (case in point, she stuck three books between book one of my series and the first book that I appear in, a very bad decision all around). Currently, her room is half in her mom's school room, and her mom isn't happy about it.

Therefore, to give her brain time to mull, she's extending the contests until next Tuesday (she says she has another post that has to go up on Monday, or else she would end it then.) So, you have extra time to draw fan art, play red rover, write reviews, or encounter your character in a tree. Basically, have fun.

In the meantime, Kendra has to reorganize her room. She intends to share a picture tour with you guys when she gets done, however!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Once Upon a Time ...

Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, there lived the Locksley twins, a prince and a princess.

Via Pinterest
Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, there lived the Prince of Briton.

Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, there were two servants who were kept in a dungeon for the mere crime of not knowing where their prince was.

via pinterest
Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, there lived a boy who was the son of Robin Hood himself.

Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, there lived a princess who hated taking naps.

Via Pinterest
Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, there lived a girl who was little more than a servant in her own home.

Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, there lived a princess who was the best artist in the world.

Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, a country rejoiced at the birth of twin princesses.

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Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, there lived a princess who was convinced that her rock would one day hatch into a dragon if she sang to it twice a day.

Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, there lived two cousins whose similarities ended with the shape of their face.

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Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, there lived a princess who was the best swordsman in the world.

Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, there lived a princess who wanted to be everyone's best friend.

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Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, there lived a princess who dreaded her birthdays.

Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, there lived a princess who was an official member of Robin Hood's band.

My Kingdom for a Quest - Chapter 1

Via Pinterest
Yes, I know this is off Worth's board,
but I don't have anything that fit
the mood of this chapter on

1 In the Dungeons

Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, two servants were locked in the dungeon for the mere crime of not knowing where their prince was. He had disappeared in the middle of the night, and none knew where he had gone, the two servants least of all.
Truth be known, no one truly suspected the pair of the conspiring against the prince, but Vizier Mordreth, the prince's uncle and regent, couldn't punish the true suspect, leaving the two boys as scapegoats for Mordreth's wrath.
The true suspect was an old man, who had appeared out of nowhere the day before the prince disappeared and convinced the miserly uncle that it was imperative that the young prince visit some of his peers. Unfortunately, the old man had disappeared with the prince.
It would be hard to find a pair more unlike the two servants who now resided in the dungeon. One languished in a corner, having given up all hope of seeing the light of day again. The other paced their confines with a vengeance that belied their situation.
And so they were doing at the start of my story.
“Oh, do you hear that, Gavin?” announced the pacer, stopping and turning to the door, his arms crossed over his chest. “Here comes our faithful waiter. Shall we order chicken dumplings or apple pie? They both sound so good, I don't know which one to pick.”
“Oh, knock it off, Leo,” complained Gavin. “Your tongue is going to get us into trouble.”
“We're already in the dungeon,” Leo pointed out. “I don't know how we could be punished any further.”
“Do the words 'torture' and 'death sentence' mean anything to you?”
“No, I must confess,” said Leo, as the tiny window in the door opened and two bowls of watery gruel were shoved through, “those Briton words are foreign to my ears. What do they mean?” He claimed the two bowls from the guard's meaty hand and wrinkled his nose as the window was slammed shut. “Ugh! They messed up our order again! I shall have to complain to the proprietor of this establishment.”
“The Vizier wants us to tell him something we don't know, and he's not a patient man. I don't think …” Gavin swallowed. “He threatened us the last time he was here.”
“And I laughed. It was such fun!” Leo sat one bowl down in front of his fellow, then gave his own a stir. “Whoever told us that prison food is a delicacy ought to be thrown in the dungeon himself!”
Gavin didn't have the heart to respond to that remark, and was too busy eating.
Leo shrugged and took a bite of his own gruel, shaking his head in disgust. “How you can put up with these horrid conditions is beyond me, friend.”
“Well, there isn't anything we can do about it,” said Gavin. “So there's no use complaining.”
“Oh, sure there's use in complaining. It gives us something to do, otherwise we'd be thinking about 'torture' and 'death sentences.'”
Gavin was spared the necessity of response by the sound of another familiar step outside.
“Oh, here comes out friendly neighborhood threatener now!” Leo announced, barely keeping the excitement out of his voice. The window swung open to reveal Vizier Mordreth's face. The flickering torchlight of the dungeon halls made him seem even more sinister than normal.
“So, are the two of you ready to tell me what has become of my nephew?” he asked, drawing each word out to its full potential.
“Unfortunately, we've been stuck down here in a dungeon with no way to receive messages from our spies,” said Leo, carelessly. “Are you ready to let us out so that we can return to our normal lives?”
“Impertinent fools!” Mordreth hissed. “Don't you know that I could have you beheaded?”
“You could also let us return to our lives and families, and we'd be eternally grateful to you,” Leo pointed out.
“Insolence!” Mordreth shouted, even louder than before.
“Sir,” said Gavin, in his best consolatory manner, “we truly do not know where Prince Author went. When we went to bed, he was there. When we woke up, he was not.”
“I do not want excuses, I want information!”
“If it's information you want, I may as well inform you of the horrid living conditions of this dungeon,” offered Leo. “I mean, look at this food! Nothing more than watery gruel. How is a man to keep body and soul together living off of this? And let's not even get started on the …”
“Silence!” Mordreth roared. “You know full well what sort of information I demand, and you know how to give it to me!”
“It was the old man,” Leo suddenly said. “He gave us a tea before we turned in for the night. I would be willing to bet that he slipped some sort of sleeping potion into it. And then we couldn't notice when he magicked our prince away.”
“Well, then,” said Mordreth, lowering his voice – which was even worse than the shouting. “If you don't have the information I seek, then I don't have any use for you anymore. You have until tomorrow afternoon to tell me where to find my nephew. Otherwise …” his mouth curled into a wicked smile. “Well, I think I'll just leave it to your imaginations what I'm planning.” The window was slammed shut, and footsteps were heard trudging away.
“You don't suppose that he's going to be giving us seats of honor in a parade tomorrow?” asked Leo, turning to his friend. “Because that would be a lot of fun.”
“It would be, wouldn't it,” admitted Gavin. “But knowing Mordreth, it'd be a parade to our death!”
“You don't say? Well then, we ought to figure out a way to escape before he has the chance to do that.”
“And how do you plan to do that!”
“Haven't figured it out yet. No worries, though. We have at least twelve hours before the threat comes true – probably more, since I doubt that even Mordreth is fond of midnight visits to the dungeons. We have plenty of time.”
“Only twelve hours! Leo, there is no way to escape Briton Dungeons. No way!”
“That's what they said in the dungeons of Fronce, too,” said Leo absentmindedly, taking a sip of his gruel. “Now be quiet while I think. And eat up. We're going to need our strength!”
“Dungeons in Fronce!” Gavin squeaked.
“Yes, now those were dungeons! Now be quiet.”
Gavin fell silent and simply stared in the direction of his friend, the look on his face (had it been visible in that dark cell) a mixture of confusion, awe, and horror.
“You wouldn't happened to have fallen in love with any young lady who would be able to arrange for a soldier to play traitor and get us out of here, now would you?” Leo suddenly spoke up.
“Ah, well, I suppose that not every young lady can be so obliging. And now that I think about it, it's as good a way into the dungeon as out. Now where was I … No, bribing the guards is out of the question. All we have is gruel to call our own, and I'm sure they have much better food in the soldier's quarters.”
“We'll never get out of here!” Gavin moaned.
“That's what you think. That's what everyone thinks,” said Leo. “But I tell you, there's always a way out of every sticky situation. You just have to be observant and look it.” Leo frowned as he set his now-empty bowl to the side. “It's too bad Mordreth doesn't have any daughters for us to charm. Only that good-for-nothing Kew, and I really don't see him helping. And Arthur's gone, so that's out of the question.”
“If Prince Arthur were here,” said Gavin, dryly, “we wouldn't be in the dungeons.”
“Good point,” said Leo. “As I was saying, we could always try to steal a key and unlock the door, but that can be a very tricky business, and it's very easy to get caught. And then where would we be? Probably talking about death sentences some more. Honestly, they don't bother me, just all this talk about them. It's enough to drive a man mad.”
They lapsed into silence once more, Leo pacing the floor, Gavin frowning at the darkness.
“What's that sound?” Gavin suddenly observed, sitting straight up.
“What? The tapping?” asked Leo, turning to the wall Gavin was staring towards. “Sounds like more of those friendly mice. I wonder if they're going to sing for us. That would be fun, wouldn't it?”
“It's louder than mice.”
“Is it? Why you're right, Gavin! Those must be awfully big mice, then.” Leo rubbed his hands together in anticipation. “Here to sing for us on the last day of our lives. Oh, my mother always did say I was destined for great things, she did!”
Suddenly a stone slid out of the wall and a man carrying a dim torch appeared. The light was not enough for him to be recognizable.
“Well, what are the two of you waiting for,” came the harsh whisper. “Let's get out of here!”

The two servants exchanged glances and a grin broke across Leo's face. “A secret tunnel! Now why didn't I think of that one!”

Party Game - Horseshoes

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Today's challenge is to write haikus. I fancy myself quite good at these things (I won a contest once - got two pie irons ...)

I'm not sure what haikus have to do with horseshoes. My brain didn't give me a straight answer when I asked it.

However, your haiku can't be about just anything - it's Bookania day today! Your Haiku must be about fairy tales!

(Oh, my brain just coughed up a reason - there's a character who will appear in a later book, whose name is Haiku, and who will be cursed to speak only in that sort of poem, and who may or may not be a love interest for one of Robin and Eric's kids. And Robin likes horses, so that's where the horseshoe comes from. Anyways.)

To get you started, here's a haiku about Cinderella.

Fairy Godmother.
Girl dances until midnight.
A lost glass slipper.

You may submit as many as you'd like. The author of my favorite haiku will win a chance to read Sew, Take, and what I have written for Kingdom. And I know a few of you have already won a chance to read Kingdom ... but that was draft one. I'm offering draft two this time ... and it's changed.

Welcome to Bookania!

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Three years ago today, frustrated with my life and lack of income, I pressed the publish button on my book, Sew, It's a Quest. Now, I could wax philosophical about the fact that I wasn't a good place spiritually for such a decision, and that the book itself could have used a bit more spit and polish before I released it, but I don't have a time machine, and I don't believe that I could have changed anything even if I did, so anyways.

Almost everyone who's read the book has loved it, and I don't regret the decision to become an author.

Bookania is a land of fairy tales. As its name suggests, it exists within a book - which is located within the Library behind the Rainbow that I mentioned yesterday. (Yes, all of my stories are connected in some form or fashion, even if they aren't in the same universe.)

It's a wonderful world, full of possibilities, full of delightful characters. I love the time I spend there, I love the puns that worm their way in (though, unfortunately, they haven't been as common in Kingdom as they were in Sew or Take.)

Check out Kiri's blog for an interview with Madeleine and Robin, and then swing over to Robyn Hoode's for an interview with Eric.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Into Ooladada - Chapter 1

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Since you can already read the first chapter of The Ankulen, and I don't have a first chapter of Mermaid Footprints ready for reading, I'm going to share the first chapter of the original version of Behind the Rainbow. It's changed a LOT since then, but that's another issue. (I.E., this was written back when the story belonged in the Mikada universe).

Chapter 1
The Quest is Given
   Our dear Reader, we would like to thank you for picking up this book. We will promise you that it will be different from most other stories you have read. While it is true that Kendra is the one typing and wording things, the story belongs to both of us.
    This happened some years ago, while the two of us were ten and twelve. Whether it is true or not, we will leave for you to decide.

    We were at our Grandparents house, playing in their woods. Kendra was showing off next to the gully that pretty much divided the woods from the rest of the property.
    “I bet I can walk across the board backwards,” she declared.
    “You better not,” said Kathie, “You’ll fall in,” but Kendra had already taken a step backwards and was falling in. Kathie gave a cry and grabbed for her, and—fell as well.
    Neither of us has any idea how long we were falling, for the descent seemed to take forever. All we know was that it was scary. Finally we landed on a very soft surface. Kendra was the first one up.
    She looked up and exclaimed “Look, V!” that’s one of her nicknames for Kathie, “The sky is green!” Well, actually it was more of a teal, but that was the first thing that popped into her head. The sun had a greenish tinge to it, too, but the clouds were a dull red color, the color of the red clay that had been in our backyard.
    “And look at this, this hill we’re on!” said Kathie, “It’s like a giant pillow.”
    “That must be why it didn’t hurt when we fell,” said Kendra, “I wonder how we are going to get down.”
    “Kendra, where are we!” Kathie exclaimed, suddenly panicking, “How are we going to get home! What will mom say!”
    “Oh, relax V.” said Kendra, rolling her eyes and shaking her head, “Look at it this way, it’s an adventure. Who knows, we might meet a princess!”
   “You and your princesses,” said Kathie, rolling her eyes in turn, but Kendra had calmed her down sufficiently.
   “Now, how are we going to get down from this hill?” Kendra asked.
   Kathie peered over the edge. “Maybe we can climb down,” she suggested, “And look, there’s a town that way, maybe they can help us.”
   “That’s an idea,” said Kendra, “I’ll go first, since you’re scared of heights.” She grabbed the sides of the huge pillow and began descending. Kathie followed cautiously.
    After a scary (as Kathie puts it at least) descent, we finally reached the bottom.
   “Kendra,” Kathie said as feet touched solid earth, “Where do you think we are?”
   “I have no idea,” Kendra answered, “But I suppose the only direction we can go is forward.”
   “Then let’s go,” said Kathie decisively. We started walking along, with no real direction as there was no real path. We became aware of a rainbow ahead of us, and decided that was as good as any destination, for we had mostly forgotten about the town. As we neared the rainbow, we discovered that we were, indeed, nearing the rainbow. Instead of staying all the time just tantalizingly out of reach, it stayed put, and soon we were right at the foot of one of the legs.
    Now, we must describe this rainbow to you, for it wasn’t like any other rainbow we had managed to reach the foot of before. Okay, you got us, this was our first rainbow to reach the foot of, but personally, neither of us thinks you have seen the foot of a rainbow either. It was solid looking, and we couldn’t see anything through it. There were seven stripes, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, each blending ever so slightly into the next. The really strange part of the rainbow was that it had books sticking out of it.
    Kathie reached out and touched one of these books, out of curiosity. Now we aren’t quite sure how to explain what happened next, but you know how in movies and cartoons, some one may be next to a wall, and suddenly (planned or otherwise) the wall turns and they find themselves in another room? Well it was sort of like that, only we felt no motion, it was if we were standing still, and the world was what was turning.
    When the world had rotated a good 180 degrees, we found ourselves in a room absolutely filled with shelves. These shelves were absolutely filled with books of all shapes, sizes and colors. Kendra, being an avid reader, immediately started to peruse the titles.
   “Don’t touch them!” Kathie warned, “they could take us somewhere even weirder. I want to go home!”
   “I could live here,” Kendra muttered, then said, “Look V. here’s the horse series you’ve been working on reading. They’ve got the one the library at home doesn’t have.”
   “I don’t care,” said Kathie, “Don’t touch it!”
   “Oh, all right,” answered Kendra, “Be a worrywart”
   “I’m being cautious,” said Kathie matter-of-factly, “You’re being silly.”
    We were both to busy talking like this to notice that a door (that happened to be in the only small portion of the wall that wasn’t covered with books) had opened and a small man had entered. Perhaps we should describe him to you. He was shorter than both of us. His bald head seemed large in proportion to the rest of him, and he had a long, wispy, white beard. His skin was brown, and very wrinkled. He wore a short green tunic, a pair of brown trousers, and a pair of spectacles that seemed almost to big for his small face. He struck Kendra, who was the better read in fairy tales and the like, as a perfect little gnome. That is, he did when we noticed him.
     “How may I help you?” He asked in a rough and almost squeaky voice, startling us out of our conversation. We spun around to face the man already described.
    “How do we get home?” Kathie asked before Kendra could ask anything about the books.
    “You get back to Ooladada through the door,” the gnome-man said.
    “I don’t want to go to Ooladada,” said Kathie, “I want to go home.”
    “You don’t live in Ooladada?” the gnome asked, “I thought I hadn’t seen the two of you before. This is the Library, and I’m its keeper, Otis.”
    “Can we read the books?” Kendra asked eagerly.
    “Of course,” said Otis, “That’s why they’re here.”
    “Cool!” said Kendra, “They won’t change our location?”
    “Oh no,” said Otis, “Only the ones that are touching the rainbow do that. They’re how you get in here.”
    “How do you get out?” Kathie asked, frantically.
   “Through the door,” said Otis, “haven’t I already tell you that?”
    “I don’t see any door,” Kathie challenged.
    “Hmmm…” said Otis, “I guess the two of you don’t know what to look for. Anyways, while you’re here, do you want to read anything?”
    “V. wants to read this,” said Kendra, pulling the horse book off the shelf, “Our library at home doesn’t have it.”
    “There isn’t a book in your world that isn’t in this library,” said Otis, “We have every book that ever was written, and ever will be written. Even the books that should not have been written, although no one ever reads those here. In your world, however, it’s another story.”
    “That’s a lot of books,” said Kendra with a whistle, “Which are your favorites?”
    “I’ll show you,” said Otis, “Follow me.”
    Now, before you jump on our case for following a stranger, you have to remember that we weren’t on earth, we were in Ooladada, and more specifically, in the Library behind the Rainbow. You’re able to trust people better there. Besides, he was a librarian. Librarians tend to be trustworthy.
      After we introduced ourselves, he took Kathie to a room filled with chairs just perfect for reading in, with lighting that was just perfect for reading in, and a nice, warm, roaring fire, which was a contrast to the chill of the other rooms. Otis told us that the chill was for the preservation of the many, many books. He then showed Kendra to another room of books. More specifically, to three shelves, and we don’t mean tiny shelves.
    “This is my favorite author,” he said, “well, actually authors, for she co-wrote with her sister for many of her books.” He pulled one of the first books off the shelf. “This is one of the first books she’ll write, for you have the rare privilege of seeing the will be written books. Would you like to read it?”
    “Sure,” said Kendra, taking it. The title was “Sew, It’s a quest.” The Author’s name was Kendra E. Ardnek. In fact, you might have read it, for it has now moved to the has been written section.
    “Why’s it your favorite?” Kendra asked.
   “Because of another series she wrote,” said Otis, “The only books in this entire library that speaks of the Land of the Ooladada and of this library in particular.”
     “Why’s that?” Kendra asked. Our dear readers even though Kendra didn’t yet, we are sure you know which books that Otis was talking about, for you hold in your hands (unless, of course you are listening to this) a book about Ooladada.
    “You will understand that eventually,” said Otis. He then showed her to the room where Kathie was, and she settled down into a chair and began to read.
    Within a few paragraphs, Kendra was rolling with laughter. She got all the punch lines and there wasn’t anything in it really that she didn’t like. She wondered when it would be written so she could read it in our world. Of course you, our dear readers, know the answer that puzzle.
    “Hush,” said Kathie, at one point when Kendra’s laughter was particularly boisterous, “I’m trying to read.”
    After that, Kendra tried to keep quieter.
    Once we were done with our books, Otis took them so he could reshelf them. “Now,” he said, “You know that series, Kendra, that I told you about, the one that is the only series in this library that speaks of this library.”
    “Yes,” said Kendra.
    “There is a chance that they will never be written,” Otis said.
    “How’s that?” Kathie asked.
    “I can’t tell you that,” said Otis, “but the two of you can help them be written, and in reward I will tell you the way back into your own world.”
    “Really!” Kathie exclaimed, “What do we have to do?”
    “I have lost one of the books in this library,” Otis explained, “I can’t tell how, or which one, but I need you to find it.”
    “How would we know we have found it?” Kendra asked, “And how will it help that series be written.”
    “You’ll know it,” answered Otis, “And you’ll know the answer when you find the book.”
    “Oh,” said Kendra, “Okay, let’s go!”
    Otis laughed. “You don’t think I would send you out unprepared, now do you?” he said, “I am going to give each of you a copy of one book—although it can only be a book that has been written. None that haven’t been written, we can’t copy them.”
    “Which books should we take?” Kathie asked, always the practical one.
    “Whichever you choose,” said Otis.
    “Well, you said that that one series composes the only books in this library that are about Ooladada, and they’re future,” said Kendra thoughtfully, “So I don’t suppose you would have any books that would serve as travel guides, do you?”
     “No,” said Otis with a laugh, “You’re correct there.”
    “How about the Bible?” Kathie asked, “Do you have that book?”
    “I do,” said Otis, “Although you will find it slightly different from the King James Version you’re used to. This is the Hebrew/Greek version that is translated as it would have been written had the authors written it originally in English.”
    “Cool!” exclaimed Kendra, “But what should the other book we take be?”
    After some more discussion, Kendra asked Otis what he thought she should take, and he gave her a book entitled “Infiltration.”
    “This book was given to this library personally by its author,” he said. “It’s a good story, and true, too – if only it could be better known in other lands than just this one, and the land from which it came.”
    “It looks interesting,” said Kendra, peeking into the pages at the handwritten words.
    “One more thing,” he said, just before we left. He handed Kendra another small book. It was a soft purple, and had no title.
    “What is this?” Kendra asked.
    “When you have found the book you seek,” said Otis, “Open this one, and you will find yourself back here.”
    We then went through the door and again found ourselves at the foot of the rainbow.

Welcome to Ooladada

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My sister is a Dreamer. Years ago, she dreamed of this world that she and I now call Ooladada. It's plot followed a similar arch to Baum's Sky-Island (A book that neither of us had read at the time) involved a library that was hiding behind a rainbow where every book that had ever been written and ever would be written. According to V, I spent a good long while devouring my shelf (though she isn't quite certain that I knew it was my shelf.)

Hang on! you say I thought THE ANKULEN was scheduled for today. Yes, it is, but all of you know how that book came to be (and if not, just skim though my backposts, it shouldn't be too hard to find the info.) Most of you have read and know the feel and pull of the world. So, I'm going to talk about an element that I haven't before. About Ooladada. Yes, I've talked about this world before, but not in relation to The Ankulen. Why? Because until very recently, I thought it existed within the Rizkaland/Mikada universe.

V actually dreams about Ooladada frequently, especially in the last few years, and a few weeks ago, after she was reeling from her read of The Ankulen she reported back with a new plot twist. According to her, Otis, one of the Librarians at the Library, informed her this was the Dreamworld that Jen visited thrice over the course of her book. (He also chided her for not realizing this on her own.)

After receiving this news, I just kinda leaned back against my pillows (I was working in my bed at the time) as my world pulsed in and out for a moment. Yes, it was perfect.

While writing The Ankulen, I didn't know much about the dreamworld, only that it's where the great battles take place, and where they go to talk to The Giver (who is, I've finally decided, a personification of the Holy Spirit). In actually, it's something of a storage place where all the characters and lands created by every Anka and Anku that ever was and ever will be are kept and can be experienced. Every book is kept in the Library behind the Rainbow. Every painting or drawing is kept in the Gallery Behind the Waterfall. Every script, movie, or play can be viewed in the Theater behind the Curtain. So on, so forth.

But Ooladada is being poisoned. My sister says she visited last night, and she found a darkening, poisoned region. Many Ankulens are being eaten by the Polystoikhedra. Imaginations are abandoned due to the lies and deceit of the Levarnia. False Anka and Anku are writing books that look like the real deal, but have subtle lies in them that entice us away.

It's time to fight.

Anyways, swing by Miss Melody's Blog for an interview with Mynna, a character belonging to Jen's Imagination. She'll be getting her own book, Mermaid Footprints, as soon as I *cough* Jen can get it written.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Party Game - Pinata

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When I was five, I wanted a Mexican Birthday party. And that included a pinata. My mother, not being the person to buy that sort of thing at a store, decided to make one herself. It was a ladybug - and had I thought of it sooner, I could have asked her for a picture of it.

The problem was, when she finished, the prescribed number of layers she didn't think that it would be thick enough ... so she added another one. We beat the tarnation out that thing, my dad beat the tarnation out of that thing, and we ended up getting a kitchen knife to get it open.

Well, hopefully no kitchen knives will have to make an appearance today. All you need to do is post a random bit of trivia about me, my blog, or my writing, and it could be trivia that you found anywhere - here, someone else's blog, my books. Just don't post any spoilers.

I will draw the name of one person and they will get to read everything I have written on HaV Academy. That includes the first chapter of Lavalight, since I have that written.

HaV Academy - Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

    Roxanne knew she should have told him sooner – at least given him a warning of some sort. But, no, she had had to lead him on as if nothing special were happening this summer, as if this weren’t the year everything was changing for her.
    For several minutes she stood before door, finger poised just in front of the doorbell, yet not quite able to bring herself to actually doing so. She had to tell him, she knew she did. She couldn’t just leave and he not know why.
    But she didn’t know how to tell him. She didn’t know how to tell him without telling him everything. And he couldn’t know everything. He wasn’t allowed to. No one who wasn’t steeped in the secrets from birth was allowed to know everything. Roxanne wasn’t even sure that she knew everything.
    So how was she going to be able to tell him? How was she going to explain why she had to leave?
    She pressed down on the doorbell before she could give herself any more time to think about it. If she kept thinking about it, she’d leave and he’d never know a thing about why. She wouldn’t be allowed to come back home for another two years – at the least. She’d probably be better able to explain it then … but …
    The thought was cut short by the door being opened, revealing the face that she was half-dreading to see.
    “Hey, Rox,” said William, “What’s up?”
    Roxanne drew in a deep breath. Part of her wanted to just blurt it all out to him, but the words didn’t form. Instead, her mouth formed itself into a half-smile. “I was about to go on a hike and was wondering if you would like to join me.”
    William raised an eyebrow at her as if he could see through her thin disguise. “A hike, eh?” She nodded. “Okay, sounds good. Just let me go get my boots. Would you like to step in?”
    She nodded distantly as she followed him into the living room. The sound of his TV pulled her out of her thoughts. The news was playing, relaying the events of the latest antics of Lavalight and Dr. Frost, the town’s resident hero and villain. Narrowing her eyes, she crossed over to the TV and flicked it off.
    “You really don’t like them, do you?”
    Roxanne turned to face William. “It’s not that I don’t like them, I just don’t like listening to them fight. Go get your shoes.”
     He started to answer, but didn’t, instead just went around the corner towards his room, leaving her alone.
     She sighed and sank down onto the couch. Compared to her, William lived such a normal life. Even though his father died before he was born, and his mother wasn’t completely there mentally, at least people were aware of what made him different, and were able to understand.
    Roxanne had to hide her non-normalness. No one could know. And hiding only made her feel all that more out of place.
    Part of her was glad she was leaving, glad that she would soon be among others just like her, among people who understood her, with whom she could converse freely.
    But she dreaded explaining things to William. She dreaded leaving her home.
    With a frown she noticed the crystal statuette that she had given William for his birthday several years before. A smiling cat. She didn’t feel like a smiling mood. Without hesitation, she stood, crossed over to the shelf where it was, took the statuette off of the shelf, and, with her little finger, pulled down the corners of its mouth. Satisfied, she replaced the figurine back onto the shelf. A corner of her mind wondered what William would think when he noticed it, but she didn’t worry about it.
    She’d probably be long gone by then.
    Just as she sat back down, William appeared in the doorway. “I’m ready,” he announced. “You?”
    “Yup.” Roxanne stood up almost too hastily. “Let’s go.” She was out the front door before he could leave the hall doorway.
    “You’re in a hurry today,” William observed as soon as he caught up with her.
    Her only response was a “Race ya!” Then she broke into a run. He could keep up or fall behind as he wished. She wanted to get to the mountain that overlooked the town of Viserville. She could always think better in the mountains.
    She heard his steps behind her, but she didn’t slow her steps. He was faster than her, after all, here on flat ground. Once they were in the mountains, he’d be at a loss to keep up with her, but here on flat ground, she had no advantage that would keep her ahead of him.
    All too soon they reached the mountain. Unwillingly she slowed her step. She had to talk to him, after all, despite how much she didn’t want to do so.
    “You know,” said he, as soon as he had caught his breath. “You always seem to be in an awfully big hurry to get up this mountain for someone who’s scared of Dr. Frost.” It was common knowledge that Dr. Frost’s lair was hidden somewhere in this mountain, though its exact location was not. The few who did know, had their reasons for not telling.
    “I’m not scared of Dr. Frost,” countered Roxanne, not in the mood for their long-running joke.
    “Most people who have been captured by a super villain twenty-seven times …”
    “I’ve been captured far more than twenty-seven times.”
    “The fact still remains, most people who have been captured as many times as you have would be afraid of the super villain.”
     “Actually, you’d be surprised. Most people who have been captured as much as I have aren’t most people. They were never scared in the first place, and each subsequent capture only serves to make them less afraid.”
     “Is that so?”
    “Yes. Take it from someone who knows.”
    “You sure act like you’re scared …”
    “That’s for the crowds and TV. He’s got to keep up his image, you know.”
     “So what’s up?” he asked, after a period of time where neither spoke. “What’s making you act so strange today?” When, after a pause, she didn’t offer an explanation, he continued. “Come to think of it, you’ve been acting strange for the past month. What’s up?” He turned around to walk backwards so that he could look her in the eye as he folded his arms across his chest.
     His intense stare caused her to stop short, however, and turn her eyes away. For several seconds, she struggled, and then she at last opened her mouth and spoke. “Riley and I are going to boarding school tomorrow.”
    The incredulous tone of his voice gave her the courage to once more meet his eye for a brief moment, before she looked down at her feet.
    “We’ve been summoned,” she explained, as she resumed her walk, stepping around him to get ahead. “We have to go.”
    “Boarding school? What boarding school? Where?”
    She shook her head. “I can’t tell you. You’re not … you can only know that it’s a boarding school.”
    He had made no attempt to resume progress, so she turned back around to look at him. She shook her head again. “It’s a mandatory school. Our parents went, our grandparents went, our great-grandparents went. But you can only know about it if you’re one of the ones who’s allowed to go … and then you have to go.”
    “An exclusive school?”
    “An exclusive mandatory school,” she corrected. She drew in another deep breath. “I wish I didn’t have to go. I wish I could stay here … but I have to go … they’ll … do things if I don’t …”
    “Do what things?”
     She shook her head. “You can’t know. But … they could kill me.”
    “Kill you? Why? How?”
     She turned back around, unable to meet his gaze anymore. “You can’t know. They can though … and knowing …me … it would probably kill me for them to do it.” After a minute or two where neither spoke, she continued. “So I have to go. Much as I would like to stay, I have to go.”
     “When will you be back?”
     “In four years,” she replied. “Training takes four years.”
     “No, for a visit.”
     “We're not allowed to have civilian contact during training. We don’t get visits, don’t even get to correspond with anyone who never went to the school.”
     “That’s cruel.”
     “They want us untainted during that time … and they don’t want us giving away secrets. So we’re not allowed to talk to anyone who isn’t … one of us.”
      “So I won’t get to see you for four years?”
     “And I won’t be the same when I get back. I’ll be trained. I’ll visit for a week, but then I must leave again …”
      “Back to the school?”
     “No.” She drew in a deep sigh. “To my assignment.”
     “Your assignment?”
     “They rule our lives, Will. Our home, our greatest enemy, our best friend … and we can’t rebel.”
     “Because they can.” Her mouth formed into a hard line. “We daren’t refuse them. They know that.”
     “Why not?”
     “Because … they can take something away from us, and that something … well, it’s different for all of us. For me, it would probably kill me. Even if it didn’t … I wouldn’t be the same, William. I wouldn’t even look the same.”
     With those words she turned on her heel and broke into a run. She’d probably gone and told him too much, but she didn’t care. He knew where she was going, somewhat, and why, in part. That was the important part …
     She could hear him running behind her. She feel the vibrations his feet made in the rocky mountain. She could hear him calling her name. She paid him no mind, just kept running. She didn’t want to say good-bye. She knew she ought, but she didn’t want to. She wanted things to stay the same, but she knew they couldn’t. Things would never be the same. Never again.
     When she was beyond his range, where she knew he could no longer see her, she dove into the nearest rock wall. Search as he would, he’d not see her for another four years.
    A solitary tear slipped out of her eye as she made her way through the labyrinth of tunnels that she had made in the mountain. She’d not see him for another four years either. And she’d be changed. For good or evil, she’d be changed.
      She’d no longer be simply Roxanne Jade Dially. She’d be a hero … or a villain.
      And she didn’t know which one she dreaded more.

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