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January 2013

Short Snippet Saturday: Oh, Really??

Having characters who share a twisted backstory (that never actually gets info-dumped onto the reader) gives lots of opportunities to pepper Fate's Apology with lively and sometimes eyebrow-raising banter. The things that spout from their mouths often take even me by surprise!

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            The woman bit her lip, then drew an inverted triangle and looked hopefully at Vaim.
            Vaim shook her head and grabbed the woman by the shoulder, pushing her to her knees as she pinched. "That letter is in two of the three worlds' names and isn't the first letter of any of them," she growled. "Stop playing with me and show me the name of the destination world!"
            The woman gritted her teeth and reached for the coat. She drew an oval with a straight line bisecting one side. "That's all I remember!"
            "Could be Gamanarr," Jaiynder said, scrutinizing the scrawl.
            "Could be Kirn, too. Try again!" She squeezed harder.
            "I don't remember!" the woman cried, panic setting in. "You're hurting me!"
            "Let her go," Jaiynder said. "Now you're just being nasty for fun."
            Vaim released the woman and cocked her head at him, a wicked glint in her hazel eyes. "You used to like when that was the case."
           
 

Books I Miss No Longer - Part One

Back in August, I posted a blog about books I'd loved in the past but was either unable to check out of the library anymore or had given away. Well, guess what? With a little help from someone who has a lot more patience and much better internet-searching skills, I now own two of the three books, and have figured out what the missing third one is!
 
The first book was the story of Hans and his dream of riding the famed Lipizzaner horses. It never crossed my mind to look up well-known authors of horse stories. But it should have, because I would have discovered it a lot sooner. The White Stallion of Lipizzabook is called "White Stallion of Lippiza", by Marguerite Henry and illustrated by Wesley Dennis. I haven't heard those names in a very long time, but if I had, I still probably would not have associated them with this book. Marguerite Henry is the author of a very well-known horse story called "Misty of Chincoteague", a book I tried to read as a child - more than once, I believe - and failed. My memory of what I disliked about it was that it was more about the people than the horse, and, as a horse fanatic, I wanted to read about, well, horses!
 
Oddly enough though, that didn't stop me from enjoying "White Stallion of Lippiza", which is about Hans, not Borina the Lippizan. (And no, it wasn't a mare, it was - duh - a stallion. So much for my great childhood memory!) I have yet to re-read this book, but upon flipping through it I think the difference was that 1) Hans had to overcome a lot in his life to pursue his dream, and 2) Lippizans! My neighbors down the road owned fat, shaggy little pinto ponies like Misty. I'd even ridden them. Yawn. But Lippizans? They're beautiful dream horses, the likes of which I'd never seen in real life: big, and white, and they can do amazing tricks, the names of which I memorized and drew my own pictures of. And I think that was part of the fun. I could take the story and run with it - literally, on all fours as I often did back then! - and be inspired. Isn't that what a book is supposed to do?
 
Handy horse!Interestingly, in my research of books by Marguerite Henry, I discovered that while Misty, Stormy, and Pony Penning Day left me bored, she wrote several other horse stories that did not. The story about the race horse in the Kentucky Derby? It was a colt named Black Gold, and the book "Black Gold" is based on his true story. It's not told in first-person from the horse's point of view (I must still be thinking of another book), but everything else about it rings true to memory. Black Gold really did injure his leg in a race, and finished on three legs. That part I remember, as it's the most nail-biting part of the story. This is the book I was thinking of. Found!
 
Oh, and that pencil drawing of the horse with hands instead of hooves in "White Stallion of Lippiza"? Yep, it's in there. Almost exactly as I remember, and nope, it's not a play on the name "Hans". Nevertheless, it's still a very spooky representation from a dream sequence. Is there any wonder this would stick with an eight-year-old kid? For that matter, it's probably a lot of the reason I never forgot the book. And now you won't either!

Wants vs. Reality

A lot of people I follow on Twitter have recently posted their goals for 2013. The lists were long and ambitious, and made me feel lazy just for having the audacity to spend my free time reading them. How they will find the time to complete half the goals that were listed, I don't know. But I do know that it made me decide to post my own list. With a twist.
 
I normally don't like announcing what I 'will' do; only what I'm already making progress on. That's because once other people know by what yardstick I'm measuring myself, I feel pressure to live up to it for their sake rather than my own. I know, right? But there it is. So I'm not going to go all kinds of super-humanoid crazy and make a list I know I can't accomplish even if the Ambition Fairy herself came down and dumped a truckload of "make it happen" on me. Instead I'm going to list the few that came to mind in their initial state, and then in my ever-pragmatic reassessment.
 
What I want to do:
Finish this draft of Fate's Apology.
 
What I think I can actually accomplish:
Finish part two. Yes, I've been working on this story for forever, or at least it seems like it. So it would be nice to get to the end. To be fair, the first two years it was just for fun as a Star Wars fanfic, and having never written anything else before, it was a huge learning experience and did lay the groundwork for the main characters. So I forgive myself that bit of "wasted" time. But once I got serious, it really became hard work, and not being a pro, combined with having a physically taxing day job, I simply cannot crank out thousands of words a day no matter how enthused I am. It's coming, little by little, and I'm not going to rush it and end up in a dead end wondering again how I got there. The middle of part two is as far as I've ever gotten, and I'm currently only a few chapters away from that point right now. This time it will be with part three falling neatly into place, and if I actually make it into part three, so much the better. Hey, at least I know I have plenty of time ahead of me with these characters I love so much, so there's an upside!
 
What I want to do:
Become a more proficient bassist. (Oh, did you miss the part where I joined a band? Yeah, probably, because I was too busy getting my chops back up to blog about it. Just check out our YouTube account and you'll be all back up to speed.)
 
What I think I can actually accomplish:
Not losing the gains I've made since I dusted the darn thing off after 14 years of hiatus. This is because I've run up against a roadblock: carpal tunnel syndrome. It's like "Ooh, so you want to play in a band again? Nope, not without a price. Take THAT!" Well, grrrrr. Jamming never disabled me before. Now, I don't mind not being able to twirl around without falling down, like I could as a kid, or doing a split like I could when it was part of my job description many moons ago, but I really DO mind not being able to play the guitar without having a painfully useless left hand for the next two days. I already wear a brace at night, and I'll be commencing some physiotherapy soon. So we'll see if that helps. In the meantime, I decided to put away my beloved Rickenbacker *sniff* and get the Ibanez back out because it's got a smaller neck that's easier on my hand. Sometimes, you have to make sacrifices in order to not lose everything.
 
What I want to do:
Blog once a week, plus post one short snippet every two weeks.
 
What I think I can actually accomplish:
Write up several blogs at a time whenever the inspiration hits, and hope I don't hate them later as I spread them out for posting every two weeks, so I don't run out too soon. And one short snippet per month, so I don't run out as I continue to write. I comfort myself with the fact that it's not like I have a ton of readership, and as it is I have to figure out how to re-enable comments without getting 100+ email notifications a day telling me I have comments to approve but which are really spammers in China and the Ukraine trying to sell Viagra, Ugg boots, and fake Gucci bags. Yeah, like I have time for that nonsense. Anyway, this place was mainly an alternative to MySpace anyway; my own little corner of the internet where I can hang my hat and where my dashboard wouldn’t be redesigned every couple months, leaving me wondering how to navigate my own page. So unless/until I think I need it for any kind of major promotion, I'm not going to stress out trying to emulate people who have far more interesting lives, better ideas, a bigger following, and superior computer smarts. You folks rock. I'm happy just to pebble. For now. :)
 
What I want to do:
Last but not least - the weight resolution. Yes, it's a common goal, and many do it and often fail, but I'd like to lose 20 pounds this year. I've been heavier, but I was almost at an ideal weight a few years ago, then the lard slowly crept up on me again ever since I got involved in a play, and then a band, and my evenings started being parceled out to other activities besides working out. I don't regret that, but even though I've long since gotten back into my work out, somehow I haven't been able to put the brakes on the gain no matter how much I pedal that exercise bike. I'm probably one of the few women in the world who is not happy that she can once again fit into her wedding dress. Meh.
 
What I think I can actually accomplish:
Lose 10 of it, which is the actual amount that's piled on since the play and is keeping me out of my best jeans and summer shorts. How? Not sure yet, but there must be a way. It starts with probably making some ouchy dietary adjustments, as well as pedaling the damn bike even longer no matter how tired I am after work, and also sticking to it on weekends when I actually have more time but tend to blow it off because I'm not tired and would like to spend my precious, non-fuzzy-brained free time doing other stuff, like, you know, writing? Or playing my piano? Or learning a new song on the bass? Yeah. Either way, I'm not buying new jeans. The ones I have will see the light of day again, one way or another.
 
And that's it! Four things. I'd like it to be eight, or ten, or fourteen, but for me it's better to focus on a few things that I can do and come back in a year and go "Yes! Missions accomplished!" rather than go overboard and read this again in a year with a big FAIL sign flashing over my head. And if I can add an "Oh yeah, I also accomplished this!" paragraph next year, then what a w00t that'll be. Yes, I agree we should set the bar high. But I won't set mine so high that I kill myself trying to get over it. Four goals are good. Four goals are doable. Four goals for the 2013 win!

Short Snippet Saturday: A Disturbing Discovery

Today it's time for another protagonist snippet. The situation that this snippet showcases is a new addition to my current draft of Fate's Apology. I found it not only added more chaos to Rey and Nala's immediate situation, but also opened up an opportunity to create more conflict between them within an important theme of the story.

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            Together they sprinted to the Hanora, dodging migs fleeing in the opposite direction. Lights strobed and the grinding of mechanisms deep within the walls rumbled around them.
            Entering the hold, Nala flipped the magnelifts to Rey. He lifted the heavy panel. Nala crouched at the edge of the dark pit, then recoiled as it exhaled a reek of sweat and urine.
             "What's wrong?" Rey asked, anxiously watching the loading ramp for unwanted company.
             "There are people in there!" she sputtered. She peered into the pit. Eyes gazed at her from mouthless faces. She looked closer and noted dusky skin, hand-woven fabric, and thick braids tied with leather thongs. "Tendarans!" she cried, realizing the mouthless appearance was caused by swatches of tape crisscrossing their lips.
            Rey flung the magnelifts down the ramp, then moved around to the open end of the panel and looked inside. "Oh, no," he said. A door slammed, jerking his attention to the hatch. Footsteps approached from within the craft, the noise doubled by a similar march in the docking bay. "Get in there!" he hissed.
            "But—"
            "Nala, it's now or never!"