Silver Linings and Story Arcs

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Hello, Internet.

It’s nine thirty in the morning.

That’s already a couple hours before I’m usually up.

And I’ve been up for a couple hours already.

None of my friends are conscious, of course, because they are marginally more sane than I am. Or if they ARE conscious, it’s because they have something to do.

Combine my early hour of rising with my early time of going to bed. And by early of course I mean two o’clock in the morning. Throw in the fact that I’m on my second cup of tea. The result is a very bored, philosophical Wordsmith.

So anyways, last night I discovered my only complete manuscript was gone.

The one I did for NaNoWriMo last year. It was an utter train-wreck anyways, but that’s beside the point. Fifty-thousand words of raw material, gone. Poof. It was horrendous. I was catatonic at one point. Hysterical at another.

But as I was contemplating this occurrence, a marvelous idea came to me. One that would answer most of the questions I hadn’t been able to answer and solve the plodding-ness and add an element of uniqueness to my story that I found very appealing.

So I added another plotline and stayed up until two to brainstorm it and come up with a general outline (and then to be on Tumblr for an hour, but that’s beside the point).

I haven’t written it yet, so this will be my very first, brand-new attempt at this story arc.

Nikki [needs a last name] sipped her coffee, grimacing when she realized it had gone cold. “What am I doing again?”

“An investigative report on the experimental drug meant to immunize people from radiation poisoning,” Andrew said patiently for the seventeenth time.

“That doesn’t seem like something the public would be terribly interested in. Nuclear threats are so… late 20th early 21st century.”

“With the Pakistani government overthrown and a potentially unstable dictator in control of their nuclear weapons, it is.”

“Oh. Right,” she said, pinching the bridge of her nose.

“But before then you need to go home and catch a few hours of sleep. You’re hardly functioning right now,” he told her. She couldn’t disagree with him.

“Okay, I’ll start digging tomorrow,” she promised, “How soon do they want the story?”

“As soon as you have it.”

Nikki went home with the full intention of sleeping, but found once she was in bed she was restless. She was a natural night owl, and had stayed up through the previous night before getting called in for an emergency meeting that didn’t even pertain to her.

She was still pissed about that, and exhausted, but the kind of exhausted where she couldn’t possibly sleep. She’d caught her second wind. And then her third. She was on either her third or fourth, she’d lost track by noon.

So instead of sleeping, like she’d promised Drew, she started researching. Her ID would allow her access to most databases, and for those it wouldn’t allow, she had a different ID, an anonymous one. It wasn’t strictly speaking legal, but her editor turned a blind eye to it because she was good at what she did and didn’t get caught.

And I’m going to leave you with that because I can’t seem to figure out how I want this to work. This was short. I don’t know if I should apologize or say you’re welcome. So goodbye.

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Thoughts and stuff.

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So I’ve been in physical therapy for a few weeks now. Actually around two months. Wow.

Okay, moving on. My physical therapists, Mindy and Kara, are really nice. We talk about a lot of stuff, because it would be really boring to just do exercise for an hour and say nothing to each other.

Anyway, today we were talking about heights. Mindy is afraid of heights, whereas I have more trouble with being on unsteady objects. Put me a thousand feet in the air on the edge of a cliff and I’m fine. Heck, throw me off the cliff and as long as I have a parachute I’ll have a fantastic time. Put me three feet off the ground on an unstable surface and I’m clinging to whatever I can get my hands on.

We were laughing about that and I mentioned all the stuff on my bucket list that involve heights. I almost added, “My girlfriend has promised she’ll be waiting for me with her feet firmly on the ground.” But then I realized that would be weird for Mindy. That’s not really a socially acceptable topic.

So I moved on, but that bothered me on the ten minute drive home. We’re making progress toward equality, but until I can mention my girlfriend in passing to acquaintances or casual friends without worrying about their reactions, we don’t have it. And that makes me sad.

Moving on again. I started a story that’s essentially based on confusion for the first several pages. Woohoo fun times. Ignore the crappy beginning. I’m terrible at those.

 

 

Sophie sighed when the bottle stopped spinning, pointed directly at her. “Ooh, Soph, truth or dare?”

She debated. The truths were getting boring, and she couldn’t make them exciting. But she didn’t know what Caroline would make her do if she chose dare. Here goes. “Dare.”

“Okay. Um,” she seemed flustered. Then a wicked grin spread across her face. “I want you to spend ten full minutes in the McAllister house.”

The other girls’ jaws dropped. That was daring even for Caroline, who was known for trying to be edgy. The McAllister house was notoriously haunted.

“Okay, I’ll do it,” she said, confident. Other people might believe in ghosts, but that wasn’t Sophie’s cup of tea.

It was Halloween. A Wednesday, so no one wanted to really party. So four girls had ended up at a sleepover at Caroline’s house, since her parents were out of town. The real party was going to be on Friday. And Saturday. And probably Sunday. But they were all in costume today.

Sophie stood and smoothed out the skirt of her civil war-style gown. “Okay, I’ll drive us there,” Caroline said, “you sure you’re not too chicken? I don’t want to go all the way out there for nothing.”

“I’m sure. Let’s do it.”

It was a long twenty minutes of silence on the drive there. The other girls were spooked, and even Caroline’s cockiness couldn’t get them talking again. “Hey, let’s go back. I don’t like this plan,” Jess said.

“No, it’ll be fine,” she couldn’t back out of it now that they were almost there.

Walking up to the door, she started to get apprehensive. The other girls’ fear was contagious. Not that she believed in ghosts. She just didn’t know how safe it was to go into a house that hadn’t been inhabited in a hundred years and was probably falling apart.

A peek back at Caroline and her smirk made her willing to keep going, if only to wipe that infuriating smile off her smug face.

She put a hand on the handles of the double-doors, took a breath, and pulled them open with a loud creak. She glanced back one more time before slipping inside.

She flicked her flashlight on and shined it around the room slowly. She got the impression of dust, cobwebs, peeling wallpaper, and broken-down furniture before pausing on a large staircase. She had ten minutes, she might as well do some exploring. She might stay in there for half an hour just to freak them out.

Sophie headed for the stairs, lifting her skirts and kicking rubble out of the way. She was glad she’d worn relatively sensible boots. The floors creaked loudly under her feet and she found herself jumping at the myriad shadows.

“Don’t let them get to your head,” she said sternly to herself, the sound of her own voice startling in the silence. She heard a thump and jumped, clamping a hand over her mouth to keep herself from screaming. A mouse skittered across the beam of her flashlight and she sighed in relief, shaking her head at herself.

She glanced at her watch: 11:58. Two minutes in. She got to the top of the stairs–there was a hallway that stretched both directions. She chose right and made her way down the hall, lifting her skirt out of the debris with one hand and shining her flashlight ahead with the other. She was beginning to think this was a bad idea, but she couldn’t get Caroline’s smug grin out of her mind. So she kept walking.

She opened the door to the first room she came to. It looked like some sort of bedroom, but she didn’t see much because she heard a loud crash.

She was halfway down the stairs before she realized it was a grandfather clock striking midnight. She slowed her pace and breathing, wondering how it still worked after all these years. She walked down the last few steps as the chiming stopped. She’d ignored the ground floor originally, but she saw a door and made her way to it.

It was mostly off its hinges, and when she stepped into the room she saw it was a library. There were rows of shelves, covered in dust, and a few books scattered across the floor. Someone had carved “turn back” into the wall, probably a kid years ago hoping to scare later generations. The carpet had worn thin in most places. She saw a stain on the floor that looked almost as if it was spreading.

She shook her head roughly, certain the lighting and her mind were playing tricks on her. She knelt to reassure herself that it wasn’t real, that it was just an illusion.

She reached for the stain, telling herself firmly her hand was shaking from the cold, when she heard a noise behind her. She ignored it, knowing she was just making herself jumpy. Until a hand squeezed her shoulder. She leapt to her feet and scrambled away. A young man stood there, in what looked like a Confederate soldier’s uniform.

“You frightened me! What are you doing here?” she demanded. He just stared at her. “Are you all right?”

“Turn back,” he said quietly.

“Yes, that’s what the wall said too. Did you write that?”

“Get out now,” he said. He reached for her and she took a step back.

“Hey! What do you think you’re doing? Did Caroline put you up to this?”

An arm wrapped around her waist and she twisted around, annoyed. “This isn’t funny–” the man’s other hand clamped over her mouth.

She tried not to panic. Caroline was probably laughing about this with Jess and Lucy right now. “Stay very quiet,” he said. She looked at him and saw he was staring intently at the other boy, “and follow me. Okay?”

She rolled her eyes and nodded. She didn’t have much of a choice, with him practically dragging her to the door.

When they were out, she brushed his hand off. “So are you Caroline’s friend?”

“Who’s Caroline?” someone asked from the front door. She whipped around to face him. Great. There are two of them.

“No idea,” the first one said. Out of nowhere, he pointed a gun back into the room. Sophie’s dad shot for fun, so she knew a real gun from a fake one. This was no prop.

“What the hell?” she shrieked as he shot into the library. “What about the man in there? You probably just killed him!”

“Probably not, he won’t be that easy,” the second said casually, striding a few steps closer. She backed away, stumbling on the stairs.

“You’re… what… easy? What are you talking about? You just shot at him!”

“Shall we finish this? I hate it when they go into hysterics.” the second said.

“Hysteric–you just shot him! Screw this,” she dashed for the door.

“Cain,” the first guy said, sounding bored. The second, presumably Cain, grabbed her shoulders and pushed her back into the room.

“It’s not 1865 any more,” Cain said.

“Of course it’s not! What are you talking about?”

They had the gall to look confused. “What are you talking about?”

“You just killed that guy,” she said, morbid curiosity drawing her back to the library.

“I already told you, he won’t be that easy to kill,” the first one drawled. “Why are you still here?”

“Well I tried to leave and your friend wouldn’t let me,” she snapped, pushing the door out of her way. The man wasn’t in the library anymore.

“No, I don’t mean here. I mean here.”

“That doesn’t even make sense,” she said, “Where did that guy go?”

“What do you mean? Is he not in the library? Shit,” the second said.

Gratuity: an Human’s Discourse

Okay, Internet. I’m back again. This is going to be a GPOY, so feel free to skip over it if you don’t want to hear me whining again.

So after I disappeared for forever I came back with a post and mentioned something about homecoming. The story I was writing is my new NaNoWriMo project, and so far, day one, I’ve made my word-count quite easily. Of course soon I’m going to be writing new material instead of revising, which is going to be MUCH slower.

Homecoming was with a guy who is very nice, but also very conservative and Catholic, so that was never going anywhere.

Now, to clarify, Internet, I don’t inherently hate anything conservative and Catholic. I happen to be liberal and atheist, so our ideals were too conflicting for us to be anything other than casual friends, which was kind of my plan from the start.

It’s not his religious and political views that bothered me. There was something… off about him, and at first I couldn’t put my finger on it.

It seemed as if he couldn’t get to know someone unless he was bombarding them with questions. I was okay with this, but it was a struggle to get him to reciprocate. Within a few days, he knew plenty about me and I only had a vague sketch of his character.

I was okay with this. I didn’t used to be a very friendly person, and that ruined plenty of opportunities for me to make friends. I didn’t want to make that mistake again.

Then he started asking me some pretty personal, hard-to-answer questions, mainly about my sexuality. He apologized once, saying “I’ve never met a bisexual before.”

THAT bothered me. He was using one small aspect of my personality to define me. I gently corrected him, but let it slide. After a very short time, he stopped talking to me about that.

Then, suddenly, he started asking me about my religion, or lack thereof. This was pretty understandable. After all, he’s planning to be a priest, so it’s natural he would be curious about the mindset of someone with beliefs so totally opposing his own.

I was what I thought to be very obliging. It got to the point where I was getting rather frustrated with him, though. He was trying to fit me neatly into his little boxes, and I don’t like being boxed. I am not an atheist or a bisexual. I am a person, and atheism and bisexuality are aspects of my personality.

It wasn’t so much the content of his questions. I’m perfectly happy to discuss pretty much any topic, given the atmosphere is open-minded and respectful to all views. His method of asking the questions bothered me, though. It was an inquisition, a methodical study and dissection of me, as if I’m an object.

He seemed to be asking “what MADE you atheist? What MADE you bisexual?” He ignored every other aspect of my personality–my family, friends, pets, writing, reading, piano, sports, injuries.

He neglected the rest of who I am because those aspects didn’t interest him. That was what, in the end, ruined any potential for friendship with this guy. My girlfriend thinks it’s SILLY that I like soccer, because it’s dangerous and involves exercise. That doesn’t mean that once I’m back in sports she won’t come to watch me play. She’ll watch my stupid movies with me and mock me mercilessly for liking them, but she still watches them.

The message I’m trying to impart here is to be decent. Don’t slap labels on people without getting to know them. That’s ALWAYS a deal-breaker for me. If you like someone, but you don’t agree with them on some things, allow for differences. Don’t try to explain them away. Finding some mysterious source to my atheism wasn’t going to change me. Figuring out how bisexuality works wasn’t going to make me like him, which I think to a certain extent he expected.

Another thing. If you are friends with someone who is in a relationship with someone else, DO NOT, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, put them in a situation in which they have to feel guilty about “leading you on” by being friends with you. That is a good way to lose a friend.

So yeah. In the end, I cut off contact with him for various reasons. It was partially because he labelled me. Partially because he tried (whether consciously or unconsciously) to make me feel guilty about being with my girlfriend. Also, he was kind of creepy. I went to a Halloween party with my girlfriend, and he was there. He watched us for pretty much the whole night, which I didn’t notice until she pointed it out. Dragging her other into the mix and making her uncomfortable was the cherry on top of the ‘how to end a friendship’ sundae.

End rant. I’ll try to be less blargh next time, but I really needed to get that off my chest. Until next time, Internet.

Explanations and words

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Oh dear. It’s been quite an inexcusably long time since I’ve posted.

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks. I had surgery on the thirtieth, was on heavy-duty opiates for the next five days, went back to school Wednesday of the next week, started physical therapy a the Friday after surgery, and have been playing catch-up on school work ever since.

I’m going to make this quick because it’s getting rather late and I still need to shower, but therapy is going well. I had my school’s homecoming last weekend and have been asked to another school’s homecoming this Saturday (which makes me sound much more popular than I am). I haven’t had as much time to read and write as I should like, which is frustrating. I plan to participate in NaNoWriMo next month, which will be interesting. I’ll try to keep up with this, but no promises.

Moving on. I decided to skip over some of the less interesting parts of the story I began in my previous post, entitled “Narcissism and Knees.” In this part, I introduce two much-beloved characters. The only context necessary is that Samuel Cooke works as a messenger at the palace, where Anne is currently residing for a few days while she is formally recognized as Grand Duchess. Anne is friends with his parents.

Anne found herself wandering the hallways, wanting to be in the city again. She found a back gate and was surprised to find Samuel there, with an older man—probably his superior—berating him.
“Excuse me,” she called, striding over.
“Oh, hello, miss,” the man said, letting go of Samuel’s arm and brushing the front of his jacket in what looked like a nervous habit. “I was just scolding this young man for attempting to leave while on duty. Messengers aren’t allowed to leave the palace.”
Anne smiled in a way she hoped was charming. “Of course, I should have known. You see, I sent Mr. Cooke to run a few errands for me while I was meeting with the king and queen. Would it be permissible if I were to escort him? I don’t know my way around London as well as he does, you see.”
The man looked charmed. It probably helped that she’d slipped in a mention of the king and queen. “Of course, miss. I’m sorry for the misunderstanding.”
She took Samuel by the arm and led him out the door. “Come along, Samuel. We’ve got things to do.”
Samuel stumbled after her, looking surprised. Once they were out of sight, she stopped. “Now, do you want to tell me what’s really going on?”
“Excuse me, Your Grace?” he didn’t bother to correct himself, and she didn’t either.
“Come now, Samuel, you’re a clever boy. You must know you’re not allowed to leave the palace while on duty, so you must have a good reason to attempt to do so. Something good enough that you’re willing to risk your employer’s anger.”
“Aye, ma’am. My cousin is coming in from America.”
“And your parents didn’t arrange to meet with him?”
“My parents don’t know she is coming at all,” he said, glancing around shiftily.
“Oh? How interesting,” she murmured.
“You can’t tell them!” he said frantically, realizing he’d just told his family’s good friend a secret he was trying to keep from them.
“Not a word, of course,” she reassured him briskly, “but I wonder, since you’re meeting with her, where did you plan to keep her while she was here? Surely not in the palace.”
“I, er, hadn’t thought it out that far, ma’am. I found out she was coming and I wasn’t to tell my parents a few days ago.”
“Where are you supposed to meet?”
“At the drop-off docks,” he said.
“We’ll call an air car, it’ll be faster than walking,” she said, flagging one down as she spoke. The airship drop-off docks were a series of docks designed and placed in a mostly natural harbour so large airships could send smaller vehicles down to drop off cargo and passengers.
They were quiet for the majority of the ride. Samuel was clearly still surprised he wasn’t in trouble, and Anne chose not to ask him any more questions for the time being. She would have plenty of questions later, though.
“This cousin of yours,” she said as she paid the cabbie, “will you recognize her?”
“She’s hard to miss. A bit… unusual,” he said.
Anne’s eyebrows rose at that. She found herself becoming more interested in this cousin.
Soon a hydrogen cab was floating down from a massive airship called The Gyrfalcon. It was a passenger cab, and generally carried passengers and crew members down to stay for a few hours of leave before floating back up.
They landed gently and the door to the cab opened. A woman in knee-high boots, breeches, a white shirt, and suspenders stepped out, carrying a small bag. “What on earth is she wearing?” Samuel hissed, cursing.
Anne didn’t reply. A crew member bounded out of the cab after Samuel’s cousin, tossing a bowler to her with a laugh. She settled it on top of long, loose curls and made her way toward Samuel, crew member in tow.
“Hello, Sammy dear. It’s been a while. How are you?” she said, completely ignoring his outraged look. Then she caught sight of Anne. “Oh, hello there!”
Samuel was too busy sputtering to be bothered with introductions. “You must be Samuel’s cousin. I’m Anne Prescott.”
“Lovely to meet you, Anne,” the girl beamed, “I’m Charlotte Kent. Oh, and this is Marcas Donaghue, member of The Gyrfalcon.”
“Samuel, why don’t you take us to a good café so we can eat and get to know each other properly?” Anne prompted.
“Can we really go into public with Charlotte dressed like that?”
Anne looked around the crowded wharf pointedly. “It would appear we already are in public.”
“Oh, don’t make such a fuss, Samuel,” Charlotte whined, “it’s not so scandalous. Besides, people will just write me off as an eccentric American.”
Samuel stormed off, hopefully in the direction of a café, with Charlotte hard on his heels. Marcas Donaghue gave her a wry grin and offered her his arm. “Shall we catch up to them, then, Miss Prescott?”
She took his arm. “Lead the way. And please, call me Anne.”
They caught up to the cousins a few minutes later; they still hadn’t stopped arguing. “Samuel, Charlotte, you’re rather making a scene,” she said mildly.
They fell silent, looking at her. “From what I’ve heard of the situation, Charlotte came over rather unexpectedly from America, gave little warning to Samuel, and didn’t want Mr. and Mrs. Cooke to know she was in London. Would someone like to enlighten me further?”
Charlotte and Samuel shared a look, and said nothing. “You know, it seems in your best interests to cooperate with the lady, Charlotte,” Marcas addressed the young woman before turning to Anne. “Her parents were displeased with her, so she left home to visit her relatives in England, from what she’s told me.”
“My parents didn’t approve of my ‘alternate life choices,’” Charlotte cut in, “so I left before they could kick me out.”
“Just how ‘alternate’ are your life choices?”
“Not terribly so. I just wasn’t the perfect daughter they were looking for. Although if anyone asks, they’ll claim they sent me here for the education.”
“Is American education not… adequate?”
“Nah, Charlotte’s a proper genius,” Samuel said.
“Really?” Anne asked. The American shrugged. “Since you don’t have a place to go, and you have no plans in London, why don’t you and I work out some sort of deal? I have a house and business in Sussex.”
“Sussex?” Marcas perked up, “I have family in Sussex.”
“Oh? Next time you have leave, you should visit,” Charlotte practically begged.
“Of course,” he laughed, “If it’s acceptable to Anne.”
“It would be lovely to see you again,” she allowed with a smile.
“Your G–” Samuel began.
“Don’t you think it’s time to be getting back to the palace? I’m sure your employer must have noticed your absence by now,” Anne interrupted.
“Oh, right,” he said.
“I’ll be back to The Gyrfalcon, then. Until next time, Charlotte, Anne,” he bowed and kissed their hands.

Narcissism and Knees

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Bad news, Internet. My ACL is officially torn, as I’m sure you’re heartbroken to learn. Surgery will be next Thursday, rehab starts the week after, six month recovery plan, blah blah blah.

More importantly, my sister is coming home from college for the weekend. We get a whirlwind two-ish days with her, then she goes back. It’s going to be splendiferous to see her again. Also, she is the most technologically savvy out of my family, so she will be assisting me in the purchase of a video camera.

Why, do you ask? Good question, Internet. First of all, I have a fantastic vlogging wall in my bedroom, and why waste an opportunity like that?

Second, after my surgery, I am going to be on some heavy-duty pain meds, and who wouldn’t want to get footage of that? Third, my dad wants to record my rehab, progress, etc. But mostly loopiness from the drugs. And I’m a narcissist, so I’m looking forward to a me-centric project like this one.

Moving on! This little tidbit is the very beginning of by far one of my best story ideas. Of course, that may mislead you by implying that it’s good. The grammar, syntax, and spelling is fine (I hope), and it’s not terrible for an early draft. It’s just not terribly exciting. Introductions rarely are. Soon my protagonist will start meeting more interesting people and doing more interesting things, but for now you’re stuck with my boring first page.

Anne Prescott set down her teacup and smoothed her skirt. She knew by the messenger’s face the news he was to share with her was bad. “I’m to inform you that Grand Duke William Prescott and his heir, Jonathan Prescott, have died. As his Grace’s sole surviving relative, you are the next Grand Duchess of Sussex.”

She folded her hands in her lap and nodded. “Who sent you to tell me?”
“The steward of Amberley, miss—Your Grace. Mr. Thomas Cranwell.”
“Of course. Send my thanks, and tell him I will be arriving at Amberley within the next two days. Elise, make sure he gets a tip for his trouble.”
The maid curtsied and led the messenger out. Anne knew she was expected to remain stoic, and that it wouldn’t be a problem. She took a sip of her tea, then rang for her footman.
“You called for me, Anya?” Aleksandar Dragov was her footman and friend of many years. She’d met him in Russia and he hadn’t left her side since.
“Aleksandar, I need you to arrange for all of my personal effects to be moved out of here. If possible, see about selling it in a few months.”
“We are moving then? What is our next destination?”
“Amberley castle, Sussex.”
“Sussex? That is where your family–”
“Yes. My father and brother have died, leaving the title and role of Grand Duchess to me, as their only surviving relative.”
He paused. “Very well, Anya. When do you wish to depart?”
“Tomorrow morning. You can begin moving my things at once.” he bowed,
“Oh, but Aleksandar,” she called after him. He turned back, one eyebrow raised. “I’ll be keeping my books and clothes.”
“Of course, Koshechka.” that had been the first of many Russian words he taught her. It meant “kitten.”
She smiled at him and sipped her tea, contemplating her next step. She could leave the funeral preparations to Cranwell and his wife, Marjorie. As for the rest… she sighed and drained the last of her tea.

When she stepped out of her town house the next morning, she could barely see ten meters in front of her for all the fog. “Will the air cars be safe in this?” she asked Aleksandar.

“If I’m the one driving,” he said, “you’ll get to Amberley safely.”

“Will people in your path be safe?”

He hesitated. “You’ll get to Amberley safely.”

She knew he was joking, but the Russian sometimes had a very dark sense of humour.

They talked little—they were the kind of friends who had known each other so long that they didn’t need conversation to enjoy each others’ company. And neither of them talked much in any case.

Aleksandar had never been to Amberley, and had only been to Sussex once or twice. He rarely left Anne’s side, and she never went there.

When they arrived at Amberley, the fog had begun to clear. They were greeted by Cranwell and Marjorie, who embraced Anne.

“Aleksandar, this is Thomas and Marjorie Cranwell. He’s the steward of Amberley, and she’s the cook. They practically raised me until I left. Marjorie, Cranwell, this is Aleksandar. We met while I was studying in Russia.”

“It’s lovely to meet you, Aleksandar,” Marjorie said, “now why don’t we go inside so I can get some food in the two of you?”

After lunch, there was an awkward interlude where Marjorie and Cranwell wondered how much to say about family matters in front of Aleksandar, but were too polite to ask. Anne was to the point of telling them they could talk in front of him when he stood. “I’ll bring the bags in from the air car, then. Mr. Cranwell, do you have a preference which rooms everything goes in?”
“Ah, yes, let me just call a man to show you where the bedrooms are. Anne can take the master bedroom, and you can choose whichever room you want.” Anne shot Aleksandar a grateful glance as the men left.
“Are you two, ah…” Marjorie began delicately.
Anne realized what she must think. “Aleksandar and I are just friends,” she said firmly, quickly changing the subject. “I’d like to know the… circumstances of my father and brother’s deaths.”
“What do you mean?”
“Was it accidental? Or should I be tightening security and looking for threats?”
“Accidental. There was an explosion at the factory they were inspecting. They died along with the manager. A couple of workers were hurt, too.”
“Factory? How long has Sussex had factories?” She hadn’t realized how out of touch she had become with the politics of her father’s duchy.
“Oh, your father was trying to change everything. He wanted to industrialize.”
Marjorie’s tone of voice made it quite clear she thought William was a fool.
“He nearly bankrupt himself trying to do it, too,” Cranwell said from the doorway.
“Nearly? What does Sussex look like financially right now?”
“Fine. Better than fine.”
“So industrializing was helpful?” that didn’t sound right. Sussex had limited metal supplies. She would think it would be more expensive to ship in the metal than the profit of working the metal would provide.
“I don’t know,” Cranwell said, “you’d have to study the records. You might find something interesting.”
Anne frowned, wondering if Cranwell was implying William was getting his money illegally. She and her father had never seen eye to eye, but she wouldn’t believe he would stoop so low as to steal or accept help from someone else.
She was unwilling to say anything yet, though. She needed more information, and she couldn’t alienate Cranwell. She needed his expertise and support. She loved Cranwell and Marjorie, admitted to herself they were more like parents to her than her own parents had ever been. She hadn’t been to Sussex since she turned eighteen, though, and she wouldn’t try to pretend their relationships would be unaffected. She was an adult now, whereas they saw the young woman of seven years ago.

Explosions, Car Chases, Plots, and Knees

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Okay, Internet. Some stuff has happened.

I did something to my knee during soccer practice and had to go to this orthopedic center  place to figure out what I did to it. I either tore my ACL or strained my MCL (I’m hoping for the latter). While this was going on, I noticed two things.

1) We as a society are comfortable with certain things in a doctor’s office than we are outside of it. I let a relative stranger make me lie on a long sheet of paper while he wiggled my leg around, which, I can assure you, would NOT happen outside of a doctor’s office.

2) Knees are funny. I got some x-rays to make sure the bones were okay (which they were) and they’re just kind of amusing. Especially knee-caps. Just think about it for a while, Internet. I’m sure you’ll agree with me. Or not. That’s okay too.

Oh, and I have found a new appreciation for art. Which kind of makes me wish I could draw. And I also like pretty much anything minimalist. Possibly more than is healthy.

Anyways, I wrote some stuff. It’s not terribly high-quality, but that’s the nature of this kind of writing, isn’t it? Sequel to the post entitled “An Anecdote and a Snippet,” which I am, quite narcissistically, quite fond of. As of right now, it falls under the category of “car-chases and explosions, but very little plot.”

 

The door burst open and Shirin stormed in, flicking the lights on. “She called you!” she shrieked. Luz was on her knees on the bed within seconds, gun in hand.

What?”

“Emma! She called you, now she’s gone, her house is ransacked, and you IGNORED HER.”

Luz was off the bed in an instant, pulling on a pair of jeans and weaving a belt through the loops. “How the hell was I supposed to know? I was thinking it was a low blow for you to sic her on me, and I wasn’t going to answer because I didn’t want to deal with it.”

“Sic her—I didn’t! Don’t you dare blame this on me. If you hadn’t been so selfish and quit–”

Luz slapped her. Hard. “I did what I had to,” she said coldly. “how long has she been gone?”

Shirin swallowed, realizing Luz was all business now. “A few hours. Jake is outside with a car.”

“Good. There are a few cans of gasoline in the garage. Put them in back. I assume you have weapons.”

“What’s the plan?”

“We stick with plan B.” Improvisation

“What’s plan A, though?”

“Plan B.”

“Okay… what replaces plan B?”

“Plan Z.” Kill on sight.

A few minutes later Luz was outside with Shirin, sliding on a jacket and checking the weapons strapped to various body-parts. Jake nodded to her. “You look like hell.”

“Good to see you too, Jake. I’m driving.”

“You drunk?” Luz glared wordlessly. “Hey, I thought I knew you. Then you bailed on us and I don’t know what to think any more.”

Luz scowled and got in the driver’s seat. They’re right, though.

“Where are we going?”

“I know where she is,” Luz said grimly. Either that or I really am different than I used to be.

Now wasn’t the time to doubt herself. She put her foot on the accelerator, roaring through the mostly empty early-morning streets. “Will you please explain what’s going on,” Jake demanded.

Luz glanced at him. “Let’s get Emma first. I don’t want to explain, so I’ll either do it once we have her or die getting her out.”

“You are not dying,” Shirin said, “not until we have answers.”

Luz blasted through a red light and pulled into an empty parking garage. “If I die, there are directions hidden in here. Find a safe place to hide while you look for them, then follow them. You’ll get a safe place and your answers.”

She jumped out of the car and Shirin and Jake were right behind her. Shirin grabbed her jacket. “You’re not listening to me, Luz. You’re not dying tonight. Or tomorrow. Or any time in the foreseeable future.”

“None of the future is foreseeable. You make plans, they get screwed up, and you do your damnedest to make the best of things.”

She turned away from the younger woman and ignored the look Jake gave her. The arrangement had been broken, and she wasn’t going to play by the rules any more. I never was one for rules.

“Shirin, you’re the fastest. Once we’ve got Emma, you’re going to hightail it for the car and bring it here to get us out. Got it?”

The unspoken understanding being that if they were likely all going to die, Shirin was the youngest so they’d try to get her out alive. “Got it.”

They were practiced at making it look like they belonged wherever they were. Outside a loft in the downtown area in the middle of the night, stumbling drunk would make sense. “You’re sure it’s here?” Jake whispered as he stumbled into Luz.

“You think I’ve just been sitting around while my—while you guys were out playing heroes still?” This isn’t how I expected this conversation to go.

Shirin laughed, high and loud, and playfully slapped Jake. “Is this your loft, Johnny?” she giggled, stumbling toward the door.

“Let us in so the fun can start,” Luz drawled. Here’s hoping they don’t recognize me or my voice.

Jake fumbled, as if for a key, grabbing a small crow-bar instead, and stood close to the door as the two women crowded against him. “Sometimes the key doesn’t work very well, so you have to just give the door a shove.” he slammed his shoulder into the door after prising it open.

Two guards were there. Jake hit one with the crow-bar, and Luz clamped her hand over one’s mouth and slit his throat, lowering him quietly to the ground.

“I’m not going to question how you knew it was here right now, but I expect answers as soon as we’re out of here,” Shirin hissed.

“Yeah, sure. Let’s focus on the ‘out of here’ bit.” she stepped over the dying man and the three stole up the stairs, weapons in hand.

A knife buried in one guard’s back, a garotte to silence another before stabbing him, and a syringe into the neck of another, then they were at the top of the stairs. “And what if they kill her when they see us?”

“They won’t. They’ll use her to cover their own asses.” Most likely. Although banking on scum’s likelihood of trying to save themselves before anyone else is a pretty safe bet.

“I hope you’re right.” Me too.

In answer, Luz kicked open the door at the top of the stairs and took careful aim with her magnum, shooting two before someone, likely the leader, got a gun to Emma’s head. “Stop!” he shouted.

 

illness, distraction, and cats (as well as a short story)

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Okay, so I definitely wasn’t planning to post today. Except I did a LOT of stuff this past weekend and I have another short story.

I went to my second soccer game of the weekend, and about five minutes in the lightning started. This resulted in a thirty-minute delay, and we got back on the field just as it started pouring rain. We finished the game, I changed into a spare shirt and ACTUALLY had to wring out my jersey (I thought that was a figure of speech), went home, had a quick shower, found a dress, and went to my family friend’s wedding.

I danced with an amazing woman named Jean, who is the older sister of my godmother’s good friend (follow that if you can, Internet). I also gawked over the Irish people there, who were apparently family friends or family of the groom. I’m a little shaky on the details. And a woman offered me an alcoholic drink, which makes me question how old I appear. I couldn’t decide whether or not I should be insulted or flattered.

The next day I had my third and last game of the weekend, went to the Renaissance Festival (which was FABULOUS), decided I wanted to be a male pirate for Halloween, met a Whovian pirate hat merchant, and had dinner with my friend, Young Beth.

Monday, which I reserved for homework, I woke up around noon, made myself a cup of tea, nearly froze to death, and started homework. It wasn’t until my friend Mo (not her real name) texted me saying “I just realized I’m wearing fluffy pants, a thick sweatshirt, two pairs of socks, two thick blankets, and I’m still cold. Think I’m sick?” that I noticed I was dressed similarly. At some point the slight fever and delirium hit, and the rest of the day was quite interesting. Side-note: everything is much funnier when slap-happy.

I’m still sick today, but I managed to sludge through, though sickness has an effect on me similar to that of caffeine and sugar on a three-year-old. That is to say, I CAN’T FOCUS ON ANYTHING.

Due to my fever, my cat has willingly curled up on my lap (a HIGHLY uncommon circumstance) and since I’m stuck in one place I’ve had some time to direct my focuslessness on something useful (relatively speaking).

Anyways, I’ll update you with any disaster and hilarity that occurs, whether due to my current state of insanity or some other reason. And here’s my snippet (may be slightly affected by an addiction to Texts From Last Night and a soft spot for Scottish accents):

Bast woke up with a groan. She had the mother of all headaches, and the sunlight streaming into the window of the second-floor bedroom of the house she was renting with three other girls was not helping any. She groped around her bedside table for her cell phone, sitting up. In doing so she dislodged a small Russian tortoise, which had been perched on her stomach.

“Atticus,” she said, picking up the tortoise and stumbling out of bed to carry it to its habitat, “what are you doing out of your man-cave?”

The tortoise didn’t answer, looking up at her reproachfully. She noticed that his water bowl was upended and there was no lettuce. “I’ll be right back,” she promised, finding her way down the stairs and into the kitchen. A few moments’ digging and she had found lettuce, filled his water bowl, and had two Advil. She leaned against the refrigerator, bracing herself for the trip back upstairs.

She didn’t remember quite how she got back to her room, but by the time she had taken care of Atticus and found her phone, which was dead, all she wanted was a shower and a taco. She plugged her phone in and grabbed a clean towel, ignoring the bra hanging off the doorknob of the bathroom that didn’t belong to her or any of her roommates, as far as she knew.

By the time she was done in the bathroom, she felt much more human. The door to Lacey’s room had a note taped to it.

“Don’t freak out if you can’t find me tomorrow morning. I went to Drew’s. Love ya, don’t hate me too much when you see the front yard.”

Bast frowned and reread the note. Drew was Lacey’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, she remembered after a moment. She didn’t want to know what the yard looked like.

Her phone was three fourths of the way charged, which was enough. She’d gotten three texts, one from Valerie, saying she was going to Jo’s. Jo was a friend and notorious partier. Although judging by the state of things, maybe Bast was, too. She pinched the bridge of her nose and checked the next text.

This one was from Roxy. “Dunno where I am, but there’s a guy on each arm and I’m pretty drunk. If I get thrown in jail, I have a stash of bail money under my bed.” Bast shook her head. Typical Roxy.

The third text was from Josh. “i lov u bby. pls com back.” He must have been drunk. He never texted her when he wasn’t. Only called when he was high. One of many reasons she’d broken up with him. She deleted it.

Then she shuffled downstairs and onto her porch, dreading seeing the front yard.

It was raining lightly. That was lovely; it was washing away the vomit in the curb and driveway. A guy she didn’t recognize was curled up in one of the wicker chairs on her porch. He was wearing one high heel, boxers, and a dress shirt, the collar of which was covered in lipstick stains.

She shook him awake. “Honey, wake up. You need to find your pants and go home.”

“Gloria?” he said hopefully, cracking his eyes open.

“No, I’m Bast. Do you know where you are?”

“I’m at Paco’s, duh.” he snuggled deeper into the chair. Paco’s was a local bar.

“No, you’re not. You’re at someone’s house,” she said gently, “You need to get up.”

“Oh. Oh my. Okay. I’ll just, ah…” he stood up and wandered away, kicking off the high heel.

She walked down the porch, ignoring the empty bottles of various alcoholic drinks on her porch, some broken, some half-full, most empty. She nearly tripped on a foot sticking out from the bushes next to her porch. She knelt, tapping the foot. “Whoever you are, you need to wake up.”

The man sat bolt upright. He was stark naked and she looked away quickly. “Whazza matter?” he slurred, clearly a mixture of drunk and hung over. “Where did my clothes go?” he looked at himself in confusion, then up at her. “Who are you?”

“I’m going to grab you some clothes, I’ll be right back,” she said, “why don’t you just lie back down.”

“Okay,” he mumbled, doing as she said. When she came back a few moments later with sweatpants and the biggest shirt she owned, he was gone. She sighed and sat down on the bottom step. Slowly she noticed the front yard.

There was a bicycle with no wheels, a duck cradled in a deflated basketball, a crutch, several shoes, a part of a rotary phone, a gorilla mask, and something that appeared to be, on closer inspection, a broken disco ball.

She rubbed her eyes, wondering how she was going to explain this to the neighbors. A glance around told her that most if not all of them had probably been at this party. She heard signs of life from the back yard but decided not to investigate. She didn’t want to know what was going on back there, particularly since of the few things she remembered, something about sex underwater had DEFINITELY been involved. And she didn’t want to see the pool.

Then the naked guy sprinted up to her, snatched the clothes out of her hands, and sprinted away. She stared after him for a few moments, then stood up, went back inside, closed the door, and sat down in the dining room.

“Hey, Lace. Wanna explain the broken disco ball in our front yard? And I may need help finding Roxy later.”

She made coffee while she waited for a reply, then chugged a glass of water and had a small bowl of cereal. A few minutes later she was in the bathroom, regretting the cereal and wondering how much she had to drink the night before. This was possibly the most wild night the small town of Madison, Missouri had seen. She just wished she could remember more of it.

She heard a shout and a splash from the back yard and braced herself mentally as she dashed out.

It was even more terrible than she had expected, but she ignored that in favor of the man floundering to keep his head above water in the pool. A few moments later she was pulling him out, despite his attempts to stay alive, which were making it quite difficult.

She got him onto the concrete and onto his back, where he stared at the sky, panting hard. He was six foot one at least, and a good forty pounds heavier than her, but she got him to his feet and into the kitchen with minimal damage to either of them.

He looked like he was still a bit drunk, given that he was stumbling even with her support and was demanding to know where his bicycle was in a slurred Scottish accent. She doubted he was actually Scottish, just drunk.

She got him to sit down, but then he was struggling to his feet, and she was certain he would take off running if he got up. On the other hand, she really needed to find a towels for them, call Lacey, Roxy, and Valerie, and probably get him something to sober him up a bit. And she needed to call the petting zoo or animal control to see if they were missing a goat, because she was fairly certain she hadn’t owned one last night, but there was one tethered to the the fence around the backyard now.

The guy tried to stand, but she was in his way. “I need to get my bicycle!” he insisted, and she sighed, looking to the ceiling for inspiration. Surprisingly enough, she found it, in the form  of a jump rope looped around the light fixture.

She snatched it down and tied him to the chair, promising, “I’ll be right back.” she grabbed two towels out of the laundry room and tossed one to him, toweling herself dry as well as she could as she passed him on her way to the kitchen.

He shouted at her, kicking his long legs and missing her completely. She ducked into the kitchen and filled a large glass with cold water, dialing Lacey’s number. It rang twice. “Hey, can’t talk, goodbye.” there was a click as Lacey hung up.

She frowned, walked back into the dining room, and narrowly avoided being kicked by the drunk guy. She stepped around him and looked around the room. “Well, it’s not like the water is going to do more damage than the beer,” she muttered, then dumped the entire glass of water onto his head.

He spluttered, shaking water out of his hair like a dog. “What was that for?” he demanded.

She shrugged. “You’re drunk. The flailing was getting annoying. I’m Bast. What’s your name?”

“Aidan,” he muttered, still not dropping the accent.

“Well, Aidan, I’m going to find out the number for the petting zoo, then I’m going to find some good hangover food, then I’m going to find my missing roommates. Want to tag along?”

“Will you feed me?”

“Will you stop trying to run away?”

“Deal.”

A few minutes later they were on their way to taco bell in Bast’s SUV.

“No, we have all of our goats.”

“Okay. Er, do you know of any farms anywhere nearby that might have goats?”

“Uh, no. I guess he’s yours now, miss. Best of luck.” the man hung up.

She sighed, muttering curses under her breath. “I take it it’s bad news?”

“I’m now a proud owner of a goat. What’s with the accent?”

“I don’t have an accent, you have an accent.”

“You have a Scottish accent,” she insisted.

“You have a Midwestern accent,” he countered. “I’m FROM Scotland. If today’s Sunday, I got in last night. Still not entirely certain how I ended up here.”

“Why would you come to Madison, Missouri of all places?”

“Is that where I am? I think I was supposed to be in Kansas City. You should name him Jeffrey.”

“What?”

“The goat. He looked like a Jeffrey.”

“Do you know how he got there?”

“I don’t even know what day it is, love.”

“They eat grass, right?”

“I dunno. Do I look like a goat farmer?”

Bast sighed. “Okay. I’m going to go home, we’re going to eat our tacos, do some research on goats, and find my friends.”

She found out goats will eat just about anything and talked to Lacey and Valerie. Valerie was hung over but had Jo to take care of her, and Lacey was going to be at Drew’s house for the next few days. She called Roxy six or seven times, but she didn’t pick up.

“No luck?” Aidan asked, looking up from his triple steak burrito.

Then her phone rang. It was a number she didn’t recognize in a different area code.

“Hello?”

“Bast? Is that you?”

“Roxy? Are you all right?” she sounded close to tears.

“No. I need you to come pick me up.”

“Okay. Where are you?”

“Albuquerque. Come get me.”

“Hang on, ALBUQUERQUE?” Bast demanded. “Are you hurt? Are you safe?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m crashing at a guy’s house. But I lost my license, so I need you to come get me.”

“Okay, I’ll be there. Give me a few days or something.”

“I love you.”

Bast pinched the bridge of her nose. Roxy had the money under her bed, and she’d been storing money in a copy of someone’s autobiography, a gift from a misguided aunt from several years ago. It was large, though, and had a sizable hole cut into it, which made it perfect for storing money.

“So, Aidan,” she said, grinning wryly at him, “are you up for a road trip?”

And that’s how she ended up on her way to Albuquerque with a Scotsman in the passenger seat, an unhappy tortoise in a box on his lap, and a goat eating grass out of a bucket in the back seat, with almost a thousand dollars stuffed into “My Life,” by Bill Clinton.

An anecdote and a snippet

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Okay, I’m going to make this fairly quick as I’m between soccer games right now and should probably be doing homework. I have part of a story (the beginning, actually), which I’m going to post after a quick story (the one I’m posting is about the embittered drunk, FYI).

Okay, so this weekend is going to be very busy for me. I went to a massive conglomeration of art exhibitions downtown known as First Friday’s, since it’s done on the first Friday of every month. This morning (repulsively early) I went to a soccer game, came home, had food and a shower, and am now killing time between games. Directly after my game I’m going to a wedding, then I have a third game Sunday morning, and have plans with friends that afternoon.

Because of a few successful (and cheap) purchases, I have now decided to paper my entire room with different forms of art, whether it’s band posters or scribbles, etc.

Now that we’re done with the gripping tale of my weekend plans, I suppose I’ll give you my snippet. It’s a bit rough around the edges, and will likely undergo some modifications later on. Please forgive any errors, typos, and inconsistencies.

Lin sat in an armchair, relaxed position belied by her drumming fingers and the gun stuffed in the seat cushion to her right. She sipped from her glass, ignoring the way the alcohol seared her throat. “I knew you would come.”

A girl stepped out of the shadows. Not a girl any more, a woman. Early twenties. But Lin had known her as a kid, so she would always be one in her eyes. “This isn’t like you,” Shirin said, flicking her long brown hair over her shoulder.

Lin laughed harshly. “You know me?”

Shirin looked hurt. Lin almost managed to not care. “You never drink. Hate the way it dulls your senses. Always said alcohol never helped, only made whatever your problem was seem worse.”

Lin drank again. “No I didn’t. I said it made your problems hurt worse,” which is kind of the point. “What do you want, Shirin?”

“What happened to you? This isn’t the Tigress I knew.”

“The Tigress is dead.” Long live the drunk.

“Jake saw you last month. Said you looked okay.”

“Good enough to fool even Jake, huh. Not bad.”

“So something is wrong.”

“No, I just picked up drinking because I thought it would be fun.” As if I, Lin Fucking Santiago, would suddenly cut off all contact with the people who were my world for the past seven years for no reason. Im surprised Shirin thinks so. Kind of hurts. Suppose I deserve it. She took another drink.

“Out with it, then.” Shirin folded her arms, pulling herself up to her full height of five feet four inches.

“I woke up,” she said coldly, “what are you fighting for, Shirin? What’s the point?”

“I fight for a cause. One that you introduced me to.”

I cant believe she used that against me. Thats sick. “I’m sorry for it. The cause is dead. What do we fight for? To have the people we’re pointed at win nine times out of ten, and for every one that falls have ten spring up?”

“So that’s what this is about? You weren’t winning every battle so you gave up?”

Lin stood abruptly, pushed herself into the taller woman’s personal space. “Are you calling me a quitter?” she asked in a deadly whisper.

Shirin’s chin jutted out defiantly. “You quit, didn’t you?” A fair point.

“This isn’t about my pride. This is about knowing when a battle is lost. Half the time the targets we’re put up against didn’t do much of anything wrong, while the boss-man lets all the big fish go free.” Not her reason for quitting and trying to drown herself in alcohol. It’d be good enough for Shirin, though. She was passionate, but she wasn’t great at reading people. Particularly people like me.

“Then go freelance with me.”

Lin sprawled out in her chair again. “Give me one reason why I should drag my ass out of this pleasant drunken stupor and off this chair to fight for a cause I don’t believe in?”

“The stupor isn’t pleasant. Besides, I doubt you’ve completely given up on us.”

“Why’s that?”

“You haven’t shot me yet.”

Lin tipped her drink in the younger woman’s direction. “True, you’re not dead yet. Consider it lenience for old time’s sake.”

“Bull.”

“Excuse me?”

“You were never sentimental.”

“Jake’s listening in. Telling you what to say.” No way she’d pull that. Should’ve known when she mentioned me bringing her into the cause.

Shirin licked her lips. “Maybe. Will you at least think my offer over?”

Lin sighed, setting her drink aside and bracing her elbows on her knees. “Okay, fine,” she paused. “Done. Won’t do it.”

“Lin–”

“You’re wasting your time. Go home.” That’s another thing about Shirin. She never knows when to give up on a lost cause.

Shirin folded her arms. “We’re not done.”

“I am. Goodbye, Shirin.”

TBC

Hello, Internet!

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Hello. My name is Katie. I could give you the classic “I’m five foot eight, wear glasses, play soccer, like to bake, want to rule the world” speech and go from there. But I have given that speech more times than I can count (and I passed math), and it gets rather boring. Especially the “name one interesting fact about yourself.” “Uh… I have an unhealthy obsession with tea. And explosions.” No. Then suddenly I’m that weird girl who likes tea and explosives.

The main reason I’m here is because when someone asked me what two of my greatest accomplishments were, out of fifteen full years of experience, I couldn’t name one thing. So I hedged, I hemmed, I hawed, and I eventually came up with finishing a manuscript for a (crappy) book and performing in a piano recital. I mean, who CARES if I have a manuscript? I don’t even want to read it, and I wrote the blasted thing (side-note: I digress constantly)!

I had a major (for me) epiphany (realization I should have made years ago) about my writing style (which is pathetic). It actually came in multiple parts.

If you don’t want to hear a bunch of indefensible, needless moaning about how my writing sucks and my life is boring and I’m a useless hack, skip ahead to the last paragraph. If you like indefensible, needless moaning, I suggest you read these next several paragraphs, then seek help immediately.

Part One: I realized that my writing, while mechanically excellent (thanks to an English major mother) lacked voice and substance. Since I as a person tend to turn to humor (courtesy of a pun-master father) in daily life, so does everyone in my stories, whether it’s appropriate for the setting or in character for the person I’m turning into a wit (I’m not saying wit is bad. I’m a fan of wit. It has a time and a place, though, and an embittered alcoholic should NOT crack jokes while trying to rescue her colleague/friend from the Big Bad who had attempted to sideline her by threatening everyone she ever cared about. It just doesn’t quite fit.)

But I digress. Again.

Part Two: my characters lack depth. Sure, I work in the mother dying when she was young and being estranged from her Grand Duke father because she’s an intellectual and he’s a jerk and they don’t see eye to eye, and I have plenty of subplot and intrigue, but that doesn’t matter because my protagonist is as flat and flavorless as cardboard, even with pithy quotes thrown in at random. Scratch that. Especially with the pithy quotes.

Part Three: This one is a BIG one. I’m a teenager. And while “write what you know” is one of the most frustrating, useless pieces of advice a person can give you, people tend to stick with things they have at least a marginal familiarity with. So it would be logical for me to write about someone fairly close to my age, right?

But I don’t. Most of my protagonists are women in their early to late twenties. Some live secret lives, others are superhuman, and still others aren’t human at all. I wasn’t entirely certain why this was until roughly thirty minutes ago (I tend to have my epiphanies late at night).

I don’t know how to be a teenager.

I mean, I do. I AM one, after all. I go to school, I eat lunch with my friends, I say and think things generally considered to be entertaining, I have quirks just like any other teenager, and I certainly have my fair share of flaws (namely, complaining. Have you noticed that’s all I’ve done so far, Internet?). Objectively, I have the same things a teenage protagonist in Young Adult novels have. Except one thing.

My life is boring.

Okay, this may seem like me digressing again, but I swear it pertains. I recently started watching BBC Sherlock (the one with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman). I LOVE it. Can’t wait for the next part of the series.

But anyways, in the first episode, Watson’s therapist tells him he needs to blog about things that happen to him. He replies, “nothing happens to me.” To the watcher, this is dramatic irony, because we know the world’s only consulting detective is about to waltz into his life, shake things up, rearrange everything, and turn it all upside-down (not necessarily in that order). This statement encompasses my entire existence, though. Nothing happens to me. What makes a story good? Its plot and its characters. My life has a fantastic cast, but there is no plot yet.

When I say “my life is boring” and “nothing happens to me,” I may seem like I need to take some Prozac. I’m not depressed. I love my friends and family, I love my school, my life is fabulous. But nothing noteworthy happens to me. I don’t have wild adventures. I don’t go on spontaneous road trips. I don’t make friends with strangers because I like their shoes or their nose ring. Heck, I haven’t even been out of the country (although Britain is the homeland of my heart).

I dream big. I want to write novels. I want to go skydiving and bungee jumping. I want to have a tea party in a graveyard. I want to dress up in full Victorian garb just because I can. It’s hard to follow those kinds of dreams when you’re fifteen, go to school every weekday, have commitments to soccer and homework on the weekends, and have little to no source of income. That can be frustrating sometimes, and in moments when I realize I haven’t done anything I want to yet, it’s easy to feel dejected.

Now, enough of the gratuitous whining. My plan for this blog is posting short stories working on my character development, voice, and consistency (as well as a few other things) once weekly (hopefully) and the occasional (or maybe not so occasional) gratuitous post like this first one. As for the whole “my life is boring” bit, I’m sure I’ll figure something out. Maybe I’ll just have to make my own adventure.