Excerpt from my first chapter…


Thoughts?

******

This was such a stupid idea. I lay still, trying to slow my breathing. One misplaced pant and I would be caught. I heart the footsteps nearing and my heart beat faster, louder, at least to my own ears. If I moved or shifted in any way the lifeboat would tilt and give me away. The sailor, whoever he was, walked past and I almost sighed in relief. I waited until the only sound I could hear was the waves lapping on the sides of the hull.

Slowly I crept out. Silence was impossible to achieve, with my coordination, but I was as quiet as possible. The Persephone was a gorgeous ship and had a simple layout that allowed me to navigate it with relative ease. I bumbled around a bit until I found the guest quarters. I silently thanked Freddie for offering free drinks to the crew in exchange for stories of times abroad. The ship was deserted, with the exception of the two men on the watch.

I opened the first door, my breath held in anticipation, and smiled at the sight of all the trunks. Jackpot. After a quick glance around, I nicked the lantern off the wall and stepped into the room, closing the door behind me. Holding the lantern high, I noticed that trunks lined every wall. They were held in place by rope which was tied to hooks in the walls. The only space in the room was taken up by two open trunks in the center. The area was only big enough to allow one man room to change, but I was small enough to keep to the sides and curious enough to try climbing around one trunk to see what was inside. I smiled as I examined the loot. This was going to be easy. One entire trunk was full of feathers. They weren’t the short kind found on birds from Rynia. These were fine, expensive plumes from the rare birds of Alorca, the island Rynia had been at war over for ten years. Alorca was rumored to be the most beautiful and have the most exotic of everything. Birds included. And these were beautiful. There were shades of every color. I reached out and stroked one, aware that my fingers were filthy. They were so soft; it was worth it.

I pulled myself back and looked into the other trunk. It was full of clothes. I shifted a pair of horrendous yellow hose and a piece of red caught my eye. I grabbed it gingerly and could only stare at the envelope. The handwriting that addressed it to a ‘Prince Nestor’ was all too familiar. I swallowed convulsively. I looked back toward the door and listened, but I heard no one. Carefully I inched the crisp white stationary out of the envelope and read the invitation. A roaring filled my ears as I read and I have no idea how much time passed before I heard the footsteps tramping toward me. A loud, whiny voice accompanied the tramping and my brain began screaming for me to move. A quick glance around told me that there was no place to hide except for the top bunk of the beds provided. I blew out the lantern and gently moved it to an inconspicuous place beside the clothes trunk.

“I must have something that matches.” A nasal voice said almost right outside the door. I scrambled up the ladder and lay flat on the top bunk, grateful that they were nailed to the wall. The door creaked open and two heads appeared in the doorway, illuminated by a lantern that one held.

“Frederick, I told you that I needed to be perfect. The very idea of appearing uncoordinated in front of those sailors. It’s intolerable.” His voice made me wince. Was this Prince Nestor? I hoped not.

“Of course sir. My mistake.” A deep, monotone came from the other man. His servant I presumed.

Leave quickly. I prayed. I clenched my fists tight in frustration as the one I dubbed Nestor began to slowly shift through the feathers trunk. And the invitation crumpled in my sweaty palm. I had to bite my lip to keep from gasping. I looked down at it, but it was too dark to tell what the damage was. Neither of the men below seemed to have heard it, but I wasn’t going to take chances. I slowed my breathing, determined to make myself as invisible as possible.

“Here it is. Come. We’ll make it back in time for a new round I think.” Nestor led the way out and the door closed behind them both, leaving me in the darkness. I wanted to cry. I had almost been caught. If I wasn’t careful going out I would be. I let my eyes adjust, then sat up and carefully climbed down the ladder. I felt my way to the first open trunk and grabbed a fist full of feathers, stuffing them in my sash.

My clothes weren’t exactly clean; I could smell my body odor from the last few days lingering on them, but I wasn’t as bad as Freddie or Scruff. The part of me that was used to being pampered always rebelled at the thought of the layer of dirt that covered me when I lived here. But I couldn’t be picky and still fit in with my family here. They would murder me. So I dealt with the stench and the dirt and the weird looks from passerby’s. I knew that I fit in somewhere, and that was enough for me. For now.

I smoothed out the letter as best as possible and tucked that into the waist band of my pants. I took a moment to revel in the fact that I was wearing them. Normally, I had to wear dresses. I wasn’t allowed the freedom of breeches for even a second back home. Scruff let me wear what I want here. It was a beautiful thing to me.

I listened for a minute before opening the door as quietly as possible. Getting on board the ship had been relatively easy, because I could watch the patterns of the watch and slip on in between the two men’s rounds. Now, though, I was trying to get off and I had no clue where either sailor was. I would have to tread carefully. I closed the door and set off, staying in the shadows as much as possible. This was something I had watched Freddie do multiple times. He was practically a shadow himself, almost invisible, when he wanted to be. I made my way to the deck and waited, crouched by a coil of rope. I couldn’t see who was by the wheel, but if someone was up there they would catch me. So I listened. I closed my eyes and began filtering out all other noise. The waves lapping, the men on the dock, the creak of the ship all went to the back of my head until I came to the noise I was looking for. The footsteps of one of the men. He was a ways from me, so I didn’t need to panic yet. But there was no sign of the other. I opened my eyes and crept along the rail, keeping my eyes on where the deck rose. I almost froze when I saw him, leaning against the wheel, but I kept moving. If he saw me being still wouldn’t help. I sighed in relief when I saw that his eyes were closed. Ten feet to the plank. I would make it. I tiptoed down the plank and nearly burst into tears. I had made it.

“You! Girl! What are ya doin’ there?” I turned and saw an older man coming towards me. He must have seen me come off the ship. I sprinted toward the tavern, intent on getting away.

“Hold on a minute lass! Come back here!”

I heard him behind me and picked up speed, landing on the balls of my feet and pumping my arms forward. There was a large crowd coming out of the tavern, causing me to weave around them. I caught Freddie’s eye and grinned as I zoomed by, moving into the street beyond and toward our make-shift home. I couldn’t hear the man anymore, but I didn’t stop. I couldn’t. I had done it. I had stolen something. I had taken feathers that didn’t belong to me. Blood pumped through my veins, spreading the exhilaration throughout my entire body. I leapt into the air, high on my victory, and kept going. I had never felt more alive than at that moment. I didn’t care that I might be followed, I only cared about getting back. What would they do if they found me anyway? Arrest me? They wouldn’t dare. There was nothing I couldn’t do.

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My 10k1Day Journey (aka The Final Day of NaNoWriMo)


I started this morning at 11 AM. I hadn’t slept well the night before due to the ongoing ear infection that had been plaguing me for a few days. I knew with a sinking heart that I had over 10,000 words to write. I started with 39,553 words written. I accepted the challenge and chose to to take it 2,000 words at a time. When I hit my first 2,000 words, I took a break to decorate my Christmas tree with my family. Isn’t it pretty?

Pretty...ooooo...

Pretty…ooooo…

I wrote and then drove a little with Marissa. I was annoyed because I knew that I had SO MUCH TO WRITE. So when I came back at 2PM I settled down in this comfy chair and began to write. I was comfortable, I was warm, I was writing. It was good. Then people came over to watch television. They put Star Trek on. It’s like chocolate for me. I love it and it’s great so I stayed in the television room and watched. Somehow I managed to write quite a bit. I couldn’t tell you how much. Finally I moved and finished my last couple thousand words as my wonderful, darling little sister, Marissa, massaged my head and did my hair. I asked her to leave for my last 500. Those last words before you hit 50k are precious. They are the last moments of a marathon race. Exhilarating, exhausting, and singular. I needed to finish it alone. And when it was done, I felt no different. There’s a tiny bit of excitement that’s inside, bouncing around, but that’s it.

I chalk it up to the fact that I didn’t actually finish my book. I wrote 50k. The funny thing is that my word processor, Scrivener, told me I’d hit 50k but the word validator on the NaNo site said that I hadn’t, so I had to write a couple extra hundred words. In comparison to what I’d just finished it was nothing, but kind of discouraging. So I wrote my last couple of words and validated them.

And then the most beautiful screen appeared before me.

WOO!

WOO!

Yes. I am a winner. I wrote over 10k today. CRAZY RIGHT? But here’s the proof:

Look at that last day! Woo, that's a lot of words...

Look at that last day! Woo, that’s a lot of words…

Today is an awesome day for writers. Congratulations to all those who crossed the finish lines with me. For those that didn’t, you have written more words than you would have otherwise and that, in itself, is a victory. I’m not done with my novel, so I can feel half of your pain. I fully intend on finishing though. I have so much left to go.

I have to say that the most surprising scene I wrote was the last one. My MC, Margaret (who prefers to go by Meg), finds herself distracted by her oldest and best male friend. I wasn’t intending on writing a romance for my MC. But there it was and it was awkward and funny and I kind of loved it. I’m pulling for them guys. It was totally natural too. I’m not trying to force it. It’s nice not to try and push two people at each other. I’m doing that with Marcus and Leyla because they belong together, they just don’t know it yet.

I’m excited to continue my journey and even more excited that it won’t be full of days like today. No more marathon days! WOO!

I CAN’T BELIEVE I MADE IT!

I AM THE CHAMPION MY FRIENDS!

I AM THE CHAMPION MY FRIENDS!

 

 

One Week In


I’m doing fairly well. I’m at about 9,500 words and I should be at 11,666 after today, but I choose not to despair. I choose victory. I choose to be…

A SWASHBUCKLING WRITER!

That’s kind of my new thing. I’ve been hash tagging it all over the place and most of my friends must be confused, but that’s all right. I want to swashbuckle with my pen and write some stuff.

So my book has a title…sort of. It’s called The Ascension of Margaret. Something embarrassing is about to happen. In roughly 10,000 words I’ve introduced my characters very poorly and set up the basic plot which is about to get much more complicated.

I think it’ll be fun. My main character, Margaret (or Meg as she prefers to be called) thinks she’s a super good spy-like person, but she’s not. The only reason she’s gotten away with so much is parental neglect. And the fact that she’s a royal intimidates some people. She does have excellent sewing skills though. I think I wrote that in to make up for my lack of such awesome skills.

This is the first story I’ve written in the first person. I like it though; it’s fun to be a person instead of writing about a person.

Alright, enough of this, I must go write. I’ll update you again soon, dear reader! Wish me luck!

Day Five of Mini Rhino Month!!


I have to say, it makes me giggle to no end when people hear about NaNoWriMo and come back with “Nanorhino?” I talked about it this evening on my friend Liz’s radio show MCRScrabble. It was fun. I think I’d like doing radio. I think I’d like doing a lot of things. (FOCUS NICOLE!)

Okay, NaNo. Day 5. I’m behind (shocker, right?), but tonight I’m gonna get back on track. I’ve hit 5,000 words, as illustrated by this widget:

My plot line has progressed to something that makes me anxious to write…(baby steps, right?) and I’ve only hyperventilated twice. Doing well!

While NaNo is happening this year I’ll be:

  • Attending a wedding
  • Spending 4-5 days in Denver with my big sis
  • Moving across the country
  • And starting work in a new store

No big.

But the big deal is that I’m writing again. My creativity came back with a flourish. It was gone for a while. In all the craziness of moving and moving again and figuring out where I was living and finding a job and losing my best friend to Minnesota, it got lost. I couldn’t write. Which is why my blog has been so depressingly bare. But it’s back…so YAY! NaNo is benefitting and my blog has new content and I’m not so sad anymore. I have things to do. This is why I love NaNoWriMo: it keeps me busy for a while. I know it’s only day 5, but already I’m getting up earlier and struggling to find a routine in all this.

So…I guess that’s all. I’d like to leave you with this beautiful poem that I found in an old book. It’s the third stanza of Thanatopsis by William Bryant.

   Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world—with kings,
The powerful of the earth—the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre.   The hills
Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun,—the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods—rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and, poured round all,
Old Ocean’s gray and melancholy waste,—
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death,
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom.—Take the wings
Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound,
Save his own dashings—yet the dead are there:
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep—the dead reign there alone.
So shalt thou rest, and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glide away, the sons of men,
The youth in life’s green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man—
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side,
By those, who in their turn shall follow them.

An Elopement


Not mine, but one of my characters. I thought I’d treat you to the scene where Rosa decides to elope with her One True Love, who isn’t everything he seems to be. Let me know what you think!

Rosa smiled as she tiptoed through the dark hallways. When she reached the outer door, she glanced around warily before slowly pushing it open. She slipped through the small opening and ran toward a the stables. She walked all the way around the large outbuildings to a small barn at the edge of the property. The door was propped open. She entered the darkness hesitantly.

“Damien?” she whispered.

“What took you so long?’ he drawled.

“Leyla wanted to speak to me and it took me a while to…extricate myself.”

“Well, it took you forever. What did she want?”

“She wanted me to take charge of the menu for the ball in two months.”

“You didn’t agree to anything?” he growled and strode out of the darkness.

“No, of course not!” she protested. “I knew that you wouldn’t approve. So I told her that I’d think about it.”

“Good.”

“They don’t understand what I have with you.” Rosa scowled. “Leyla doesn’t approve at all. But…well…I’ve been thinking.”

“What? Spit it out Rosa, you know I don’t like it when you trail off like that.”

She did. She tried not to smile. He had told her that he liked decisiveness in his women, and that was one of his pet peeves.

“We should just run and get married.”

“What?”

“We should elope.” She couldn’t see his expression; his face was in shadows.

“What about your family, your father?”

“The king won’t notice. And if he does it’ll be because Leyla says something,” she said. “And he’ll feel guilty which means that, if I ask for it, he’ll send my dowry.”

A sly smile flickered across Damien’s face. “Are you sure?”

“Yes.” Rosa beamed at him. “They won’t think I’m serious until I’m married.”

“Then we’ll get married.”

He grabbed her up and whirled her around as she squealed in delight.

“Put me down!” She laughed.

“When should we leave?” He asked, breathless.

“Today. Tonight. Now.” She leaned in, but he pulled back from her.

“Let me go pack, my lady. You should do the same. I’ll meet you back here in an hour.” He bowed with a flourish and a wink and strode out.

She sighed and hurried to follow.

So…they’re getting married. None of you have any context, but let me know what you think is missing or problematic about this part.

Kings and Princesses


A couple of months ago, I was hit by an idea. Maybe not literally, but figuratively. I saw in my head seven princesses. Jessica Day George wrote a version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses and that’s what started the ball rolling. I created a new world, with a new plot. There will be war, romance, awkwardness, betrayal, heartbreak, and sisterly companionship.

Here’s a segment of it for you dear reader. It’s one of my favorite parts thus far. It’s at the beginning, when princes (that’s right, multiple) are arriving at the castle. Leyla, the eldest, and her lady-in-waiting and best friend, Charlotte (known to the sisters as Charlie) are stealing a few moments of freedom before anyone arrives.

“Well, I might as well enjoy my last few moments of freedom. Let’s go see what ruckus Meg is up to.”

Charlie smiled. “Race you to the kitchen,” and she dashed out.

“No fair!” Leyla cried out, following quickly.

The laughed as they ran through the halls, screaming as they dodged people, animals, and furniture.

Charlie looked behind her and abruptly ran into something. She automatically reached out to steady herself and found that she was steadying against a broad-shouldered, dark man. She looked up into dark brown eyes.

“Excuse me,” he said, smiling.

She quickly removed her hands. “Oh, uh…yeah.” She shook  her head. “I mean, it was…my fault.”

Leyla finally caught up, panting. “Are…we…done…now?”

“Um…” Charlie struggled to pull her gaze away from him.

Leyla noticed and drew herself up. “I don’t believe we’ve met.”

“Forgive me,” he bowed, “how incredibly rude. I’m Patrick DeLye, member of His Majesty King Marcus of Gaer’s court. We arrived this morning.” His eyes slide to Charlie once more before snapping back to Leyla as she spoke.

“Welcome to Rynia Castle.” She curtsied. “I’m Princess Leyla and this is Lady Charlotte.”

A man with dark curly hair strode into the corridor scowling.

“There you are!” he bellowed. “I’ve been looking all over for you!.”

“Ladies.” Patrick bowed once more and turned to the man.

“Stop flirting and hurry up! Have you gotten everything in?”

“Yes, but–”

“Good. I’m meeting King Richard after dinner, but before that Darius and I must meet the princesses. Apparently I have to look presentable. Darius can’t wait to meet them. Can you believe the man?”

“Of course, but sir–”

“I wish we wouldn’t have to deal with those silly women at all, but custom…” he trailed off.

Patrick glanced behind him and saw that Leyla had collapsed against a wall in silent laughter. Charlotte, on the other hand, was looking at his master with contempt, hands on hips.

“Sire, I think–”

“You two,” Marcus addressed the princess and the lady. Charlie’s eyebrows rose. “Go find King Darius and inform him that I wish to see him.”

“And who, exactly, are you?” Charlie crossed her arms. The question made Marcus pause. Patrick slowly backed out from between them.

“Excuse me?” his voice lowered.

“Who are you?” she repeated. “It’s a simple question.”

Leyla came up behind Charlie, attempting to keep her face serious.

“I am King Marcus of Gaer, and I am unaccustomed to receiving insolence from maids. Do as you’re told.”

Patrick bit back his mortification and laughter, knowing it would only make it worse.

“I wouldn’t have guessed that you were a king.” Charlie continued, ignoring his order.

“Nor I.” Leyla couldn’t help but smile.

“And you’re to be presented to the princesses?” Charlie looked him up and down. “I suppose you’ll do. I doubt you get much better.”

Marcuse was speechless.

“No,” Leyla disagreed, “he’ll clean up all right.”

“Not enough to impress…well, anyone really.”

He started turning red.

“And with a pompous attitude like that, I’m surprised that they asked his opinion at all about the wa–”

Leyla elbowed her in the side.

“Ow!”

“Shut up,” she whispered. She looked at Marcus’s bewildered face. We’ll deliver your message, m’lord.” she grabbed Charlie’s arm and dragged her past the men.

“Good luck tonight,” Charlie taunted. “You’re gonna need it.”

“What a woman,” Patrick muttered.

“Snap out of it.” Marcus sighed. “They were impertinent.”

Patrick smiled a bit.

“Come on, I need to get ready.” They both walked in to his chambers.