Raven's Pen

Writing, Reading, and Ruminating

Month: October 2015

Halloween Anyone?

Last year I started NaNoWriMo by writing the first few hundred words of something that was supposed to be a horror story. I ended up dropping it after a few days, partly because I did not want to get inside the main character’s head.

Yes, it is possible to scare yourself.

You know that point when you must look over your shoulder to make sure no one is standing behind you with a very large knife or a noose? Yes? A secretly murderous six your old protagonist stuck in an alternate reality was just not for November of 2014. (I intend on picking it back up at some point, eventually.) I know, I know, why are you starting this post with a story about last year?

Well, this is the month of Halloween.

Last year, I spent most of October doing research for that story, and I ended up spending a large amount of time learning about Halloween. Or, as it is more traditionally called, Samhain.

As an introduction to Halloween….

Did I mention that I like to research the origins of holidays?

Samhain was originally a Pagan holiday, largely based in Ireland, which could be compared to the Mexican Dia de Muertos. It was the change of seasons and the beginning of the new year; it was the time for sheep to be brought back from the fields. What changed? Ireland was taken over by the Christians.

Of course, the Christians did not want the people of their new country to be worshiping their own gods, and so they turned Samhain or All Hallows’ Eve into something to be feared. The original holiday was a time for the ghosts of the dead to visit; this included the ghosts of family.

People would set out candles so that the ghosts would know where to go and put an extra place setting at the table for their beloved. There were always bad ghosts as well, but Samhain most certainly did not focus on them. Eventually, the meaning of October 31 first changed and masks became a way to ward off the evil spirits that might mean you harm. Jack O’ lanterns showed up at some point, and Samhain was set aside.

The origins of holidays are often twisted with multiple meanings. Thankfully, everyone can choose what they would like to celebrate nowadays.

Funny Fact: Pumpkins originated in America. Jack O’ lanterns were usually carved in turnips or other root vegetables. It seems as though Jack O’ lanterns were made popular by the pumpkins that the settlers of ‘The New World’ found. Blame the pumpkin for October’s obsession with orange.

How are you celebrating Halloween or one of it’s many forms?

I baked a batch of chocolate cupcakes, and now I am trying very hard not to worry about NaNoWriMo.

Before I end this post and in the fashion of the beginning of the next month… I present a quote for the month: “Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Happy Halloween everyone! And a Happy Fall as well!

News!

Hold onto your pages, or your bootstraps if you prefer.

Actually, I doubt you will need to. I have news that is minutely exciting.

Well, one is more exciting than the other…

The less exciting shall go first:

I now have a Twitter account! An entrance to the black hole of social media…

Yes, I am now one of those people.

Actually I have had a Twitter account for a bit, but I was ignoring it for the last few weeks. Until yesterday.

I am going to try to stop ignoring it so often.

And… exciting news number two:

Book reviews are in the future!

This will be either very good or not so good.

But…

I am going to start writing book reviews for a few of the things that I read and see how it goes.

One more thing that shall be called ‘off topic':

This week is most likely going to have a record of posts. Wait, I should amend that: this week will have a record of posts. There, I have said it.

Tomorrow is Halloween. Which means…. A Halloween post and the last day of the month!

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NaNoWriMo 2015: What I’m Writing

I find one of the hardest things regarding NaNoWriMo is trying to decide what to write during the month of November. I have a list of unfinished stories, and then I have another list of first lines and first paragraphs. One of the advantages of writing is being able to collect words.

Collecting words does not make it easy to decide on a story to work on for a month.

That is why I have two listed.

I will probably decide on one in the last moments before midnight. Or not.

The insanity has risen.

Remember how I was talking complaining about synopses at the beginning of last week? Welcome to the emporium, please wipe your feet at the door…

Subliminal with shake your hand and learn more in those moments than most will know for a week. She is fickle, just like her synopsis.

The year is 3022. After decades of blissful contentment, the world has been thrown into chaos. Politics has grown bloody and a resentment of force has split the population into two groups: government disciples and the revolters. Those that remain neutral do not dare to peek through their window curtains.

In a world that is split by many divides, children go to schools specially made for their abilities and predispositions; where everyone is safe and no one is left behind. But some of those children disappear without a trace.

Ilsi is one of them.

The divide between what she knows and the things that could be has been torn apart. Her name is not her name anymore; her mind is something that she cannot control; and she no longer knows what she is capable of.

She has become a nameless face in a sinister experiment.

When friends find her and bring her back into the world, she is unable to warn them that they may have made a mistake that no one will forget. With her grip on reality slipping, people who claim to love her watching every move, and the government hunting for her: will she learn to control her new abilities before it is too late?

“We are the ones who watch things disappear.”

Mountains of Red Silver will avoid shaking your hand and use her older-sister-book as a shield. She thinks she knows what she wants, but that cannot last.

Kohinoor is home and finally living the life that she wants. Her only wish is to see the rest of her family again. But her perceptions are changed when her brother arrives, deathly ill and filled with stories of slavery and terror. Her life is turned farther to the side when Omar rides through town with a squadron and blistering news: the Shahanshah is sick, armies are seeing the kingdom as a perfect target, and she might be the only one who can shift the fates of the land. If she can become the warrior that she has never considered.

Kohinoor might be home, but her adventure is far from over; she will have to go places that she has never dreamed of, face dragons that destroy cities, and change a Seer’s prophecy.

My attempted first lines of a plot are sitting to the side, the hot chocolate in the house is growing, and I am slowly trying to convince myself that writing 100,000 words in november will be possible.

Four days does not feel long enough.

Beautiful Cracks: Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight

She stands up on stiff legs with her fingers flexing and chilled air brushing across her skin. It smells fresh and clean despite the ship that landed not that long ago. The exhaust fumes have already faded. She revels in the smell that she did not notice for so long. She must escape, she must get out. But the moon Artimus is already rising.

The wind changes direction with the gravitational pull, and she looks towards the rocks. The light flashing across them wavers slightly with the sudden change as she turns her attention back towards the sky. It is not entirely dark anymore, and the sun will rise soon as well. But she might have a chance, she might have a chance that she would not have in the middle of the night.

She flicks her tongue across the air and swallows it as the moon rises higher. Her legs tense underneath her as she tries to wait for the next shift of wind. It comes suddenly, and she bolts from Sa’s cave and jumps along the rocks as she heads towards the ancestral plains and the edge of the mountain.

An alarm goes off in town and makes her ears ring. She ducks behind a bolder with her heart racing in her chest. If they catch her… if they catch her in her natural form she might as well be wishing for death. They would not give a native mercy, especially a Hirpoun. At least she knows that whoever arrived on the ship is not the only one looking for her.

She never thought she would be thankful that she is being hunted by multiple parties, but now it seems as though it might actually be an advantage. She swallows thickly and ventures to peek around the side of the bolder. A search light roves across the rocks and is joined by another as someone shouts. They have seen her. They must have seen her.

But she is hidden. They will not find her unless they leave the safety of the town and track her across the rocks. A sick feeling settles across her, they will find her easily if they leave the safety of the town. Their new technology must be even better than the systems she has heard about, but even the tracking devices that she has learned of would not allow her to escape. She will have to keep moving. She will have to make sure that she never stays in the same place for any longer than she must.

And perhaps, just perhaps, they will think that what their sensors saw was a fluke. Until then, she must act as though she does not exist. Or she must act as though she is powerful. She shakes her head and tries to keep her heart from racing even faster, she has an advantage, she must have an advantage. She simply does not know what it is.

It could be her Sight, it could be, but there must be something else. Her abilities as a Hirpoun would only be part of it. She is being hunted; and there is her advantage. She must not be the only one. If the council of beings are planning on settling the planet again, they will have to make sure that no one from the previous settlement is alive. They will have to exterminate everyone on the planet.

There is her advantage. She tastes the air again; she will have to make sure that she is right of course. But she will have an advantage and a plan waiting for her if she is. She scowls at the rocks around her, finding out will be harder than she would like if the town believes she exists. She could not pretend to be dead or fake her own death, she will simply have to find a place where no one will find her. She will have to hide where she can see what is happening and no one will be able to see her.

But she will not be able to stay in one place either. She sighs sharply. She will have to stay in the mountain. For the moment at least. She will have to wait until the ship’s beings become tired of hunting for her. She will have to wait until something else catches their attention. And she might just know what it will be.

She sinks down lower as she hears an engine running. She might be able to change into her normal form and walk right into the town, but she is not sure if she would be able to get back out again. It might be better to be inside and watching everything as it is happening, but she needs to know if the unnamed gang were able to get back into the town before the ship arrived. She doubts that they were able to. And, if they were not, than they might end up being her largest allies.

Something sputters. But it seems too far away to find her. She shivers as cold wind brushes against her and makes her wish that she had a coat. Her Hirpoun skin might be used to the planet’s atmosphere but she is not. She looks down at the clothes that have shrunk on her form; it would be easier not to wear so much cloth. But she should attempt to look decent in case she needs to change back into her normal form again.

She sags against the ground with a strange pulse ringing in her ears. She tries to get back into a normal sitting position, but something knocks into her and she is walking along a dirt road.

The road is not like the roads on her planet. It is rocky with small ground-covering bushes sticking up through the tan dirt. Wind whistles around her, but it does not knock her off balance as it gathers up dust and turns into a spinning hurricane of dust and debris.

She holds out her arms on instinct as the wind whips in a tight circle in front of her, the name comes to her without her realizing it. Tornado. What kind of beautiful thing could be called a tornado? She laughs as the wind rips the dirt up from underneath her feet. It feels like pure joy whipping across the land as it leaves her untouched and passes her in a swift gust that knocks the air from her lungs.

She stands and stares after it as it rips through a house and leaves debris behind. Everyone is afraid of the thing in front of her. But she is not there at all. She gasps for breath through closed teeth as her face presses into the ground behind the bolder. She turns onto her back and blinks rapidly as she tries to sit up again.

It is rare that the things Sa show her seem so real. But it was almost as though she was there. It is almost as though she is dreaming now. Her impossible situation would not be impossible in imagination, and yet, she knows that she is breathing now. Something that would make everyone flee and run screaming would not simply leave her if her Sight had been showing her reality.

No, her reality is where she is now. It must be. And if it is not… could she die in a dream? Could she become stuck? She must assume that she could. She must assume that where she is now is real in the same way that she has always taken her mother’s touch as something she knows.

But it is so hard to tell. Everything looks similar, sometimes it is hard to tell if she is actually living. Is this real? Are the grumbling machines searching for her real? But it does not matter, they are searching for her and she must make sure they do not find her. She crouches down lower; she should have found a better hiding place.

She looks at her hands and spreads her fingers out on her thighs. Who knew that she would end up where she is now? Perhaps Sa did. But she never would have been able to guess. Everything was normal a few days ago. Boringly normal. And now, now she is someone she thought she would never be; something she thought she would never have the chance to be.

It seems everything comes with a price in one way or another. But her price might be death; the price for being who she actually is will be death. Looking different, and seeing things differently. Are those things such a crime to banish her forever?

Are ancient origins so important that Hirpouns must be called devils and demons? Who has seen a demon? They are things created. But belief creates things too. It seems as though she could be whatever the council of beings says she is, but she could also be something completely different.

If this is one of her Sights or a dream, she will not have to fear anything. And if it is not, then she will have to hope that things do not end with a snap. Either way, hiding will only last for so long. It will be much better if she gets to choose when she stops.

Until then she must watch and wait. And then she will choose which one of her plans to follow. She settles back against the bolder, if someone finds her than they find her. Until then, she will wait until it is dark to sneak closer to the town and see if her suspicions are right.

The day passes slowly as machines are turned off and on and she ducks behind the bolder without daring to look over. The dried red wine sun sets softly; and she waits until it is entirely dark before peeking above the bolder. She can barely see the lights of the town, but she will not have to go inside. She simply needs to make her way around it.

She bites her cheek, if the ship’s beings are sleeping in the center of the town as she expect they are, there is a chance that she would be able to sneak towards the ship and learn what sort of transport it is. But it might be far too risky. She will stay where she is until Artimus rises and changes the tides of the wind.

She will not have much time, but it should be enough. She will run across the rocks and see if they have begun to dig another mass grave for all of the previous settlers. And if they have not, what will she do then? Perhaps the council of beings are willing to make a deal with the settlers this time. But everyone is a criminal in one way or another. And the council of beings’ last mission statement said that they will not work with criminals, especially on the ‘reformed’ planets.

No, they will only have two clear courses of action. And she will find a way to use either one to her advantage.

She settles back against the bolder, where is the unnamed gang that was searching for her? She must find them if they are still alive and on her side of the fence. If they are not, then she will use them as an example of what will happen to everyone else. She holds her legs close to her, is she truly thinking about doing this? Is she truly considering a fight that she will never be able to win?

But no one will have anything to loose by fighting if the council of beings are planning on exterminating everyone on the planet. She is not going to sit back and wait to be caught. She will not let the ship’s beings catch her unless she can gain something by it. And she is not going to stand down if someone decides to kill her.

If this is a dream, than she should not care for her life so much. But then, no one likes to die in their dreams either. If this is a dream than she will have a backup plan. If it is not, she will have to hope that she is anything similar to what she thinks she might be. Sa, please show me something. Please. I do not know what I am doing.

But she does know what she is doing. She knows that she is acting like the Hirpoun she is. And she does not intend on stopping. She intends on pulling the advantages that she has out of a black top hat like a magic trick and showing it to a group of fearful ship’s beings. She intends on being home instead of walking around in someone else’s skin. She intends on following a plan that may or may not work; but the punishment that she would receive for either will be almost the same. If she is right, and she is sure she is, than whatever is happening is not nearly as simple as she thought it was.

Copyright © 2015 ravenspen.com

All rights reserved.

October Brew with Synopses Seasoning

Did I mention that NaNoWriMo is coming up? Of course I did.

October is more than halfway over, which is something that I am still marveling at. October is more than halfway over, how did this happen? How are things moving so quickly?

And this is tuesday.

I have had a pretty crazy week. I also lost track of time, again. Why did I not post last week? Well… I started a post, I actually started multiple posts, but none of them made it onto the site. Also, I have been writing synopses. They are finicky, fickle, little monsters that slip in between my fingers.

The week… well… I have also been trying to prepare for NaNoWriMo. How many ways can you prepare?

Honestly, I think most of it is the half-dread half crazy-excitment state of wondering if I have enough of a plot for my story and whether or not I should aim for a crazy word goal.

Which brings me back to plotting…

I never used to plot. I would write down a few things and go from there, but now it seems as though I am plotting much more. As I mentioned in my post about plotting, everyone has their own opinion and their own methods. I am lazy. Or maybe I simply think better when I am actually writing and not trying to decide what to write. I will take the second one.

Enough about me…

Let’s move onto something more interesting shall we?

Synopses.

Sometimes they come together and sometimes they sit around and glower with their feet in a jar of peanut butter.

Alright, I will try my best to be serious but I cannot promise anything.

What is the reason for a synopsis?

A synopsis is the introduction to a story, it is a glimpse into what will happen and what questions will be asked without giving everything away. A good synopsis will hook your reader just… like… that.

So, what does a good synopsis need?

  • An introduction. For example: Where is the story set? Who is the main character? What are they struggling with? How will something in the story help or hinder them? What are their goals?
  • An element of fear or mystery. For example: The MC is being chased, in order to find the magical object that will save them and their city they must contend with the beast on top of the mountain ect. A murder is in town, but no one knows who it is.
  • A hook. This is the hardest one. A hook is often a small thing; it is the word or phrase that will become associated with a book. For instance: nothing is as it seems. Or perhaps the villain is closer than anyone thinks and is actually watching you right now. The hook is the thing that people will read the book to learn. Who actually killed Mrs. Daffodil on 23 Souch Boulevard?

The synopsis is a balance between telling someone enough to get them interested, but not telling them so much that they do not have a reason to read the book.

It is pretty simple… right?

Sometimes.

If I was going to offer any sort of advice from my amateur state about writing a synopsis it would be this: start with an idea and rewrite it until you like it. The advantage to a synopsis is that it is so short that you can edit it, and boil it down, and dissect it, and you will still have an idea of what you started with.

A temporary synopsis is still the beginning of a synopsis.

Right?

I certainly hope so.

On a side note of synopses: I will be posting about my NaNoWriMo novel sometime later in the week. Along with a synopses. Hopefully.

Until then, there is witch’s brew waiting on the counter (have I ever mentioned that Halloween is the perfect excuse for strange phrases?).

Beautiful Cracks: Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven

She leans against the side of the cave and stares at the opening that is growing darker and darker. She cannot deny the rush of excitement that she gets in the idea of running and fleeing to the ancestral plains. The idea of being caught only makes it more tempting.

She should be worried, perhaps she should be shaking or trying to hold back tears. But the idea that she can finally be herself, that she can finally wear her own skin, even if it is not all of the time, it is like a drug that she cannot let go of. She could do anything. She could be anything.

She still cannot be entirely sure who she is. Beings used to know who they were, they had to write an essay about themselves; their personalities, their abilities and dreams, and their actions most of all. But now things are simply left to chance. And her chance is that she is a Hirpoun and she has her Sight. She is one and then two things. But they are simple things, they are broad things that are the headers for categories on papers. They are the shelves that things are put on in stores; but they are not the things themselves.

She feels fierce and capable when she is in her natural form. Her Sight confuses her. And her normal form makes her feel weak. Now that she knows what she is hiding underneath her skin, she morns it more and more each time she thinks of hiding. She is tired of hiding. She is tired of seeing her race hide. It does not matter that she was not alive during the exterminations or the mass hunts that happened afterwards, she is still cloistered enough in her own skin.

The sun is falling and sinking, but she stays were she is. She will have to wait until it is entirely dark. She will have to wait until she is sure that she will have a chance to run. And if she is caught, what will she do then? She can only hope that she will not be. Perhaps whoever has arrived on the ship will kill her if they see her, and perhaps they will use her for something far less thoughtful.

She wonders what it would be like to watch new settlers arrive. Would they settle down in the old houses and ignore the fact that the previous occupants are most likely dead? Will they walk around the town and pretend that it was built just for them? Or will they tear it down and build their own? Will they fear the things that have happened in the houses and along the streets? Will they know any of those who have died?

She doubts that they would know anyone. The settlers to ‘new’ planets are usually beings who will not be missed. They are those with good bloodlines that will give them a chance to survive in a new world, but they are still the inane ones. They are the ones who are simply average. They are the ones used to produce.

There are always some who are sent to be servants, they are the ones who may survive and they may not, but it hardly matters. Their race will be represented and that is all that needs to be done. Of course, some of them are the rulers of the ships until they step onto solid ground.

She grinds her teeth, Marie is one of the second group. She is one of those humans who simply ended up in the wrong household run by a family of natives who were hiding. But she is done hiding. She is done being one of the scared Hirpoun who dread the day when they are found. She has her Sight, she has already seen much more than most would at her age. She may not know what any of things she has seen mean, or even if they are real, but they are what they are to her.

Her birthday has always been the largest day of her life and one of the only days that her family has consistently celebrated. She has always looked at it as a reminder that she is in fact real. She is not an idea of her own imagination or something that she sees by her Sight. She is real. And yet, it often seems as though she is not. She is sleepwalking and daydreaming through the hours.

Until… until she changes into her natural form. And then she is living. And then she can hear the wind and smell the ground and climb a mountain in half the amount of time.

The sky darkens farther. She ventures to stand up and flex her hands as she waits for another minute, and then another. The dried red wine sun sinks beneath the horizon and leaves a black void behind. She takes a breath and slips into her natural form. Her head almost touches the ceiling of the cave as her legs lengthen along her fingers.

She steps towards the edge of the cave and starts to peek out, a light flashes across the ground and she draws back with a quiet curse. She forgot to think about the lights that used to rove across the borders of the town at night. The council of beings must have managed to get all of the previous defense measures working again.

She wishes that she had paid more attention to what the defense mechanisms were when the town was still young enough to have a large number of occupants. But she never thought that she would end up being a fugitive hiding in Sa’s cave. She curses again and slinks back to the side of the cave. She should have known that it would not be as simple as she thought. She will have to watch the lights and make sure that she can escape in between them. And if she cannot… She shakes her head. She is not going to go there. Not yet at least. She will pay attention to what might not be possible when she has to.

Until then, she must watch and see how many defense mechanisms are still working the way she remembers. And if there are any new ones… She scowls, she was hoping to leave Sa’s cave tonight. But it seems as though she will have to use the night to scout. She simply has to hope that she will not end up being stuck for another night as well.

She finds a place at the edge of the cave that is out of sight from the town and leans as close to the rock as she possibly can. She wills herself to become as inconspicuous as possible. Her eyes are much sharper in her natural form, and she finds herself staring at a fence. It reaches around the town at the base of the mountain on her side and the edge of the landing pad where a ship is crouching like a steel bull.

The roving lights spin across the razor wire of the metal fence, and she swallows thickly. At least she is already on the outside of it. Otherwise it would be very hard for her to get out. She clenches her teeth and her hands, did the unnamed gang make their way back into the town before they saw the repairs to the fence?

She is even more of a fugitive than she thought if they did not and they have not been captured. Perhaps it does not make a difference, there are only so many times that she can call herself a fugitive before the word becomes meaningless. At least she is not a fugitive of the planet. She belongs where she is.

Everyone else who is in the town are outsiders, they are the ones who have walked in to pretend that they are simply walking home. She belongs on the planet, she belongs in Sa’s cave. It is not her fault that she is trapped. And even if it was, she will not be trapped for much longer. She will leave Sa’s cave tomorrow night once she has managed to find a way through the lights and defense systems.

Perhaps she would still be able to outrun them if she is caught, but if the sensors pick her up and she is able to outrun them, then everyone in town will know that she is a Hirpoun. Many of the sensors were made to pick them up. Many of them were made to catch her race and mark them as the devils and demons that they are thought to be.

Even if she manages to leave, she will not be safe. But she cannot be sure if she will be safe ever again. If the ship truly came with new settlers, than she will always have to live on the outside. Unless the new settlers die just like the old ones and the town returns to its dilapidated state in her lifetime.

Her turns her hands around on her wrists, her natural form will live longer than her normal one. But she will still die eventually. And she will die much quicker if she is caught. If only she knew where to find someone else of her race. If only there was a group of beings like her that she could join. But she is alone as far as she knows.

She is alone and her only skills are the ones that she will be hunted by everyone for. The thing that she is carrying is not a mistake. It seems as though it is almost something that she was supposed to have. But the debtors are looking for it, and so they are looking for her. The unnamed gang will look for her when they choose to. The settlers will hunt her if they see she exists.

Even if something happens, she will still have Sa. But she rarely understands what Sa is trying to show her. She finds herself thinking about the sinking city and the family who watched again. It almost seems connected to something now, it feels as though whatever happened is not gone. It is hidden somewhere underneath the rocks or behind a door that no one can find. But it is not gone. And whatever it is seems as though it will come back.

Perhaps Sa shows her warnings. Perhaps the things that she sees are not simply random. She saw the fire that would ravage through town before it happened, and she saw the bus that would pick her up on her first day of school. But those were two incidents that could have simply been luck. And yet, she has seen Sa as well.

A light flashes across the ground in front of the cave. An electronic twang rings across the rocks, and then there is a thunk and everything falls silent. She shivers as another light runs across the rocks. At least now she knows that the fence is just like the one that the settlers talked about putting in decades ago. And she least she knows that the sensors still work.

The light runs across the rocks again and she stares at the darkness. She has a chance, it is not a very good one, but it is a chance. She will not have very much time, and she might be seen, but she may be able to climb higher into the mountain and find her way down out of the reach of the town’s defense systems.

She pulls closer to the rocks next to her and tries to make herself as small as possible. She has a chance, and the settlers will never see her if she can help it. They will not see her until she follows through with the plan that is starting to form in her mind and decides to reveal herself in the best way possible.

Copyright © 2015 ravenspen.com

All rights reserved.

Beautiful Cracks: Chapter Six

Chapter Six

The Silosc looks over his shoulder with his weapon drooping. It would be easy for her to grab it out of his hand, but the rumbling ground freezes her feet in place. She did not see this coming. She should have known that the council who sent the last settlers would come back sometime in the next few months. The patterns are written in all of the other planets that they have colonized.

The ground continues to shake, but the Silosc’s weapon remains pointed towards her face. She swallows thickly as she waits for him to move. Someone of his age and race would not be enough of a fool to stay around. Those that are human are limited to one or two, and those that follow the law could be narrowed down to someone laying in a grave. The Silosc scowls, “Let’s go an’ leave this hovel. We’ll find th’ Hirpoun latter when we don’t ‘ave t’ deal with th’ settler’s folks.”

He lowers his weapon and reaches the edge of the cave in a single bound. The rest of the gang follow him as a few toss dirty looks in her direction. She sits down where she is standing as soon as they are out of sight. She does not have a reason to try and run. It will take time before anyone ventures into the cave, and she should not dare leaving.

At least, not until she knows what the planet visitors want. She moves towards the back of the cave as the shaking ceases and she hears the popping groan of machinery. She can be sure that the gang chasing her will try to get underground as quickly as possible, and so she will have to let her plan sit. For the moment at least. Perhaps the arriving vehicles will not stay for long, perhaps they have finally decided that the small planet is not worth trying to civilize.

Even if they do try again, she doubts that any civilization besides what is left of what once was will last for longer than the previous settlers. They will be picked off like everyone else. She tries not to think about her parents as she turns to the painting of Sa. What do I do? Please tell me, what do I do? Sa remains silent, and her Sight remains motionless. But she does not need an answer even though she wishes for one.

She must hide and she must wait. Just as she is sure everyone in her race has done. Those that manage to survive and find a place to hide without being detected are lucky. And those that do not are simply added to a list of casualties.

It seems strange to think that only a few days have passed. Her previous life seems to be far away, but her future is equally as far. She finds herself praying that Sa will show her something, anything, that might tell her what to do next. It is a need for reassurance that she should not look for, but she is alone. And she feels more alone than she has for a long time.

The thump of boots that echoes through the ground. She turns and lays on the rock with her ear pressed against the floor of the cave, her vision wavers, and then she is floating in a black universe. Stars flash by her in a streak of light, and then she is standing at the edge of a different planet in teal blue and green.

Someone runs past her; but Sa does not allow her to turn her head and she is moved forwards with a gust of air. She stands at the edge of a cavernous hole that reaches down farther than she can see; a screech reaches towards her and turns into a rushing sound. She is picked up and set down on a grey cloud streaked with red as flames spurt out of the hole and shower across the world.

She is pulled away from the planet, and she turns her head as far as she can as it grows smaller and smaller. The mountains are melting into pockets of red lava. The planet shivers and shakes. And then it is gone. It collapses into itself and grows smaller and smaller until it is simply a wisp of smoke in a place without gravity.

Perhaps that is why clouds exist. She blinks and picks her head up from the sandy floor of the cave, it is a ridiculous idea. She moves over until she is leaning against the wall of the cave with weak legs. What could her Sight possibly mean? What is Sa trying to tell her? How can a planet melt into itself and then turn into a wisp of smoke?

She swallows thickly to try and get rid of the bad taste in her mouth, could the same thing happen here? Why would someone want to destroy a planet? Each of them have their own use, and even if it is a small use, it is still a use. She scowls towards the entrance of the cave, there are some crazy beings who would do anything to get what they want.

She sinks against the pale sandstone rocks behind her, why would ships have landed on their planet? On her planet? She has more of a right to be here than most of the current occupants. She is a native and the rocks are her ancestors. Why is it so hard for her to understand what Sa is showing her? She should know how what she sees relates to the world. Unless everything is simply a fluke. Perhaps she is not supposed to see the things that she sees at all. But she has seen Sa, and that does not feel irrelevant.

Does the council of beings think that they can try to repopulate the planet again? Do they think that they have the perfect solution to their previous problem? She wants to yell at them and shake their brains from their heads. She would run across the universe if she could and jump off od the seventh moons to reach them and prove that the previous occupants of all of the planets that they have tried to ‘reform’ have not forgotten.

She stops and pushes herself to her feet, why not? She could make a statement, she could prove that she has not forgotten even though she was born long after most of the exterminations stopped. She could prove that she is not powerless, and that even one Hirpoun can do things that many beings of a different kind could not.

She could prove that she is still living, and that their race is not extinct. But her parents… and Marie must be added to the list as well. The debtors will not have a reason for letting them stay alive even if they run, and she will be next. The arrival of a ship makes sure that they have less time than they want. And so they will search for what they desire with another half of their power.

She will not only become more of a fugitive than she is, she will become caged. Even if they do not find her, the entire planet is filled with her enemies. At least, most of it. But the plains where she might be safe are days away. And she would have to make sure that she is not seen. Anyone would be able to see her on the rocks if she leaves the cave, even if she bends down as far as she can and crawls on her stomach.

There is a reason why the council of beings decided to place the settlement where it is. It is almost impossible to sneak up to if beings are watching each of the vulnerable areas. And if what she heard truly are ships, then they will have beings watching the entire town as though it is their crown jewel. She will not be able to leave during the day unless she can become invisible to both a naked eye and the fancy sensors that surround the town and have not been used for decades. Even travelling at night will be difficult, but she is not sure if she has a choice. Not anymore.

There is a thump from the ship she knows is anchored towards the small machine-made plateau towards the south of the town. She grinds her teeth together with frustration as she tries not to peek out of the cave. Someone would see her, and she cannot risk it. But not knowing what is happening almost seems to be worse than the idea of being caught. She slumps against the back of the cave next to Sa’s shrine; being caught will have far more effects than not knowing what is happening.

At least she can be relatively sure that her parents have managed to get out of the town. Marie could be anywhere, but hopefully she is safe. Besides, if the council of beings has landed a ship, than Marie would be safer in the open then in hiding. Her status as a human makes her vulnerable on the planet, but it places her in a position of power the instant that a ship lands.

She presses her fingernails into her palms, she should have known that this day would come soon. Perhaps she would have been able to prepare herself for it. But she was so used to living inside her own mind and the visions that Sa shows her, that she forgot that Marie could never entirely be her friend.

Perhaps she could. Perhaps Marie will decide the stay on her side for as long as possible. But it is doubtful. Marie is human after all. And she- well, she is something else. She can pretend to be normal for as long as she lives, but she never will be. Most of the beings who are not entirely average only have one strike against them at her age, but she already as two.

And that two could easily turn into three. Would she ever wish to not have her Sight? She is not sure. She doubts that she would. Perhaps the things that she sees will come in handy at some point. And she will probably need every advantage that she is able to find or create. She is a fugitive of everyone now.

There is a mechanical groan from the town, and then another crash that makes her skin crawl. She clenches her teeth together with her Hirpoun form begging to be let free. She wishes that she could, she wishes that she could run out of Sa’a cave in the way that she ran in. She wishes that her race was not thought of as devils or demons. She wishes that she could be considered a ‘being’ just as everyone else.

She licks her lips with the memory of the way the air tasted when she turned to her natural form. She would never wish to be normal. Even if she could only taste the air that way one more time before she dies, she would still not wish to be a normal being. Her race has never been registered as anything but a threat. A threat to anyone and everything.

And perhaps she should play off of that fact. Perhaps she should act the way that everyone believes she should act. Perhaps she should play the demon and the devil to get free. But then the hunt for her would only grow larger, and she would only end up dying on the spot in whatever way the council of beings’ executors wished. No, she will have to pretend that she does not exist. And when it falls dark, then she will see if it is possible for her to leave Sa’s cave without being caught.

Copyright © 2015 ravenspen.com

All rights reserved.

NaNoWriMo November

Yes… this post is late. Very late considering the fact that I wrote it towards the beginning of the week. Why is it so late? I have been distracted, very distracted. And I hurt one of my hands. I can still type (thank goodness), but it really threw a wrench in my wednesday. Wednesday was two days ago? Wait, how did that happen? Time really does seem to be flying by.

Without any farther ado…

November is next month… Yes, the craziness shall begin.

Purple hippopotamuses. An insane amount of tea and hot chocolate. Plot lines that refuses to behave. Stories left in the drawer marked for revisions without being touched for at least a month.

And NaNoWriMo.

What is NaNoWriMo? NaNoWriMo is the acronym for National Novel Writing Month. Yes, that thing. The one where multitudes of people from all over the world get together and attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I am one of those crazy people.

In fact, NaNoWriMo can be partially blamed for the fact that I have finished four novels. I probably would not have written a single novel by this point if my parents had not pulled me into NaNoWriMo in 2013. At first, I thought the whole idea of 50,000 words in 30 days seemed crazy. Of course it was crazy. Then again, it is only 1,667 words per a day.

It was the last week of October, I had never written consistently, I had never finished a story, and I had only written a few hundred words in a day. It felt unrealistic. The things is, it was not. I ended up writing 51,000 words in the thirty days offered, and I was completely hooked.

That is why I am doing it again this year.

Some bullet points about why I am attempting NaNoWriMo yet again (aka. Why you might want to attempt the craziness too):

  • It is a challenge (who does not love a challenge?).
  • The community of Wrimos is awesome. Beyond awesome.
  • If you can write 50,000 words in 30 days without immediately deleting it, then there are a lot of things that you can do.
  • It is always nice to have a partner in crime; why not have a crazy writing partner? Or a whole group of crazy writing partners.
  • The creators of NaNoWriMo have come up with a brilliant series of graphs which make it surprisingly easy simple to make sure you on par with your wordcount goal.

There are more, many more. But I am going to go on to a different question: Why would someone want to do NaNoWriMo (the short answer)? Why not?

Honestly.

NaNoWriMo does not work for everyone, but it is great for some people. It is one of those things to try. Stock up on your chocolate and beverages, sit down in a chair or on your bed, screw your face up at the blank page, and do your best to write. And write. And write. And… well, you get the idea.

What do you need for NaNoWriMo?

  • Persistence.
  • Determination.
  • A good friend or partner in crime (it could be someone of your own imagination, I will not tell).
  • A document or notebook to work on the story of your choice.
  • More determination, and a comfortable set of clothes.
  • A dash of craziness.

Dump it all in a pot or cauldron of your choice and stir well. Make sure to add a bit more persistence, and keep the rotten squash like doubt and the-rattling-word-impossible out of the pot. They will not serve you. Trust me.

There are countless things that can be added (chocolate, tea, coffee, a plot outline ect.), but the most important things are your creativity and your mind (well, I suppose the mind part could be optional).

As someone so eloquently put it (please forgive the fact that I do not know who) ‘this is what everyone doing NaNoWriMo in November is going to look like':

Just, for the sake of something called sanity, please refrain from typing the same phrase over and over again. No one needs a repeat of that.

Beautiful Cracks: Chapter Five

Chapter Five

The sun rises without warning in a globe that hangs above the horizon. She turns towards the mountains as soon as she can see the gray ground clearly; the tops of the mountains are turned orange by the flaming star. She breaks into a jog as she heads towards the road. She weaves in between the scraggly trees and pauses behind each one.

The air seems to be fresher than last night. It fills her lungs in a way that she has not felt since she was too young to go to school. Her ribboned legs and straight spine make her taller, even as they give a strange lilt to her gait. It has been far too long since she saw the world through the eyes that she was supposed to have. Her parents have always warned her that she must stay away from the temptations of running and violence.

She has always considered violence as something that should be avoided, but running is entierly different. Her parents’ warnings have become less frequent over the years, but she knows that their position in the matter of her heritage will never change. But she is alone for now, and she can make her own decision.

As the town has emptied over the years with beings moving to different places, dying from a mysterious disease, or becoming a catastrophe of one crime or another, she has seen less of a reason to hide. But there is always at least one reason despite her wishes. And she has always followed those reasons. Until now. She is already being hunted, it does not seem necessary for her to hide her own abilities.

She has already killed at least one being and destroyed the hierarchy of a gang, and she knows that she could do more. Much more. The ground dips underneath her as the mountains grow closer and the trees fade behind her shadow. The ground is sandy and rough, but her legs allow her to run without slipping.

It has been a long time since one of her race has run across the land with a narrow face. She rejoices in the freedom that the wisps of wind give her as she bounds from one rock to another. The sand barely crumples underneath her feet.

Her life has always been defined by how others would see her. It is something that was told her again and again until it could not be forgotten; there are not many of them left, and those that are must pretend that they are the same as everyone else. She supposes that she has always had a slight advantage, she is generations down from the major family lines. But she is close enough to be as much of the world as any of the petrified trees that stand out of the reach of houses.

Before the forth centennial, her race was one of only a few on the planet; but things have changed drastically and the intolerance for anyone different lasted for just long enough that they were almost entirely wiped out. She is simply lucky that her grandparents found a way to hide.

Their origins are something that her parents have rarely discussed. There have only been the usual warnings and a few conversations about how certain actions may impact them. Despite what was a form of growing safety: her parents have always decided to hide. As much as she understands their actions, she has always hated having to wear thick dresses to restrict her movement and prevent herself from playing with children in the streets.

And yet, she can be thankful as well. She is safe enough, or she was a few days ago. Now it seems as though neither of her secrets will be secrets for much longer. Things always have a way of coming out. She reaches for the side of a bolder to pull herself higher, what would it have been like to live before their world was populated by species from across the solar system? Would there still be so many catastrophes and violence by unnamed gangs?

On the rare days that her mother would explain a story about their race to her before bed, she always mentioned the harshness of their laws. But she cannot imagine how the laws that existed back then would be worse than the danger they face now. Perhaps differences are frowned upon by everyone who does not live them. Everyone is prejudiced. Everyone believes in their own opinion.

She is not entirely sure what her opinion about the world is. Everything seems to be shaped by Sa. And yet, she cannot complain about that either. She does not know who she would be without Sa. She is her heritage it seems, but beings are more than what they appear to be. She certainly hopes that she is.

She never met either of her grandparents, but she knows that they spent most of their lives in hiding. Even her parents hid for the first many years of their lives. The exterminations of their race began slowly, and then the frenzy engulfed the entire planet and beyond. They could not travel and they could not stay.

And so they did the best that they could, and most of them still ended up in graves. She does not know if anyone else in their town is one of the former races of the planet. She supposes that another family must have ties that run back beyond the conquest. But she has never met anyone.

And yet, anyone who would be open about their heritage would have to be a fool. A great fool indeed. And it seems as though she is becoming a great fool. She can be sure that someone has seen her, anyone watching the mountains would be able to see her. And a gang without a leader is simply out for revenge. She climbs higher and steps onto a narrow path in between boulders.

She wonders how long she will have to wait before someone finds her. She doubts that it will be more than a few hours, most of the other beings might not be able to climb as quickly as she can, but no one is entirely slow. Anyone who is slow would not have been able to make it on the streets. They would have been gobbled up like the dust that sinks underneath clouds. No, she will not have to wait for long.

It seems she will have to wait for long enough to have time to think. Her plan seems fuzzy and half formed as she looks at it again. But an unsure plan is better than not having a plan at all. She will make it work. She must make it work. She stumbles and grabs onto a nearby boulder to hold herself onto her feet. The ground changes underneath her and shows red dust that rises up as a metal box lands at her feet. It is about a foot long with a layered pyramid of metal on top. She starts to reach for it, but it fades along with her strength and she crumples on the ground.

She wipes her mouth with the back of her hand as she stands up again. Even her Sight is not as debilitating in her natural form. An avalanche of small rocks tumbles down the side of the mountain behind her; she glances over her shoulder with her heart racing in her chest. Her mouth becomes dry as she scrambles to straighten up. The narrow path in front of her is secluded by boulders that reach up to her waist or shoulders.

She crouches down as she runs forwards, she is not ready to be found. She has not found Sa yet, and she must find Sa before she is caught. She can only remember her mother bringing her to see Sa once. It was a clear day that her mother handed to Marie in the form of a permission slip to leave the house and spend as she wished. Her mother walked into her bedroom and declared that they would spend what was left of the day together. Her mother’s voice was sharper than usual, but she could not decline such an offer. She is not entirely sure what happened earlier in the day, but she knows that she was in trouble. Perhaps she had decided to change into her natural form.

Of course that was it. Marie barely managed to stop herself from screaming. She has always wondered why humans find them so terrifying. She is not that different in appearances; the things she thinks about are not that different either. Her back might be slightly straighter and she walks with a strange gait, her legs might be much longer and her arms might be slightly short in comparison, her face might be triangular, and her eyes might be the same size that they are when she is wearing a disguise, but she is not that different.

Perhaps it is the similarities that bother people. Perhaps her race is just close enough to be a comparison, and far enough that no would make the mistake of calling them human. Perhaps it is the fact that her race tried to fight back when the ships came in with soldiers of all origins.

Not all of the settlers survived. There were more of them that died then those that lived. But those that lived flourished in their small numbers for a time. But that time is over, and the idea that the planet might have had a large civilization for centuries has been almost entirely erased.

Most of the houses in the plains have been covered up by dust. Sometimes she wonders if the rocks are the only ones with memories of the past. But she is sure that whichever council sent the settlers have not forgotten about the small planet at the edge of the seventh moons.

She sighs with relief as she sees the entrance to a cave that looks vaguely familiar. The walls arc inwards to cover a sandy floor. The shrine is almost exactly as she remembers it; except for a thick layer of dust. Those who used to take care of the caves died a long time ago. But not long enough for them to be entirely forgotten.

The shrine is almost as tall as she is with a carved chair facing the entrance of the cave. The sunlight is bright enough for her to barely be able to see as she steps closer to the drawing of Sa painted above the chair. The floor at the bottom of the chair has been strewn with pebbles and flowers. They seem to stir as she steps closer and changes back into her disguised form.

Her legs shrink underneath her and her hands grow smaller as she crouches down in front of the shrine. Her heart beats in her chest as she hears footsteps climb up to the cave, and then something presses into her back. “Stand up slowly an’ turn ‘round. We hav’ a few things t’ discuss.” The voice is low and gravelly, and she keeps her hands away from her as she follows the instructions.

The cat faced man behind her is much smaller than her own height, but he is clearly in change of the leaderless gang behind him. For the moment at least. The other beings watch him with a quiet reverence, and she is sure that he must be older than all of them combined. She swallows thickly, she knew that they would catch up to her quickly, but she did not expect them to catch up quite this quickly. Sooner rather than latter it seems.

Now at least she knows that she will not be able to back out of her own plan. She is as locked in as she was when she was hiding underneath the floorboards in her parents’ bedroom closet. Now she simply has the chance to define what kind of walls will be surrounding her.

“I didn’t want t’ hurt yer leader, but I needed t’ run too.” The Silosc cat-faced-man lets his shaggy hair hang in his face, “Maybe, but ya hav’ somethin’ th’ we want. An’ we gonna be sure t’ get ‘t, no matter what kind of things ya ar’ plannin’. We still hav’ ya.” She wants to smile as his surprisingly chivalrous words. And she wonders when her opinion of a good being suddenly depended on how quickly they would threaten her.

Something rumbles and makes the ground inside the cave shake. Dust falls from the walls as beings in the gang look over their shoulders. The dust makes her mouth feel dry and distant, she did not think that this day would come for a very long time.

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