Raven's Pen

Writing, Reading, and Ruminating

Month: February 2016

The Ups and Downs of Editing Pt. I

Editing a full book has always seemed like one of those fairytale-esque ‘someday’ things.

I think it is relatively common knowledge that once someone writes a manuscript, the next thing to think about is editing. Well… that world of editing is a complicated one. I am sure that you have some experience if you have ever had to edit a paper or a short story; but the truth is that novels are different. At least, that is the case in my minimal experience.

Before finishing Subliminal, I had dabbled with editing my other manuscripts. But I have never been able to got past the first few chapters.

Now that I am seriously attempting to edit Subliminal, I have run onto something that I have heard at least a few people talk about:

The phases of editing.

Rather, the things that end up going through your head after finishing a book and reading through it again. It seems to go something like this:

“This is a mess.”

“What was I thinking?”

“Actually, this is not as bad as I thought it was.”

“I wonder if anyone would actually like reading this.

“You know,  I think this might have a lot of potential.”

“Who knew I could actually be funny!”

“This is not bad.”

“Oh sh*t.”

“What the hell was I thinking?”

“This is horrible.”

“How could this ever become publishable?”

And on and on…

Essentially, it is a circle.

The most important thing to have is hope.

But… that circle is part of the reason why I have not done much editing in the past two weeks. All right, I have been extremely distracted by everything else that has been going on; and everything else that needs to be done. But it is always possible to make time to edit, even if it is only for a few pages.

One of the dangers of the editing circle is the amount of head-space it takes.

So… here is one piece of advice before moving onto the next part of this post:

One of the easy things to say in response to the editing circle is “just get through it”, but “get through it” is something that is rarely helpful unless you are telling yourself. I think of editing as a mind game. That does not mean that it is easy, quite the contrary.

Editing requires a very different type of focus than writing does.

Which is way I think it is important to have another project going on at the same time.  Fortunately, I am not only one in the house who is trying to edit; my mom is also working on her own book. This has brought up some interesting conversations, as well as a few conclusions (and always more questions). One of those conclusions is that editing is a process that requires breaks.

You know those times when you type a word, and every moment that you stare at it makes the spelling seem more and more incorrect? Unless you are in a very small group of people, editing without breaks can actually do more harm than good.

Good stories have a flow that pulls the reader in and floats them down the stream. Great stories are things that the reader can live inside of; and I think that beautiful stories are always the goal.

The best stories need good writing.

I think good writing is defined by the reader. Everyone will argue for their opinion and say that they are right; in the end, no one can entirely agree.

Of course, there are a few basic things:

  • Proper grammar.
  • Correct spelling.
  • Paragraph breaks.

In the end, the truth is that you can never please everybody. You can try, but the word perfect simply does not exist.

I think this is true with life as well as editing. As Leo Tolstoy Said, “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”

So… when is a book ready to be published?

Because I am still trying to figure out the answer, if there is one, I can only speculate.

I would like to think that I will know when Subliminal is ready to be published. And I assume that I will, but I think it could be boiled down to a few things (in our special cauldron of course):

  • Other people will be able to read the entire book and understand what is being said.
  • I will have a fair amount of comfort with the story; but not too much.
  • There will be as few errors and typos as possible.
  • There will be an acknowledgment of imperfections.
  • The story will fit the characters.

In many ways, a book is much like a life. The lives that are lived, truly lived, become good stories.

A book may have perfect writing, or a perfect plot twist. But, if you truly think about it, anything that is perfect is impossible. So… edit until you and your compatriots agree that your book is ready, but do not try to erase every single imperfection because you will never be finished.

All right, that is speculation. I intend on posting a more in-depth exploration of editing and what makes a good book over the next few weeks.

If you have any thoughts of your own, please leave a comment. I would greatly enjoy reading them!

Beautiful Cracks: Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Seventeen

She pushes herself to her feet and winces as her lungs struggle to expand. Keone coughs and wipes blood from his nose, “What was that?” She scowls and grabs onto Keone’s arm, “Do you think I would be standing here if I knew?” Its eyes widen, “You’d chase it?”

She snorts and pulls Keone forward. It starts to say something and she quickly makes shushing noises, “Do you think we’re alone? We were just attacked, and attackers always wait for another chance.” Keone gulps in fear and she curses her position. She never should have pulled Keone into this, whatever it is. But she needs it as much as it is a thorn in her ribs.

The tunnel grows darker as they move forward and she tries not to gag at the acidic odor. The floor of the tunnel is slick and she pulls Keone faster as the rock turns into concrete. Keone sniffs and turns up its nose, “Something used to be here; and something that smells. What is this place?” She frowns, “How am I supposed to know maggot?”

Keone tries to yank its arm out of her grasp, “Hey! Don’t call me that! You can call me almost anything you want, but ‘maggot’ is going way too far.” She stops and turns to face it, “Really? Because I’m thinking that it fits you better than you want to admit.” She starts to lead them deeper into the tunnel again and Keone unsuccessfully digs its heels into the ground, “Just because you think it fits me doesn’t mean that it does! Being called a ‘maggot’ is about one of the worst insults you could use.”

She stops again and hisses through her teeth, “If you don’t shut your sniveling mouth, I am going to call you far worse things than ‘maggot’, maggot.” Keone shuts its mouth and glowers at her. She rolls her shoulders in the silence and gives Keone a warning look as it opens its mouth to comment. It reluctantly stays quiet, and she tries not to jump at each footfall as they move forward again.

A shadow streaks across the wall next to them and she yanks Keone to a halt, “Did you see that?” Keone rolls its eyes, “Did I see what? I’m practically blind right now! It’s too dark for anyone who is not insane to see where we’re going. No offense, but your Hirpoun ancestry does not mean that you’re automatically sane no matter what you decide to do.”

She turns toward Keone with a sneer, “No; it means that I can pull your arms off without feeling any remorse. Now, shut up and stop complaining.” Keone scowls at her, but her attention is quickly pulled back to the wall as another shadow streaks across it. She yanks Keone to the side as a fist heads toward her face; they smash into the wall and the air is punched out of her.

Keone gasps for breath, “What the striking meteors was that?” She scowls and yanks it forward, “Move; I have no idea, but I told you it would be back.” Keone wipes its nose with its sleeve, “So now you’re resorting to ‘I told you so’? That’s ridiculous, and not very well planned. You know that I could just leave you down here and return home.”

Her scowl deepens, “You’re almost blind in the dark, and you clearly can’t leave without me. You would have already left if you could have; and so would have I.” Keone frowns, “That’s mean. You’re not very nice whatever-your-name-is.” She yanks a finger to her lips, “Shhhh!”

Keone wisely shuts up and the narrow tunnel seems to grow wider. She stops as they reach a stone-rimmed doorway, “What is this place?” Keone looks up at her, “So now you’re finally asking the most important question of the day? Or did you ask that earlier and I forgot…” She yanks it through the doorway, “Shut your mouth.”

She stops as soon as they pass through the door’s arch; dark shapes reach into the room beyond them. A circular platform in the middle shimmers as she searches along the wall for a light switch. Keone yelps as she lets go of him, “Where are you going? I can’t see a doggone thing!” Her fingertips grasp a switch and she yanks it upwards, “Be quiet. There’s something here and I don’t like it.”

Keone starts to answer, but he stops as yellowed commercial lights start to flicker before buzzing to life. The room around them is covered in dust; layers cover the floor and sink into every crevice. A raised, circular, floor in the center of the room lights up as she yanks Keone toward it. The floor is speckled with silver and blue wires that crisscross in triangles.

The room seems oddly familiar, but she cannot be sure why. A shadow darts across the wall behind her and she spins around, “Who ar’ you?” The shadow jumps to a dusty file cabinet and she stalks toward it, “Show yourself!” Keone pulls on her arm, “It’s just a shadow; come on, help me figure out what the rotten comet is going on here.” She scowls at the shadow and yanks her arm out of Keone’s grasp, “You will show yourself shadow-person! Now! Obey me, and you will not have much more to fear than you think.” The shadow darts to the other side of the room and she jumps over a rotted wooden table to follow it.

Her hand slams into the shadow’s neck and it trembles underneath her. Keone hooks its arms around her waist, “Come on; let it go.” She shakes her head and narrows her eyes, “Who are you? Tell me now; and perhaps I will consider letting you live.” The shadow shakes violently, “I-I…”

The voice tinkles with tiny bells in a hallow room and she scowls, “You what? You attacked us twice, and now you refuse to tell me why? Who are you?” The shadow’s thin hands pull on her fingers, “L-let me go. I-I don’t… I-I didn’t want to hurt you. T-they told me to keep this place safe.”

She hand loosens slightly, “Who told you to keep this place safe? Where are we?” The shadow’s head tilts backwards, “L-look around. Y-you are standing in the future and the past.” She lets go of the shadow’s neck, “Great. We’re apparently standing underground on a forgotten planet with a shadow who seems to be immortal.”

The shadow presses itself into the wall and shakes a head, “N-not immortal. I-I am just here for as long as I need to be.” Meg turns on it, “I think that means your immortal; or, at least, close enough that you clearly intend to stick around.” Keone’s eyes narrow slightly, “What are you? I mean, I’ve heard of shadow people. But I thought that they were just myths.”

The shadow shakes its head, “I-I am not a myth. I-I exist, but it has been a long time since I talked to someone. Y-you are the first beings to come here in centuries.” Meg clenches her hands, “What are you? And why did you agree to protect this place?” The shadow shivers, “I-I am a Shade. I-I did not agree to protect this place; I was told to and so I have. A-and I will forever more. T-this is my home. I-I am a slave to what I am told to do; just like it has always been for my kind.”

Keone’s eyes narrow farther, “Wait; you’re a slave? If so, where are your masters?” The Shade hangs its head, “D-dead. I-I have not seen anyone for a long time. I-I do not think that anyone will ever come back for me. B-but I am never supposed to leave; I am supposed to protect this place for my entire life. P-perhaps I truly am immortal. A-and if I am, it is my masters’ doing and not mine.”

Meg scowls, “Fine; tell me what your masters were doing here. What are you supposed to protect?” The Shade’s head hangs farther down, “I-I do not know. I-I was never told what is here; I was only told to stay, and I always follow my master’s orders. I-I am always alone.” Keone sets a hand on the Shade’s shoulder, “You’re not alone anymore. We’re here; but you need to tell us how to leave and what was happening here.”

The Shade lets out a billowing sigh, “Y-you will not hurt me? Y-you’re friend is not very kind.” Keone smiles at the Shade, “No; we will not hurt you. And my friend- or companion as it is- might not be very kind, but she will help you get out of here. Where is your home?” Meg tries not to hiss and the Shade’s head sinks even lower, “I-I told you: I do not have a home besides this one. I-I was told to stay here and so I have. I-I can tell you what is here, but I do not know very much. A-and I would end up in trouble if my masters ever found out that I showed you the building; but I doubt that any of them will ever come home. T-they left in a hurry and told me to stay. I-I have never dared to disobey them and look outside; I know that there are wonderful things outside because they used to talk about them, but I am banned from exploring.”

Meg crosses her arms with a snort and Keone gives her a warning look, “Well; from now on you’re our guide. And you are not banned from going anywhere. Does that work for you?” The Shade rapidly nods, “Y-yes; I am happy to be your guide. B-but your friend must promise not to hurt me. I-I don’t like to be touched.”

Meg scowls and Keone gives her an expectant look, “Well, are you going to promise not to hurt our friend? Or are you going to be stubborn and make us stay down here forever without a guide?” Meg tightens her crossed arms, “You have my word. I won’t hurt you unless you attack either of us again. Understood? I hope that works for you, because that’s the best deal that you can hope for.” Her voice is gravelly and Keone grimaces.

The Shade nods in agreement and grabs Keone’s empty hand, “Y-yes; I accept. B-but I can’t promise to show you everything without getting lost. I-I was not allowed in any of the restricted areas before you showed up. I-I have always followed my orders until now. B-but I am not afraid anymore.” The Shade pulls on Keone’s hand, “C-come on; I will show you where the food and supplies are.”

Meg takes up the rear and scowls at the floor, “Finally; something that will be useful.” Keone gives her another warning look and she morns the current events. But she is glad to finally have a guide, even if she is clearly the least liked being in the group. At least she still has her head, and she most certainly intends to use it.

Keone practically has to run to keep up with the Shade as it excitedly talks about everything that they pass. Meg tries her best to pay attention, but she finds herself staring at the walls the majority of the time. The rooms that the Shade shows them are unremarkable; the supply closet is exactly what it sounds like: a cinderblock room with shelves of tasteless packaged food and squeezable bottles of water. The bunks are next; a long room with bunk beds lining the walls and pale army-style bedding. The rest of the rooms are either filled with rusted parts from one mechanism and another, or plain supplies with long-gone expiration dates.

At least she can be glad that none of them will be able to starve for at least a few decades. But she most certainly does not intend on staying on this sand filled planet for decades. She intends on leaving as soon as she can. She scowls at the Shade and Keone’s linked hands, perhaps she will leave Koene behind when it is time to return home. It certainly seems happy enough.

The Shade stops in front of a set of shinny double doors, “T-this is the exit to everything that is outside. I-I have never seen through it. B-but my masters used to talk about how amazing the world is. I-I can show you more of the restricted areas if you want to return home now, but I want to see this. A-and I think you should too.”

Meg’s scowl deepens, “Than get on with it and open the door.” Keone gives her an angry look, but she wins their silent battle as the Shade pulls open the door without complaint. Keone snatches the door from the Shade as soon as it can, “Here; let me take care of that.” The Shade nods as it pulls open the second door and brushes aside a curtain of cloth beyond the steel.

Meg can barely hold back a gasp as fresh air rushes into the hallway; and neither the Shade nor Keone try.

Copyright © 2016 ravenspen.com

All rights reserved.

Wiping off the Dust

The last two weeks have been crazy. I apologize for my absence… this place seems to have gathered a bit of dust since last time I posted.

I am back now, and I hope to have the next chapter of Beautiful Cracks up soon.

This last week have been relatively uneventful, but choke full of things to do. But I was able to go to a library booksale, and we brought home more books than we intended. But it was a library booksale… books are hard to resist.

It seems my never-ending reading list is growing larger again, but I do not expect anything else. Alright, that is the minimal update. I am off once again to stir the cauldron of posts and see what pops out.

Until next time….

Beautiful Cracks: Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Sixteen

The wind from the gang’s breath is the only noise as they watch their still Silosc. He glowers at her and she tries not to curl her hands. She should have thought about what she was saying, but she has already spoken; and she meant every single word. She will take complete control if she wants to, or if her plan gets out of hand, and the Silosc continues to hide and avoid her plans. She did not think that she would end up calling him a coward, but she could not come up with anything more suitable.

The Silosc takes a step toward her, and then another, “Ya’ seem t’ think tha’ you’re still in control. But I still hold everyone’s leashes in my hands, an’ my men hav’ only been your men for these past two days because I hav’ told them t’. But I can change tha’ in a moment. Ya’ don’t hav’ any control or power here, I’m th’ leader. An’ you’re just a crazy Hirpoun.”

She forms her mouth in a grin, “Maybe Silosc, but I think ya’ know th’ some of your men can see th’ point t’ want I’m doing, an’ I’m hoping tha’ ya’ can t’. But tha’ doesn’t mean tha’ I’m goin’ t’ fall down at your feet. I’m in as much control here as ya’ ar’ an’ ya’ know it.”

She bites her tongue to keeping herself from saying more and hopes that she has not drifted over the edge. The Silosc takes another step toward her in intimidation, but she towers above him in her Hirpoun form and he only ends up glowering at her chest, “When I say tha’ I’m in charge, I mean tha’ I’m in charge. This is th’ way tha’ it’s goin’ t’ work: ya’ can keep your thing with ya’ an’ let it follow ya’ around, but I get t’ hav’ a hand in th’ plans an’ th’ orders ar’ given by me an’ not ya’. Th’ gang will follow me no matter what; you’re just somethin’ that’s in th’ way. Follow my rules if ya’ want t’ stay… That’s th’ way it’s goin’ t’ work.”

Keone shuffles its feet behind her as she scowls, “Fine. But th’ final plans ar’ decided on by me.” She grabs onto Keone’s arm and leads it out of the cave. Keone twists its head to watch her as she climb down the boulders, “W-where are we going?” Her scowl deepens, “The gang won’t have a nice ending; but they’ll survive for now. That is, if I want them to.”

Keone digs its feet into the ground, “What’s your problem? And what are you trying to do? I don’t want to be part of any of this if I don’t know what you’re planning, so… it’s time for you to share.” She turns around to face it and ducks behind the edge of a boulder. A crash echoes through the rocks from the town, and she grits her teeth together, “You’re already in the middle of this. Did you forget that we’re more alike than you thought?”

Keone tries to rip its arm out of her grasp, “You’re a murderous Hirpoun who’s trying to start a war that you will never be able to win! We’re completely, utterly, entirely different. And that is the end of it.” She forces herself to laugh, “If we’re so different, why are you so scared? You know what’s coming just like I do. But you’d rather hide, cover your head, and hope that you’ll survive. I’m more interested in fighting back. Even if I’m starting a crazy war; I know that it’s going to be worth it.”

Keone frantically shakes its head, “How could it be worth it? You’re lucky that I haven’t decided to return home and tell Marie what you’re planning.” She tightens her grip on its arm and steps closer, “You don’t know exactly what I’m planning. And you missed my point; you see the same things that I do. The only different is that I know what it means. You still seem to think that what’s coming is going to fix this world.”

Keone glowers at her, “Maybe it will; maybe that’s what everyone here deserves.” She laughs despite herself, “Maybe. But you’re still afraid because you know that you’re going to die. I’m still hoping that this war will come before everything else will.”

She moves closer to Keone and drops her voice, “The only that you’ll understand what’s coming is if you trust me. Follow what you know you need to do and do it.” Keone straightens up as much as it can, “Fine, I’ll follow what I know I need to do.”

It lets out a scream and she claps a hand over its mouth, “You just made a very big mistake Keone.” It tries to scream again as she drags it farther into the rocks. She resists the temptation to break its neck as she corners them in between two boulders. If the new beings were not searching for Keone an hour ago, they must be by now.

She tries not to throw up as the world spins around her and knocks her to her knees. She drags Keone with her, and his scream dies out as they land on golden sand. Keone’s eyes widen until she is sure that they are going to explode. She grips her arms and struggles to get to her feet. Of all of the moments for Sa to show her an alternate world, this is certainly not what she expected.

Keone turns around in a circle, “What is this place?” She grabs onto its shoulder and pulls it forward, “Who knows; but you need to shut your sneaking lips.” Keone gulps and snaps its mouth closed. She scowls as she drags it in a circle; the world around them is built out of one sand dune after another in alternating colors. The planet is so small that she can see both curves of its circumference from the same place.

Keone spits sand out of his mouth and she curls her empty hand into a fist, “We’re going back.” Keone’s eyes widen, “But how are we going to get back? We don’t know where we are; there isn’t anything around; and I don’t know how to fly through space. I doubt that you do either.” She grits her teeth together as its voice grabs against her eyes, “Shut up! Sa always brings me back; but there has never been anyone with me that exists at the some time.”

Keone looks up at her with wide eyes, “You’ve been to other planet’s before? Like this?” She tries not to pay attention to Keone as she starts walking, “You should learn to be quiet; I’m tired of hearing your voice. And I’m extremely tempted to leave you here on your own.” “Wait; no!” Keone wraps itself around her and she shoves it back to disentangle herself, “I said “I’m tempted to”, not ‘I’m going to’. Now close the squabbling thing on your face and be quiet. We won’t know where we are until we walk around this entire planet.”

Keone gulps again, but it wisely stays quiet as she drabs it forward. She tries not to think about everything that is wrong, but she can barely choke back her thoughts. The planet they are on is far too reminiscent of one of the first things that Sa showed her. She woke up screaming for a week after the first sight that she was placed inside of. She barely remembers what the first one showed, but the second and third are far too lucid. She bites her tongue to stop herself from yelling as Keone hums under its breath.

It only takes them a few hours to walk around the entire planet. Keone collapses in relief as they stop where they started and she tries not to punch the air, “There must be something here.” Keone sifts sand through its hands, “It looks like I’m the only one who is looking at reality right now.” She laughs, “Looking at reality? Keone, we’re on a planet covered in sand; and we’re only here because an ancient goddess dropped us here. There’s no such thing as reality in this life; and I’m still the only one who is using a brain. The only reason that Sa would leave us here is if she’s making a point; something must be here. And we’re supposed to find it.”

Keone shrugs, “Fine; but you’ll have to look yourself. I think I’m going to sit here and watch the solar system. Maybe I’ll even wait for someone to come around and rescue us.” She turns away from Keone and stalks onto a patch of pale green sand. A slight breeze pulls though her hair and ruffles the sand at her feet.

Something glimmers in between her toes and she digs through the sand underneath her. The glimmer starts to fade and she digs faster; the sand rises up to her wrists and her fingers brush against metal. She leans back on her ankles and lets loose a breath; a slightly rusted hatch has been sunk into the ground with large rivets in each corner. She takes a deep breath and grabs onto the handle. It barely moves even as she throws her entire weight into it, but a groans sounds a moment later and she is thrown onto her back.

She stares at the black sky until she is sure that she is still breathing. She crawls back to the hatch and peers into the empty tunnel underneath it. A small rusted ladder barely hangs onto the edge of the vertical tunnel, and she starts to climb downwards before reluctantly dragging herself back to the surface.

Keone groans as she yanks it to its feet, “Come on, we have somewhere to be.” Keone wipes sand off of his face, “Where could we possibly need to be? We’re on an empty planet without any supplies and without anything around us; except for space.” She grits her teeth together as she pulls Keone to the hatch. Keone quiets as she starts to climb downwards. She stops when Keone continues to stare at her instead of following, “Well? Are you going to follow me, or will I have to drag you down myself?”

Keone gulps and hesitantly joins her on the ladder. The ladder rocks underneath them and she tires to quell her fear. The only way to find what Sa wants her to see is to search; but she has never liked dark places underground. At least the darkness will give her a chance to be herself; that is, if Keone manages to keep his mouth closed.

Her feet hit solid ground just as she is about to order Keone to turn back. Keone yelps as he tumbles down the last few rungs of the ladder. She scowls at the noise and both of them jump as the hatch slams back into place above them.

She scowls at the darkness and Keone sighs, “It looks like we’re really are trapped now. Good job Meg, or whatever your name is. You’ve officially put us in more trouble than we were in an hour ago. And you managed to disrupt my distress signal at the same time.”

She finds Keone’s arm in the darkness and waits for her eyes to adjust. A narrow tunnel slowly comes into view. She tightens her grip on Keone’s arm and pulls it forward, “Come on; we might as well see what’s down here.” Keone reluctantly follows her, “I doubt there’s anything good to look forward to.”

She opens her mouth to respond, but Keone cuts her off, “Although, it is not like this day- or night- could become much worse. I’m stuck on a foreign planet with a Hirpoun and a bunch of sand.” A crash rings through the tunnel ahead of them and she slaps a hand over its mouth. The tunnel is silent, but she is sure that something is closing in on them. Fingernails slide against concrete and she is knocked onto her back.

Copyright © 2016 ravenspen.com

All rights reserved.


A blog is a work-in-progress…


You may have noticed that there are a few differences; you are entirely right. I changed the tagline for the blog… I am trying to find one that is better at representing what this blog is, and what it will hopefully become. I have also completely updated the About page (it was seriously bothering me).

You may remember that I mentioned changing things at the beginning of the year… but it has clearly taken awhile for me to do so.

The topics that I post about will probably stay the same, but there will probably be more book reviews and maybe some other stuff thrown in. I am not quite sure what that ‘stuff’ will be… but I hope I will know it when I find it.

Also, Raven’s Pen has been around for about half-a-year! No, I am not celebrating yet. I am saving the cookies for the one-year mark. But it seems like it is worth mentioning…

Until next time… which I believe will involve the glorious world of editing.

Beautiful Cracks: Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Fifteen

The rest of the gang is waiting for them as she climbs into Sa’s cave on the Causoki’s heels. The Silosc opens his mouth, but she cuts him off and she turns toward the assembled beings, “Th’ new settler’s won’t be able t’ leave th’ planet until they ar’ able t’ contact th’ council of beings. We need t’ make sure tha’ they can’t.”

The Causoki rubs his arms and moves toward the rest of the gang members, “But they know that we’re here. And whoever that was- Marie- seems to know you. How are we going to be able to do anything?” The Silosc opens his mouth to berate her, but she cuts him off again, “Marie may think tha’ she knows me, but she doesn’t know anything. An’ that is our advantage. We need t’ make sure tha’ they can’t call th’ council of beings for help. An’ they need t’ know tha’ they’re not safe. They shouldn’t feel safe, no matter what they attempt t’ do. We will be waiting an’ watching for th’ next time t’ attack. We need t’ destroy their radio.”

“But they’ve seen us!” The Causoki’s voice is disbelieving, and she turns her scowl into a smile, “Of course they hav’. But that doesn’t mean tha’ we can’t go an’ steal th’ radio right out from under them. They still don’t know tha’ there ar’ so many of us, an’ we can use tha’. This i’ just th’ beginnin’ of what we’re doin’. But it might as well be called th’ end if they contact th’ council of beings now.”

She pauses, but no one responds. She frowns and meets their eyes, “This is goin’ t’ become a war… an’ it won’t be a war tha’ any of us can win if they hav’ their radio. Ya’ are either in or you’re out, but ya’ should make a decision soon ‘cause I’m going t’ send each of ya’ i’ your different directions as soon as I know tha’ you’re in. Your leader is still your leader, but this is my plan an’ so I’m goin’ t’ tell ya’ where t’ go. Is tha’ clear?”

Someone mutters and multiple beings nod. She tries not to sigh with relief and clenches her chest shut, “Good. An’ now we hav’ things t’ do.” She turns toward the Silosc. He scowls at her with a murderous look and she grins back, “Ya’ shouldn’t look so worried, they’re still your men. I just hav’ a reason t’ use them. If ya’ want t’ be directly involved in my plan, ya’ should make sure tha’ I hav’ a reason t’ include ya’. For now, ya’ should keep your Causoki with ya’.”

She turns and motions the rest of the gang toward her, “Get over here, there ar’ things t’ do.” The Causoki follows them with a frown, “Aren’t you going to wait until it’s dark?” She scowls, “An’ then walk right in when they’re expecting us? I hope not. No, we’re goin’ t’ go in now an’ make sure tha’ no one gets their hands on th’ radio before us.”

She waves the Causoki away and he walks back to the Silosc with a dejected frown. She is sure that the Silosc is already plotting against her, but she has other things to focus on. He may try to kill her, but no one is a friend to anyone else. Everyone is on their own whether they realize it or not. Her plan may not last, and she may end up dying soon, but at least there is a chance that she will understand what Sa has been showing her beforehand.

She doles out her instructions with a warning glare to each member of the gang, before sneaking out of the cave behind them. Moving during the day is a supremely stupid thing to do. But she cannot come up with anything better. The old radio was installed along with the first settlers that died decades ago. She is sure that it has been decayed with age, but she can be certain that Marie will try to fix it.

It will take at least an hour to get the old radio to work and at least half that has passed. They do not have much time left, but she will have to hope that it is enough. And she does not care enough for what will happen if her plan fails to worry more than she absolutely must.

Death will be a lucky side effect of being caught; she is thankful that it is also the most probable one. Hopefully Keone has thought about her words. Her plan will be much easier if she can relay on Keone to be overly curious. She can only hope that she has bothered it enough for it to consider breaking some of Marie’s rules and learning if anything she said was true.

If Keone is anything it seems to be, she has a chance of recruiting another being to her side. And if not… than she will end up in more trouble. Far more trouble. But the war that she is starting might as well be interesting if it is going to be a war at all.

She follows her barrowed gang closer to the town’s fence. Her feet sink into the soft ground, and she scowls at the marks that they are leaving. But they will be gone long before anyone finds their footprints if her plan goes as she expects. Marie would not threaten her without being able to follow those threats with something worse than what she mentions. But Marie will also know that Meg will not show herself without a good reason. And the reasons for revealing herself so quickly are piling up.

Along with all of her regrets.

The regrets that she has can be fixed. Right now, she needs that radio, and she needs it quickly. One of the gang members slices through the fence with clawed hands, it sparks on his fingertips, and she holds back a grim smile. This is a day that she has been waiting for far too long. She intends to make the most of it.

The gang fans out just as she ordered them to. She joins the Varroke who sliced the fence as they head toward the center of the town. The town feels different, perhaps because it is no longer home, or maybe it is simply because she is finally herself. The streets are empty and far cleaner; the storefronts are starting to be peeled away to make space for new buildings; and the houses are being handed to the new residents moving into a town of criminals.

A grim smile pulls her lips together. Marie might know what the town has turned into, but anyone who arrived on the ship would not. Not even Marie will be able to prepare them for their new world. The Varroke yanks on a chain across the doors of the old town hall and snaps it in half. The floor is covered in layer after layer of dust that has piled up over the years since the town was an official establishment.

She walks down the center of the room and smashes the glass in front of a red and gold lacquered tollbooth. An alarm sounds with a shrill warning. It is surprising that a security alarm has lasted after all of these years, even though everything else has fallen to shreds. She grabs the small black radio box sitting on the center of the tollbooth’s desk with shuffled papers surrounding it.

One of the gang members shouts for her to hurry up without bothering to use words. She wraps the cord of the radio around her hand and turns away from the old town hall with the alarm buzzing in her head and making her ears ring. She never thought that she would love coming up with plans this much. And she never thought that she would want to start a war that no one has ever managed to win.

The gang races in front of her as they speed toward the fence. She jumps through the opening that the Varroke made and crashes to the ground on the other side. It takes a moment for her to realize that she has landed on something other than the hard ground.

She scrambles to her feet with a glower, but the glower fades as she finds herself looking down on Keone. It stands up with a shuffling step and swallows thickly, “I-I was looking for you. I guess you’re in the middle of something though.” She scowls despite herself and grabs Keone’s arm to drag it toward the cover of the rocks, “Come here, you’re with me from now on. Why did you want to find me? Have you finally made a decision?”

Keone swallows again as he nods. Her scowl deepens and she resists the temptation to slap it, “Well? What have you decided? Are you here because you want me to be caught, or have you finally realized that it will not matter?” Keone gulps, “I-I think that you were right: I have to choose a side. I asked a few beings in town about… a few things. And I was wrong. Marie and everyone who arrived here on the ship- which is named the Cyrus by the way- are planning on killing everyone who used to live here.”

He swallows again, “I-I just don’t want to be part of that. I’m not saying that I agree with anything you want to do, because I don’t. But I think that Marie, and everyone who believes in her, is wrong. So… I’ll stay around here for now. But I won’t be a part of anything that I don’t want to be. Alright?”

He rocks back and forth on his feet and she tries not to let her scowl deepen again, “Fine, but you’ll stay where I tell you to stay. And you’ll be killed extremely slowly if you try to change your mind or decide to betray me. Is that clear?” Keone nods and she turns away from him to move farther in the rocks.

She will have to find a better hiding place soon; before Marie decides to invade the mountain. No one will expect her to be foolish enough to stay the night after an attack, but that only gives room for one night and she needs a more permanent place. She grips the radio tightly and settles down behind a large boulder; the Qhloe joins her just as she requested and Meg passes the radio to her.

Keone crouches down next to her and watches as the Qhloe tears the radio into pieces. She rips the memory card and wires into small twigs that blend into the dirt like sand. Meg straightens up and leads the Qhloe and Keone back to Sa’s cave. The Silosc is waiting for her with a scowl, “Hirpoun, ya’ seem t’ think tha’ you’re still in control. An’ I should let ya’ now tha’ this is still my group an’ I give them my orders.”

She ignores the look that Keone gives her as she approaches the Silosc, “Ya’ seem t’ forget tha’ we made a deal. An’ I intend on keep tha’ deal. You’ll hav’ t’ find ya’ own way t’ fight if ya’ don’t want t’ listen t’ me. Do ya’ not want t’ be part of this deal anymore Silosc? Ya’ better let me know before we move.”

The Silosc glowers at her for a moment before flicking his tongue over his teeth, “I think I’ll stay in for now. But that’ll only last for as long as I want it t’. I intend t’ get ya’ in trouble Hirpoun, ya’ an’ your ridiculous plans. I’m still in charge ya’ know.” He turns away from her, and she tries to put on a look of satisfaction. Her heart pounds in her chest as she turns away to look at the town, “We can’t stay here for much longer. Th’ latest anyone can be here is th’ middle of th’ night. They’ll come lookin’ then.”

The Silosc spreads his hands in mockery, “Than why don’t ya come up with one of your perfect plans? Where do ya’ intend t’ go Hirpoun?” She frowns and turns around to face him, “Ya’ seem t’ forget tha’ this ain’t just about me now; you’re still on th’ list of previous residents an’ you’re still not dead. It’s th’ same for your men an’ everyone else too. I’m just th’ one with th’ plans, an’ ya’ needed my plans th’ last time I checked. This is not th’ sort of arrangement where ya’ can say tha’ you arn’t involved, everyone here is being hunted an’ ya’ know it. Start acting like it Silosc. Because this ain’t just about me even though ya’ want it t’ be. This can be about ya’, an’ ya’ shouldn’y forgot tha’. I’m in charge here for as long as I need t’ be unless ya’ start acting like you’re a leader an’ not cowering in th’ corner.”

The cave is frozen by the time she stops talking.

Copyright © 2016 ravenspen.com

All rights reserved.

February is Here

I keep thinking that it is still January.

I spent hours yesterday doing everything else that I needed to do to avoid writing this post… I am not fond of anther January disappearing.

It is February though, and that means that it time for another quote of the month: “The first draft of anything is shit.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Well…. it is nice to hear that from a great writer.

Happy February everyone!

What I read: January

How it is February already?

This year already seems to be moving quickly.

What have I done so far? I finished my first read-through of Subliminal (which means that it is officially time to edit), I wrote a few short stories, and I read a few books.

This post is about books. Mainly, the books that I read in january. If you remember, one of my goals this year is to read 100 books. This last month, I have actually been lucky enough to read quite a few good ones.

Here they are:

1. Hit by: Delilah S. Dawson

Hit is a YA novel about a girl who becomes an assassin for a week in a world where the USA has been taken over by a bank. While I did enjoy this book, it was entirely different than what I expected. The main charter, Patsy, does have a sense of humor and she is clearly human. I think my main complaint would be the amount of romance. Patsy ends of working with the brother of one of her targets, and…. the typical YA romance quickly becomes involved. Despite that, the romance is not overwhelming, and the story would not be the same without it. This is a book that could have gone in a few different directions. While I was surprised with the way it did go, I was not displeased. It was an interesting read.

2. Mort(e) by: Robert Repino

Mort(e) is a book that one of my uncles recommended to me. The main character is a cat in a post-apocolpyse world. The premise of definitively intriguing: an ancient ant colony has released a chemical into the world that turns all non-human animals into human-esque beings. The ant colony’s goal is to take over the world and exterminate all of the humans in it. Mort(e), the main character, starts out as a house cat and quickly becomes a warrior in an elite group sponsored by the any colony. He retires not that long after, and a large amount of the book questions just what ‘humanity’ is. I really enjoyed Mort(e), and I loved how the author blends philosophical ideas with the plot. My own complaint would be the way that the author turns religion into one of the main plot points toward the end. Despite that, it is a book that I plan on reading again.

3. The Forest by: Justin Groot

The Forest started out as a serial story on Reddit. The author has now self-published, and he is working on a sequel. One of the people on NaNoWriMo mentioned his book and I decided to check it out. I was suspicious at first, but I was quickly swept into the story. The story is set in a world where Earth’s oceans have turned into a tropical forest filled with giant versions of venomous animals. The three main characters are rangers who are tasked with exploring the forest and bringing back video footage. The story starts when the main characters are training to become rangers, it then skips a few years to where they are some of the most successful rangers. They quickly become swept into the story when one of the main characters in injured and another starts to hallucinate. The story certainly does not end, but it is a ride from the first chapter to the last.

4. Arabian Nights Translated by: Husain Haddawy

Husain Haddaway’s translation of Arabian Nights tries to follow a few of the earlier known versions on the story of Scheherazade. It took a while for me to get used to the language, but I definitively enjoyed the stories once I did. I have always loved reading about Scheherazade, and reading the actual stories was wonderful. I actually started reading this book in december, but I was only a few pages in.

5. I am the Messenger by: Markus Zusak

I read The Book Thief last year and decided to see what else Markus Zusak has written. I am the Messenger is completely different than The Book Thief, but the language is similar. It took a bit for me to actually understand what this book is about. It begins with a self-proclaimed below-average main character who is a cab driver. The first scene is immediately humorous, Ed Kennedy (the main character) and his friend are arguing while laying on the floor of a bank that is being robbed. Ed ends up stopping the back robbery and is a town hero for a few hours. He finds a playing card with instructions on it the next day and is swept into the plot. The book seems to move slowly at first, but that offers a chance to learn who Ed and all of his friends are. In the end, you find that I am the Messenger is actually about life. It is one of those books that you cannot truly enjoy until you have finished it. All and all, I would like to read it again.

There it is, I have 95 more books to read this year and a constantly expanding to-be-read list.

Until next time….

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