Excerpts

Bits of my writing that I choose to share with my lovely followers.

First Week of NaNoWriMo

Alright, so I’m a little under par wordcount-wise, but that’s okay. I’m actually liking my story so far. πŸ˜€

I’m going to do what my friend did and post some mini-excerpts, along with a bigger one. So here goes!

“Sitting once again on Xavier’s bed, Jared strummed the chords to the song’s chorus, finger-picked the melody, and sang the lyrics in his smooth, clear voice. Xavier leaned back and laid his head on the pillow as his eyelids drooped. He was tired, but he was afraid to sleep. It had to happen eventually, though, he knew.”

“”Xavier’s worried eyes followed him as he moved toward the door. β€œDad?”

β€œYeah?”
β€œCan you… can you play my song? Please?”
Jared pinched the bridge of his nose. He really didn’t feel like doing anything except descending to the basement, crawling into his uncomfortable cot, and sleeping for a few days. β€œMaybe tomorrow, B-Bud.””

“Snatching his sweatshirt off its hook again, he pulled it on as Xavier led the way out the door, his light frame bouncing a little. Jared envied his energy and happiness. It had been a long time since Jared had felt that happy, or even just normal, not depressed or sad. The bad mood hadn’t started when the marital problems began; it had started long before that. On that dark, dark night when he was sixteen…”

“The round, squat doctor pushed his wire-framed glasses up on his nose as he pushed the button to call the elevator. Jared looked down at his balding head and wondered if there was anything at all inside it.”

And here’s the longer one:

“Jared didn’t even try to eat his food. His stomach was in turmoil. Every time he thought he might be able to take a bite of the unhealthy-looking mush on his plate, he glanced at Xavier and felt like throwing up again. If he had only been able to get the words out to warn him…
And then the realization struck.
It was all Jared’s fault.
His jaw went slack and he stared blankly into space as he turned the fact over and over in his head. He hadn’t stopped Xavier. He hadn’t been able to shout at him. He hadn’t been holding Xavier’s hand like he should have. If he had, Xavier wouldn’t have run in front of that speeding car…
Not for the first time, the room spun violently and Jared’s stomach lurched. The tears he thought he’d defeated made his vision swim and threatened to make him a weakling in front of Kira.
Glancing up from her food, Kira saw Jared’s face and apparently the look on it concerned her, because she raised an eyebrow. β€œWhat?” she asked in a half-caring voice.
β€œK-Kira…” His breathing quickened. What would she do? She would hate him forever, that was what she would do. But he couldn’t not tell her. She had to know that it was all his fault their son was possibly dying. How could he possibly not let her know? He couldn’t…
β€œSpit it out, Jared.”
He drew a deep, shuddering breath. β€œM-m-my fault-t…”
She cast an incredulous glare.
Jared tried to continue. β€œI w-wasn’t-t-t hold-d-d-ing his hand.” He looked down at the floor as a lump arose in his throat. Tears choked his voice. β€œI c-c-c-couldn’t-t st-t-op him. He want-ted t-t-to race. He ran-n.”
Kira’s brow furrowed as she tried to take this in. Jared couldn’t hold back a sob; he buried his face in his hands.
β€œNo… No…” Kira shook her head, as if arguing the fact could change it. β€œJared, how could you?!” She stood and shouted at him. β€œYou… you idiot! You know he’s impulsive! You know you need to hold onto him, especially on that busy street! What were you possibly thinking?!”
β€œI don’t-t-t-” Jared gave up, just concentrating on breathing. He didn’t know why or how he could have been such a fool. He looked up at Kira’s face; she was crying, tears of anger and despair.
She looked as if she was going to say something, then shut her mouth and gave her head a shake. Dropping back down onto the chair, she burst into tears.
Jared didn’t know what to do. His first instinct was to try and comfort her, but he knew she wouldn’t appreciate that. She was too angry.
β€œK-Kira…”
Her sobs quieted. β€œJust go away, Jared. Just leave.”
β€œI will,” he agreed, standing. Trying to keep his face straight, and trying to avoid people – which wasn’t too hard at midnight – he made his way through the halls and down the stairs. Elevators were too slow.
He ran full tilt from the hospital doors to the parking garage and up the stairs to the second level, where his truck waited. It took him several tries, but he managed to get his key into the lock and turn it. Jumping in, he slammed the door shut, locked the doors, and then sat still, shivering, staring out over the railing that kept people and cars from falling over the edge to the pavement below. He watched the dark clouds roll across the sky, only occasionally catching a glimpse of the moon. What if Xavier’s eyes never opened, and he never got to see the moon again? What if he – what if he died?”

I hope you enjoyed them. I might have more up soon; we’ll see. πŸ˜‰

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Preface for my new story

No, I haven’t finished Natalia’s Journey yet, but I’m blocked on that one at the moment and I got a great idea for a new one. This is the preface that I may or may not keep. Enjoy!

β€œHappy birthday, sweetheart!” Hannah’s father passed her a package covered in brown paper.

She took the rather heavy package and set it on the floor, smiling as she knelt beside it and began to peel off the wrappings. β€œWhat is it?” she asked as she did so.

β€œOpen it and see!” laughed her father, seated beside his wife on the padded bench near the fire.

Hannah grasped a corner of the paper and ripped it off, revealing a black case. Removing the rest of the paper, she undid the two latches on the case and lifted its hinged lid.

A gasp escaped her lips at the sight of the lacquered wood, the warm, rich brown, the smooth curves of the violin. She touched one of its strings, then gave it a tentative pluck. The high note resonated clear and strong through the air.

β€œMine?” was all she could think of to say.

β€œYes, dear,” said her mother’s quiet voice. β€œFor you.”

Looking to the corner of the room, where her grandfather’s violin sat in its place of honor on a red velvet cushion atop an oblong table, Hannah sighed as she wished her grandfather were still here to play it for her. It was too big for her yet.

β€œI know, dear,” said her mother, following her gaze and understanding how she felt. β€œBut it is too big for you. You are only eight years old, and the violin is much, much older and much too big.”

β€œHow old do I have to be to get Grandfather’s violin?” she asked, a slight lisp caused by her missing front tooth.

β€œJust a few more years,” replied her father, just as he always did. β€œIn the meantime, though, you had better practice with this one.”

β€œI will, Father, thank you!” She jumped up and flung her arms around his neck, then pulled her mother into the hug as well.

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Chapter One

So, as a consolation gift for not posting on here much lately, I give you the first chapter of my novel. It may not be any good, indeed I may change it drastically before all’s said and done, but I hope you enjoy it anywho.

Chapter One

Of a Dress and Being Ladylike

β€œIt’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.”

-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

β€œNatalia, hurry with your chores! You don’t have much time before we need to leave!”

β€œYes, Mother!” I run out to the barn, made of weathered but sturdy wood, trying to keep my plain, brown work dress from impeding my movements. It is stained and threadbare, but it matters not because I only wear it while I do jobs assigned by my parents.

β€œGood morning, Lace,” I greet our brown dairy cow, patting her flank and fetching my bucket and stool. She moos in acknowledgment.

I am the youngest of four children. We live on a farm, on the very outskirts of the town of Nemolia – a small town, with a population of about two thousand. Many of the citizens of Nemolia are farmers; the ones who aren’t bake bread, sew clothes, and otherwise produce necessities for those of us who are.

My father is the mayor of Nemolia. The townsfolk were unsure about their mayor living this far away from the main part of town, but he convinced them, partially because this has been our home for twenty years, and also he has a swift horse named Starrett who can get him from here to the town in thirty minutes.

With all his mayoral duties, though, he is often in town all day and sometimes even overnight, during busy times like this. He has a rented room near his office. I have not seen him since early yesterday morning, when I rose at dawn to see him off.

I finish with Lace and give her a kiss between the eyes, just before trotting off to the chicken coop to gather the eggs.

β€œYes, yes, good morning chickens,” I say, and they welcome me with profuse clucking.

My basket filled with white and brown eggs of various sizes, I return to the barn to get the bucket of milk and then walk back to the house, made of sturdy logs weatherproofed by a thick clay mixture.

β€œGracious, Natalia. We only have an hour!” My mother takes the basket and pail, setting them on the large, oaken table that my father made with the assistance of my two brothers, Marc and Thalen – the oldest and second oldest children in my family. Actually, I can’t think of a thing in our home that they didn’t build. They even built the house and barn, right up from the ground – with a bit of help from friends, of course.

β€œTime passes quickly when you’re milking and gathering,” I laugh as I dash up the stairs.

β€œDon’t run so, Natalia! It’s not ladylike!”

β€œI’m going to be late!” I argue, bursting into the room I used to share with my older sister, Calista. Now that she has married, it is all mine.

Striding to the wardrobe, I fling open the door and examine my dresses. They are not many, but one or two of them are my special favorites. I run a hand over the fabric of my favorite light blue dress and smile. I will not be wearing this today, however. My mother sewed me a special dress, just for this special day.

My mother only planned on having two children. She wanted a boy and a girl, but instead she bore two males. So she tried again a few years later, and when my sister was born, she was overjoyed. She loves my brothers, of course, but she has a special affinity for my sister and me. I was a surprise; she didn’t expect to be young enough to bear any more children, and she didn’t know if she could come up with a nice name that had four syllables. She had not thought much about it, though. When she did, she came up with the name Natalia without too much trouble. I like my name; I think she did a good job.

Here in Nemolia, our town in the province Audrinia of the country known as IuthΓ©rnya, it is a long – upheld tradition to give children names with a number of syllables equal to their position in the family line. For instance, my oldest brother, the firstborn, is Marc. Thalen is second, Calista was born third, and I, the fourth, have a mouthful of a name. And the only nickname anyone seems to be able to come up with is Nattie, which I don’t like – I think it sounds like gnat. So I make everyone call me Natalia.

I push the hanging dresses aside and remove the large cedar chest in which my special dress lies, protected from any greedy fabric – consuming insects that may chance upon it, and place it on the floor. I undo the clasps and lift the lid in reverence. The yellow fabric seems to glow like the sun as I lift it out and lay it across the patchwork quilt on my bed. Grinning at the thought of how the skirt will fluff out when I twirl, I return to the kitchen, where the bathtub rests in a corner, shielded by a screen. Removing my work shift, I shiver, dipping my toes into the tub full of of cold water. We always have cold baths – it is just too much trouble to heat all that water – so I should be accustomed to the chill, but I have never been one to tolerate cold well.

Shuddering, I scrub myself down as quickly as I am able with my mother’s homemade herb – scented soap, and jump up and down when I am finished, trying to warm myself. Once I have calmed the gooseflesh, I squeeze the water out of my long brown hair, and dry off with a rough towel, which I then wrap around myself and flit back to my room.

Now I finally get to wear the dress that I have only tried on in the presence of my mother; no one has seen it but we two. I unbutton the bodice and step through it, down into the skirt. My mother says that donning a gown in this way is unladylike, but I find it easier; she isn’t watching me, anyhow. She is quite strict about maintaining a ladylike demeanor – too strict, at times.

Pulling the dress up over my thighs and sliding my arms into the puffed sleeves, I fasten the buttons and twirl. Sure enough, the skirts spread and float through the air as I dance around my bedchamber, imagining strains of beautiful music playing all around me. The ribbon of the sash brushes my arm, and I remember to tie it before returning to the kitchen.

β€œNatalia! You look like the sun!” my mother squeals as I glide down the stairs. β€œBut, darling, when will you learn to tie your sash correctly?” She undoes my knot and reties the bow – I cannot see it, but because I know my mother, I know the bow will be perfect.

β€œThank you,” I say. β€œCan you please help me with my hair?”

β€œOh, Nattie, you know I’m no good at hair.”

β€œMother, you’re amazing. And please don’t call me Nattie.”

β€œI suppose I’ll try, but don’t be angry if I make your hair look like a bird’s nest.” She finishes rinsing the bowl she is scrubbing, then washes her hands and fetches the boar’s – hair brush from its cupboard, along with several hair ribbons of pink and yellow.

I sit on a stool as she yanks and pulls at my tresses, biting my lip. I’m not sure if my mother is ungentle or if my head is easily irritated, but it has always hurt when my mother styles my hair. The result is always worth the pain, though. Her fingers are magical when they come in contact with hair.

After what seems like forever but is probably only ten minutes, my mother claps her hands together. β€œFinished!” She leads me to the cracked mirror hanging from a nail on the wall, and I gasp in happiness.

A braid runs around the crown of my head, intertwined with the pink and yellow ribbons. I cannot tell where it starts or ends, only that it is beautiful.

β€œWait! I have to add the finishing touch. Close your eyes.”

I do so, and then feel things scraping my scalp as they are shoved into the tight braid. β€œMother, what is it?” I wonder.

β€œOpen your eyes and see!”

My braided crown now sparkles with shiny silver hair pins.

β€œOh, thank you, Mother! It is lovely. The dress is lovely. You are lovely!” I hug her and then spin again, showing off the dress to her even though she made it.

β€œYou are the lovely one, my dear,” she chuckles.

When I pause and lean against the wall, rather dizzy, and look at her face, she is smiling, but there are tears welling in her brown eyes.

β€œMother, what is wrong?”

β€œMy baby is growing up so fast,” she coos, coming to embrace me.

I laugh. β€œI have to wait just as long as everyone else.”

β€œBut you are my last child,” she explains. β€œIt is harder with you. Soon enough, your father will find you a husband, and then he and I will be all alone in this big house.”

β€œIt is not that big, Mother. And you will never be alone. Marc lives just down the road, and Calista is only two miles away.” I purposely neglect to mention Thalen, who lives in the adjacent town, a four hours’ horseback ride from here.

β€œOh, I know that, dearest.” She kisses me on my smooth cheek, tanned from wandering the woods and fields. β€œI shall miss having children to care for, though.”

β€œYou are lovely,” I repeat my earlier sentiment, and return the kiss. I have the best mother anyone could ask for.

β€œNatalia!” my sister exclaims, bursting in through the kitchen door. β€œYou look gorgeous!” She beams as she hugs me. It is awkward trying to embrace her around her bulging belly.

β€œThank you, Calista!” I smile. β€œHow are you?” I pat her round abdomen.

β€œImpatient. This child is taking his sweet time!” she laughs, bracing her back with both hands.

I pull out a chair from the table and help her to sit down. β€œHave you decided on a name yet?”

β€œOh, yes! I have chosen to name him Jehoshaphat.”

I stare at her, incredulous, trying to figure out if she is jesting.

β€œNatalia, it was a joke!” she laughs.

β€œOh, that is a relief. It would be terrible for my nephew to have such a torturous name,” I giggle. As if she would actually name her firstborn Jehoshaphat. β€œWhat makes you so sure it will be a boy?”

β€œI do not know! But when I picture a baby in my arms, it’s always a boy.”

I shake my head, grinning at my sister’s endearing oddness. β€œWhat are you really considering naming him?”

β€œWe just can’t seem to come up with a good name,” she admits. β€œEvery one we think of just does not seem to fit. Do you know how hard it is to find a name with one syllable?”

β€œBet, Em, Ann, Ell . . .” I try to think of more, but cannot.

β€œMale names, Goose.”

β€œBut what if it is a girl?” I decide to let her get away with her special nickname for me this time.

I had a bad cold once, several years ago, and Calista was of the opinion that when I coughed, I sounded like a goose. So she began to call me Goose. I have been unable to shake the nickname ever since. At least no one else picked up on it.

β€œHe will not be a girl.”

I let her have her opinion, though I really cannot see how she can be sure.

β€œAre you hungry?” asks our mother. β€œI have only just put away breakfast.”

β€œI am, but we do not have time! The caravan is not going to wait for us. Tanar is outside with the buggy. Come, let us be off!”

I take Calista’s hand and haul her to her feet. We leave the house, and her husband Tanar indeed stands outside stroking his horses. He lifts Calista into the buggy, and my mother follows. I sit between them.

β€œHow is the lovely Natalia today?” he asks, jumping aboard and cracking the reins, shouting β€œYah! Git up!” to the horses.

β€œFine,” I grin. β€œHow are you?”

β€œMe? I am at a loss for names that Calista approves of. At this rate, my child will remain nameless until he’s old and gray!”

β€œYou would have me be hasty with the naming of my first child?” my sister retorts.

We all giggle. My father made a good choice in Tanar as a husband for my sister. He is smart, strong, kind, and he makes us laugh.

β€œNo, but I would prefer if my child has a name before it is born. I don’t want to have to call it ‘the baby’.”

β€œHim. Not It,” my sister corrects.

β€œI want a girl,” he argues.

β€œHe is a boy.”

β€œShe is impossible,” he mutters to me, just loud enough for Calista to hear.

β€œTanar!” she exclaims.

β€œBelieve me, I know,” I joke.

β€œNatalia!” My sister tries to give me a stern look, but ends up laughing instead.

We bounce along in the creaky wooden buggy, along the dirt road, until we begin to pass houses that become more and more frequent. I am becoming nervous now; I try not to fidget.

β€œYou will do wonderfully, Natalia,” my sister assures. β€œIt really should not be bad at all. There are others who will be sharing the crowd’s attention.”

β€œNot if I am nominated,” I say.

β€œWell, then you shall just have to accustom yourself to being stared at.” She pats my shoulder. β€œI am so happy for you. When I was fifteen, it was not a nomination year.”

β€œYou would have been great,” I say.

β€œNo, I would not have,” she chuckles. β€œI was not ladylike or wise or a good leader in any way.”

β€œYou were, Calista! Remember all those times you hosted afternoon tea for our dolls?”

β€œAnd ended up spilling the tea every time.”

I have to agree. β€œWell, you did help me learn my letters.”

β€œMost likely the only thing I was wise in,” she says with a laugh.

β€œThat is not true. You are a genius.” I nudge her gently. β€œAnd do you not recall leading me on strolls through the forest?”

β€œDo you not recall the time we lost our way and wandered until we met a hunter who brought us home? You were beside yourself.”

β€œI was not.”

β€œYou bawled the entire time,” Calista argues. β€œEspecially whenever I released your little hand.”

β€œDid not. You must have been beside yourself if you do not remember that I was the one comforting you.”

β€œNow, now, Natalia, it is not ladylike to lie,” Calista giggles.

β€œOh, you know I am only teasing.” I grin. β€œI still think that you would have made an amazing ruler.”

β€œNatalia, it is over now, anyway. If I were fifteen again, I would still be glad not to be eligible.”

β€œI know. ” I smile, thinking my sister is too humble. Calista always manages to lift my spirits. I put an arm around her shoulders – it is easy; I am taller than her – and lean my head against hers. We are so close, no words are needed to tell her how much I treasure her.

~~~~~

The end of the caravan comes into sight now – all of the villagers are traveling for the day to Gludelin, the capital city of Audrinia, where the most outstanding fifteen-year-old girls will be nominated. The townsfolk are very cautious and discerning about this – they do not simply shout out names and end up with a dozen nominees from a single village. The fifteen-year-old girls from my village will stand on a platform and the others from Nemolia will decide which of us they would choose. They may give a short speech – indeed I have never heard of a nomination in which there was no speech – giving their reasoning, boasting of our kindness, genius, beauty, or courage, so the people from the other villages and cities can hear, and the things they say are recorded by scribes, in case there is future need for a reference as to why the girl was nominated.

Each town only performs their own nominations (we do not participate in the nominations of other cities), but since everyone participates in the final vote, we travel to Gludelin, the capital of our province of Audrinia, for the nominations so that the speeches may be heard by all.

When we reach the end of the long line of buggies, wagons, and horses, I see the back of my father’s head as he drives the large wagon positioned directly in front of us. My brothers and their wives and children are already waving at me from their places in the back.

β€œFather!” I call, wishing to wave to him as well.

β€œNatalia! A lady does not shout!” snaps my mother, but I care not.

My father lifts his hand into the air and waves it backwards, towards me. I grin and settle in for the long ride.

Tell me what you thought of it. πŸ˜€

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Whether this is a good thing or not, you will have to guess…

A girl, surrounded by various other weeping or staring ones, lies on the floor, unmoving, her eyes wide, blank, and staring, seemingly right at and through me. Her brown hair is fanned out over the ground, her jaw slack, her bright green dress standing out in contrast to the dark brown floor.

Dreu stands over her, back pressed against the wall.Β β€œI-no-I didn’t-” she stammers, her eyes stretching wide at the sight of us. β€œShe was already de-like that when I got here!”

I freeze as I try to understand what has happened, what all this means.

Eliana still lies unmoving on the floor; I had hoped it was just a cruel joke, but the glazed-over eyes staring at nothing say otherwise.

I feel hands clutch my arm; Siiba is there, just as scared as I am.

Then it hits me like a galloping horse.

Eliana is dead. This is her body. Dreu is standing here, and no one else.

Stumbling back until I hit the wall, I try to call up a scream, but cannot.

β€œNo, no,” Dreu insists. β€œI did not do this! She was already-and I-and-” She bursts into tears, still stranding against the wall, staring at Eliana. β€œYou have to believe me!”

I work a shaking hand into my sash and pull out the item hidden there. The ring, bearing the mark of a witch; Dreu’s ring.

β€œNo, no, no!” she sobs. β€œI am not a witch! And I did not kill her! Believe me, please!”

I want to believe her, I truly do, but at the moment I feel as if, if I trust her for one moment, she will stab me in the back.

β€œHow could I have killed her? Look! There is no blood! I would not have had time to throttle her! And I have nothing to hit her with!” She staggers toward me; a hoarse cry escapes my mouth and I try to command my limbs to move, but they do not want to respond. She catches my shoulders in a rough, painful grip and stares into my eyes, her own crazed and leaking salt water. β€œNatalia! You know me! You know I would not kill anyone!”

β€œDo I?” I choke out.

β€œYou do, I promise. Better than anyone else here.” Her voice and tears calm as she whispers a pleading β€œPlease. Please, Natalia.”

β€œI . . . I do not know what to believe.” Repeating my earlier sentiment makes me feel harsh and cold, but I know not what else to say. This is the first time I have ever seen her cry, though; she is usually sardonic and indifferent. I have to admit to myself that there is a possibility she is telling the truth. More than a possibility; I cannot help but believe her, trust that she cannot be a killer. She is too kind at heart for that.

She turns, her eyes brimming with tears once again, and begins to run.

β€œNo, wait!” I call after her.

She slows to a stop, but does not turn.

β€œI-I believe you.” I intended to shout it down the corridor, but it cones out as a whisper that barely manages to echo down to where Dreu stands.

She heard it all the same. β€œTruly?” She turns to face me, joy breaking through the sadness and fear on her face.

β€œTruly,” I tell her, attempting to smile, but I most likely am grimacing.

Then she does something very unlike her. She dashes back toward me and flings her arms around me, and squeezes tight. I hug her back, comforted. I really do believe her, I do.

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Reading About Dwarves in the Library

Depressing the great iron handle, I pull on the door. It opens with a squeak of rusty hinges, and beyond it, I find when I enter, shut the door, and cast my gaze about, are rows and rows, shelves and shelves of books. Multicolored tomes line hundreds of shelves, most large, old-looking, and dusty. In the center of the room stands a podium, atop which rests a large, ancient book. To this I walk, treading lightly for fear of causing a noise that might give me away, though I doubt I would get in trouble.

The cover is so old, I cannot make out the original color-perhaps blue, or gray – though it could have been green or violet, for all I can tell. The yellow pages, brown-edged and brittle, bear fancy lettering that makes up a story I am sure is very old indeed.

I begin reading in the middle of the page that the book is open to, and as I read on, I grow more and more intrigued. This book tells about the history and legends of Paoisia – no, not just Paoisia. All of Iuthernya. I have already learned it all from my mother’s teachings, but it is interesting to revisit them in this way. The legend of Matharris, the leader of the small group of dragons who refused to fight against the other races, is written here, and so is the true story of the great warrior [insert name], who bested fifty rock-hard, tough Dwarven soldiers in the Red War. He was all by himself when they attacked, and his reinforcements did not show up until he had already been fatally wounded. His body was found atop a hill of carcasses. The Red War was caused by the greed of the woman who ruled Iuthernya at the time. She wanted to take the land of the Dwarves for herself, rich with jewels as it is. Neither side won; we made a truce with the Dwarves. If we stay away from their land, they will stay away from ours. Therefore, I have never even seen a Dwarf, and have hardly an idea of what they might look like.

When I turn the stiff page, though, I find an artist’s rendering of one of these people. He is short, stocky, muscled to the extreme. His beard falls to his knees, and he carries a shot, wide-bladed sword in one hand, a round shield with a spike protruding from the center in the other, and his helmet has no visor, just a narrow, vertical piece of metal that guards his nose. A large, round, faceted jewel shines from the fore of said helmet. The beady, deep-set eyes seem to jump off of the page and drill into me. He looks intimidating – frightening, even – but I think (or imagine) that I notice a certain well-hidden bit of good in him.

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Excerpt – The infantry formation that is best able to receive a direct charge of heavy cavalry

The lecturer stands at the front of the room, stroking his curly, gray beard with one hand and leaning on a cane of knotted wood with the other. β€œToday’s topic of discussion,” he begins in his deep and imposing, though perhaps slightly nasal voice, β€œWhat infantry formation is best able to receive a direct charge of heavy cavalry?”

I ponder this for a moment, keeping quiet even as others give their ideas.

β€œA whole lot of soldiers, all standing in those . . . Lines? You know?”

β€œNo.” He paces back and forth across the front of the room.

β€œHorsemen to charge back at them?”

β€œNot quite.”

β€œA . . . Triangle?”

He does not even bother to respond to that one.

β€œA phalanx of spearmen,” I answer.

β€œNo – wait a moment. What was your solution again?” He pauses in his steps to stare at me.

β€œA phalanx of spearmen. The horde of charging enemies would be greatly thinned by the spears impaling them.”

He continues to glare, then lifts his cane into the air and points it at me. β€œCorrect.”

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Excerpt :D

Β β€œHmm.” She stands by the fireplace, leaning with one hand on the stone mantel, which is about as tall as our heads. β€œSo, what goes on?”

β€œNothing much. I have been bored all day.” Well, it is not a total lie.

β€œI came here to ask you something.” She turns toward me, where I still lean against the door. Am I just being paranoid, or is there a maleficent glint in her eye?

Suddenly, she jumps toward me. I leap out of the way, pulling out my letter opener. She regains her balance, and before I know it, she is holding the iron fire poker, in a defensive stance, facing me. My hands shake so hard I almost drop my weapon.

She tosses the poker aside. It lands on the white carpet, leaving a smear of gray ash. β€œA letter opener? You thought I was the killer, and your weapon of choice is a letter opener?”

Categories: Excerpts | 6 Comments

Excerpt (Letter)

This is the letter that ends Part I of my book, Natalia’s Journey. Thought y’all might like to read it; it sums up a little bit of the story, anyhow.

Dear Shahn,

I have arrived safely in Paoisia, though I almost did not. You might not believe my tales of bandits, kidnappings, and stupid innkeepers. You would probably laugh and tell me jokingly that lying is not ladylike.

But it is all true.

On the second day of my journey to Paoisia, we were attacked by a band of bandits – yes, I know that sounds funny, now stop laughing. My handmaid, Leyza, was abducted, one of my guards killed, and another injured. The wounded one, Caleb, and I became very good friends.

The next day, my guards, with help from the lawkeepers of the nearest village, rescued Leyza, and we were off again toward Paoisia. We reached Mirania only yesterday, and there we were served the most magnificent veal supper you can imagine.

Today after breakfast, the guards who protected me on the way and the handmaiden who accompanied me left to return to Audrinia.

The castle is enormous. It still boggles my mind when I think about the very size of it. I know you will want to hear about my quarters, so here is a description:

White, all white. Everything is white, so much so that I fear anything I touch will get dirty. But I love it; it is like snow, and the rooms are so spacious and breathable.

How are you? How are the little ones, and your parents? How are my parents?

Have you seen Keter? How is he? If you do happen to see him, tell him I would like a letter from him. You can send it to me with yours.

I miss you all so much. Even the grumpy old hatter would be welcome company.

Oh, and I learned something about Alm. A rather disturbing discovery.

The captain of the soldiers who traveled with me – his name is Ethan – told me a story on the first night of our trip, about the nomads of the south, and a witch who summoned a dragon.

To make a long story short, I think Alm may be that same witch. Do not trust her. Do not go to her home again. And most importantly, do not speak of this to anyone. I know it makes no sense to you, but you know I would not lie. I just had to tell someone.

I wish so badly that you could be here with me. I need a friend in this huge, strange place. But perhaps one of the other Chosen will be nice, and kind, and friendly? I hope so. I have not been here long enough yet to know; I do not even know their names yet.

Someone just knocked on my door; it will be a servant fetching me for luncheon. I must go. Write to me soon!

Love,

Your Friend,

Natalia

Categories: Excerpts | 2 Comments

All right, I know you were expecting a GOOD excerpt, but…

I had to scribble down a song for a part of my story last night. I don’t really like it, but the people I’ve shown it to do. So I decided to post it here and see what y’all think of it.

Backstory: Something frightening is happening, and a girl sings a familiar child’s song to calm herself and the others around her.

Mother is at the spinning wheel,

Brother churns the churn,

Sister minds the mending,

Father works in the barn.

Puppy rolls on the rug,

Kitten plays with string,

Horse gallops ’round the field,

Then comes back for his feeding.

Bread is in the oven,

Water boils in the pot,

Pour it into the teacups,

Serve it nice and hot.

Now the sun is setting,

Put your nightclothes on,

A kiss goodnight from Mother,

She will still be there come dawn.

Now the time to sleep is over,

Wake to the light of morning.

Mother rings the breakfast bell,

Can you hear the rooster calling?

Hope you liked it, because I’m not at all sure that I did.

Categories: Excerpts | 2 Comments

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