Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bitter Premonition-Part Two

     Here is the second part of the Bitter Premonition story, where we left Jenna in the midst of a dream (The Dream). Recall that the story is an offshoot from the Cooking Athenasia novel I am currently working on. I hope to be finished with the book by February (I think this statement is more for me than you). I thank you for reading and I especially thank those of you who feel the story is good enough to re-post the link for your FB friends. Enjoy!


The Dream was always the same. She always saw the woman, who was her at the same time, frantically packing. She watched the woman load and mount the horse-drawn wagon. Although she was always terrified in The Dream, the people who wanted to hurt her never reached the woman. Sometimes Jenna woke before seeing the burning house, but The Dream never went beyond the woman turning to see the night sky aglow from the fire of her home in the distance after her decampment. Some might consider The Dream a recurring nightmare, but it did not occur frequently enough to earn the clinical title of 'recurring'. However, what The Dream did do is always foreshadow a significant event in Jenna's life. The first time she remembered having The Dream was at three years old, a few days before her mother died. Since then, Jenna dreamt it a few other times preceding influential occurrences in her life, but The Dream never delineated between positive or negative experiences, it simply meant that something important would happen soon. Over time, Jenna learned to keep her guard up once The Dream reappeared.
She sat up in bed. Crap! she thought. Through the window, she could see the sun hinting its ascent from behind the horizon with the promise of a perfect Northwestern spring day. This can't be. I've been looking forward to this trip for weeks. Although The Dream was not specific regarding the event, Jenna's initial gut feeling was that the danger was associated with the camping trip. This assumption raised several questions though: Was she the only one in peril or did it extend to the group? Did the danger lie in cancelling her plans or could the hazard be avoided by going on the trip? What about Aunt Donna? Would she be all right without Jenna staying home? These were exactly the type of questions she hated after The Dream occurred. The Dream was a major contributing factor to the reason she felt square-peggish, and often felt it would be better not knowing something was on the horizon, like real people. Instead, she was given a gift in the form of a clue that something important was imminent but with no context. With little context anyway, since she always received a tingling feeling in her hands when the crossroad introduced by The Dream was reached. Yet, the tingling still did not give any indication of the best course of action to take or whether she should do anything at all, they just felt prickly announcing the situation was at hand.
Jenna donned her robe and walked down the hall to Aunt Donna's room. She gently rapped on the door, "Aunt Donna, I have a problem." No response. A little louder, "Aunt Donna?"
Donna was not a morning person and, after a few unflattering snorts, sleepily replied, "Wha...?"
"I have a problem," Jenna bit her bottom lip, which she did when she was unsure of herself.
"Yes Dear. What is it?"
"I...I had The Dream last night."
"Oh no." Donna was not a big fan of The Dream either because of its ambiguity. "So what are you thinking?" Donna was fully awake.
"I don't know." Jenna was almost in tears. "I hate The Dream. It's impossible to worry about everything, to guess what it could possibly mean," frustrated tears rolled down her cheeks.
Donna pulled her in for a hug and tried to give comfort, "I know. It seems impossible."
"The worst of it is that I always worry it could mean I might lose someone I love, like with mom." She cried in earnest.
"I know," she stroked Jenna's hair, "It's frustrating. Let's go make some coffee and think this through." Donna had to get all the neurons firing if she was going to be any help.
A couple of cups of coffee later, they sat at the kitchen table trying to figure out what to do. Jenna was torn between going on the camping trip to protect her friends at the outing or staying home to protect Donna. Another option was to scrub the trip altogether if she could get the other girls to agree. She tried to think of a way to tell the others they should cancel without sounding freakish or paranoid.
The sun had fully risen revealing a bright blue, cloudless spring sky, a Northwest rarity, meaning Jenna only had about two hours before the girls would arrive to pick her up. Donna tried to get her to eat some toast but she was not hungry. A sickening knot had settled in the pit of Jenna’s stomach as she went through the motions of preparing for the day. She cried out of frustration in the shower because she had no idea what she should do, but a decision had to be made soon. She got dressed and still hadn't decided what she would do, if anything.
Jenna was in a somber mood as sat on the front porch waiting for the girls to show up. The sun felt good on her face but did little for her churning stomach. After a bit, she could hear the rumble of Jessica's Jeep and she watched it turn the corner onto her block. As soon is it was in full sight, the tingling in her hands began.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Bitter Premonition-Part One

     This story introduces Jenna Sims, the main character from my forthcoming novel, Cooking Athanasia. It is a snapshot of an event that occurred in her recent past, but shaped the person who she eventually becomes. Additionally, one of the things that makes her feel different from everybody else is revealed. Feel free to share this story. Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think!



This was it. Spring break of Jenna Sims' senior year was just around the corner, and she didn't intend to waste it. After all, this would be one of the last bits of freedom she would be able to enjoy before life's responsibilities-like college, work, a boyfriend/husband, etcetera-came rushing full force on the heels of high school. As of late, thoughts of the future weighed heavily on Jenna's mind and she looked forward to a reprieve in the form of a spring break camping trip with her best friends: Emma Waters, Nicole Starr, and Jessica Dalton.

Jenna felt like a square-peg in a round-hole world throughout most of her school years, which made it difficult to bond with anyone, but this unlikely set of friends accepted her as-is, with no questions asked. To outsiders, rather than looking like a tightly knit caste of friends, the four resembled more of a random group of misfits who banded together against the ills of the world. Emma always had her nose in a book and preferred the fantasy genre that described adventures of fairies, dragons, and the likes. The artist, Nicole, saw things as they were and tended to draw her world with charcoal in black and white. Jessica, the motor-head, loved anything with wheels and an engine, which meant she could usually be found in or under her Jeep, or carving trails on her dirt bike. Jenna completed the quartet and loved experimenting with culinary inventions in the kitchen. Although each of their individual interests seemed vastly different from the others', their diverse personalities meshed perfectly creating harmony and formed an inseparable bond between the four of them.

Each girl looked forward to the camping trip with anticipation and talked about it incessantly for weeks prior to the break. All four members of the group agreed three days at Lake Easton campground, which was just on the other side of the pass, would be the respite needed to regroup before the end-of-year push. Although the plan was for each to provide a meal or two during the outing, Jenna volunteered to do a lion's share of the cooking. The thought of testing her culinary skills in a primitive setting excited her and she had ideas of things with which she would like to experiment.

At last, finals were over and teacher conferences were done, marking the start of spring break. The quartet planned to leave bright and early at 10:00 am Monday, well, bright and early in high school girl-think. They took the weekend to prepare by gathering and packing equipment, and shopping for provisions and sustenance items they would need during the trip. Jenna spent the better part of Saturday afternoon at the supermarket squeezing tomatoes, sniffing melons, and examining the wide selection of cheeses to find the right compliment for her planned menu items. She returned home with five overstuffed grocery bags and began the process of separating the various items into piles for each of the intended menu dishes to ensure nothing had been forgotten.

Sunday morning, Jenna searched the garage for elusive camping equipment, none of which was where she thought is should be. She was thankful that Aunt Donna took the day off because she needed help finding all the gear, and she swore it would be stored in one location upon the completion of the trip. Aunt Donna raised Jenna since the age of three after the death of her own mother, Diana, Donna's sister. Donna didn't mind providing help because she enjoyed the time with Jenna and knew it would not be long until she was ready to spread her wings and fly from the nest. Finally, with a little perspiration and a lot of dust, all the gear was located and packed. Jenna finished preparations by putting the food into a plastic bin for ease of transport. She called the other girls to make sure they had everything they would need, and cautioned them to pack for sunburn-hot and blizzard conditions because the unpredictable Northwest spring can produce either, sometimes in the same day.

With all the readying done, Jenna was tired but excited by the end of the day. After a particularly grueling yawning session, she told Emma she had to get some rest and hung up the phone. She quickly did her nighttime routine and jumped in bed. Although exhausted, Jenna had a hard time falling asleep due to the multitude of lists she mentally checked and double-checked to ensure she had not forgotten anything for the trip. Slumber finally found her around 2:00 in the morning and shortly thereafter, The Dream began. In The Dream, Jenna could see a woman, yet Jenna was the woman at the same time. She scurried around the house gathering things of importance. Garbed in mid-nineteenth century clothes, the woman was frantic about an impending danger. She had to pack quickly because they were coming. Jenna didn't know who they were, but was sure they wanted to hurt her. Jenna twitched in her sleep while the Dream played out. Hasty packing complete, the woman fled from harm's way on a wagon drawn by two horses. Jenna bolted awake just after the woman turned to see her house ablaze in the distance as she made her escape.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Introduction to Immortality

     My apologies for not posting last week. I am out of short stories and have been working on finishing my novel. My intent moving forward, is to write some bonus chapters from the novel as stand-alone short stories. These stories will introduce to the characters and hopefully give you a tase of what the book is about. The title is Cooking Athenasia and a short decription is below. I hope to have the first bonus chapter, Bitter Premonition, finished for next Sunday's post.


     Jenna Sims is a culinary student with a secret. While perfecting a homework recipe, she consults an old worn book that belonged to her great-great grandmother, and unwittingly cooks up a spell for immortality. Jenna's secret, unbeknownst to her, is that her ancestry belongs to a coven of witches. A down-on-his-luck cosmetics company marketing representative finds out about the spell and sets out to steal the book for its recipe, which he thinks would be a hit for the company and allow a reversal of fortune for himself. A period of self-discovery and a short learning curve is unleashed as Jenna strives to protect the family secrets and keep evil from stealing the spell book containing enough power to change the world.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, December 2, 2012

GREED-The Conclusion

     Here is the conclusion to Greed. I recently added the last two paragraphs to add clarity to the story, but it still leaves it up to the reader to decide what really happened. I appriciate you taking the time to read my story and please let me know your thoughts.


           I use the time to assess the situation. Extreme pain in my face where it hit me and my shoulders burn form my hands being bound for so long. I think my right eye is almost swollen shut, but it is hard to tell in the absence of light. I am naked except for a pair of jean shorts that are soaked in sweat and blood. I cannot move. The thing told me I owe it something. It wants what I started with. What did I start with? It said it was with me when I was a child, when all I wanted was life. Could that be what I started with? It seems to be able to read my mind.

            I desperately try to remember how I got here. What was I doing before I got here? I think I worked. Maybe I had a job.  What was my job? Do I have a family? I cannot remember any of these questions. The pain stabs at my brain like thousands of daggers piercing it from all directions. I did work! I helped others accomplish more. My thoughts are clearing a bit. I took a job to help others but it didn't work out. Leaders were not satisfied with results. They wanted more. They didn't care how, they only cared that I got results. Their philosophy went against my grain. But I took the job for better pay. How did I get here?

            What about my family? They need me. I have a wife and a small child. They need me for my support. For my love. Surely it would understand that there are people who need me and whom I need. Where was I before this room? Why is it attacking? I don't remember being a child, but I know I wanted things. I'm sure these wants became more complex as I grew. I lick my dry lips and taste blood. Wants and needs extended beyond myself and beyond the immediate. What is my debt? I pay my debts. My thoughts start to cloud again and worse, I hear it shuffling down the dark hallway from where it disappeared earlier.

             It enters the room and returns to it’s corner. The breath is heavy and yellow eyes stare at me. “Do you understand now?”

            “I don’t remember anything besides here.” My voice is scratchy from thirst. “I know I was a child, but I don't remember being a child. I know I have a family.”

            “Spare me the incessant babbling.” It is irritated again. “The only thing you need to understand is your debt. Once you understand I can collect.”

            “I don’t know how I can understand if I can’t remember anything about my life.” It’s stare burns into my skin like a red-hot branding iron, just removed from the fire. “What is my debt? What do I owe?”

            “I will have to show you,” it says begrudgingly as it moves toward me.  It raises it’s craggily hands and I brace for another impact. Instead of striking me however, it places it’s hands on either side of my head. They are cold and lifeless, with a rough surface, reminiscent of dried leather gloves that were extremely wet once. “Listen,” it commands.

             Immediately, a vision begins to form in my mind. I can see! I am very young and I am talking to my parents. “What is this?” I am mesmerized.

            “Quiet! Just listen.”

              I can see my parents and I having a discussion. We are talking about a toy. I must be five years old in the vision. The toy is a truck that I wanted for my birthday. I remember it. I did not get it as a present for my birthday and five year old me is clearly upset. I remember I wanted that truck so badly that I didn’t appreciate any of the other things people gave me.

            “You remember, don't you?” it asks. “This is one of the first times.”

             “I do remember.” I feel bad for the parents of five year old me because I gave them no mercy. That vision dissipated and was immediately replaced with a new one. In the new vision, I am at school, high school, and I seem to be very sullen with my best friend. I was actually angry with him because he got a car when he got his driver’s license and my parents had assured me that I was not going be so fortunate. I was very angry with them as well because I felt that I deserved a car too. I was 16 at the time.

             It spoke to me through my mind, “The wants were becoming more complex, yes?”

            Somehow, I answered it without speaking, “Yes.” I felt bad for my friend because I was jealous of his good fortune and I wanted the same. It strained our friendship for a bit, but we recovered. Again, the vision dissolved to be replaced with another. This one is more recent. I am having a conversation with my boss. The conversation is about performance. I recall that I was shocked because the senior leaders seemed more concerned with making money rather than quality service. Their mind set was ends over means, but I took the position with the understanding that I represent quality service.

             “This is yet more complex, yes?” the thing says in my head.

             “Yes, but it was not me that wanted more,” I silently defend. It releases my head and the vision shatters like a mirror on concrete.

             It retreats to it’s corner. “Was it only the others who wanted more?”

             “Yes. I was concerned for my constituents,” I reply.

            “That is not in question,” it says, “but taking that role involved a significant compensatory increase, yes?” I can’t be sure, but it almost looks like it is smiling.

             “True,” I defend, “but that was not my only motivation for taking the position.”

             “But it was a motivation?”

             “Yes,” I concede.

             “These are some of the complexities of which I speak.” It paces, as a teacher would in front of a student. “Now you understand the debt. You admit you have wanted in the past for personal gain, yes?”


            “Would you agree that you have wanted from the beginning?”

            “I suppose. What did I want when I was an infant?”

            “You said it yourself: Life,” it replies. “Now that you understand, I can collect.”

            I can see the reflection from the blade again as it moves toward me. “I don’t understand,” I plead. “Why do I have to pay?”

            “I am finished talking. It is time to collect.” It moves behind me and I feel the sharpness of the blade against my neck. With a rapid movement, my throat is slit. The last thing I feel, before being completely consumed, is hot blood flowing down my chest...

            It wipes the blade clean and takes a quick survey of it’s handy work. It leaves the room, and my remains, satisfied for the moment.

              I wake up screaming. The room is dark and I try to get my bearings. I search for it in the darkest corners of the room, for it must still be here. I sit up and realize that I am not bound. I am covered in a thick film, which I determine is perspiration rather than blood. It was a dream. But it felt so real. The pain was real. I shake the sleep from  my mind as I struggle for an explanation. What was It? Where did It come from? What did It mean when It said that I desired personal gain in the past? I mop the sweat from my forehead with my palm and reach for the water glass on the nightstand. I muse that I have always wanted to help people. I do what I do for the betterment of others. This desire seemed of little consequence to the beast in my nightmare. It said that I have wanted from the beginning. It implied the constant was want, but the complexites of the desire matured with age.

              With the cobwebs of slumber gone, I am finally back in the moment, I smile and shrug, it was simply a vivid incubus with no impact on real life. I look at the clock and it is already 5:30. Time to get ready for the meeting with my boss. I do not favorably anticipate the meeting because it will be more of the same questions of why hasn't the business increased in my territory, and descriptions of the importance of revenue to the organization. They are not concerned with the affected individuals as long as they sign the dotted line. With this feeling of dread, I make my way to the bathroom sink and start lathering my face with shaving cream. What is that? I look closer in the mirror. Where did that come from? I wipe my face with a towell so I can get a better look. On my neck, there is the faintest scar that stretches from ear to ear. I shake my head as this cannot be, but it is in this moment that I realize-that I know-I have been consumed by Greed.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

GREED-Part One

     Hello all. This is another story I wrote last year and it is vastly different than the innocence of Sublimity. I know some of you have already read GREED, but I added two more paragraphs to the end of the story that help tie it together better. Please let me know what you think! Part two next week.



            The room is dark. I can see only the yellow of it’s reptile-like eyes as it stares at me from the corner of the room. I am wearing only a pair of shorts, which is good because the room is stifling hot. “What do you want?” I yell. I can hear it breathe. It is a heavy, labored sound.
           “I think you know,” it answers in a gravelly voice. “I want what you started with.”
           I realize my hands are bound behind me and my ankles are tied to the legs of the hard wooden chair. I can barely move. It walks behind me so I can no longer see it’s outline. “I don't have anything left.” I try to remember how I got here.
            It grunts and I can feel it’s breath on the back of my neck. “You are trying to remember how it started. What brought us together.” It returns to it’s corner and I can see the slits of it’s eyes again. “Why you need me to finish this.”
            “I don’t need you,” I give in half-hearted response. I continue trying to process information. My wrists hurt and I can’t feel my hands because the circulation is cut off. “Who are you, and what do you want with me? What do I need to finish?” It seems both familiar and foreign to me.
            “You know the answers to both of those questions,” it appears to be enjoying the verbal parry. “My question of you is whether you are going to give me what you owe, or if you are going to make me take it from you?”
            Sweat rolls down my face and stings my eyes as I try to focus on it's details in the corner. In the shadows, I can barely make out it's charcoal-colored face, which is ridden with scars from numerous past encounters. “When have we met?” I ask in effort to identify it.
            “You have known me your whole life,” it explains as it takes a step toward me, eyes burrowing deep into mine. “I have taken many forms.”
            My shoulders burn from being bound, “Please loosen the rope around my wrists,” I ask.
            “In due time. I think first we should discuss an agreement.”
            “Agreement about what?” The pain is excruciating.
            “Payment,” it snorts. “I want what you started with.”
            “What did I start with?”
            “Quit with the diversions! You know what I want, what you owe! I am here to collect!” it bellows.
            It rushes at me. I can see reflection from the dagger in it’s hand. I turn my head in effort to avoid the blow. It makes contact on the right side of my face with its fist. “I don’t know what I started with.” I can feel it’s acrid breath on my face as it stares at me. “No matter how much you beat me, I won’t know what I started with.”
            It goes back to its corner. “This may take longer that I thought. I was with you at the beginning. Your wants were different then.”
            “At the beginning of what?” I taste blood at the corner of my mouth.
            “The debt cannot be paid if you do not understand.” It sounds agitated. “Perhaps I should loosen your bindings?”
            “That would help.” It rushes. Another fist to the right side. Blood flows freely from my nose. It mixes with sweat on my chest. “Stop!” I yell.
             It stares at me from inches away. I can see some of the definition of the deep gouges that traverse it’s face. “Are we finished with the games? Are you ready to discuss an agreement?”
            Perhaps a different tactic would give me a clue, “When was the beginning?” I spit blood. “What were my wants then?”
            It grunts. “The beginning was the beginning. Your wants were simple.” Once again, it retreats to it’s corner. “Do you understand now?”
            “Tell me more.”
            “You did not understand all the complexities at the beginning.” It’s voice softens. “You simply wanted life.”
            “At the beginning?” I believe I am starting to understand. “When I was a child?”
            “Yes.” It sounds relieved that it is finally getting through to me.
            “And then what happened? How are we connected?” I try to use a soothing voice despite the burning pain.
            “You started to realize there was more.” It sounds as if it is resolved to tell the story. “Life itself was no longer enough. I knew you then, and you knew me.”
            “How did I know you? Where did we meet?”
            “You and I are the same. We have known each other from the point where desire deviated from instinct.” It is playing with the dagger. I can see flashes of reflection as the blade catches what little light there is in the room.
            “Why don’t I remember you?” Maybe it looked different when I was younger.
            It snorts, “Of course I looked different then. So did you.” It sounds agitated again. “Do you understand now?”
            I thought for a moment, trying to put the puzzle pieces together. It is difficult to think beyond the pain. I am trying to recall what wants I had when I was a child. It rolls it's eyes. “I wanted life when I was a baby, right?”
            “Correct!” It stops fidgeting. “Then you progressed beyond only basic survival. You began to want things. I was with you at the beginning.”
            “My parents gave me things,” I tried to understand. More drops of blood to my chest.
            “Correct! But you were not satisfied.” It stares at me from the corner. “You always wanted more. People always want more. They want more for themselves and they want more from each other.”
            “Why are other people’s wants my concern?” I try to make the connection.
            “They are part of you. They are part of me.” It plays with the knife again. “We both have an interest in others’ desires. Maybe you need some time to figure it out.” It leaves the room through a doorway I had not noticed before.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sublimity-Part Three: The Finale

     Here is the the third and final installment for the Sublimity story. I thank you for reading it and I hope it was enjoyable. Please let me know your thoughts and, as always, do not be afraid of the the follow button; it is your friend.


           At last, there was the site. They pulled in and started unloading gear. The site selected was in the middle of a pine tree clearing. The site had two tables set up in a loose L-shape, split by a barbecue grill set on a pedestal. Fifty yards to their front, through a gap in the trees, they could see a small creek lazily meandering through the park.  They could faintly hear the soothing sound of running water. "This is a nice site Grandpa," Thomas gave him an approving smile.
            "I like it too Thomas." Grandpa was stacking the last few pieces of wood he brought for a fire later that evening. "Is there anything left in the car?"
            "Nope," Thomas called from the car. "That looks like all of it." They spent the rest of the morning organizing and getting ready for the rest of the family to arrive. They finished early, which left some time for the two to explore a little ways down the creek. Thomas was amazed by the clear water, allowing him to see salamander and small fish going about their business in the creek. Before long, the morning cool had burned off giving way to late-spring warmth and soon Thomas heard cars making their way up the short dirt road that accessed the site. 
            Thomas’ mom, Grandma, Ally, and Molly were in one car. The other held Aunt Alice, Uncle Sean, and Dad along with the rest of the food. Once all were reunited, the kids moved toward the creek to start exploring. “Stay in sight of the picnic area,” Thomas' mom yelled in a serious tone. Aunt Alice seconded the comment and with that, the brood slipped into their own kids' world.
            They walked up and down the creek. “Look at these!” Ally squealed, pointing to a group of salamander. She splashed in the water and they darted off in all directions to her amusement.
            “I know! There’s a bunch of stuff in here,” Thomas replied. “Grandpa and me looked around for a while before you all got here.” He jumped over the creek where it narrowed going into a slight corner. “Woo Hoo! Made it!”
            “Grandpa and I,” Ally corrected. She was two years older than Thomas was and did much better in school. She enjoyed showcasing her intellect on occasion.
            Ralph let out a snort and tried to jump the creek too, but at a wider point, and he did not make it. He shorted the landing by about eight inches and fell backwards with a splash. “Dang it! I missed!” He started giggling, which got everyone giggling.
Before it was all said and done, the four of them were wet over a good percentage of their bodies. It was cold at first, but they dried off quickly in the late spring warmth. By the time they were dry, they had already moved on to a new activity. They had paired up for war: Thomas and Ralph versus Ally and Molly. The boys' and the girls' squad each established a base in the tree cover on opposite sides of the picnic site. The boys were the first to attack. "I can see them between those two trees," Ralph pointed and whispered from a crouch position.
Thomas nodded and moved silently toward the girls’ position using trees as cover. "I will go in from the left and you go from the front to distract them."
"Okay." They were both low to the ground and whispering their plan. They maneuvered toward the girls’ position until they were about 50 meters away, then all hell broke loose. On signal, the boys separated and Ralph ran up the middle screaming like a banshee. Thomas kept a bit more quiet and came in from the side. He didn't let out his blood curdling scream until he was right on top of the girls' HQ.
"No fair!" Ally cried foul. "We weren't ready yet. You said we had half an hour to prep our base." She scowled at Thomas.
"It has been half an hour." Thomas wondered why girls always took so long to 'prepare' things.
"No it hasn't," Molly replied, entering the fray.
Ralph tried to keep the peace, "Okay, we’ll reset and look at our watches this time. It's 3:30 right now so the next attack can't start until 4:00."
The attacks went off according to the new schedule published by Ralph and they lasted until Grandpa rang the dinner bell at 6:00. The kids had eaten sandwiches with dirty hands while they were on the run at around noon, so they were famished. They agreed to a peace treaty so they could eat the hamburgers and hot dogs Grandpa had grilled. Thomas was so busy playing that he hadn't noticed the smell of the barbecue, but was acutely aware of it now, which got his mouth watering. They washed up, and sat down for a delicious picnic dinner.
After dinner, Grandpa built a fire and everyone pulled up a seat to bask in its warmth while digesting the big meal. All the kids were there too, full and tired from the day of nonstop play. Thomas sat and looked at every one's faces dancing in the glow of the fire. He contemplated how good it was to be out of school, and in the company of those who accepted him for who he was.
The gallons of soda worked their magic on Thomas and he got up to heed the call of nature. "I'll be right back," he told Mom and started toward the edge of the picnic site for some privacy. Thomas looked back at the fire from a cluster of pines and could hardly see the group. "This'll do," he said quietly to himself, and took care of business. When he finished, he looked up at the stars and pondered the view, which was much better than viewing the night sky from the city. That was when he saw it.
He watched as the object approached from the far horizon, moving silently toward him in the night sky. It was a large, maybe three or four football fields across, dark brown disc that was slowly rotating as it executed its trajectory toward Thomas. The craft was not overtly illuminated, but had an ambient glow around its edge as if it was lit up on its top, producing a soft ring of light around it’s circumference. The object was almost overhead and Thomas could not believe what he was seeing. It steadily continued on its flight path, which was a large arc that went directly overhead, never veering from course or altering speed. Thomas watched, amazed by its size and the lack of sound from the craft as it flew. He searched his vast eight-year old data bank to try and identify the craft but came up with nothing. The object did not scare him though, rather, he was curious as to what it was, and was taken aback by its beauty as it grew smaller and was eventually swallowed by the darkness of the night sky on the opposite horizon.
Thomas stood there for a few moments, gathering his thoughts, before he ran back to the group by the fire. "Did you see that?!" Thomas asked excitedly. No one by the fire looked very excited. "Did you see that thing?" he was quickly getting agitated.
"What thing tard?" Ally took the opportunity to attack.
Mom chimed in, "What are you talking about honey?"
"The giant thing that just flew overhead," Thomas was beginning to suspect they, in fact, had not seen it. "It was a big, brownish, flying...thing!"
Dad picked up the ball. "Calm down Thomas. Tell us what you saw," he used his 'you'd better relax' voice.
"A thing," Thomas was still keyed up. "It flew across the sky. It was big. None of you saw it?"
Thomas was known as somewhat of a joker and, to the rest of the family, this seemed like just the sort of story he could cook up as a gag. "None of us saw it tard," Ally continued the attack on her brother. "Because there was nothing to see." He and Ally got along most of the time, but each had their own mean streak, which reared its ugly head occasionally.
Thomas ignored her. "Ralph?" he pleaded, "You honestly didn't see it?"
"I don't know what you are talking about," Ralph was trying to stay out of the line of fire. "I thought you just went over there to pee."
"I did!" Thomas was yelling again. "The thing flew overhead after I was done. It went from there to there," he pointed and made a long arc with his arm. "Come on! I'll show you where I was standing!" He started walking back toward the trees but no one followed.
Mom tried to calm him down, "I'm sure you saw a plane or something," she patronized, "but I don't think anyone else saw it."
Thomas took a step back, trying to process. It had seemed like a big deal to him and he hadn't the foggiest idea how they could have missed it. Maybe the light from the fire drowned it out, after all, it wasn't very bright and it didn't make a sound. Maybe they were engrossed in their own conversations and just did not notice. It did happen though, of this Thomas was sure. He throttled back the emotion, "I did see something."
Ally was relentless, "Sure you did tard. We believe you." She pointed toward her head and made a circular motion with her finger.
"Shut up Ally!" Thomas knew he wasn't going to win this battle but he wasn't about to simply surrender.
"That's enough! Both of you!" Dad put his foot down. "I think you are both tired and it is time to start packing up." He got up to get things ready to go and the rest of the family followed suit.
Thomas brooded while he helped and eventually they were all ready to go home. He took another look skyward in hopes of seeing the craft again to prove his sanity. No such luck though, and he got in the car to head for Grandma and Grandpa's house. Another family picnic down, and this was one for the books, he thought during the drive. He knew what he had seen, he just could not prove it.
The experience faded into the background the following week as he started enjoying his summer freedom. He played with his sister and cousins until Uncle Sean’s family left. Back at home, Abraham was visiting his cousins for the week so Thomas was left to his own devices. On the next Saturday, one week after the sighting, Thomas was playing quietly in his room while reflecting on what he witnessed in the Santa Fe' Forest. Thomas thought that maybe he was the only one given that fantastic, sublime gift. None of his family members had seen the object and they were at the picnic. As such, no one from school could have seen it either, especially Ryan or Victor. He thought of what Grandpa had told him during their drive into the forest, which brought a smile to Thomas' face because the experience of sighting the extraordinary craft certainly made him unique and special too.     

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sublimity-Part Two

     Here is the second installment of Sublimity. When we left the brood last week, they were preparing for their trip and family picnic. Please let me know what you think.



     His dad got home about an hour later and the four of them piled into the car for the hour-long trip to Santa Fe'. Ally and Thomas played car bingo in the back seat for about half of the trip. Then they started getting restless and a few ‘are we almost theres?’ later, they arrived at Grandma's house. Uncle Sean, Aunt Alice, and their two kids, Ralph and Molly, were already there. They had come in from Las Cruces, which takes infinitely longer than the trip Thomas' family just taken. He had not seen his cousins since Thanksgiving last year because Uncle Sean’s family went to Aunt Alice parent’s house during the Christmas break. He missed them on that holiday, but they were here now and Thomas was glad to see them.
     “When did you guys get here?” Thomas asked Aunt Alice while they hugged.
“We got here at about noon,” she squeezed Thomas. “Uncle Sean did not have to work today and I started my vacation.”
“What about Ralph and Molly?” Thomas didn’t completely understand the concept that their schedules could be different. “Me and Ally had to go to school today.”
“They finished yesterday.” Aunt Alice wiped the smudged lipstick off Thomas’ cheek. “What are you going to do this summer?” she queried.
“I don’t know,” Thomas replied and he sincerely had not thought of the summer beyond tomorrow’s picnic. “I’m just excited for tomorrow.”
Hellos and pleasantries were exchanged with the rest of his family. Grandma asked if he wanted something to eat. Grandpa threw a pretend punch and acted hurt when Thomas fake-retaliated. Uncle Sean commented how much he had grown. Ralph and Molly said hi and then the kids separated into the usual boy’s section in the backyard and girl’s section in the den for both parties to catch up. Thomas and Ralph compared toys, talked about school, played war, smashed ant hills, and then it was time to eat. They resumed after dinner and soon it was bedtime. Thomas didn't complain, he was tired and knew he was getting up early to go scout out the site with Grandpa in the morning.
  It was early when he heard the whisper, "Time to get up. Let's go." Thomas did not need much coaxing from Grandpa to get out of bed. He got up and tried to wake up his cousin.
  "C'mon Ralph," Thomas was excited. It was here! The event!
     Ralph did not share the enthusiasm, "Go away!"
  Grandpa whispered, "Come on Thomas. It looks like it's just you and me." He turned toward the kitchen to fill his thermos with coffee. "Go get ready. We leave in half an hour."
Although Thomas wanted to spend time with Ralph, he was kind of thankful that just Grandpa and he were going out to scout out the picnic site. Spending time alone with Grandpa made him feel special, like he was important. “Okay. I’ll be ready,” he whispered so as not to wake Ralph. With that, Thomas shot past Grandpa for the bathroom to brush his teeth. One thing about Grandpa: if he said thirty minutes, he meant thirty minutes; he did not wait for anyone.
Before long, the two of them were in the car heading for the forest where the campground was. There was a day use area in the Santa Fe’ National Forest where they always held their family picnic. They rode with the windows down and the air grew cleaner and a bit cooler as they entered the lush blanket of pine trees. The sun felt good on his skin as it flashed between the trees and the scent of the fresh pines filled the car, which relaxed Thomas. He loved the big trees for two reasons. First, they provided shade from the hot desert sun in the afternoon so he and his cousins could play longer. Second, they rendered piƱon, or pine nuts, a southwestern delicacy. The family often came up to the same forest, right before the Balloon Fiesta started, to harvest the succulent nuts, which they took home, roasted, and ate as a snack. The year’s bounty rarely made it past the Thanksgiving school break.
  "How was the second grade?" Grandpa asked.
  "I'm just thankful that it is over," Thomas replied.
     "That bad huh? What made it so terrible?" Grandpa continued his line of questioning.
      "My teacher thought I was a troublemaker," Thomas confessed. "And there were two other boys that just got on my nerves all the time." He explained how Ryan and Victor dominated the class and that he felt incompetent next to the two, which lasted the whole school year.
      "Why are you comparing yourself to others?" Grandpa asked. "You are not Ryan or Victor or any other boy. You are Thomas and you only have to compete with yourself to be the best you you can be."
      Thomas did not quite grasp the concept of competing with one's self. "How do you mean?"
      "You have your own qualities Thomas," Grandpa explained. "And you have your own experiences. These qualities and experiences are what make us individuals. You only have to make sure that you keep your mind open and take advantage of opportunities to improve yourself."
      Thomas thought this sounded like good advice, but was still glad the second grade was over. Maybe he could make use of this advice to prepare for the third grade, which had to be considerably more demanding than the one he just finished. Thomas filed the conversation away for future use as they drove deeper into the forest.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sublimity-Part One

I apologize for the expanse of time that has passed since my last post. I did end up successfully completing Script Frenzy last April with my 100-page (on the dot) screenplay Echoes of Enchantment. Success came on the last day of the event through a grueling 25-page grind that lasted about six hours.

I thought I would change things up with a bit of fiction that I wrote last year. This is a short story I wrote as a primer before starting the novel. Please let me know what you think.




  Had the clock actually stopped ticking? "I think it has," Thomas thought. It read 1:30, which is what it had said for at least an hour and a half. The class was watching Charlotte's Web and munching on popcorn with soda chasers, courtesy of several volunteer moms. Thomas didn't know why he had to come to school at all today because this was almost fun, and fun was not something he associated with school. It was the last day of second grade and he was ready to get started with summer. He was glad school was letting out because he didn't care for school, and this year in particular, because some of the things learned that were not part of the lessons. He didn't care much for his teacher, Mrs. Abernathy, either because she had labeled him as somewhat of a discipline problem for often failing to finish all of his work. The lessons were so boring and there was so much more to focus attention on or do in the classroom.
  Charlotte was spinning her web, touting Wilber's unique and special qualities, but Thomas didn't notice because he was reflecting on second grade. There was picture day when a kid, a fifth-grader he thought, pushed him down and, consequently, he was photographically immortalized with mussed hair and a cut lip. He thought of two classmates, Ryan Jones and Victor Flores, and how they seemed to always do the right things. They finished their schoolwork before anyone else and they got good grades. Thomas recalled the instance when Mrs. Abernathy allowed the two of them more time with the science experiment kits than she gave anyone else in the class. "We just have a little bit more to do," Ryan pleaded to Mrs. Abernathy. She allowed them the extra time. Thomas remembered that he thought the kits were fun, but lost interest quickly when he wasn’t allowed the extra time needed to do his experiments. All the helper moms always seemed to dote over those two as well, like right now one of the moms was bringing them more popcorn and soda. Thomas didn't necessarly hate the two of them, but he wouldn't feel bad if they both threw up, preferably on each other, on their way home from school today. The thought of this made Thomas smile.
  Two o'clock. The big-hand finally made its agonizingly slow uphill climb to the top of the clock. One more hour. The gears in Thomas' mind shifted out of reverse and into forward as he envisioned the upcoming annual family picnic. Thoughts of Ryan and Victor melted into images of the forest as he pondered the event that signalled the official start of summer for Thomas. He looked forward to washing second grade off of his skin and enjoying the freedom summer brings. This year was different from past years because of the inequities he observed and registered for the first time in his short life, which made Thomas feel comparatively inadequate to his contemporaries somehow.
Buzzzzz…..the bell that buzzed, instead of ringing like bells are supposed to, which always made Thomas wonder why they called it a bell, buzzed, signifying the end of second grade and he start of summer. “Have a superfantastic summer!” Mrs. Abernathy said to the class as they gathered any items from their desks that had not been taken home already. She always used weird words like that. “Don’t forget to place your chairs on top of your desks,” she yelled above the din. However, Thomas heard it in the background because he was already out of the room and into summer’s freedom.
He waited impatiently for Abraham Zephyr, Thomas’ one and only friend. “Hurry up,” Thomas called to Abraham. The two had similar interests like cars, bikes, and pretty much anything with wheels. Abraham was more outgoing than Thomas, so he had other friends with whom he spent time. Not to mention numerous cousins who lived in town that he visited on many weekends. Frequently, the Monday morning walk-to-school conversations were consumed with the latest exploits of the Zephyr clan, which made Thomas a bit jealous because he likely had spent the weekend alone and didn’t have much activity to report to Abraham.
  "Wilber is a pretty talented pig," Abraham said as they walked toward his house. "He's lucky he had Charlotte to do his advertising." He chuckled at his own wit.
  "I wasn't really paying attention," Thomas confessed. "I'm just glad school is out for the summer. I'm ready to start having some fun." Thomas thought of the upcoming picnic, "I get to see my cousins pretty soon at our picnic." He liked when he was able to tell Abraham about visiting his cousins, because then Abraham was forced to find something else to do.
  "When is your picnic?" Abraham probed. He didn't let Thomas answer. "I'm going to my gramma’s this weekend to get some more rabbits. Two of my cages are still empty." Abraham and his dad had built rabbit condominiums in their backyard with eight cages that could hold two rabbits per cage. Thomas didn't know what fascinated Abraham about the rabbits because they didn't do much, they had to be fed, and their crap needed cleaning up. None of which interested Thomas because they sounded like chores, which he despised.
  "I'm not sure when the picnic is," Thomas admitted, "it's always at the beginning of summer. We go to my grandma's house and meet up with my cousins there for like a weekend or something." Abraham did not seem that interested since they had reached his house.
  Abraham walked toward the door and called over his shoulder, "Later dude. Give me a holler."
  "See ya," Thomas replied with a wave and he hurried home to let the second grade melt away in the southwest spring heat.
  Thomas' mom met him at the door, “I have a surprise for you! I spoke with your uncle this morning and he told me this weekend is better for him and his family to have the picnic. We're leaving tonight!" She sounded as excited as she had just made him. Thomas' mom knew it had been a tough year for him even though he didn't say anything. Moms just have a way of knowing. She was excited for Thomas because she knew how much he looked forward to this event every year and what it meant to him. "Get in there and pack your bag," she motioned toward his room.
  Thomas had priorities. He started with toys: Which ones had his cousins seen before? Which ones would they like best? Which would be the best to use in the forest where they picnic? Half an hour later, he hadn't gotten very far when his mom came to check on him. "What are you doing?" she asked while surveying the piles of toys. Thomas had divided his toys depending on priority of importance. "Do you think you should pack some clothes?"
  Thomas confessed that it had not crossed his mind, but agreed that it was probably a good idea. "Will you help me?" he asked, which was really kid-code for 'will you do it for me?'
  Mom knew this and she had already started setting clothes on his bed according to type. "We'll be staying until Tuesday and you will probably need extra because you don't stay very clean when you're with your cousins," she was half talking to Thomas but mostly verbalizing a list for herself. Ten minutes later, his clothes were packed and his bag was by the front door next to Alyssa's, or Ally, his sister. "Pick the toys you are taking and you are NOT taking all of them," she warned, "You need to be done in about twenty minutes so you can get cleaned up for the trip."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Guardian Life

Ten days into the Script Frenzy and all systems are go. Thirty-five pages written, sixty-five to go. At this point, the protagonist, Jennabel, has taken the important role of Guardian for her coven. She has met a possible suitor, and introduced him to her best friend, Sadie, and to her father, Jeffery. Sadie, the antagonist (some call her Shady Sadie), is not to keen on the idea of having to share Jennabel with a boy and the coven, which is causing a rift to develop between the two. The coven Elder, Braham Golden, is 150 years old (it's amazing because he doesn't look a day over 60), and he maintains the traditional view of the craft as a means for harmonious  existence with the environment. Others in the coven, chiefly Cuff Nalpak (I would look for hidden meaning in that name) feel they are falling behind because the rest of the world is progressing and they could use the craft to better the position of their people. Enough about the plot so far, I don't want to give away the farm.

The role of Guardian is twofold. First, the Guardian serves the Elders by casting spells used in the craft. Like the separation of branches in the government, the Ancients thought that all the power in the coven should not belong to one person, so the Guardian role was created (please keep in mind this is fiction, so it's all in my head). The Guardian  also protect the powerful spells they use in serving the Elders, which are contained in a spell book that is specifically created for the person serving in the Guardian role.

As the story continues, the chasm between Jennabel and Sadie, as well as the traditional and progressive coven members, continues to develop. The romance between Jennabel and Patrick continues budding. I wouldn't be surprised if some shocking revelations are revealed along the way too. Last, Taylor, I understand you are probably waiting for the finished product before giving your answer, and I am okay with that.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Update from Enchantment

Today marks the fourth day of Screnzy, and thus far, I am on track for my 100 pages after completing the 14th page today. My experience, to this point, has revealed two major differences between novel writing and scriptwriting. The first is the pace of the story, which in novel writing, can be much slower as the author takes time to develop the story through several pages or chapters even. This is contrasted by the need to rapidly develop the story line in a screenplay, where each page of script is roughly one minute of action (or so I've read). The second difference is the devices or tools authors can use to propel the story. In a novel, the author can use the character's thoughts, dialog, setting descriptions, sensory descriptions, etcetera. In a screenplay, the major tools are dialog and setting, which I am sure there is much more to it, but this is a rookie comparison between the two.

The action is rapid and within the 14 pages of script for Echoes of Enchantment, a lot has already happened. Jennabel Proctor's mother, Diana, died in a fire (or was it the fire that killed her?). Just a side note, characters named Diana do not fair well in any of my writings, which makes me wonder if there is some underlying issues with that name. Enough self-therapy though, Jennabel took the responsibility of Coven Guardian with the passing of her mother, a position selected by birthright. She met a possible suitor (1852 talk), which infuriated her bestie, Sadie, who is jealous of Jennabel's success.

Next time, I will reveal more about the Guardian role, at least the parts that are not top secret. The role is central to the Echoes story, as well as the novel, Cooking Athanasia. Last, Taylor, if you're reading, I'm offering you first crack at the lead.

Thanks for reading,