Blog Archives

Snippet Sunday: Geese Genocide

Snippet Sunday: Geese Genocide

      Wow – it has been AGES since our last Snippet Sunday. Yikes!
      This week, the excerpt is a scene from “Inferno”. It is a first draft and it is insane. A bit… Poor Alexander… So without first ado…

- – – – – – – – – – -
      Maybe there was a little barbarian in everyone, certainly he had seen atrocities since the Fall; things other people probably knew for certain that they were not capable of either.
      But not me. It shouldn’t have happened to me. I’m better than them, those fucking weakling peasants.
      And now he would have to find a new prize for his harem. A replacement for the ginger witch whose love he would never earn and whose power he was loathe to test again. But not today. Because today was the first ever ‘Empire Day’ and Isaac had plans for it.
      “Well the fat bastard is welcome to ‘em. I’m not sticking around to watch them all lick his arse.”
      Alexander supposed the area had been pretty enough, before. He hovered above the shore, watching out over the water, pensively. It was technically the Pacific, but it was not like it was in the movies, with golden sand, palm trees, and bikinis as far as they eye could see. But, it was nice. Tall, lush evergreens, open fields (which, admittedly, would need a lot of work to be farmable come spring, but which would probably benefit from all the loamy mud), rocky beaches with kelp and driftwood.
      Winds swept around him, whipping his hair about his face as he soared south. Miles flew past in a blur and he rejoiced in the surge of energy pulsating within each vein and vessel in his body. The birds were confused, their polar navigation all kinds of screwed up thanks to the blast in the east and the smaller eruption down at Rainier. He nearly collided with a flock of geese, honking bitchily at him when his flight path disrupted their perfect V formation.
      “Noisy, filthy bastards,” he said to himself, casting a glance of his shoulder at the birds. “Good thing you’re so fucking tasty, or I’d make it my personal business to eradicate the whole lot of you.”
      Geese genocide. Spectacular. But dear old Mum would never forgive me if she had to ever forgo her precious Christmas goose.
      Then again, he decided, even if she had survived this collapse of civilization — and who knew what was going on in Britain — chances are there would not be many Christmases left for anyone. Not if Isaac had his druthers. Empire Day? What a fucking joke.
      He was well and truly into a mental tirade when he realized he had stopped moving. Puzzled, he furrowed his brow and focused his energies to push himself forward. Alexander did not budge.
      “What the bloody…” he said, murmuring to himself. Casting a quick look about the vicinity, Alexander could see nothing or no one to be blocking his momentum. Anger burbled up within him, hastily replacing the minor panic which had begun to rise in his belly. Backward? No. Up? No. Down? Shit! Concentration lost, Alexander tumbled toward the ground in a whirl of flailing limbs. He landed with a hideous squelching crunch, his teeth snapping shut on his tongue. His mouth filled with the metallic tang of blood and as the abyss swallowed him, Alexander wondered if anyone would even notice he was gone.
- – – – – – – – – – -
      And that’s it for today’s snippet. What did you think? Comments, questions, suggestions appreciated – let me hear about it below!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Snippet Sunday: Before & After II

Snippet Sunday: Before & After II

      No, guys, I wasn’t kicked off the VBT. In fact, you can see an Author Spotlight on little ol’ me over at MasterKoda.com. But since my scheduled guest is experiencing some personal turmoil and had to leave the tour (sending much love & good mojo!) I decided to revert to a Sunday Snippet. Yay!
      So, today’s excerpt is a scene from “Incandescence”. Its another before-&-after-style post where I show off how important editing can be for me. Making a first draft really…sing! I use that phrase too much, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. So without first ado…

- – – – – – – – – – -


Before


      They assembled before her in borrowed clothing. Hannah had donned a pair of jeans that were both too long and too big around the waist; she had rolled the hem of the trousers up so that they brushed the top of the hiking boots she had stolen from the owners of the Cozy Coach and cinched the waist with a belt so long she had to tie the leather in a knot well past the last hole. She also wore a flannel shirt tied to reveal her midriff and her brother’s denim jacket over it. Michael was in a pair of clean Wranglers, dark and stiff with starch and a grey hoodie that featured a large, roaring brown bear. He had covered his floppy dark hair with a baseball cap and Hannah wore a black straw Stetson. Poor little Jeremy had drawn the short shrift, they had dressed him in a t-shirt that was probably Hannah’s size and made an improvised diaper out of a kitchen towel and some yarn. OLDLADYNAME was impressed by their resourcefulness; she had resorted to keeping one of Hannah’s old shirts wrapped around his little hiney all the previous day.
      “Thank you for breakfast, dafuzina,” she began, speaking slowly, giving herself time to compose the proper words. “I think we should stay here.”
      “Here? But-”
      “Humor me, damorsi. Please. I need to recouperate here – not just for the day. No, no. Hush. Let me finish. Before we leave this place, we need information and supplies. It is better if we wait here awhile.”
      The two exchanged a look that OLDLADYNAME could not define. Then Hannah nodded, crossing her arms before her thin chest.
      “Alright, OLDLADYNAME. Are you going to be okay, this morning at least, if Mike and I go exploring the place? The power still works so someone must live here, and they may be back. Better we find out the type of people they are now than after the fact.”
      Michael adjusted his cap. “And we have to see if there is a working radio or TV here, because the ones in the living room are just static. I’m still going to try to find some fuel too, in case we have to leave abruptly. Okay?”
      She nodded, a wan smile upon her wrinkled lips. “Yes.”
      Jeremy was trying to climb up onto the bed again and OLDLADYNAME looked up at Michael, imploring him silently to help the child up. Hannah removed the empty tray and came back into the room a few minutes later with a pitcher of iced tea and a pristine glass tumbler. Each of the kids kissed her forehead and murmured something about being careful, then they vanished in a whirl of denim and flannel.
      “Skib-Mommy,” Jeremy giggled, crawling over her legs, his chubby little hands grabbing at one of the lovely embroidered roses. He made his way to her torso and used her chest to pull himself to his unsteady feet. The little boy placed his hands on either side of her face with surprising tenderness and looked up at her. His deep brown eyes were velvety as a doe’s and the expression within them was so much older and wiser than belonged in the eyes of a child so young.
      “Skib-Mommy,” he repeated, patting her cheeks again. Then he wrapped his arms around her thin neck and buried his face in the crook of her shoulder. “Skib-Mommy.”
      Her heart fluttering in her chest, OLDLADYNAME hugged him back; her tears wet upon his silken black locks.
- – – – – – – – – – -

After


      They assembled before her in borrowed clothing. Hannah had donned a pair of jeans that were both too long and too big around the waist; she had rolled the hem of the trousers up so that they hung parallel with the top of her stolen hiking boots and cinched the pants with a belt so long she had to tie it in a knot. She also wore a flannel shirt tied just above her waist with Michael’s denim jacket over it. Michael was in a pair of clean Wranglers, dark and stiff with starch, and a grey hoodie bearing the image of a large, roaring brown bear. He had covered his floppy brown hair with a baseball cap. Hannah wore a black, straw Stetson.
      Poor little Jeremy had drawn short shrift. They had dressed him in a t-shirt that was probably Hannah’s size and made an improvised diaper out of a kitchen towel and some twine. OLDLADYNAME was impressed by their resourcefulness.
      “Thank you for breakfast, dafuzina,” she began, speaking slowly to give herself time to compose the proper words. “I have been thinking and I think we should stay here.”
“Here? But-”
      “Humor me, damorsi. Please. I need to recuperate here, not just for a day. No, no. Hush. Let me finish. Before we leave this place, we will need information and supplies. I think it is best to wait here for awhile.”
      The two exchanged a look that OLDLADYNAME could not decipher. After a moment, Hannah nodded and crossed her arms before her thin chest.
      “All right, OLDLADYNAME. Are you going to be okay, for this morning at least, if Mike and I go exploring a bit? The power doesn’t work, but the place is clean and stocked up. Someone must live her and they may be coming back. Better we find out what we can now.”
      Michael adjusted his cap. “And we have to find out if there is a working radio or TV here, because the ones in the living room are dead.”
      A wan smile upon her wrinkled lips, she nodded. “Yes.”
      Jeremy climbed back up onto the bed with a little boost from Michael and squealed with delight, his chubby little hands grabbing at one of the lovely embroidered roses.
      “I’ll bring some iced tea and stuff, so you don’t have to get up,” Hannah said and dashed off. She returned a few minutes later with the promised pitcher and a heavy glass tumbler. Both of the kids kissed her forehead and mumbled something vague about being careful, then they vanished in a whirlwind of denim and flannel.
      “Skib-mommy,” Jeremy crawled over her legs, giggling. He made his way to her torso and used her chest to pull himself to his unsteady feet. Placing both hands on either side of her face with surprising tenderness, Jeremy looked up at her. His deep brown eyes were velvety as a doe’s and the expression in them was much older and wiser than he was.
      “Skib-mommy,” he repeated, patting her cheeks again. Then he wrapped his arms around her thin neck and buried his face in the crook of her shoulder. “Skib-mommy.”
      Her heart fluttering in her chest, overcome with emotion, OLDLADYNAME hugged him back. Tears slipped down her cheeks.

- – – – – – – – – – -
      And that’s it for today’s snippet. What did you think? Can you pick out the changes? Its probably not as dramatic a change as the previous Before & After post, but I think that little tweaks can really make the difference in how a passage flows. So, better or worse? Comments, questions, suggestions appreciated – let me hear about it below!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Snippet Sunday: Pills Don’t Kill the Pain

Snippet Sunday: Pills Don't Kill the Pain

      Today’s excerpt comes from a different old story-in-the-round my bestie and I wrote back in 2008, called: Hollyweird. It is a series of vignettes about Hollywood, the Paparazzi, fame, hangers-on, celebrity gossip websites and the dark side of it all. Some of them were pretty freakin’ hilarious. This one, one of the later episodes, is not so much funny as… sad. But I thought I’d share a blast from the past.
- – – – – – – – – – -
      Someone save me.

      I’m sorry. I’m the cliché. I’m exactly what they said I would be.

      It all started so innocently. I was a cute baby. No really – I was damn cute. Some producer was in our hometown to bury his Great Aunt and my big sister was pushing my pram up the sidewalk. His name was Jacob Diamond and the sleeze stalked us all the way home. He insisted on talking to my parents – who were in the throes of a messy argument that had them about two minutes from filing from divorce. They signed a contract and sealed up my future. Saved their marriage for about three years, but that’s another story.

      They mostly used twins, due to child labor laws, but I was a natural and it was just as easy to use me for the real shots and stick some stunt baby in the background for the rest.

      The show was a ratings darling and so was I. The older I got, the more they loved me. I was making more money at four than the rest of the cast; I had my own line of dolls, books, toddler clothes.

      I was already an empire when the show folded after ten years on the air.

      I remember reading the stories of Drew Barrymore & Maculay Culkin, or hearing about all those 80s child stars and how they ended up disillusioned, robbing 7-11 stores and smoking crack.

      I vowed that I wasn’t so stupid. My parents were equally as fucked up as theirs, but I was my own person (at eleven). I was rich, famous, adored by the masses. And I knew I wouldn’t end up like them, snorting coke off some tranvestite hooker’s ass outside the Viper Room.

      It was crystal meth in some Spic’s trailer in East LA for me.

      Drunk in public at twelve. Caught smoking pot at thirteen with my co-star and lover, who was nineteen and playing my older brother in some crappy movie that ended up in the dollar bin at Walmart within two months of release. Arrested for possession at fifteen. Slapped with a DUI at sixteen and my license revoked. First stint in rehab came right after that. Sure, I laid low for a few years, got clean.

      Then I made a majestic comeback in a new Jacob Diamond sitcom. Ran for five glorious seasons during which I spent the end of my teens and the start of my 20s so drunk or high that I couldn’t remember my lines and was generally a slutty bitch to everyone involved. Still, it worked for the character I guess and the royalties from syndication keep me in booze and pills.

      Or they did ’til my fucking business manager ran off to Brazil with my mother. And took every damn dime I ever made.

      You don’t even wanna know what I did to keep myself flush in the dark years. The ones when everyone that matters forgot my name. The ones that are all a blur.

      You really don’t want to know what I do now, just to survive. Most days are clear, and I wish they weren’t. More drugs to take away then pain, they’d be welcome. Hurts so much just to breathe most of the time…

      Someone save me, if you will. And take away all these pills.

      I think they wrote that song about me. Or for me.

      Someone save me.

      Someone.

      Anyone.

      Please?
- – – – – – – – – – -
      And that’s it for today’s snippet. What did you think? Meh? Hooray? Would you like to read more of our “Hollyweird” shorts? Comments, questions, suggestions appreciated – let me hear about it below!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Snippet Sunday: Green-Eyes in the Mirror

Snippet Sunday: Green-Eyes in the Mirror

      Today’s excerpt comes from an old project, written in rounds by my amazing best friend and I: Posthumous. This project is not one we ever completed, but it was fun nonetheless. Below you’ll find the opening, by yours truly.
- – – – – – – – – – -


Chapter One: Trapped



      Fuzzy.
           Everything’s blurry.
White. Everywhere, white. Misty. Glowing.
           Warmth. Joy. A man’s smile.
      His eyes are green. Can’t see them. Just remember.
Gold glistens. Pale and cool. Around my finger.
      Diamonds in a line. Champagne flows.
Music. So much music. Laughter and dancing.
           Fairytale.
      Tin cans clinking. Open road.
Evening stars, sunset.
           Reach over the backseat. Luggage.
           Combs in my hair. White tulle everywhere.
Smiling at him. Green eyes. He has green eyes. What’s his name?
      Lights glare. Can’t see! Too bright.
           And I’m flying. Like a bird.
      Bleeding. Red dots on white silk. Hurts.
Hurts so much. Blurry again. Hazy, red.
           Black fenders. Crunched chrome.
Where is he? Green eyes.
      Green eyes.
           Light. So much light.
…Darkness.

* * *

      With a gasp, she sat straight up in bed. Uneasily, she wiped her hand across her eyes, her chest. She dripped with perspiration; cold sweat brought on by the most horrific dream. It still flashed there, behind her eyes. The distant, diaphanous fingers touching lightly here, there, like butterfly kisses upon her churning mind. Slowly, she reclined on the pillows and let her arms fall across her breasts. Like a corpse in repose, she closed her eyes and sunk into the feather-filled depths of the bed.
      With the nightmare burnt to cinders and dashed from her mind, she found herself curiously thoughtless. A vast, empty nothingness filled her head and she opened her eyes as a frown formed upon her lips. Concentration furrowed her brow, then a low, dull panic as the void expanded, leaving her nameless, soulless… a shell.
      Green eyes. Light. Blinding me. So bright.
      Darkness.

      She sat upright again, throwing the think silken sheet from her body. A haze was descending now, flooding her senses. Memories came and went in a pulsating dance. Delirium. Pictures and scents and sensations. Nausea swept through her and she grit her teeth as her fingers clenched the bedclothes.
      “Oh God.”
      She froze, the sound of her own voice alien in her ears. Eyes widened, unseeingly tracing around the room. It was white. So very white. The sheets, the walls. Tears swam before her eyes and the world went blurry again. Warm wetness slipped down her cheeks. She could taste the saltiness of her sorrow.
      “Oh God.”
      She said it again, her voice breaking, her stomach heaving; she wretched, but her stomach was empty and the spasms fruitless. She clung to the sheets, the room began spinning. Everything was white. The floor. The ceiling. Tears fell faster now and she doubled over, vomiting bile into the back of her throat. Her fingers trembled as she let go of the sheets and pressed her hands to her face. Blocking out the light; blocking out the white.
      “Oh…”
      Her voice caught on the syllable. She gurgled and strained, leaning forward as if to expel the word by force. And then she did.
      “God!”
      An audible click reverberated through her skull. The simple sound of a key into a lock, the closing of a door. Click.
      And then silence. With a shakey intake of breath, she dropped her hands, sitting upright again. Her palms cupped one other loosely, discarded into her lap limply. Tears dried upon her cheeks and she blinked others away as she turned her head slowly, seeking the source of that single, simple click.
      “H-hello?” She managed, shifting her legs as if to climb out of the bed. She set her foot upon the floor; first one, then the other. They supported her, though she wobbled briefly, and she took a deep breath.
      One step further; left foot forward, and then the right.
      A second click echoed across her brain.
      A whirlwind caught her, swirling through the room like chaos incarnate. Books and papers and sheets and clothes, all tossed to the cyclone as it pummeled her. She opened her mouth to scream, but in the thundering storm, she heard nothing but the wind. Hair lashed her face like a bullwhip, tearing fine lines in her flesh. Blood seeped like teardrops, smeared across her cheeks by the force of the tornado. Pain seared her, sundering her limbs from her body as the storm raged around her. Darkness replaced the white; darkness pressed in and everything else scattered before it.

* * *

      She stumbled, and hit her knees, catching her weight on her wrists. Her hands flew to her face, feeling hysterically for cuts or contusions. There were none. The room came into focus, filled with clear, warm light. Nothing out of place. The bedclothes rumpled, but not torn; the bookshelf filled, the papers on the desk untouched.
      “But I-” she frowned, pushing herself to her feet. They were bare, nails painted in a soft petal pink, and her pants pooled around the ankle. Her pajamas were cotton, loose in the leg and too long in the arms. Dark blue with pale stripes, masculine, in fact. She chuckled inwardly and hugged them close. They must be Orin’s. Mmm… married at last. She turned to the bed, looking for him. Puzzled because it was not her bed; because it was empty.
      “Where…?” She began stupidly, turning again in a circle.
      An unfamiliar face peeked into the door at that moment. The woman smiled. Her teeth white and smiling, her lips thick and painted red.
      “Jules, you planning on sleeping through the big day?”
      “Huh? I’m-”
      She blinked furiously, looking down at her hands in confusion. The nails were buffed, gleaming and tipped in white. There was no ring. She lifted her hand, palm facing in, questioningly.
      “Where’s my ring?”
      The woman lifted a brow curiously. “You feelin’ alright, Jules? You don’t look so good. Nervous, huh?”
      “Where’s my ring? My wedding ring. Where’s Orin?”
      She stepped into the room and made to put a heavy, comfortingly soft arm around her shoulders. “Its natural to be nervous, Jules. It must’ve been some heavy nightmare though, to leave you trippin’ like this.”
      “Who is Jules? Who are you?
      “You’re Jules, sweetie,” the woman said guardedly as the younger one shoved away her affectionate advances. “Julienne Yeager. I’ve called you Jules since you were knee-high-”
      “No! No, my name is Amara. Amara Morrigan. I- I just got married.”
      The woman shook her head. “Girl, don’t tell me you were high last night! I told them girls to give you a safe night out!” She threw her hands up, exasperated. “I’ll get you a glass of cold water. You just sit your behind down. You’ll be right as rain soon.”
      “But I’m… I’m not…” Amara trailed off, confused. She could hear the woman talking to herself, berating someone named Charise as she stalked down the hallway. Her heels made a clacking sound on the hardwood floors.
      “I’m… not Julienne.” Amara whispered to herself weakly, shifting herself to the padded chair that sat before an antique dressing table. “I’m Amara. I am. Orin…where’s…”
      Her voice trailed on even after she froze in fascinated horror at the mirror before her. A stranger looked back at her. Creamy chocolate skin and wide brown eyes rimmed with green, but dark as night toward the pupil. She raised a hand to her face then looked down at it, clattering out of the chair. It was brown, the nails freshly painted in a brilliant lavendar, smooth and unveined, but- not her own.
      “No! This can’t be- I-”
      Amara stumbled backward, bumping into the bed and turning around in a helpless circle. She dove for the edge of the vanity, gripping it tightly as she stared into the wild, crazed eyes of someone she had never before seen.
      “This isn’t real. I am Amara Marie Morrigan. My fiancé- no, husband, his name is Orin. Orin Luciano. I-”
      The denial caught in her throat and her entire body shuddered involuntarily. A frightened, distant voice spoke within her and rose up, filling the strange voids that seemed to permeate her body. It whispered, it wrapped itself around her. Its fear and sorrow were strangling.
      I am Jules, the voice spoke gently to her, slipping inside her very mind. I don’t know why you came here, I’m so scared. So scared. Please, Amara, please. Let me go!
      “Let you go?” She asked outloud, “Let you go?!”
      You’re hurting me. You have to get out! This is my body! My life! The voice’s anger tempered its fear but it screeched, raging against her. Get out of me! Get out! Leave me alone!
      “I don’t know- I don’t know how. I don’t-” Amara cried, slumping against the bed. “I don’t understand what’s… I want Orin…”
      The same older woman, with her cropped salt and pepper hair and thick red lips returned with a glass and a frown firmly stamped on her face.
      “Oh no, honey, no. You ain’t gonna mess this one up. That boy is too fine a man and your mama paid too much for this wedding for you to ruin it now. C’mon, Jules, take a drink, here have one of Rona’s pills. You’ll be fine. We’ll get you showered, dressed. Its your wedding day, babygirl, you don’t wanna keep Tyler waiting, do you?”
      Amara stood, ready to defy the strange woman and opened her mouth to protest. In that instant, she felt the other presence surge forward and she was forced into the backseat.
      “Aunt Gin!” Jules sobbed, throwing herself into her aunt’s warm, broad bosom. She held the girl a moment, stroking her back until she contained herself, but was distubed by the crazed expression in her eyes when she forced a smile and nodded.
      “I’m ready now, Aunt Gin. Dunno what came over me.”
      “That’s my girl,” Gin chuckled a little wearily and headed for the door. “We’ve got breffast downstairs, if you’re hungry. C’mon down.”
      Amara felt the head bob in a nod, the lips softening into a more easy smile, but could not alter them. She saw through Julienne’s eyes as the girl assumed full control of the body, felt the water she splashed on her lovely face, heard the jovial banter of cousins and friends in the kitchen below. She was helpless, she was powerless.
      She was trapped.
- – – – – – – – – – -
      And that’s it for today’s snippet. What did you think? Are in interested to see what direction my co-writer took when he wrote the next bit? Which direction would YOU have taken it? Do you want to take a crack at writing a new chapter two? Comments, questions, suggestions appreciated – let me hear about it below!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Snippet Sunday: World Premiere

Snippet Sunday: World Premiere

      What’s this? A snippet instead of a VBT post? Surprise! This week’s VBT post will be up later in the week and I think its going to be a great one. That leaves Sunday free for a return to Snippets.
      So, without further ado – today’s excerpt comes from my current WIP: WT: Inferno. It will be brief and painful because frankly – that’s how my first drafts roll. Still, check it out. The world premiere of Inferno.

- – – – – – – – – – -
      The afternoon was hot and dry but there was a thick, black thunderhead moving toward the Freehold. It promised to bring a spectacular lightshow and blessed relief. OLDLADYNAME had never expected to anticipate storms, to wait with an unexpelled breath to see if rain would fall all the while praying it would. In her century long lifespan on the coast, rain had been plentiful – too abundant at times. She could recall standing with a wicker pick-nic basket – red gingham table cloth and all – on the front porch begging Jesus to clear away the clouds. Now she sat, feeling half-naked in a gauzy chemise, rocking and fanning herself and begging God to send that big, beautiful, rain-pregnant storm their direction.
      October should not be so hot, she thought sipping suntea through a straw. It had been cool when Michael brought it out. She suspected he had iced it especially for her for beads of condensation had slid down the glass to pool on the flat, weathered arm of the old rocker. It had not lasted long, that icy coolness, but she had appreciated the small gesture of affection.
      “Gamma!”
      She lifted her gaze and felt a smile break instantly across her face. The boy was anathema to her dark mood – it was impossible to brood or worry or doubt when he cam running toward her with that grin. It was irresistable whether paired with a mud-smudged or freshly scrubbed cheeks. He refused to allow anyone to cut his hair and it grew like a weed; in just a few months it had already grown so long that it swung down into his eyes like that one skinny pop singer Hannah had adored when she was small – *what WAS his name?*, she wondered – and curled around his collar.
      “Gramma!” Clamoring up onto her lap, he soaked he thin shift with cool water from the creek. “Come s’im! Come s’im wif us!”
      Jeremy threw his arm around her neck and motioned back down the hill toward the water. Even from here it looked cool and shady, lovely and so very inviting. But there was a long, scorching journey across the parched yard and down the dusty hill between her and the creek. Hale as she was, OLDLADYNAME doubted she would ever make it, shuffling along in this heat.
      “Not today damorsi,” she said, and patted his hair. “Perhaps tomorrow?”
      Disappointment colored his dusky features for just a heartbeat or two, then, like the sun breaking through a squall, joy suffused his face and he nodded. “T’mawwo.”
      “Tomorrow,” she said, and squeezed him close. OLDLADYNAME expected him to dash away again, back to the creek where the other children were splashing and laughing. Instead, he seemed remarkably content on her lap. Jeremy lay his head against her chest, stole a sip of her tea, and closed his eyes. Despite her age, despite having raised eight children, plus helping to rear her grandchildren, great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchilren, OLDLADYNAME felt the same love for this one little boy as she had when her own Samuel had been the cuddly lump on her lap.
      She hoped God would grant her the years to see him grow and thrive.
      She prayed God would grant him the years to grow-up in.
      Whether or not He willed it, the dark days were coming and humanity’s survival was far from guaranteed.
- – – – – – – – – – -
      And that’s it for today’s snippet. What did you think? Boring, I suppose. But spoiler alert – but OLDLADYNAME and Jeremy survived the first novel. For now. Muahaha. Comments, questions, suggestions appreciated – let me hear about it below!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Snippet Sunday: Before & After

Snippet Sunday: Before & After

      Today’s excerpt comes from my current WIP: WT: Incandescence. But we’re going to do things a little different. I’m going to post a super-short piece from the First Draft. Then, a tweaked and edited version from Draft Two.
- – – – – – – – – – -


From the First Draft


      Forgive us, Father, for our trespasses tonight. You know we would not do this, had we any other option.
      It sounded like a feeble excuse to her own ears, but OLDLADYNAME knew it was a balm to soothe Hannah’s conscious for the girl was concerned. Possibly, she was more worried about jail time than her eternal soul, but OLDLADYNAME did not ask. She was content to know that the children she had raised were resourceful enough to survive and honest enough to care that they had broken-in to someone else’s home.
      Night had fallen and the forest was remarkably quiet around the trailer – that or the insulation was more noise-proof than she would have presumed. Now that she had been able to wash her hands and face, drink until her belly sloshed, and then satiated her hunger on some stale saltines, OLDLADYNAME felt her confidence returning.
- – – – – – – – – – -

From the Second Draft


      “..and we ask you to forgive us, Father, for our trespasses this afternoon. You know we would not do this, had we any other option.”
      It sounded like a feeble excuse to her own ears, but OLDLADYNAME knew it was a balm to soothe Hannah’s conscience, for the girl was concerned. Possibly, she was more worried about potential jail time than about her eternal soul, but OLDLADYNAME preferred not to ask questions to which she did not want to know the answer. She was content to know that the children she had raised were resourceful enough to survive and honest enough to care that they had broken-in to someone else’s home.
      “Bless us with sweet dreams, and send your angels to protect this home tonight.”
      “Also, thank you for the beans and crackers,” Hannah said. Scrunching up her face, she stirred her portion of supper with a broken saltine.
      “That too,” OLDLADYNAME added, casting a disapproving glance at her. “Amen.”
      They sat around the table and ate their cold meal with little conversation. OLDLADYNAME supposed the children were just as wrung-out as she – though probably not half as physically exhausted.
      Night had fallen and the forest was remarkably quiet around the trailer – that or the insulation was more noise-proof than she would have presumed. Now, sitting here with freshly washed hands and face, having drunk well-water until her belly sloshed, and satiated her hunger, OLDLADYNAME felt her confidence returning. Some how, they were going to be okay.
- – – – – – – – – – -
      And that’s it for today’s snippet. What did you think? Comments, questions, suggestions appreciated – let me hear about it below!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Snippet Sunday: The Ghost of Adina

      Sorry for the late post, but at least I made it!

      Today’s excerpt comes from my current WIP: WT: Incandescence. It is from a scene in Part One and gives a bit of background on Grandmama Adina Torovaldi neé Goritelli, the family, and alludes to a great secret OLDLADYNAME hides in the deepest part of her heart.
- – – – – – – – – – -
      Her hands shook with the palsy of age as they lay flat upon the beautiful, handmade quilt that covered her from breast to toe. Brown age spots were speckled across the paper-thin skin, thick, blue veins were nearly visible as they wound across the backs of her palms toward her fingers. Those had once been long and graceful; she had played the piano and the flute in her younger years. She had danced too – classical ballet – and sang, though not well.
      A faint smile played across wrinkled lips; the ancient woman tending gently to one who, while also old, was a babe in arms by comparison. With a steady, delicate touch, the elder began to ply a paddle brush upon the long, steel-colored locks of the younger woman. She lay her free palm upon her granddaughter-in-law’s brow, stroking the fevered flesh and murmuring soothing words as softly as possible.
      Adina Torovaldi neé Goritelli was in decline. She had not danced in a decade. Not since a tragic accident had claimed her daughter, Alyssa, her son-in-law, Benjamin, and their unborn child. Not since her husband, Iacomo Torovaldi, had succumbed to a broken heart upon hearing that his dear little Lyssie, their only daughter and the child he shamelessly favored, was dead. If her memory served, and it usually did, Adina’s mind had begun slipping away the day of Iacomo’s funeral though it had not gone into a full downward spiral until a year ago, spring. Alzheimer’s, they called it today. In her day, people went senile, lost their marbles, had bats in their belfries or were a brick short of a full load. It seemed crueler somehow, giving it a real, scientific name. But then, what about the disease was not cruel? A sickness that robbed a body of its memories, personality, loves and dreams and hates and fears – of everything that made them unique. In the end, as it was with sweet Adina, they were little more than a shell. A husk requiring round-the-clock supervision and care.
      “Sit up, dearest,” she coaxed Adina into a seated position so that she could brush the entire length of her hair. It was like silk, for they still treated it with great care as she would have wanted. She remembered a very special day, many decades ago, when she had combed and twisted and teased it into a magnificent curls. Such a beautiful bride, the old woman reflected, gingerly separating Adina’s hair into sections and creating two long plaits such as a schoolgirl would have worn back in her own youth. She supposed that children did not often wear twin braids anymore, though Hannah had, and the thought made her inexplicably sad.
      “The bad days are coming.”
      OLDLADYNAME gave a start, hands freezing mid-motion, and looked around. Directly across the room was a low bureau with a wide mirror that swallowed most of the wall. In it she saw her own reflection – an olive-skinned prune of a woman with more than one-hundred two years of life behind her – and that of her late grandson’s wife. Adina sat before her, those lovely violet eyes vacant and rheumy, with her hands limp upon her lap and her thin legs straight out, a pair of chopsticks beneath heavy blankets. As far as she could tell, neither of them had moved and she knew that she had not spoken.
After a heartbeat or two, the jolt of fear faded. Wrapping her arms around Adina, she began to rock back and forth and croon tunelessly. Though she told herself that she was trying to calm Adina, in her heart she admitted that it was her own pulse that was racing.
      “The bad days are coming.”
      The voice belonged to Adina, yet it was alien in a way that could not be explained away simply because it had been so long since she had spoken. OLDLADYNAME scarcely believed it had come from the frail form of Adina, so rich and strong was the tone. It was as if those five words were untouched by the age that had wracked Adina’s body and mind, leaving her a ninety-pound shadow of her former self.
      “Now, what do you mean by that, my love?” OLDLADYNAME asked, watching Adina’s face in the mirror.
      “You know.”
      Those two words sent daggers of ice into OLDLADYNAME’s ancient heart and she turned her gaze away from the image, busying her fingers by returning to the simple, repetitive motion of braiding Adina’s hair.
- – – – – – – – – – -
      And that’s it for today’s snippet. What did you think? What awful secrets does OLDLADYNAME (tee-hee) harbor in the murkiest depths of her old heart? Comments, questions, suggestions appreciated – let me hear about it below!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Snippet Sunday: The Forge

      Today’s excerpt comes from an old ‘character sketch’. There is more to her story, and perhaps at some point, I will edit the whole thing and see what comes out. For the moment, I just thought I’d share ‘The Forge’.
- – – – – – – – – – -
      Her earliest memory was of the Forge.
      Distant, metallic clanking grating on her sensitive ears. Searing heat in the darkness. The hiss of a red-hot blade thrust into a cooling pan and the eerie bloody glow of the forge. The gaping maw of that same forge, horrible with flaming breath and the sour-sweet scent of ebonmoss burning to maintain the fire.
      She was aware that she was not alone, curled like a kicked puppy in the corner, her long, coltish legs drawn up to her chest and arms wrapped around her shins. There was the monster at the anvil, beating the spirit of the metal out of it as he bent raw elements to his will. He bellowed at the apprentince boy, one tenth his size and no more than ten years of age, and raged at the metal to assert himself as its master. There was another like her, though despite her keen vision she could not see very well through the dim, smoky, cavern, and she did know who it might be.
      Vaguely, in the farthest reaches of her half-dead mind, she recalled a handsome woman with hair like a hearthfire, all golden orange and gleaming in candlelight, who had held her to breast and stroked her own hair to comfort her. Those days were gone, why and how, she was not sure. With dim recognition she found herself fingercombing her own filthy mane of firegold locks, so dingy and caked with grime as to be more gray-black than orange-yellow.
      “Brat!” The monsterman at the forge growled. When the other did not stir and she felt the burning cold of the monster’s black eyes upon her. She leapt to her feet and nearly spilled to the floor again, weak from hunger and faint with exhaustion. Timidly she half-crawled half-walked, her fingers brushing the ash laden floor to ensure that she did not tumble forward, toward the massive iron anvil. He barked something in some rough tongue and the apprentice, who was nearly as anxious in the monsterman’s presence as she, stepped forward and braced himself, taking hold of her. Immediately, she was overcome with terror and though she had no idea what was coming, her arms flailed and she kicked for all her young body was worth.
      The monsterman spat a curse and threw his tools down furiously. In an instant he was upon her, her nostrils filled with the thick, rank stench of man sweat, sulfur, and whatever half-rotten meal he’d eaten that day. His hands were enormous, each as large as her head, and when those iron-hard fingers closed around her thin arms, she was sure that he would kill her. He would shatter her bones in his bare grip and then dash her skull against the wall and let the red and grey bits slip down until they made a splut on the rough stone floor.
      He slammed his fist into her chin, snapping her head back on her and then tossed her, barely conscious with a mouthful of blood, to the floor. She was crushed beneath the thick, filthy sole of his boot, her cheek mashed to the stone, his heel digging into her spine so hard she was sure it would snap. And then he was howling at the apprentice boy, who returned to thrust a tool into the burning mouth of the Forge. Her tears and screams fell upon deaf ears as the monsterman yelled impatiently and the apprentice cowered, whimpering.
      From the corner of her eye she caught sight of the other like her, a vicious scar marring a proud, handsome face. One elongated elven ear was cruelly sliced from its head and the left eye had been put-out by the same blade that left its mark across its face. There was a glimmer of recognition as one fine curl of glimmering firegold slipped down, hanging limply before the terrified hazel eyes. Mother! And the memories flooded her being in that single moment. Home, safety, warmth, love. The stern gaze of her father as he showed her how to hold a wooden sword and the comforting embrace he gave when she skinned a knee in her feverish climbing of trees. The handsome face that was all things to a child, a mother’s smile and tender ministrations. She knew only a heartbeat of anguish as she saw what the butchers had done to ravage her mother’s face, and recalled in the blink of an eye the chaotic destruction the Raiders had brought upon the tiny village in the trees. Young eyes had seen her father gutted like a pig for the spit, her elder sister raped and then her throat slit and her dead body abused still further. She had watched them dash her infant brother’s brains against the Heartwood, the clan’s sacred tree.
      But in the next moment her young body was lanced through with agony. The scent of burning flesh pushed past the monsterman’s foul odor to filled her head. Her vision burst into a field of white, as hot and searing as the branding iron he ground into her shoulder. The pain was such that she could not even cry out, that the tears dried in her eyes and her struggling went still.
      Only after the monsterman yanked the iron away, leaving a hideous, red mark in her flesh, did blessed oblivion finally take her.
      When she awoke, there was no memory left in her head of the tender home she had once known, nor the brutal destruction of it. The loving visage of parents and siblings was torn from her mind by the excruciating heat of the branding iron and whatever hope may have bubbled forth from one so young was smashed beneath the weight of the thick iron slave’s collar that coiled around her neck when she awoke.
      They had stolen everything from her; home, family, freedom. The girl had nothing to cling to in the steaming, fetid hell they had thrust her into… Nothing except for the name given to her at birth.
      Calithiewren.
- – – – – – – – – – -
      And that’s it for today’s snippet. What did you think? Comments, questions, suggestions appreciated – let me hear about it below!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Snippet Sunday: Memory Lane

      Today’s excerpt comes from a series of short stories I wrote some time ago as a ‘character sketch’. Jazira, an orphaned half-elf assassin, was ‘adopted’ as child labor by a caravan-driver, trained in combat by the mercenaries the merchant paid to guard him, and eventually fulfilled her genetic destiny by becoming a talented assassin (just like her father and his line). Then, emerging from the Underdark to ply her trade in a frontier town, she met a barrister/sorceress called Sissy. Her life was never the same.
      Here, after a tumultuous few years that saw them fighting for their lives against unknowable evil, confronting their inner demons and terrible pasts to become better people, and bearing a pair of children through magical means, is the final chapter I wrote from her POV.
      (Postscript: Yes, I know its almost painfully choppy, but first person is not my forté and this is a rough, unedited first draft.)

- – – – – – – – – – -
      I do not often return to Waldontown anymore, and never alone. We have everything we need in the house Sissy created; it is an insulated little world. It is never dull, with the antics of two growing children, but sometimes I wonder if it is enough. She would worry that I did not love her anymore, if she knew my doubts, so I keep them to myself. Still, as I walk through the heavy wooden gates, I think perhaps we should talk. The children are nearly four and old enough to be left alone with Betty. Xas, I tell myself, nodding to a familiar Rider, I will speak with her. We are not too old for adventure yet…
      The day is clear and bright, though snow falls sporadically, and I am surprised to see such bustle on the streets. The town has been so quiet in recent years but now, it teems with merchants and children and adventurers and, as one would expect, even more Riders. I wander aimlessly, drifting in and out of the shops. I feel alive, with this humming throng of humanity around me.
      I weave in and out of the small crowd of people who are trying to enter Sutter’s wagon and heave a sigh, straightening my tunic. A man approaches me and I offer him greeting. He introduces himself as Gamaliel and he seems friendly enough. Several moments later he is joined by a scarred elven man whom he calls Ruinathil.
      The conversation flows quickly, the talk of dueling techniques and Gamaliel’s training. Ruinathil is his instructor and moves with the purposeful grace of an experienced fighter. I am challenged to a friendly duel and my blood sings; there is an excitement that I cannot place. I have not used my blade in a true test of skill for years and I smile at the men, leading them North and out of town for Usst would have my head for dinner if I broke the laws of Waldontown and drew weapon within its walls.
      I caress the hilt of my blade, which even now hangs at my waist, tenderly as it were her delicate flesh. My steps are lighter than they have been in ages and as we prepare for battle I feel my heart racing in my chest. Playful banter spills from my lips and I maintain a cool exterior but inwardly, I am trembling. Will my sword arm be quick after so many years of disuse? Can I still move as agilely as I once did? Will Usst strike me dead if I return with so much as a scratch?
      The teacher threatens to disown his pupil if he loses the duel, but there is a wink to his eyes which, despite his ferocious appearance, twinkle with humor. I will begin the fight, and I lift my blade, twisting to the side and striking Gamaliel with more force than intended. The battle will end quickly, I know it immediately. With a grunt, I send him sprawling on his back in the snowy grass.
      He has skill, of this there is no doubt, but I have bested him and my confidence soars. Before his pupil has even caught his breath, the master has drawn his weapon and asked politely if he may have a chance at me. With a smile that I am certain must have appeared somewhat devious, I accept.
      The master has scored me, and I catch myself lamenting the scratch for a moment before I lunge at him again. In moments, he too is on his back and yields to my blade. It has been too long, I tell myself, sheathing my rapier, it has been far too long.
      Some hours of conversation and a tankard of ale later, I leave the Drunken Goose troubled and head for home. He, the man called Gamaliel, has expressed my feelings without knowing it. I do love my family more than I love life, and would give mine for them. Still, I know that I long for the old days.
      Heaving a sigh, I rub my sore shoulder. The wound has closed but it still painful and I shake my head, wondering what Sissy will say when she finds that I have been fighting. A slow smile spreads across my lips. No matter the fight that ensues, it will be followed by passionate making up and when her desire leaves scratches upon my flesh – those marks I will not rue.
- – – – – – – – – – -
      And that’s it for today’s snippet. What did you think? Should I bother working on my first person voice? I’ve never done much using that POV, but it certainly has its uses. I miss Sissy & Jazira, the sorceress and the assassin. Once upon a time, I intended to write a novel about them with Jack. It isn’t even on the ‘back burner’ anymore. At least… For now. Comments, questions, suggestions appreciated – let me hear about it below!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Snippet Sunday: Satiating the Appetites

      Welcome to Snippet Sunday on PP.net! Today’s excerpt comes from the project alternately referred to as Rudabet and Queendom, neither of which are titles so much as identifiers. Anyhoo – this is from a chapter deep into Part One featuring one my favorite characters, Abeterus. He’s a naughty man. There are adult themes in the following snippet. Consider yourself warned.
- – – – – – – – – – -
      A pair of exquisite young women, one with brilliant red hair and a second with hair as dark as jet, busied themselves at his table, setting out a feast for his supper. The delectable scents of roast duck and spicy tomato bisque wafted across the table to him and he sighed in pleasure.
      A fruitful day had given way to what he hoped would be a fruitful night. There was food enough for two or three; fresh, dark bread with herbed butter, a wedge of horrible-smelling but delicious soft cheese, a mix of roasted winter vegetables, cubed and salted, the piping hot soup and of course, the duck. Abeterus was tempted to call the red-head back, to connect the freckles upon her flesh with his tongue and to spend himself, tangled in that vivid mane. He refrained and instead, dug into the food with relish.
      He had been called to a war council at noon and been privy to all manner of preparations for the coming attack upon Baidra. Despite his status, General Abeterus had remained mostly silent during the long discussion. He had endured tedious objections from old, done men who lacked the spine to return to the battlefield; worse than them were the young men who should have been eager to grab glory but instead, whined about leaving their wives’ beds or the distance or the weather. Who waged a war in Winter, anyway, they had cried, bleating like sheep, the Campaign could wait until Spring or Summer. To his surprise, the Emperor had been most insistant that they conquer Baidra as soon as possible. He had mentioned the possibility of naming his bastard son, Iaokobas, as a governor once the island belong to the Empire. No one objected, least of all Abeterus who had suggested the idea to Lelivia, but from the expressions upon some of the other generals, not all of them appreciated the idea. After the debacle that Laravor’s eldest bastard had caused a decade ago, the thought of any of the Emperor’s bastards with any sort of power was worrisome.
      Arescovar was dead now, but he was only first of seven known bastards. Oriola, the simpering, spineless beauty, had been the second born and was her father’s spitting image. Lelivia had kept the girl close when she was young, but married her off as soon as she flowered. Iaokobas was mere months older than Laravor’s eldest legitimate son, and seemed a decent sort, but he had only been granted short visits at court by his sickly, over-protective mother. There was another girl after Iaokobas, Giaoxa, who was black-eyed and comely, but she and Alektos had been caught in a compromising position two years ago, and she had been married off immediately. Abeterus was not convinced that Giaoxa’s toddler, Fuarius, was sired by her sudden husband and not by her half-brother, but he supposed it mattered little. Neither Giaoxa, nor her son, would ever sit the Imperial throne.
      A fourth bastard was called Palinos, and was Giaoxa’s full sibling. He was a handsome youth, but callow. Fifth was another girl, too young to marry, and last, a young boy whose mother had given him the preposterously presumptuous name of Laravon, as if he were a legitimate child who deserved the familial moniker.
      Abeterus chewed thoughtfully on a greasy mouthful of duck, wiping a dribble from his chin, and concluded that his plans were in motion and for all intents and purposes, managing quite well. His eyes flickered toward the door. Soon, Laravor would be abroad again with a long, perilous campaign ahead of him. There would be no lack of opportunities for an assassin’s blade to find his back, for a drop of poison in his wine, to smother him with one of the fine, silk-covered pillows on his featherbed. For one blissful moment, Abeterus imagined he were the one holding that downy violet pillow, the fringe spilling through his fingers as he gripped it in fists gone white from the exertion. Then he took another bite of his supper and sat back in his chair, licking his fingertips.
      He would have to resign himself to allowing a cat’s paw to relish the actual deed, instead spending the next twenty years of his life ravishing the Emperor’s beautiful blonde widow. It was a worthwhile trade-off.
      With a frown, Abeterus cast a gaze at the window and watched the setting sun linger in the western sky. It was getting late and his expected guest was increasingly tardy. Suddenly the dinner he had so eagerly devoured turned to a brick in his belly and Abeterus pushed his chair away from the table. What could be the delay? Had they been discovered? Was the conspiracy over before it even began?
      A soft knock sounded on the door and the General motioned for the meek little slave boy to open the door. A tall figure stepped through the door, enveloped by a plain brown cloak of roughspun. Abeterus took immediate note of the silver-shot leather boots and loose-fitting red silk trousers peeking out from beneath the cape and shook his head.
      “You’ve a lot to learn, boy.”
- – – – – – – – – – -
      Whew! Who has a lot to learn? A co-conspirator is about to be revealed! I’m actually very excited to get back to work on this piece. The full outline is complete and more than half of the first draft is done as well. So, what do you think? Comments, questions, suggestions, requests? Let me hear it below!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.