November is a quiet month, unless of course winter storms visit us. But even the holiday it is best known for, namely, Thanksgiving, can be a rather introspective one. This year as always, I've much to be thankful for, including my fellow Quills who join me today for our topic: "Picture This!" Our goal is to provide you with pictures of people, places or things from our stories. (Be sure to clink on the link at the end of the posts for each of Parker and Robin so as to get the rest of their stories!)
I think we'd do well to hear from P.S. Broaddus first this time around. Well, Parker, what do you have for us from A Hero's Curse?
There are several images and fan art pieces that I really enjoy and that even inspire the way I write. Many deal with Essie Brightsday herself, the central character of both A Hero's Curse and Nightrage Rising. Essie Brightsday is a 12-year old blind girl who has a certain amount of gumption, but still wrestles to find her place in the world. The way artists and illustrators have rendered Essie is both interesting and inspiring.
Interesting, as each image reveals something new about both the artist and the character, and inspiring in that I get to discover new aspects to a character I created.
I'm anxious to hear what Robin Lythgoe, author of As the Crow Flies, has. Aren't you? Take it away, Robin!
I have a huuuuge collection of images. I will never run out of inspiration from that quarter! I write primarily fantasy, but that doesn't stop me from seeing a science fiction style image and diving off the cliff of "What If..." That happened recently with the short story "Sixes" that I wrote for the Quills' flash fiction challenge.
In my story, Elran's Journey, the main character is the younger son of highly regarded and respected members of the Peerage. In the eyes of society he has everything any boy could or should want.
Finally, I've been busy scrounging around, looking for pictures that will show you things that I had in mind while writing. So, here we go!
It’s interesting how vivid are the pictures in my mind of things I write about, yet how terribly difficult it is to find photographs of those people, places and things, to show others.
Readers of Oathtaker know that early on, the twins, Reigna (derived from the word, “reign”) and Eden, are born. For me, this picture shows a bit of what I had in mind. Of course, one of these infants looks a little more like a boy, and it is true that these infants have the wrong hair color (given that Reigna and Eden as young adults, have copper colored hair). Still, I chose this photo for the overall feeling that it evokes through the following text from the tale:
This was indeed a miracle. No Select had ever before born twins—not one, not ever.
“Easy, Rowena, you can do this.” Half giddy, Mara fought to hold down her grin.
A tear rolled down Rowena’s face as another contraction took hold.
“Almost there,” Mara encouraged. “Almost there.”
After a couple minutes, a final contraction gripped the woman. When it released, the Oathtaker held up another child. She tied off the cord and cut it. Once again she felt a tingling sensation, then the infant’s heavenly scent momentarily overtook her. Although this child looked identical to her sister, her fragrance, a combination of bergamot, jasmine, and orange, with hints of warm musk, differed. Like her sister, the infant took in a gulp of air, but she did not cry.
In danger but with Dixon’s assistance, Mara sets off with the infant twins, seeking a place of refuge. Before long, they come upon the home of Drake and Maggie. Here is what I described that they saw:
The small thatched cottage showed signs of wear. It leaned slightly to one side as though it had grown weary of holding its own weight and rested on one hip. Planters at its windows sported scented violas, while a large flowerpot at the steps provided an assortment of herbs at the ready for kitchen use. The citrusy scent of lemon thyme, the clean smell of lavender, the earthy scent of oregano, the freshness of mint, and the piney aroma of rosemary, filled the air.
I admit that the thatching appears to be missing from the cabin in the photo here. Still and all, this place feels "right” to me. What do you think? Does it work for you?
It's official: autumn has arrived! With it, we Quills will try a new venture: FLASH FICTION. If you're new to the concept, it's quite simple, really. Flash fiction covers a variety of works that are extremely short. Consider the following descriptions (lifted straight from Wikipedia):
To add to the fun, we Quills chose a single picture for inspiration, and here it is!
The pic, entitled Long Walk, it is the creation of Jonathan Bach.
I admit that I rebelled a bit over our selected motivational picture . . . It just . . . didn't speak to me. But then, finally, one thought came to mind. Just one, mind you. So I decided I'd go with it. You'll soon see what I came up with . . .
While I'm anxious to hear what you think of my take, for now, Robin Lythgoe, author of As the Crow Flies, is up first!
The mages—along with the history books and a dozen or so scouts—had professed their absolute certainty that the Shader Needles no longer held any power.
Either they lied, or the maggots had figured a way to put them back in operation. Cleaved nearly in half, my flitter wrapped around the base of one pitch black, sword-like spire. Shock chased after shock. First, came the shattering of the sky like a thousand shards of lightning. Struck, I hustled earthward, out of control. Glass jangled and metal shrieked. Unimaginable pressure and the sensation of tearing preceded the remainder of my flight—without the benefit of the flitter. I met the sand with ferocious force. Finally, and most astounding of all, came the realization that I still drew breath. Each inhalation burned like a hot poker, but by all rights, I should be dead.
Sprawled in the needle's dubious shade, I processed the fact that I'd been thrown clear before my little flying machine slid down the length of the spire to smash to splinters against the ground. If I died, who would stop the poison spreading from the decaying city?
Next is P.S. Broaddus, author of A Hero's Curse. Accustomed to Parker's ready wit, I'm expecting a laugh or two. Or maybe things will go another way entirely. Hmmm. Well, let's find out . . .
The Prophet and the Assassin
Landships are usually a safe way to travel the dunes. Unless it's a "clanker," built from parts of the old combustible engines. They can't go high enough to escape the desert sands that come out of the south like a solid wall of death. But it wasn't the time of year for storms.
I've dreamed of starting over. I've dreamed of a fresh slate. It's a myth. You can't start over. The memories remain. The command remains.
There is no fresh slate for the living.
Finally, here's my flash fiction story.
Her Golden Hair
I had no choice. I had to leave her behind. Still, the ugly hands of guilt and grief, like the twin jaws of a vise, squeezed my heart.
I couldn’t count the times she’d saved me. I could only hope I’d prove as faithful. She deserved that . . . and so much more.
How could I have been so reckless? I’d heard the rumors of pirates having invaded the area—and all from highly reputable sources, no less. Still I’d insisted on doing things my way. I alone was responsible for my foolhardy pride, my selfish desire to be the first to arrive, my rash behavior.
The vise crimped tighter.
It wasn’t like time was so short that taking the shortcut to Aeiron had been necessary. How could I? I’d had no right to risk her safety along with my own. I’d had no right to act so heedlessly.
The vise pinched tighter still.
Shame motivating me, I marched through the barren landscape, hoping the obelisk-like figures dotting the way ahead led to civilization—to help. I vowed not to stray from them. I’d need to find my way back, even after my tracks disappeared, the consequence of mist-like swirls of sand that billowed in the air all around. Tiny granules of it coated my throat and clogged my airways. My warrior training would be of no value here, as no weapon forged of steel could defend against such an insidious enemy. I coughed, then took a swallow of water from my canteen, wishing I could rid my conscience of the responsibility of what I’d done as easily as I could clear my throat of sand.
Try though I might, I couldn’t get the picture of her—of her golden hair, nor the last sound I’d heard her make, out of my mind.
After the pirates had forced our crash, she’d only been conscious for a few short minutes. Trapped and with a metal shard protruding out from between her shoulder and neck, I’d laid my head next to hers. Willing her to be strong, my hands cradled her neck. Within seconds, her blood covered them—and likely would remain there forever—in my imagination at any rate. Her eyes, mahogany pools, bore into mine as she silently pled for help. I stroked behind her ears, touched her wet nose with mine and patted her head. With that, my faithful canine companion whimpered before losing consciousness.