Monthly Archives: November 2013

Deleted Scene

For this post, I thought I’d offer up a scene from “Catch a Wolf” that I really liked writing, but decided it really wasn’t right for the book or Ly’Tana. So I rewrote the scene into what was published, making Ly’Tana murderously angry but not totally out of her mind. As I like to save stuff that I delete, because I can look at it later and if it didn’t work for this book or character, I might use it in another. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it!

I killed wantonly, like a lover reaching to kiss her suitors. Any man within reach of my blades felt their deadly and bloody kiss. My blades reached for throats and eyes and arms and faces, kissing each and every one. I laughed as I kissed, screamed laughter, bathing in the blood that fountained with every lover’s embrace. My heart, shattered with Kel’Ratan’s death, ceased its wail and grew numb and silent at last.

My suitors awaited me. I saw them, clustered together in a dark knot, watching me while others tended to those I had already kissed. For they were all my suitors, come to beg my hand in marriage. Our marriage born of blood and death.

If Wolf was Death’s angel, I was Death’s hand-maiden. I am come, my lovers, I called. Wait for me. Soon we shall embrace, and dance the dance of death.

They bunched together, much like frightened sheep before the onslaught of the storm. They beckoned to me, my beloved lovers, all of them. Their voices called to me, their arms opened wide to receive me. Hurry, their voices called.

I became one with Mikk, melded into a single creature, neither woman nor stallion, but a fantasy mixture of both. Our minds became one, our souls touched, merged, rebirthed into a new spirit. I saw with his eyes, he saw through mine. My hearing rose to new heights; I heard the breath hissing from the lungs of our suitors, tasted their fear. Our hearts beat as one. Time slowed to a crawl, then ceased altogether. Greater than the centaurs of old, we are a species created for one purpose: to kill.

Our beloved Brutal. We marked him for our kiss. Our betrothed, now awakened, watched us, half woman, half prancing, snorting stallion, fear bright in his fevered eyes. Why do you back away, my lovesome lord? Come, and I will kiss you, my betrothed –

Voices from behind us intruded, rather rudely, upon our communion with our suitors. Harsh voices that grated upon our sensitive hearing. We twitched our ears in annoyance, our tail lashed from side to side. Go away, you crude voices, we thought, how dare you intrude upon my communion with my lovers. Leave me alone to my marriage of blood and death.

For indeed we loved our suitors, each and every one of them. Why do you back away from me? I am Death’s hand maiden and I want to kiss you. Come closer, my sweet lovers, come to me. Stop. Do not flee. Betrothed, why do you cringe from me?

Our suitors fell back, their mouths opened in panic, swords falling from nerveless hands. Come hither, my loves, we called, our swords singing a sweet siren song. I love you. Come and dance the dance with me.

Damn that horrid voice. We heard it, a strong, compelling voice, far to our rear. Our tail lashed again in annoyance.

We were alive to the night, alive to the swords singing in our hands, alive to the fear of our suitors. We craved hot, fresh blood. We wanted to bathe in it, smell its sweet, coppery scent, taste it on my lips. Our lovers, our beloved suitors will kiss us, and we will drink their blood –

Another voice spoke, its hard texture making our ears, melded to the sweet song of our blades, cringe as our beloved suitors now cringed.

Suddenly, our beloved arose. He beckoned to us, calling our name. The skin over his face, blind with panic yet unable to resist our divine, seductive beauty, waxed pale. Yet, he closed the distance with unsteady, tottering steps. Our lovers also rose from their knees, their arms wide, begging us, craving us, ready to receive our kiss. They staggered in the wake of our beloved, hands empty, throats bared, begging for our kiss.

I am come, my lovelies. I am here. Death’s Hand Maiden has arrived.

We pranced closer. Within moments, we would be one with them, sharing our kiss among them all. Their blood would be ours, our wedding present. Our gift to them was our sweet kiss, our singing swords, our vengeance. Their gift to us was their sweet oblivion.

Our beloved betrothed shook his head like a hound shaking water from its fur. His hands went to his face in a desperate move to free himself from our spell. Ah, don’t, my love, I called silently. You want me. I know you want me. You know you want me.

He pointed a long pale finger in our direction –

“Shoot her, you fools!” he roared. “Shoot her now!”

Something in me snapped, jolting me from the union with the proud and deadly creature beneath me. My lovers, my beloved suitors staggered to their feet. My prancing stallion ceased his dance, swinging to face my lovers. My swords halted in their song –

“Do something!”

Crossbow bolts twanged through the air toward me, their shrill whistles harsh next to the sweet song of my swords. I waited to meet their rush, for my lovers’ love to strike me, to carry me to them for the last dance.

The sound of crossbow bolts shattering brought me to myself. A jolt, much like a sharp slap, hit me in the ribs. I caught my breath in a deep inhale, clearing some of the fog from my brain.

Sanity returned with a rush.

Shattered yew wood and sharp steel arrow points dropped harmlessly to the stone cobble in a clatter. I stared at them in a daze, remembering dimly the desire to dance with the troopers, now too dangerously close for my safety. What was I thinking? Why for the love of the Lady would I love my enemies and want to kiss them?

Confused, I looked about me, remembering the swords singing in my hands. I still wanted Brutal’s blood dripping from my blades, but the previous love-lust was gone. Mikk stood patiently, yet tense, under me, his neck still arched, waiting for my signal to charge. Yet the oneness I felt with him had disappeared as well. I could recall it only through a vague feeling from deep within me, but I failed to wrap my mind around the concept.

Brutal nearly danced in his fury. A magical shield that protected himself and his soldiers now protected me. He kicked the limp body of Ja’Teel lying at his feet sharply in the ribs several times in rapid succession, venting his fury on his hapless wizard.

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Interview with the Princess

Here’s a fun interview with my heroine, Princess Ly’Tana of Kel’Halla:

 

“What did you say this is for?” she asked me.
 
I bowed low. “It’s a brief interview, Your Highness,” I replied. “My master in Soudan pens essays regarding the royal family, and the aristocracy. No few wealthy merchants pay him handsomely for copies. It keeps them informed of potential opportunities to gain entrance in to Khalid’s markets.”
 
She watched me with suspicion, her fingers toying with an arrow from her quiver. Brilliant green eyes that angled upward at the corners narrowed slightly. A big cream-colored stallion, no controlling hand on his reins, sniffed me from the top of my head to my boots, then blew my hat off in a sharp snort. Ignoring me, it finally lowered its head and grazed.
 
Princess Ly’Tana came to a decision. “Very well,” she said, settling her tiny skirt under her as she sat down upon a granite boulder. The arrow vanished into her quiver. In the distance, her warrior folk set up small tents and a busy camp. One extremely large fellow with shaggy black hair about his shoulders stood long, watching us, his shadow falling behind him with the close setting of the sun. I hoped he stayed there. He had a ferocious look about him.
 
“What do you want to know?” the Princess asked.
 
I cleared my throat. “Er, royal watchers say you ended your betrothal to His Royal Highness Crown Prince Broughton. Is this true?”
 
“Of course,” she snapped, fair lips thinning in annoyance. “He’s an evil snake who murdered an innocent horse. As well as hundreds of people.”
 
“But, Your Highness. He’s to be crowned High King.”
 
She sniffed, waving her fingers arily. “And I’ll be Queen of Kel’Halla. That’s all Brutal wants – my country. That’s why he wants my hand in marriage.”
 
“Er – Brutal?”
 
“For goddess sake, boy.” Princess Ly’Tana leaned her elbows on her knees to lean forward. “You know why he’s called ‘Brutal’.”
 
“So the rumors are true then?”
 
“Yes, indeed. Your next High King is a monster who should be hung by his ankles in chains.”
 
“May I quote Your Highness?”
 
Princess Ly’Tana suddenly giggled. “Sure. Whyever not?”
 
“Does Your Highness have a new love interest somewhere?”
 
She turned to glance over her bare shoulder, her lengths of red-gold hair sweeping across her lovely face. A swift finger tossed it from her eyes as she watched the big, ferocious fellow. “Indeed, I do,” she replied softly.
 
“Isn’t that The Bloody Wolf, Your Highness?”
 
Ly’Tana smiled as she turned back to me. Her fingers trailed across the griffin-hilt of her sword. “Some call him that.”
 
“An escaped gladiator?”
 
“Perhaps.”
 
“Again, may I use that in a quote?”
 
“Of course.”
 
“Might one ask your future plans, Your Highness? May I inquire? Our readers will pay much for the information.”
 
“Certainly,” she replied sweetly.
 
That sword slid so quickly into her hand I blinked in dismay. It pointed straight at me. I gulped. And sweated.
 
“I tell you my plans, you tell your master and your master tells Brutal.” Ly’Tana slowly stood, the point of her sword tilting my head back. I swallowed hard.
 
“Maybe I’ll tell you,” she mused. “But then I’ll have to kill you.”
 
“Then who will tell your side, Your Highness?”
 
She laughed. “You are a treat, dear boy. Maybe I can find a use for you, after all.”
 
As quickly as it appeared, the deadly blade slid back into it sheath. I breathed a quick sigh of relief.
 
“This is my story and I’m sticking to it,” she said. “I hate Brutal and I love The Wolf. Not even my father will keep us apart. Spread that word to your merchants. Inform the public that their High King will die upon my sword should he continue in his pursuit of my hand. Are your merchants wagering men?”
 
“Some are, Your Highness.”
 
She glanced back over her shoulder, smiling gently. “Tell them to lay their bets. Inform them there will only be one winner.”
 
“And who will that be?”
 
She grinned, her small teeth glinting in the late sunlight.
 
“The Bloody Wolf.”
 
“Your Highness, just how did you come by this information?”
 
Her grin widened. “I’ve seen it foretold.”
 
“How so, Your Highness?”
 
“In a wolf’s eyes.”
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Season’s Change

Ahhh! It’s finally cooled off down here in South Texas. As acclimated as I am to the high heat and higher humidity of the San Antonio summer, I get cold easily. But it feels soooo good. Back home in Colorado, when the temperatures reached the 60s, that’s t-shirt weather. Here, we break out the jackets and sweat shirts. In the forties we blanket the horses, the thirties we talk about for months. Should it even drop into the twenties? Lord have mercy! We’ll never survive the winter.
Yet, right now with the temps dropping at night (we can at last turn off the a/c), and the days still in the seventies and eighties, this is perfect. Fall is my favorite time of year. Summer’s heat is a memory. The leaves change color – er, ah – in places other than this, that is. Thunderstorms light the night skies. I see more of the possum that eats the cat food off my porch. Beyond all that, this is perfect riding weather. Saddle a horse, go for a ride with a friend or two. The horses are happy they aren’t sweating buckets and we don’t have to bathe them after. Back home, we’d ride through the National Forest and admired the aspen turning gold. Tourists come from all over to see the aspen turning. A Colorado native, I frankly found that boring. Aspen turn only one color. I must admit, however, clumps of gold amid the dark green pines are quite lovely. Riding my horse across the Colorado Rockies in a beautiful Colorado autumn – there’s nothing like it anywhere.
With or without a horseback ride first, there’s nothing like a chilly fall evening, a bonfire and beer with friends. I love to huddle in my jacket and stick my feet as close as possible to the flames. Naturally, I get ripped by my friends when my shoes start to smoke, but what the hey – its all in fun. (No, my shoes, don’t actually catch fire.) We spend hours talking, laughing, arguing, telling stories and giving one another loads of shit. My friend Coy and I never fail to bring up the horseback ride that ended with his horse rearing, Coy rolling off and breaking his collarbone. Yes, it was his fault, not the horse’s. I regale our audience how angry I was when he wouldn’t let me take him to the hospital, call his wife or drive him home. Nor will he fail to address the fact that he smoked a cigarette and laughed at my fury, despite his pain. I’m sure this tale will come up yet again this Saturday night at our planned beer and fire party. We have a new audience, you see.
Cats are creatures of comfort, as cat owners all know. My cats haven’t really said whether they like cooler weather or not. They still do their normal cat activities: stalk, lick their butts, eat, sleep, crap in the litter box, sleep, eat, sleep, lick their butts, sleep, eat and then stalk something. But when I lay under a blanket on the couch with my wine to hand and a good action movie on the box, I attract all sorts of attention. A minimum of two cats unerringly find their way onto my stomach, lap and legs. As I’m not very tall, there’s not much room for more than three – that’s my max limit on cats using me as their bed warmer. There they knead the blanket, scratch me with their claws and purr before finally curling up to lick their butts and nap. Others will hang about, and look at me longingly. I love it. Now someone needs to invent a very tall, self-chilling glass for us wine/cat/cold lovers. No sooner than the cats get to sleep when I need to pause my movie and get up to get more wine. Then we start the procedure all over again.
Hmmm. Maybe I need to invent a tall, self-chilling wine glass for all wine/cat/cold lovers.
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The Reason Why

Why do I write from the point of views of two different characters, and in first person narrative? That seems to be the questions many folks want answered. So I’ll do my best to answer them in this blog post.

Why first person? To tell the honest truth: I’m good at it. Yes, I have tried writing in the third person – even started an earlier version of “In a Wolf’s Eyes” in the third person narrative. It sucked rocks, big time. I wish I still had a copy of that attempt, but I think it vanished into the dark depths of a long-dead computer. Not long ago, I began a fantasy short story in third person. I haven’t finished it, go figure. I find writing in the third person awkward. I can’t seem to get into my characters heads. My descriptions are off kilter. I can’t get the same flavor I do when I write from the first person. Maybe I just need practice, you know? Keep trying to write in the third person, and perhaps I’ll get better at it. Who knows? I might just conquer the beast, yet.

So why from the points of view from two characters? Well, when I began “In a Wolf’s Eyes” I hadn’t read any novels written like that. I’m sure they are out there, but I hadn’t come across any. I thought perhaps that style might set me apart from other writers. In addition, all will agree that first person narrative is restrictive, yes? So from the differing perspectives of the hero and the heroine, I can get inside two heads, two points of view and speak with two different voices. I think (and many readers agree), what I’ve done has worked quite well. I told the story from two sides, bounce back and forth from chapter to chapter, and each character reveals something about the other. They win, I win and my readers win. Is that a win-win-win situation? (right, repetitive word on ‘win’ – gotcha).

Best of all – I haven’t deserted my comfort zone! At least until I venture once again into the dense jungles of the third person narrative. Ugh.

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