Flash Fiction Challenge: Twisted Love

This past week’s flash fiction challenge from Sir Wendig was a Valentine’s Day themed one called Twisted Love. It does what it says on the box, and any genre was welcome. So I knew I needed to write about a character from my historical fiction novel. She’s one of the antagonists (sort of) and this is the only bit of writing I’ve done from her point of view. As an aside, I really recommend writing snippets from another character’s point of view which will not be in the final novel. Writing this little piece (which ties in closely to a very pivotal scene in the book) really clarified and expanded some things, and helped me understand the motivations of one of the supporting characters. That greater understanding then helps to inform my writing when I’m working with her in a scene. Which in turn gives her and the scene greater depth and reality. So as much as I generally just enjoy writing for the Flash Fiction Challenges, this one also helped me with my main WIP, which makes it even more valuable. 

Here it is: Twisted Love
~~~~

She crouched behind the small decorative pyramid attached to a House of the Ka, her fists clenched and her stomach  roiling with a mixture of desire and hatred. Her onyx-hard eyes followed the two people walking hand-in-hand among the monuments for the dead. They always slipped away together to come here. She always swore she would no longer follow them, but somehow, time after time she found herself in this same place where they came to be alone. She had never yet been able to watch them once they were truly alone, but she could picture it. His hands would caress the girl’s soft brown skin, his lips explore her sensitive spots, breath tickling and warming, hearts beating together as he tasted her on his tongue.

Henutmire shook her head to rid herself of the painfully arousing images, whimpering softly in her throat. It should be me.  The thought was seductive, no matter how often she told herself it was impossible. She peeked around the corner. The couple had disappeared into one of the chapels nearby. She ought to creep away. She had no business here. Her love was not returned, and there was nothing she could do here except make herself miserable. Yet still she stayed, knees bent painfully and back prickled with sweat from the glory of the Sun-Boat.

She would go. This was madness, beneath her to stay here in discomfort hoping for some scrap of sound or glimpse of flesh to feed her lovesick imagination. She had too much pride to hang on anyone’s shadow like this. Her father was rich, a Foreman of the Gang, and she herself was destined for Training to Serve the Golden Goddess. Who were they? Nobodies. Just kids, playing at love. Hapiwer’s grandfather might be rich, but he himself was nothing. And Meretseger was the daughter of a faithless whore. She was less than nothing.

Henutmire rose and turned to go back down the hill toward the Village when she saw something that stopped her in her tracks. A man stood near the gate, looking about as if he had lost something. She recognized him immediately as the father of Hapiwer. Mery-Sekhmet, a successful man in his own right, and yet there were all those rumors about him. Rumors about women. Especially about Meretseger’s mother. Henutmire didn’t know their truth, but the sight of his broad figure in its shining white kilt and festival jewelry raised a horridly beguiling thought in her mind. What if Meretseger and Hapiwer were siblings? What if his father discovered them together? Would he tell them? Would they stop sneaking away like this, torturing her, if they knew? What if she told him where his son was, and with whom? No. She couldn’t.

Yes. She would. Before she had time to think, she was down the hill, her feet answering for her heart. She would tell him where his son was, and he would break up their romance. Then Meretseger would be free. Perhaps, in time, Meretseger would find a new love. Perhaps that love would even be Henutmire. She suppressed the swirl of longing that threatened to overwhelm her, concentrating on this first step. She must show Mery-Sekhmet the way. Later, she could set about wooing her beloved. Surely, with Hapiwer out of the picture, she might have a chance.

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The West Wing Recap: S1 Ep1 ‘Pilot’

(Apologies for posting the very first episode 2 days late. This weekend got more than a bit out of hand.)

Here we are with our very first episode! Very excited. So let’s get started. I’m going to post this all below a cut, because it’s so long. Also, there will very likely be spoilers in many of these recaps, so please read at your own risk if for some reason you haven’t watched the show yet. Read the rest of this entry »

Ancient Greek Heroes and French Maidens

Writers can sometimes get inspiration, help, plot points, characterization etc, from the most unlikely places. My novel is set in Ancient Egypt, before the Ancient Greeks were more than a few disorganized tribes of shepherds and before France was even the glimmer of a twinkle in the eye of Europe. But I’ve gotten a little help today from Ancient Greek heroes and from one badass 17th Century French lady.

The first of these, came about during an online course I’m taking (CB22x: The Ancient Greek Hero. It’s free and open to anyone in the world, and I believe you can still sign up. Very cool!). Currently we’re discussing the Iliad, and most specifically a passage about Achilles (Iliad IX: 410-416). It’s one where he talks about his choices, and the stakes for the choice he makes. Which basically boils down to: Go home and die an old man in obscurity, or become the hero of the Iliad and die young and tragically (spoiler alert: he dies young). You wouldn’t think a guy (Homer) dead for thousands of years would have anything to teach the modern scribbler, but he does. Simply put: make sure the stakes are clear to the reader. Also, at some point, the stakes should be clear to the character as well. This is important because ultimately plot is a product of a character’s choice, and an informed choice is more compelling than random chance. An informed choice leads to character development and resolution. Random chance is just something that happens.

So, that’s something I need to make clearer both to myself and to my Main Character: What are her choices, and what are the stakes for each choice?

The second thing was the French Lady, Julie D’Aubigny or La Maupin. I first discovered her here at the Badass of the Week, but you can read more about her here too. La Maupin was this amazing swashbuckling Lady born in 17th Century France. She was taught swordsmanship at an early age and quickly became a Master. She was a bisexual, cross-dressing adventuress, an opera singer, and a clever and wily woman. She’s one of those fascinating characters from the pages of history, and I’m thoroughly disappointed I hadn’t heard of her before.

But one thing she has reminded me is that the women of history are a lot more bad-ass than we are often led to believe by the patriarchal media/education machine of Western (and most other) society. Society would often have us believe that women who stood up and said “screw the system”, who did and said amazing things and led extraordinary lives, and maybe even changed history just a bit, were rare until recently. That the push-back by women against patriarchy is recent, a 20th Century phenomenon. We are led to believe that the rare celebrated woman from history was just that; rare. The occasional extraordinary queen, or saint, or great writer. But that just isn’t true, and La Maupin is just one example of many women who are quietly pushed to the side and forgotten by all but a few dedicated historians.

La Maupin reminded me that Meretseger should finish the book an accomplished and slightly bad-ass lady herself. She can’t begin that way of course, but the point of the story is to show her transition from unformed child to Woman of Destiny. She must be worthy of the story, no matter how common her origins or commonplace her story might seem.

Though I grant you, she probably won’t actually kill anyone, never mind ten men, at the end. Probably.

Author Dilemmas

An author faces many dilemmas in the course of writing a story, of whatever length. Some of them are minor (word choice, sentence structure, etc), though no less important than the major ones. But some are huge and plot-changing. One of the largest is whether or not to kill off a particular character, or simply to maim him a bit, but let him live. Obviously, this can have a significant impact on the plot of the story and development of the other characters.

Usually this dilemma works itself out over the course of the writing, but it may take a few switches back and forth to decide. For instance, a character in my current WIP is the love-interest of my main character, until she discovers he’s actually her brother (yes, I’m pulling a Star Wars, don’t judge). However, I had a fit of peevishness a few weeks ago and wrote a scene involving him being savaged by a hippopotamus. Whether or not he survives the attack is a bit of a dilemma. If he survives, it will entail more scenes of the two reconciling their newly-discovered relationship with each other. But if he dies, it will leave the main character to wrestle with her feelings without his input.

Currently, I’m leaning toward allowing him to live as a cripple for the sake of added character tension and conflict. I may have another fit of pique and change my mind before the end of the first draft. And once the draft is finished, I may change it back and be forced to add him back into the cast during revisions.Right now, it’s still a major dilemma.

To paraphrase Shakespeare: To live, or not to live?

Unruly Characters

No one is as unruly as Bugs and Daffy.

I was recently reminded of this clip on AbsoluteWrite.

I’ve seen that particular Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck skit before, but I had never considered it in the context of being a writer. The relationship between Bugs and Daffy in this Warner Brother’s Short almost perfectly exemplifies the relationship between authors and characters in my experience. The ones who come to life fight back, and good authors are real stinkers to their characters. And sometimes the author can’t make up their mind where or when to place the story until the characters tell them.

My most disobedient and demanding character to date is Zona from Through Brass Goggles. She is probably my second-favorite character because of it. Zona would be first, but my dragon Aurelia is not just a character but almost my muse as well. Who is yours? Are they your favorite?

Currently Reading: Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Blogfest: What’s Your Process?

Check out all the other entries over at Shallee’s Blog!

So the idea is to tell you a little about how I write, the ways I create characters and stories and such. Since I’m a bit of a “pantser” (I write “by the seat of my pants” or without any pre-planning) that’s a little complicated. Every story is different, but I’ll detail some general things.

First, I get the idea. This can come from anything, from a story prompt to a dream. Story prompts rarely inspire my imagination, so I rarely look at them, but once in a while one will spark something for me. I’ve had several rather good ideas from dreams however. I get vivid dreams when I’m in a certain state, where I can almost control the characters and the dream (unlike most) has an internal narrative consistency. It’s kind of cool, but I always wake up before the story is finished so I never know how it ends, and somehow the ending I come up with never quite meshes wholly with the rest of it. I imagine that will get better with practice. Read the rest of this entry »

Character Interview

Daniel Cross, from By the Book.

Sunday I hinted at a surprise for today’s post. I am very pleased to announce that Crossbones, the Daniel Cross Official Fanclub scored an exclusive release-day interview with the aforesaid Daniel. He stars prominently in Scarlett Parrish’s excellent new release, By The Book. An erotic romance with plenty of snark and wit, I highly recommend it as a fast enjoyable read. But mostly you should read it for the Daniel. Hot, intelligent, and brash, he steals the story.

Excitingly, he is here to talk with us today! So without further ado, a transcript of my interview with him. Be warned, Daniel is a thoroughly spicy character, so if you are easily offended, please do not click through. Read the rest of this entry »

Favorite Fictional Characters?

Saw the question in an interview and it made me think.

First, apologies for the recent blog silence. This weekend we celebrated my grandmother’s life with tears, laughter, music and song. Consequently it has been a hectic and family-filled weekend. Now it is over though, and I can now try to catch back up to my Nanowrimo word-count. My characters are feeling a bit neglected. Before I do that however, I thought I’d talk a bit about my favorite fictional characters from other writers. It felt appropriate to Grandma’s memory, since she was such an amazing character herself.

Who are my favorite fiction characters? Read the rest of this entry »

Exciting Times

They’re not always either good or bad.

The last several days have been a bit busy and exciting. First, my baby sister (Who has started a poetry blog which you should definitely check out. She has some talent, though she doesn’t have much up yet.) turned 18. This is pretty big for me. She always has been and always will be my baby sister, but she’s really not a baby anymore. Also, I think this means I’m officially old. Once the baby whose diapers you changed becomes officially an adult, I think you get to feel old. Read the rest of this entry »

“Soulless”

Finally read it!!

Today is Holloween, All Hollow’s Eve, or Samhain depending on your traditions. It is also the last day before the mighty plunge into NaNoWriMo. I racked my brain to figure out what an appropriate topic for today would be, considering that I neither read nor write horror if I can help it. Then it came to me. I ought to talk about Soulless! It’s about Vampires and Werewolves and other suitably Holloweenish creatures, so it makes perfect sense to gush about it today! Read the rest of this entry »

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