Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Moon-Burn, Chapter One: Part III

After nearly two hours, Elliot was still making grunting noises with every other step.  He was really laying it on thick.
“Would you cut that out?  You were fully healed over an hour ago,” I said.
He glared at me.  “No, I wasn’t.  These silver cuffs are slowing me down.”
I scoffed, but didn’t say anything.  I hadn’t really thought about the added silver when I’d shot him.  Should I feel bad?  No.  No, I’m not going to feel bad.
We turned down a dirt road that ran through the middle of a big field and eventually, there were trees lining either side and doming over us.
After about three miles, the road spilled out into a clearing and Elliot pointed across where the trees started up again.  “Greggor’s den is right through there,” he said as he staggered forward.
I started sniffing the air, as I did every time we neared a den, to see if I could pick up any scents.  As per usual, the air was free from any recognizable smell.  This did not bode well.
When we hit the trees again, we stopped and looked at each other.  I tossed him the keys and when he got the cuffs off, he rubbed his wrists before putting one hand on his hip and leaning the other against a tree.
“I don’t know about this,” he said, looking toward the den.
“Don’t know about what?”
“Going in there.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you shot me.  I’m weak; I’m not exactly equipped to knock out any guards right not.”
“If you expect me to have remorse, you’re sadly mistaken.”
He didn’t respond, just kept looking toward the den like he hadn’t even heard me.  “Okay, new plan.  You’re going down there with me.”
“What?  I can’t take those guys…if there’re even any guys to take…”  I stopped.  I wasn’t going to allow myself to talk that way.
“Well, lucky for you, you’ve got a gun full of silver bullets,” he said.
“No.  No, no, no—we’ve been over this.  This gun is for you.  And you’re supposed to go in first and take care of the guards so I can get in without being ambushed and we can have the upper hand when we find the guys.  I can’t be trying to shoot multiple targets—this isn’t Time Crisis.”
“Circumstances are different now!  I can’t do this by myself!  You shot me with a silver bullet!”
“And then I dug it out!  And then, do you know what amazing thing happened next?  You HEALED!”
“Not fully,” he said in a weary voice.  “If I could keep those goddamned cuffs off for awhile, I could get my full strength back.”
“Fine.  You get a ten minute break,” I said, walking over to a nearby tree and sitting against it.
He did the same against the tree he’d been leaning on.  “You know if they’re not here—”
“I don’t wanna talk about if they’re not here.”
“We need to discuss Plan B—”
“No, we don’t.”
He groaned.  “Teenagers.  You’re all the same.  Stubborn, prideful punks.  Greyson’s the same way.”
“Don’t talk about Greyson!” I snapped.
“Hey, I’ve known him a lot longer than you have.  I’ll talk about him if I want to.”
“Greyson’s not a punk—you’re a punk!”
“Ah, the teenage wit.”  I cocked the gun and he threw his hands up.  “Alright.  I’m done.”
“How did you get to be such an asshole?”  He didn’t say anything, just leaned his head against the tree and looked off toward the den.  “No answer, huh?  So just all your life then?”
He slowly shifted his eyes over to me, then his head.  “It’s a shame you have to be such a pain in the ass.  You’d be cute if you kept your mouth shut.”
I let him yelp and holler for a minute before retrieving the bullet.  Then, I cleaned it for the second time and loaded it back into the cylinder as I said, “I hope you’ve learned your lesson this time.”
He lay stiffly on the ground, arms splayed out and eyes shut tightly.  “I hope…you know…you have to…go with me…now.”
“You know what?  I think I will go,” I said, standing over him and looking down at his fresh wound.  “Shooting asshole were-wolves is pretty therapeutic.  And thanks to you, I’ve been getting in some practice.”
He just lay there, panting, and didn’t respond.  I walked to the tree I’d been resting against and plopped back down, watching his uneasy breathing with pleasure.

So that does it for Chapter One of Moon-Burn.  But if you check back next week, I may have a little surprise for you...


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Moon-Burn, Chapter One: Part II

Outside the fifth den (some sort of shelled out warehouse) I sat with my back against a skinny pine, gun in hand, about a hundred meters out.  I was so itchy with anticipation that I kept halfway hopping up to take off prematurely.  I stared at the door Elliot had gone through (waiting to see him come back out) for so long that everything around it was blurry and grey.
He walked out slowly, his guard down, which I knew he wouldn’t do if it had been occupied.  Even from that far away, I could see his face.  Disappointment.  He shook his head in my direction and made his way slowly back.
Another one empty.
After the fourth den, I thought it would be just my luck that the pack ended up being at the last one we checked, but now that we were getting closer to that, I was starting to worry.  What if they’re not there either?  What if they were taken to some wholly separate place?  Or worse?  What if they were—no, I couldn’t let myself think that way.  I had to stay positive.  (Despite every single circumstance being otherwise.)  But where would we go if they weren’t at the last den?
Neither of us said anything when he walked up.  I just tossed him his cuffs and he silently clicked them shut.
We walked for an hour without saying anything, but we were used to this.  We only spoke to each other when necessary.  So not speaking now, in the face of another let-down, didn’t feel awkward.
But eventually, I had to know, so I asked, “How far away is the last den?”
“Not far.”
“How long will it take us to get there?” I asked, annoyed with his vague answer.
“Not long,” he said shortly.
“Those aren’t answers!  I want a specific time!”
He jerked his head around at me.  “I don’t have a specific time, so shut up and let me navigate!”
I cocked the gun.  I was in no mood for his attitude, especially today.  “Don’t tell me to shut up and stop being such an ASSHOLE!”
He calmly looked from me to the gun.  “You really think you’re doing any good with all that clicking?  You think you’re scaring me?”  I glared at him.  “Face it, cupcake.  You and I both know you’re not gonna shoot me.  You need my help; you know there’s no way in hell you could do this on your own.”
Elliot flew backward and hit the ground with a thud.
He was totally right.  I did need him and I couldn’t do this on my own.  But reason doesn’t always factor into rage when it comes to were-wolves.  He had been pissing me off from the start and this was the final straw.  As time wore on, I was beginning to think I needed to shoot him just to prove I wasn’t all bark and no bite.  That was ‘reason’ enough for me.
“Ah!  Are you crazy?!”  Blood spewed from his mouth as he spit out the words.
“No.  I’m a were-wolf.”
“You shot me!”
“Yeah, I’m pretty aware of that, being the one who did it.”
“You shot me with a silver bullet!”
“Good observation, Captain Obvious,” I said, walking lazily toward him.
He closed his mouth suddenly and groaned and exhaled through his nose in fast, little spurts.  “I’m.  I’m gonna die—I’m dying!”
“Yeah,” I said matter-of-factly, tilting my head at him as I glanced at the wound in his chest.
“You’re just gonna let me die—just stand there and watch??”
“Probably.  Unless you promise to stop acting like a jerk.”
“Yeah—okay, okay—get this outta me!”
“That sounded a little too…” I trailed off, pretending to have trouble finding the word, “insincere for my liking.  Try again.”
His groan turned to a growl and he said, “Okay.  I’m sorry.  I swear to treat you like a princess.”
“Don’t be a smartass.  You’re in no position for it.”
“No.  Not a smartass; I swear.”
I started to bend down to him, but then I stopped and raised slowly back up.  “You mean it?”
He nodded his head with his eyes shut tightly in pain, too low on energy to spare any more on words.  I bent down, ripped his shirt and stuck two fingers right in the bullet hole, following the sensation of heat coming off the silver.  He roared in pain with his head arched back.  It took me a minute to find it, so I fished around; it was disgusting and I grimaced at the gooey feeling of his insides while he continued yelling.
“Geez, stop screaming bloody murder right in my ear, you baby,” I said.
I finally found the silver when its icy-hot burn reached my skin, got the bullet between my fingers, and pulled it out as painstakingly slowly as possible.  Yes, his insides were disgusting and I wanted to get out of there as fast as possible, but it was also too hard to resist making him suffer a little longer.  The more he yelped and groaned, the more I enjoyed myself.  I liked seeing him so weak and defenseless and it really felt good to exert power over him.
“Great Gaia, could you have done that any slower?!” he whined.
“I got it out, didn’t I?” I said, lifting off the ground and shaking his nasty blood off my fingers and the bullet.  As I cleaned the bullet and put it back in the cylinder, I walked away a few steps then looked back.  “What are you still doing down there?”  He didn’t answer so I said, “Hello!”
“You SHOT me!  I need a minute.”
“Stop acting like such a little girl and get up.”
He finally did and I pushed him to keep moving the whole way, till we eventually reached the edge of the plains, and I knew we were getting close to the sixth den.

Part 3 Next Week!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Something Beautiful Happened Today

Sucré's first album, A Minor Bird, was released today.  I just finished listening to it and it's absolutely gorgeous and out of this world.  It is--and let me stress this word--exactly what I dreamed of in a Stacy solo album.  For those who haven't read my previous post, or have maybe forgotten if you did, I will refresh your memories.  Stacy King (formerly known as Stacy DuPree) is from my favorite band, EisleySucré is her side project with her husband Darren King of Mute Math, and their incredibly talented friend, Jeremy Larson.

This is embarrassing for a writer, but I'm honestly not sure what to say.  The album is stunning--overwhelmingly so.  I always imagined that if Stacy did a solo thing, it would be sort of Björk-like--I don't know why.  Maybe because musically she has a Björk-like energy, to me anyway.  And I have to say the album is beautiful, mentally and aurally challenging, and inspiring in the same ways that Björk's music is.  It feels very otherworldly and delicate, while still being grounded in a strong, substantial, buoyant and dynamic sense of cognizant...sound sculpture.  That's really the only way I know how to describe it.  But I don't want to cheapen it by attaching another artist's name to it.  Sucré's creation deserves no preface or attachment--it can stand on its own and it's a gift to us all.

It is unconscionably under-priced on iTunes at only $7.99.  But if you go to their official site you can buy a physical CD for $9.99 (still under-priced) or you can get the Limited Edition Deluxe Package, which comes with all kinds of cool stuff, including a vinyl copy of the album, along with the digital.  That's going for $49.99--but get it while you can because this Deluxe Package is seriously Limited in number.  So do yourself a favor and get some incarnation of this album--it's worth it and you won't regret it.

Anyway, just wanted to share.  I have to go listen to it again, so bye now.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Moon-Burn, Chapter One: Part I

Okay, let's get started.

“Are you sure you know where we’re going?”
“Of course I’m sure,” Elliot snapped.  “Were-wolves have excellent directional sense.”
“I’m just sayin’, I’m pretty sure we passed that tree ten minutes ago,” I said.  He just glared at me in silence while I asked, “Are you like one hundred percent sure?”
“You know what?  Forget were-wolves—men have excellent directional sense.  So why don’t you let the man handle this and stop worrying about it?”
“How many times am I gonna have to cock this thing today to remind you who has the gun here?”
“You cock it as many times as you want to, sweetheart.”
CLICK! went the hammer as I pulled it back to cock the revolver.
“Don’t call me sweetheart.”
That was a fair representation of the last two weeks of my life.  Famine, flood, hurricane, earthquake, disease—these are not ideal conditions for traipsing around the state in hiding, trying to find my pack.  But they’re all better than what I actually got stuck with: Elliot.
Four empty dens.  That’s how many we’ve hit so far.  Two to three days of slinking through different podunk towns to get to each one and all of them deserted so far.
We’d hit a deserted motel, an abandoned strip mall, an old YMCA-type gym, and a derelict Piggly Wiggly.  All in all, some pretty interesting locales for the furtive dens of poor were-wolf packs.
I was so exhausted from the journey.  We headed out from the Wycherley Plantation, which was in East Texas, then we swept around Dallas to Wichita Falls.  Then, we zigzagged from Lubbock to Abilene to Odessa.  Now, we’d gone as far south as Laredo and we were getting close to the fifth den.  At least, Elliot kept saying we were close, but I was starting to think he was just trying to get me to shut up.
Maybe I am a complete idiot for traveling alone with the guy who tried to rape me, but I didn’t really have any other choice.  For all his faults, Elliot has one thing going for him—expert knowledge of all the other packs.  (This is most likely part of his plan to dominate them.)  Not to mention, he’s strong as an ox.  (Okay, probably just ‘wolf’ is sufficient.)
The hardest part about this whole operation has been learning to trust him enough to carry it out.  How do you trust someone who tried to rape you?  (Well, you don’t.  See, this is where me being a complete idiot comes in.)  I just have to keep in mind that, for the time being, we have a common goal.  We both want the pack back (one of us for more honorable reasons than the other) and we both don’t want anyone trying to attack me.
So all in all, I get a pretty sweet deal.  When we get to a pack’s den, I toss him the keys to unlock himself (he returns them promptly or gets a load of silver between his eyes) and he takes off to scope out the place and, if need be, take out any guards so we can swoop in and free the pack.  Once I’m in, I take lead and he takes care of anyone who tries to attack me till we find the guys.
So far, though, this is just a theoretical plan, since every den has been empty.  We’ve only got two left and if they’re deserted, we’re back to square one.  But I’m trying not to think about that.  I just want to find them and know they’re okay.  And then, I want to go home and sleep in a real bed (i.e. not the ground) and take a real shower (i.e. not a creek-bath) and eat real food (i.e. not wild animals we’ve hunted and eaten raw in our lupine forms).
The idea of ripping apart an animal and chowing down, while at first was disgusting and starvation-inducing, has become as natural as breathing (well, when I’m in wolf form, anyway).  It’s cathartic and somehow spiritual.  But, hey, I’m only part wolf, which means I’m also part human girl.  And human girls like pasta and chocolate.  I miss pasta and chocolate.
Of course, I keep forgetting that I don’t have a home to go to anymore.  I absolutely refuse to go back to the Purvises after their little locking-me-in-the-bathroom stunt.  Avery said I could stay at his house, but I’m betting he’s pretty pissed at me right now for going against his wishes and leaving without him.  This scene keeps playing in my head of him showing up at Wycherley Place to get me and finding out I’d run away, and getting really mad.  I imagine Avery’s anger as a slow burn—it’s quiet, but deadly.  So he’s all standing in the front hall of Wycherley House, after hearing the news, and he clenches his fists and his jaw, and his eyes get all slanty and dark, and he’s just seething silently.
I hate knowing I’ve put him under all this extra stress—as if dealing with Ethyn in the hospital isn’t enough.  The thing is, Avery, being a were-raven and obviously not a member of my pack, is never going to care about these guys as much as I do.  I had to take that into account when I made the plan to leave.

Expect Part II sometime next week.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Okay, time to get back to Moon-Burn.

Announcement Time!


It's about that time.  You know what time I mean.  Yeah, you do, c'mon.

Wait, you don't know what time I mean?  Okay, well, I'll tell you then.

It's about that time to release the first chapter of Moon-Burn!  Like last time, it will be in three installments over the course of a month.  Also like last time, obviously, you'll know Part 1 because it was at the end of Book Two, but I encourage you to re-read it when I post it.  It'll refresh your memory and get you geared up for Part 2, which I hope you'll enjoy as much as I do.  Some of you may be wondering why I bother posting the first section when you've already read it and you could easily read it again since you have the book.  Well, it's because I get a lot of new traffic on my blog (meaning people who maybe haven't read my books) on a daily basis.  And I don't want people who haven't read Lone March to miss out on the first section of a chapter and be lost just because I already put it at the end of the last book.  Yes, they'll be lost anyway if they haven't read the first two books, but I hope they'll get into it after reading the first chapter and go back and read from the beginning.

And just so we're clear: this is NOT a ploy just to sell more books and make more money--it's not a money thing at all.  I am not rolling in dough over here.  You guys all know I sell my books for 99 cents each.  I just want to get my work out there.  If I was in this for the money, I'd be charging more than 99 cents a pop and I'd probably be putting them out there a lot faster than every six months.  I have always maintained that this is not about money.  I want to share my work--that's every writer's dream: to share their stories with the world and make connections with the people who read those stories.  So I hope that a new person who stumbles onto my blog, or even purposely searches it out of curiosity, will read and enjoy a free chapter and want to read more.  It's as simple as that.

Since my first conversations about this industry with fellow writers, one thing has been clear: it's damn hard to make a living at writing--especially fiction--because it's such a saturated market--just like the music industry.  It's not impossible, obviously.  J. K. Rowling, Stephen King, Stephanie Meyer--all cases in point.  But unless you're them or perhaps a few others, you most likely have a day job.  I do.  (One I love, by the way.)  And honestly, I'll tell you something.  Even if I sold millions of books and made all kinds of money, I think I'd still have some sort of job that got me out of the house, even if I only worked a few hours a day.  I spent the last year not working while my fiance paid the bills.  It was his idea.  After my last semester on campus at UNT, we planned to move in together and he said he would pay for everything so that I wouldn't have to have a job and I could just work on my books.  We both thought it was a great idea--every writer's dream, right?  (Well, their second dream, of course, after the sharing-their-work dream I mentioned earlier.)  To be a full-time writer?  What an awesome life, right?  Wrong.  I got so stir-crazy that I could hardly write at all.  I couldn't focus--it was awful.  Don't get me wrong--I wasn't miserable; I had a good time with my fiance and I did do some writing obviously because I wrote two books during that year, but it was harder than it should have been.  My point is having something other than your art to focus on, having some other obligation or responsibility, having something that forces you to keep a regular schedule, that can give you insane focus when you get your free time and you can actually work on your projects.  At least that's how it works for me.  I've got to have something other than my art to occupy my mind or my work starts getting sloppy and empty and meaningless and I lose focus, hope, and, worst of all, I think, I lose interest.  Luckily, I've got a job now and I'm back on track.  Book Six is really cookin' over here.  Having so much fun with it.  But anyway, that's another story for another post.

Look at this.  This was supposed to be a quick announcement about releasing the first chapter of Book Three and it turned into a whole big written soliloquy on my process and creeds of creation.  Let's not make a study of my fickle and hypercritical psyche anymore, shall we?

Okay, then.


PS. Look for that first installment sometime soon.