Red Lettering

Stories will not be written easily. A story without a heart is dead, and the only place it will get a heart is from the author.

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Flash Fiction Challenge: “I was Within and Without”

Today I’m participating in Rachelle O’Neil’s Flash Fiction Challenge again. I received a very interesting prompt from Evan White: “I was Within and Without”, a quote from the 1920s novel The Great Gatsby. These words had to be found in my story at some point.

There’s a story behind this story, one of intense procrastination (and time-consuming biology), six or seven hours of working on a story one day, and two stories written from this prompt.

My first story (one with a much grander feel than the one you’re about to read), I wrote over the course of a few days, but mostly I finished it earlier this morning (because, procrastination and biology). When I finished it, it ended up at 2,363 words; 1,363 words longer than the 1,000 word limit for the Flash Fiction Challenge. For several hours, I worked to edit out those 1,363 words. With around 300 more to go, I let my sister (who had read the lengthy original version) read it again. She (indirectly) told me that the original was better.

For the sake of the story… I dropped it. If it was already worse off, I didn’t want to edit out another 300 words. I reverted that story back to the original word count and set it aside. My faithful readers, you may be able to read that story some other time.

By this time, it was around six o’ clock in the evening, three hours past the suggested deadline to post the Flash Fiction pieces. I grasped for new story ideas, came up with something, and because the day was lengthy already, made cookies (readers, cookies are always helpful) before returning and writing this new story that you are about to read.

After editing out a few words on this new Flash Fiction story, I finally have it ready to post here, with apologies to Rachelle for being late, thanks to my sister Faith, for reading my original and letting me know it was better before, and thanks to Katie Grace, for reading over the second story for me to let me know whether or not it was absolutely horrible.

Now that you know the story behind this story, I do hope you enjoy it.

I was Within And Without

  Gusts of wind rushed through the trees, the blasts of air broken only by branches flung by the wind. I ducked around trees, straightening my leather jerkin. He should have known better than to go out today. Everyone spoke of rainstorms or hurricanes, and in the cliff-strewn forests, safe ground didn’t exist. If he wasn’t somewhere dodging flying trees, he probably lay at the bottom of a ravine somewhere.

But then, that’s why I’m here.

I brushed my hair behind my back and cupped my hands around my mouth. “Matthias!”

The rain hit.

I stumbled under the force of it, the wind catching me and blowing me a few steps forward before smacking me into a tree. Water streamed down my face, blurring my vision. Keeping a hold on the tree, I blinked rapidly, scanning the area. “Matthias!

The wind snatched away my voice. I cast a glare upward in irritation. Child, where are you?

“He-elp!”

The voice, worn thin by the force of the wind, barely reached my ears. “Matthias!”

“Help!”

Ducking low and watching for branches, I sprinted toward the voice. I had to duck once under a branch that nearly snagged my hair, and the rain obscured my vision every few seconds.

When I made it to the edge of the cliff, I nearly fell off.

I scrambled back from the edge, breath catching in my throat and my brain snapping sarcastic comments. Moving more carefully, I knelt and peered over the edge.

The rain lashed at the sandstone over a thirty foot drop, tree roots protruding from the surface. Clinging to one of them, battered, rain-sodden, and gripping the strap of a blue backpack, hung Matthias.

My first glimpse of him as a boy showed him as an average twelve-year-old.

“Matthias!” I shouted.

He looked up. “Help!

“Drop the backpack!”

He shook his head, eyes wide and frightened.

I sighed, swept my dripping hair off of my face again, and scanned the surface of the sandstone. “All right,” I said. “Hold on—I’m coming!”

I slid over the edge, carefully placing my feet on roots and ledges in the sandstone. The wind smashed me against the rough wall, stealing my breath, and I dripped almost as much as the sky. Slowly, I made my way downwards, toward Matthias.  As I neared him, I could see the facial features I knew so well; younger, his hair a few shades lighter, but still him. He shivered, clutching the root with all his might.

“Keep holding on,” I said. “I’m coming.”

The wind thrust me against the sandstone and I smacked my chin against the rock. Warmth spurted out, accompanied by sharp pain. I shook water from my eyes and glanced downward.

Matthias still clung to the root.

Something moved on the edge of my vision, and I sucked in a breath. A tree limb careened through the air. I followed it with my eyes, rapidly glancing between it and the expected place of impact.

Matthias.

“Matthias, let go!”

A fall would be better than an assisted one!

Matthias looked up at me, eyes wide. The tree limb jerked in the wind, and I thought for a moment it would miss him.

It jerked back, crashing into the side of his head. His grip on the root released, and he fell.

Cursing under my breath, I scrambled down the sandstone, slipping more often than not and grasping roots to slow my fall. I hit the ground hard, stumbled, and dashed to Matthias.

Red streaked from both sides of his head, where the tree limb hit and where it smashed his face against the rock. I lifted him as best I could, grunting and grabbing his backpack as an afterthought. Surely there was a cave or sheltered area somewhere around here.

It would be just my luck if there wasn’t.

I was Within and Without. Sheltered Within a world by a depression in the ground ringed by sandstone, I fought Without for breath, life, and, if convenient, no lasting brain damage. The darkness fluctuated, sometimes deepening, but he breathed through the night.

Matthias stirred as dawn lit up the eastern sky. I lay on my back a few feet away, sore in a way both physical and far from it. But he lived; I lived. I couldn’t ask for more than that.

Matthias groaned, but as his eyes opened he quieted, gaze darting around. Suppressing a groan of my own, I rose to my feet.

Matthias stared at me for a moment before finally saying, “Thank you.” The fact that he remembered was impressive on its own; the fact that he politely thanked me added to it. “Who are you?”

I smiled, bending over and offering him a hand. “I’m Hope.”

He took it, and I helped him to his feet.

“Matthias,” he mumbled, rubbing the back of his head.

“I know.”

He glanced at me, uncertainty flickering through his eyes.

“Your books are in the bag. I think they might be ruined.”  He looked wide-eyed toward his backpack, and I laughed under my breath. “If you go straight east, you’ll be home in an hour.”

“…Thanks,” he said.

I smiled. His mannerisms, though younger and more uncertain, were as familiar to me as breathing. I took a deep breath and reached into my jerkin, withdrawing a small blue orb. “Here.”

He took it, turning it over in his hands before looking back at me.

I stared into his equally blue eyes, solemn enough that he gave me his full attention. “You’re going to save the world someday, Matthias Wendell. Don’t forget it. Learn how to use that. When you’re done with it, give it to a little girl named Nadine.”

With an irritated push at my damp hair, I turned and started toward the opening in the rock.

“Hope,” Matthias called, and I turned back. He paused. “Nadine means hope.”

I smiled and nodded. “You’re right.” With another nod and a wave, I turned and jogged off into the forest.

 

Half Blood Cover Reveal (and GIVEAWAY)

In but a few months, Jaye L. Knight, author of the Ilyon Chronicles (Resistance and The King’s Scrolls), will be releasing her prequel novella, Half Blood.

Just looking at the cover, my heart is preparing to be shattered into a million tiny fragments. We’ll all be crying at this one…

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00026]

About the Book

The gasps and murmuring grew. Though some were hardly more than whispers, clear words reached Jace’s ears—dangerous, monster, animal, soulless. He tried to back away from their accusing eyes, but the collar pulled hard against his throat and held him in place.

For all his years as a slave, Jace has known nothing but the hatred people hold for his mixed blood—one half human, the other half the blood of a race considered monsters. Always, he is the outsider and quickly learns it is better to keep to himself. But, when his volatile ryrik blood leads him to do the unthinkable, he is thrown into a world of violence and bloodshed.

Forced to become a gladiator, Jace finds more and more of his heart dying as his master works to break down his will not to become the monster everyone believes he is. When a stranger interferes with his master’s harsh punishment, Jace’s world is upended yet again. But with it comes the possibility of hope that has long since died. Could the man possibly hold the key to escaping the hopeless darkness that is Jace’s life? Is there such a thing as life beyond the cruelty of slavery?

See where Jace’s story all began . . .

Coming This Summer
Are you aware of just how awesome this is going to be? If you haven’t read Resistance and The King’s Scrolls, I suggest that you do so. IMMEDIATELY. In fact, if you wish to read my reviews for them, you can read them here: Resistance and The King’s Scrolls.
For those of you who have read them, you should add Half Blood to your Goodreads so we can all appreciate how awesome it’s going to be, together.

goodreads

About the Author

JayeAuthorPhotoJaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

 

Giveaway

As part of a month long celebration for the one year publication anniversary of Resistance (Ilyon Chronicles – Book 1), Jaye is giving away several fun prizes! Enter for a chance to win using the form below! U.S. entries only please.

(You can also visit the other awesome sites hosting the cover reveal)
A Writer’s Faith
Morgan Elizabeth Huneke
A Writer’s Heart
Thoughts and Rants
Written Rest
To Be A Person
Tialla’s Tellings
The American Anglophile
Knitted By God’s Plan
Elvish Pens, Fantastical Writings
Pencils Can Change The World
Crafty Booksheeps
Zerina Blossom’s Books
Ryebrynn’s Random Ramblings
Through the Realm of Dreams
Red Lettering
Leah’s Bookshelf
The Official Website of Brent King
Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections
Shattered Fractals
Flights from the Aerie
E. Rawls
The Pen of a Ready Writer
Scattered Journal Pages
Sutori no Hana
The Art of Storytelling
poetree

Get to Know Your Characters Responses: Right-Hand Man

Get to Know Your Characters Right-Hand ManHappy Thursday, readers! With blog tours and the conclusion of the Get to Know Your Characters challenge, today has been an exciting day here at the blog. Do take the time to visit (and perhaps comment) on the exceptional pieces below!

By Gabrielle Massman

Prompts Chosen:

  • Your villain’s right-hand man is between three and ten. Write something that shows what their life was like at that point.
  • Write about the time when your villain and his right-hand man (or woman) met.
  • Your character has lost something important—what is it, where is it, and why do they need it?

The Unmaking, by Natasha Roxby

Prompt Chosen:

  • Write about the time when your villain and his (or her) right-hand man (or woman) met.

By Alea Harper

Prompt Chosen

  • Your character has lost something importantwhat is it, where is it, and why do they need it?

Choices, by Katie Grace

Prompt Chosen

  • Your character has lost something importantwhat is it, where is it, and why do they need it?

By Jessica Lockwood

Prompt Chosen

  • Write about the time when your villain and his (in this case, random minion) met.

By Jessi L. Roberts

Prompt Chosen

  • Write about a year before the start of your story.

By Faith Song

Prompt Chosen

  • Write about a time when your villain and right-hand man were interacting normally. Let us know how they talk to each other, what sort of friendship (or enmity) they have.

By—me!

Prompts Chosen

  •    Your villain’s right-hand man is between three and ten. Write something that shows what their life was like at that point.
  • Write about the time when your villain and his (or her) right-hand man (or woman) met.

These two are my villain, and his right-hand man, from the not-yet-begun novel, By the Light of Five Stars. 

Note: The word “Thond” means father. (If you’re curious as to why I used “Mama” instead of creating a word for that: “mama” is a title or endearing term for mother found in many different languages that could not possibly have borrowed from each other. I figured that, if it’s found so frequently in our world, it could very likely be found in another, too. 


 

The shrill, desperate cry of a baby filled the air.

Mathio cringed, drawing in a breath sharp enough to sting his lungs with the cold air. Mama had said that the baby would cry, that it was a good thing—but his mind could not help but flashing back to when this had happened last time. Tumo had cried and could not stop until the day before they buried him.

“It won’t be that way this time,” he reminded himself fiercely under his breath. “It won’t. The baby will be okay.”

Only the frost witnessed the break in his voice.

Backing up against the wall of the midwife’s house, Mathio squeezed his eyes shut, wrapping his arms around his thick coat. Thond would be out any minute now to tell him about the baby. Mama wouldn’t know that Mathio had trekked across the town to get to the midwife’s house when he was supposed to be at home, but Thond would know—fathers always seemed to know.

Across town, a confused rooster crowed—dawn would not come for hours, but apparently the rooster did not know it.

To the right of Mathio, the latch clicked and the midwife’s door opened. His breath catching in his throat, Mathio pivoted toward the door.

He was latching his arms around Thond’s waist before his father even managed to get half-way out the door.

“Whoah,” Thond murmured, sliding further out of the door. “Someone is eager.”

Sniffing, Mathio nodded. “Is the baby good?”

“Very,” Thond said.

Mathio stepped back to peer up at Thond’s face, voice dropping to a whisper. “The baby isn’t going to die?”

“No, Mathio,” Thond said. “He won’t die.”

A rush of relief flooded through Mathio, the tension draining out of his muscles. If Thond said the baby would not die, the baby would live.

“It’s a—a boy?” He asked.

Thond smiled, but the moonlight illuminating his face revealed the wrinkle in his brow. “Yes,” he said. “A boy.”

“Can I meet him?”

“In just a moment,” Thond said. Taking Mathio’s hand, he guided him to the door and sat upon the step, staring into Mathio’s face.

Panic gripped Mathio again, and he reached out with his free hand to wrap it around Thond’s strong, warm one. “The baby is going to be all right—”

“Yes, yes,” Thond’s deep voice murmured.

“Then—,” Mathio started.

“Don’t worry,” Thond said.

Mathio swallowed hard and tried not to worry.

“The baby’s name is Essien,” Thond said, voice soft yet seemingly loud against the relative quiet of a sleeping city. “He is the third son.”

Mathio waited for Thond to continue, but Thond only looked at him, quiet.

The weight of his father’s words hit Mathio like an invisible punch in the stomach. “He—he will get the stars?”

“When he turns twelve,” Thond quietly confirmed.

“But—” Exhausted tears pricked at Mathio’s eyes. “But they’ll hurt him like they hurt you.”

“He’ll be all right,” Thond murmured, pulling Mathio into his arms. Mathio hid his face in Thond’s shoulder, biting his tongue to keep the despair from washing over him.

But Thond had said the baby—Essien—wouldn’t die. Thond had to be right.

“You’ll look out for him, won’t you?” Thond said, his voice vibrating Mathio.

Not raising his head, Mathio nodded. “Always.”

Pulling back, Mathio looked up at Thond’s face.

His father smiled and stood. “Wait here,” he murmured.

Biting his lip, Mathio nodded, not taking his eyes off of Thond as he opened the door, stepped inside, and closed it behind himself.

Squeezing his eyes shut, Mathio tried to envision what his brother’s face would look like. The images flashing across his mind matched only babies that he knew already; boys and girls he could name. Surely Essien would look different from that.

The door opened again. Inching backwards, Mathio tried to quell the nervousness rising up inside of him. Thond stepped out, a bundle of blue cloth cradled in one arm, a candlestick clasped in his other hand. His reassuring smile lit up by candlelight, Thond crouched, nodding for Mathio to approach.

Swallowing, Mathio stepped forward, peering into the face of his brother.

Eyes closed, face illuminated by the flickering candle, Essien’s tiny, beautiful face forced a jolt through Mathio’s heart.

Silently, he vowed that he would never—never leave his brother’s side.

“Essien,” he whispered, testing out the name. “Essien?”

Though Essien’s eyes did not open, Mathio could have sworn his tiny lips turned upward in the faintest smile.

 

 

 

 

 

Get to Know Your Characters Challenge: Right-Hand Man

Get to Know Your Characters Right-Hand Man

Happy Tuesday, readers! And ’tis indeed a happy Tuesday, for today is a day of announcement for a new Get to Know Your Characters (in blue this time! Isn’t that splendid?).

What is it?

GTKYC is a trimonthly challenge to discover more about your various characters while stretching your proverbial writing muscles. It’s a challenge open to anyone who wants to jump on board, be they young or old, or somewhere in between.

How does it work? 

Anyone who wishes to participate in the challenge picks a character from one of their stories. Each GTKYC Challenge has a specific character type — in this case, The villain’s right-hand man. (If your villain is more of a loner type, feel free to do the villain himself,  or if your villain has no right-hand man, you can do a former best friend, current best friend, random minion #87, or basically whatever you want).

The participants have sixteen days to create work in any medium they like (poetry, prose, even film if you’re feeling brave) about their character, choosing a scenario from The List Provided Below to write about. Post your work on your blog, and leave a link in the comments or email it to me (craftingstoriesinred(at)gmail(dot)com) and I will post all links to participating blogs in a follow-up post. That post will go live at the end of the challenge, on February 19th, and will also contain my responses to the challenge. Because I’m posting them on my blog, I request that all stories be clean. I do have some young readers.

If you do not have a blog, you can post your response in the comments of this blog post and I’ll link back to your comment and let people know it’s here so they can check it out.

Post your response at any point from now to Thursday, February 19th. If you can, please get the link to me by the 18th.

Why should you do it? 

Well, because knowing your characters is important! You can also get a chance to share about your awesome characters, exercise writing muscles, get feedback from other writers, and have a chance to publicize your blog right here!

The List Provided Below

Feel free to do more than one, or mix and match scenarios!

  • Your villains right-hand man is between three and ten. Write something that shows what their life was like at that point.
  • Write about the time when your villain and his (0r her) right-hand man (or woman) met.
  • Write about a time when your villain and right-hand man were interacting normally. Let us know how they talk to each other, what sort of friendship (or enmity) they have.
  • Write about a year before the start of your story.
  • Your character has lost something importantwhat is it, where is it, and why do they need it?

I look forward to meeting your villain’s second-in-commands over the next sixteen days. If you have any questions, feel free to comment!

 

 

Get to Know Your Characters Challenge Responses: Antagonists

Get to Know Your Characters ChallengeToday is Thursday, readers—Thursday the 16th. As promised, the Get to Know Your Characters: Antagonist closes today, with some exceptional pieces of work from a couple of different writers. Do go check out their work, and I’m sure they would love to have you comment!

First Blood, by Michael Hollingworth

Prompt Chosen: Write about the first time your villain killed or ordered the death of someone.

So Easy, by Beckah (Ghost Ryter)

Prompt Chosen: Write about the first time your villain killed or ordered the death of someone.

Untitled, by Katie Grace

Prompt Chosen: Your antagonist is between three and ten. Write something that represents their life at that point.


I decided to write something with my villain from IOTW. It brought up a slightly awkward question of what exactly to call him; he gave my protagonist four choices when she first asked his name. Eventually I decided to call him what he’s called in the novel for the sake of continuity, but at one point in the story he refers to himself by another one of his names. The majority of the time he’s called Rais, but in his thoughts, he calls himself Rashad.  Before you reach this point and give me the look, know that it wasn’t an accident.

This was a very interesting thing for me to write. Since IOTW is in first person, I never had the chance to go this far into my villain’s point of view prior to this. Though he’s changed slightly between this time and the novel, it was nice to be able to get a feel for his character. 

The prompt I chose:

  • Write about when your antagonist moved into his place of current residence.

Darkness.

Nothing but darkness as far as Rais could see. Slowly, he lifted himself upon bleeding hands, raising himself onto his knees, though nothing was beneath him to support his weight.

“No,” he whispered, the word punctuated by his heartbeat thudding in his ears. “No, it didn’t happen. It. Didn’t.”

Not even an echo drifted back to him. He remained completely and entirely alone.

His thoughts chased themselves around in his head, none quite becoming comprehensible, all of them filled with the desperation he tried to push back within himself.

…it should have worked…

   … he must have been dying…

    …not wrong… I could not have been…

   …Why?…

   Carefully, Rais climbed to his feet, allowing his eyes to slide shut so they would not continue straining to see. He knew there would be no light. His whole body screamed pain at him and he could feel the damp of blood and sweat, but he remained on his feet. Rais inhaled slowly through his nose and let it out through his mouth, shaping his face into the smile he had become so used to wearing.

He could do this. He knew he could manage, if only he could stay calm.

If time had been even vaguely measurable, standing there for a long moment might perhaps have worked. As it was, Rais was more aware of the lack of time than of the steady breathing in-breathing-out pattern, and abruptly he collapsed onto his knees again, beating at nothing with his fists as the desperation welled up inside of himself.

“No!” He shouted. “No, I did not fail!”

The silence did not even have the decency to answer as it would have in a world.

Slowly, Rais allowed himself to sink down lower onto the ground. His heart slammed against his ribcage and the silence magnified the sound of his breathing until it seemed almost deafening.

Light. Rais scrambled to his feet, his entire body shaking. He needed light.

Peeling his eyelids open, he stared out into the complete darkness surrounding him. He could see nothing, no matter how hard his eyes strained.

You must know how to do this, he said, mentally adopting his slightly patronizing tone to speak to himself. Think, Rashad.

  Rais closed his eyes again, balling his hands into fists and ignoring the pain that shot up his arms. Light danced across the inside of his eyelids, teasing him with it’s lack of existence. Slowly the correct words came to his mind, and though it made his gut twist further into a knot, he whispered them.

“In case you ever have to form a half-world,” he had been taught. “This is how you go about it. One step at a time, eh? Keep it easy, though. No cementing. Keep it changeable. Your world, eh? Your commands oughta keep working whenever you give ’em.”

    He could feel the energy draining out of his body, but he kept his eyes squeezed shut, forcing himself to continue. It would work—it had to.

They thought they could imprison him. Idiots—he could do this. He could bend the prison to his own will.

Light flashed through his closed eyelids, staining them red as blood. He opened his eyes, gasping for breath as he saw the sun, the complete, glorious desert sun, beginning to rise on the horizon.

Perhaps it was fake—he didn’t know for sure, but he could see light. It was all that mattered.

Rais collapsed, the entirety of his energy spent, but he did not close his eyes; he remained staring up into the sun that belonged in the early morning desert sky. It already gave off enough heat to bake anything that happened to fall beneath the rays of light, but Rais did not care.

“You did not succeed,” he whispered, his lips scarcely moving. “I will not stay here. I will save it.”

He closed his eyes, letting the light that shone from nothing and onto nothing wash over him, his lips now moving soundlessly as he let the exhaustion and the effects of the injuries take over. “You cannot stop me from saving the desert.”

 

 

 

Get to Know Your Characters Challenge: Antagonist

Get to Know Your Characters Challenge

 

Good afternoon, folks. Today is the day that Get to Know Your Characters returns; hopefully with a better picture this time, and a more official way of doing things.

From this point on, Get To Know Your Characters has turned tri-monthly. Every three months, on the first Tuesday of the month, bloggers are challenged to write something about the specified character type from their novels (whether works-in-progress or finished) and post it on their blogs. The point of the challenge is to help authors learn more about their characters through writing prose, exploring situations in character’s past with their pen (or keyboard).

Those participating in the challenge write up their bit of writing, post it on their blogs (or in the comment section of this post, if they don’t have a blog or would prefer to not post it on their blogs) on or before October 16  (preferably before, but life can be life, so it’s best to have a “or”) and send me the link to their posts. Sixteen days after the challenge was issued, the blog post will go up here with my piece of writing and with a link to the post of every person participating.

The character-type for this month: Antagonist.

The way of doing things: Pick a topic from this list and write something 100 words or more and post it on your blog.  (Feel free to mix and mash topics, or do more than one, if you wish!)

  • Your antagonist is between three and ten. Write something that represents their life at that point.
  • Write about a year before the start of your novel.
  • Write about the first time your villain killed or ordered the death of someone (bonus points if you focus on how it made them feel).
  • Your antagonist and his/her best friend, brother or sister, or second-in-command are talking about something completely random of your choice, within the past year.
  • Write about when your antagonist moved into his place of current residence (then again, maybe I’m the only one interested in seeing the villain moving into his lair).

BONUS: Write about the day or night before your antagonist was born. It’s slightly random, but sometimes it’s interesting to explore what was going on at that time.

The Challenge closes on October 16, so you must have your piece of writing posted and the link sent to me by or before that date. You an email the link to me or post it in the comments here.  (If you do decide to post it on that date, it’s best if you get it to me before noon, that way I can be sure to have it when I post the blog post.)

Over the next sixteen days, I look forward to being able to meet your antagonists.

 

 

Get to Know Your Characters Challenge — Responses

Get to know your characters challenge protagonist

 

It’s Monday. Late Monday, though I planned on posting it earlier today, but as long as it’s before midnight, it’s not too terribly late, I suppose.

As those who read last Tuesday’s post know, this blog was the origin for a challenge: to write about your protagonist’s past from a list of ideas. Not many people participated this time around, but those who did made it worth it.

The Participants 

Katie – Cousins in Christ *

Emily Fisher – Posted Hers In the Comments of Tuesday’s Post.

Alyssa – Alyssa should post hers in the same place Emily did, on the comments of last Tuesday’s post.*

*These stories aren’t posted yet, but don’t fear. Watch. They will be seen.

 

My Snippet

I’m afraid what I wrote is not very good, and, indeed, might make “mediocre” look bad, had not a friend helped me with some editing. Read on, and do know that this is certainly not the best I’ve ever written. However, you get to meet two of my protagonists from my top-secret novel, IOTW. Nothing this detailed about them and their story has ever ended up on the internet before now.

I decided to mix these three prompts into the same story:

  • Write about your protagonist celebrating a major holiday, such as Christmas or New Year’s Day.
  • Write about a year before the adventure started.
  • Write about interaction with a childhood friend–while in childhood, or what would happen when the two met again after several years of not seeing each other.

Clumps of snow clung to my hair, stinging my already burning face whenever I moved my head. My smile had become too big for my cheeks, my face told me, and now it hurt as a consequence. I slumped onto the ground, leaning against the wall of my house. Nathaniel sat next to me, a grin firmly on his face.

I took a breath slowly. His bombardment of snowball were more than my lungs had agreed to put up with.  They decided to let only a small portion of the usual air in, intent on making me sit.

At least Nathaniel had suggested resting, not I.

Slowly, my breath returned and I pulled at my hair, dropping bits of snow onto the hard-packed ice beneath us. “Merry Christmas Eve,” I said. Bouncing, I added, “Papa said my cousins will be coming. Then everyone will be home.”

Nathaniel looked at me, his smile fading slightly. Drawing his knees up to his chest, he dipped his head in what might have been intended to look like a nod. “Merry Christmas Eve,” he said.

My forehead tied itself into small knots, and I leaned forward. “What’s wrong?”

Nathaniel blinked a few times, shaking his head. “Nothing.”

His answer came too quickly to be comforting, but I let it go. “Good.”

He smiled faintly, turning his gaze onto the snow beside his glove-clad hand. I watched him for a brief moment, then turned away and looked at the sun, dipping dangerously close to the horizon. “We’d better go inside.”

Nathaniel’s gaze stayed fixed on the invisible, fascinating thing on the snow. I sighed. “Nathaniel? Come on, it’s Christmas Eve. Let’s not do this today.”

Ever since I had known Nathaniel, he had moments where he seemed to be somewhere far away. Most of the time, it passed quickly. Every now and then, he would stay that way for hours.

He blinked, inhaling slowly. “I’m sorry. What were you saying?”

I let a smile break out over my face. “It’s okay. It’s going to be night soon, though.”

He let his gaze wonder to the Western sky, then got to his feet. “I’ll race you around the house again.”

I blinked, then lurched upright. “Okay, go!”

Mama called my name, and I glanced over to the door as she stepped out. I let my shoulders sag, though secretly I felt glad to avoid more running. “I guess we better go in now.”

Nathaniel nodded, brushing snow off of himself.

“We’re ready,” Mama called. I glanced at Nathaniel, then darted to the door. Nathaniel jogged after me.

Mama waited until we were both at the door before opening it, stepping back inside. I stepped in, followed by Nathaniel. He tugged the door shut after himself.

I had not realized how cold I was until I stepped into the warm house. Nathaniel grinned at me, sliding his coat off and brushing the snow onto the rug in front of the door.

“Just hang it up,” Mama said from across the room. “We’ll clean it up later.”

Nathaniel glanced at her and did as he was told.

I fumbled with my buckles with numb fingers. When Mama made me the coat, she thought it too big for an eleven year-old girl like me, but I had insisted I could manage.

Well, when I haven’t frozen my fingers, I can manage.

The buckle came loose, and I worked my way through all the others, finally removing my coat and hanging it on the peg on the wall. My scarf I left in my hair to keep it away from my face, but my shoes quickly found themselves on the floor beneath my coat.

Picking my way around the various things that lay scattered in my way, I moved to sit next to Papa, looking over his shoulder at the well-worn Bible in his hands.

Nathaniel sat next to me and Marshall took the opportunity to sit on him. “Hol’ me, ‘Than’il?”

Nathaniel looked at Mama, and she nodded. He shifted Marshall until he sat still, then wrapped his arms around him and looked at Papa.

Papa glanced around once, then started. “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.”

The wind pushed against the ground, the cold from the snow and night air bothering it not a bit. Whooshing into the air and pushing against the faces of the boy and the girl’s father, the wind carried the cold with it in order to bother them.

    The girl’s father slowed, and the wind dashed away, observing what held his interest. “Are you sure you won’t stay with us tonight?”

    The wind pushed at the scrawny branches of nearby trees, then moved forward and entered the small house. Cold immediately greeted it, the house’s walls hardly held in place by now.

   Turning attention back to the girl’s father and the boy, the wind slid back to the ground again. The boy gave it a look, but the wind knew that, though the boy could see and hear the wind like the girl’s father could not, the boy would never address the wind. “No,” he said. “I’ll be fine. I know it doesn’t look very good, but the inside is warm enough. Thank you for letting me come over for dinner.”

   The girl’s father smiled, but the wind caught the doubtful look he cast the house. The wind’s amusement took the form of blown snow across the ground. The wind knew they had done this before, many times.  “It was my pleasure, Nathaniel.”

   The boy’s smile touched his face, but not, the wind noticed, his eyes. “Good night.”

   “Good night.”

   The boy made his way toward the house, and the wind left the girl’s father in peace, moving after the boy as he opened the door and stepped inside.

   He stopped, then smiled, inclining his head. “Lytton,” he said.

   The wind whispered to itself. The man, again, was here. The wind had not expected him to come this year, though he came every year at Christmas. Of course, the wind felt no surprise.

   The boy moved into the house, closing the door and moving to sit cross-legged before the man. The man sat on the floor, looking at the boy.

    For a moment, a long silence passed, broken only by the wind against the floor and the trees outside. The man glanced at the wind, a small smile tugging at his lips, but he, like the boy, did not address it. Instead, he turned to the boy, slowly inhaling.

   The boy up from the floor to meet the man’s gaze.

   “I wish you would come home.”

   The boy, the wind knew—for the wind knew a great many things—had not expected that. “I… I can’t.”

   The man leaned back, and the disappointment the wind knew he held remained far from his face.

   The silence stretched again until, finally, the boy leaned forward, dark eyes bright. “Tell me about it again?”

   The man smiled—for real this time, the wind noted with much whooshing about the room. “The night had long since fallen, but the sky was lit up still. They slept while we were there, and He alone knows we were present.”

   “You came to see Him?”

  “Yes,” the man said softly, eyes lost in the memory. “And we did. After the shepherds had left, we saw Him sleeping as a baby.”

— 

Well that is it. Now, I have a question for you: Did you enjoy this challenge, and do you like the idea of it? Would you be willing to participate if I did another? Would you like to see it return, or should this be a one-time thing? I need your comments now, more than ever.

This next part should get a prize for randomness. For the past week or so, I’ve been trying to decide if I want to post a link to a story I entered in the contest. Finally, I’ve decided that I should. You readers are getting the first look you’ve had into my writing, and I feel I ought to let you know that my writing isn’t always like the above bit. So, I present to you a story I wrote, which you can read here (mine is all the way at the bottom). I hope you enjoy it and the other stories… The others are so very good.

Get To Know Your Characters Challenge – Protagonist

Happy Tuesday, readers. For those of you concerned that this post signals the end of all character interviews on Red Lettering, don’t worry. We’ll resume the normal posting schedule with character interviews two weeks from today.

Today, though, seemed like a good day to test-run an idea of mine. Somehow, it seemed fitting to do it on a character interview day, not only because everybody gets excited about character interviews and I hope to have people look at this, but because in a way, I get to do something similar to interviewing all of your characters.

 

Get to know your characters challenge protagonistEven though tags and challenges abound in the blogging community, very few focus on what we writers do best: write. Occasionally, people will do character and writing-related tags, but those are few and far between. And so, I thought, what if there was a challenge to help writers develop their writing skills while learning more about their characters?

What if there was a challenge on someone’s blog where people would be challenged to pick a couple of options from a list, and write about their protagonist’s past?

Here’s How it Works

If you’re willing to participate, pick one or more challenges from the list below and post your completed snippet-type stories about your protagonists on your blog this coming Monday (July 28). Steal the picture and leave a link back here, and leave a comment on this post sometime between now and Sunday with the link to your blog. I’ll include a list of all participating blogs with links when I post my challenge snippets on Monday.

 

The List

  • Write  about your protagonist from when he or she was between three and ten. Write something short that represents how their life was that point.
  • Write about your protagonist celebrating a major holiday, such as Christmas or New Year’s Day.
  • Write about a major turning point in your character’s life: the death of a loved one, a point where they find out a secret that changes their life, ect.
  • Write about a year before the adventure started.
  • Write about interaction with a childhood friend–while in childhood, or what would happen when the two met again after several years of not seeing each other.
  • Write about when your character first interacted with your villain. (This for those who have already met their villains.)

Interested? Want to get to know your protagonist better and exercise your writing muscles? Want to absolutely make my day? I’d absolutely love to have you participate. The longer the list of participating blogs posted on Monday, the better.

Note: Those of you who don’t have blogs, but would like to participate anyway, can leave their challenge snippets in the comments on this post or the other.

Why Do You Write?

I ran a thousand miles for you

Knowing you would break My heart

And I  would do it all again

Because I couldn’t stand to be apart…

~J.J Heller, “Red Against Your Black”

It’s not that He knew that we might, possibly, maybe turn away and spit on the face of the One who had come to save us. He knew we would.

“‘For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD;’ so turn, and live.”

Isaiah 18:32

While I may not know you
I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes, does it matter at all?
Well let me remind you, it all matters just as long
As you do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you,
Cause he made you
To do

Every little thing that you do
To bring a smile to His face
Tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every thing you do

Steven Curtis Chapman, “Do Everything”

 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10, NIV

Go, tell it on the mountain,

Over the hills and everywhere

Go, tell it on the mountain,

That Jesus Christ is born.

John Wesley Work Jr, “Go Tell it on the Mountain.”

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

Romans 10:14, ESV

“Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That, after all, is the case.”

-Annie Dillard

 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Mark 16:15-16

I write for love.

 I write for those who are not forgotten.

For those who are looking for Truth.

For those who have closed their eyes.

Because hope is not dead, and there is still a God who changes lives.

Why do you write?

(For those wondering, this is like a super-condensed version of this post on my other blog.)

On the Longest Fortnight Ever…

Sitting on the floor with her knees up, a notebook propped against them, a girl stared blankly at the near-white paper in front of her. A purple mechanical pencil lay unmoving in her hand as her head whirled, trying to think of what to write, but keeping stubbornly empty. Taking a deep breath, the girl leaned forward and looked forlornly at the paper. It looked back at her, expectancy filling its eyes, strangely non-existent though they were.

She had never meant to stay away that long.

Apologies, she had found, seemed only to make people feel awkward and uncomfortable, but this time, she would give one. They deserved one.

She leaned forward, set her pencil lead to her paper, and began to write.

I’m sorry.

When we moved, I did the best thing I knew to do; I paused in the maintenance of this blog. Yet moving became more complicated, and the crazy idea (yet epic and most appreciated) of doing Camp NaNoWriMo in spite of moving was suggested. When the move was completed, I continued steadily working my way up to the 50,000 word mark, but every time I opened a blank document to write a post for here, or ran my options for posts and interviews through my head, my mind seemed to come across a brick wall. How was I to start again after the slightly-longer-than-expected absence?

And there I made my first mistake; I let the matter rest.* I moved on with life and ignored the constant whispers of the blank cyberspace pages begging to be filled, ignored how they were reminding me of my dedicated readers.

As Camp NaNoWriMo ended, I found the obvious staring me in the face: I had been away too long. It was far past the time I should have posted again.

When a friend asked a question, I found myself on the blog page, and it pulled up the statistics page for me as it usually does when I open the website. Staring at the bars to indicate the views on my blog, I was astounded. Though I could see to the fourteenth of April, there was only two days that I could see to be void of views. Amazed by the dedication of my readers and thoroughly chastised for my abandonment, I came to my senses and a decision: within the week, there would be a post on this blog, no matter what happened.

And so, fair readers, you have found the circumstances surrounding my suddenly lengthened disappearance. What say you? I hope that you will not hold against me my mistakes, and I know that I will have to build up your trust again. My hope is that you will never again be unsure of when the next post should come, and instead you should know that I will regularly post. Forgive me, please, for my tardiness; I will not disappoint you in the future.

A new house, an exciting few weeks, and fifty thousand more words later, I have returned. The word “fortnight” was for a moment longer than it usually is. Hopefully the meaning will go back to normal now.

 

* If you got that reference, that’s awesome. You can probably guess what I’m reading.

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