Natural Disasters + Leaving

Tomorrow morning I embark on a trip to a South Carolina beach with my family. I’ll be gone for a week, and while I expect to relax (walk in the sand, read a lot of books, finish editing Paper Crowns, do a lot of handwriting) I will be relaxing without the internet. I’ll miss you all very much, and I hope you’ll miss me! And as a farewell, I’m leaving you some good-sized snippets from a project I’ve been working on called Natural Disasters, + an extended Natural Disasters playlist! Enjoy, have a frabjous week, and I’ll see you next week (here’s hoping I remember to take pictures!)

01 seven nation army (glitch mob remix) – the white strips// 01 the struggle – grizfolk// 03 fighter – christine aguilera //04 the silent comedy – bartholemew//05  with love – christina grimmie// 06 a drop in the ocean – ron pope// 07 titanium – david guetta feat. sia// 08 control – garbage// 09 apologize – timbaland feat. one republic// 10 die young (deconstructed) – ke$ha// 11 fangs – little red lung// 12 hurricane (clean) – theory of a dead man// 13 grow – rae morris// 14 never let me go – florence + the machine// 15 impossible – shontelle// 16 bad moon rising – credence clearwater revival// 17 troublemaker (clean) – olly murs feat. florida// 18 holding on and letting go – ross copperman// 19 kill your heroes – awolnation// 20 gentle folks – hunter hunted// 21 human – daughter

naturaldisasterscollage

 

She turned around, a damp cloth in one hand, and saw Adam. His hands were in his jacket pockets and he was frowning at her.

            “Sorry, can I help you?” she asked.

            He looked out the door at his brother and sister, who were standing under the front awning, waiting. “I wanted to apologize for my sister’s behavior.”

            “Oh.” She realized that had come out sounding much too surprised, and winced. “Don’t worry about it,” she said quickly, trying to cover up her tone. “I’ve dealt with much worse than your sister.”

            “She’s really a good person,” he said, pulling his frown down in the direction of his shoes. A moment of silence stretched almost to the point of awkwardness before he redirected his frown back at her. “She’s just…difficult.”

            Slowly, December nodded. “Really,” she said. “It’s okay.”

            He nodded. “Okay. It was nice to meet you, December.”

            “You, too,” she said, raising her eyebrows.

            Again he nodded. He hesitated, like there was something he had forgotten to say, but it must not have been important because he turned and strode briskly out the door without another word.

            “That was weird,” said Bree, coming up to the counter.

            December shook her head. “They’re a weird family.”

***************************

Devizes, England 1081 a.d.

 

“Ruth!”

            A hand clamped over Josiah’s mouth. “I’m here! You must be quiet, or Seth will hear you!”

            The world was burning. He could feel liquid fire searing his veins, melting his skin. He gripped her wrist and locked his eyes with hers. Right now, she was his only anchor, the only thing he could concentrate on. Focus.

            She pressed her hand harder over his mouth as his breathing quickened, and a moan escaped through her fingers. “Please, Josiah! You have to be quiet!”

            The door opened and Ruth spun around, her hand leaving Josiah’s mouth. A wave of heat scorched through him and left his mouth in a scream that he tried to suppress.

            “Keep him quiet!” Catherine hissed, closing the door quickly behind her.

            This time, Ruth pushed both hands across his mouth. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. Strands of hair clung to her forehead – holding him down was as difficult as keeping him quiet. “Where is Adam?”

            Catherine kept an ear pressed to the door. “He’s bringing Mikael to help.”

            “He had better get here fast,” said Ruth, looking down at Josiah. “He’s almost turned.”

            Suddenly, she screamed and jerked her hands away from Josiah’s face.

            “What is it?” Catherine demanded, whirling away from the door and bending down next to her brother.

            Ruth held out her hands. Her palms were hot and red.

            The sisters’ eyes met.

            “No,” said Catherine, her voice firm in spite of the tremor. “He can’t be.”

            Ruth looked down. Josiah’s eyelids were lowered, nearly closed, but a sliver of orange light shone through beneath his lashes.

            “He is.” Her whisper grew fainter, and she leaned back on her heels. Her hands fell limply onto her knees. “If Seth finds out…”

            Catherine said sharply, “He isn’t going to find out.”

            A groan wrenched itself from Josiah. Carefully, Ruth pulled his hair away from his burning face. “We won’t let him.”

******************************

She set the phone back down and rested her elbows on the desk. The light from the screen was beginning to burn her eyes, a sure sign she should take a break. She stretched her arms over her head. “I can finish this tomorrow,” she said aloud. No one objected, and she was about to close the laptop when one of the image results caught her eye. She clicked maximize.

elements 

            “That looks promising,” she mused aloud. She copied it and pasted it into the body of her message to CasusNex along with Does this look right?

            His response came a few seconds later. That’s it.

            She typed, What do you want me to do with it?

            Nothing now, he answered.

            Right, she said. Then I’m going to bed.

            Goodnight, he said, and disappeared from chat.

            The symbol burned into December’s dreams all night long.

*****************************

Devizes, England 1081 a.d.

“Mikael, where is Ruth?”

            The younger boy nodded toward the house. “She’s inside helping mother with the deer you took down.”

            “Is father with her?”

            He shook his head and turned to fully face his brother. He held an ax in one hand, the blade that had been sharpened not an hour ago now halfway dull. Behind him, a stump sat surrounded by scattered chunks of wood ranging from the length of a thumb to a dagger-blade.

            Chopping wood and kindling was Adam’s job, and something Mikael only took over when he was pushed to anger and frustration. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

            “Nothing,” said Mikael, too quickly.

            Understanding settled on Adam’s face. “Seth.”

            Mikael wiped his sleeve across his forehead and finally nodded. “He just…” His free hand curled into a fist.

            “Is Josiah all right?”

            Mikael hefted the ax a few times before answering. “He found out.”

            Every nerve in Adam’s body tightened. “Where is Josiah?”

            “With Seth.”

            Adam turned to go, but Mikael stepped forward and gripped his forearm. “Don’t.”

            “He is our brother, Mikael. I have to do what I can.”

            “He’s taking over his training.” The young man’s blue eyes were heavy and sad.

            “When?”

            “It’s already begun.”

            Adam closed the small distance between them and dug his fingers into Mikael’s shoulder. “Where is he?”

            Mikael hesitated before answering. “The river.” His fingers slipped free of Adam’s arm, his broad shoulders sagging under the weight of defeat. “They’re at the river.”

            Adam hurried past his brother, raising his voice to be heard as he moved away. “What are they doing there?”

            “Adam!”

            He turned, his heart pumping hot blood madly through his veins. He could feel them throbbing at his wrists, his temple. “What is it, Mikael?”

            The ax-head scraped the ground. “He’s drowning him.” Mikael pressed his lips together and met Adam’s eyes. “He’s been doing it all evening.”

*******************************

He straightened and blew steam away from his cup of coffee. The steam curled away from the rim of the mug in ribbons, and for a moment he watched it in silence. “It’s just…been a very long week.”

            She tucked her hair behind her ear. “Why?”

            He opened his mouth, but closed it a second later and shook his head. When he met her eyes again, he was smiling. “Let’s talk about something more interesting.”

            She smiled back. “Like what, for instance?”

            “Like…are you and Bree related?”

            “You can tell?”

            “You seemed close,” he said. “At the bonfire.”

            He was an observant one, Adam. “We’re cousins,” she said. “Also best friends, but there aren’t many best-friend options in a place like this. We were stuck together.”

            “It must be nice, living in the same town.”

            “Actually…” December, slow down. You don’t want to spill your entire history in him during your second-and-a-half conversation. “We live in the same house. I live with her, my aunt Jo, and my uncle Lucas.”

            He took a sip of his coffee, his eyebrows raised in mild surprise. “Do you mind if I ask why?”

            “I always have,” she said. “My whole life.” He looked genuinely interested, so before he could ask any probing questions, she said quickly, “What about you? Have you always lived with Mikael and Celia?”

            “Always.” He spoke the word with a kind of wistful weight that made me feel there was an entire world of history behind it. And for some reason, she wanted to know what it was.

Disconnect: An Update and Some Snippets

So, after nearly a week of NaNo, how’s everyone doing? Are you happy with the way your novel is turning out? Do you still love your characters? Is your wordcount skyrocketing? If so – congratulations, you. If not – rev your engine! You can do it!

My novel stands at 19,000 words at the moment, almost exactly. Before you get jealous of the wordcount, let me be clear: I’m going to be gone for a fourth of this month, and so I’m pushing myself as hard as I can to get Disconnect finished before then. Will it work? Here’s hoping! Besides that, around the middle of week two, I usually go through my Crisis Slump. So I’m storing up words like a chipmunk.

My beta team has been fantastic so far, giving me feedback, encouraging me to keep going, and adopting my characters (really, there aren’t many things more fun for a writer than to see her characters being showered with love). So, all in all, this has been a brilliant NaNo – so far. I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed that it will continue to behave for the reset of November.

But enough gilding the lily – on to the fun stuff! I made a Playlist for you fellow music-lovers out there, and decided to post some of my favorite snippets (‘snippets’ meaning ‘larger than usual snippets’ because during NaNo I can’t post as often on here). If most – or all – of them end up including Chopper, it’s through no fault of my own. He even put himself on the playlist. Since when did main characters’ best friends get so pushy?

DisconnectPlaylist

I stood and let the students flow around me while I waited for Chopper. He was always last. Most people thought he was so polite he just wanted to wait until everyone else was off the bus, but really he was so lazy he didn’t want to have to fight his way through a crowd.

            I saw him at the back, a good head and shoulders above everyone else. His hair, long, wild, and sticking up all over his head, was the color of tomato juice, and his entire tall body was covered – from the mask around his nose and mouth to his platform boots – in black, skintight leather.

             I cupped my hands around my mouth and shouted, “Oi!”

            His head turned in my direction and his stride quickened. As soon as he reached me, he gave me his customary greeting. He smacked me upside the head. “Yo, baka. What’s up?”

**************************

            The murmuring of student voices quieted down as the doors closed and the bright, white light shone onto the homeroom stage. A different person gave the orientation speech every year, but they always had the same personality. It was like they had to fill out some sort of requirement sheet – ‘must be a Really Enthusiastic Person.’

**************************

The orientation speakers may have changed from year to year, but the speech itself hardly varied at all. Chopper and I amused ourselves by quoting entire sections word for word while the Hatsune Miku doppelganger below. When she smiled adoringly up at the gathered students and said, “And remember,” Chopper and I nodded and intoned, “The best game is a fair game!”

            I said, “However!”

            Chopper said, “The best game is also a surprising game!”

            “So be a good player, and give the fans a good game!” we finished in hushed voices.

            “Would you two be quiet?” the girl next to me asked, shooting us a poisoned stare.

            Chopper leaned forward so he could look at her. “You aren’t showing good sportsmanship,” he said, paraphrasing a middle section of the orientation speech.

            She glared harder. “Pay attention, freak.” She returned her attention to the speaker, scooting as far away from us as she could without sitting in the next closest students’ lap.

            “Itai,” Chopper said. “Ouch.”

            “Don’t take it to heart.”

            “I won’t,” he said. “My heart is carefully guarded against both name-calling and feminine wiles.”

            “One of those is deployed in your direction more often than the other.”

            “True.”

**************************

Chopper tucked the information packet between his knees and cracked his knuckles. “I need to stretch my legs.”

            I tugged the packet free. “You always need to stretch your legs.”

            “It’s a curse.”

            “You know I can barely hear you with that mask on,” I said.

            His eyes still on the wild chaos below, he patted my shoulder. “Don’t cramp my style, tiny.”

            I smacked the packet against his leg. “Call me that again and I’ll rip your lungs out through your nose holes.”

            His eyes, rimmed with heavy black eyeliner, slid over to me. “You’ll what?”

            I amended my statement to be a bit more realistic. “I’ll attempt to rip your lungs out through your nose holes.”

            He tossed his head back and laughed. “It’s nice that you dream big, Q. It really is.”

**************************

 

“I love your mom,” he said. Even sitting, the top of his head came up to my elbow.

            I let one arm dangle down over the rail. Needless to say, I couldn’t reach very far. “Careful. She’s married, and my dad might have something to say about that.”

            “Bummer,” he said. It was one of the American words he’d picked up, mainly from my mother. One of these days I had to remember to thank her for giving him more slang words than he could ever really use.

            Our attention was captured by the door to the roof as it flew open and banged into the wall. There was a surprised exclamation, and Gummy stuck her head through the doorway. Her eyes scanned the rooftop and when they landed on us, she smiled and stepped through. “Domo! I was wondering if you’d be up here.”

            Chopper waited several seconds for me to answer, but I was in too much shock about the fact that the girl of my dreams had actually sought us out and after a moment, he said, “Well, here we are. Sorry about Q. He’s got lockjaw.”

            Gummy peered at me. “But his mouth is open.”

            “Yeah,” said Chopper. “It’s locked that way.”

**************************

 “Sou ka?” he said. “Still. Listen to your senpai, kid. Girls like scars and muscles, and since you’re lacking in the scar department, muscles are the way to go. Unless you want to take a knife to your face.”

            “Do you think I should?”

            “Only under adult supervision.”

            “Meaning you.”

            “I said adult. Not responsible.”

**************************

 “Seriously.” He gripped two fistfuls of my hair and pulled it upward until I socked him in the side and told him to stop. “You need to get your head out of the clouds. I know you’re hopelessly in love with your dream girl, and all that, but one dinner and a half-hour conversation or whatever isn’t basis for a successful future.”

            I rubbed my head and snorted. “Since when are you concerned about successful futures?”

            “I don’t care about mine,” he said, standing in front of the homeroom door. “But you’re going to end up wrecking yours if you keep driving it like you stole it.”

            “What is that even supposed to mean?”

            He paused. “Not sure.”

**************************

The press was everywhere; swarming through the halls, clustering in the genkan, and trailing students. “I hate this,” I groaned in the cafeteria, after staring down a girl who reminded me suspiciously of Uranus from Sailor Moon. When I realized I was making the comparison between a reporter and an anime character, I turned to Chopper.

            “I’m worried about me,” I said, putting a few protein blocks on my tray.

            “That’s no big deal. I’ve been worried about you for years.”

            “I just thought that reporter looked like Sailor Uranus.”

            He looked over my head at the reporter. “Short blond hair, confident face, and mandatory micro-skirt – I can see the resemblance. You’re fine.”

            I moved up in the line and took a bottle of mineral water. “It isn’t the similarity that worries me so much as the fact I knew who Sailor Uranus was.”

            He frowned and rubbed his knuckles along the side of his mask. “Oh, hang on. I’ve got it. You and I used to watch Sailor Moon reruns on my dad’s old computer.”

            “I have no memory of that,” I stated.

            “Sometimes, you make me sad.”

            “I make you sad? I’ve just discovered that my best friend forced me to watch Sailor Moon reruns when I wasn’t looking!”

            “You were looking,” he said.

            “I still don’t remember this.”

            “You were nine.”

            “That would mean it was my second year at this institution, which means you were thirteen and definitely too old to be watching something like Sailor Moon.”

            “You had a crush on Jupiter.”

            I turned around and jabbed my fork at him. “Shut up now.”

            “You wanted to marry her. Actually, you also wanted to be a Sailor Moon yourself so you could fight all the bad guys.” He made exaggerated punching gestures in the air with the last five words, and then looked at me with a squint in his eyes that let me know he was grinning.

            “Urusai uzai ni ii kagenni shiro.” I gave him a warning glare. “Shut up and stop being stupid.”

            “Hey, I’m not the one who wanted to marry a planet.”

A little bit of both

Life has been interesting lately. I applied for a job (my first ‘official’ job ever) at a pottery/arts store not far from here, and it went well…but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I realize I don’t want a full-time job like that. I want to be a full-time writer. My parents are fine with that, so I’ve (99%) decided that even if there’s a possibility I could get the job, I don’t want it. I might take a part-time somewhere, but working twelve to nine five days a week doesn’t much appeal to me. Writing professionaly is, career-wise, my job and I’d like it to stay that way. I’m working on Paper Crowns and This Mortal Coil and all my other novels so I can publish them, which is going to take a bit more organizing on my part. So, while I roll all these around in my head and stifle my creative flow (seriously; I’ve been pounding out 2500 words a day and today I’ve written 324, which tells me I need to relax xome) I decided to fiddle around and make a few fun things for you.

Fun thing #1: This Mortal Coil, modern AU! (AU – alternate universe) TMC is set in my own sort of alternate history, with a mixture of the modern and the old-fashioned, but a straightforward modern timeswap was fun to imagine.

TMC-modernAU

Fun Thing #2: Another Paper Crowns playlist. The world is full of perfect music that inspires this book, and so I condense my very long (read:  7.1 hour long) iTunes playlist into a few mini-playlists for you now and then. Enjoy listening!

Paper Crowns Playlist2

Fun Thing #3: A playlist for The Midnight Theater, the sequel to This Mortal Coil. I haven’t given you many peeks into that yet, so enjoy a mix of slightly creepy, slightly epic, slightly victorian music.

The Midnight Theater playlist

Fun Thing #4:  Paper Crowns’ spinoff, Glass Hearts, has a companion – Shadow Puppets; featuring Asterope (a wysling who shows up in chapter thirteen) and Hermione, his sort-of adoptee. I had a debate with myself whether to use the name Hermione, since J. K. Rowling more or less monopolized it, but a discussion with some friends led to the conclusion that a.) Rowling doesn’t own the name, and 2.) I can shatter the roof and free monopolized names forever! Or at least I can hope. Anyway, here are Asterope and Hermione.

HermioneandAsterope

Finis.