Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tooth and Claw: Chapter Six, part one

Prologue; Chapter Five, part two.

Monday, June 11th, 2012

                Keira Swain sits in unusually bad traffic behind the wheel of her RAV4.  Her fingers curl in to choke the steering wheel, then unclench.  She’s going to be late.
                She looks around to take stock:  she’s on Las Vegas Boulevard, staring right at the Stratosphere, some two and a half miles from the Paris, where she keeps the books.  Three and a half, after she doubles back along the divided highway at Veer Towers.  If traffic is this bad all the way along the strip, she thinks, I’ll probably be better off jogging East at Sahara and then turning South on Paradise.  The more she thinks it over, the more the plan makes sense.  The light traffic along Sahara, coming into view now, gives her hope.
                Time to be a rock star accountant, she thinks with a grin as she flips her blinker to change lanes.  Edward had called her that – “You must be the rock star of accountants,” he’d said.  Those agents last night had asked an awful lot of questions about him.  She checks her mirror, and a black sedan jumps out at her from the receding traffic.
                Probably just my imagination.
                She looks again.  Still there.  She can’t see the driver, though.
                Probably just a coincidence.
                As she approaches the light at Sahara Avenue, she sees the sedan flip its own blinker and queue up behind her some four cars back.
                We’ve probably just got the same idea.
                Nevertheless, as she stares down the traffic light, she forms a plan.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pile of Links! (With Commentary!)

My best friend bought me Guild Wars 2 so we could play together (because I bought my best friend Torchlight and Torchlight II so we could play together... it's a vicious circle...).  I've been doing that quite a bit, lately; which is unfortunate, because I feel like I really turned a corner in chapter five.  In any event, I've been playing vidjamagames and catching up on the internet, so here are the highlights.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tooth and Claw: Chapter Five, part two

Prologue; Chapter Five, part one

                Jerry and Keira dine in silence.  Their son has left for dinner with friends, and Jerry’s smartphone monitors his every movement with the in-plan tracking service from their provider.  The device is tilted against an unlit candleholder on the dining room table – Jerry watches a dot, color-coded for “Virgil” according to the legend, move South through the North Las Vegas streets.  They’re going to the McDonald’s on Bonanza, about a mile away.
                “Yeah, sure,” Jerry had said wearily when Virgil asked if he could go, after providing the details (who was driving – “Ryan’s mom” – who would be there – “Ryan and Chris and Billy from school” – how long they’d be gone – “I don’t know, dinner-ish time?”).  It was good for him to be around friends, and the empty house left his parents time to process their own emotions.  Win-win.
                Except all Jerry could do was watch the screen of his smartphone, scrutinizing the luminous display for any sign of trouble.  And all Keira could do was watch her husband, scrutinizing his illuminated countenance for any sign of worry.
                They had developed something of an unspoken agreement for avoiding eye contact during meals:  Keira would look down at her plate to take a bite, and Jerry would look at her.  Then, when Jerry looked down to take a bite from his own plate, Keira would hear the scraping of utensil against dish and look at him.  Virgil had sat across from Della, and so was able to look straight ahead through phantom blinders – focusing on the kitchen island one moment, the stove the next, the clock on the wall after that, then the refrigerator, and back to the island – anything but the empty chair right in front of him.
                Jerry and Keira did not avoid eye contact because they blamed each other for the death of their firstborn – quite the opposite, in fact.  They each felt singularly responsible, and neither could bear to look the other in the eye.  It was only in bed, in the dark, that they would honestly turn to each other for comfort:  the day’s long labor done, they drifted off to sleep in each other’s arms.
                The killing irony was this:  if Della could have seen the desperate rift her absence had torn through the family, she would have instantly repented of every insipid, entitled thought about “specialness” she’d ever had.  Doubly so, had she also heard the sobs and speeches at her funeral, seen the tear-streaked faces at her vigil.  She had left a Della-shaped hole in the lives of her friends and family, and the only reason she couldn’t see its size and importance was because she had gotten used to living in it every day of her life.
                Virgil’s phone turns East from North Pecos Road onto Bonanza, and there they are at McDonald’s.  Good.  Jerry breathes a sigh of relief as Keira watches; she then looks down to cut a tender bite of grilled salmon steak that she could swear tastes exactly like hot buttered cardboard.  Right on cue, Jerry looks up and says, “They’re at McDonald’s, safe and sound.”  Keira nods as she chews, swallows.
                “Good,” she says, raising her head as Jerry sections off some rice pilaf with his fork.  “Thanks for the update.”

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tooth and Claw: Chapter Five, part one

Hey, folks!  I haven't quite finished it all, but it's been a few days, so I figure I ought to at least post what I've got.  Here that is.  I'm also at 22K words (22,417, to be exact), so maybe I ought to save something if I want to have anything to do during National Novel Writing Month!  (I won't cheat, my goal will be to write 50,000 new words during November.  That will count and everything, I promise!)
                Della lands flat on her back with an indelicate thump.  Rage reaches up from her throat, but she squeezes her eyes shut and chokes it back down.  She shakes her head to clear it, opens her eyes, and sees Jamie reaching down to offer her a hand up.  She takes it, and is pulled swiftly back to her feet.
                “OK,” Jamie says, “What happened there?”
                “You knocked me down.”
                “But how?”
                “You – ” Della pauses.  She had thrown a punch, but then her foot – of course.  “When I stepped forward to punch, you pushed my foot even farther with yours.  That put me off-balance, so you only had to do a little to knock me down.”
                “Right.  Now come at me again.”
                Della smoothes out her gi, takes a deep breath, and drops into her stance.  She and Jamie begin to circle each other in the ring.  Della pays closer attention to her footing – in order to close and strike, she needs to first commit with her foot, unless she can draw Jamie out.  So she hadn’t thrown a punch and then her foot was moved, she had stepped to punch but was interrupted before she could even swing.  OK, so do better next time.
                Della steps in with her right foot, a straight punch on its way – Jamie once again goes to kick it out with her own leading right foot, but Della has feinted.  Instead of putting her foot down, she lifts her knee and turns her hips for a roundhouse kick.  Before she can snap, though, Jamie pops a single knuckle into her quadriceps, right above the knee.  Della’s leg goes wobbly, and Jamie slides in, her left biceps under Della’s leg and her right elbow coming to a halt within two inches of Della’s face.  Dell’s eyes go wide, then Jamie lifts her leg a tad more and dumps her on her back again.
                “And there,” Jamie asks after helping Della up once more.  “What was that?”
                “You hit my leg,” Della says, replaying the exchange in her mind.  “And it stunned me, so you moved in.”
                “Good.  So, try again.”
                Della smoothes out her gi, takes a deep breath, and drops into her stance again.  She and Jamie begin to circle each other once more.  So it’s not just my footing, she’s got a second line of defense.  Della waits until just before Jamie is mid-stride – an easy task, as she is stepping slowly and steadily – then darts in with a quick right jab, feinting again.  Jamie goes to block it, but blocks across her body with her own right hand, so Della follows up with a left hook.  Jamie blocks high, easily, her right arm already in position – exposing her torso to a left roundhouse kick.  Just as Della had planned.  But as Della turns her hips, Jamie steps in with her left foot and shoves an open left palm right into the joint where Della’s left femur meets her pelvis, sending her off balance again.  Della recovers, though, and reaches for Jamie’s gi.  The two grapple briefly, and Della kicks out one of Jamie’s legs, then sends her tumbling to the mat – and then Della is pulled right along with, watching in slow motion as Jamie tumbles smoothly out of the throw and sends Della to the mat face-first.  The holds are released, and Jamie helps Della up yet again.
                “OK,” Della says.  “I got it.  Learning how to take a fall, learning how to step, learning how to place your hands – yeah, I got it.  They’re all important.  Fine.”
                “Good,” Jamie says with a  nod.  “Shall we continue the lesson, then?”
                “Yes.  Please.”

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"Desserts got nothin' to do with it."

This was a thing I was going to post a couple Christmases ago.  I decided not to.  But then a friend posted something that made me think of it... so here it is.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tooth and Claw: Update!

Added two pages to chapter four, because I remembered that Hey!  I was gonna cover Elias' initiation.  Then I went and didn't.  Stupid.  S'all better now.  :)  You can Ctrl+F for "apology accepted" if you don't remember where the last version ended.

Ugh.  I'm starting to hate Della.  Mainly because of stupid teenage angst - not that the specifics are hitting close to home, just the general idea that the world owes me something.  You had that feeling as a teenager, right?  Going back to that just makes me feel... dumb, I guess.  The sheer ease with which I can dredge it up makes me feel like I haven't made much progress after all, so of course I take it out on a fictional character (that makes me even more grown-up, right?).

One of these next two chapters will be back to Della and some bloodkin secrets and stuff; the other will be about Hunters.  It comes down to how much time I feel like narrating over.  We're just getting to June, so the next bit with Ferraille won't be for another like three weeks (book time).  I just have a little more background to lay before things get into full swing.

Oh, also:  fun things that I felt stupid linking at the time, but totally have to tell someone about otherwise they don't count.  There's a freakin' place called "Hellhole" in West Virginia, I looked up a list of caves then opened up tabs on the ones with the coolest names and then picked the one with the best features (namely, "not fully explored").  Hellhole was the one that fit the bill.  Yay!

Plus, the Olympic torch really did go out.  It turns out that this happens a lot, actually.  They carry spares and everything.  One of the times it went out was due to water (on a river, of all places!), but I picked one where it was just wind, and it happened to work out.  Yay again!

Even better, there actually was an eclipse the day before the torch went out.  I found this out because I was like, "Hmm, I need to put something here in this part, what would've happened in their storyline the day before?  Let's see, what moon phase was it?  Oh, there was an eclipse!"  Yay again, again!  It's like the damn Universe wants this book to be written, and it's just throwing material in my face.

Also, the meteor crater is a real place, known as Barringer Crater.  I have been there, it is awesome in the literal sense of "gives you some awe to ponder."  They have the Holsinger meteorite just out on display, it's not secured or anything (because it weighs 1,440 lbs, or 650 kg), you can touch it and everything.  I believe they called them (the meteorites) "diablo stones," because of the nearby Canyon Diablo, but I might be making that up (plus, Googling "diablo stone" gets you all kinds of irrelevant shit).  So I go and look the place up to build the pack's territory around it, and I see that it's right near Winslow, Arizona - and I just had to go for the stealth pun/reference.  I had to.  (Also, I decided to make Elias a trail guide before I looked up the town, and Google-maps-ing Winslow puts you right at the intersection near the Old Trails Museum, which was a little too convenient...)

OK, that's enough outta me.  Bedtime!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Tooth and Claw: Chapter Four

Prologue, Chapter Three

                A little over a week past his first journey into the Spirit Wild, Elias Rodham was going through some changes of his own.  He had not been overweight, since his job was to lead hikes in the desert (supplemented by a small woodcarving business he had on the side), but he had certainly been soft since his only real exercise was long walks with light gear.  Now he went running with the pack every evening, always with Uma and Tajo, usually with Carter and Willy as well.  Every other night, he would lift weights at the gym which Carter owned and where Willy worked.  The changes were slight, shy of two weeks in, but noticeable thanks to the intensity of his training regimen.
                All in all, he was happier; living somehow felt more alive, everything seemed more vivid even when he wasn’t in the Wild.  The joie de vivre he seemed to have lost during his teenage years, gradually replaced by the resigned boredom of adulthood, was back with a vengeance.
                Now it was Thursday, the thirty-first of May.  The Moon was gibbous, Rufio’s moon, soon to be handed down to Elias.  Tonight, in fact; and then Elias would be going through changes of another kind entirely.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lineages and Stuff!

I started writing another chapter in Tooth and Claw, after tacking on another half-page to the last chapter which didn't quite feel finished, but I got distracted.  Distracted by what?  Well, a few things.  There was this comment thread over on Daylight Atheism, and there was a Facebook conversation that I got tied up in, and another Facebook conversation that resulted in an email.

For those who might be wondering, I follow the "Can I Punch You in the Face?" rule for Facebook.  This rule follows the question, "Have I ever had the opportunity to punch you in the face?"  If so, we can be friends on Facebook.  If not, we cannot be friends on Facebook.  If I've been able to punch you in the face, and wanted to friend you on Facebook, I would have done so by now.  Double-promise.  :)

Anyway.

The tying-up-Facebook conversation was with a Libertarian friend of mine, and he's kind of an asshole, so I'm not gonna bother with that.  But I have hope for him, because he is ruthlessly logical!  (And yet I despair, because his fundamental premises are so flawed!)

The e-mail conversation ended up being to one Doctor Dick Dawkins (the triple D sounds so much better, doesn't it?), and I'll just post it here in its entirety, because I should be getting to bed soon and... well, really, I've grown into a responsible adult and so that's reason enough.  Right?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tooth and Claw: Chapter Three

Prologue, Chapter Two

                Seven stories underground, Della awakens with a deep breath.  She can feel the changes more and more.  Foremost among them is that she is now acutely aware of her own heartbeat, the “thump-ump, thump-ump” of systole and diastole, and the rhythmic flow of pressure throughout her bloodstream.
                She is also ravenous – not quite hungry, she doesn’t feel so much as a tingle from her stomach, but she is positively desperate to feed.
                Della sits up in bed, turns to set her feet on the carpeted floor.  Faint echoes bounce off the walls and return to meet her ears, subtle sounds she has never heard before.  Her sense of smell is keener, too – she wrinkles her nose at the myriad unfamiliar scents of her own body as she draws back the covers.  She rises to her feet and walks to the small bathroom to set about her morning routine.
                Evening routine, even, she thinks to herself as she brushes her teeth.  Her face was a blurry smear in the mirror, like the glass was distorted wherever she tried to look at herself.
                The simple pleasure of a hot shower is not yet lost on her, though she notices with brief alarm that her sunburn has vanished without a trace.