Monday, December 30, 2013

Road Trip Chapter 4

(I had hoped to finish posting this series before the new year. Nano got in the way of editing/fixing stuff so the rest will go up in January -- it is already almost all posted on tumblr, so there is that, and is mostly all edited/fixed by now though I suspect I will catch the odd typo/tense error for some time.)

4. Stories & Lies

I leave Jay in the back seat with instructions to rest; he curls up against the door and is out cold moments later. From the look of the fast food containers in the front neatly filled with other bottles and candy wrappers he’s gone through a staggering amount of food but needed no urging to sleep. I try not to worry about it as Charlie taps the wheel carefully and waits.

“Human vision is limited; his vision isn’t human. He can see colours we can’t, probably because a good number of Others use camouflage techniques here, if out where they’re from. It’s kin to how fish see a lot more than people do.”

“So if I had tried to see whatever that man was, I’d have been noticed?”

“Yes. I probably would have as well; for him it’s entirely normal to see such things.” I let out a breath and nudged the bond, but Jay seemed entirely asleep. “He had to use a lot of esses to explain it – or fail to, really, but he hates saying them to anyone except me.”

“He hates being reminded of how weak he is. Fine. I get that.” I say nothing and her gaze flicks over to me. “What? He told me he was worried his binding you meant I’d hate him: I said it wasn’t like that and things are okay, and now you’re going to tell me I’m wrong. Because you are the magician.”

“Which means things aren’t okay?” Charlie says nothing in turn, focusing on the road. “He’s not human. He looks it, yes, and he’s learning to act it, but I imagine he can probably see bindings as easily as we’d see sunlight but we don’t have the language to describe it.”


“That was a weighted grunt,” I say, as seriously as Jay would.

It wins a ghost of a smile. “I’m trying to get this straight in my head. Shadows attack us, and because of that we’re drive across the country with Jay to meet another magician, partially because he’s a weird little shit but mostly because you have some creatures from outside the universe pissed off at you.”

“Broadly, yes.”

“Why the car? You’re a magician.”

“Magic is need and desire, as I’ve said before. Our need to meet Leo in Washington State isn’t great enough to risk bending space and time, not when doing so weakens the walls between the worlds. and allow Others into this world that lack the power to get in alone. Viruses. Plagues.”

“Memes? Never mind,” she says, waving it away. “So magic doesn’t step over science?”

“Not knowingly. A magician who didn’t know of cars and the like could make gateways with almost no cost: it’s about knowledge as much as anything else.”

“Another reason most magicians don’t use the internet?”

“It’s not a question of ignorance being power, but more than knowledge can constrain magic if improperly applied. I think it’s one reason few older people become magicians and why most magicians tend to be limited: a magician who is able to do anything must, in the end, do nothing.”

“Like Mary-Lee,” she says slowly.

“I don’t know. She had someone alter my drink in the bar; I’m certain it wasn’t her, but why she wanted to speak to you and Jay and to what end I’ve no idea. You are a god-eater with a god inside them, Charlie: that isn’t too usual either.”

“And we’ve never ran into one we couldn’t see before. Because we couldn’t see them,” she says before I can say it, “but also because of reasons, right?’“

“You are a god-eater: it only made sense to try and keep you away from gods. For their sake and yours. The man at the automotive shop was probably an avatar, a human imbued with some of the gods power. Any place because care about deeply can manifest a god, which protects and limits it at the same time. Your business won’t expand but neither is it likely to fall victim to weird acts you’ll never explain to insurance or basic threats like recessions. Assuming one manages to call and manifest the right sort of god, of course. I did try and keep us eating in chain restaurants to avoid incidents.”

“And you never told me.”

“That did seem a way to help avoid incidents, yes.” Charlie looks back at the road at that, the god a flash of anger in her eyes for a moment despite an attempt at steadied calm, her anger a wash of warmth that bubbles through the car. “If I had told you, would you haver avoided gods?”

“That’s not the point: it was my choice to make.”

“No. You exist as you are now because of a working I did, Charlie. Magic doesn’t allow me to evade the responsibility of that while we travel together and I’d rather you didn’t leave.” I let out a breath. “I’ve done enough harm in my life without adding more if I can avoid it.”

“Magic as a guilt trip, huh? ’Magic is not power’, and all the stuff?”

“Yes. Consider it like balancing a pendulum. So far you’ve been one for my plus column.”

She snorts at that but does relax a little. “And Jay?”

“No idea at all. I’m trying not to think about that too hard.” I snag a pop and chocolate bar to eat. “To work magic, one must shape reality to one’s will. Become the very thing you change, so that there is no point where it ends and you do not begin. Some magicians never recover from that, from what it means, from what we are. I have seen too much, too clearly, to be wise, but it is easy to mistake wisdom for knowledge when you know more than others do. And magicians often do, in matters that concern us.”

“That’s a marginally better excuse for being an ass than most guys have,” she says, but her smile has less edges to it now. “So I could leave and really screw you up, huh?”

“How can leaving not harm another?” I offer, not meaning to wound, knowing it can’t help but do so. “Sometimes staying harms more, it is true, but it is hard to know which is worse even for a magician. If you can see deeper into someone than they themselves can, knowing what they desire and what they need becomes hard to understand at times.”

Charlie grunts, lights a cigarette and begins driving one-handed. “Tell me a story, then. About you, magic, Others.”

I let out a breath. “I spent some time in a small town on the outer edges of Vegas not long after the great Working Leo and I helped with. As the only survivors, we figured we should best lie low and major centres are a good way to vanish for anyone. Problem was that local drug lords had been vanishing for a good month before I arrived. It made the papers, mostly in a ’well, the police are looking into it, mostly to hand out civic awards’ sense. They’d all been out seeking homes for grow ups, hideaways and the like and vanished without a trace.

I helped myself to another pop. “So I went into Vegas and bent chance in my favour, returned in a suit and with a small fortune to begin renting places I could sublease to others. Wave around money, pay in cash, get cheaper deals. The end result was cheap rent for people and a small profit going back to the casino I’d made a deal with. It took almost five days to find a real estate agent who wasn’t human – it might be easier now, of course. It looked female, had a smile so bright it could only be fake and didn’t fool me.

“I fooled it, enough to be taken to a home on the outskirts of anything that ate people. Another Other, unable to leave the building it had become. The result of some poor banishing or attempted return outside the universe. The weaker one brought it nasty people as food so it didn’t call non-nasty people to it.”

“So they’re still there?” Charlie asks as she finishes her cigarette.

“I banished both, returned the money I’d acquired to the casino and the business itself to a family fallen on hard times. The building has no concern over who it ate, and the weaker Other wanted to return home but couldn’t alone. It turned out better than it could have.”

“They were helping the community, weren’t they?”

“The real estate agent was using the papers and rumours to find evil people to feed to the house: it was only a matter of time before they made a mistake. The house didn’t care who it ate, and it was only a matter of time before the real estate agent was caught.”

“Huh.” She peels open one of the candy bars, eyes on the road. “And you had to make that kind of judgement call alone?”

“One isn’t alive if one doesn’t make judgement calls,” I offer with a smile, “and knowing when to alter them and why is as important as making them. Now I would probably have kept them in the world and bound them: then I did what was basically reflex for a magician, even if it was for the right reasons.”

“Huh.” She drives for a good minute in silence, the back roads mostly empty except for a few trucks passing us that don’t give our car a second look, though one guy does bellow at us to find a satnav.

“What about you?”


“You have stories, I imagine. Everyone does.”

She pauses. “I was at a party once with a guy I knew who slipped LSD into random drinks. Richard was his name: Dick the dick we called him, for a lot of good reasons including that. One kid named Tyrone ended up screaming about mirrors and leapt off the roof of the house. Ended up in the hospital far as I know. Before I met you, I’d have called it the weirdest thing I’d seen, a serious spazz-out.”

I don’t point out Tyrone was probably right about mirrors or that her pause probably meant some buried memory. “I meant about you, Charlie.”

She lights a cigarette and takes a deep drag of it. “I was eight years old when I first brought my mom a steaming pot of coffee to wake her up in the morning. You know functioning alcoholics: fuck that noise. Mom didn’t function at all most of the time, near as I could tell. Dad did sales. Travelled,” she says, giving the word a sharp weight.

I met her dad in a coffee shop. I don’t add to it.

“I think he loved her. Asked myself that a lot, once I figured things out. Why else would a gay man marry a woman if he didn’t love her?”

There is cruelty in telling people truths they know; I don’t point out nothing is that simple.

“By the time I realized what was going on, mom didn’t. Maybe she never wanted to. She’d had to give up drink after DT hit and dad’s money couldn’t cover for something she did at some event. So she fell into valium, stuff like that. Medicate the world to happiness, shit like that. Mom fell apart, dad held the family together. It was normal enough, from what my friends said, though for most of them it was therapists that held their families together.” She lets out a smoke ring. “That and prenups.”

“And yet you smoke,” I say.

“Fuck yeah. Everyone needs a crutch; this is mine. Less expensive than most others. You drink.”

“Not as much as I used to.”

“I don’t smoke as much as I used to either.”

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Result of 2 hours...

A new story in the magician series. I've started a series of stories involving Charlie and her working for CASPER (The Centre for Secure Poltergeist Elimination Research), which basically involves her working with a ghost who is a ghost-eater on a truly ludicrous budget thanks to cutbacks. The stories are set after the magician series, in which Charlie leaves the magician and Jay to pursue her own life and plans.

I do plan to have her life intersect back with the magician and Jay but figured it would be fun to do more stories just about Charlie and also helps broaden up the world a little.

From the story:

I sigh and begin shoving brambles out of my way as I head toward the house. I could rip through them: I have a monster inside me, a thing of claw and shadow, a god forged of fear and flame, but the ghost might notice. And it seems kind of silly to to call up for brambles, but less so as Dyer just wanders through them, his already ripped leather jacket barely touched by them while my winter jacket gets ripped and torn up to match his. I’m in a mood by the time we reach the house.

“I should go first,” Dyer offers in his soft rasp as we reach what the perpetually open drawbridge leading into the old home. I turn and raise one eyebrow; he falls back a couple of steps and licks his lips.“Charlie, no one has lived here for close to a hundred years. The floors could well collapse –”

“They wouldn’t dare.”

Ghost-boy is good at sounding nice; I’m good at sounding like I’m a few seconds from doing something the other person is going to regret. He snaps his mouth shut and says nothing else as I head across the doorway and into the house.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


There are things even a magician cannot avoid forever, powers which even magic cannot bind or loose. I try, but it is me against the world and the world wins out. There are so few places in the world I could escape to with Jay and he would ask questions about why we had gone to them, why we’re just upped and left North America when I have friends and responsibilities I cannot simply abandon. Jay is slowly learning about this universe, being from far outside it, but one thing he understands better than I ever could is bindings.

Which is why, despite my efforts and tricks, he drags me into a mall in a small town two days before Christmas with frantic comments about bindings falling apart. Jay is small and thin, looks to be about ten and can pass for younger. The lisp helps with that, and the fact that he is very young by the standards of creatures from Outside the universe. He is afraid all the time, but you would be too if you’d fled into the universe because every single thing you met wanted to eat you. Fleeing into the universe had damaged him, with the lisp being an outward sign of damage even a magician cannot fix. Jay looks like a little kid, I’m a magician. I don’t look like whatever you expect. Appearing ordinary and unremarkable is a skill few people bother to acquire, magician or not. People just think twenty-something with nephew and never think further about me.



He stops. “Every binding here ith breaking down,” he hisses, practically hopping from foot to foot, gaze darting from person to person frantically. The mall isn’t much to speak of but is still jammed with last minute shoppers with scowls and lists, the Christmas music playing in the background sounding like nothing so much as irony.

“I know.”

“Fix it,” he pleads, because his trust in me has never wavered. I’ve damaged the binding between us at least once, forced him to call up his potential self and damaged him further and he still trusts me.

There are things even magic cannot fix. I reach down, wrap his hand in mine and start walking.

“Honcho?” he says in a small voice. I don’t like using my name in public, he doesn’t like trying to say the word magician. I can feel him pushing at the bindings between us like a sore tooth, trying to understand. “You were hiding thith from me?”

“I’ve hurt you enough the past few weeks.”

“I’m fine!”

“Charlie isn’t travelling with us, and that is my fault.” I don’t say why. Jay forgave me for using him; Charlie couldn’t do that. “This is a bad time of yearn to be a magician,” I add as we wind our way between shoppers. “Magic answers need, bends it to give people what they want. But this time of year there is nothing but needs. Christmas is about making the transient last: gifts of presents are an echof of deeper and older powers, the shifting of the seasons. The war against entropy.”

“I don’t like it,” he mumbles.

“You don’t like entropy?”

“No, the – the other word.”

“Christmas.” He nods. I find a bench and sit. “Read up on it on your phone.”

He does so for a good ten minutes, focused on nothing else, then looks up. “I thought the lightth were to hold back the dark?”

“They are. Everything changes, rituals become traditions but do not lose their power.” He says nothing. “All right, I’ll bite: why don’t you like it?”

“It ith really hard to thay,” he says, and breaks out into a huge grin at whatever he sees on my face.

“I see.” I stand and grin in turn. “We’re doing this, then. Come.”

Jay blinks but follows me through the crowd until we reach Santa’s grotto. It isn’t big, consisting of one styrofoam reindeer, one sour kid in an elf costume and an older man with a false beard who is trying to smile in the face of terror and crying children. All children instinctively fear Santa Claus; so many adults forget to wonder why. Jay trembles slightly, fingers tight in my grip. He can see the threads that bind people together easier than we see colours; I can barely imagine what this might be like. But he says nothing, so I keep silent as we reach the front of the line.

“You’re old,” Jay says. He has no power to put into his voice, but he knows things nothing human can, and the awful certainty of his words causes the costumed man to pause. “All that need, all that power, and humanity turned it into a game. Took the dark and bound it to the light. A gift, a present, a giving: a bargain with the world that is old enough to not be a bargain at all but the way of it.

“They can’t even imagine the awful thing you’ve bound with thethe ritualth,” he adds, softer, his gaze turning to me. “And I think you don’t know either?” For a moment he looks so small and scared I think he’s going to start sucking on his thumband not stop, but Jay pulls himself out of the seeing, back into the world, reaches for strength from me and then for magic.

A magician cannot work magic in this place and not become trapped in the myth of it. There are stories so powerful that no magic can break them, and no way to know why we still tell them. I give him strength and power and wait, feeling the energies of the world twist in unfamiliar ways. I don’t know what Jay is doing; I’m almost certain he doesn’t either.

“All they want,” Jay says, and my power threads through his voice, binding the old man in a costume and the elf, reaching out to other grottos, other places, “is to not be afraid. Because it is cold and dark and the light seems far away in a world that is half-dying in ice. They want family to be family and friends to be friends; you don’t have to be small that the gifts you give no matter at all.” He smiles at the Santa then, and whispers a wish so soft I don’t catch it at all save to know it is entirely in his own voice.

Jay snags my hand a moment later and pulls me away from the grotto. “You can get your family gifth now,” he says proudly.

I pause, stop dead, stare down at him. The crowds seem less frentic, the children in line for Santa more curious than terrified and the world is – I turn then, in a slow circle, and see people and nothing more. “That was all a trick.”

“Yup! I needed your voithe to not thound thilly,” he grumbles, then grins again. “And I helped them and you and it wath a very good binding.”

“Yes.” I can feel my magic, deep and quiet, bound under the power of the season and Jay’s will. To be a magician without magic for one even a few hours was a gift, though not one I imagine Jay would be able to pull off again. “You could have used that moment to say the word Christmas.”

He rolls his eyes and just grins, pulling me toward a store. “It’th your turn to come!”

“Uh huh.” I let go of his hand and walk slowly. “And if I was to ask how much of this was so that I’d get you presents, Jay?”

“I do need a new phone,” he says in a tone so serious it almost throws me until he sticks out his tongue and half-skips into a store.

I shake my head and follow. A small part of me is horrified he bound my power so easily but I take it as a gift of the season along with a desire to never find out what creature Jay is certain humanity bound with Christmas. I buy him gifts, and give him money to buy me a few with, shock my family by calling them on Jay’s phone.

I wait until my magic frees itself from his binding before we have a snow ball fight.

I win.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

In which I figure out plot stuff...

Ah, screenplays. Or, more accurately, entire TV series season. On the plus side, it only took me 11 days to figure out a major plot point. On the downside, it does mean I need to rewrite a chunk of my 10,000 words of notes. I have written out an outline for the first 2 episodes (closing in on 3K words) and will do very short synopsis-bursts for the next ones and then revise the setting/info files.

Which should be done before the new year so I can work on Ghoulish Happenings at that point, then get back into this project and write out an actual treatment for the first episode. With luck it shall work....

OTOH, working on the project is handy for ideas about novels and games in general. I'm having to focus a lot more on the antagonist than I usually do and that is a good thing for any project. On the flip side, I've probably made it too complicated but that can easily be ironed out later on.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

December funmas

Having been bugged into trying my hand at a screenplay I decided to go for broke and create an entire kids tv show, possibly. I've done about 5500 words of background, the setting and character files as if it was being done up for others to add to and improve upon it. I am currently waiting on paypal to transfer monies and then shall buy Scrivener and begin building actual stories in that. This is mostly an experiment for the sheer fun of doing it rather than going 'I will make this and pitch it at people and They Will Buy It' that's also keeping my brain occupied from working on edits on Ghoulish Happenings, since I don't want the holidays to interfere with that and they will definitely do so.

Also reading one book on making screenplays and plan to read another, though I suspect the ambition -- to make an entire tv series -- far oustrips ability at this point. It should still be fun to do and probably fit the idea rummaging in my head rather well. It is very much in the embryonic stage: I have the one one main character and his family figured out but I'm still working on the others and the villains as well. By choice I'm trying to avoid any Chosen One tropes and try and have fun with the concept of hunting monsters and how such people get raised ....

Monday, December 02, 2013

Facebook status updates part XXII (July &- October 2013)

"The world would be so much simpler if I could remember how to lie."

"My life is like."
"Is like?"
"Is like, yes."

Dear Santa:
I know it's late, but can you fix mommy's cough?

One of the interesting things about planned missions to mars: you could make them one-way, with people knowing they'd never make it back, and still never lack for volunteers. Which is all kinds of awesome.

"They say that even Lucifer fell, you know. And if the first of the angels fell, what hope have you of not joining him? What hope do any of us have?"
"We have hope. It counts for something."
"Does it? I wonder, I truly do."

"Magic is what lets us escape from the world. What could be more perfect than a trap so pure?"

The sin in altruism is deeper than that which hides in pride.

Ideas in my head that I will never actually write:
An Opera about trying to fund a musical.

I wish I could find some magic,
Just a little to have and hold:
I'd give a little of everything
To not watch you grow old.

And it seems I’ve made a mess
Of things trying to be kind;
I drop shells on a seashore
I wait for you to find.

Canada: Still including Quebec.

"It's always hard to find home again if you're never sure it was home at all. "
.... I am writing too many short stories lately.

I uses to trust you until I realized you were like all the rest. When you sleep you are as weak as everyone else. The strong know how not to dream.

I wonder if the people who send spam emails realize how horrible a vegetarian must feel on opening one?

She smiles at you from every family portrait, though she never did once when she was alive.


"I used to be a superhero, you know. But the IRS didn't allow me to claim anything for expenses, so here I am. Now please hand over your wallet and I won't have to hurt you."

It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would that he was scared of me. Not when I was scared of me too.

If. So wild a word. So sad a hope.
Random find of the day: someone whose qualifications included 'professional psychedelic'. It took effort to not send a message asking for details on that.

The magician snapped the fingers of his right hand. "Magic, you see, is also about misdirection: while you've been watching me for strings and mirrors, my assistant has been in your office hacking into your computer."

"You made me. Everything that I am, you shaped. I am who I am because of you and if am not to hate myself then how can I hate you?"

My fillings do not have crowns; not because of money, but because I will not support the monarchy.

We are the kind of people no one will write songs about.

What if cats really did have nine lives? Think of how much it would benefit animal testing: there would be mice cheering the world over.

What we desire should terrify others as much as it does us. How can one small world compass our impossible greed?

Despair is finding out what self-help books your guru uses.

I plagiarized so many poets in poems I wrote to you
Trying to feel something that wasn't real at all.

I wrote you a poem.
This is
That poem.

Sometimes I think that you're not real,
Sometimes that I'm not either;
And everything that falls apart
Does so for a reason.

Fun fact #1: there are no fun facts.

Dear brain: It is past midnight. This is not the time to start giving me ideas for short stories.
Thank you, the rest of Josh

He was so tired that he slept through his own death and could not be convinced that the afterlife was more than a poor hallucination.

Fun things to do in a doctors office: add random books to their office shelves.
Twilight and Philosophy: the definitive guide.
Homeopathy & You: medicine with no side-effects to worry abound!

Books for the dentists office --
Truly Alternative Payment Plans: kidnapping nephews in exchange for two free crowns.
Reading Saccharine Love Poetry: a treatise on the potential dangers of cavities.

The magician discovered he could summon anyone in the pentagram by invoking cat videos on YouTube.

"You are a monster!"
"And you think hating me because of that doesn't make you monstrous?" I flashed a grin of sharp teeth. "I may not be able to help what I am; can you?"

"Huh. Lucky."
"No, clever." He smiled tightly. "It's not the same thing at all."

The supervillain enacted Stage 1 of his plan to take over the world by hacking every celebrity twitter feed and starting the mother of all cyberwars.

Things I would do if I had no morals:
Write a self-help book.

Feng Shui II: Feng Harder.

I am making up fake facts for people to claim are true about themselves.
'I own four parrots all named after famous celebrities; I have taught each of them to speak in the voice of their celebrity. ' is the sanest thus far.

This isn't the poem you meant to read.

There are sadder words in English --
Deeper too, that rend and tear,
But: "I used to be a poet"
Holds bleakness all its own.

Your genius is loving me when I don't deserve it.

The Detective's third wife divorced him after he tried to arrest her for eating more calories than her current diet plan had allowed.

"How dare you say that to me?"
"I am dreadfully sorry. You had told me you wanted the truth. I can see how that you were lying when you said that as well."

If we can make it through the failure of our dreams
about ourselves, each other, the world entire –
if we can fall through that but hold together
with fingers, worlds, whispers, promises.
If we can hold together with cracked hearts.
If we can make each other whole
Our dreams won't matter then.

Spoiler alert: we are spoiled for alerts.

On growing up:
there comes a point in every child’s life when they realize that Peter Pan was a monster.

You crossed half a world to tell me
Things Hallmark could instead

I see the Vatican suspended a bishop for insane expenses. They must be livid: imagine the amount of abuse scandals that money could have hushed up.

Bad pick-up line concept: "You are why I don't need feminism."
(Or, "You are why I need feminism." It probably works either way.)

The publisher realized they had a problem when the proof copies of their latest vegan cookbook were leather-bound.

"If I was a dog, you would be my best friend."

My nanowrimo novel is going to include a scene where a creature from outside time and space pesters an elderly couple with relentless logic until they decide to talk to their granddaughter, whom they have shunned for living in sin (aka with a boyfriend and not yet married).
.... this is gonna be a weird novel, even by my standards.

This poem is
Shorter than
It needs to be.

This poem is
Longer than
It needs to be.

Six-word story:
"I loved you, so I forgot."

After the vice principal melted into a puddle of goop, no one ever mocked Jeffy's desire to perform an exorcism at the school talent show again.

"I wished -- ah, but what nightmare does not begin with those words?"  

Sunday, December 01, 2013

The madness. It is over. Day -1.

Huh. Ended up with a shade over 140,000 words this year. Pretty interesting all around: did a lot of write-ins with the local chapter, had two weeks of the month off work and had a lot of fun in the process. A breakdown ...

Curdled Magics: The magician series novel draft went well. It ended up at a shade over 50K when I had figured on, oh, 90K. I cut some parts out as 'not necessary' that were in retrospect necessary yo write. The second draft needs some fixing (the first 6,500 words are in past tense rather than present, for example) and there will be a lot to change, fix and improve in another draft but the framework of the story turned out to be rather solid. I do need to give it more room to breathe, but I can work on that as well.

Ghosting: A novella set after the novel from Charlie's POV. I wrote it for myself alone, so that I'll know how she met Dyer and what CASPER is and the like. Pure backstory. In the middle of a story, but even so.

Rogue Dreams: I don't generally do sci-fi, which is one reason I wrote it for my second nano. I try to do at least one genre or story I never do every year as a kind of crazy challenge. This story almost ate my brain a couple of times given the first 7,500 words were a mess and the story that followed on a new attempt bore no relation to the story I'd wanted to tell. On the plus side, that does mean that I can still tell that story at some future date. It also never lived up to the promise of the first scene, but trying sci-fi without any real worldbuilding or notes at all is a recipe for disaster anyway. A fun disaster, but still that. I will probably re-read it in a few months but likely do nothing else with it.

War & Pieces: A mainstream-attempt at a novel/satire of nanowrimo and thrillers. It started getting far more serious than it should and I borrowed a plot threat from a story I wrote 2 years ago that probably didn't work at all. It is a neat story but probably could never get published for reasons of, well, liability. I will go back to it in a bit, but I'll need to alter a lot of the character and, probably, make his family far less important to the story. I also need to figure out what kind of story it's going to be at all. It was a fun start to a story and should be great fun to tweak later.

All told, this year counts as a success as far as nanowrimo goes. I had to cancel nothing to do it, which is definitely a plus, and am left in that state of: 'Wake up! Wait. No need to write. Sleep?' mental place which is fun. I have in the past generally done one serious draft (sometimes a redo of a nano) from Dec.-Feb. but am mostly taking December off save from short stories. Will begin the edits/revisions on Ghoulish Happenings in January and then the re-do on the sequel to it after that. At which point I will probably begin edits/revisions on Curdled Magics. But we shall see how it all plays out.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Day Close to 30. Too close 30. Too close. Bad day.

Cutesey title aside, work on the one magician series novella is going well: it is basically about Charlie's first adventure in the weird on her own after the events in the Curdled Magics novel. I'm mostly doing this as backstory for Charlie's own, later adventures on her own in order to flesh out some ideas for the world and give her reference points to weird stuff that don't involve the magician and Jay. I am not sure I will finish it before the actual end of the month, but hope to.

So far the series timeline is:
  • piles of short stories (Over 30).
  • Road Trip novella, during which a trip is made to Oregon to stop creatures from Outside who want a new cold war. 
  • Curdled Magics. The novel, which is about the families of the MCs and the attempt to help a town that has sealed itself off from the world; as a result of the climax of it, Charlie leaves the magician and Jay to travel on her own for a time.
  • Ghosting. Charlie novella.
  • ?: Probably more short stories, once I get back into the flow of them.
I will mostly take December off from stuff, I think, to let my brain recharge a bit, and then spend January - ? on editing Ghoulish Happenings into a viable second draft for people to critique. I have stuff to expand for it and a few minor/major plot issues to fix but once that's done I'll be able to do another attempt at the second novel in that series. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Not the Mid-twenties: a nano update

Burning out a bit on the story. Past 127,000 words, which for me isn't a burn-out point at all this month but I have taken no day actually off from writing and this story is turning from a half-joke into wanting to be serious. Which I didn't expect at all. So I am plotting out the current story, the novel in the story that the narrator describes, building his family life and adding other scenes and such, at least some of which I know won't survive the draft.I'm almost at the point of ditching the narrator's family as fleshed out characters, as the point is more his descent into his own story and subsequent madness.

His unrelenting hatred of nanowrimo also does not help the writing. It is a fun story to do, but I think it would probably be better if it wasn't being done this month, or at least not on the tail end of the other two stories.

Best line from Thursday's writing at Chapters....
"Christopher is a first-year student whose nanowrimo novel is going to look like a five year old trying to write Lolita.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fragment of a scene

Kate was waiting for me when I left the lecture hall. I’d had worse T.A.s, seldom better ones: she was efficient, punctual and probably cared more about my job than I did. The worst people could say about her is that she has a nice personality. It was often also the best they said about her as well.

“You probably crushed some spirits in there,” she said, handing me a stack of papers that were messages from the university. They’d given me an email address even though I never checked it.

“A little crushing never hurt anyone. Anything interesting?”

She shook her head. “There’s a new writer in residence this week. Ronald Forbes, author of the Declare! series –.”

“I know who he is.” I kept walking.

“He sent an email about wanting to get together for coffee this afternoon; should I pencil him in?”
I wanted to say no. I knew Ronald of old, when he wrote for newspapers as Ronnie Forbes, before he created a story mill under his own name. Over a dozen novels come out a year by ‘him’, sometimes with the co-authors listed, often without. Declare! was your basic bare-bones plot: a unit of ex-something or others banded together by a mysterious leader who solved problems all over the world with extreme violence. The world of the thriller became an uglier place when communism died: the communists had standards. Terrorists didn’t. And Ronald and his cadre of authors had leapt into that, having torture scenes by all parties, shallow discussions on whether torture was a legitimate method of information extraction – often with the victim, while doing it. Some called it post-ironic. I didn’t think Ronald was capable of irony.

The lowest point in the series came after the spate of archaeological-thrillers that were all based around religious motifs led him to see an opening in that market. Ronald casually shoehorned Declare! into that by making it a ten-person unit and turning the mysterious leader – often widely held to be a younger John McCain – into Jesus reincarnated. Sales didn’t suffer. The series branched off into other genres after that under some shared-universe umbrella scheme that the best critics called a cheap parasol at best.

And we were to meet for coffee. He would probably ask if I wanted to write some of the series. The worst part was it would be a serious offer without malice in it. And I would say no. No, I don’t want to ghost write for you, Ronald. I would say no because it was all I had left.

Monday, November 18, 2013

And a third novel for the month.....


Jacob Sinclair barely achieved midlist fame as ‘a poor man’s Clancy’ in the 1980s with thriller novels about the CIA assassin Jeremy Burke. The collapse of communism took all his plots with it and his series died the kind of death that sees them mostly lingering unbought at used book stores. A bitter ex- author now teaching English at college and inadvertently destroying the authorial ambitions of his students, he finds his daughter doing National Novel Writing Month and declares the quest to write a 50,000 word ‘novel’ in one month to be an insult to real authors and an affront to Literature itself.

Jacob’s desperate quest to get his novels back in print culminates with a trip to San Francisco that will see him attempt to murder the entire nanowrimo board of directors – who might turn out to be ninjas – in a desperate attempt to defend the art of the written word against the modern insults intent on destroying it.

He may, or may not, be having a mental breakdown.

The Madness: (20-2) Day.

Sci-Fi story goes well, though I think the draft is going to end shortly. One major downside for me and pantsing is that the plot the story develops often doesn't have enough earlier foundations for it to work well. On the plus side, both the story and setting work rather well and I can easily fix it up in another draft and make it work just fine. This draft is, alas, not that one.

Also trying to ignore another story idea entirely, damn it :p

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Madness, the: Day IIIIX The words are hunting me down. Send help.

The second nanowrimo goes well. Just hit 33K  on it, and approaching a grand total of 95,000 words. My plan, story and plot willing, is to get to a total of 100,000 words by the end of tomorrow. I hit the 50K mark on day six and should hit 100K on day 15, which isn't that bad at all. This week has been marked by work and the effort of doing over a weeks worth of work in a single day on Tuesday led to a dismal 2,500 words last night when my brain gave up and demanded sleep.

On the plus side, the sci-fi story is solid and going well. I know how the story ends, and what some characters end-goals are, but I have no idea how the main plot is going to be achieved. If you create what amounts to God (for all intents and purposes) and then wish to upgrade It, what makes you think the god will allow that? It is pretty much the major plot of the book and attempts by various characters to drag the MCs into their conspiracy. As with all grand dreams and plans, it is not going to end well at all.

Some fragments of recent dialogue:

“I’m trying to access files in me. They altered me a lot you know.”
I pause. “Yes?” I offer up warily.
“What if I am now older than you?”
“It really doesn’t work like that.”

I hold myself together, barely ripple, the tendrils of my body still. He has to know my sib hunted System for any information about what was done to me. And that we failed to find anything at all. He’s giving away what he could have traded to us for no reason at all. “Why are you telling me this?”
“Because Asral asked me to. Insisted that I tell you anything I found to make up for his mistake in assuming you were your sibs pet. His father approved it.” Bren smiles slightly at whatever reaction my body gives away. “People aren’t monsters, even the worst of us.”
“That’s not what the war taught us.”
“The war ended. That should have taught you something as well.”

“You misunderstand: I don’t hate you. I do not even pity you. You are not worth that much notice. I suppose I may mildly regret knowing you exist at all.”

“You would be kind? In this world, knowing the things you now know?”
“I will be kind because it is this world. And maybe because there is nothing left to die after hope.”

“A dream that can come true was never a dream at all.”

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Day 01010: on writing methods

74,000 words on day 10. 7,500 of that is mostly discardable Rogue Dreams bits, but hey. The new start to said sci-fi story is going quite well and just proves, once again, that me and pantsing a story do not go well together.  I need more of an idea of where a story is going before I start out or it gets nowhere. Every time I've worked on this story it has been about themes, so this draft is tossing all that aside to focus on story. One of them three main characters -- in fact, the one the story was ostensibly about -- no longer exists at all. I know who is manipulating things, though their end-game is still a mystery, and the two MCs are playing off of each other rather well. I think I am going to need to tighten up the timeline and make it only a short time since the end of the war they were involved in, but that's minor.

What I have been thinking of, because of a friend's post on pantsing and plotting, is that those terms have done damage to a lot of writers. (I keep wanting to write 'untold damage', which must be nano creeping into my writing style :)) I don't think making the terms seem exclusive helps anyone, nor does saying a writer is one or the other: some stories can be done entirely by the seat of one's pants, others cannot. At the extremes, plotting is seen as writing out everything that happens in the novel so the story is basically the expansion of an outline where nothing surprising happens. Pantsing becomes, 'omg! AHHHH!' and rants about characters not doing what the writer wants. And so forth.

But ask any writer, once they start a story, about the story. Ask about characters, motivations, goals. And they know. It might only be subconsciously, in the case of the avowed pantser, but the author knows the characters, if not the exact thrust of the story they are going down. Ask 'if this ending happens, what does character B do' and they will be able to figure it out. The novel might be a choose-your-own-adventure in their heads, with story and plot not nailed down tight, but it seldom is for any author. Characters have their own voices. Ideas come up, things get nudged and changed.

Stories grow in the telling.

But thinking one has to write a certain way, that pantsing or plotting means a specific thing, is rubbish of the highest order. Every writer does what works for them. If something doesn't work, discard it and try something else. See what works best for the specific story you're telling. Don't become slaves to the terms, or take absurd pride in defining yourself by one or the other. They aren't mutually exclusive terms, or even clubs which one has to supply credentials to join. You're writing. So go write.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Rogue Dreams: the new start

Written at 2 am for the sci-fi story. New intro, new starting off point. Probably a new story entirely. I have no idea :)

There are warning messages flashing across my right eye. I think that’s what they are. I still have eyes. There is pain. I can feel that burning through whatever passes for sinews in my body like rivers of cold fire. I never thought you could hurt so much you fall out the other side of pain. Never thought. Not once never ever.

Fragments: Luka screams. I watch her left arm dissolve. There is no pain now. I move. I am sharp as my pain, cold as the fire. I tear through plasteel and flesh. Other things. There is other fire. Luka’s right arm pumping out shot after shot into targets. People. Targets.

(I am being shot.)

Luka, running, legs leaving craters in the ground, weapon systems belting out slug-throwers. Didn’t know they put those in anyone anymore. Flowing. Flexing. There used to be pain here. I move around her, blanket in the darkness, darkness as a blanket. She fires around me, something tears apart. Not us not her not me


Silence doesn’t tear apart.

Luka is standing, swaying, left arm ruined coils, right arm smoking and juttering, legs functioning. Functioning. Not real legs. Walks toward me. I try to stand. Nothing to stand with. They changed me. (I was shot. No, Luka. Before. She was shot before.) I fall inward, feel pain. There is pain in the silence. She is grabbing me, my sib, and I am flowing through her grip into the ground.

There are no warnings now. I think

I think this is

I think this is bad

I think we won

We’re not dead so we won.

The madness. Day: After 7. Before 9. Hi?

Yesterday I managed 7.5K by 11:30 pm.  In the space between morning and afternoon I wrote and re-wrote over 3K of words four times. I wrote the last 2K while closing in on midnight, noted that I'd lost both character's voices but there were at least a few pieces of good dialogue to dig through.

Went to bed. Thought. At 1 AM I realized I'd been doing the whole story wrong. At 1:30 AM, I realized the main character shouldn't be in it until near the end. If at all. At 2 AM I got up for over an hour and wrote 1,300 words to start the story back far, far earlier than it had  begun. There is a piece of writing advice that one should begin as close to the end as possible. I began far too close to the end. No one had any reason to care about the other characters. So I'm pulling back. Altering. This may no longer even BE the story I planned to write twice before.

It will be a better one.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

A ramble. AKA it is late and I am tired

I have been trying to figure out what to do for a next November project. I worked on two projects in my head a little and discarded others -- not from lack of desire, but I need a mental break from Urban Fantasy in any way, shape and form. It's not an exaggeration to say that Curdled Magics took up all the space that was in my head for stories. I was forcing myself not to change ideas just before November, as I am want to do, and fully expected the draft to take a) longer and b) be longer.

It did not.

So tonight has been bits of research and slowly pulling an old idea back from the recesses of my head. Rogue Dreams began life in 2010 as a nano I scrapped for other stuff. In 2012, the same thing happened again to it despite having over 10K of notes to the project. I fiddled with the idea off and on since, shifting the setting and the kind of story being told by it. Even now my brain is shifting away from notes I wrote less than 20 minutes ago to a new conception of the store.

At core, it is about a boy, his sister, and a robot. It's a bit more complicated, but that's always been the core that the setting continually shifts and alters about. Right now it is YA in my head, but we shall see if that can survive where my brain goes with sci-fi concepts. So now I am going to drag this story from my head in some form, kicking and screaming, and see what it turns into.

With luck.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The madness: Day thix, as Jay would call it ...

Day six: 50,137 words.

 Downside; only one page left of a plot I *thought* would hit 80K :p

Also a couple of scenes I may have to alter or trim as I don't think they fit the series that well at all, but that'll be into the next draft....

A fun scene between Charlie and someone else. Charlie is always far too much fun to write :)

“I was angry: my husband had died not a year before. I was being blamed for his death, called a witch and all manner of lies.”

“So you called up a creature from Outside the universe to show you weren’t a witch.”

“We all do things in haste; what is life but a series of regrets?”

“Lessons on how not to be an asshole?”

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Fun bit from tonight.....

“I’m going to be limited in what I can do, let alone attempt. You should be fine,” I say as Jay looks over at me, “but you’ll definitely want to just eat normal meals.”


“A magician is tied to their place of power: they can sense what people are doing and saying, probably even thinking if they have to, and in a small town they tend to notice and react to oddities much quicker. You eating four breakfasts would count as that.”

Jay gulps at that and manages a small nod.

“We have never tried to starve you,” Charlie says, cocking her head to one side as she studies Jay. “This is probably not the best time to experiment.” He looks relieved until she adds, “but there is no time like the present.”


“You’re the one who said we’ll want to blend in, magician.”

“Having Jay’s stomach growling like a small freight train won’t be blending in. You hungry?” Jay nods, trying to look casual, tongue darting over his lips. “On a scale of one to ten?”

“Thirteen? Maybe eleven?”

Charlie snickers, trying to turn it into a cough.

Day iiii

Things I have learned so far today:

  • Apparently, forming a union may create a god, or at least helped make the god of a local chain of coffee shops.
  • That both Charlie and the magician's mothers are interesting pieces of work needs to be balanced out at some point. I shall probably have Charlie's mother get rid of her husband later on and build on that. 
  • Jay helped beat a curse by eating waffles.
  • Charlie could probably list Starbucks as her religion.
  • apparently I ran out of other things to add and never finished this.
On the other hand, pulled off just over 6K yesterday, which tends to result after doing a 15K day the day before (a new record on my part). Weirdly, the 15K stuff 'feels' better than the 6K, but that's probably because this section shifted into Charlie's POV and I'm not sure if the story needs it to shift between the magician and Charlie this often at this point in the story. The fact that many of the questions Charlie had weren't ones any of the other characters could -- or would -- answer didn't help, but it is going to shift back into gear this morning as more fun stuff about her family comes into play and a god of a casino attempts interesting blackmail...

Sunday, November 03, 2013


In which the magician meets with his sister after an absence of eight years.

The coffee maker beeps. Alex pours everyone a cup, though at least gives Jay a small one, and sits back down. I dump cream and sugar into mine and wait.

“I see that hasn’t changed,” Alex says with the hint of a smile.

“Some things don’t. Are we done sparring?”

“Not on your life. You ran away. No note. No explanation. Do you know what you did to mom?”

“Nothing she couldn’t handle.”

Alex’s right hand twitches on her coffee mug. She takes a sip. “I didn’t know you could be so cold, little brother.”

“I can do a lot of things.”

“Most of those seem to involve running away.”

.... and now hitting 23K and taking a break before shifting into Charlie's POV for a few scenes. Whew.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Day II

Almost at 14K and done for the day as I have to head off for a party this evening.

I have just hit the first major act of the story. The magician -- along with and Charlie and Jay -- are not at his hometown. We get to meet his sister and mother, which will be AWESOME to write and he has to deal with magics he has left undone, what the town thinks of him and we even get to learn his name. It shall be great and crazy fun to write and I'd rather do it all in one mad go than break it up, so ending for the day.

I shall go nuts at it tomorrow, never fear.

Fun line of the day:

We love people for who they are, not who we desire them to be, or we don’t really love them at all.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Day 1 of the madness

7,000 words into Curdled Magic and I already will need to redo the first 6,500. HUZZAH!

I had planned to do the story in first-person past tense for all sorts of good reasons (marketability being one). And did so, but the story faltered at odd parts and the dialogue and tone felt stilted and off. Few lines jumped out at me as being cool or neat. So I shifted into present tense and 500 words later things are flowing far more smoothly. Past tense got into the magician's head too far, taking away some of the mystique of magic (and what he is doing/plans). So shall change it up later on, which won't be anything major: I'll be altering the first two major scenes but not to any huge degree so it's all good.

Mind you, that 7K has only brought me to the third scene of the novel is more than a little worrying :)

Fun bits so far:

Charlie and Jay were in the suite when I returned, the floor covered in stuffing. Jay was sitting on the one bed and looked unharmed but was giving Charlie a wary stare as she stared down at her hands and flexed them slowly as if unsure they were still her own.
“I murdered a dozen teddy bears,” Charlie said flatly. "I have eaten gods. This was worse by far."
"Oh," I said.
“No stuffed bear should tell you they are a bear of very little brain but have a large...” Charlie trailed off. "I need a drink. I need several drinks."


Alderton is a larger town, at least a ten-Starbuck sort of place, Halloween and Christmas decorations already starting to fight for space in store windows.

.... describing town size by # of Starbucks is fun. Charlie is, after all, rubbing off on the magician as well.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

He could not sleep. Oh, he tried but the deadline to create loomed hours ahead, weight of a novel yet to be written.
Begin me.
"I can’t," he said. "There are rules."
The novel said, louder, BEGIN ME.
"No," he said, unafraid of a story he had yet to write.
The novel was silent.
Hr tried to write it, hours later. He had notes, had characters, had outlines and plots and … nothing. The novel had found someone else to write it instead.

Two years later, he found the title of his novel on the bestseller list.
He could have bought a gun.
He could have committed some horrible acts, signed his work as ‘begin me’.
He wrote a review that scathed and damned his novel, that went viral and tore it down from its high perch on the sales lists.
He became a critic; his words had such power that no movie was ever optioned. He waited, grimly, for his novel to understand. And fear.

Road Trip Chapter 3

 3. Inconvenience Stores

Jay slips up beside me into the front seat after five hours, his stomach growling loudly. The magician is dead asleep in the back, head against the window and Jay puts on the seat belt carefully as his stomach gurgles again. There is no sign of the magician having marked him but he looks almost frail and moves stiffly as if his body wasn’t quite his own. The kid’s stomach seems to harbour no such issues.


He rolls his eyes. “Can we get food?”

“Can we get food?” I press.

He scowls. “Can we get food, pleathe. I’m thtarving,” he adds, not trying to avoid the ess at all.

I pull into the first fast food outlet I spot, a KFC nestling the edges of the highway. I wonder how many jokes are made about chicken’s crossing roads but Jay says nothing at all and just grabs the first of the three buckets I order and begins eating each piece of chicken ravenously: bones, skin, meat and all.

I have no idea what the girl serving it to us makes of that and drop a ten as a tip before pulling away. Jay starts into the second bucket as a normal rate, gaze flicking warily over to me.


He gulps back chicken. “Much. Lotth,” he adds, sticking out his tongue, and goes back to eating the chicken with a huge grin.

I eat a piece with one hand and resist the urge to give him a thwack on the head with the chicken, mostly because he’d steal it from my hand and eat it in a heartbeat. “You’re going to want more, aren’t you?”


I don’t press him on avoiding saying yes and finish one piece before starting on a second. I hand over
all the fries and a coke and he gulps and eats them quickly but at least at human speed, still looking warily at me from time to time.

“Yup?” I say, keeping half an eye on the road; we’re making a point of taking back roads and avoiding major highways. Jay has no ID yet, my family is probably looking for me and I’d bet good money on the magician in the backseat being on some kind of terrorist watch list. It does make it easier to chat and drive at least.

Jay finishes the last of the fries and drink before looking over. “Do you hate me?”

“For eating all the chicken?”

“No,” he says with a sharp shake of his head. “For taking him from you.”

No need to ask what him the kid means. “Taking him? He was never mind to begin with, Jay.”

“I mean –.” Jay falls silent, lips moving silently for a few seconds. “I forced a binding on him. I took him from you.”

“We weren’t bound.” Jay says nothing. “Friendship isn’t binding like you mean it. It’s not permanent for one thing and doesn’t have to mean more.”

“Oh.” He gnaws on his lower lip a little. “Then joining? Like thith,” pressing both his hands together, fingers interlocking. “Humanth do that.”

“Do which?”

“Make love?”

I don’t pull over. I don’t even slow down; he was young for an entity from Outside the universe, looks like a boy in ours, but I know enough to know that doesn’t have to mean anything. The magician would go on about surface not mirroring the depth, probably, because that’s how magicians talk. “No, definitely not that.”

His eyes narrow a little. “Have thex then.”

“We could. We haven’t and I doubt we ever will. Despite what the TV shows you’ve been watching on your phone claim. I think we’re friends but it’s hard to know. He doesn’t get close to people and I’m sure if he felt he had to he’d drop both of us and walk away. I think magicians learn to be like that in order to survive.” The god inside me stirs a little, or perhaps it’s only my own guesses. “I don’t think there’s a magician in the world who could survive getting their heart broken so they simply never let it happen.”

“That –.” He pauses. “Complicated.”

“Sentences.” Jay says nothing. “Well?”

He shakes his head, staring straight ahead. “I don’t want to. I am damaged,” he says, the word hissed, a brief flash of anger on his face and gone a moment later. “I don’t need – don’t want – to be reminded of it all the time?”

“Jay.” I bite back my own anger, feeling the god inside me rumble a little, eager to rise up even a little bit. “I’m not a magician, but I’m not stupid: you’re trying to hide among humans, and having a lisp is fine. The way you speak when trying to avoid them entirely isn’t: that will get noticed and remarked on. You don’t talk like a real ten year old most of the time, and not hiding the lisp will distract people from that.” He doesn’t look over, back straight, fingers curled up in his lap. “Listen, he and I travelling together doesn’t get noticedRT. I look a bit older than I am, we could be students or cousins or just friends. But throwing a ten year old boy into the mix will get noticed, no matter if your real nature is hidden or not.”

“I don’t want to,” he mumbles.

“Yeah, well I don’t want to hold back the god inside me every time I have a moment of road rage but I kind of have to do that or risk causing one hell of a scene when I drag the other driver from their vehicle.”

Jay looks over at that. “You’ve done that?”


“I’d like to thee that.”


He slumps back in the seat. “I thound thtupid,” he begins, trailing off.

“And that’s a bad thing?” I grin at the startled look on his face. “The magician didn’t ward me so I don’t seem at all important.”

“Oh,” he says slowly, then offers up a bright grin. “Tho that is why you thound dumb all the time?”

“Sounds like someone doesn’t want dessert.” His grin vanishes as his stomach lets out a growl. “Seriously?”

“Yeah. Pleathe?”

It takes a good ten minutes to find a town with a gas station. The town boasts that, two bars, an automotive shop and nothing else. Most of the homes are small and run down but it at least looks better than the last town which seemed like little more than a series of trailer parks shoved into each other. Reminded me of a joke mom used to say about how you can judge people by their furniture, mostly based on how much of it was on their front lawn.

I slip inside and use a washroom cleaner than I’d expected and shock the greasy kid behind the counter by buying every chocolate bar they have and most of the coca cola. I give him a tip for bagging it all, half-expecting this to be the highlight of his year, and head back outside. Jay has taken my request to guard the magician seriously and is standing outside the car and scanning the town warily.

He puts the food in the back, taking some into the front seat to begin eating at a slow, entirely human pace as I get in and start the car. “Something wrong?”

Jay gulps back half a can of coke to wash down a chocolate bar. “You were being watched from the vehicle place?”

I glance over casually as I pull onto the road but the automotive repair place – called Clancy’s Auto – has the sign devoid of neon, and doesn’t seem to be open despite it being mid-day. In a town this small they probably only bother when a local tells them someone needs a hand.

“The man ith there,” he says. “You need to look with thethe,” and mimes claws, “but they might detect you?”

I grunt, considering waking the magician but Jay doesn’t seem worried about it. I reach over him and find a pen and pad of paper in the glove compartment and hand them over. “Can you draw him?”

He finishes another chocolate bar. “I can try?”

I press on out of the town and pull over as we begin hitting old pot holes. Jay puts pen to paper with a scowl of concentration for a good ten minutes before handing the pad back and flexing his hand. The shop itself has been drawn with clear precision, the man in front of it a scribbled outline of a tall, stout figure in a suit and hat, the handwriting beside it neat and proper to read: ‘Black suit, tanned(?) skin’. And under tanned he’s written: ‘Dirty(?), Stained(?), ?’

“So a worker with oil stains and tanned skin?”

“I don’t – maybe?”

I flick my phone on, typed a query and hand it over. “Skin tones: pick one.” He does so slowly and hands it back. “Right. Someone who is half-Mexican would be tanned. Dirty, on the other hand, isn’t something you want to call anyone’s actual skin.”

“I didn’t mean it literal, but,” he says, starting on another candy bar, “like a magic? A ward? Like the colour can change depending on who watcheth him?”

“Him. Not an it?” He nods. “Okay: was the skin other tones as well?”

“I think –.” Jay was quiet a moment. “You don’t have any word for them.”

I rub the bridge of my nose. “You mean the words have too many esses?”

He shakes his head. “No, no: you don’t have wordth for them at all?”

I grab a chocolate bar and throw it back at the magician’s head; it takes three to wake him. “We have an issue; you explain it and I’ll drive,” I say to Jay, pulling back onto the road.

Jay nods quite seriously and scrambles into the back seat to begin talking quietly to the magician.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Road Trip Chapter 2

2. Magic & Machines

The car Charlie finds for the trip is a beat-up station wagon that has seen better decades and could probably have been re-purposed as a tank with little effort. She claims it’s a selling feature and we can run over monsters and cultists that way. It even has wood panelling on the inside and seats that had been recovered in fabric from seventies orange and brown couches. I decide not to ask if she’d bought it as a mercy to the owner. I drag up a memory from childhood and tell her the Mystery Machine would never have done that, which leaves her snickering and explaining Scooby Doo to Jay, though her version is definitely not for children.

I walk around the car as she explains Velma and Shaggy to a creature from Outside the universe. Part of me wonders what might happen if Jay is able to return home and the stories he might tell other entities, the rest is focused on weaving magic into the car. It is solid, from the era when vehicles were built to do more than boost profit margins for companies. It doesn’t want to break down, and I meet its desire with my will and weave strength and protections into it as I circle it slowly. Most of the working I make is simply ways of not being noticed by the police or anyone else seeking to bother us. Not having to get into an altercation is the best protection one needs often enough.

I circle the car three times before I stop and walk over to Charlie and Jay.

“So?” Charlie says.

“Good choice. We’ll still need to pay for gas but with luck the car won’t break down at all. You mind tossing everything in the trunk?”

She shrugs and begins grabbing duffel bags from our motel room; I walk over and sit on one of the barriers devoid of a car. Jay follows wordlessly and sits beside me.

“How strong are you?”

The boy considers that gravely for a few moments. “I think I could lift the end of a car? If I had to? Or break a door with luck? I’m not big enough to hurt people greatly.”

“And you don’t heal as far as you should. Or at all from small wounds.” He nods, biting his lower lip. His teeth seem almost human, the rest of him the same: even I can barely tell he’s not human and that’s mostly because of the binding between us. “I don’t want Charlie worrying about you, so I’d like to take that strength and make you tougher instead, if you’ll let me?”

Jay blinks. “You can do that?”

“I can try, if you’ll let me?”

“I bound my thelf too you,” he says, the word self sharp despite his lisp, “you don’t need to ask”

“This is me asking.”

“I – yeah,” he mumbles, deflating. “Can you?”

I reach out to his chest with my right hand and press into flesh. He looks human but he’s not, even if he can fool himself about that to an extent. He lets out a whine of agony that thrums along the binding between us but doesn’t scream as I push further, my hand sinking into his flesh. He is small here, would be small Outside, beyond the universe, his potential to be more shattered by forcing himself into our world to hide from something trying to destroy him.

I can’t do anything about that damage; I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I bring my need and desire to bear, reach my other hand for his hand and squeeze it, his returning squeeze a convulsion of pain that makes my hand throb a moment before the strength bleeds out of him, shifting into flesh and bone, changing itself to my desire, to Jay’s need, to our will.

I pull free finally, both my hands feeling numb, and he just sits, panting for breath, his eyes too pale to be human as he just gulps in breath after shuddering breath, the mark of my hand on his body fading from the world.

“Jay,” I say, half a question.

“I’m fine,” he says, his voice pale, but accepts my help to stand and clings to my grip as we walk back to the car.

I shake my head to any question Charlie has and get in the back. Jay crawls in beside me and passes out a moment later, body pressed into mine, using the binding to help himself heal. He was just getting used to a body in this world and I’ve twisted it up under him.

I wrap my left arm around him and ruffle his hair. “You did good.”

He relaxes into me and lets out small whimpers of pain, not protesting at all when I pull some of it out of him.

“So,” Charlie says as she pulls out of the parking lot onto the highway.

“We made him tougher. It was harder than it should have been but he should be awake in a few hours. And hungry.”

“As if he’s never not hungry,” she says with a snort. “What about me?”

“I can set up some basic wards if you want, but I’d rather not. A competent magician might – might – sense the binding between Jay and I, and I think another Other might sense what he is. If you don’t have my protections on you it could give us an edge.”

She drums her fingers on the wheel. “People might think I’m just a driver.”

I shift Jay a little; he grumbles in his sleep and shoves into my side. “That, and if some other magician manages to disrupt my magic you’d be left unaffected. Most of them won’t suspect that.”

“Huh.” Charlie glances back, then whips her phone out and snaps a picture of the both of us before turning back to the wheel.

I glance down at Jay and then up at Charlie. “He’s going to hate you for that.”

“Oh, I know.” She flashes a grin in the rear-view mirror. “You better get some rest as well. Work some magic so the two of you don’t hear my playing tunes and sleep.”

I consider protesting, but I have the pain I took from Jay to deal with and I know I need to be prepared for anything that happens next. I wrap silence around Jay as well as myself and sink into a sleep of shadow-ridden dreams where my fingers sink into flesh and burn whoever I touch and it never hurts me at all.

I decide to forget the dreams on waking.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ah, plots...

Plotting for nanowrimo continues — as I have 60,000+ words of short stories (and a novella) that basically count as back story, the novel is shaping up to be rather solid. I know the characters, though not too well, and the setting is largely fleshed out in my head.

The actual folder for the novel proper contains over 11K in notes, half of that being notes on the town of Sunny Creek, historical vs. modern magic, various notes on characters and assorted bits and bobs as I do notes very haphazardly. The novel plot itself is sitting at about 5K of words in the novel folder, most of that being the first half of the novel. All my notes are pointform summaries of ideas, digressions and in some cases sarcasm.

EX, from last night’s notes:
  • The magician losing to William. This is William’s place of power. To defeat him in it requires X [Determine what X is. This would be Helpful.]
  • Making a Deal with Mary will be considered unwise; a hundred years of imprisonment may have tempered her, but also made her seriously pissed off. (This is actually not true, but the magician will believe it to be so. Everyone makes mistakes: not trusting her is going to be a big one on his part.)
  • The townsfolk are all guiled by the wards/protections of the town (or murdered if they begin to see through the town’s protections/illusions). As such, only non-human entities will be able to aid the MCs. So now I know why I wrote over 1K of notes on fae glamours and various critters earlier this week … go me.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Road Trip Chapter 1

 1. Shadows & Cold

It isn’t every day that shadows try to kill me. Not even every week, or even month. If ever you see a shadow that you think is a person for half a moment, you’re often more right than you know: not all things from Outside have the power to enter our reality. Most Others can’t survive transit into our reality, or are too weak to be a danger, and simply press in on our world and wear it like clothing for brief moments, spasms of terror pushing at the walls of the worlds, little more than goosebumps on the skin of the universe.

Mostly, a magician can just banish them with a wave of a hand. It’s harder to do that if you’re in a restaurant bathroom and making use of toilet paper. That happened to me once before; this time I just grab the shadows and shove them into the water, flushing them down the toilet. The lightbulbs in the bathroom shatter overhead a moment later; I catch the electric light, weave it it into shattered glass and form a ward against darkness that hisses and twists in the air around me. Outside the ward I can hear tables crashing and Charlie’s voice as a muffled shout for me to hurry the hell up.

I walk forward. Need. Desire. Will. The door buckles open to that, but outside it is still darkness. People wrapped in shadow-shapes are stumbling and staggering around. Too many to control and the shadows don’t know how to let go of any of them. The afternoon sun outside the fish and chip shop has been replaced by shadowed windows, the darkness eating every piece of light and trying to force itself at Charlie. Jay is hiding between the table and wall, Charlie having called up the god inside her, all monster-under-the-bed fur and fire-stoked eyes as she grins. She has claws when she wants, and they are red and burn with a sickly light at the moment to force the shadows back.

I hurl the rest of my shield into the walls, avoiding people, directing the electricity to find other currents and rip the shadows from the world. It will take moments, but it is long enough for a shadow-person to lunge at me with a steel pan in one hand.

Jay has sprung over the table and into the man before I ever have time to convince the pan to not hit me: he’s not human either, and faster than even a magician’s will when properly motivated. Protecting me counts as that in his books. The flip side is that his body is ten, and strong or not for ten the shadow-cook hurls him into the wall with barely a pause.

I take the pause and reach out, wrapping the shadow in my will, tearing it free from the rest of the assault. “Explain this,” I say, as the shadow is ripped free of the dazed cook to writhe in the air before me under the force of my binding.

Magician, the shadow says, speaking shadow to shadow, unable to speak any other way. The lights in the ceiling flare to life and I wrap a ward around the shadow, pulling it into my shadow to bind it. I’ve never tried an anti-banishing before, but the principle seems sound enough: I hold it in the world rather than forcing it out as people stagger and look confused, memories trying to parse together a couple of missing minutes in their lives.

“Power failure?” I offer to the cook, and he lowers the pan he is holding, grabbing the explanation and shouting it to people, hurrying to help set up tables as Charlie walks over. She’s pulled most of the god back inside her but people are giving her a wide berth anyway as she glares at Jay.

“I told you to stay put and not get hurt.”

He just scowls and gets up, having left a sizable dent in the wall he hit and swaying a little. “I’m fine,” he lies, not caring if she doesn’t believe him.

“Door,” I say, giving him a light push. “We need to leave.”

“How bad is it?” Charlie says as she pushes through the confused crowd of patrons.

“I shoved some of the shadow entities into the toilet in the men’s bathroom. I doubt my explanation for all this as ‘power failure’ is going to explain away that damage.”

“Let me get this straight,” she says as we leave the restaurant. “You banished entities from Outside the universe by flushing them down a toilet?”

“Your point?”

“Does that count as redneck magic?”

I ignore her and walk around the corner, wrapping air and sound around us to confuse people, hoping it causes no seizures. It takes less than two minutes to find a boarded up shop; the back door opens up to my asking, the interior empty shelves not quite hollowed out.

“Use your lighter behind me,” I say, not looking at Charlie. “Jay, make sure no one enters after us.”

My shadow stretches in front of me a moment later. I undo the magic in it, and the other shadow flows up into the air, straining at the world.

Magician, it hisses through my shadow.

“Why this? Why now?” I say, and thread power into the words. I can speak truth that cannot be ignored; I can force the same.

Washington, it grinds out. You could not hide from us forever. The shadow shifts, white fire dancing about it to form eyes and horns and then wings for a heartbeat, gone as quickly as they form.

I don’t point out it is five years too late in seeking revenge; time doesn’t work the same Outside as it does here, assuming it works at all. I let out a breath, glad it’s not something involving Jay, and banish it with a snap of my fingers. It has nothing left to resist with, not even strength enough to speak further.

“Done,” I say, and Charlie’s lighter snaps off after she lights a cigarette. I turn and look at Jay. “It’s gone, yes?”

He studies me, then nods and offers up a thumbs up. “Yeah.”

“And that was?” Charlie says.

“A very poor assassination attempt. And if they’re hunting me, they might try for the Leo as well.” I run a hand through my hair. “Up for a road trip to Oregon?”

“Why Oregon?”

“No entity from Outside has been able to exist or manifest itself in Washington, D.C. for five years now. They’re a bit pissed off over it, and the Working linked itself to the state as well. Last I knew, Leo was staying just outside the state to see when it would begin to decay.”

Charlie takes a deep drag on her cigarette. “Is there a reason you did all that?”

“The cold war.”

“Now you’re just being an ass.”

I grin. “A little bit. I’ll tell you both en route, okay?” Jay lets out a small sigh of relief. “You thought I’d leave you behind?”

“I wa – wathn’t much good in the rethtaurant,” he offers up softly, not trying to avoid any esses under the weight of Charlie’s gaze.

“We can work on that,” I say, as we leave the store. It still feels odd to say we but I think I’m getting the hang of it. “Do we have enough money left over for gas and motels?” I ask. Definitely getting better at it.

“Maybe,” Charlie says. “Depends on how much you gave away. Also on how much the rugrat here eats.”

"I’m not a rat,” Jay snaps.

"Garbage disposal?”

He ignores her entirely and marches toward the car. I share a grin with Charlie and relax a little, feeling things easing between us all, and wondering if the road trip will stress it all to the breaking point or not.