The Bookshelf Epic Quest (Book Tag)

I’m going on an adventure! (And there’s going to be magic, and royalty, and an epic quest, and a dark lord at the end.)

Step 1: Choose eight non-fantasy books from your bookshelves. If you choose fantasy books, no one will come after you with pitchforks, but you’ll probably laugh less.

Step 2: Draw the names of those eight books out of a hat in random order, then answer the following questions:

What word does the title of your first book begin with? If it’s “the,” your quest will be made with the sole aim of destroying a magical object which becomes addictive to anyone who holds it too long. If it’s anything other than “the,” you’ll simply be looking to find a magical object which is rumored to be able to save the world or maybe grant one wish to the discoverer.

The Martian by Andy WeirBook 1: The Martian by Andy Weir
Clearly, I am on a mission to destroy something. What else did you expect from me?

While you’re holding your first book, open it to a random page. The first object you see on the page has just become magical. This is what you’ll be destroying or seeking out, depending on the previous question. Are you in trouble?

It seems that rumors have spread of a mystical and addictive… headset. And it’s fallen into my hands. I would bet you that I didn’t even realize there was anything special about it for the first twenty-four hours, considering my current sleep and music-binge habits. I probably didn’t even try to take it off my head until the second time through the Hamilton soundtrack. And then I probably got distracted by the next song again.

So, yes, I’m in trouble.

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Flash Fiction: Doubt in the Middle (189 words)

“I’m fine,” Ady promised when I found her crying. She had her arms tucked around her chest, shoulders curled forward as if she were cold in the shade of the garden wall. Taking two short breaths, she wiped her cheeks, fingers laid long and flat against her skin.

My feet faltered. I hadn’t intended to find her at all.

“Are you all right?” I murmured.

She nodded, quick and sure, or at least unwilling leave me with any question. She took two more breaths, and it occurred to me that it was meant to be just one, but it kept breaking in the middle.

“All right…” I said slowly, eloquently.

She laughed, and that was a little broken, too. But she almost grinned at me at the end. “No, it’s… Just, sometimes when something aches, and it gets hard to tell whether it’s damage… or growth.” She tilted her head, and her eyes looked past me for a moment, but her smile twisted a little higher. She let another tear run down her face without bothering to hide it.

And she managed one long breath.

I smiled back, gently.

Three Things You Should Know About Today:

1. I woke up this morning intending to, and excited about writing a very long blog post. The Wednesday Serial is just beginning to get to the bits of the story that first made me want to write it, and I can’t wait to write them out. However, I did not.

2. I’ve made myself okay with that. I don’t like this sticky feeling of not having accomplished something that should have been a fun element in my day, but I understand that days like this come around. At 11:45 at night, the best thing to do is just smile and throw my hands in the air, to get them out of the messy knots of today and set them free for tomorrow.

3. Today was a messy day, though it didn’t look like it from the outside. It was a day for striking answers, and seeing i you liked the sound, or if they needed better tuning.

It was a good day.

I hope yours was as well.

Murder Mystery on the Bookshelves (Book Tag)

By the rules of this tag, I’ve just been murdered.

Seeing as I’m the one breaking the news to you, I can only assume that I’m a ghost. It’s a strange sensation. I didn’t expect to feel so warm. Or to have lost my memories of the last twenty-four hours.

Time to figure out what happened to me.

Step 1: Choose six red, black, or white books from your shelves. Just to set the mood.

Step 2: Draw the names of those six books out of a hat in random order, then answer the following questions:

Open your first book to a random page. Wherever this scene takes place is where you were murdered.

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE SchwabBook 1: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
This book is full of great locations: taverns, palaces, markets, and ships spread across three alternate versions of London, some with magic, some without. I especially like the strange little shop that deals in contraband trinkets from other worlds and the tavern which somehow manages to exist in all three Londons. I, however, did not open the book to any of those.

I was apparently murdered in the middle of the street.

This is an excellent start.

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Flash Fiction: Striking Midnight (142 words)

After midnight, Tashel lost some of his stillness. His gaze, usually so steady a thing that Jule could balance her earth on it, drifted toward the floor or flicked to the ceiling in the middle of a thought. As broad and muscled as he was in daylight, he suddenly leaned his elbows against tabletops, and chair backs, and his knees. Then, in some silences that seemed to wrap him tighter than the others, he would walk a coin across his knuckles – roll it, tumble it – showing quick fingers that he would never display otherwise.

Jule watched the flash of metal out of the corner of her eye, holding her own quiet.

She was never sure what she was watching until he caught her eye sharply, hands suddenly still again, pinning her with the knowledge that she had struck one of his secrets.

Gwendoogle CXLIV – Writing Distractions

GwendoogleAnswers served with only one mention of the SuperBowl. That was it.

Kathryn searched: Have you ever taken a long break from writing?
Twice. Both breaks lasted about a year, and I can easily point to them as bad years.

The first time, I was fifteen. From my informal poll of humanity, I have gathered that most people have stories about being suddenly hit with the Stupid Stick around that age. It makes me feel better, considering I think I not only got hit, but bent the Stick into a Boomerang and played with it for a while. Blame hormones. Blame growing up enough to realize not everything can be fixed by an ice cream cone. Blame not growing up enough to understand that sometimes ice cream still helps. But I stopped writing.

And then I jumped back in head-first and wrote the first draft of the novel that has become my obsession and my darling.

The second time, I was twenty-two. I graduated from college. I got a job teaching Latin to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. I didn’t sleep much between lesson plans, grading papers, and trying to learn the teaching skills that I had not gone to school for. I definitely did not have time to write.

And then I jumped back in head-first and started this blog.

I am the poster child for the all-or-nothing, go-big-or-go-home, fold-or-go-all-in style of living life. This is why breaks do not scare me. I know what comes after.

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Legal Theft Flash Fiction: Noisy (595 words)

Outside the open apartment gate, a small pack of children threw rocks at passing cars. The rules of the game were simple enough to take in at a glance: choose a stone, hit hard enough to make noise, scatter if the window shatters. One little boy crouched by the wall, guilty of hitting glass earlier in the day, and the others flashed him grins. Because he had gotten them in trouble, made the man with the mustache like a caterpillar chase them around the neighborhood, made them all hide with their lungs bursting from running and laughing. Because he had made the best noise.

Tanya watched them from a bench on the little manicured lawn that belonged to no one in particular and everyone in general. She was too far away for any of the four-foot delinquents to care that she was clearly an adult. One leg crossed over the other, phone propped against her knee, she just sat, invisible, wrapped in the clatter and the sunshine.

Until Kovalsky sat down beside her.

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The Darker Art of War Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE SchwabA Darker Shade of Magic
by V.E. Schwab

Kel can walk between worlds. As one of only two people who can control the magic needed to do so, his job is simple: carry messages between the kings and queens of the three Londons. It probably would have stayed simple if he hadn’t picked up the hobby of smuggling as well.

Lila’s life is anything but simple as a pickpocket bouncing from one home to another, with her masked and shadowy face on wanted posters all over the city. It honestly doesn’t get much more complicated when she picks the pocket of a magical man claiming to come from another London. But it at least gets more fun, and she suspects there’s more freedom for her in the other two worlds.

There were two things that made me really enjoy this novel:

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Flash Fiction: Night Owl (182 words)

It was nearly midnight before the musicians started laying down Lea’s favorite spell. The lamps had burned down to a flickering mimicry of yellow sunset, and the drums began to tap the air. They thudded and hummed, slow, steady, dragging out for a long moment while she began to grin and her heart seemed to steady itself against the beat. Then the guitars climbed on top, one high, one low, whirling like things freshly taught to fly, and she forgot how to keep her heels on the floor, or her hands at her sides, or her feet still.

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Wednesday Serial: Farther Part CIII

Tiernan fire_handTIERNAN

Tiernan held his silence for a long moment rather than respond. Aled was, as usual smiling, and as usual, it seemed slick and honed, likely to cut any uncareful person that tried to slide past him. This morning, however, the edge was more brutal.

It was easy to guess that Gareth and Celyn were not the only ones who were angry.

Tiernan suspected that he had been angry for a very long time, but it was fresh today, raw as a broken blister.

“I’d like to meet them now,” Tiernan said evenly, voice low.

Doersa looked up, fixing him with a narrow look as if he had just asked to take the rest of the day off to pick wildflowers. He returned the look with raised eyebrows, inviting her to join him. When Aled led the way, she stayed behind.

The camp had lines now, even rows of tents and scattered fire pits where the soldiers had moved on from wanting sleep to wanting something warm in their stomachs. The ground wasn’t stamped down yet, too many of the men and women not having laid down and not bothered to move much since, so it still the place still felt wild to Tiernan as he walked through it. He greeted those he recognized, stopped when anyone called his name, and Aled waited a few steps away with something like patience.

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