Friday, September 28, 2012

The Saturday Embers

Once again I don't anticipate having an update prepared for tomorrow... school has kept me very busy as of late, and my assignments haven't been the interesting blog material I was hoping for. As such, I decided for posterity's sake to post a bit about life. This moment, sitting on my floor late at night, typing when I should be sleeping, doesn't seem like anything momentous... but life is mostly about what happens in between monumental and massive. We are defined by our day to day lives more than anything.

And my life looks like this:


I am in training to become a "production facilitator" at Lazer Designs. This is a sort of supervisory position, wherein I keep track of orders needing to be laser, make sure they get lasered (mostly being the one to laser them personally) and help people make sure they know what to do and that they can properly get their own jobs done. It can be a little stressful at times but it's usually fun. It's funny timing that I got a promotion right around the time I decided to go back to school. A heaping helping of extra responsibility to go with my extra responsibility. Oh speaking of...


Going back to school has been a wild experience. Similar to my previous endeavors and very different at the same time. Three days a week I rush from work to the bus stop and fly downtown. I had never taken the bus before, but it's sort of rolled into your tuition, and they make you pay for parking, so you really don't have much choice unless you are rolling in dough... and let's face it, if I was rolling in cash like Scrooge McDuck, I probably wouldn't go back to school. I'd stay at home and swim in my money like all rich people do.

Metro is mostly frustrating. I have seriously considered switching schools. The administration is a bit of a joke, my education adviser was terrible, and my phone calls often went unanswered and unreturned. I had heard a lot about the school but I have yet to be impressed.

My teachers probably aren't going to change this. My children's literature is fun, and I enjoy the curriculum, but he's terribly disorganized and almost always late. My Human Diversity teacher is a socialist, and lets his politics effect his teaching and curriculum. I also can never remember the name of the class. Human Diversity,  Human Diversity, Human Diversity. Maybe if I write it enough I will remember. The last class I'm taking is Introduction to Education. The class is a hybrid of online and in class meetings, and a sort of unsuccessful one. It feels like the teacher shoehorned standard curriculum in. There are lots of group activities, but we don't meet very often, making group projects incredibly awkward.

But all this aside, I'm enjoying the learning and excited about the future. I'm hoping my next semester will be a little less ad hoc and I'll be a more prepared for everything. I've had to get back into the swing of things, and relearn how to write papers and use power point... suddenly those classes they force you to take in community college make a lot more sense.

Oh and how's this for weird, crazy, and out of character... I gave a presentation and I ENJOYED IT.


Still plugging away at Sovereign Night, though very slowly as of late. I've decided to split the story into five parts rather than three, simply because it's wound up being considerably longer than I was originally planning. I've always been a fan of brevity over longwindedness, but my past attempts at writing out the story have not been terribly successful, and in all of them I did my best to hurry the story along. I believe less is more when it comes to writing, but you have to balance this with fully fleshing out details and character development, things I didn't understand when I was a younger, less experienced writer.

And that's it for me. I'm not a social creature, as evinced by the fact that I don't see people as much as I used to. In the book Velocity by Dead Koontz, the main character has no friends to turn to in a time of crisis because he spent no time building friendships. The fact that he reaped little because he sowed little was repeated more than once. I feel like I'm not sowing very much, but I hope the little that I am will be enough... I probably need the people still in my life now more than ever. God built us for community, we don't do well on our own. I am tempted to try to do everything by myself, but I know that's not the best way. I'm not very good with people, but I like to think I am learning. I think 26 year olds are supposed to have it all together, but I'm still working on it, ok??

Later lllamas!

This week the trend:

-Mumford and Sons' "Babel"
-St. Vincent's "The Forest Awakes"
-Fringe is back!
-Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
-The original version of the Little Mermaid (I want to turn it into a novel!)
-Amy and Rory are going to die (Or get lost in time)
-Elk Fest

Also... I am changing the name of this feature to Embers plural... just because.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Saturday Ember

Welcome, llamas. Today's post was going to be a bit of a school assignment, but  neither one of them are all that interesting out of context, so I changed my mind. Instead I have a little treat for those who took the time to read "That Hideous Slumber" It's a rough draft, and it's only half finished, but it neatly divides into three chapters, so this first section I present is at least a somewhat complete thought.

SPOILER WARNING: This story WILL give away plot details that pertain heavily to the conclusion of That Hideous Slumber, so I recommend finishing it first.

The Two Deaths of Atlas Kinnley
A companion to That Hideous Slumber


I do not know how death is supposed to work for most.

I can only tell you how it felt to me, having experienced it more than once. I slipped into the beyond not once, but twice. The second time was perhaps a little more permanent.

Firstly, I can say with confidence I was born to be a soldier. As a boy it was all I ever dreamed of. I fashioned myself a sword from a broken branch and fancied myself protector of all Eldara, the tiny province southwest of the Eastwold where I was born.

When the Rabbitheart conquered our little country and initiated a draft for young soldiers, I was perhaps the only one who delighted at the opportunity. I would right wrongs, rescue innocents, and win the hearts of beautiful maidens the world over.

And so, though I felt I’d been a soldier all my life, it became official on a hazy morning in May when I turned 16.

For I, Atlas Kinnley, it was nothing short of destiny fulfilled.

I became a loyal citizen of Nicculus and its newest champion on the same day, and I never looked back or second guessed a thing. Ours was a conquering nation, but the conquered were generally treated fairly. As long as they paid their taxes and fulfilled their duty to provide young men for the draft. King Asriel, nicknamed the Rabbitheart by his ungrateful subjects, was a just king in the way he treated his subjects.

I distinguished myself early in my career by helping to conquer a bookish land known as Tychos. With giant libraries and tall, marble buildings, its capital was a beautiful city. It would have been an easy task, but for the wizards who counted it home, wulfren they called themselves.

Men capable of transforming into enormous, wolf-like beasts. They drove us from the city with the ferocity of their attacks. I was a corporal at the time, but ambitious. I knew if I could put an end to the woes brought on by the wulfren, I would be a commander before the year was out.

Word spread of my ambition quickly. Not to move up the Rabbitheart’s ladder but to ruthlessly put an end to the wulfren threat. I could not abide such a thorn in my side as Tychos had become in refusing to relent to our rule. I received a message from the queen of a fiercely independent monarchy by the sea known as Argenta.

She offered me a solution, a way to neutralize the powers of the wulfren if I were willing to meet with her. I rode hard for her far-flung Silver City, a strange and beautiful place with high, gleaming walls that gave the place its name. As it turned out it wasn’t so hard to get to, just a little north and east of Tychos.

Queen Victoriana was an odd specimen, a youthful looking blond woman with a small wide-eyed girl playing at her feet. Of the child’s father I never saw or heard a thing. Her palace was filled with frightful creatures born of living stone. It was a ghastly court, and one I couldn’t wait to free myself from the moment I entered.
The queen’s plan was as ruthless as it was absurd. Apparently, the woman was also a witch, for her plans were based entirely around a strange magical spell. Mostly all it required was a betrayal. I had to falsely negotiate terms with the wulfren, as though willing to grant them some concessions. According to Victoriana, a broken treaty was a part of the curse she intended to cast.

The plan was simple. I would draw up a contract, get the wulfren to accept it, then kill one of them once all was ratified. I knew it was more complex than that, knew the queen would be working some sort of occult magic from the safety of her silver palace, but the betrayal was my end of things, and all that concerned me.

It rankled a little to do something so dishonest, but the things it promised for my career as a soldier were far too tempting. For further rationalization and justification, I told myself that it would save the lives of my men, keeping them out of combat.

And so it was that I sent a messenger into the city bearing a white flag of peace to determine some sort of time when I could meet with the odd wizards.

The following day, I found myself walking through a quiet city street, the dead zone between our encampment outside the city and the great library where our enemy were holed up. I’d left all my weapons behind, all armor, carrying none of the usual trappings of war, save one. A tiny dagger hidden up my sleeve that would slide forward when needed to shed the blood that needed spilling.

The library of Tychos was a beautiful building made of white marble that had a feeling of permanence about it, as though it had weathered the world for some time already and would continue to do so well into the future, protecting the vulnerable paper within. And this regardless of one ambitious soldier’s scheming. 

Humbled by the enormous library, I ducked inside to find a dim labyrinth of bookshelves inside. This dark and dusty was wholly unfamiliar to me, having never been much of a reader. Instead of letting the place cow me, I went to all the dependable fallbacks for a trained warrior. I figured out my exit strategy, gauged a secondary egress in case things went wrong, and took stock of the room, memorizing the layout in case I needed to fight my way out.

I was met by one man, a black haired fellow with a scar across his cheek that looked recent. He grinned and led me towards a table inlaid with black and white squares like a large chessboard.

When both of us were settled into chairs across from one another, he looked me square in the eye and spoke confidently. “Come to discuss the terms of your surrender?”

I took a moment before speaking, hardly able to believe the man’s nerve. “Something like that,” I replied, letting a deadly smile cross my lips. I could play this game. I comforted myself with the knowledge that the man would be dead soon either way.

I forced myself to be as servile and humble as I could while talk turned to a treaty. I made self-deprecating remarks, I kept my voice quiet, and I always let the wulfren speak first. I let him think he had me at an advantage through every minute of our conversation. The agreement we finally wound up drawing up and ratifying was a horrible sham, something I would never have been able to accept under any honest circumstances. Putting my signature at the bottom of that document would be the biggest lie of my entire life.

The moment his quill finished its neat scribbling and my opponent set it down, I struck. My blade slid forward and accomplished its treacherous work quickly. The man’s arrogant, snide smirk fell away, and he dropped to the table, blood pooling over the parchment we’d just signed.

It would be the last death in the battle for Tychos.

A dozen of the wulfren began to dart from hiding places all around me. They leapt from balconies, from behind bookshelves and counters, all thirsty for vengeance. As they transformed to wolf-beasts, I simply stood by the door, waiting calmly. If Victoriana had betrayed me, I would die. If she had been successful, I expected nothing would happen.

One after another, the creatures found themselves impotent to harm me. There was much snarling and snapping of jaws in frustration, but I was not harmed. Claws that swiped at me simply never hit their mark.
We conquered the land within a day of my treachery. After I stepped out of that library, I never saw a wulfren in Tychos again. They were all indentured servants to the queen of Argenta now. What I didn’t realize at the time, (and what my superiors thankfully never did either) was that we’d just made Argenta unconquerable.

That next day, when Tychos became yet another province of Nicculus, I was promoted to lieutenant. I never told anyone the particulars of what happened in the library, merely that I convinced the wulfren to see things my way. This was a shared mistruth, for Victoriana would never tell the truth about where they came from either, claiming to have created them herself.

A lieutenant I was, but having distinguished myself, I wouldn’t stay one for long.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Saturday Ember

For today's update I have a poem for you, one I wrote for Child of Thunder. Various characters sing different verses throughout the story. It's one of my favorites, but you'll have to let me know what you think!

All lost and hurting children,
Wandering this vagabond life,
In deepest ocean and furthest fen,
In silent forest and desert strife,
Come to this place where hope can dwell,
Lament no more.

In a realm where white flowers bloom,
o'er grassy knolls lost in time,
we found a place where hope can dwell,
so lament no more,
...when all is darkness,
do not shed a tear
we have a place where hope can dwell.

Heaven is calling you home,
All these lost places you have roamed,
Dark and dreary,
Oh it was never your home, my love
There was nothing there for you,
But a journey back to me,
Back to a place where hope will always dwell.

Other new poem

"Shoot the Moon"

Shoot the moon,
Or settle for less,
Which will it be?
Our lives are made of choice,
We choose who to be,
And how we live,
And all that we live for
What will you choose?

Every breath is another chance,
A new choice, a new way to live
And I want to shoot the moon.
If this is romance we're lost in,
I don't want to turn back,
I want to press on
I would rather give my all,
And turn every minute into something new

An out of focus life,
Less of me, more of you,
More of everyone else
Focus not on self,
But on the people all around me
Shoot the moon,
Die for your convictions,
Or just die to yourself,
It'll be worth it before the end,
We'll say we may not have done everything right
But we always tried.
We always shot the moon.

New Poetry

"Between Here and Home"

I'm in between here and home,
Lost lines and lover's lies,
I can't go back,
But there's such a long way to go
Between buried life and married,
Between here and home

I don't know what the future holds,
I only know it never ends,
It never stops.
I'll travel forever,
Trawling the depths of ink and paper,
Trying times and tiring trouble,
Typing times and turning seasons
Older and younger, I'm always changing
In two directions
Like splitting atoms

Who's to love me? Who's to say?
We can't know what the future holds,
It's a slow journey with shared destinations
But I'm so curious, so impatient
And oh
so lonely
But I love to travel,
And I love the journey,
I see so much lovely
So much beauty

You've given me the one thing I desire,
Most of all,
Though I forget it sometimes
All I really ask is that the journey never stop
And that's all you’ve promised me,
We can't know who or when
Where or why
We just know it's for always

The journey never stops
So between here and home,
Lover's lines and lost lies
Let's love with all we have,
For on this never ending journey,
Every breath is precious,
Let us love like every minute matters,
Let us love like the journey never ends

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Blogger has changed much in the last year or so. I must say, I liked it better before. I knew where everything was! I hate not knowing where things are.

The Saturday Ember

Hello, this is a new feature I've been meaning to implement for some time, a regular update to my blog. I realize starting a regular blog again during one of the busiest seasons of my life heretofore might not be the best idea, but I think we can make it work. 

I'm hoping to post something different every week. It might be a bit of fiction, a poem, an essay, etc. More often than not it'll probably be a school assignment. For now though, I thought I'd start with the first chapter of my new book Sovereign Night. This is a story eleven years in the making. I'm quite excited about it, but I've been working in a vacuum. No one else has read it yet. There are three narrators, and below I present to you the first chapter by the first narrator.

Sovereign Night

Chapter One: Words For Binding

Narrated by Luke Orimar

In my dreams, I’m always dying.

It’s not just a recurring nightmare. It’s a haunting, and it’s always different. I’ve been beheaded, drawn and quartered, hung, skewered, even blown up. On the night that set all nights in motion, I saw myself being poisoned.

There were four of us sitting around a table. My younger siblings, Logen and Lorelai, and a man I could not recognize. His face was blurry somehow, even though the rest of him looked perfectly normal. In the dream, there were four tall, slender silver cups on the table before the stranger. He held one out to Lorelai, and she drank it before I could stop her. The little girl’s face turned blurry, and she dropped dead instantly. 

When he held out a second cup to Logen, I snatched it from his hands. Without knowing why I was doing what I was doing, I tipped it back to down it myself. The gleaming edge of the vessel seemed to grow upward, black liquid at the bottom suddenly as broad as an ocean. It swallowed me up, sending me tumbling into darkness.

I awoke with a thump on the floor, legs still up in my bed, awkwardly tangled in the covers. Sleepy and absentminded, I freed myself from the blanket and began to straighten out my bedclothes.

This dream was different. That change was all I could think about.

After six years, the pattern to my dreams had become pretty obvious. I was so used to the nightmares, they did not even bother me anymore. But tonight was different. I was not the only one who’d died. I’d never seen anyone else come to even the slightest harm before.

The prospect of sleep was already unlikely, and by the time I laid down again, on top of my covers, it was even more remote. Today, assuming it was past midnight, would be my shield day, as well as my seventeenth birthday.

Every knight forges a weapon on his thirteenth birthday, when he begins advanced training. He’s given a shield on his seventeenth, when he becomes a full-fledged soldier. Your shield is made for you, by your instructors. A shield generally reflects the kind of man you’ve been, and how hard you have worked. 

Today would be a terribly hard day. Most of the time, your parents attended your shield ceremony, but both of mine had been dead for a little over six years. Lorelai and Logen were all the family I had. Giving up on sleep, I decided to go ahead and get up. I struck a match against one of my boots, lighting a candle on the bureau beside my bed.

It’s cold, I thought as I put my feet to the icy hardwood floor The notion interrupted my musings quite suddenly. It wasn’t just a little brisk, like any summer night. This was a deep and wintry chill, almost bitter. In June? June in Tarn was never this cold, not in this part of the world anyway.

And then the horror struck me.

My sword was gone.

I put it in the same place every night, leaned up carefully against my bedside table where it was easy to reach. Call it a result of my training, or my cautious mind, but I had to have it ready. The empty scabbard was there, the blade gone. I picked up the sheath and turned it around in my hands, momentarily stunned.
It could only mean one thing. Someone had stolen it. A deep sense of dread came over me as I looked at that table. I was almost struck stupid by the lack. Who would do such a thing?

I snapped into action, bursting from my room out into the courtyard around which the barracks were arranged. My heart pounded heavily as I fumbled with the doorknob. Something was wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it yet, but something was horribly wrong.

Before I could take in anything more than my breath misting in the cold night air, I found myself swept off my feet, bowled over by a little boy. I was about to curse at him, but I found I could not recall his name, so I pushed him away impatiently and stood, putting my palms to the guardrail. My room was on the third and highest floor, so I should have had a pretty good view if the thief was still nearby.

Sure enough, I did not have to look for long.

Illuminated in harsh white moonlight a cloaked shadow stood just twenty feet below. Pinned by some mysterious force, my sister knelt before him. I made to scream, but the words died in my throat. As I watched helplessly, my blade flashed through the air and pierced her abdomen. Once again I tried to yell, but my throat was sealed, to where I could barely breathe.

Finally finding my legs, I raced down the nearest stairs, a choked off sob slipping from my lips. I leaped down the steps five at a time, and took the final flight in one go, nearly breaking my ankles. The murderous shadow was at the gate.


I had two options. I could go to my sister, or I could pursue him.

Yet there were no real options.

 Nothing in me could run while my sister lay bleeding to death at my feet. A haze of panic still flooded my mind. I knew I should be calling for help before he got away, but still I seemed incapable of words. My feet crunching in the dry grass seemed to be the only sound. My sword lay a few feet off, abandoned now that the deed had been done. I dropped to the ground and took Lorelai in my arms, only then realizing I was still holding my scabbard. I let it fall to the ground. The spell seemed to vanish. Only a moan escaped my lips.

She was still breathing, I could feel her ribcage as I hugged her to me. Her hands guarded a wound that was gushing blood all over both of us. I gasped. It felt like I could only gawk while I lost this precious being, the one I’d sworn to protect above all else.

“Luke…” She murmured. I feebly attempted to occlude the massive wounds in her belly and back, but she moved in equally flimsy measures to stop me. Her voice nearly imperceptible, she began to whisper what sounded like nonsense.

“Between saltwater and cumulus cloud…
The ocean is rolled back into the sky…”

“Shhhh,” I whispered, trying to lay her down so I could better dress her lacerations. “You don’t know what you’re saying. Relax…” She fought me, clutching weakly to my wrists.

“The Void above the horizon swallows all light,
Death crossed the Void to strike…”

And then, just like that, as I stared into her eyes, they went flat. All the life within her vanished, like smoke escaping an open bottle. I wanted to close her eyelids, but as I reached to pull them down, rage overtook me.

Who could do such a thing?

Who could kill an innocent child?

What made it even worse, I was certain I’d been framed. She’d died by my blade after all. There was no motive, not when I loved her the way I did, but there was also no evidence to support any other conclusion. Our barracks were supposed to be impenetrable after all. Dizzy with anger, the night seemed to press in on me, glaring through my skin. It suddenly became hot again. I rocked back on my heels and roared with such ferocity that my throat was instantly raw.

“I swear I’ll kill you!” As soon as I said the oath, I knew it was binding me. I could almost feel the air change as the words came out. I would kill this murderer no matter what it cost me. Even if I had to die, that beast would know vengeance, and he would know it on the sword he had killed with.

The words had echoed off the walls. The commotion was sure to bring knights running. I realized belatedly the foolishness of what I’d done. If I had not been framed before, I certainly was now. I had mere seconds to make an escape.

I swept up my blade and its scabbard and dashed for the gateway, hoping that whatever ill fortune had allowed him to come and go would allow me to escape as well. I didn’t even have the time to clean off my little sister’s blood, my clothes and sword stained with it. Hand over hand, I climbed the massive barracks gate as quickly as I could, once again nearly shatter my feet as I came down for a rough landing.

In the guard tower, just to the left, I could hear a man fumbling around. He sounded as though he’d just come out of some sort of stupor. Bathed in the milky moonlight, the world suddenly spilled out before me. No trace of the murderer lurked in the shadows. I realized I would be hunting blind for someone I’d never seen.

I had made it twenty feet when an arrow found me, digging into my shoulder with a meaty thwock sound. I staggered, one hand touching grass wet with dew. Gritting my teeth, I reached up, broke off the tail of the arrow, and forced myself to keep running.

Pure adrenaline was the only thing keeping me on my feet. Behind me, I could hear knights assembling. They would track me down and kill me outright. Murder wasn’t tried among the knights. The penalty was usually instantaneous unless there was strong circumstantial evidence. In an army as tightly wound as ours, there was no margin for error, no room for dissent or crime. I would be beheaded immediately, and everyone would go back to bed like nothing bad had ever happened.

And my little sister’s killer would go free.

A shiver rolled down my spine as I contemplated my own head rolling across the damp meadow grass. I sped up as best I could, till I was running faster than I ever had in all my life. I tried to force myself to think on an escape plan, and to recall every detail I could about the killer, but all I could think about as I ran into the night was the life vanishing from Lorelai’s big, brown eyes.