Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Red Elevators

So I've been writing a novel. I haven't been making terribly amazing progress, sadly. I've barely cracked 11,000 words. But cut me a break, ok?! It's been a crazy couple of days. Anyway... even if I'm not going to make 50,000 words, I AM making a novel I'm enjoying. I thought I'd post a little tidbit here. Fair warning, this is mostly unedited. This is from chapter five...

"Red Elevators Excerpt"

Penny had fallen in love with her fuzzy gray blanket. She was wearing it now like a robe, her face hidden in shadow by an impromptu hood. I had forgone such comforts myself, leaving my sweater in my room. It was in dire need of a wash. I had scavenged for clothes, but— wouldn’t you know it, everything I found had four armholes. Luckily Thea had come to the rescue, offering me one of her father’s shirts. It was far too big, but it was better than nothing, at least until I could get my own things clean. 

The moment we exposed the ship to this new world’s atmosphere, a wave of powerful fragrance wafted into the room. The exotic smell of the flowers was overwhelming, almost sickening. Penny grabbed my hand as we walked down the ramp, her slender fingers cool and dry. Thea glanced at us but made no move to do the same. 

The ground was unexpectedly rough. It was uneven and hard, as though we were walking over rock or cement. And yet the flowers grew voraciously, covering every living surface. Most of them had large pink petals that were so fat the plants could only drape themselves across the ground. The stamens, the thin wire-like things inside the bud, stuck out on many of them. The only other kind of flower was small and ivory, with a cup-shaped body. They grew on thin, lacy vines, often intertwined with the pink flowers. 

When I looked back, I realized that the Clunker had cracked through the upper layer of the earth. That explained our rough landing. The ground here seemed to be heaps of jagged stone, with the vegetation growing in whatever cracks the rock might afford. 

The horizon was all pink nonsense. I couldn’t see anything beyond the haze of pollen and petals that flittered through the air. There might have been tall shadows in the distance, but I wasn’t quite sure. Behind me, I could hear the ship popping and clinking and groaning as it settled and the engine pods cooled. 

Gently releasing Penny’s hand, I knelt and plucked one of the pink flowers. A rosy haze puffed into my face. I snorted and snuffled, falling onto my backside in surprise. Penny laughed aloud, a sudden and sharp sound.  I realized it was the first time I had heard Penny laugh since the blackout. Thea too was chuckling as I stood. “Laugh it up,” I murmured, but truth be told I was glad to have been able to provide a little levity, even though I was beginning to feel strangely dizzy…

I stood a little wobbily and Penny at once grabbed my hand again. She dragged me forward, and I had to take care not to lose my footing on the uneven ground. I thought maybe Penny was dragging me toward a tall outcropping of stone just ahead. Like everything else within sight, it was overgrown with plant life. 

“Doesn’t all this strike you as strange?” Thea asked. The girl was standing very still, not far from the ramp. She seemed to be studying everything very intently. Cautiously.

I was certainly feeling strange, but I didn’t admit it. “What?” I asked.

“All of it! The flowers, the ground… something isn’t right. Don’t you remember the view from space?”

“What about it?” I asked, beginning to feel dumb. Suddenly sleeping sounded nice. 

“This whole side of the planet was like this! Very peculiar…” 

Penny wriggled her hand out of mine. I barely noticed. I seemed to have lost my ability to multitask. I focused in on Thea’s question. She had a good point. I didn’t know much about the universe, but this planet did seem odd. 

Suddenly the redhead gasped, and all the color drained from her face. “This is a cemetery.”

“What? This field?” I asked. 

She glanced at the millions of flowers surrounding us. “It’s the terraforming… they only do the bare minimum that they need to. Just enough to support life. This isn’t a world for living, just for visiting. There are dozens like them in this galaxy. You see, people bring flowers when they visit their dead, right? And those plants, they’re it, really. The only vegetation that gets consistently introduced and reintroduced enough to where it can survive.”

“What are you saying?” I asked. I swayed on my feet a little bit. I hoped she wouldn’t notice. I was having a hard time understanding her. I was hoping she wouldn’t notice that, either. 

“I’m saying,” she replied with maybe a little impatience, “this whole world is a graveyard.”

New poem

For my educational technology class, we are making a group smart board presentation on butterflies. As I was reading, I learned that some varieties only live for a few weeks. I was so struck by this, I wrote a poem about it. 

"Two Weeks to Live"

Out of the shell,
two weeks to live
Unfurl my wings, 
time slips through the sieve
Two weeks to live.

Two weeks to savor
Two weeks to dream
Two weeks to live
No time to scheme 

Can I build a kingdom?
Two weeks to live.
Can I travel the world?
Two weeks to live.
Can I have even one dream?
Two weeks to live. 
Take a lover
Lose a lover
Now I am old and withered and weak
Where did the time go
Where are my children
Two weeks to live

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Day I Will Never Forget

We all have days that we will never forget. There are some days that, either for one reason or another, become permanently lodged in our minds. I can still remember the moment I became a Christian. I remember when I first cracked a fire hydrant in fire academy, and I remember when I failed one of the final exams. I remember when I finished all three of my novels. I remember where I was when 9/11 happened. I even remember when I beat my first Zelda game.

One such memory is the day we found my dog Isabella. We had been on vacation in Missouri to visit my grandparents, and we were on our way back home. I had to pee and we were in the middle of nowhere, so a stop by the side of the road became necessary. I soon found myself exploring. We had parked by a huge drainage ditch. The hill leading up to the road was rather steep, and at least four feet high with weeds. At the bottom there was a little cement pathway for water. As I was walking, I heard a rustling and saw a red flash. I immediately thought "fox!" and decided to quickly scramble back to the car just in case it was dangerous. As I got back inside though, we all turned back to see a tiny puppy straggle out of the weeds. She was skin and bones, half starved and covered in ticks. The poor thing had been abandoned.

Needless to say, she found a home with us. For nearly thirteen years she was my best friend, my walking companion, my roommate. She slept by my bed nearly every night. A week ago she began to have trouble breathing. A trip to the veterinarian revealed essentially the worst news possible: an advanced case of terminal lung cancer and pneumonia. She was suffering terribly and had a mere week left to live.

Five days later, today, and I couldn't get her to take her medicine. Couldn't even convince her to get up. Despite my best efforts, she also would not eat. In a last resort (after steak, Chipotle, and a breakfast burrito), I even made her eggs. When she wouldn't touch them, and turned her face away, I am ashamed to say I got so frustrated and upset I punched a wall. I was out of ideas. Isabella tried to climb the stairs and only made it two steps before she fell. When she looked up at me, sprawled on the ground, so sad and so resigned, I knew it was over. After a conference with my parents, I had to make a trip to the vet alone. I think my dad would have come, but he was at work in the mountains.

That walk into the animal hosptial was one of the hardest I have ever had to make. I couldn't help crying as I guided my poor, listless dog inside. I cried again as I waited in the exam room while they prepared everything. They sedated her first. It was the first time in a while her breathing had not been painfully labored. She drifted off in my arms, laying her head on my lap. Then the next needle came, the one that took her life away. When it was done, I had to ease her head back. I kept expecting her to move. When I looked at her eyes, I expected them to move, too. It is so strange and absurd to hold someone when there is no life in them anymore.

Though I miss Isabella terribly, I know that she is out there somewhere, perfectly fine. I cannot explain how I know, and you are welcome to scoff if you must, but I know. I am not saying I think, or I'm guessing, or maybe. I know. Perhaps it is a secret privilege of those who have held someone as they left the world. Regardless, where I used to have just a little room for doubt in my mind about the existence of an afterlife, there is now none whatsoever. But that is neither here nor there. I write this post to honor the memory of my dearly departed Isabella. Goodbye my friend, and thank you for looking out for me all these years. Until we meet again.

Today was a day I will never forget.

The first thing my mom would say is that there is
junk in the background of this photograph
but I like it so I had to take the risk. 

This is only photo I could find of both of us together.
I don't look very happy... I guess I was bored. The
animal hospital we are at in this particular
 photograph was not very good to us. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Yes, I am taking another stab at everyone's favorite national novel writing month. Yes, I have attempted to participate before and failed miserably. Yes, it goes against my usual slow and steady writing pace, one that has served me well in the past. Now STOP AND LET ME EXPLAIN IMAGINARY OBJECTOR.

I do have some good reasons to attempt it. For ONCE I'm not smack in the middle of a novel. I'm in the middle of revising and editing a novel, but I'm not actively working on it. It's almost time for me to start a new project anyway.

And... I'm kind of slow. My turn around time for books has been getting worse when I need it to get better. Now, I don't believe in shutting down the internal editor, as some do. You need him or her just as much as you need the writer. Otherwise, honestly, you're probably just going to wind up with a steaming pile of poo come December 1. What you DON'T need is an internal critic, the terrible voice of doubt slowing you down and making you second guess yourself. I think it's important to find the happy medium between trusting your instincts without going overboard and throwing all caution to the wind. Speaking of wind, that was a windy way of saying I want to learn to write more, and faster, without sacrificing quality.

My new novel will be my first stab at sci-fi, a story tentatively titled "The Red Elevators". It's about three orphans who escape an oppressive planet to find a universe that reviles humanity (in many places we are property, with no actual rights as people). Distraught, they decide to set out on a search for Earth, the lost home of humanity. All goes awry, adventures ensue. It's a story I have had on the back burner for a couple of years. It might have stayed there, had a friend not told me I should right a story about a future where the idea of Earth had become a myth.

It's also a story I started once before. I have two chapters and a prologue written. Yes, I am cheating! Don't tell anyone. I'm not counting them towards my word goal, if it makes you feel better. What I have needs some revision, but it would be a waste to throw it out. In fact, some of this preliminary writing is posted on this blog, if you refer to the link "The Red Elevators" to your right in the sidebar.

I wish I had the energy to stay up till midnight and fire the first volley of the battle, but I must sleep. Tomorrow, it begins. Assuming anything coherent issues forth, you'll be the first to know. I might even post it here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

More new poetry

Well I have been writing a lot of poetry lately. I figured I may as well inflict it on anyone who stumbled upon this blog! Read!!


Wrote this one in pieces walking to class. Was thinking about how hectic my life can be sometimes, and how being so busy doesn't always seem worth it. 

"Tick Tock"

Is all the world mad,
and I the only island of sanity? 
For I have noticed the strangest practice.
In every room we place a circle,
born of glass and plastic,
give it numbers,
one through twelve,
and give it two little arms,
one a bit longer than the other,
and we set them spinning in rhythmic circles.

And say to them,
“these shall be our god,”
Tell us what to do,
when to go and when to come,
when to bed and when to rise,
When to be what we want to be,
live how we want to live,
I can’t help wondering,
why is the master on the wall the one to call the shots?
Can’t we throw them all away?

And I ask you again,
is all the world mad?
Or just me?


Everyone is so quiet on the bus! I guess it's to be expected when you put a bunch of strangers in a small area together, but I thought it was remarkable enough today to write a little poem about it. 

"Joy #2"

Why is joy so strange?
Why do we bottle it up,
Like fine wine,
Reserved for special occasions,
Why are we all so somber?
I feel like I'm on a prison bus
Nothing but blank faces 
Contemplating blank fates
But I feel it,
As we slip into the misty city
Mystery and joy and love
They are all waiting for me
Just around the bend. 


I wrote this one about parties and how uncomfortable they make me.

"Untitled #11"

All their eyes,
They are devouring my resolve,
Beggaring my tongue 
And wearing me down
Stand here,
Sit there
It will not feel right
Every weak and stilted phrase
Just makes things worse
So i slip away
To find a little peace 
From everything I'm not
And maybe never can be
It's not you, you, or you
It's just me
And an easily overwhelmed heart
But i have never known how to give up,
So I'm sure I'll find myself here again
In a place of peace, buffeted by the noises
Of a crowd I love but cannot talk to

Saturday, October 26, 2013

New poem

New poem... I thought I had written more than nine untitled poems, but the last one I found was "#9"

"Untitled #10"

Did it pass you by?
Did the moment slip,
like waterfalls and rivers,
like raindrops, morning mist,
immutable, impossible
to hold,
we are feeling around in the dark and the drizzle,
trying to find our way with eyes closed,
so very tight

Did it pass me by? 
Did the moment slip, 
like an electric jolt,
in one palm and out the other
immutable, impossible to hold
I don't think it did,
I am where I am,
I am where I am meant to be
All those million million million possibilities,
are nothing but nonsense,

Did it pass her by? 
did the moment slip,
like hair cut away,
little strands slipping to the floor
within reach but swept away
and you stand from the chair,
just a little bit different.
All those lives we never live,
all those things we never did instead,
they can stack up to the ceilings 
and it won't matter
we are where we are,
and we are who we are.
Never mind. 
Sorry the blog is a bit messy right now. I am going to leave it that way till school's out fix it up soon.

I should be asleep right now probably… I always seem to get sleepy at inconvenient times, when I'm working, or driving, or sitting in class, and then when I lay down to actually go to bed I'm always wired. A few friends asked me whether I was blogging recently so I figured I'd make a concentrated effort. Effort being more likely to occur than concentration… but I'll try to make both happen.

In my educational technology class I've learned how to make podcasts, digital storybooks, wikis, and websites. In addition to my usual writing, I'd like to try and post some of those things as well. Later llamas.

This week the trend:

-Lights "Peace Sign"
-Freelance Whales "Kilojoules"
-Super Smash Bros. (I taught my little sister how to play)
-Finishing up novel #3
-Eleven hour shifts
-Pacific Rim
-Time travel
Hello! This is the first chapter of the new book I have been slaving away at. I know I have probably posted it before but this is the mostly kinda sorta could be final version! Enjoy!

Sovereign Night

Chapter One: Words For Binding

-Narrated by Luke Silas 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 apart. 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 couldn’t 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 an endless sea of 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 didn’t even bother me anymore. But tonight was different. I wasn’t 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’ve 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 couldn’t 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 didn’t 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 pretty 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. 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’d 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 hadn’t 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 shattering my feet as I came down for a rough landing.

In the guard tower, just to the left, I could hear a man fumbling about. 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’d 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 now. 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 felt 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. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hot Day

This is my response to a creative writing prompt. I was to write about a "hot day" to be specific. The first thing that came to mind was standing on the sun, then I pictured a cartoonish furnace... which brought me to my final idea that I wound up using.

I have a lot more I want to do with this story, so I hesitate to call it "finished" in any sense, but I got it as far as time allows for now. Eventually I'll do some research and expand it into a proper story. It was nice to take a break from my novel, but that's still my focus for now. Before I explain more than I actually wrote... I better get on with it! Enjoy!

"Fiery Furnace"

The broad, open mouth of the furnace gaped before us like a hungry darkness, eager to swallow us up. Flickering tongues of flame licked at the edges. The furnace was overheated. It reminded me of a serpent’s tongue, licking and probing as though searching for its next meal. Soon that mouth would swallow us up, those flames would bathe our bodies in destruction and wash the bones clean.

And yet, I was not afraid.

I stood with my companions, resolute. Each of the three of us exercised our faith in his own way. Hananiah had boisterously decried the security due us as God’s elect, shaming our captors for their foolish and wicked ways. Azariah was nervously muttering prayers under his breath, his whispers sounding like the shush of scraping feet. 

I was stoic… silent. I felt peaceful.

The LORD had seen fit to guide my steps and protect me from the gates of Sheol. If he willed, I would stand in the flames safely as you please.

The furnace was overheated. Incredibly so, in fact. The flames had already overcome one of our keepers. His face had become unrecognizable, a lump of charred, black flesh. 

I looked up toward the king. He stood on a parapet above, his raiment dazzling. He was there to watch us die. The fury was still plain upon his face. When Hananiah had declared that God could deliver us from the furnace, and would deliver us from the king, I had not known what to think. Not that I didn’t believe, far from it! I simply lacked some of my dear friend’s boldness.

I smiled grimly as I studied the furnace. There was one thing I was certain of. Whether our flesh was consigned to the flames or not, my maker was watching over us. That was all the safety I could ever need.