Tête-à-Tentacles (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Will Scarlet proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will steps back onto the bright, cozy set with a broad smile and wave.

“Now, as regular viewers will know, that announcement is usually Allyn-a-Dale’s to make. But our little minstrel friend’s decided to take a mental health day, whatever that’s supposed to mean. So for this episode, I’m flying solo. Jumping right into it then,” he says, leading by example by hopping into his armchair. “Here courtesy of author J. Aurel Guay, let’s give it up for today’s guest, Miss Elizabeth Carter!”

The young woman enters from the other side of the stage and takes a seat in the chair across from Will’s.

“Welcome, Miss Carter! Won’t you give us a brief description of yourself?”

“Gladly Mr. Scarlet. I am, or rather was, a researcher of the mysterious crystals found in my late uncle’s gold mines after his passing. The mines themselves belonged to Automaton Incorporated, referred to as AI. My uncle, John Carter, was rather fond of me and my cousin E. R. Boroughs, and it was a bittersweet prize when Edgar, the officiator of Uncle Jack’s will, informed me that I had been granted the funds for an advanced education.

“Oh, did you say ‘brief’ description? Sorry, I do tend to prattle on, so I’m told. According to some I also have something of a temper. They say it comes with the red hair. Of course I would disagree. I am merely passionate about my work, that is all. Careful now, Nauty! Don’t get your tentacles caught in my hair again…”

“I say!” says Will, leaning forward to inspect the mechanical creature more closely. “What do you call that lively thingamajig?”

“Yes, how could I forget my little friend here? This devious little contraption is Nautilus. We call him Nauty, for reasons that, with any luck, you will not have to bear witness to. He is an oct-omaton and the first to be animated by a synthetically made crystal.”

“Ha! Fantastic. Don’t let my author swipe him off you; she’s got a thing for anything remotely resembling a kraken. So, this work you do – what else can you tell me about it, and these weird crystals of yours?”

“Oh, well unfortunately, I’ve recently found myself unemployed. I was researching the crystals discovered in my uncle John Carter’s gold mine. They had the power both to transmute energy, and perceive human thought. We used them to animate and control our automaton. James could tell you more about them, since as it turns out… well, it’s rather difficult to explain. Let’s just say that he is not quite from this world and that the crystals are very close to his heart.

“As to my role in the recent events… It was really mostly James’ doing. Though I suppose, if I had not enlisted him in studying how the crystal shards animate our automaton, he might never have found the truth about himself. And there was that time I rescued him from a mob of mercenaries…”

“Whoa, what now! How’d you pull that off? Were there tentacles involved?”

“It was nothing really. I had a rather large, nearly sentient automaton on my side and the element of surprise. And no, the tentacles did not come until much later. I did try my best to deal with that beast as well, but it was ultimately James who succeeded. What he thought was a sacrifice on humanity’s behalf, turned out to be the key to his own mystery. Still, he is far too humble about the whole affair. It was he who put a stop to the rotten plans of that dastard Mr. Powell, and even returned my dear Nauty to me.

“But, there I go again carrying on. Rather than listen to me, why don’t you go read about it yourself? My dear friend Dr. J. Aurel Guay has written it up and included it in an anthology by the name ofMechanized Masterpeices 2’. The section regarding our story is titledA Princess of Jasoom(the title still makes me blush each time I hear it, but he gave me no say). I think you can find it on that Amazon thingy, at this address.”

MMAA2_Cover

“My, your thoroughness leaves me with little more to say, though one more very important question to ask. Tell me, Miss Carter, what is your author J’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He flashes his classic smile. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“Oh, my dear Mr. Scarlet, you should know better than to try to trick a lady, such as myself, into revealing anything she doesn’t want to. Nor do I think you would want to incur the jealousy of an alien spacecraft. Let’s just keep everything aboveboard here shall we?”

“A-alien…? Er, yes,” Will coughs, “maybe I’ll, um, leave that one alone. At least until Allyn’s back to save my tail. In the meantime, thank you, Miss Carter. You, too, little Nauty-boy! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

An Enticing Tease

Remember that time I joined in the cover reveal for Holloway Pack short story “Enticed”? Well, as of last Thursday, the cat werewolf’s out of the bag! Happy release tour to friend and fellow author J.A. Belfield, and happy birthday to Ethan!

Or is it?

perf5.250x8.000.indd

Gifts aside, Ethan’s morning hasn’t been anything to write home about. Sure, life is good, the pack is staying out of trouble, he finally has a mate who boils his blood … in a good way.

Except Shelley hasn’t called. Hasn’t come by. Didn’t even bother to join her son and his girlfriend for Ethan’s annual I’m-a-year-older breakfast.

What Ethan doesn’t know is that Shelley has plans. Plans that have been in progress for weeks. Ones that Ethan will never see coming, and that she’s banked on him not knowing a thing about.

She can only hope her secrecy doesn’t force his inner wolf to the surface—at least, not too early.

Enticed: A Holloway Pack Mini can 1) be read as a standalone, and 2) now be obtained via these locations:

Enticed on Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Kobo iTunes | Enticed in print

The e-book is FREE, or you could slap down a few bucks to get it in print.

Not enticing enough for ya? Suppose I slip in an excerpt to show you what you’re in for…

<<<>>>

Sinking down onto the edge of my bed, I worked a finger under the flap and took out a regular old birthday card with a chimp on the front and a simple ‘Happy Birthday’ printed across its top in bulky orange letters. Nothing romantic. No hearts. No confessed feelings. No nouns pronouncing who the recipient might be to the sender.

Though, what could she get one with, anyway? To my boyfriend? My face screwed up at that title. My mate? Somehow, I doubted they did those at Hallmark.

Even so, I found myself opening it, like some part of me hoped she had more to say with her own words than with those fabricated by some anonymous message maker.

Four envelopes marked 1, 2, 3, and 4 had been tucked inside.

Moving those out of the way revealed more of Shelley’s neat handwriting across the inner fold of the greeting card. A cryptic note of: ‘What? Did you think this was it?’

I frowned, my eyes scanning downward to another little note.

‘Pssst, in case you can’t figure it out, the envelopes are number-ordered for a reason. Open them. You know you want to.’

“What the hell’s got into you, Shel?” I muttered, though my lips twitched even as I set down the card and three of the envelopes, and ripped at the flap of number one.

No card sat inside it. No note. Just a tiny black rag of … I grabbed it between my two fingers and slid it out. Lace?

Lifting it to my nose, I sniffed. A faint whiff of Shelley lingered on its surface, but otherwise, it just had that new fabric smell I’d have expected from the stiffness of the strip.

Setting it aside, I lifted number two, tore through the stuck-down flap, and peered inside.

A couple of glossy photos peeked back, and I withdrew them. Stared at the first one. Tried to figure out what the hell the pinkish-but-not-pink, creamy looking whatever the shot seemed to be of. I shuffled out another from behind it—same thing. Kind of. Except the second one had a couple of ridges.

Only when looking at the third did I notice the faint porous-like indentations, the delicate downy-looking hairs, and realised it was a close-up of … “Skin? Lace … and skin?”

Despite my narrow-eyed frown, my lips curved. Shelley was definitely—definitely—up to something.

And experience warned it would be something really bad.

Or something painfully good.

<<<>>>

And now for the giveaway. *wiggles brows*

Enticed Giveaway

Prize: 1 Signed Print Copy of ENTICED for your reading pleasure

1 ENTICED 6×4 Cover Art Print for your viewing pleasure

1 Thornton’s Viennese Truffle Bar to enjoy whilst you devour Ethan

Enter here!

/End steamy spotlight ;D

A Tale of Two Impulse-Buy Reads (Double Book Review)

If my contemplation of the following reading experiences goes to show two things, they are 1) you never know when an impulse-bought book will knock the feet right out of from under you, and 2) you don’t have to be a hot psychotic man to infect me with empathy for your capital-“C” Crazy against all reason; it can work for psychotic girls, too.

Part One: My View through the Mountain Door

I picked this one up from the store’s shelf on a whim, because I had book money and this book’s cover was fetching and its premise was Greek mythological. As it turns out, it’s a take on mythology unlike any I’ve encountered before.

The Book: “The Door in the Mountain” by Caitlin Sweet.

Genre: YA Fantasy

Blurb: Lost in time, shrouded in dark myths of blood and magic, The Door in the Mountain leads to the world of ancient Crete: a place where a beautiful, bitter young princess named Ariadne schemes to imprison her godmarked half-brother deep in the heart of a mountain maze, where a boy named Icarus tries, and fails, to fly … and where a slave girl changes the paths of all their lives forever.

The Door in the Mountain

My Thoughts: So, wow. That happened. I hadn’t expected the ending to be so abrupt; hadn’t realized beforehand that it wasn’t the end at all – that “The Door in the Mountain” was only book one, with a sequel to follow. That surprise discovery left me reeling, but I’m glad there will be more. Though the story was strange and dark and often uncomfortable, I find that I am not all opposed to a continuation of the excruciating magic.

The idea of everyone (or, well, most everyone) being godmarked – born with special powers (blessings, curses, sometimes combinations of both) from the various deities – was an inventive touch, as were the recreations of such notorious folk as Icarus, the Minotaur, and others.

The royal family of Crete was all kinds of messed up, dancing drunkenly back and forth over the line between sympathetic and repulsive. I can’t even imagine what sort of twisted things they’ll get up to in the next book. I expect I shall stare in fascinated, cringing horror.

I didn’t fully understand the bond between Chara and Asterion – the enigmatic slave girl and the boy who was both prince and bull – but you know what? I’m okay with that. Loyal friendship is chosen, with or without reason beyond that one heart has determined to love the other. Princess Ariadne might have learned an important thing or two from them, rather than follow in her parents’ venomous footsteps.

The book’s over, and so help me, I wasn’t ready for it to be. You can be sure my eventual purchase of Book 2 will be more than random whim.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): Clearly, it left a mark on me, but you know yourselves better than I do. If what I’ve described sounds like a tale you’d like to experience, get thee to a purveyor of books!

<<<>>>

Part Two: So Good, Such Evil, Much Wow

This tale starts much as the one before. Same bookstore trip, gift card bucks to spend, another cover that called me, this time with a fairytale premise I could hardly resist. Thus did I soon enough find myself devouring the artistically edge-weathered pages of…

The Book: “The School for Good and Evil (#1)” by Soman Chainani.

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Blurb: The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

School for Good and Evil

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

My Thoughts: This one kind of left me breathless. You don’t go into a fairytale expecting it to surprise you; the genre’s biggest claim to fame, love it or leave it, is its overall predictability. But for every plot point I saw coming, there were a dozen others that twisted and writhed and looped around anything I might have guessed, causing me to question right along with the characters: Just who is actually Good/Evil here, anyway??

These characters, man. Talk about humanity! Dumb and clever, admirable and horrid… and that’s just Sophie, though the same description could easily apply to much of the rest of the cast! Chances are I’m talking particularly about Sophie, though, given that she might possibly be my favorite. She drove me crazy, but doggone it, I couldn’t help rooting for her to get her act together – partly for her own sake, and partly for Agatha’s, bless her irrationally loyal heart. Agatha may or may not tie for favorite.

I’m sure I’m neither the first nor the last to compare this duo to Glinda and Elphaba from the musical “Wicked”. Yeah, I know, it was a book first, but I couldn’t get past more than a few pages. So as far as my head canon is concerned, this is the “Wicked” novelization Gotham deserves.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): For anyone in the readersphere complaining that there aren’t enough stories out there centered around female friendships and helmed by dynamic antiheroines, this is a series starter I’m telling you to check out.

Such are my thoughts on the books. Have any of your own? Share below!

The Second Star to the Right (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 22)

W.A.I.T. Button, 78 percent

“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every second Friday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘The Second Star to the Right’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a backdrop of twilight over a jewel-bright lagoon, the vaguely macabre shadow of a rock formation depicted in the distance. Prop trees and ferns suggestive of a jungle frame the stage on both ends, with our players entering stage right – Will Scarlet as the Mad Hatter, and Annabelle Gray and Sir Wilbur Lamb from INSPIRED following, body-switched, right behind.]

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur: This place is lovely! But where exactly is it?

Will/Hatter: No idea, and no clue. But if the Shortcut to Everywhere brought us here, then Jack’s spirit must be, too.

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle [peering around, then pointing ]: The only thing obviously suggestive of death is that rocky place, out there. Or am I the only one who thinks it looks basically like a skull?

Nope, not just you. It does.

Nope, not just you. It does.

Voice from Stage Right: Of course it does.

[From the jungle greenery steps a “Stone Kingdom”-era Princess Rosalba of Denebdeor. She wears a fringed dress of sand-colored suede and colorful beadwork, her long hair hanging in a pair of braids before either shoulder and decorated with swan feathers. She bears a scepter-like spear.]

Rosalba [cont. ]: Why else would it bear the name “Skull Rock”?

Will/Hatter: Jack! Is it you?

[Will bounds across the stage, arms flung open for a hug, but an imperious thrust of Rosalba’s empty hand halts him.]

Rosalba: Another move toward me, strange hatted man, and my spear will know your innermost parts. I am Tiger Lily, Princess of Neverland. No one must ever touch me, on pain of death.

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur [with a gallant bow ]: Your Highness.

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: Neverland! Sure, I’ll buy that. It’s got fairies and Lost Boys, so why not a lost fairytale soul?

Will/Hatter: Not to mention the whole Peter Pan connection.

Rosalba/Tiger Lily [hand placed reverently to heart ]: Ah, brave Peter. Valiant Pan. He is the sun and the moon and the stars. But he has not been seen here for many a moon.

Will/Hatter: That’s all right. It’s not him we’ve come to see. We’re looking for his son, Jack Snow. Or rather, what’s left of him after the Antichristmas Wolf made off in his body. Could you tell us where to find him? We – and the North Pole – would be much in your debt.

Rosalba/Tiger Lily: The sun never says to the moon, “You owe me.” It is nothing for me to show you what you seek. He is there. [points with the spear to a diamond-bright light high on the sky backdrop ] The second evening star to the right.

Annabelle/Sir Wilbur: A noble place for so noble a spirit, to be sure. But we cannot afford to let him so remain. Have we your permission to bear him away to his destiny, Your Highness?

Rosalba/Tiger Lily: I rule the land, not the sky. Do what you must, if you can.

Will/Hatter [with a smile-like grimace ]: I can. But it’ll hurt. Apologies, Princess.

[With that, he taps Rosalba on the shoulder. Without hesitation, she rams her spear in and out of his middle. Annabelle and Sir Wilbur cringe, expressions nauseated, while Rosalba stalks away into the jungle with a highly offended air.]

Will/Hatter [voice a raspy grunt and pained giggle ]: Here we go again. [slumps to the ground, smoke billowing from his mouth ]

Sir Wilbur/Annabelle: And here’s hoping this works. [turns to the sky, calling out ]

Star light, star bright, second star upon the right:

I wish you may, I wish you might take on the form left open wide.

[The star glows brighter by the moment, sending the smoke of the Shadow hastening away, lest it be by light destroyed. Annabelle and Sir Wilbur turn away from the glare, and just for a blink, the stage is too flooded with light to be seen. When it dims back to normal, the second star is gone, Will stirs on the ground, and Annabelle and Sir Wilbur startle back from one another.]

Annabelle: Hey! You’re you!

Sir Wilbur: As are you!

Will/Hatter [in as Jack Snow-like a voice as you can get without the speaker being actually Allyn-a-Dale ]: Consider that one a freebie for wishing me back to the land of the living. Tannenbaum, but my guts are sore.

Sir Wilbur [helping Will to his feet ]: Hatter’s body had to take a bit of punishment to make room for you.

Annabelle: And of course now his Shadow’s flown off who-knows-where.

Will/Jack: Worrying as that is, the matter will have to keep ‘til later. First things first: There’s Christmas to save.

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience member Miranda McNeff,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘lovely’ and ‘the sun never says to the moon, “You owe me”’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”

The Author, the Prince, and the Wind

FTF Button 2015

Once upon a time, an author looked up to discover that, high goodness, it was that time of year already: The annual, magical Fairy Tale Fortnight was once again come to its host blogs, The Book Rat and A Backwards Story.

Enamored with fairytales as she was, the author simply had to get in on the event. And as aforesaid event happened to fall right around the time she released the latest in her series of fairytale mash-up novellas, it was clear as a glass slipper what the author should do: Offer a pair of fun author/character chat vignettes and a giveaway tied-in to her new book!

And that author… *solemn nods* … was me.

And that book is, of course, “The Surrogate Sea (Book Six of The Wilderhark Tales)”.

Surrogate Sea cover, front

With a little cooperation from my South Wind and the Crown Prince of Denebdeor, I put together a couple of “Inspired”-style interview posts for the entertainment of the fairytale-loving community. You’ll find them here and here, along with a giveaway offering one lucky winner a set of signed bookmarks + a limited-edition “Surrogate Sea Word-Sketch Book” + a paperback copy of “The Surrogate Sea”! You’ve got ‘til the 22nd to enter. Enjoy, and good luck!

And for those of you in a fairytale mood, I hope you’ll check out/subscribe to the new series I’ve begun on Channillo.com, The Wilderhark Talettes! The first of my monthly short stories is up now (all new, and all about a young Edgwyn Wyle, squee!), with the next story comin’ atcha two weeks from today. ^_^

IF WILL SCARLET … Were a Super-Powered Plane-Hopper

A continuation of “If Will Scarlet Showed Up Out of the Blue— I Mean Red

“So, yeah,” he’d say. “I can totally just pop in and out of your head at will. Ha! At Will. Anyway, is there food?”

This would fly in defiance of everything I know and/or speculate about the relation between planes, as featured in such literary masterworks as Inspired. Not the part where Will’s asking about food. That much is par for the course. But be-bopping from the Abréal to the Réalis (as featured in Reality as We Know It, newly-released in The Toll of Another Bell: A Fantasy Anthology) just isn’t done!

“You can’t just do that,” I’d say, because, again, he shouldn’t be able to.

“Yeah, I know,” he’d say, striding into the kitchen. Getting to watch him stride would do wacky things to my lungs. It’s one thing to imagine it. Quite another to see with my own eyes. He’d pull open the fridge and freezer, looking for… well, probably pretty much whatever. “But I’ve developed super powers.”

“How?” I’d want to know. Now that I’ve either gotten over the first wave of shock or, more likely, have overdosed on it to the point that it doesn’t much matter anymore, I can begin to take an authorial interest in the how. One doesn’t like plot holes.

He’d crinkle his face at me – one eye going scrunched. “How in the deuce should I know?”

“ ‘In the deuce’?” I’d repeat. “Pretty sure it’s just ‘the deuce’, man, no ‘in’.”

“Couldn’t just let that slide, could you?”

“Could have, but didn’t. Why don’t you know?”

He’d shrug a shoulder. “Don’t know that either. I guess we could speculate. Can I have ice cream? I’m having ice cream.”

I would point out that, as long as his enjoyment of ice cream doesn’t involve him trying to force feed it to me (as is too often the case when he’s free-riding in my head), he can have all the ice cream he wants without me giving a single darn. This would result in a massive grin on his part, and probably his grabbing a spoon from the silverware drawer to shove directly into the carton of, I dunno, let’s call the flavor cookie dough.

“So,” he’d say, after sucking down a spoonful with relish, spinning around to lean back against the counter by the sink, “what could have happened that resulted in me being able to step in and out of your head as easy as crossing a threshold, but minus the imps?” Thresholder imps, of course, being a reference to another Inspired-world story of mine (which is due to feature in a super special Luna Station Quarterly thing in May. Stay tuned!).

A thought would at that point occur to me. “Wait. How do you know you can get back in? Have you tried?”

“Well, I—” He’d stop. Blink. “No, I haven’t.”

“So what if you can’t?”

“Ummmm, I’m pretty sure I can, but I mean, if you want me to try…”

“NO!” I’d say quickly. “What if you could get back in, but you couldn’t get back out? That would be a stupid waste; we haven’t done anything with you here, yet!”

“Mm, yeah, there’s a good point.” He crams more ice cream into his face, eyes trained thoughtfully toward the ceiling. “Well. What do you want to do, then? I could just stay here, indefinitely. I’m sure people in your head wouldn’t miss me that much. I mean, they totally would, but we’d still be sort of together. Like how you and I were together before I was here, sharing your plane.”

“That wasn’t the best sort of togetherness,” I’d say, already dreading the thought of things going back to normal. Because they’d have to, right? Things that are too good to be true don’t tend to last long.

“Not totally optimal, yeah,” he’d agree. His smile would change, going warmer and more deeply into me. “This is actually great. I never get to look at you, like this. I mean, I’ve looked at you, but…”

“I know what you mean,” I’d say, having observed the same sort of thing during his stride to the kitchen. “This is… we should hug again,” I’d decide. And we would. A longer hug, uncut by shock and the delivery of ponies. He’s a really great hugger. Not quite Edgwyn caliber, but definitely up there. Plus, Edgwyn wouldn’t be outside my head to compete, so Will would have the leg up.

“I am pretty sure I could get back out, though,” he’d murmur over my head. “I can tell. Like you can tell that you can, I don’t know, sing a song. A song you know, but just haven’t gotten around to singing yet, like… are there any songs like that?”

“I don’t know. I tend to sing the songs I know.”

“Well, the point is, you’re not worried that you can’t do it just because you haven’t.”

“That’s not a great metaphor, Will,” I’d break it to him. “I’ve sung songs before. So far as I know, you haven’t been doing much plane-hopping, ‘til now.”

“And how am I ever going to master my power,” he would chide, “if you won’t let me practice? Imagine a superhero movie where the guy gets a power but never tests it out because, oh no, what if he makes the face and it stays that way?! Is that how you make an X-Man? No.”

“Ally-y-yn…!” I’d wail, because I wouldn’t know how to cope with this conundrum.

“Yes?” Allyn would say, through me.

I’d point across the kitchen’s tiny space, tattling, “Will Scarlet’s on my plane!”

“Yes, I know,” Allyn-through-me would say. “He does that now, apparently.”

“That is so weird,” Will would say, because it would be – him listening to Allyn through the author filter instead of face to face, Allyn looking at him through my eyes, my eyes looking at a material Will… yeah, “weird” pretty much covers the basics. Then, “Hiiiiiiii, Allyn!” he’d call.

“Hello, Will,” Allyn would say, tugging my mouth up toward his sort of smile. “You’re very far.”

“Not so very,” Will would say.

“Feels like very, from here,” Allyn-through-me would murmur.

Will’s face would do a different sort of crinkling. A different sort of deep-into-you smile, laced with a grimace. “Aw, Allyn… Are you missing me?”

“Perhaps a little.”

“Want me to pop back in, real quick? Give you a hug?”

“No, wait!” I’d cry. “Allyn, is it safe for him to do that? Could he come back out? How is he doing this?

Allyn would answer evenly, “Yes, it is. Yes, he could. And didn’t he tell you? It’s his superpower.”

“But… but…” I’d probably wave my hands around to underscore my flabbergasticity, like one does. As of that moment, flabbergasticity would be a word. “How did he get superpowers??”

“Vat of toxic waste?” Will would say. “Multi-colored meteor of unknown origin? Bite from a radioactive spider… monkey?”

“You’re guessing!” I’d accuse. “You are completely guessing, and your guesses are getting strange!”

“Don’t ruin the magic!” Will would shout. “Also, hey. Watch this.”

And then the punk would totally hop back into my head and out again before I could die of panic from staring into the eyes of my projected worst-case scenario. Because worst-case scenarios are like Medusa, don’t you know.

“WILL SCARLET!”

“Ta-da!” he’d say with zero apology. He’s an “all’s well that ends well*, never mind that I could have inadvertently doomed us all” sort of guy. (*Or “Ende gut, alles gut,” as they say in German.) “Told you. Just like singing a song.”

“That was not a great metaphor,” Allyn-through-me would tell him. Because when I’m right, I’m right.

Will would stick out his tongue, then polish off the rest of the ice cream.

[To be continued…]

Easy as German

In preparation for my eventual move to Germany (yes, that’s happening), I’m making an effort to learn the local language – resource of choice thus far, Duolingo.com.

It’s been a fun challenge. Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache*, but es ist noch kein Meister von Himmel gefallen**, and all that.

*An expression I’m told means “German is hard”.

** Literally, I think it means something about how we don’t fall from heaven already having mastered everything; figuratively, “Practice makes perfect.”

“Eine Zeitung” = a newspaper

“Eine Zeitung” = a newspaper

I’ve noticed something, though. When I first started my Duolingo lessons, I didn’t have much trouble getting everything right. “Hooray!” cheered Early Me. “Das ist einfach!” [“This is easy!”] But as the weeks went on, with me diligently plugging along every day, making langsam [slow] but steady progress, I seemed to be making bothersome little mistakes more often, and having trouble remembering all the words I learned.

“Doggone it!” Later Me gnashes her teeth. “Whatever happened to the saying about the Himmel Meister? C’mon, Danielle – make perfect!”

But it makes sense, really. The more you know, the more there is to forget. And the further along you get in a learning venture, the higher your expectations for yourself, meaning it takes less and less to make you feel like you’re dropping the ball.

Or is that just me?

“Du bist normal” = You are normal. “Sie sind schlecht” = They are bad.

“Du bist normal” = You are normal. “Sie sind schlecht” = They are bad.

It’s certainly not just me and German. It applies to writing, too.

In my early authorial years – age 5 through 18 or so – writing was a breeze. The words flowed easily almost without fail. The characters’ dialogue practically wrote itself. The plots just happened, no weeks or months of brain-racking preparation required. And revision? Who needed that? These books came out practically ready to sell themselves!

Haaaaaa-hahahahahahaaaaaaaa… *sniffs* *wipes eyes* Ouch, my sides …

“Wir sind schön und wichtig!” [“We are beautiful and important!”] he informs you. “Also, Ich habe Hunger. Hey, Danielle, I know we’ve had one, but what about second Frühstück?”

“Wir sind schön und wichtig!” [“We are beautiful and important!”] he informs you. “Also, Ich habe Hunger. Hey, Danielle, I know we’ve had one, but what about second Frühstück?”

Writing used to be easy because, unbeknownst to me, I was writing glorious, golden garbage. Another third of my life later, I now have a better idea of all the ways I can craft a story wrong. And that makes writing much, much harder.

Nevertheless, there is something else learning German and continuing to learn how to write have in common: I’m in it for the long haul!

#Schreibe [#amwriting]