It’s all down to this

“Do you want that?” she’d asked him before, expecting his answer to be no, not realizing that he would rather die, would rather be a sacrifice. “I have a friend in there – a dear friend that I betrayed – and I can tell you, he doesn’t want that. He didn’t want this. He would rather live. He would rather be far from this and live in peace.”

“Then he is already dead. There will be no peace so long as–”

She slapped him. He stared at her, silent, gingerly holding his cheek. Maureen clutched her stinging hand and fought the urge to shake him, make him see. 

 “And that is why you failed.” Her voice was low, savage. “Angry boys die for your vision, your lie. Sean will not be one of them; you don’t deserve his sacrifice.”

D: I was not expecting that.

A: Nor was I.

D: Did she really? I mean, wow.

A: Yup. Big grown-up moment.

D: I’m wondering if I recruited. . .

A: You picked the right one, D. But she needed her character arc early in order to serve as Sean’s witness.

D: Sure, character arc. I wonder how well she handles a sword.

A: D, where are you going? D?! You leave Maureen alone – you’ve done enough!

D: What? Oh. Certainly, A. Don’t mind me. . .

A: Watch it Druid, I control the delete button. . .

D: Empty threats, A. Empty threats.

The Druid Tells the Tale:

A: CN Faust has author services – and they’re awesome (A, what are you doing in my accolades? Stealing them, D. I want bookmarks! Then finish the bloody book, A! Fine…)

D: This one is mine! Epic poetry and mysterious beasts are my favorite things, and so I highly recommend the Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale.  These are some spectacular poems. Get them!

A: A curious experiment is underway . . . http://seancookeofficial.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/bloggers-assemble-a-blogosphere-experiment/ . . . we joined up, because what could be better than us participating in some mysterious blogosphere experiment?! Not much, I say. Not much. (A, I’m scared. Oh, buck up, D.)

Stealing the spotlight

. . . There was no moon, no sun, no point of reference. Only the mist was alive with light and movement, revealing his way even as it sought to disorient him.

Dubh walked faster, slicing a path through the haze. Although more than five hundred years had gone since he had passed this way, he remembered. He remembered the hut – a mere speck on the horizon – and he remembered the girl.

She was waiting. Niamh had grown to womanhood in his absence and she was waiting for him.

“Dubh an Súile,” she announced lightly. At the chime of her voice, the mists – the all-pervading mists that shrouded this world, that softened that which was not soft – bloomed with color. Golden yellow, blue and green danced within the current . . .

D: Oh, A. I knew you could do it!

A: Do what? Wait, do I want to know?

D: That scene – it’s new! I like it.

A: Gee, thanks, D. I think.

D: No, I really do. Finally!

A: You seem rather more excited than I would have expected. What’s up?

D: The sky. Birds. Is that a plane?

A: Helicopter. They’ve finally found me.

D: What?

A: You get to be obtuse and I get to be random. It’s a thing.

D: I thank the gods that you write better than you speak.

A:  You and me both! I repeat, what has you so excited, D?

D:  It’s a scene. About me. I mean, being a “god impersonator” is all well and good, but I’m looking for a little depth, A. Some substance. Gravitas!

A: Does personality count?

D: . . . Not as much as you’d like it to.

A: Believe me, D. You have gravitas. Even a little panache. But this scene is to introduce a smidge of background. I couldn’t have you showing up as Commander Declan—

D: Still hate that name.

A: You don’t have it for long; Maureen will recognize you.

D: Thank heaven for small mercies.

A: Can I continue? I couldn’t have you showing up as Commander Declan without a little bit of history – not real history, your history. You were a bit too mysterious to me, so you were an enigma to the story.

D: Well, enigma no more, I have a back-story!

A: Oh, that was bad, D. Even for you. It’s not funny, and I don’t think it makes sense.

D: I know; I picked it out of your brain. You’re welcome.

A: That’s just swell.

“. . . But first you must find them,” Niamh repeated, taking her hand away and rising. Her insistence struck a deep chord in Dubh’s belly. “You must bring them home, before–”

“Niamh, since when are you concerned with the fate of mortals? I know my duty, and I will do it, but this urgency . . .”

“They must be tucked up in their little convent school before he acts. They are a risk – your history is not safe with them blundering about out there. You led them through, Dubh; it is your duty to finish it.”

“You know where they are, don’t you?”

“I do, and I wonder at how they got there. . .” 

Monday, Monday

Is this the true face of D??

D: Oh no. No, A – who is that?

A: What do you mean, D? Can’t you tell?

D: You must be joking. A, please tell me you’re joking.

A: Does this mean you don’t like it?

D: If you mean to tell me that this is m—

A: (Giggling) Sorry, D. I couldn’t help myself. (more giggling . . . now it’s laughter. . . minutes pass . . . still more laughter).

D: Thank heavens. Hello? A? You can stop that now, A.

A: I’m sorry, D. I needed that. No, that is me. With a mustache. At my birthday party.

D: Before or after the sangria?

A: Before. . . just.

D: . . . I fear for you.

A: Thank you, D. Your concern is touching.

D: I see you’re not writing tonight (ahem) . . . do you have a reason for calling me out of the ether?

A: Goal setting.

D: You? Do you have goals?

A: Lots – and most of them are none of your business, Druid! I mean writing goals. I failed at most of them this week. Holiday weekends tend to do me in.

D: Okay, I’m listening, what are your writing goals?

A: Well, last week, I wanted to complete Part 2 by my actual birthday (which is really this week). That’s not going to happen because I realized my entire mechanism for getting Sean and Maureen to Dublin from the west coast was flat-out wrong, and had to re-write two chapters to make it right.

D: I could have told you that.

A: No, you couldn’t; you weren’t even there, D. If you had been—

D: Okay, okay, I get it. So no Part 2 – did you do any writing this weekend?

A: I did; I wrote two small fiction pieces based on prompts and a short story about Sean and Maureen, that are on the Community Storyboard, fixed the two chapters and drafted two other short stories. It’s been very productive, just not in the direction I intended. This week I’m making focus my keyword, and perhaps moderation, too. I want to finish two more chapters, which will put Sean and Maureen in the heart of the conflict in Dublin.

D: And?

A: That not enough for you, D?

D: . . .

A: Fine. I have to update this blog with some added features to keep things organized and maybe write some more things that aren’t part of the Out of Time universe. Writing for the Community Storyboard was fun. I haven’t done that in a very long time.

D:  Congrats, A. Expanding your universe and reasonable goals that might not make you crazy . . . er.

A: Cheers, D!

D: Are we going to do our accolades tonight, A? Or are you still recovering from sangria?

A: Cheeky. Nope, I wanted to congratulate  Charles Yallowitz for the publication of his book of poetry, the Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale.  Fantastical creatures, beautiful poetry and incredible cover art – this book has it all. Check it out.

D: Since poetry is more my venue than yours, A, allow me to share the Community Storyboard’s poetry prompt: creature creation.

A: Are you sure that’s not my territory? I could call you the creature or monster of my mind.

D: Nice, A.

A: I do what I can. And that is all for today. I’m going to say goodbye to my long weekend with an hour of British spies. Good night!

“. . . When Eoghan confronted us – when he said his name – I knew where we were, Sean. It was a deep, complete knowing. I know this time, I know this war–”

Sean snorted. “Yes, you do.”

“Politics aside, Sean McAndrew, I knew what we had to do.”

“What’s that?” Curiosity overruled his frustration.

“Save him.”

“What? Maureen, you’re mad–”

“Hear me out, Sean. If I’m right, that boy out there goes to Dublin soon and gets himself killed fighting in the uprising on Easter Monday. He had a family here, probably a sweetheart. The Ballard farm doesn’t exist in our time . . . they—“

“Maureen, that happens. Say we convince him to stay. What is to stop him from joining the movements in Galway? He could just as easily die there, too. Besides, no one knows why he went to Dublin. I don’t think we should interfere . . .”

Bits and bobs

“. . . And you, love, what do you do?”

Maureen stared at Jenny Mallory – Mrs. Mallory to her and Sean – barely comprehending the question.

“What do you mean?” she asked, trying to be polite. It was only ten in the morning, but it has already been a long day.

“I mean lass, what do you do? You brought us Eoghan’s parcel, and for that we’re grateful. It’s just that I can’t see allowing a convent school chit and her young man to become involved in what we’re doing.”

Jenny Mallory was small and pleasantly round. She was Eoghan’s contact in Dublin, and he had assured Maureen that Mrs. Mallory would be amenable to the change in plans. Thinking the only thing pleasant about Mrs. Mallory was her plumpness, Maureen decided Eoghan may yet get himself killed, if only because he was a very poor judge of character. 

“We’re sixteen,” Maureen lied. It was almost true; Sean would be sixteen in only a few days. “We have information, we know–”

“Maureen!” Sean hissed. She closed her mouth and shot him an evil glare. He wasn’t supposed to be hovering; she wouldn’t be able to convince Mrs. Mallory properly if he was listening. . .

D: That’s it, A? That’s all you’re going to write today?

A: Well … I’m writing now.

D: Talking to the character in your head and writing it out doesn’t count, A.

A: Translation counts, D.

D: Don’t make me scold you A. You wouldn’t like me if I scolded you.

A: You assume I like you now. And it does count – my world, my rules, Druid.

D: . . .

A: I’m distracted. It’s Monday. It’s beautiful outside. I have no drive, D.

D: Come on, A, just 400 more words . . . on Part 2. You can do it. You didn’t get up at 4:00 this morning like you promised yourself; do it now and then you can play outside.

A: . . . Fine. I’ll put the blog away. I’ll write. I think I have an idea, anyway. But before I do, can I give a shout-out to a dear lady who had some real inspiration?

D: I’ll allow it.

A: Gee, thanks, D.

The lovely Ionia at the Readful Things Blog has started The Community Storyboard. As she says, whether you are a reader or a writer, the site promises to have what you are looking for. It will ‘showcase poems, short stories and anything else that falls into the category of writing.’ Check it out, submit your work and enjoy – it promises to be a fantastic place. I know I’m very excited.

D: Oi, Miss Fancy-Pants A, what am I, chopped liver?

A: D, just because I’m excited about that doesn’t mean—

D: No A, you should say we’re very excited. Don’t leave me out – I’m excited too!

A: Smoke bombs and storyboards, right D?

D: Yep!

When in Rome

female-writer-sepD: What is this, A? Why am I in a box? Is this your idea of a joke – mad man in a box? I find your Dr. Who references to be very inappropriate. . . . A? A, where are you?

A: It’s just for a moment, D. I need to get something off my chest. I need to explain why I took to the blogosphere to exorcise – I mean celebrate – our wonderful relationship.

D: A? I don’t think I like where this is going, A.

A: Tough, Druid. Buck it up.

D: . . .

A: D is a figment of the imagination. I know this. The only problem: it’s not my imagination.

I gave him a place to play, yes. I’ve encouraged his growth, gave flourish to his ego, and even (gasp) appreciated his finer points and smoothed some of his rough edges. But he is not mine.

D was given to me over 13 years ago. The Irishman who would one day have the distinction of becoming my ex-husband read my book and said, “Sure, it’s great. (Liar.) But I see someone else in it.” He told me about D. He was a blond then, a Celt and a Druid. His eyes were still blue but he was actually far more taciturn and far more forbidding. He couldn’t stay in my head for 13 years and stay that way, though.

Hearing his description of D, I agreed. He had a place in the story and I went about writing it in. It wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t great, and I couldn’t read it without cringing in places. The story didn’t sit well with me, so I went to write another one.

It wasn’t until I was half-way through the outline that I realized that D had a place there, too; it was the tale of his beginning. I knew too that if this was his beginning, then he had his own story to tell, and lucky me, I was the one to tell it.

There was a problem, however: I didn’t like him much.

Worse than that. I couldn’t see him.

I’m a visual person. I watch a movie in my head when I read and I’m fascinated by the visual interpretations of books on screen, even if they are often semi-comic/tragic interpretations.  For me not to be able to see D was a big problem. His story is actually one I enjoy (even if he drives me crazy), and I felt like I let him and the story down.

Then, life got in my way. Not only that, but the world changed.

Facebook, twitter, ebooks – it exploded!

I had a website – 3 actually – back in the Angelfire days. One, as I mentioned in our “award” dialogue, was connected to NBC for a brief time. I chatted with Irish, Scots and Basque Nationalists and will never look at the Blue Bunny the same way again.

There are many similarities between that world and our own, but when you’ve been gone – working, raising a child, paying too much attention to the mundane details of life – getting back in the game is daunting.

But I knew I had to do it. I now work at a magazine publishing house. I know how this goes. I know I need to make myself marketable. But I’ve struggled with how. For over a year I’ve been exploring my own brain (scary place) and wondering just how to market myself when asking an avid train enthusiast to buy the latest “Railroad Maps” special issue makes me cringe.

How can I do that when the foundation for my books ticks me off and remains elusive?

So, ten years passed without a word written. Rather, I wrote, but on conservation subdivisions, water gardens and the economics of land conservation. I blocked D off. I ignored him. Friends called, said they were dreaming about D, and could I please write something, maybe?

I tried. I had inspiration. I blocked out the new outlines for a revised Book 1 & 2 that made sense, outlines that seemed right.

But I couldn’t write them.

I didn’t understand, but I knew that one day, I would. I let the frustration go, and just let it be.

Then, it was TC’s birthday. We celebrated his birthday and the world not ending by going to a movie. It was lovely; I still listen to the soundtrack. Every day. My nearly-teen son teases me. I still listen.

This is not D, but TC and I still had fun shooting the pictures anyway!

This is not D, but TC and I still had fun shooting the pictures anyway!

After the movie, I had my celebratory glass of wine (or rather my I-survived-20-hrs-of-labor-and-100-extra-pounds glass of wine). I started thinking about D and the story (because not a day went by in 10 years that I didn’t think about D and the story), and the movie.

And there he was.

In all his glory. It slapped me across the face, gave me goose bumps and made me pay attention.  He had a face. He had a voice. He had a presence that I could see and understand. He was mine. He had marinated in the morass that is my mind long enough, and he was mine.

And so I wrote. I wrote and I blew through the 3-chapter barrier. As we neared the end of part 1, re-writing the entire thing as we went, I realized that the camaraderie I had built with D was something ‘else.’

It might even be something others might enjoy.

Something marketable.

Something that wasn’t me exactly, but was the story, was D, and was faintly entertaining in its own right.

So I blogged. And amazingly, I loved it! I still think Twitter may be Dante’s 8th circle, but it’s kind of fun. I even think I could have another blog (more on that later. . . I might also be crazy!).

My trouble is staying on task, focusing. I need to maintain a healthy disregard for D, otherwise these posts may become a bit of a love-fest, and that’s no fun! I also need to write Part 2, which is hard because I’m not a rabid nationalist anymore. I’ve switched sides, become Sean and I think I might have to OD on Braveheart in order to do Maureen’s idealism justice. The rest of the story is lovely and it’s spinning itself together in a way I had never before considered. I can’t wait to get there.

And then there is D. We do chat. He has a nice baritone, so conversing is lovely. It’s not that I dislike him anymore – I have a very healthy respect for him – but honestly, try living with an overbearing Scot with an ego as big as he is old. Respect, entertainment – it all goes flying out the window eventually.

This is why I’m in Rome. This is bigger – so much bigger – than I had anticipated. But I want to do it. I want to tell the tale and I want to be marketable. D is my brand. Having the support of like-minded people is incredible. And I am so thankful to be a part of the Rome Construction Crew.

D: So, if I’m your brand, does that mean you’re going to stop talking soon?

A: Yes, D – get ready to shine!