Tag Archives: Creative writing

A Snippet From Our WIP, Faerie Rising

After a long absence, we’re back!  Now, without further ado, here’s a snippet from Faerie Rising

Guitar music filtered through the foot traffic, and Etienne looked around, finally finding a young man with an instrument that saw more love and attention than his clothing, sitting on the sidewalk between two storefront windows.  His head was lowered over his guitar, eyes closed and long brown curls hiding much of his face as he gave himself over to his music.  Etienne tapped Kian on the elbow to keep him from wandering on ahead without him and made his way toward the street musician, feeling the music pulling at him like a gentle hand.  It was beautiful, even more beautiful than the music played in his mother’s court.  The boy was better than Kian, who Etienne loved to listen to play.
His music reminded him – Etienne stopped short, eyes wide – reminded him of his father.  Chretien de Aquitaine had been a magnificent musician.  His music and his beauty had drawn Etienne’s mother’s attention, much to the troubadour’s misfortune.
The street musician’s hands stilled on his strings, stroked the wood of the guitar, and finally looked up at Etienne through his long curls.  A small smile brushed over his lips.
Etienne was frozen, still struck by his memories.  “Who…?”
The young man shook his head.  “The question you need to ask is ‘Where?’”
Etienne’s brows drew in.
The street musician stretched his thin arm and pointed down the block, deeper into the Historical District.  “What you want is that way.  Across the street and next door to the cupcake place.  Olde Curiosity’s Gift Shoppe.”
Etienne craned his neck to look down the sidewalk, and then snapped back to look down at the boy.  “Did you say ‘Curiosity’s’?”  Arthur’s wife had been named Curiosity!  He remembered!
The boy’s gentle smile widened, and he nodded once.  “Now you understand me.”
Etienne dug into his jeans pocket and dropped the last of his change into the boy’s guitar case.  He turned, eager to pursue this new lead, and then turned back to thank him.  But what came out of his mouth was, “Who are you?”
The boy swung his long hair back behind his shoulder, revealing more of his face.  Pretty, but well within human normal.  “I’m just Stephen.  Welcome to Seahaven.”
Etienne looked more closely at Stephen, and he was indeed as he appeared.  Simply human.  Clearing his throat to cover his confusion he said, “Well, thank you, Stephen.”
The boy smiled and inclined his head with grace.  “Anytime.”  He then set to playing again.


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The Opening Lines of Our WIP, Faerie Rising

Our friend over at https://writingouttakes.wordpress.com/ showed up their fantastic first lines today, and after totally geeking out about them we thought that looked like a lot of fun.  So we have the first few (current) paragraphs of Faerie Rising.

The little bell above the shop door preceded the desperate cry of, “Winter, we need you!”  The urgency in her friend’s voice tore the wizard’s attention from her task.  She dropped the open box of sterile surgical instruments on the long counter and rushed across the back room clinic, passing the city map of Seahaven that took up one entire wall.  On the map were neat red dots and a note for every violent incident this year.  It was the end of October and the map was so covered in red that it looked like it was inflicted with a virulent rash.  Winter pushed her way through the thickly beaded curtain into the still-darkened storefront.

It was hours before the rest of the shops in the Historical District would open, the sun was just trembling on the mountain’s lips and the deep shadows cast by the century-old buildings left the streetlights still lit.  Through the doorway walked Giovanni and Katherine, though “walk” might have been too casual a description.  He leaned heavily on her smaller frame, but she bore his weight easily with her right arm about his slender waist, holding both his and her jackets in place against his back.  Katherine kicked the door closed behind her and showed Winter her face, pale beneath the thick spray of blood that glittered on her skin and hair.

Winter swallowed down the rising bile of panic as the meat smell of heavy bleeding reached her.  In her experience, that was the smell of a loved one’s violent death.

She had seen a great deal of death.

“What happened?” she asked even as she quelled her trembling belly with a wash of icy professionalism and shoved a half-empty box aside with her foot to make a clear path.  The shop was a disaster, thick with dust, boxes everywhere and the shelves half empty.  And there was precious little she could do about it anytime soon.

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A Snippet From Our WIP, Faerie Rising

Scrambling, Winter gave up a few more feet to the goblin’s slashing claws and used the precious seconds she bought to rummage frantically in her massive canvas bag, murmuring the charm to bring a small parchment envelope to her hand while watching carefully for its next move.  She should have had it out before.  She knew that, now.

She had started with a rake to defend herself, but then found out how well the nasty little thing could climb, as the continuous throbbing on the back of her right hand attested to.  She had never actually been trained for this, unlike her cousins and two older sisters.  She was supposed to be a teacher, a healer and a Potion Master.  She should be home, tucked away in her family’s kitchen teaching a handful of little cousins to brew simple decoctions, not doing battle with a pseudo-demon the size of a throw pillow in Karen’s backyard.

And losing.

“Blast!”  It darted to one side, trying to get past Winter and out into the night.  She had to keep it boxed in, just for a few more moments.  If it got loose into the neighborhood, she would be days finding it again, and by then it might have graduated to attacking children.  Only luck, a couple hours of stressful patience and a trail of about two pounds of fresh chopped beef had gotten it into the shed.  She kicked out, taking it in what passed for a midsection, and it bounced against the back of the shed like a large hairy soccer ball.  Tools popped from their perches, and a pot was knocked off its shelf, all raining down on the neatly swept concrete floor.  A burning sensation flared up her right calf, and Winter knew the little monster had scored, too.

Keeping her eyes fixed on the ugly little hair ball, Winter tore the top off the envelope.  The goblin crouched just out of reach, panting in a wheezy sort of way, slime dripping from its broken bottle teeth, all its eyes glittering back and forth desperately searching for a way past her.  Fear seemed to roll off it like a dark fog.  Wherever it came from, it probably had no idea where it was now.  It may have even seen what happened to its little friend.  Winter knew how it felt, trapped and desperate to find a way out, bloody images of her loved ones tearing at her memories.  For just a moment, she felt sorry for the evil little thing.  No one would be coming to rescue the goblin, either…

Then again, she wasn’t the one eating the neighborhood cats.  She raised the envelope…

With blinding speed nearly twenty pounds of goblin impacted with her upper chest.  Winter did not realize she was falling until the autumn-wet lawn struck her in the back, and she grabbed a fistful of greasy, matted fur with her left hand as it made to leap over her head to freedom.

It retaliated by sinking jagged teeth into her pale wrist, right through the sturdy fabric of her uncle’s old Army jacket.

Winter let out a yelp of startled pain, but did not release the frantically scratching beast.  It flailed about, claws raking her chest, her neck, her face, digging bloody furrows into her skin wherever it could find purchase.  She beat against its thick body in panic, the envelope almost forgotten in her clenched fist, and it worried at her wrist like a dog, the teeth digging deeper and deeper into flesh towards bone.

Rolling to her side, she released her grip on the envelope a little, half dumping, half pounding the goblin with red, glittering dust, drew the magic from within herself and through gritted teeth released it in a resonating word of command.  “Bind!”  It was not needed, the spell in the powder was already primed, but she was in pain and wanted to be sure it worked.

The creature froze in place, her wrist still clamped between its jaws.  Discolored teeth remained imbedded in fabric and flesh, but at least it had stopped chewing at the wound.  Winter tried in vain to breathe without smelling.  Wherever the little goblin had come from, it stank, and fear mixed with exertion did not help with the odor.  Her own pain and adrenaline were not helping, and she fought down a wave of nausea.  Grunting with hurt at the jostling, Winter jerked her bag out from beneath her hip and with one hand and her teeth uncorked a small blue bottle.  The acrid smell made her nostrils sting.  The goblin apparently smelled it, too, because it began to drool heavily in fear on Winter’s hand and arm.  She upended the bottle, the thick liquid soaking into the beast’s matted fur, and again produced a voice resonant with magical command.  “Banish!”  Again, the magic in the potion was already primed, but sometimes a little overkill did not hurt.

With a shrill keen and a cloud of noxious smoke the goblin vanished, the release of its weight and jaws painful in itself.  Winter rolled carefully up onto her knees, ignoring with limited success the way her torn stockings neatly wicked up the freezing moisture from the plush lawn to chill her skin.  Without teeth to block up the wound, blood welled up from the torn flesh, black in the suburban twilight, and began to run in rivulets down her hand.

She knelt there quietly, watching the first glittering drop fall silently onto the grass, and sluggishly fought back the roaring rush of exhaustion in her ears.  Darkness crept along the edges of her vision, and she shrugged her injured arm carefully out of her coat sleeve and knelt in the chill in just her long dress and her sweater, which she slipped off to bind about her hurt wrist.  It felt so good, just being still.  Just for a few more minutes.  She remained kneeling in the street-lit yard, watching the weave soak up blood and slime, and found herself fighting back sudden frustrated tears as the pain wound its way to her brain past the kinder adrenaline.  Her older sisters Sorcha and Mirilyn – even her younger cousins – they were so much better at this than she was.  They were stronger, faster, less scatterbrained…  Her wrist throbbed with her pulse, still fast, and the smaller stinging scratches echoing across her face, chest, and arms made her wish she could kick the evil little thing just a few more times.  Sorcha had once taken on an entire pack of hell-hounds that threatened her day-camp, for heaven’s sake.  Granted, Grandfather and Mirilyn had had to rescue her, but they had all three come home in triumph.  A single nasty little goblin would have been no match.  What was she doing wrong?

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The Characters of Faerie Rising – Jessie St. James

When Jessie St. James was twelve years-old she stumbled into Olde Curiosity’s Gift Shoppe, a little family-owned store full of herbal products. After taking a light-fingered look around she attempted to leave with some of the smaller merchandize and came face to face with one of the proprietors, the wizard Winter Mulcahy.  Winter had noticed that the girl was using magic to aid her shoplifting – but put a broom in her hand and had her do chores in the shop rather than calling the police.  At the end of the afternoon Winter rewarded Jessie’s good work with the items she had tried to steal.  Jessie has been Winter’s shadow ever since.

Jessie began training her magic with Winter’s twin cousins, Kelley and Martina, whose offensive abilities were more in keeping with Jessie’s flamboyant style than Winter’s tamer potion making. But that came to an end six months ago, when the twins were killed – the latest in the long line of Mulcahy wizards to die.  Winter has been forced to continue Jessie’s magical education as best she can, but with the crushing weight of her responsibilities Jessie is often left training on her own.  Most days she can be found at Curiosity’s after or, much to Winter’s eternal consternation, during school hours.

Sixteen year-old Jessie’s home life is a mess. Her parents, Joanie and Darryl St. James, are career alcoholics, controlling and verbally abusive towards their daughter and each other, and resent Jessie’s involvement with the Mulcahy family.  Not possessing any magic themselves, they are unaware of the preternatural world their daughter has whole heartedly joined and see Winter as a busybody.  Jessie in return does everything in her power to avoid her parents, taking advantage of their drunken forgetfulness to spend nights sleeping anywhere but at home.

Quick of wit, artistic, and unabashedly outspoken, Jessie has quickly made friends throughout the preternatural community, especially among the vampires of Seahaven. Many nights she can be found couch surfing at their Theatre in the Historical District when she isn’t hiding from her parents in the tiny apartment above Curiosity’s.

Winter is sick, falling apart from the strain of holding Seahaven together alone. Everyone in the preternatural community can see it, and they all talk to Jessie about it.  Jessie is desperate to help her friend and mentor, but Winter won’t let her.

But being told “no” won’t deter a young wizard like Jessie…

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Filed under Urban Fantasy and Other Trifles, Writing

The Denizens of The Books of Binding (Part 1) Magicians

“Etienne opened his mouth and Winter raised her hand.  ‘We must maintain a balance among the different preternatural groups in the city.’

‘What is preternatural?’  That was a new word for him.

She tipped her head to the side.  ‘Well… it’s us.  You, me, vampires, therian, witches, dragons; everything else that really does go bump in the night.  If it’s not human, not entirely, it’s probably one of us.’”

~ Faerie Rising

Within the fringes of our world exist many different types of preternaturals, some human-based, some once human but since changed, and some who have never dreamed human dreams.  Over the next several posts we will spend some time with each species to see who walks in shadows with the taste of human flesh on their minds and who stands behind those mortals of power, playing them like puppets.  Sometimes, they are one and the same.

While various species practice their own types of magic, most have one thing in common.  For magic to function, it must be cast using a matrix to give it structure and focus, for example a ritual circle or glyphs and runes, or the wording of a spell and focus objects.

There are four types of human-based magic users – wizards, sorcerers, witches, and mages.  Of these, wizards hold the greatest political power, ruling their own Houses from the ancient Wizards Council and are feared throughout the preternatural world for their arrogance and their willingness to use their great power to enforce their wills.  The only creatures they give grudging respect to are the rare but mighty dragons, who see themselves as being above all others.  Wizards are capable of truly destructive magic, and only other magic users can hope to defend themselves against them.  Wizards are also as a general rule not religious, as they do not acknowledge any higher power than themselves.

Sorcerers are those who deal with and serve the greater demons.  Not only do they derive vast power and wealth from their demons in exchange for the harvest of mortal souls, they interbreed with their demons, merging their bloodlines.  Only a sorcerer of a demon’s line can harvest souls for them, among other needed skills, and it is this merging that forms the basis of the demonic pact.  Some wizards choose to turn their families into sorcerer lines, knowing well the horrible cost, for wizards value power as the greatest of all virtues – but even so, only the most daring, the most power-hungry of wizard families have chosen this path.  Once a pact has been formed, it is forever, lasting as long as the bloodline exists.

Witches are the most common of the four, and the least powerful.  The word “witch” within the preternatural community is really more of a blanket term for those humans with a magical spark, who experience it on a more spiritual level or even just struggle to understand why they can see what others cannot.  Those who might be called shaman or druid or fortune teller will often fall under this category, if they truly are gifted.

According to the wizards, over ten-thousand-years ago in the last Age of Man, mages ruled over all with cruel disregard for anything but their own needs.  They were beings of immense power – it was said that earth and sky trembled to obey their whims, and that they did not need the structure of spell matrixes to cast magic.  They simply extended their wills, and the Universe itself opened like a willing woman, giving them all they desired.  They saddled and rode the proud dragons to battle, waging war against each other from within glittering towers while all below them was ground to dust and despair.  It was said they even brought the Old Gods to their knees.  Finally, the wizards rebelled against them, bringing them down at great cost and ending the Age even as they drove the mages to extinction.

But, ten-thousand-years is a long time, and rumors are sometimes whispered in darkened hallways…

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Filed under Urban Fantasy and Other Trifles

Seahaven, WA

Though, barring editorial intervention the series itself will be titled The Books of Binding, the city that plays the most pivotal role in the series events is the fictional city of Seahaven, WA.  Why a fictional city when so many perfectly good ones are already laying around, you may ask?  Well, for starters, while we have a world of respect for alternate historians and in fact dabble a bit in their playgrounds with a few of our vampires (really, Machiavelli should have known to stay dead) we prefer to start with a clean slate.

There is no clear geographic location for Seahaven.  It is roughly an hour and a half’s drive down the coast from Seattle, but since we don’t wish to displace any current residents by plopping a mid-size city full of preternaturals in their communities, we’re leaving the exact location vague.  So, let’s play pretend.  We’re writers.  Playing pretend is something we happen to be good at.

Seahaven has the largest per-capita preternatural population of any city on the planet, including New York and Los Angeles.  Our preternaturals live in the shadows of the human world.  Cross the wrong street at the wrong time of night, turn the wrong corner, and the undergrad you sat beside on the bus for just a little too long is suddenly in front of you, his eyes reflecting the streetlights the way no human’s should.  He may let you pass.

He may not.

The girl on the corner in the too short skirt leaning into the passenger side window to chat up a potential john was never human.

Seahaven wears many faces, and those mortals who chose to call it home know instinctively to bring keep their children close and bring them in before the streetlights flare.  Because alone, a human stands no chance against the preternaturals in their midst.

So, the question becomes, why hide?  If humans are so weak and frail, such tasty treats, why hide ourselves at all?

The answer lies in sheer numbers.  A lone human in an alley is a meal, a toy… even potentially a convert.  But Seahaven is a city of nearly half a million, not including the suburbs.  And humans in large groups are deadly dangerous, with their armies and their laboratories and their weapons of mass destruction.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki frightened even the supremely arrogant dragons.

And so the preternaturals agree on one on thing, and one thing only – they hide themselves from the humans, choosing only select humans from among the throng to join their numbers, and wield their not inconsiderable political and financial power from behind the curtain of secrecy.

Who knows?  Perhaps glowing eyes watch you even now, measuring your strength, your eternal worth?  Would you join them?

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Blog The First

We are story tellers.

We were always told in our creative writing classes that writers journal.  I have behind me a shelf of beautiful journals sitting empty because I felt I had nothing to say.  I didn’t want to write about the minutia of adolescent life – I had no idea what could be interesting about it.  I wanted to write about dragons and sorcerers and terrible deeds and fantastic triumphs.  Later those dragons would drive Mercedes, and the sorcerers found Wall Street appealing.  While terrible deeds happened as terrible deeds do – where the good people of the world averted their eyes.  And fantastic triumphs, we found, can happen in the most unexpected places.

You may notice that I tend to jump pronouns a lot, from “I” to “we” with wild abandon.  That is because A. E. Lowan is actually two people who have been writing together for twenty years, ever since we were teenage journaling failures.  I *bows elegantly* am the more verbose of the two of us.  You may hear from the other from time to time, but she is shy.

We are engaged on a journey, she and I, and it is a journey we would like to share with you.  We are currently working on an urban fantasy book series, The Books of Binding.  The first of the Books, Faerie Rising is nearing completion.  In this blog we’re going to discuss the stress of writing on deadlines, the fears of rejection, the business of traditional publishing, plus whatever else comes to mind.  And, since I’m doing most of the writing here, there will probably be bad attempts at humor.  I’m still not sure if what I have to say will be interesting – there are so many other writers out there who have wonderful blogs with excellent writing advice – but maybe by telling our story we can be of some small help to another writer going through the same journey as we.

Thank you for coming along with us.  It promises to be an interesting ride.

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