Tracey at Adventure Awaits tagged me for this a few weeks ago and I’m finally getting to it.
The rules are as follows:
-Include the graphic somewhere in your post (or make your own, just so long as you include a link back to Madeline’s blog).
-Answer all the questions, however you want to. Creative interpretation is key here! You can use the book you’re currently working on to answer the questions, or other books you’ve started or have written.
-Tag 2-5 other bloggers.
I tag Hope Ann at Writing in the Light, even though I know this isn’t the kind of post she usually does, but I’m curious to see what she comes up with (you’re not obligated to do it, though); and Suzannah of Vintage Novels, because once in a great while she drops a line on her blog about the Crusader novel she’s working on, and I really want to know more.
1. Share your most gripping, fascinating, and hooking first line of a story.
The black sky overhead tingled with stars and reflected the red light of a thousand fires. Æschild leaned back, resting her weight on her arms out behind her, and sighed. On the last night of Pennsic War, what better place to be than at the edge of a bardic circle? (Of the North)
The whole story needs rewriting, but I still like the beginning, which is saying something. I’ve read it too many times for it not to have lost some of the sparkle.
I also like the start of a story I began a while ago, dropped, and then picked up again for school:
She was one of those American tourists, the young fair kind that come over now and then with a serious expression and a camera. Only she didn’t have the camera. (untitled)
2. Share a snippet that crushes your heart into a million feelsy little pieces.
Æschild plunged into the deep place and came up gasping and shivering, half in delight at the freedom of moving through nothing but water. She raised her hands to her face and pushed her hair back, opening her eyes to the starry sky far above. The thought crossed her mind, briefly, to wonder what might be in the water, but she brushed it off. This is an adventure — enjoy it, appreciate it, don’t waste time worrying. This is rarer than once in a lifetime. (Of the North)
3. Share a snippet that makes you want to shout to the world that you’re So. HAPPY.
“She seems to have made you awfully happy, considering that your proposal is merely conditional on your victory,” John noted.
“Will you guys just stop? I want to be able to concentrate on what’s coming.” In spite of himself Algernon was grinning too.
“If that’s the case, I’m sorry to break it to you, Cap’n, but she’s coming to watch.” It was Polycarp, carefully carrying a jug across the lawn. As he emerged from the shadow of the side of the hill, he squinted up at the sun and said, “It’s about time, anyway.”
“You never said a truer word,” John said, purposely misinterpreting Polycarp. “If Cupid ever took longer to aim and release one of those arrows of his ––”
Algernon glared at him, and took the jug from Polycarp. He squinted into it and asked, “What’s this?”
“Refreshment for when you get tired,” the boy said.
“Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum-flavoured –– hello, Rose.” Lest she’d heard his previous remark, he added, “Coffee.” (Rose-Tinted Arrows, of course)
4. Share a snippet that gives a bit of insight into one of your most favourite characters ever.
You shouldn’t ask for this sort of thing, because it makes all the characters jealous, and when you make one happy by choosing that one, all the others get that much angrier. Lily could claim the place, by virtue of having been with me the longest, but I am rather fond of Algernon (not that he’s been shortchanged in the snippets here), and Alfhild and I are rather close, and. . . well, pretty much every main character I write, and lots of the supporting ones, could be my most favourite depending on exactly when you ask. If someday I do end up finding one of those perfect snippets, I’ll share it.
5. Share a snippet that melts you into a puddle of adorable, squishy, OTP mush.
Here I have a difficulty, because of the seven or so couples I have, only two went and fell in love with each other before getting married, and of those couples, one’s love story hasn’t been written yet. So I don’t have a lot of properly gooey scenes. But Rose and Algernon are happy to do their best.
Rose caught a movement at the door and looked up over Owen’s shoulder. She saw what the boy, whose back was to the door, could not: dark hair and a high, broad forehead peeking sideways around the doorframe. A moment more and a pair of narrow eyes, by whose expression Rose could tell that the unseen mouth was smiling, came into view. Then Rose could contain her mirth no longer. Her laughter bubbled out, prompting Owen to turn and look. The apparition startled him; he leapt to his feet with a rag and a pan in his hands, and screamed.
“For goodness’ sake settle down,” Rose ordered. “Though I will say for him that you do look pretty creepy coming in like that, Algernon.”
“I admit it isn’t a very good position for spying in,” Algernon admitted, letting the rest of himself cross the threshold upright.
“And you do a lot of that?” Owen asked.
“Oh yes. More than you know,” Algernon said with a wink.
“What a thing for a man who pretends to be a gentleman to do!” Rose said.
“I don’t pretend to be a ‘gentleman’. I daresay you know a few of those.”
“You’re not much like them,” Rose allowed.
“Of course not. If I were, you’d have married one of them instead of me.”
“Perhaps. I haven’t married you yet.”
“What!” cried Owen aghast.
“Well, for that matter, if I were like one of them, I probably wouldn’t have been outlawed in the first place,” Algernon admitted. (Rose-Tinted Arrows)
6. Share a snippet that gets you beaming with pride and you’re just like yep, I wrote that beauty.
Some dust was hanging over the field now, but most of it was gone, carried by the breeze that was still drying her throat and arms. Tall tunnels lay between the grain in places where some quick workers had outpaced/outpassed the others. A couple of birds settled on one of the stacks of grain, and a child ran forward, skipping and jumping over dirt clods, to chase them off.
“Summer ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the stooks arise,” AEschild quoted softly, “Around; up above, what wind-walks!” Hopkins had struck her, when she first discovered him in college, as a poet somewhat after the Anglo-Saxon style, with his love of alliteration, but she’d never thought to be quoting him thus in the midst of an English harvest. Indeed the rows of sheaves had a wild sort of beauty. (Of the North)
7. Share a snippet of genius, deliciously witty dialogue between your characters.
Rose-Tinted Arrows is probably half jokes (practical or verbal). One of the things that makes it hard to put in a genre is that though it has most of the other characteristics of fantasy, people make many and obvious references to movies and things (and though I’m not planning to publish it at this point, I did put in a note at the beginning that allusions to works of film and literature are probably intentional). So most of the funny lines have something to do with quotations.
“May I ask you a question?” Rose said, a little hesitantly.
“An honest question in return for an honest question; and I’ll give you as honest an answer as an outlaw can,” Algernon replied.
“Why don’t you ever take your mask off? Or perhaps I should say, why do you wear a mask all the time in the first place?”
“Oh, I find them terribly comfortable.” The Captain’s eyes twinkled as he looked sideways at Rose. “I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.”
8. Share a snippet that makes you feel like an evil genius for thinking up such a malevolent villain (Mwa-ha-ha!)
My villains are lacking in human characteristics, apparently; usually they’re circumstances or laws or forces of nature. I have one very good villain, but said person’s part is major spoilers for Wind Age.
This is from the unfinished half of Rose-Tinted Arrows, in which the king comes and visits the outlaws in order to better decide which, if any, of them to pardon. The atmosphere is a bit awkward to start with, of course, but there’s a certain person with an agenda who’s trying to spoil things.
[The Duke] happened to be looking straight at [Rose] when she saw him. Their eyes met, and for a second Rose went cold inside. His glare plainly told her that, though she had certainly scored one victory, he was perfectly willing to carry his part of the battle into her own territory. Her hands clenched the arms of her chair when he sat down near the king.
The first course passed with only small talk about the size of the Robbers’ Castle, the amazing craftmanship displayed in the chapel and its furnishings, and such matters. But when Algernon had risen to carve the meat, and passed out plates of venison and boar, the subject changed.
“I must say, even my own palace cook cannot prepare venison to such a turn as this,” Charming said upon tasting his slice. “However do you do it?”
“Family secrets, I’m afraid, sire,” said the Cook as he brought plates to a couple of the men at the next table.
“Oh, one of those recipes. I see.”
“Perhaps you could hire him as your cook,” one of the King’s men suggested, “and then he could always make your venison without ever having to give up the secret.”
“Hire an outlaw for a cook?” The Duke of Mountagne pursed his lips. “He’ll be wanting a loyal cupbearer.”
“That’s not very complimentary to my cook, who has been of excellent service in the kitchen and out of it,” Algernon chided. “His skill is not limited to preparing venison.”
“I daresay it wants one who’s good at poaching to be able to, as you might say, know his meat inside and out,” the Duke said with a smile that almost appeared friendly.
“Now, my good Godefroy, we are guests under these men’s roof,” the King rebuked him. “Our business is not pretty, but there’s no call to aggravate things.”
“Certainly,” said the Duke, showing his teeth. Rose began to be irritated. If the King was not exactly on their side, he was at least being a true gentleman about it. There certainly was no call for Mountagne to be trying to make things harder.
“But perhaps it is just as well that we should get down to business,” His Majesty said, turning to Algernon. “I had thought we might hear each of your men’s stories from themselves, but now that I have seen their number, it might take too long. What do you suggest?”
[. . .]
“Who’s next?” Algernon asked.
“I suppose I could be,” said Will Scarlet, standing up. He had been sitting next to Robin, who was next to Rose. He turned to face the King and made an elaborate bow. “Your Majesty.”
Charming looked a little startled that an outlaw could be so polished. “And your name, sir?”
“Will the Scarlet, sire.”
“Well, Will, please to give us your story.”
“I was a rash youth in my younger days,” and Will sighed as if he were more than his thirty years. “It was stealing I was taken up for; I had a lot of younger siblings, and Father was a good-for-nothing, and Mother had just been delivered of her, what, it must have been her ninth. It was food and a little wine to help her that I stole, and was arrested for it at the tender age of eighteen. I escaped, Lord knows how I managed to carry that off, and ran away. Found my way here and became a respectable gentleman outlaw. I was baptized, the Captain baptized me, that same year.”
“Thank you, Will.” The King smiled a little as Will bowed again before sitting down.
The Duke must have thought Charming was being too favourably impressed. He clapped politely and observed, “I never saw an outlaw who was so good at taking people in.”
“You’ve probably not seen many outlaws, have you?” Will retorted, leaning across the table. “It’s easier to do the condemning from a distance. You never have to risk your heart getting the better of you.”
“Gently, Will; he is our guest, even if a somewhat antagonistic one,” Algernon said.
“And the next man?” the King said.
This lasted for nearly two hours as man after man came up to the table and gave his name and his testimony. Murderers who had converted; thieves who had fled to a place of refuge that turned out to be more than a mere safe place to live; men of black pasts and uneasy futures who had accepted Christ. The King was overwhelmed at the end.
“You have done a good work here, Captain,” he said when all the men had had their turn.
“I have worked hard here,” Algernon said modestly. “Yet it was not I, but the grace of God in me.”
“Well spoken, sir,” the Duke observed. “Doubtless, as Pastor as well as Captain of these men, sermons come easily to hand. But what of your,” and he hesitated, “wife? What is her story? For what crimes did she flee justice?”
Algernon grinned at Rose. “For the mortal sin of marrying me,” he said lightly.
“I have heard Rose’s story,” the King said, looking at the list of names he had written down as each man came forward, and comparing it with the list he had brought with him. (Again, Rose-Tinted Arrows
9. Share a snippet that leaves you breathless, in a cold sweat with action-induced intensity.
My stories have been called slice-of-life, sometimes meant as a good thing, and sometimes as a polite cover for “boring”, but there is one piece of Wind Age that I happen to be fond of, and though it’s not a battle or chase or argument scene, at least it’s one you can point to and say something happened. It could technically be spoilers, but I’ll post it and see what guesses my beta-readers come up with.
The day had been fair, but now the sun was retreating behind a cloud-wall that was rising in the west, and with the fading of the light the wind sprang up, threatening rain, and the clouds no longer sun-gilded arched over the clearing like hawks about to swoop on their prey. When the sun’s edge disappeared, leaving a muted glow behind, all of us looked up, and Ealdmodor made the sign against evil as the wind rose, for though we welcomed the prospect of rain at last after so long, its appearance boded a tempest that could destroy.
The noise of the wind increased, and Ealdmodor broke off in the middle of a sentence. The wind could not be making that crashing sound in the forest, not when it was still less than a gale in the clearing. Still it sounded as if a storm had been loosed on the forest.
“It is the Wild Hunt!” cried Ealdmodor, throwing herself down on the grass. Mother, less paralyzed, darted inside the house.
Then out of the shadow of the wood came a ride of horses richly decked, a full score of them coming swiftly up the road. All were bay or black save the one their leader rode, which was pure milk white except where dust clung to its legs. The rider, coming straight through the open gate, reined in, and all his followers halted. He was a kingly man, broad-shouldered and long in the leg, bright locks flowing free. Horse and rider, dirty but of noble bearing, matched each other. In the clearing, tree-bounded and with the coming storm overhanging it, they were the only things still bright.
* * * * *
That was a long post. I apologize in advance for any surviving typos, inconsistencies, or formatting errors still left. It’s been a crazy weeks and I still have a paper to polish off and turn in, besides the usual class-craziness, in preparation for not having a weekend, or a lot of time next week, to do school, because Northshield’s Spring Coronation is on Saturday.
For the dedicated few who read the entire thing, which was your favourite piece? From the glimpses you’ve caught of them so far, who is your favourite of these characters?