February 09, 2005
Amaryllis.Net

This story is inspired by the brilliant red science experiment (Amaryllis) sitting atop Mark's monitor in the office. And to the big boss's sudden thought of "Flower Cam!" today.

Amaryllis.Net

(c) Deb Atwood 2005

Cameron sat on the edge of the desk, kicking her heels back and forth in the empty air as she watched her brother tie off the burlap bag and set it aside. He lifted another bag with a picture of a brilliant red bloom on it, set a thick bulb inside, and then tied that one off as well.

"I thought you always said you'd make a name for yourself." Cameron scowled, picking at the edge of the ugly green salvaged desk. Her heels swung back with a sharp rap against the metal legs.

"I am," Kevin said. He chose a bulb from a different pile this time, settling it into a bag emblazoned with the logo AMARYLLIS.NET and a silvery blue flower. "As of last week, I've shipped over 5,000 unique and intriguing bulbs."

Cameron looked at the flower on Kevin's desk, propped in the only clear space -- on top of his monitor. Yellow petals with a touch of orange and gold. Four blooms with no scent, atop a two foot stalk. She shook her head. "I don't get it, Kev. It's just a flower."

Kevin set down the last neatly packed bag into a crate. He put the lid on and stapled it shut. Cameron's gaze followed him as he placed the crate on top of the others, marked the total to ship on a clipboard nearby, then made his way back behind the desk.

He sat on the old leather stool, tucking his feet behind the rungs, and typed out "www.amaryllis.net" for his browser. The homepage for his small garage company, selling designer bulbs, appeared. A smile tipped his lips as he added a nonsense sequence of characters to the end of the URL and hit enter.

A username and password response later and a different page was displayed. He clicked an icon, then turned the monitor for Cameron to see.

Her own face stared back at her, at first scowling, then confused. She pointed at it, and it pointed back. "How?" Her voice came in stereo from the tinny speakers on the monitor.

Kevin grinned. "I said they were engineered. I never said how. As each bulb blooms, nanites build the structure of a camera and a transmitter and a rebounder. The signals bounce back, flower by flower, to me here. Yeah, I won't start seeing things from the farthest ones till the network gets built up between here and there, but I figure I've got time. And getting the new HERB.NET and SPIDERPLANT.NET clippings launched next month is going to fill in a lot of the gaps. The business plan calls to start capitalizing on the information gains in about six months. I should be pulling a profit by year end."

Cameron's mouth closed with a snap. "You... you bastard."

He laughed. "I said I'd make a name. And that's one of them."

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:30 PM
May 31, 2004
For Those Who Remember...

I have restarted the story of A Twisted Weave (Book 1 -- Dreamline) over on LiveJournal. If you do decide to read it, I would love it if you get an LJ ID and friend it, just so I can have an idea of how many people are following along (I'm infinitely curious, y'know).

I have begun the story again from the beginning, and am revamping the first parts, moving some things around, and trying to make it a tighter story. This is something that is for fun for me. There are things that I know make the story highly unlikely to be publishable, but it is still something I want to have fun with, and use to sharpen my own skills.

Episodes will be posted three times a week, on Monday, Wednesday and the weekend (Fri/Sat or Sun). I hope to see you there. *smiles*

Posted by Deb Atwood at 04:23 PM
March 04, 2003
Another One Out the Door

And Lamenita is out the door for it's first trip into the marketplace. Will I be lucky or will I begin to gather rejection slips? We will see...

Posted by Deb Atwood at 12:20 PM
February 27, 2003
Top Ten Writing-Related Neuroses

Today someone posted to the OWW list the Top Ten Writing-Related Neuroses. I couldn't stop laughing. Even giggled the rest of the day. So tonight I decided to go look and see if I could find them on the net so I could share. If you write, or have to deal with/live with writers in any way, go look.

I think Kevin's developed the mailbox one right along with me... did you know these are infectious?

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:48 PM
No Room in the Brain

Another thing I learned this past week or so... when I'm revising, there's no room in my brain for critiques. I have totally fallen behind on crits, and most of it is because I have been so intent on revising Lamenita. But it was like I could only handle one of the two things in my head at a time.

Hopefully, now that I've got that first revision out of the way for the moment, I'll be able to crank through some reviews!!! I owe some, and I feel badly for taking so long.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 02:42 PM
Epiphany

There has been a lot of conversation on the OWW lists about epiphanies lately. Some of the posts, specifically around sentence level construction, have been extremely helpful. It was all the same stuff I'd heard before, but something clicked this time (maybe it was the specific examples that did it) and suddenly I could see, at least some of them, in my story.

So I've hacked apart Lamenita. It went through one edit before it was posted to the workshop. I thought it was a pretty in-depth edit and that it was close to done. The crits pointed out some major holes in the piece, which I agreed with, so last night I finished up an almost two week process of tearing it apart and putting it back together.

Surprisingly, it looks an awful lot like it used to. Why does that surprise me? You should *see* the amount of pen on my editing paper. Almost nothing went untouched. There were a few paragraphs that I really liked, but the rest of it got played with. And changed.

I finished the process last night, and then today, over lunch break, I typed the changes into Word, saved it as version 1.1, and accepted those changes to merge them into the document.

Looking at it, and seeing how much the same it was, both relieved me and said something's wrong. So I walked away for a moment, puzzling over what was wrong in the back of my mind.

Then it hit me.

I have been told that I write well. I, personally, believe (well, sometimes) that I write well. But those are readers telling me that. I can put together a story that entertains and slides along easiliy and has characters that people like to read about. So readers think I can write.

The epiphany was that writers & editors don't. I write stories. I write things for fun. But my craft... my knowledge of it... is lacking. Readers think I can write. Writers & editors don't necessarily.

I can't say it to myself enough right now. I'm not trying to generalize, or kick myself, or anything like that. It was really just such a simplistic realization that I know I must've known it before and just refused to see it.

It goes along with the "writing is work" thing that hit me last week (was that when it was?). I can write. But in order to write really WELL I need to work at it, and then the words work and do something more than they did before.

Just little things. Like removing the felts. *laughs* I said to myself before, I don't do that. Then there it was, staring at me. Oh hells yes I did. And yeah, the entire feel of the sentence changed when I fixed it.

It'd be cool if I could get my subconscious to buy into this whole craft thing. Until then, it'll continue to be work.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 12:25 PM
February 24, 2003
Writing is Work

Yeah, writing is work.

I've been revising Lamenita for two days now. I'm all of about halfway through it, and I'm not entirely sure I've got that half right yet. I figure once through, then at least one more time before it goes out the door. But right now it is like drawing every word out, extruding it from my mind and letting it fall onto the computer screen and wondering if it matches the others. Trying to, as was suggested, make each word work for me.

Damn this is hard.

But worth it.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:57 PM
February 20, 2003
Ongoing Nerves

Okay, so I've decided that since I haven't heard, at least it hasn't been rejected. *nervous smile*

I'm trying to figure out if getting more things out on the market will make me *less* nervous or *more* nervous. Right now, I go to the mailbox daily, digging into it to see if the envelope with my own writing is there. Visualizing the envelope, and hoping that when I open it there is something that says YES and not another piece of rejection slip wallpaper. I figure, the nerves will be multiplied if I get more things out, but so will the chances of receiving a response of some kind. And that feedback of going to the mailbox and getting something has got to be good, right? Even if the something is bad?

It is almost the end of February and I think I have decided not to try for the Vampire Cockroach anthology. I've got a story -- it just needs revisions done. But the revisions look like they will make it longer, not shorter, and it's already 2200 words too long. So I think I'll just revise it and then go hunting vampire markets that will accept stories over 5k in length. Which are rare. *sighs*

I need to learn to write shorter short stories!! But when I do, and try something to make it have the right impact short, it seems to lose something in translation. I just work better in a slightly longer medium.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:02 AM
February 07, 2003
Feeling Defeated

I'm feeling really defeated today. Last week I had an amazing week. I completed three reviews, and pumped out Lamenita and about 1000 words of another story. I made it over 3k words last week.

This week I opened up my spreadsheet to update it with a review I'd done and realized I had recorded no activity this week. None. Admittedly, I'd forgotten to record a review, so I put that in. I've done two reviews this week, and those were scraped out of some free time I MADE out of nothing. Like yesterday -- the can opener has disappeared from the kitchen and I took that as a sign to go buy lunch instead of eating my soup. I packed up chapter 15 of The Brigid and took it with me and had a nice break outside the office. Perhaps one of the best things I've done.

But today... I have meetings from 11-2. At least. So I guess I'm bringing my lunch along at some point, because I'll be damned if I'm gonna eat at 10 or wait until 2.

So anyway, writing. I managed to scrape out about 20 words last night. I think I'm trying to force a story that isn't ready, but I keep bouncing around and looking for the right place to write. And not finding it. Maybe it's the stress. I'm so wound up that I just can't seem to keep a thought together in my head. Maybe it's the outside influences. I'm not just escaping to do it. So I'm sort of focussing on reviews, not that that is really getting me much further than usual, either!!

This is that hard week... the one where it feels like an impossible task and I wonder why I've decided to do this. And I wonder whether maybe I'm meant to be a reader and reviewer and not a writer. And then I hear myself thinking and I resolve to refuse to accept that. I will write. I do write. I *am* a writer.

Might as well try not to breathe.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:15 AM
January 30, 2003
Lamenita

Just finished Lamenita, which will be my submission to the February challenge, once I have it revised and ready. The first draft is 1600 words, which is unusually short for me. This is good! Shorter stories are an easier sell. I've got a lot of stories that are just not going to go far because they are too long, and I can't really see a good way of cutting them. Hells, one is actually going to grow, probably, when I hit it with revisions. *groans*

Anyway, the challenge rules can be found at the Challenge page of the SFFZoo.

An excerpt...

Dust rose from the battlefield. Hundreds of heavy boots stomped, digging into the dirt, bodies falling heavily to make still more dust. It was thick in the air, and raw in her lungs. She drew in a deep breath, holding it, and letting it out as she swung the great blade in an arc away from her body, sliding into the joints between the armored plates of her opponent. She felt the shock up her arms, felt it rock her, and she had to hold a moment before yanking the blade back and letting the lifeless body slip to the ground.

It also has what is perhaps my favorite finale line, which means, of course, it'll end up getting axed in a revision. But for now, it makes a good endcap to the story, I think (and can be repeated here, without destroying the rest of it)...

There was no answer, no sound as water welled within her eyes and slowly dripped, carving tracks through the mud upon her cheeks.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:10 PM
January 09, 2003
Excerpt -- In the Flickering Light

Once upon a time, on the Vampyres mailing list, someone asked the question -- how does a vampire view a candle? Is it an invitation to dinner? Romantic? A death threat by fire?

This story was an attempt to answer the question.


She had a small table that took over one corner of the room. A linen cloth covered it, and in the center two forest green candles stood in silver holders, their light flickering in the dark room. The table had been set with the good dishes. "Please..." she paused behind one seat, her hands resting lightly on the high wooden back of the chair. "...sit." Her eyes dipped, peering out shyly from under her lashes. "I'll serve you."

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:00 PM
Excerpt -- Choices

This is a story I wrote to hopefully submit to an anthology. I had written another version of this story long ago as a straight vampire story, but this one is a bit more twisted than that. I also was able to flesh the story out quite a bit more and I am now very very satisfied with it.


Light from the hallway slipped across the floor as the door crept open. Then the light was blocked by a huge form in the thin space between door and wall. He made a black blot in the corner of her vision as she tried to pretend she still slept. The darkness hovered there. Jolene didn't breathe, trying desperately not to move until the darkness moved, slipping back into the hallway and drawing the door after it.

Thank God, he was gone.

Footsteps moved only a few feet down the hallway and stopped. Not far enough, not nearly far enough. It was twelve steps to her parents' room. Twelve steps -- almost every night she counted them as he went by after coming up the stairs. Four steps from the stairs to her own door, then twelve steps to her parents room.

Twelve steps.

And this time, he had only gone five away from her door.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:56 PM
December 15, 2002
The Month After

Well, so here it is. December. The novel's done. Yes, I did, indeed, make it past 50,000 words. And now its December. And I'm editing.

Gods, I forgot how intensive editing can be. I'm on all of about chapter 3. Of almost 30 chapters! This is going to take a VERY long time. On the other hand, its productive, and will probably pad the whole thing by another 5-10k or so.

I'm finding a lot of places where I need to do research in order to find out better details for better description. Yes, I know I lack description. I tend to write talking heads in white rooms. I'm great at dialog. My characters spring off the page like there's a teenager talking at you in your living room.

Problem is, that teenager could be in a car, standing in the backyard, in the middle of a raging snowstorm or earthquake or volcano... you get the picture. Or rather, you get that there *is* no picture.

Its my downfall. I lack in details. Always have. So its the point that I have to go work the hardest on during the editing phase. And its hard, real hard, to put in description after the fact and not interrupt the flow of the dialog.

In fact, I often find that description heavy works tend to lack the same sort of flow of the dialog that I enjoy. So how do I balance it? How do I make it so that the two balance out and you still get good, realistic dialog but also know just enough about where they are to make it all make sense?

Its a constant battle. Dunno if I'll win, but I'm having fun trying.

But the real problem with editing is this. Even at my most tired, in the middle of NaNo I could still sit down and just start typing. Knock out another coupla hundred words. Editing requires dragging my manuscript around the house with a colored pen and scribbling all over it. Not quite so easy. And at the same time, I'm finally writing down a timeline and trying to add in some consistency where I know its lacking, even in the little things, like descriptions. I've even drawn a map of the house part of the action takes place in. I needed it. I'd contradicted myself on the layout of the downstairs five or six times by the time I was done.

Editing is cumbersome. But its necessary. After all, if I don't edit, I don't get to mail it out. And then I'll never achieve my goal of being able to go Christmas shopping in Lee one year and walk over to the YA section and say "hey! there's my book!"

Someday.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:25 PM
November 06, 2002
On being a writer...

Its not exactly fiction, but this entry is *about* fiction.

NaNoWriMo continues on -- updates available on the Insanity is Contagious page. I've made it through six days so far, and over 10,000 words. I'm one fifth of the way through the novel, and clocking in at about 30 pages (1 1/2 spaced) and in the beginning of the seventh chapters (its a YA novel, the chapters are allowed to be short).

And I've been realizing just how it is affecting my life...

I knew it was going to change things. But then, I figured that it wouldn't *really* change all that much. After all, I usually game in the evenings after Kevin goes to bed. I do my PBEM moves and relax online and then go to bed a good bit later. We're on different schedules.

But this has become somehow different. And I have realized tonight that in as long as we have been married, and perhaps almost as long as we have been together, I have never really *concentrated* on my writing. I have continued to write, on and off, but my concentration has been on my other pursuits, like gaming. Or like journals for gaming. Things I couldn't sell, things that didn't really make headway towards my dream of being a (more) published author.

And I remember through the years Kevin telling me that I wouldn't make it if I didn't do it. That's a theme really -- I've heard it from others as well. The reminder that you can't win if you don't get in the game. And I've never concentrated particularly hard on being in the game.

So now I am. Instead of gaming while watching TV, I am writing on the laptop. Instead of staying up to game I stay up until I've hit my minimum word count. I'm distracted. I'm letting this novel take over my imagination and my life in a way that I've only allowed gaming characters to do in recent years.

I think its a surprise to Kevin. He's never known me like this, never seen me go into a writing fugue and come out an hour later quoting my characters or chortling over a particular turn of phrase or screaming because I just can't get it to work out or get past a scene that is driving me insane.

And as this has gone on, I've been thinking. Why couldn't I do it again? What's so special about November? If I do it, this proves that I *can* do it. I can keep to a schedule and accomplish something. So I could set my own schedule and work on one of those other novels that're in my queue. I could say I'm going to write even 1000 words a day, or do research and then I'd have a deadline. I could write a novel in 2 or 4 months instead. But I'd be working on it daily and really DOING it.

I've put the stick in the sand and I'm doing it. And I could *keep* doing it.

But this is showing me that it does mean change and adjustment for my family. Are we ready for me to write? To be a focussing and productive writer? Can we as a family adjust to that?

Gods... I hope so. In some ways, I have never been happier as myself than I am write now. This is something I want to do. And someplace I want to go. So gods... I hope so.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:41 PM
November 01, 2002
Excerpt #1

This morning I began work, and right now I'm at about 1200 words so far. If I can keep up this pace, I'll be fine, but I expect to hit writer's block about another 20 pages in or so. *wry smiles* But so far I'm happy with it. Not exstatic -- this isn't great writing. But at least its palatable. *smiles*

No title yet. I'll find one eventually.
===========================
"What is it?"

Janie peered over Mallory's shoulder, pulling back the fall of her sister's dark hair so that she could better see the object Mallory held. It was rectangular and ornate, with delicate pewter scrollwork in a vine wound all across the top. Mallory cupped the box in her hands, her thumb moving across the front until she found the catch. She pushed.

"Ow!"

Mallory popped her thumb into her mouth, sucking away the tiny spot of blood that welled up.

"What happened?" Janie peered at the box, then at Mallory.

"She cut herself on the box, numbnut." Sean's tone was dry and derisive, as only a teenage boy can sound. He was crouched in front of Mallory, and he stood now, pacing away, back into the dark reaches of the attic. Rain pounded down on the roof above, masking the sound of his footsteps.

"I'm okay," Mallory assured both of them. They weren't really worried, she knew. They were bored, and anxious for any entertainment. And this attic was the best the world had to offer right now. Since Dad took his car to work, and Grandma Kel was at a friend's house, they were locked inside. Unless they wanted to risk the summer storm – a typical upstate New York downpour. They'd hoped it would pass quickly, but after an hour of watching rivers run down the windows, they had decided to explore the old house.

Typical, Mallory thought. Like an old-style kid's book, where the three kids find adventure waiting for them in an old attic, and find out secrets about their family that they never knew. She looked back down at the box in her hand and laughed internally. Secrets? Yeah. So far they'd found some costume jewelry – which Janie was wearing – and some old clothes that were moth eaten. A few pictures, which they'd set aside, hoping that Grandma Kel might be able to at least tell them who they were. And that was about it. The rest of it was junk – toys to old and dilapidated to be played with, or for children far younger than they were.

"Are you going to open it?" Janie's words intruded into Mallory's private world.

"Huh? Yeah…" Mallory held up the box close to her eyes, wishing again that they'd been able to find the spare lightbulbs so they had more than an old battery operated lantern for light. She peered at the catch. It was a simple one, just a little flap that came down over a half-circle of metal, so that a lock could be passed through it if the owner wished. But there was no lock now. Mallory reached tentatively for the catch, feeling the slight dampness of her own blood slick upon the metal. She squirmed inside at that, never having liked the sight of blood. But this time no roughness caught at her skin, and she flipped the catch up, then tugged the lid of the box open.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 01:10 PM
October 30, 2002
Brainstorming

I can't officially start writing the novel until approximately 24 hours from now. BUT... I can start brainstorming.

My mind's been going a little nuts on the topic since the challenge was set. I had to come up with an idea I could run with, something that didn't require a lot of research, or a lot of outlining. Or something that at least wouldn't suffer in the first draft from having neither of those.

The idea is to just WRITE. Forget about making it excellent, or even necessarily good. Just go with the flow and write. Which is how I *used* to write, before I knew outlines were useful and research was necessary. So in a weird way, its returning to my roots.

First line: "What is it?"

Spoken by: Janie, "little sister", 11 years old

Object held by: Mallory, "big sister", 16 (ALMOST 17) years old

As they are observed by: Sean, "the brother", 14 and protective in both directions

They are spending the summer at Grandma Kel's. They are in her attic.

Their mother died three years before. Their father has not remarried.

And that'll be the situation I begin with. I think it has a lot of potential. Yeah, its probably YA. But then, a YA story can be told in 50,000 words and completed. And I read a lot of it, and know what's decent. So maybe I can turn out a decent piece of fiction.

Am I daydreaming about trying to revise it come December, and try to get it published? Of course I am. Realistically, it won't be good enough. But that won't stop me from putting on my blinders and trying anyway. *smiles*

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:10 PM
October 29, 2002
I'm Officially INSANE

It's official, I'm insane.

Official NaNoWriMo 2002 Participant

What is this? Well, click on the link and find out. Chris challenged me (he is EVIL) and I accepted and signed up. Beginning on Friday, November 1, I will be attempting to complete a 50,000 word novel (that's 175 pages or so) within 30 days. Meep!

There is a part of me which cannot believe I am going to even *attempt* this. I must be crazy! How will I ever accomplish this with the kids around? With life? The holidays?

But if I do... oh... wow... it'll feel Sooooooo good. *smiles*

So follow along. I'll try to post daily excerpts after I'm done crunching words for the day, even just a paragraph or two.

But first, I need a beginning. A concept. A where do I want this one to go. I've had novel ideas before. Had fits and starts of somethings. But this time I need something I can really jump in and fly with. Something I can write easily. And something fun. Hm.... at least I've got a few days to figure that part out. Then the fun begins!!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 05:19 PM
August 07, 2002
Building an Outline

This would be called brainstorming in plain view. In a way, this is weird to me. I'm not used to showing off my writing in full view as its built. And in a way, this is very helpful to me, just because it puts it into a central repository. Besides, I know I won't get this completed and revised by the end of August, so I can't submit it, even if I'd like to.

The concept is a new Laurie story.

For those who don't know, Laurie is Lawrence Cuthbert, a British vampire of about 200 years old. He fell in love with Jim Rain, a 500 year old teenage vampire from South America, and was devastated when Jim was destroyed. He returned to London from the States (where he had met Jim) and tried to bury his head in other things. A Moment in Time is part of the story of that period of Laurie's life.

There are other stories written after that, about how Jim was ressurrected, due to his magics before his death, as the mortal mage Bridget Randall. And how Bridget was magically grown back to the age she wanted to be, so she could continue on a as a human at the same age Jim had been sired. She intended to become a vampire again -- after 500 years it seemed a pretty normal way to be -- but she wanted to make it to adulthood this time. She also, for some reason, wanted to live through the puberty she'd been stuck in before.

And so Laurie had his love back, and she had him, and both were happy. It actually wasn't that big an adjustment for them that Jim was now Bridget and that a gender change had happened there. After all, both were bi, and neither were really bothered by the whole thing. It certainly didn't change the appetites anyway.

The fact that Bridget was mortal was a little more difficult. There were stumbling blocks in the relationship as Laurie still dealt with the politics of his hidden world. And other politics as Bridget was seen to be a normal teenager -- her mother never knew that her daughter had a 500 year old soul, and remembered every moment of those 500 years. In truth, Bridget was never a child.

This story is called "Humanity".

Part 1 -- Laurie shows up on Bridget's doorstep. He is in near death condition, or at least, pretty damned close to it for a vampire. Burns over half the surface of his body. He has to explain about Sebastien. About Whitechapel. About the rescue. About loyalties. He hasn't seen Bridget in some time -- she needed a break from him. She is horrified by what has happened, and does not want to let him walk back in alone. She wants to be a part of the plan. But she has a requirement first.

Part 2 -- Bridget explains. At first, Laurie is confused. How the hell can Bridget expect him to father a child? But Bridget wants to experience motherhood, and she doesn't really want someone else's child other than Laurie's (although she'll threaten if he won't agree at first). And she has heard a rumor about a way that it might be possible. There is a rumor of a spell that can return a vampire to mortality, if only for a little while. And she thinks she knows how to get her hands on the book. Except that it means crossing Laurie's sire.

Part 3 -- Laurie has no desire to deal with Eric. He and his sire... do not get along. Nor does he wish Eric to see him in this condition. Bridget agrees to table the discussion, and takes care of Laurie, working to heal his wounds. They are burns -- they will take time, and blood. As always, he refuses to drink hers at a time like this. He cares for her too much, and is always afraid he will take more than she can give. More than she is ready to give. Bridget is stubborn, but in the end, Laurie wins as he always does. And Bridget is left to have dinner brought in for him.

[I'll continue this later. Time for sleep now.]

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:16 PM
July 17, 2002
Espresso Surge

A new short story, I think... mostly some random ramblings that began tripping off my pen today, and we'll see where they go. And it was interesting... I started typing the title, and it sort of typed itself. Hopefully this is a good sign!!

[This started the other day, and I've added more tonight... should I continue? Click More to read it...]

One part coffee, two parts chocolate. The coffee was thick and black, dark and bitter. The chocolate was dark and sweet. No milk or cream.

Jane was too impatient to wait for it to cool, sipping at it as soon as it mixed, and feeling the burn against her tongue. She swirled it in her mouth, letting the heat disapate against the tender skin before swallowing it. There, one mouthful, then two. Soon the caffeine would be sliding into her system, making her eyes pop open, her fingers jitter. A strange feeling, as her body was taken over by odd nerves, but oh so welcome, this morning.

"How the hell long have you *been* here already?"

"Huh?" Jane looked up and then smiled to see Justin standing over her. His blue eyes were shaded by brows furrowed with concern. Then she covered her mouth as she tried to stifle a yawn. "Too long," she finally answered his question. "I kept waking up last night, so I finally decided to jack in and see if I could get some work done, and when I did I saw all these damned alarms going off. So I got dressed and came in. I've been here for about 4 hours already."

Justin looked at the steaming cup of mocha cradled in her hands, then back to her pale and drawn face. "Is that why you look like shit, or is it something else?"

It took her a moment to decide how to reply. Justin was a friend, of sorts, if anyone at work could be called that. They went out for drinks sometimes, but that was about it. Justin had a girlfriend back on Long Island that he spent most of his free weekend time with, so it was rare they saw each other outside of the office. But it wasn't like she had anyone else around actually asking...

"I haven't been sleeping," she admitted. She stopped then, looking down at the coffee and sipping at it, feeling it burn her tongue on the way down again. Hot... so very hot. It was the sensation that drew at her. The feeling and the wait for the surge. "So I'm running on empty."

"Yow." Justin pulled up a spare chair, spinning it around and sitting on it backwards, his arm across the back of the chair. "Why not? What's wrong?"

Jane shrugged, a wry smile quirking at the corner of her mouth. "I'm not sure. I keep waking up. Sometimes..."

She stopped then, uncertain how much she dared say to Justin, sitting there in the office. The mug slipped from her hands, landing with a clunk on the desk, the liquid sloshing a bit. Her fingers sought out a pen, twirling it, twisting it... discovering that the plastic bent when stressed. Bent when stressed... she repeated the words beneath her breath, and unheard by anyone else they tasted right.

Justin's hand was on her arm, and she looked at it, surprised that it had appeared there without her seeing it happen. "Sometimes... what?" he asked softly.

Jane looked away again, looking at the pen twisted in her hand. "Sometimes... I wake up because I hear things. Like the door has opened and someone stands there, breathing, at the foot of my bed. Or footsteps in the hallway. Or murmurs as a hand brushes my shoulder, then forehead." She glanced up, half-knowing what he was going to say. "My cat is asleep on my bed, curled up against my hip like she always is. I don't have any other pets. Nor a boyfriend right now. Its just me, and the cat, and that's it."

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:53 PM
July 01, 2002
A Moment in Time

Now that Laurie's been invoked twice in two weeks, he's talking inside my head. So he thinks I should post an excerpt from "A Moment in Time."

This story takes place after Jim Rain's death. Laurie has returned to London, returned to the place where his brother's power holds sway and where he is seen as a strange sort of vampire to consort with humans. His brother has ordered him to stop his involvement with humans. And Laurie, being Laurie... does what he will anyway...

What is below is merely an excerpt from he beginning of the story. To read the rest, check out Cherished Blood from Circlet Press.

=================================

"Can I get you something?"

The girl's dress was cut low, giving a broad view as she leaned over the table suggestively, breasts almost brushing Laurie's arm. He smiled distractedly, muttering, "Red wine," as he waved her away.

She pouted, straightening up. "Will that be all, sir?"

He glanced up, seeing her smile at him and pose. "The wine will be all," he said firmly. She frowned and walked away, leaving Laurie to survey the club again.
It was a typical club in this new era of darkly gothic music. Laurie felt this new generation was the most comfortable he had found since his birth time. With his pale skin, long hair, dark clothes, and flowing poet's shirt, he fit in as if he were born to this time instead of centuries before. The music swirled around him, an underlying rhythm almost like a heartbeat seeming to crawl inside his soul. So many people... so fragile.

"Here's your wine." The glass was set down with a slight thunk, and the girl waited only long enough to get her pay before hurrying off to a more accommodating customer. Laurie didn't even notice her leave.

He reached into his pocket and withdrew a vial, emptying it into the wine. He swirled it with a finger as the deep red liquid grew cloudy and thick. He sucked the finger clean, watching the dancers speculatively. Spotting his quarry among the throng around the bar, he quickly downed the contents of the glass. He left the empty behind on the table as he walked away, licking his lips clean.
"Would you care to dance?"

The young man looked up, surprise mirrored in his chocolate eyes. Laurie smiled reassuringly, "Of course, if you would prefer not to..."

The man smiled then, sliding off the bar stool. "No, actually I'd love to."

"Well then." Laurie held out a hand, clasping the stranger's firmly in his own. He drew him out to the dance floor, already moving to the slow beat of the music.

He had dark hair, cut shorter than most of the others in the club, and those deep chocolate eyes. Laurie had to smile at his quarry. He slid his hand's around the other's back, pulling him closer as they swayed to the beat.

"Isn't this where you deliver a corny line?" the stranger inquired, chuckling. "Or shall I play the dominant and do the honors?"

Laurie frowned, stepping back slightly. "Just because we are both men does not mean we need to play at any roles." Perhaps he had made a mistake. But he had been watching him for several nights before deciding to approach. He had considered every option, and this seemed to be the correct one. Had he been wrong?

The stranger shook his head, smiling ruefully. "I'm sorry. I'm not very good at this."

Laurie began to move off the dance floor, drawing the other man with him to a table in one corner of the club. "Perhaps we should talk." If he were wrong, it would be better to find out now, rather than later. And only honesty would tell. "Do you drink brandy?" At the stranger's nod, Laurie caught the waitress and gave her the order, before settling in at the table. "Where should we start?"

Dark eyes blinked once, and then looked away, off to the dance floor. "Maybe we should start with introductions."

"Lawrence Cuthbert. Most people call me Laurie."

The other man smiled. "Ryan James." He looked just a little more comfortable, and Laurie began to relax. He was moving too fast. He hadn't made a mistake, just a miscalculation.

"Tell me a little about yourself," Laurie encouraged.

Ryan shrugged. "There isn't really much to tell. I'm a student at the university. Majoring in biostatistics. It's a good enough field." He seemed to be defending a choice he hadn't made.

"Good enough," Laurie agreed. There was a long silence, as Ryan toyed with his drink. "Can I be honest?" Laurie finally broke the silence. "Would you prefer if I let you alone?"

Ryan glanced up sharply. "No. It isn't that at all." His eyes softened as he looked at Laurie. "Actually, I..." He shrugged. "It's just that I had a companion, and he only moved out about a month ago. I guess I'm not as over it as I thought."

"It does take time," Laurie agreed, reaching out to take Ryan's hand. When the other didn't resist, he squeezed gently. "I'm sorry to have moved so fast."

Slowly Ryan's other hand stole up to cover Laurie's. "It's all right. I was just a little scared for a minute there." He stood, still holding Laurie's hand. "Let's try this again. Would you care to dance?"

"I'd love to." Laurie smiled, allowing himself to be led to the dance floor.

As they danced, Ryan relaxed, his body swaying closer to Laurie's until the two relaxed together on the dance floor, moving easily in synch. Laurie ran a hand over Ryan's back, drawing it up over his shoulder, then touching the pulse on his neck. It fluttered quickly under his fingers, as Ryan's head fell to Laurie's shoulder, exposing the neck to his touch.

Laurie licked his lips, trying to hold the hunger at bay. The night was growing late, and the hunger came more from desire than any true need for sustenance. Gently he pressed a kiss against the skin just below the curve of Ryan's jaw, feeling the pulse jump as the other man sighed. Then he drew away. "I think perhaps it is time for me to go," he said softly.

There was a flicker of regret as Ryan said hesitantly, "I don't live in the dorms. I have a private flat now that Evan's left."

Laurie allowed his own regret to reach his eyes. "It's too soon. You need more time." He slide his hand away from Ryan's neck, over his shoulder, down to his hand. With a gentle squeeze, he stepped away. "Perhaps tomorrow evening you'll be here again?"

Ryan relaxed slightly. "Perhaps." There was a teasing glint in his eyes.

"Then perhaps so shall I," Laurie teased in return.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:54 PM
June 14, 2002
Into the Dream

A few days ago, I babbled about the Voices in my everyday blog. Last night I found one of the pieces that is sort of a defining moment about the Voices. About one Voice in particular, and about how those Voices interact with other people's Voices, and well, I suppose if you read between the lines you can see a lot of other things in there. If you're not careful how you read, you'll see things that aren't there.

Wow, that makes no sense. *laughs*

The piece is called Into the Dream and Chris Gladis and I cowrote it back in 1995-1996. It began as a challenge thrown out during The Mad Tea Party -- a vampfest that started out as a simple exchange of photos between friends and then suddenly had over 20 people attending it. Whoops! The story was written during a curious dance that helped define our friendship.

It won't spoil the ending of the story to say that Chris is still very much a part of my life -- he is the godfather of my eldest child, Danielle.

But you won't see that in the story. Instead, it is a psychological exploration of self. Of how we represent ourselves, to ourselves. How we, as writers and gamers, deal with reality around us. Of who we are.

I'll admit, it isn't our best writing. I know both Chris and I have done better since then. And I suppose its possible that we may take this and work to clean it up somewhat. But for the moment, I'll let it stand in its original form, written as we passed it back and forth. Many of the scenes within it are taken from life -- mixing fantasy and reality in a way that really is a defining part of the story.

It certainly made for an interesting few months, even in reality. *chuckles* *fond smiles at remembrances*

I've changed a lot since then. After all, that was the year that ended with me getting married, buying a house, and shortly after that, conceiving my daughter. I've gone on to be a manager, to have a second child. Published my first (and only) professional sale of a story. Had to grow up because I'm a mom. Sometimes wished I didn't have to.

And in the middle of everything, the Voices are still there. Still oh so much a part of me, and of how I deal with things. The players change, perhaps, some becoming silent while some others become louder. And periodically, as they are invoked, they remind me of their presence with a sudden earth-shattering clarity of noise.

And I once again feel Laurie's hand on my shoulder. Or see how tall Jezebel has become. Or wonder how Jenny is doing now.

I want to write again. And to let the Voices sing through my fingertips.
 

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:41 PM
June 08, 2002
Gestalt

Gestalt has begun!

Chris, Josh and I have started a group fiction blog... Chris posted the first piece last night. Hopefully it'll be a good way to keep our writing skills honed! And perhaps, as it goes along, we'll find others to join in our creative effort!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 03:11 PM