Unfinished – conclusion?

And that’s all she wrote…so far

Finally, the last installment of the fantasy romance that I never finished, featured in the posts entitled “Unfinished.” At times, I am so creative with titles that I want to punch myself in the face. Ha!

Anyway, here is a link to the beginning snippet and another link to the middle snippet, if you are interested. Someday I might return to this little story, but currently I have other priorities.

For example: 1. finding an editor that suits my budget for my finished novel, Wyldling Snare, 2. navigating the tricky waters of the publishing world, and then (God-willing)3. publishing Wyldling Snare.

I welcome any recommendations from those of you who have already jumped over those hurdles.

Photo by Tobi on Pexels.com

The Ties that Bind…gone fishing

Her heart trip-hammering in her chest, the young woman struggled with her bedsheet and nearly fell out of her cot. “What? What is it?” she cried. Always before, the big man had left at dawn, quietly, without disturbing her. This was something outside of her routine. “Are we under attack?” she asked lamely, rubbing sleep out of her eyes. He had said it was daylight, and it was. Just barely.

Early the next morning, Adele was awakened by Warner knocking loudly upon her door. “Rise and shine, initiate. It’s daylight in the swamp!”

“No,” he spoke from the other side of her door. “I have decided that you will be accompanying me out on the lake today.”

Adele slipped out of her night gown and hurriedly tugged on a fresh set of undergarments. “But why, sir?” she called out. 

“Never you mind the whys, initiate, just get your butt in gear. The morning’s a’wasting.”

She was reaching for one of the three house dresses she owned when she thought better of it, and dug out a pair of trousers and a baggy tunic instead. She felt a flurry of excitement. Perhaps Warner had taken her questions into consideration and decided that it was time for her to learn the answers after all. Quickly, she brushed her honey-colored hair and tied it back in a tail.

“Coming, sir. I just need to wash,” she said as she opened her door.

Warner had already left the cottage with the wicker hamper she had packed for him the night before. Sighing, Adele went to the tiny washroom to splash her face and clean her teeth. Her stomach growled at her, and she grumbled in sympathy as she crammed her floppy gardening hat on her head and snatched a pasty out of the cold-box. There would be no time for her usual morning luxury of a cup of tea, but there was plenty of potable water in a cask on the boat. Munching on her impromptu breakfast, Adele skipped down to the dock, where Warner had already loaded the boat with his usual gear and was untying the mooring lines. 

Without sparing her more than a glance, he jerked his head toward the boat. “Get in,” he grunted. “There’s a spare rod and reel for you in there somewhere.”

The young woman complied, nearly trembling with excitement. She sat down upon the bench at the stern. Her burly companion finished with the ropes and got in, pushing away from the dock with an oar. With his powerful arms, he rowed with long and even strokes. Smiling to herself, Adele breathed in the clean, clear morning air. The sun was just spilling its buttery light into the pellucid sky, where delicate clouds shone like mother of pearl on their edges. The birds were in full chatter around the lake, joyously greeting the new day. Adele dipped a hand into the lake, humming a hymn to herself. She watched as water-striders flitted away.

“Best not do that,” Warner grunted. “The lake monster will pull you in.”

Adele had snatched her hand back into the boat before she realized that he was only teasing her. She tried to cover her slight embarrassment by digging out her fishing rod.

“So, where are we going?” she couldn’t help but ask.

“‘We’ aren’t going anywhere,” Warner replied. “I am rowing the boat to the opposite side of the lake. You will stay with the boat and catch some fish while I attend to business with our contacts in the forest.”

Crestfallen, Adele fussed with the reel. “But, sir…I thought I’d be going with you. Learning the ropes, so to speak. Meeting the…our contacts.”

“Get used to disappointment, initiate,” he grated out as he strained against a current. “You’re only here to keep you out of harm’s way.”

The young woman narrowed blue eyes at her superior. “Does this have something to do with that man I met yesterday? Because -“

“Better safe than sorry, Adele.” They were in the middle of the lake, and the big man paused for a breather. “I won’t know for certain if he’s the threat until I see him tonight. Meanwhile, you will stay in the boat, and hone your fishing skills.” He took out a handkerchief and mopped a sheen of sweat from his brow. “Do you follow me?” His brown eyes were hard.

Adele stared out across the lake and said nothing. 

Warner’s voice grew harder. “Do you understand, initiate?”

Adele stiffened. Her lips trembled and tears glistened in her eyes. “Yes,” she whispered, ducking her head to hide her face. “Yessir.”

His brown eyes softened a little. “Buck up, girl.” He tossed her the handkerchief. “The day will come when you’ll wish to return to blissful ignorance.”

She dabbed at her eyes and sniffled. “Ew.” The young woman wrinkled her nose. “It’s all sweaty.” She threw the handkerchief back to him. She missed, and it fell into the water. 

“Not anymore,” Warner stated dryly, fishing his property out of the lake. “Now its just soaked.”

The girl laughed softly. She was silent as he resumed rowing, taking in the scenery until they reached the other side of the lake. By then, the sun was almost above the treetops. The forest was thicker and darker on this side of the lake, and the shoreline was abrupt and almost undercut by the water. Tree roots dangled from the verge. Jutting out from the shoreline was a dock constructed of greyish brown wood, nearly identical to the one by their cottage. It was the only sign of human encroachment. Warner shipped the oars and moored the boat. Adele clambered up on to the pier, bringing the fishing pole and the bait pail. “Is this where you caught those perch?” she asked softly, cognizant of the silence of the forest beyond them.

“No, and I’m not telling you where,” the big man replied, bringing out the hamper and his own pole. “We all have our secrets. You have your secret recipes … and I have my secret fishing spots.”

Over her shoulder, Adele eyed the large trees and thick undergrowth with trepidation as she wound the fishing wire tighter on the reel. Warner sat beside her on the end of the dock and ate his breakfast with relish. Birds called from the woods behind them. The young woman threaded the wire through the loops on the rod and a small brightly colored floater. Then she tied a hook at the end of the line. She dug a worm out of the pail, wound and impaled it around the hook, and then made her cast out over the water. She reeled in the slack and then settled back to wait.

“Your form needs a little work,” Warner commented with food in his mouth. “Otherwise, not bad.” He finished off his meal and washed it down with a tin cup of water from the cask.

“I learned from the best, sir,” the young woman replied, staring out at the floater.

The man chuckled, rising to his feet and brushing crumbs from his overalls. “Flattery will gain you nothing, Adele,” he admonished. “You’re staying here.”

“Yes, sir.” She twitched at the line, watching the floater bob up and down in response.

“I’ll be back in an hour or two. Save some fish for me.” She felt the wood shudder and creak under his weight as he strode away. She turned away from the lake in time to see him push branches aside and enter the forest.

Feeling a bit spiteful, Adele stuck her tongue out at his disappearing back. “I’ll try not to catch them all, sir,” she muttered, returning her attention to the floater. “It’s not as though they’re in any hurry to bite, anyway.”

Long before Warner emerged from the forest once more, Adele was wishing that she had brought one of her books along. She had a moment of excitement when she fought to drag in what she believed was a real lunker, but it turned out to be a lot smaller than she anticipated. Other than that, the fish were just not biting, and she was doubly disappointed with her foray out on the boat. She wondered how Warner managed to catch so many fish while meeting with their contacts. His contacts, really. It wasn’t as if Adele was ever allowed to see them. At first, she speculated that he might be trysting with Zifa, but couldn’t imagine why Zifa wouldn’t want to visit with her, as well. Thinking of Zifa submerged her in melancholy, so Adele amused herself with plans for the chicken dinner she would prepare for that evening. Naturally, thoughts of supper lead to a reverie involving the guest she and Warner would be entertaining.

Catching herself wool-gathering, Adele muttered a prayer, clutching at the holy symbol underneath her tunic. She blushed, wondering why the stranger affected her so much. “Duty,” she whispered to herself. “Remember your duty.”

Before she had left the convent, she had leapt at the opportunity to please the Taskmaster by being exceptionally dutiful and obedient. Being assigned to this mission with Warner was confirmation of the Taskmaster’s confidence in her. If she performed up to his specifications, she would please the Taskmaster. And then, maybe…she blushed again, more deeply this time.

Of course, Warner chose that moment to return and startle her out of her reverie. “Time to go, initiate,” he announced as he emerged from the forest. “Can’t be late for supper tonight, after all.” He grinned at her. “The chicken might be offended.”

To be continued, someday…

A Bygone Era

Whoops!

I just realized that I am behind on posting haiku. Hence, there is now a four month back-log of my weirdness.

Here are some poems from March in no particular order.

Originally, I had a great picture of an earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris) crawling on the sidewalk after it rained to accompany the first poem, but I could not find it in my recent photos. I apologize if this causes any disappointment.

It’s worming season!

Lumbricids crawl on sidewalks

Just looking for love?

03/31/20
Queen snake half-coiled with head raised.
03/31/20
Snake rears up, ready
To strike at me on the trail
Crawl back into your hole!
Shelves in a grocery store, almost completely denuded of toilet paper.
03/13/20
Coronavirus
Three new confirmed cases now
Are in my hometown
03/20/20
Peek a boo kitty
Thinks she is in the Jungle
Preparing to pounce
Recently built houses, one with windows brightly lit, the other dark with a truck parked in the driveway. The sun is setting behind a bank of purple clouds in the background between the two houses.
03/23/20
My brain is slowly
Turning into slushy goo
It’s past my bedtime
Perspective looking up at the Sun Prairie Public Library, a beige brick building late in the afternoon in early March. A tiny crescent moon in the blue sky directly above the peak of the roof.
03/06/20
O blessed building
Most of the work gets done
At the library

As a thank-you for reading my poetry, here is a picture of an impending altercation between my cats:

On the left, a large male brown tabby cat with white paws and chest stands on a kitchen counter in front of a colander filled with shredded kale, facing a small grey female cat that is backing away from him.
“No, Graefin. You can’t eat mom’s kale!”

I will share some more haiku before the end of next month.

Stay safe, everyone!

Birth Pains

Why do I write?

You know what? Writing a book is hard work. Getting anything accomplished when your internal editor is screaming at you the entire time is like trying to do a month’s worth of grocery shopping while three mischievous toddlers are stealing things out of the cart and then hiding them in all the wrong places around the store.

Actually, I’ve never had that experience but it sounded really good – before I put it down on virtual paper.

Oh, well…

You know what else? Writing a book is also a lot of fun and rewarding on a personal level. It’s especially nice when your beta readers tell you that they enjoyed reading it and are looking forward to the next installment.

black trunks of leaf-bare trees set against a lurid sunset with red-tinted clouds.
I would like to use a photo like this for the cover of the second novel, Wyldling Quest.

There are so many elements that I want to incorporate into the Wyldling Series. I have had so many ideas over the years that finishing the series was a daunting task, because my conception of what the story was really about kept changing as I matured. Finally, I had to put my foot down and say: “That’s it. Enough’s enough! Just write the blasted thing, already!” Breaking it up into six or seven books instead of writing it as a single novel has also helped.

Once I made a decision to turn it into a young adult fantasy series the path became clearer. I had defined my audience. But how to make it different from every other YA fantasy out there? Well, how many fantasy series do you know about that have a strong and overt Christian theme? By overt I mean that there are direct quotations from the Bible and characters that talk about Jesus Christ and believe in Him as their savior.

Please let me know if you find any fantasy books like that. I mean it. I would like to read them. I figure that there aren’t that many out there because I can’t find them. They certainly aren’t on the bestseller list on Amazon.

No, not anything by J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis. I’m talking about recent young adult Christian fantasy.

I am aware of fantasy series that have good moral themes and point vaguely toward Christianity or have characters that resemble Christ as an archetype. However, there is no mention of the real Jesus or how badly people need to be saved from their own depravity. Many of these stories promote the idea that most people are basically good with some bad tendencies that can be overcome with hard work and the best intentions -with some help from our Heavenly Friend, of course! – because that is what we all truly want to believe, isn’t it?

I realize that these authors – even the ones that are Christians -probably did not intentionally set out to write a book that included Christian themes for the purposes of leading others to Christ. When it comes right down to it, there just doesn’t seem to be much of a market for that type of fantasy novel. In the publishing business, like in any other business, money talks. Very loudly.

I like to think that authors write books because they want to tell an entertaining story that was burning in their hearts and crying out for release into the world. It’s a like having a baby (and I can honestly say that because I have given birth to and raised children).

“There is no greater pain than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Maya Angelou

Quite frequently, I find myself thinking about my story and what I am going to write next. It is an obsession. I should be finding more work to do for my job, but I’m day-dreaming up plot points. I should be trying to fall asleep, but my brain is busy constructing witty dialogue and dramatic scenes. I should be doing housework, but I need to write. I should be weeding the garden (such as it is) but I need to write. Presently, I look at the clock and realize that it is past dinner-time, I should really cook something for my boys …

But I need to write!

I need to write because the people living inside of my head are begging me to tell their stories. And they won’t shut up until I do.

When I hear people talking about current events, or T.V. shows, or debating the strengths and weaknesses of sports teams, I often cannot relate, because my mind isn’t even on the same planet.

I am wandering around somewhere on Tehara.

People have gone into therapy for help in managing smaller obsessions, I’m sure, let alone an entire planet.

Other writers out there: do you know what I’m talking about?