Writing Exercise: Dilemma

After what seemed like hours, the door of the control room slid open with yet another gust of foul air. While they waited, hands over noses, they could see something floating in the center of the chamber.

“I thought this was supposed to be the control room,” Caroline said.

“It is,” Rai said, scanning the room with his enhanced eyesight. “The stations are dark, that’s all. Aes was right.”

“Then was is that thing?”

“It looks like an Old One,” Solartiger said. “Though here? All this time? Can that be right?”

“It appears to be…” Rai said, taking a closer look at it.

“Lumos maxima,” Caroline muttered, sending a bright ball of light into the room.

“It can’t be, but it is,” Rai said. “That looks exactly like an old stasis tube Aes used to use, on a much larger scale.”

“Could it be a fake?”

“We don’t know without Aes here to scan everything properly. Wait…” He searched for a bug device in the knapsack he carried, and found a tiny one. “Let’s see what this says.”

While Rai was busy watching the bug, Caroline and Solartiger shared a look. If that thing was real, then Rai was the one who should deal with it; he had the skills and tools to handle that kind of dark power. They couldn’t let it free, and Caroline knew she was the least useful. Solartiger at least had some experience. He checked over his armor while she strengthened some of her spells.

 

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Writing Exercise: Hike

Miara climbed out of the wreckage of the transport vehicle, half obscured in smoke. Several hundred yards away, their pilot was coming closer to see if she needed help, while Daniel and Gritha were running from much further away. Once she was down on the sand, she waved to signal she was alright.

I’m okay, she told Daniel. How about you?

I’m fine, Mi-na. What are we going to do?

We’ll have to see, she said, setting out toward them. Once they all met, she put down the bags, stuffed with whatever she’d been able to grab.

“Why don’t we see what we have,” Gritha said. “How close were we to the nearest city?” he asked the pilot, shielding his eyes with a hand as he looked back the way they’d come.

“Quite a ways, by foot,” he said. “At least we have the water bag.”

“Too bad we weren’t carrying much food,” Daniel said. “How many snacks are left?”

“Meat jerky and a handful of nuts,” she said.

The pilot, meanwhile, had picked up a small device from what she’d stuffed in the one empty sack they’d had, walking in a circle around them as it gathered information. Without much more talk, Miara and Gritha repacked all the bags with equal weight and food, and Daniel sat, conserving energy.

Finally, the pilot came back to the group. “We’re definitely much closer to Nirveth, at least. It should take 2–3 days on foot, though if we’ll last that long…”

“You’re native, and we’re Lupa,” Miara said. “We’ll make it. Do we even know if the mayday got out?”

“I don’t know. The communication line went down so quickly after the explosion I can’t be sure. And this device doesn’t have any communication built in, it’s just for mapping.

“Then between it and our astral mapping, we won’t have to worry about getting lost.”

“Quite true,” Gritha said, handing out the bags. “Hopefully someone will come pick us up.”

Miara and Daniel changed to fur, bags slung over their backs, before starting out in front of the other two. If not, it’ll be quite a hike.

Writing Reflection: Generous

Last year, I had a lot of time off around my birthday, and so served a very nice tea to a group of ladies from church who have been an important part of my life. While I was happy to do this form them, I was also able to take time to experiment and try certain dishes, and pray for the ladies who would be eating it. As many of us know, there are many reasons to be happy being generous to others.

Often times, some people have much more difficulty receiving generosity from others. When I was much younger, I often didn’t want to need the help my parents offered us in various manners. Offers to clean or bring over food, paying for this or that when we’re out together. It was difficult. Feelings of guilt and inadequacy would sometimes flood me. At times, I have told them that I simply want to pay for something myself, from my own money, for that gratification.

But we didn’t have a lot of money the first few years of our marriage. We will likely never make what my parents did. And so we learned how to receive generosity–from parents, friends, and people at church. I am happy to say that we both give blessings to others, and also still receive them from time to time. Rather than worrying about being beholden to someone for a gift or paying for a meal while out, I enjoy knowing that someone has cared and thought about us. And that we can show the same for someone who needs it.

How we engage on both sides is part of what determines who we are, and if we can achieve mature attitudes to generosity–linked to the spiritual fruit of kindness–we can do so much for others while also seeing to our own spiritual health.

Writing Exercise: Stylish

Aura turned this way and that in the mirror, looking at herself shrewdly. A few fashion magazines lay on her bunk, opened to pages any adult would consider to mature to her. Not that she cared what they thought. Her faded lettings and the tiger shirt she was wearing were what she’d been given–she’d hardly ever been able to pick her own clothes. And now something needed to be done about it. She was seven, not three!

The last lady she had seen donating clothes had literally said to the social worker, “I know they’re not great clothes, my kids won’t wear them, but I know the kids here are just grateful to have something new. Besides, those without don’t have much of a choice.” She may as well have said “beggars can’t be choosers.”

But there were other problems now. She didn’t want another day when the older bullies picked on her, or the old man at the park leered at her, or made comments about the young kids when the adults couldn’t hear. Well, she’d show them a thing or two. But she needed to look older first.

The woman in the magazine was White, and thin, and blonde. She couldn’t be those things, but she could get makeup, and a miniskirt, and whatever kind of top that was, with all the straps. She just had to figure out where, somewhere no one would miss them.

How to Take Tea

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I especially enjoy both preparing and having tea, especially the little sandwiches. The quest to make ever more perfect little food is a stimulating challenge. But throughout history, the etiquette for taking tea has become blurred, and even those of us who have an interest in such things don’t always know whether something was proper in Victorian teas, or now, or when. But it’s always nice to know how something was done, even if we do it differently now.

Thankfully, Sherra Hamer over at Tea and Scandal has done some of this research for us, and has put up a great post on it here. She has a knack for giving information in a delightful way, and I enjoyed seeing the different aspects addressed here. Definitely go check it out, if this kind of thing interests you. Even if it doesn’t, you don’t always know when you’re going to be writing a Victorian story, or when you might be invited to tea!

Writing Exercise: Silence

Les wondered if they were even able to talk about what was going on. They barely knew each other. She’d never asked about his problems, despite how obvious they’d been. It was his house, and he could have demanded she tell him everything or be kicked out, but the thought of doing so was so fleeting it barely registered. He glanced at the strange truck across the street with the two men in it, and decided to ignore it, burying is head back in his book.

Later in the afternoon, there was still no sign of her. He went down the hallway to her door, but had no idea how long she’d been in there. It could be she was just quiet, or had been out while he was busy. What if she was hiding? Or dead?–don’t be ridiculous, he told himself. He raised his hand, but couldn’t bring himself to knock.

 

 

Note: A little piece reflecting part of Mally’s story.

 

 

Who are we writing about?

There has been so much in the news about race lately. It’s been on a lot of people’s minds. Yesterday, I listened to some podcast content about the percentage of non-White authors here in the US. One book reviewer said a company she contacted told her they had NO books they could send her written by certain ethnicities (it may have been Latino?). The numbers and percentages she talked about were shocking. We know, but do we KNOW? The current state of which makes me alternately so sad, and incensed.

I have, however, been thinking about where and how non-White characters and cultures appear in my stories. Art is one place where you might expect to see more branching out, and yet, it’s still so White. I’ve never had a problem finding role models that look like me. I’m White. I understand that I have privilege. But what about others?

I have to admit that most of my main characters are White. They’re a different species, but they appear, for the most part, Caucasian. There are stories I haven’t written yet about other colors and cultures, but for the most part, these appear as minor characters. Japanese and Asians appear second, and there are a few Black characters. There is one Native American tie-in, whose story is still mostly unwritten.

Some of my most diverse characters, even some original characters, will never be able to leave the world of fan fiction–they were created via means only available in those environments. Even my new Fae story, in which many colors are represented in a different species format, the main character is quite pale. She is the Winter Queen, so it’s expected, but still. She’s joined a group of mostly other pale, Western-like main characters.

Anyone looking at my set of stories will note the lack of color. I’m clearly into Asian stuff, but other than that, diversity in this area is lacking. We may show a diverse group of background characters, but sometimes I feel some of mine are token characters. Characters who could be nearly any color, so I made them non-White. This isn’t the same as really writing characters of diverse color or culture. As writing without stereotype.

If we want children and young people of color to feel they have a decent chance in life, and that they can accomplish their goals, then they should see media–both real and in fiction–populated with people of color. There was a time when Nichelle Nichols changed what young Black girls thought they could do when they grew up. Many Asians were impacted by Margaret Cho’s TV show, the first to feature an Asian family. Latinos are still highly misrepresented in this country. How many people know what’s happening at Standing Rock?

As writers, we have to challenge ourselves to do better.

It is part of our job to not be afraid of tackling tough and controversial things, or topics that we personally find scary. Even when we can’t directly impact events, our characters and stories can do what we can’t.

NaNoWriMo is coming up–less than two months to go. Perhaps I will take this time to plan a story about someone who isn’t White, and isn’t living in another world.