Archive for the ‘Blogfest’ Category

From The Lamanai Codex, Chapter 6

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Nothing like a little bickering in the dog days of summer. We’re all doing it anyway, right? No, just me? Oh well.

Kristen at Take It As It Comes is graciously hosting the Bickering Blogfest so we can all get some nastiness out of our systems. This excerpt is from my last NaNoWriMo novel, which continues to be in progress. The main character is Dr. Katherine Lancaster, a literature professor trying to recover a stolen occult book that can bring about the end of the world. Eliza is her TA and Phillips is a psychic and old friend.

Note: Phillips has a bit of a potty mouth, so if the occasional naughty word offends, please do not continue reading.

* * * * *

“Go away,” Phillips shouted from somewhere inside the building. “I’m closed.”

“It’s me, Phillips,” Katherine shouted back. “I need your assistance again.”

“Tomorrow!” he yelled. “Need sleep.”

Katherine rapped firmly on the glass door and continued rapping until Phillips opened it, frowning and rubbing his eyes.

“Are you still able to read?” he said, gesturing at the door.

“Read what?” Eliza asked.

“The sign that clearly states that I am, to use the French parlance, not fucking open.”

“There is no sign,” Katherine said. “Stop being cheeky, I need your help.”

Phillips looked at the front of the door and sighed heavily. “No sign, damn, where is that blasted sign…” He released the door to rummage around behind a curtain, and Katherine pushed it open and shouldered her way inside, Eliza fast on her heels.

Triumphantly, Phillips held up an ornate metal sign that read “CLOSED” and waved it in Katherine’s face. “See, look, closed. Unavailable. Absolutely exhausted. Now make like a tree and go away.”

“I need you to find someone,” she said. “The person who stole my book.”

“If you know who stole it, then call the police,” he grumbled. “I have a full marching band playing Souza in my head and I have no interest in dowsing until it stops.”

“The police won’t be any help and you know it.”

“Yeah,” Eliza interjected. “I got rear ended a year ago and they still haven’t caught the jerk who did it. I gave them his license plate number and everything.”

“My heart bleeds,” Phillips replied. “Unless you’ve discovered the cure for a psychic hangover, make yourself scarce so I can get back to my appointment with Club Bed.”

“I’ll pay double your hourly rate,” Katherine said. “Time is of the essence.”

Now she had his attention. “Triple plus expenses, which will include a nice steak dinner at Christy’s.”

“Double and I won’t tell your boyfriend about that night in Vegas.”

Phillips paled. “That’s blackmail, you bitch!”

“Oh, fine, double and lunch at Morton’s.”

“I just don’t know,” Phillips said, closing his eyes and posing dramatically with the back of his hand against his forehead. “I am so overtired already…”

“Take it or leave it,” Katherine said. “I don’t have time to waste. I’m sure there are plenty of other well-rested psychics looking for work.”

“Fine, fine, slave driver. Do you have an object I can use to hone in on this person? Hmm? Or am I supposed to just wave a magic wand and–”

“I have something,” Katherine said. “A photograph.”

“That should do nicely. Let’s get into my reading room. I’ve got dowsing stuff set up in there.”

As they walked down the hall, Eliza leaned over to her and whispered, “How did you get a picture of Hernandez so fast?”

“That’s not important,” Katherine replied. “What matters is finding him as quickly as possible.”

From The Blue Lady’s Children

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Here are a couple of excerpts for Amalia’s Dream Sequence Blogfest, which is an awesome thing that you should check out. These are bits taken from my novel-in-progress currently titled The Blue Lady’s Children. It’s in pretty rough shape so these dream sequences may not even make it into the final draft, but if they don’t, at least they’re preserved here. Hopefully for your entertainment.

The main character is Evie, a freshman at Frost University of the Magical Arts and Sciences. Shiva (short for Shivanee, don’t get any ideas) is her roommate, Luke is a friend from class, Engela is her yoga teacher. The first segment is currently at the end of the first chapter, while the second comes later, during her yoga class.

* * * * *

I was awakened from a deep sleep, but not by anything in particular. I pushed the sheets off and slid out of bed, padding across the floor to the front door. I opened it.

Instead of the hallway of the dorm building, there was a sheer drop of about four stories. The ground was completely submerged in calm, blue water. In the distance, the moon was setting, its rays reflecting on the surface as if it was a mirror. To the left was the other dorm tower, also rising out of the water as if the ground were nothing but a distant memory. All the buildings that normally populated downtown were gone, with nothing standing between me and the horizon.

The water began to rise. At first, it was close to the base of the tower, and then slowly it inched up until it covered the first floor of the building, like a tide coming in at high speed. Panic rose in me. I had no boat and I didn’t know how to swim. Looking back, I couldn’t see any sign of Shiva; it was as if she had never been there. The water was over the second floor now, so that the moon seemed to be falling to meet it instead of the other way around.

I backpedaled into the room. What could I do? Nothing around me looked like it would float. Maybe the mattress? The desk? This was impossible. This couldn’t be happening. Water reached the threshold and poured over. It didn’t flood the room so much as flow in my direction like a stream. It was coming for me. I had done something to it and I didn’t know what.

“I’m sorry!” I shrieked. “I didn’t know, I’m sorry!”

The water flowed up over the edge of the bed to where I was crouching in the corner. The moon touched the surface in the distance as I screamed.

And then I woke up.

* * * * *

“Evie,” a soft voice said next to my ear. I opened my eyes and looked up at Engela, who was smiling, but a bit sadly.

“You are not with us in this moment, Evie,” she whispered. “Please try to focus on today’s lesson. The problems of tomorrow are for tomorrow.” With that, she tiptoed off.

Ugh. I told myself firmly to shut the hell up about the quiz and I focused on my breathing. Inhale, exhale, repeat. Clear your mind. Relax. Feel the toeness of your toes. Feel your toes relaxing. Inhale, exhale. Relax your neck, relax your shoulders, relax your back…

And then I was back at home, walking to the kitchen to make myself a cappuccino. My sister Kari was there already, eating cereal.

“Mom left you a note,” she said, gesturing at the refrigerator. My mom was always leaving me notes because she was usually off at work by the time I woke up. I went over to the fridge and instead of a paper, there were words written on the door in what looked like crayon. I couldn’t read them.

“I don’t know what this says,” I told my sister. Kari just shrugged and kept chewing. “I guess I’ll try to call her, then.”

“You can’t,” Kari said. “She’s in surgery today.”

“She had better not want me to pick something up from the store then, because I won’t,” I grumbled.

Kari stopped chewing. “I have to go to school.” She disappeared and suddenly I was walking to the bus stop. I knew that I was going to miss the bus again, but I would just fly if I had to. The bus zipped past in a blur, leaving a glowing trail in its wake. Someone was waiting for me at the corner, sitting in the middle of the sidewalk.

It was Luke, still wearing his tweed jacket. He had spread out some tarot cards on the floor, three of them, all in a row. They were turned over so I couldn’t see them.

“Which spread is this?” I asked. He grinned.

“Past, present, future,” he replied. “Want to see?”


He flipped the first card over. It was a picture of a frowning moon above two barking dogs. Some kind of scorpion or lobster was crawling out of a pool of water at the bottom. The picture started to move, but in a loop: the dogs barked, strange drops fell out of the moon like rain, and the thing in the water crawled toward land but never got any closer.

“Ah, The Moon,” Luke said. “Confusion. Anxiety. Unrealistic ideas. You think you know what you want, but you are not sure of your decision. You have been a victim of your own illusions. Until you can see things as they are, you will remain lost and uncertain.”

He flipped over the next card. It was the same picture I had seen earlier in the day, in Divination class. Death. Lucky number thirteen. In the card, he was a skeleton riding a white horse, carrying a black flag with a white rose on it. All over the ground were the bodies of the dead and dying, but unlike the card I had seen before–with men in crowns next to men in rags–these were people dressed in modern clothes. There was even some child that I didn’t recognize, watching the scene with an unreadable expression. Like The Moon, this card began to move; the flag snapped and waved in an invisible wind, and the Reaper reached down and grabbed the child, hoisting her up to sit in front of him on the saddle.

“You know this one,” Luke said. “You are on the verge of a great change. You cannot escape the inevitable, but you can control how you react.”

For some reason, the card didn’t bother me as much as it had before. I pointed at the third card. “And my future?”

Luke’s grin widened as he reached for the card. As he turned it over, everything faded to black and I felt a strange whooshing sensation. A hand touched my arm lightly.

“Evie, wake up.”

From The Lamanai Codex, Chapter 8

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Let's Talk

This is for the “Let’s Talk” Blogfest, which I just discovered despite its making the rounds for a month. While probably half my writing is dialogue-heavy anyway, I figured I would post something new(ish) instead of just linking to an existing post. This is from my last NaNoWriMo novel, which is still very much in progress. The main character is Dr. Katherine Lancaster, a literature professor trying to recover a stolen occult book that can bring about the end of the world.

* * * * *

The door opened after the third knock and Kate met the briefly astonished gaze of Rey Hernandez. He was half-dressed and looked to have been reading with the television on. His expression quickly turned neutral and he smiled slightly.

“To what do I owe this pleasure?” he asked.

“You said you’re not the one trying to kill me,” Kate snapped. “I’m giving you a chance to prove it.”

His expression soured. “I don’t have to prove anything to you. If you really think I’d do such a thing, we have nothing to talk about.” He began to close the door but she pushed against it.

“This has been a very trying few days for me,” she said in a low voice. “Either you can help me get to the bottom of this, or you can be the stubborn, cowardly mercenary you always were and I will be sure to leave orders that you are not allowed within fifty miles of my funeral.”

His eyes scoured her face, settling on the bruise that had begun to look especially purple and angry against her latte-colored skin. “Not an accident in the shower, I take it?”

Kate shuddered. “Please do not mention showers around me for at least the duration of this already gods-forsaken cruise.”

“I wasn’t planning on staying,” Hernandez said. “I was going to jump ship at the next port and fly back home.” He grinned. “But maybe you’ll have a drink with me first, for old times’ sake? I might let you persuade me to loosen my lips.”

“I know very well how loose your lips can be,” Kate said, wrinkling her nose. “As well as certain other portions of your anatomy.”

He shrugged, his dark eyes looking her up and down. “That’s a shame. Have a nice trip then.” He closed the door.

Kate sighed. She really did need to get him to talk. Acting had never been her forte but perhaps just this once… She sighed again, more heavily, and leaned her forehead against the door with a gentle knocking sound. The door suddenly opened and she fell forward, right onto Hernandez, who steadied her with a muscled arm.

“Don’t even think of making the joke that is traipsing from your brain to your mouth at this moment,” Kate said. “I will absolutely sic Eliza on you and I do not give you good odds in that match.”

He rubbed his chin with his free hand. “Not even two to one?”

“More like ten to one.”

“Is she seeing anyone?”

“Release me this instant.” Kate struggled to regain her footing, fuming. “I had thought to take you up on your offer of drinks but now my second thoughts are telling me it’s a terrible–”

“No, no, wait,” he protested. “Sorry, I’m sorry. Tell your second thoughts to take a hike. Give me a minute to pull myself together and we’ll head up to the Skybar. It has a nice view.”

“Yes, fine,” she said. They stood looking at each other for a moment. “Please stop rubbing my arm,” she said finally, and he released her as if she burned.

“I’ll be right back,” Hernandez said. Kate nodded. He closed the door and she heard some rummaging sounds inside.

“You’re a fool, Kate,” she murmured to herself, shaking her head and touching the spot on her arm where he had held it.

Know Thy Enemy

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Submitted to:

Bad Girl Blogfest

Calliope Cervantes: The Art of War begins here, or you can see the full list of Calliope Cervantes stories.

* * * * *

Calliope Cervantes watched the rain fall in long, rope-like strands outside the brightly lit diner and was glad her flight suit was waterproof. Once she got the information from Diego on where to find her quarry, she’d have to move quickly, and showing up to apprehend someone in a skycab was as tacky as doing it while dripping wet. Despite what most citizens thought, the IRS did have some standards.

She tapped the menu screen on the table and ordered another cup of coffee, which appeared in the dispenser unit a minute later. Automated places like this diner weren’t exactly inviting; the outside was slag and recycled glass, the inside was putty-colored composite walls and slag floors, but they were cheap and mostly full of robots who kept to themselves. And paid their taxes, of course, so she didn’t bother them and they didn’t bother her.

The door slid open and a tall man entered, removing his brown fedora and gently shaking the water off. His suit was tailored and his eyes were black as pits, sunshaded and already fading to hazel. Calliope sipped her hot drink while casually sliding her hand down to her tasegun. He spotted her and reached the table in a few long strides.

“Miss Cervantes?” His voice was deep, with a slight western Eurasian accent. “I’m–”

“Titus Lynch,” she interrupted. “I know who you are. You can call me Agent C1058.”

“As you like it. May I sit?”

She shook her head. “Private party. No skivers allowed.”

He smiled, his teeth white as science could make them. “How droll. Did you know that ‘to skive’ has a lesser known meaning: to cut into thin layers?”


“I’m afraid I’ve done that very thing to your associate Diego, so he will find it something of a challenge to keep your appointment.”

Calliope hid her dismay behind a smile of her own. “That’s a shame. If I’d known, I wouldn’t have ordered a fresh cup of coffee.”

“Let me be brief, Agent,” Titus said. “Leave my men alone or I’ll have you eviscerated.”

“I bet you say that to all the ladies.”

“Only the ones who… misbehave.”

She toyed with the hilt of her tasegun. “And what’s to stop me from arresting you right now for threatening a federal agent?”

“Your word against mine, darling.” Titus slowly placed his hat back on his head. “You know robot testimony is inadmissible as evidence. And I know what happened the last time you staked a case on your word.”

Son of a bitch. “Why even bother coming here, then? You could have just as easily sent one of your goons. Or killed me and been done with it.”

Again, a lazy grin. “My father always taught me to keep my enemies close, to know the face of my enemy. And it is a lovely face. Good day, Miss Cervantes.”

With that, he ambled back out into the rain and was picked up by a black limousine. She saw his lips move as if he was talking through a com unit. Calliope stared at the cup of coffee that was rapidly cooling in her clenched hand.

“That was some crock of shit,” she said, diving under the table just as the sniper’s bullet crashed through the window.

* * * * *

Next: Laying Plans

From The Lamanai Codex, Chapter 10

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

I was just informed of a little something called Fight Scene BlogFest, so I figured, why not toss something into the fray. You see what I did there. I… never mind. This is from my last NaNoWriMo novel, which is still very much in progress.

* * * * *

“What’s the plan, Doc?” Eliza asked as they crouched behind the car.

“We, er, surprise them?” Dr. Lancaster said uncertainly.

“Works for me,” Eliza said. “I’ll take the big guy and the lady, you take the skinny dude.”

“I can take someone other than the… skinny dude!” Dr. Lancaster protested.

“Fine, take the lady,” Eliza said. “Whatever. Just stay out of my way.”

Another scream issued from inside the house. Eliza did some kind of quick stretch and then vaulted the car and raced for the door. Dr. Lancaster followed, wishing she had some kind of weapon but knowing that such things could be used against her. Eliza disappeared into the house and, taking a deep breath, Dr. Lancaster went in after her.

Copeland’s son was on the ground behind the door, his face in the process of being rearranged by the burly man while the woman looked on passively. The other man was nowhere to be seen. She took this in quickly and then reevaluated as the scene changed.

Eliza sent a sharp kick toward the back of the man’s head, knocking him flat since he was already near the floor. The woman turned in surprise and lunged at Eliza, who had already backed away and proceeded to lash out with a rapid series of kicks and punches that the woman absorbed with remarkable fortitude. Meanwhile, the man on the ground was struggling to his feet and Copeland’s son was crawling away using his good arm.

“Mierda,” Dr. Lancaster cursed. Looking around, her eyes settled on a large clay pot near one of the sofas. She leapt over and grabbed it, turning around just in time for Eliza to kick the woman right into her. The woman smashed into the pot with her head and Dr. Lancaster was thrown back onto the couch, the woman half in her lap. Without thinking, she grabbed a smaller pot and brought it down on the woman’s head as well. This one, however, was not clay: it was cast iron. The woman sank to the ground with a groan and didn’t move.

“Nicely done, Doc!” Eliza exclaimed just before the man on the ground dove at her legs and knocked her down. He jumped on top of her with a savage grin and punched her straight in the face. Her head bounced against the terrazzo floor with a sickening crack. As he drew his fist back to hit Eliza again, Dr. Lancaster swung the cast iron pot at his head. He dodged but still received a glancing blow, and abandoned the apparently unconscious Eliza for the clearly vibrant Dr. Lancaster.

She swung at him again and he dodged again, rising to his feet. They were about the same height, but he easily weighed twice as much as she did. After a few more feeble swings dodged, he was able to grab the pot and yank it out of Dr. Lancaster’s hand, throwing it behind him and rushing toward her like a linebacker aiming to sack the quarterback. She jumped aside and he crashed into the coffee table, splintering it like it was made of toothpicks. Unfazed, he turned and charged her again, and this time managed to grab her waist as she tried to dance beyond his grasp. He pulled her close in a bear hug and treated her to that same grin he had given Eliza as he slowly tightened his grip to squeeze the breath out of her.

Knowing that she had at least a minute before her air was gone, Dr. Lancaster did what had worked against such people before: she viciously headbutted him right in the teeth. Unfortunately, he seemed to be better equipped to deal with such a move than the last person she had tried it on, the only difference in his demeanor that he was now grinning while blood dripped from his nose and turned his teeth red.

“You two-timing me, baby?” a voice from behind the man said, and as he relaxed his grip on Dr. Lancaster and turned to look, a fist plowed into the side of his face. Teeth audibly cracked and he released Dr. Lancaster enough for her to slip out of his grasp and stagger backwards, gasping for air. The man completed his turn to see Eliza in a defensive stance, grinning at him and gesturing for him to come and get her. He was only too happy to oblige.

Dr. Lancaster left the two of them to their row and rushed to Copeland’s son, who had almost reached the other room. “Are you all right?” she asked him. He shook his head, his face already swollen and changing colors. She grabbed him under his arms and hauled him the rest of the way into the room, closing the door after them and locking it. On the floor, she saw the gun that she had kicked away earlier and wondered why he had never gone back to pick it up. Idiot.

“Listen,” she told him. “They want the book, and they want you dead and out of their way, just like your father. Give it to me and they’ll come after me instead.”

He tried to say something but his mouth was apparently in too much pain. Blood dribbled from between his lips and Dr. Lancaster wondered if it was all localized or if he was bleeding internally.

“Is the book in here?” Dr. Lancaster asked, and he shook his head. “The kitchen? The bathroom?” Shake, shake. Exasperated, she said, “I don’t suppose you hid it in the recingado flower pot outside?” At this, he nodded, and she stared at him in horror.

“That book is a priceless five hundred year old artifact and you left it outside to the elements like a bit of compost?” she shrieked. He shook his head and looked as offended as anyone could with a face covered in bruises and contusions. Again, he seemed to be trying to speak, but gave up and just groaned, tears streaming down his cheeks.

The door burst open, revealing one out cold strongman and one winded and slightly bleeding teaching assistant, who turned her head and spat blood at the floor in a very unladylike fashion.

“Are you quite finished?” Dr. Lancaster asked, smirking.

“Me?” Eliza grinned. “I could go a bit longer, but I think I wore him out.”