A Spark of Light Amidst the Daily Grind

Every writer has seen it before. The ghostly flash of light, the magical momentary glimpse. They’ve felt it flow through their veins, heard it whisper softly in their ear, just a wisp, a breath. They’ve tasted the sweet words on their tongue, the kind that beg for more. The kind that, once they’ve latched on to you, will not relent their nagging until you’ve set everything aside to build their home upon a page. A secretive character – one you may have known was coming, but only for a minor role in a piece naught but brainstormed – that sneaks up on you, catches you by surprise. A spark of light amidst the normal daily grind.

These beautiful revelations are the lifeblood of a writer. They bring them hope, inspiration, and power. But secretive characters are very difficult to catch. Impossible, really. These characters must choose to reveal themselves to you, and more often than not they do so one frustratingly small piece at a time. An image here. A word trail there. But never the whole picture. These special characters, I’ve found, are almost always the deepest, most interesting and heartfelt an author could ask for. My precious Ben, Jesse, and Sasha were all like this, mysterious and reserved. Judas didn’t reveal himself to me until I’d already written the story, forcing me to rewrite much of what I’d penned… and I daresay I haven’t nearly reached the bottom of that dark abyss of a broken, wicked character yet!

Tonight, I had the privilege of being introduced to two of these special characters. They will be in a story I’ve been brainstorming up for quite a while now, but haven’t put down ink on yet. One of them I was aware of, but had thought would be just a small side-character used to help drive a point home. The other I’d never heard from before. But both of these characters charged past me tonight, kicking up the sod beneath their feet as though to taunt me, tempt me into writing. They struck me nearly simultaneously, and made it clear they were not to be separated. Their hasty talk in hushed tones filled my mind with beauty, and struck down my previous plans with a resounding thud. I would resent their bossing me into giving them larger roles, if it weren’t for the magnificence that came with them.

Characters will strike at any time. There’s no stopping them. The writer is defenseless against these dream-like wisps. But a writer that has been struck so brusquely by these inspirations is desperate to share them. In the story these new characters belong to, humanity has grown cold. People and animals that are born “different” are cast off or killed. The main character is a mute girl who, after years of her mother hiding her, is found and taken away. The story begins when she is left alone in the woods to fend for herself. But, fortunately for her, there are kind – though hurting – animals around to help her learn the ways of the wild. My goal with this story is to make a go at reviving the talking animals cliche, but make it fresh. New. Exciting and interesting. Do it in a way not seen before. But now, without further adieu, please allow me to introduce to you the latest additions to the ever-growing list of voices inside my head. I will do my best to describe them, however as I said, I know little about them at the moment. Most likely, I won’t fully discover these characters until the novel is done.

Wahchinksapa

Wahchinksapa, or ‘Chink’, was the first grand appearance tonight. Chink is what’s known as a “Medicine Hat” paint horse. These horses were revered by Native Americans, particularly the Souix, and surrounded  by legends. To be a medicine hat is to bear a certain pattern on your coat, which includes a colored patch over both ears, much like a hat or bonnet in appearance. They can have other markings as well, but the less color they have besides the “hat,” the more powerful they are thought to be. Blue eyes are also said to give greater power. Only chiefs, medicine men, and great warriors were allowed to own them, and they were the prized possession of any village.  A horse with two clear blue eyes and no markings but the medicine hat is considered the most powerful of all. The Souix would often paint on these horses, which was thought to bring luck to them as well. As the legends go, anyone riding a medicine hat horse could not be injured or killed. To win the love of a medicine hat was to win protection.

Chink would be a cross between the older brother, father, and grandpa types. Very over protective, fun, and loves to teach. His name is a Souix name that means “wise.” He is wise beyond his years, with many hidden talents, along with many hidden pains. He is a quiet, gentle character that can in every sense be considered broken, but handles it by helping others. In this story, Chink is a talking horse (in a non-cliche way) that rescues a mute child alone in the woods. He takes her under his wing, caring for her and teaching her alongside our second character of the night.

Humayda

Humayda, Maya for short, is a very young arabian. She lost her mother in a tragic incident, and was abandoned because of her strange marking. This marking is a reddish-brown streak that spills across both shoulders. It is called a “bloody shoulder,” and this one also has a myth behind it. Arabic legend speaks of an amazing white arabian mare. This mare, heavy with foal, went out one day with her owner. They were found by Bedouin robbers, and her rider pointed her towards home, begging her to run for all she had. Her rider knew she couldn’t possibly outrun them while so heavy with foal, but she ran on anyways as they were peppered with rifle fire. As she sped away, the Bedouins lost ground. But just before they were out of range, a final shot was fired off. The rider fell forward onto her neck, dead, where he remained all the way home. The mare never stopped, but ran her heart out the whole way back to get him home. Upon her arrival, the rider was removed, but not before a dark red stain had bled down her shoulder. Try as they might, the people could not remove it. The people worried about the mare and the foal, and cared for her like royalty until a few days later when she birthed a colt. He was considered the perfect example of the arabian breed, and bore a strange, reddish-brown marking across his shoulders… just like his mother. Ever since then, bloody shouldered horses have been considered blessed by God.

Maya, however, did not receive such wonderful treatment. By her time, the legends have been long forgotten, and the mark is looked upon as an ugly defect. At only 6 months old, after her mother’s death, she was left tied to a tree at the edge of the forest. Abandoned. This is where Chink found her, and took pity on the filly. He brought her back to health, and raises her as his own. She loves him as a father, and rarely leaves his side. Chink always says that she saved him as much as he saved her, because she gave him a purpose. But Maya sees it as a debt she’ll never be able to repay him.

Well, that’s all for today folks. But stay tuned! Flesh and Blood: Hijacked Part Three is coming soon!

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Never Gone

Flesh and Blood: Hijacked Part Three is well underway, and should be posted by the end of the week. But today, I’d like to take a moment and share this with you. Colton Dixon, one of my favorite new artists, released his first single this morning. The song and lyrics both reminded me so much of my Benjamin Resnik, that I just had to share! Those of you that know him will understand how much this song is like him. Those of you who don’t – well, enjoy the song.

Flesh and Blood: Hijacked Part 2

 Drip…. drip… drip… SLAM! … drip… drip… I shake my head, blinking my eyes rapidly to adjust to the dim lighting. Drops of water strike stone somewhere nearby, and off in the distance a heavy door occasionally slams. Big, thick ropes tie me roughly to a chair, digging into my flesh. A cloth of some sort is tied around my face, clamped in my mouth like a gag, which I suppose it must be. As my eyes begin to clear and make sense of things, I see that it’s just a small, square room, with walls made of stone. A metal table sits directly in front of me, a glass of water settled perfectly in the center. It smells musty, dark, and heavy. Like sun-baked humid air plunged into darkness, but cooler. This place… it’s so familiar. So wretchedly familiar. A shiver runs down my spine.

I try wiggling in my restraints, but the rope only digs deeper into my flesh. I resort to looking around, taking in every detail of my surroundings that I can make out. But the closer I look at the features of the room, the less defined they become. Almost like they’re not solid objects, but liquid, held loosely to their forms by some unseen force. But those aren’t waves. What is this? Is that… words? I gasp, watching the words swim and swirl around. They’re everywhere, like ants at a picnic! Millions of tiny words, forming everything around me. Even the rope that binds me is made of words. It’s as if the words were like the cells that make up my body and everything in my world. But this is my world… Right?

Suddenly, the events of last night come thundering down on me, blasting my conscience. No. No no no, this can’t be happening. It’s got to be some kind of nightmare! This is impossible! I can’t possibly be… inside my book? No! It just couldn’t happen! I fidget around, straining against my bonds, doing everything I can think of to rip free. Before I’ve made any progress, the door creaks open.

The face of the man with the blue eyes boldly meets mine, and I realize with horror the full severity of my situation. Judas. With his stoney glare, I’m finally reminded of why this room is so familiar. It’s the cell… the one I interviewed him in just a few months ago! But this time… I’m the one that’s bound… My eyes widen as a fresh wave of fear overcomes me, and a wicked smirk slowly contorts his lips into something so vicious, my skin crawls beneath it.

“Well, if it isn’t our dear Author, in the flesh!” He chuckles sarcastically. I fix him with my deadliest glare, but he only gives me a cat-like grin. He smoothly saunters over to my shoulder, and in one quick, practiced motion, he lets the gag drop around my throat.

“You really think you can keep me here, Judas?” I snarl, snapping my head towards him, ready to bite down on his hand. He quickly draws it back, laughs again, and leans back casually against the wall. What does he think he’s doing?

“I don’t see any reason I couldn’t. Do you?” He quips, smiling once again, with that cat-that-ate-the-canary look. I narrow my eyes at him.

“You seem to be forgetting who’s in charge here, Judas. I’m the Author, remember? I can do anything I want here, pen or no pen!” I growl, staring him down.

“Ah ah ah! You were in charge here. But you seem to be forgetting one very important detail.” The gleam in his eyes tells me he’s got me trapped, and I silently beg for Jude to  fight him back. But not even a flicker comes to Judas’s eyes, and I revert my focus to searching everything I know about him. He taps a foot impatiently, rolling his eyes and crossing his arms when I pretend not to notice. And then, I notice the ink smudge on his pinky finger. Oh no… My jaw goes slack, and he knows I’ve realized my mistake.

“Mmhmm. I’m a writer too. And thanks to your neat little transcriptor…” His grin is suffocating. The room suddenly seems to shrink, and I can feel his breath as he speaks.

“What have you done, Judas?” I say in as controlled a voice as I can muster, unable to keep a slight trembling from my limbs. A dangerous light flickers behind his eyes, and he licks his lips. He takes a seat across from me, resting his feet up on the table and leaning back. I feel anger flaring up in my chest, but suppress it. He’s doing this to frustrate you, Hannah. Don’t let him get to you.

“Oh, don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll figure it out soon. Besides, you’re in the book now. You’ve got to wait and see, just like the rest of us.” He whispers the last part, in a low, hissing tone, like some kind of viper. Before I can stop him, he gets up and exits the room, leaving me alone again, with nothing but the constant dripping to keep me company, threatening to drive me mad. Drip… What have I done? Drip… How could I have let this happen? Drip… drip… drip…

College, Dancing Horses, and Fairy Tales

Flesh and Blood: Hijacked Part Two is still in the works. But because I feel bad for leaving you hanging so long, I am posting a video for you. This semester, I am taking a public speaking class at the University of Akron. Yesterday we gave our Ice Breaker speeches, and for mine I spoke about fairy tales, the writing process, and dancing horses. I hope you enjoy it! I did have a technical issue towards the end, but just stick with me. You wont want to miss the quote at the end!

Flesh and Blood: Hijacked Part 1

**Due to a bit of misunderstanding in regards to this post, I have added this note to clear things up. “Flesh and Blood” posts on this blog are this writer’s desperate attempt to hang out with her characters. I got sick of just writing about them, and wanted to be with them. So a few months ago, I wrote a “Transcriptor” into my book, Breaking Shadows: Bold that would allow my characters to be transported to my world. What I did not know, was that this same devise could transport me there when placed in the wrong hands. Sorry for any confusion, I hope this helps. Any further confusion will be cleared up in Part Two.**

It’s cold. Terribly cold. Frigid even. Why is it so cold? Did it rain last night? I think it rained last night… or was that just a dream? My mind, clouded with sleep and the lack of it, refuses to bring me back to the real world. Or maybe it’s trying to rouse me, and I wont let it. Either way, I’m not getting up yet. My alarm hasn’t even gone off! I shiver and jerk my blanket up to my nose, curling into a tight ball and squeezing my eyes shut to ward off wakefulness. I feel heat radiating at my back and sigh.

“Libby, come here.” I mumble, reaching back to grab the pup, hoping she’s as cold as I am and willing to huddle up with me. Instead, my hand flops over the side of the bed, then clumsily lifts up again, meeting something firm. What the… My eyes flash open, instantly jerking me awake. I sit up quickly, and when my eyes adjust, a scream attempts to leave my throat. A hot, dirty hand is shoved over my mouth and nose, and a second hand grabs my arm, pulling me from the bed. I fight back, digging my heals into the carpet in a desperate attempt to wrench myself free. The hand closes tighter, sending pain shooting up my arm, shoulder, and neck.

I’m dragged forward, and the chill quickly becomes a freezing blast of cold air. I squint and look towards the source, and my eyes grow even wider. My notebook lays open on the ground, and from it’s pages, a tornado of words swirls round and round, like the chaos inside my head. This can’t be happening. It’s a dream. It’s all a dream. It just isn’t possible! The vortex of script begins to pull me in, my hair whipping around my face. The hands give one last shove, and then release me to the fury of this strange storm. I’m sucked into the very eye of the dervish, and still it tugs at me, steadily pulling me down as stinging sensations envelop me like a thousand paper cuts. My fingers themselves become words, adjectives, verbs, nouns, and fly out into the cloud, and slowly the rest of me follows. I scream, but nothing could be heard above the thunderous roar of these words. I watch myself disintegrate into these hovering paper letters until I can see myself no more, and I feel the stinging spread up my neck, around to my jaw, my ears, the back of my head, my brow. The last thing I see before everything vanishes, are two deep, shimmering blue eyes, glaring through the words, slinking closer, staring into mine until nothing else exists, and then… black.

100th Post!

Wow, 100 posts! I never thought I’d make it this far. I have to thank my awesome readers, for sticking with me through the rough and sparse patches. I have to thank my friends, for encouraging me in my writing endeavors, and pushing me to keep going. Among these, I must give a special thanks to DropTheKid/IRONEQUINE/Moose, Grandma Marley, Jillian Ickes, Whitney Estey, Mirriam Neal, Emily and Amanda Bradburn, Michelle Black, Mickey Pfarr, Madison Louise, Emily Kaufman, and Oksanna Karaman. You guys have constantly been there to pick me up when I was down, give me a much needed push, yelled at me when I needed it, held me when I was broken, and always, always helping me to reach my full potential. Thank you! I’ve still got a long way to go and a whole lot to learn, but with you guys behind me, there’s no turning back. (Believe me, it’s not possible. Even if I wanted to run back. They would hijack me and drag me forward by the hair.)

But above all of these people, there has been one other being that has helped me more than any other ever could. He has been my rock, my shelter, my strength. When I was weak, He was strong. And in His presence, I can do nothing but stand in awe. I would never have made it this far without Him, and it would be inappropriate for me to do anything with this post but give Him all the praise and glory.

“I will extol you, my God and King,

and bless your name forever and ever.

Every day I will bless you

and praise your name forever and ever.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,

and his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall commend your works to another,

and shall declare your mighty acts.

On the glorious splendor of your majesty,

and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,

and I will declare your greatness.

They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness

and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

The Lord is good to all,

and his mercy is over all that he has made.

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,

and all your saints shall bless you!

They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom

and tell of your power,

to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,

and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The Lord is faithful in all his words

and kind in all his works.

The Lord upholds all who are falling

and raises up all who are bowed down.

The eyes of all look to you,

and you give them their food in due season.

You open your hand;

you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

The Lord is righteous in all his ways

and kind in all his works.

The Lord is near to all who call on him,

to all who call on him in truth.

He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;

he also hears their cry and saves them.

The Lord preserves all who love him,

but all the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,

and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

-Psalm 145

 

I Hope You Don’t Mind: Archem

For you readers that have followed my author page on Facebook, this post comes as no surprise to you. But for everyone else out there, let me bring you up to date. Due to my increasing urge to talk about my characters on this blog, but an inability to because no one knows who they are yet, I have decided to start posting short descriptions of various characters on a regular basis. I’ve intended to do this for some time now, and was re-inspired by my friend Mirriam Neal last week. (Check out her blog, she’s awesome! http://shieldmaidenthoughts.wordpress.com/) Occasionally, like this week, I will have a picture of what I imagine these characters would look like. I would also like to thank Mirriam for selecting Archem to go first.

Archem, or Archie, is from my short story “Ashes, Ashes”. It was published in my high school’s creative writing club anthology last year, and has been my most successful story so far. Thanks to the nature of the story, I don’t know very much about him… he was a bit of a phantasm. One of those wisps of a character, that graces your pen and conscience for a brief moment, and then fades back into the inky mist from whence he came. But in that brief moment, I gained a glimpse of a deeply beautiful person, and I suppose Mirriam must have caught that sliver of humanity and seen it in the same light I did. Today, perhaps I’ll get to learn a bit more about him, if he reveals himself once more.

Archem is a special character. Like many of my others, he has a dark past, a history better off forgotten. But instead of blocking it from his mind, he is haunted – or, better yet, hunted – by it. If he were to let himself forget, he would put his family, his life, and his little sister in danger. This gives him a very mysterious, foreboding, even brooding appearance, one that his sister doesn’t notice, but others are wary of. To most, he is Archem – the strange widow’s boy who does odd jobs around town, but is else wise avoided.

But, to his little sister Tristis, he is Archie, the best big brother anyone could ask for. (Except for maybe Ben… but choosing between the two would be worse than trying to decide who I wanted Katniss to be with more: Gale or Peeta.) Where all others take his dark appearance in a bad light, Tristis sees it as nothing but the hollowness of constant hunger and the sharp eye of an overprotective sibling. He would move mountains for her if he could, and is more protective of her than a momma bear. If it came down to it, he’d take a bullet for her. (And in a more dramatic and metaphorical way, he kind of does.)

His skin is pale, not a transparent pale, but the pale of someone who’s never had a good, hearty meal in his life. His hair is dirty-blonde, more dirty than blonde, and his eyes are a light shade of brown. He has a sturdy build, but moves in an almost fragile way, as though treading on glass. This, also, makes strangers uneasy around him, giving him a sneaky likeness. A likeness learned from tiptoeing around an unpredictable father.

When Archem was young, around eight years old, his father, Saevus, changed. He was no longer the caring man his mother had fallen in love with, but a man obsessed with a world of a dark nature. The selfsame nature that overtook him, that became him, and that threatened to destroy anyone close by him. It was into this ticking time bomb that Tristis was born, and hidden by both her mother and Archem in an attempt to keep her safe. When Saevus finally found her, he locked all her and her mother in the basement, shouting in rage and threatening to burn the place down. Archie tells me that his eyes were actually shooting sparks, which I suppose could be true in this mystical, intriguing land of fiction, but I’m not entirely convinced. Archem never told his mother, but he had interceded for them, telling Saevus that it was him that had hidden the “orphan child” and his mother had nothing to do with it. He was severely beaten, leaving permanent scars on his back and face, and thrown into the cold outside. Saevus assumed him to be too weak to run, especially on a winter night like that one, and set about preparing to burn the house down. Most children Archem’s age wouldn’t have made the night.

But, like I said, Archem is a special character. He’s special because he is so intrinsically good. For him to have done anything but pick himself up and crawl to town for help would have been so completely and utterly against his nature, his father would have had to poison him with his darkness to bring it about. He did manage to make it to town, and Saevus was arrested. The very next day, Archem was looking for a job to care for his family. Between he and his mother, they brought in enough to live somewhat comfortably, and kept Tristis from bearing the weight of life.

Archem swore that Tristis would never find out about her father. He refused to let her live with the same burden as he had, and chose instead to tell her that he’d left before she was born and disappeared. At night, he would take her to a meadow outside of town, and they would hide in the limbs of a weeping willow tree, laughing, story telling, and secret swapping, hidden from all eyes. He cared for her with a burning passion, ever watchful for danger. Danger he knew was out there. Danger that shook him to his core and intoxicated his every dream with fear. The danger that his father, who escaped during transport to prison, would one day return with his promise to burn them down.

Archem was a stronghold. A steady rock for his family to build its foundation upon. A solid place to stand. He was a broken soul, with a good heart. And he will forever hold a space in mine.