Ansel Adams' Saguaro Cactus

Yes, I realize this picture is of a cactus.

Elizaw mentioned it might be a good idea to do something with airships for the website. So I drew one. It’s not done much to help the general OMGWTF malaise that’s come over me since I flushed 10,000 words into the toilet earlier today, but it helped a little. I mean, she’s right. Airships are cool. I may scan and share tomorrow, just for hahas.

I do wish I had more of an ability to bounce back from disaster, but at the moment am feeling rather bleh and meh by turns. 10K isn’t a lot, compared to the whole novel which, in its first draft is over 100K and in its revised version (at approximately 50%) is already 75K. That’s roughly 10% of a lost book. And it’s two weeks of work, hours now completely lost to time and space (I feel like I’m playing Arkham Horror all of a sudden).

My birthday was Saturday, and I got a copy of The Born Queen by Greg Keyes, which I hope will help jog my brain into writing mode again. Though Stephen King certainly wasn’t the first to say it, he’s right: The more you read, the better you write. I can trace much of my book’s progress by the reading I’ve done on the side–it’s a hodge podge group of writers, not all of whom are exactly Pulitzer Prize winners, of course.

In the mean time, I have now successfully installed the Orchestra Jam Pack for GarageBand, so hopefully my podcasts will be a little more interesting. I’ve been meaning to re-record chapter four for some time, but it’s a long chapter, with some tough voices (a raspy Territories Alderman by the name of Bratner, for instance, who always makes me cough when I read him). It’s also the first Emry chapter, and since he is the character most like myself, I want to do him justice. Emry is so important in the books that at one point I considered starting off the narrative with him. But then I realized that might be a little toward selfish, or at least, self-serving. He’s the easiest character for me to write (well, duh). I’m actually looking forward to editing his PoV, though it’ll probably come after Cora’s. Right now I’m working on the Brick PoV, but that’s the one that bit the dust. Ah, square one.

At least I didn’t lose everything. There are a few bits in the Brick PoV that I’m really happy with. A little fun is provided behind the cut. It’s the introduction of some of the second-string heroes, including Sir Sally Din and Lark.

Below the cut: from Chapter Six: Attention

Brick awoke to a most unwelcome shove, his bandaged shoulder erupting into pain. He gasped, and turned over, face down in the rough spun bedroll he’d been given for the last two days. He tried to right himself, but without the good use of his arm and shoulder, finding balance was hardly conceivable. It was just as he was craning his neck to get a better view of his assailant—he couldn’t imagine it was Sir Gawen, but he couldn’t be sure—he was kicked swiftly in the ass.

A bright chuckle followed, then. “Get to your feet soldier!”

It was Sally Din.

Gasping for breath, his head spinning with pain and an acute lack of sleep—Gawen was a consummate snorer—he turned around. Din was grinning above him, her eyes merry behind her dark spectacles.

“What are you gaping at?” she asked, raising one eyebrow.

Brick stammered, “I’m hurt—I’ve been shot—”

“So has Sir Kelper, Weleran, George, and Urie. And they’ve been drilling with everyone else, participating with everyone else—in fact contributing significantly to the daily doings of our little posse here.” She smirked. “You, on the other hand, Brickley Smithson, have done nothing but sit on that flat arse of yours, sulking and complaining, eating our food and drinking our whisky. You’re a right little leech.”

“But I—”

“You will walk yourself out of this tent, and you will take your guns—you will do whatever you have to to secure that shoulder of yours—and you will prove to me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that enlisting you among us was not the stupidest thing I have ever done,” continued the woman, her voice taking on a rather sinister tone now. Her last word was tinged with a near growl. “Do you understand me?”

“Yes,” said Brick, because it was all he could think to say. In all truth, Sir Din terrified him. And as painful as his arm had been the last two days, she was right.

She lowered her voice, “You’ve got to understand me, Brickley,” she said. “These men and women—they are mine. I have shaped them, I have trained them. One loose cog in the mechanism, and people die. We all go through hardships—we all lose people, and feel our hearts squeezed to the point of despair over it. But we move on. We have to. Because we are the Order of the Asp—and by gods, if we don’t do our job, no one else will. And the world would be a much darker place.”

Brick managed to stand, but had to jerk quickly to the left to keep his balance. The jarring movement caused him to wrench his arm, and he inhaled quickly as the pain shot down his arm to his hand. Tears sprung to his eyes, though he did all he could to keep them at bay. He decided that it wasn’t a good idea to cry in front of someone like Sir Din.

“Now. Get yourself together and report to Sir Renmen. He’ll tie that arm up for you well enough so you can shoot and spar with the rest of them.” In a swirl of her camel colored duster, she left the tent.

Staring after the tent flap a moment, Brick angrily wiped the tears from his eyes. Surely, everyone in the camp had heard that exchange. And he had cowered like a little child. What did she expect out of him anyway? How was he supposed to cope with a life-threatening injury and the knowledge that his father—his only family in the world—was dead?

He didn’t want to face them, but he had no choice.

It had been two days since he’d been shot and, though he couldn’t be certain, two full nights. Gawen had explained that they had not moved the camp in order to give Sir Renmen time to prepare the dead—two total—who’d given their lives for the rest of the Order. Though Gawen had admitted he himself would have preferred to stay on the Oak’s heels, their losses had been too heavy. By Sir Brently’s calculations, the Oak were still moving slowly with all their human cargo, and resting would give them the advantage in the long run.

Running a hand through his now greasy hair, Brick took a deep breath and walked through the tent flap, squinting immediately as he entered the sunlight.

In the daytime the camp was not nearly as haunting and mysterious as it had been upon waking the first time. The Asp had nestled between two craggy hilltops littered with old limestone boulders and rocky outcrops. Little grew in the way of vegetation, save for a few gnarled old trees and short grasses. From what he’d been told, they were some miles north west of Vell, in the foothills of the Territories, before the mountains began.

In the distance, he could see the mountains rising to the East—large, impenetrable, snowcapped and heartbreakingly beautiful. Though though he’d had a change to stare at them yesterday, his head felt clearer today, and he gaped, open mouthed again, at their grandeur. He imagined himself climbing up the slopes, surveying the world below like a god of old—

“Hey, Leech!” called a voice.

Brick startled out of his staring, and turned to his right.

“The ceremony’s about to start; you don’t want to miss it.”

It was–he realized as his brain made the connection with painfully slow progress–a girl.

“I—” he said, pausing to correct her. “My name’s Brick.”

“Not anymore it’s not,” she said with a quirk of her lip. She wasn’t beautiful like Cora was beautiful, that was for certain. Her hair was the color of coal, and hung in braids on either side of her heart-shaped face. Though her hair was dark, her skin—though tanned from the wind and sun—was surprisingly fair, freckled about the cheeks. She had grey eyes and thin brows that, though they were sparse, seemed not to have any difficulty lending a surprising amount of expression to her face. And she was tall, he saw—as tall, if not a little taller than he was, her body all long lines.

“Uh—” was all Brick said.

“I’m Lark Starling,” she said. “Sir Gresham’s page.”

“Right,” said Brick, though it made little difference.

She grinned at him. Her front teeth protruded slightly. “Right,” she said, nodding at him as he were a little soft in the head. “Over this way.”

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