Quaking Soul Update # 4

Monster

Quaking Soul is still a monster. Period. But the monster’s not quite so surly anymore. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still bad mannered, but not as full of teeth and bite.

The story’s also been through a second round of beta reading and I’m currently finishing up edits after beta feedback number two. The honing knife is getting a lot of use! It’s parred off about 7,000 words worth of flab.

So, what that means is Quaking Soul is headed to the professional editor soon. There was a slight hiccup in that the last editor I worked with was not available for this project, but through referrals, I found Felicia Chernesky. After talking with Felicia, I believe she’ll bring the quality of editing to Quaking Soul that’s required to make it shine…and behave itself.

With this coming up, I’ll be taking another break from the blog to focus on editing. This year will probably be full of starts and stops in the adventures, but I promise it’s still in the back of my mind, churning up new adventure ideas.

I will return soon with more adventure and Quaking Soul updates!

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer

P.S. I’ve also contacted a friend about the cover for Quaking Soul. As you might imagine, I’m incredibly excited to see this come together. I’ll be sure to share Justin’s work soon!

Word Magic Option Bc2: Stall

Mountain Trail - Word Magic

It’s time to find out how this adventure ends!

If you missed the last three weeks, you can read the posts here and here and here.

Or here’s a quick recap:

You’re the King’s Word Keeper. This means you read every book there is and remember it for the King, but this also means you’re mute so you can’t use the magic that comes with reading the books. However, there’s an old librarian who has figured out that simply being around books gives her magic as well. You’re trying to find evidence of her magic when you come across books in her library that start disappearing. This is a sure sign she had word magic, but that it’s also unstable. You’ve decided to take a huge book called Titan Toes to show to the King as evidence.

Titan Toes Book - Word MagicAs soon as you take Titan Toes off the shelf, you’re sucked into another world in which you’re a giant. As you’re looking around, you come across two giant boys who are escaping their crazy matriarch. You join them for the night and, through starting the fire, you realize you’re in a world created by word magic. You have to get out before the old librarian’s magic fades, so readers voted to escape with the boys and hope that by doing so, you’ll leave the boundaries of the book world you’re in.

However, when you head for the pass, you’re stopped at the top by the matriarch and two of her warriors. Just beyond her, you see the world of Titan Toes starting to fade. The matriarch starts raving about the “prints” you’re leaving in her land. The boys debate rushing past but readers voted to stall and see if the world fades on its own, leaving you back in the library.

Let’s see if this works =)

Word Magic Option Bc2: Stall

You shake your head to tell the boys to stay put. Then, turning back toward the matriarch, you hold out your hands with a questioning raise of your brows as though to ask her, “Print?”

You lift a foot to check beneath your shoe but there’s barely an impression on the dusting of dirt coating the rocky ground. Being theatrical, you glance back the way you came like you’re checking the trail behind. Then you shrug.

“Those prints!” She points her knobby staff at what might be your knees. The end of the staff twirls in the air like she’s following a wisp of smoke. Everyone glances at your knees but as you stare, you realize why she’s whirling the staff around. She’s not pointing at your knees but at your hands where inky words swirl beneath the skin.

The boys, having seen the oddity the night before, don’t react when you hold up your hands with your fingers splayed, but the two warriors jump back as though you might shoot fire.

“No!” The matriarch shakes her staff, admonishing, but her voice warbles at the end. “No prints here!”

Snowy Footprint -Smuggling Hertzmer and Word Magic AdventureThe way her voice breaks seems familiar. As you eye her, trying to place why she sounds memorable, the pass hazes and her appearance shifts. For a moment, it’s like you’re looking at a child hiding inside the giant’s body. But then the matriarch is standing there again with her staff pointed at you in warning.

Acting on impulse, you splay your fingers out and imagine the pass carpeted in snow. You grin as ink swirls out of your hands to hang as a gray mist across the ground. It stills and then flushes white and everyone finds themselves ankle deep in snow.

“AYEEE!” the matriarch screeches. The middle of her cry turns into a croak as the world hazes again and the child image reappears. Her staff shortens into a cane and the small person inside the giant solidifies into the crone from the library.

Ink pools out of the end of her staff, melting your snow where it touches it, but this is too much for the crone’s word magic and the pass behind her turns into the library. She glances over her shoulder and then turns her own grin your way.

Cackling, she turns and jumps into the library. Her small body hazes and the library turns misty as well.

Library - Word MagicYou get three steps before the Titan Toes world disappears completely. Shelves and books and that old library smell surrounds you but there’s no relief. Everything looks insubstantial. Your fingers pass through the shelf to the right with faint resistance that reminds you of trailing your fingers through water.

“No! You stay in other world!”

You spin around just as a book the crone threw passes through your body.

She screeches and runs.

Giving chase, you experiment by going through the shelves. It’s disorienting but moments later you catch up and throw your arms around her. She goes still, shudders like you dumped a pitcher of cold water on her, and then keeps going.

As you run after, your brain’s racing as well. You come to the conclusion you’re stuck halfway between Titan Toes and the real world. If your guess is right, you’re basically a ghost, but you also probably still have use of your word magic.

Just as the crone reaches the door, you image the door opens into the library instead of out of it.

She runs out the door, and cringes with her arms around her face as she passes through your insubstantial body and back into the library.

She screeches to a halt, banging her cane on the floor before she looks back at where you stand.

You grin again and wiggle your fingers at her.

“What do you want?” she asks.

***

You come to an understanding with the crone that keeps her from hoarding the books in the library and keeps her from creating word worlds that any unsuspecting reader might stumble into. So long as she doesn’t harm anyone, you agree to leave her alone.

In the meantime, you try to figure out how to make yourself substantial again but so far haven’t had much luck.

The End

Congratulations! You survived this adventure…kind of. Thank you for joining the fun.

Blessings,

Jennifer

Word Magic Option Bc: Escape with the Boys

Word Magic Adventure

Welcome back for the third installment of the Word Magic adventure! There’s one more vote before this story ends.

If you missed the last two weeks, you can read the posts here and here.

Or here’s a quick recap:You’re the King’s Word Keeper. This means you read every book there is and remember it for the King, but this also means you’re mute so you can’t use the magic that comes with reading the books. However, there’s an old librarian who has figured out that simply being around books gives her magic as well. You’re trying to find evidence of her magic when you come across books in her library that start disappearing. This is a sure sign she had word magic, but that it’s also unstable. You’ve decided to take a huge book called Titan Toes to show to the King as evidence.

As soon as you take Titan Toes off the shelf,  you’re sucked into another world in which you’re a giant. As you’re looking around, you come across two giant boys who are escaping their crazy matriarch. You join them for the night and, through starting the fire, you realize you’re in a world created by word magic. You have to get out before the old librarian’s magic fades, so readers voted to escape with the boys and hope that by doing so, you’ll leave the boundaries of the book world you’re in.

Now, let’s see how the escape goes!

Word Magic Option Bc: Escape with the Boys

Miles and Ben stare at you, waiting for your answer like twin owls with wide eyes. You nod your agreement to go with them over the mountain pass and they whoop in excitement.

“We’ll leave first light,” Ben says as he hands you a piece of jerky from his pack.

You spend the night listening to them tell stories, and find yourself being shaken awake the next morning.

“Time to go,” Ben says. “Sorry there’s no breakfast. Miles ate your share.”

“Hey now,” Miles protests, “you didn’t tell me there were only three apples. We planned for the two of us. Why would there only be three?”

As they bicker, you follow them from the cave into the gray of predawn. In the valley below, the forest lays dark in the low light. You turn away from that sight and scramble up the scree slope, trying to be quiet in the early morning hush, but no matter how you try, the rocks scrape and rattle against each other with each step.

Miles and Ben cringe and grumble, good naturedly ribbing each other for the noise, but their voices cut off suddenly when the scree slope evens out into a small mountain saddle that must be the pass they mentioned.

Mountain Pass - Word MagicThe first of the sun’s rays highlights a disheartening sight. Between you and the far side of the pass stand three people. Unlike the boys, these are full grown giants with their shadows casting long figures across the ground.

The two men carry thick spears and off their backs hang shields the size of wagons. In sharp contrast, the middle-aged woman between them only reaches their shoulders. But she carries a long staff of her own with a large knob on the top.

“The matriarch,” Ben whispers. A shiver shakes him.

“Lost boys,” says the matriarch in a soprano that carries on the morning air. “I see no sheep here for you to tend.”

“We were looking for a stray,” Miles says.

Both warriors snort.

“Hush!” the matriarch demands. “I see a stranger leaving muddy prints in my land. Prints on the ground, prints in the sky. Prints everywhere!”

You look at your feet but the mountain pass probably hasn’t seen rain in days. There’s snow on the peaks above, but the meltwater trickles down the mountains to the forest and doesn’t touch the pass. You look up to meet her eyes, and the mountain pass behind her hazes like it’s covered with fog. You glance at it and then back to her but in that glimpse, you see the lines of shelves through the haze of rocks and sky.

“What’s the stranger doing?” the matriarch asks. “What’s the stranger doing here leaving a mark where it doesn’t belong?”

Colors blur in your peripheral vision. Titan Toes is starting to disappear. You’re so close to that edge and it’s promising that you can see the library beyond. You want to rush for it, but with the warriors and the matriarch in the way, you might not survive long enough to pass through the border.

There’s a chance that if you simply stall until the book disappears, you’ll be deposited back into the library since you weren’t made with word magic.

You shift from one foot to the other and the warriors follow you with their body movements. They even step forward a few steps like you’re making them nervous.

“We could run for it,” Miles whispers. “Surely they can’t stop us all.”

“But they’ll stop someone,” Ben argues. “Unless you can do something like you did with the fire last night?”

They look at you. Even if you use word magic, you still have to run or stall. So do you…

Bc1: Run?

Or

Bc2: Stall?

Thanks for joining the adventure this week! Leave your vote in the comments and we’ll return next Thursday to see how this adventure ends.

Blessings,

Jennifer

(If you liked this story and are interested in more adventures, you can find my book, The Adventure, on Amazon.)

Word Magic Option B: Titan Toes

Titan Toes Book - Word Magic

Welcome back for the second part of the Word Magic adventure.

If you missed last week, you can read the beginning of this adventure here.

Or, here’s a quick recap: You’re the King’s Word Keeper. This means you read every book there is and remember it for the King, but this also means you’re mute so you can’t use the magic that comes with reading the books. However, there’s an old librarian who has figured out that simply being around books gives her magic as well. You’re trying to find evidence of her magic when you come across books in her library that start disappearing. This is a sure sign she had word magic, but that it’s also unstable. You’ve decided to take a huge book called Titan Toes to show to the King as evidence.

Let’s see what happens next!

Word Magic Option B: Titan Toes

Although the book’s size will make it hard to carry, you decide to take Titan Toes because the magic in it might last long enough for you to reach the King before the book disappears. You slide your fingers under the heavy spine and pull it free of the shelf and the books sitting on top of it. As you fully take its weight, a tingling travels through your hands, up your arms, and into the rest of your body.

A silent gasp escapes your lips as the library whirls into a blur of colors and the floor shifts beneath your feet. You throw out a hand to brace yourself but the shelves don’t only look transparent, they feel like mist and you pass right through their wooden frames. And then the shelves, hardwood floor, and dusty smell of the library pages vanish.

You smell warm rocks and pine. Blinking several times, you sit up to adjust to new surroundings. The book is nowhere in sight but, if that wasn’t disturbing enough, you find yourself sitting amidst a jumble of rocks on the dry scree slope of a mountain. In the valley below, a forest swaths the ground in a frosting of green. The world feels…off, but you can’t quite put a word to why.

You stand and head down the slope toward the forest, hoping to figure out where the crazy crone has landed you with her unstable magic. It’s surprisingly easy going but as you draw nearer the pines, a sick feeling churns in your stomach. The forest, now that you’re close enough to see individual trunks, only comes up to your stomach in the same way a field of wheat would tickle your wrists. As you’re staring at this disturbing sight, the tree tops sway and crack against each other and then two dark brown heads appear from the foliage.

“Dang it, Ben,” one giant boy says as he crawls free of the forest, “we’ve been caught.”

“Caught? Who caught us?” Ben looks up from his hands and knees and frowns. “I’ve never seen you before.”

Sitting, the tops of the boy’s heads are below the crown of the trees. As they wait for your answer, you take in their dirt crusted knees and cracked finger nails. They seem rough, but there’s a directness about their expressions. You can’t speak, so you step forward and sit down with them. You shrug with your hands out in front of you to show you’ve got nothing threatening. They eye you with open curiosity but then Ben glances at the sky.

“It’ll be dark soon, Miles,” he says. “Let’s get to the cave and we’ll talk there.”

They lead you back up the scree slope to a cave on the far side. Only once you enter the cave do you see the cold fire pit laid out with unburned wood and two packs leaning against the wall.

“We’re escaping.” Ben motions to the packs. “Our matriarch has gone bonkers. It’s time to live elsewhere.”

“Ben,” Miles calls, “did you pack the flint kit?”

“It’s in the top of my pack,” Ben answers.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

“It’s not here. Did you put it under your clothing?” Miles starts to empty one of the packs with socks and shirts hitting the floor, but as they’re talking, you approach the cold fire. For a moment, one of the logs looked like it had words written across it. You flip the log over, thinking you saw the word fire, and a spark flares from your fingers into the wood.

With a startled grunt, you fall back on your rump and watch the flames take hold.

“Wow!” Miles says. “How’d you do that?”

Curious yourself, you touch one of the yet unlit logs and think ‘fire.’ This time, you see the ink beneath your skin twirl around into the word ‘fire.’ It flows out of your fingertip into the log as a spark of flame and the dry wood whooshes alight.

“Super cool,” Ben says.

A part of you agrees, but there’s another part that knows this is a terrible sign. As far as you can figure, there’s only one way you can actually do magic without speaking, and that’s if you’re in a world created by word magic, which means you’re inside something molded by the crone’s unstable power.

What happens if the book disappears with you inside it? How do you escape it? You’ve only ever heard stories about this that are told to scare people out of attempting to create their own word worlds.

“Hey,” Ben taps your arm and you blink out of your worried stare. “You want to escape with us? We’re headed out of the Titan lands by way of the pass tomorrow.”

Would that get you out of the book? Maybe. If you pass beyond the borders of what the crone created, it might land you back in the library.

Then again, some of the stories talk about a key required to escape a word world, and the most likely location for such a key would be with the giant’s matriarch.

Do you…

Bb. Go to see the Matriarch?

Or

Bc. Escape with the Boys?

Thank you for joining the adventure this week. Leave your vote in the comments below and we’ll return next week to see how this adventure continues =)

Blessings,

Jennifer

(If you liked this story and are interested in more adventures, you can find my book, The Adventure, on Amazon.)

Word Magic

Contract - Set Up Adventure and Word Magic Adventure

Hello amazing readers! It was not my intention to take January off along with December, but in hind’s sight, I should have known it was going to happen due to continuing editing on Quaking Soul.

Regardless, I’m back for a bit with a brand new Adventure for 2020 that I’m super excited to share! Let’s dig in and see how this one starts.

Word Magic

The Librarian, a cane-yielding old woman, shuffles up and down the shelves cackling to herself. Besides her, there’s no one in the library. (Except you, of course, but she doesn’t know you’re there.) There never is anyone anymore, but every day she wanders the stacks, keeping track of every precious title. At one time the town magistrate told her the books belonged to her. She took that to heart.

Some shelves have chains bolted in front of the spines. This wouldn’t be a problem except they’re ship’s anchor chains that are a couple feet long and a foot wide. The titles can be read through the chain links, but good luck slipping a book through the metal.

StocksOther shelves have glass doors. Again, the titles can be read, but there’s no way to open the glass without breaking it. There’s a story of one man who tried. He was fined for destruction of property and thrown into the stocks for a few days.

Most residents have long since given up using the library, but you’re the King’s Word Keeper, and you’re starting to believe the old crone has darker reasons for her hoarding.

Written words have a magic all their own. You’re a walking testament to that as the ink of letters swirls beneath your skin from your hours reading for the King. He’s charged you with preserving the books, and their magic, by reading them and never forgetting them, but he safeguards that power by making your mute. It ebbs and flows within you, growing with each book, but cannot be used without speaking aloud. In fact, anyone who reads too much ends up unable to speak.

There’s a seldom known workaround if someone’s sly, however. Most people visit a library, read a book that gives them a tidbit of magic, and then they leave, never realizing what truly happened. But if someone spends oodles of time near the books without reading them, she absorbs their power without triggering the King’s safeguard. Librarian positions are for a year only to prevent this from happening. Somehow, the old crone in this out-of-the-way village slipped through the cracks and has held her position for several years now.

You slipped into the library today to see if you could spot any telltale signs of the crone absorbing too much word magic. Usually the first indication is ink that pools in the fingertips. Once it sits there long enough, that ink whirls into letters and words that move across the person’s skin.

CaneYou spot the crone heading toward the back wall holding a leather-bound book no bigger than her hand. She’s cackling up a storm and there’s an actual swing to her step despite her cane. Ahead, she turns into an isle on the right, but when you reach the spot, she’s not in sight. About to continue on, you pause at the sign over one of the shelves. It’s a simple, “Do Not Touch” hanging from a gold chain. It’s not an anchor chain or glass cage, just a sign. Now why would she post such a sign in a library no one visits?

Beneath the “Do Not Touch” are a dozen odd-sized books.

They’re leather bound with gold inlay. One sits on the shelf sideways because it won’t fit standing up. It’s so tall that in your hand, it’d reach the top of your head if you held it at your waist.

The book placed on top of it must be the one the crone was carrying a moment earlier. It’s standing upright but, despite the loss of the space from the book beneath, it still doesn’t touch the shelf above. If you opened it, it’d be no bigger than your hand.

A third book reaches the depth of the shelf standing up, but is barely an inch tall. It reminds you of the inch by inch cane the librarian uses.

With a glance around to make sure she’s nowhere in sight, you lean closer to read the titles.

The hand sized spine boasts “The Land of Nothings” in tiny letters. Beneath it, the giant book says “Titan Toes“ and the inch by inch book is the “Flat Dimension.”

As you reach out a curious finger to trace this last title, the book grows hazy. It disappears while you’re frowning at it. Even as you stand there, flabbergasted, two more lose definition and disappear. What has the librarian gotten herself into? These books show magic but apparently it’s unstable. You need to take one back to the King so he can determine if the crone is a threat.

Although “Titan Toes” is bigger and harder to carry, its power might last longer so you can show the King.

Then again, it would be a great deal easier to carry “The Land of Nothings.”

Do you pick:

A. The Land of Nothings?

Or

B. Titan Toes?

Thank you for joining in this new adventure. To participate, leave your vote in the comments below for how you’d like to proceed. Next Thursday we’ll return to see how the story continues. This adventure will run with three more posts, so be sure to check back for the next choice you get to make!

Blessings,

Jennifer

(If you liked this story and are interested in more adventures, you can find my book, The Adventure, on Amazon.)

Quaking Soul Update Number 3… I Think

Knife - Globe Hunters Story

Quaking Soul has teeth and a surly personality all its own. Compared to The Adventure, which finally weighed in at about 36,600 words, Quaking Soul is a monster at 133,400 words (current count). Wrestling with this beast requires so much more than I originally anticipated! And I relish the challenge. I have learned, however, that to conquer this beast and not have it haunt me later, I have to allow for enough time to perfect my weapons. For instance, the word-cutting dagger is obviously a bit rusty.

MonsterSo, as I sharpen my dagger and Quaking Soul glares back at me, I take courage from the 85% edit I’ve accomplished so far from my beta readers. There are a few scars (yes, this means something in the story) that I need to give Quaking Soul before the beta edit will be 100% complete. Hopefully, that wrestling match will only take till the end of the month.

Then I will call in backup from a larger artillery than my own. In other words, Quaking Soul will face the champion, a professional editor. (Cue evil laugh. Take that you surly monster!)

Ahem, pardon my envisioned future victory. Once all my weapons are nicely sharpened and Quaking Soul has been subdued, it’ll be time to package it into a lovely cage…errr, to format the book.

Hopefully, this campaign will be nicely wrapped up by Spring 2020. (Fingers crossed). Now, on to victory!

***

In other news, thank you for sticking with my fun. As the above wrestling match may take a great deal of my attention, and it’s the holiday season, I’m going to take my usual December break to spend time with the family.

I hope your own holidays are filled with friends and family, and you take away some wonderful memories.

Until January, blessings,

Jennifer

 

Shout Out!

Writing tends to be a solitary activity. At least, the idealistic picture of a writer has him hunched over his desk punching away at the keyboard all by himself. This has some truth to it insofar as the writer needs to get the story on paper. If he wants to go beyond that – to improve, to publish, to promote – the solitary picture dissolves.

Maybe that’s why in the blogging world, it’s common to share other’s blogs. To post about other blogs you’ve liked or found value in. I’m always surprised and blessed by those who share my stuff, but I realized I’ve been stingy with my own support.

With that in mind, there are two ladies I’d love to share with you today. These two have been reading my blog since the first year, I believe, that I started posting, and they’re wonderful writers in their own right.

Kat's The Lily Cafe The Lily Cafe – Kat’s a talented writer. Her blog isn’t just a place for writing, however. On top of the story she’s posting each week (at the moment it’s Queen of the Garden Girls, which is a spin on Beauty and the Beast), she also posts about baking, motherhood, book reviews, and every once in a while her husband throws in a topic too. It’s a fun mix that changes from time to time but at the heart of it is a sweet woman who tells things like she sees them.

 

Naomi Lastrucci's The Silver QueenNaomi Lastrucci – Naomi’s also a skilled writer and she loves dragons. (Girl after my own fantasy-loving heart!) This being said, she has two books out with dragon stories, The Silver Queen and Other Dragon Tales and Not All Dragons Breath Fire. She’s also currently working on her next book, The Lunar Dragon, which is a sequel to The Silver Queen. You can find more on Instagram where sometimes Naomi shares fun sneak peaks of her current work-in-progress.

Thanks for stopping by this week =) If you have a moment, give these two ladies a hello and check out their writing!

Blessings,

Jennifer