Mhazara has never curtsied in her life, and she’s not about to start. However, with the painfully tight bodice she’d been strapped into, she knows bowing would be nothing short of a disaster. And so, when the prince approaches, she has no choice but to drop to a knee before him.
She can feel the draw of a dozen eyes fall upon her shoulders, can hear the murmurs of surprise, can practically taste the prince’s confusion, even without the aid of her gift, but she brooks no embarrassment.
“Your Highness,” she murmurs, surprising even herself with her deference. “Welcome home.”
Still, the command reverberates off the walls of her soul, through the very core of her being.
But how can she run? She doesn’t even feel capable of standing; every inch of her aches and her head is spinning with acute vertigo. She is vaguely aware she is lying amidst a copse of trees — she can hear the creak of the branches as they sway in the wind, can smell the musk of vegetation all around her.
How did she come to be here? The woman is startled to realize she does not know.
“How else can I describe it?” Leema murmured, trailing a finger idly over the heavy, marble-beaded bracelet adorning her wrist. “The Lady’s words are akin to music that only I am privileged enough to hear. They are the melody of my soul. The rhythm of my heart. I can scarce imagine my life deaf to her song.”
Ildon watched her as she spoke, his expression carefully guarded. It was suspicious enough to snap Leema from her daydream-like reverie.
“What?” She demanded, embarrassed.
He tried for a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Nothing,” he said. “It sounds wonderful.”
She came to the Pale City alone and penniless, Bereft of memory, name, and purpose. She could not know, As her bloodied feet carried her forward, That she would leave again just two days hence, Having permanently altered the course of history.
The Ballad of Mercy May
Third Canto, Second Stanza
It is the first word the woman hears. Though, how she hears it is yet a mystery. She’s not even sure she is truly awake.
A gentle breeze is rustling the leaves of the trees overhead. In the distance, an eagle cries. Otherwise, the grove in which she
I could feel the magic inside me swelling rapidly, like a balloon hooked up to one of those industrial helium dispensers. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t intoxicating. Until that very moment I hadn’t understood the true depth of my power.
Then I realized: Maxwell couldn’t stop me.
A crazed laugh burst from my lips, surprising even me, but I was already too far gone to check myself. Magic tingled at my fingertips, ready and eager, begging to be loosed upon the first person that dared trifle with me.
Hello friends and welcome to another whimsical week of writing.
It’s fitting that I should draw the Chariot again today of all Mondays, because this week I am launching not just a soft reboot of the blog but an ambitious project to go along with it.
I am prone to overthinking things. Pictured: an actual picture of me wearing an actual shirt I own:
So, when it comes to new ideas typically one of two things happens: I either get locked up in analysis paralysis and the idea never sees the light of day, or I rush headlong into it spur of the moment, planning or long term viability be damned.
It’s probably a good thing I’m charging straight into it because if I hadn’t publicly committed to definitely launching this Drabble series last week, I’d probably be reminding myself right about now that I don’t have a great track record with these sorts of things. I get distracted or too busy or the flame for the project that once burned so bright fizzles out until it’s just another obligation on my time.
But I can’t be afraid to fail. More rather, I can’t let that fear prevent me from trying.
Hello friends and welcome to another short-form edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
If you’ve been following along the blog the last few weeks, you’ll know that I’ve felt creatively pent up of late. I haven’t had a freelance novella to work on since I turned in my last at the end of March, and my attempt to utilize Camp NaNoWriMo to draft my urban fantasy novella failed after I realized I hadn’t given myself enough time to outline.
I took a hiatus last week both to adjust to some non-fiction freelance work I picked up to fill the gaps, and to mull over some ideas to keep me creatively engaged. One idea I returned to was podcasting. I even bought a (cheap) microphone. But that is something that will take a lot more thought than idle fancy allows, and would require more planning than I am able to give at the moment. As such, it wouldn’t satisfy the itch I feel right now.
The second idea I had was returning to weekly short form entries. You may remember my earlier attempt at short form with my Short But Sweet vignettes. You may also recall that they were, ahem, short lived.
Was I too ambitious, perhaps, by keeping them all withing a single story idea/setting? Or did I fail to give myself enough structure to keep my neurotic need for rules in check? I honestly don’t know. But I do still like the idea of telling a story one short entry at a time.
That’s when I remembered how much I enjoyed writing drabbles during my days as a fanfiction maven. Give me a ship and a single word prompt, and I could pump those babies out with alarming frequency. It was a fun and relatively commitment-free way to engage with my fandoms and fellow shippers.
Drabbles, for those unfamiliar with the term, are short works of fiction of precisely 100 words. If you spend any amount of time on writing Twitter you might have seen the drabble’s spiritual successor, the #VSS or very short story.
While the #VSS was always a little too short for my preferences, I think drabbles are perfect for some fun, weekly posts. Right? Of course right.
But it wouldn’t be Just Another Struggling Writer if I didn’t make it just a little too hard on myself, because while driving around my daughter this afternoon an idea occurred to me. What if I told a contiguous story through weekly, 100-word increments?
Enter Dark Me.
But, Me, I said, wouldn’t that be putting too much pressure on myself?
Who cares, Dark Me replied, just have fun with it.
I don’t know, I thought. I kind of wanted to do just random drabbles. You know, generate a random word and challenge myself to write 100 words around it. My friends and followers could join in if they wanted, it would be like #VSS but drabble-y.
That’s the great thing, Dark Me said. YOU COULD DO BOTH!
Both?? I thought. Now that’s crazy talk. I’ll never be able to keep up with it!
TOO BAD WE’RE DOING IT ANYWAY
Welp, I guess I’m committed, I thought, having committed nothing whatsoever other than a series of goofy photos to the task.
And that was pretty much that. I pretty quickly decided thereupon that I would do random-word-prompted drabbles every Tuesday and The Ballad of Mercy May, told in 100-word increments, every Friday. I thought I might start as soon as tomorrow, so full of vigor for the idea I was, but I think it’s probably best for the health of the idea and my fragile psyche that I give it a week to percolate.
Two things can be true at once:
I have failed to maintain ambitious projects like these long term in the past
I am prone to overthinking and if I don’t seize on this spur of the moment energy I might never actually get around to starting what I am calling Drabble Rock
And, honestly, I am Over allowing past failures to determine future endeavors. Stifling my creative energy just because I didn’t live up to my own expectations last time hurts only myself and helps… exactly nothing.
So, friends, I hope you’ll follow along while I test drive this new project. I hope some of you join me in drabble writing and I hope the idea inspires you to foster your own ambition, even if it is a bit wayward.
Oh, and, uh, wish me luck.
Summer Reading Challenge
Did anyone else participate in the summer reading challenge at their local library? My grandparents always signed my siblings, cousins, and I up, and I always wanted to win. I’ll never forget the thrill of returning to the library after a week of furious reading and getting a sticker for yet another completed book.
Anyway, a full two years after my city opened the branch they’d been building across the street from my neighborhood, I finally decided to avail myself of their services. I also pressganged my kids into joining this year’s summer reading challenge, but they only agreed if I did it with them.
The first book in my Summer Reading TBR? A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kolzoff.
Friends, I’m 23% in and I am smitten. I don’t care that the POV jumps around. I don’t care that there’s a lot of characters and politics and not a ton of forward momentum in the first act. I don’t care because I love these things.
This is very much my kind of book.
So, what is everyone else reading this week? Let me know!
Alright, I think that’s quite enough out of me for the day. I’ll be back next week for your regularly scheduled Monday Motivations and Thursday blogs, aaaaaaaaaaand of course the new Drabble Rock posts. Until then, my friends, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.