Side Quest: Mirror

I walked on. Light filtering through the treetops told me it was only mid-morning, but I was unaccountably weary. Exhausted, in fact. Each step dragged. My bones ached.

Up ahead, I saw a strange shadow that was far too regular to be another tree. In fact, it pushed apart the trees around it, as if… yes. A door. As if a door had sprouted up faster than the trees, and twice as strong.

It was red. It had a long bronze handle, the kind that pushed down like a lever, not usually the kind you’d see on a front door at all. It was ornate and lovely, worn shiny in the middle of the scrollwork, as if it had been used many times. But this door hadn’t been here a few moments ago, unless I’d been in a daze and somehow missed it.

I looked around the edges. Trees. There was absolutely nothing behind the door, and yet it stood, ridiculously out of place, and yet somehow unapologetically a part of this forest.

Oh well. I shrugged, and tried the handle.

It moved easily, and the door swung open. I was in a living room that looked like an ordinary, somewhat rundown apartment living room. I peeked back at the doorway. Beyond the open front door, I saw the forest, just as it had been a few moments ago.
Well, I was on a quest; I supposed I should expect the unexpected, although I’m not sure that’s really possible to do.

“Cough.”

I heard a polite cough – no – the WORD “cough” coming from a room off a small alcove. The carpet was old, and in need of a vacuum. Really, could there be anything *less* magical than this apartment?

A cat framed by a square of sunlight gave me a rather unfriendly look and sighed. She had a gleaming exclamation point hovering over her head.

“Will you accept the side quest?” she said, in a bored tone, letting her eyes drift closed, angling her squashed face more toward the sunlight.

“Uh… side quest?”

She huffed an impatient sigh, and one eye slitted open to peer at me, daylight-blue in her striped, sooty face.

“You know the drill. You’re on a Quest! Hurrah, cheer. There have to be side quests along the way, to take you off your path, or give you a little more wealth, or teach you better skills so you can handle what’s coming at the end. In fact, I’ll tell you a secret,”
she looked around with an exaggerated slink, the exclamation point bobbing ridiculously to keep up with her.
“you CAN’T HANDLE what’s coming at the end unless you do the side quests. In fact, you’ll probably go insane, lose a few pieces of yourself, or die before you even reach the end, if you don’t take the side quests.”

“Well, if you put it like that… sure. Sure, I’ll hear what the side quest is, and then see if it sounds like something I can do.”

“No. Nope. You hear it, and you do it. You really don’t have any other option.”
in the other room, I heard the front door bang shut. I managed not to jump too noticeably, but even so, her whiskers lifted in a smirk.

“Oh.” I cleared my throat. “All right then, lay it on me, I suppose.”

She sat up straighter and puffed her chest out.

Soft light rose in a corner of the room, like someone was turning up one of those cheesy dimmer switches from the 1980’s.

“Sorry. We haven’t had any modernizing done in here since 1986,” she muttered,

but my attention was caught, so I didn’t respond. On the far wall was a dim, ancient-looking, scratched mirror. In it, I saw the cat reflected, with that exclamation point above her head, and behind her…

“What am I carrying? What on earth?”

I was holding a huge mirror of my own. It was warped like a fun-house mirror, and a spider web network of cracks made it appear as though it would shatter at any second. There was blood on my arms, and blood on the mirror. I looked down at my own arms- empty, but still exhausted as though I truly was carrying that heavy, warped mirror that had splintered into my forearms, and cut me with tiny, stinging cuts.

The mirror reflected me, as well, but what I could see of it in the large mirror had twisted me out of all recognition. It stretched the cat into a nightmare shape, and the exclamation point over her head resembled an enormous dagger, or a torch flickering with fire.

“First part of the quest: you must set the mirror down.”
“How do I set it down, if I can’t see that I’m carrying it?”

“That’s the second part. First you set it down, JUST SET IT DOWN, and then you’ll be able to see. I should warn you,” she continued quickly, as I opened my mouth to reply,
“It’s going to hurt.”

So I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and I

set

the

horror-house mirror

down.

(to be continued….)

Interview: Author Sioux Trett

The following post is an interview I did with young adult fiction author Sioux Trett (her blog is here!

You can head over to her blog to enter an awesome giveaway for book launch 🙂

A new book in her exciting series Paper Dreams Chronicles is being released on Tuesday! It’s a great moment to introduce you to her, if you haven’t yet found her books, and add some links so you can check out the first book in time for the release of book two.

If you like Diana Wynne Jones, Hunger Games, Upside of Unrequited,  you’ll likely love Sioux’s series, which is an interesting, playful and yet suspense-filled adventure in time, books, and space…with first love thrown into the mix.


Hi Sioux !
First of all, I have to say I’m really loving your books. Book two ramps up the stakes in a big way, and we get to know Rennie and the others a lot more.

It surprised me in so many good ways, and I can’t wait for people to get to read it.

Thanks Becky!
It makes me so happy that you like my books! And thanks for having me on your blog today. It’s always so great to get to catch up with you.
Let’s just jump right in with a few questions –

1) Which character do you resonate most with? Which is the voice of Sioux (if there is a voice of Sioux in here..), and which ones are your favorites?

Oh that’s an easy one for me. Rennie (the main character) is definitely my voice, We don’t look alike, and most of the time we don’t act alike. But she speaks in sarcasm and nerd quotes which is definitely all me.

Since it is written in a first person narrative, it seemed like the way to go for my first attempt at this whole novel writing thing, and I have to say that I’m loving the experience. Getting to write a character who speaks so much like me is a luxury for sure.For this second book, though, I have to admit that my favorite interactions to write were Rennie & Seth.  He’s feisty and snarky in a way that Alex isn’t, and that interplay was surprisingly fun to write.

2) I know this is a very frequently asked question, but here goes: can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Any tips and tricks, or things you’ve learned along the way that are helpful to struggling writers out there?

 

My writing process is haphazard at best, haha! I wish I was more disciplined with it. But I do have some tips, mostly based on my own mistakes. Most people sit down to write their first book and think, “Okay, Chapter One, Page One… Here we go.”

Let me tell you, that first page is a BEAR. Like, big ugly snarling grizzly.Don’t force yourself to face that monster straight out of the gate. My best advice is to write what you know. You probably have an opening in mind, an ending in mind, and one or two big major points in the middle. Great! Write those! What is the strongest scene in your head? The one that makes you keep coming back to this particular story to tell. Write that! It doesn’t matter if it’s chapter three or 3/4 of the way through the whole thing. Just get that down and start crafting around it. That sounds chaotic, and it probably won’t work for everyone. But oh man is it freeing for me. For A Time Forgotten, the first scene that I wrote ended up being in Chapter 21. But it was what kept shouting inside my skull and getting it out helped to inform other scenes I hadn’t even known were in my head yet. That was a really long answer! I hope there was something helpful in there.

3) how many books do we get to look forward to in this series?
There will be three novels, and right now I have two novellas planned as well. Those are still iffy, though. There are two stories I would love to tell within this world, but they’re both prequels and the thought of someone reading out of order and seeing massive spoilers just haunts me.
Haha! Control issues much?
But for sure there will be the three novels. In fact, I’m starting on the third today. (And yep, I am indeed starting smack dab in the middle because this scene keeps playing out in my head.)
4) Are they mapped out?… do you know how this all is going to END? (eek!)
I do know how it ends! I’ve actually had the end in mind since day one. How I get there is another story. I know certain key moments, but there are some details still waaaaaaay up in the air. Secrets will be revealed, sacrifices will be made. I’m excited to see it all play out! 

Thank you so much, Sioux, I’m so looking forward to the big launch on Tuesday!

 

Thanks again for having me visit today! I can’t wait for Tuesday! 😀
 

Again, here are the links to Sioux’s books:

Book 1                                                                               Book 2

drawn cover                  a time cover

Book Launch!YA author Sioux Trett

Just a quick post to let everyone know, author Sioux Trett’s launch of A Time Forgotten, the second book in the Paper Dreams Chronicles, is happening Tuesday! (her blog is  here! )

If you’re already a fan of Rennie and the gang, maybe it’s time to re-read book 1 so you’re ready for book 2 to land on Tuesday.

I’ll be interviewing Sioux here- in fact I’ve just sent off the questions – and likely that interview will go up on Sunday.

I’m so excited for you, Sioux, and very honored to beta read this wonderful series… I hear there are some changes I get to look forward to in the officially released version, and I can’t wait to read it again!

useful links: 
drawn cover

Book 1: Drawn In

a time cover

Book 2: A Time Forgotten

Talisman

People don’t seem to be at all suspicious of bad fortune.

When something good happens, something we wanted and maybe worked for, we look for the loophole- all of a sudden, we’ve stumbled into the dangerous and unpredictable realm of the Goblins (or Fairies or Elves- all equally twisty for us human folk), and we are wary, tense, ready for the hidden dagger, the tragic trap in the Fairies’ Gold, the hidden twist in the Genie’s wish.

But when something bad happens, we aren’t hunting for the hidden promise, the gift. “Ah! Of course,” we say knowingly, feeling good in a strange, dark (and Goblin-like, if we could only see ourselves) way, that if we didn’t see it coming, we at least foresaw something bad- and even if we weren’t quite as prepared as we thought we would be, at least we knew. We watched the news, didn’t we, in order to know, to be informed, in readiness for just such a happening as this. Dark triumph.

And with the laws of finite probability, we can live years -decades, even- ready for “something bad”; prepping for it, experiencing it internally over and over, and it will come eventually! It is a relative certainty.
And maybe there’s something good – good possibility and promise sparkling around the edges of our life, so we might even get specific and define that something Bad as a threat to the something Good that’s nosing toward us, wagging its tail. “Look out behind you,” we call to Good Thing, even while we absolutely know with every power in our Goblin-made lenses, that the Bad Thing will gobble up the Good before it reaches us.

Until the moment something bad finally actually happens, and we’re almost relieved. “At last- it’s here- I can face it.”

This is how we call in “bad luck,” and make a home for it. This is, in fact, how we create it. Fairies and Goblins alike tremble at the power we humans have to create “bad fortune.”

This is how we fail to use the powerful magic lenses, the talisman we’ve been given. (It was originally supposed to protect us!) We can choose, really. We get to find our way into the Fairy halls, passing the throne and the ballroom, with hardly a wistful glance at the glittering gowns and impeccable tailoring, at the swirling, dancing, laughing party guests in their elaborate masks, with certainly not one single taste of the vast, gleaming array of steaming dishes, savory and sweet, ripe fruit bursting with promise, and every kind of drink or nectar we can imagine (and many we can’t)- we can be strong, ignore it all, and make our purposeful way to the Forge. We can set our lenses there in the crucible that’s been sitting unused, and we can take up the ladle of molten, liquid Dream and pour it gently on our lenses. We can coat them in any powerful transformative substance we wish.

Or, we can stalk through our lives in human instinct, as human beings created with a negative bias in our brains (so we could survive in the caves and dwellings that Bad Experiences taught us to seek, and gather around our campfires and tell stories that taught us all, deeply, how to Survive when the Night gathered outside the ring of our fires) We can magnify our talismanic lenses with Doom and Prediction of Failure and all the substances that fairies find so horribly unfashionable, so they mostly exist right here in our world, all ready to hand – it’s not even hard to gather them. It requires no quest. We can even do the re-coating of our lenses while sitting on the couch!

We can continue to seek and call Bad “fortune” to us, and look for it even when Good is determined to find us- we can continue to look for the Bad as avidly as any lover in the marketplace, sure his heart’s desire is around the next corner.

This is just to say: I am writing fairytales. In them are clues I’ve hidden; clues that will help any humans that should happen to stumble accidentally into the Other realm. The hidden things will help you survive, and they’ll even help you build a kingdom successfully, if that is what you desire.

I’ve been forbidden to simply tell these rules outright, because it is another truth of humans that we have to work for things, or we don’t see their sovereign nature, and run the risk of simply discarding that which is valuable beyond our ability to imagine.

Do you have what it takes to craft your talisman? You will need it – your very life depends on it.

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