No, I’m not back to my regular works in progress, but I couldn’t stay away any longer. Wouldn’t want the WIPpeteers to forget me entirely. *sniffle*
So what the heck am I doing for WIPpet Wednesday? Well, according to a recent amendment to the rules, we can post the beginning of something new if we have nothing from our current work in progress to show, we can start something new. So this morning (yes, leaving it to the last minute, I was sewing Barbie pants last night) I whipped up a little something I was contemplating yesterday while I was out picking blueberries.
You’ll see the connection very quickly. 🙂
Today is the 21st… this is the first 23 paragraphs of the story. I’m sorry, but cutting off the last few lines of the scene just seemed mean. Forgive the first-draftiness. But hey, I’m here! That’s something, right? Actually, this is kind of a story in itself. I may or may not continue…
“And that’s when the dragon ate her. The End.” Gran chomped her teeth together and grinned, eyes sparkling.
I snorted. “I had no idea dragons even liked blueberries,” I said, and settled on my haunches to reach a few sweet berries nestled beneath a spruce.
“Oh, they don’t particularly.” She twisted a thick strand of iron-grey hair behind her ear, pinning it beneath the arm of her glasses. “But they’re a might territorial, my dear, and unlikely to pass up a meal.” She stood and stretched her back, rolling her shoulders forward and back. “Especially not a tender, tasty morsel like that. You know, she probably looked a lot like you. Young woman, strong, tender. Blueberry-filled.”
I turned to her and tossed a handful of berries into my mouth, and we both laughed as juice squirted out between my lips and down my chin. I wiped it on the sleeve of my red plaid shirt.
My grandmother had always told unconventional bedtime stories, even when I was a child. Princesses found their way out of ogres’ lairs without the assistance of princes, the old witch in the woods occasionally saved Hansel and Gretel from their abusive parents, and no one was guaranteed a happy ending. At eighteen I had long outgrown my need to be tucked in when my family visited Gran in Newfoundland, but I still enjoyed the stories on rainy days, and they helped pass the time during chores.
Gran winced and rubbed her knuckles.
“Are you all right?”
“Of course,” she said. “Rain coming, though.”
I glanced up at the blue sky, streaked with a few high mare’s tails. Cirrus, I reminded myself. I kept two sets of names in my mind for most of the natural world: the Proper Names, and Gran’s Names. She always listened with polite and amused interest when I shared names from my field guides, then went back to explaining the useful properties of whatever plant we were examining at the time. I looked at the clouds again. Mare’s tails. Gran’s names were always better.
She crouched beside me and resumed her efficient plucking. “D’you have a story for me today, my treasure?”
“Maybe later?” I asked, and she nodded. It was so easy for her, telling her stories as she worked, the ones she’d learned when she was a child, fables from her family or her isolated community, or those she’d made up herself as she raised her children. I was a storyteller, myself, but I had loftier ambitions. Fame. Fortune. An adoring fan-base who would devour very word I came out with, if only I could find the courage to share those words.
Not yet. The words weren’t ready yet. They had to be perfect before I could share them.
I stretched my own stiff back. “Excuse me for a minute? Lemonade’s catching up with me.”
Gran nodded, and I wandered off to find a likely-looking spot in the bushes.
“Mind you don’t wander too far,” she called after me. “They say they found that poor girl’s charred bones not far from here.”
I smiled and nodded, hoping she was joking. My mother worried that Gran was growing senile. I usually told her that she was being overprotective of her mother-in-law, that Gran was just being fanciful when she talked about the fairies in the garden. Sometimes, though, she seemed to believe her own tall tales, and I wondered whether Mom was right.
A few minutes later I pulled up my jeans and rinsed my hands as well as I could in a cold stream. A patch of sunlight on the other side lit a berry patch, packed with promising-looking blue clusters. Best time of year, I thought, and hopped from stone to half-submerged stone across the stream. I thought about going back to tell Gran where I was going, but I wouldn’t be gone long. I’d just check it out, then go back and let her know. I didn’t want her to wet her boots in the stream, anyway.
The berries were like nothing I’d ever seen or tasted. Large, juicy, and impossibly flavorful— I couldn’t resist eating as I went. Without realizing I was doing it, I followed what looked like a path deeper into the woods, stepping forward to reach each tantalizing bush as it came into view.
When I looked up, the shadows were long. I pulled out my phone, but the battery was dead. It wouldn’t have done me any good to try to call Gran, not out here where there was no signal to speak of, but I’d have liked a sense of the time. Was she worried? I turned to run back toward the stream, but the path was gone.
“Gran?” I called, but the sound seemed to disappear in the trees. I cupped my hands around my mouth. “Gran?” No response. Don’t panic. Fine advice, of course, but my racing heart didn’t want to hear it, and my skin broke out in a cool sweat.
We weren’t far from civilization. Someone would find me. I just hoped Gran wouldn’t try to search on her own. To pass the time and distract my mind, I stepped into a clearing and crossed to look at a strange tree that grew on the far side. Its thick, twisted trunk was covered in deep and regular scars, as though someone had been at the bark with a knife. Long branches drooped toward the ground, covered in deep pink, heart-shaped leaves. I inhaled. The smell was sweet, and somehow comforting. I wanted to touch the leaves, but resisted. I wasn’t going to risk a rash on top of being lost.
I spun toward a rustling sound behind me, sending a few berries flying from my over-full basket. My throat tightened as a sleek, green head appeared from beneath a clump of bushes, followed by a sinuous neck covered in shining scales. The lips on the pointed snout pulled back in something like a sneer, revealing dozens of teeth that looked razor-sharp, and glowed white in the shadows.
The creature chuckled, and every hair on my body stood on end. A hiss burst from the long throat, and golden eyes looked me up and down. My stomach clenched as the beast smiled. “Who’s been eating my berries?”
So there you go. This is what I think about when I’m picking berries. What will happen? Do you think she’ll get chomped?
If you’re looking for more (and probably shorter) WIPpety goodness, check out the linkie here. Good times, good times. If you want to join in, post a snippet of a work in progress corresponding to today’s date on your own blog (21 lines, a few paragraphs from page 21, whatever). Or start something new! You could end up like our dear host, K.L. Schwengel, and have WIPs climbing all over you like needy quadruplets, begging for attention! FUN!
OK, I’ve already said that I haven’t been doing much actual writing (as in, the writing I’m supposed to be doing), but that can wait for now. I am getting other goal-related things done. The pony I was working on just needs hair and touch-ups, and I’m now customizing a Barbie doll for my son’s birthday, because for some reason there’s no Beothuk Barbie, and he wants one. Go figure. I’m trying to keep up with meal-planning for the family, and we’re doing some Big Fun Things. Today I was planning to take the boys out to a book signing, but they’re not behaving very well this morning, so that might not happen.
Reading goals: I read Outlander in three days this week. That’s a lot of words (as in, almost 300,000). I really enjoyed it– obviously. Great story and characters. I did find myself a bit distracted my the extreme adverb abuse in the dialogue tags, but I think I’m getting better at just enjoying stories again.
Really, though. In the space of three paragraphs we get “he said, rather grumpily,” “I said nastily,” and “I demanded ungramatically,” which actually made me giggle out loud. The phrase “his hands digging bruisingly into my flesh” was also… present elsewhere.
Otherwise, though, I had a good time. Highly recommended. Great sex scenes, too, detailed without being graphic. That’s a tough balance to achieve, and I can see why so many people mention this book when the subject comes up. It was also a nice change to enjoy a book where the story is allowed to take some time to unfold, where descriptions aren’t rushed and no one is perfect. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, AFTER I get through more of my TBR pile.
So there you go, my goal updates, in higgledy-piggledy form. For more Round of Words updates, give this here a click.
Bye for now!
August 21st, 2013 at 2:08 pm
Wonderful excerpt Kate. It’s clever how you’ve made it a relaxed scenario to begin with, with the narrator and her gran picking the berries. It’s quite a shock when it changes suddenly and the narrator is horribly lost.
I wasn’t expecting a dragon though! And personally no, I don’t think she’ll die at this point.
August 21st, 2013 at 2:14 pm
That would kind of end the story, wouldn’t it? 🙂
August 21st, 2013 at 4:50 pm
I like this. I think also, that it can be good to mix up what we are working on, especially if we get stuck on one WIP, it makes it easier to take a break and come back with a different perspective. I like the dragon also.
August 21st, 2013 at 5:48 pm
That was totally delightful! And nice to know I’m not the only one who starts story noodling while doing seemingly innocent tasks!
August 21st, 2013 at 10:01 pm
The tension build up in the excerpt was spot on. I will admit I freaked out a little when the dragon appeared. 🙂
August 21st, 2013 at 11:26 pm
Some of my best story creations have come during picking beans or berries, so, I can totally see this scene coming too you.
Will she get glomped? Don’t think so… not yet at least. If Granny had been the narrator, maybe.
Or maybe she does, but she also lives on…sublimated somehow. But that would only be after a bit more adventure. She has to bargain with the dragon first (or at least try to), she has to try to escape….
Lots to write…. Get at it! 😀 (jk, sort of)
And while you’re at it, you should definitely get in touch with Mattel and let them know how they’re failing on the job by not having a Beotuk Barbie (seriously! I think it’s so cool you’re making one; what are you using to make the alterations?)
As for Outlander… I remember some of that. I stopped reading it about 1/2 way through when I first tried (about 10 years ago), I don’t even remember why… I should try to get back into it again. Thanks for the suggestion, Kate.
August 21st, 2013 at 11:29 pm
I’m using a… fashion something Barbie. Our Walmart only had one non-white Barbie, so that choice was easy. I’m not re-hairing (I’m good at ponies, still learning on dolls), but I’ve stripped the paint off of her face to re-do that (in acrylics), and I’m trying to do her clothes in fake suede. I’ve made pants that fit, which was a significant victory for me… not sure how well the rest will go. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
August 21st, 2013 at 11:40 pm
Rehairing is a pain in the butt–tried it once. I personally have no intention of trying it again.
Problem with any “non-White, is that the facial differences are still do… Well, you know. You might have been better off with going for a White Barbie and tinting the body with iodine or something….
You’re a bare soul. Best to you!
August 21st, 2013 at 11:43 pm
Yeah, I wasn’t going to go into trying to get an even tint or doing a full-body repaint on a doll my son’s going to play with. She’s pretty (and happy, of course!), her skin’s a nice colour, he’ll like her. 🙂
August 21st, 2013 at 11:46 pm
Totally understandable. Post pictures? When you can, of course… I’d love to see.
August 21st, 2013 at 11:47 pm
Of course! After his birthday, maybe. I should warn you that I’m no professional doll artist, though. 😉
August 22nd, 2013 at 12:32 am
I love it!!! More, more more! 😀
August 22nd, 2013 at 4:10 am
of course she must get chomped :)- can be reincarnated if you wish to contiue story but I like it just as is – leaving us all to imagine what happens. Great story – more please:)
August 22nd, 2013 at 1:58 pm
Loved it! Great visuals, great pacing, you sucked me right in—not that I’m surprised. You always do a great job. 🙂
August 22nd, 2013 at 9:13 pm
Well that was lovely. I vote that she doesn’t get chomped, because I have a feeling she has far more adventures in store for her – especially if the rest of her grandmother’s stories turn out to be real as well 🙂
August 22nd, 2013 at 9:17 pm
You’re too clever. Think Gran’s not losing it, after all? 😉
August 23rd, 2013 at 7:33 am
Love the story. But no, I don’t think she’ll get chomped. I’m more worried about the charred bones.
August 23rd, 2013 at 10:03 am
I love this Kate! Great opening, believable dialogue and I think you’ve captured Gran’s voice well. Fabulous build-up of tension with her following those fat juicy blueberries and then boom! we have a dragon. More please!
August 25th, 2013 at 6:49 am
I love the sound of her grandmother’s fairytales! And the tone of the whole thing is very fairytale-y, right down to “Who’s been stealing my berries?” Love it!
August 25th, 2013 at 9:33 am
I think she and the Dragon develop feelings for one another that are not about someone becoming someone’s meal…
Would you be willing to share some tips and experiences with my 9 year old daughter? She’s interested in pony and Monster High mods.
August 25th, 2013 at 1:18 pm
Of course. 🙂
August 26th, 2013 at 10:40 am
I’m so behind on my blog reading!!!! Anyway, playing catch up. Love this excerpt!!!!!!! Great opener. Lovely foreshadowing. I can’t wait for the next one!!!
August 28th, 2013 at 7:54 am
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August 28th, 2013 at 10:13 pm
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