Posted in Exercises

Exercise: Describe Yourself

I’m one of those people that freezes whenever someone asks me about myself. Questionnaires, applications and interviews where the phrase ‘describe yourself in three words’ make me cringe.

Which is exactly what we’re doing today: describing ourselves.

Specifically, you should describe yourself as a character in a story. This should go beyond just physical descriptions but also include things like your voice and any tics you might have. Mannerisms can tell us a lot about character.

Go for it! Set a timer and in ten minutes come back and share your self-description.

Posted in serial, Seventh, Stories

Seventh: Part Five

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four |

No one visited the old graveyard after sundown for a reason. The dead remained silent, but the groundskeeper didn’t like visitors and only tolerated mourners because it meant there were fresh bodies in the ground. 

The groundskeeper’s hut was off to the side of the front gate. Immediately through the gate there stood a bell, only rung when someone was interred. The rest of the fenced-in six-acre plot held only grave markers and flowers for the departed.  

There were four trees, one in each corner of the graveyard. Ropes hung from the branches, though none of them had been used in years. 

Even with that however, Crystal knew hanging trees had a particularly nasty power to them. 

Mica crouched next to her. “If he hears you, he’ll come running.” 

“I’m counting on it,” Crystal said and bent, plucking a stick from the ground. “You’ll want to throw rocks if you can find them. Aim for the ground between the graves, you’re less likely to disturb anything else.” 

“You want me to what?” Mica looked up at her and Crystal turned her head slightly to look at him.

“I want you to make noise and attract his attention for me,” Crystal replied. “I need to collect that dew and I can’t do that and run from him.” 

“You don’t have a better idea?” Mica demanded as he took the stick.

“Dew only lasts for a few hours,” Crystal said. “And dawn isn’t far off.” 

A strangled noise escaped his throat and he exhaled. “This is only because I love you,” he said.

“I’m sure. Go that direction.” 

He grumped a little more, the half-audible words sounding suspiciously like he thought she was bossing him about, but did as he was told. With the stick in one hand, Crystal saw him bend and stoop a few times, picking up other implements. 

She knew when he’d thrown the first stone, if only because it clanged against the bell. Almost immediately, a door slammed open. 

“Who’s out there?” 

The bell clanged again and in the fading light of the stars, Crystal could just make out the broad shoulders of the groundskeeper. A glint of dirty metal told her he’d picked up a shovel.

The stone must have missed because it thunked against something this time, instead of ringing the bell. 

“I’ll hang you!” 

The groundskeeper sprinted in the direction the stone had come from and Crystal scurried down. There was only a short, wrought-iron fence and she pulled herself over the intricate curves easily, dropping down to the other side easily.

Already, the tree’s lowest leaves were covered in dew and she took care, tipping them into her vial and letting the drops fall in. From the other side of the garden she could hear the groundskeeper screaming obscenities. 

She almost felt sorry for the poor man. No one else dared live too close to a place where dead and their spirits rested. It was an undeserved torment.

One to correct at a later date, she decided. She knew what kind of potions he could use. A few would do well for him.

With the vial three-quarters full, Crystal slid a waxed cork in it and climbed back over the gate. She needed to get to Mica and get him out of here.

She went around the front, tucking the vial into the pocket in her bag and hurrying as she went. 

Mica was already running the other direction, hurrying to get around and passed the groundskeeper. Crystal grabbed his hand and he yelped.

“I hear you!” The bellow indicated the groundskeeper’s approach and Crystal yanked on her brother, hurrying him along with silent tugs as they ran back towards where she’d left Juniper’s horse. 

By the time they reached the horse, they were both panting and Mica glowered at her. “You’re going to get us killed.” 

“If we die, so do our brothers,” Crystal replied. “Now, take the horse back to Juniper.” 

“You’re not coming with me?” 

“I need to get this back to Lucinda and get Coal free,” she said.

Mica considered it. “At least let us get you to the road,” he said. “Juniper will have a fit if I don’t at least make sure you’re alright for that far.” 

He was right and Crystal nodded. “Alright,” she said. 

Mica mounted first, and Crystal swung on behind him. She was tired, she realized as she pressed against her brother’s back, one hand holding to his belt to keep from falling off. It would have been too easy to close her eyes and sleep. 

She knew she dozed a little because Mica had to jostle her to get her to stir again. “Here,” he said and she nodded before she swung down. “I should come with you.” 

“Your price has already been paid,” Crystal said. “Don’t tempt them to seek a second one.” 

He scowled at her, but nodded. Fae were not meant to be trifled with.

Crystal lit the lantern and hooked it to her belt before she stepped in the cave. The path forward was no easier, but at least with a little lamp light coming in, she had the chance to look about. It seemed no different than any other cave she’d stepped into. 

That didn’t give her much in the way of reassurance, not knowing there were blood fae somewhere in here. 

Slowly, the light vanished until the only thing illuminating the space around her was the dim light of her lantern.

She needed to raise the wick, she realized, and paused for a moment, turning the wick up before she looked back up.

The sight of Blake’s face made her jump and he smirked. “Hello again,” he said.

“Hello,” she said. 

“This way,” he said simply and turned, leading her.

This time he turned at some point, leading her down a narrower tunnel. Crystal could reach out and touch each side, but it let out to Lucinda’s throne room faster, and Blake brought her between the columns. She still had to pass her five brothers to reach the fae queen.

Lucinda smiled. “One vial of hangman’s dew,” she said. “For the release of one brother.” 

Silently, Crystal withdrew the vial and held it up. Lucinda smiled, and stood from her throne. 

She was face-to-face with Crystal before she clicked her fingers. The soft thump of a body falling told Crystal one of her brothers had fallen and she tensed, wanting to go to him, even as Lucinda held out an expectant hand. 

Carefully, Crystal placed the vial in Lucinda’s hand. Lucinda smiled at that.

“One item, one brother. Are you prepared for your next task, bride?” 

“I am no bride,” Crystal answered. “But I am prepared.” 

Lucinda smiled. “In the mountains, a little west of here, you will find a pool which perfectly reflects both the sun and the moon. And at the bottom of that pool, you will find a piece of glass the color of the noon sky. Bring me a piece of fallen sky at least as long as your hand and I will release the next brother.” 

Crystal wanted to disagree, to argue, but she only nodded once. “One piece of fallen sky for the release of my next brother.” 

“Then we are agreed.” Lucinda inclined her head and stepped back, using one hand to motion at Crystal’s brother.

Coal, rather ironically, was one of her shorter brothers. And yet, as she checked his pulse and found it strong and steady, Blake was still there. 

“I can offer my aid,” he said. 

She hesitated. She could get Coal out, but she didn’t know the way. “I have little to offer,” she said. 

“Are you willing to offer a lock of hair?” 

Dangerous, and she knew it. Not doing so might leave her struggling to get Coal out and find the way to the entry. 

“One lock for your aid to the entry,” Crystal said and Blake smiled, reaching out and touching the single curl that grew right below her ear. 

Crystal’s knife was sharp as she slid it out, reaching up and twisting the lock for a moment before she sliced through it. Blake smiled a little as he took the hair.

“An even exchange,” he said, and the lock vanished from his fingers before he bent and picked Coal up.

She wasn’t sure she liked the way he said that, but she’d have to ask Juniper. A lock of hair was a pricey thing to give. 

As they approached the entrance, she remembered then it was daylight. Blake hadn’t been able to go all the way to it the last time. Ahead she saw a little light, indicating where she needed to go.

“I can get him from here.” 

“We have an even exchange. This is not the entrance,” Blake said and Crystal reached out, putting a hand to Coal’s shoulder.

“I absolve you of any debt you owe me,” Crystal said gently.

He looked at her and she tipped her chin up. “Agreed,” he said, and let her take Coal, much the same way she’d helped Mica out. 

The sunlight was stronger this time and Coal stirred faster. Even a few feet from the entrance, his face lifted. “Crystal?” he murmured.

“Yes, it’s me,” she said as she kept pushing them forward. “I’m going to get you home.” 

“Where’s everyone else?” 

“Mica is home, and now so are you,” she said. 

At least he wasn’t arguing with her, though he managed to stand up. “I thought I was dreaming,” he said. “Something about apples and hangman’s dew.” 

“Not quite a dream,” Crystal said. “Let’s get you home, I need to speak with Juniper.” 

“Home,” he agreed. “And then I want the whole accounting.” 

Posted in General, recaps

August Recap

August has been a quiet month. After some of the insanity that’s been happening in the last few months, I’m happy for a little bit of peace. There’s still a lot left of the year, and that means plenty of time for things to change.

This month was the launch of my new serial Seventh which is in the same universe as Crimson and Gold, though following different characters. I’m expecting the serial to run through to October and will be continuing to update it on Fridays.

As for what’s in progress right now, I’ve been focusing on some of my older projects for most of this month, revamping and revising a few of them. It’s been enjoyable, but it’s also been eating up a lot of time.

For September, I’m hoping to get at least one of those older projects completely redone and ready to go for the next round of drafting and editing. Beyond that I realize I haven’t been great about keeping up on adding photos to my post and want to work on that a little.

How has your month been?

Posted in serial, Seventh, Stories

Seventh: Part Four

Part One | Part Two| Part Three|

Once more at the start of the cave and Crystal had to inhale as she attached her lantern. This time she kept it on her hip. Even if she tripped again, she wouldn’t lose the lantern unless it broke.

This time she hoped she would be able to avoid falling on anything, though she wasn’t entirely certain of the path after a point. 

Silence permeated the cave as she entered. Crystal turned her head slightly back and forth, uncertain of what to expect. There appeared no one—not even someone to guide her.

At last she reached the area where her light only illuminated the slow forming stone columns around her and she had to inhale, looking around. She was half certain that they would have continued straight from here, but she couldn’t be certain. 

Asking for aid here would have too high a price. That much she was confident in. 

A soft sound made her turn. “I hear you,” she called out. 

It wasn’t Lucinda this time, but Blake. His expression seemed almost half-asleep as he tilted his head at her.

“You return,” he said.

“One item, one brother. That is the agreement,” Crystal said and he spread his hands before he moved ahead slightly.

“That is the agreement you have with my mother. You and I have arrived at no agreements.” 

He continued ahead, though he paused and glanced back at her, almost as if curious what she would do. She hesitated a moment before she followed him. He could easily lead her astray down here, leaving both her and her brothers to suffer. 

And yet, he didn’t, going instead through rooms she half recognized. The phosphorescent rocks showed her a little more of the path, and she remembered Lucinda’s words not to step on the light. Through the cave with metallic walls and then at last into the cavern containing Lucinda’s throne. 

The blood fae herself smiled a little as Crystal approached. “Thank you, Blake.” 

“It was my pleasure, Mother.” 

Lucinda smiled. “Crystal,” she greeted.

“Lucinda.” 

“I trust the task wasn’t too difficult?” 

“It posed little difficulty,” she replied. “I have the apple.” 

“Then I will release your brother,” Lucinda said.

“I will not allow you to hold the apple until my brother is released,” Crystal said.

Lucinda was silent a moment before she sighed and made a faint motion.

Mica simply dropped to the floor. The force of his body falling onto the flooring made a distinct thump that bounced off the stone walls. Crystal gasped and darted to him. She slid to her knees. 

“One brother, one item,” Lucinda said before Crystal could touch him. She looked up into the face of the blood fae. Lucinda’s movements hadn’t made a sound, but she stood there, one brow quirked up and a hand out. 

 Reluctant, Crystal rose again to slide the apple from the protective pouch she’d carried it in. She set it carefully in Lucinda’s palm, watching as a smile replaced the expectant countenance.

The feel of Lucinda’s nails brushing over her skin made her shiver and Lucinda cooed. Crystal pulled back and dropped to her knees again, examining Mica. 

He was breathing and his pulse beat steady under her fingers. He was usually a light sleeper and she shook him. “Mica. Mica. Wake up.” 

“He’ll wake once the sunlight touches his face,” Lucinda said calmly. 

Crystal turned to glower at Lucinda, one hand clenched around Mica’s tunic. She wanted to swear but didn’t dare risk Lucinda’s temper. Lucinda however, only smirked. Whether it was amusement or malevolence, her dark eyes glowed in the amber light of the lantern. 

“You’ve succeeded in the first task. One of your brothers has been released. Are you ready for the second?” 

A slow breath in helped steady her irritation even as it hissed between her teeth. “I am,” she said.

“You are to retrieve a vial of hangman’s dew. Once you bring it to me, I will release your next brother.” 

“Hangman’s dew,” Crystal murmured.

“Yes,” Lucinda said. “One vial, one brother.” 

One apple, one vial. Crystal nodded.

“One vial of hangman’s dew for the release of one brother.” 

Lucinda beamed while Crystal struggled to get Mica’s weight off the floor.

Blake was there in an instant. “It would be easier for me to carry him. If you have some offering to make, I am willing to exchange my aid,” he said and Crystal couldn’t quite keep her expression calm and even as she looked at him.

It was but the price concerned her.  “All I offer are trinkets.” 

He smiled and reached out, touching the ribbon she’d wound through her hair. “Acceptable. This perhaps?” 

“The ribbon isn’t mine to give,” she said. “I have three buttons and a penny if you wish.” 

He smiled again. “Three buttons and a penny,” he said. “And I will carry your brother to the entrance of the cave.” 

She didn’t like it in the slightest, but she nodded and slid all three buttons out of the coin pouch on her belt, along with the penny. As soon as Blake took them, he smiled again and bent, lifting Mica easily. 

She let Blake lead the way, back out to the entrance. As they approached however, Blake flinched a little. “The sun is up,” he said. 

“I can manage him from here,” Crystal said, and looped one arm around Mica’s waist as Blake set his feet down. 

As soon as Crystal had gotten a few steps away from Blake, he stepped back into the shadows and Crystal had to inhale a little as she hauled her brother forward. Mica was almost ten years older than her, and he’d spent his life building frames and plowing fields. His bulk weighed on her as she hauled him forward. 

Slowly, as she pulled him farther into the light and out of the shadows, he stirred. Even while she panted, he shifted, the little movements of his feet forcing her to put him down in the swath of sun illuminating the cave. 

She knelt over him, one hand on his shoulder. “Mica?” 

“Crystal?” he murmured. “Crystal!” 

“Relax,” she said and stood up, holding a hand towards him. “You’re safe now.” 

Mica looked around. “This…was I dreaming?”

She shook her head. “No,” she said. “Lucinda wanted something in exchange for your freedom.” 

Mica’s face paled. “She came to the farm, asked after your blessing.”

“I already know,” Crystal said. “She needs some items collected. One item, one brother freed. That’s the deal.” 

“That’s it? She couldn’t ask us?” 

“An apple from the restless tree and a vial of hangman’s dew,” Crystal said quietly. “I don’t know if it’s the items themselves she needs, or the latent magic in them. You can’t carry the magic. I can.” 

Mica studied her before he got to his feet. “I feel like I’ve been asleep,” he said.

“You have been. I’ll take you to Juniper and then I need to go.” 

“Who else do you have to rescue?” Mica asked and Crystal bowed her head. “I’m either the first or the last.” 

“The first. You’re the oldest, “she said. 

“Then the next one will be Coal. What does she want in exchange for him?” 

“A vial of hangman’s dew.” 

“Where are you going to get that?” 

“If I get there by morning, I’ll have a selection of four trees,” Crystal said. 

“Then I’m coming with you.” 

“You should be going home, or at least talking to Juniper,” Crystal said. 

“That’s not an option,” Mica replied and put a hand to her shoulder. “They’re my siblings too.” 

Crystal was silent a moment. “Fine,” she said. “But follow my instructions.” 


Seventh is a serial story updated every Friday. You can check out my books or short stories, or you can follow the blog for future updates!