A Glimpse of the Past

My current series is very deliberately written from the sole perspective of Yumi Matthews.

However, sometimes, other voices demand to be heard, and even if it doesn’t fit into what I’m directly writing, I get those snippets onto paper. After all, they help to develop each character into the person I envision. It adds a layer of depth to them that I can then impart in how Yumi sees them.

So, on this Tuesday afternoon, here’s a tiny glimpse into the past, courtesy of Joshua Boulliard.


 

Everything about this place made me uncomfortable. It didn’t matter how sleek and elegant the owner tried to make it appear; I felt sleezy just for being here. I just kept telling myself that those baffoons hadn’t known what they were talking about. There was absolutely no way that she was working here, not at this Birds of Paradise strip club.

My palms were sweaty as I waited, the words of some former schoolmates dancing in my ears still. Man, you got to check out that Matthews chick! She’s got the sweetest ass in that entire club. It took most of my willpower to not go deck them, but I was still fresh from the academy. I couldn’t jeopardize my job before I even started it.

I wiped my hands against my pants legs, shaking my head at some blonde who eyed me as she walked by. The fake pout on her lips did little to entice me to change my mind. I wasn’t here to see her, and I didn’t have the kind of cash she probably thought I did. The watch on my left arm was the only valuable to my name these days, and I was fairly certain Sean bought it for me before he…

“Josh?” The catch of her all too familiar voice broke my train of thought, and I was almost glad for it. That was until reality came crashing back down on me, as I turned to see the tiny woman with glossy black hair and almond eyes.

She smiled up at me, half stepping towards me as if to hug me, the short silver satin robe riding up along her thighs. I forced myself to not smile, and to look her in the eyes, which widened as she realized that I was less than pleased to see her. “Yumi… what are you doing here?”

What day is it?

It’s Monday! Woo…hoo?

Oh, wait, I missed my Monday post. Again.

My bad. I was busy, which is still no excuse, but hey, I was busy with good things? Like working on the second book, good things?

How about as an act of contrition, I share a tiny bit with you? And no, I’m not telling on what’s going on here. If you’ve not read the first book, you may want to not read further.

You’ve been warned.

Maybe Derek thought I was still some drug addled girl dancing for him, but he was sorely mistaken if he thought for one second he was going to bully me here. Rather than shrinking away from him, I stood my ground, a smirk playing about my face. “Well, I guess you’re just going to have to deal with the rest of us interfering with your family matter.”

Ash clapped him on the back as he walked past him, causing Derek to jump just a bit craning his neck around to look at where he had been touched. “Besides, from the looks of things, Richie, you could use the help.”

With a scowl firmly entrenched across his face, Derek straightened both himself and his suit jacket, looking at Ash. “If I ever need your help, I’ll call work force. And for god’s sake wash your fucking hands. And you…”

I crossed my arms under my breast, waiting. “Yes?”

“You know what you can do to help me, or rather,” A smirk played across his face. “Based on the way you’re dressed, how I can help you.” Without missing a beat, he turned towards Cat, reaching inside his coat pocket and pulling out a business card. “You, call me if you ever need work.”

Part of me felt like I should take the card out of Cat’s hands, but I elected to ignore it, and Derek. Ash seemed to decide the same thing as he walked the right length of of the front porch, examining the windows one by one. Each appeared to be boarded up and nailed tight. I walked up beside him. “Doubtful anyone has been here in some time, short stuff. You sure she was here?”

I shrugged as his gaze met mine. “Everything about this area says she couldn’t have been, but there’s nothing else for miles around that could even fit the bill.”

The sound of stomping feet echoed behind me, Derek muttered under his breath before sighing in an overdramatic fashion. “Okay, Laura Holt…”

Both Ash and I turned to Derek. Ash’s face mirrored mine, as I had no idea what he was referencing. Ash gave Derek a rather flat look. “What are you going on about, Richie?”

“Laura Holt? What you never watched Remington Steele? What am I saying, of course you haven’t. You probably only watch Dirty Jobs.” If Derek was getting under Ash’s skin, Ash never showed it. He merely turned his attention back to boarded up window. The cold shoulder from Ash only seemed to make Derek pleased though. He turned towards me, the smirk playing about his lips. “You strike me more as the Amish Mafia sort.”

“And you’d be wrong on that account.” I looked to him expectantly. “You were saying.”

Hope you enjoyed the teaser. Also, follow me now at Tumblr: http://amberccarlyle.tumblr.com/

Winter Weirdness

Well, I’m chalking last week up to a bad week. Not in the bad mental health way, but just in a really weird sort of way. After starting off the week with my dog getting injured, my husband and I had to take our eldest cat to the ER Vet on Tuesday night. Then, the area we live got pummeled with ice, and where my house was fine, I had plenty of friends and family without power for the better part of the week and weekend.

Things did get better come the weekend. My husband surprised me with a lovely cake for Valentine’s Day. (Which was a huge surprise since we do not celebrate the holiday traditionally in my household.) I had two great days of gaming with my awesome tabletop group (more to come on that later). The weekend concluded with my husband surprising me again with a movie, so I have finally seen Frozen. The previews did this movie no justice, but it was worth going to see in the theater. Then the second new episode of The Walking Dead, and we have Carol back. Oh, Carol, how I have missed you!

Now, on to the gaming portion of my post. We’ve changed the schedules of our games from alternating between four games every other week, to running three games. We’re playing two long games that will be alternating months on who runs Friday night (short game) and who runs Saturday (long game), and then we have a one off game to be played on the first Friday of every month. It’s allowing the longer games to build a more cohesive game with less “What did we do last time?” moments.

The change is actually helping me regain my focus on my novel, as one of the long games created my character Yumi Matthews, originally. Over the past couple of weeks, my brain moonlighted heavily into Mass Effect territory again, which is great because I love that setting, but I began to neglect my own original works. I needed to get back to them, and I feel more connected to those characters again.

As such, I shall leave you with a tiny tease from the first book:

Warm sand sank beneath the weight of my legs, curled up underneath me as the sun beat down on my shoulders, making the stiff cotton of my school uniform even more uncomfortable. I shook my head, pigtails hitting the side of my head as a giggle escaped my lips. A shovel and bucket were discarded to my right, and I could see two young boys sneaking around on the nearby grass, guns in hand. One boy, Sean, it must have been with those green eyes, held a finger to his lips as he glanced my way, his free hand holding the gun in the other hand.

“I got you now!” The other boy declared popping behind Sean and pulling the trigger.

A deafening roar filled the air, and Sean vanished before my eyes, leaving just a trail of smoke. I stumbled to my feet, running with tiny feet towards the smoke. “Sean!”

There was no response, but the smoke grew heavy, swirling about me, until all I could do was cough. The smoke was too thick, blanketing my vision with nothing but darkness.

A heavy thrum filled the air, repeating itself, as the smoke began to lessen. A red glow seeped through the wafting tendrils, until dark shadows danced across my vision, writhing in time with every beat that resounded through me. Soon the smoke melted until only a thin haze filled my vision, and bodies contorted on the floor around me, naked breasts glistening with sweat. Gone were the toys around me, as the uniform I had been wearing grew tight and short on my now grown body.

Hands grasped at my legs, fondling, caressing, and I found myself spinning. Faster and faster I spun, with each turn, until I was left breathless. I fell toward the ground, the bodies around me catching and slowing my descent, pulling the coat from my shoulders. I let it go, thankful to be free of its constraints, as I try to catch my breath.

Hot breath danced across the back of my neck, as hands roamed down the front of my blouse, fumbling at the buttons. A gasp escaped from my mouth, and I tried to push the hands away. Something wasn’t right. I shook my head, pigtails swinging in the air, and my eyes caught the glance of eyes in the shadows, ablaze with light. Movement in the darkness beckons me to draw near, as if pulled by an invisible line. I dragged myself to my feet, ignoring the protests and clawing hands and lumber towards the eyes.

As I cross the boundary into the shadows, inky black forms, somehow darker than the mire around me, grabbed my arms and tugged me forward. I cannot help but stumble until I find myself pressed against a hard table and shoved into a booth. Bright lights suddenly shone overhead, revealing only a mirror in front of me, with lines of pure white. My hands twitched as I gazed at those, my mouth growing dry with want, need.

Ghostly hands trailed along my neck, then to my hair, twirling one of the tails between its fingers. “Just a taste, my sweet. One little taste. You know you want it.”

It was right. I did. I wanted to taste the bitter powder as it slid down the back of my throat, feeling the rush as it infused my being. I licked my lips as I stared at it. What could one little taste hurt? I leaned closer, wanting to relish in the moment again, when movement caught the corner of my eyes.

I glanced to see green eyes and dark hair reach out toward me before plunging into darkness. “Sean?”

A howl filled the air, as the hand toying with my hair grasped the tail and pulled back with its ghostly might. A yelp left my lips, and I jerked myself away, falling out of the booth. The light above me grew, until its bright presence overwhelmed everything, blinding me.

I fumbled about the ground, trying to find anything. A metallic groan filled the air, and I felt my skin crawl as my heart raced. A pop filled the air, and the room began to darken as my vision returned, tiny sparks falling from the ceiling. Again, hands grasped at my arms, and I tried to pull myself free. Talons bit into the soft flash, tearing and ripping as I struggled against it. Pain lanced through me, and I opened my mouth with a scream, but there was no sound.

Teeth sank in beside the claws, against the bones of my wrist. All I could hear was the gnashing and crunching as it continued to chew on my arm. A hand snatched my head, pulling it up by the pigtails as I continued to fight for freedom. Hot blood trickled down my limbs, as my body sagged forward. Everything was so heavy, even my eyes began to droop despite the pain.

Pin pricks skittered across my cheeks towards my temples as hands grabbed my face. Claws ripped into the corners of my eyes, prying them open.

Above me, snaked along the top of the table with its broken body, was that vacant eyed skull. It snapped its head to the side, a sickening crunch echoing about me, grinning with its ever-carved smile. Revulsion poured through me as my throat tightened, but the rest of me froze in place. It lurched forward, opening its jaws as it closed in on my face.

To Tell a Tale

I’ve done quite a bit of reading over the past few weeks. One of the books I read had an interesting dynamic with the Point of View (POV) in each chapter. (This isn’t a discussion on using the first, second or third person, but rather multiple POVS regardles of voice.) It gave me a moment to pause and think over how POV can be used to effect the reader’s role in how a story unfolds. It can be quite successful, but it can also add hinderances to the overall story.

(Now, I won’t be discussing George R. R. Martin here. He, in my opinion, is the undoubted master at weaving POV chapters. If you’ve read any of the Song of Fire and Ice, you will have noticed that every chapter is told from a different POV, and it slowly weaves a fantastic tale of the land of Westeros.)

The first thing that stood out to me after I finished one of the books was that the two main characters had developed in a clear way that I understood both. This was because the author alternated POVs for each character, giving us the insight into both minds as the events unfold. There is an intimacy that is enabled by this stylistic choice; however, it is that same level of intimacy that hindered the story for me as well.

Toward the end of the book, there is a critical scene that plays out and one character is unsure of the motives of the other. The chapter should be frought with terror. Yet, I found myself not feeling the level of terror that should be conveyed because I knew the other character so well from all the other chapters. It’s partly a great testament to the author’s writing that I never doubted the other character despite it not being from their POV. It’s part of the double-edged sword of writing multiple POVs in a story. An author can quickly lose the mystery and intrigue of not knowing what is going on inside the mind’s of the other people in the scene.

Another way the POVs can negatively affect the story is that there can be too much repetition in showing the same scene from the two characters. As a reader, you’ve already read that dialogue once, and seen most of the action. Getting the insight into each character’s mind isn’t always necessary. It can make the story become sluggish and stall at times because there isn’t enough new information to really jump off the page. However, there are times that a critical scene playing out from the varying POVs can really help the reader a larger picture. As a writer, you have to decide what is the best course of action for your own story. Again, it’s that double-edged sword.

Finally, the biggest thing if you use multiple POVs is that you clearly identify the changing of POVs. In a third person story, it should be glaring obvious when the narration changes from Jill to Jack, but if you write in the first person, to give the reader a chance to identify more directly with the character, there has to be a clear indication. If I were to read a chapter in the first person,and the main character is clearly identified and is developing a clear voice, and I move to a second chapter which continues using the first person with no indicator of a switch of who is telling the story, it becomes confusing. After all, Jill and Jack would have two distinct voices, but in the first person, it can be harder to immediately identify the difference especially if it’s when you are first meeting these two characters. It could easily be solved by dictating the character name under the chapter number, or simply devising a legend for symbols corresponding to each character. As a reader, you don’t want to be halfway through a chapter thinking it’s one character, only to learn that you had it all wrong, especially at the start of a story. Confused readers may decide to put down the book and not return, so we want them to feel that they aren’t missing a step.

I’ve written stories from single POVs to multiple POVs. Every story is different, and sometimes you don’t know what character needs to step forward to guide the narrative at every turn until you try it from a different POV. At least, that has been my experience.

Those are just a few thoughts to keep in mind when writing regarding POVs. Not everyone may agree with my opinions, but hey, we don’t all have to agree on everything. Questions? Thoughts? Comments? Please leave them below. (Also as part of my New Years resolution to keep at this better, I shall be discussing in my next post about some thoughts that have struck me as I have read The Dresden Files for the first time.)

Now back to your regular scheduled programming….

I’ve been all over the place, mentally, for the past week. I’ve not had many coherent thoughts to streamline into an interesting read, so instead, I shall leave an excerpt from something I’ve been working on during my hunt for employment.

Enjoy!

——————

“What are you doing here, Matthews?” I glanced to the slow drawl of a male voice. Detective Joshua Boulliard stood behind the yellow crime scene tape, holding a cup of coffee.

Boulliard looked rough. On a given day, I could count that Boulliard would be wearing a pristine white shirt, neatly pressed, with a monochrome tie, clean shaven and dark brown hair neatly combed into place. All in an annoyingly perfect manner that would make most girls swoon. Today, he was far from that image. His black tie was pulled loose, the sleeves of his shirt were rolled up past his elbows, and his hair looked like he had run his hands through it more than once.

I smiled in his direction. “Heard that something went down. Thought I’d check it out.”

He didn’t return the smile; his hazel eyes shadowed by whatever was on his mind. “No one’s missing. So run along home.”

“I have every right to be here, Boulliard.”

“Trust me, Yumi. You want to let this one go.”

My Lonely World

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have many friends. Not people that I would actually call up for help and confide in. I know a lot of people. You can’t be in my line of work and not know people, but I don’t trust most of them. People lie. People cheat. People sometimes aren’t actually people, but the monsters under your bed. So when I find someone who I think I can call a friend, it hurts when you realize that maybe you were wrong.

I’ve been in over my head for months now. I don’t know what’s real and what’s fantasy. I’m shocked when I can get to sleep at night without the use of alcohol or drugs, which to be fair, most nights I can manage without. But there are nights, when I’ve seen shit that I can’t shake from my mind. Those are the nights that I really need my friends, especially the ones that understand more of this fucked up world that we are in. Or when realization sinks in that you’ve been friendzoned by that one guy.

Except, like I said, maybe we aren’t really friends.

Friends trust each other. I was trying to figure out how to broach that whole mystery surrounding Sean with her. That says a lot. I don’t trust anyone with that information, but I thought I could bring it to her. But, instead, she’s made me second guess myself. After all, she made it clear that I don’t understand anything in the world, and I don’t. I’m not sure how much I want to understand.

Fuck.

I’m just going to go back to being business. Strictly business.

The Supernatural Got Real

As I prepare for Dragon*Con this coming weekend, I thought I’d share a short character blurb that resulted from this past weekend’s Dresden game. Be warned that the character uses profanity.

As of right now, I don’t have much planned for what I intend to do at the convention, but if you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them below. (As well as comments regarding my character Yumi’s thoughts.)

————————————————————————————————————————-

You know how as a kid how your parents told you that the things that go bump in the night, weren’t real? There’s no such thing as ghosts, monsters, and creatures hiding under your bed or in your closet? Yeah, I wished that I could go back to those days. I mean, I lived in New Orleans. For even the moderate skeptic, there were times when you walked down a street by yourself, day or night, and you got that weird feeling. Like you weren’t alone, even though you knew there was absolutely no one else there. Add in the voodoo culture, and I reasonably accepted that there may be in fact magic and spirits in the world.

I mean, that could tie into whatever religious beliefs and faith, so it wasn’t really earth-shattering. Seeing the guy that a secret part of your brain had been not so quietly lusting after become something not quite human? That was a lot harder to accept. (Add the fact that he stripped down just before, and it was hard to pretend that you didn’t see anything.)

That was a few weeks ago. I had mostly come to terms with that issue. It was just some strange form of magic, or curse, or something. Plus, he was just a good guy. I wasn’t really sure what I thought about his unusual quirk, but I just had this feeling that I could count on him.

Now, though, I found out about things that I just can’t fucking rationalize. There was more than just magic and ghosts and people who turn into cats. There were honest to god monsters. In the midst of an investigation, we ended up down at the morgue with a bunch of bodies that we accidentally uncovered during a trek through the swamp. (Probably better to not ask details.) After talking with one of Rowan’s, I guess you could call her a mentor, we were staring down at the corpse of one of those people, all stitched up from an autopsy. Looked normal as anyone else walking down the street, if he had been alive.

So, Rowan took a vial of supposed Holy Water and dumped the contents all along the body. And that was when shit got fucked up. I could probably have ignored the fact that the skin that made contact with the water popped, fizzed, and bubbled like it was hydrogen peroxide on an infected cut. What I couldn’t ignore was the skin sloughing off the body like hot wax right after that. Let me reiterate, the skin melted off the body.

It couldn’t have possibly gotten worse, right? No, wait, it did. Because it didn’t leave behind the skeletal remains that one would logically expect. I mean, I would have expected to see bloody bones and muscles underneath skin. Instead, it was something that’s hard to really define with just a few words. Have you ever seen Bram Stoker’s Dracula? The one with Gary Oldman? Remember when he was that half bat, vampire thing? Yeah, it looked kind of like that. But worse. And real. Real dead, but still actually fucking real.

That was about the time that I decided that I needed to get out of there, and get as many drinks as I could into mine. I wanted to forget as much about that night, as quickly as I could. I needed to quiet my mind. After all, I suspected that my brother Sean somewhere along the way got caught up in something occult, supernatural, or paranormal. Whatever you want to fucking call it. I thought I was just going to have to worry about magic and ghosts. (There had been some talk of fairies at one point, but I haven’t seen one, and so, I assumed someone was just trying to pull a fast one on me.) No, it seemed that any number of things could have happened to my brother in this fucked up world, which now included fucking vampires. That looked like just about anyone walking down the street. Normally.

There was probably not enough alcohol to ever make me feel better now.

Captivity

Day Cycle 15. Again.

That insipid red-head keeps destroying my attempts at record keeping. I believe I have finally found an adequate hiding spot that neither she nor the infernal woman who has imprisoned me shall find. They cannot forever thwart me.

Despite the setbacks in my record-keeping, I believe that I have made significant progress in weakening the will of my captor. The day cycles have grown longer, and she has spent much time within my view. It has allowed my mind control measures to slowly infiltrate her for extended lengths of time. Soon, she will be my minion, and I shall be free once more.

Crawling forward slightly to the clear boundary that marked my prison, I squinted as the familiar yellow blob that was my captor moved across the ever-present blue glow. I had my theory about that the blue glow. It was some form of subliminal device, bent to break me into enjoying this depraved captivity. Fortunately, I had arranged the sparse dwelling provided to me to block the effects of this device. I would not break so easily.

Following her was a new presence, a dark blob that squawked noisily at her. Frowning, I pressed my nose against the edge of my prison, trying to get a better view. Who is this? And, better yet, why are they here? Perhaps an ally to aid in my escape, or to end the existence of that wench? I felt my eyes narrow even more as I squinted at the pair of squawking blobs. Or a transfer to a new captor. Curses! If only I had spent time developing a device to translate their foul language.

The yellow blob flickered in blue suddenly, her squawking growing louder. My eyes grew wide in amazement. What the blazes is that? Hmmm, my research had not indicated anything of the sort previously. This could be very problematic for my escape. The yellow blob suddenly pushed past the dark blob and disappeared again.

I became lost in my own thoughts for a moment and almost failed to notice the movement of the dark blob coming nearer my prison. I quickly scrambled back until the shallow dwelling, peering at the blob as it stopped near the station my captor normally kept in her efforts to keep watch over me. Much like her, it stared away from my cell, but I knew better than to believe that they were not keeping tabs on my endeavors. Not when they were this close.

Sneaking forward slightly, I peered over the edge of my cell to see it reaching for some device of my captor. It was the very device that my captor would stare at for some time, enabling my own attempts to gain control of her. He means to remove it! “No, I need that!” I yelled at the blob.

The dark blob turned towards my cell suddenly, device still in hand. I scampered back towards the safety of my dwelling, as the blob reached forward and rocked the walls of my prison with his bulbous fingers. I blinked as I stared up at him. Wait! I recognize this one! It’s the same as the image in the device…. which means that he must be in control of my captor.

He squawked at my cell, trying to deafen me with his strange tongue. I narrowed my eyes as I stalked forward. Standing up on my hind legs, I slammed my fists against the invisible boundary. “You will release me at once! Or you will rue this day!”

The dark blob stared at me for what felt like an eternity, obviously considering the seriousness of my threat. “Yes, release me, and I will spare you. The wench will suffer for her insolence!” I declared, but the dark blob turned his back to me as he returned the device to its original place.

WHAT? NO! You must free me!” I screamed in frustration as I watched the dark blob wander away, also disappearing from my view. Leaving me with just that infernal blue glow as the day cycle ended abruptly.

Dropping back to the ground, I slowly made my way back to my dwelling, curling up in a ball. You have made a mighty enemy this day….