Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sweet Saturday: All We See or Seem

            "Ah! Mr. Gryffon, we've been looking forward to your visit," the attendant smiled warmly and extended her hand in greeting as she stood to welcome him. Gryff retreated a step and regarded her warmth with confusion. The attendant quickly dropped her offered hand, but smiled again and indicated a comfortable-looking chair. "Please, sit down. May I bring you something to drink? Perhaps a freshly baked muffin?" She noticed his hesitation, then offered again, "Please, make yourself comfortable, Sir. You have nothing to fear here. Today you are an honored guest."
            Gryff sat cautiously. Her friendly manner was unsettling. None of the regular staff had ever been this indulgent. But then again, he had never experienced a Code Green status. This must be what was meant when they said it was a great honor to be selected. His analysis allowed him to relax into the over-stuffed velvet chair.
            The attendant handed Gryff a mug of hot, creamy liquid. "Try this. It's divine!" Then she lifted a tray full of pastries, most he had never seen before. "Go ahead, choose whatever you like. My favorites are the ones sprinkled with cinnamon. I think I would eat them all day, if I were able." She laughed softly at her own joke, setting him at ease. He reached for a pastry and set it on the small plate she held out.
            "Thank you." He began with a bite of the pastry. His eyes widened in surprise. There was nothing like this on the menu at the commissary. Taking another bite, he closed his eyes to savor the sweetness. Once, he had read the definition of the word ambrosia in the dictionary. He didn't truly understand it until this moment. Before he could prevent it, a quiet moan escaped his throat. It startled him, and he opened his eyes and glanced at the attendant. She laughed.
            "I know! Right? They're so good, I could just die!" Her voice held a hypnotizing drawl he hadn't noticed before, and her easy manner soothed his misgivings. He smiled back at her contentedly and brought the mug to his lips for a deep draught of the creamy liquid.
            Oh. Sweet. Joseph.
            The soothing hot potion washed through him, and suddenly Gryff felt like he was floating. A deep contented exhaustion flooded his whole body, relaxing him further into the chair. Gem. His last tangible thought echoed in his mind, then the calming gray haze engulfed him, and his consciousness dissolved into the mist.
            Just beyond the reach of the fog, echoes of vaguely familiar voices hovered around him.
            He's all yours, Doctor.
            Fatina, my dear, you are a magician!
            Oh, please, Honey. Like taking pastry from a baby.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sweet Sample: Sacred Ring

“It’s kind of gross, when you think about it,” Michael whispered, squatting beside him.
“I think it’s cool,” Kynan replied. “He used to be my favorite saint.”
“What? He’s the love saint, dude. All the romance and mushy crap. What’s cool about him?”
“I don’t know. He defied the Roman emperor. He helped the Christians and performed marriages even though it was illegal. I think he had guts.”
“You think that’s what’s in the box?” Michael chuckled at his own joke. “His guts?”
Kynan laughed too.
Behind him he heard a revolted snort. Brianna stood there with that look again. “You guys are so disgusting,” she muttered and rolled her eyes.
Kynan tossed a glance around. Brianna’s annoying friends weren’t with her. “You lose your stupid friends?” he asked.
“No, Braindead. They’re still by Our Lady of Lourdes.”
“You following us or something?” Michael prodded.
“As if. I just like Saint Valentine. Not my fault you two are a couple of freaks and came over here first.”
“We are not!” Michael protested, taking a step away from Kynan. He was getting red in the face, and with his bright orange hair, it made him almost glow when he got mad.
“Come on, Mike, she’s just trying to get under your skin. Ignore her. She’s dumb,” Kynan said, making an attempt to calm him down.
Brianna frowned at Kynan. “Are you guys gonna hog the shrine all day?”
“Maybe,” Michael snapped.
“Just scoot over, Mike,” Kynan told him. “She can look.”
The three stood quietly for a moment, until Michael elbowed Kynan in the ribs and pulled his hand out of his school bag revealing a handful of snappers. “You wanna?”
“I thought you didn’t want to get in trouble,” Kynan whispered.
“You were right. Nobody will know it’s us – besides, we can blame it on Brianna,” Michael coaxed with a wicked grin. Kynan regarded the noisemakers for a moment. This was a church, after all. But on the other hand, snappers at Saint Valentine’s shrine seemed like the perfect revenge for his parents’ divorce.
Another surge of indignation threw his stomach into an uproar. He reached out and grasped several of the small white poppers, then smiled surreptitiously, lifting one eyebrow at his friend.
They both took a step behind Brianna and held up their contraband in full readiness to flick them with a finger right behind her. When out of the corner of his eye, Kynan caught sight of a priest moving towards them in full robes. He grabbed Michael’s elbow and nodded in the direction of the approaching father. Both boys instantly slipped their hands into their pockets and eyed him. The priest seemed to be coming straight for them, and he seemed to be on a mission.
           Kynan knew they had been caught.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: Saint Valentine

Kneeling down so he could get a better look, Kynan studied the Reliquary encased there. Saint Valentine's remains were hidden in there, along with a vial of his blood and a few other relics. Kynan wished he could get a good look at them.
"It's kind of gross, when you think about it," Michael whispered, squatting beside him.
"I think it's cool," Kynan replied. "He used to be my favorite saint."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sweet Saturday Sample: Sacred Ring

Sacred Ring is a young adult novella due to release around Valentine's Day. In this excerpt, Kynan and his friend Michael plan to stir up trouble on the school field trip.

The annual school trip to the shrine was something Kynan had been looking forward to for weeks. But not anymore. Usually learning about Ireland’s saints was a favorite pastime. Today it was a painful reminder of his parents’ stupidity. When his best friend Michael Connell slid into the seat beside him on the bus, he didn’t even notice.
“Hey, butthead.” Michael’s voice jolted him back into reality.
Kynan glanced up at him and scooted closer to the window, giving him some room. “Hey,” he replied flatly and turned his gaze back on the view out the window.
“Look what I brought,” Michael said, seemingly oblivious to Kynan’s distance. He pulled a small plastic bag out of his school satchel. Kynan looked at what Michael held which contained about a dozen snap noisemakers. He raised an eyebrow and smiled.
“Where’d ya get those?”
“My Uncle Joseph. Well, I snuck one out of each box, so he wouldn’t notice. Thought we could toss a couple out of the window and scare the wick outta the peds.”
Kynan suddenly had a wicked idea. He knew it was wrong, but he felt this need to do something bad. “Okay. And maybe we can save a few for the shrine.” A haughty and mischievous grin curled across his lips.
Michael’s eyes grew wide. “The shrine?” he whispered, his voice quiet. “I don’t know. We could get into a lot of trouble – and it’s a holy place. I don’t think that’s a good idea.” He carefully slid his treasure back inside the bag.
“Come on, Mike, nobody will know it’s us. Think of the laughs!”
Michael didn’t answer. Instead he crammed the plastic bag down further in his satchel and wrapped both his arms around it, hugging it to his chest. He slid down in the seat and propped his lanky knees up on the back of the seat in front of him as the bus rumbled into motion.
Though there was plenty of chatter and laughing on the bus, Kynan and Michael spent the ride in silence. Neither looking at the other.
Looking out the window, Kynan watched the buildings fly by in a blur. The way to Whitefriar Street Church was familiar. It would only take a few minutes. Just long enough for Kynan to get lost in his mental replay of the conversation with his parents from the day before.
A repetitive thumping on the seat in front of him caught his attention and he glanced up to see who could be so annoying. It was Brianna Collins. She was smacking her gum nonchalantly and drumming her fingers on the top of the seat. Her long strawberry blonde hair was already falling out of her loose ponytail. “What’s the matter with you two?” she slurred through her gum, popping a small bubble on her tongue with a loud snap.
“Bug off, Brianna,” Kynan mumbled. Her clear blue eyes danced with temper. Usually Kynan enjoyed making her mad. The instant flush of red in her cheeks and the fire in her eyes made his stomach do flip flops. But today, he just wanted her to leave him alone.
“You’re such a jerk, Spud. I was just making conversation.”
Usually he didn’t mind the nickname, but today he cringed as he heard it. He didn’t want to be reminded he was a Murphy. “Well, don’t. If we felt like talking, we’d talk to each other.” He elbowed Michael and rolled his eyes.
Michael chuckled. He elbowed Kynan back, leaned his head down and reached to his eyes. When he lifted his head again, his eyelids were flipped up. Michael crossed his eyes and stuck his tongue out at her. Kynan burst out laughing. Brianna snorted in disgust.
“You guys are so immature!” She flopped around in her seat and faced the girls in the seat in front of her.
Michael reached into his bag and pulled out a snapper. Using his satchel as cover, he threw it hard on the floor under Brianna’s seat. A loud pop resounded in the enclosed bus, setting off a chain reaction of girls’ screams and squeals.
Kynan and Michael put on their best innocent expressions and pretended not to notice anything had happened when Brother Leroy stood at the front of the bus and demanded to know what the trouble was. Brianna shot a scorching glare over her shoulder at them.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: Sacred Ring

In Sacred Ring, Kynan Murphy and his two friends sneak out early in the morning to go search for the sacred ring they believe has special powers. Kynan and Michael are just realizing how unprepared for the trip they are when their friend Brianna shows up.

Before he could answer, Brianna hailed them from across the street. And, of course, she was fully decked out in her heavy coat, a hat, scarf and warm gloves. She strode across the empty street toward where they stood under the street lamp. "I brought some snacks and water for later. One of you guys wanna carry one of these backpacks?" Must be nice to think of everything.

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

All We See or Seem

" and Bobby, huh? When did that happen?"

"I don't know. It just happened some time while you were gone. Bobby's...he's different, you know?"

"Oh, yeah. He's quite unique. Good. I'm glad for you two. But do you think you could do me one little favor? I mean, even though we don't owe each other anything?"


"Will you, please, tell Mom!?"

"Wow, Bobby was right. I'm surprised I never saw it before. You really are afraid of women," Tricia laughed and patted Aaron on the head. "I'll see you at Christmas." She turned and walked back through the portico.

Aaron rolled his eyes in disgust and murmured, "Afraid of women. Bull sh--"

"It was nice Tricia could come." Oh good, Mom was back.

"Ah. Back for another pound of flesh, Mother?"

She laughed and slipped her arm around him. "Yeah, sorry about that."

"You know that's never gonna happen, right?"

"Mmmm... Wanna hear the kicker? I already know about Tricia and Bobby." She giggled.

"What!? If you already knew, why the h--?"

"Well, I just like messing with you." She smiled mischievously. "Call it a mother's love." Aaron had to laugh then. He put his arm around her shoulders and hugged her.

"I'm going to miss you, Mom."

"Yeah, me too. know, if you meet someone out there..."


"Sorry. Old habits and all that." She squeezed his waist and stepped toward the portico. "Come back to the party, Aaron. Have a little fun."

Aaron raised one eyebrow at her. Fun? Right. He glanced back at the door to his father's office. It would have to wait until later. Reluctantly he followed his mother back to the veranda and death by boredom.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

I usually work on my writing late at night. For some reason I'm wide awake then, and it is the only quiet time at my house. The kids are in bed, the husband is watching TV, and all is right with the world.

The problem comes in the early evening. After a long day at work telling middle school students to sit down and keep their hands to themselves, I get to come home, check my kids' homework and make them dinner. When that's done, I sit down to write and promptly... fall asleep.

You'd think after all these years I would have learned it long ago, but I only just figured it out two weeks ago. Chewing gum will wake me up. With all the late nights over the Christmas break editing and writing, I had cause to find this out.

The stupid thing is that as a teacher I have known that research shows letting the students chew gum during a test helps them to focus better and think more clearly. Why the heck didn't I ever think to try it myself? Well, I'm really not much of a gum chewer, that's why. Ever since college, chewing gum has hurt my jaws -- they snap and crack and make all manner of noise.

However, now that I've realized the benefits (staying awake and alert while editing and writing, the vast improvement in the quality of my writing, and not falling asleep while driving), I'm pretty sure the cracking and the snapping is a small price to pay.

I'm feeling a little sleepy right now. I think I'll go grab a stick of gum.