So…what’s next?

I’ve been fired up since I finished Spirit Run. Not because I’m really angry or because I’m disappointed with the story – no, not at all. I’m fired up for a plethora of other reasons. I’m experiencing some new activity in this writing gig and it’s a tad overwhelming. How so? And what does that look like? Well, thanks for asking….

There’s a realization I’m having and it’s about as good as it is bad. Over the past year, I’ve been amazingly fortunate to be a member of a local writer’s group – one that shares, critiques, and encourages one another’s work. That has been remarkably life-giving. For example, remember when you found yourself surrounded by people who spoke the same “language” as you? You could share, in a group, the same kinds of thoughts and aspirations that this other group of people had? That’s a great feeling.

So…that was good – wait, amazing.

But that was only the first step into a much larger universe. Once you get to a place where others share a similar vision, you will eventually find yourself limited by your own resources. In other words, the affirmation you needed has worn off and the need for more third-party support becomes increasingly relevant. You need a team of other highly skilled, highly proficient individuals who can further maximize the bigger vision. I wrote about having skill sets I wish I had a couple weeks ago. Well, that post is having extreme truth in my life. And it’s happening now.

As such, I’ve been trying to accumulate a team of the following individuals:
– Editors
– Illustrators
– Social Media Experts
– My fiance’ (which has already been established as part of the team but incredibly crucial all the same)

I’m still doing the agent search thing, but I’m not sitting on my butt, waiting around either. I’ve decided to take a little more initiative and put some feelers out to even more media realms. And the responses have been very good. The more knowledge I can assimilate, the better. And knowledge is what I need if I’m going to be anywhere near effective in this fast-paced, fast-moving environment. How do you create good techniques for editing and not create bad ones? What is proper pricing for digital imaging? What’s not proper? And so on and so forth. It will be an ongoing process, I’m sure; one that will not happen overnight. A reality that my generation has a hard time believing is true. And unfortunately, I have a hard time reminding myself of daily.

So…here’s to the next “I don’t know” turning into “I understand now.” Here’s hoping I can get there sooner than later.

“Spirit Run” – part 14 … aka The End

Phew. It was more than a month ago when I began this little venture and now it’s come to a close. I want to pat myself on the back or have someone do it for me, but that won’t be necessary. I’m elated to be done with this story. Plain and simple. Some 15,000+ words later and it’s done. It’s not a long tale by any means, but it’s complete. That’s something to write home about. Or in this case – post on your blog.

There’s a part of me that’s sad too, of course. And why wouldn’t I be? When you come to the end of a project, a major weight gets lifted. And you’re happy to be done, but confused on what to do with the feeling now that you’re done. That’s when the sadness draws close. What’ll I do next? What shall I focus my efforts on now? Well, my answers are easy: edit, revise, or start another story. That’s it. Simple? Yes, but daunting all the same.

Well, here it is anyway. The last section of Spirit Run and the longest one too. Sorry in advance for any who read it, but hey, that’s how it happened. I’ve placed the complete story on the blog until I figure out what else I’m going to do with it.

Enjoy!

The Angel reached with both hands behind his ears and pulled out two swords. They glistened in the sky as more and more Angels flew down from the clouds above. The new force of Angels descended upon the Demons, driving them into a chaotic spiral. Harda flew close to the Angel, shooting down Shadows and Demons with golden arrows in tandem with the double blades of his new ally.
“Norman, so glad you could join us!” shouted Harda.
“What was that?” said the Angel. “My name is – “
“Not important!” shouted Armin, thrusting his spear through a Shadow. The burn on his wing was not healed but he fought on. “Much obliged for the help, friend. Now let’s keep these foul creatures at bay!”
The added help was working well, but the Daughter was not moving any faster towards the woman. She walked with a slow gait, untouched by the battle but without the sense of urgency she had previously. The woman ahead was still sitting with her back to them, mumbling something to herself through half sobs and sighs. The Daughter looked to be catching fire, her light flashing vividly as she drew nearer. The two were but a few paces from each other; the Daughter shining and the woman crying out. The Trio tried to stay with the Daughter, but they knew this was it: the moment they had been working towards. All that was required now was for the woman to turn around; to uncover herself from darkness. But right as the Daughter began to reach out, hand extended to the young woman, a cold and eerie bellow covered the plane. Demons wailed as if they were in danger and Angels drew their weapons close to them. The battle was in favor of the Angels, but something had turned every being there into a state of perpetual panic.
“No…,” said Balphin. “It’s him.”
A new figure rose up over the young woman, casting a dark and cold veil over her. Its shadow was so large that it blotted out any surrounding light – even that of the largest Earthly Angels. The Trio, in close proximity, flapped their wings but were unable to get any closer to the Daughter. This new being was enormous and though it looked to have a face, it did not speak; it only increased in size over the young woman, swallowing her in its shade.
“Enough!” shouted Armin. “You cannot have this one. She will not listen to you! Not anymore!”
“Listen to me?” mocked the Dark Veil. Its words were minced and twisted, its voice echoed like a well, but hissed like a viper. “Why must she listen to me at all? Is she not capable of making her own choices?”
The words hit the Angels like a sledgehammer. Harda drew back on his bow but he could not release. Balphin picked up his sword but could not strike and Armin readied his spear but could not throw. The Angels were completely powerless.
“Do you see?” said the Dark Veil. “Why not let her choose which way is best? She is more than capable of doing so. Wouldn’t you agree?” The Dark Veil shifted its gaze upon the Daughter, who was still burning with great intensity. The words were having little effect upon her. She took another step forward and the Dark Veil spoke again.
“What good can you do?” it mocked. “What can you do that she cannot do already for herself? Have you not seen her plight? Have you not felt her pain? What have you learned on this journey that can be of any value to her now?”
The Daughter took another step in spite of its mockery.
“Don’t you see how she hurts?”
The Daughter took yet another step.
“Can’t you feel how she needs relief? What is it that you will offer her?”
Another step.
“Why do you think you’ll be any different? Is there anything of value that you possess that she does not already possess for herself?”
Another step.
The Dark Veil towered higher over the Daughter, frustrated with the Daughter’s ignorance towards him. The Trio waited patiently behind her. They could go no further. Then, all time stopped; the words of the Dark Veil ceased and the Daughter froze where she stood, but her flames burned on. The Trio flapped their wings in unison as they waited. Then, the young woman – silent till now – spoke:
“I am done with this,” she said. “I cannot go on like this… Too many … too many times … Something … Something must… I need you… I give myself to you now, Father. Please… help me.”
The Dark Veil screamed. Shadows and Demons withdrew their attack and the Trio’s wings doubled in size. The young woman lifted her head and the spiritual plane shifted. The Dark Veil fell from where it stood and the Daughter replaced him. The young woman and the Daughter were – at last – facing one another. The shame that had separated them was gone. The Daughter extended her hand and broke the space between spirit and flesh, touching the young woman. Fire and light transferred into the eyes of the young woman, filling her with the same light that encompassed the Daughter. The outpour was blinding and the Trio shielded its eyes. When it was over, the Daughter underwent yet another metamorphosis, its form changing into a new body. The transformation frightened the Dark Veil, driving it from the young woman and out of sight. Then, this New Body, pure of light, caressed the young woman’s face, lifting it higher with its own. Her eyes had turned red, swelling up with tears. Small beads of water ran down her face and onto the sidewalk. She cried, sobbed, and even laughed – the love of something otherworldly had penetrated her core, but not of out of intrusiveness, but of invitation. Then the New Body spoke.
“All things…,” it said. “…can be made new. I will show you.” The New Body disappeared and a crackle of thunder brought the world back into its normal passage of time. The physical plane returned and the Angels found themselves floating among it.
“Look!” said Harda and the Trio looked to the sky. A tiny drop of rain fell from the clouds and landed directly next to the teardrops of the young woman. Then another fell. And another. Soon, it was raining upon the young woman, but she didn’t move from where she was. Rather than seek shelter, she closed her eyes and raised her head. The tears that had covered her became lost in the shower of new rain as it fell and caressed her face. Then she smiled and raised her hands slowly into the air.
“’All things new’…,” she said aloud. The words, she thought. She had heard them. She opened her eyes to see a world that was different than she had closed them. The rain fell harder, soaking her completely. She turned her head and saw three figures standing by the sidewalk. It was a man, woman, and child – their hands intertwined, under the safety of a large umbrella as they walked through the rain. When her eyes fell upon them, she saw the little boy break from his mother and father and run towards her. He was carrying something with him, but the young woman couldn’t see what it was.
“Do you need this?” asked the child. He held out his right hand, a small umbrella gripped tightly. The boy had to be no more than 10 or 11, she figured. His big, brown eyes were friendly and inviting. The woman wiped her face and accepted the gift from the child.
“Thank you,” she said, trying not to sob. She looked back at the couple, who was under the veil of their own umbrella, but saying nothing. They watched intently from a distance, waiting for their son to return. “That was very sweet of you.”
“You’re welcome,” said the boy. “We had an extra one and Mom’s was torn earlier by the storm, but Dad’s was big enough for all of us. When I saw you, I figured you could use it. I like the rain but you shouldn’t let yourself get soaked in it. All things are made new by the rain though, aren’t they?”
The young woman nearly broke down again when she heard the words, but the boy’s smile kept her from doing so. She thanked him one more time and the little boy returned to his family – protected once again from the rain. The couple nodded at the young woman, who waved kindly as she flipped open her new umbrella. Then the kindly Trio, who had appeared as if out of nowhere, walked down the sidewalk, took a left turn and disappeared into the night.
“Thank you,” said the young woman. “Thank you.”
Her world restored, the young woman picked up her things and opened her car door. She threw the pills she had with her into a bag and drove away. She had no need for them anymore. She had only the road ahead and a light to shine the way home.

*****

“Small, this one,” said Armin, an Angel of the 11th guard. His transparent body floated in the plane between planes. Below him, a small ball of light twinkled in the darkness. “About as small as the last one, wouldn’t you say?”
“Indeed,” said Harda. His comment was more out of habit than agreement, but he knew that Armin was eager to get moving. “But I wouldn’t say he’s bigger or smaller than the last one just yet.”
“No matter,” said Balphin. “He just doesn’t know how big he is. Once he knows, he’ll get going.”
“Agreed,” said Armin. “But he, you say? Well, that has yet to be seen, now doesn’t it?”
The Angels billowed with bright blues and gold. The tiny orb of light sparkled and pulsed as though it were about to explode. Then it rolled a fraction on its side, a yellow dot of light left behind.
“Well,” said Armin. “Looks like we’re about to find out, aren’t we?”

Everyone Has Unique Struggles

Every person in the world has a story to tell. And every person in the world has a different struggle to overcome. I’m honestly humbled by this reality; it’s a truth of life in case you were wondering. No man or woman alive today leads a perfect existence. There’s a definite push and pull in the universe and that same push and pull is occurring just below the surface of every person. It’s happening deep within, close to the heart, and everywhere in between. That’s a fact. So as this story of mine comes to a close, I’m experiencing a hardship of my own: creating a proper struggle for my character. Weird problem to have, is it not?

The reason for this conundrum? I’m convinced that we live in an age of bad writing. Shock value supersedes pure value; predictable and familiar is more welcome than unpredictable and unfamiliar; and the concept of “making it” only applies to writers who have had their works transformed into film. No fault of theirs, but 99% of the time I tell people how I’m finishing up a story, the first question I get asked is this – to my chagrin – something like this: “Do you think it’ll be a movie someday?” To which I reply, “Good Lord, if it does, I hope to have some serious say in how it translates.”

Spirit Run has really made me consider what it takes to make a decent character; specifically one who has a dilemma worth resolving. Every great story has a conflict that’s needs resolution. The questions I have to answer – as a writer – are how to present that conflict, how to get there, and how to go about resolving said conflict. You can stick to the basics, but ultimately, you have to consider what hasn’t been done before. I perform this calculation anytime a new idea poses itself. Does the problem make sense? Is the character exciting to me? Do I care to see what happens to him or her? If my answers end up being ‘no’, I move elsewhere. But if I’m intrigued by where it might be headed, I press on.

The main character of Spirit Run has no name; something I leave ambiguous for my own reasons, but she definitely has a struggle to overcome. And it’s a struggle that’s unique to her, but altogether relevant to the reader too. That’s what I’m hoping to accomplish with this story. Create something new, something different but something familiar too. A unique struggle if I ever had one.

“Spirit Run” – Part 13

Lucky number 13 here. I’ve been putting off this part for a while, I feel. Maybe it’s because I’m nearing the end of this tale. Or maybe I’m just being lazy. I don’t really care which, but I do care about sharing it before I lose sight of doing so. So here it is: the second-to-last section of this story.

Many thanks for the feedback everyone. The encouragement received is more than appreciated – it is humbling and just plain awesome. I’ve uploaded the entire story (minus part 14) on the website.

Thanks again.

“That’s our girl!” cried Harda. The Trio and the Daughter were traveling at a speed that not even the Shadows could sustain.
“Look, brothers,” said Balphin. “That must be where we are headed.”
The Angel pointed with his sword to the center of the horizon. Up ahead, they saw the back of a young woman. She was seated, head between her knees, with long dark hair falling down. Her back heaved up and down, breathing heavily. She eventually stood up, walked to what appeared to be her front door, grabbed a purse and other belongings and exited. Outside, she approached a small car, opened it and drove off. The Trio, Daughter and other Redeemers followed close behind, albeit still a fair distance from where the young woman was.
“That must be her,” said Harda. “Look at how she avoids us.”
“She won’t show us her face,” said Balphin. “The shame keeps her from looking upon us.”
The car drove for a time before finally stopping inside of a parking lot. The woman stepped out of her vehicle and walked to the front of a large building. There were windows all along the outside, with people seated within and throughout. She didn’t enter this place, instead she peered in as if she were looking for someone. And when she found whom she was searching for, she stopped. A young man, seated at the bar, was chatting and placing his hands on a woman he was next to. Their conversation looked lively under the lights of the bar, but there were dark Shadows by their heads and hearts, indiscernible to any mortal’s eyes. The woman dipped her head and walked back to the parking lot. She leaned against her car before slowly slipping down onto one knee. She cupped her hands over her face and began to sob. In her purse, she found a bottle and shook it gently. There was still something left and she wanted to taste it. The Trio could smell the aroma of something filthy and the path to the young woman doubled in length. All along the road, new dangers sprung up – lined with all manner of spiritual beings that had been transparent till now.
That’s when the Trio heard it. War had erupted. Angels and Demons were engaged in battle all around the young woman. Tiny flickers of light, usually unseen by the human, ignited and came alive for all the spiritual realm to see. More Angels and Demons appeared, doing battle as they floated above and all around the distraught woman. The space between realms was warped, only her human form could be seen clearly. Time was slowing down as the war raged on. These new Angels were unlike the Trio; they were bigger. Their heads were wrapped with golden crescents and their weapons were colored in bright gold. The Demons were also different. Some had the appearance of heavenly things, but their light was inverted, drawing in everything to themselves. They shouted at the young woman, seeking praise only for themselves before being silenced by the attack of an Earthly Angel. The two factions had other differences as well. Whereas the Angels were coordinated in their strikes, the Demons were not. Those allied with the Darkness did not aid one another in combat. Their individual gain and self-preservation was more important, it seemed, while the combined onslaught of the Angels was unified. Demons stepped over top of other Demons, calling out for someone to worship them as they attacked the young woman.
“Don’t lose sight of her, lads!” shouted Armin. The Daughter ran headlong through the storm, advancing as quickly as the Trio and other Angels could make possible for her. Demons lashed out, but the Earthly Angels crushed them before they could reach the Trio. The ground shook as the Daughter ran on. The path to the woman was shaking, a sharp static resonating through the tunnel that led to her. One of the larger Demons slashed at the Daughter, but Armin intercepted. He took the blow from the Demon, cutting his wing and landing on the ground.
“Armin!” shouted Harda.
Armin tumbled and rolled but the Demon was not concerned with Armin; it wanted the Daughter and rushed in to claim her. Harda and Balphin flew over, standing face to face with the Demon. It was hideous but marvelous to behold. Its body was literally inverted; its head was down where its knees should have been but its legs were absent, or without form. A large mouth opened by its chest while its arms jutted from its sides. Light glimmered just below the mouth while a large hole – dark and black – cradled above its throat. Its skin was shining but it darkened, then paled as it drew closer to the Daughter. This creature interchanged between something beautiful and something terrifying with every advancement it made. Balphin and Harda were not impressed by its array of stunning attributes. They charged headlong and cut the Demon with their weapons before it could impede upon the Daughter. The creature howled, ever calling out the Daughter as it backpedaled from them. The two Angels then snatched their fallen comrade and reformed their protective circle. The Daughter slowed her pace as though she was waiting for Armin to rejuvenate himself.
“Don’t stop for me, sweetheart…” said Armin. His strength was fading. “Don’t stop… please don’t… burns…it burns like fire….”
“Do as he says!” shouted Balphin and he scooped up Armin under his arm. “Harda, can you follow her?”
“Yes, I will,” said Harda. He floated above the Daughter, watching for any other being that may try to ensnare her. “Do not lose hope. We can make it yet.”
“Perhaps you only need a few more to help you along,” shouted a voice from the plane above. The Trio raised their heads to see what had called out to them. Armin’s face beamed with joy and the other Angels did the same. It was none other than the Angel that Armin had encountered before. With him, he brought an entourage of other warriors, each equipped with a weapon ready to do battle.
“Don’t fret, my friends!” shouted the blue-eyed Angel. “You rescue is here. As requested!”