Blog

Welcome.

This is my blog. When I want to take a break from writing my fantasy series, StarDust, I come here and throw some random thoughts on the page just to see what sticks. Writers need to do that now and then, clear out the cogs, because no matter how much you love the current work-in-progress, there are always other pesky ideas clamoring to get out. But you won’t see my series, StarDust, among the blog stories because until it gets published, it’s under wraps. If you want to know more about the Stardust saga or what DrakaenWood is, then you have to click on the STARDUST link. See it? Right there on the side of the page, below HOME.

This blog is also a place for us, you and I, to chat. Your thoughts are always welcome, maybe you have some cogs you want to clear out, too. In my opinion, listening is just as important as telling, and any writer worth their salt knows that.

Thanks for stopping by, and come back often. There's always some new thing mugging for attention, and your visits quiet the squawkers so I can get some real work done. ;)

The Writing Process Blog Tour

by D. D. Falvo on August 7, 2014 | @ddfalvo

Things have been quiet in this blog for too long. The unlit space stretches beyond my imagination, and a chill wind rattles the empty pages like dead leaves. I poke around a bit, a blind search for my muse.

“Hey! Wakey-wakey! We’ve got a blog to write,” I call into the void.

My voice echoes, but I know he’s there. The unmistakeable odor of grape Pixie Stix teases my tastebuds. His audible exhale pours through the passage from afar, a warm current sluicing the frigid stillness. Then the heart of my inspiration, an ebony dragon who changes size at will, rouses from the depths and settles near.

“About time,” Zeb said. His voice booms.

I can’t see him, but he “sounds” large today–and he’s peckish.

“Where’ve you been? I’m hungry,” he said, then yawned. The vibrations rumble through the blog’s corridors, disturbing a fine silt that sprinkles on my hair and clothes.

Something else rustles in a corner. Something . . . new. I peer into the DrakaenWood cave and answer his complaint with one of my own.

“Can’t see a damn thing in here. The lanterns are all gutted.”

“Would you like a light switch?” Zeb sounds bemused.

“Of course not.” I extend my arms, encompassing the breadth of the landscape in my soul. “DrakaenWood is a rural setting–there’s no electrical here.”

“And the reason for that is . . .?” he prods.

“It’s the credible framework for what I write,” I grumble. “The Reader could never take me seriously, if I conjured a light switch on a cave wall or a Live Oak and . . . oh. Oh, I see what you’re doing.”

As a creature of logic, Zeb can do nothing with my complaints.  It’s been so long since I’ve been here, I almost forgot that while his resources are limitless, he doesn’t make decisions; that’s my job as a writer. I face his slow, widening grin; it gleams in the dark, backlit by the eternal fire in his belly. His teeth are silhouetted mountain peaks, haloed in white smog.

“Light it up, please,” I asked. “I’d like stars. Millions of them.”

And he does. He’s a grouchy thing at times, but usually quite accommodating.

The room flares with silvery light, and . . . Oh. Hello. What’s this?

Blinking Trio of Owls

 

The blog has gained a few more inhabitants in my absence.

“Zeb?” I arch an eyebrow.

“We’re keeping them,” he announces. “You like the noise they make. They eat the voles and the little one cleans up the place.”

The unwavering stare of the small owl in the center catches me off-guard.

“I do? They . . . what? Why do we have voles?”

He looks sheepish, and it’s clear this is a matter for later.

Back to the task at hand . . .

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I’ve been invited by Rhiann Wynn-Nolet to participate in The Writing Process Blog. If you know Rhiann, you know that her blog posts are an unpredictable blend of the extraordinary and humor, and are filled with much heart that catches one up in surprising ways. A co-founder of the Like A Virgin pitch contests (opportunity for an unpublished author to get her/his completed MS in front of an agent), and the popular weekly blog hop (now in hiatus) Thursday’s Children, Rhiann knows how to gather the troops and get things hopping, but she’s also an amazing friend and I’ve learned a lot from her. Her current project is a dark psychological suspense featuring a teenage boy who discovers a mermaid; despite her indisposed state, he believes she may be the perfect girlfriend.

Twitter: @RhiannWynnNolet

What am I currently working on?

Zeb nods. “Pray enlighten us. It’s been so long the tails on the WellerMelon have fallen off and regrown themselves twice.”

“Oh, shush,” I reply. “Everyone knows I have only one writerly love . . . “

His head drops low, a side angle that crowds my view with a seven foot dragon’s eye. The reflection of my image swirls in the prism of his iris; facets of me tumble and fold as if in a kaleidoscope. His fathomless pupil holds a glare that stops my declaration mid-statement.

“Er, um . . . one writerly love besides my indispensable muse, of course.”

“Naturally,” he purred.

StarDust is the name of my series. But before you go conjuring the image of glittering debris suspended in air, this is not the fairy pollen you know and love. Trivia fact re: Star and Dust represent two distinct entities– my protagonist and my villain. Can you guess which is which, or what each represents?  Second trivia fact: my epic is filled with new rotations on traditional concepts.

Lumen, is my current project. It’s the first in the series and introduces the reader to the world of O’a, and the four cultures that inhabit it. Two cultures are mighty nations, one excelling in technology, and the other in magic. A longstanding, cold war between them never progresses due to the dangerous landscape which separates their lands. The third culture is the “undesirable” element no one loves, who cannot even find it within them to love themselves. The fourth are the destroyers, driven by a bone-withering evil. They are created of the stuff nightmares fear.

At the heart of the matter are two very young, abandoned children, Michael and Arianne. Each follows a separate path that takes them headlong into danger. Their prospective guardians, Rhys, and Copper, are the most unlikely and, for all appearances, unsuitable for the job. Rhys is the Warden of DrakaenWood’s son who has just lost his birthright and wants it back at any cost.  Copper is a barren, social pariah who married the Chancellor of Edo’s defiant son. Though her dearest wish is a baby of her own, Copper’s high-profile status makes it difficult to hide the child she shouldn’t have, the one whose origin, in a place like Edo, is a death sentence for them all.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My work is a marriage of the ordinary laced with Magic Realism, and the extraordinary–High Fantasy in all it’s full glory. Even if you don’t read Fantasy, I’m going to suck you in with characters that feel like people you know; troubles that resonate; and a landscape that feels so  familiar that you will have fallen in my world, accepting that stone gryphons fly, before you realize it.

Why do I write what I write?

To quell the voices in my head. And to win a few battles for those who have no voice.

How does my individual writing process work?

Each word is dragon-breathed. Seriously. And as long as I feed him, Zeb is a virtual well of ideas. Though he’s known for favoring cat treats, the real sustenance is music. The notes reach deep into my subconscious and draw forth the emotion and memory, providing building blocks for the construct. It’s a process. While the music is absorbed, the mulling wheel turns. Then it’s time for silence and keyboard clacks. I’m a terrible typist in that after thousands of words, I still watch my fingers–but those practiced little digits are a speedy blur.

Oh–and lots of liquids keep everything well-oiled. Preferably coffee lattes with almond milk, please.

Please meet a few of my Writing Tribe members whose gracious consent has landed them in the middle of this blog hop. (Thank you so much for playing along) ~

Jo Eberhardt

Twitter: @JoEberhardt

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“Mama” Jo, as she is lovingly called by *Pitches & Plots members on FB, is a highly effective, can-do bundle of energy and spitfire. She writes Comic Fantasy, peppering it with the Paranormal, and also delves into both Urban and High Fantasy. Her current work, Clock Strikes Twelve, features an endearing but beset head-minion, named Twelve. As suits his position, Twelve’s standards are impeccable, and he’s quite determined to divorce his vampiric master of a newly developed pop-culture fetish–one that endangers the lives of each household member in his service. Setting the household back to it’s proper standing, is an honorable task that Twelve would happily die for. Unfortunately, the only way to fulfill his duty is the acceptance of change, a condition abhorrent to the very nature of his soul and, for a proper minion, a fate worse than death.  Jo’s sublime mix of comedic timing and magic realism had me laughing so hard that Pie (my cat) ran off to hide under a bed.

Is it surprising that Jo lives in FutureLand? Let’s spice the **soup pot, and share that home is a caravan in the middle of a paddock in the bush. With this much resourceful determination you can’t be surprised that, at the age of four, she had already declared her intention to be a famous author. There’s no doubt in my mind it’s only full steam ahead for her–on batwings, of course.

*Pitches & Plots is a Facebook writing group.

**There has been discussion among P&P members that Jo’s muse may actually be soup.

Bernadette Phipps-Lincke

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Bernadette “Bee” doesn’t believe in genre profiling–“I just write the story that comes to me, and as it develops other people put it in genre category.” she says. That process works well for her as her debut novel, Burning Lily (Wild Child Publishing), is set for publication in 2014. It’s a Paranormal/Magic Realism with a touch of Macabre, evokeing haunting visuals, and realistic, sometimes gritty dialogue. I would call her writing fearless and captivating, much like the author herself. Her deep respect for life comes through her work and her voice, something I admire greatly about her. Bee’s currently working on The 7th Spinner.

From Burning Lily (with the authors permission): “Some days, Phil joked that he’d lost that incisor in a fight with a mean-ass poltergeist in the Hills’s family crypt. Other days, he claimed he got shit-faced drunk, fell into some rich old dude’s open grave and whacked his tooth out on the ornate coffin trim. Lily could never tell what the truth was, and what he made up.”

 Nicole L. Bates

Twitter: @NicoleLBates

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Nicole’s blog is well-visited for the wonderful short stories she writes and serializes over a several week stint. Though her talent is big, she’s much beloved for the genuine warmth and the generous support she brings to her Writerly Tribe.  Her steady heart and work ethic is a constant inspiration to me. Shout out to congratulate her and her loved ones on their recent (and very beautiful) addition to the family! Nicole’s newest short story, The Mortal Years, is published in the the TV Gods anthology. Her current WIP, Empyrean, is a Sci-Fi tale of two extraordinary cultures who must overcome mounting odds, and redefine themselves in a visually rich world. Nicole starts her day with green tea and raw honey, and loves to run the rural paths near her home where the gorgeous landscape — (I’ve seen it in photos). She says if it weren’t for the GPS on her phone she’d probably be lost on a back road somewhere.

Kim Downes Bullock

Twitter: @KBullockAuthor

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Kim writes historical fiction. Her current work, The Oak Lovers, is based on the colorful life of her great-grandparents; and landscape painter Carl Ahrens and his second wife, Madonna, an artist in her own right. I first met Kim through Writer Unboxed where she works as administrative assistant, more specifically in the lively posting feed of our large and wondrous WU Facebook community, whose members we lovingly call our Writerly Tribe. Her father’s career of building golf courses took her afar as child; she’s lived in Mexico, The Philippines, and Finland, but today she calls Dallas, TX home, and resides there with her husband and two artistic daughters.

Marta Pelrine-Bacon

Twitter:  @mapelba

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Marta oozes creativity. When she’s not developing eye-catching artwork–novels cut and sliced to make memorable images–she’s using her talent to create words into Magic Realism, that encompasses both YA and Woman’s Fiction genres. Her debut novel The Blue Jar (published by Plum Tree Books) is described as quirky and off-beat and was born the day an imaginary set of marbles clattered down a wooden staircase. She’s currently working on her sophomore novel, Drowning Karma, and on an online serial of sorts, named The Fairy Tale Asylum. I have already dubbed her the Title-Master for obvious reasons. She makes her FB friends laugh with her humorous observations, and balances her quiet work with speed skating for exercise.

 

 

Thanks for visiting! :D What is your writing process? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below:

 

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Cliché? Touché.

by D. D. Falvo on May 29, 2013 | @ddfalvo

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Thursday’s Children is a weekly blog hop,

 founded by Rhiann Wynn-Nolet & Kristen Perez

where writers share their inspirations.

 Inspired by ~ Idioms.

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In the movie War Games, hacker David Lightman (Matthew Broderick) is in the  hot seat after an autonomous supercomputer misinterprets his request to play an online game–and begins a real global thermonuclear war. The viewer is on pins and needles until Lightman levels the playing field, so our gooses aren’t cooked on a grand scale.

David’s backside isn’t really on fire. Sharp objects poke no one, no hoeing is involved, and we aren’t planning a poultry dinner.

But you still understand what I’m talking about, because idioms are as old as dirt, and as common as houseflies–there are over 25K in the English language. Those catchy, little phrases pop out of our mouths with surprising ease, ringing in our ears like our mother’s voices from a decade gone by.

Idiom  . . . a combination of words that has a figurative meaning, due to common usage. An idiom’s figurative meaning is separate from the literal meaning or definition of the words of which it is made. (Wikipedia)

These snippets are so well-ingrained in our brains that they often find their way into our work. But they aren’t original vehicles. Why bump along in a Little Tykes Cozy Coupe when you can customize your own sleek ride?

(cracks knuckles) Let’s do better.

The Proposal: Pick an idiom, any idiom, (flourishes a handful of choices, here and here ). I challenge you to rephrase any idiom in your own words, or make up an entirely new one–and put it in the comments. If you’re reading the comments, reply with what you think the original might have been. If your guess is already there, let ‘er ride.

Can you figure out which idiom I rewrote for the following excerpt from my WIP, Lumen?

Celeste huffed into clasped hands, and surveyed the horizon through rising breath clouds. To the left, the manmade glow of the imperial nation, Edo, pushed back the onset of Twilight. To the right, the WilderForest blurred into an amber maze of branches and shadow. She chewed her lip and eyed the crowd of trees, seeking the ancient oak. At this moment, finding it had all the pitfalls of sorting a diamond from a pile of broken glass.

“Where are you?” she cried.

The only answer was the low moan of creaking limbs, and the whoosh of a restless breeze.

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ON TARGET

by D. D. Falvo on May 23, 2013 | @ddfalvo

Inspired by Setting Sights . . .

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A weekly blog hop

where writers share their inspirations.

Please join us!

One of the first things I remember is my mom telling me to look where I’m going. I won’t say I learned that lesson quickly, and the varying results of my resistance have caused no small amount of grief. But I’ve learned a few things along the way.

HOLD YOUR AIM TRUE

I Got This

I Got This

Kali pedaled down our quiet street, the new bike wobbled–her first time without training wheels. “I’m doing it!” she said. She gained confidence and speed, then veered toward a parked car. “Oh, nooo. Help!” she said.

“Look away, Kali!” My husband shouted. She looked toward the sound of his voice, and the bike headed for him. He jumped aside with a short exclamation,  grabbed the handle bars, and stopped the erratic driver. My husband’s eyes met mine and we tried not to laugh. Her newfound confidence faltered.

“The bike will go where you look,” my husband said. “You gotta keep your eyes on the road ahead of you.”

Doubt clouded her features

“Try again,” I urged.

She started–slow at first, her posture stiff. We cheered. She ignored us, her features set in concentration–but the grin was back. She approached a cul-de-sac-type curve, and I yelled, “Look left!”

“I know,” she yelled back, still facing forward. “I got this.”

Our bodies follow what we hold in our sights with unwavering instinct. The path we place our dreams upon are no different. Looking forward keeps me moving ahead. Twists and turns along the way are inevitable. Sometimes I lose my focus, but the way isn’t lost–the view needs an adjustment.

WATCH OUT

The Younger Daredevil

The Younger Daredevil

From the road, our previous driveway resembled a lower-case b–the long stroke a downward incline to the garage, while the circle preceded the front of the house. My youngest daughter biked a path up the circle’s graduated slope.  She rounded the last bend, heading back down, then quickly realized the error of that direction. The bike gained momentum, charging down the descent like greased lightening. Lauren did what any kid would do, she turned a panicked look to mom for help, and with that, I became her new destination. Her two-wheeled rocket jumped the curb, aimed straight for my back and the brick of our home. I was gardening on my knees. My husband watched his child–a 45 pound heat-seeking missile at full speed–hone in on his oblivious wife, and he ran; he lifted Lauren off the bike seconds before the metal frame rammed my body.

Sometimes, even though I’m on the right path, there are other challenges–the ride accelerates beyond my control. These are the times when I’m not enough. My faith is challenged, and I have to trust in something beyond me. Help comes from unexpected places and sometimes at the last minute. And sometimes I crash, it’s not the worst thing. I gotta get up and try a new direction.

IN THE CROSSHAIRS

The take away? No matter what my dreams are, I have to keep my eye on the target. Lock in on that goal and hang on.  It takes patience. Holding steady for long periods of time is a skill worth developing–a muscle that grows when flexed. I try to align my confidence with it. It’s not easy to do.

DON’T LOOK DOWN . . .

You would think that gaining some higher ground would be a relief. The truth is, for me, it’s scarier. Expectations become lofty, and there’s no looking down. I can’t second guess where I am, or worry about how far there is to go. But I believe we all have to continue the steady climb, anchoring each new strike with a solid foothold. And if the unexpected comes along, we have to trust the skills we’ve gained to pull ourselves back up.

Game of Thrones– The Climb, Jon Snow & Ygritte

 . . . OR BACK

“Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.”

I love that quote. It’s common sense, simply put. I won’t belabor it.

How about you? Where are your sights set? Are you keeping your eye on the forward path? When you’re derailed, how do you get back on track?

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IT’S ALL IN THE VOICE BLOG HOP

by D. D. Falvo on May 17, 2013 | @ddfalvo

Only a new blog hop from Heather Webb has the magical power to lure this reclusive writer out from her cave. Why? Because Heather’s got mad editing skills that she generously shares with others, and she’s a sweetheart.

It’s all about the voice this time! 15 authors have posted the first 250 words of their novels for your entertainment and feedback. Come on over to Heather’s blog, Between The Sheets for the linky list of participates and join the creative fun.

I’m skipping my prologue for this blog hop, and diving right into chapter one. Advance thanks for your time and comments! :D (Note: Rhys is pronounced Reese, which, IMO, is way better than Rice. :P)

Title: Lumen, Genre: High Fantasy

Chapter One, Regret

Rhys Anders should have ducked, but stubborn pride kept him stiffly unbent. He braced, for what whistled toward him was gonna hurt like hell. The oncoming fist charged with the force of a steed at full gallop, slamming his nose with a sickening crunch. His eyes watered. A searing pain spread, then dulled, and he gasped as the ballooning appendage joined his alarming collection of damage. Bound and surrounded, he swayed—battling only for balance.

Where is she!”

The cry was not so much a question as a primal roar.

The interrogator paced before him like a provoked lion, moving with sinuous grace, panting with rage. Torchlight spilled over the stockade, burnishing their sweat-soaked skin. A tawny mane crossed his captor’s face with ragged shadows, but did not hide the wrath-filled features.

Rhys cobbled his resolve and held silent. Words would not alter his fate. The night reeked of steel and bloodlust. With or without answers, the warrior, Aiden, lusted for his death—a sentiment also reflected on the callous faces of those gathered, the ones watching with postures of repressed violence and hatred in their hard stares. Gaelts. A fierce hunting clan, allies of the noble house of Ehlenroed. Border guards for the northern nation of Éland.

Where is Rhiannon?” Aiden bellowed.

Where indeed? Rhys wondered. His head dropped low, throbbing as blood rushed to meet gravity. He sucked breath open-mouthed and tongued a loose tooth, all the while considering possible whereabouts for the woman in question.

Rhiannon.

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I am honored to fill in for Heather L. Reid at Hugs and Chocolate, today–and through May, with once a month guest posts. Heather is currently working hard on upcoming promotions for her new release, Pretty Dark Nothing. Hugs & Chocolate is a favorite among blogs for the wonderful writing team that includes Heather, Tonia Marie Houston, Jamie Raintree, Jani GreyCourtney Koscheland Rebecca Fields. I met both Heather and Tonia through the wonderful Writer Unboxed community on Facebook and am a huge fan of both their talent.

Most of the posts on H&C are either inspirational or offer keen insights to the writing process. Each is a mini treasure to be savored. Those of you who follow me know this is a step outside my comfort zone. I’m a story-teller at heart and it turns out that cannot be repressed.  I tried. :P  My thoughts about living with a mercurial muse were very much inspired by Lara Schiffbauer’s post, How To Access Your Intuition.

C’mon over to H&C, and meet my muse, Zeb–a fun-loving purple dragon with a mind of his own. Tell me your thoughts about what inspires you, and how you keep your creativity alive.  See you there!

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GUTGAA–Meet & Greet

by D. D. Falvo on September 2, 2012 | @ddfalvo

Welcome GUTGAA participants! First, I really would like to thank Deana Barnhart, host of  the Gearing Up To Get An Agent Blogfest/Pitch Contest, and the participating agents. If you would like to join in with the 6 week long festivities be sure to sign up here. The GUTGAA FAQ info is here.

Questions for the Meet and Greet

-Where do you write?

This is where I write– in the attic nook of my 100+ year-old house. There’s just enough room for a whole world full of fantastical creatures, landscapes with attitude, grumbly mages, and children who are really earthbound stars. Every now and then a dragon gets out, but experience has taught me to keep the fire extinguisher close and to practice some patience–those pesky beasts always return home because everyone knows the cat treats in my kitchen are never as good as the wobble fish in Ir. You can visit them all in my fantasy series called StarDust.

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?

A bag of dark chocolate-covered acai berries, a stack of used notebooks, and my Zebra F-402.

-Favorite time to write?

Early, before the dawn and after pouring coffee.

It’s 2 AM right now, so the deep of night is awesome, too– it’s all the secrets the dark holds, you know? But dawn is the favorite, for the promise of a new day where anything can happen.

-Drink of choice while writing?

Whoops! Nailed two dragons with one thunderbolt (see above.) Oh! But may I add, a Starbucks hot green tea latte (no foam, no sweetener) is *never* refused?

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

Utter silence– which technically doesn’t exist. Noise cancellation headphones come close to getting there.

But for inspiration/editing, music draws out the muse and gets her dancing.

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

 Hmm . . . a life-long passion for magical things, and the driving need to push past the limits of reality.

-What’s your most valuable writing tip?

Connect with other writers.

My Tribe of author friends have taught me so much; we share our collective knowledge, our talent, and our dreams. They are my mentors, my staunchest supporters, and my guideposts for navigating the world of publishing. Without them I am nothing.

And always keep a pen and paper at hand, especially while sleeping.

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BLACK BEE

by D. D. Falvo on August 19, 2012 | @ddfalvo

Photo copyright 2004 by Jackie, Essex, Ontario, Canada–Sphex pensylvanicus


I sift the earth, extracting slender green things with surgical precision. The garden is my heaven; in it, I play god, choosing what lives or dies. This is where I sift my thoughts, too, and comb the tangles of my life. The sun warms my back while I help a fat worm escape the demolition. Birds natter and scold. Butterflies dip and dance. I rub my nose with a dirty hand and shut my eyes. This peace, it’s balm to my soul.

The healthy shrieks of my two young daughters shatter the moment. I quickly assess the sound.

Little girl’s screams are, in my experience, classified by four types: the ear-splitting staccato of jubilant happiness; the guttural wail of anger/hurt; the shrill piping of terror, and the breathless squeal of shock/awe, which is a little like terrible excitement.

The girl’s feet patter through the open garage with united purpose, their yells are peppered with hushed collaboration. Okay, so—not fighting. Scratch outrage. I watch them seek my outdoor haunts with systematic composure. No mindless terror present there, but—they aren’t happy either.

The youngest spots me first, and they both rush to tower over me, babbling and gasping for breath. I relax. This is awe.

“A bee!” the younger one exclaims. Her knees buckle and spring as she hops in place.

“A black bee,” the older one impresses upon me. Her five year-old face is as serious as a newscaster announcing a contagious outbreak. “It’s really big, too.”

“He’s chasing us!” The youngest tears up. You can only be brave for so long when you are three.

My mind stumbles over this information. Wha  . . .? A black bee? Is there even such a thing?

I sigh. “Show me,” I say, but I lead and they trail behind. They trip and giggle while pushing each other, intoxicated with the thrill of fear.

“See? There!” the five year old cries out, triumphant. She points to the paladian arch over the sink.

The ebony-colored insect crawls across the window, wavering in drunken circles and buzzing like a hive on steroids. This is no bee. Its sleek body, backlit by the afternoon sun, is the length of my smallest finger. The gloss of her graceful lines is an evil shine.

“Wasp,” I whisper, though I have never seen one so large. Queen! my instincts shout, and the roiling in my stomach seconds that summation.

Tired of listless wandering, the queen takes flight and dive bombs us. I suffer age regression, yelping and ducking with my children. She circles back, and we sway and scream like we are riding the tilt-a-whirl over a bump. We cower beneath our counter-top while the black bullet commands the air space.

“What do we do?” the youngest asks, trembling. Both girls, wide-eyed, look to me to fix the problem. I know exactly what to do.

“Time to call out the big guns,” I mutter. I shuffle across the kitchen like a soldier under siege, then grapple for my lifeline—the phone tumbles into my hand.

“Hey,” my husband says, his voice low and distracted. “Everything okay?”

“There’s a bug in the house,” I hiss, and flatten against the wall as the thing zooms by. “I think it’s a wasp!”

He laughs. “Oh-kay. Is that it? I’m sorry.” His voice drops to a conspiratorial whisper, “We’re really busy today.” I hear him shift the phone and confer with a co-worker.

My lifeline is leaving me adrift! I persist. “I-I think it’s a queen. It’s huge. And black and . . .” I trail off as he interrupts.

“I’m sorry, honey. Talk to you later?”

“Wait! What about the wasp?” The unmistakable whine in my voice makes even me cringe.

A pregnant pause that I’m all too familiar with fills the line.

That short span of silence is one of many things that I love about my husband. Instead saying exactly what he’s really thinking, right after I do or say something stupid, he waits approximately four seconds—most likely filtering what he’s going to say, instead of giving me the reply I deserve.

He clears his throat. “What did you want me to do—come home and kill it for you?” A hint of sarcasm colors his answer.

“Of course not, that’s ridiculous.” Yes, I do. I really, really do.

I hang up the phone, then stand. I wryly note I have backbone and it is intact. My children peep at me from between the barstools, intrigued by the change in my demeanor. “Is Daddy going to come home and kill the wasp?”

“Nope. I am,” I declare. They gasp and jostle each other.

“Are you gonna use the vacuum cleaner?” the five year-old asks. I bite my lip, and shake my head. Vacuum cleaners are perfect fly traps, but the uncertainty of whether the wind tunnel and dust would kill a hardier creature weighs upon me. I have a ridiculous fear of insect vengeance. My vacuum sat out of commission for two weeks, the nozzle secured with plastic and rubber bands, right after I sucked up a three-inch wolf spider.

I march to the dish drainer and grab an empty jar, at once smug. My husband, who decries my penchant for saving them, will be assailed of this virtue tonight. Above the sink, the queen has resumed crawling on the glass. With my heart in my throat, I climb the counter and poise. Can she see me? I lean close. She vibrates with fluid motion and humps the glass with her needle-tipped back—flaunting the weapon she can use at will. I quail at the thought of getting stung. My hand shakes. What if I miss? In my mind, she has supernatural speed and looms larger than my reach. A murmur breaks my confidence. I drop my hand and look down. Buoyed by my newfound courage, the girls have collected below and wait with hushed anticipation.

“Get back,” I tell them between clenched teeth. “What if …?” They scramble before I finish. I return to my task and plunge the jar with swift aim.

“You did it! You got her! Yay!” The girls clap and jump up and down. Mom has saved the day. But, wait. I didn’t think this through. She’s trapped—yes. But the blood rushing from my arm reminds me that I cannot lift the jar from the window without repercussion. The queen rails against her glass prison, flinging her hard-shelled body in every direction like a berserker military tank. Tap, tap, tap, thunk.Tap, tap, tap, thunk.

“How are you going to get her off the window?” the five year-old asks.

From the mouths of babes.

“Quick! I need an envelope.” The three year-old runs for the item, eager to help. Later, she will tell her dad she played an important role in the wasp’s capture. The arch is lined with pie-shaped grills that defy this simple task. I drag the queen to the widest spot and worry she will sneak through the minuscule crack as I slide the stiff paper beneath. I worry she will jab me through the thin vellum before I exchange my clamped hold for a metal lid. The queen knows this is her last chance for freedom and redoubles her efforts. The gap the envelope will leave while I transfer the lid is enough to give me pause. I shake the jar hard, knocking her to the bottom, and seal the top posthaste.

The girls and I turn the jar, examining the queen in her glass prison. She rages, grating like an outboard motor, but she’s no longer a threat. I cup her in my hand and find pity.

“Now what?” the five year-old asks. “Are you going to let her go outside?”

I stiffen—I can’t let her go. More than bug vengeance, reason tells me this critter’s particular purpose will not serve my home or neighbors very well. My shoulders sag. Suffering in a jar until she wastes away seems inhumane, but a quick death is no longer possible. The queen stops her frantic lashing and pants. I admire the elegant, albeit wicked, beauty of this creature—her only crime is that she is as she was made. She is a warrior, and a mother. A twinge of sadness weights my heart.

I’m in no mood to sort this out. “Your father will know what to do,” I reply, and give the queen a temporary home in our cool garage.

Later that night, my husband pokes his head in our bathroom. I’m dressing for our evening engagement and running late, so he only gets half my attention.

“Hey! Do we still have a wasp in the house?”

I hear the snicker in his voice, and roll my eyes.

“No. I captured it in a jar.”

“Really?” He is intrigued. “Where did you put it?”

“Um . . . in the garage. Somewhere.” I finish swiping mascara on my lashes and look up, but he is gone.

We are en route to our event before I remember the queen. We have a long ride ahead, and I’m using the time to topcoat my nails.

“Did you find the wasp?” I ask.

“Yep.”

“Well?”

“I killed it.”

I chew on this information for a bit. The last time I saw the queen, she was spitting mad. I can’t figure out how he got her out without getting stung, or her flying off. To further complicate matters, I can’t understand why he of all people would take the risk.

“How?”

“I shook the jar until it got dizzy and I threw it against the ground.”

Oh. Yes. That makes sense. Hadn’t I shook her myself to fell her from the top? But, I’m surprised as well, she seemed tougher built than that.

“And that killed her?”

“Well, no.”

He is quiet. I know this particular silence. I stop painting, and look up.

“What did you do?”

He clears his throat and a rare blush stains his profile. “I torched it.” This statement is punctuated with a shrug.

“You . . . What?” I am at once dull-witted. My brain stops and starts, sputtering—This does not compute.

My husband helps me get there quicker.

“I torched it. With. A. Lighter.”

The words sink in. I envision the long-handled butane type used for the grill. Blood heats my skin.

“You torched it?” I repeat. My voice rises at the end.

“Yeah,” he shrugs. “And then I stepped on it.”

“You burnt my bug?” I yell. The vehemence surprises me as much as it does him.

“Yeah. So what?”

Bewildered, I stare at the stranger beside me, attempting to reconcile him with the husband I know— the man who rescues our pond frogs, which, would otherwise be run-over because they like to party in our driveway when it rains; the man who maintains multiple feeders for wild birds and stray ducks; the man who roused me from a deep slumber to aid the seven week-old kitten who cried so piteously on our deck, and never left.

My quiet interlude prompts him to speak. “She would have stung me, you know. She would have killed me without hesitation.”

He’s right, of course. A fatal allergy to stinging insects has marked his life with much angst.

I think about my little girls and the variety of screams they use to convey their emotions. Women do that, too—in a more articulate fashion, of course. We rely on our voices, our sounds, or lack thereof, to express our feelings. My husband knows this, which is why my silence concerns him more than any words I might say.

Mars and Venus are so different.

Male quietude usually equals contentment. Venting is resolved, not with words, but physical expression. The boy in Home Alone faced fear with a baseball bat. John Wayne confronted anger with fisticuffs. College boys bump chests to show happiness. And if a boy wants your attention, well, depending on the age—there’s hair-pulling, tickle-prodding, or bear hugs. It makes sense. Traditional roles dictate that Venus nurtures and Mars protects. It’s a condition of how we are made.

“Are you upset with me?” he asks.

How can I be? Even I, in my garden, pull weeds.

“No,” I reply. “It was just a bug.”

What issues have caused Mars and Venus to become unaligned in your home?  What would you have done with the queen?

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“WHAT IF” FAIRY TALE MADNESS BLOGFEST

by D. D. Falvo on July 21, 2012 | @ddfalvo

“WHAT IF’ FAIRY TALE MADNESS BLOGFEST– PART II, THE ENTRY: CINDERELLA

The prince was unexpectedly hideous.

Visiting princesses fled the ball, unswayed by his wealth. Cinderella accepted his proposal, turning a blind eye in exchange for a royal life.

The challenge exceeded her ambition.

“He’s so ugly, I cannot bear to kiss him,” Cinderella bemoaned while brushing her hair. She paused mid-stroke, and eyed her fairy godmother. “Can’t you do something?”

“Stupid girl,” the fairy said, and waved her bony hand before the princess’s mirror.

Cinderella followed the movement, then startled at her reflection. A plain-faced girl imitated every frantic gesture of her distress.

“What have you done?” she cried.

“Undone.”

“Excuse me?”

The fairy sighed. “Your beauty was a spell, seen only by you—a confidence booster you no longer need.”

“No!” Cinderella protested. “My beauty is renowned, I am much admired by all.”

“Your kindness was renowned, your loving spirit much admired. Now vanity consumes both. Handmaids flee your foul moods, the cook cries because she cannot please you—your prince avoids your ill-concealed contempt. You are what you see,” the fairy replied.

“Old witch, get out of my sight!” Cinderella said.

The fairy gave her a sharp rap between the eyes. Cinderella screamed as the chamber went dark. She stumbled about, blind, before falling into a desolate heap.

Fearing her temper, her maids left her alone. Cinderella curled on the floor, weeping, until a warm hand touched her face and a kind voice lifted her from her despair.

Why did I never notice how rich the prince’s baritone is? she wondered, and cried harder when he hand-fed her dinner.

“My love, why do you weep?” he asked.

“Because you are so beautiful,” she sobbed, then kissed him, willingly. At that moment her sight returned, and the prince saw the truth shining in her eyes.

***

A special thank you to Morgan Shamy, Leigh Covington, Cassie Mae, and Mark Koopmans for producing such a creative and fun blog hop. All four hosts are amazing writers– you can visit their page by clicking on their names. Each of their blogs provide a full list of participants and links to the entries. There are so many great stories, you’ll want to enjoy them all. :) 

It’s really hard to write a complete story in 300 words, but I did my best and hope you enjoyed it. :) What fairy tale is your favorite– and if you could change one thing, what would you choose?

 

 

“WHAT IF” FAIRY TALE MADNESS BLOGNESS– PART I, THE RULES:

WHAT IF?
Fairytale Madness BlogFest!
AUGUST 13th – 17th  

 

Outwitting the dry heat this summer has been a challenge, and it seems even this blog could use a little rain. :) I’ve been working on LUMEN during the Nanowrimo summer camps, and trying my hand at flash fiction — the latest being my submission for the Fairytale Madness Blogfest, hosted by  Leigh CovingtonMark KoopmansCassie Mae, and Morgan Shamy . Come join the blog hop August 13th through the 17th, even if you don’t write you are sure to enjoy the collection of short stories based on the following categories: Plot Twist, Love Story, Tragedy, and Comic Relief.  If you’d like to try your hand at sketching out a scene of 300 words or less, click on any of the links above to learn more about it and sign up!

I chose the story of Cinderella and the category, PLOT TWIST. There’s so much more I wanted to write– it’s very, very hard to limit a scene to 300 words! My entry can be found in the blog above.

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QUERY CORRAL BLOG HOP

by D. D. Falvo on June 25, 2012 | @ddfalvo

Hello fellow blog-hoppers! Welcome to my website. :)

I have two queries for your consideration. One for my series, StarDust, and one for the first book, Lumen. Your feedback is much appreciated, so thanks for coming by. I’m really looking forward to returning the favor, and learning more about what you’ve been up to as well. Thank you to Heather Webb for creating yet another fun contest! For those of you not participating in the hop, be sure to check out Heather’s writer blog, Between The Sheets There’s lots of good stuff inside.

Query for Lumen (first novel)   FINAL CONTEST UPDATE  SUBMITTED: 06-29-12

Copper Erikson is a national pariah, subjected to a court-ordered procedure that leaves her barren. Dan Keller is the heir who turned his back on the Noble community, for the love of  her. Desperate for a child of their own, the couple accepts a baby from a mysterious stranger, but the child, Arianne, is no ordinary little girl. That’s a problem in a country like Edo, where the wrong birthright is a capitol offense—and now her hair is glowing.

The mercenary, Rhys Anders, is framed for murder and saddled with a toddler. The rugged tracker wants to foist his unwanted charge, Michael, on anyone else, but that changes when the wolf packs bow obeisance to the boy. Realizing that Michael is the true target of the danger following them, Rhys has a decision to make—give up everything he loves to keep Michael safe, or hand him over to an uncertain fate.

Neither the Kellers, or Rhys Anders, have any idea their world is on the brink of a supernatural war, or that the best hope for survival is in their guiding hands.

The two orphaned children, Michael and Arianne, are Lumens—celestial beings reborn in human form, and all that stands between dark reaper and his conquest of life on Earth. From the moment of their birth, they are hunted for the power they hold inside. Too young for their destiny, fate has placed them with the guardians best suited to protect them. It’s a quick learning curve for the Kellers, and Rhys. Their troubled lives are further upturned as they dodge daemons, outwit lemmings, and defy national rule all for the love of a child, not their own. And it nearly falls apart as each has to face their deepest fears to keep the children alive, because sometimes the daemon within is more deadly than the one without.

 

Query for StarDust (epic) (Not certain, but since this my over-arching premise, I believe this would be presented in a follow-up to the query– right?)

They are star-born soul mates from another realm. She came to save us. He came for her, pulled by a love that defies space and time.

Since the beginning of time, Lumens have battled Daemons in the celestial realm—the light and the dark wrestling for territory and the future of mankind. In a final bid for victory, the ancient warmonger and Master of Death, Zed, has brought the eternal battle to Earth, and with that, power so great it changes natural order. The rules of engagement are clear: to preserve the balance, each challenger must bind himself to the earthly realm. The winner-take-all fight is high stakes for the contending Lumens, for if Zed triumphs, Earth and all that it holds will become his, and the only thing he wants more than human annihilation is the power gained by devouring a living star.

To walk among us, the immortal couple must live as one of us—enduring a rebirth that subdues their unchecked power, locking all memory, purpose, and ability deep within, leaving them vulnerable. They must rely on their Earthly guardians for survival, a difficult feat for the humans raising them, who have no idea what evil stalks their every move. To defeat the dark conqueror, the Lumens must survive long enough to mine the waking power within, remember who and what they are, and then find each other—all before Zed finds them first—and in the epic battle between salvation and eternal death . . . Death cheats.

If they fail, prepare for hell on Earth.

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CAMP NANOWRIMO

by D. D. Falvo on June 10, 2012 | @ddfalvo

On hiatus for June and working on Lumen while participating in Camp Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month.)  See you soon! :)

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