Back to the Asylum

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Spring is here. Sort of. In some places. More importantly, Story-A-Day isn’t far away!

A year ago I got my cancer diagnosis, had several surgeries, lots of doctor visits, and six months of chemo. I’m officially showing No Evidence of Disease (NED!). So, I’m looking forward to a saner year.

I’m waiting for someone to read and give me feedback on novel number two. (Always a nerve-challenging time.) So, meanwhile, I’m going to back over the stories I wrote last year, and I’m going to see what I can do with and where the characters ought to go next.

I think the story may get more intense. I’ve spent a bit more time this last year contemplating mortality, and it is coming out in my work.

We’ll see what happens.

May 31st!!!!! The end of the month but not the story.

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Wow. Chemo and exhaustion and the start of a story written. Thank you everyone who has kept reading. I wasn’t sure what to do for the last day. This isn’t the ending of the story, of course. More story is left to tell. Chemo goes through til October. Also in October my novel is published by Plum Tree Books!

In the meantime, I’ll post a few things here. I’ve enjoyed this month, but I’m glad it’s over.

Thank you again and again for being here.

Hannah peered under the door to make the hall was clear. She saw nothing but the tight weave of red carpet.

“Careful,” the old woman said, “They know how to lie in wait.”

But Hannah had gotten this far. She felt sure of herself. “We’ll be fine. They can’t know I’m in here.”

She opened the door.

The guard had her by the throat before she realized he was there. She grabbed his wrist. She kicked. He pinned her to the wall. He said nothing, and she couldn’t speak.

His stare frightened her more than his grip, and she slapped him to get him to speak if not to break his stare. She tried to kick him again, but a heavy feeling weighed down her legs. Moving was becoming more difficult while he stared. Her throat hurt. She looked away.

A strange gagging sound escaped from him. The noise pushed her fear further, but she risked a sideways glance. His face contorted. Suddenly, he let her go.

Hannah fell forward, and he fell alongside her. She screamed and pushed and kicked. He offered no resistance. It took a few more kicks for her to realize he wasn’t moving at all.

“What…” Hannah gulped for a breath.

The old woman stood there next to the body of the guard. “What happened?” Hannah asked her. Her eyes refocused.

The old woman held her knife. Specks of blood dotted her hand. She looked down at Hannah and her voice was calm “You mustn’t let them touch you because you can never fight back.”

Hannah slowly looked back at the guard. A stain grew in the carpet underneath his body. “You killed him?” she asked.

“I saved you,” she replied. The old woman reached out a hand to help Hannah back to her feet. “You’re in deep now, child. I hope you can run.”

May 17th!

a rose by any other name

Best news! I’ve got a publication date for my novel! The novel isn’t The Fairy Tale Asylum. It’s a novel I wrote a long time ago–The Blue Jar. But I’ve got a lovely UK publisher and now a publication date. October 12th. That just after my chemo treatments should be over and just before my birthday.

And I did write something today.

Nurse Meredith was still outside when the Asylum flooded with light. She cursed. Her failure was found out. Either they knew the boy was missing or they’d discovered the intruder.

She wished she hadn’t cut the rope now because she might be the one needing an escape. She ran to the back door. It was locked, so she decided the intruder must still be outside. Inside they had to be looking for the boy.

Once she unlocked the door and stepped inside, she was grabbed and thrown to the floor. “Stop!” came a rough voice. “She’s a nurse.”

She was pulled to her feet but light shined in her eyes. She couldn’t see who she was facing, and she knew that was a good thing. “I’m Nurse Meredith.”

“I know. What are you doing here? Why aren’t you on your rounds?”

This wasn’t a question she expected. “There were two young men visiting here earlier. I was just checking that they were taken care of properly.”

“Did you see anything suspicious outside, nurse?”

Meredith weighed her options. The truth could get her into as much trouble as a lie. Did they know about the intruder? They couldn’t. They had to be wondering about the boy. “No,” she said. Once the visitors were seen to, all was as usual.”

“You’re lying,” the voice said.

“Why would I?” she asked even though she knew arguing with him was useless. “What do you think I saw?”

“The question is why you have conspired against the place that has looked after you all these years.”

Meredith groaned inwardly. The intruder. They didn’t know about the boy. “I’d never conspire.”

“The individual you assisted is somewhere in the Asylum. What is your plan? Do you think that you have any power here?”

“I have no powers above my station,” she said in what she hoped was a meek voice.

“You will be questioned further.”

Nurse Meredith found herself dragged down the hall to the officer. She dreaded what waited for her there.

The Princess Detective: excerpt 7

You shouldn’t visit the wolves when the moon is full.

The Princess knows this. Every child is told. Keep your knives clean and sharp. Listen when your elders tell you their dreams. Eat well. Ask permission. Stay out of the woods–especially when the moon is full.

Most houses have these rules on a wall in their house.

The winter air slipped under the folds of her coat. She wasn’t sure she’d see her house again. How, she wondered, did the Prince feel the last time he walked in the woods? Cold, probably. And as if he’d walk out again.

Footsteps in the dark behind the trees made her forget the Prince. She focused on the unhurried steps and kept walking.

The Princess Detective: a narrative break

The townspeople dream of killing the wolves. The wolves, able to do as they please, dream of very little.

Every few years to town sends a fighter to challenge a wolf. Sometimes the wolf allows the fighter to live. But the Prince was no fighter. He had no reason to approach the wolves.

The wolves, the townspeople concluded, must have approached him. The more the townspeople talk about it, the more convinced they become that promises were made and broken. Everyone knows you can’t trust wolves. How, they wondered, did the Prince forget this basic truth of their lives?

Another truth of their lives that they were quite keen to remind the Princess of at every opportunity was chosen to find the truth. They waited for her to do her job. When she walked into a room, they looked at her expectantly.

The Princess realized the moment the crown was placed on her head that while she was expected to find the truth, nothing in the all of the documents and scriptures of the town said that she had to share it.

The Princess Detective: Excerpt 6

Cordelia, thought the Princess, would love nothing more than to provoke a princess to fight. The Princess wouldn’t give Cordelia the satisfaction.

Finally cutting Cordelia’s throat wasn’t what she needed to do. Focus on what you need, her father always said, not on what you want.

She hadn’t wanted to be a princess and she didn’t see how she or anyone could need her to be. The Princess sighed and stared into the woods. Cordelia’s house behind her. Not doubt Cordelia was watching, but the Princess wouldn’t turn to see.

Night fell early in the woods. The Princess pulled her black cloak tighter and chose her path. She wished she had a way to know if the wolves were hungry.

*

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