Blog · Burnished Path · Sneak Peeks

Burnished Path

Chapter One

Babette Watson’s back was rigid. Tears balanced on the rims of her eyes. She clenched her fists to try to calm the tumbling in her ams. Her legs were weak but she tried her best to stay strong.

“Did you do it?” Aaron glared at her through the small slits his eyes had become. His arms were folded in front of his chest and he stood so close to her that she could feel his breath heating the sides of her wavy brown hair.

“No,” she mumbled. It was the only thing she thought she might be able to croak out without releasing a flood of tears.

“Tell us the truth! We all need to know because we’ll all get kicked out if you’re found guilty!” Spit flew off of Aaron’s teeth, almost hitting her.

“I didn’t!” Babette could no long hold back the tears. They streamed down her cheeks, one after another in an endless parade.

“Aaron, think about it a sec.” Dacey wedged herself in between her teammates. “With ‘the eye’ everywhere we go. Do ya think she’d risk it?

The four of them glanced up to the round silver camera hanging in the corner of the classroom.

“Not if she tried when she thought it was inactive!” Aaron stepped around Dacey and glowered again at Babette.

“Man, lay off.” Cabe wrapped an arm around Babette’s shoulder and shielded her from Aaron’s burning stare. “No fret, Babs. I know you wouldn’t do it.”

Babette rested her head on his shoulder and nodded. Her breath hitched as she settled into the comfort that Cabe always brought her.

The door opened and Professor Milch marched in. His heals stomped across the floor as though he were mad at it. He tugged at the bottom of his crisp white lab coat as he stood to face the class. “To your stations.”

Cabe gave Babette a pat on the back before taking his place. Aaron stared at Babette on his way around to his station before snapping to attention with sharp precision. Dacey drifted away, smiling and floating concerned eyes to Babette before standing at attention.

“And sit,” Professor Milch said.

Everyone sat at attention. Eyes forward. Palms flat on the desk top. Feet flat on the floor—shoulder width apart. Backs straight. Butts perched on the edge of the seat.

Though only a few short moments passed by, time seemed to drift on a cloud of eternity. Sweat beaded on Babette’s forehead. Her stomach churned and her eyes refilled with tears.

Professor Milch stood still as a wax figure. His white lab coat was buttoned all the way up up. A thin slice of the white button down shirt and the black and white swirled tie peeked over the top. His black slacks had crisp iron marks down the center. His black hair was salt and peppered at the temples, closely shaved around the sides, and tad longer on the top.

His arms were crossed. The lab coat stretched taught over his muscles. His head remained still though his laser-beam blue eyes scanned back and forth over the four teammates.

The pressure sat heavy on Babette as though an anvil balanced on her head. She couldn’t help but squirm minutely in her seat —just enough to release the unease that raked up her spine. Her watery topaz-brown eyes glued to the top button of his lab coat. She couldn’t bare to look in his eyes.

“At ease,” Professor Milch said.

With those words, Babette’s back curled like a parchment finally released after being rolled out against is will. A tear landed on the edge of her lab coat, leaving an oval circle drip. Another tear caught on the apple of her high round cheek. Quickly, she wiped it away and sniffed the moisture that was threatening to escape her nose.

Babette slowly tucked her curly brown hair behind her left ear to try and get a better look at Aaron. He was sitting with his back still straight in the chair and his hands resting the desk. She couldn’t tell if he looked worried or angry.  She knew better than to turn her head to look at him. Sliding her eyes back to the front, she dropped them quickly to the desktop when she realized Professor Milch’s laser gaze was locked on her. He paused another excruciating moment before speaking.

“Professor Calloway and I stood in front of the teaching team tribunal early this morning. As you well know, Babette was accused of practicing powers outside the classroom.”

Babette’s breaths halted and her heart began to pound so hard she could barely hear what he said. He head swirled. She felt weightless as though floating underwater.

Dacey raised her hand.

“Yes, Dacey,” Professor Milch said with pressed words. One raised eyebrow at her.

“Sir, what exactly is she accused of. I mean, I think we have a right to know since it affects all of us.”

“You think you have the right to know,” he said. Babette couldn’t tell if it was a question or a statement. He drummed his fingers on his forearm and pursed his lips. “Fair enough. Babette’s been accused of attempting binding in her barracks.”

“Wha—,” Babette mumbled. One sharp glance from Aaron quieted her.

Dacey raised her hand so hard it nearly lifted her off the seat.

“Dacey, yes,” Professor Milch sighed.

“If she did anything like that, I would’ve seen. I would’ve told.” She glanced at Babette. “Sorry, Babs.”

Professor Milch uncrossed his arms and tugged at the sleeves of his lab coat. “She did it in the bathroom behind closed doors. You wouldn’t have seen.”

“Seriously!” Cabe said. “How could they tell that? And I thought the eye was supposed to turn off when we’re in the bathroom.”

“Only when using the toilet or entering the changing stall,” the professor said. “And I don’t recall you raising your hand. I also don’t recall ever saying this was a discussion. You will sit and you will listen—quietly. Do I need to put you at attention?”

“No, Sir,” Cabe said. “Sorry, Sir.”

“Class, rise and stand at ease,” Professor Milch said.

Everyone stood. Babette rubbery legs didn’t feel capable of lifting her, but she drifted to her feet. The fate of her team pressed on her shoulders.

***THIS IS A FIRST DRAFT OF A WORK-IN-PROGRESS***

Please feel free to share your thoughts. 😊

 

Homer · Sneak Peeks

Homer

I would like to point out that I’m not the author of the following journal, merely its translator. I have opted to do a communicative translation rather than a word for word translation in an effort to relay the exact contextual meaning of the original in a way that the language and content are both easily comprehended in English. Admittedly, however, as Chimpanzee is not my first language and I do not have any peers with which I can confer, mistakes most assuredly exist. To be true to Homer, I have taken painstaking efforts to be as accurate as my skills allow.
First, I feel I must tell you how it is that I came upon Homer’s journal, to begin with. I was working at the Après-Captive Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center researching chimpanzee language when I received a letter in the mail. The envelope looked dirty, beaten, and battered like it had been on an incredible journey even before reaching my fingertips. The return address simply said, “Звёздный городо́к, Россия,” having started out my career in the U.S. Air Force as a Russian linguist, I knew this letter had come from “Star City, Russia.” I had no idea why someone from Russia would be writing to me. I opened up the letter and read a most peculiar request. The person writing me had requested that I come to Russia to translate a document which had remained hidden for decades. The writer of the letter believed the document to be written in Chimpanzee and having heard of my work in the field of Chimpanzee linguistics decided to write me. Not a great deal of detail was given, but it was too intriguing to leave my curiosity unscathed.
I booked a flight to Moscow and then a train to Star City. Upon arriving in the city, I called a cell phone number given to me in the letter. The person on the other end directed me to a tea house. I promptly took a cab to the tea house, got a table, ordered some tea, sipped anxiously, hoping that the fact that my eyes were constantly darting from side to side was not too noticeable. I had waited for approximately one hour when a young man arrived and sat down across from me. He asked me, in Russian, if I was Clementine Porter, to which I answered affirmatively. He paid for my tea and asked me to follow him. I got into his car, and we drove to the outskirts of Star City to a charming little dacha nestled back in a grove of pine trees.
Inside the dacha, I met with a woman, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions from the Russian government or other entities within the country. She told me that her father had been a janitor at one of the Soviet Union’s Space Program center in Star City. She said she was just eleven years old in 1963. This was when her father brought home the lifeless body of a chimpanzee.
Her father told her that he overheard that NASA had launched a capsule into space and lost it, or thought they lost. In an effort to learn more about the technologies that NASA was using for its space program, the capsule was both lost and recovered by the Soviets as the result of a top-secret insider spy space program. Someone at NASA was working for the Soviets and deliberately “lost the capsule” for them. While her father had to have a security clearance to work at the space center, he was not privy to detail of any real consequence.
The capsule was left in space for over a month, as not to arouse suspicions of the also-spying Americans. A fake Soviet capsule launch was orchestrated so that the Americans would believe the Soviets were recovering their own capsule. Once recovered, the capsule was brought inside the hanger of the center. Her father was summoned to dispose of a chimpanzee body that was found inside. The body was in a wheelbarrow, they told her father to strip the body of the space suit, search it, and burn it. Then he was to toss the body into the dumpster. Even though the body was not human, her father couldn’t bear to treat it with such disrespect. He tore the patches off of the space suit and set them ablaze in the burn bin.
When he got the body home, they dug a hole and prepared to bury the body with dignity. Just as they were about to lower the body into the hole, they saw something sticking out of the bottom hem of the spacesuit on the chimp’s thigh. Her father pulled it out to discover a journal. Inside was a script of characters they did not recognize. Her father researched for years trying to find the language contained in the journal. He was not successful before he died from a heart attack in 1975. The journal was then buried in a box in the backyard garden where it remained until the woman’s grandson had come home from school and told her about a film he saw discussing my work in chimpanzee linguistics. That is when she decided to write me the letter.
And that is how I came into possession of Homer’s journal. Translating this journal has taken me years. The story which emerged has since shattered my heart into millions of pieces. I knew it would not have a chance of becoming whole again until I made sure that Homer’s story was told…and heard.

***This is a very early draft of one of those unfinished works I started years ago but never finished.***

Blog

Writer not writing

Writer not writing

Hello friends,

I cannot remember the last time I opened up my laptop and worked on my novel. Was it in June sometime? Has it really been since May?

So what’s keeping me from writing… writer’s block?

Not at all. The slow down started when I began querying my romance novel, Hearts Mingling. The querying process is extremely time-consuming, but more than that, it takes all the joy out of trying. As a matter of fact, querying kind of makes me feel like I hate writing. It’s a misplaced emotion. It’s not actually the writing I hate, but it does make it all seem pointless–like I’ll never find readers for my work if I can’t get by the gatekeepers.

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I’ve also been taking a few courses. One–a marketing course for a small business I’ll be part-owner of and do the marketing for. The second–another marketing course, but this one is specifically for authors. As you know, in addition to my other small business, I’ve started my own publishing company, WhistlePig Publishing, to independently publish my children’s novels. Who knows, someday I may also be publishing my adult works as well.

All my time and effort has been going into these ventures, but at least I feel like I’m moving forward with my writing and my quest to find readers. I’m no longer stalled out in the querying trenches, spinning my wheels, and feeling like a loser.

I’ve begun building my book launch team and have been fortunate enough to have received excellent feedback from my readers. (And btw, all of you who have joined and been kind enough to let me know how you’re enjoying the book–THANK YOU! You have no idea how much it means that you’re willing to help. I suffer from imposter syndrome and doubt myself daily, so your words pull me out of some serious self-despising darkness).

If you haven’t joined my book launch team but would like to, click here to sign up to get your free review copy. Those who join, download the free ebook on launch day, and post their reviews will automatically be entered to win prizes.

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It’s tough to be a writer who’s not writing, but at least I’m getting closer to writing again. I am now a writer who is planning on writing and feeling the excitement bubble build inside. The bubble that will grow until it bursts and forces me to sit down and write because I won’t be able to think about anything else.

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I’ve decided to finally write the final two books for The Great Connection and turn it into a trilogy. I originally planned to do that, but then the query process smashed that thought into a million little pieces.

But now that I’m an indie author I can officially say, “Whatever, I’ll do what I want.”

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So take that, gatekeepers. You can’t tell me what to write and you can’t keep my readers from making their own choices!

 

Blog

Busy (wingless) Bee

Busy (wingless) Bee

I know! I know! I’ve done a horrible job at putting out blog posts regularly. I’ve just been a very busy bee lately. I’m working on a new novel (yay!), sending out query letters (gah), I’ve just started a marketing course, and am working on opening a business.

I realize that I shouldn’t let those things neglect my blog but I’m having a hard time feeling like there is any point to this anyway. This or social media. I’m just the crazy lady on the bus talking to herself while some random troll shouts back “No one cares!”

I’m also sick with some horrible head cold that makes me feel like my head is going to explode and then when I lie down to sleep at night a parade of coughing begins.

Excuses, excuses. I know. Well, despite this and the darkness in mood I feel moving in over me, I’m going to do my best to do what I can to move forward. That may mean neglecting the blog for a bit and just sitting in the sunshine or walking through the woods to remember why I do all this in the first place. It’s not the platform building, or the querying, or blogging…it’s the telling of stories. Maybe I need to focus just on that, even if the only person who ever reads my stories is me.