As I told everyone who asked at Thanksgiving dinner, NaNo is going well, but oddly. As I thought might happen, I got stuck on the novel. Not in the way I feared though–I was afraid I’d run out of ideas. Instead, I have, in a way, too many ideas. As I mentioned, plot bunnies are multiplying and I don’t know yet how to fit them together, or how it’s all going to fit with the characters. I could push ahead, but I’m afraid I’ll end up in a corner or just heading down a wrong path and have to throw a lot out. It feels like the story needs to percolate a bit.
Obviously, NaNo is not designed for that kind of time. So I’m putting the novel aside for the moment, at 34,000 words so far this month, and working on a short story instead. I’m counting it all towards the total–because it is writing in November. It’s even set in the same world as the novel, but with different characters.
The short story focuses on the main characters of my other current novel project. It’s convenient writing a novel about a wandering adventurer–you can always do a short story about another adventure. And if I end up publishing the novel on Amazon, I’ll be able to use the story in various ways for promotion.
For the moment, here’s an excerpt. Jasper, Julie and Tom (a talking cat), who generally wander about having adventures, have decided to spend the night at an empty castle. It appears to be Sleeping Beauty’s tower, after Sleeping Beauty has awoken and left–there’s even a broken spinning wheel. Unfortunately, the curse isn’t quite as dormant as they might hope…
The first Jasper realized something was wrong was when he heard a sound like thousands of branches thrashing together in a high wind. The problem was that there was hardly any wind.
The sound was coming from the direction of the castle—and he would have guessed that as the source of any problem anyway. He started back that way, string of three birds slung over one shoulder. At first he was moving at a fast walk, but as the sound continued, he was quickly at a run.
He broke out of the trees into the clearing around the castle and came to a horrified halt.
“Didn’t I tell you not to touch any spindles?” he yelled, futilely.
Branches were visibly growing all over the castle, wrapping around the walls, climbing up the tower, spreading over the roofs. They were thick brown branches covered in thorns, some of the spikes small, some as long as his hand. He watched the ropes of thorns swarm along the outer wall, branching and rebranching and growing before his eyes. Already much of the wall was covered, and the branches were spreading out into the clearing, on the way to forming a thick hedge around the castle.
Jasper stood his ground, hands in fists, fighting a mad impulse to run for the front gate. The castle was plainly only going to grow less accessible, but it was too late to get in now. The gate was already covered, and it would be suicide to plunge in amid those whipping, twisting branches of thorns.
He turned quickly towards the voice. With all that plant movement, he hadn’t noticed the orange cat darting among the mess. Tom came dashing forward just ahead of the leading edge of the thorns, barely avoiding branches almost as thick as he was. He pelted straight for Jasper, momentum and a few well-placed claws carrying him up all the way to Jasper’s chest.
He automatically reached out to catch him, feeling the cat shaking. “What happened? Where’s Julie?”
“It was that spinning wheel—it started glowing—well, first Julie started glowing and then she started walking across the room and it was bad, it was really obviously bad and—and—” Tom’s nearly incoherent story was broken off by an enormous yawn.
“Julie started glowing, then what?” Jasper demanded.
“And she knew it was a spell and she tried to fight it, she…” Another yawn. “She really did, but…but…” The cat was swaying, eyes drooping. “Woo…the world’s kinda…kinda blurry…”
“What happened? She touched the spindle, right?”
“Yeah…yeah, I shink sho.” Tom’s head drooped forward. “She tol’ me t’go an’ I ran and…had to tell…”
The cat slumped against Jasper’s chest, a dead weight in his arms. “Tom?” Jasper shook him, with no effect. He was asleep. And he could only assume that, somewhere in the tower, Julie was too.