Little wonder we stumble in life.

Leave a comment

The Girl with the Mousy Hair

Inspired by this song: Life On Mars

Dawn stole the money from Brenda’s wallet before she leapt through the door out into the night. It was a new city, and she had heard Brenda talk to someone on the phone about the “movies,” and thought this new thing was something she ought to try.

There was plenty about the big bright world she hadn’t seen, that her father had tried to shield her from like some puritanical hypocrite fuck, but she was out here and she was proud to have left him behind, so she bounded into the world, looking for the place.

After wandering around the right vacinity, she found it, and paid her ticket for some random title. There were food stands, and she passed by without even considering them; she couldn’t pass the stuff, anyway. That was the problem with having a partially dead body. She couldn’t even claim blood as a snack, just an occasional necessity. And she didn’t get hungry much, anyway.

Sitting in the dark room, it occurred to her that the effect was lost on her, as a vampire. She could still see the room, in crisp detail, and she wondered if that would lessen the visibility of the screen somewhat. At least there was no glare.

The ads were running for a bunch of other films. She didn’t pay much attention, apart the occasional quip that caught her eye or ear, and waited for the film to begin.

Finally, it did, and the scene began to unfold before her. The black of space was faded at the edges as a ship came into view, intricate and foreign to her eyes. Not understanding what was happening, she was hooked to the screen, already the makings of war earning the film its title. Two men in a small desert hut then came to view, talking. Then they were attacked.

Brenda came and sat down beside her, hooking her fingers into the cupholder as she kept her arm a calculated distant parallel to Dawn’s on the armrest between them.

“Figures you’d choose a film with war in the name.”

“I was curious.” She glanced at Brenda, who was slightly stiff in her seat. Dawn pressed her back more into the cushions, almost as a challenge. She had never been used to comfort. “How did you find me?”

“Asked. Just had to find someone who saw the malnurished girl. You know, I could help you with that.”

“Drinking you wouldn’t help my figure. I’m afraid I’m stuck like this, like it or not.”

“I’m just worried, that’s all.”

“Don’t be.” There was an edge to her voice, and Brenda looked ahead of her at the screen, saying nothing but looking uncertain. Eventually her eyes settled, and she watched the movie with Dawn.

Occasionally, Dawn couldn’t help but glance at her. Eventually, she sighed. “This movie is weird. I’ll admit there’s some weird shit in the world, like what I am. Vampires. But it’s nothing like this.”

“It’s just sci-fi.”


“Sci-fi. Science fiction. It’s all speculative.”

“Yeah, well I don’t like it. Look at that thing. What is it?”

“An alien.”

“A what?”

“An alien. A species from another planet.”

“Another what?”

“Look, it’s a foreign species.”

“Oh,” said Dawn, looking down and up again. She found she had reached out and intertwined her fingers with Brenda’s, and they were hanging over the front of the cup holder. She almost pulled away, but she found she liked it. It made her feel close to someone again, like she had her sister. She looked up into Brenda’s eyes.

“I think I’ve found who I’m like. That Ray person. The eager warrior. You’re the cowardly stormtrooper.”

“Thanks,” retorted Brenda.

“Seriously. Afraid but loyal, till the end.”

“Movie hasn’t ended yet.”

“Yeah, but it’s pathetic. I already know that’s where we’re going. Again. There’s a war, we fight together, I kick their asses, you take their names. We win. I’ll always be happy to fight, and you’ll always complain about having to defend me. And then we be together.”

“Is that where we’re going?” said Brenda.

“It’s pathetic,” Dawn repeated, real venom in her voice this time, but not aimed at Brenda. “We fight, we break up, we come back. Because we’re friends. Because I couldn’t live without you. And now here’s this, this movie, serving it to me like I don’t know, like a neat little package served up with alien monsters like that’s supposed to mean anything, like it’s not some fucking fantasy.” She took a breath, steadying herself. “I know what I am. And so do you, and so do we. I don’t need to be manipulated, or reminded.”

“Is that what you think I do?” said Brenda. “I know you understand, but they don’t. Sometimes it hurts too damn much, to know they don’t. All these swirling thoughts in my head, these feelings… I just want them to know you like I do, to understand. I want them to love you, Dawn, like I do.”

“Is that a confession?”

Brenda blushed, sheepishly smiling, turning slightly away. “Not like that. But you know what I mean.” She forced the smile down. “Tell me I’m not wasting my time.”

“You’re not. Not on me, anyway. Maybe on them.”

Brenda shrugged. “It’s important to me. I have to try.”

“I know you do.” Dawn looked softly at her, as though about to say more, but she didn’t. “I love you too.”

Leave a comment

Twisted Nightmare

She was closed in doors, closed in by trees. Her feet echoed off the empty hallway, creeping in at her. She felt alone, but she knew she wasn’t. She could sense someone there. 

He came towards her at the corner of the hallway like a gasping breath, knocking her into the wall and attacking her mouth. Not content at that, Alex began to touch her body, grabbing her as if he owned her. He pressed hard into her, frontal against her, ready to rape her —

Then his face changed, and she was staring back at her father, older, lighter, white scar under his left eye, wicked grin full of teeth —

Dawn woke up.


Then and Now: Who I Was, and Who I Am as a Writer

Celebrating my first 10 years as a writer… Scott Westerfeld- On Rewriting & Growing Up

I recently read this article/pep talk by Scott Westerfeld in my email. Just like his pep during NaNo, this particular one was definitely insight and memorable — he really knows how to string two words together.

But the point was it really reminded me of where I started.

Here are the most important points he made, to start your revision by answering these questions:

  • Which scenes flowed from your pen, and which were clunky?
  • Which writerly decisions embarrass you now?
  • Which characters were like a bad relationship, and which turned out unexpectedly compelling?
  • Which goals that you started with aren’t worth pursuing anymore?
  • And what startling new vistas opened up?

For the first point, I’m reminded of the first scenes of the first two chapter in the first book in the series I’ve been writing for these past ten years. The very beginning, in short, of my entire story of Dawn, my centre character of it all.

The first chapter details her life on the mountain, living alone with her family. The set-up is that she lives in a house in the mountains in an abusive household isolated from society and dreaming of escape. She has an adoptive sister, her only support, but that doesn’t stop Dawn from gaining a hard shell or from thinking better of the world outside. And through all this, she has no idea just how close town really is, because she’s never escaped that far.

Throughout my drafting of this first chapter, I’ve gone through many different versions. At first, I had both parents, then I had the mother flee at the start of canon, and now I have her gone by the time Dawn was three, because I needed to tie in the details from later in the series, and Dawn discovers she has a biological sister. That was the biggest change.

Nevertheless, through the years, that first chapter and the one that follows is constantly being changed or fixed or edited because I just thought of something else that was wrong, or unrealistic, or that looks terrible. It’s always those two chapters. So I’d say, coming from that perspective, they must’ve been clunky, especially that first chapter. But as Scott points out in his pep talk, I was young and — maybe not so innocent, but maybe I was, if I was innocent in my ignorance.

And through those young dreams of running away (in my case, it was the reverse, though not nearly to the motivations that Dawn had), those first chapters were always, I think, my strongest. As far as first drafting goes, when I first wrote, it did feel relatively that it flowed, better than a lot of think in those early days. Maybe that’s why I’ve stuck to it for so long.

Let’s move along to the second point… embarrassing writerly mistakes.

If I could stick to those first few chapters, I’m sure that those mistakes probably still exist in my first book draft. Well, the way I wrote in those early days certainly held some common mistakes. I remember writing waking up scenes, trying to describe the characters appearance, etc.

Talking more on content, I think in that first draft, I took away from the abuse of the situation by making her escape in smaller ways. I remember a particular description of her escaping the house and going for a bush walk up the mountain, and specifically the feeling of a wall of sandstone under her fingers as she felt along the surface… Then in the dialogue scenes between her father, I don’t really think I had a grasp of what that scene would look like, or how it would feel. And describing her pain was another problem.

There were even small details when she was cleaning up on him and heard popular music on the radio, or when I would try to list the kinds of books her sister Belinda read…

Of course, none of this was as bad as chapter two, when the scenes escalated dramatically to finally escaping, only to meet a worse fate. The boys on the mountain… If I didn’t understand how her father would act, I had even less idea about the boys who wandered in from town, or what they were doing there. All I knew was what Dawn knew and felt.

All this is just the first two chapters, and although there are other things I’ve written, none of them really stick out in my head as strongly. Probably because in the very beginning of my writing, I was in the habit of editing those things over and over again instead of just pressing ahead with the writing. And of course, that’s where NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) stepped in to help me get rid of that habit, way back in 2007.

Of course, that brings me to the relationships with my characters. Well, of course there’s Dawn; me and her go way back, and I’ll always love her. She’s my favourite character to date, though Dylan takes second. Dylan was actually quite a surprise; I didn’t expect to love her as much as I do, but I managed to put more of myself than I ever expected to in her, and I love her for it.

Although she’s different from me in that she’s outspoken and determined, on the inside she has much of the same confusion and insecurities that I’ve dealt with in the past.

And then of course, there’s Seth, her brother. Another character I care a great deal about, he encompasses another side of me. That is, the side that wants to fight my reality, and all the indignities I find follows certain aspects of living. For example, sexuality in the public light. Partly oppressed by his dead adoptive father, he diminishes his public image to one of invisibility so as not to be judged unworthy, a fact that Dylan endlessly fights against. And I understand why, but I understand Seth’s point of view much better.

Now, as far as bad relationships, I do have something of and on-again-off-again relationship with Andrea. When I first invented her, it was as a match for Seth. Given a shaded past, I thought he deserved a companion, and then that relationship grew into something like love. But this was in their childhood, and even then, he had his reasons to keep distant.

But then, after years, when I finally came back to her story (after spending so long on Dawn’s), every time I tried to put them together, they somehow tore apart again. What’s definitely true is that Andrea really desperately cares for him. It’s also become clear that, in his own private way, he cares for her too. What’s unclear is how much, and what form that care takes.

Another iffy character of mine is Brenda. Sure, she shares certain traits in common with me, like her social isolation and her love of books, but Brenda’s one character that falls flat to me as her own person. I can sympathise her reasons for breaking up with her ex, but beyond that, she mostly remains a mystery to me.

Which brings me to Orion. My relationship with him is only a little better, even though I share less in common with him. What I do share in common is his sense of outrage, and his concealed defence of those he cares about. I’ve always hated his brother Alex, one of my first villains, but through his eyes I began to see him in a new light.

I’m not sure if there are goals I had at the start that aren’t worth pursuing anymore. I mean, certainly, the series that I’m writing now were once separate, as well as the characters, so maybe that. But besides that…

As far as startling new vistas… I’m going to University this year. I’ll probably post an entry on that later. And eventually, all my drafts will come together. As far as plotting, that’s something else I have to figure out, especially for the third book.

There’s still a lot to do before my first drafts of the whole series is complete. But as a writer, of course, I’m looking forward to it. Here’s hoping it’s all going to happen before the next ten years passes.

Leave a comment

Character Sketch #6 – Dawn


There had been noble sentiments in her once. But in the fight of protection against survival, survival always won. Pride was supposed to be the only way to stay sane.

Only, even that wasn’t enough. And there were always those to preach what was supposedly right, but even if she did sacrifice herself or even just her dreams for everyone else, it didn’t matter.

Looking at herself, she could barely recognise her reflection. Everyone’s helpless, in the end. Helpless, and hopeless.

Melody’s eyes begged at her. She’d have knelt to Dawn’s mercy if she’d asked, but Dawn had never been interested in that kind of power. Justice was all she cared about, and with hair like that, almost blonde…

She reminded her of Belinda. That’s all Dawn really cared about in the end. That’s what it all had been for.


She understood now. Dawn had been selfish, and full of pride.

And Melody was just the opposite to that. Her somehow saviour.

Leave a comment

Character Sketch #4 – Andrea

She knocked on the bathroom door. “Seth? Can you let me in?”

She thought she heard him banging around in there. “Please, I want to see you.”

He opened the door, looking agitated. He looked her in the eye demandingly, then looked around desperately, the fear of getting caught clear in his eyes. His fly was undone.

“Oh, just come in.” And he stood aside for her, twisting and closing the door behind her as soon as she was in.

“What do you want?”

“I want to see you,” she repeated, this time her meaning clear. His eyes dropped immediately down to his exposed waistband and scrotum, and he zipped hastily up, blushing uncharacteristically.

“I knew it. You’re a liar.”

“Excuse me?”

“You do like me.”

“Look, I’ve had fantasies before. You just weren’t in any of them.”


“Don’t bullshit me!” he said, self-consciously doing his button up on his black slacks.

“Yeah, right,” she rolled her eyes. “Fantasies, huh? Don’t you ever just wanna make it reality? What they ever involve?”

Caressing. Touching. A little more, but he wasn’t ever gonna tell her. He had enough experience avoiding the media to avoid that. He was too smart for it.

Still, her smirk grew. “Right. Just, why didn’t you ever wanna tell me?”

“I can’t afford to,” he said, by no means making a confession, only a point, whether or not she chose to see it that way. “I would’ve been a creeper. Even though I never did anything, that would be the perception. I didn’t want violate you. Even having those kinds of thoughts are violations. If you could just picture it, you’d understand…

“Or maybe you wouldn’t. You’re the type of person who never would, anyway, so desperate to be accepting, rather than face rejection. Desperation makes you rather weak, Andrea. I can see right through you.”

“That rough, was it?”

“Don’t celebrate rape, Andrea.”

“I wasn’t. And anyway, I’m not weak. Desperation is truth, not weakness. I can already guess what truth you’re afraid of.”

“You are wrong,” he said. “No matter what you think.”

“No matter what anybody else thinks, you can’t let it rule you.”

“Like you have a say in it. People talk. It isn’t about them, it’s about their power. I simply can’t afford it.”

“But all of this, it’s a confession –”

“No. All people talk. Even you, apparently.”

He glared at her with a look of loathing, and finally she saw who he really was now. Just a broken, bitter man, resenting a judgemental world.

She could tell it was time to go. She had been in his headspace before, and she knew the only solution was solitude, temporary though it was.

Wordlessly, she left out the door, with barely an aided gesture from him.

Leave a comment

Character Sketch #3 – Seth

The darkness was almost vaudevillian on his own. He was in control of this place, he had to remind himself, and there was nothing haunted about it; kids came here all the time with their parents, he’d seen it, if not recently. This place was very much still alive. If it wasn’t, he wouldn’t have gotten as far as he had in his business, in his vulnerable early years, he would’ve crashed it to the ground.

But he had succeeded, and that first success had led to greater successes. One success, and he had destroyed the possibility of failure. There was always the threat, but it was far from him. It couldn’t touch him now.

And of course, that success came back to him now, a sort of comfort as he took out the trash. The stars above him, too, lit a path by what few lights remained of the park darkened enough to be bound to the stars.

That too was calming. And disturbing, as well.

But of course, no matter what happened behind closed doors, he would always know that blood, he’d know murder. Nothing more vaudevillian than murder — except perhaps corsets.

And Orion wasn’t dead. Even worse than murder, he was still alive to torment them, still around to drive them into their darkness. As if Seth’s own wasn’t worse enough. It never was, to outsiders, to people who couldn’t see it. What was his pain, compared to theirs?

Leave a comment

Character Freewriting – #1 Dawn

Something OnlyFragments has called Emotive Freewriting.

I’ve wanted to try this for a while, and OnlyFragments did encourage me awhile ago to do it.

Recently, I’ve become a little obsessed with reading OnlyFragments. I’ve been reading entries she’d written back in 2009, and a quote occurred to me; “Write with haste.” It occurs to be that OnlyFragments does that, has always done that. And you can tell just reading her, her emotions, fragments of her, come through.

Inspiring as her pieces even in 2009 are, it inspired this piece about Dawn.

Dawn is the character I’m most obsessed with. Dylan is otherwise my favourite character. In the future, I might write from Dawn, Orion, Brenda, Dylan, Seth, Andrea or Melody. But don’t worry, I’ll definitely mention who I write from if I do this again!

Expect more pieces to come, though I’m not sure when. I intend to try this more regularly.

My version is probably more accurate to call Emotive Character Freewriting. I’m not sure if I could do it otherwise; but I almost take every post OnlyFragments does as Emotive Freewriting; its all emotive, and its all spur of the moment.

I’m probably not doing this right. Oh well.

There is haste in powerlessness, and there is acceptance in all that is ugly. When you finally stop thinking, you are not slave to these desires… When you stop thinking, you can’t finally become yourself, who you were meant to be, who you really are. But you cannot stop chasing what you think you need, can you? Can’t stop because, without this fierce pursuit, you realise you can’t deal with all that’s happened to you, all that’s in your heart. This ferocity has become as much a part of you as that other part, hidden behind that layer. You can’t escape you own consumption now, can you, Dawn? It will burn through you like everything else. It will burn your heart out – unless you find a way to stop it.

Can you? Can you, Dawn? Or will you just keep consuming until there’s nothing left, and everything you love is dead?