Writer In Motion: Space Cows 2: Final Draft!

Wow, NaNoWriMo is done, and WIM is almost coming to a close as well. What a whirlwind this month has been!

For the second CP round, I was interested not in larger comments and suggestions on my story, but in specific feedback on how to polish what I already had. I tend to do this as I get closer to finished, because a wrench thrown in at this stage will send me cartwheeling out of control. Because of that, I carefully hand-picked my CPs and kept the number to 3 to avoid overwhelming myself. My three CPs all know Space Cows, know my writing style, have critiqued for me before, and I’ve critiqued for them before. 

I gave all of them the annoying disclaimer that I felt something was off about this Space Cows, but didn’t know what it was, or if it was all in my head. 

Oh yes, also Yes, Thuy, Space Cows will be a thing! 😂 

(I was a bit swamped this week and sometimes I forget things like replying, or I reply in my head and think I replied in real life and I honestly don’t know if I actually did or not…)

On to editing!

Do you see those 100 comments from Thuy?! Love it. It’s actually because she had track changes on.

After reading and letting the feedback set as normal, I put all the comments into my side of things, and wouldn’t you know it, many of the comments aligned? Even better, some of the fixes that Rebecca mused on as potentially being reasons why I felt something was off here were picked up on by my other two amazingness, and incorporated into their suggestions!

Now, you’ll see that several of the comments are re-written suggestions for improvement, where they’ve literally re-written my words for the fix. This would not work if they were not hand-selected for the very reasons explained above, because that would throw in the wrench I was talking about before. You’ll see that while I didn’t take all of their suggestions and incorporate them, I did many because they work with the story and they DO polish it out! 

(Basically, I don’t allow beta readers to rewrite parts of my story, but I DO allow it for my trusted CPs because by the time they are trusted CPs they will fight to protect the soul of my story just as I will fight for theirs.)

So you’ll see the Rebecca felt Cow and Wolf were talking past each other, and then Thuy came in and rewrote to condense and it felt like that fixed it for me.  Ariana suggested tension right where Rebecca felt Wolf was being less antagonistic than he could be.  Ariana asked me what Cow did with the rock, and hahahaha, wouldn’t you know it, I gave this to an electrical engineer? So Thuy beautifully rewrote with awesome details I was reaching for but couldn’t deliver. 

One of the things I talked about with Rebecca regarding both of our pieces was how hard we were finding the 1k cutoff. Now, the final draft is allowed to be any size, but I wanted to stay true to the spirit of the flash fiction and keep it right around 1k. Much of the tension and characterization and internals issues could have easily been fixed with more words, after all. It’s the word count limitation that made those things so much harder to polish. Some parts were commented on for possible trimming, knowing that would likely be necessary. 

So after incorporating the feedback that I agreed with after careful thought, I looked at my word count. 1118. Not too bad, not so bad as I was kind of expecting, but still, time to trim. Extraneous information has to go. Sentences that sound good but are too wordy are chopped. Thuy’s beautiful specifics? Distilled to less-specific. Internals that are repeated? No longer. Details that are unimportant? Erased. This is the hard part because I love drowning in rich worlds, but I’m trying to walk this tightrope of just-enough-information.

I really wanted to keep my tie-in to my previous Space Cows story and I am stubborn. After going through and trimming, I hit 1,016. So close! My tie in costs me 19 words. I went back through, looking for any stray words that aren’t strictly necessary. After a lot of wrestling, I think I managed it, while still keeping my tie-in- Woo!!

Time to run it through AutoCrit and listen to it out loud and check for grammar and punctuation. I managed to hit 1k exactly and I am pretty pleased with this story now!


Splash! 

You drop into a marsh. A bellow escapes as you flounder to find footing. Green plants, blue sky—except where thunderclouds are rolling in—and brown dirt surround you. A hill rises from the edge of the marsh, and the clouds above are lit in flashes. You were given a mission: investigate the Beacon and come home. And that’s exactly what you intend to do. 

Beside you, your Wolf “partner” struggles, the Matter Transportation Device clamped in his jaws. He goes under, then fights to the surface, ears laid back. Your stomach twists. The Wolves nearly stranded you to be torn apart by monsters, but if he drowns with the Matt, you’ll never get home.

“Climb on my back,” you grumble.

The Wolf’s claws dig into your hide. You try not to flinch. Acting like prey only encourages a Wolf’s cruelty.

The marsh mud sucks at all four hooves as you slog toward the hill and the flashing Beacon. When you finally meet dry land, the Wolf drops to his own paws and shakes himself, and you do likewise. He clutches the Matt in his front paws, his eyes ringed with white. Is he… frightened? No, it must be a trick. After all, he has the Matt. You’re not falling for it. 

“Come on, we need to find the Beacon.” You move to pass him.

“We’re stuck here, you stupid Cow.”

You freeze, waiting for the next words to fall from his muzzle, dreading and hating them before they’re even born. 

“I hung on to it. But the water… Just look!” He thrusts the Matt in your face. “Do you see any lights?”

No cheerful glow—just a dead metallic box. It’s broken. You stamp the dirt beneath your hooves. 

“We can’t get back.” The Wolf’s bitter tones slice at you. “They’re not going to send anyone after us. We had the only working Matt.” He lobs it at you, and you flinch when it hits your sensitive muzzle. 

The words dry in your throat. Every Cow knows to stay calm around a Wolf, no matter how much they want to run, to keep their predatory instincts from kicking in. But it’s hard. Once your racing heart and trembling limbs are under control, you pick up the Matt and open the casing. The water has flooded it, shorting the power supply.

“The settlement surely has supplies. Or we can call for help. The Beacon is still out there.” You leave the board exposed and head toward the settlement.

“We’re stuck here!” he shouts, as if you haven’t understood.

You keep a tight lid on the terror. “I’m still going to do my duty. I may be just a stupid Cow, but I’m not afraid of hard work. I’ll find a way home on my own if I have to.” 

Or die trying. A Cow on her own is prey waiting to happen. What then of a Cow traveling with a Wolf? The thought makes your cud dry on your tongue. Your instincts scream danger.

The Beacon lights the storm clouds above a settlement on a cliffside, crisp against the tossing ocean. Though rusted by the salt air, the tall metal fence surrounding it glows in the afternoon sun. The gate creaks as a settler opens it, ushering you inside. More fill the space behind him, similar to the monsters from the previous planet. Humanoid. You shiver. 

“Thank the Whales, the Wolves are here!” The gatekeeper flaps hairless arms. “And they brought…” He furrows his brow. “…food?”

“Might as well,” the Wolf says with a lolling tongue. “Since I can’t return to my ship.”

The gate clangs shut before you can back away. A snarling wolf is carved on the inside. Dismay slams through you. You are not prey! But the settlers’ eyes face forward, like the Wolf’s. You’re surrounded by predators and predators show no mercy. 

“But the Beacon!” you shout, desperate to stall. “You called for help.”

“Yes, we lit it as instructed when the water purifier broke. See?” The person leads you to a large machine—a water desalinator.

The Wolf crowds behind you, flashing teeth. “No need to worry about that now.”

You stamp, whirling to face him. “We came here to fix this.” 

“We’ll give you until evening,” the settlers agree. 

“I’ll help.” The Wolf gives you a toothy grin. “Since it’s why we’re here.”

Your blood rushes in your ears. You crouch by the machine, pulling off the side panel. 

“Oh, too bad,” the Wolf points. The collection basin of the desalinator is rusted through. You have no metal to replace it.

“But the marsh must be fed by a freshwater source, given the smell.” Regardless, there are other ways of getting salt out of water. 

This is a trap. 

“Good, they can find something to drink to wash you down.” He sniffs at you. 

You turn away, trying to still the shivers. Tears well up. You’ll be slaughtered and eaten. 

A wire catches your eye. You grab the Matt, shielding it from the Wolf’s view as he pokes around inside the desalinator. Dusk is settling but the sun has dried out the inside. If you can splice in a new power source, you don’t have to be dinner. 

“Time’s up. The people are hungry.” The Wolf pats your back. 

Using a sharpened rock as a knife, you strip the wires on the Matt and the desalinator. You twist them together to splice them. The Matt lights up. 

The Wolf peers over your shoulder. “What are you…

“Not such a stupid Cow.” You jerk the Matt out of his reach. “I’m going home.”

“Let’s go then!” His eyes gleam. 

“You were going to let them eat me!”

“Come on, Cow, it was just a joke.” He shrugs with a friendly smile and wagging tail. 

You narrow your eyes. “Fine. I have a joke of my own.” 

Prey runs.

As he opens his mouth, you press the button, Matt’ing safely back up to the ship. 


And that’s it! Make sure you check out the other amazing stories from this round!

Writer In Motion: Space Cows 2: CP Feedback!

I love getting feedback from beta readers and especially CPs, and it’s always a fun process to wade through and figure out what the sometimes opposing opinions mean.

Feedback can have so many varying emotional responses. I’ve laughed out loud, I’ve cried, I’ve wanted to throw things (not in this one!), etc. So I have gotten myself into the habit of reading the comments right away so that I don’t stress about “What if they hate it? Oh my goodness, I know they hate it. It’s awful. I should never show anyone my writing” before I even slip into the spiral. With my trusted CPs, to be honest, I read the comments less out of a “rip the bandaid off” thing, but instead because I can’t wait to sneak a peek at all the amazing ideas that I will get to implement! Trusted CPs are gold.

Look at all those marks! I love it!

After reading the feedback, I get up and do something. This movement allows me to express those emotions if need be and I can also get my brain churning in the background. I usually leave feedback to churn for at least a week but the time table for Writer In Motion is too quick for that, so I gave it a few days. Then I read back through the compiled notes, looking for things I absolutely agree with, things that disagreed with other comments, things that agreed with other comments, etc. Everything gets looked at and considered, even things I don’t agree with. Especially things I don’t agree with.

I was super lucky to receive a comment that clarified for me exactly what I felt was wrong in my story, so I addressed that right away, cutting the head and tail off my story BEFORE my typical next step of placing all the comments from CPs that I felt needed more consideration or that I agreed with and that were NOT compliments into my copy. (I love compliments, and they are a necessary part of critiquing, but once I read through I generally don’t need to keep them unless I think there’s a discrepancy. This stage is all about fixing what’s broken, and to do that you have to shine a light on it). I lopped off the head and tail before bringing in the comments because… why bring in comments on pieces that were no longer going to be there? Here’s what it looked like after this step:

Next I work on the easy stuff and the things that multiple people agreed on first. If multiple people are saying it, even if I don’t agree with it, there’s probably something wrong. And in this case, it was the Cow’s interiority. I had several comments along the lines of not being able to connect with the Cow, or not understanding the Cow’s reactions, as well as a drop in tension. These two things are directly related to each other, the one causing the other, so I knew it needed fixing. By lopping off the head and tail, I had more words to play with, and then it was a matter of trying to squeeze every last breath out of the words for interiority, connection, and tension.

Some places, I just couldn’t get the words to work the way I wanted them to. That required switching to a new blank text and rewriting portions until they were streamlined the way I wanted and stronger than what I had, and then patching those in to the rest of the story. 

Once I had addressed every comment I agreed with, I was at a word count of 1064! Ack! Time to go through and get rid of unnecessary bits, including potentially things that make the story more complicated than it needs to be. Yes, Whales, that means you have to go. Again. Some of my favorite phrases also needed to go, unfortunately. They simply couldn’t pull their weight in a piece so short.

After going through multiple times to get to 1k, I actually hit the target dead on! Time to stop for the day and look at it for the last few passes before putting it on the blog. Those last few passes mostly consisted of going through and smoothing sentences, making sure there’s clarity and making sure the body language choices I was using are the best ones for the job. 

So, without further ado, Space Cows 2: Draft 3!

Splash! 

You drop into a marsh. A bellow escapes your throat as you flounder to find footing. Green plants, blue sky—except where thunderclouds are rolling in—and brown dirt surround you. A hill rises from the edge of the marsh, and the clouds above are lit in flashes. The Beacon with which the settlers had signaled for help. 

Beside you, your Wolf “partner” struggles, the Matter Transportation Device clamped in his jaws. He goes under, then fights to the surface, ears laid back. Your stomach twists. The Wolves nearly stranded you to be torn apart by monsters, but if he drowns with the Matt, you’ll be stuck here forever. If you lose the Matt, you’ll never get home.

“Climb on my back,” you grumble.  

The Wolf pants. His claws dig into your hide. You try not to flinch. Acting like prey only encourages the Wolf’s cruelty.

The marsh mud sucks at all four hooves as you slog toward the hill and the flashing Beacon. When you finally meet dry land, the Wolf drops to his own paws and shakes himself, and you do likewise. He clutches the Matt, his eyes ringed with white. Is he… frightened?

“Come on, we need to find the Beacon.” You move to pass him.

“We’re stuck here, you stupid Cow.”

You freeze, waiting for the next words to fall from his muzzle, dreading and hating them before they’re even born. 

“I hung on to it. But the water… Just look!” He thrusts the Matt in your face. “Do you see any lights?”

No cheerful glow—just a dead metallic box. The Matt is broken. You stamp the dirt beneath your hooves, reassuring yourself that there is something solid in the universe. 

“We can’t get back.” The Wolf’s bitter tones slice at you.

You breathe through your panic. The settlement surely has supplies. Maybe you  two   can fix the Matt. “We’ll figure it out. The Beacon is still out there.”

“They’re not going to send anyone after us. We had the only working Matt.” He lobs it at you, and you flinch when it hits your sensitive muzzle. 

The words dry in your throat. Every Cow knows to stay calm around a Wolf, no matter how much they want to run. Once your racing heart and trembling limbs are under control, you pick up the Matt and head toward the settlement.

“We’re stuck here!” he shouts, as if you haven’t understood.

You keep a tight lid on the panic. The only chance of getting home is checking the settlement for supplies. “I’m still going to do my duty. I may be just a stupid Cow, but I’m not afraid of hard work. I’ll figure out a way home on my own if I have to.”

You were given a mission: investigate the Beacon and come home. And that’s exactly what you intend to do. 

The Beacon lights the storm clouds above a settlement on a cliffside, crisp against the tossing ocean. The tall metal fence surrounding it glows in the afternoon sun, rusted though it is by the salt air. The gate creaks as a settler pushes it open. More fill the space behind him, so similar in form to the monsters from the previous planet. Humanoid. You shiver. 

“The Wolves are here!” The gatekeeper flaps hairless arms. “And they brought…” He furrows his brow. “…food?”

“Might as well,” the Wolf says with a lolling tongue. “Since I can’t return to my ship.”

The gate clangs shut, displaying a snarling wolf carved on the inside. Terror slams through you. You are not prey! The Wolf will not show mercy. Do the settlers worship Wolves? Will they follow his lead, or can they be reasoned with?

“But the Beacon!” you shout to the settlers, desperate to stall. 

“Yes, we lit it as instructed when the water purifier broke. See?” The person leads you to a large machine—a water desalinator.

The Wolf crowds behind you, flashing teeth. “No need to worry about that now.”

“We’re supposed to help you.” You stamp, whirling to face the Wolf. “At least let me try to fix it.” 

“You can fix it? The Wolves always fix things.” Surprise fills the settlers’ faces.

“I can.” You glare at the Wolf as he slinks away toward the larger group. 

“We’ll give you until evening,” the settlers agree. 

Your blood rushes in your ears. At least it’s still inside. You crouch by the machine, pulling off the side panel. The nearby marsh must be fed by a freshwater source, given its smell. Even if not, there are other ways of getting salt out of water for the people. You don’t care, not really. Not while trapped inside a fence with creatures looking at you like dinner. 

The collection basin of the desalinator is rusted, with a gaping hole. You have no metal to replace it. Tears well up. You’ll be slaughtered and eaten. 

A wire catches your eye. You grab the Matt and peer inside the case. Dusk is settling, but the sun has dried it. If you can splice a new wire, the desalinator could power the Matt. You don’t have to be dinner. A rock enables you to pluck the power cable out from the Matt and peel back the casing. 

“Time’s up: the people are hungry,” the Wolf says. 

You hunch over, pulling back the coating of the desalinator’s power cable. With the rock, you mash the new wire with the old to splice it. 

The Wolf’s paw lands on your shoulder. “What are you…”

“Not such a stupid Cow.” You keep the Matt away from him. “I’m going home.”

“Let’s go then!” The Wolf’s eyes gleam. 

“You were going to let them eat me!”

“Come on, Cow, it was just a joke.” He shrugs with a friendly smile and wagging tail. 

You narrow your eyes. “Fine. I have a joke of my own.” 

As he opens his mouth, you press the button, Matt’ing safely back up to the ship. 

Writer In Motion: Space Cows 2: Self-edits

I wanted to share a little of my self-editing process as I did it, but I already got started a tad before I remembered to show my work. I thought I’d show you what my notes to myself sometimes look like as I work.

So what am I doing here?

First, I wanted clarity of story, with complete internal and external arcs, and a resolved plot.  I figured I could get the words for that by trimming the on-ship scene, as I feel there’s some repetition (cycling) there to cut out. 

As I did this, I got rid of all my stream-of-consciousness notes to myself (marked in the original by AA…). 

Once I had a decent draft, it’s time to strengthen it by looking at characterizations, polishing arcs, and descriptions.

Finally, line edits, such as weeding out unnecessary words and phrases and strengthening emotion and weaker words for stronger ones. Once it was as good as I could make it, I had the computer voice read it aloud (to increase my own criticism of it), and then ran it through AutoCrit for help seeing potential issues that I was too close to see (including some pesky tense errors!).

Completing arcs took the word count up to 1587, but it feels much more like a story rather than the scene that it was before. Still, it means I had a lot to cut, while maintaining those now finished arcs!

Behold: my self-edited version of Space Cows 2.


“This is where you’ll be going.” The Whale’s fin indicates the Beacon lighting the screen.

You give a show of attention. You aren’t going, after all—you just got back from a mission.

“We’ll need you, Cow.”

Good thing Cow faces are naturally docile. You flick your ears instead of giving voice to your frustration, especially when the Whale continues.

“And a Wolf.”

Your forestomachs clench at the thought of working with a Wolf.

“Investigate the Beacon and come back.” The Whale’s voice follows you out of Command. 

As you head toward the Drop Room, your mind races. The Beacon is some kind of call for help, but from whom, and why? And why is the Whale sending you, instead of a team of Wolves? Wolves are cunning and work well together. Just not so well with others. 

A Wolf joins you in the Drop Room, and you stare at the controls rather than look at him. You breathe deep. You’re ready for anything. 

Or so you think.

Splash! You flounder in the marsh, a bellow escaping your throat. Beside you, the Wolf struggles, the Matt clamped in his jaws. He goes under, then fights to the surface. Your stomach twists. If you lose the Matt, you’ll never get home.

“Climb on my back,” you grumble. 

The Wolf pants harshly as his claws dig into your hide. You try not to flinch. What other tricks might the Wolves play if you act like prey? You don’t want to find out. 

The squishy mud of the marsh sucks at all four hooves as you slog on, the Wolf lying on your back. When you finally meet dry land, the Wolf drops to his own feet and shakes himself. You do likewise as you stand back up on two legs. He holds the Matt, but his eyes are wide and ringed with white. Is he…frightened?

“Come on, we need to find the Beacon,” you say. 

He shivers, eyes never leaving the marsh. Your nostrils flare as you walk uphill, where you can see and smell more. 

“We’re stuck here, you stupid Cow.”

You stop, turning back to him, and wait for the next words to fall from his muzzle, dreading and hating them before they’re even born. 

His ears flatten. “I hung on to it. But the water… Just look! Do you see any lights?” He thrusts the Matt in your face. 

Your hooves stamp on the dirt, reassuring yourself that there is something solid in the universe, safe places in this nightmare. 

“We can’t get back.” The Wolf’s voice is full of bitterness.

“We’ll figure it out. The Beacon is still out there.”

“They’re not going to send anyone after us. We had the only working Matt.”

You shake your head. You slide backwards on the mud, but continue up the hill.

“We’re stuck here!” he shouts, as if you hadn’t understood.

“I’m still going to do my duty. I may be just a stupid Cow, but I’m not afraid of hard work. I’ll figure out a way home on my own if I have to.”

After all, you were given a mission: investigate the Beacon and come back.

And that’s exactly what you intend to do.

Once you’re halfway up the hill, the Wolf appears beside you like a ghost, and you Do. Not. Spook. No, that quick breathing is all exertion. You lumber on to the top. 

The Beacon lights the sky above a settlement, crisp against the ocean, with a tall metal fence rusted by the salt air. The gate creaks open to allow you in. Settlers fill the space, their physiology eerily similar to the monsters from the previous planet. You shiver. You can’t help it, even though the Wolf gives you a toothy grin. 

“The Wolves are here!” The person who opened the gate flaps hairless arms. “And they brought…” He furrows his brow, “…food?”

“Might as well,” the Wolf says. “Since I can’t return to my ship.”

The gate clangs shut, displaying a bared-tooth wolf carved on the inside. Terror slams through you, electrifying all your nerves, but you can’t be prey. Not with that look in the Wolf’s eyes. 

“But the Beacon!” you shout nonsensically. 

“Yes, we lit it as instructed when the water purifier broke. See?” The person leads you to a large rusty machine—a water desalinator.

“We’re supposed to help you.” You stamp, desperate for time. “At least let me try to fix it.” 

“I suppose you can have until evening,” the settlers agree. 

You crouch by the machine. The nearby marsh must be fed by freshwater, so there must be a nearby source. Even if not, there are other ways of getting salt out of water. But you’re trapped inside a fence with people and a Wolf all looking at you like dinner. A wire catches your eye. As dusk settles on the settlement, you realize: the desalinator may never work again, but it could power the Matt, now that the sun has dried it. 

“Time’s up: the people are hungry, and it’ll take a while to cook you,” the Wolf says. 

You finish mashing the new wire with the old to splice it, using the exterior of the Matt to shape it. 

The Wolf’s paw lands on your shoulder. “What are you…”

“Not such a stupid Cow.” You keep the Matt well away from him. “I can go home anytime.”

“Let’s go then!” the Wolf’s eyes gleam. 

“You were going to let them eat me!”

“Come on, Cow, it was just a joke.”

“Fine then. I have a joke of my own.” 

As he opens his mouth, you press the button, Matt’ing up to the ship. 

After your report, the Whale agrees with your assessment, and together you send a message, both to the Wolf on the surface and those on the ship. The Wolf can rejoin his pack… after he turns the Wolf carving into a Cow. 

This version comes in at 990 words, and while there’s still some things nagging at me, I’m much happier with it.

Writer In Motion: Space Cows 2: The First Draft

“This is where you’ll be going,” the Whale says, pointing with his flipper to the screen.

You stare at the screen obediently–AA attentively. It’s not you who’s going, after all. You just got back from a mission.

“We’ll need you, Cow.”

Of course. Good thing Cow faces are naturally docile. You flick your ears instead of giving voice to your frustration or objections, especially when the Whale continues.

“And a Wolf.”

The Wolves had played that awful trick on you, the one that nearly got you eaten–AAtorn apart– by monsters. You’re not looking forward to working with them again, so soon after just getting back to the ship. 

“Don’t give me that look,” the Whale says, eyeing you. 

With a flick of your ears, you lower your head, glancing out of the corner of your eye to the nearest Wolf. They’d shouted and howled when the Whales had decreed they allow other species on their starships, so much so that the Whales had assigned one of themselves to each ship. You were lucky—and hard-working—to get this position, and you weren’t going to let it go without a fight. Even to a Wolf. Especially to a Wolf. 

You turn and get ready to Matt down to the planet. 

“Investigate the Beacon, and come back,” the Whale says, his voice following you out of Command. 

As you hurry, your mind races. The Beacon was likely some kind of call of help, but from who, and why? And why did the Wahle send you, instead of a team of Wolves? Wolves were fast and they were cunning, and they worked incredibly well together. Just not so well with the other species, sometimes. 

You shove the Wolves out of your mind, focusing on your task. Ignoring the Wolf who joins you in the Drop Room you steady yourself, ready for anything that’s to come. 

Or so you thought.

You gasp, a bellow escaping your throat even as you flounder in the marsh. The Wolf isn’t doing much better, struggling with the Matt in his jaws. Your stomach twists as you know the solution, but you don’t like it. Still, it’s better than losing the Matt, and being stuck here forever. 

“Climb on my back,” you grumble. 

There’s no sassy—AA sly— response from the Wolf. Instead, he just splashes over to you and climbs up, his claws digging into your hide. Your skin twitches but you try not to respond, a fear coiling in your gut at what other trick the Wolves might play on you if you act like prey. You think they’ve gotten past that, but how do you know for sure? You don’t want to risk testing it. 

Your hooves are sucked deep in the squishy mud of the marsh, but worry fills you for more than just the ground that doesn’t want to let you escape. The Wolf lays on your back, panting heavily as you slog on, on all fours. Twisting, you catch a glimpse of the Matt, relief uncoiling some of the streets wound in your belly.

“Stop it,” the Wolf growls breathlessly. “The Matt will drop.”

Muttering to yourself you slog on, until finally you meet dry land and can get back up on two legs, as the wolf drops to his own feet, holding on to the Matt. He shakes himself, and you do likewise, watching him with something akin to interest. The Wolf’s eyes are wide and rings with white. If you weren’t sure you were wrong, you might say he was..frightened.

“Come on, we need to find the Beacon,” you remind him gently. 

He nods, eyes never leaving the marsh, and his shivers before turning to follow you. You lead the uncharacteristically quiet Wolf uphill, nostrils flared of the scents that will tell you where to go. As you walk, you wait for the Wolf to help out, to give some direction, but he says nothing. 

You prod him. “This is the way to the Beacon, right?”

Shaking himself again, he looks down at the Matt. Then he looks back at you. Your blood chills. 

“We’re stuck here, you stupid Cow.”

You wait for the next words to fall from his muzzle, dreading them and hating them before they were even born. He looks back at the marsh, his ears flattening. “IF I had let go, the submersion would have destroyed the Matt, or we never would have found it in the murk. So I hung on to it. And look. Do you see any lights?” He thrust the box in your face, and you recoil naturally. 

Shifting your weight, your hooves stamp on the solid ground, as if reassuring yourself that there was something solid in the universe. Reassuring yourself that there were safe places in this nightmare. 

The Wolf continues, his voice filled with bitterness. The Matt’s lights have all gone out, and you know that’s bad, know what he’d going to say, but you wait for him to say it anyway, some part of you denying it, wishing that if he just didn’t say anything, it wouldn’t betrue.

“The Matt’s lost it’s lock. We took it too far out of range. We can’t get back.”

“We’ll figure it out. The Beacon is still out there.”

“They’re not going to send anyone after us. We have the only working Matt. You want to stay here while they repair the one hat ware broken?”

“Well, maybe. How long will that take?” 

“With the materials on board? Years.”

You shake your head and continue one. The Wolf hesitates, clear by the lack of sound following you, and then he runs to catch up, his paws crunching the leaves underfoot. “We’re stuck here!” he shows, as if you hadn’t understood.

“I know. There’s still the Beacon.”

“Don’t you understand?”

“I’m still going to do my duty. I may be just a stupid cow, but I’m not afraid of some hard work. I’m not afraid to finish the task. And I’ll figure out a way home on my own if I have to.”

After all you were given a mission. Investigate the Beacon, and come back.

And that’s exactly what you intend to do.


Coming in at 1,033 words, this did not end up where I thought it would. I had two ideas in my head for the plot for this short, and this ended up taking a third route, though I’m intrigued where we ended up. The worldbuilding keeps developing, which is always fun.

I’m hoping I can edit down some of the internal to add some external, maybe resolve this conflict somehow, but we’ll see. I don’t know what will happen next but I’m curious to discover it.

I struggled writing this, unsure and with no words coming at some points, very different from my first experience with Writer In Motion! But that’s been my writing in a nutshell lately. Words were delayed in coming to mind, and sometimes my fingers had a mind of their own, and wow the typos to fix! But that’s what this is all about, after all: the journey from first draft to final draft!

Writer In Motion, round 2

Writer In Motion is back with a swanky new website and forums and I’m so excited to join in again (without the editor feedback this time, but I’m still overflowing with motivation)!

Check out this prompt:

Image by engin akyurt from Pixabay

I want to continue my Space Cows saga (which I intend to eventually do a reader magnet for) , so that’s constraining my creativity a tad, which is not a bad thing. And then, looking at the prompt, I started thinking, hmm… Current ideas are a beacon, a last stand, fearlessness, and some vague ideas I can’t put words to just yet.

So this week I will post my first draft, along with all the other WIM participants. If you haven’t thought about joining us, you should! I love seeing all the wonderful stories that come from the prompts, and this time there’s a delightful forum for us to mingle in, as well as all the Twitter shenanigans.

Check out the project schedule:

Windward Cover Reveal!

Windward is almost here, and I’m psyched to share it with the world!

What’s it about? It’s a classic fantasy adventure story with a spotlight on the bond between a woman and the dragon she chose over leading an ordinary life. Read on:

When dragons fight, mountains weep.

In nests high in the mountains, dragons and dragonbonded share their lives, thoughts, feelings, and ambitions.

Palon and her partner, the dragon Windward, are renowned among their nest for their flying skill. Their days are filled with everything she loves, especially riding the wind. Even being tasked with teaching their way of life to Tebah, a rebellious newly bonded teenager, can’t bring her down too much.

But when treasures from the dragons’ hoards are found in Palon’s collection, her idyllic life comes crashing down. She battles to prove her innocence, while her every move is cast as further evidence against her. Tebah’s suspicion, homesickness, and defiance would be frustrating even in easy times. With Palon in the spotlight while her rivals smear her name at every turn and stir up plots of revenge, her teenage charge’s behavior proves dangerous.

Dragon tempers shorten, and challenges and disputes shake the ground. Palon will have to trust more than just herself if she hopes to once more own the sky.

Coming September 27th, Windward is available for pre-orders now!

And now… for the moment of truth…

The reveal!

WindwardFC_Text_190905

I love my cover. I love the feeling of movement, and the colors, and the feeling that brings to mind all the classic speculative fiction I devoured as a kid. Dave Brasgalla has been amazing to work with and I’m so fortunate he loved working on my cover so well! It really mimicked the process of editing and polishing the words itself, the constant attention to detail and the way I was able to watch it somehow get better and better with each rendition.

My ARCs are out and in the hands of readers, and I can’t describe the giddy feeling of seeing my work in someone else’s hands! (Pictures have been sent back to me of people holding their ARCs, and I love it!)

 

So: September 27th, Windward goes live! The first several orders of the print book have the option to send me their receipt in exchange for a free Windward cuff bracelet inspired by dragonbonded fashion. The offer lasts until supplies run out.

Enjoy!

Windward is coming!

I’ve been working like crazy putting the last polishes on Windward ahead of its release in early August! Most of my final readers have sent me back their feedback and the rest are coming soon so I can make final polishes. I’m super fortunate to be able to work with David Brasgalla as my cover artist, and he’s been sending me some amazing concept art that I just have to share! I’ve never worked with an artist before, so I’ve been learning so much.

Take a look at this concept art for Palon! I literally could stare at this all day if I didn’t need to finish stuff so you all can read. Dave really captured her attitude here.

Windward_-_Palon_Concepts

I got a draft of the cover too so I could tweak anything that needed tweaking. I love the design of this though- it’s got that classic heroic fantasy feel that manages to encompass the style of the book and how I hope readers feel as they take this journey along with me. Even the dragon nests will be there, in the background on the back cover, and details like the style of WINDWARD on top are spectacular. I can’t wait to see if fleshed out and in color.

Windward_-_Cover_Comps

In the past week, I’ve been working hard designing and fashioning leather cuff bracelets which will be given away with the first several print copies. I almost have the look the way I want it, and I’ll post when I have it just right!

Are you excited? Because this is really happening! I just have to set a date and I can open up to pre-orders. The sky is theirs… but Windward can be yours!

Do you want a chance to read it early? I’d love the reviews, so I’m happy to give out some Advance Reader Copies if you want to spread the word. Simply fill out the form below, and check out Windward’s blurb on my Books page if you haven’t already!