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Hey, remember what this site used to be about?

Probably not, unless you happen to have memorized my home page. Which will at some point become an about page, as I’m thinking I might as well make the blog the home page.

But ahem.

This site used to be about how I’m an aspiring author of speculative fiction. I was going to build my platform as an aspiring fiction writer. I was going to post a lot about NaNoWriMo and my writing goals. I was going to include excerpts of my work. And for a while, I did that. Then I had lots of dead air (pages? space?). Then I had intermittent posts about food that may or may not have involved ninjas and leprechauns. And at one point I tossed in a post fictionalizing my dog’s thoughts. And more recently I supposed I would more or less abandon this site in favor of this other one where I wouldn’t have to feel quite so awkward about the food + ninjas and leprechauns (or zombies, as the case may be).

And then.

I started to reread my 2010 NaNoWriMo novel. It’s still unfinished, and it’s still rough. It needs more world-building. Some plot solidification. And tighter characterization. But I think there’s something there. And yeah, novels are intimidating, as I mention here. But I’m still a character girl, and I’m still a story girl. And the other site doesn’t quite get me the fix I need.

So I’m getting back into writing again, this time with more upfront work. Sweep out the tumbleweeds, kids; this site isn’t dead after all.

For the curious, here’s a (lightly edited) part of the first chapter of the 2010 NaNo novel.

 

 

1.

A blast of heat stung my face as I opened the oven, hands safely ensconsed in mitts, and shoved a bread peel under the hardened crust of the loaf. A few muttered curses, and I worked the edge of the peel under the loaf and managed to slide it out of the oven and on to the counter top. Soon the smell of fresh bread permeated the kitchen. I inhaled deeply, a small sigh of happiness and contentment escaping my lips.

“Smells great, Aunt Aida.”

I glanced up to see Ethan from the open doorway. “No minors in the kitchen,” I said, but without heat or any true insistence to get him out. “And don’t call me Aunt. You’ll give the patrons the wrong idea.”

He rolled his eyes. “Can I have a slice?”

“Has to cool. Crumb’s better that way.”

“Then can I have a cookie?”

Removing the oven mitts—had to give him a good example, after all; safety first and all that—I quirked an eyebrow at him. “How many cookies does Eloise let you have?”

He tossed his head as if to say, The amount of cookies is a negligible matter. “Oh, she never really put a cap on it.”

I crossed my arms. “Hah. Try again, Ethan. Maybe Eloise wouldn’t care how many of your meals you ruin with cookies, but you can bet she’d care about her bottom line. I’m guessing she groused if you had even one cookie a day.” I strolled toward him, holding out my palm. “Unless you’ve got the money to pay for it.”

He screwed up his face and stuck his tongue out at me. I withdrew my hand. “Thought as much. Now go do your homework; this place won’t produce baked yumminess on its own.”

He groaned, but turned and departed the kitchens, letting the door swing back and forth behind him.

Having the opportunity to return my attention to the boule I’d just removed from the oven, I gave it an experimental pat, then managed to flip it over to thump the bottom. It sounded hollow, a drum of flour, salt, and yeast. Perfect. I went to look at the other loaves still in the oven; I’d shoved them in a few minutes after the first, so they had a bit of time to go.

“Aida.”

I kept my back to Horace, still examining the loaves in the oven. “What is it? I’m kinda busy.”

Horace cleared his throat. “Just thought you should know. Augustus says he saw a boundary warden headed for the bakery.”

My shoulders tensed. I forced them to relax, then righted myself and faced Horace. I blew out a deep breath that momentarily lifted my bangs off my forehead. “Well. Maybe he’ll pass us by.”

“Maybe.” Horace pulled away, headed back to work the counter. “But like I said, I thought you should know.” Meaning, You may want to hide out in the back for a while.

Yes. Yes, I did. Not that I’d done anything illegal that a boundary warden would be interested in, but on the whole I found I did best if I kept out of their attention entirely. I’d managed to do so for close to five years now, and another five—or ten, or fifty—would suit me just fine.

I swiveled back to the oven and my loaves. “There’s nothing to worry about,” I told them. “And if the warden does come here, there’s no reason that he’d want to see me. I haven’t done anything besides bake you.”

The last of my batch of loaves had been cooling for less than five minutes when Horace’s deep voice rose above the general indistinct din coming from the cafe and providing the background noise for my haven. A small whimper escaped past my lips before I reminded myself that I wasn’t afraid of a boundary warden. And Horace could take care of it. Surely.

I swept up a bag of flour as if I meant to do something with it. But I simply stood there, with its twenty pounds weighing me down, and listened.

The shouting increased, broken by an intermittent murmur of a voice deeper yet than Horace’s, one that bespoke nothing but calm laced with disguised menace. A shiver wracked through me. My hands clenched the bag of flour, the canvas eating into my palms. I ought to go out. Truly, I should. Eloise had left me in charge, after all. If a boundary warden had a problem with the bakery (with me) I ought to go handle it.

But despite all my reasoning, my feet did their best to grow roots and send them through the wooden floor to the earth beneath.

Until over Horace’s voice and over the too-calm voice came another, a higher-pitched one, fear making it go squeaky.

The bag of flour fell from my hands and burst on the floor, coating my pants and shoes in white powder. I skidded through the mess and out of the kitchens. Horace stood in front of the counter with his hands on his hips and his face red. Ethan perched on a stool at the counter next to Horace, shoulders hunched in on himself, like he wanted to present as small a target as possible.

And the warden. Though the arguing—pardon; discussion, as wardens never lowered themselves to altercations with the hoi polloi—had gone on for at least ten minutes, the warden remained by the entry into the bakery. His broad shoulders were wide enough almost to touch either side of the frame, and his height put him a mere two or three inches away from having to duck to clear the doorway.

And he wore his armor. His sword, thank the sun, remained in its scabbard. He didn’t look as if he wanted to draw it.

The boundary warden’s eyes had flicked to me as soon as I came from the kitchens, assessing me as I assessed him. I drew myself to the full, hardly formidable height. Best to keep the distance between us; I didn’t much fancy the idea of standing right next to him and confirming my supposition that the top of my head barely reached the bottom of his sternum.

“The Edge is legal, if that’s what you’re here for,” I said. There was less steel in my tone than I wanted. I wasn’t sure I even approached tarnished brass. “We’ve got our papers. I can show them to you if you like.” Even though the thought of getting too close to him made my spine quiver and my stomach reel.

The warden stared at me in silence. Our one customer who remained after the warden’s appearance took advantage of his momentary distraction to slink past him and dart out into the street. Youngman. And he left behind his bagel. Wardens did that to people, made them leave their baked goods behind.

 

 

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  • Deana Barnhart July 21, 2012, 11:47 am

    Congrats on getting back to the writing! If it’s in your blood I guess there is no running from it:) And I love posts about zombies. Just sayin’:)

  • Amanda July 22, 2012, 9:53 am

    Thanks, Deana! And the zombie posts most likely aren’t gone completely (I actually still have a few idea for some floating around). But those are going to be hobby-posts, I think.