Tuesday, 2 September 2014

WORK-IN-PROGRESS BLOG CHALLENGE & MORE...

When I saw my name on Vashti Q Vega’s list of nominees, after reading her latest blogpost, I was honoured and excited to be nominated for the Work-in-Progress Blog Challenge.

Vashti writes in the fantasy, thriller and horror genres and is the author of the suspense/thriller, The Basement, which you can find on her website: http://vashtiqvega.wordpress.com/, where you can also read about her WIP, The Fall of Lilith’, a dark fantasy aimed at a young adult/adult audience.

Vashti is a good friend to have, and definitely someone on whom you can count. She offers unfailing support and kindness to other writers. If you follow her blog you’ll get short stories, informative topical articles and, every now and then, some very tasty recipes – including cocktails!

Here are the rules:
Provide the link back to the post by the person who nominated you (see above).
Write a little about your work-in-progress.
Give the first sentences of the first three chapters of your current WIP.
Nominate four other writers for the challenge.

My WIP is a paranormal thriller/romance which is the first book in a trilogy. The plot is my version of the eternal triangle with a female protagonist, the one she’s meant to be with, and the rival. The protagonist’s name in today’s sentences is one of the three I’ve narrowed down as my final choices. I’m still working on the title.

The story takes place over a long time span, and has a lot of action, although the attraction and rivalry between the characters is the motive, providing a strong undercurrent to said action. There are vampires and all sorts of supernatural creatures, but the focus is on the relationships rather than the fang action.

So without further ado, here are the first sentences of the first three chapters:

Chapter 1: Meetings
Maya looked up as a grimy unshaven man, water dripping off him, boarded the bus and staggered down the aisle.

Chapter 2: After Hours
Maya plodded up her driveway, sharp gravel crunching, thoughts settling in slow motion like a soft swirl of snowflakes whitenening, silencing the world.

Chapter Three: Crisis
The clink of car keys as the mechanic placed them in her hand felt good.

And here are my four nominees, all brilliant bloggers and writers: 

Natasha Ahmed : http://dearrumi.com/

This challenge has been an excellent way to see what impact those important first sentences have, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what these writers are doing.

Writing Update

I had planned to post a science-fiction short story this week when I received the nomination for the challenge, so I’m only posting the first half. For those who are unfamiliar with science fiction, Wikipedia has a comprehensive article on the genre.

This story was inspired by an anthology compiled by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, titled Past Lives, Present Tense. All the stories are based on the possibility of combining the downloaded DNA and memories/personalities of people from the past with individuals in the present. So I hope you enjoy my offering.


Miriam floated in darkness.  Images surfaced: an army cheering; a cave lit by a luminous glow; weapons clashing; puffs of white breath from stamping horses; silent stone corridors where sequestered nuns prayed in peace. And weaving throughout, the singing of a celestial chorus so sweet she cried.
She remembered.
‘St Veronica? St Anna Maria?’ she whispered.
Miriam had taken it for granted that the exorbitant fee she’d paid Dr. Simmons for his most exclusive, and illegal, service would give a perfect result. She expected her as yet unmet companions to adjust to co-habiting in an unfamiliar body in the twenty third century with ease. And for this purpose she’d chosen two favourite childhood saints: the warrior, St. Veronica, and the wandering mendicant, St. Anna Maria of the High Alps. So far there’d been no contact.
Pain erupted and Miriam screamed as bones lengthened and muscles twisted while three different sets of DNA struggled to meld. Within seconds a medassist rushed in slapping a sedpatch on her arm. Miriam quietened, settling back into sleep. A panel of flickering lights at the end of her bed continued to monitor every heart beat and minute cellular change.
When she next awoke Dr. Simmons stood staring down at her. The pain had gone.
‘Well, Miriam, you’ll be pleased to learn the procedure went as planned. You are the first successful recipient of two personality downloads.’ He beamed with professional pride. ‘Any communication yet?’
Miriam’s brain was cotton wool. She grunted.
‘Not to worry,’ the good doctor continued. ‘They’ll be confused - let’s face it, they’ve been dead for centuries - but they will emerge. You’ll find your energy levels will return to normal within a couple of days. Have patience.’
No sooner had the door slid shut behind him when a voice demanded.
    ‘Where am I?’
At last!
    ‘Who are you, devil?’
Miriam’s pleasure faded.
Oh, I’m not a devil.’ She tried to sound conciliatory, a difficult feat when conducting a conversation inside her head. The voice became strident.
Return me to where you’ve taken me from – whichever cursed one of his minions you are!’
‘Be calm, please. Is that you St. Veronica?’ Miriam figured this must be St. Veronica ‘cos that voice would unquestionably be heard in battle.
‘Yes, I am Veronica La Morceau of the village of Terrasitte, but I can assure you I’m no saint. Send me back immediately!’
Miriam paused. Could the saint be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder? Did resurrected personalities remember every detail of their former lives? St. Veronica had died a rather violent death at the hands of the Mongol invaders but Miriam didn’t remember whether her demise was caused by a hail of arrows or decapitation. She shuddered. Would she have to experience every single memory from both saints? Would they be able to see hers? She buried the thought – the future counted, not the past.
I am Miriam Duplesange. No point in cushioning the truth. ‘And there is no return. This is your body now.’
St. Veronica’s ear-splitting shriek rendered Miriam incapable of thought. The saint’s shrill wailing had her reaching for the emergency medassist button to demand a return to unconsciousness – anything to silence the insane racket.
‘I believe Sister Miriam is telling us the truth.’ A second voice.
Miriam breathed in the welcome silence. But not for long.
‘Another devil! Mere de Dieu et Vierge, rejouis-toi, Marie pleine de grace’
St. Anna Maria?’ Miriam ventured, attempting to ignore the ravings of St. Veronica.
‘I am Sister Anna Maria from Dielle sur Mere, although it is many years since I lived there. But I, also, am not a saint.’  St. Anna Maria’s voice was a gentle caress. ‘What have you done, sister?’
Miriam endeavoured to give the bewildered saints an understanding of the process that had brought them back to life in a body that wasn’t their own, in a future far distant from theirs. 
St. Anna Maria responded with the diktat.
 ‘Sisters, let us pray.’
 Miriam spent the next exhausting hour in constant prayer, bonding with her new companions.

For the following two days Miriam lay in her sterile white hospital room attached to various machines, which stimulated and monitored the assimilation. As yet the saints hadn’t provided the panacea she’d anticipated. Her goal was clear. She wanted a ticket to Heaven. No-one rose to power without eliminating obstacles, and Miriam hadn’t cared as long as someone else took the fall. But as the years slid by, a sliver of guilt had embedded itself deep in her heart, and no penance, pilgrimage, or prayer removed it.
When a billionaire acquaintance confided she was contemplating a visit to Dr. Simmons, and explained what he did, Miriam knew God had sent the answer to her deepest desires.
Currently though, the intermittent contact with the saints left her either fraught after an onslaught of hysterical tears, or fatigued by endless prayer – not quite what she’d envisioned. Her own patience diminished, and she became ever more aggravated by Dr. Simmons’ ban on personal comlinks at his private clinic tucked away in the French countryside. She fretted for hours, thwarted at not being able to conduct her corporate affairs as usual.
 Distraction came when the doctor judged her progress satisfactory. Miriam tightened with anticipation as a medassist pressed a button and a section of the bathroom wall slid aside revealing a full length mirror. The second she was alone, she ripped her robe off and scrutinized every inch of her body.
‘Cover thyself. T’is not seemly to behave so.
Despite the reprimand, Miriam noted the approval sliding beneath St. Veronica’s words.
By now it was easy to distinguish between the two saints. St Veronica’s voice was deeper, demanding and often judgemental. The warrior saint was no shrinking violet, rarely holding back her thoughts and opinions, despite her lack of knowledge on the subject.
‘Vanity is a sin, my child.’ St. Anna Maria’s voice possessed a more maternal tone, but she too sounded pleased at what she undeniably saw as an improvement over her former leprosy ridden body. Yet, St. Anna Maria’s sweet tongue masked a character as tough as the high strength carbon nanofibre from which they built vessels for space exploration. No, these weren’t the biddable sweet companions she’d imagined. In fact with everything the pair of them threw at her, she was forever on edge.
However, Miriam thought as she looked at her reflection, without doubt she’d changed, and was no longer a sack of potatoes, more a slender willow.  Her eyes appeared larger, not an insipid blue but glistening brown and, there was no other way to put it, more soulful.  Her nose had become slightly longer and thinner giving her a patrician look, and her skin shone with a luminescent glow. She possessed the face of one whom God had blessed.
 Miriam realized her subordinates would assume she’d had a total body job, but it had been a long time since she cared what people thought. She had achieved everything she wanted in life; a business empire, mixing with the elite in society, name and fame were hers. The introverted plain girl standing in a corner of the play garden while the other children ran round giggling together had died a long time ago. As for a husband and children, they’d never been on her list, and at present her sights were set on purer, higher goals – nothing less than a guaranteed place in Heaven.


One week and a battery of rigorous tests later Miriam sat in a luxurious leather armchair facing Dr. Simmons at her final consultation.
 ‘You’re in charge,’ Doctor Simmons told her as Miriam breathed in the riotous scents rising from the banks of flowers bordering the open door to the garden.
Oh, those lilies and irises would look beautiful together on an altar. ’ St. Anna Maria commented. Miriam detected a derogatory sniff from St. Veronica.
Do you think we might pick a few?
‘Miriam, did you hear what I said?’ Dr. Simmons cut through the inner conversation.
‘I’m sorry,’ Miriam muttered, wondering why she was apologizing. She never apologized - a principle she’d adopted for life - not unless there was something to be gained from it.
‘You’re the dominant personality. Just tell them to be quiet.’
‘I find it difficult to give orders to such elevated personalities.’ Miriam spoke hesitantly. She gulped. What was happening? She didn’t even sound like herself anymore.
‘The time it takes to adapt varies according to the individual, but my experience is they all surrender in the end,’ the doctor declared.
Miriam hoped he spoke the truth. She was reluctant to admit it, but she struggled to maintain dominance of her trinity; the saints had thrown her off balance. She’d always felt a divide in herself. Her nature was mostly that of a predator with a calculating greed that had enabled her to rise to a position of power in the business and political worlds. But another smaller part - shielded and hidden - was an innocent, uplifted by prayer and worship of God. Relinquishing either aspect meant losing an essential part of her character.
‘Just try it. You’ll see. Despite the initial snags, your assimilation and psychological adjustment to the downloaded personalities is one of the most compatible I’ve witnessed. Don’t forget, it’s your body.’
‘Snags? Outright war is closer to the conflict these two engage in.’  
The doctor gazed at a spot above her head, speaking with the confirmed authority of one who’d never been called to answer for his actions. He finished with a cheery smile, a firm hand shake, and a final ‘Good luck. I’ll see you in three months.’
But dreams are not given up so easily and as Miriam walked through the clinic foyer, her keyed luggage trundling behind her, she glossed over her misgivings. What could seriously trouble the merging of three souls in one body after the mega-mergers she’d master minded? Miriam was known as the queen of acquisitions, and she itched with impatience to check the progress of her latest assets.
The chauffeured drive - an antiquated luxury - to the heliport took them through the local town, giving St. Anna Maria and St. Veronica their first view of the modern world. Miriam heard a joint gasp of horror as they realized that the building outside which skimpily clad women and bronzed young men stood drinking was an old church.
‘Our Father, who art in Heaven.’ A panicked St. Anna Maria prayed. St. Veronica joined her, but Miriam ignored their alarm and stared out of the window, wondering how much it had cost to acquire and renovate the church. Her fingers twitched and her breathing quickened as her mind considered the possibilities.
But nothing deterred her companions and, as the vehicle proceeded through crowded streets where a cornucopia of material goods enticed earnest shoppers, they prayed non-stop until they reached the heliport.
‘Never!’ insisted St. Veronica in a forceful voice while Miriam attempted to explain that the smooth metal ovoid nestling in its landing pod was her private helijet – and a completely safe means of transport. ‘You want us to enter a metal egg that flies?’

END OF PART ONE

I’d love it if you checked out my debut novel, One Summer in Montmartre, or popped over to Wattpad and read any of my posted stories... just click on the links to the right.

Join me on Twitter at: teagankearney@modhaiku   

Thanks for visiting my blog, and please do leave a comment.
To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.






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Apart from writing, I'm compiling a bucket list of places I'd like to  visit...from Iceland to Hawaii and onwards....
         

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