Sipping coffee in the autumn air

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From Pixabay

I was reminded yesterday of a creative writing workbook I had used when I was in college between 1998-2001 called “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. During that time I was going to the European Division of the University of Maryland University College. Yes,  it had the acronym of UMUC.

Some one made the joke that we were running amok and it kind of stuck.

While I was in that college I worked on a BA in English Literature and a minor in Germany history. I won’t get into the curriculum, but the writing schedule was brutal. I wrote at least two papers for the history courses and three to four papers for the English courses. I was either memorizing, researching, or writing. Plus I didn’t have the time for brain freezes.

This book had exercises to help keep the brain on track. It also advises writers to do other things so that our subconscious can have some time to put some pieces together without our logical brain trying to help. The logical brain has that “editor” that wants our writing to be perfect. It causes the subconscious mind to go on strike.

It is not a good thing to turn off either the subconscious or logical mind. I thought at one time that writing with the subconscious mind would make great stories and poems. Not true. It’s the logical mind that contains the grammar and sentence structure.

If you’ve tried to read “stream of consciousness” you’ll find it is hard reading. If I wanted to be a literature writer with only a couple of readers, I would go that direction. But I want to write genre fiction, particularly fantasy.

One of the reason’s I like “The Artist’s Way” and Julia Cameron’s other book “Walking this World” is because it lets the subconscious play a bit. Then it helps the subconscious and logical mind work together in the act of creation.

So if your well of ideas is going dry and your mind is blank. Try some of her ideas.

As for me, I am going back to writing on Unlicensed Sorceress. Here is a taste of it.

 Unlicensed Sorceress Chapter 10 Scene 1

Mage University
Hilda Brant
It was slightly humiliating to be in school with the junior mages. Hilda wasn’t as limber as the young ones who sat in a circle and yelled out the alphabet. Five little ones just over six years old and Hilda was at least forty years older than the youngest one.

At lest the reading teaching didn’t expect her to sit on the rug. Hilda sat in a chair behind the other students, laboriously writing the first three letters of the alphabet. It wasn’t often that they got adults in the reading class. The teacher had assured her that she would learn. It was a little humiliating that the younger students were learning faster than she was.

A younger mage came over to look at her work. She was writing on a slate. “Here,” the mage said. “You need to make straighter lines.

The chalk felt dusty and she pressed to hard on the slate. The chalk broke and one half flew across the room. It had been a long time since she had been an underling and it was frustrating. The young mage who was showing her the letters hid a smile behind a hand.
“Come on,” he said. “You have several advantages. Use your skills. Don’t you know how to communicate with a team?”

Hilda nodded her head. They had used signs and symbols to communicate with each other, this wasn’t any harder.

“Plus,” the mage continued. “You have an elemental. She can help you.”

Hilda didn’t want to use Sassy. She’d have the little elemental saying, “A. A. A,” at her until Hilda went crazy. The mage looked at her sternly. It was kind of funny to see a teenager look stern. It was the same look she gave to others when they weren’t trying.

In front of them, the children had gotten to their feet and were jumping up and down. The noise in the room stopped her concentration. She wanted to sit up and jump up and down too.

“Come on,” said her teenage torturer. “Call your elemental.”

One thing she didn’t want the mage’s to know was that she didn’t have to call the elemental. Sassy stayed with her all the time. In fact she was peeping out from behind her hair so that she could get a closer look at the children. She wasn’t much older than the children.

You’d think that elementals were old as the hills. You’d think that they had been here forever. Yes, elementals had been here forever. They they were born and then they died. Sassy was from an old line but she was a young one. Hilda had found her on the battlefield. She had saved Sassy and Sassy had saved her. Still Sassy loved the energy of the children and wanted to play with them.

When the teenage mage saw Sassy, his eyes widened. “She’s not full grown.” There was a tone of outrage in his voice.

“You could say that,” said Hilda.

“What did you do with her parents?”

Hilda could see that the teenage mage was agitated. Hilda leaned away from him when she saw the small fireball in his hand.

The teacher saw the fireball, gathered up the children, and then herded them outside.

“Time to play,” she said gaily. The children got into line and followed her out.

Hilda watched the teenage mage. “Put out the fire,” she said.

“Not until you tell me what you did to her parents.” The teenage voice changed and his eyes went red. The boy was gone and in its place was an elemental.

“I didn’t know you could possess a human,” Hilda said. She stood up and put her hand on her belt. Her sword was gone. Plus she didn’t want to kill the mage. She could push the mage and not get hurt. Having a fire elemental meant that she couldn’t be hurt as badly when struck with fire magic.

Still she put her hand on Sassy. “No,” she said to Sassy. “No.”

“I did nothing to her parents.” Hilda said to the possessed mage. “She was flickering when I found her.”

“Liar,” roared the possessed mage.

Mage Godfroy hurried into the room. “Stop it,” he said when he saw that we were about to get into a fight. I had been a few in my day. The young ones forgot that even though I hurt in places, I did know how to make a young man hurt even worse.

When we didn’t change position, and the possessed mage started to move his hands into an intricate pattern, Mage Godfroy yelled, “Stop It!”

The sound of his voice hung in the hair and vibrated through Hilda’s body. The mage must have put a spell behind the words because Hilda stopped and the young mage stopped. The two of them couldn’t move.

“What started it,” Mage Godfroy said.

His words loosened the teenage mage so that he could speak. “Her elemental is too young.”

“I know,” said Mage Godfroy. “She has a dispensation.” Then he turned toward Hilda, “and you?”

Hilda’s lips moved. “Just defending myself, sir.”

Mage Godfroy dropped his control over them. “You,” he pointed at Hilda. “Learn to read.”

As if Hilda could learn to read immediately without practice. She sighed and went back to her chalk and slate.

“You,” he pointed at the teenage mage. “Come with me.”

The younger mage shook a little. “But sir.” A little whine came out of his mouth.

Mage Godfroy grabbed the younger mage by the back of the neck. Hilda could hear his words, “You allowed your elemental to possess you. After your discipline, you’ll go back to the beginning classes.”

Hilda heard a whine coming from teenage mage. Soon Hilda was alone in the room.
She began tracing the letters again. “Sassy,” she said. “Can you help me with these letters?”

Sassy jumped out and sat next to the slate. “A. A. A,” she said. Hilda sighed. If she wanted to get licensed as a magic-user, she needed to learn how to read. “What’s this one?” she asked Sassy.

“B. B. B,” Sassy said.

Why couldn’t she use magic to learn to read?

“C. C. C,” Sassy started with the next letter.

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Unlicensed Sorceress excerpt

This weekend I took a break from writing after finishing the last edits of Dark Moon Rising. I spent some time with a friend and  we talked about cross-stitching and other crafts. She had just completed a silhouette of Harry Potter characters for one of her nieces. I’ve done cross-stitch patterns that resembled woodcuts and those are much harder to keep the lines straight than doing colored cross-stitch patterns.

File Oct 09, 7 05 03 AM So this weekend I finished cross-stitching an owl. I watched Cleverman again so that I could get into season too. Plus took the dog for a walk.

Today I am onto Unlicensed Sorceress, which is the third book in Hilda’s Inn. Hilda is now in Koenigstadt and finds that Lord Barton and his cohorts are spreading rumors about her magical abilities.

Just a little excerpt to wet your whistle:

Part of Chapter Two in Unlicensed Sorceress

Koenigstadt
Hilda Brant
It had been a long time since Hilda had slept in a soft bed. She stretched and her knee locked. She rolled out of bed and stamped her leg on the floor, swearing under her breath. Sassy looked up out of the dying coals and grinned at her. Michael knocked on the door and whispered, “Are you okay?”

“Damn it,” said Hilda. “I hate getting old.” She heard a click in her knee, and then it loosened up.

She opened the door. Michael leaned against the door jamb with a small smile on his face. “Breakfast is ready,” he said. He turned away and she slammed the door. To hell if it made noise, she felt grouchy.

Her breeches had been laundered and left on a wooden chair. She had a shirt made to go with them. Instead of dressing in her traveling clothes, she looked in the wooden wardrobe. There was a gown and a cloak hanging there. Folded on the bottom was a shift and a simple dress. It only took her moments to get dressed. She could smell eggs and bacon and her stomach began to grumble.

She slipped on a pair of slippers and went to eat.

A young man waited, while they finished their breakfast. He separated Hilda from the rest of the group. “You need to come with me, madam,” he said and put his hand on her arm. She didn’t say a word, but let him take her arm. She didn’t pull away from him or use any self-defense moves. She was proud that she went with him quietly.
The young man was probably a mage. Sassy stayed hidden in the flame. It would be better if the mage didn’t know she had an element.

He walked with her through the gardens and then turned to a small innocuous building. Trees and bushes hid the building. Hilda could think of a hundred ways she could hide in the bushes and ambush anyone working there.

Since she had become a mercenary, she still had that instinct to look at someone and know how to kill them. Though as she looked closely around her, she could feel and smell magical traps. If she had really ambushed this building, she would be either captured or dead within minutes.

The young man must have read her face. He smirked just a little. “Every mage meets the big man,” he said cryptically.

Whoever built these traps was more paranoid than her and more powerful. She didn’t say a word and hoped her face didn’t show her sudden anxiety.

She sniffed, but only could smelled the trees and flowers. There was no smell of burning ash or rotten eggs. So if her nose was right, she wouldn’t have to deal with a dragon or a demon. There wasn’t a hint of corruption in the smell. Usually life has death mixed in it. The smells were too antiseptic. It made her nervous.

The door opened before the young man knocked. An older man with a huge smile showing yellow and broken teeth, invited Hilda into a small room with two chairs and a desk. Then the young man left.

The older man pointed Hilda to a seat. He walked around the desk and slouched in his chair. She waited for him to speak. The silence stretched for a long time. He looked down on a piece of paper and then looked up at her. Hilda would have given much to know what was written there. But she had never learned to read and had only learned basic math skills for running the inn.

She waited. She was not going to break the silence. She was not a young thing who would get nervous if some man looked at her long enough. She recognized this interrogation technique.

Finally the older man cleared his throat. She waited for him to speak.
“My name is Morcant,” he said.

Hilda nodded her head, politely.

“I will be discussing with you the unfortunate incident in the forest south of here. But first,” he handed me a piece of paper. “Sign here.”

“No,” Hilda said. “I will not sign something I cannot read.” She stopped her arms from folding against her chest. She didn’t want to look defensive. She gripped the chair arms firmly. Then said, “I want my brother to read this before I sign.”
Morcant’s eyes flickered back and forth. Hilda knew that the next words out of his mouth would be a lie. “It’s just saying that you are a mage.”

“But I am not,” she said. “I have not gone to the mage university and I have not practiced ritual magic. I am not a mage.”

“If you don’t sign this paper,” Morcant smiled. Hilda shuddered at that smile. Dragons had a nicer smile than this man. Morcant continued. “Then I will send you to the dungeon for dangerous criminals.”

“I have done nothing wrong,” Hilda said, her eyebrow went up. “What are you trying to pull?” She leaned forward. Morcant leaned back just a little, then he leaned toward her. She caught the slight movement that meant Morcant was nervous.

She felt his magical energies ramp up. She wished Sassy was with her because the two of them could overpower this wannabe. She sent a probe towards him on the off chance that she could read something in his mind. He blocked her and the smile wiped off his face.

He sent a probe back. She could barely push it away. She knew he was going to try again, so she reached for her knife. Damn. She was disarmed.
She reached across the desk and grabbed a pen.

A heaviness came over her limbs. She fought it and she could see beads of sweat roll down Morcant’s face.

“Enough,” someone yelled. Both Hilda and Morcant collapsed. Hilda was lying on the floor unable to move. Two legs and feet appeared in her view. Someone, very strong, picked her up.

As she was being carried out of the room, she saw a healer leaning over Morcant. His face was white and he was breathing shallowly.

“What the hell did you do to him?” said a familiar voice. “Hilda… Hilda.”

She looked up into the face of Rooso. She wanted to say “What are you doing here?” but her lips wouldn’t move.

He carried her all the way back to the house.