Quote of the Moment

"What's Past Is Prologue." - William Shakespeare

Monday, November 02, 2020

NaNoWriMo 2020 - NaNo Bites

No, no, I'm not saying NaNo sucks, although some people might think it does (NaNo Crud sucks, and I really hope it stays away for me this year). I'm talking about word bites!

So, I'm undertaking NaNoWriMo again this year. I've been on another 3-month hiatus due to kids and health, and I am mad with the need to write. And during my hiatus my brain decided to spawn an idea for a 13-book series. Yup. I'm crazy. And I should be working on all the other projects on my to do list, but here we are...

I don't expect to hit 50,000 words. I never have, and I suspect I never will, at least not until both kids are out of the house, but by then it's likely I'll have another job or two, so yeah. =P I'll definitely be trying my best, though.

My NaNo project for 2020 is called Gemini's Echo - the first in a series titled Zodiac Aegis. It's looking like it'll be New Adult Urban Fantasy.

This year I'll be taking a different approach. I won't be integrating my usual meter into the post. Instead, I'm giving myself stickers!

I have 100 NaNo Bites I need to take. Each Bite is 500 words. So, I made myself a handy little chart in Google Docs, which means I can share it with everyone. I'm going to try to do a thumbnail here in the post, but if it for some reason doesn't work nicely for everyone to view, you can use this link to take a look: NaNo Bites 2020.

How many unicorn stickers do you think I'll get this year? I'd love to see people make guesses on how many words I might reach! I already have two as of this post... and I'm like 37 words away from my third - lol. No more writing until later tonight again, though. Unfortunately, I have to adult and pay bills, balance accounts, and deal with kid homework.

Also, Eldest is home for the week doing virtual learning (was informed of this on Saturday), just to make the start of NaNo more difficult. Though this year, she'll be joining in on NaNo with me! She's participating in the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program. Her goal is 5,000 words, but she might raise it if she plugs along faster than she expected. I've also told her she can play 30 minutes of Genshin Impact during the week (usually it's weekends only) for every 250 words she writes. Wish her luck!

Speaking of Genshin Impact, I'll need to resist the call of that game and others if I want to get more words down. Happy NaNoing everyone!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Chapter 24

DISCLAIMER: This is rough draft material. Don't be surprised if you fall into plot holes, trip over inconsistencies, and get hit in the head with direction changes. I've done my best to read through several times before posting, though, to make sure most spelling and grammar errors are corrected. Any constructive comments are welcome for when I revise this novel. Thank you for reading!

All current and previous chapters for Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession can also be found on Wattpad. And for an easy to access list of all chapters that have been posted to Born to Write, please visit the Table of Contents.

A new chapter will be posted to Born to Write and Wattpad about one month after it's released to my newsletter subscribers. If you'd like to see the posted chapters a month sooner, please consider signing up for my Author Newsletter!

Chapter 23

* * * * *

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession

Chapter 24

A fresh wave of guilt prickled along Obsidian's skin when Damian entered the room, arms full with two trays stacked with food. Thankfully, his eyes were fixed on his burden, so he didn't see her sitting close to Bishop.

She sprang up to help him, snatching one of the trays and setting it on the desk.

Only after talking to Bishop, she realized why she felt so damned guilty. Almost everything she'd done since she stepped into the House of Portals had made Damian's life... more complicated. She'd been terribly selfish, just like Bishop. Her only saving grace was that she never tried to kill Damian.

Unless she counted thunking him with the book. Again, compulsion.

No, she shouldn't make excuses. Especially since Damian could have ended this charade anytime he wished. By the Ancients, he could have revealed her that first day in front of the council members.

He hadn't, though. Even when he'd assumed she'd touched the gate and broken the first precept, he hadn't run to tattle on her. No one shall touch the gates without permission.

Obsidian had done so much more than that, and instead of turning her in to save himself, Damian had stood by her. Endured her.

So yes, feeling guilty for sneaking about behind his back and giving into a foolish attraction by kissing Bishop made complete sense.

And it was definitely a foolish attraction. Bishop had manipulated her, starting with rescuing her from certain death at the bottom of a gorge. She couldn't believe she'd allowed herself to gush over his heroism and good looks. From now on, she'd focus on getting them all out of this mess. Then on her gate back home. No more distractions.

Damian set the other tray on his bed next to Bishop. "Help yourself." After grabbing a pear, he leaned on the door, as if to make sure neither Bishop or Sid escaped. "What happened while I was gone?"

How much he clearly distrusted her hurt and infuriated her at the same time. "Nothing." She swallowed her fury down with a cashew butter and fig preserve sandwich that she found on the tray she'd grabbed.

Bishop gobbled up a similar sandwich -- his adventures this morning must have stirred has appetite.

"I doubt that." Damian tapped his leather bag. "Ever since you brought this book into the House of Portals everything but nothing has occurred."

He wasn't going to let it go. Obsidian missed his quiet, observational demeanor. No one to blame but herself. "Bishop may be ready to talk. Perhaps even starting with an apology."

"Oh, really?"

Bishop coughed as if choking on his bite of apple. He composed himself and stared at Damian. "I wasn't going to kill you."

So much for an apology. She'd held out too much hope.

"The marks on my neck say different."

These two weren't going to make any progress unless she prodded them along. "Neither of you like each other. We get that. Now can we move on? Or we'll be stuck in this room trying to figure out our next step for several years."

"I already know the next step." Damian placed his pear core on the tray and grabbed a sandwich of his own, then returned to his spot blocking the door. "Tonight, we send Bishop back."

Bishop pursed his lips and balled his hand into a fist, then he sighed, releasing his tension, and shook his head. "Honestly, I want to go home. But..."

Damian chewed his sandwich, studying Bishop, not responding. That was as close as he was going to get to encouraging the otherworlder to continue.

Obsidian gritted her teeth and set the remains of her sandwich on the tray. These two. "What's the deal, Bishop? What exactly do you want from us? From Nect? The Guardians?"

He turned to her, mouth parted. "Nect?" His brows drew together. "Never mind." He rubbed his hands on his breeches and sucked in a deep breath. "Honestly, I came here to find something to help save my world. Knowledge, magic, technology. Anything that might stop the war that's torn Turss in two for centuries."

"Since the Guardians left?" She couldn't resist her fascination with Bishop's world. So different from Nect -- though she hated history texts, she'd likely happily consume any about Turss without nodding off as she was wont to.

"Yes." A sadness descended on him. It reminded her of the fog surrounding the gate and chain. "The Guardians brought magic to Turss. They agreed to exchange their knowledge of magic for the secrets to our technology. And they did teach us. It was as though the Ancients who built the gates had returned with a precious gift. But once they'd taken the tech they wanted, they abandoned Turss, fleeing to their own world and not leaving the key, a portal book, behind to pursue them. You see, though they taught us the magic, they didn't fully teach us how to control it. This led to many disasters, which included casualties. Then two factions formed. One supported tech and the other magic. And more casualties."

Bishop's hatred toward Guardians -- this was where it stemmed from. In essence, they'd slaughtered people in his world with their actions. Or inactions.

Damian stared at the remains of his sandwich. "But that doesn't make sense. Guardians don't know magic. Only the Ancients did."

"I'm not lying." Bishop stood and growled.

The calm, calculating Damian had returned, his voice even and inquisitive. "I never said you were."

"The Guardians are a bunch of rule-creating overlords. They force the normal people of Nect to follow their edicts about the gates. But they definitely don't know magic." More and more, Obsidian wondered if the Guardians had been hiding more secrets than she had from Damian, though.

Her mentor snorted and hardened his gaze.

"Sorry." She'd just pretty much called him a rule-creating overlord. Oops.

Damian finished his sandwich and Bishop settled back on the bed to eat his apple.

The silence made Obsidian want to claw her eyes out. But the information Bishop had just shared did take time to absorb.

How could the Guardians have taught his people magic? Unless they kept their use of magic hidden. Then why wouldn't Damian know of it?

Too many questions. No answers. Bah.

Damian brushed his fingers off on his shirt. "Though I don't approve of your methods, I understand you're only trying to aid your world. Unfortunately, I don't think your answers lie here -- if the Guardians knew magic at one time, it's surely been lost. Passing years are the deftest thieves. Do not mourn that which has been lost."

"A precept?" Sid clicked her tongue. "Have you ever considered the precepts are simply a way to keep secrets? To stop anyone from questioning and discovering hidden truths?"

He shook his head. "That would go against another precept, then. The truth in all things. These rules are meant to avoid anarchy."

"They sound like a way to control the people of Nect." Bishop stood again, this time with less fervor at least. "Seems the Guardians are manipulating this world as they did Turss. And keeping the younger ones of their own kind out of the loop as well."

"No, I can't believe that." Damian straightened and pursed his lips. "Guardians have the good of Nect at heart, which is why they no longer allow travel to other worlds."

Bishop rubbed his forehead. "You're a fool."

"Not as much as you. You forced us to take you with us, and for what? Nothing. There's nothing here for you." Damian stepped closer to Bishop, and both of them balled their hands into fists.

Sid squeaked and wiggled in between the both of them. "Either you back down, or I'm going to knock both of you on the head with a book."

A corner of Damian's mouth twitched, but he stepped back and leaned against the door again. "What more do you want from us? What do you think we can give you? Even if your preposterous claim is correct and the Guardian council is keeping secrets from me and others, there's nothing I can do about that. Not unless I want to be excommunicated."

Excommunicated? Try put to death. Well, perhaps she was wrong about that. She hoped she was.

Bishop sighed and flopped on his back onto the bed, staring at the ceiling. "I hate admitting defeat."

"Don't think of it that way." Obsidian sat next to him, Damian's ire be damned. "You came here to gather information, and you have. The Guardians are shadows of their previous incarnations. Weakened, inconsequential."

Damian cleared his throat.

She really had to stop insulting him, but he needed to lighten up. "Oh, you know I'm not talking about you directly. Stop getting so upset."

His lips twisted, and he looked down at Bishop. "Do you agree to go back? Tonight?"

The otherworlder closed his eyes. "Yes."

Damian's body appeared to relax, as if he'd been unimaginably tense. "Good. No more surprises?"

Bishop grunted and rolled to his side. Seeing him so crushed bothered her. Nothing like the vibrant, determined man who'd saved her from falling to her death.

"I'll take that as a yes. Now, Obsidian and I have other tasks to tend to. Please stay here this time, or I fear our luck with not getting caught will run out."

"Will do." The words were flat, unemotional.

"I'm sorry, Bishop." Sid wished she could help, to discover something, anything to heal him and his world. Obviously the gate seemed to think she could, with its maddening call. Stupid gate, what did it know?

Damian opened the door and motioned her out. "You have studies to get back to. More controlling precepts for you to memorize."

"Yeah, yeah." She slipped out the door.

Though Sid couldn't assist Bishop with Turss's war, she'd at least make sure he got home safely. But her determination was muddied. She knew it was another excuse to open the gate again, if Damian let her.

More importantly, she needed to figure out how to wrest the portal book from her mentor's hands once the gate closed again. She wouldn't allow him to burn it. Not before she had the chance to step through her portal back home.

No, he couldn't burn her book.

* * * * *

Chapter 25 - Expected November 2020.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Chapter 23

DISCLAIMER: This is rough draft material. Don't be surprised if you fall into plot holes, trip over inconsistencies, and get hit in the head with direction changes. I've done my best to read through several times before posting, though, to make sure most spelling and grammar errors are corrected. Any constructive comments are welcome for when I revise this novel. Thank you for reading!

All current and previous chapters for Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession can also be found on Wattpad. And for an easy to access list of all chapters that have been posted to Born to Write, please visit the Table of Contents.

A new chapter will be posted to Born to Write and Wattpad about one month after it's released to my newsletter subscribers. If you'd like to see the posted chapters a month sooner, please consider signing up for my Author Newsletter!

Chapter 22

* * * * *

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession

Chapter 23

"This is unbelievable," Damian said. "It's a good thing I have the book now."

"You found it?" Finally, Bishop spoke.

"Yes, and once I send you back through the gate, I'm destroying it." He approached Bishop and grabbed his arm. "Until then, you're staying in my room."

Bishop shook Damian off. "Give me the book back."

He didn't know who to be more furious with -- Bishop, Obsidian, or himself for allowing both of them to play him. Probably the latter. He'd allowed his curiosity of Obsidian to cloud his judgment since she'd entered the House of Portals. "Neither of you are going to touch this book ever again. It should burn along with the rest."

His stomach lurched at his declaration. Did he really want that? So much had been lost. But clearly the Guardians had good reason to destroy all the portal books, and Bishop's actions only supported that decision.

"No." Obsidian reached toward him, then drew back, forehead crinkling. "You can't." Her words were barely audible.

Bishop grunted and leapt, knocking Damian off his feet.

It all happened so quickly, Damian failed to react before he realized the back of his head thudded against the floor. His glasses popped off his face and tumbled away. Head spinning and vision blurred, he felt the pressure of the other man on top of him, yanking at the bag's strap.

"Stupid, Guardian. Give it up." Bishop's hand wrapped around Damian's throat and squeezed.

Damian clutched his attacker's wrist with both hands, gasping, desperate for air. If he only would have let go when they'd stepped through the portal. But Bishop obviously had less qualms about killing someone than he did.

"Bishop, stop!" Obsidian's movements were a complete blur, but she hovered over both of them.

He heard a loud thunk, and the hand released his throat.

"Stop, or I'll do it again."

Damian coughed, shifted to his side, and groped along the floor until he found his glasses and set them back on his face. Crooked, but better than nothing.

Obsidian glared down at Bishop, a copy of the precepts raised above her head. Books seemed to be her preferred weapon.

"You're attacking me after what just happened between us?" Bishop offered that grin of his.

Oh, how Damian wanted to punch it off his face.

"A mistake." She rose the book higher. "And one kiss doesn't mean I'm going to let you kill my mentor."

Silence descended for a few moments, Obsidian glaring down at Bishop, Bishop considering her, and Damian's head throbbing from a second blow in less than twelve hours.

"Wait." Damian's mind cleared a bit, but his voice rasped out painfully. "Did anyone see us? Hear us?" He glanced around, but thankfully didn't see anyone else in the alcove or coming around the corner. "If we don't cut this out now, all of us will be in trouble. Another Guardian gets a hold of this book and not only will it be destroyed, but I assure you you'll never see Turss again."

Bishop pushed himself up, turning to Damian, jaw tight and lips pressed together. "Okay, okay. I promise not to attack again." He raised his hands and glanced at Obsidian. "Just put the book down."

Her eyes darted between the two of them, then she huffed and lowered the book, replacing it on the shelf. Finally, she offered a hand to Damian.

He stared at it for a moment, unsure of what to make of her. One moment she was kissing Bishop, and the next she clunked him over the head.

Damian accepted her help, her touch tingling his palm, and woozily found his feet.

"Now what?" Obsidian started replacing the books scattered across the floor before receiving an answer.

"I don't know." He rubbed his head and studied Bishop who stood with arms crossed, staring at the leather bag. No, he wouldn't let down his guard again around this man. "Perhaps an early lunch while we figure out how to sneak this interloper back to my room."

Bishop partially bared his teeth, but remained silent otherwise.

"Unless you'd prefer to walk into the council building and turn yourself in? You know, never see your home again?" Damian knew that had ultimately settled the man, and he'd pull it out as a reminder as needed. And if that didn't work, he'd satisfy his urge to punch the bastard.

Obsidian finished shelving the books, then sidled up to him, tilting her chin up to whisper in his ear. "I'm sorry."

Her words soaked into Damian's soul, and he so badly wanted to believe the sincerity in them. But he couldn't. Not with all the secrets she still kept.

No, like with Bishop, he couldn't trust her. Either of them might do anything to get their hands on the book, even whisper seemingly innocent words in his ear.

Bishop brooded the whole while they snuck back to Damian's room. After the threat from the Guardian, he so badly wanted to draw attention to himself just to piss him off, but then the threat would become reality without Damian lifting a finger.

It took some time to reach their destination with so many Guardians and dedicants about, and once they arrived at the quiet and safety of the room, Damian was sweating buckets. Good. Anything that made this uptight man more miserable the better.

Damian removed his glasses and straightened the bent stems. They remained crooked when he put them back on, though.

Bishop snickered.

"Do you think this a grand joke?" The Guardian narrowed his eyes. Oh, definitely mad. Maybe even furious.

"The situation, no. Your face, yes." He sat on the edge of the bed and crossed his arms, enjoying the red rising in the other man's cheeks.

Sid snatched the glasses before Damian reacted. "Let me see them." She turned them around in her hands, then raised them above her and squinted. A few deft movements and she'd made some adjustments and perched them back on Damian's nose. All straight. "There you go."

The woman was an enigma wrapped up in a riddle. He'd been sure he hooked her with that kiss, and then she'd knocked him upside the head with a book.

Well, he had almost strangled the life out of Damian. But he wouldn't have, truly. He just wanted the man to pass out so he could get the bag. Death and violence were under the blink's purview. Though now that he thought about it, he wasn't sure how he'd become a hero for Turss if he didn't get his hands dirty. Unfortunately, his method of getting dirty included flowerbeds.

Maybe he'd bitten off more than he could chew by coming here. Right now, all he wanted to do was return home and listen to the call of the gate.

"Thank you." Damian sounded tentative, and he took a step back. "Now, I hate to do this, but I don't have a choice. Obsidian, can I trust you to watch Bishop and keep your hands to yourself?"

She frowned. "Don't worry, last thing I want to do is touch him again. Biggest life regret."

The Guardian's eyebrow rose slowly. "Are you sure about that? Opening a gate should top your list."

"Hey, that was compulsion, remember?"

"Perhaps not handing over the portal book whenever and wherever you first found it?"

"Enough." Sid stomped over to the desk and sat down. "I get it. You're mad." She offered a withering stare. "Go. And you better hurry or I might do something else crazy." Her arms shot up, and she waggled her fingers above her head.

Damian rolled his eyes. "I'll be back with food. If he tries to escape, whack him on the head with another book." Then he slipped out and slammed the door.

Good riddance. Bishop turned his attention to Sid. "About time he left."

"Wipe that stupid grin off your face." She rose and ran a finger along the books on the shelves until she pulled one down. "This one has some nice heft."

"Seriously? What about the kiss?"

"As I said before, a mistake." She sat back down with the book in her lap and tilted her head. "I lost focus after you saved me. But now I see you only did that to get what you wanted."

She might only be a dedicant, but Bishop saw the heart of a Guardian in her. "I wouldn't have killed him."

"You're rotten, you know that? You have utter contempt for the Guardians, yet you're no better. Willing to do whatever it takes to benefit you and not thinking of anyone else. Damian might be rigid, but he doesn't deserve to be attacked. He could have done any number of things at this point to settle his life and destroy both of ours." She turned to the desktop and gingerly touched a fountain pen, her voice dropping to a whisper. "And he hasn't."

Bishop faltered, originally ready to deliver another smooth and reassuring line in an attempt to convince her that the kiss wasn't a mere manipulation. And now he felt as rotten as Sid claimed him to be.

She was right. Everything he'd done had been with his own goals in mind. Though he aimed to help his world, he also wanted his own name to go down in history as a hero, a savior. He'd been just as selfish as the Guardians who'd abandoned Turss all those centuries ago.

"I'm sorry." The words were difficult to say, but sincere.

Sid spun back to him. "If you mean it, you should say it to Damian."

Unlikely. He still hated the Guardian.

But Bishop suddenly felt lost, his hate for the Guardians the only thing for him to hold onto. He shouldn't be in this world -- the Nexus. This whole reconnaissance plan was out of his wheelhouse. He'd been trained to sense the magic of the gate, to read the script, and to waylay the Guardians if they ever crossed through again.

No wonder Sid hadn't fallen for his act with the kiss. He sucked at all of this.

Bishop buried his face in his hands. "What in the All-Seeing Eye have I gotten myself into?"

Sid sat next to him on the bed and rested a hand on his back. "Well, let's just hope Damian can help us figure a way out of this."

Her hand was a comfort, and he felt miserable for trying to use her before, using a kiss as a weapon. Though she had the potential of a Guardian, her heart seemed softer, more willing to accept situations and people for what they were, not condemning them for not meeting her expectations or following her rules.

Bishop gazed at her, the urge to kiss her again tempting, but for real this time.

Then Damian opened the door and she scooted away.

The loss of her touch caused an ache in the pit of his stomach. No, that was just hunger. It had to be. Because if it wasn't, he'd need to question his loyalties to Turss. And helping his world was all that mattered.

* * * * *

Chapter 24