The Rabbit

As Easter is not far away I thought I would share a little story as my Easter gift to you. What better than a short, short Iski Flare adventure?

courtneybrims-hare3Iski and the Rabbit

Iski ran his hand over the bark of the tree and breathed in the sweet scent of the forest. He would never tire of the smell. Never. Iski had seen a number of strange things in forests, but the splash of colour he noticed at the base of the next tree caught him by surprise. The pale orange was a stark contrast to the dark bark it rested against. It seemed a strange place for an animal to leave an egg and he reached out a tentative hand to run it over the patterned surface. It was cool to the touch and he closed his fingers around it. A rough zigzag pattern had been painted around the shell as though painted by a child and yet there was something safe in the weight of it.

He smiled as he put it in his pocket and then, along the track, he spied another. More blue than green he found himself rushing forward to collect it.

‘It is beautiful,’ Flare whispered in his ear. He nodded as he put it in his pocket and then a small hand was in his tugging at his fingers and he stared at the strange creature looking up at him.

‘Those are for the children,’ he said, jumping up and taking the egg from his hand, which he placed back in the little space between the roots of the tree.

‘What children?’ Iski asked his hand on his pocket as the creature extended his hand again. When Iski didn’t move, the creature indicated with a slight movement of his paw that Iski hand it over. With a sigh he reached into his pocket and retrieved the egg.

‘The children of the village,’ the creature said.

‘Are you a rabbit?’ Iski asked, suddenly tempted to squat down and study him.

‘Are you the man that wanders the world talking to someone that isn’t there?’

Iski looked down at the ground. ‘He’s a rabbit,’ Flare whispered.

‘Tell me about the eggs,’ Iski asked.

‘A little ritual,’ the rabbit whispered.

‘To celebrate a god that doesn’t believe in you,’ Iski shot back and Flare coughed her disappointment.

‘I’m sure you have seen many a thing you didn’t believe in before you were faced with them. Have you faced your god yet?’

Iski shook his head.

‘Witches and wolves, giants and faeries,’ the rabbit muttered, counting off along his paw. ‘I wonder what else is to come.’

Iski smiled at the little man, for the more he studied him the more like a man he looked. Was nothing as it seemed?

‘Maybe not,’ the rabbit muttered holding the pale egg that Iski first picked up. He hopped back toward the tree Iski had found it under.

Shaking his head, Iski followed. ‘Do you really think that the children should be out in the woods this far from the village?’ he asked.

He stopped then and looked around. Lifting himself up, his body still, he twitched his nose, causing the little whiskers to swish about. Iski watched in wonder as his formerly, long floppy ears, stretched up and twisted as though listening for something. He leaned closer to the tree and rested his ear against the bark. ‘Maybe,’ he muttered.

‘Leave,’ Flare whispered.

‘He’s a rabbit,’ Iski said. ‘And a small one. What harm could he pose?’

The rabbit collected the egg up again and it disappeared amongst his nut coloured fur. And then he took off at full speed, racing through the trees, leaping over logs, and roots. Iski was not far behind him but as much as they ran, the rabbit was always just ahead. As they ran through the trees Iski saw no sign of anyone else. No children. No villages.

Iski lost the rabbit in the undergrowth. He looked around for any sign of him and when none was found he sat on a fallen log, disappointed that he hadn’t had the opportunity to ask more questions. So much had changed in the years since he discovered the stories of the witch were true. How many years he had wandered the world? Despite the possible dangers he always felt safest in the trees, beneath the canopy, with the smell of the living around him.

He leaned back and looked up at the pale sky beyond the green branches. Maybe he needed a little more sunshine, maybe he needed some more time in the open. When he sat back up the rabbit sat before him. He turned his head to the side and an egg appeared in his paw, smaller than the others, but a brilliant red. The colour was somewhere between Flare’s hair and cape of the Reds.

‘Thank you,’ Iski said holding out his hand and the egg was very carefully placed within it.

‘I see you Iski Flare,’ the rabbit said. ‘She might not be as far away as you think. She may not be as close.’ He gave a little bow and then disappeared again.

‘Happy Easter,’ Iski muttered, turning the egg in his hand and he found that it wasn’t an egg, but an egg shaped rock. Red and solid. He slipped it into his satchel, removed his hat, wiped his brow and then replaced the hat. He stood slowly and stretched. Who was close enough to need him now?

‘Children from the village,’ he muttered. ‘There must be a village.’ He lifted his axe over his shoulder and headed in the same direction the rabbit headed. After a little while he found a path, not very worn, but a path. He couldn’t hear any indication of a village but followed it all the same.

When Iski walked into the cobblestone square of the town, the golden colour of the stone buildings shining in the sun, he could only smile. He walked around the fountain, so much grander than that of Muteguard, and stopped. The quietness of the world took him by surprise and then he realised that there were no children. If they, as children, had such a fountain on a sunny day they would have been splashing in it.

Maybe the little rabbit man was confused about the children, or Iski was about the village. And where was Flare?

 

 

The first episode of The Legend of Iski Flare is available on Amazon, Kobo and iBooks.

The second episode is not far away…

Illustration by Courtney Brims, image courtesy of bloodyloud! (www.bloodyloud.com)

Release of New Book

Searcher Cover-page0001

Finally, my first science fiction short story is up on Amazon.

The Searchers may have finally landed on the perfect planet. It has everything their people need to survive but then contact with the Station is lost. The small group could set up a new life away from the Station but it is harder to distance themselves from the past than they thought.

A taster from my next book

Searcher Cover-page0001

I may have got a bit carried away now that the parents are home and my time is (more or less) my own again. I have started the major edit on my fantasy novel (and that is scaring me silly) and trying to finish off Searcher for release.

I am hoping I haven’t pushed myself too far too quick. While I edit away I thought I would introduce you to my next story and share a taster from Searcher.

 

As the siren sounds I join the queue at the nearest machine. I pull the translucent white cup from the allocated space where three small pills sit innocently in its bottom.

One green. One white. One red.

I gulp them down and reach for the small cup that sits in the second compartment of the food machine. It contains not quite a mouthful of water but enough to help rinse the food tabs down. As I move away from the machine to let the next in line take their turn, I chew on the edge of the cup but there is no flavour. There is no flavour in anything.

The tabs satiate but I still hunger.

Food in its tablet form has no substance and I often wonder if the colours are meant to indicate something. Someone ahead of me received two green and one white. He lived through the experience.

I once licked a colleague on the return from a search. A desert planet: hot and dusty. At least the dust had flavour, as did Brin. Salty dust. He did not approve and I did not get to try again. Licking colleagues does not fit the Searcher brief.

I promise this isn’t too far away but given my recent puppy sitting it is a little further away than I had hoped. The edit on my fantasy novel is going to be much bigger than I originally hoped but the story needs the work and it will be much better for it. As I get underway I will let you know how it is going and the strategies I’m using.

P.S. Check out my new page My Books. There are more books on the way.

 

What I am learning from editing

Chapter 8 editing

I have mentioned that my publishing plan has changed a little.

And lately I have been working on a short story for publication soon.

I had thought that I would get the story out, edited and published and then I could settle into the (long) process of editing my fantasy novel.

It is strange how we perceive how things will go. It did not occur to me that I would need to put as much effort into the editing process for the short as I would the novel. But every word is just as important.

Sadly this was only evident after I read most of the short story to my writing group and the suggestions and points starting flowing quicker and thicker than I expected. Truly I thought it was nearly there. And when I considered their feedback I was.

No matter what we are working on each page deserves the same attention.

I am trying to get more writing out to you. It is important to me as a writer to provide the reader with writing. And the more I have out there the greater my chances of being able to write more and ‘day job’ less. But I may have lost sight of some important points in my eagerness to get the writing out.

I want to produce great writing

I want to be producing writing that you not only enjoy but want to read more, and hunger for more and look out for more. Producing any book that is only mediocre writing, whether a novel or a short story, will not inspire you to read more.

I want to build an audience

This of course links back to the first point. If you are not enjoying what you are reading then you will not buy another book. Again it is because I want to create an immersive reading experience that you will want to fall into as soon as you see I have released another story.

I want to love producing it

I do enjoy writing. I find it as immersive writing a story as I do reading a well written one (even though at that first draft it is not well written). I want to continue that and although I worry about the editing process I love to see how the story tightens and smooths and comes together more coherently during that editing process.

It is not about the money

Well it would be nice if my writing paid the bills so that I could escape into it every day. But I write firstly because I love it not because it could be a way to pay the bills and focusing on publishing only to make money will not make me happy either.

 

As well as learning how to improve my story during the editing phase and even learning more about my characters and their world as I consider things I had not during the drafting phase; I am slowly learning that I can make my stories better, learn more about my processes and as much as I love the drafting phase I am learning the joys of editing.

The most important thing is that any writing I produce should have the same effort applied to all stages, whether short or long or epic. Already I worry about editing the trilogy I have started but perhaps I need to think about just how much better it will make the story and focus on that rather than the time it will take. Writing is a slow business anyway and I would rather take the time and do it properly than rush and produce something none of us are happy with.

What part of the writing process do you rush through? Or want to rush through?