Enchanted Forest, INC. – Novel Excerpt

Yesterday, probably yesterday, who knows with exams being the way they are, a few people expressed some interest in reading my fiction.  What follows is an excerpt, the prologue from my novel Enchanted Forest, INC.  It is Terry Pratchett-esque fantasy/humor/adventure/snark.

There comes a point when a yipping dog has to be put outside or locked in a room or just generally shut up.  With muscle relaxants, sedatives, wine, whatever is on hand and easily administered.  To Malin’s mind, this point had come some 20 minutes previous.  Malin was not a dog person.  No, he was definitely catlike in every sense — rude, apathetic, interested in hunting things weaker than himself, graceful, and scornful.  If cats could talk, and would bother long enough to answer, they’d agree that Malin was very much one of them.

At the moment, he was sitting outside of a window on a turret of a very tall, somewhat foreboding castle.  The wind was picking up and it had begun to rain a very annoying, misty sort of rain that offered very little in the way of atmosphere but a lot in the way of damp.  He was waiting.  If he’d had a tail, it’d be twitching impatiently.

And Princess Gertrude’s dog would not stop barking.  She and her handmaiden had been trying to calm it since he’d arrived — dogs didn’t like Malin.  Nor did they like intruders, so it was really no surprise that the dog was having a fit.  The surprise was that the princess hadn’t sent the creature away long ago.

Still, nothing like the thrill of the hunt, eh?  Normally he was easily bored, but tonight, no, tonight he could wait forever.  Happily.  Well, not happily so much as willingly.  And maybe the dog was getting on his nerves a bit.  And maybe it was a little bit cold.  And probably the rain and wind weren’t good for his skin…

He glanced through the window.

The window had sheer curtains, he couldn’t make out features, but he could see the slender figure of the princess and wondered off-hand how many liberties one could take before a princess no longer counted as innocent.  The search for a maiden princess of marriageable age had taken a very long time, but maiden was a very specific requirement that one could easily work around. With her permission, of course, who didn’t love a scoundrel?

The somewhat larger shape of the handmaid was wrestling with the small dog. If they’d understood dog language they would have heard, “Hey, there’s a man outside your window.  Let me at him!  LET ME AT HIM!”

Of course, they didn’t understand the dog. The handmaid finally managed to get the dog outside. The door closed behind and Malin waited a beat to make sure they’d gone.  He opened the window without a creak, and delicately landed on the floor inside. Really, astonishingly like a cat.

The princess turned, and they both froze in horror.

When you think princess, you’ve got certain expectations: slim, blonde, blue eyes — and the princess certainly had these but… her eyes were small and piggish, her hairline was receding, and she had spots on her abnormally large nose.  She would have been merely below average in the looks department had she not decided to remedy the situation by using as much makeup as possible.  Cartoon round spots of red on her cheeks, drawn on lips and eyebrows, and that hideous shade of blue eyeshadow.  Her teeth, well, they were the teeth of the greatest monarchs worldwide: horsey and a bit frightening.

The look of stupid surprise wasn’t doing her any favors.

Malin pulled out a locket with a portrait in it.  The girl in the portrait was stunning — flawless skin and a tiny nose.  He held it up and compared the two for a moment.

“Are you Princess Gertrude?”

She smiled.  This, Malin decided, was worse than the “O” of surprise she’d been offering before.

“Of course.  What can I do for you?”

Princesses are not, generally, good at self-preservation, their default position being polite rather than, say, running and screaming.

“Are you sure?”

“Well, I certainly have been up to now.”

“Right.  It’s just that I have this portrait,” he walked over and showed it to her.  “Is this really you?”

“Oh yes, I remember Hans the Elder painted that not a year ago.  I do think it looks so remarkably like me.  Are you returning it?”

“By all means, keep it.”

He snapped his fingers and she fainted into his arms.  He carried her out of the window and disappeared into the night.

Moments later, the dog burst into the room.  What a dog of his size could have actually done under the circumstances remains unknown, but he was pretty sure he’d have had it under control.

The life of the PhD student: Comprehensive Exams

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These aren’t all of the books, of course

Tomorrow, I begin the journey of Comps.  There are 4 questions, over 4 days, and I have 4 hours to answer each of them.  It’s sort of the marathon of test-taking.

Last week I turned in a 7000 word historical research paper about the rural purge.  Maybe I’ll adapt that into some sort of much shorter blog post eventually.  I also helped two groups of students write research papers and ran their statistical analyses for them.

I still have another long paper about my visit to the Supreme Court to edit down and turn in.  I’ve written a lot of words, but they are not edited at all.

I also had to do a final proof of my article that’s going to be published in CrossCurrents about the relationship between religion and atheism and white-male dominance.

I am also in the middle of planning my move to DC (in one week).  Trying to find an apartment and a job.  Anyone in DC want to hire a super awesome person to do super awesome things?  I’m available…

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From inside my head

And I’m recovering from surgery to remove cysts from my head.

I’m also debating whether I should audition for The Voice, because it appears to be my stepdad’s favorite TV show, and whether I should start spending more time writing fiction.

I’ve got 54k of a young adult fantasy novel in the Terry Pratchett sort of style.  I also have a screenplay (Bible Con – Comic Con for Christians) I feel I should adapt into a novel, because I think atheists would maybe buy it.  So many projects.

Would you buy a novel from me?  Maybe I’ll post an excerpt from one of my projects at some point.

So all in all, it’s a bit chaotic and thank FSM for Kate.