Tag Archives: Fantasy

First Page Blog Hop

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First Page Blog Hop

This month-long blog hop is meant to answer one simple question for each participant. After reading your first 1,000 words, would a person continue reading it?

If you are so inclined, you can comment about why you would or wouldn’t continue reading–in fact, that would be wonderful.

Here are the first 997 words of my work-in-progress, The Unicornologist.7. The Unicorn in Captivity

After her father dropped her off at school on the morning of the day that would change her life forever, Hillary scanned the students assembled next to the charter bus. Her eyes zeroed in on her best friend’s newly shorn blond hair.

“Allie, your hair looks so cute. You look just like a model.”

“Just like Twiggy, to be precise.” Allie struck a pose as if on a photo shoot, showing off her apple green A-line dress with a white stripe down the front, and white go-go boots. Then she gave her friend the once over, nodding her approval of Hillary’s new floral print dress, but frowning at her sneakers. “What the heck, Hill? Keds?”

“Hey, we’re going to be doing a lot of walking at the museum—”

Allie shook her head. “It’s just like you to wear sensible shoes on a field trip. We’re going to New York City, for goodness’ sake. You could’ve upped your style for one day.”

“I think Hillary looks great,” interrupted Robin, the new boy in their class.

Hillary shot Robin a smile and then looked down, her cheeks glowing like a neon sign. She knew Allie had a crush on Robin, and out of loyalty, she tried to remain in her pretty friend’s shadow.

“And what about me?” asked Allie, batting her eyelashes.

“Spectacular, as always,” said Robin.

Their western civilizations teacher, Mr. Petersen, strode up to the door of the bus with his clipboard and began to explain the procedure for getting on board.

“He’s going alphabetically,” Allie whispered to her friends. “Since Fletcher comes before Graziano and Noone, I’ll save seats for you guys.”

By the time Hillary climbed into the bus, Robin had already taken the seat next to Allie. Hillary had to sit across the aisle from her. Just as well, thought Hillary. I’ll be able to read my book.

The bus driver turned on the radio. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me… Teenage voices joined in.

“I love that song,” Allie said to Robin.

Hillary pulled her copy of The Outsiders out of her fringed suede shoulder bag and immersed herself in Ponyboy’s world.

~~~

Much later, Hillary sensed the bus climbing up an incline. Curious, she looked up from her book. The tree-lined road seemed rural, yet she knew their destination lay near the northern tip of Manhattan, in Fort Tryon Park.

Winding ever upward, the bus rounded the final curve and pulled into a parking lot. Hillary caught her breath at her first glimpse of The Cloisters, its stone and block walls and tower rising above terraced gardens like a fairy tale castle.

“Where the heck are we?” Allie asked from across the aisle.

“I’d say medieval Europe,” Hillary replied.

The bus’s doors screeched open and Allie squeezed her way down the aisle.

“Allie, wait up,” called Robin. Hillary chuckled and shook her head. Allie loves to be first.

Once outside, Hillary savored the sweet, moist air on her skin, the first freshness she’d felt in nearly two hours. The drive from New Jersey had been a cacophony of teenage voices and snatches of rock and roll from transistor radios. Now the voices were muffled, their sound absorbed by the trees, an insignificant harmony to the symphony of birdsong. The towering trees screened the museum and blocked out the city. Except for the distant purr of New York City traffic, the students could almost be lost in virgin forest. Indeed, except for the cars and busses parked in the asphalt lot, it could be a time long past.

Worksheet and pen clutched in her hand, Hillary straggled after her classmates as they entered The Cloisters. “A treasure,” Mr. Petersen proclaimed. “You couldn’t build something like this today. It would be outrageously expensive, and this level of craftsmanship is rare anymore.”

Hillary read the introduction on her purple-printed worksheet:

The Cloisters is a collection of rooms and gardens that suggest, rather than duplicate, actual European medieval structures. The building was assembled from twelfth through fifteenth century architectural elements collected by American sculptor George Gray Barnard before 1914, when he lived in France. In western European monasteries the most important buildings were grouped around a central cloister, an open courtyard with a covered and arcaded passageway along the sides. . .*

Hillary traveled from room to room, taking her time along the route mapped out on her worksheet. Each was more beautiful than the last, with wonderful surprises to discover: paintings, carvings, stained glass windows, enclosed gardens with fountains. She wished she could have devoted the entire day just to studying the columns, each topped with its uniquely carved capital. She answered the questions on her sheet as completely as she could, sketching what she saw so she wouldn’t forget.

Apparently, her classmates didn’t find this assignment nearly as compelling as she did. Even artistic Allie had already wandered on after making fun of headless statues and frayed wall hangings.

Alone in the Hall of the Nine Heroes, Hillary glimpsed a flash of color through a doorway. She stepped closer, and spotted a tapestry of a unicorn goring a dog with its horn. Wanting to examine it, she entered the room filled with tapestries of unicorn scenes. She turned slowly in a circle, perusing the four walls. The tapestries apparently told a story, and she struggled to make sense of it.

Unicorn 1

1. The Start of the Hunt

In the first tapestry, a group of men assembled, carrying spears and restraining dogs on leashes. They appeared to be a hunting party.

The second tapestry showed a stream flowing from a fountain. Wild animals waited to drink from it. A unicorn lowered its horn into the water. Why? The hunters approached. One pointed at the unicorn. Another blew his horn.

In the next tapestry, the unicorn attempted to leap out of the spring, hunters waiting on the shore with their spears drawn.

Next, the unicorn managed to get on land. Yapping dogs surrounded it.

Sorry to end so abruptly.

*The description of The Cloisters from Hillary’s worksheet is from A Walk through the Cloisters by Bonnie Young, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1978, 1988.

So, what do you think? Would you read further? Why or why not? Please comment below. And if you liked it, please click the Like button. Thanks!

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #55

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #55

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday share 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs for others to read and comment on. Join the fun! Click on the links to see the full lists.

This will be my last snippet from The Unicornologist. I’m nearly done with the next-to-last edit. I have no idea what I’ll excerpt next week.

The Unicornologist ~ High school freshman Hillary Noone, on a field trip to The Cloisters, receives a prophecy: she is destined to save the unicorn. Though she shrugs it off as being preposterous, soon life imitates art, and she finds herself in mortal danger.

The day after the conversation in my last snippet, Hillary (who’s been camping in the forest to protect Bob, the unicorn) hears a commotion and finds Dave struggling with the unicorn. She screams for him to stop.

Turning back toward the unicorn, the man thrust out one hand; Bob shifted away from a metallic flash.

He has a knife! “No!” Hillary squeezed between the man and Bob, throwing out her arms to protect the unicorn.

“Get out of my way,” growled the man, brandishing the knife.

Hillary felt her underpants dampen. He’s going to kill me–I should run. Then cold resolve took over, and she stood her ground.

The man pulled his knife hand back, ready to attack. In the next instant, Bob suddenly pushed in front of Hillary, and an explosion went off.

Yeah, I know–I’m a horrible person to cut off there. It’s that pesky 10-sentence maximum. What do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 25? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #54

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #54

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday share 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs for others to read and comment on. Join the fun! Click on the links to see the full lists.

The Unicornologist ~ High school freshman Hillary Noone, on a field trip to The Cloisters, receives a prophecy: she is destined to save the unicorn. Though she shrugs it off as being preposterous, soon life imitates art, and she finds herself in mortal danger.

In last week’s snippet, Dave suggested he and Beth kill the unicorn, to make it easier to saw off the desired horn. We pick up with the next sentence:wewriwa2

“How? You don’t have a gun, do you?” asked Beth.

“No, but last week I bought this.” Dave crawled over to his duffle bag and took out a sheath. After hesitating for dramatic effect, he slid a hunting knife from the case and admired its edge.

“You’re going to stab it to death? Do you realize how much force it will take against an animal that size, one with magical powers, no less? You’re not strong enough.”

“No, I can do it–this knife is as sharp as a scalpel.”

Putting her face in her hands, Beth muttered, “You’re insane.”

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 25? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #53

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #53

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors share 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs for others to read and comment on. Join the fun! Click on the link to see the full list.

The Unicornologist ~ High school freshman Hillary Noone, on a field trip to The Cloisters, receives a prophecy: she is destined to save the unicorn. Though she shrugs it off as being preposterous, soon life imitates art, and she finds herself in mortal danger.

In last week’s snippet, Hillary was able to thwart Dave and Beth’s plan to saw off the unicorn’s horn.

Back at their tent, Beth reevaluated their plan. “This is impossible. We’ll never get the horn,” said Beth.

“That’s because we’ve been going about it all wrong. We’ve been trying to cut a horn off a live unicorn,” countered Dave.wewriwa2

“You don’t mean—”

“Yes. We kill the unicorn, then cut off the horn. Easy as pie.”

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 24? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #52

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #52

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors share 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs for others to read and comment on. Join the fun! Click on the link to see the full list.

The Unicornologist ~ High school freshman Hillary Noone, on a field trip to The Cloisters, receives a prophecy: she is destined to save the unicorn. Though she shrugs it off as being preposterous, soon life imitates art, and she finds herself in mortal danger.

Some of you Warriors might not be familiar with the Unicorn Tapestries, which were the inspiration for this book. Click here to see a short video about them.

Today’s snippet is the conclusion of last week’s scene. Hillary, who was tied to a tree, freed herself just in time to find Dave and Beth attempting to cut off the unicorn’s horn. Through her intervention, Bob (the unicorn) has escaped.

Eyes full of hatred, the man strained to get up. “You let it escape!” he yelled at the girl.wewriwa2

“You were hurting him!”

“All we want is the horn.”

“You can’t have it,” retorted Hillary.

“Come on, Dave, let’s get out of here,” said the woman.

“I warned you to stay out of our way. Next time you won’t get off so easy,” he threatened Hillary as he limped away.

What, or you’ll kill me? She trembled at the implication of his words.

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 24? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #51

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #51

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors share 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs for others to read and comment on. Join the fun! Click on the link to see the full list.

The Unicornologist ~ High school freshman Hillary Noone, on a field trip to The Cloisters, receives a prophecy: she is destined to save the unicorn. Though she shrugs it off as being preposterous, soon life imitates art, and she finds herself in mortal danger.

We’re moving forward several hours from the last snippet. Dave and Beth caught Hillary and tied her to a tree so they could capture Bob (the unicorn) without having to fight her off. When Hillary finally extricates herself from her bonds, she hears a commotion and finds them preparing to saw off Bob’s horn (the alicorn).

The man caught Bob in a neck hold and reached for his horn. He let go as soon as he touched it, apparently startled by its pulsation. Then he resolutely grasped it again and nodded to his companion. The woman had a hacksaw and moved it toward the alicorn. She practiced a sawing motion and moved closer still.

“Stop!” shouted Hillary.

“Go ahead! Do it now! Saw it off!” yelled the man.

The woman tried, but with a mighty lurch of his head, Bob deflected her and threw the man into the air.wewriwa2

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 24? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

 

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #50

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #50

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors share 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs for others to read and comment on. Join the fun! Click on the link to see the full list.

The Unicornologist ~ High school freshman Hillary Noone, on a field trip to The Cloisters, receives a prophecy: she is destined to save the unicorn. Though she shrugs it off as being preposterous, soon life imitates art, and she finds herself in mortal danger.

In last week’s snippet, Beth comes up with an idea to get Hillary out of the way so they can get the unicorn’s horn. Here, Dave reacts to her suggestion.

“I’m so proud of you,” said Dave. “You evaluated the problem and came up with a solution. I knew we’d make a great team.”

“Save your congratulations till we see how this plays out. Up to now, most of our plans haven’t worked so well.”

“You’re always so negative.”

So, are you proud of me or not? Your opinion of me changes from moment to moment. Beth clenched her jaw to keep herself from making a sarcastic remark. Every time she let down her guard, every time her heart reached out to Dave, he’d do or say something stupid, convincing her she was better off without him.

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 24? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #49

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #49

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors share 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs for others to read and comment on. Join the fun! Click on the link to see the full list.

The Unicornologist ~ High school freshman Hillary Noone, on a field trip to The Cloisters, receives a prophecy: she is destined to save the unicorn. Though she shrugs it off as being preposterous, soon life imitates art, and she finds herself in mortal danger.

Hillary is camping alone in the woods to protect the unicorn. Meanwhile, Dave and Beth, who are trying to capture the unicorn, come up with a plan to get her out of the way.

Dave and Beth hid behind two trees and waited for the girl and the unicorn to pass them. After they were out of hearing range, Dave said, “We’re never going to get it if she’s always with it.”

Beth pulled a tissue out of her pocket and honked her nose. “We’re going to have to be bold and take it away from her. You still have the rope? Let’s catch her first and tie her up. Then we won’t have to fight her off when we grab it.”

Dave smirked, considering Beth’s suggestion. “Brilliant. I’ll carry the rope, you carry the hacksaw.”wewriwa2

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 24? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

 

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #48

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #48

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors share 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs for others to read and comment on. Join the fun! Click on the link to see the full list.

The Unicornologist ~ High school freshman Hillary Noone, on a field trip to The Cloisters, receives a prophecy: she is destined to save the unicorn. Though she shrugs it off as being preposterous, soon life imitates art, and she finds herself in mortal danger.

Hillary’s been camping in the woods by herself, protecting the unicorn. Discouraged by the difficulty of her endeavor, she decides to go home for a day or two.

A deep rumble alerted her the weather was about to change. She shivered and hugged herself as the wind picked up and heavy drops of ice-cold rain pelted her. If that weren’t bad enough, within moments the rain turned to hail the size of walnuts. She ran for cover, finding it under a large tree.

The wind changed direction, and the hail changed to rain again, now coming down in sheets. Water penetrated the spaces between the leaves of the tree, making it as useless to Hillary as a torn umbrella. The roar of the rain sounded like Niagara Falls. Wherever she looked, water swirled angrily, gravity forcing the water to rush downhill.

She slogged forward against the tide, but the water got deeper and deeper until it passed her knees and its power threatened to knock her over. Defeated, she turned away from her homeward direction and allowed the flow to propel her back toward camp.

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 23? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.

wewriwa2

Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #47

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Weekend Writing Warriors: Snippet #47

Every Sunday, the Weekend Writing Warriors share 8-10-sentence snippets from their works-in-progress on their blogs for others to read and comment on. Join the fun! Click on the link to see the full list.

The Unicornologist ~ High school freshman Hillary Noone, on a field trip to The Cloisters, receives a prophecy: she is destined to save the unicorn. Though she shrugs it off as being preposterous, soon life imitates art, and she finds herself in mortal danger.

Hillary is camping out in the woods by herself (so she can protect the unicorn), unbeknownst to her parents. While gathering firewood, she hears the secret whistle of her former best friend, Allie, and meets her. (Sorry for the wonky punctuation; trying to adhere to the length guidelines.)

“Hi, let’s go to our tree,” said Hillary.wewriwa2

“Climbing trees is kid stuff.”

“Oh–what’s up?”

“Your parents called and asked for you.”

Hillary gulped air.

“Don’t worry, I covered for you—I remembered they were on their honeymoon and you were supposed to stay with us. I said you were at the library and I didn’t want to go. I asked if they were having fun, and your dad said yes. I told them you were fine and they shouldn’t worry, they should just enjoy their honeymoon.”

“Wow, Allie, thanks.”

I know it’s short (the limit is ten sentences), but what do you think of this small excerpt from Chapter 23? Any suggestions on how I can make it better? Please comment below.