A Dragon Sketch

dragon

And some Diana:

Inside the House

“It smells good. What do you think that is? Cinnamon?” James asked, following Diana into the warm air surrounding the house. Heat radiated out from the two-story structure, but it wasn’t uncomfortable at all, or even mildly toasty. Diana felt waves of a pleasant, soothing comfort oozing through her bones. The warmth was almost emotional, more than physical.

She kept a close eye on James, and on her own mind, to see if either of them started to exhibit signs of inebriation.

“It feels nice here. Oh, are you going inside?” James asked, trailing after Diana, who was striding over the grass towards the front door.

A long white oval, like a translucent shield of light, opened up in the air just in front of Diana. She stopped walking before she hit up against it, and James stepped up beside her and examined it without saying anything.

Diana glanced at James and saw, to her consternation, that he recognized the oval, though he looked completely unwilling to comment on it. Diana looked at the white oval of light and letters began to appear.

We are taking votes, the oval read. James drew in a sharp breath and Diana shot him a look. His eyes were glued to the translucent shield, and Diana returned her gaze to the letters growing along the white surface.

We are taking votes. Some say you and first boy held more passion. This one a dud?

Oh, crap, Diana thought, her heart pounding. She’d really thought she was rid of Stuart for good. In an effort to get some facsimile of tension building between herself and James, she reached out her nearest hand and hooked two of her fingers around James’ hand.

“Woah, there,” James exclaimed, jumping away from Diana. The words on the oval vanished, replaced by a single word.

Better.

The lighted oval blinked out of existence, and Diana looked at James in time to see that he hadn’t read the new message.

“What are you touching me for? We said brother and sister,” James said, looking wildly suspicious.

“Brothers and sisters can hold hands, James,” Diana said, ignoring the thundering clamor in her heart and going up the steps to the house.

So, she told herself, the aliens want flirting. Darn it, Diana thought, and she hid her irritation as she reached for the handle on the front door.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, the hero found some horticultural supplies and created a floral tribute for his lady friend.

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Bribery Cookies and Diana

I made cookies again (chocolate chip this time), and they didn’t turn out nearly as perfectly as the snickerdoodles, but I’m also using these as bribes for good behavior from the kids, so they don’t need to be pretty at all.

I’m going through my current series and making a timeline for officially tracking the days that have passed since the intense part of the action started up. I have several back and forths where we go backwards in time a few days to follow various secondary characters, so I’ve needed to work out a cleaned up calendar of events to watch for potential plot snafus.

Isn’t that the funnest word? Snafu.

Anyway, as soon as I finish this run-through for dates, I’m planning to go back to book one to do one final comma-usage and typo check through each book.

I’m significantly into the series right now, so that will be a satisfying amount of work, and reviewing the arc up to this point always makes me more aware of the direction of the overall story. My main character is now out of the building where he’s been trapped for months, and we’re drawing close to some very exciting traveling segments of the story.

Here is a study of a horse.

sketch 4

Sample

And here is some more Diana. : P

The Domicile

They walked in silence through the rest of the parking lot, looking at the interiors of the many cars they passed through. Each car was a vivid snapshot of someone’s life, and a few cars had the driver’s side door open, as if a person had been in the middle of getting into or out of the car when the aliens had come.

A stretch of industrial buildings came after the parking lot, and the glowing white path led in a straight line through all of them. Diana found that even the air was warm within the boundary of the path. If she put her hand outside the space where the white light demarked the path on the ground, the chill in the air made a shiver of goose pimples rise along her skin.

“It feels like spring in here,” James said, watching Diana put her hand in and out of the cold air as they walked.

“Yeah,” Diana said. They walked through the far wall of the latest building and Diana stopped, staring at the house just in front of them.

“Wow,” James said.

“Yeah,” Diana said with a laugh.

The white path ran ahead, across a street, through a chain link fence, and up to the side of a normal looking two-story house. The house wasn’t the strange part; it was the enormous bubble of warm air around the whole house that had made Diana and James stare.

A mature tree rose near the side of the house; three-fourths of the tree lay within the bubble, and warm green leaves, verdant and lush, looking as if they belonged in the height of some fairytale summer, hung from every inch of the tree, even from the trunk and the whole length of the branches. The top and outer branches of the tree that lay outside the bubble were frozen solid and completely bare of leaves.

The house itself seemed to radiate cozy emotions, as if the aliens had condensed the feel of Christmas and somehow seeded it through the air.

“Do you feel that?” Diana asked, walking closer to the house.

“Yeah. What do you think it is?” James asked.

Drugs, Diana thought, but she didn’t want to say so out loud. She didn’t see how she could avoid walking into the warm bubble without drawing down the ire of the aliens, so she took a deep breath and stepped through the holographic section of fence and into the warm bubble surrounding the house the aliens had prepared.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, the abused housekeeper is on her way to an appointment with a restorative neurosurgeon.

Today Is Friday (And That Has Nothing To Do With This Blog Post)

I am so excruciatingly tired as I write this that I can hardly keep my eyes open. I’ve been going to the gym (yay weightlifting) and doing extra bodyweight exercises on my days off, and my body is trying to tell me to go back to a more sedentary lifestyle by falling asleep when I’m supposed to be writing a blog post.

Hence, the extreme tiredness, currently.

Changing Body Composition Is Intense

I’ll just drink water and that will wake me up, maybe. That’s how sleep works, right? I kid.

Anyhow, I’m reaching a dramatic juncture of some tension in my current novel. A few of the heroes have cornered a ne’er-do-well and are slowly extracting his nefarious secrets. The ne’er-do-well has a secret family, for example, which he has successfully kept hidden from his lawful wife.

What A Cad

Oh, the drama.

I think someone is going to be thrown out of the ancestral pile on his ear in the near narrative future.

My, but I am tired. Blerg.

Victor Poole, Write About Writing!

My daughter requested and was given a Blues Clues dvd for her birthday. I was cautious in the selection of the dvd in order to avoid Joe and make sure we were getting Steve.

Because Steve is so much better. Joe isn’t bad at all; I think he’s charming and does a more than decent job, but for listening to episodes forever and ever, I will go with Steve every time.

Steve And Blue Forever

He’s like the Bob Ross of children’s shows.

Also, my children like Bob Ross. Not that that is particularly on topic.

This is a super rough sketch of a character from my science fiction series (in the queue for revision) who has, in this scene, just murdered an alien who was attempting to drain her insides. The alien ship is semi-sentient and has doors in the shape of plant-like disks that retract when one attempts to attain egress.

sketch 3

Also, here is some Diana.

Sample

Background Is Shared

“I thought you would’ve been younger than sixteen. You don’t look that old,” Diana said.

“My mom says all the boys in our family grow up late. I should have a big growth spurt when I’m almost twenty, according to her,” James said.

She wanted to ask him why he wasn’t freaking out about having been held captive by aliens just before this, but Diana wasn’t willing to disobey the aliens yet in their injunction to only talk about human matters.

“That sucks for you, then. I’m fourteen,” Diana said.

“Yeah, it does. You look older than that,” James said, walked along just behind her on the spring-like path of fresh grass. They crossed a street, following the glowing white path, and walked into another building through the holographic opening made by the alien’s strange path.

“So is it your mom and my dad, or your dad and my mom?” Diana asked.

“My parents are already divorced and remarried, so it would be a third round for them. Now I’ll have six parents if my extra gets together with someone new,” James said with a laugh.

“My parents are still together. You choose. Which one do you want to bring with you into our hypothetical family scenario?” Diana asked.

“I’ll bring my dad. Do you get along all right with your mom?” James asked. They came through the other side of the building and found themselves in a parking lot full of frozen cars. The glowing white path on the ground ran in a straight line through the cars, and everywhere the path went, the frost was gone and the cars looked perfectly normal. “This is still just so cool. I’m loving this,” James muttered as they walked single file through the first car.

“Yeah, it’s fun. I do okay with my mom. Let’s say it was a marriage of convenience and then they started to like each other after the fact. Have you got siblings?” Diana asked.

“Yeah, three, but I’m my dad’s favorite, so he only brought me with him,” James said, laughing.

“That’s so screwed up. It’s just me, on my end,” Diana said.

“Look, someone spilled coffee everywhere,” James said, pausing in the middle of a fancy sports car. Diana turned around to see. They were standing in the center of a red car with tan leather seats. A disposable tall mug of coffee was half crushed in the passenger seat, and reams of coffee were spilled all over the leather.

The parts of the coffee that lay outside the edges of the glowing white path were frozen solid, some of the dark drips arrested in graceful drops partway through the air. The main chunk of the car which lay in the line of the path had a puddle of liquid coffee sitting in the leather seats and dripping continually down into the center console.

“Cool,” Diana murmured. It was fairly obvious to her that the coffee had been upset in the moment of the aliens’ attack, and the frozen and dripping liquid seemed to bear a silent, telling witness to the strange violence and unexpectedness of the event.

“So just you, then. Do you like being an only child?” James asked, breaking the silence and nudging at Diana’s alien backpack.

“Yeah, it’s nice,” Diana said, shaking herself and pressing on along the path towards the domicile, whatever that would prove to be. Diana hoped it would be a normal house with functional heat and water.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, a socialite is embarking on a new adventure in life.

Childish Shenanigans

I ran into a nasty plot problem in my novel the other day. It took me a day and a half to get through the various drafting iterations to a strong solution.

Someday you may find yourself having a hard time coming up with solutions to problems in the plot.

Deviations. Ever experienced an energy deviation? I’m sure you have.

When you have a hard time following a natural progression of the plot (which means you’re experiencing problems with the characters’ development), you are experiencing an energy deviation.

Solutions to energy deviations lie inside your child self, which is a creative, endless problem-solving machine.

Inside of you somewhere, maybe buried deep and maybe right up there on the surface, is a childish, selfish entity that wants things NOW, wants everything to be about YOU, and needs adoration and constant praise from everyone and everything in the universe. Your child self is insatiable, demanding, and never quits being passionate about wanting whatever stuff it is that drives your particular child self.

I’m like that.

Instead of looking inside of myself and saying, “My gosh, what a depressing lack of adulthood,” I can say, “What excellent amounts of pure adrenaline,” and channel my childish interior into a kind of bottomless gas tank for work.

Yes, work, but productive, building-up-to-something-in-the-long-run work, which to a child is the same thing as fun.

Now, plotting through problems.

First, you take what you have, the current state of the plot or scenario, and then second, you dig down into your really, really childish self.

From the perspective of your inner toddler, you look at the plot and say to yourself, “Ruin this!”

Let me explain for a second the dynamic of the right kind of ruining, and then I’ll talk for a moment about why this works to create easy problem solving to your plot without any agonizing artistic pain.

So, first, the right kind of “Ruin this!”

If you have ever been around other human beings, you have presumably experienced the sort of cranky behavior from people that snarls everything up around them. Their crankiness just make everything worse, no matter what the situation. You  have, doubtless, from time to time been one of those irritable people yourself, because negative snarling is a common and transient energy dynamic and not an essential state of being.

If you are in the state of mind to make everything worse in the process of tinkering at your plot, when you say to yourself, “Ruin this!”, you will actually damage your plot badly and/or kill the story idea.

That’s more than possible if your approach is taunted with cold, remorseless cynicism; in fact, plot damage and energy denigration is likely, given the wrong starting mental conditions, so let’s talk instead about the right flavor.

The right kind of flavor within your “Ruin this!” action is a childish one.

Healthy children are productively dynamic; they create chaos that is full of potential and surging with positive motion.

Spiritually unhealthy human beings, whatever their physical age, destabilize and corrupt their circumstances.

This isn’t a good people/bad people dynamic, but a strong state of mind/weak state of mind thing. Most people, myself and probably you, fluctuate constantly from productive to negative, sometimes dipping from one state to the other in almost inexplicable waves.

You can tell which state you’re in by sticking a basic energy thermometer into your heart. Ask yourself how you feel, thrust an energy stick into your internal being, and if the energy expands with heat and interest, you’re healthy. If your energy contracts and hardens, or cools, you’re in an unhealthy state of mind. (The mere act of imagining an energy stick going into your heart creates the thermometer, so don’t worry about how to do that. Just imagine it happening, and you’ll get an expanding warm sensation or a cold, contracting feel inside your chest/abdominal area.)

The correct “Ruin this!” attitude is necessarily full of warmth and expanding energy.

(And if you get the cold, wrong answer with your energy thermometer, well, then you need a five-minute play date with your inner child. Set a timer, play like a toddler, and take your temperature again. Repeat as necessary.)

Okay, we talked about the effective kind of energy for a “Ruin this!” attitude; now let’s talk about why this works, why ruining your plot makes endless good ideas happen and gives you access to a reliable and bottomless pit of creatively fueled brilliance.

Ruining your plot or current scenario works because dysfunction (see, poor plot) relies on a static, inelastic frozen dynamic. When you’re stuck, it’s because you’re really afraid of anything changing. When you try to keep everything the same (and familiar), you close your mind to all the things that could jostle and disrupt your current scenario.

A static scenario with unchanging characters is not a plot so much as a still-life, and that’s great for painting but not for writing more than one scene, and even the scene will be sorta dry if no changes can sneak in at all.

Basically, if you’re having a plot problem, you are in a frightened, rigid grown-up mindset and you need to sink backwards and evaluate whatever energy thing happened to get you stuck in the first place.

Luckily for all of us, our inner children excel at evaluating energy deviations and exploiting them for maximum explosive effect.

Have you ever watched children? You know, babysat them or anything like that? Maybe you have some, or you’ve encountered young humans in your own past iteration as a juvenile of the species.

In any case, my point is that children target and exploit weak areas in order to create maximum satisfying drama. Noise, mess, chaos, and pleasurable destruction.

You can and should do that to your plot problems, using your inner child and containing yourself into healthy and creative “Ruin this!” modes of thoughts.

Ruining your plot from the perspective of a child works because you automatically evaluate all known elements and come up with really great ways to destroy everything, which gives you abundant drama to work with, and plot is drama. I mean, that’s what a plot is; drama, hopefully as cathartic and emotionally all-encompassing as possible.

A Childish Example

I have a very old novel sitting around in my hard drive that has caused nothing but trouble for me in my efforts to revise or salvage it.

As a live-action experiment, I will give you the general picture of the plot problem and then take my internal temperature and productively ruin the scenario, thereby creating a chunk of useable plot.

Ready?

The main character is a girl in her twenties who has recently lost everyone in her immediate family to a car crash, and she takes a job as a dishwasher at a local restaurant and fantasizes about escaping to a fairy land with a magician. The different characters in the restaurant form fodder for her imaginings, and at the end of the novel, she dies and is reunited with the owner of the restaurant in a very cheesy, though emotionally satisfying, happy ending in heaven.

The problems with the plot are many and varied; part of the family who is supposed to be dead from the car crash aren’t actually dead; the owner of the restaurant and the main character engage in a long, muddy might-be-a-dream sequence that goes nowhere, and the main chef in the restaurant turns out to be an implausible billionaire who makes toy ships in his spare time. There are a lot of plot holes, and while much of the dialogue is charming, the actual book itself is, as it stands, unsalvageable.

I wrote it a long time ago. It is, in fact, the first actual beginning-to-end novel I ever wrote, and it was my first National Novel Writing Month effort.

It was lots of fun.

My editor loves the characters and wants me to rewrite it so we can publish it. (My editor is awesome, by the way. Hi, Mr. Editor!)

So, here’s my internal temperature-taking . . . mm . . . lukewarm. Give me a minute to go be childish.

*

Okay, I’m back. Now I am super in the mindset to be creative . . . internal temperature of hot and expansive. Hooray!

So, I have this plot that is a big, messy problem. The biggest issue with the whole thing is that it doesn’t go anywhere; the character doesn’t actually have a genuine adventure because I was too scared to allow anything significant in the story to happen or grow.

I’m gonna ruin things.

The main character does not lose her family in a car crash; she moves away from her family and gets an apartment she can barely afford with some savings, and then loses her job the day after she signs the lease. In a fit of despair, she is walking the streets and browsing job listings on her phone when she passes a quaint little pretzel shop that smells amazing. She goes into the shop, meets the eccentric and enigmatic old man who makes the pretzels, and asks for a job. The old man laughs, tells her to come back the next day, and she goes home and feels that things will be better in the morning.

Then! She goes back to the shop only to find a closed sign and a notice that the store is out of business and up for sale. Spiraling into uncontrollable depression, our main character sticks around the shop on her off time; she gets a job and barely scrapes by for a little while until she meets someone poking around the old pretzel shop, looking to buy it and start a restaurant. She gets a job there as a dishwasher, quits her janitor job, and . . . discovers a staircase into a magical kingdom in the bottom of the sink. Duh duh daaah!

More exciting adventures happen and she eventually goes permanently to live as a disguised princess in the fantasy realm and lives happily ever after with the soup-shop owner, whom she has drawn into her adventures.

There.

Now I just have to write the book. But now I have a functional starting chunk of plot! Bwa ha.

Here’s a bit more of Diana.

Fiction Fun

Changes

“So, ally,” Stuart said, running to catch up. Diana walked faster, kicking up bits of snow. “Look, I’ll carry the backpack. Give it to me,” Stuart said, reaching out to take the alien pack. The moment he laid his hand on Diana’s arm, he vanished.

Diana heard the silence and the lack of pressure from Stuart’s hand and she turned and saw nothing left but his footprints in the snow.

She stared at the hollows his sneakers had made in the white and then looked around at the empty, frozen houses all around her. She was in a side yard next to a tall gray duplex with frosted windows.

Well, I’m alone again, Diana thought, and she turned and started to walk towards the sun.

She’d made it all the way to the shopping mall when a blip of sound opened up in the air just in front of her. Diana froze, her foot mid-step, and studied the vibrating air.

“Do you want him back?”

The voice was not quite human, but not nearly so grating and awful as the aliens’ speech had been.

“Do I have options?” Diana asked.

“Yes. Touch the one you want,” the voice said, and three strange yellow bubbles popped into being on the road to Diana’s left. She guessed that there were people inside the bubbles, as they were roughly human sized, though completely opaque.

“Can I see them?” Diana asked with a laugh.

A surge of sound moved in the air and she recognized the alien sort of chuckle. A tearing noise ripped through the entire street and the yellow bubbles turned clear.

Diana stared at the three companions the aliens had offered.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Vince is training his hunting party.

Friendliness Levels

I knew a guy a long time ago. I never got to know him well at all; we were in the same place and doing similar shows, though we never worked directly together.

He was an odd duck, though, because he was super negative and hated people, and he didn’t know how to change any of that into useful material on stage.

I followed his trajectory for a while out of curiosity, and he kind of hit against this ceiling where he wasn’t doing any better because he couldn’t or wouldn’t shift the morass of bitter hate out of his spine.

He really disliked other human beings. He wanted to like them, in theory, but his coping mechanism for dealing with others was to numb himself into practically lobotomized friendliness and then joke about things. Because there wasn’t genuine interest under his navigation, he didn’t build actual alliances with other humans, and ran up against this internal lack in his stage work.

The thing that’s interesting to me about the dynamic is how forced-happy his smile was. There was darkness under his jocularity, and bitterness in all his laughs.

And now, Diana

Stuart followed Diana into the school and she knew he didn’t know what to say, because he started angry-breathing at her back as she strolled down the hall.

“So how long is it going to take them to realize that you’re–that you’re–” Stuart’s voice petered into quiet.

“Poor Stu. Tongue-tied as usual. Beaten into absolute silence by my glorious looks. What was your plan, lover-boy? Did the aliens say we were going to make babies for them or something?” Diana asked, turning to walk backwards and grinning at Stuart, who had a sour, distracted look on his face.

“You’ve got a thing on your face,” Stuart said, pointing.

“Really?” Diana asked, crooking an eyebrow at the boy. She felt this was a very shallow jab.

“Di, you’ve got words on your face. They’re moving around. Hold still,” Stuart said, squinting at her.

“I don’t believe you,” Diana said. Stuart reached out and grabbed her by both arms, holding her in place. Diana sneered at him, but her heart was pounding. Stuart squinted through the half-light of the hall at her left cheek.

“Domicile ready, demonstrate home,” Stuart read in a faltering voice. He let go and Diana twisted away and ran for a bathroom. “I’m not making that up!” Stuart called, chasing after her. Diana darted into the girls’ room and flicked the light switch; nothing happened but she went to the mirrors and got close to the surface. Stuart followed her into the bathroom.

“Come on, Stu. It’s the ladies’ room. Show some decency,” Diana said, staring at the shadow letters roving beneath the skin of her cheek.

Domicile ready, demonstrate home.

Heart pounding, Diana turned to examine her opposite cheek and found rudimentary directions.

One hour towards the sun.

“Well, crap,” Diana muttered, pulling back.

“What’s it mean?” Stuart asked.

“Can you really not tell, or are you playing stupid?” Diana asked. Stuart stared at her through the darkness for a long moment.

“I really don’t know,” Stuart said.

“It means they set up a house, or they thawed one or something. We go east for an hour and we should find it, hopefully. Come on,” Diana said, pushing past Stuart and out of the bathroom.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and owing to some unpleasant emotional purges underway in the fleshy vehicle, I cannot breathe. In my current novel, the hunter is creating a priority task list for the excursion.

Un-Ruggifying Myself

I’m working on learning how to act like a person instead of a human form of rug.

The problem when you’re a rug is that everyone in the whole world who is used to walking on convenient people-rugs recognizes you and stomps on you, so getting away from greedy assholes long enough to brush off all the footmarks and stand up is complicated.

Plus then you’re, like, flattened and stuff, so reanimating the crushed nature of your spiritual anatomy is painful and fraught with difficulty.

All of which to say, being not-a-rug is an adventure. Acting like a person instead of a domicile for walking feels unnatural, what with the life-long nature of my rughood.

There is bacon in my fridge, by the way. (And that is probably going to be fried in a pan shortly.) I’m tired of being a rug, though. Not that bacon frying has anything to do with rugs.

Sample

More Diana

“So you think you understand what they want. Tell me,” Stuart said in a gruff and irritable manner.

“Well it’s really obvious. We’re basically a reality show, and if we’re entertaining enough, we’ll earn more humans. Let’s go on an adventure,” Diana said, buttoning up the backpack and hoisting it onto her back.

“What? No!” Stuart cried. Diana, feeling thoroughly devious, pressed close against him and kissed his cheek. She hated it, hated being near to him at all, with his stupid skin and his irritating, sports-themed cloud of whatever spray he usually wore, but Diana got a great effect out of the kiss.

Stuart went red, and then white, and then made a low squawk. Diana cackled like a fiend and spun away, walking towards the doors that led back into the school.

“You . . . we . . . You just hang on for two seconds here, Diana Vassel!” Stuart shouted, his voice choking as he fought between violence and forced calm. Diana could hear how he was trying to keep in command of his temper because of the aliens. She pictured him beating her up again, the really bloody way he’d done when they were a lot younger, and she laughed and threw her head back as she imagined the aliens killing him for it.

She heaved open the door into the school and went inside, hearing the crunch of his angry footsteps behind her.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Vince is tweaking his new head of security’s energy management in service of the coming hunt.

 

Just An Update

I’m dealing with super old impacted rage right now. It’s caught through my middle ribs, so I have to detach it constantly throughout the day, which is more annoying than painful.

Every time I release a good chunk of the fury, I get a rush of heat everywhere. That’s how I feel anger, apparently, is with heat. That’s exciting to know about myself. I haven’t started feeling sadness yet, but I imagine that will pop up for me at some point in the future.

I’m working slowly through Linklater, also. Linklater is the gold standard for vocal development in acting training. I used to have the newest edition of the book, but a few years ago I switched over to the original printing.

I like getting into the oldest edition of books like this, so I can dig down into the first explanation. It’s much easier for me to follow the original intent in Linklater than the newer, expanded edition, which is about four times as thick and has a whole lot of added exercises and friendly illustrations.

The original Linklater book has illustrations, but they’re scratchy pen doodles, full of character and charm. Hideous, but wonderful.

Also, I’m still in the thick of editing work. Yay!

More Diana

She Reads the Note

Diana unfolded the note and found a message printed in–of all things–Comic Sans.

Keep us interested. Won’t die. Earn more companions if good at the showing. Show us yes, if yes.

“Do you understand this, Stu?” Diana asked, glancing up at Stuart from where she knelt on the ground.

“Don’t call me that, Di,” Stuart said with gritted teeth.

“I thought we were lovers, darling. Sweethearts can shorten to endearments. What does this mean? They want a show? Like, you and me, we’re a show for the aliens?” Diana asked, shaking the note.

“Well, you told them we weren’t lovers,” Stuart said irritably.

“You are so in love with me,” Diana said, just because she wanted to see what Stuart would do. Stuart turned extremely red and made an impatient, vibrating motion with his fists. Diana laughed at him and he snarled. Stuart grabbed at the note.

“Keep us interested. Won’t die,” Stuart muttered, glancing with a scowl at Diana, who grinned. She was enjoying his discomfort enormously. “Earn more companions if good at the showing. Show us yes, if yes. Well, that sucks,” Stuart said, dropping the note, which folded closed and draped over the metal backpack. Diana snatched it up to look at the words again, and she was surprised and a little delighted to find that the writing had changed while the note was folded.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Vince is so, so close to getting out of the building. It’s been fifteen days since he came upstairs to the apartment, and he’s finally getting out. I’m excited to write the part where Vince goes into the forest territory for the first time.