Chaos Theory – Admin post

For the last few weeks of #saturdayscenes, I’ve been sharing bits from the first draft of Chaos Theory (my version of Alice in Wonderland) as I mull over what to do with it. 

Recently, I decided that one of the things it needs is to eliminate the current protagonist, because it’s just not working out.  It’s not you, darling, it’s… No it’s basically you.  While most of the other characters and a lot of the ideas are still sound, this means that the actual draft I’ve got so far is now pretty much unusable for a cohesive novel.

But it’s perfect for sharing delightful little snippets!  To that end, I’ll be posting all of the good bits (and there are some really good bits) of the current incarnation, right up through where the draft ran out.  This means I have to go back and add a couple to the current progression, starting today.  They’ll go up weekly over on my Google+ profile.  I’m discontinuing the blog updates for Saturday Scenes in favor of adding them to the shiny new Fiction section of the site after they’re posted to G+.

Also, I am thrilled to announce what is becoming a rather large project will feature illustrations from the fantabulous Laura Toivola!  You guys, I absolutely cannot wait to show these to you.  They’re seriously amazing.

Just wanted to get all of this administrative stuff out of the way.  Actual snippety goodness can be found here.

Saturday Scenes – Chaos Theory (part four)

Time once more for Saturday Scenes! Here we have another snippet from Chaos Theory, my Wonderland story from NaNoWriMo a few years back. (You can see the first, second, and third parts at the links.) In this bit, we’re switching perspectives and introducing some new characters.

In her chamber high above the entrance of the manor, Lady Galona stared out over the courtyard. The sunset finished its spectacular performance, leaving a deep, bloody stain across the darkening sky. She wanted to see that sunset as a good omen, she really did. She’d never had quite the knack for interpreting omens, but they could still come in handy if you could be sure of them.

It had not gone well.

She hadn’t expected much, really. She had thought that the summit was a foolish, desperate chance at holding things together in the absence of that silly nitwit who called herself the queen. Nonetheless, she had immediately stepped forward and offered to host, because desperate fools were always useful tools, and Galona had not gotten to where she was today by passing up such opportunities. Her estimation was that controlling the circumstances and surroundings of the meeting might allow her some measure of control over its outcome. She hated being wrong. People who tried to make fools of her usually ended up making the acquaintance of the headsman.

The torches went up around the courtyard, illuminating the figures milling about the red-veined white stone. Recognizing people from above always presented a bit of a challenge, but the most prominent of them, the heads of their unofficial delegations, were easy enough to spot. No one could have possibly missed the Duchess of Conroy’s massive, hideous black headdress — a ridiculous confection of ratty lace and cheap looking jewels — even amidst her obscenely large entourage, more than twice that of everyone else. A small army of black coaches pulled up, and without a word or a look back at anyone, she disappeared into the first and most ostentatious of them. Griff’s people prowled around the edges in the darkness, the lionesses’ gold armor glinting in the firelight, causing the nearest of the guests to nervously shy away toward the center. Griff himself had the manners — unusually for him — to walk upright and keep his wings mostly folded, though he kept fluffing their feathers unhappily as he conferred with Morska, who clung to his side, her dull, flat eyes wide with alarm. Off to one side, George and Giovanni, their mirrored corpulent forms encased in garish suits, argued animatedly while everyone tried to say out of the way and avoid any stray punches.

It had never been possible to reach any sort of consensus, of course. Hells, it had almost come to blows then and there, treaties be damned. Galona wasn’t particularly interested in consensus; wars always kept things interesting, changed up the landscape, brought out all sorts of delicious strife and animosity. The peace of Relidran bored her to tears. Indeed, if she hadn’t been able to reach across the divide and manipulate things in the mortal world, she might have died of sheer ennui centuries ago. As eager as she was for a proper dust-up, she had to admit that it certainly would have been easier if everyone would just agree that she had by far the best claim to the throne, better than even that brainless chit Rowanys, and stand aside.

But no, they couldn’t even agree that someone should step in and take over, despite the fact that it had been weeks now with no one on the Scarlet Throne, tipping their world further out of balance with each passing day. The Duchess in particular kept insisting that there was no need to take any sort of action, because Rowanys would be returning soon. This was the thought that held them all in check: while they all clearly suspected each other of being somehow involved in the queen’s disappearance, none gave any indication that they actually knew where she was or what had really happened. Had any of them really known the queen’s whereabouts, they would be much more willing to make an open move. Galona supposed that the whole charade had been worth it just to learn that much, but it was small comfort. As long as Rowanys was somewhere out there, possibly to return any moment, any power play held significant risk.

But biding their time grew riskier by the day. Despite the Duchess’s ravings that Bruadair had things well in hand, as though the royal consort held anywhere near the same sort of power as the sovereign, the cracks were starting to show. The land in Relidran had always been restless, shifting to suit its own whimsical, ineffable moods, true enough, but a strong and sure hand could keep things more or less in order. The lands normally under Rowanys’s care were starting to go berserk. A traveler on the road in that area might find himself making camp in the middle of a verdant field, waking up at the top of a mountain, and somehow ending the day on a tiny island in the middle of a powerful river. And the effect was starting to spread. At this rate, it wouldn’t be long before holes started cropping up as the realm ripped itself apart.

These were all very good reasons to have an interest in returning someone to the throne. Truth be told, Galona didn’t need any sort of reason, good or otherwise, to want a chance at the crown. She had been robbed of it, all those many years ago. Of course she was going to take any opportunity to correct the grave injustice, no matter how unlikely or remote. She had hoped that by playing the gracious hostess, she might demonstrate her fitness to rule, and perhaps gain at least one ally to support her claim. Before many words had been exchanged, it became painfully clear that there would be no coalitions or allegiances. Everyone who had even the slightest possibility of claiming the throne seemed determined to do so.

Griff roared a command to his people, and they disappeared into the shadows in streaks of tan and gold. The twins now stood alone in the courtyard, save for their few attendants, dressed just as horribly as they. In unison, the two looked up at her window, staring deeply through her. She locked eyes with them in turn, until they broke off and headed back inside. Galona slipped back into her high heeled red velvet shoes, patted at her pile of brassy curls, and hurried back out into the hall. Perhaps it hadn’t been a wasted day after all.

Saturday Scenes – Chaos Theory (Part 3)

Okay, I skipped Saturday Scenes last week.  I’m trying not to make that a habit, but I’m airing out the trunk material and trying not to run out of content.  So anyway, here’s the next part of my Wonderland pastiche, Chaos Theory.  (You can read Part 1 and Part 2 at the links.)  This follows very shortly after the last installment, after Derek follows Katrina into one of the gallery paintings.

Derek kept his eyes screwed very tightly shut for a few more echoing steps. Eventually he decided that perhaps falling over a cliff or running into a wall might present a greater danger than merely going mad from whatever there was to see, and he cautiously opened his eyes.

Having geared himself up to experience the inside of an abstract painting, he found himself vaguely disappointed to realize that he was in some sort of vast cave, or perhaps a tunnel. What had looked like almost random colors and shapes were actually an inexpert, or perhaps just very stylized, rendering of darkness and damp. There was a very faint glow coming from the walls that might have been some sort of bioluminescent moss, although Derek began to suspect that this wasn’t the sort of place that allowed for such relatively simple and mundane explanations. He took another step forward in the dark, and promptly stumbled and fell flat on his face. He lay sprawled there for a long, long moment, resting his cheek against the slick, chilled rock. He could just stay like this, he thought. Just let himself slowly meld into the floor over the centuries and become an oddly-shaped chunk of stone. A large, fat drop of what he hoped was water pelted his cheek. He realized that centuries would be a very long and probably unpleasant time, and pushed himself back up. His knee grumbled quite loudly as he got to his feet; he must have landed on it wrong when he fell. Perfect.

He remembered the flashlight in his pocket, and fumbled it out and turned it on. Usually, the beam emitted by the little cluster of LEDs was quite bright and clear, but the depth and weight of the darkness here pushed it in on itself, so the light it emitted was thin and wan and didn’t reach very far. It was enough to illuminate the floor in front of his feet, and he decided to be content with that. He caught a glimpse in the shadows ahead of a rapidly receding velvet skirt, and scurried, over the loud objections of his knee, to catch up.

Katrina strode forward with the forceful surety that he usually associated with executives and other powerful, important people, a stride that declared that she knew exactly where she was going and intended to waste no time getting there, but also knew that whatever was going to be happening at her destination would have to wait for her arrival, so there was no need for her to walk any faster than she chose. She also seemed entirely unconcerned with the darkness, although this didn’t quite surprise him anymore. She stared straight ahead and didn’t so much as glance behind her to see how he was getting on. “Where are we?” he asked again. He didn’t really expect an answer, but he didn’t think it would hurt to ask. And she had come back for him, after all.

Their footsteps bounced off the walls for a little longer. Derek had almost resigned himself to the fact that she was just going to pretend he didn’t exist anymore, when she said, “The Tularian Passage.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“I know.” She leapt nimbly over a narrow stream without breaking her stride. Derek didn’t see it in time, and the water splashed into his shoe, causing him to slosh with each step. “I think that’s about all you can handle.”

“I’ll decide what I can handle, thank you very much,” he replied hotly. “I’m not a child.”

“No, but you’re a mortal.”

“And you’re not,” he said, disbelief dripping from the words in much the same way that water dripped from the ceiling onto his hair.

“Not in the way you’re thinking,” she replied. “There are… degrees of it, I guess you’d say. Depends on how close we get to your world.”

“My world,” he repeated.


“Are you telling me that we’re on another planet?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she scoffed.

“So this is, what, a different dimension? A parallel universe?”

“I don’t know, it’s just Relidran. Don’t think about it too much.”

“I can’t help that,” he said mournfully.

They walked on. Derek wasn’t sure quite how far they’d come, but there wasn’t any sort of daylight ahead. He wondered just how long this passage was; he didn’t have any sort of provisions or equipment for a long journey. He was starting to get hungry, but he buried the thought immediately. “Who’s Carter?” he asked.

No answer. He waited, thinking that she might again decide to respond eventually. They passed through a massive cavern, their footsteps falling silent as the walls flung out and away, beyond the reach of any echo. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a bright, sickly green light. He looked up and saw, high overhead, a noxious green cloud, snaking in on itself, reaching a tendril down toward him… “I wouldn’t look up there if I were you,” Katrina warned. His neck snapped forward almost of its own accord, and he kept his eyes on the floor.

She led the way through the cavern and back into a low, cramped tunnel on the other side. He thought about trying his previous question again, thinking that maybe she hadn’t heard him. But he knew she had. Instead, he asked, “How did we get here?”

“Someone apparently never learned about touching things that don’t belong to them.”

“I was just trying to help,” he muttered, and hated how horribly young and petulant he sounded. “So that… that doodad of yours–”

“The vocarte.”

“Right, that. It brought us here?”

He thought he saw a ghost of a shrug from the narrow, velvet-clad shoulders. “Basically.”

“Can it take us back?”


A little tendril of panic took this opportunity to climb its way out of his gut towards his brain, but he ruthlessly stamped it down. By the end of the day, he was going to be an expert in repression. “You’re sure of that?”

“Quite. It’s a one-way ticket.”

“Then there must be another way to get back to… to my world.”

“Not for you, kitten.”

He stumbled over not much of anything, and his poor legs just barely caught him in time to save him from another painful sprawl. “No no no no, there has to be a way.”

She sighed. “Look, I don’t honestly know how you even got here. No mortal has ever crossed the divide. Ever. Grabbing the vocarte when it went live should have just fried you into a little pile of ashes. You’re either the luckiest or unluckiest bastard in history, because you made it here, and now you’re stuck here.” She grinned at him, the first time she’d actually looked at him since leaving the gallery. “Might as well make yourself at home.”