Tag Archives: Tock

Timelines and Continuity, Redux

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about Timelines and Continuity. It had a lot to do with rearranging chapters during revisions, due to my nonlinear writing process (note: Professor Ron Block of Rowan University says all writing is linear, even when it’s not, because you have to write it and read it in a linear fashion across the page). As an example, I said I usually write, say, 6 chapters from Gabby’s POV, then 7 from Tock’s, then back to Gabby, and so on. But during revisions, I need to weave these chapters together to flow more fluidly back and forth between each character. The result can throw off some details that need to be fixed in revisions (such as if a character refers to something that happened “yesterday” but due to rearranging the order of events, it now happened “this morning,” or it won’t happen until tomorrow).

So why am I revisiting this topic? Well, my #NaNoWriMo novel, Arcana Revived Volume Six, is requiring me to look at chapter order in a very different way than in my previous first drafts. As an example, here’s the chapter order (before any revisions) for Volume Four, Mutation.

Mutation_Chapter_OrderAs you can see, I wrote 16 chapters in a row of Gabby, just because that was where my Muse was taking me. I kept writing on Gabby until I reached a point where I wasn’t quite sure what to do with her next. Then, to avoid getting log-jammed by writer’s block, I switched to Tock and Mae. I wrote with them for a while, then switched back.

Once I get to revisions, these chapters are more likely to go Gabby/Tock/Gabby/Tock/Gabby/Mae/Gabby/Tock or something like that. But when I was writing them, I just went with where my flow was taking me, in order to get all the words down as smoothly and quickly as possible. And it didn’t really hurt the narrative or the continuity at all, since Gabby and Tock weren’t directly interacting with each other in those early chapters. They’re in different places, going through different (but parallel and directly linked) events. Which was all building up to a point, close to the end, where their individual halves of the story merge and they end up in the same place at the same time.

This is the method I’ve really used with every book I’ve written so far, from Manifestation to Contamination (which is currently on Draft Two) to the next three books (which are all first drafts). It’s worked well each time. But the sixth book, which I’m currently writing for NaNoWriMo, is turning out to be an entirely different process. I’m handling continuity and the order I write the chapters in a completely different way.

Book_Six_Chapter_OrderAs you can see in the chapter orders for Volume Six, I’m alternating a lot more between the characters from chapter to chapter. Really, this is what the above chapter order will look like after revisions. I’m just doing it during the first draft this time, spending no more than a few chapters in one character’s POV before I move to the next. This is because the stories are more directly interwoven than before. As a result, I have mostly fallen into a pattern where I write Gabby/Indra/Jaden/Gabby/Indra/Jaden in order. I have to do this because it’s not just a question of “which event happens first.” It’s a situation where all the characters are having a very direct impact on each other’s actions, so I can’t continue to write the next character’s chapter before I finish the first.

Here’s an example of two scenarios, one from Mutation and one from the new book, that demonstrate what I mean in a more concrete way.

During Mutation, there’s a point where the characters are battling a variety of giant mythological creatures that have come back to life because of the revival of magic. At one point, some of the characters are split up, so that Gabby is battling one Beast of Legend, Tock another, Mae a third, and Callia a fourth. The individual battles don’t impact each other, but they all impact the overall plot and together the battles determine whether everyone will be safe or if the Beasts will crush entire cities and kill thousands of people. So, after each battle has been decided, the characters can reunite and we can see the aftermath, but during each battle, each character is on their own (or “the character plus the miscellaneous supporting characters helping them fight”).

What makes the new book different is that for the majority of it, the characters are coordinating their efforts in the same struggle, instead of battling separate (but related) foes. For example, right now, Gabby is lying in ambush, waiting for a signal from Jaden that a certain task has been completed before it’ll be time to strike. But Jaden can’t do what she needs to until she gets crucial information from Indra and her cousin Vijay. So while I’m alternating between characters from one chapter to the next, they’re working together on a common goal, and their actions directly impact things. Gabby literally can’t proceed from her current position before I’ve written Jaden’s next chapter (unless she wants the entire mission to fail), and Jaden literally can’t accomplish her goal without the key information she’s waiting to receive. It requires me to look at the book differently than the previous volumes.

That’s not to say that either method, “nonlinear” chapter order or direct alternation between POVs, is better or worse than the other. It just means that the revision process for this volume will require less rearranging (in theory), since the chapters are already in more-or-less the order they’re going to stay in.

Hopefully things continue to flow well throughout the rest of NaNoWriMo. And if you’re also writing a novel this month, good luck, and may the continuity be ever in your favor.

mani_promoManifestation is available on:

Createspace in paperback

and Amazon in ebook and paperback.


Religion in Fiction

There can be a lot of complications that arise when you work religion into a piece of fiction. You might risk offending people, you might get the details wrong and misrepresent a faith, or you might simply be uncomfortable addressing something that can be such a sensitive topic. There’s a few different ways to address these issues, depending on your genre and the role that religion plays in your story.

Fictionalizing the Faith

Christian FictionFictionalized religion can take on a couple of different forms. A simple example would be creating characters in your novel who are priests, nuns, churchgoers, or anyone else involved in religion in some way. Your fictional priest might be “believable” as a priest, but he’s never going to be 100% like any real-life priest, even if you are inspired by some people you know. Even your fictional “West Podunk Baptist Church” won’t be quite the same as any church in the real world. This can give you a certain amount of leeway, since if your priest has a love affair with an teenage girl, solves murders, crimes, and mysteries, or gets drunk and hangs out with bandits, people won’t necessarily think you’re saying all priests act like that.

But sometimes you need to get a little deeper into questions of faith and spirituality. Sometimes, going into those questions is the whole point. So how do you address those questions?

One strategy can be to draw references directly from the Bible. It can be easy enough to find a Bible passage that relates to whatever it is you’re writing about, even gangsters committing brutal murder (and then having a spiritual awakening and deciding to wander the Earth). Using direct biblical quotes can be an effective way to keep your writing grounded in real-life religion, while understanding that the characters and their actions are still dependent on their personal interpretation of the Bible. In other words, no one who watches Pulp Fiction would claim that the passage Jules quotes is actually meant to condone murder; they just see it as the way Jules himself acts with regard to religion. You can also take this fictionalization a step further by making up your own Bible quotes–the passage Jules quotes in the scenes linked above is actually part real quote, part fiction.

If you want to stay away from actual Bible verses, you can also speak more generally about spirituality, sin, and the religious questions surrounding them. In my novel, Manifestation, the subject of religion comes up a number of times. One example is the question of whether something you did counts as a sin, if you didn’t mean for it to happen. Then there’s the question of whether God actually punishes the wicked like He did in so many old biblical stories. And one of my favorite scenes involves the question of how to find your soul. This scene comes right after Tock asked the question “How do I feel my soul?”:

Father Donovan tapped his fingers against his lip for a moment, studying her. “All right,” he said, taking a deep breath. “When you put it that way, I think I understand what you’re getting at. Let me answer your question by asking you this . . . have you ever loved someone?”

Tock frowned, her face scrunched up as she stared at the priest. “Like, a boy?” she asked.

Father Donovan smirked, then shrugged. “A boy,” he said, “a family member. Your parents. Anyone.”

For a moment, Tock thought about Frankie Palladino. She didn’t know quite what was going on between her and that boy, though she didn’t think it was love. Not yet. Feelings, to be sure. Something more than the physical acts they’d shared. But not love. She could only think of one person she’d ever loved in her life. “My granddad,” she said, her voice a soft whisper.

“And how can you explain that feeling?” Father Donovan asked her. “How do you ‘find’ it, as you put it? How do you ‘use it when you need it’?”

Tock frowned, thinking it over. Thinking about her granddad made her chest hurt. It had been . . . seven months? Eight? Yet the loss was still so fresh. Her fingers gripped the edge of her blanket, and she wanted to wake up Minty so that he could hug her.

She didn’t notice when a tear fell from her eye. “What you’re feeling right now?” Father Donovan said, speaking in a soft, calm tone. “That comes from your soul.”

Manifestation, Chapter 30: Soul

There’s no direct biblical quotes in that passage. There’s no real connection to a certain religion (and, in fact, I never specify which church or denomination Father Donovan belongs to). But it addresses religious questions in a way that relates to the characters and their goals and desires.

But what if you want to take the fictionalization a step further? In that case, you might decide to just make up your own religion.

Fictional Religions

Image source: http://www.deviantart.com/morelikethis/artists/368479473?view_mode=2
Image source: http://www.deviantart.com/morelikethis/artists/368479473?view_mode=2

A common trope in fantasy novels is to invent whole new worlds with unique sets of gods. This is seen most commonly in Dungeons & Dragons, and in D&D-based books, like Dragonlance.

A completely fictional religion gives you a lot more freedom. You can create your Gods from scratch and decide on their personalities (Are they kind? Vengeful? Nurturing? Scholarly? Warlike?). You can develop wars between different religious groups without risking offending any real-life people who feel like their religion is being mis-portrayed. And you can develop entire histories for these religions in order to tie them in with the plot you’re developing.

Completely fictional gods are most commonly seen in stories that don’t take place on Earth, but there are exceptions. A great example is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where many episodes dealt with villains who worshiped one demonic god or another. The fifth season even had a goddess as the main villain, and there was a triad of demon-gods working behind the scenes throughout most of the spinoff series, Angel.

Then there’s alien religions seen in various Star Trek series. The most well-known is probably the Bajoran people on Deep Space Nine, who worship a group of deities known as The Prophets. To the more scientifically-minded members of the crew, The Prophets are nothing more than aliens who happen to exist in a sort of parallel dimension outside the normal flow of time. Thus, their ability to send the Bajorans messages about the future is less “religious prophecy,” more “time travel.” But the series blurs these lines a number of times during its seven-year run, especially since Captain Sisko is seen as a religious figure, known as the Emissary, because The Prophets speak to him.

There’s probably other ways to address the use of religion in fiction, but these are certainly some of the most common that I’ve seen. If you know of other examples that use a different strategy, please feel free to share them!

mani_promoManifestation is available on:

Createspace in paperback

and Amazon in ebook and paperback.


mani_promoClick here to read Chapter 1: Magic, or here to read Chapter 2: Manifestation. Here you can read the third sample chapter of my debut novel, Manifestation, an urban fantasy adventure that explores the revival of magic and mystery in a world that is unprepared for the changes arcane powers will bring. Available in paperback and ebook.


Chapter 3: Distraction



“Where are you going?”

Tock barely glanced back at Frankie Palladino as she pulled her pants back on. “I gots work ta do,” she told him. She ignored the hurt pout he gave her. She was too busy to worry about coddling some fool boy’s feelings.

“Oh,” he replied, his tone steeped with disappointment. He watched her dress, then said, “I just . . . I thought maybe you’d stay . . .”

Tock snorted as she pulled her shirt on. She scanned the floor one more time for her underwear, but she had no idea where it had been tossed to. She grabbed her backpack off the ground and slung it over her shoulder. She would have thought most boys would be grateful for a girl who didn’t want to hang around and cuddle. “More important things ta do, mate,” she told him. “It were fun though, aye? Maybe we does it again sometime.” It was still early in the morning. Tock had pulled an all-nighter, working on her engineering project until well after dawn. Around breakfast time she’d decided that a morning romp with Frankie was exactly the distraction she needed to clear her head. The engineering lab was still open, however, and now that the deed was done she intended to get right back to work.

“A-all right,” Frankie said, lying half-propped up on the bed, naked except for the sheet across his lap. The sight of him was almost enough to make her change her mind and stick around for another go. Frankie was the definition of tall, dark, and handsome, with an athletic figure that looked quite nice when he didn’t have any clothes on. She didn’t normally get all hot and bothered over jocks, but this one sure had pushed her buttons.

Tock shook off the distracting thoughts and turned to leave, but the boy leapt up in a flash, still naked, and intercepted her before she could get out the door. He pulled her into a deep kiss, which she allowed because he tasted so damn nice, but it didn’t touch her on any deeper level. As he pulled back, she caught a look in his eyes that showed her it had meant more to him than it had to her. Not my problem, she thought. They didn’t know each other that well. They were flunking the same history class together, had shared lunch in the student center a few times, and that was about it.

Frankie took one of her hands in both of his. “When can I see you again?” he asked, his voice soft and eager.

Tired of being delayed, Tock turned towards the door. “Whenever, mate,” she said. “I’s see ya ’round, aye?”

Frankie held her hand, his face scrunched up as if he were searching for some excuse to keep her around a little bit longer. Tock sighed and got ready to explain to the boy that it had just been a good time, but she was interrupted by a loud ringtone sounding from somewhere in the dorm room.

Frankie ignored the ringing and held Tock’s gaze. Her face reddened. The ringtone sounded again. “Ya gonna git that?” she asked him.

He sighed and released her hand. “Yeah,” he said. He started searching for the phone, but it was nowhere in sight.

Tock looked around while Frankie dug through the clothes on the floor searching for his phone. She spotted the jeans she’d pulled off him a short while ago and picked them up, then dug the phone out of the pocket and tossed it to Frankie. He gave her an awkward smile and swiped his thumb across the screen to answer the call.

“Mom?” he said. He paused and listened, then a frown crossed his face. “Wait, what? Gabby or Adrianna?”

Tock frowned and stepped towards the door. She didn’t know who either Gabby or Adrianna was, though she remembered Frankie mentioning he had a couple of sisters. One of them had just had a baby. Frankie had come back to the dorms late last night after the little tyke was born and bumped into Tock. He’d asked her to dinner, but she’d been too busy with her engineering project to spare him the time. As far as Tock knew, both of Frankie’s sisters had been perfectly fine when he returned to the dorms last night. “Oy, mate,” she whispered, jerking her thumb towards the door. “I’m gonna bounce, aye?”

He looked up at her, still listening to whatever his mom was telling him over the phone. His expression darkened and he broke out in a sweat. “Is she okay?” he asked.

Tock fidgeted, one hand still on the doorknob. Frankie turned away, focused on the phone call. If the boy’s got family troubles, Tock thought, I should leave ‘im to ‘em. She hesitated, chewing on her lip. She watched Frankie for some sign of whether he wanted her to go or to stay.

“Okay,” he said into the phone. “Okay. I’ll be right there.” He jabbed his thumb at the screen and ended the call. Tock waited. Frankie stood there, trembling. His eyes were unfocused and he stared into the corner.

“Everythin’ awright, mate?” Tock asked. She bit her lip and chided herself for such a dumb question, but she hadn’t known what else to say.

“I don’t know,” he said. “My sister. She’s in the hospital. I need to go.”

He stepped towards the door, then stopped and looked down at himself. He was still naked. Tock handed him his pants and he pulled them on, then grabbed a shirt off the floor.

“Well, I ‘ope she’s okay,” Tock said. She turned the doorknob, but hesitated. “You gonna be awright?”

Frankie took a deep breath and nodded. He sat down on the bed to pull on his shoes. “Yeah,” he said in a strained voice. “Yeah, I’ll be fine. I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

Tock nodded. She wasn’t sure whether to hug the boy or leave him be. “Awright then,” she said, opening the door. “Go on. Take care o’ yer sis. I’ll see ya ‘round.”

“Yeah,” he said. “Thanks.”

Tock hurried out the door and down the hall. She felt bad for leaving like that, but she had her own problems to worry about. She had an engineering project to complete and a history test she wasn’t going to bother studying for. She didn’t have time to get involved with Frankie’s family. She hadn’t even met the Palladinos, nor did she plan to. Still, as she headed to the engineering lab to get some work done, she kept wondering about Frankie’s sister and hoping she was okay.

Chapter 4: Staring

mani_promoManifestation is available on:

Createspace in paperback

and Amazon in ebook and paperback.

Exploring Characters, from Backstory to Climax

So as I’ve mentioned before, I’m deep in revisions of Manifestation. I just started Draft Four, which will be wrapped up soon since it’s mostly a quick-little-fixes draft plus a LOT of cuts. Draft Three was major line edits and restructuring, so hopefully I don’t need to do more of that. Instead I’m focusing on things like which sections of the story drag, what is/isn’t needed for the story itself, and what needs to be cut.

Something I’m learning as I go along is that I tend to “think out loud” on the page as I’m writing a first draft. This leads to a lot of crap in a draft that needs to be cut. BUT in the long run, this is actually a good thing.

Allow me to explain.

See, I’m a firm believer in the idea that you sometimes need to just sit down and write, even if you don’t know where you’re going or what you’re doing. Manifestation was like that early on. There was a point in the early chapters where I didn’t know what Tock needed to be doing. I knew where, geographically and in terms of the plot, I needed to get her. But I didn’t know how to get her there.

In order to explain this in more details (without major spoilers), I’ll use Lord of the Rings as an example.

Let’s say Tock started off in the Shire. And I knew the first leg of the journey was to get her to Rivendell for the big Fellowship Hoedown. Those are Point A and Point F. When I sit down to write any of my novels, I always know what my starting point and ending point are. I knew it for Contamination and I knew it for Collapse. What I DON’T usually know is what Points B, C, C-1, D, D-1, D-2, E, and so forth are. I don’t know how to get my characters from their peaceful starting points to the place where the big dramatic plot shift starts.

So what I tend to do is just sit down and write in the moment. I picture the character, say on the road in her beat up pickup truck (I know, she wouldn’t have a pickup truck in Middle Earth, but stay with me), and she has to get to Rivendell. And what I realize is, not only do I not know how to get her there, but she doesn’t know how to get there.

I wrote a similar post about this awhile back, with how I let the characters talk things out in order to figure out where things are going. Except in this case, at the beginning of Manifestation, Tock had to figure things out alone. This led to a lot of internal monologue and a lot of meandering as I wrote out every detail, every mile of her journey from Point A to Point F.

The end result was about 6 chapters in excess of I’d say 15,000 words before she got there. When I looked back at this I realized that it was WAY too much. A lot of it was irrelevant to the overall story. I mean, do we really NEED to know every road driven down, every ocean crossed? No. We need to get the characters to where they need to be for the story to continue.

So I ended up making a lot of cuts, and trimming about 10,000 of those words. I went through and figured out which parts of this journey were the plot-crucial ones, which ones carried important parts of the story, and kept those. The rest I cut away. The result is a leaner, meaner novel that gets down to business instead of spending a few thousand words on Tock looking up ship schedules online.

But despite all those cuts, there WERE a few special tidbits in that 10,000 words that HAD to be saved. There were certain moments of character development that were crucial, and had to be pulled out and re-worked into the plot-central portions. In some cases it would be a couple of sentences. In other cases it would be a whole paragraph. I take these tidbits and pull them from the scrap, then paste them back in at a more fitting place. This shows me that the meandering, “thinking out loud” portions of the story served a purpose. Not only did they keep me writing until I got to the good stuff, but there were a few gems buried among all of the writing. And then once I got things really rolling along, well, then it was just solid gold.

Anyway, that’s enough of that. I’ll be wrapping up Draft Four fairly soon (hopefully this week, since it’s just a minor fixes draft). Hopefully it won’t be long before you can all read it!

In the meantime, I still have a short story, Radiance, that you can download on Amazon Kindle. It gives a nice little teaser of the events you’ll be seeing in Manifestation. I think it’s a darn good story, but you don’t have to take my word for it; just check the reviews.

#NaNoWriMo Day 5


So it’s been a hectic couple of days. I had off school today for elections (I voted against Chris Christie for Governor, but he won anyway). I went to my dad’s house and we had a RISK tournament. He wont 3 out of 4 games, but the one I won was a HARD win, so it left me satisfied. Then I came home, had a mild panic attack, then dove into my writing!

I’m on a short break now; I just wrote about 2600 words, and I need to stretch. So I figured now would be a good time to share some #NaNoWriMo progress. I’m at 23,466 for the NaNo count, and 62,061 for the novel itself.

I wanted to share a Gabby and Callia excerpt today, since I shared Tock last time. However, I was really deep in finishing a certain Tock scene and wanted to finish that before switching gears. Even though the final format of the novel will alternate between the two characters, I tend to write a long stretch of one before switching to the other. That way, I stick with the scenes that I am in the zone for. I then rearranged the chapters during the first phase of revisions.

So here’s a little snippet of what I wrote today. I decided that even though this is still a Tock scene, I’d share a clip that relates to a secondary supporting character, Mae. Mae appears in several scenes in “Manifestation,” and also stars in her own short story, “Belladonna” (which will be self-published next year, just as “Radiance” was). Mae has a stronger role in “Contamination,” and she’s pretty bad ass. Check her out:

            Mae pushed to her hands and knees nearby. She panted and her arms shook with the effort of holding herself up. Her head flipped up and her eyes locked on the nearby soldier. A gold glow rimmed her eyes and her irises radiated a deep green light. She grit her teeth and pushed to her feet, clenching her fists.

            The soldier drew an extendable steel baton from his belt. He whipped his wrist out and extended the baton, then rushed at Mae. She threw her hand out and a green and gold energy tentacle shot out like a whip to wrap around the man’s leg. She yanked him off his feet and he slammed onto his back. The baton flew from his hand. He rolled off his back and onto his knees, then slammed his fist into the ground again. Another surge blasted through the already cracked and broken street, rushing at Mae. The surge was weaker this time; Tock could sense this soldier’s mana flows were just as erratic as the other’s. The mana flowed through him like a child trying to learn to ride a bike for the first time, unable to stay upright. Mae whipped her arm forward and her tendrils wrapped around the chunks of asphalt that exploded from the ground. Her mana flows were stronger and more fluid; she seemed to have as much practice with her power as Tock had, and was far more confident in what she was doing than the soldier was.

            The mana tendrils hurled the rocks at the soldier and they slammed into his chest and head. He fell back onto the ground. He moaned and rolled onto his side. Then he reached for the fallen baton, struggling to get his fingers around it.

            Mae threw a tendril at the baton to hurl it away, then she lifted up a piece of asphalt bigger than the man’s head. The tendrils raised it over the soldier . . .

And that’s all for now! I hope you all enjoy this little excerpt. And I hope everyone who’s doing #NaNoWriMo is making good progress!

#NaNoWriMo Day 3

Hi there! So, I promised I’d share some of my #NaNoWriMo progress and some excerpts from my novel, didn’t I?

Well, a promise is a promise.

First, I’ve been crazy in the zone since NaNo started. I started at midnight Thursday as soon as November was officially here, and I’ve been writing like a possessed person ever since. Most of what I’ve done so far was written while I was at work, writing on my phone in between pizza deliveries.

Here’s my NaNoWriMo progress chart so far (you can see this on the NaNoWriMo site as well):

NaNoWriMo_2013_Day_3Ayup. 18,042 words in 3 1/2 days. Don’t ask me how I did that. I have no idea. I wrote 7000 of that today, over the course of 11 hours at work, squeezing in writing time whenever I could.

My goal is around 80,000-90,000 words for NaNoWriMo, to put me at 120,000 words for “Contamination.” “Contamination” is currently sitting at 56,637 words, counting what I had written before NaNoWriMo began. The story is coming together nicely, and I’m very pleased with 90% of what I’ve written so far.

Here’s an excerpt of my recent writing. Hope you like it!

Inside the store was dark, lit only by what light shone through the storefront windows. Debris covered most of the floor: empty cans, bottles, broken glass, and scraps of old store ads. The line of registers near the entrance were all broken open, the cash long since gone. Not that Tock cared about money anymore. The rest of the store looked like it had already been looted long ago, but Tock headed inside anyway. She figured she might be able to find something still there.

As soon as she stepped past the registers, Tock saw a flash of light, then she felt a force impact her body. She was knocked back and she fell on her ass, letting out a yelp of pain. “Oy, whazza big idea!?” she shouted. She looked up and raised her hand, calling on her power to charge her palm with kinetic energy.

A girl stepped out from behind the nearby shelves. She looked familiar. She wore a black skirt and thigh-high striped stockings, and a dingy heavy metal t-shirt. Green and gold energy writhed around her hands.

The girl stepped forward and said, “This place is off lim–“

Tock cut her short with a blast of mana from her palm. The energy slammed into the girl’s chest and knocked her back with a burst of kinetic force. “Knock me down, will ya?” Tock said with a sneer. She got up and brushed glass and filth from her clothes, then charged her palm with another ball of energy. “Who do ya think you are?”

The girl pushed herself up off the ground with a groan, then turned to Tock with a glare. Without another word she flung her hand out at Tock. Green and gold energy flowed from her palm, writhing through the air like tentacles reaching for her. Tock unleashed her own mana and the blue globe shot into the mass of green and gold. Mana exploded in all directions, releasing a wave of force that knocked both girls back and tipped over the nearby shelves. A cloud of dust drifted down from the ceiling and rained over both girls.

“Mother,” Tinker called from outside.

“Not now, baby!” Tock yelled, between fits of coughing. “Mommy’s busy!” Without even getting up she fired another globe of energy at the girl. The girl looked up just in time to see it coming and flung her arm towards it. Green and gold tentacles lashed out and wrapped around the azure globe, hurling it aside. It blasted into an old display of toilet paper and blasted it to bits. Fragments of paper and plastic wrapping flew everywhere.

Tock pushed up to her knees just as the tentacles of light came for her again. She thrust her hands at them and tapped directly into their mana flow, draining it away. The tentacles flickered in the air as she sucked the power from them, then they disappeared. The girl gasped in shock, then ducked behind the fallen shelves just in time to avoid another blast of mana.

“Mother!” Tinker called out.

“Jus’ a minute, baby!” Tock said, rising to her feet. She pulled a hammer from her belt and stalked over to the girl. “Gotta teach this brat a lesson!”

“Screw you!” the girl shouted. She flung her hand and a new set of mana tentacles lashed out, scooping a pile of glass bottles from the floor. “You’re trespassing! Get out!” She threw her arm forward and the tentacles whipped around, hurling the bottles at Tock. Tock ducked and threw her arms over her head to unleash a wave of kinetic force. The glass shattered and flew in all directions, a few fragments slicing Tock’s skin.

That’s it for now! I’ll post another excerpt next time. Maybe a glimpse of Gabby and Callia. We’ll see.