Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Touch of Madness

Manette Eaton is sharing an excerpt from her sci-fi novel, A Touch of Madness about a group of politicians' heirs who uncover a plot to create the perfect weapon by experimenting on living creatures.

Manette first appeared on Glass Cases back in June with a sci-fi short story, Thief of Souls. She is a senior in college in South Dakota, preparing for a move east to Pennsylvania after she graduates.

A Touch of Madness
By Manette Eaton

After a couple hours, Gliane got out of bed and turned on the light. She still needed something to put in Ivefrid’s capsule and had no idea what to send with him. If she had been allowed back to Zup she’d have been able to come up with something.

Gliane tried to think of all the things they did together when they were kids. She wanted desperately to give him something, let him know how sorry she was. There was nothing though.

She froze. There was nothing in her room.

Gliane hurried down to the basement and boarded the Manlin. She didn’t turn it on because she didn’t want it asking if she was okay again. Anyway, they’d talk soon. She’d have to go back to Zup eventually since she was no longer welcome on District One.

She did turn on a light though and jumped into the cargo hold. There were boxes of things Gliane had collected while traveling with her father and a few things Ivefrid had sent her from Treya. Those she was keeping. There was something very specific that Gliane was looking for. She was sure that it was here. It had been a special thing from a very special day. She had gotten in the habit a while ago of keeping the things that meant the most to her on the Manlin. It would make escape easier if the opportunity ever came up.

Finally, she found it. A feather from the wild lakrin she and Ivefrid caught when they were children. Ivefrid had taken one as a souvenir too but she didn’t know what had happened to his.

Gliane put the panel back over the cargo hold and turned out the lights then went back to her room. The feather was still in great condition. Gliane had taken it out a few times over the years to check on it before finally figuring out how to preserve it properly. That day catching the lakrin had been one of the few when she and Ivefrid had worked together on something and didn’t tell on each other. They had stuck together the way siblings were supposed to.

She set the feather on her dresser. After a quick look at the clock, Gliane decided she might as well get ready. For this, she’d be able to go barefoot, but it was her brother’s funeral and she wanted to honor him in every way that she could think of. That was what they had done when her mother’s father had died. Gliane barely remembered that funeral though and Ivefrid hadn’t even been born yet. It was the only other funeral Gliane had been to and she hadn’t known the man very well either. He had been sick in his last years so Gliane was kept away.

In the closet Gliane pulled out a white vest with silver thread and trimmings. She put it on then looked for the matching skirt. There should be one in there but Gliane was having trouble finding it. Her mother had sent too many clothes the first time. It always annoyed Gliane how her mother was always thinking about every possible outcome and planning for them all.

Gliane doubted that this had been one of the outcomes she considered when packing Gliane’s things and sending them to District One.

After moving completely into the closet, Gliane finally found the skirt she was looking for. White with silver trim, just like the vest. She put it on then examined herself in the mirror. That would work. She took her hair down and brushed it out. It would stay down for this.

After checking the clock again, Gliane took the feather and left her room. She walked down the hall and stopped in front of one of the doors near the end and knocked.

It took a little while before Drelee opened the door. She looked mildly surprised to see Gliane and said, “Are you alright?”

Gliane shook her head so slightly the motion was almost imperceptible. “Will you stay with me?” She asked.

“Of course,” Drelee said. “Why don’t you come in? I’m almost done getting ready then we’ll head out together.”

Gliane went in and stood uncomfortably near the door while Drelee went to her own closet and pulled out a vest and skirt. Hers were a very dark blue but also had silver trim. But Drelee hadn’t lost a relative, she wouldn’t wear white.

When Drelee finished with her own preparations, she squeezed Gliane’s hand and asked softly, “Are you ready?”

Gliane nodded and they went back into the hall.

Gliane couldn’t remember District One ever being this quiet. Even in the middle of the night, there was always something that needed to be done. No one ever stopped working.

Except tonight. In respect to the families who would be launching their dead, everything had ceased to happen in District One.

Only the families of those who died- the Representatives and the remaining Successors- would attend the funerals. It was better that way to keep things quiet. The last thing the mourners wanted to deal with were a lot of citizens telling them how sorry they were for their losses.

Gliane almost wished she didn’t have to attend. She was so ashamed of what she had done to her brother. True, he had asked her and he had been in so much pain, but if it hadn’t been for her, he would have been left alone. Even Dr. Reptid had said so. The only reason he kidnapped Ivefrid was to manipulate Gliane and she fell right into his trap. She had tried to go against what he wanted but he was a master manipulator. All he needed was for her to be angry enough and lash out at the first guard who touched her.

Many of the attendees were already waiting outside and the rest were just arriving like Gliane and Drelee. Drelee squeezed Gliane’s hand and didn’t let go. They stood on the opposite side of Gliane’s parents.

Four egg shaped capsules lay side by side. They were all open but empty. The four bodies lay beside them in white shrouds that covered everything but their faces. All had been successfully preserved to wait for this day.

Yarid stepped forward first with his wife and lifted Jiden into one of the capsules. They lay their gifts in beside him. Gliane flinched when the door shut and locked.

Next, Mishna and her husband put Ifren into his capsule. Both were sobbing openly, their last child being sent into the sky.

Gliane gripped Drelee’s hand tighter. Another hand lightly touched her back and when Gliane looked around, she saw Miztru. He looked at her sadly then nodded at her parents who had already stepped forward.

Gliane took a deep breath and crossed the empty expanse of soft grass to where her brother’s capsule lay. Her father lifted Ivefrid’s body into the capsule. Gliane stood back while her parents left their gifts. Her mother never turned around. It was unclear if she even knew Gliane was there. Last, Gliane approached the capsule, twisting the feather nervously. She crouched next to the capsule and put it beside her brother. Her mother must have brought some things from home because some of Ivefrid’s charts and equipment lay beside him too. Gliane brushed the tears away, kissed Ivefrid’s cold forehead, and closed the capsule. The door clicked shut and a slight echo vibrated in the air as she locked it. Gliane couldn’t bring herself to turn around when she heard the sobs behind her. Somehow, Gliane got back to her place beside Drelee and Miztru who hugged her tightly.

Xide put Bera into the final capsule. Gliane listened to the last click of the lock. He stepped back into the crowd again.

Jiden’s family stepped forward again and picked up his capsule. They set it on a sturdy stand and set it to launch then stepped back again. The capsule glowed red and shot into the sky. All eyes were on it as it flew toward the stars and exploded. Sparks of red and orange splashed against the sky.

Ifren’s family went next. They clutched each other tightly as their capsule exploded. Gliane wondered where all the little sparks and pieces ended up.

When Gliane’s parents advanced again, she moved forward. Her father looked at her and waved her back. She was too shocked to do anything but obey.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Some Business

I've come to the realization that I'm one of those bloggers who no longer cares about keeping a regular schedule. My former colleague, Nathan Bransford, YA author Natalie Whipple, and editor Sarah Jae-Jones have all talked about Blog Fatigue recently, and I think I've succumbed to this disease.

It's not that I'm tired of blogging. It's that when I log in to Blogger and see how many unfinished posts are sitting in my drafts folder, I get overwhelmed. I don't have as much time as I used to to devote to blogging, and this is not a complaint so much as it is fact. I'm in awe of agents who manage to write informative, in-depth posts Every. Single. Day. It's crazy to me, and it's actually another reason why I'm feeling fatigued. There's a question of, what can I say that others haven't said already?

Here's what I've decided. I still love talking about books and giving advice on how to make your writing publishable. I still love talking about pop culture, TV, and how they usually can relate back to storytelling. So, I'm still going to write about all of those things. Just... less frequently. There's no sense in me writing something incomplete or that I don't really care about just for the sake of keeping a schedule. I like having a blog, but having a blog that doesn't say anything useful is on a level of self-indulgence I'm not comfortable with. I hope that others get something out of my blog posts, so if they cease to be relevant, whom exactly am I writing for?

Wednesdays will always be reserved for your stories, but the other days may have a post and may not. I would like to maintain at least one post a week, but I won't think of it as a set schedule for my own sanity. I hope you all understand and follow me in your Google Reader so that when I do post, you'll know about it.

And speaking of Wednesday publications...

Those are 100% going to continue as scheduled and now is as good a time as any to go over submission guidelines. I've had a recent spike in followers (hello, new friends!), and I'd love for my readers to share their work. But first, some rules:

1) Send submissions to me at & include a brief intro to the piece.
2) No children's fiction, poetry, general nonfiction (think business or technical writing), self-help, or anything non-narrative. I'm looking for creative writing with a story that can be enjoyed by anyone older than 14.
3) All genres of fiction are welcome, as well as memoir or personal essay.
4) Submissions must be 1500 words or less.
5) Please paste submissions into the body of the email. Do not send as an attachment.

New Rule:
I love when writers come back to submit more work, but I'm implementing an official rule that you cannot share more than two pieces from the same manuscript. People have attempted to trick me into publishing half their manuscript, and just... no.

Bringing me to - only submit one project at once, and please do not submit again until your work has been published.

Finally - AND I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH - any submissions sent to me will not be considered for representation. Anything resembling a query letter will be deleted unread. My blog is mine and mine alone and is not affiliated with Curtis Brown, Ltd. at all. I post work from genres I don't represent and consider this blog a completely separate entity. It is not an audition. If you choose to query me in the future, please do so through proper channels, and do your research on what I represent first.

OK, this blog post was probably just as fun to read as it was to write (which is to say, not very), but it was getting to be too necessary to ignore. Hope you all stick with me while I try to get a better grasp on my blogging schedule, and hopefully no one holds it against me if I skip a week or two.

To end on a lighter note, here is a picture of a corgi dressed as Doctor Who: