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Good day! As always, I hope you’ve had a decent week since last we chatted. I don’t know if any of you have heard, but there have been a couple huge fires raging up here, one of which was bigger than Seattle a couple days ago. We finally have a tiny bit of rain as I write this, but not enough to dampen the flames. It would be great if those of you who pray wouldn’t mind praying for the families whose homes are in danger and a little guy we’ll call Buddy. He’s got respiratory issues and is in the hospital. The smoke is not helping.

I’m coming up to an interesting scene in Queen of Bears. Not interesting in the sense that I know you’ll all be riveted. (Though, of course, I hope you will!) Interesting in the sense that it’s the first scene that ever needed me to write it in two versions. More than that, either version could be cut completely to add to the impact of a future scene. I’m sure some of you more experienced writers have had this happen before, but it’s a new one on me. At least as far as first drafts go.

So I need help. Next week I’ll post version #1, and the week after, version #2. If you don’t mind weighing in on which one you prefer, I’d appreciate it, because I don’t have a preference for one or the other.

For today, I lift my coffee mug to honor our beautiful hostess, the incomparable K.L. Schwengel, and her wonderful WIPpeteers and give you three paragraphs leading up to the aforementioned troublesome scene. Three for, uh… uh… how about the eight from today’s date minus the five for the month? 8-5=3 For the sake of brevity, I took out two transitional paragraphs that can be summed up like this: Arvid put stuff away and ate supper.

Settled in one of the Grandmother’s spare beds later that night, Arvid tossed and turned. Sleeping in a stranger’s hut felt unsafe. More than that, worries for Kiano and the problem of leaving the village with all her weapons but without anybody getting hurt plagued her thoughts. With a huff of frustration, she got out of bed and started polishing her favorite sword. It wasn’t a grand thing. It boasted no exquisite designs, no inlaid jewels, no remarkable metals. It wasn’t even perfectly balanced. Its only distinction, in fact, came from its sentimental value as the first item she ever bought with her own hard-earned money.

The blade glinted in a ray of moonlight, reflecting silver shimmers as if it longed to join the stars in the dark sky. Arvid admired it, satisfied with her work. Sighing regretfully, she replaced the sword in its scabbard. The prospect of trying again to sleep settled heavily on her shoulders, but she knew neglecting rest never helped. She laid down and shut her eyes with resolve.

A wailing howl splintered the air. Arvid shot out of bed and snatched her sword. Something sniffed at the wall of her room. The howl rang out again. Answering calls came from every direction. Claws dug at the foundation of the hut, first one pair, then another, and another. The harsh wails of the creatures rattled the bed. A claw raked through the wood, leaving long gashes. Arvid backed away from the wall with her sword held out in front of her.

So what do you think? I think that last paragraph could be a bit better, don’t you? Anybody feeling the suspense? Or should I build it up a bit more?

Sleep of Reason