Thank you Allan for extending the invitation and visiting our writing group earlier this year. It is an honour to be a guest on the South Branch Scribbler.
I am Steve C. Eston and I live in Fredericton with my wife Leigh and our son. I write speculative fiction, mainly fantasy and science-fiction. I have been writing sporadically since childhood and more seriously in the past five to six years. I invite you to visit me at www.sceston.ca and check out some of my free short stories available for download while you are there. I am always interested to hear from readers, so don’t be shy about reaching out and letting me know what you think of any of my stories.
Until earlier this year, I had been writing in a lone bubble, most often late in the evening or in the middle of the night. When I started writing more seriously six or seven years ago, I already knew about the fight between sleep and writing that many authors find themselves facing. After all, it is mentioned in most books on writing.
I tried to schedule my writing sessions during daylight, but that did not quite work and I reverted to late nights and early mornings. There is satisfaction in accomplishing something during these hours that are mostly allocated to rest and recuperation. I also find that the darkness helps with getting into the story; the darkness and well selected music. Many of my stories, short and long, came from writing at these times.
Writing is a lonely endeavour and even though I had a routine that worked, I felt that something was missing. Leigh had been telling me for a while that I needed to get out there and meet other authors. This is what I set out to do in 2017.
So, in early summer, I joined a writing group. Although I had
participated to a few workshops before, this was quite different. Here was a group of generous and passionate people, authors, who met regularly to talk about writing. More importantly, here was a group of people who were willing and interested to listen to other people talk about their writing; every week! Authors can ramble on and on when talking about their craft and the challenges they are facing. Since working on a story can take quite a while, days to months to years, being on the listening side can become quite tedious and probably torturous in some cases; which may explain why my wife suggested I get out in the first place…
My writing group has been extremely welcoming and joining is one of the best decisions I made as an author. It opened my world and connected me with a group of people I am proud to call friends. For an author, having such support is invaluable.
To starting authors out there: do not wait like I did.
Reach out right away, join a group and go to events. The Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick - www.wfnb.ca - has been very helpful in finding a writing group and is a limitless source of useful information. I recommend joining and you never know; it may lead to a writing group who has a special guest resulting in an invitation to post on the South Branch Scribbler!
For this post, I thought I’d provide a short excerpt of my published fantasy novella The Burden of the Protector. It is a story about friendship and loyalties, told in a journal-like style by a man reflecting on his life and wondering if it is too late to make amends. The passage provided here shows the main character discovering a strange object that would complicate his life in more ways than one. This is also the passage I read at WordFeast 2017in Fredericton. I hope you enjoy it.
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Excerpt from The Burden of the Protector, by S.C.Eston
(Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)
The thing was immutable.
It stood exactly where I had left it. A cold rain had fallen the night before, but the curio itself was completely dry. No rivulet of moisture on it. Even the concave cavity, which should have retained some of the water, was bare.
My denial was now turning to a detached acceptance. I felt powerless, a tiny living being whose understanding of the world didn’t matter. The universe would do as it pleased.
With little worry for my well-being, I walked forward until I was a few feet from the object. It showed no symbol or engraving. The surface was perfectly plain.
From this close, the thing’s purpose became more apparent. Its orientation provided another clue. I took a few steps until I was behind it and looked forward. To my amazement, the leaves and branches of the trees opened into a tunnel. I was too short to be able to see all the way through…
Too short? Indeed, I now suspected that the object was some kind of seat and that it had been designed for creatures at least twice my height.
I should have turned around then and fled. But it was too late. By hiding the discovery, by returning a second time, I was now committed. After hearing so many stories from Vìr, here I was having my own adventure.
Without thinking, I scrambled up and sat on the cube. As I
realized where I was, I started to shake. My bow slipped out of my hand and went to rest in the dead leaves on the ground. Beads of sweat formed on the back of my neck and on my forehead. Slowly, I grabbed the edges on both sides of me, trying to stabilize myself. The surface was surprisingly warm to the touch. I had expected a metallic cold.
As I started to control my breathing again, an eerie sensation enveloped me. My body became numb. My mind, though, was fully alert. I became dizzy, but it was comforting in some bizarre way. The world around me seemed to blur and move away. Everything became distant. That was when I thought to look forward…
And there, in between leaves and branches, over the vast void of Yurita, a path opened, an imaginary tunnel of sorts. Delimited and yet going in all directions at once. Abruptly, the mountains of Ul Darak pretended to be close enough to be touched. The clarity of the visions, the range of what I was seeing… the trees so close, the leaves, one falling slowly now, detaching itself from a branch… and at the same instant, the mountains, so far, yet here, and out of the corner of my eye, a pride of mountain lions, climbing, then a deep lake, waterfalls on my right, and there, dark, an opening…
What I was experiencing was beyond belief, absurd, and way too much for my limited senses. After those few and brief spectacular sights, consciousness started to slip away from me. Then nothingness caught me and dragged me down.
I awakened some time later, disoriented and lying on the ground, face pushed against the damp dirt. Moving my head, I found my bow a little to the right. I grabbed it instantly and noticed as I did that I was a few feet away from the cube. Either I had gotten up, taken a few steps, and fallen, or someone had moved me. I couldn’t say. Both ideas were disturbing.
The sun was low, partly hidden behind the mountains. Hours had evaporated. I had no recollection of the images I had seen or been shown. Those visions would return later.
As I stood, my mind was surprisingly blank. Paralysed… and yet, deep inside, a terror grew. I felt as if I had transgressed. I looked and there was no one around. But I felt spied upon. The sensation was upsetting.
I assumed I had seen something forbidden, done something unacceptable. Whoever had put the object here hadn’t meant it to be used by others, not by any of the knights, certainly not by me.
I started running. I ran as I had never run before, choosing a direction at random. Any direction was good as long as it was away from that accursed glade. As was bound to happen, I came across the path and had wit enough to turn toward the bridge. Even though I didn’t think it was possible, I ran faster. I didn’t look back and concentrated on the ground in front of me. A presence was following me. It was huge and all-encompassing. It was judging me, warning me never to return. There was no voice, but I could hear the warning, the accusation. It was inside my head, inside my bones.
On several occasions, I fell, scratched and damaged my knees; my elbows, both bleeding. Got back on my feet and ran. I dropped my bow. Didn’t stop to pick it up.
Thank you Steve for being our guest this week. We wish you continued success with your writing.
And to you the reader, thanks for stopping by. We'd love to hear from you so why don't you leave a comment below.
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