I thought I'd do something a little different in this post. This is an invitation to share something about one of your characters. Maybe it's backstory or something about their likes/dislikes or why they have a particular habit. It can be just a line or two or a longer scene, if you'd like.
I've been working on the new book and thought I knew my heroine's motivation. I was wrong. I assumed she'd started her journey because of a desire for revenge, but every time I tried to use that, it was like trying to stuff a big square peg into a tiny round hole—it just didn't fit. Finally, out of exasperation, I asked her why she left the relative safety of her home to venture out into the dangers of the outside world. This is what she told me:
Hope’s Gran died the morning of the summer solstice. They cremated her that night on a bier set atop the celebration bonfire built by Hemming, the local hedge-witch. Hemming might not be much good at magic, being a better herb-healer than witch, but he had enough Power to turn the flames incandescent. The pyre burned white-hot and sparks shot twenty feet in the air, making everyone step back several paces to avoid being scorched. Hope thought Gran would have enjoyed the show.
The following day she buried all but two handfuls of Gran's ashes in the shade of the Crooked Oak on the rise across from the farmhouse. Gran had loved that tree, and not just because that's where Grandpa Jerry was buried. She'd drag her rocker from the porch to sit beneath its branches of a summer eve and watch the sun slip behind Whistler Peak. She'd rock back and forth and say there was no place on earth she'd rather be. The cynical might claim that's because there wasn't much left of the world beyond their tiny valley tucked away in the Siskiyous, hidden from the worst of the Sundering. Hope preferred to believe Gran meant exactly what she said, Sundering or no.
Early the next morning Hope packed water and a lunch and half of Gran's remaining ashes and set out to hike Whistler Peak. Her goal was the Outlook, a rocky outcrop a little over half-way up the mountain. The temperature rose steadily as the sun climbed the sky, leaving the brief coolness of the morning behind like a forgotten memory. Bees and other winged insects hummed around her as they zoomed through the trees searching for wildflowers, and small birds chirped and twittered overhead. Each step of her leather boots on the trail stirred puffs of dust which hung motionless in the heat before sinking back to earth. Sweat soaked the neck of her tank shirt, a sticky trickle working its way down between her shoulder blades. Hope ignored the heat and discomfort with the ease of long practice and kept walking.
She'd lived in Mystic Valley all her life, as had five generations of Devlins before her, and she was as familiar with the mountain trails as she was with her own nose. As her climb grew steeper the dirt path gave way to rock, Valley Oaks yielded to Black Oaks and they to Douglas-fir, and the earthy fragrance of pine and mountain loam scented the air. Hope stopped for a moment at a turn in the trail and looked back over the Valley. She could make out the farmhouse and the Crooked Oak, but she wasn't high enough for what she'd come to do.
She reached the Outlook an hour or so past noon and sat on a flat rock in the shade to eat her lunch. Two Red-tails circled high, gliding on the air currents, hunting for prey hiding in the alfalfa and wheat fields. On the eastern edge of the Valley, Jacob Root's cattle rested in the shade of the oaks, out of the blistering heat of the mid-day sun. Hope brushed the last crumbs of her sandwich onto the ground, a treat for the squirrels and chipmunks, and cradled the small container of Gran's ashes in her hands. It was time.
"I could wish you'd kept your secret and never told either one of us, but I guess that doesn't matter now. I’ll find Kellan and bring him home. I promise."
She stood at the edge of the Outlook and opened the container. "I followed your wishes. You're resting beside Grandpa, just where you wanted to be, but I know you loved the Valley, too. Watch over us, Gran." As she swung the container in a wide arc an unexpected breeze stirred the air and carried the ashes away, out over the Valley. Tears stung eyes she'd thought already cried out and she turned away to start the long trek south in search of her brother.
So, that's Hope's reason for leaving Mystic Valley (well, most of it, anyway). Now it's your turn to bring out your characters. I can't wait to meet them!