BLOOM: Blog Novel Chapter 6

Last year I had a blast participating in the ever-talented and fun-loving Michelle Simkins’ traveling blog novel, SKELETON KEY. This year, Michelle has put together another lineup of writers to help her pen BLOOM. You may recognize some names from last year’s blogvel and others from SPRING FEVERS, the anthology.

Today, it’s my honor to add Chapter 6 to BLOOM, a fantasy-ish story. If you haven’t kept up from the beginning, you may want to consider it now. Just click on the first chapter and blog hop your way back here. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that last week ended with a Report from a Fugitive, while Kay Elam Writes chapter 7 next Monday. I hope you discover a new writer or two whose words you can’t live without.


Of course the hedges were changing. Gold, he could deal with. Green? Living, breathing green? And they thought he was the evil one.

“Wanda, go to the meat market on First Street. Hijack a cold suit and hang out in the freezer. I’ll get you when this is over.”

“No way. I hate to be cold.”

“So do plants. Henceforth the suit.”

Whether Wanda said more or not, he would never know. A tendril of ivy trailed across the chapel floor and yanked his phone from his hand. Or was it a Hooligan vine? Damn his childhood penchant for The Great Green Turkey Creek Monster.

He rubbed his temples and tried to remember what had stopped the Turkey Creek vine in his favorite picture book. Music. Like the mice in that play. But louder. A trombone.

Maybe his trombone would work to tame the plant things staring him down. If only he played the trombone. Or any instrument for that matter. Instead, he’d asked for science kits for his birthdays. Kits he mixed and matched and created with in the meadow where Mom couldn’t see.

It took a long time to grow an evil genius.

“What do you want?” Jamie surprised himself with the strength of his voice. No quivering to match the roiling in his guts. At least he had that part of super villain down.

But they didn’t answer. Plants never do. Unless…

Jamie placed his hand on his sister’s back. Gold she may be, yet she still breathed. She should be safe until he returned. If he returned. He waved to the plant creatures. “Follow me.”

They did. A little too closely. The mom-thing dropped a branch across his shoulders. To keep him from running? Likely. A leaf–supple and sensual–caressed his neck.

Bile rose in his throat. “Knock it off, Mom.”

The tree-things shook. Leaves tinkled to the ground. They were laughing. At him. “So, you’re not Mom?”

More rustling. The branch arm snaked around his waist. Holy crap. He’d attracted a plant. Wanda he could deal with. A tree crush? No way.

It was a long walk back to the clearing where Jessica first found the flowers. Made longer under the weight of his new tree-girl’s arm. The softly stroking leaves against his body.

He didn’t think she’d contaminate him. Rather, didn’t think she could. Evil or not, he was–on some level–responsible for the rapid growth of the living gold spreading throughout the local plants. And, as the scientist who created the plants, he was afforded a certain amount of safety.

As long as he didn’t tick them off. Testing his hold on her, he brushed a finger across a leaf. It turned bright red before settling into a pinkish green. Perfect.

Now to get her to talk.

They passed through the clearing to the little creek gurgling in the background. In their younger days, Jessica and he had called it the Pactolus in honor of the King Midas myth. They would spend hours “panning” for gold along the muddy banks.

His first real scientific success had been squeezing one tiny nugget of gold out of his chemicals for his sister to find. Did she still sleep with it under her pillow each night or had she tossed it away like she had him when he went to college?

He shook his head. Didn’t matter now. He had a new girl-tree to talk to and her hulking bodyguard to manipulate.

On the banks of the Pactolus, the reeds whispered in the wind. Jamie scratched at a stem. A layer of green slime collected under his manicured fingernail. The real deal. No gold to lie to him.

His second success. The truth reeds. He’d made it impossible for Jessica to get away with telling a fib. He also learned the trick to getting plants to talk. The spot where the wind blew just right and rubbed the leaves the wrong way. They couldn’t resist.

He sat. His tree-girl followed with a graceful whump to the ground. A small landslide ensued, muddying the water. The truth reeds groaned into the breeze. They had a bit of OCD if he remembered correctly.

“What’s your name…er, genus?”

Abutilon theophrasti Medik.” Her words swirled around him on a puff of wind.

Keep her talking. He turned on the charm. Lounged back with his feet crossed at the ankles. Let his knee gently nudge hers. A white flower bloomed under his touch and the tree-girl quivered. Her leaves tinkling. “Sounds sweet, but I’ve never been good with foreign languages.”

She trailed a leaf across his cheek and grinned. Can trees grin? “You can call me Velvet.”

The truth weeds rustled in disagreement.

Velvetleaf. The plant that engulfed Gran’s vegetable garden each year. He pushed Velvet’s branches away. “You’re a tree not a weed. Try again.”

Velvet stiffened indignantly. “I’m a weed.”

The reeds bowed to her truth. Which made sense. Invasive. Murdering. Weedy. Sucking the life from the countryside around it. Again he cursed his love for the Turkey Creek plant monster.

The bodyguard shifted heavily behind him. It’s leg-branch pushed on Jamie’s spine. Unlike Velvet’s more supple bulk, the bodyguard had leaves of steel. Impenetrable. Like the bleeding heart he manipulated for Gran so the dog wouldn’t break the fragile stalks.

What had he done with it–scratch that–to it? Crossed it with teflon. Created a bullet-proof plant.

Jamie groaned. What other childhood fancies would get in his way?

Beside him, Velvet shook gently. As if to pull him from his funk. Her leaves blossomed red, then pink and back to green. Flirting. “I know.”

Holy crap! She could read his mind.


Please tune in to Kay Elam’s blog next week for the next chapter!

Readers, what do you think about blog novels? Does the week speed by because you have something to look forward to, or does the anticipation of a new chapter make it drag on forever?

Writers, how do you incorporate someone else’s voice, plot twists, characters and genre into your own style while maintaining the integrity of the story?

Curious minds want to know!

BloomTable of Contents

Click on the Chapter Number to be taken directly to the chapter you want!


7 responses to “BLOOM: Blog Novel Chapter 6

  1. Fantastic as always my dear! Thanks for participating!

  2. Thoughts on BLOGVEL. Everything and nothing is set up in chapter one. I looked for big details, small details, and lack of detail.

    As the story unfolds, detail seeps in. Minor characters may become major, or might never appear again. Friends. Colleagues. Relatives. Also, beware assumed characters not mentioned – the guy across the street. There’s a street? And a curtain-twitcher, you say?

    Provided J. Lea Lopez didn’t introduce him first, I’d write about the brother. In the closing line of chapter four, we glimpsed the mother. So I was free to work my devilish ways.

    What was the story about? Horror? Mad science? Alien invasion? All three? None of the above? My main concern was evil. Not depicting evil in the story. No. My own act of evil – breaking the chain of first person narration.

    I did this with the integrity of the story at heart. It was essential that I explain the reason for that earlier narration – a diary – while leaving other authors the option to return there with further diary thoughts later.

    Third person narration provided the opporchancity to get into the mad scientist’s thoughts. The challenges are the same for everyone. Write your section to a deadline. Make sure it works on its own terms and in general terms. Add a little or add a lot. Maintain atmosphere, no matter how much you add.

    I backtracked in time to show that Jess was running from Wanda. Wanda didn’t exist until I decided the story needed a Wanda. If the brother came in, he required a conversation partner. A woman who might be cruelly sacrificed once my chapter was over. That’s the game we play, writing serially.

    Michelle may have yearned for a plant-based alien invasion in chapter one. Hard to say. I left it vague. She has to wrap it up, after all. I painted my section of the floor. Later authors have less blank space, forcing a degree of creativity that generates just as fiendish a challenge as the challenge faced by earlier contributors. We kickstart the engine. You avoid driving into the wall.

    Was there a surprise in Cat’s chapter? The addition of hyperlinks, which I didn’t expect. Those of you looking for a bit of romance may have been thwarted by the addition of a flirting tree. That made me think of Wanda bursting in from nowhere, with a flamethrower. Sigourney Weaver. Get away from my man, you bitch! Ah well, perhaps not.

    Everyone is hanging in there, and no one has introduced a dinosaur – yet. It isn’t all a dream. Cat continued with a throwaway concept of mine – contamination. All those later contributors are squeezing ideas out of their brains, hoping the whole thing makes sense on the day. Be yourselves. If you struggle, struggle because you are having trouble keeping it down to 2,500 words. My initial effort was bang-on. But I had to edit for consistency, and added roughly 100 words. Oops. Michelle didn’t sack me for that. 😉



    Author of Neon Gods Brought Down by Swords.

    All for Amazon Kindle.

    • What a breakdown!

      You certainly hit on something for me. Last year, I wrote a much later chapter and it was very different than writing an earlier one. By the end, the scope of the story is more narrow because the path has been set. Yet, every chapter written also leaves hanging threads–little ideas, a tiny action taken or pieces of dialogue–that beg to be expounded on, while early chapters are almost like islands connected by a thread. The main idea, the initial character building…everything is much more open and bigger.

      I love the challenge of taking what came before and trying to mold my writing to it. I don’t often write sci-fi or fantasy, so participating in these blogvels is super fun to tap into a part of my brain I seldom recognize I have. Maintaining character voice is another challenge I love. It’s almost like dressing up for Halloween.

      When I blogvel, I read the first chapter when it comes out and that’s it until it’s my turn to write. Then I start at the beginning and work my way through the story as a first time reader would. For me, things change so often with the little plot twists and character development that I would get ideas in my head each week that would become impossible to write about when it was my turn. So, instead of getting infinitely entangled in impossible scenarios, I take in the blogvel as a whole and work from there.

      Going forward now, I can read each new installment each new Monday! Yay.

      So, thanks to all the wonderful scribes who came before me and gave me some fun elements to work with.

      PS~ the link to the picture book…my sister and I spent hours with that book as kids, so I couldn’t resist sharing it.

  3. Pingback: BLOOM: CHAPTER EIGHT « Kacey Vanderkarr

  4. Truth reeds and teflon bleeding hearts – lovely, Cat. Great job!

    • Thanks, Jennifer. It’s funny how the mind works when you feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Sometimes, though, it can be scary!


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