Thursday, February 27, 2020

When writing prompts go terribly wrong

**Write a scene using the last show you watched and the last video game you played**

The soft grass outside the white tent was a lush, vivid green. Scattered around the park were wildflowers and the occasional wild rabbit. An orchestra plays something cheery, you can only describe it as sounding British.

The camera sets on two women, opposite in appearance, but equally non-descript women. Despite the fact that they've already introduced themselves, you can't remember their names. One has short dark hair and thick black-rimmed glasses, the other is blonde.

"Hullo everyone, and welcome to the Great British Bakeoff!" The blonde woman greets with her hands clasped before her.

"This week we are joined by four special guests from the Continent!" The dark hair woman picks up seamlessly from where her co-host leaves off.

"Our contestants will be baking three distinct recipes," The blonde says.

"A signature challenge, a technical challenge, and the showstopper challenge," the brunette adds.

The camera focus goes from outside the tent to inside where four kitchen stations are set up. Standing at their stations is a white-haired man with a scar on his brow standing with his arms crossed. A pink-frilled apron is tied over his leather and chainmail. His eyes shift around his station as if he is trying to divine the purpose of the stand mixer.

Across from the white-haired man is a stunning woman dressed in a black gown. She has raven hair and you have a strong suspicion that she smells of lilac and berries. The woman keeps looking at the white-haired man and back at the oven.

In front of the woman in black is an overly-dressed man who seems far too confidant for his own good. He struts around the way a rooster would but his confidence is probably unwarranted. 

In front of the white-haired man is an ashen-haired woman who is also dressed in leather and chainmail. There are people who could only be the show's producers attempting to coax the woman's giant sword off her back, but she refuses.

The hosts are joined by Merry Berry and Paul Hollywood at the front of the tent. "Good morning bakers!" The blonde greets. She and her cohost rail off the rules and describe the tasks for the bakers.

"This first challenge is a signature challenge. Give us your best tea time cake!"

"On your mark," The brunette says.

"Get set."

They both shout in unison, "Bake!"

The contestants are on the move. Each begins measuring and mixing, poking buttons and setting to work on their tea time cakes. The music goes from cheery British orchestra to a more exotic tune played by mandolins. "That's more like it," the raven-haired beauty mutters.

The white-haired man becomes the focal point as the hosts narrate, "Geralt is a witcher from Kaer Morhen. When he's not dismembering monsters or looting from abandoned houses, he bakes for his fellow witchers and his daughter of surprise, Ciri. Today Geralt is making cheddar and sage scones."

You hear a producer whisper, "Say something." 
To which Geralt replies with a grunt while sifting his flour.

"Dandelion is a proud owner of the Rosemary and Thyme where he is always crafting new delights for his customers."

The camera cuts to a low-lit medieval tavern where Dandelion can be seen coaxing a scantly clad woman into taking a scone from between his fingers with her lips. A man with no teeth stares at a wall vacantly while he drinks his beer and ignores the scone placed beside him.

Vomit goes spewing, to which Dandelion dodges, preserving the platter of cakes. A rather robust patron stands and punches the vomiter, teeth and spittle go flying. Dandelion tries to defuse the situation by offering the brawlers his cakes as the camera cuts out.

"Dandelion will be making his pistachio and orange Madalines."

Dandelion winks at the camera as he deftly tosses a single pistachio into his mouth in the most suggestive manner. The notes of the mandolin's song are held for a painfully long time before bursting with satisfaction just as the nut skims Dandelion's lips.

"Oh, um, anywho, Cirilla, otherwise known as Ciri is Geralt's Daughter of surprise." 

The scene cuts to Ciri who is shaking a bag of almonds muttering to herself as she searches for a tray. "The heir to the Nilfgard empire has a zesty personality, and will be making a Morello Cherry and almond traybake."

The camera is seemingly pulled into the direction of the raven-haired woman as she motions for the cameraman to come closer with her index finger. Her coy smile causes the camera to shake as the cameraman's knees buckle. Geralt lets out a snort.

"Yennifer of Vengerberg is a sorceress who spent her off time baking for her fellow sorceresses at The Lodge. She will be making a Moroccan orange and Cardamon cake."

Dandelion is casually whistling a tune as he pops his Madalines in the oven. He turns around, undoubtedly proud of himself and watches his friends still at work. "How are you holding up, Geralt?" He calls.

Geralt is looking into his bowl as if he expected something else to be there. "Could be worse, I guess."

"Don't distract him," Yennifer's husky voice reprimands as the ingredients in her bowl swirl on its own. "He's trying very hard."

Ciri's mutters are frantic, but she finally figures out how to turn on the mixer. Her arms go shooting in the air as she cheers. Flour goes spraying everywhere, creating a chalky mist as Ciri lurches at the mixer to slow the device's speed. Geralt observes the whole scene and reaches over to flip the switch on his own mixer, but nothing happens. He gives little indication that he is disappointed, but he looks at Yennifer who laughs at him.

Dandelion motions to a little box on the side and Geralt stares blankly until Dandelion starts whispering, "The outlet."

"The what?"

The blonde cohost steps into frame beside Dandelion, "You can help him."

"Thank god, someone needs to!" He says before rushing to Geralt's aid. Dandelion picks up the cord attached to the mixer and plugs it into the outlet. "What would you do without me?"

Geralt's smile is sarcastic at best, "Not here, that's for sure."

"Bakers, you have fifteen minutes!" The brunette host shouts.

"Fuck," Geralt says.

Yennifer looks put-off as well. She grits her teeth before pouring her batter into a tin and begins manipulating chaos with her hands. The cake cooks before their very eyes. Ciri is ramping up the temperature on her oven in hopes that it will cook faster while Dandelion takes a peek at his bake. "Nearly finished," he tells the camera. "I don't think people realize how hard this really is. It takes a lot of grit to do one of these competitions."

Ciri is leaning against the oven facing Geralt while chewing a fingernail. Geralt gives her a shrug as he stands by his oven. "I hope the oven is on," he says.

"Is it warm?" She asks.

Geralt opens the oven and closes it again, "Feels warm, might even be edible."

"Bakers, five minutes!"

Dandelion's tray has already cooled, he is just applying some icing and finishing touches. Sweat beads his brow as he strains to hurry. Yennifer's cake is finished. She scrutinizes it from every angle looking for signs of weakness in the baked good.

Ciri removes her tray and flips it out of the pan and is fanning it with the tray itself. "I can't ice it until it cools down," she explains.

"Bakers! Time's up, step away from your bakes!"

First up is Geralt with his cheddar sage scones. He walks slowly before the judges, his armor clunks with each step as he places the plate before Merry Berry and Paul Hollywood. The judges' eyes don't fall upon the scones until the witcher is a safe distance away.

"Well, they look like scones," Merry starts as she breaks one apart. Paul is the first to take a bite before giving a nod. "Not bad at all actually."

Merry nibbles on a morsel, "Quite traditional flavors, but a lot of thought went into these."

"Up next is Ciri," the hosts narrate over a plate of cakes with runny icing and almonds clumped precariously on the cakes. 

Paul leans down to inspect the cakes, "It's a bit of a mess, isn't it?"

They all chuckle as Merry takes a bite, "I can't find any cherry."

Ciri's eyes go wide as she skims the table where a jar of cherries that remain unopened. "No," Paul agrees. "No cherries, it's just an almond traybake."

The judges' approach Dandelion's table to find a plate of beautiful Madaline's. He leans against the table and smiles.

"They look amazing," Paul says. 

"Very smart."

Paul takes a bite and says nothing, but Merry nods as she swallows a morsel, "Delightful, everything a good tea time cake should be."

Paul extends his hand and Dandelion shakes it. 

"Lastly, we have Yennifer's Moroccan orange and Cardamon cake," a host says.

Before them is a round cake with perfectly caramelized oranges embedded in the top that form flowers. "I've never seen anything like it," Merry admits.

"Not sure if it's fair, really," Paul says. "You have a distinct advantage with your sorcery."

Yennifer puts her hands on her hips, "What else would I use?"

"The oven," Paul says.

"How barbaric," she sniffs. "It wasn't in the rules."

"Didn't need to be, it's a baking competition," Dandelion reminds.

"And that is exactly what I did," Yennifer says as she gestures to her cake.

Ciri only shakes her head laughing, knowing full well where this will end up. She raises a brow at Geralt, but he shrugs, "I'm only here because I need a goat."

Everyone stops arguing to look at Geralt who uncrosses his arms and explains, "The pellar can't cast a spell without his goat, the goat is being held hostage by some guy outside the tent who won't give it to me until I say something on tv."

Yennifer looks in amazement. "Of all the reasons, that is why we came all this way?"

Geralt looks at the camera and says "Valerie, Bill loves you and is very sorry, please go back to him. I need that fucking goat."

"Well, then," Dandelion begins to quip.

"Shut up."

"Let's go get your goat, Geralt."

A Soul Fractured - A Soul Series

I'm not going to George R.R Martin anyone (yet), without any further due, I can assure fans of A Soul Reclaimed that the second book is in the publisher's hands.

What can I tell you about it? 

It's named A Soul Fractured

It picks up six months after where we left off with Nora.

She thought her problems would be over once she became queen, but is it ever that easy?

Aegis has his memories back, but it only serves to remind him of just how little he understands when it comes to Nora.

When is it coming out?

Next year-ish? I don't have a lot of say in that matter.

Other random details about the writing process.

Nora's story has been plotted out since 2016. I am a bit nervous to see people's impressions with the direction I went, but early readers were very supportive. I don't know everyone will like what happens next, but that's the risk you take as a writer.

The third installment is in early development, it is tentatively titled A Soul Aligned. That one will focus more on Hell itself and the space it occupies within the universe. At the moment I don't have a fourth story yet...they tend to pop up just when I think I'm done.

...And to think I came here to write a Witcher + Great British Backoff one-shot fanfiction.