Never Go That Way! (Why I’m so mean to the Mystic characters)

The above clip is one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies. Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the Bog of Eternal Stench, you’ve seen the Jim Henson/George Lucas cult classic Labyrinth, so I’m not going to give you the entire synopsis (if you haven’t seen it – GO! Get it now and watch! You will not be disappointed). But in case it’s been a while, here’s a rundown – Sarah must navigate a tricky maze filled with whacky characters in order to reach the castle and save her little brother from Jareth, the bulge-tastic Goblin King.

Are you all caught up and wondering what this video has to do with the Mystic series? Well, it has to do with most stories, and I’ll tell you how.

I’ve been a Labyrinth fan since I was too young to understand the appeal of Jareth’s bulging codpiece, and while the above scene has always struck my funny bone, it wasn’t until I watched it as an author that I comprehended the wisdom of the worm and how it relates to practically every suspenseful story ever told, including the Mystic series. To understand how, let’s break it down.

Sarah was hopeful when she entered the maze. “It’s a piece of cake,” she declared, but the first corridor goes on and on with no turns or passageways. After running jogging for what seems like forever, she gets discouraged and slumps down the slimy wall creeping with eyeball fungi.

And that’s when we hear “Ello.”

Okay, first, I gotta say – I love this worm. As child I thought he was funny and cute with his spunky, blue ponytails and tiny voice. As an author I think he delivers the best creative summation of how conflict should work that I’ve ever heard.

We’ll start with Sarah’s third question – “You don’t by any chance know the way through this labyrinth, do you?”

Oh, if only it were that easy… we wouldn’t have a story, but I digress. It’s the worm’s reply I want to focus on.

“Who me? Naw, I’m just a worm.”

Now, I know some writers plot their entire stories before jotting down paragraph one, but that’s not me. I develop a vague idea about characters, setting and conflict then start writing, so the worm’s reply strikes a chord with me. If at the beginning of Descension Layla had asked me “Do you know how I can find my family and save us all from the wrath that will soon rain down on me?”, I can see myself having answered “Who me? Naw, I’m just the author.” And like the worm, who then invites Sarah in to meet the missus, I went about distracting Layla with Quin.

But the distractions only last so long before the plot is spurred by the protagonist’s curiosity and the reader’s need for more, which brings me back to the worm’s wisdom. Following Sarah’s complaint that there aren’t any turns or openings in the maze, the worm says, “Well you ain’t looking right. It’s full of openings; it’s just you ain’t seen ’em.”

Wise words and true for every story with a resolution. The solutions are there, but the character doesn’t see them at the beginning. They are revealed slowly or saved up for an explosive end, but they are there, down a path the protagonist has yet to discover. It’s the author’s job to set the character on this path in a creative way, and though the worm would make a tremendous author, at this point, he’s the tool that reveals to Sarah there’s an opening right across from her. Sounds too easy, right? Well, we’ll get to that 😉

Sarah stubbornly argues, as protagonists often do, and the worm once again tries to distract her (this time with tea), as authors often do (coffee anyone?). But Sarah’s curiosity prevails and she insists there’s no opening. That’s when the worm delivers this bit of knowledge “Things are not always what they seem in this place, so you can’t take anything for granted.”

Isn’t that the key to so many suspenseful stories, to the twists that are so common they’re almost expected? The parallel is so recognizable, I’m almost convinced this is what the script writers were going for.

Okay, now we’re to the part that inspired the title of this post. Following the worm’s bit of advice, Sarah discovers an opening cleverly blended into the wall. Her mood lightens as hope rekindles and she heads left down the new path. And that’s when the worm convinces me he’s an author.

“Hey, hang on,” he calls, stopping Sarah in her tracks. She thanks him for being incredibly helpful, but little does she know that little worm, as cute and polite as he is, is about to ruin her day while making the viewer’s so much better.

“But don’t go that way,” he tells her. She’s confused, so he reiterates “I said, don’t go that way. Never go that way.”

He’s been helpful thus far, so Sarah takes him for his word and sets off the other way, a bounce to her hopeful steps. Once she’s out of view, that ornery worm, in true author fashion, shakes his head and says “If she’d kept on going down that way, she’d gone straight to that castle.” (We knew this seemed too easy!)

In this teeny worm, this seemingly small, side character, lies the key to many great tales. As authors, it’s our job to give protagonists a nudge in the right direction, and then crush their rekindled hope to smithereens by throwing yet another conflict in the mix. If they need to get across the ocean, we provide them with a boat, but we don’t tell them its engine will die as soon as they’re in open water. If they need a way out of a burning building, we guide them to a clear hallway, but we don’t tell them the ceiling will cave in when they’re halfway down it. We set them up for failure over and over again, and that’s a vital factor in a worthwhile story.

I love my characters. I truly do, but one might question that proclamation when reading the hell I put them through. That’s my job, though. If I’m not mean to my beautiful, kind-hearted Layla, I don’t have a worthwhile story. Is it hard to torture the characters I love? Well, let’s just say it’s no “piece of cake” to write and cry and blow your nose all at the same time. I’ve shed rivers for them, and I harbor guilt over the torture and terror I inflict on not only them, but on my readers as well. At the end of the day, though, I know it’s necessary, because if she’d kept on going down that way… there wouldn’t be an incredible story to tell.

So what do you think? Am I crazy for reading so much into this scene? Or is this a connection you’ve already made and I’m just slow to catch on? What other tidbits of wisdom did you gleam from one of the greatest movies of all time? I love hearing from you, so speak up, and don’t forget to subscribe by email at the top of the HOME page.

If you haven’t read the Mystic series and want to catch up, wait no longer. Just click on the titles below!




Teaser Tuesday (Mystic 3: Deception)

Before you say it, I know, I’ve been slacking on blogging. I have no excuse save for lame ones, so I’ll spare you the excuses and employ a teaser to win you back. Bwahahaha!

This isn’t a long teaser, but I’m working on a way to bring you even more exclusive and extra content, so bear with me as I align the stars.

Now, without further ado, here’s a teaser of DECEPTION – Book 3 in the MYSTIC series.

♥ Teaser

“I came to see if you need anything,” Finley returned. “Despite what you think, I worry about you and would like to help.”

“Well I don’t want your worry, and I get all the help I need from my family.”

“I can give you things the rest of them can’t. Will you not give me a chance to prove it?”


“You didn’t even think about it.”

“I don’t need to.”

“Come on, Layla. Stop being so cold. I’m trying to help here.”

Caitrin’s pipe disappeared as he leaned forward. “She’s told you no, Finley, and she’s clearly expressed she doesn’t want your company, so if you insist on staying out here, you need to find another place to sit.” He waved a hand toward the table, summoning an extra chair. “You’re welcome to our food and a seat, but take them away from my granddaughter.”

Finley stared at Layla for several more seconds, watching her eyes and mouth. Then he sighed and straightened. “I’ll move, but I’m staying on the lawn, so if you change your mind, I’m only a shout away.”

Layla shrugged and averted her gaze. “As long as you keep your distance, I don’t care where you are.”

He took a deep breath as he examined her profile. Then he left the circle and sat on the ground, his gaze aimed at her face.

Copyright 2013 B. C. Burgess

Thank you for reading this teaser of book 3 in the MYSTIC series, due to release in March. Don’t forget to subscribe by email at the top of the HOME page to receive future previews and teasers delivered straight to your inbox. In the meantime, get caught up on the adventure with books 1 & 2 – DESCENSION and IMPASSION. Just click on the titles!

Teaser Tuesday (Mystic 3: Deception)

Before launching this blog, I brainstormed content ideas and decided to start a Teaser Tuesday. Posting teasers is one of my favorite things to do on my Facebook page. In fact, I can’t seem to stop. I’m addicted to teasing you, so from now on, I’m going to try to find at least one teaser a week to post on here.

The one I had picked out for today (teaser #2) is really short, and since today happens to be New Year’s Day, I’m going to celebrate by giving you 2 teasers. So read on and enjoy these sneak peaks of Deception. Oh, and Happy New Year!!!!

P.S. Both Teasers have been slightly altered to stand alone.

Teaser #1

Quin kissed Layla’s forehead, and she was able to relax for the remainder of the trip, but the moment they entered Morrigan and Caitrin’s guest bedroom, she jerked to attention.

Quin jolted and tightened his hold on her. “What?”

Stunned into silence, Layla scanned the chamber, taking in every detail. Some were different, but for the most part, the room hadn’t changed in twenty-one years.

“What’s wrong?” Quin urged.

“Nothing,” she mumbled. “I just forgot.”

“Forgot what?”

“This room. It’s where my parents bonded.” She tilted her head and cocked an eyebrow. “I was conceived in this room.”

“Then it’s a very special room,” Quin noted.

“It is a special room,” she agreed, her voice muffled by a lump. “It’s where he asked her to marry him.” She held up her right hand, flashing the zultanite and diamond wedding ring. “Where he gave her this.”

“Will you be okay staying here?” Quin asked.

“Um,” she mumbled. “I think so.”

“But you’re not sure.”

“I am,” she insisted.

Quin took her word for it and carried her to the attached bathroom. “I’m going to use one of the other bathrooms and find you something to sleep in. Having your bare chest against mine is a dream come true, but I think you should sleep in clothes until the danger passes.”

“Okay,” she agreed. “May we keep our shirts off until we fall asleep?”

“I was hoping you’d ask, and yes we can.” He kissed her forehead then left the bathroom, closing the door behind him.

Layla turned to the sink and splashed water on her face, heavy-hearted, guilty, and at a loss for resolutions. Her new world was falling down around her, and if they didn’t come up with a way to stop Agro soon, all of them would die.

She sighed as she flipped off the light and opened the door, finding Quin standing nearby in a clean pair of pajama pants, his appearance ever tidy. Even the small lock of hair that always fell over his forehead looked like it belonged there, the tip of its wave parallel to the slanted end of his eyebrow. Once in a while he pushed it back, but it always returned.

“You move with super hero speed,” she noted, sliding the straps of her dress off her shoulders. “I’ll never be able to keep up with you.”

“I’d never leave you behind,” he vowed, watching her gown fall to the floor.

She tucked her fingers into his waistband and pulled him to the bed. Then she crawled to the pillows and lay on her back. “I believe you.”

After helping himself to a long look at her body, Quin moved to the spot beside her and propped his head on his hand. He reached for one of her curls as he spoke – something about healing her – but she didn’t comprehend. The image of him lying like that, in that room, was all too familiar. Only her memory wasn’t of a man with shiny dark eyes, but of a man with bright emerald eyes.

Tears blurred her vision as she reflected on her existence. Her parents’ love and sacrifice, the coven’s endangerment… her life – it had started much like this, moments after her dad lay in that room, just as Quin was lying, and looked at her mom, just as Quin was looking at her.

A lump consumed her throat as Quin’s dark eyebrows pinched together. “Layla?”

“You have to move,” she blurted, squeezing her eyes shut. “We have to do something different, lie a different way or… something.”

“Oh,” he exclaimed.

Layla felt his weight leave the mattress and opened one eye, finding him standing beside the bed. “I’m sorry,” she offered, already missing his warmth. “But I can’t handle the similarities. It’s weird and too much to take in.”

“I get it. You don’t have to explain.”

“Thank you.”

“Should we change rooms?”

“Can we make it look different? Maybe if we move the bed and I face the wall. There are enough pillows to hide the headboard.”

Quin scanned the room then smiled. “Close your eyes.”

“Okay,” she agreed, grinning as she obeyed.

Several minutes passed before he crawled into bed, but she patiently waited, beyond thankful for all the ways he took care of her. His body heat crept over her right side as he scooted close. Then he laid his fingers over her heart and kissed her lips.

“That was tasty,” she whispered, licking her grin.

He kissed her again then leaned back. “Open your eyes.”

She did, and her lungs yanked in air as she glanced between him and his creation. “Oh my god, Quin. It’s beautiful.”

Teaser #2

The enchanted guestroom was even more beautiful than Layla remembered, so she rushed her bathroom routine, anxious to return. Quin was already lying down in nothing but pajama pants, so Layla stripped to her panties and climbed in beside him.

“That was sexy,” he praised, pulling her closer.

She crossed her arms on his chest and propped her chin on them. “You’re sexy.”

He laughed as he brushed her hair back and took her cheeks. “I bet that’s the first time those words have ever left your mouth.”

“Did it sound stupid?” she asked, wrinkling her nose.

“No,” he assured. “It sounded like beautiful music.”

He drifted a finger down her spine, and she shivered while watching his eyes. Their dark depths were very expressive, sometimes conveying more than his mouth, but they didn’t tell her everything she wanted to know.

“There’s something I want to ask you,” she said, taking an unexpected plunge.

“Shoot,” he offered.

Now that she’d jumped, she feared delving deeper, so it took her several nervous seconds to go on. “Why haven’t you told me about your dreams?”

Copyright 2012 B. C. Burgess
Thank you for reading teasers of book 3 in the Mystic series, due to release in February 2013. Don’t forget to subscribe by email at the top of the home page to receive future previews and teasers delivered straight to your inbox. In the meantime, get caught up on the adventure with books 1 & 2 – Descension and Impassion! Just click on the titles below 🙂

FUN Friday!

This blog is new, which means I need to post often to establish it, but I’m finding that difficult to do during the holiday season. Perhaps starting a blog five days before Christmas wasn’t the wisest idea I’ve ever had, but I had to take the dive I’d been avoiding all year.

I’m going to be busy celebrating tonight and tomorrow and don’t have time to write a great post for the weekend, so I leave you with a couple of songs and a cute cat video to kick off your Friday. I hope you have a safe and happy weekend, and I’ll see you again as we embark on the new year.

And because everyone needs to giggle sometimes, especially on a Friday!

What are your plans for the weekend? Share with me! And don’t forget to go to the Home page at the top of this blog to subscribe by email.