First and foremost I’m a fantasy junkie. I love the worlds and the characters and the magic that comes with them. I love fairy tales and legends and myths, and there’s nothing better than reading through religious texts of all kinds. However, my love of fantasy wasn’t indulged beyond classics and Dorrie the Witch until I was a young teenager.
When I was younger, Sherlock Holmes was my hero. I read every story Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about him, and I had this awesome game called Consulting Detective that had maps and clues and all kinds of things. It wasn’t a board game; it was more role playing. There was a “case” that needed to be solved, and the players had to move through London to figure out the answers. I still have it around here somewhere.
But Sherlock Holmes wasn’t the only one.
My aunt had the entire Nancy Drew series. She also had The Hardy Boys and The Bobsey Twins. I read them all. Then there were The Three Investigators, and, yes, I even loved Encyclopedia Brown.
As an adult, I still love mysteries. Most recently, I read the four Caster and Fleet Mysteries by Liz Hedgecock and Paula Harmon. I have to say I loved them. They’re set in the late Victorian era, and Connie and Katherine are hilarious. They move at a good pace, and the twists and turns kept me interested until the end.
For me, mysteries are a different kind of vacation. As someone who loves books and crafting, their connection to those makes them even more entertaining. They’re perfect for a rainy Sunday when I just want to kick back and do nothing.
It’s been a busy few weeks, but I think things are settling down a bit. I’ve managed to get some writing done, more than I have in the past few months.
I finished the first draft of a short story titled “Becoming Real” this afternoon, and The Spirits of Yule is with a reader right now.
I’m also almost finished with another short story in the Rise of the Mad Gods series and hope to release all of the stories in one volume in a few months. To that effect, the stories have been pulled from Amazon and other platforms. My plan is to go back through them again and make sure they’re as good as I can make them.
The Chronicles of Kayne Soulton: Escape is coming along, but middle schoolers will be middle schoolers, and the gang is just not doing what I need them to do. I’ve posted snippets from the beginning of the story before (check out my Facebook author page), and I know where I want the story to go. It’s just a matter of getting there.
I also have a few things I’m working on outside of Grevared, but I can’t predict a timeline at this point.
All in all, I think I have my work cut out for me for this year, and I’m looking forward to making some progress.
Thank you to those who’ve taken a chance on my books and continue to stop by every week to see what’s going on.
I’ve been doing some research into winter deities, partly for The Spirits of Yule, but partly because I’m fascinated by the topic. I’ve read a lot of books on the history of Christmas, the most recent being Christmas: A Biography by Judith Flanders, but there’s so much more to the season than just that holiday.
There’s darkness in winter, a sense of foreboding as the land goes to sleep. Chill air nips at the fingers and toes, and wind howls through leafless branches. It’s hard to think about a long, cold night full of anxiety and wondering in a world of electric lights and central heating, and while nature may take a break, modern life doesn’t allow it. With the advent of working/schooling from home capabilities, there aren’t really even snow days anymore. I find that sad, and there’s a part of me that wishes for a time when the end of the day meant the end of the day.
That aside, the entire season still holds great fascination for me as the spirits of the dead walk and creatures of darkness lay claim to the land. It’s a great time for horror stories and contemplation, and just a quick dip into the lore of the season is enough to cause shivers.
I’m not far enough along in the research to have too much to share, but I hope to have some soon.
Until then, here is a short list of beings said to be associated with the winter months.
Amaratasu (Japanese): sun goddess who hid in a cave after a fight with her brother, bringing darkness to the world.
Father Winter: a personification of the season of winter. This being comes from a number of cultures.
The Wild Huntsman: leader of the Wild Hunt, sometimes called Herne the Hunter but goes by other names. The Hunt flies through the night and devours all in its path. Germanic and Celtic
Saturn: (Roman) God of agriculture. His festival, the Saturnalia, was held in December. It was a time of feasting and drinking where roles were often reversed.
Wah Kah Nee (Chinook): a being said to be able to walk barefoot through winter and communicate with its spirits
Those who’ve followed me know I’m a folklore and mythology junkie and that my interest in that led me to fantasy when I was a young teenager. It’s still my favorite genre to read, and I love creating worlds more than just about anything else.
My favorite fantasy author of all time is Raymond E. Feist. I began reading his work in the 1980s, and I followed the Midkemia books all the way to the end. I still go back and reread the entire series about once per year.
I’ve been down with a bit of a bug for a few days, and I was pondering just what it was that made Mr. Feist’s work my favorite. After all, I also love Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings, among others, and after quite some time thinking about it, I finally figured out what it was. It’s realism.
Now, I realize fantasy isn’t supposed to be real. It’s fantasy, after all, and, let’s face it, it’s been a few centuries since anyone has reported seeing an elf and been believed. But Middle Earth, Narnia, and others like them have the sense of being ‘other’. They aren’t here, and there’s no way I’m opening my front door and seeing one of them outside. It just ain’t gonna happen.
Midkemia, at least for me, has a different feel. Perhaps it’s because it was one of the first fantasy series I ever read, but there’s always been the feeling that I could actually go there. Yes, there are elves near Crydee. Yes, magicians live on Stardock. Yes, the dwarves live in the Grey Tower mountains. But it still feels like all this is happening just down the street, at most in the next town over. There’s a realism to his world that I don’t find in a lot of other fantasy worlds, and that’s what attracts me to it the most, and that’s what I try to create, to the best of my ability, in my own writing.
Now, it’s your turn. What are your favorite elements of fantasy? What attracts you to your favorite author?
After the events in Black Crystal in 6364, Eleanor Hestenfield escaped to E’ma Thalas. As she learned more about herself, she recorded her thoughts in a small journal.
Season of Snows 6365 AOP
It’s been a year now since I discovered my true nature and joined the Lycans. Abilene says it’s important that I continue to record my thoughts as I gain more and more control over my abilities. I don’t think this really helps, though, for there are times when I still find myself in the forest without knowing how I got there.
I have to say that the forests of E’ma Thalas are beautiful, especially as the leaves bud on the trees. The elves seem friendly enough, but they’re nothing like the people I knew in the Xaggarene Empire. I miss the Shadow Walkers, and I miss Timothy. As much as I hate to admit it, I even miss Justin on occasion.
I’ve sent Timothy several letters over the past year, but he hasn’t responded. I don’t think he will. Even the beauty of the snow falling onto the kinloth outside my window can’t lift my spirits. Its purple leaves remind me of the scarf Timothy bought for me one evening when we went to the theater. It had the same delicate pattern as the leaves on the tree, though they are almost covered in snow.
I wish I could see him again, if only for a moment, just to explain, to make him understand that I’m not the evil creature he thinks me to be. I think if he could see me, he could see that I’m still the same person I always was. The question is: would it make a difference to him? Would Timothy ever be able to see beyond the events of Black Crystal? Can he ever forgive me? Sometimes I wonder, and it makes my heart ache. Perhaps, it would’ve been better if Justin had killed me. At least then I could know peace.
The first week of the year is already down and done. I can’t believe it’s already started.
Those who’ve followed for a while know I like to play around with things, and this week has been no different. I’ve spent the week making new book trailers for existing books and revising the first draft of The Spirits of Yule and writing on The Chronicles of Kayne Soulton: Escape. That’s one book well on its way and another in the works that’s going well. I’m also still working on Darkmoor Thunder, though these girls are giving me a bit of a hard time.
All in all, I think it’s been a good start to the new year. I’m excited for what’s coming up and hope I can keep to the schedule I’ve set for myself.
You can check out my new trailers on my YouTube channel.
I hope everyone has a fabulous 2019. Let’s do this!
I can’t believe it’s the end of 2018 already. I had so many plans for this year, but life got in the way a bit. Mostly good things, but they kept me away from writing as much as I wanted to. I’m proud of getting The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley rewritten and re-released, but there are more books I wanted to get done. Well, no use crying over spilled milk, as my grandma used to say. It’s time for a new year, so onward and upward.
I want to say a sincere thank you to those who’ve followed along and purchased my books over the last year. I appreciate each and every one of you and the support you’ve given. I hope all of you have a wonderful 2019 filled with good things and happy memories. Let’s reach for the stars together and make next year the most wonderful one yet.
For the first time in years, I’ve actually had some time to kick back and enjoy the coming of Christmas. Usually, I’m running around like crazy, and the season comes and goes before I even notice it’s here. I was afraid this year was going to be the same, but things worked themselves out a few days ago. It was weird going to the grocery store this morning and realizing that I could take as much time as I wanted to because I had nothing needing my attention. Not presents to wrap. No food that needed to be done ‘right now’. Off from work, projects completed. I’m grateful in a way I can’t put into words.
That being said, it’s been a crazy year this year. A lot of good things have happened, but they’ve come so quickly that I haven’t had time to process them yet. I think I’ll save that for the new year. For now, I’ve finished the first draft of The Spirits of Yule, and I’ve started on the next book in The Trials of the Young Shadow Walkers. This one focuses on Kayne Soulton rather than Ethan Grimley. I’m not sure yet where Kayne will lead, with all his hot-headedness, but I’m anxious to follow. I’m hoping 2019 will give me a little more time to write now that some things have been resolved and put to rest.
My plan at this point is to have The Spirits of Yule out for next year’s holiday season. Below is a continuation of the last two weeks, just a bit of a sneak peek, unedited.
Thank you all for your support, and have a blessed holiday.
Eleanor groaned and rolled over. She pulled the blanket up around herself and shivered. Her hip dug into hard stone, and the smell of smoke assailed her nose. Smoke? Stone? Blanket? Hadn’t she been lying in the snow? Memory flooded back, and Eleanor jumped to her feet before she realized what she was doing. The ogress had wanted her to join her, in what Eleanor had no idea.
“Glad to see you awake.”
Eleanor froze, heart lodged in her throat, and looked around. She stood in a ruined building under a partial roof. A woman with long, black hair spotted with gray sat on the other side of a small fire. A pot sat warming in the flames.
The woman laughed, a musical sound that spoke of mystery and magic. She was human as far as Eleanor could tell, but there was something off about her, some scent Eleanor couldn’t place. “My name is Ravyn Grimsbane. I come from Crowrest.” The woman smiled, and the room, if it could be called that, lit up. “You’re safe, for now.” Ravyn waved her hand at a spot opposite herself. “Sit down. Get warm.”
Eleanor eased herself to the floor, keeping the blanket wrapped around herself to cover her nakedness. “I don’t understand. What happened?”
Ravyn sighed and stirred the pot. “We’re nearing midwinter. It isn’t a healthy time to be out and about, for others thrive at this time.”
“What do you mean?”
Ravyn cocked her head to the side, a look of confusion on her face. “Surely, you’ve been in E’ma Thalas long enough to know that creatures walk the night, that the wilds of the forest are closer to people than they are in other places.”
Eleanor chewed on her bottom lip and nodded. Her mouth watered as the aroma of whatever was cooking reached her nose, and her stomach grumbled in response. “I’ve heard some tales, sure, but I don’t go out much.”
“Mother, the ogress has moved on. We should be fine tonight.”
Eleanor swung her head around fast enough to make herself dizzy. A woman about her own age stood just within in the light of the fire. Auburn hair hung in ringlets past her shoulders, and spectacles reflected the firelight.
“You aren’t from E’ma Thalas,” Gwennyth replied. It wasn’t a question.
Eleanor shook her head and fought back tears. “No. I’m from the Xaggarene Empire.”
“And you’re a Shadow Walker. That’s what they call themselves, isn’t it?”
Again, Eleanor nodded. “How did you know that?”
Gwennyth plopped down between Eleanor and Ravyn and stared at Eleanor without blinking. “There’s magic around you. Lots of it. But you aren’t a wizard.”
A single tear escaped Eleanor’s eye as she turned away from the women. “I’m a Lycan,” she said with trembling voice. “I had to leave the Empire.” From the corner of her eye, she saw the two women exchange a look.
“That makes sense,” Gwennyth said. “It explains the magic aura around you.”
Eleanor turned back to the two women. “What do you mean?”
Ravyn shifted position and poked at the fire. “Gwennyth sees magic.” She gave her daughter a loving look. “Most of us don’t.” She shrugged. “But she can. We don’t know how.”
Eleanor pulled her blanket more tightly around herself and wished she had thought enough to drag the clothes with her. She knew other Lycans had stashes around the forest and in the mountains, and she’d always meant to do that. But she always returned home to transform, so it had never mattered.
“I have extra clothes,” Gwennyth said after a silent moment. “I’m pretty sure they would fit you.”
“Thank you,” Eleanor replied.
“That’s the down side to changing form,” Ravyn chuckled. “Non-essentials like clothing tend to remain as they are.”
Eleanor gave her an embarrassed grin and followed Gwennyth out of the fire light. Cold bit through the blanket, and Eleanor’s teeth chattered. She considered returning to ly’kita form just to be covered with fur, but Gwennyth’s voice cut through her thoughts.
“Here. Change quickly. It’s too cold to dawdle.”
Eleanor looked over to see Gwennyth holding trousers, a shirt, and a cloak. Boots sat at her feet, and a faint smile brightened her face.
“Thank you,” Eleanor replied as she took the clothing. She dropped the blanket and quickly donned the clothes. “Why are you and your mother out here in the cold?” she asked as she pulled on the boots.
“We’re headed to Letallatos for Oberon’s celebration.”
Eleanor’s heart dropped into her gut. “Oh. Sounds like fun.”
“You could join us.”
Eleanor pulled the cloak around her and stared out at the swirling snow. “No. Abilene, my pack leader, sort of, has said we were invited, but it’s really not my thing.”
“It’s not mine, either,” Gwennyth admitted with a glance back at her mother. “There are plenty of other wizards joining us, too.” Gwennyth sighed. “Most of them just blip themselves there, but Mother prefers to travel without magic. She says connecting to the forest is important.” She shivered. “Maybe she’s right, but I’d much rather connect in spring and summer.”
Eleanor chuckled. “So would I. I usually spend most of winter in a cave in the Borderland Mountains. I should never have come this far without preparations.”
Gwennyth turned away and took a step toward the fire. “Sometimes our emotions get the best of us.” She shrugged. “It happens. There’s food if you’re hungry. We’ll leave out as soon as the light shines, but you’re welcome to share the fire tonight.”
Well, we’re getting down to the wire on the Christmas holiday, and, once again, it’s come upon me unawares. I think most things are done, but I can’t be sure. Tree. Check. Food. Check. Gifts. Um…partial check. There are still a few more things to get. Holy cow! Am I gonna make it in time? I’m not sure. I could sure use a little help from the man in the red suit. He hasn’t let me down yet, so I have complete faith that things will be ready on time.
As to the Christmas story, it’s coming along. The first draft of the first two sections is complete. Now, on to the rest. I did come up with a title and a cover, though, so that’s something.
If you read last week’s excerpt (remember, these are unedited), then scroll below for the next installment. Also, remember there are spoilers for those who haven’t read Wolf in the Shadow.
Eleanor wanted to rid herself of her human mind. She wanted to forget she had ever walked on two legs. She wanted to revel in the joy of being a ly’kita, to hunt, to leave the past behind forever, not just in the world but in her mind as well. She wanted to run forever, to be free. She let the scents of the forest—the trees, the flowers, the animals, life and death—wash over her as she cried to Worichiom to take her body and mind and set her free.
Before she realized it, Eleanor had left the cover of the trees and entered a small range of hills. She slid to a stop in the snow and sniffed the air. The cold crispness of the winter air filled her nose and cleared her mind. She panted and licked at the snow to quench her thirst then sat on her haunches to rest.
I need to return for the clothes.
The thought entered her mind unbidden, but she pushed it aside and looked around her. Hills rose above her, grass almost covered with snow. Wind howled between the hills and blew snowflakes into her face. She blinked her eyes to clear them, and her breath caught in her throat. A creature, not human according to her nose, crawled up the hill in front of her. Eleanor blinked again, several times, and cocked her head to the side.
The creature climbing the hill was unlike anything she had seen before, in either form. Cloven hooves sank into the deep snow, and multiple tails whipped away the falling flakes. A mass of tangled hair whipped in the breeze, and a sack across its back wriggled eerily.
Eleanor dropped to her belly, her canine senses telling her to be cautious. She slithered forward to get a better smell but stopped when the creature halted its climb.
“I see you.”
Eleanor froze. Snow whipped into her face and ruffled her fur the wrong way. Her heart beat wildly in her chest, and she panted as terror pumped through her veins. She tried to speak, but the sound was nothing more than a growl.
“None of that. I know you. Better than you know yourself. Come with me and join me. I could use another creature to help me with my work.”
Eleanor stood, but she didn’t move forward. A gust of wind shifted and brought the creature’s stench to her nose. She sneezed. Ogre. She hated the smell of ogre.
“Come on now. I won’t harm you.”
Eleanor shivered. Ogres couldn’t be trusted, and this one was far different from others. Older. Almost godlike. She sneezed. Still… It was cold. Frigid. And she could use a rest before returning home.
“That’s a good girl. Come with Grýla and let’s get you warm.”
Eleanor took a tentative step forward, then another. Her fur stood on end from more than the cold, and she wanted to turn and run. But she was exhausted from her run and the discussion with Abilene. Rest wasn’t an option, and this creature, Grýla, was currently her only choice.
“That’s a good ly’kita. Come on now.”
Eleanor took another step, and something set fire to her chest. She howled with the pain and buried her face in the snow to ease the burn. A throbbing, began near her heart and moved through her until every part of her ached. She tried to take another step, but her legs gave out, and she landed on her side in the snow.
“Begone, foul beast!”
The ogre screamed and hurried down the far side of the hill, while Eleanor’s head swam. She tried to rise but found her legs too weak to hold her. She shivered at the chill wetness against her skin and realized she had lost her ly’kita form. She was lying naked in the snow in a storm increasing in ferocity. She could barely see in her ly’kita form, and now she’d lost the heightened sense of smell she needed. She tried to will herself back to her Lycan self, but her body refused to respond. She searched for the source of the voice, the one who had sent the ogre running, but all she saw was a vague, humanoid outline. She tried to call out in hope of help, but her voice, too, had abandoned her.