Let it Snow!!!!!!

IMG_20181209_083352For those in northern climates, snow isn’t a big deal. However, I’ve spent my entire life in the southern United States, so seeing the Christmas tree and snow at the same time is something that’s never happened. Until now.

This morning we have several inches of snow on the ground, the tree is lit, the fireplace is going, and cinnamon buns are in the oven. It’s a perfect day to sit back with something warm and write and craft.

My current work in progress is a Grevared version of A Christmas Carol. I meant to get on it earlier in the year, but life has a way of taking its own path sometimes. So instead of it being ready this year, I’m hoping to have it out in time for the season next year. Below is the first few pages, unedited, but there are spoilers for those who haven’t read Wolf in the Shadow. 

IMG_20181209_080632 (2)Flight Through the Forest

5373 AOP

Running.

Wind in face.

Nose to ground.

Muscles straining.

Freedom.

Eleanor ran through the forest of E’ma Thalas on all fours, a grin on her canine face. Her padded feet made almost no sound as she darted through underbrush and across fallen leaves. She leapt over fallen logs and nipped playfully at small creatures. Her vision, sharp and full of color when human, had faded somewhat, but her nose brought her the scents of the forest in a heady potpourri that made her run all the faster. Asing, carnivorous plant/animal hybrids, growled nearby, and nonyana’e droppings littered the ground. Eleanor paused for a moment and looked upward to see the giant birds soaring overhead. Other creatures, spitmollers and ghighets, scurried for cover as she approached, though even in ly’kita form she would not dream of harming them. And covering it all, the scent of falling snow—cold, fresh, and heralding Yuletide.

Eleanor slid to a stop and shook the snow from her coat. She shivered in the cold and stood panting while her heart pounded. Yuletide. Another one. Alone in the forest. Eleanor sat down on her haunches and wished her ly’kita form could cry tears.

“Your control is good, much better than eight years ago.”

Eleanor looked up to see a woman. At over six feet, she towered over Eleanor’s Lycan form. The scent of alpha female seared Eleanor’s nose and mixed with the odor of human sweat and food. She could smell the herbal soap, a mixture of lavender and honey, the woman used, and the scent of her leather coat caused Eleanor to sneeze. She bared her teeth for a moment in response to the alpha female scent, one she had never liked, before settling down with her head cocked to the side.

animal close up cold danger
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“Cool it, little girl. I’ve been doing this longer than you’ve been alive, and I’ll kick your ass no matter what form you’re in.” The woman held out trousers, a shirt, and a cloak. “Now, how ‘bout you get dressed.”

Eleanor sneezed again and considered licking the woman in the face just to annoy her, but after eight years in Abilene’s company she had learned better. Instead, she willed herself back to human form, and, after a moment of dizziness, took the clothes Abilene held out to her.

The wind bit into her bare skin, and Eleanor found herself looking around for Worichiom, the spirit of winter. She slid into the clothes with a shiver and ran her fingers through cinnamon hair. She glanced down at her bare feet and wondered if Abilene had remembered to bring boots.

“You were looking for me,” Eleanor said once she had dressed. She winced as she walked across the detritus on the forest floor.

“Yeah,” Abilene replied. She brushed a strand of mint green hair behind her ear and stared at Eleanor with golden eyes. She pointed at the ground beside her, and Eleanor reached down for the pair of boots sitting there. “Oberon and Titania have invited us for Yuletide. Jorge and Bria are planning to join us. The pack. Family.”

Eleanor turned away as she donned the boots, her attention on the falling snow. A lump formed in her throat, and she shivered with a sudden chill. A weight settled across her shoulders, and her heart paused before racing on. “You have fun,” she said at last. “I’ve already made plans.”

white snowy environment with pine trees
Photo by Adam Lukac on Pexels.com

Abilene stood with her hands on her hips, snow dusting her black coat, and glared at Eleanor. “What plans? The same as last year? And the year before?” She made a disgusted noise and shook her head. “Girl, you gotta let it go. The past is the past, and there ain’t nothing you can do about it. Move on.”

“Let it go, Ab. I’m used to being alone, and I prefer it that way.”

Abilene threw up her hands and stomped away. She stopped and propped against a nearby tree with her arms crossed. “So, what are you gonna do? Head back to the Borderland Mountains and find a cave? That’s where you’ve been living, isn’t it?” Abilene pushed herself away from the tree. “You’re not an animal, Eleanor. None of us are. It’s been eight years, for the gods’ sake. Accept yourself.” She paused a moment. “And us. You’re pack, Eleanor. Family.”

“Accept what, Abilene? That I can never go back to the Xaggarene Empire? That my best friends rejected me because of what I am? That–.”

“That what? That Timothy has never responded to your letters? That he’s never forgiven you?” Abilene reached Eleanor in two strides and placed her hands on the smaller woman’s shoulders. “You have no way of knowing the letters ever reached him. You don’t know what he thinks or feels. And as to returning to the Empire…there’s no reason you can’t.”

“Justin.”

“Pfft. Justin Harper is all talk. Surely, after years in his company, you realize that. Hell, girl, I smelled it on him before we even met. The woods were full of it, and so is he.”

“But what if he told others? If the entire guild knows what I am, what I did, then I’m dead the minute they find me. You know that.” Eleanor wrapped her arms around herself and shuddered. The Shadow Walker guild would hunt her down if they knew she was a Lycan, if they knew she had been the one…Cooley Cray… Her mind refused to voice her deepest regret, the shame that had shaped the last eight years of her life.

This time Abilene punctuated her words with a shake. “No, I don’t. And neither do you.”

Eleanor snatched away from her friend and mentor. Regardless of what Abilene said, Eleanor didn’t feel like pack. She didn’t feel accepted. “Whatever. I’m not going to Letallatos for Yuletide.” She shrugged. “It’ll just be a bunch of elves and fairies drinking and dancing, and you know how annoying pixies can be.”

“And you’re forgetting the feasts and the games and the comradery, and I’ve heard that he’s invited the wizards of Crowrest and Ragekeep as well. This is the biggest bash in a century, all to celebrate the little prince’s first Yuletide. You don’t want to miss it.”

“I don’t wanna go.” She shrugged again. “It just doesn’t sound like any fun.”

“Fine,” Abilene replied. “Do what you want. The gods know I’ve tried for years to get you to move on and accept yourself. It’s all on you, girlie. There’s nothing else I can do for you.”

Eleanor turned away as tears forced themselves into her eyes. Abilene had a point. She was now in control of her Lycan abilities and had no more need of the older woman. Eleanor wanted to say she enjoyed Abilene’s company, but that wasn’t the truth. Abilene was simply there, someone within her sphere that she needed. Eleanor was grateful for her tutelage, of course, but that wasn’t the same as considering her a friend. The same was true of Jorge and Bria, two other members of the pack. They were there, and she was grateful, but she wouldn’t miss them if they were gone.

“You don’t have to stay alone, Eleanor,” Abilene whispered. “There are people who care about you, who accept you for who you are. You just have to be willing to open yourself up to their friendship.”

green trees
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Eleanor wanted to respond, but the lump in her throat forbade it. She swallowed hard and closed her eyes. She hugged herself, fists clenched, but she couldn’t face the other woman. Something squeezed her heart and pulled on her lungs, and she tightened her jaw to force herself to breathe. She wanted to turn to Abilene, to tell her that she needed that care, that friendship, but she didn’t dare. She knew where that led, and she wasn’t about to go through it again. Never again.

“Well, you know the way to Letallatos if you change your mind.” Abilene turned away then paused. “Not everyone is invited to the elf king’s court for the celebration. Don’t take that for granted.”

Eleanor kept her eyes closed as she listened to Abilene’s footfalls in the leaves. She turned her face upwards, and the falling snow mingled with the tears on her cheeks. A sob forced its way up from her gut and burst out in a scream that shook the trees. Birds squawked and left their perches, and small animals scurried for cover. The scream turned into a howl, and Eleanor found herself in ly’kita form, without meaning to, for the first time in eight years.

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A Bit of a Conundrum-Adult, YA, or Both?

Starshine Cover PurpleI’ve been playing around with the idea of The Hidden Roads, a series originally intended for adults. However, I’ve got an idea for a YA version, and I’m torn between having two of them, one for adults and one for YA, and making just one series that’s YA. It really wouldn’t be that difficult to make the adult character a bit younger and add her to the YA idea I have. The stories would gel nicely and add another dimension to the YA story. Below is an excerpt from the beginning of the adult one (unedited). Thoughts on which way to go would be appreciated.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

The land was what mattered to Gemma. It always had. The way the pines and oaks cast dancing shadows over rolling hills had given her immeasurable pleasure. The scent of rain on fresh-turned earth had wrapped her in peace, and a silver moon nestled in a bed of stars had filled her with joy. She would speak for hours on the growth of a single sprout, and Serenity couldn’t remember ever seeing the woman without dirt stains on some part of her clothing.

But that was then.

Serenity sighed as she switched off her beat up Ford Tempo. She propped her hands on the steering wheel for a moment and simply stared out the windshield.

The house was the same as it always had been. A simple structure of wooden slats with a large wrap-around porch and flowers planted in beds at its base, it had been Gemma’s refuge from a world she didn’t understand.

“I wish I’d come when she asked,” Serenity muttered to herself.

Gemma had asked Serenity to come and live with her several years before, but Serenity had refused, determined to make it on her own. She’d spent enough of the previous twenty years being told she was a failure, not ambitious enough. When her world had ended, she determined she would not become dependent. On anyone.

“Yeah, ‘cause that worked out so well.” Serenity blew her bangs out of her face. “Idiot.”

Serenity climbed from the car and grabbed her backpack from the backseat. She shouldered the bag and stepped up onto the porch. A tear slid from her eye as she realized Gemma wouldn’t greet her with a smile and a song. Not anymore. Gemma had disappeared six months before. No note. Nothing missing. No sign of her since. And her sisters had determined she was never coming back.

 

The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley: Path’s End

Path's End BookI’ve finally completed the rewrite for book three of The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley. It’s taken a bit longer than I wanted it to, but I’m glad it’s done. I believe the stories are stronger now, even if they aren’t quite as light-hearted as the originals. I’m hoping to have book three, Path’s End, released soon.

Check out this snippet and stay tuned for the release date.

The entire common room went silent when Mariostin Rocktosser entered the room. He was a tiny thing, just about the height of the tables, and his wheat blonde hair contrasted with his dusky skin. Freckles dotted his rosy cheeks, and his large lips were set in a frown. He froze at the silence, his eyes darting from table to table without stopping. He seemed to shrink into his cloak and become even smaller than he already was.

Faylen rose from her seat and wove through the tables to where Mariostin stood like a cornered coniklo. “Hello,” she said. “I’m Faylen Icebreeze. I’ll show you where to get lunch if you’d like.”

Mariostin gave her a tentative smile and followed her to the serving area. As if she’d lifted a ban, the rest of the students began talking again, and the room was soon filled with laughter and conversation.

“So, where are you from?” Faylen asked when Mariostin joined them at the table.

“Crowborough,” the Halfling replied. His voice was a quiet mutter, barely more than a whisper. He didn’t say any more.

“Well, I’m from E’ma Thalas,” Faylen replied.

“I’ve heard of that. My parents traveled there when they were young, before I was born. They talked about it a lot.” He took another bite. “They even talked about living there all the time.”

Mariostin fell silent then and seemed more concerned with eating his fist meal than with talking. He had chosen ham, and, true to form, Old Marshall had loaded both pieces of bread with meat and cheese before toasting it to a golden, yummy brown.

Ethan watched the Halfling shovel the food into his mouth and grimaced. Mariostin was super thin, but he didn’t look like he was starving. And, yes, Old Marshall made the best fist meals of all time, but that didn’t explain Mariostin’s gobbling the food up the way he was. Ethan wondered where he’d come from and what had happened to him for him to get the Hourglass of Saturn.

Kayne turned to Ethan with his rakish grin, interrupting his thoughts. “So, what are the girls like in Land’s End?”

Ethan shook his head. “Really, Kayne? I don’t know. Like they are everywhere else, I guess.”

“Well, what’s there to do?”

Ethan shrugged. “My friends and me spent a lot of time playing kickball in the park, and I made deliveries for my mom’s bakery.” He paused a moment. “It’s a small town. Nothing like Ymla.”

Mariostin looked up with a bit of bread hanging from the corner of his mouth. “Where’s all this?” he asked.

“Land’s End,” Ethan replied. “It’s where I’m from.” He waved his hand at the group around them. “We’re all going to my house for Yuletide.”

Mariostin’s shoulders drooped, and he laid the rest of his fist meal on his plate. Then his eyes lit up, and he said, “I’m going home, too. My parents have this awesome place in Crowborough, and they get the biggest tree they can find. We spend hours adding the lights and the ornaments to it.”

“I’ll bet it’s really pretty,” Faylen replied. She dropped her eyes for a moment. “In E’ma Thalas, we decorate the forest trees some. The birds and animals help.”

Electa sighed and played with a piece of cheese on her plate. “I don’t remember there being a lot done at my house. I think we had a tree and whatnot, but that’s all I remember.” Tears filled her eyes but didn’t fall.

Faylen placed her hand on Electa’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze, then she turned to Kayne. “What about you?”

Kayne shrugged. “Don’t know.” He turned to Ethan wearing a grin that didn’t reach his eyes. “What’s say we get some practice in before combat class this afternoon?”

Ethan nodded and rose to his feet. “It was nice to meet you, Mariostin,” he said as he picked up his tray. “Maybe we’ll see you later.” He glanced back over his shoulder at the Halfling. Something wasn’t right about Mariostin’s story. Ethan just didn’t know what it was.

 

Gwennyth, Book Two

Aradia's Secret Cover with BookIt’s been a while since the release of Aradia’s Secret, and I’m finally getting started on book two. I’d welcome any opinions on the beginning below. (It’s unedited.)

Best wishes!

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

 

As I stood at the end of the dock at the edge of the void, a ship appeared from the gray, hulking and dark. For a moment, I was aghast. I’d thought the captain to be without honor or concern for others, yet the ship loomed before me and made for the dock. I called to Vonner, who lurked just inside the trees, and he approached with some trepidation. I could understand that, for the last time Vonner had been on the ship he’d been a prisoner, kept chained at my request. How the captain would treat him now, I couldn’t say.

      The ship docked, and the gang plank fell. The thud shook the pier, and I stumbled. Vonner grabbed my arm to keep me on my feet, and we waited, breath held, for someone to speak. 

     “Ahoy!”

     It was the captain. He stood tall against the lights of the ship, and my heart leapt at his presence. 

     “Captain?” I called. “It’s good to see you.”

     The man made his way down the plank but stopped just short of stepping into the pier. I didn’t mind. Legend said the island was haunted, a place not visited by normal folk, and I knew the captain feared what might lurk in the depths of the forest.

     “Don’t get all misty-eyed on me,” the captain replied. “Business had me in this area, or I wouldn’t have bothered. If’n you still got coin, I can offer passage back to civilization.”

     I tried to keep the grin off my face and the relief out of my voice as I accepted his offer. Vonner and I had few possessions, so it was only a matter of a quick run back to Aradia’s cottage to grab our packs. In less than an hour, we were on board the ship and headed back into the void.

 

Ethan Grimley Rewrites

Land's EndI posted a couple of weeks ago that, now that life has settled down a bit, I wanted to rewrite the Ethan Grimley stories and make them into one book. I’m doing this for two reasons. 1. I think it’ll make the story better, and I’m becoming more familiar with the world. 2. I had an idea for another book that wouldn’t work in a series about one character. Rewriting opens up the possibility for others to take the spotlight.

So far, the rewrite has gone well. I think the story has a lot more depth, and I think Ethan is easier to get to know. He’s still a twelve-year-old boy with all the stuff that comes with that, but he’s more real now. There’s also a lot more about Land’s End and the world of Grevared, things I think help bring it to life.

All that being said, below is a bit of the first chapter of the rewrite. It hasn’t been edited yet, so bear that in mind. I would love feedback.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

 

Ethan Grimley Chapter One Snippet

 

The chimes of the Arcana Maximus echoed through the town of Land’s End. The sound rose and fell on the wind, a tinny, mechanical sound both soothing and painful. The large, wooden doors at the front of the school house burst open to spew forth boys and boys of all ages. Their shouts and laughter rivaled the noise of the bells as they tumbled into the open air after being cooped up in the classroom since morning.

“See you tomorrow!”

“Let’s go to the square!”

“Hey, Ethan!” Corbin Clearwater called.

Ethan Grimley, a boy of average height with shaggy brown hair and brilliant green eyes, stopped in mid-run and turned to face his friend. He waited while Corbin jogged to where he stood, school books in hand.

“Let’s go to the park with the others,” Corbin puffed. He was shorter than Ethan and had a pudgy face and curly black hair. His eyes glowed golden behind a pair of spectacles that had been mended too many times. “They’re getting a kickball game together.”

“They play every afternoon,” Ethan replied with a sigh. “And every day Boron’s team stomps us.” Ethan shook his head. “I don’t wanna play today.” He turned away then looked back at Corbin. “Besides, I promised Ma I’d help her with deliveries this evening.”

Corbin pushed his spectacles up on his nose and shifted his school books to the other hand. “Aw, come on, Ethan. Just for a little bit.” The boy’s round face brightened. “Besides, today may be the day we beat Boron.”

Ethan laughed and shook his head. “You’re dreaming, Corb. It ain’t gonna happen.”

Corbin fell into step beside Ethan as the two headed down the long path from the school house. The Arcana Maximus, with its pointed spires behind an impenetrable stone wall, loomed behind them, and gravel crunched under their feet. Birds twitted, and a breeze brought the smell of growing things to their noses.

Barracks for the guards and city constabulary lined the curving road, while the large estates of the well-to-do stretched toward the town wall. Ethan and Corbin stepped off the road to let a horse drawn cart pass, then they continued on their way toward the center of town.

“You coming to the festival this Sixthday?” Corbin asked, his voice full of anticipation.

Ethan shrugged. “Probably. My Pa works for the town government, so we have to attend all town festivals.”

“Is your Ma gonna have a booth?” Corbin gave a little hop at the thought. “She makes the best cookies of anyone in town.”

Ethan laughed. “I’m sure she will.” His shoulders slumped. “And she’ll probably have me manning it all day while she and Pa do other stuff.”

“I’d love for my Ma to have a bakery.”

Ethan shook his head. “Naw, you’d spend all your time making deliveries instead of playing kickball.” As they neared the park, Ethan stopped and turned to face his friend. “I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ve gotta go.”

They said their good-byes, and Ethan took off at a trot. He reached the town square and slowed to a walk. Stalls lined the area around the fountain, and their owners hawked everything from fabric from the Xaggarene Empire to books printed by the Academe in Jitradena. People milled here and there, some simply enjoying the day while others perused the wares being sold.

The smell of people and horses floated on the air, and the scent of people clogged Ethan’s nose. It was always like this on market day, the middle day of the week, and Ethan was anxious to get through the crowd and away from the commotion. He was restless, like too much energy had built up in his muscles, and he wondered if maybe a game of kickball would bleed some of it away. Still, though, he had promised his mother he’d help her out, and she didn’t take kindly to him breaking his promises. Besides, once he’d hauled a heavy basket or pushed a cart all over Land’s End, he’d be plenty tired.

Ethan paused as he passed the fountain. A crowd had gathered there, some looking angry while others appeared frightened. They were talking among themselves, and Ethan moved closer to see what was going on.

“I tell you, I saw it,” an old man said. “It was coming up the lane just as pretty as you please.”

“Oh, Goddard, give it a rest.” This from the old woman by his side. “You didn’t see anything but yer own imagination.”

Ethan stood, puzzled, as another man spoke up. “Then what’s killing the n’kitas? Tell me that. All three of mine were found dead this morning, the life sucked right outta them.”

“Mine, too,” a woman replied. Ethan knew her from his mother’s bakery and rolled his eyes. She was always going on about something, and his mother had said more than once that the woman needed a good physician.

“All of you, that’s enough.”

Ethan backed away as the constable pushed his way through the crowd to stand beside the fountain. As much as he wanted to know what was going on, he didn’t want to be caught in a crowd that could turn into a mob at any moment, and he didn’t want to think about what his Ma would do if he were caught in the middle of some bru-ha-ha.

“Listen to me,” the constable continued. “Several of you have reported that your n’kitas were found dead. Now, before you all go off thinkin’ it’s something strange, give us a little time to look into it. It only happened this morning, and we’ve all been working all day to get to the bottom of it.”

“That’s not keeping our animals safe,” a woman shouted.

“And I need mine for hunting.” This from the man who’d first spoken, a rotund fellow with a long, gray mustache and a balding head.

The constable held up his hands. “I hear you, I do. And I already said we were looking into it. But the best thing you can do right now is head on home for dinner and lock your n’kitas inside. We’ll be patrolling the streets double tonight in case there’s an animal loose in town.”

The crowd grumbled, but most of them turned away and headed toward their homes. Ethan, too, moved away from the fountain and wove his way between the buildings on the eastern side of the square toward his own home. A chill slithered up his spine at the thought of some unknown creature roaming the town, and he was less than happy at the thought of having to carry food along empty lanes alone. If there was an animal, wouldn’t it be attracted to the smell of the bread and desserts? And what could it be? He didn’t know of any animals that ‘sucked the life’ out of something. Even spitmollers, who could spit poison almost two feet, used their teeth to tear. He’d heard tales about demons who could do that, of course—this was Moirena—but demons hadn’t come to Land’s End in years. Even the travelers from the port tended to be more human.

These thoughts tumbled through Ethan’s mind as he opened the door to the bakery. The aroma of bread and cookies assailed his nose, and he paused in the doorway to simply breathe them in.

“Ethan, is that you?” Eva Grimley called from the kitchen.

“Yeah, Ma. It’s me.” Ethan bounded up the stairs that led to the family’s flat. He quickly dropped his school books on his bed and headed back downstairs. Eva was just coming from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron, when he stepped off the last stair.

“I just pulled some butternut cookies from the oven if you want to get a snack before you head out.”

Ethan’s heart leapt. Butternut cookies were his favorite, and there was nothing like having a hot one. “Sure, Ma. Thanks.” For a moment, he considered telling his mother what he had heard in the square, then he thought better of it. As much as he didn’t want to cross whatever might be out there, he feared his mother’s overprotectiveness more. If she thought he might be in danger, she’d never let him leave the house. Better to keep quiet, he decided. He was fast, after all. Maybe faster than whatever had killed the n’kitas.

 

 

Hallowed Ground-Prologue

Thunderfish Lake MoirenaI’ve been working on a longer work tentatively titled Hallowed Ground. I’m not sure exactly what I’m planning with it at this time, but below is a prologue I was using to get my thoughts in order. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

 

Prologue

 

Sister Gabrielle Corcoran awoke with a start. She had been dozing in the straight-backed chair that was one of the few pieces of furniture her cell at the Arcana Maximus contained. She stretched, her body aching, and trembled with a chill she couldn’t explain. She moved to the door on tiptoes and cracked it just enough to see if any of the other Sisters were walking the halls.

The stone corridor was empty. Gabby waited for a moment, just to be sure, for if she was caught sneaking out of the Arcana in the middle of the night, she would be beaten and imprisoned.

With the way clear, Gabby took several deep breaths to steady herself, the she slipped from her cell and out into the night.

 

Detective Timothy Hawkins trudged through the Warren in the city of Freywater. All around him rose buildings of several stories, made of wood and metal, that, though tall, managed to look squat. His feet missed holes in the cobblestones streets out of habit, for the Warren had been his beat for more than twenty-five years. Though he had risen through the ranks of the Enforcers, he had never been able to secure one of the coveted positions outside of the Warren.

“Once a Warren rat, always a Warren rat,” Timothy muttered as he shivered in a sudden icy breeze, one that cut through his cloak and pierced his bones.

Though Timothy had been with the Enforcers for more than twenty years, his role as a Shadow Walker, one of the champions of the gods, had taken him away from his post too many times for true advancement. He cursed to himself again as he realized just how much he had lost by being a Shadow Walker. It wasn’t a secret; the Shadow Walkers were a recognized force in Grevared, but it wasn’t something he flaunted. And his captain took a dim view of those who had commitments outside the Enforcers.

 

Northward, in Sangeron, the capital city of the Xaggarene Empire, Daniel Klesko, too, shivered in a breeze that threated to freeze him where he stood. He trembled, his mind desperately trying to grasp what his instinct already knew.

The city was quiet, at least as quiet as Sangeron ever got, for Sangeron was a city that never truly slept. Ladies of the evening plied their trade in corsets laced far too tightly, while others stumbled from myst dens, taverns, and dark alleys to make their way home with unsteady steps.

Daniel, too, was a Shadow Walker, though he had lost the Stone of Destiny five years before. Now he did nothing but wander the streets of Sangeron, getting food and shelter where he could, his mind nothing more than a kaleidoscope of past and present that swirled in un-graspable images that defied comprehension.

 

Ymla in Corleon darkIn the forests of E’ma Thalas, north of the Xaggarene Empire, Illythor, captain of Oberon’s guard, paced back and forth. His elven ears strained for any sound that would explain the disquiet that seeped through his blood, but the only sounds were those of the night creatures moving about the forest. He knew the rumors as well as the next elf; more and more elves were succumbing to the gealtachta na déithe, the madness of the gods. Oberon himself had mentioned the rise, and it had devastated Titania to send away their only child.

A rustle to his left brought Illythor’s sword to his hands.

“It’s only me.”

Illythor cursed and huffed out a relieved breath as Ivlisar, his boon companion, joined him on the wall of Oberon’s palace. “What are you doing out here in the middle of the night? Did you piss someone off?”

Ivlisar smiled and shook his head. “Couldn’t sleep.” He stared out over the tops of the trees, their purples, greens, and yellows hidden by darkness. “There’s a fell wind blowing, brother. One that bodes evil for all of us.”

Illythor returned his sword to his sheath and sighed. “Then we’d best be ready.”

 

Far to the south, across the void, on the edge of the Shizzuria Wasteland, Morgan Harper came awake with a cry. The mechanical owl that sometimes housed the spirit of Abraham chittered softly on her beside table. She cursed and climbed from the bed, her eyes gritty from lack of sleep.

She grabbed her coat from its place by the door and pulled it around her slight frame. With another curse, she opened the door to her small cottage and peered out into the night. Before her lay the streets of Grenvor and the edge of the ice sheets that marked the wasteland. Nothing moved. She searched with both her eyes and her mind for the cause of the disturbance, but she could find nothing.

“What the hell?”

Morgan returned to her home and returned her coat to its hook. She grabbed several lumps of coal from the bucket by the brazier and stoked the fire. She stood in her nightclothes and rubbed her arms to dispel the chill, while her heart ached and longed for something that would never be again. After several moments, she shook off her unease and returned to sleep.

 

In the untamed chaos of the void, Arianna Henderson leaned against the rail of the Greydawn Spirit. Her feet shifted, one to the other, with a restlessness she couldn’t quite put her finger on, while her eyes scanned the gray nothing before her. Something was coming, she was sure, and she knew she needed to be ready.

“What’s up?” asked Charity Chance, another of the Shadow Walkers aboard the ship.

“Don’t know.” Arianna raised herself and turned to face Charity. “Something’s in the air. I’m restless.”

Charity laughed, her voice deep and rich. “You’re always restless.”

Arianna bit the edge of her thumb and turned to face the void. “This is different.”

Charity shrugged. “I guess we’ll know when it gets here.” Charity motioned to the hatch behind her. “Get some sleep. It’s my watch.”

Arianna nodded and headed below decks to her cabin. Though she tried, she never did fall asleep.

 

Crowerest Serpent AttackOn the other end of Grevared in the land of Moirena, Justin Harper shifted in his sleep. He opened bleary eyes to the stone walls of his cell. The chain that bound him to the wall rattled in the quiet of the night, and it took him a moment to realize that he wasn’t in Lemoreal’s bed.

He’d been a slave to the demon Lemoreal for five years now, a slavery he’d entered willingly. Now, he would give his soul, what little was left of it, for his freedom, to regain what he’d thrown away.

He raised himself to a sitting position and reached for the small water skin that was his only sustenance. He took a tiny sip, for he would not be allowed more until Lemoreal chose to reclaim him, and leaned his head against the wall. Something prickled his skin, though he had no idea what it meant. He reached outward with his mind in an attempt to discover what had disturbed him, but all he could find was the demon.

Excerpt from a YA WIP

northern-corleonThings have been a bit hectic lately with my youngest graduating and my move coming up next week, so I haven’t been able to get as much writing done as usual. However, I have been editing a children’s story, and I’m working a bit at a time on the trilogy. I’m also working some on a YA book I’ve been working on for a while. This is the one I’ll probably focus on the rest of this week since everything else is in boxes (so, of course, now all the stuff I thought I didn’t need is necessary).

Here’s a look at the YA WIP. I’m hoping to have this one out by the end of the summer, but I’m not promising. This is the unedited form.

Theo’s call from the front of the house snatched Jess from her reverie. She grabbed the books, all three of them, and shoved them into her pack. She hurried to the front of the house where Theo was motioning for her to be quiet.

“What is it?” Jess whispered.

“Guards,” Theo returned. “They’re searching everywhere. Father sent almost all of the household guard.” Theo’s eyes got wide. “He’s not gonna let us go.”

“Shh,” Jess said. “Calm down. This place had been abandoned for years. We can hide here until they pass us by.”

Serenity Corbin

serenity-corbin-coloredI’ve had the idea for a while about a character named Serenity Corbin, a crash, tactless woman in her mid-forties. I’ve played around with her story some, but I’ve only gotten a few chapters in. I usually work on it for a few days after I complete one of the books of Grevared. Below is the beginning of the first chapter. Again, the things I post here are for fun, and most of them haven’t had more than a cursory glance through.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

 

Broken glass.

Drops of blood.

Water everywhere.

Not a stellar start to a day that began at butt-crack-thirty before even God rose from his holy slumber.

I cursed as I climbed from my battered PT Cruiser and stomped to the door of my neighborhood Mighty Mart, glass crunching under my feet, to see just what the hell had happened now. I wasn’t deluded enough to think something as minor as a break-in, a dead body, or a flooded store would be enough to convince the owner to let me close up shop and go back to bed. Hell, no. He’d just tell me to clean it up and keep the store open.

Sure, boss. I don’t mind doing double my workload, taking care of your responsibilities,

for absolutely nothing in return. God forbid you should have to cut your yearly vacations down from four to three and get me some effing help. Whatever would we do?

I opened the door and slogged through several puddles, soaking my tennis shoes in the process, and typed in the code to turn off the alarm. That done, I surveyed the damage. And breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn’t as bad as I’d first thought.

The puddles were our typical ‘after heavy rain’ flooding. A couple of hours with the wet vac, and they’d be cleaned up. The broken glass appeared to be the remains of several beer bottles, and I could sweep that up in a few minutes. But the blood was an issue. Well, that, and…how did all of this wind up inside the store? It was one thing to see it in the parking lot, I could rationalize that. But inside? In…side? The water was a no-brainer. The store always flooded after a hard rain. No big. But the glass? Night shift should’ve cleaned that up. And the blood? Ditto.

I moved behind the counter, the cigarettes to my back, and counted the money. I typed in the passwords to get the register up and running and checked all the numbers on the lottery tickets. I grabbed the form for counting the cigarettes and cursed under my breath as I stomped off into the back storeroom where we kept the cartons. I made a quick count of them and the extra lottery tickets then flipped on the coffee. After all, I had to have the store opened on time regardless of what else was going on.

Now, I could focus on the mess. So far, I hadn’t seen any notes, any indication that second shift had run into any trouble. At all. Would it have killed them to leave me a sticky note? Send me a text? Shoot me an email? Hell, even pick up the phone and call? It would’ve been nice to know about this disaster before I got here.

I fumed for a moment, then it dawned on me that they would’ve clued me in for something like this. And, yes, they would’ve cleaned it up. So…that meant all this had to have happened after the store closed.

“Ah, shit.”

I looked around the store. The only display was for Rock Stars, and they were all still piled up in the middle of the floor, the different flavors artfully color coordinated by the lovely folks at Pepsi. Granted, the boxes were soaking wet and would probably collapse at some point, but that wasn’t my problem. My problem was the broken glass, the glass that was both inside and out with no apparent source, and the blood, blood that was the crimson of a fresh cut and not the duller brownish color of blood that had dripped hours before.

I checked the bathrooms, the stock rooms, and the cooler. There was no one there. No one. Nada. Not. A. Soul.

So, who’d made the mess?

I still had a few minutes before the store opened, so I knelt to examine the glass. It was crystal clear with an opalescent sheen to it. And it was thin. Really thin. And delicate. Not like beer bottles at all.

What the –?

I picked up one of the shards, and my mouth fell open when it dissolved in a flash of light. I jumped to my feet and wiped my hands on jeans that had seen better days. My heart raced in my chest, and I gasped for breath. Glass didn’t just dissolve. Nope. It was solid, material, sharp and pointy, but it didn’t just disappear. Not in the real world.

I rolled my eyes to the ceiling, profanity rolling from my tongue, and I was suddenly really glad we didn’t have audio on the billion cameras that watched the store. You’ve gotta be kidding me. Really? You’re gonna do this to me now? Haven’t I been through enough?

The outside lights clicked on, signaling time to open. I cussed – cursing in my world is a whole ‘nother kettle of worms – and unlocked the doors with less enthusiasm than I’d mustered for the colonoscopy I’d had several years before.

 

River of Blood – Chapter One

Shizzuria Wasteland and Riverland Pearlrest VintageThis is a WIP that I completely forgot I had; I found the file this morning. It hasn’t been edited, so please excuse typos and the like. I just thought I’d put it up for the fun of it.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

 

Newpost, Shizzuria Wasteland

 

Erastus raced through the streets of Newpost with a band of boys behind him. He hollered as they did, and the group barreled down the road. He turned a corner and slid on a patch of ice. His long legs tangled, and he landed on his butt to slide several feet before coming to a stop against a crate. Erastus winced and climbed to his feet. His trousers were damp from the ice, and he shivered.

“You okay, man?” One of the boys asked.

Erastus nodded. “Yeah. I only cut my finger. It’s no big deal.”

Erastus stared in fascination at the blood that oozed from the small cut. It formed a drop, round and shiny, then slid down the side of his finger. The droplet hung there, suspended, then it rose from his hand to hover before his eyes. Erastus’s mouth dropped open in shock as he simply gaped at this freak of nature.

“Hey, dude. What’s up with that?”

Erastus shook his head but didn’t answer. He couldn’t. He’d never seen anything like it before.

The other boys pulled away, fear written in every line of their bodies, and disappeared into the shadows without a word, while Erastus stood there. Another drop formed, bright red in the gloom of the day, to join its brother in front of the boy. Erastus moved his finger, and the blood drops followed. He shook his head to clear it of any hallucination, but the blood stayed where it was. He used his uninjured hand to wipe his crystal eyes, but that, too, proved futile. Erastus squeezed his injured finger and watched as the drops became a trickle. He watched with morbid enthrallment as the dribble of blood swirled upward instead of falling to the street.

Footsteps on the cobblestones penetrated the edge of Erastus’s hearing. He turned his head slightly, but never let his attention divert from the phenomenon before him. The swirls broke apart into separate drops then came back together into a ball. The ball elongated and twisted to form a small knife in the air before Erastus.

“What the hell are you doing? Cover that up.”

Erastus jumped at the sound of Dooby Hallowell’s voice. He turned to see his father coming toward him with hurried strides, his usually kind face red with fury.

“Did you hear me, boy? Cover it. Now.”

Erastus nodded once, but he couldn’t get his tongue to work. He wanted to ask his father what was happening, to get an explanation, but all he could do was stare wide-eyed at the man who’d raised him.

Dooby pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wrapped Erastus’s finger. The swirling drops fell, staining the handkerchief with bright red.

“Put some pressure on it to stop the bleeding, and come on home.”

Erastus didn’t argue. Instead, he followed Dooby back through Newpost to their small cottage at the edge of town.

“What the hell did you think you were doing?” Dooby demanded again once they were inside.

Erastus still refused to answer. His mind swirled with confusion over what he had seen.

“Did you hear me?”

Erastus looked up at his father, his eyes wide and frightened. “What happened? What was that?”

Dooby’s face softened, and he motioned for the boy to follow him into the kitchen. It was a simple room with a coal stove, a Cold Box, and a sink. A scrubbed wood table sat in the center, and a small counter held fruits and vegetables.

“Sit down at the table, son, and let’s get that tended.”

“It’s only a little cut, Father,” Erastus replied. His voice was hollow, uninflected, while his mind remained trapped in its muddle.

Dooby brought a clean rag and a bandage and stood before Erastus. “For others, yes. For you, any wound could be a potential problem.” Dooby cleaned the cut and bandaged it, then he sat down in the chair opposite Erastus. “I suppose you have some questions.”

Erastus nodded.

Dooby took a deep breath and blew it out. He looked at his son, then he nodded once and rose to his feet. Erastus watched, as it always seemed to take his father forever to reach his height. Dooby Hallowell wasn’t a small man, not by any means. Wide shoulders and over six feet of height filled whatever space he occupied. But Erastus didn’t want to think about that. He wanted answers, something to quell the fear that threatened to choke him.

Dooby pulled a bottle from the top shelf over the sink and poured himself some of the amber liquid. He returned to the table without speaking and lowered himself back into the chair. He took a long sip and sat the glass down, then he turned to his son and took another deep breath.

“All right. This is gonna take some telling, so don’t interrupt me once I get started, or I may not be able to go on.”

“It has to do with Mother, doesn’t it?” Erastus whispered. In all Erastus’s thirteen winters, he’d seldom heard Dooby Hallowell mention his deceased wife. When he was little Erastus had asked questions, but Dooby had always fallen into a sullen silence instead of answering.

Dooby nodded and drained his glass. He rose and refilled it before returning to the table and rubbing his face with his hands. “All right, son. You’ve asked about your mother your whole life, and I’ve never been able to talk about her.” Dooby paused to drink then looked over at his son with eyes swimming in tears. “You know she died just after you were born.”

Erastus nodded.

“We had to get a wet nurse to feed you. She wasn’t even able to do that.”

Erastus hung his head. For years he’d lived with a secret guilt, one that told him again and again that his mother had died because of his birth. He’d never shared that with his father. Or anyone else. But it gnawed at him in the quiet hours of the night, kept him awake when he was at the pinnacle of exhaustion. “I’m sorry.”

Dooby looked up, comprehension dawning. He reached over and patted Erastus’s hand, a hesitant gesture. “No, son. It wasn’t your fault. Your mother was injured by another.”

Erastus’s head shot up, and anger flashed in his gut. “What?”

Dooby took another sip from his glass. “It wasn’t your birth what killed her. It was something else.” He looked at his son with admiration. “I’m just glad she was able to birth you before she died, or I would’ve lost you both.”

Erastus stared at his father. Confusion was a shadowy veil that blocked all thought. All these years. All those nights. And it hadn’t been his fault? “What happened?” he asked, his voice more demanding than he’d ever dared be with Dooby.

Dooby sighed and rubbed his face. His eyes teared, and the color drained from his ruddy skin. “All right, son.” He looked up at Erastus as if judging his age and maturity, his ability to handle what he was about to say. “It was like this….