I’ve been doing some thinking about my writing lately. That’s why I haven’t been nearly as active on social media. I’m trying to decide on a direction, for I think I’m spread too thin.
I’m one of those eclectic readers/authors who likes to do so many things that I can’t keep track of all of them.
I love fantasy, and I love the world of Grevared. If I could get there, I’d pack my bags and leave now. I have so many ideas that span all age groups that my head spins when I think about them. I have a spreadsheet and all of my ideas are organized, but I don’t know which one to pursue first.
I also love mythology and folklore, and I’d like nothing more than to lock myself in a library with tons of books and research until I’m a skeleton turning to dust. I want to delve into the mysteries of ancient times and see where we came from.
I’m also a horror junkie, and, let’s face it, some days horror is just the way to go. Writing it is a cathartic exercise, and I’ve often wondered how many people have escaped prison by writing it. I don’t care much for horror novels, though, so most of my horror is short stories.
Then there are mysteries. I love trying to figure out who did what and when. I love the relaxing atmosphere created by cozy mysteries, and there is plenty of room to mix in my love of mythology and folklore.
So, at this point, I have no idea what I want to do and where I want to go. I know I’ll release The Spirits of Yule later this year, and I’m hoping to complete the anthologies Rise of the Mad Gods and a horror one. With the horror, I haven’t decided if a current WIP will be part of it or not. It’s a ‘wait and see’ thing right now.
So, as spring approaches and a new cycle begins, I’ll be doing some thinking while I pursue the writing.
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.”
For 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.
Flight Through the Forest
Wind in face.
Nose to ground.
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.
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.
I had a strange dream the other night that got me thinking about the story of “Hansel and Gretel”. Nothing serious, mind you, just the prevalence of these tales in our culture, in all cultures, really.
One of the things that’s always fascinated me about folklore and religion is the similarities between cultures that weren’t supposed to be in contact with each other. It’s always made me wonder how so many different people in so many different places could come up with the same thing at around the same time period. Don’t get me wrong, I understand Jung’s idea of archetypes and the collective unconscious and the universality of human experience. After all, we are all born, live, and die. We have to come to terms with ourselves and learn to live in the world on our own. I get that.
What’s always fascinated me is the amount of similarity and the desire of humans to pass on lessons through stories and analogy. I mean, when I’m trying to get my kids to understand something, I don’t couch it in metaphor and euphemism. I say it plainly. We do the same thing when talking about our day at work or teaching history, in some respects at least.
Why then the need for these tales? We know they serve a purpose outside of entertainment. Many of these tales allow children a glimpse into the adult world long before they experience it themselves. They allow us to meet fear in a form that isn’t as frightening, and children who are read fairy tales generally have an easier time with reading and comprehension. There’s something basic about them that speaks across time and culture to that place within us that makes us all human beings.
But who first thought them? Who crafted these marvelous glimpses into long ago that are so powerful we’re still rewriting them today? Was it an ancient family seated around a fire after a day of hunting? Was it a mother desperate to give hope to a sick child? Was it a sibling offering comfort to the younger ones in times of trouble?
I would love to create a time machine and travel back to that distant time just to watch this phenomena unfold, to meet the richness of culture and experience the connection that allowed the same thoughts, and plots, to arise on opposite sides of the world.
I suppose these are odd thoughts, and they definitely ramble, but I’ve spent the day making snow to decorate with, and I’ve had plenty of time for wandering thoughts.
I hope all have a wonderful holiday week and season.
Things have been a bit hectic lately, so writing has been on the back burner. Now that the holidays are upon us, I’m not so sure things will slow down, but I have hope.
Now that the weather’s cooling down and the leaves are changing, I find myself more motivated and more creative. The problem comes with deciding where to focus my time and energy. Do I want to continue with Grevared? I have a ton of stories in the works and more ideas in my noggin’. Do I want to get started on the YA modern fantasy that’s whirling around in my head? Right now, there are two stories, mostly fully formed, written in a notebook. Do I want to work on the horror stories that come unbidden into my dreams? And, boy, did I have a doozy last night. Or do I want to focus on building my proofreading business? I can do this for others, but making sure my own stuff is free of typos is another thing all together. Or do I want to abandon all of that and return to researching folklore and mythology? It’s not like we’ve figured it all out yet.
Mostly, it’s a matter of time management and organization, but I think it would be easier to petition the Universe for a few more hours in the day. But would that help? I’m not sure. I have no doubt I’ll figure it out when my mind has had a little time to slow down and consider a bit. Until then, I’ll keep on keeping on and do what I can when I can and hope the results are something others want to read.
At the end of the day, it’s the joy that comes from doing it, the journey rather than the destination, that matters.
Appearance: It has a dragon-like head and a serpentine body with no legs or wings. Most have horns on the head, though this can vary. Void serpents often grow to be several hundred feet long, and they have the strength to destroy a ship. Mating rituals are unknown, for no one has ever seen this activity. It is believed that the females lay eggs, but this has not been definitively determined. Void serpents also possess the ability to spit fire, though they are rarely seen to do so. They attack without provocation, and their population numbers are unknown.
Habitat: Void serpents live in the void. There is no other known habitat.
Diet: It is believed that the void serpent lives primarily on other void creatures, though just what these creatures are is still largely unknown. However, the serpents will eat those on the ships they attack.
Threat: The void serpent is extremely dangerous.
Notes: There is a legend, though I can’t vouch for its veracity, about demon creatures called Serpent Riders. It is said these beings have tamed the void serpents and use them to travel the void. I don’t believe in this legend, however, for there are none who can survive the chaotic energy in the void.
Those who’ve followed for a while know that Ethan Grimley’s favorite fruit is the assaberry. These berries are ubiquitous in Grevared and are one of the most common berries for use in baking and sweet-making. It is also the most common flavor of Fizzy Drink, and Mondor Fizzy Drinks and Snacks in Freywater owns large tracts of land in the Xaggarene Empire to grow the berries.
I also love creating food for my fantasy worlds, and the assaberry has been one of my biggest challenges so far. I wanted something with an unusual, but palatable, taste. Mixing berries was the obvious choice, but it was too obvious. However, after several trials, I’ve finally found a mixture I like. It still tastes like berries, of course, but there’s enough of something else to it to make it somewhat unique, at least as far as my culinary tastes run.
To Create the Assaberry Flavor
15 red grapes
juice of 1/2 orange
I made sponge cakes and jelly from the juice this time, but I also want to make jelly candies, since that’s one of Ethan’s favorite sweets. Now, if I can just find what I need for the talakilkonna tail, I’ll be good to go.
Ethan has finally settled in to his life as a Shadow Walker. Sure, he has to attend school, but with classes like combat, it isn’t too bad. On top of that, he’s made friends, so his life isn’t lonely or boring.
As Yuletide approaches, Ethan is looking forward to going home to see his family. And the best part? His friends are going with him.
After a harrowing trip across the void, Ethan finds himself once again at home. But nothing is how he left it. His best friends don’t take to his new friends, and his mother wants him to leave the Shadow Walkers. To make matters worse, Cronus again rears his head, and Ethan and his Shadow Walker friends must deal with the threat on their own.
The past few years have been a bit hectic, and I think I fell into writing as much to preserve my sanity as any other reason. Now that things have settled down, and I have a schedule that doesn’t kill me, I’ve embarked on a plan to rewrite and re-release The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III. I have to say that I’m much happier with the new versions of the stories.
Book one, now titled Path to Victory, (Thank you to a seven-year-old reader of the original for suggesting it.) will release on June 19, 2018. The first three chapters are available to read on my website, and I’ve almost finished the rewrite of book two, Tainted Victory.
I know a lot of people don’t like rewriting books, but I’ve found this to be quite enjoyable. I’ve been able to explore Ethan’s character and the world of Grevared much more than when I was first writing the stories. While I won’t rewrite the two adult books, Wolf in the Shadow and Aradia’s Secret, (mostly because they’ve already been done a couple of times), I think redoing Ethan will give me a better handle on the other books in the Gwennyth Grimsbane series and (okay, let’s not hold our breaths here) on the trilogy that started the world to start with (it takes place twenty years after Wolf in the Shadow).
Thanks to those who’ve stuck by this crazy ride so far. I hope you’ll continue to do so.