I shared the cover of a WIP, Aliyah’s Tears, last week, so I thought I’d share a snippet of the work this week.
Aliyah’s Tears is written in the epistolary style and is told through communication between Roxxie and Victoria, two college friends who’ve stayed in touch. I’m still working on distinguishing their voices from each other, but here’s a little bit from the beginning.
You know, it would make my life easier if you’d get a cell phone. Hell, even an email address would help. Why do you insist on written letters? It’s not like you’re in one place long enough to get them. Please consider coming into the modern world. I know you don’t want to, but technology is here to stay, dear heart, whether you want it to or not.
It was good to see you last month. I wish it had been a happier occasion, though. It was too bad about Aliyah. Do you remember her back in college? Back when we all roomed together? I’d thought about using her as a character in a book and had written this about her.
I’ll never forget the first time I saw her. Frightenly beautiful, yes, but cold. Hard. As if her bones were steel girders and her heart a stone that beat ice water. My opinion of her never changed, not in all the years we were acquainted. Yet I never once doubted her loyalty or fortitude.
I think that sums up the way I thought about her. I’ll never forget that first day when she walked in with the designer jeans and her hair in that braid that must’ve taken hours to do. *shakes head* I guess we were mean to laugh behind her back, especially since she wasn’t stuck up at all. She was cold, yes, and hard to get to know. I don’t think I ever found out any more about her than that she had three or four brothers. What about you? Do you know any more about her? I guess it’s weird that I’m only wondering now.
Anyhoo, I guess I’d better stick this in the mail while I still know where to send it. I just hope it gets to you before you head off on your next adventure.
I wish I could go with you, but I just can’t get away from work right now.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.