Mar
2015

State of the NPhoenix, an update, and future plans.

Happy Early Ostara to those who celebrate it! (Or Mabon[I think] if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere)

So there are some things I’m having to change. Plans schedules and whatnot. First of all, because of some things one of my kids is going through, I’ve had to prioritize him and his needs over everything else. Now that he’s where he’s getting the help he needs, I’m able to readjust my schedule and reorganize my plan for 2015.

Elemental Truth.

I sat down a few days ago and did a full read through of E1, from the front to back. And I discovered something sorta distressing about the back end, which I’m working on right now. It is nowhere near where I thought it was completion wise. There are several things I need to rewrite/fix to make it a rounded tale. So where does that put the serial? I thought I’d get it done and have it up for sale by the first. And tbh if I didn’t have other things going on in my life, I would have. But it wouldn’t have been what I want it to be. It wouldn’t have done justice to the story I’m trying to tell. It wouldn’t have been the best I can do with it. I don’t want that. My readers don’t deserve a half assed attempt. I went with self-pubbing so I could control my schedule. I need to remind myself of this.

I’m going to cut the serial postings to once a week. I know, I know, it’s been sporadic as it is, and for that I apologize. Reducing my stress level is a big thing for me right now. So I think I’ll be posting chapters around Tuesday or Wednesday.

When it is done, it will be offered up for sale on the usual sites and I’m planning on going through Createspace to do a print version also.

Blog

It has suffered from neglect. I admit that. I’m working on putting together some more posts to get back on a schedule. I would love any suggestions for topics.

Other Projects & this year’s writing/pubbing plan.

I decided that this year is the year of the series. What that means, to put it simply, is that my focus is going to be on getting my series written and up for sale. The Avaria series, the Elemental series to start with. I have a lot planned. It’s time to get them done.

Flash Friday. I haven’t done that in so long, and I want to get back to doing that too. ATM it would be sporadic though, E1 is my main focus with the Zander tales on it’s heels ready to be finished. I’m not sure I can spread my attention that far.

ATM I don’t have dates down for when stuff will be out. I am going to be trying to guesstimate that this week, and put up the announcement or somesuch next week.

Real Life

To give you a rundown, and I feel I owe explanations to my readers. My 14 year old got caught up in a very bad situation last summer. What followed was lots of court stuff, him being in juvie, and then at home monitoring, and trying to get to the bottom of what seems like a 180 degree change in attitude. Currently he is in a special inpatient program which is helping him address his issues (drug & alcohol and mental illness such as depression & PTSD) and we are doing our best to cope with the fact that the kid we knew is not who he is now. It’s a tough thing to accept but we are doing our best.

Thoughts, prayers, candles lit, Buddha’s belly being rubbed are all appreciated. I worry that his bright star will be forever dimmed by this. Then again I am a worry wort, so I may be over-stressing.

Hug your families. Hug your friends. Let people you care about KNOW that you care about them. You never know what might happen tomorrow. Don’t put it off.

NPhoenix

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Dec
2014

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 19

This entry is part 20 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

 
Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

 

 

It was less a tunnel than a very narrow gorge that wound its way through a very tall plateau. Far above, light tricked between the cracks, lighting up their path. The horses didn’t like it. Tier and Rale resorted to carefully securing spare tunics over their heads and leading them. Geb smoothed the passage, and in places widened the way. They spoke little, and when they did their voices echoed.

They reached a wide cavern shortly before night fell, and found themselves standing at the base of a huge carved structure. Statues, similar to the ones in the canyon, lined the walls of the cavern. A tall opening was guarded by two carvings of sand dragons, somewhere in the distance the wind whistled through the gorge, echoing through the cavern and sending chills up Xin’s spine. She couldn’t take her eyes off the gaping doorway and jumped when a hand touched her shoulder.

Tier’s eyebrow arched and he motioned behind him. “Lets try to make camp, don’t worry about that doorway.”

She nodded and watched him make his way back over to the horses.

Dinner was a muted, quiet affair and they turned in shortly after. When she woke the next morning, the doorway to the structure was sealed by rock.

“Geb, did you do that?” Tier asked in a low voice.

“No.” Geb looked at him, eyes wide. “I didn’t feel anything.”

Tier nodded.

“Lets get going, this place is creepy.” Rale said, his voice hoarse.

 

They made their way through a narrower tunnel that stopped abruptly. Geb placed his hand on it, head bowed.

“These tunnels feel like they were closed off a long time ago.” He looked up and pointing towards the sliver of sky overhead. “Someone closed it. I think some further ahead collapsed over time.” He looked up at Tier. “I think whoever came through here was in a hurry.”

“I wonder what they were running from.” Xin murmured.

“Sand dragons?” Rale suggested.

“Nekarians?” Tier shrugged.

“No.” Geb looked back and forth. “I think these tunnels are older than Nekar.”

Xin’s heart pounded in her ears. “How can you tell?”

Geb opened his mouth and then closed it and shrugged. “I can’t explain.”

“Any clue as to how long this goes?” Tier asked.

Geb shrugged. “Half a day, maybe? I can’t tell. The tunnels ahead feel very strange.”

“Can you open them up?” Tier placed a hand on the stone, frowning. Xin wanted to ask him what, if anything, he felt, but she bit her lip. Rale was watching them both closely.

“I can. But it might take some time.” Geb sat and put both hands on the floor beside him. “They were masters who passed through here.”

The rock slowly melted apart, like wax near a flame. Darkness beckoned. Rale lit the torches without a word and handed one to Xin.

 

They went slowly through the tunnel, Geb paused periodically to reopen closed off passages or clear debris. Tier watched the youth closely. Though he looked frail and on the verge of starvation, his abilities were astounding, but he was still a boy. Barely a child who had gone through a difficult time. Tier feared the boy would push himself too far.

“There’s nothing beyond this wall.” Geb said, pressing a hand against the rock. “We’re almost out.”

“Let’s hope there are no sand dragons on the other side.” Rale said.

Tier touched the boy’s shoulder. “It’s probably daylight. It’ll be blinding.”

Geb nodded and bowed his head. The rock melted aside slowly, a pin point of light appeared, pouring into the tunnel. Tier squinted, his eyes tearing in the light. He stepped out of the tunnel once the opening was large enough, leading the horses. Sand met tough grass, stretching before him as far as the eye could see was green. Prairie.

“Shit.” Rale’s voice was low. “It’s Sandau, isn’t it?”

Tier hesitated and nodded. “Yep.”

Rale swore again.

“So which way?” Xin asked.

Tier glanced at her, gut twisting, and looked back over the grasses gently waving in a breeze he couldn’t feel. East was Sandau, west, the desert and the sand dragons. He motioned towards the distant line of green.

“We’ll make for the trees and see if we can’t find see a village or something.”

 

The light grew dim as they reached the forest. Distances were deceiving and Tier was tired. They all were, though no one said anything. Not even Rale. They took little time setting up a camp and getting things started for food. Geb was staring, face unreadable, all around them as they worked.

“Something wrong?” Tier asked after Rale and Xin left to go get some firewood.

“It’s all very green. Isn’t it?” The boy looked up at him, his eyes far older than his body.

“They say the further north you go, the colder it gets. There are some places that never thaw.”

“Thaw?” Geb frowned, peering towards the trees. “As in ice?”

“And snow.” Tier grinned at the boy’s awed face.

“The only snow I ever saw was on Lord Farook’s head!” Rale said, halting in front of them, arms full of sticks. His clothes were muddy and showing some travel wear. A far cry from the arrogant lord back in Dhaul. “I thought I saw some twinkling lights in the distance. Could be a town. Towns have inns and supplies.”

“See any sign of troops?” Tier asked.

“Troops?” Xin frowned at him.

“Lord Chiron was going to try to take the fort. I’d expect there to be troop movements from Sandau.”

 

It was barely day when they broke camp, making for a distant road Rale had spotted. They pushed through the grass sending birds flying. The road was a wide swath of dirt running north to south. It was pleasant, though a quiet journey. They reached a crossroads that with a weather worn signpost stuck in the middle. Xin frowned, the language one she’d never seen before. Tier swore, leaned forward and glanced at Rale.

“We’re in Sandau all right.”

Rale pulled his horse to a halt. “This is bad.”

“Rale,”

“What if the gods smiled on Chiron while we were in the canyons and he took the fort? That would put us at war with Sandau.”

“We can’t get back to Delebeg from here without going back through the canyons. If we get near the fort, we’d be on the wrong side of the mountains.” Tier leaned forward, staring towards the distant river. “We could try to skirt along the mountains to reach Jaktor.”

Rale nodded and looked at Xin. Her stomach flopped, his frown deepened before he looked back at Tier and shrugged. “We need an inn, I need a bed, a meal at a table and a bath. I’m not the only one.”

Tier nodded, though he didn’t look like he cared much for the idea. “According to that,” he pointed at the signpost. “There’s a town up this road. We’ll make for it. We have to keep our heads down.”

 

They rode on in silence, south on the road, once moving off to one side as a patrol on fast trotting horses passed. Their uniforms were red and black, orange flames embroidered on the backs of their black tunics. Xin frowned. Flames. Fire elementals? She glanced at Tier but he was just watching them as they disappeared in the distance.

The road angled east, and in the distance Xin could see a village and far beyond it, near the river, a collection of buildings.

“That would be Sandau.” Tier said in a low voice, he half turned and pointed towards the distant cliffs behind them. “The other side of those cliffs is Delebeg.”

“There’s smoke.” Geb said.

“The fort?” Xin asked.

Tier shrugged.

They reached the village as the sun was sinking in the west, casting brilliant oranges and pinks over the sky. There was a large building, an inn, a local told them, which served as a meeting hall and tavern. The proprietor met them in the stable yard. She was a slim, unsmiling woman who eyed them all with suspicion.

“The stables are around back.” She said, her voice very low. “I’ve only got one room to spare. Bathing hall is on the first floor.” She rattled off a price that made Xin wince. Tier nodded.

“Food?”

“I can have the servants bring it up for you.” She narrowed her eyes, looking back and forth between Tier and Rale. “You’re Nekarian.”

“On a personal vacation.” Rale said. “I’ve never been outside Nekar! So I thought I’d take a look see. My father thinks I’m a fool for it, but it’s a grand world, wouldn’t you say?”

The woman snorted. “If you say so.”

Rale turned to Geb. “Boy, take the horses to the stable!”

Geb glared and glanced at Xin before taking the reins and going in the direction the woman had pointed out.

“The room is up the stairs and all the way to the end of the hall.” The woman told Rale. Rale nodded, glanced at Tier.

“Pay the good woman, would you?” and flounced up the stairs.

“Insufferable.” The woman commented as Tier handed her the money.

“You have no idea.” He said, motioning Xin to go ahead of him. As they reached the top of the stairs Tier sighed. “I’m gonna kill him.”

“He’s going to get himself killed if he doesn’t watch it.” Xin leaned against the wall, looking up at him. “Do you think it’ll cause us trouble?”

“I don’t know. I’m not familiar with Sandau people. I keep telling him to tone it down. I don’t think he quite gets it.” Tier jerked his head towards the room. “Come on, lets make sure he’s not dirtying up the place.” He draped an arm over her shoulders. Xin smiled and leaned against him. She didn’t want to think about what would happen when they reached Nekar.

He dropped his arm and pushed the door open and chuckled. Rale had fallen face down on the nearest bed, legs and arms out like a puppet.

“MMmmmffmm.” Rale’s voice was muffled.

“What?” Tier crossed his arms and moved to one side as Geb entered the room, his eyes wide as he looked around.

Rale turned his head. “I said, I think I have reached paradise!”

“You’re getting the bedding dirty, Rale.” Xin pointed out. She went to her pack and glanced at the men. “I don’t know about you, I’m going to take a bath. And get clean before I throw myself on the bed!”

~*~

The next chapter will be posted Tues Dec 9th.

If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

Want more to read? Check out J.A. Marlow’s Summer Crash serial & A.J. Devial’s Distant Sun

Thanks for reading. :)

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Oct
2014

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 17

This entry is part 18 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

 

Two towering statues guarded the entrance to the canyon. Their features were worn from time and weather, leaving their gender impossible to guess. At their feet, peeking from beneath the sand and rock, were cobblestones. Tier gazed into the canyon, the cobblestones lined the canyon floor. He glanced up, looking for the floating rocks he’d seen when on the roof of the ancient building. Nothing but blue sky with white clouds skittering by.

“It’s a road.” Xin said, bringing his thoughts back to the canyon.

“It looks like no one has been down this way in years.” Tier leaned forward in the saddle peering at the narrowing canyon. “We might have to dismount and lead the horses if it gets too narrow.”

“I don’t like the look of it.” Rale said. “It looks, evil.” From the canyon, on the wind, came a low howl sound. Tier glanced at Rale. Blood drained from his face and he slowly shook his head. “No.”

“Come on Rale, it’s not as bad as the Dhaul Fortress.” Xin said lightly.

“I’m not going through that.” Rale pointed. “Did you hear that? No. Absolutely not.”

“Don’t worry Rale, I’ll protect you.” Geb grinned at him. He pointed at the ground at the statue’s feet. “It just a road. We stay on the cobblestones, we’ll be fine. It’s straying off the path that will get us into trouble.”

Rale gave him a dirty look.

“One word Rale,” Tier said. “Seeress.”

“Shit.” Rale rubbed his face with his hand. “Fine, after you.”

Tier snorted and urged his horse between the two statues, into the canyon. The only other place they could go was south, back to Nekar and the Seeress, and he wasn’t ready to admit defeat. Not yet. He’d found two Elementals, and felt another one using power somewhere beyond this canyon.

Aside from the wind and their own passing, there was no sound. Though the canyon did narrow, they stayed mounted, and as the shadows lengthened Tier called a halt. Up ahead, in the distance, tucked beneath an overhang was what appeared to be some sort of cottage. He and Rale exchanged dubious glances and they carefully made their way toward it.

“It’s been empty a long time.” Xin dismounted and glanced at the men. “I say we stop here for the night. I don’t think we’ll make it to the city before nightfall.”

Rale groaned. “I’d go through the night. I want out of this,” the wind picked up, a long whistling howl that made the hairs on the back of Tier’s neck stand up. “Canyon.”

“I’m with Xin.” Geb slid off of Rale’s horse. “I’m tired and I’m not going through that at night.”

They all looked at Tier. He stared past them. The canyon curved in the distance. He frowned.

“Tier.” Xin’s voice dragged him out of his thoughts. He exhaled slowly.

“We’ll stay the night. Rale see if there’s a place to tie up the horses.”

Rale dismounted and stomped off, leading his horse to the other side of the building, grumbling under his breath.

The cottage was filled with nearly a foot of sand. There was nothing resembling furniture, though it probably rotted away long ago. Tier started a fire in a place that looked like it might have been a fire pit. Xin knelt beside him.

“If that was smoke we saw, wouldn’t we be smelling it by now?” She asked in a low voice. Tier looked at her and nodded. “So if it wasn’t smoke, what was it?”

Tier frowned, looking down at the dark ruddy sand. He scooped up a handful and let it fall between his fingers. “Dust storm maybe?”

“And,”

“Maybe air elemental?” He barely whispered, though Rale and Geb were in an animated discussion about something. Xin looked at the fire.

“So now what?”

“We keep going. Check out the city, though I’m guessing it’s empty.”

“If there was an air elemental, it must not be that empty.” Xin stood glancing at Geb and Rale.

Tier said nothing, looking back at the fire. Air or fire, the problem would be convincing whatever it was to join them.

 

 

“That’s a hell of a city.” Rale whispered. The canyon opened up to a valley divided by huge walls and beyond the walls, built upwards into the cliffs, were structures, though Tier couldn’t tell if they were homes or something else entirely.

“It reminds me of a bee hive.” Xin pointed. “The wall is breached over there.”

“Nekarians?” Geb asked. They all looked at Tier. He shrugged and turned his horse towards the breach.

Sand was piled along the bottom of the walls in huge drifts, some taller than he was. The walls themselves were made of huge oddly shaped blocks of stone. Unlike the walls he’d seen in Jacktor and Nekar, these were thicker, octagonal and fitted puzzle-like, resembling a honeycomb.

He dismounted, leading the horse towards the large tumbled stones, half covered in sand. Old scorch marks on the stones and the walls themselves hinted at a deadly battle.

“I wonder who they were.” Xin murmured.

“And who attacked.” Geb pointed. “There’s burn marks up there.”

“I wonder who won.” Tier looked up at the structures on the cliff-side. “Unbelievable.”

“Tier, is that, smoke?” Rale asked.

Tier looked in the direction Rale pointed and swore. “No.”

“Sandstorm!” Geb darted through the breach. “There’s a building here, big enough for the horses.”

They scrambled inside as howling wind carrying a wall of sand advanced. It was cramped and stuffy and when the wind and sand reached them, it filled with choking air and dust. They huddled, for how long Tier wasn’t sure. When it finally passed, the shadows had lengthened and the air had an odd, ruddy color to it.

“That’s what we saw.” Tier rubbed his forehead. He was about to suggest heading back towards the canyon when he felt it again, a flutter of power against his mind. This time it was further away. He leaned back against the wall trying not to swear aloud.

 

“It’s no wonder it was abandoned.” Rale said. They’d stayed the night in the long, low building and were exploring, cautiously, the ruins between the wall and the buildings. “No food, no water,”

“There is water.” Xin corrected him. “I feel it, in this direction.” She motioned towards two tall circular buildings.

“Aside from that, I don’t know how a place this big would support any kind of,” Rale hesitated, looking up in the sky. “Population.”

“Floating rocks maybe?” Tier suggested.

“Shouldn’t we see them? From here?” Xin asked.

“One would think.” Rale snorted. “Hey Geb, no wandering off!”

Tier followed Xin towards the round buildings, looking for any wisps or ghosts of the city’s former occupants. Nothing. He glanced back towards the city wall. There must have been a vicious battle. The death toll must have been staggering.

“Tier, look at what Geb found.” Rale’s voice had an odd hollow tone to it. Tier sighed. Rale and Geb hurried over to him, Geb held a strange cloth covered something in his trembling hands. Rale’s face was pale. “This fabric,” He handed the package to Tier. “It looks familiar.”

It was heavy, square and the gray fabric was wrapped several times around it. He carefully unwrapped it, pausing when he reached a hem complete with a knotted tassel. The tassel reminded him of the priest robes at the Oracle.

“Priest robe, perhaps?”

“Why would a priest of Nekar come out this way to hide something?” Geb asked.

Tier looked at Rale who shrugged, and continued unwrapping. When he reached the item it was wrapping, his breath caught. The cloth fluttered to the ground, unnoticed.

“A book?” Geb asked.

“Not just a book.” Rale’s voice sounded strangled. Tier couldn’t tear his eyes away from the dark brown leather cover. Set in the center, in gold filigree, was a large eye; curling up on one end, down on the other and sliced across by three slash marks. The symbol had dominated his childhood, was embroidered on every Nekarian flag that flew.

“I don’t believe it.” Tier swallowed and crouched. He felt a bit light headed as he carefully opened the book.

“I’ll be damned.” Rale whispered. “What is this doing out here?”

Tier shook his head, carefully turning the gold edged pages.

“Ok, we’re in the dark over here.” Xin knelt beside him, touching his arm. “What is it?”

“It’s a national treasure.” Rale answered before Tier could form words. “The genealogy of the Imperial household.”

“It was stolen before I was born, I’ve only heard tales of it.” Tier murmured.

Rale took the book and glanced at Tier. He flipped back to the first two pages, running his finger over the precise script. “The first Emperor, and his wife. The further you go, the closer to now the book gets. It lists every major union to the Imperial House, every child born, every death.” He flipped back to the last page with writing. “Looks like it stops right after your parents got married.” He looked at Tier.

“That fits.” Tier took the book back, leafing through the pages casually. “Father went to enter Maen’s birth in it and discovered it was missing.” He frowned as he turned the pages. Every now and then he caught sight if the Seeress’s symbol besides names. He returned to the first page, then slowly flipped towards his parents’ entry. Every Empress had symbols of their households drawn beside the name. But every four or five generations was her symbol. He closed the book and glanced down at the cloth mind racing.

“It’s been around since the beginning of the Empire?” Geb asked incredulously.

“For a book over a thousand years old, it’s in very good shape.” Xin said.

“They say the Seeress used her powers to keep it as though it was new.” Tier said.

“Or it gets replaced every few generations, to make it look like it is preserved.” Xin crossed her arms. “I wouldn’t put it past them.”

“This is a priest robe then.” Rale lifted it up. “Who would have done this?”

“I don’t know.” Tier hesitated.

A loud rattling and clacking sound bounced off the city walls and the cliffs, a shadow fell over them, swaying back and forth. Tier stood, aware the horses bolting back towards the round buildings. The caster of the shadow towered above them, it’s head larger than the horses and framed by a large red frill. The sharp snout opened revealing huge, thin sharp teeth. It hissed and Tier stepped back slowly, hand on the hilt of his sword.

“What is that?” Rale choked out.

The frills shook, accompanied by another long rattling sound. The tongue snaked out, forked at the end.

“That’s a sand dragon.” Geb whispered.

“A what?” Rale drew his own sword, standing beside Tier.

“A sand dragon. They’re supposed to be myth!” Geb grabbed Tier’s arm. “We have to get out of here, I think it might be hungry!”

 

~*~

The next chapter will be posted Thurs, Oct 16th.

If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

Want more to read? Check out J.A. Marlow’s Summer Crash serial & A.J. Devial’s Distant Sun

Thanks for reading. :)

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Jul
2014

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 9 pt 2

This entry is part 10 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

 

With Vieno’s warnings in mind, and her head feeling like her scalp was going to rip off, Xin followed the matronly woman to the waiting chamber. Though she’d felt almost dazzled by the dress Vieno had draped on her, the other women’s gowns, edged in gold and silver, made hers look far simpler. Vieno smiled at her, turned and left. The other women eyed her, like a cat would eye a mouse.

They were all taller than she was, darker complicated and heavily adorned with beads and things in their hair and dangling from their earlobes. They took her in, whispering amongst themselves and then dismissed her as a loud gong echoed. There were several low tables, men sitting on cushions on the marble floor and a crescent shaped table up on a dais. Lord Chiron sat at the center, to his left was a space that, as she hesitated, was filled by one of the elegant women. To his right sat Tier and Rale, a space between them. When they saw her they exchanged a look she couldn’t read before Tier motioned her to join them. To the space beside him. In front of all those people who watched her every move.

She made her way quickly, praying she wouldn’t trip on the skirts or the cushions that were lining either side of the tables. When she reached the dais she was shaking and she sank to the cushion between the men, locking her eyes on the plate before her.

“You all right?” Tier asked in a low voice. She glanced up at him trying not to see the people watching her. Both he and Rale had changed into more appropriate dinner wear, tunic and robes similar in style to the Delebeg people. It was odd seeing Tier without armor or weapons. Clothing change or not, he looked like a soldier in finery, which was oddly comforting.

“There are a lot of people here.” She whispered. Tier nodded and rested his hand on her knee, leaning over towards her.

“Pretend they aren’t there. You’ll be fine.” His voice was the barest whisper.

“Easy for you to say.” She glanced up at him when he squeezed her knee in a manner she guessed meant to be reassuring.

“They’re too worried with my title to see the people around them.” he squeezed her knee again and then removed his hand. Xin bit her lip looking back down at her plate feeling slightly bereft. She rubbed her forehead, what was she thinking?

“Just ignore them.” Rale murmured at her other side. “They’re too worried about impressing Tier at the moment.”

“I know, but it’s kind of hard to ignore them.” Xin did a quick glance around the room her stomach did a flop. Chiron watched her, his expression cold, emotionless. His eyes revealed nothing, Xin fought the urge to shiver and run, instead forcing a courteous smile.

“Is everything acceptable?” he hesitated. “My lady?” He said the last slowly, as if in doubt his gaze flickering past her. An attempted insult, she was certain of it. His expression gave nothing away but she could feel the tension in both Tier and Rale.

“Yes, my lord.” She forced her own smile, blinking several times vapidly. He wanted to play games? She’d played games with Matau aplenty. “It is unexpected to find such revelry so far from the Empire.” She smiled again, this time pleased to see the tension in his shoulders.

“Delebeg is the Empire, my lady.” he replied through gritted teeth.

“On the outskirts of, I suppose.” she said sweetly. Tier’s hand was back on her knee, gentle warning pressure. “It is a beautiful dining hall.” she hesitated before adding “My Lord.” Tier’s fingers dug into her knee almost painfully. Rale jabbed her in the side.

“Be nice.” Rale hissed at her.

Lord Chiron smiled coldly at her then looked towards the back of the room, clapping twice, loudly. Servants filed in, scantily clad men and women with trays of all sorts of food. Meats, roasts, fruits, jugs of liquids with fine goblets adorned huge silver trays, and with them wafted the rich smells that made her mouth water.

Though she felt a bit braver for crossing subtle insults with Chiron, as the noise in the room grew Xin longed for the little cove in Dhaul, for her small attic. Even the fortress chambers, anything but this hall with all its noise and so many people. Everyone from her village could have fit in this room. Rale handed her a small glass of water.

“Whatever you do don’t drink the wine.” he whispered.

“Why?” Xin glanced up and down the table, neither Rale nor Tier had any of it though Chiron’s clear glass was full of the pale purple liquid.

“The wine’s strong and I don’t trust Chiron.” Rale tapped the plate with his knife. “That red stuff is spicy, it burns. The meat should be pretty good, but anything that is red, steer clear of.”

Xin looked at him and nodded. “Anything else I should know?” she whispered.

“Chiron hates Tier. I think the feeling might be mutual.” Rale ate a bit, motioning her to do the same. Tier and Chiron were talking about some military issue. “Chiron will try to goad you or I into being rude. If we slip he can complain to the Emperor, which might give Tier some trouble.”

Xin nodded. She stared at the food her stomach doing flops. “There’s too many people here.”

“This is nothing.” Rale touched her hand. “The hall of the Imperial Palace is twice this size, so is the hall in Lorn. This,” he gestured to the hall. “Is small.”

Chiron slammed his hand down, startling everyone. Tier looked at him.

“A bit extreme, don’t you think?” Tier’s voice was bland.

“Whose hall is this, your highness?”

“T’was merely a suggestion, at the insistence of your general, Chiron. Nothing more. Nothing personal.” Tier sipped his water and made a motion with his free hand. “You’ve brought back some old traditions, I’ve only read about. Why?”

Chiron lifted his wine glass and sneered. “There are certain things we’ve let go of since the campaigns to expand began. Did you know,” he paused downing his wine. Xin glanced at Rale who was slowly shaking his head. “That in the days of our Great Grandfather women wouldn’t dine in the same room as the leaders?”

“Indeed.” Tier’s hand rested again on Xin’s knee. She considered batting it off, but restrained herself.

“Women are unclean, they say.” Chiron looked directly at Xin. “In the days of our glorious ancestors women wouldn’t even live in the same house as the men.”

“I’m sure the Seeress would find that truly enlightening, seeing as she is, after all, a woman.” Xin said sweetly, batting at Tier’s hand. The mention of the Seeress had an instant effect on both men. The blood drained from Chiron’s face, even Tier glared at her.

“The Seeress changed those traditions, and for reason.” Tier said. Xin batted at his hand again glaring. The gong sounded again.

“That’s the cue for the unclean women to leave.” A woman’s voice broke the strained silence. Chiron’s woman stood, tipping the plate of food in her hand over Chiron’s head, and let the platter fall to the ground with a loud, echoing clatter. “Perhaps you should ask the Seeress for clarification on this, tradition.” She snarled. She stormed down from the dais as Chiron spluttered. Tier released Xin’s knee, but gripped her arm as she prepared to stand.

“Go straight to the rooms they assigned you. We’ll talk once this mess is cleared up.” The cold tone in his voice sent chills up her spine. She nodded and he released her. “And keep quiet. Please?”

She took a deep breath. “Only because you said please.” She murmured. As she stood she caught the hint of amusement in Tier’s eyes and Rale had both hands covering his face, his shoulders shaking. As she left she felt almost lighthearted. Almost. She felt the weight of Chiron’s dark glare at her back as she left, and she wished Tier could have gone with her.

 

“You’re lucky we’re guests.” Tier said as he entered.

Xin half turned in the chair, heart pounding. How did the man, large as he was move so quietly? Vieno chuckled behind her.

“She’s got fire. I don’t think there was a person in there who disagreed with her. Many of the nobles, men and women alike are getting tired of Chiron’s ways.” Vieno said. The woman was removing the string of pearls and undoing the twisting braids in Xin’s hair.

“Chiron’s fuming. Serves the bastard right.” Tier set a tray down on the low table and made his way over. Xin looked back at the mirror watching his reflection. He grinned. “I think Rale cracked a rib laughing.”

“Chiron’s woman has created many public scandals.” Vieno set the pearls to one side, smiling at Xin in the mirror. “She embarrasses him constantly.”

“He’s an embarrassment to the Empire. That’s why he’s in Delebeg.”

Vieno paused. “True. Delebeg suffers for it though.”

Xin looked down in her lap, at her hands. “I’m sorry he was, aggravating me.”

“No need to apologize.” Tier said with a chuckle.

Xin glanced up at the mirror as he sat in one of the low chairs.

“Bastard deserved it.” He said.

“Tier.” Vieno admonished.

“Vieno, he was goading her, if she hadn’t snapped Rale would have or I. She can get away with it, we can’t.”

“Still.” Vieno finished and ran a comb through Xin’s hair. “He’s still your blood.”

“Vieno,”

“He and Maen are alike. And they know how to get under your skin.”

“Maen was never this aggravating.” Tier snorted.

“I’m sure he would find that interesting.” Vieno stepped back. “You finish your meal, I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Thank you Vieno.” Xin said quickly running her hands through her hair. Her head still felt tight and achy from having her hair twisted so tightly.

“Won’t you stay?” Tier asked smoothly. “There’s enough for all, including Rale if he decides to stop ogling Fatira.”

“No, I ate already.” She gave him a slight bow. “Goodnight children.”

“Children?” Tier asked archly.

“When I look at you, Tier, I still see the twelve year old boy trying to wield a battle axe larger than he was!” Vieno patted his shoulder as she passed by.

“That ended badly.” He snorted again. “And that boy grew up a long time ago.”

“You’re still alone though.” Vieno gave him a long look before curtsying and leaving.

“She cares a lot for you.” Xin observed. Tier looked at her nodding.

“She’s an amazing woman.” Tier motioned her over. “You can’t eat halfway across the room, Xin.”

Xin stood, made her way to the low chair across from where Tier sat and seated herself looking at Tier for a moment her stomach doing wild flops.

“I’m sorry Tier.”

He leaned forward shaking his head as he pulled the cover off the tray. “And I said not to apologize.”

“But,”

“Chiron is drunk.” He lifted a plate and handed it to her. “He started drinking around the same time we arrived and, according to his servants, hasn’t stopped.”

Xin took the plate and sat back, crossing her legs under her. “Because of you being here?”

“More than likely. Chiron and I don’t care for each other.” He leaned back with a chuckle. “Like my brother, Chiron seeks recognition for deeds others have done.”

“And you don’t?” Xin asked after quickly swallowing a piece of meat.

“I have my reputation.” He shrugged. “It is enough to know my advice and experience is sought after, even if I am, officially, on vacation.”

They ate in comfortable silence, far more peaceful than the dining hall, though Tier did comment several times about Rale’s absence. Long after Tier left, Xin sat staring at the seat he’d occupied.

~*~

The next chapter will be posted Thurs, July 24th.

If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

Want more to read? Check out J.A. Marlow’s Summer Crash serial!

Thanks for reading. :)

(c) 2014 Necia Phoenix

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Jul
2014

Elemental Truth ~ Chapter 9 pt 1

This entry is part 09 of 37 in the series Elemental Truth

Disclaimer;  Elemental Truth, the first of the Elemental Wars books, is in the final stages of editing.  Hope you all enjoy it.

 

Chapter 9 pt 1

The city of Delebeg dominated the desert valley, the towering walls of the city a ruddy red matching the local rock. It straddled a dry riverbed that was dotted with old, long unused docks. The road leading to the tall gates was wide and lined with tall stones. The guards at the gate straightened and nodded in Tier’s direction as they passed through.

Within the walls, the buildings were the same mud brick as the walls, and the dry dusty air made Xin feel like she was about to sneeze. Xin trailed behind the men. People stopped, staring as they went by. Many of them were dressed in loose robes that billowed in the lightest breeze.

In the center of the city, glowing white beneath the unforgiving sun, was a palace. The closer they got to it, the more Xin noticed greenery. She frowned, glancing back. The people were following them from a distance. Xin swallowed, and urged her horse to move faster, closer to Rale and Tier. These people were unnerving.

The road changed as they neared the palace. From brick to carefully laid cobblestones, and those following them stopped at the line where it changed. Neither men seemed to notice. Xin forced her attention on the arched gate. Beyond the gate was a courtyard and on the far end was a set of steps leading up to double doors. At the top of the steps stood a man. Tall, thin and gaunt, his eyes glittered as they neared. Tier raised his hand in greeting and dismounted.

“No fanfare, no announcements nor chalets, just riding up the road. Gods of the great high one, you haven’t changed a bit.” The man’s voice was deep and though he was smiling, it failed to reach his eyes. Xin’s stomach twisted. There was something off about this man, but she wasn’t sure what.

“Hello Lord Chiron, I don’t suppose we could impose on your hospitality?” Tier asked, meeting him half way down the steps. “We’ve been on the old road for a while, and could use a rest.”

“My household would be honored to have you here, your highness.” Chiron said, bowing. “Lord Rale? Is that you under all that dust?”

“It is.” Rale slid off his horse and limped over to Xin’s horse. “It’s a hell of a trek down the mountain.”

“It is.” Chiron laughed. “Why did you take the old road.”

“Scenery!”

Xin dismounted stepping back as several youths with shaved heads arrived, bowed to them and took the reins from their hands, guiding the horses towards a side archway. Xin watched bemused. She couldn’t tell if they were male or female and their simple clothes didn’t give any hints When she looked back towards the men, Lord Chiron was staring at her, his heavy brows pulled together. His false smile faded.

“I do not recognize you, my lady.” Chiron’s voice was odd. Xin glanced over at Tier, unsure of what to say.

“This is Xin.” Tier motioned her over, resting a hand on her shoulder, he squeezed gently. “A road companion headed for Sandau.”

Xin gave what she hoped was a proper curtsy. The way Chiron was staring at her made her wonder if she’d sprouted horns and hadn’t noticed.

“Still picking up strays along the way, eh?” Chiron looked back at Tier and sneered. He motioned them to follow him up the stairs. “You haven’t changed at all.”

“I believe you said that already.” Rale muttered as he touched Xin’s shoulder. “Come on, this will be unpleasant. Chiron hogs the water for the palace grounds so we might as well take advantage of it.”

“Is that why the people were following us?”

“Chiron isn’t exactly liked. The people here are always short on water.” Rale glanced behind him. “That’s how Chiron keeps them docile.”

“Awful.”

“It is. He is.”

“It is going to be a long few days.” Xin murmured.

“Yep.” Rale grimaced and allowed her to go ahead of him into the palace.

They followed Chiron through large open halls and corridors, a maze that Xin feared she’d get lost in if left behind. The forest and finding her way in the mountains were easy. The mere idea of trying to manage these passages by herself made her gut twist. They were nearing another set of doors when Xin felt the heavy pull of water.

She hesitated, glancing around. When the doors opened from without, the moisture hit her. Chiron had led them to an inner courtyard that flaunted his ownership of the water. It was dominated by a large fountain and pool, and around the base was a pond with water lilies. Along the edge of the courtyard, in huge buckets, were fruit laden trees. The moisture tugged at her, calling to her. She wanted to dive into the fountain, to rid herself of the dust and dry air.

She hesitated at the entry, glancing at Tier. He was listening to whatever Chiron was saying.

“We have a situation to the northeast. I must meet with my officials.” Chiron was saying.

He clapped twice and two young women with dark skin and draped in loose, light yellow wraps, hurried over. Behind them, her steps slow and deliberate, her hands clasped in front of her, was an older woman. Her skin not quite as dark, and her wraps though similar style, were a rich orange with embroidery along the edges. One of the robes was pulled halfway over her head, covering her hair from view. She halted and bowed at Chiron.

“You called, my lord?”

“Take care of my guests.” HE turned towards Tier. “Is there anything else, your highness?”

“No. Thank you. We will see you at dinner then.” Tier said, his tone had a touch of steel that Xin hadn’t heard before. She glanced at Rale whose eyebrows arched in surprise though he said nothing.

Lord Chiron spun around and hurried off, his robes swishing as he went. Xin breathed a sigh of relief. The man had an oily aura about him that she didn’t care for. She turned her attention to the women.

The two younger women half knelt, heads lowered. The older woman smiled at them, holding out her hands. Tier bowed, much to Xin’s surprise, and stepped forward, catching the woman in a tight embrace.

“You have been away for far too long, Tier.” she spoke slowly, her accent heavy.

“They usually have me on the other side of the nation.” Tier said turning towards Xin and Rale. “Vieno, these are my traveling companions, you remember Rale?”

“It has been years.” Rale said bowing also.

“Silly boys, you don’t bow to me, my lords.” She looked at Xin. “And who is this lady who travels with you?”

“This is Xin, from the Dhaul region.” Tier hesitated. “She’s traveling with us till we reach Sandau.”

“I’m no lady.” Xin said quickly. Vieno’s eyebrows arched and she smiled before turning towards Rale.

“Fatira will take you to your quarters to clean up and rest. Dinner is at sunset.”

One of the younger women stood, curtsied, and strode off towards a side door in the courtyard. After a moment’s hesitation, Rale followed. As the door closed behind him, a youth burst through running towards them, sliding to a stop, his eyes wide.

“Your highness,” he bowed, gasping for breath. “Lord Chiron request your presence in the meeting hall.” He looked up. “The officials insisted.”

“Chiron is always impatient.” Vieno said.

Tier turned towards Xin, eying her for a long moment. “Vieno,”

“Go on, highness, before Chiron loses his temper. I’ll make sure Lady Xin is comfortable.” Vieno gave a bow and then a shooing motion.

Xin watched him walk away with the servant and turned to face Vieno.

“You look very tired, young woman. Come with me.” Vieno smiled warmly, turned and walked back the way she’d come. Xin took a deep breath and followed the elegant woman.

 

“He does not usually travel with others.” Vieno was saying as she made a final adjustment to the dress she’d insisted Xin wear.

“So I have gathered.” Xin shifted, uncomfortable. The dress was a set of loose pieces of fabric, secured by just a few stitches here and there. They flowed around her with each step, yet were so light weight she felt as though she wore nothing. Secured at her shoulders, the dress left her arms bare, gathered at her waist the skirts covered her legs to her ankles which Vieno had insisted be decorated with thin golden chains.

“He is an awful lair.” Vieno said directly. “You were not planning to go to Sandau.”

“He is an awful liar.” Xin agreed laughing. “But yes, I have family in Sandau.” She resisted the urge to twirl in the dress and met Vieno’s gaze. The older woman’s eyes narrowed.

“I will believe you, if you insist.” She said finally. “Come, sit, your hair needs fixing.”

Xin slowly reached up, clasping both hands over her bun.

“I won’t cut it, girl. Pull out the hair stick and let’s see it.” Vieno moved the chair closer.

Xin swallowed and did so. Her hair fell out of the bun and Vieno nodded. “You take good care of it. Good. Now sit.”

“Lady Vieno, this dress, the anklets, it’s all much too fine for me.”

“You are a guest, and you travel with an Imperial Prince. You need to look the part. Besides, I saw the way he looked at you, I know you aren’t blind, you saw it too.”

“He is an Imperial Prince. I am nothing.” Xin said as she sat. “It wouldn’t be,” she floundered her cheeks heating up.

“He does not think you are nothing.” Vieno began to carefully comb through Xin’s hair. “Things could happen.” She chuckled. “He is not a bad looking man.”

“No, he’s not.” Xin agreed, annoyed when the woman chuckled. “Still, what would be the point? When we get to Sandau we will go our separate ways.” She couldn’t think about returning to Nekar. Despite what he said, she couldn’t trust Seeress.

“He is a lonely man.” Vieno said and set the comb to one side and began to do something with Xin’s hair that involved pulling, lifting and twisting. “He came to Delebeg as a young boy, left a man and in all that time he was alone. Even now, second in command of the Imperial Army in the East, he is alone. Few friends,”

“What about Rale?” Xin asked.

“They are cousins and happen to get along.” Vieno did something and Xin cringed, pain shooting through her scalp. “Sorry. Tier does his duty and that’s it. You are good for him.”

“That’s all he lives for, he said as much.” Xin said softly.

“You have given him something else to think of besides duty.” Vieno stepped back and nodded with a smile. “Look in the mirror girl.”

Xin hesitated and stepped in front of the body length piece of metal and stared. The woman standing in the mirror couldn’t be her, could it? She smoothed the skirt over her front and blinked when the reflection did the same. Vieno had twisted her hair into a myriad of braids that looped and draped, working in a string of pearls which stood out against her dark hair.

“Would it be so awful to be with him? Even for a short period of time?” Vieno asked gently.

Xin couldn’t answer. She stared at the mirror, not really seeing her reflection. Tier had been in her thoughts, invading her sleep. It was stupid. What if the Seeress decided to have her put to death? He would be the one to do it.

“He does his duty. He serves the Empire, the Seeress,”

“He is on a mission for the Seeress.” Xin looked at the older woman. Vieno frowned.

“I did not know that.” She shook her head. “That is a death sentence.”

“So I’ve heard.” Xin looked down. “It wouldn’t,” she couldn’t continue.

“This is not good.” Vieno tightened something on the dress. “It is a death sentence to be asked to do her work. Especially outside the Empire.”

“Surely some have survived, I would think if anyone could, he would!”

“Indeed.” But Vieno was still frowning. “What has she asked him to do? No, I’ll ask him myself.”

“If it’s a death sentence, and everyone is afraid of her, why,”

“Do we still follow her?” Vieno took a deep breath. “Because the alternative is much worse.”

“Is it?” Xin shook her head.

“Hush.” Vieno lowered her voice. “There are some things one doesn’t discuss, she can find things out at a great distance, and there are many mice within the palace walls.”

Xin turned meeting the woman’s dark eyes. They studied each other.

“Be careful what you say, and to whom. Dhaul is relaxed, less a part of the empire than a tributary. Words, the wrong ones, in front of the wrong person, can get you killed.

“I’ll try to keep that in mind.” Xin murmured.

“There are some things you should be aware of, customs you must adhere to.” Vieno said. “All eyes will be on you.”

“Oh lovely.”

~*~

The rest of chapter 9 will be posted Tues, July 22th. Sorry y’all, it was just way too long. 

If you’re enjoying it, please share, spread the word, I’d appreciate it.

Want more to read? Check out J.A. Marlow’s Summer Crash serial!

Thanks for reading. :)

(c) 2014 Necia Phoenix

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Feb
2014

Re-Release

One of the greatest things about self pubbing, is if you need to change something, you can. If you don’t like the cover, you’re not stuck with the pubbing co going SOL.

The Magic Maker is one of my favorite stories, and the first of what I hope, many set in that world. To date I haven’t been able to really dabble much with it but I plan to. I redid the cover, and did a skim through to correct things (typos, misspellings, random commas etc) and have gotten it back up.

The Magic Maker

In a corrupt city, Tia struggles to keep her small family together. She finds herself caught between a sorceress and local crime lord, and to top it off, an unknown voice begins begging her for help. With time running out, can she escape the city with family and sanity intact?

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords
Kobo

In other news, I’ve had to push Zander back 1 month due to personal reasons. Mid may is the new target.

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Jan
2014

2014 Goals, Plans, and Expectations

A new year, new goals. I’ve made up a tentative publishing schedule for this new year, starting with the goal of one new publication (large or small) a month with three large releases for the year. We’ll see how it goes. Goals are dreams with a date on them they say. And I’ve even taken into account the usual grueling summers I have.

There are plans to move to another house sometime in late spring early summer which may disrupt things.

The big releases, the first three Zander books, are slated for April, ?June?, and September/October. The final book, Crossroads (which *might* be 2 books) *might* be ready by December.

I’m still dabbling with the idea of E1 up as a serial, but I’m not sure with everything else I have on my plate, that I have the mental capacity to to that atm. I might do something like that over the summer since E1 is, for the most part done.

Other smaller projects will be released through the rest of the year, hopefully on a monthly basis. I’m not hinging all my hopes on any one project. As a writer who plans to be around for a long time, my larger goals are long term, not hinged on any one book. A career isn’t built on one book, rather multiple projects. I’ll refer you to Dean Wesley Smith for more on that particular viewpoint.

I also have the goal of doing a Friday Flash fiction every week this year. Lofty? Maybe. I’m gonna try to do it though.

Last year’s sales;

With the lack of new material up for sale, sales were fairly non-existent. I haven’t pulled up the actual numbers yet, but I know they were spotty. There are a number of reasons why, ranging from pricing, covers that need to be improved and just lack of new material to keep my name up at the top of the new release lists and whatnot. Last year was fairly brutal for me. For a number of reasons and that impacted me finishing and releasing stuff. In short; sales sucked and I’m the reason why.

That was last year. This is a new year, new opportunities, new information to learn. This year. I want to write more. I need to write more. I need to get a better handle on covers, formatting and get back in the game so to speak. The paralyzing that halted me over the past year and a half, seems to have melted away. While there is a touch of anxiety, it isn’t halting me. Onward and upward! I’m ready! Are you?

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Oct
2013

How the Myths still affect us

This post was inspired in great part by Kristine Rusch’s post Story Demands.

For years I had this dream of publishing the Zander books traditionally. I pictured them on a bookshelf in a bookstore, I would even go to waldenbooks and find where my name was and kinda scoot the books around so there would be room for them. >.>  Ever do that? 😛

As brick and morter bookstores vanished (where I lived we only had chain bookstores, tehre were NO small indipendent ones) so too went the dreams of seeing the books in bookstores, and when I decided to self pub, there was a period slight mourning. I’d never ever see them in print. Ever.

Ok so that was dramatic, now I’m planning on putting out print editions eventually but for the n00b self pubber a couple years ago (a couple YEARS??? O.M.G!) it was a drastic thought, I wasn’t sure I’d ever do print copies at all.

But there were a lot of things that hung on. Sure I was going to self pub, but I was clinging to a lot of the traditional thought processes and that included how I was putting a story together and the wordcount caps.

As you can see, if you take a glance at my offerings, I have shorts up. Nothing large. A lot of reasons for this, many of them are legitimate time and RL issues (I have had some life upsets over the past year and a half that have impacted writing and publishing), but there are other reasons, a lot of them have to do with the fear issue. Fear of failure, fear of imperfection, fear of ridicule, fear of something I can’t quite put my finger on.

Larger project = heftier formatting = greater chance of typos = imperfection

And everyone has seen the ridicule self pubbers have garnered from others if they have typos and imperfections in their self edited* projects.

But then again, look at the ‘traditional’ published authors who ALSO get ridiculed. It doesn’t seem to matter who you are, if you put out something in the public eye there is going to be someone, somewhere who is going to hate it and make fun of it. Period.

I can list off numerous people who have ignored this and continued on. From musicians, to actors, writers, directors, and so on.

I can also point out people who have thrown in the towel, hundreds, thousands even, who have given up, gotten bitter, and continued on in their little lives, because somebody didn’t like what they did/said/produced so they stomped off in a hissy fit. Or just went *poof*.

Smaller projects, while still subject to dreaded typos, are less time consuming on formatting and easier to typo check (in theory). They are safer. Again in theory.

**takes a deep breath**

The projects that really move me are my big ones. The monstrocities. The doorstoppers. The ones that I got duped into believing years ago would never sell. The huge epic ones I was told that agents weren’t representing them because publishing companies aren’t going to buy them.

I’m not even going to breach the George R.R. Martin thing, I really am not. 😛

So the things I learned as a nOOb writer, trying to break into the business included;

  • don’t make your first book part of a trilogy, pubbers don’t want to risk investing on an unknown whose work might not even sell.
  • Don’t make your first book larger than 90k. agents won’t shop it around because pubbers won’t buy it. Typesetting issues and cost and whatnot.
  • General fantasy and Epic fantasy no longer sell. That ship sailed in the 90s, don’t write it. UF and vampires are the ‘thing’. And romance.
  • Sex. If in doubt, toss sex on the page. The more your characters get laid, the greater chance you have of selling your book or bagging an agent, and the more explicit, the better. (I swear to dog I heard this from multiple sources!)

Now obviously these are wrong. I’m not going to tell you how to ‘bag an agent’ mainly because I don’t feel the need for one. There are other places you can go to locate that information, here is not one of those places.

But this was my understanding, among others which I am still discovering (some of these are so deep rooted I have a hard time defining what they are!) as I go along.

Last night I finished the rough draft of Bastard Prince. In came in at 52k with several placeholders in the beginning for battles and such that I need to plan out a bit better to fill in. There are some threads I need to lay, and flesh out, some plotholes which make it look like a colander (I think I could drive a jet plane through some of them XD) but it is, for lack of a better word, done.

I also pulled up what I have of bks 2 & 3 and got a good idea of what I need to do to finish them. And I saw what the myths of the trad pubbing had done to my story, and how it had tweaked with my head.

I had this story, you see. And it’s a life story. It’s Zander’s story, and it geeks me right the hell out. He’s got an intense one, with highs and lows, with loves and hates, joys and sorrows. Friendships and betrayals and all of it moves through a greater story which pushes the world he lives in to the brink, and eventually, possibly, over. And it’s important.

But to make it fit, to appease who I thought needed to be appeased to get it to the people I wanted to share it with, I came close to murdering it. One of the most important foundational parts of the story, book two (which needs a name) rings in at 16k right now with a lot of [this happens here] type of place holders.  Why? Because I was going to skim over it. I was thinking, oh this is the romance part, the slow-down part. This is the part people are going to yawn through. I can do flashbacks.

You see, even though I decided I was going to self pub it, I was still stuck thinking I was writing one book. I was locked into thinking that I needed to keep it small. I was trying to squeeze all of this huge, epic story into 90k. 17 (or was it 19?) years of world shaking events into 90k.

I sat in on a few conversations with some friends at FM as I mentioned in some posts over here, and my brain kinda rebelled, and melted and threw a full on tantrum (really, brain? REALLY?) but in the end it was like a sign from dog.

I sat down and did the outlines for books 1 – 3 and knew that this was right. This is the story I’m trying to tell. And it’s all important. And 90k just isn’t enough room to tell it all. And that led me to think about Crossroads (which is the grande finale to the Zander story). Which scares me because that is a friggen monster story and brain started doing the flailing again because brain realized that I KNEW, finally, that I didn’t have to stick to the old formulas anymore, and when it stopped its flailing and started calming down, it started thinking about the things I tossed as irrelevant to the story because of that whole 90k/bag-an-agent-go-trad thing. Things that were relevant. Things that need to be there.  I realize now that  Crossroads will be two books (I *might* divide it three ways, I’m not sure yet).

DC – stop laughing. I can hear you. Even now, through the screen I can HEAR you laughing. Stop it NOW. -.-

**clears throat**

The FM crowd, they make fun of me. My plotbunnies breed.

And you know what really bothers me? How much I have let myself be held back by traditional publishing myths. I have a lot of stories to write. I have a lot of stories to tell. Many of them, oh so many of them in Zander’s world. Zander isn’t the only character in his world that I adore. There’s Auron, Michael, Kale, Shaderunner, Rune, Tayek, Nyhavi, Tienovey(though there is a lot of Tien in Zander’s story) Ivonnova (still trying to decide on the spelling there), Caladorn, Eric(name change imminent), Brent, Uralko and so on. But without Zander’s tale, I just can’t tell the others. His is the foundation. Why? Ask brain, I just write 😉

How much further, would I have been if I had realized sooner that I didn’t have to keep it under a certain size?

You know what really makes me wonder? What other things are going to come up that are holding me back in little ways?

I can say this, (hours after I wrote all that up there)  I started reading ZBK1 today (I know I just finished it yesterday) and I found myself loving it. Just loving it. It’s rough, it needs work, and I see where I need to tweak things and I found some typos I need to fix. But I love it.

I love the words I finished working on yesterday. I don’t hate them. Another myth bites the dust.


This is why I took Angela James Before You Hit Send workshop. Seriously, worth every penny I spent on it, and if she puts it out in a book form I’m so buying it. Awesome, awesome workshop.

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Sep
2013

Newsish stuff

This past week I landed myself in the ER.

It threw my whole schedule off just a wee bit. There have been tests, and phone calls. I don’t know yet what exactly is going on, I’ll be making more phone calls Monday to various financial and dr offices to get answers for multiple questions about how the hell I’m going to pay for continued care (we’re in-between insurance coverage for me, tho the kids and hubs are all covered. I left myself off). I am not on death’s door. I’m just very fatigued.

Today I’m working on wrapping up the Inside the Author’s Mind story collection, writing (there are only a couple more stories to write to wrap it up) and formatting it. Tomorrow I’ll put together a new cover and hopefully sometime next week I’ll have it up for sale.

Have a great weekend folks.

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Aug
2013

Summer Wrap Up

Well writing wise that was slightly disappointing. But I do tend to expect too much from myself. I think, starting next summer, I’ll just suspend big writing goals during the summer. There’s just too much going on.

The kids have been in school for a week, I’ve been catching up on housework and stuff. And wrapping up a badly overdue story (I’m sorry DC!!!). One thing I have managed to do is finally jump and start studying Russian. Why Russian? Why not? I love it. I really do.

Self Pubbing:
I haven’t put out a new project in months. I haven’t been focused on it. For multiple reasons. It’s time to jump back in the saddle so to speak, which means I have some catching up to do. What I was doing a year and a half ago might not be the best methods to get it done (I’m talking formatting here). I have some things I need to wrap up(stories/editing/books), and I need to update covers. I need to overhaul the web-page, put together a reasonable (and do-able) publishing schedule. I love the possibilities we have these days, even if it’s a touch overwhelming.

In the next week or so I’ll be working on research, cover-updates (mainly with the earlier ones) and wrapping up the Inside the Author’s Mind series, and figuring out what needs to get tackled next.

Have a great Labor Day Weekend (If you’re in the USA)!

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Jul
2013

TGIF? No, for me it’s Monday

My hubs only has one day off a week That was yesterday. So as everyone else is moving towards the weekend we’re just starting our new workweek. Blarg. That sums it up pretty well. So. Writing.

I’m currently (as in, in the other window) working on the final two installments of Inside The Author’s Mind, they’re going to be small, they average under 1k, so if I can get them done they’ll be up for Flash Fiction friday later today and next friday *crossing fingers*. Once those are done I’m hoping to compile them into a collection to have up in Sept. If they’re large enough I’ll see about putting together print versions. It may take some doing though, for the ISPNs. I’m considering a kickstarter or something like that to fund getting the ISPN numbers from Bowker. Or just tossing a donate button at the bottom of the page. We shall see.

If anyone has been paying attention to the bars on the **checks other tab** right side of the page, I’ve been puttering away at the first Zander book. I’m about 1/4 of the way through it and I think it’s coming along fairly well. I was thinking over the series itself and it struck me that there are going to be 4, possibly 5, in the whole series. The first three are the Northern Empire books and the last one(two) would be the grande finale/wrap up of that situation. So. 5 in the Zander series. **twitches**

I do need to come up with new titles for them…

I AM still working on getting E1 edited so I can serialize it. Which I’m still planning on doing. What the heck, right? It may be September (ahhh that month again) before I start serializing it. Or maye OCt. Not sure if I can swing it in Aug though. I may do a teaser chapter to see what people think.

Ok, in other pubbing news, Smashwords is holding a coupon special for the month of July. I’ve signed up all my titles for it. Linked below; The coupon code is SSW50

The Shiny – With coupon is free
Redshirts – With coupon is free
Muse Interrupted – With coupon is free
The Magic Maker – With coupon is 50% off; $1.50
Playing For The Dead – With coupon is free
Help Never Came – With coupon is 50% off; $1.75
River Of Souls – With coupon is free

In Aug I’m going to be compiling them into collections for a September release, and possibly pulling down the single titles. I’m undecided on this atm. We’ll see. I’m also working on some new covers (in my *haha* spare time)  and plan on going through the current titles for a typo hunt. Just a typo hunt/grammar fix, no story changes.

Anyways, time to wrap this up and finish the flash fiction stuff. Have a great weekend folks!

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Jul
2013

A touch behind

We’ve had some family/RL things happen which have thrown me off my **hahaha** schedule.

So, I am working on JulNoWriMo, I’m a touch behind. The nano wordcount is at about 8000 or so, and I’m doing my own thing and using the new BPBK1 as my nano project.

Last night, as I was talking with a pal about the Zanderstuff, it struck me that sometimes when I write I go back and forth, kinda like weaving. I’ll find myself stuck, so I go back and reread what I’ve got. Often times I start fiddling, adding things, descriptions, reactions, I rarely delete much unless I realize there’s a plot hole that I need to fill and then I tweak and play around with stuff. Then I’ll move forward, usually in spurts of large word counts. Until I hit a snag and have to rethink things.

Right now my big issue is Bk1 has several military campaigns and such and tactical stuff and I am really second guessing myself. I’m writing about a group of guys who are troublemakers and who get in and out of scrapes. They get dubbed The Trouble Crew. And I’m drawing blank after blank about the details of how and what they do. I know they gain a reputation, but I’m not entirely clear on how.

I’ve been fighting a bought of the blues. Not full on depression, just a little down. Things haven’t panned out schedule/time/kid wise. I’m not where I want to be publishing wise. I know I can get this stuff done up and out, but…but…but… yeah, the list goes on, the things a mom of 9 needs to do is endless and sometimes it makes getting the words and editing and managing the ebooks and all the other stuff that goes with it, goes right out the window.

As I told a friend, I sit down to list out what I need to get done to get myself re-focused with the pubbing thing and get overwhelmed and start playing Zombie Lane or No Zombies on my tablet. Bad me. >.>

No I’m not perfect. In fact I’m far from it. While this year has been a GOOD one on a personal/family level, writing wise has been a struggle. I’m searching for my routine, for my groove. Sometimes I think I’ve found it. Sometimes I wonder if I ever will.

Anyways, enough rambling. I’ll get it squared away. Have a snip. This is a dreaming scene. In the Zander books, I noticed, he dreams. A lot. Those dreams foreshadow things that will happen later on in the story and ties several threads together.

He stood above the great city, watching the horde sweeping through the broken and twisted city walls. His soldiers behind him, fleeing through the mountain passes, he alone watched his home fall beneath the enemy. He gripped his swords, trying to look away, but unable to. The Great Tree shuddered as the enemy swept past it, the branches hitting the roofs of the houses beneath it. It began to lean, tipping towards the gate he’d led his men through.

The Great Tree shimmered, and for a brief moment, superimposed over it, was a rahaun woman, hands clasped in front of her, her hair intertwined through the branches and leaves. Again the tree shuddered and as he watched she looked up, her eyes locked on his.

Flee. Now. While you still can.

Her head bowed and the tree continued to lean. With a deafening crack, it fell, the great trunk crushed buildings beneath it, wedged tightly against the gate. He felt a hand on his arm, a voice hollering in his ear.

“We have to go, now!”

 

Have a good day folks.

 

 

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Apr
2013

An update…

I’ve been thinking and writing and thinking. I think I’ve been thinking more than writing, but yanno how it goes.

I’m nearing the homestretch of The Fallen. the ‘short’ is now past 15k and I’ve got a good 5 or 6 scenes left to write. And I always write thin, so when I edit it, if it says under 30k I’ll be surprised. I like my twisted little fallen angel story. There’s something very… morbidly funny about it (in my head).

I’ve been considering doing a serial. I’m doing some research, I need/want to read over other serials to get an idea of how to do it. I have E1, all finished, waiting for some edits. The thought struck me, perhaps I could post it as a serial, say one or two chapters a week.

I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. Why? Well… Why not? I haven’t decided. I need to finish The Fallen first so I can totally focus on the Elemental Wars series.

And I need to write up a few flash fics so they’re ready to go when friday rolls around.

I’ve also been practicing drawing, taking a ‘class’ over at WetCanvas.com. I discovered something kinda cool… I CAN draw a straight line! There’s this desire, this longing to do some of my stories as a comic/manga style thing. But again I’m not quite sure how I would go about doing that, and my drawing skills are not there yet. But seriously that would be cool.

Health and Fitness stuff:

We have a zoo membership, and I went twice last week, I went on Mon and I’m considering going tomorrow again if the weather is nice. I walk the perimeter  letting the little ones enjoy themselves while I trudge up and down hills pushing a stroller with twin toddlers who each weigh about 30lbs. Along with our change in diet and doing my resistance training, I’m working hard on getting healthier. My scale broke so I’m not sure where I sit weight wise.

And now I go to rally the troops to do their chores. Have a good day folks, friday isn’t far off!

 

 


Riverofsoulsv004bn

A chase beyond the Palace walls…

Princess Chandra’s little companion dog loves to get loose at the most inopportune times. To keep him from being chained up permanently, she
chases after him and into a world of danger outside the palace walls.

Book is available at Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo

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Apr
2013

New Release – River of Souls

I now have a new short story out. River of Souls appeared in the 2012 Forward Motion Anthology and is now out as a single short for $1.49.

Riverofsoulsv004bn

A chase beyond the Palace walls…

Princess Chandra’s little companion dog loves to get loose at the most inopportune times. To keep him from being chained up permanently, she
chases after him and into a world of danger outside the palace walls.

Book is available at Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo

This short story is a part of the Avaria series and has a cameo by a character in the Zander books (though Zander himself doesn’t show up). This is kinda a big deal for me, though. This is an Avarian story. Timewise it takes place years after the events in Bastard Prince, and is sorta an in between story. Hope you enjoy it.

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Apr
2013

Nook Press.

I have been fairly busy. Kids, stuff, it’s all nutty here. Then with Mother Hen’s situation, I haven’t been paying attention much to things happening in the writing communities. So I got sent an update on a post Holly Lisle made voicing teh evil of the contract pubit/nookpress was offering.

Her post on it is over here. As I am no expert on contracts and haven’t actually had the opportunity to read said contract I’ll make no comments.

On going over to pubit, a little flash notice popped up telling me about this wonderful new platform they’re preparing to launch. The official Press release is here, the notice they gave is here;

With NOOK Press, you can write, edit, format, and publish your manuscript all in one place, collaborate with friends and editors, and get your questions answered quickly by our live chat support staff—all at no cost. It’s easy and improved and offers the same great terms as PubIt!.

While you can continue to use PubIt! for the time being, we will be phasing out the platform in the months to come. Sign up for a NOOK Press account and include your PubIt! login details to easily sync your account, title, and sales information over.

 

I can see this now, n00bs and naive writers are going to upload their only copy of their work and something is going to go wrong, B&N goes under and all those authors are left wringing their hands and wailing over their lost words.

But yanno, copy and paste works well. 😉  What bothers me, what really sets my teeth on edge and makes me want to do a complete two year old tantrum. Silly as it may be… when a company tells me that they’re going to be phasing out the pubit site and I have no choice but to jump ship… well you should have seen the letter I sent Photobucket when they forced their stupid crappy platform on their users. -.-

Perhaps its a leftover from the teenage rebellious years, maybe it’s because B&N hasn’t really been worth my time. But other things have come to light in talking with several writing buddies.

A friend of mine pointed out that there is no way to update your files on the nook press site. I haven’t gone over there yet to verify this, but I don’t doubt her. When it comes to epubbing, she knows her stuff.

She also had another problem  with it, which is slipping my mind.

The Passive Voice has two posts up about it here and here. The second link is a post on stats Nook had touted in their press release. The comments are interesting, people sharing how their sales have dropped off over the past few months. Worth reading.

Holly Lisle posted another post on changes made to the contract over here.

She suggest printing out the contract and going over it. I think if you’re not already doing that you’re asking for trouble as a writer and as a business person. If you don’t have a hardcopy of your contracts with various distributors, and you’re not familiar with what is IN those contracts, you’re going to find yourself in a very bad situation. It’s common sense.

Now the new Nook Press site is over here in case you wanted to take a gander at it. I’m planning on taking a look over the contracts and refresh my memory on Smashwords, Amazon and Kobo’s contracts just so that I’m up to date with what is IN them.

So what are MY thoughts?

  1. I would love to see Kristine Rusch do a post on it. I know she’s busy, but her insight would be very nice to see.
  2. As I haven’t read the contract I won’t comment on it. I do have concerns but I need to read the actual contract before I voice those.
  3. I am sitting here waiting for my new release to go live at Pubit. I have a post ready to go, but without the Barnes and Noble link. I uploaded it last night. Smashwords, even with their meatgrinder didn’t take as long as this has taken. Amazon went live shortly before 3am when I went to bed. Kobo went live shortly before Amazon. **taps pubit** helloooo??? What’s the hold-up bub?
  4. If I can’t upload/update my work, as many in the comments section of PG’s posts stated, I really don’t see that that is a good idea. No matter how many times a person goes over it, you’re going to see errors. I’m unimpressed
  5. Someone in the PG post’s comments mentioned the site isn’t working right and that it shouldn’t have been rolled out just yet. the word Beta comes to mind.
  6.  In two years of epubbing I’ve made exactly 3 sales through B&N. THREE. I’ve been considering dropping B&N completely. Is it worth my time? 3 sales in 24 months. hmm… I think for now I’ll stay. At least until they try to force me to switch over. then **shrugs** I have better things to do that wait for them to get their thumbs out of their asses and put my stuff Live.

 

I think it’s something to approach cautiously, and go with your gut and know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.

 

 

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